A disturbing headline about a 17 year old girl jumping to death in Kota caught my attention off lately. What could possibly drive a 17 year old girl to take such a drastic step? Was life so unbearable? Was life so wretched? Was destiny so mean to her? Did life held no hopes for her? Was suicide the only solution, the only respite? What was she trying to leave for ever by putting an end to her life? What problem was she trying to escape? What were her final thoughts when she took the drastic step? Was the momentary impulse so strong that it completely overshadowed the many prospects that life offered? In order to better understand her situation, I read the whole article available on the below link:

http://www.ndtv.com/cities/disappointed-with-results-iit-aspirant-allegedly-commits-suicide-in-kota-1400687

Every word of the story was disheartening, to say the least. From the news article, it appears that the girl committed suicide because she was not happy with her results! The girl scored 144 in her IIT entrance exam which was well above the qualification cut-off of 100. The news article further states that in her suicide note she mentioned that she did not want to pursue engineering. It is probably due to pressure from her parents or maybe peer pressure that she was preparing for engineering entrance exam. I would not like to comment on the latter piece as this is just a news article and the matter is sub-judice. Hence, it would be wrong on my part to jump to conclusion as regards the role that the parental or the peer pressure played in abetting her suicide. Nevertheless, as a practicing education counselor, I could so very well identify with the issue. I could so deeply empathize with her situation. I felt so sorry for the girl. I felt equally sorry for the parents. It is difficult to imagine the extent of pain that the parents of this girl would have to live with for ever.

With the opportunity of professionally advising hundreds of students day in and day out, I get the chance to delve into the student-parent psychic almost on a daily basis. And my encounters and experiences leave me worried, at times. I am worried for my students and I am equally worried for their parents. I would never want any of my student, or rather any young or old person to suffer the same lot. How I wish I could make them understand that marks and admission are not the be all and end all of this world. How I wish I could beseech them with my humble request not to give such narrow interpretation to life? How I wish that my students learn to value life in its full glory. How I wish that the parents learn to understand and appreciate the limitations of their kids and do not make their children into a wish fulfilling factory. I know that my wish list is very long indeed. But the wishes are meaningful. The simple and only purpose of me writing this article is to fulfill my wish of helping my students and parents in any and all ways I can. One of the way that I intend to help them is to do my bit in ensuring that they never take the dreary path that was taken by this unfortunate girl in Kota.

To begin with, it is imperative to understand why does a person commit suicide? To quote the University of Cambridge Counselling Service, “Suicide is the second most common cause of death in young adults and the incidence is rising, particularly amongst young men. Yet most people who attempt suicide are ambivalent about killing themselves – frequently what they seek is to put a stop to unbearable feelings or a situation that seems intolerable. Someone who is suicidal may well be feeling frightened, trapped, hopeless, helpless, confused and distressed – and desperate to escape from his or her suffering rather than actually wanting to die. But at times like this suicide can feel like the only way out.” (A Guide for those who are responsible: http://www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/staffcouns/leaflets/suiciderisk)

From the above valid observation, it appears that students feel hopeless and trapped when they fail to score and meet the targets of the various entrance examinations. This indicates that the students work on the premise that a particular course or a particular college or a particular degree is the only solution to excelling in life and that their life is doomed if they fail to score and consequentially get into a specific college to take up a particular course. I must say that this indeed is the narrowest and the most restrained academic view that is the reason for the agony and suffering of millions of students. Unfortunately, a lot of parents as well as certain friends, unknowingly and unintentionally aid and abet the formation of this opinion into the impressionable minds of their child and friend since a very young age? What is the outcome of this blinder mentality? The moment you fail to reach the finish line, you decide to pull the gun and press the trigger for the simple reason that you feel that your life is over. A lot of students are driven by social compulsions and standings and are driven to take the drastic step on account of being viewed as a failure by the society.

We all have our moment of weaknesses where we feel like giving up. I too had life altering moments which were inexplicably painful wherein things didn’t go ahead as planned. I didn’t bow down. I fought on and I am happy with what I am doing with my life today. Life and destiny showered severe blows on me and drove me to the point of despair and no return. With all my dreams shattering time and again and after having suffered the worst kind of physical, mental and emotional abuse, pain and torture, I could have chosen the easier path of ending my life for putting an end to all my miseries. However, those dark moments led me to contemplate about pain and agony in general and the temporary nature of the problems in particular. I chose to live life and take the bulls by the horns and face life heads on. People need to learn to completely disregard the public opinion and chose to rebuild their life by focusing on those life values and people which mattered in the long run. The reason why I am giving my example is because if I could survive, so can you.

