Alive Enough?

I’m alive today but what guarantee do I have that I’ll wake up to see tomorrow’s Sun? Guarantee- I have none. It’s just faith that I have and Hope that I cling on to before going to sleep that I’ll wake up to see another morning.

How fickle is our being. Alive in this moment- in all glory and naught in the next. Even the thought of it brings jitters and send a cold chill down my spine.

Everyday we keep making plans about the things we will do and the things we will be. We sew together an elaborate dream each night, a dream in which we are what we have always wanted to be. And day after day, everyday- we keep deferring those plans and those things thinking that we have our entire life ahead of us for fulfilling our dreams and desires. We believe that right now, it is time to become someone, to prove to the world that “I am also a force to be reckoned with!”

Well, honestly, I am not against the mentality of becoming something and sacrificing my present for a better future, but what has recently begun to haunt me is not future but “uncertain” future. The thought that- what if I’m not supposed to live till the average age and that, this time now, which I’m sacrificing in becoming something worthwhile is actually God’s gift to me, which I’m wasting because I won’t have time left afterall, when I’ve indeed become something.

(Actually these are the moments when I really believe that Ignorance is Bliss. But that’s not the point right now.)

I do say that ZNMD is my all time favourite movie but I must also supplement my above claim by adding that societal pressure is a tad too much, to actually follow the tenets that are so beautifully portrayed in the movie. Even I want to live the high life, but for that I have to study. If I study now, that means that I’m sacrificing my present. And time once lost, is lost forever. Plus I have the added risk that I might not make it afterall or maybe even if I do make it, I don’t sustain it for too long or worse yet, even if I make it and I am able to sustain it, my body won’t support me well at that point in time because I neglected it in the present. This is such a vicious circle and as I put in more factors, this circle will only enlarge.

So then, how do we break this deadlock? We can’t abandon education and adopt a carefree life. We can’t even let ourselves entirely into studies because then we would be back to square one. So what to do? How to tend both the things? The answer is simple. We need to make daily plans (like we all do and I even mentioned that earlier) and we also need to ensure that these plans are executed.

Just as we take out time for television and mobile phones from our “busy lives”; we must, as well, take out time for the things which truly matter to us. The things which will make us feel alive. Small and everyday things like tending to a small plant or catching up with friends- old and new alike. Things1 like playing the guitar, or staying in the shower for five extra minutes so that we can showcase our singing talents, not to the soap and the shampoo bottles, but to our own selves.

As it is we are already surrounded by walls and screens, insomnia and assignments, papers and reviews, deadlines and bosses; so I don’t think that it might really be a big deal if we were to add a few more variables into the equation. In fact, these are the variables which we are fond of, which we feel pleasure in performing. For these things, we only need to have the will to do it and Time will automatically adjust for it.

I have decided to do the things which I like doing along with the ‘oh-so-important’ things of life. Just as I have hope and faith that I’ll wake up see the sun shines tomorrow, I have the same hope and faith (let’s not get into the discussion of being in control, because that is a myth) that Time will create a leeway for the things that matter to me NOW!

And the good news, my dear friends, is that it always does.

~S.S

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Fear

This four letter word has destroyed millions and millions and hence, today, I want to talk about this very subject. For ages it has acted as a lout and a curse for most of humanity. Tyrants have risen and Societies have fallen because of this very word. Peace has been challenged and Battles have been waged because of this four letter word. Worse of all, men have killed other men just because of this four letter word and sadly, the practice still continues.

Let’s leave aside these grave societal matters.. and talk on a personal level. How it affects us- you and me! In the end that is what matters, right? The world is changed by people like us after all. I would like to begin by bringing to your notice your biggest fears. There’s no point in denying that you have one. Our fears, weaknesses and insecurities are just as much important to make us feel human as are our dreams, joys and hopes.

The worrisome trend today is not that people have a fear of some thing, but that the people don’t seem to realise until too late (or sometime never) that they do have a fear of some thing. Again, it’s not my point to wheedle you into glorifying any fears- existent or non-existent, as if it is some kind of atavistic activity. No. I just want you to realise that you’re a human too and it’s okay to be afraid.

