October 28, 2014

The empty container

Received this as an email. I for one surely need to restart with an empty container!

Our lives get so complicated not overnight but gradually.

The complications creep up on us, one insignificant step at a time.

Today I order something online, tomorrow someone gives me a gift, then I get a free giveaway, then I decide I need some new tools. One item at a time, the clutter accumulates, because I’m not constantly purging the old.

Today I say yes to an email request, tomorrow I say yes to a party invitation, then I get asked to a quick cup of coffee, then I decide to be a part of a project. One yes at a time, and soon my life is full and I don’t know how I got so busy.

I look at a news site, then a social media site, then my email, then read an interesting article, then watch an online video someone sent me … and soon my day is gone, and I didn’t get much done, and my life gets eaten away in minuscule bites.

How do we protect against this feature creep, this complication creep? We have to take a step back, regularly.

Instead of thinking, “How can I get rid of this complicated mess?” … let’s ask, “What if I started with a blank slate?”

What would you do if your life was a blank slate?

If it were an empty container, with limited space, what would you put in it?

For me, I might put in some play time and reading time with my kids; coffee time and exercise time with my wife; some long walks and talks with good friends and close relatives; work that matters to me and that helps others; continual learning; and time alone to meditate and spend with my thoughts and a good book.

Those are the things that I’d put into my empty container, because they feel right to me. What would you choose?

Once we’ve figured that out, we know what belongs in the container … now we just need to constantly look at things and activities and requests and tasks, and ask: “Is this one of my container items?”

August 16, 2014

What do we do with freedom?

We spit, we litter, we abuse, we kill, we rape, we discriminate, we disobey laws, we break traffic signals, we cut lanes, we bribe, we take bribes, we misuse authority, we cut into forests, we mine all natural resources illegally, we loot the poor in all ways possible. We splurge money on movies and malls, overlooking the poverty just outside and around. We disrespect "outsiders" from "other states" and want only "our people" to prosper.

Of course, we also forward messages about how great India is, and how our national anthem is the best in the world, and how corrupt the ministers are. We do a lot obviously.

We are indeed free to do all the above things. We are truly cherishing this freedom.

Thank you freedom fighters to give us this freedom to do all this and more.

February 22, 2014

Memories of New Zealand

I read the below lines in a sports article written in Wisden by R Kaushik. This was the opening para of his article on Indian cricket team's tour to NZ. However, the para reminded me of my 2 weeks spent in NZ last year with my wife. Each and every word is so true and it is wonderful to be reminded of what NZ made us experience.

Five weeks in New Zealand spoils you. It works wonders for your facial muscles because you learn to smile at strangers – on the roads, in the malls, at the grounds, in the airports. You get accustomed to drivers stopping to let you, the pedestrian, cross the road, and after the first two or three days, you sort of leave your door unlocked even when you go to sleep. You take it for granted that if you have forgotten something at the ground, it will remain untouched when you return the next day. That if the meter fare is $38.90, you will get the $1.10 change back when you hand over $40. And that if you have asked for a cab and the operator tells you, ‘Someone will be there with you in 2 minutes’, it is not just a 2-minute warning, that the cab will unfailingly be at your doorstep in 2 minutes – maximum.

A lousy start for movies in 2014

Year 2014 has not offered anything great on the movies front so far. Already two months down, and no movie has made me feel ecstatic to write about it. Now, that is as far as the bollywood movies are concerned. I had expected Dedh Ishqiya to be good, but it turned out to be boring. Even the legendary Madhuri could not replace the raw talent of Vidya Balan.

Highway too was a movie I expected a lot out of considering it was directed by Imtiaz Ali. Again, it was a decent movie but not as good as his previous ones. Aaliya Bhatt has done a good job in the movie. She has got a meaty role and she has not let it down.

I happened to watch few movies on DVD at home. Most of them turned out to be good. The most remarkable was Ship of Theseus. It is a brilliant movie that portrays the paradox trying to understand if a ship is destroyed completely and all its parts are used to make another ship, is the new ship the same as old one? And if we repair the old ship with new parts, which one of the two is the original ship now? Sounds odd but it is explored beautifully in the movie. Proud to see such a movie coming out of Indian artists.

Another interesting movie is Compliance. Released last year in US, it is based on real life events. It portays an incident where a person calls up a fast food restaurant, pretending to be a cop and instructs the supervisor to investigate a theft allegedly done by a female employee working there. As you keep watching the movie, you get increasingly frustrated with the turn of events. And to realize it is a true story makes you feel worse. Apparently a lot of people walked off the theatre, unable to tolerate the level of stupidity being done by the supervisor.

Both the movies are must watch. Get your hands on them asap.

February 21, 2014

New training modules

Training courses are now available for women on the following subjects:

Topic 1. Silence, the Final Frontier:
Where No Woman Has Gone Before

Topic 2. The Undiscovered Side of Banking:
Making Deposits

Topic 3. Parties:
Going Without New Outfits

Topic 4. Bathroom Etiquette:
Men Need Space in the Bathroom Cabinet Too

Topic 5. Communication Skills I:
Tears - The Last Resort, not the First

Topic 6. Communication Skills II:
Getting What you Want Without Nagging

Topic 7. Driving a Car Safely:
A Skill You CAN Acquire

Topic 8. Telephone Skills:
How to Hang Up

Topic 9. Classic Footwear:
Wearing Shoes You Already Have

Topic 10. Oil and Petrol:
Your Car Needs Both


Evening classes for men. Starting this month!
Note: due to the complexity and level of difficulty of their contents, each course will accept a maximum of eight participants each.

Topic 1. How to fill ice-cube trays.
Step by step with slide presentation.

Topic 2. Toilet paper rolls: do they grow on the holders?
Round-table discussion.

Topic 3. Differences between the laundry basket and the floor.
Pictures and explanatory graphics.

Topic 4. Learning how to find things, starting with looking in the
right place instead of turning the house upside down while screaming.
Open forum.

Topic 5. Health watch: bringing her flowers is not harmful to your health.
Graphics and audio tape.

Topic 6. Real men ask for directions when lost.
Real-life testimonials.

Topic 7. Is it genetically impossible to sit quietly as she parallel parks?
Driving simulation.

Topic 8. Learning to live: basic differences between mother and wife.
Online class and role playing.

Topic 9. How to be the ideal shopping companion.
Relaxation exercises, meditation and breathing techniques.

Topic 10. How to fight cerebral atrophy: remembering birthdays,
anniversaries, other important dates and calling when you're going to
be late.
Cerebral shock therapy sessions.