Self-Assurance

13 10 2009

I never knew this simple phrase would jolt me back into this little world of mine.. Often what you take for granted is the one that requires utmost focus. Feels as if the music played on when I was napping.. Life crawled in slow finesse, whilst I slept unaware. Until.. until someone shook me up and asked my name.

Now what’s in a name? What’s in a name except for a simple attempt to frame an identity. Except for spelling that unique purpose it stands for? Hmm.. Here I am, wondering, what does my name stand for?

I have always taken pride in my this single strong trait of my identity. My confidence in my ability and my trust in my judgment has always been the guiding force in my life. No matter how strong the persuasiveness of life is, my spine has always been straight. What would you do when the whole world stands against you and screams against your conscience and best judgment? Whose side would you take? Would you hold on and stand for what you deem right, or would you give up yourself for the sake of acceptance? Sounds like a tough choice, isn’t it? Somehow I have always believed that One should never leave the side of oneself for the sake of anything, as long as what s/he believes it to be  true. Does this echo with you? Do tell me..

In words better described by Gall-up, which I often look upto..

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Self-Assurance is similar to self-confidence. In the deepest part of you, you have faith in your strengths. You know that you are able — able to take risks, able to meet new challenges, able to stake claims, and, most important, able to deliver. But Self-Assurance is more than just self-confidence. Blessed with the theme of Self-Assurance, you have confidence not only in your abilities but in your judgment. When you look at the world, you know that your perspective is unique and distinct. And because no one sees exactly what you see, you know that no one can make your decisions for you. No one can tell you what to think. They can guide. They can suggest. But you alone have the authority to form conclusions, make decisions, and act. This authority, this final accountability for the living of your life, does not intimidate you. On the contrary, it feels natural to you. No matter what the situation, you seem to know what the right decision is. This theme lends you an aura of certainty. Unlike many, you are not easily swayed by someone else’s arguments, no matter how persuasive they may be. This Self-Assurance may be quiet or loud, depending on your other themes, but it is solid. It is strong. Like the keel of a ship, it withstands many different pressures and keeps you on your course.

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In Memory Of the Real Heroes

1 12 2008

Mumbai was in thought, mind and spirit for the past 100 hours. In those moments of heightened and frenzied activity, my emotions were a big kaleidoscope of mixed colors: of denial, anger, blankness, insecurity, helplessness, and agony of loss.

Digesting the mindless madness of this attempt has been the toughest part of the past week. I was praying for the ruthlessness  of the time and mind to commit the horror of the moment to the memory and make me carry on life like business as usual. I guess its the classic escapist nature of the self that lulls one to hope and wish for the better future and life of the countrymen.

Terrorists, Bombs and attacks are not new to us. They are just a part of old news that we deal with in our lifetime. Resilient and united is how our Mumbai janata has always been. They made me proud during the blasts or the floods of the recent times by the way they stood for each other and supported one another. The glorious NSG, Army and Commandos who laid their life on battle to save their fellow countrymen, and those innumerable and countless people of Taj and Oberoi who sacrificed their life in the name of duty, responsibility and honor: You make me proud. You also teach me a lesson in humility, love, respect, honor and duty. I mourn for the senseless loss of you all. May your soul rest in peace and quiet and may your sacrifice remain forever in the mind of people and make way for a positive and better future.

As an Indian, I couldn’t resist myself from quoting this song that’s committed to my memory since childhood days.

‘E Mere Watan Ke Logon, Jara Aankh Me Bharlo Paani
Jo Shaheed Huve Hai Vunki, Jara Yaar Karo Kurbani.’

My eyes are still red with anger, and contempt for the senseless audacity of the monsters and the grief for the destruction of the lives of the people and here we promise that your sacrifice wouldn’t go waste in lighting candles or tea time discussions of Mumbai blasts but would be committed to memory and reflected in actions of our fellow men.