I know- accepting the fact that you are afraid may seem odious but believe me, it’s equally freeing. It allows you to introspect. You have already understood the problems and issues and hence, you can go about finding a solution for it. It is just the same as travelling in a vehicle on the highway and the best part is that you know exactly where you have to go- Makes life so much easier, no?

Now you might argue that writing it all down is all too easy but implementation is tough. Well, yes, agreed but all I’m saying (and which has been gathered from plausible sources) is that don’t fear FEAR! Face your fear. If you badly wanted to take that trip, just take it. If you want to feel the thrill of adventure sports, just go out and experience it. Why be afraid? Tens of thousands of people have been there and done that before you.

Remember the greatest amount of fear is just moments before you actually attempt to do something about it. And once you do it, all that fear fades away like a fart in the wind. That’s when you realise how idiotic you’ve been. You later spend hours contemplating how easy it was or how unfounded your fears were.

But next time again when you are pitted against some other thing, which you are afraid of, you go back to being your original fearful self. In such moments, I want you to remember the paroxysms of joy you felt, when you completed some thing you were just as much afraid of earlier. Obviously, it won’t take away your entire fear but it will definitely help you to face the challenge at hand. This is the unbending principle of the world. This is how everything works.

Always keep in mind that fear would only hinder your chances. It will eat away your opportunities. If you control your fear now, you will see the miracles later on. What’s meant to happen, will happen anyways and your fearless participation in the events orchestrated by the cosmos will ensure that what was meant for you, will eventually reach to you. So I would like to reiterate- don’t fear FEAR, challenge your fears and witness the miracles that are in store for you!

Slow Down

How you ever been in such a great haste that you have trampled over things and jumped over people just so that you reach wherever you wanted to reach in the specified time that you intended to reach in and then realised that you were counted amongst the early birds to reach there? All that energy and pomposity for nothing! The whole air of importance down the drain. Taking sheer stress for some non-existent great cause.

Often times, we lead a life full of rush. In the moment, we do believe that we are doing some important work. But if we reflect upon it later on, we realise that we were only coming from nowhere and going to nowhere. Funny, isn’t it? A few examples may hopefully clear my viewpoint.

Being a Mumbaikar, the best example that comes to my mind is of local trains. Countless people have lost their dear lives just because they decided to travel on the dashboard to reach their office on time and incidentally fell off to their imminent death. What’s the need to hurry? The next train was anyways going to arrive in a couple odd minutes.

Another example which everyone, irrespective of where you live, can relate to is that of crossing signal, when it’s just turned red. Most of times people get lucky, but not always and an accident, which otherwise could have been averted, inadvertently takes place. If there’s some emergency, then I’m willing to agree with the cause, but not contrarily. I mean, the world isn’t ending behind you that you can’t waste time waiting at the signal, right?

Now, I believe that everyone is busy or atleast try to be busy so as to assume some importance, so as to beat the monotony of their life which is utterly colourless when they compare it with that of their peers. Let me tell you one thing, all are leading the same life, though it may manifest itself differently, but in the end everyone is unsatisfied by their own and amazed by that of others around them.

I don’t want you to live perfectly. No, that’s not what we were ever meant to do. I’m asking you to live it fully. Next time, if you have reached the parking lot and your favourite song starts playing, take some time out for yourself and enjoy the music. No one cares if you reach your desk five minutes late, but on the other hand, you will sit down at your desk with a renewed spirit, which will help you to work optimally. Even your boss will not say NO as it saves his cash, which otherwise would have gone into motivating the employees.

Again I would like to reiterate that I am not asking you to stop living life in the way you are accustomed to do, but just imploring you that for a day try slowing down your pace a bit. Feel the moments as they pass. You will end up feeling less exhausted, more ebullient and in general, a bit more zestful. And that’s the whole point of being, won’t you agree?

Two Parts Hydrogen, One Part Oxygen

Water- the quintessential liquid required for survival of anything and everything. It’s one molecule is chemically composed of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. It’s no wonder a miracle, how these basic elements, when combined, are powerful enough to start and sustain the whole chapter, which we humans call as “Life”.

In the prehistoric era, water was formed due the reaction of these two aforementioned gases, which combined when they were released from below the Earth’s crust. Can you believe it, that once approximately 250 million years ago, it started raining and it rained for not one but 2 MILLION years, shocking Right?