It is essential to remember the following all the time and in every passing moment:

  • Marks/degrees/qualifications do not define you: Under no circumstances judge and rate yourself by the marks that you score. Life is beautiful. It has many facets to it. It has many colors to it. It is mysterious and worth every breath that you are gifted by the providence. Do not waste you precious breath just because you did not scored well. Do not do injustice to life by giving it such a narrow meaning. You are a precious being. You are valued and cherished. There is a reason why you exist in this world. And that reason does not disappear just because you scored less or failed to get admission in a particular college or degree. Do not limit the reason for your existence. You exist to live, love and laugh your way off through all the pains and troubles. Be a bubbly and joyous companion to life. Life and love is what defines you.
  • When one door closes, other door opens: I make this statement with full confidence from personal experiences. Counselling was never my first choice from academic and professional standpoint. Nevertheless, education counselling defines me today and gives me the highest level of satisfaction. I am actually thankful to all those people who prematurely judged me and rejected me. I did not let those rejections affect me. I may not be earning in dollars but let me tell you that the million dollar smiles on my students’ face when they get the admit they desire and when their Visas get approved is much more valuable than all the dollars that I could have possibly earned. The success of my students is my real bank balance. Am I not the richest person in the world for the gains that I make by contributing to those around me cannot be quantified? The point that I am trying to make is that when plan B could work so well for me, why can’t it work for you? Why despair? Remember that whatever happens, happens for a reason. You deserve another chance. Do not be so unfair to yourself. If one plan does not work, there may be a reason for it not working. There is a chance you may not be happy eventually with Plan A. There is no harm trying Plan B.

 

 

Finally, I have a humble request for all the parents. Please do not make your children into a wish fulfilling factory. Understand their limitations and let them live their life by honoring and supporting their goals and aspirations. I am personally conscious of the fact that many lives would be saved if only all the parents verbatim follow and understand the following advice of the great philosopher Khalil Gibran:

“Your children are not your children.

They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”

― Khalil Gibran

I hope and pray that my students and their parents take my advice in the right spirit…

 

Hiren Rathod.

stay_cool

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Dear Dad,

I hope this letter finds you in divine bliss and peace.

I was contemplating to write this letter to you since a very long time. Alas! The gravity and magnitude of my emotions overwhelmed me every time I tried making an effort to pen my thoughts.

5th April 2010, it was 9am (at Clemson, USA) when I woke up to Mom’s Phone Call. It’s been six years today from the time you departed once and for all to find the ultimate solace and peace. It’s been six years today from the day you commenced your final journey to the other world. How I wish I wouldn’t have had to hear about your death over the phone while being miles away from you. How I wish I would have been there with Mom and Bhumi at that very moment to hug them tight and share and mitigate the inexplicable grief that we collectively felt. How I wish I could have had in me the power to stop you from leaving us. How I wish I would have had the chance to be there with you by your side in your final moments. How I wish I would have had the chance to hug you tight before you breathed your last. How I wish I would have had the chance to tell you how much I loved you as I still do and will always do.

My wish list is very long indeed and the least that I can do for you is not to burden you further with my wishes when you are finally at peace. It has taken six long years to muster the emotional strength to write this letter to you. The simple reason why I am writing this letter to you is to tell you how much I owe to you in this lifetime.

You are aware how life has treated me until date, of the struggles that I went through, of the battles that I was forced to fight since a very young age. Do you know what my reservoir of strength has been in trying times? Do you know how do I quench my thirst of courage? Do you know how I find solace whilst treading on the tough terrain of adversities? My reservoir of strength is the indispensable life lesson that I learnt from you of taking the bull of adversity by its horn and sailing against the tide of life come what may. I quench my thirst of courage by drawing inspiration from the circumstances that you went in life with full gusto and with the “Never Say Die” spirit. I find solace whilst treading the tough terrain by the simple rule of following the rules that you laid of living in the moment.

I know you might be sitting out there and smiling right now that my son is indulging in simplistic hero worshipping like the way every son does. It isn’t a simple hero worship Dad. Your life wasn’t simple and my worship for you stems from how well you lived your life against all odds. I remember how ambitious you were and the Cancer and the Kidney Failure never bogged you down. I recall very well how you use to take a lead in all aspects of life. I know how you built your life from scratch without any financial or social support from any one by sheer hard work, grit and determination. The life that you built brick by brick would have fallen apart like a pack of cards had the cement of courage not held it together whilst being battered by tremendous trying circumstances.