This is time for leadership, for action, and commitment from the Government to take India to the progress and security. Dear leaders, do tell us. Could a better intelligence system have avoided this Mumbai Massacre? Could a better planning would have reduced the heavy loss of life that tolls heavily on the conscience of every Indian? Yes, we Indians are resilient and we would bounce back to life faster. But isn’t it your job to ensure and assure that these incidents wouldn’t repeat and rehash themselves in grisly and morbid frequency. Give us a plan, and not just some shoot off the lip condolences and condemnations. I refuse to believe that India, with its rich intellectual horse power can’t learn from this lesson and make plan for the best intelligence and tracking system to deroot the terrorist network. This is the time of action for us to take a stand tall like determined patriots and contribute our share to the betterment of the environment and society at large. This is the time to take time to reflect, cull the lessons, and make a personal plan for contribution to the enhancement of the security, safety and growth of the team called India.

A note to the Monsters:

What appalled me is the gall of those uncultured, vacuous bigots who could kill with smile and with utter disregard to conscience. I wonder how would your so called God permit this frenzied destruction under a larger purpose. What could be the education of your brainwashed asinine monsters whose doctrines permit the ruthless killing of fellow people with reckless abandon in the name of holy war or some messed up ideology to reserve a seat in heaven. Wah, is this your idea of holy war business? What could be holy in taking on defenceless, unprepared, friendly people by surprise and blowing their brains out in a displaced sense of justice? Oh I forget, you peanut brained guys cant be expected to understand concepts like holy, God and justice. Ever tthought about what does your Heaven look like? A mirror of the destruction you created? Of strewn lambs of your fellow men, of debris of the marvels of creation filled with stench of blood and flesh?

Yeah, right. You guys were making a statement: of your empty headed ideologies, of your debased moral sense, cheap values and of the deviousness of the monstrous actions. Just wake up from perdition and watch for yourself. You wanted to our national monument to bit the dust? You would see the Taj standing proud and tall, living to tell the courageous tale of the ordeal. I can see it back to its feet better and beautiful in weeks. You wanted to instill fear in the heart of the business of India? Go check, for the city of Mumbai is back on its feet, with those crowded metro stations and with tonnes of people making a statement of courage as they brush past the terror and walk up to a purposeful Monday with determination. You wanted to cripple India’s growth? We might miss some tourist dollars, but haven’t you already noticed the the vadapav centres getting busied up on the streets in utter disregard for your brutish actions. Nothing and no-one can stop the tenacity and the persistence of the Indians that make my country. It’s just another day for us, to conquer life and the world at large.





Definition Of Love

7 11 2008

I know it might sound a little strange, yet am compelled by this innate curiosity to understand what people define as love. Our lives run like a poetry of love, for its in love that we grow, evolve and rise up to our potential of what we are and what can we be. My definition and understanding of love has changed over years, and though how much ever I love to give an expression to that emotion, silence always beats me by a great margin.

What do we promise when we say ‘I Love You’? Are we creating an obligation for others to live up to or a promise for me to honor? Or it simply a heartfelt expression of intense emotion? Am left oft confused. All those happily in love, indifferent from its charms and those engaged in pursuit, do pitch in for I would love to hear what you want to say in this.

Now don’t wonder about the context of this question. I am just a plain Jane who having lived through a quarter century, is desparately trying to get her basics right. Probably, all I want deep down in my heart, is to be loved just a little more.





Dreams….

30 07 2008

Haunted by my dreams, this post is a result of midnight musings, after I soothed my frayed nerves by a short chat with my papa. These days I realized that dreams are my deepest desires which I have never acknowledged. Its like those persistant voices which never got a chance, and hence they manifest in the eerie visions of the dreamland when our resistance to logically refute is at all time low. Most of the things I dream are either about things that I heard of, or things that I want to happen or stories that I read somewhere. Those some of these often take me by surprise, they would laos make me believe that I am what I dream. But dreaming alone won’t achieve what I long for, right? May be I don’t live my dreams because I live my fears. May be, I magnify my fears with the thinking mind and lull the heart’s desire with cold reason.