Earth has been very lucky to get all the correct permutation and combination. Perfect distance from parent star, presence of water, balanced atmosphere, just the required amount of rare earth and heavy earth elements, etc.. the list is long. But it has also received a bane, and sadly that bane is us- Humans.

Let’s do a reality check before we move further. Who are we? Just another species of animals with a higher level of intelligence than the rest. Who do we think we are? Yes, undisputed rulers of the entire universe (mind you, not just the Earth). It’s so funny that if you think about it without bias, you realise- how man, in his greed to acquire money, has robbed his own self of basic amenities such as clean water and basic standards of living.

In this post, I want to address the former- Water. Again, time for a reality check. What do you think is common between Sao Paulo, Beijing, Bengaluru, Cairo, Jakarta, Istanbul?

Yes smarty, you’re right. Each one of them is facing severe water shortage. The reasons are various, but they all point to the same cause and consequence, which we shall see later on.

Imagine a hot, sunny day in Karachi. People going about their business as usual. But there is something amiss. Most of them look dirty and smell as if they haven’t bathed that morning. Shockingly, they haven’t bathed the morning before or the one before too. And why so? Yes, you’re correct again. There is not enough water to drink, let alone save some for bathing. Bathing for these people has become a luxury. And Karachi isn’t alone. There are so many cities across the globe facing similar crisis.

In many countries, you can find colourful cars moving on sombre highways dotted with brown tress all along. Barren fields on either side. Everywhere you can hear locals complaining that as less as five years ago, the whole area was one with nature, greenery all around. Rains were cyclic and consistent. Not anymore. And this is worrisome.

In many South American countries, citizens wait for hours on end for fifteen minutes worth of water supply, barely enough for a couple of days. What’s more alarming is that this has been a way of life for many years now.

Johannesburg, the famous South African city, is having almost no access to fresh potable water or ground water. As per reports, the water quantity in their main reservoirs have dropped below 4% which in itself is a big reason to worry, considering that it’s population is almost 4.4 million.

This makes me wonder what is the reason of all this. On a planet which comprises of 75% water, how is it even possible that this otherwise abundant resource is so scarce. The main reason is unequal distribution. But ofcourse, that has been the case since time immemorial. So what happened now?

The simple answer is climate change. Everyone knows the causes, namely pollution, industrialisation and the ilk. Everyone also knows the solutions, I.e reuse, reduce, refuse, etc .

But what I want to ask is that how many of us truly adhere to those norms and solutions. Honestly, till recently, I didn’t. I always felt that how could one person’s contribution matter in this huge, vast world. And yet, when I saw first hand how different classes of people in the same city having same issues tackle it, it would be an absolute understatement to say that I was shocked, appalled rather.

On one side of the city, the poorest of the poor scavenge for water as the taps run dry and the hoi polloi wait for days to fill their drums and cans. But on the other side, the pools of the rich are overflowing but the house is devoid of its populace, run only by servants.

They say true face of human cruelty is visible at times of war, but I’m certain that even that must be better than these scenes.

Again, I’m sure that in this hoo-ha of water not being enough for citizens, we all must have definitely forgotten the animals. They have the same right over the endowments of nature as we do. Yet, somehow we don’t care a dime about those right. Some days I wonder that the dream of a just and equal land, is just that..a dream, a utopia which exists only in theory.

Today, I won’t urge you all to save water. No. That has been done before so many times, by so many people and the results are out for everyone to see. Today, I want you to just imagine that there are people somewhere on this planet who are facing severe ill effects of actions done by us- me as well as you. Today, I want you to visualize that mother, who is dying of thirst because the last cup of water was gulped by her children. Imagine that farmer, who is contemplating suicide because rains have failed yet again.

At this point, I don’t know about you, I can’t even imagine anything more. The despair and hopelessness on the faces of so many people, while those who can actually matter- sit in their comfortable houses and relax. It is too disheartening to imagine.

Every year, more and more fresh water is getting destroyed as glaciers melt and the sea levels keep on rising. I reckon it’s high time that we wake up collectively, if our leaders can’t and take some firm steps in the right direction before it’s too late to turn the tide in our favour again. I’m sure that if the correct steps are taken now, we can surely save our future generations from an otherwise imminent extinction.