It takes immense courage to fight and defeat hands down the dreadful battle of cancer especially when your kids haven’t come off age and your whole career and life is at stake. I was too young when you were diagnosed of cancer at the peak of your career. I could not empathise with you at the young age of 12. I just remembered that you had taken ill. However, I could never fathom the gravity of the situation or the degree of your suffering. I do not know what kept you going. It is difficult for me to imagine what your state of mind was, of how concerned you would have been considering that we were young and completely dependent on you in more ways than one. But in retrospect, I do remember that you fought back. You did not let cancer break your spirit. You did not let cancer lessen the love for everything that life signified. And it is precisely the strength that you displayed serves to strengthen me in my trying times. It is precisely your “Never Say Die’ attitude that I draw inspiration from when I find myself in the middle of miserable circumstances.

It is difficult for me to forgive life for the way it treated you for as soon as you tried picking the pieces of your life together, life pushed you in the dungeon of another incurable disease. Within a few of years of coming out of cancer, you kidney problems started and I remember the numerous times you were hospitalized and how you use to go all alone for dialysis as if it were a normal visit to the doctor. Such was your strength of character that you behaved normally for our sake despite of being subjected to the painful dialysis process for over a decade. I am deeply and thoroughly indebted to you for the life lesson that you taught me while going through dialysis for such a painfully long tenure. You taught me the lesson of (a) living in the moment, (b) of tenaciously holding on to whatever life and love signifies come what may, and (c) of taking life as it comes and putting your best foot forward.

I do not think I would have been able to face my circumstances and come out stronger and unscratched had I not learnt from the way you dealt with your pain and suffering. You taught me that the trying circumstances of life will push you to the wall, batter you and try ripping you apart. However, it is your strength of character and tenacity that will help you to hold on to life and rise against all odds.

Your death left a permanent dent in my heart. However, it did deliver you from the untold pain and suffering. Your life left you in permanent pain. But it taught me valuable life lessons. I do not who was fairer to you, life or death. Nevertheless, what really matters at the end of the day is that you lived and died with dignity and I will always value and cherish you for that.

I finally wish to tell you dad that death is just a physical separation for you are very much alive in my mind and heart in the form of sweet memories and indomitable spirit.

May you live long in my heart and mind forever…

 

Love you Dad,

Hiren Rathod.

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“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”The Fault...

Not that I read a great deal of literature on account of being hard pressed on time thanks to completely absorbing nature of my profession; I indeed felt compelled to skim through a couple of pages of this brilliantly written novel, “Fault in our Star” by John Green, when I happen to hear a lot about the book from my Sister as the book is based out of the city where she is studying in the US and read the FB status update of my wife as well in which she quoted this simple but profound quote by the author:

Some people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them,” I said.

“Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.”

While I am still in the process of reading this novel, I must say that I read some really beautiful quotes that set me thinking about the ironically complex and yet simple nature of human emotions in the context of the challenges that life gifts you in the beautiful cover of hope. This blog is the first in the series of small write-ups on those quotes that inspired me at many levels:

Quote under analysis:

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.” 

Is getting hurt a matter of choice? Can you make your word completely fool proof off multiple layers of pain? Can you bubble wrap your fragile emotions? Can you meditate your way off the thorny path of failed expectations? For how long can you anaesthetise yourself to induce deep sleep to avoid the consciousness of the real world pain caused by its crawling tentacles of sharp words, failed expectations; shattered dreams and false hopes? The simple truth is that you are bound to get hurt in this word at some stage in life. There is no escaping. It is futile to imagine and hope otherwise. Weaving a web of illusion of a hurt free world is equivalent to signing up for a lifelong program in dejection.

By no means am I suggesting that the situation is without hope; the hope which matters, the hope which is real; the hope which is liberating and the hope that strengthens. While, I completely agree with the author when he says that you do not get to choose if you get hurt in this world; for getting hurt is inevitable; in my view, his observation that “you do have some say in who hurts you” is the balm to many sores of human existence. While you cannot completely eliminate the possibility of getting hurt, you do indeed have the power within you of reducing the possibility to a very great extent. This statement should set you thinking. Who has the right to hurt me? What situation has the power to hurt me? This analysis will help you figure out who is controlling you at conscious and sub-conscious level. This hurt analysis will help you decode your servile nature for you get that things which controls you have the inherent power to hurt you. Are your relationships controlling you? Is your professional life controlling you? Is your social media image controlling you? When I make the choices of eliminating the possibility of getting hurt, I choose to regain complete freedom from those aspects that has been hitherto controlling me. To being with, it is helpful to make a “No hurt” list. While each person may make his or her list depending on their stage in life, I have a long list of “No hurt choice list” list on account of experiencing too much too soon in my life span of 31 years (soon to be).