My experience of dreams goes a long way back.. Most of my dreams weave those ‘what if’ sequences about the opportunities that life presents. Some of them could be about me visualizing how would it look if I try bungee jumping or about how would life be in a different career, or about how is an ordinary day in a new environment. Yet, these are what make me come to terms with my anxieties and facts of lifewhile making me comfortable with the fear from the unknown.

And there are those creative dreams either about the stories I heard, movies I partly saw or books that I read somewhere. One of those vivid childhood dreams that stayed with me, is this dream of Ramayana, that started from where the Hanuman brings the sanjeevani to the end of war. I distinctly remember this, for I stayed long in bed so that this dream finds its end. Well, there are dreams where I played wild roles, like a daredevil detective, or a super woman, but let me assure you, these are quite rare. Its been long time since I played the batwoman. 🙂 Yet, the kick of these dreams lies in the way I could manipulate those sequences, or even create them to my satisfaction.

And then there are those dreams that helped me overcome my fears. In childhood, I have always been afraid of things like loosing family members or snakes. I am not sure if I overcome any of those fears. But I remember those dreams which made me run till I made a choice to pick a stick and fight or those that portrayed loss of loved ones and taught me to appreciate their value in life.

But of all these dreams that I had, I never felt as if I am an inactive participant. I have always, (ok, I concede) most of the times, been able to direct my dream to my desired end or end it before it turns wild. May be that’s why I never had such a predominant nightmare which became a permanent memory.

Somehow I believe that dreamland is the space where we touch the threshold of our potential and visualize the realization of our deepest desires. Some stop there, reveling in the beauty of their dreams and basking in vicarious satisfaction; while some hold on and make it a reality in this material world.

I don’t think I have a theory about what I dream, but somehow writing about them did lighten my thought at this late hour. If you are reading this, tell me about your dreams. Would love to hear about the extent and expanse of your imagined universe. Even if you don’t want to talk about it in public space, it’s ok. At least acknowledge them to yourself in solitude, else you would end up being haunted by dreams, just the way I was.

P.S. Whenever I think of dreams, I couldn’t help but muse on here, for in vague sense, it gives me hope.





Keep Up The Spark

29 07 2008

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Inaugural Speech by Chetan Bhagat for the new batch at the Symbiosis BBA program 2008

Good Morning everyone and thank you for giving me this chance to speak to you. This day is about you. You, who have come to this college, leaving the comfort of your homes (or in some cases discomfort), to become something in your life. I am sure you are excited. There are few days in human life when one is truly elated. The first day in college is one of them. When you were getting ready today, you felt a tingling in your stomach. What would the auditorium be like, what would the teachers be like, who are my new classmates – there is so much to be curious about. I call this excitement, the spark within you that makes you feel truly alive today. Today I am going to talk about keeping the spark shining. Or to put it another way, how to be happy most, if not all the time.

Where do these sparks start? I think we are born with them. My 3-year old twin boys have a million sparks. A little Spiderman toy can make them jump on the bed. They get thrills from creaky swings in the park. A story from daddy gets them excited. They do a daily countdown for birthday party – several months in advance – just for the day they will cut their own birthday cake.

I see students like you, and I still see some sparks. But when I see older people, the spark is difficult to find. That means as we age, the spark fades. People whose spark has faded too much are dull, dejected, aimless and bitter. Remember Kareena in the first half of Jab We Met vs the second half? That is what happens when the spark is lost. So how to save the spark?

Imagine the spark to be a lamp’s flame. The first aspect is nurturing – to give your spark the fuel, continuously. The second is to guard against storms.

To nurture, always have goals. It is human nature to strive, improve and achieve full potential. In fact, that is success. It is what is possible for you. It isn’t any external measure – a certain cost to company pay package, a particular car or house.

Most of us are from middle class families. To us, having material landmarks is success and rightly so. When you have grown up where money constraints force everyday choices, financial freedom is a big achievement.

But it isn’t the purpose of life. If that was the case, Mr Ambani would not show up for work. Shah Rukh Khan would stay at home and not dance anymore. Steve Jobs won’t be working hard to make a better iPhone, as he sold Pixar for billions of dollars already. Why do they do it? What makes them come to work everyday?