The Getaway

Trying a new style of writing. Let’s see how it goes.

***

It is just a normal day in the fine season of spring. The gardens are in full bloom and in them, the butterflies happily spread their wings. What a sight it is indeed, to see these dainty, ephemeral beauties, which scatter colours of the universe around. At one end of the garden, the Boy can see his family, lazing around the pool, taking their afternoon siesta.

Playful that he is, the Boy doesn’t believe in naps at all. Though it’s an altogether different matter that he will soon grow up and then prize this period of rest and recreation like all other grown ups, but okay, that’s for some other time. Right now, he has an appointment to keep and he must hurry or he’ll miss his date.

He silently opens the door, careful so as to not make much noise and quickly gets out. Now, it’s not like he’s running away or something, but first, he doesn’t want to wake anyone up and second, he’s in a great hurry. So off he goes on the road, which lies ahead of him.

It is the perfect time to venture out, as the sun’s glare is neither too hot now and nor will it set anytime soon. As he walks, he passes countless fields on his way. A thousand flowers he touches, yet he picks none. Even at this tender age, he understand the futility of that act and hence, the refrain.

After walking for what seems like an eternity, the boy reaches a cutting, where the sign-board shows “Left” for Gilbert Hill, his destination for today. After walking for another thirty minutes, the Boy finally reached the summit, just in time to see the descending sun kiss the horizon and spreading thousand shades in all directions.

Awed by the clouds and the birds, the boys watches as the grass bows down in the gusty winds and rises again with equal fervour. Philosopher that he is, this catches his imagination. An important lesson he’s learnt. Bow before the force but always remember to stand up again, no matter what.

As his thoughts waver away from this philosophy to the appreciating the general beauty around, he realizes that this is his secret getaway. So visible to everyone, yet ignored by all. But not him, no- how can he? This is his treasure. From here, he always feels as if the whole world is his to conquer. The cool breeze playfully tickling his body and just adequate warmth from the disappearing sun, a perfect combination to dream and create his empire.

Soon the horizon turns blue and then transforms to a lively black. There is ebullience in this black sky, brought about by the million of shimmering stars that seem to protect him from above.

Below the city lights are visible too. He tries to mark out the one which is his. After spending some more time with the stars, the wind and the lights, the Boy collects his thoughts and his rejuvenated spirit. He waves goodbye to his unguarded treasure, confident that people are too busy to pay attention to it and begins his journey back home.

He reaches in time for supper and goes straight in his room. Today’s experience must be jotted down before it’s lost in time because, some day when the going gets tough and he won’t have the time to calm his mind and soul, the writing will surely help in feeding the void. Let’s attribute this to his far sight!

***

Just some random musings, I hope you’ll liked it.

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The Knowledge

There have been quite a lot of things going on in my mind lately. But today, I am determined to take some time out and write about the little changes happening in and around me, just to acknowledge, at the very least- how these changes are setting me free and how these changes have let me to hope, a thing that I had scarcely allowed myself to do in the past.

Anyone who has ever talked to me for a proper ten minutes, shall agree that I am naive at heart. I may be street smart because my parents, particularly my mom, paid great attention to it. But when it comes to introspection, well, I suck. I mean, who needs introspection when a caring elder brother is always present with his bag full of experiences and solutions. Yet, I knew that at some point in life, I had to learn the ways of life myself, because my brother won’t necessarily be there for me forever and to be honest, it would be very unfair to ask him to actually be.

Luckily, for me, the time to learn worldly wisdom came recently. Better late than never, right?! It came in the form of articles, books, movies, songs even WhatsApp conversations, and what not. But, the greatest teacher among them all was Life, the daily experiences, the random flow of events. Yes, a talk or two in the train with a friend. An incident on the way to work. A news of current happenings. It’s as if each and every thing happening to me or around me has had some deep knowledge rooted in it and my task was pretty simple- to identify and comprehend this knowledge.

As I was assimilating all this knowledge that was coming my way, I couldn’t help but wonder, as to the purpose it served. Initially, I believed that this knowledge would provide some future assistance but very soon I realised that this knowledge was not for some obscure event of the future. Rather, it was for empowering my current lifestyle. It was to make me realise how foolishly I had been doing things which had no meaning and were outright noxious. It was indeed to change my perspective on a wide variety of subjects.

