If 50 million people say something foolish, it is still foolish. 

Legendary novelist William Somerset Maugham’s ageless saying is easily one of my favourite quotes. The abrasive manner of the quote adds a deep sense of  gravity to it without changing its simplicity. 

A simple experiment carried out in the 1950s by legendary psychologist Solomon Asch shows how peer pressure can warp common sense. A subject is shown a line drawn on paper, and next to it three lines – numbered 1, 2 and 3 –one shorter, one longer and one of the same length as the original one. He or she must indicate which of the three lines corresponds to the original one. If the person is alone in the room, he gives correct answers – unsurprising, because the task is really quite simple. Now five other people enter the room; they are all actors, which the subject does not know. One after another, they give wrong answers, saying ‘number 1’, although it’s very clear that number 3 is the correct answer. Then it is the subject’s turn again. In one third of cases, he will answer incorrectly to match the other people’s responses.

In our world of abundance where we have 500 varieties of a product, seldom do we compare our choices. We tend to purchase that what is in vogue, quality notwithstanding. We feel the need to buy that what everyone is buying, acquire that what everyone already has. Most of us have at least once tried imitating a person we adore, a person whom we look up to, right? The advertising industry is the biggest beneficiary of our behaviour because people like ‘you and me’ appear on the small screen and catch our imagination unawares.

Another classic example is that of a student. He is required to study with piety. Whether he wants to study that what he is actually studying is an altogether different question, which is of least concern. He has to study what everyone else is studying. Once he completes education, he is required to take up a job. There is prerequisite for taking up the job. It should be a respectable job, which the society doesn’t look down on. Whether he is motivated by the job, is again a different question. He is expected to continue with that job for the next 40 or so years till he achieves the legal age to retire like so many others before him and most probably a horde of people after.

This urge to follow others (society in particular) has reverse evolved. In ancient times, people followed what other fellow human beings did because those times demanded it. Everyday was dangerous. Every second was a constant tussle between life and death. Moreover, one couldn’t expect a man then, to stand in front of a charging mammoth with an air of audacity, right. He was supposed to run away as his fellow brothers did. But today, times have changed and yet we haven’t. There is no longer a need to run in the direction of the crowd. Infact, today we all have a chance,  which humanity at other times, seldomly had. The chance to stand up from a crowd of people and shine. The chance to break the shackles which are pulling the society down and yet not be looked at with a frown but with approbation and cheering.

So let us all take an oath today that we will henceforth always think rationally before taking any step and not just follow the crowd. And if that happens (and I am sure someday it surely will happen), then another great quote by William Somerset Maugham will find sanctity and that is ” Tradition is a guide and not a jailer“. 

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Leave a mark

Life is supposed to have some meaning. We all come into this world to do something, atleast we all come into being with the capability and the capacity to do something. Yet it is surprising that most of us actually perish without doing anything remarkable. 

In the words of the great teacher Swami Vivekananda, 

Get up, and set your shoulder to the wheel – How long is this life for? As you have come into this world, leave some mark behind. Otherwise, where is the difference between you and the trees and stones? They too come into existence, decay and die.

And though I know and understand all of this, yet here I am without having done anything. For days I wondered why wasn’t I able to do anything worthwhile. Why have scores and scores of people died unceremoniously. 

One day it suddenly struck me. It is simple- because we are afraid. We are scared of venturing into uncharted waters, well most of us are. The few spirited souls who navigated through those rough waters were the ones who eventually succeeded. 

Having realised that we are afraid, I soon began wondering- what is it that we are afraid of? More so, what is it that I am afraid of? Right away, I began making a list of what all things ailed me. The one gargantuan thing, right at the top was – what-would-others-say?! 

This what-would-people-say has ruined lives. Rather, I would say, destroyed lives. But now, what to do about it. How to overcome​ the monster that is staring at us, laughing straight on our face. How much ever I tried, I was unable to find a way to cope with it. And this remained so, till one day I heard a wise man speak. 

He said, ” Ever since our birth, we have seen, heard, felt, etc. But all this has been done within. If we have seen anything, it is merely the image that has fallen on our retina which the brain comprehended. Any sound that we have heard thus far, has been a sound wave perceived by our brain through the vibrations it caused on the eardrums. And this goes on for everything that we have felt or smelt too” 

I deduced one important meaning that day. Life is really simple. We tend to make it complicated by trying to see, hear or feel what others might feel. Infact, we don’t even know whether they might feel the same way. I mean, do you clearly remember each day when your best friend ended up in a situation looking like a fool. I don’t. 

If we can’t remember what follies our best friend did, then why do we care so much about what others, whom we barely know or don’t know at all, might remember when we do something. The truth is – nobody cares. Everyone is too busy with themselves. They might just laugh at the spur of the moment but afterwards, nobody remembers. 

Still if some of you readers disagree with me, ask your selves the times you laughed at someone because of a certain act of theirs, which is considered as absurd. I bet most of you wouldn’t be able to remember 10 times, when you laughed at a ridiculous situation. 