They do it because it makes them happy. They do it because it makes them feel alive. Just getting better from current levels feels good. If you study hard, you can improve your rank. If you make an effort to interact with people, you will do better in interviews. If you practice, your cricket will get better. You may also know that you cannot become Tendulkar, yet. But you can get to the next level. Striving for that next level is important.

Nature designed with a random set of genes and circumstances in which we were born. To be happy, we have to accept it and make the most of nature’s design. Are you? Goals will help you do that.

I must add, don’t just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life. I use the word balanced before successful. Balanced means ensuring your health, relationships, mental peace are all in good order.

There is no point of getting a promotion on the day of your breakup. There is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts. Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions.

You must have read some quotes – Life is a tough race, it is a marathon or whatever. No, from what I have seen so far, life is one of those races in nursery school. Where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth. If the marble falls, there is no point coming first. Same with life, where health and relationships are the marble. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve the success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive, will start to die.

One last thing about nurturing the spark – don’t take life seriously. One of my yoga teachers used to make students laugh during classes. One student asked him if these jokes would take away something from the yoga practice. The teacher said – don’t be serious, be sincere. This quote has defined my work ever since. Whether its my writing, my job, my relationships or any of my goals. I get thousands of opinions on my writing everyday. There is heaps of praise, there is intense criticism. If I take it all seriously, how will I write? Or rather, how will I live? Life is not to be taken seriously, as we are really temporary here. We are like a pre-paid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years. And 50 years is just 2,500 weekends. Do we really need to get so worked up? It’s ok, bunk a few classes, goof up a few interviews, fall in love. We are people, not programmed devices.

I’ve told you three things – reasonable goals, balance and not taking it too seriously that will nurture the spark. However, there are four storms in life that will threaten to completely put out the flame. These must be guarded against. These are disappointment, frustration, unfairness and loneliness of purpose.

Disappointment will come when your effort does not give you the expected return. If things don’t go as planned or if you face failure. Failure is extremely difficult to handle, but those that do come out stronger. What did this failure teach me? is the question you will need to ask. You will feel miserable. You will want to quit, like I wanted to when nine publishers rejected my first book. Some IITians kill themselves over low grades – how silly is that? But that is how much failure can hurt you.

But it’s life. If challenges could always be overcome, they would cease to be a challenge. And remember – if you are failing at something, that means you are at your limit or potential. And that’s where you want to be.

Disappointment’s cousin is frustration, the second storm. Have you ever been frustrated? It happens when things are stuck. This is especially relevant in India. >From traffic jams to getting that job you deserve, sometimes things take so long that you don’t know if you chose the right goal. After books, I set the goal of writing for Bollywood, as I thought they needed writers. I am called extremely lucky, but it took me five years to get close to a release.

Frustration saps excitement, and turns your initial energy into something negative, making you a bitter person. How did I deal with it? A realistic assessment of the time involved – movies take a long time to make even though they are watched quickly, seeking a certain enjoyment in the process rather than the end result – at least I was learning how to write scripts , having a side plan – I had my third book to write and even something as simple as pleasurable distractions in your life – friends, food, travel can help you overcome it. Remember, nothing is to be taken seriously. Frustration is a sign somewhere, you took it too seriously.

Unfairness – this is hardest to deal with, but unfortunately that is how our country works. People with connections, rich dads, beautiful faces, pedigree find it easier to make it – not just in Bollywood, but everywhere. And sometimes it is just plain luck. There are so few opportunities in India, so many stars need to be aligned for you to make it happen. Merit and hard work is not always linked to achievement in the short term, but the long term correlation is high, and ultimately things do work out. But realize, there will be some people luckier than you.

In fact, to have an opportunity to go to college and understand this speech in English means you are pretty darn lucky by Indian standards. Let’s be grateful for what we have and get the strength to accept what we don’t. I have so much love from my readers that other writers cannot even imagine it. However, I don’t get literary praise. It’s ok. I don’t look like Aishwarya Rai, but I have two boys who I think are more beautiful than her. It’s ok. Don’t let unfairness kill your spark.