Insecurities, Fear

I perfectly remember that ever since my early schooling days, I was very insecure and afraid. Insecure about my standing in the class and fearful about almost everything else. Infact, I had hit such a low once, that I outright rejected the proposal of teaching a topic to a dearly loved friend, due to the fear that she might score better than me in that subject.

And as time passed, these insecurities and fears manifested themselves to higher levels and began including Luck and Chance with them. Infact, the severity of this problem can be gauged by the fact that I wore my “lucky” watch for all the papers of my Inter CA examinations except Audit and guess what, yes, I ended up failing only in Auditing.

But, these insecurities and fears were not all that bad. They helped me stay away from “Relationships”. Let me tell you, though I have been away from Relationships, the people closest to me have not- They have all been struck by Cupid periodically. That, in a way, gave me a perfect opportunity to study how Love actually sublimates over time and transforms into deep rooted insecurity and fear, if not properly dealt with. Well, that’s for another day. For now, it should suffice you to know that I am victoriously fighting my war against fears.

Humility, Courage

I know a lot of people consider me to be full of ego and stuff (even my mom complains about it sometimes) but I never had the slightest traces of it, at best I can be called finicky. Instead, I had cupboards and cupboards full of shyness and introversion. And even though knowledge helped me empty most of them, a few vestiges still remain. I still won’t be the first person to initiate the conversation but surely I’ll listen till the last second. Talking is not my forte, listening is. And that is what I realised when I bathed in that knowledge pool.

Speaking of courage, every human being who ever lived and who will ever live shall be termed as courageous. Seldom comes a life, which has no challenges, no hurdles, no obstacles. Everyday, each one of us strives to make the most out of our present situations. You might not acknowledge it, but what you are essentially doing, when facing those challenges, is being courageous. Courage is not limited to Don Quixote (yes, he was a fool but he was a courageous fool) and it has nothing, whatsoever, to do with fighting ghosts and demons.

Loneliness, Solitude

To the unaware, both might seem the same. Yet there is a subtle difference. To be honest, I knew the difference even before the knowledge dawned upon me. But, knowledge surely helped me to understand it more deeply and profoundly. While loneliness is more about being alone and grimacing about that fact, solitude is about being alone and enjoying your own company.

Loneliness is more of a vice and solitude is a virtue. I am lucky enough to be embraced by solitude because loneliness is hazardous, even life taking. I can’t even comprehend how a person might feel when s/he realises that there is no one to be by her/his side in this world, which is awfully full of people. Surely, thinking about it alone gives me jitters. I am fortunate enough to enjoy my company with nature and the cosmos. I am fortunate enough to not get affected by loneliness and I am fortunate enough to help people struggling with loneliness, you all only expanded my knowledge.

Pain, Forgiveness

Whenever humans and human emotions are involved, pain is definitely involved. Infact, it wouldn’t be wrong to call emotions as precursors of pain. The flow is simple- Emotions make us obsequious and being obsequious, being servile is the easiest passageway to pain. Though it may sound crude, I’ll try my best, to get the point across.

Almost everyone can universally connect to the emotion called Love and so, I will take the same and attempt to make my point clear. What is love? Poets across millennia have described it in the most animated words. Love can be the affection and attraction for many things- other people, nature, a doll, a car and what not. But as Kabir put it- “The lane of love is narrow, it has place only for one.” And though we may root for the accepted myth that Love is selfless, it is not and that pains. And if it is indeed selfless, it causes all the more pain- because with selfless love comes an even greater burden of expectations. You are only fooling yourself, if you believe that expectations don’t form a part of selfless love.

But, mysterious are the ways of the world- as pain and suffering are so omnipresent, we also have the options of acceptance and forgiveness. In fact, Forgiveness is akin to Godliness. This is where the knowledge comes into play. Suffering is difficult and forgiving is even more difficult. But knowledge helps us in accepting the situation as is and letting it go. Once we taste liberation by letting go the pain, by forgiving- we actually begin to live a more meaningful and purposeful life and that is the true purpose of living, right?!