When you yourselves don’t remember such incidents, then are you not a fool to believe that others might remember your each mistake. And are you not a greater fool, to not participate in activities that might actually be of some utility, fearing a negative reaction from the public.

In the end (RIP Cheston), I would just like to add that to create a mark in this world so that you and your deeds don’t become oblivious in the annals of history, you have to do something worth remembering and not let the fear of what-others-might-think make your existence similar to those of stones and trees. They decay and die! 

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The Journey Within

We are all travellers in this journey of self discovery. Some realise it early in their life and take a sort of head start towards their their destination. However, with passage of adequate amount of time, each individual does rev up his engine and moves towards his calling.

There is nothing more to life than taking the first step- For what you dream and believe, is what you eventually achieve. You may not know what lies ahead but with just the right amount of faith, you will conquer it all. 

Imagine you want to travel from Mumbai to Delhi in your car. The road is challenging, has sharp turns and it is a moonless night. You don’t even know what lies 200 metres ahead because your headlight can only go that far. But that doesn’t prevent you from taking the trip, does it. 

You are travelling along with the faith that you can perceive any kind of danger from a distance of atleast 200 metres and act accordingly. And with this faith, you are able to cross the entire distance between the two places.

 Life is not a bit different. You may have grand plans for yourself. However, you fear to take the path towards fulfillment of that plan because you feel that you lack the proper way. There is no bigger lie that you can say to yourself than this.

Surrender yourself to the magnificence of the universe and set out on your path. The universe will conspire such that you reach your destination. Just remember to keep looking for the signboards on your path just as you would while travelling from Mumbai to Delhi.😉

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8760 Hours

Yes, that’s right. We only have 8760 hours per year. Pretty trivial indeed.

Let’s see what we can do with these 8760 hours. Firstly, let’s reduce 6 hours of sleep per day. This leaves us with only  6570 hours in a year. Removing margin- (being a CA student, prudence is must)- we are left with about 6500 hours. 

Now let’s reduce that time which we require to do our daily chores – breakfast,  brushing, etc. Assuming each day we spend 1 hour (plus some margin) on these things, we are left with about 6100 hours.

Now comes the time taken for eating, going out, leisure, etc.  Lets us consider it to be around 1500 hours. We are now left with only 4600 hours of productive time. Mind you, 4600 hours for our ownselves in one year. 

The main contention is how we spend these 4600 hours which will either make or break our lives. 

The problem with us is that we think we have a lot of time.

If used judiciously, these 4600 hours can take us to the pinnacle of success. But if wasted, these can also lead us into an abyss of failure​.

My only advice to myself as well as to other readers is this: 

Value time now and soon a day will come when the whole world values you.

Shakespeare once said, “Time is slow for those who wait. It is very fast for those who are scared. Very long for those who lament. Equally short for those who celebrate. But for those who love, time is eternal.”

Do great things- things which matter to you, while you still have time because time once gone, will never come back.

However, by extolling time, I didn’t mean worshipping the clock. Rather, it was for living in the moment, for the moment and by the moment.

Lastly, there is only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who/ what we spend it on. And I believe my readers are wise enough to spend it sagaciously. 

Adiós amigos !! 

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The Road to be taken!!

Rumi once said, ” It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you”.

This road is a metaphor for your life- the essence of your being. 

Most of the people today,  wake up in the urban jungle, filled with concrete buildings and glass offices. The location of the same, defines the stature of these people. People are so lost, that material achievements have gained stupendous value and the real needs of a human being have begun to get lost in time.

As far as I am concerned,  stars on a moonless night fascinate me more than the presidential suites of luxurious hotels. And till the time this holds true, I know that even if God himself tries, he won’t be able to persuade me to stop loathing the animal lifestyle which has become the new cool.

Hordes and hordes of people get up each morning- just to catch that train to reach their posh offices in the self proclaimed upmarket area of a concept called as concrete jungle. The interesting part is that people are content with such mediocre life. 

To such people, I have a loud and clear message- WAKE UP!! We are free humans and not prisoners, bound to live a routine life. Explore this interesting planet called Earth. Go to new places. Meet new people. Create new memories. As a bonus, you already have a free trip round the sun every year ;).

Remember, each day brings with itself 86,400 seconds. Even if you can spend 14,400 seconds from those for pursuing what your heart desires- I will consider your entire day well spent.

We must all remember that when we are on our death bed, it is not the things we did that we regret but the things that we didn’t do. And this regret is a very sad place to be in. It kills you on the inside, only the breathing continues. I remember reading somewhere that death should be such that even angels are sad for taking your soul away.

To conclude, life is a precious gift given to us. It is up to us to direct it in whichever way we want it to go. We can always take shortcuts, but true happiness is derived only when we take the correct path and travel it fully till the end of the journey. 

Remember Ralph Waldo Emerson, “journey and not the destination, is what that matters!!”


Adieu !

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