Finally, the last point that can kill your spark is isolation. As you grow older you will realize you are unique. When you are little, all kids want Ice cream and Spiderman. As you grow older to college, you still are a lot like your friends. But ten years later and you realize you are unique. What you want, what you believe in, what makes you feel, may be different from even the people closest to you. This can create conflict as your goals may not match with others. . And you may drop some of them. Basketball captains in college invariably stop playing basketball by the time they have their second child. They give up something that meant so much to them. They do it for their family. But in doing that, the spark dies. Never, ever make that compromise. Love yourself first, and then others.

There you go. I’ve told you the four thunderstorms – disappointment, frustration, unfairness and isolation. You cannot avoid them, as like the monsoon they will come into your life at regular intervals. You just need to keep the raincoat handy to not let the spark die.

I welcome you again to the most wonderful years of your life. If someone gave me the choice to go back in time, I will surely choose college. But I also hope that ten years later as well, you eyes will shine the same way as they do today. That you will Keep the Spark alive, not only through college, but through the next 2,500 weekends. And I hope not just you, but my whole country will keep that spark alive, as we really need it now more than any moment in history. And there is something cool about saying – I come from the land of a billion sparks.

Thank You.

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Gamyam

13 07 2008

Somehow I just loved this movie!

Its been indeed long time since I watched a Telugu Movie devoid of hyped up movie cast full of gusting hotheaded action. And how I loved it! The current Tollywood Industry doles out umpteen releases every week almost with reverence to quantity over quality, out of which I spot rare gems like this once in six months or an year.

Now, playing the spoilsport, let me unveil the plot a little. Abhiram (played by Sharwanand), a spoiled rich brat who saw the world through the glass doors, discovers a real life out of the window panes when he embarks a bike journey to get back his lady love Janaki (played by Kamlinee Mukherjee, my favorite :-)). Janaki, an orphan and a idealist who believes in playing the good samaritan dumps Abhiram, when she realizes that he couldn’t support or share her idealism or values. Abhiram takes off on his bike in pursuit of Janaki, who went on a doctor’s camp to remote areas, and thus comes in close contact with humanity. In pursuit of his ladylove, he discovers himself. By standing for friends and by fighting for what he believes, Abhiram discovers the essence of life, as the self realization dawns on him over the end of the long winding journey.

Now, the story is not just about breaking and making it up by the lead couple. This movie is a celebration of life, realization, introspection and humanity. Words would sure flat to elaborate the performance of Allari Naresh as Gaali Sreenu. Gaali Sreenu, a petty thief, teams up with Abhiram in his pursuit of love and shows him the real world in the hinterlands. With a serious theme that explores the divide between the ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-nots’, this movie packs an ample punch of comic relief that cheers one up while engaging the audience in serious reflection. Abhiram discovers life, death, friendship, honor, values, humanity, and loss over the journey and finds himself as a socially responsible citizen when he meets his destination of love.

I would recommend this to anyone who wants to catch a meaningful Telugu Movie that does a great job of being an entertainer. Kudos to the new director Rama Krishna for this marvelous movie.

P.S. I read that this movie is inspired by ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’. I haven’t watched the original, and hence am clueless on whether this movie is a copy or an inspiration of the original. Yet, its a great movie with some natural performances to save it for keeps.





Something I spotted on A Pamphlet

30 06 2008

Found this in a Pamphlet for the play “the Woman in Me’ by Pawan. Its hosted at Ranga Shankara, Bangalore at 7:30 PM on 17,18, 19th July 2008.

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A Mirror tells the truth! Isn’t that a lie? Stand in the front of a mirror and look to your right, where does the reflection look? It looks to the left! You raise your right hand and it raises its left. A mirror only tells you the opposite!

Our lives are depended on the sotries that we build of our past. Some are true and some are just subconsciously made up.

I wonder sometimes, what really happens? How much of what I feel and what I see is really happening the same way? How different is “Reality” from the way I perceive it?

Is the color Red really red?

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That’s indeed a compelling writeup for a play. Am tempted to check it out.