Conclusion

Frankly speaking, there are so many things that I have learnt. So many things about which I can write volumes on. But in these busy times, I am lost for the want of time. Also, my writing skills won’t do justice to those forby subjects- atleast not right now. And I am guessing that the handful of you, who reached this far, must surely be waiting for it to end too. Thus, I would take one final moment to let you know that I am grateful to you for taking your time out and reading patiently.

P.s. Gratitude is a virtue too. The latest one that I learned.

Until later.

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Cure for Unrequited Love

After yesterday’s conversation, you must know that this was written for you and you alone. But it turned out well, so now I’ve had to replace your name at every place. The solemn purpose of this blog is to help others like you too.

***

Humans are taught about love right from their childhood (I missed it somehow, hence I am here, writing this now). You were no different. But our teachers of this subject were not professionals. Quite a lot of times, the small small nuances of the topic were ignored or outright deleted and that has lead to the birth of an agony called as Unrequited Love.

Unrequited Love is where only one sided love prevails. It has existed since the dawn of humanity. It brings sorrow accompanied by despair (which was quite evident when I saw you). It takes away the wind out of your sails. You begin to feel that happiness can return in your life but only with that elusive being. You attach all your joys and happy emotions to that person and in that being’ s absense, you feel bereft. In short you become imprisoned within yourself.

Now with the problem staring right in our faces, let’s ponder over the possible solutions. Yes, there are atleast two solutions for sure (you are free to enlighten me with more). The solutions are also tricky- so easy to understand, yet so difficult to implement.

1. Gather courage and speak your heart out

Actually, dear friend, from what you spoke, I realised that you never mentioned your feelings to the other person. Try telling them and maybe, just maybe, the probable significant half might agree because they might be undergoing the same feelings.

At times, for instance, I, myself don’t speak my heart out even in front of my own parents. So I can safely presume that this might so often than not be all the more prevalent between two less familiar people. Logical isn’t it?!

2. Cure for unrequited love

The usual route taken by most counsellors will be to make you forget your infatuations and the easiest way according to them is to forget your beloved and employ the resultant excess thinking capacity for some greater good (What good, trust me- even they don’t know). But I beg to differ here. The cure for love doesn’t lie in thinking less about the other. It also doesn’t lie in indulging in happy thoughts at the periphery while actually being a barren land internally.

The ultimate and long term cure doesn’t lie in ceasing to think of the fugitive lover. It lies in learning and ultimately realising what the other person might really be.

From afar, each individual seems to be alike. Happy, cheerful, generous, kind and what not. But if we do a close up study, every human being is so much more different. We realise that every person has traces in varying quantities of temper, coldness, deceit, aloofness, vanity, over-emotions, sentimentality, chaos and a thousand other words (you get the feel right?!) And the only thing that stops us from bearing this in mind, when we think about the elusive being is our lack of knowledge about the other being’s shortcomings. Just from a few peripheral details, we assume that the other person is charming and vivacious and so badly want to believe that they might have somehow miraculously managed to escape the fundamental axiom of human condition.

Sadly, they haven’t. You are the one, who wants to act ignorant. You are the one, who actually doesn’t know them properly. Infact, this is the only difference between Love and Unrequited Love. In love, you get to know the subtleties of the other person whereas in unrequited love, you dream about the qualities of the other person, and I have never met a person, who wishes to dream nightmares- the point being, you will only dream good things about them, reality notwithstanding.

It is not their exuberant personality which keeps you attached, but it is the lack of understanding of their problems and issues which helps in not driving you away. It is the lack of knowledge of thier follies and flaws. So the cure is pretty simple, know them better. The more you do, the more you realise that they are not all rainbows and butterflies. They are just like the other mortal beings, who come into this world and play their part before vanishing away forever. The day you truly understand them, you realise that they are not the answers to all your questions. (Conversely, if they do, make every effort to hold on to them. I don’t want you coming after me later on :P)

See it’s pretty simple, passion and unrequited love can never withstand bare exposure to the ultimate understanding and actuality of the other person. That can only be withstood by a bond created by a shared life, i.e. Love. Take your parents for example, there is no unbound admiration there. Both of them know each other’s vices and virtues. Hence, there is pure love and nothing else.

Infact, I would like to conclude that unknowingly, I have penned down a solution which can either cure you of you passion or may being you closer to love, because once you know the other person in and out, you can sensibly make the choice of either staying away from or getting head over heels in love with them.