My no hurt choice list is as follows:

  • I choose to not hurt myself by anything that is fake and false

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by snap judgments that people pass on me all the time without knowing the truth and without making an attempt to know the truth

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by refusing to accept the behavioural standards set by the society as the ultimate benchmark of civility’

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by not feeling guilty if I am unable to fulfil unreasonable expectations

 

  • I choose not to hurt myself by refusing to ridicule and belittle anyone

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by setting unreasonably high emotional expectations from those around me for they are human and are bound to fail

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by completely trusting the power of truth’

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by remembering my painful past

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by refusing to apologize for the crimes that I did not commit

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by not feeling guilty as against the wish of those who want me to feel guilty for no fault of mine

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by those who feel better about themselves by ridiculing me and demeaning me

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by those circumstances that are like passing clouds and will not last forever

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by the sharp words that people use to hide their own weaknesses

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by those who friends and relatives who left me when I needed them the most for I choose to forgive them and liberate myself off the clutches of expectations

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by my changing fortune that is subject to change with the tides of time

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by the judgement of social institutions for they are composed of human beings who are liable to err and fail

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by those who try to give me false hopes for they are themselves sailing through the tumultuous ocean of life

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself through the small setbacks for they are not permanent and shall not last for ever

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by the adverse changes in my body for I can, through self-determination regain back control

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by the opinions that people hold about my physical appearance for I cannot determine and control the way I look and I choose to feel and look good the way I am without being apologetic about it

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by those who are pretentious and superficial

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself if the future is not completely as per my projected expectations

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by those circumstances which are beyond my control

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by refusing to being unnecessarily competitive in my vocation

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by refusing to look and judge at my life through society’s frame of reference

 

  • I choose to not hurt myself by not indulging in over analysis of reasons why things happened the way it happened

I call the above list as my “A to Z List of Hurt Elimination”. While you can use my list as guidance, I recommend that you make your own list on the basis of the way life has treated you thus far. This method of preparing the list of elimination is very powerful and catheterizing. If you put it into practice, you will reach a stage wherein you will narrow down the scope of people, circumstances and events that have power over you and can consequentially hurt you. In the realm of choicelesness, this is the most powerful choice that you can make.

Don’t you aim and aspire to stand rock solid against the harsh waves of life? Don’t you wish to feel calm and strong and fully equipped and ready to fight out against the multiple headed demons of adversity? If yes, I would suggest you sleep over this quote and reduce, if not completely eliminate the possibility of getting hurt!

 

Hiren Rathod.

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Keep Calm

With the season of decisions with regards to admits from the US Universities just around the corner, I often see my students suffering from panic/stress attacks ranging from a very mild degree to the severest degree. While it goes without saying that the whole process of application is daunting and demanding on account of being characterized by numerous formalities at every level, the degree of stress that I see some of my students suffering from saddens me indeed. I am minded of the fact that you all are doing a tight rope walk at this stage and constantly fear your dreams falling apart like a pack of cards. As a counselor, I am not only duty bound to guide you well with respect to making correct choices in accordance with your profile but I feel emotionally and morally obligated to help you sail through the whole process without going through a nervous break-down. The reason why I am motivated to write this piece of advice is because I sincerely desire to drive down some simple truths home which hopefully would help you all even when you take the next leap in your career after completing your education in US. We have been speaking about this through many of our meetings. This time I thought, I would pen it down.

Stress Management:

“Sir, Reject aa gaya… Ab kya karu???”

The most important and indispensable piece of advice that I can give you at this stage is that YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO CUT DOWN YOUR STRESS. Be indifferent to several things around is the key. Please be aware of the fact that you do not have a choice in this aspect. One reject is not the end of the world. It is not a yardstick of your worthiness. A reject from any university is not a death knell of your life and career. It is not the beginning of the end of your dreams and career destination. Don’t let any negative feedback blow your fuse off. Nothing is more precious that your mental stability and peace of mind. Treat your rejects as an opportunity of narrowing down your choices. Think of it as making choices by elimination. Review your rejects objectively. When you get stressed because things do not happen as per your plan; you end up digging the grave of sanity and objectivity. You tend to lose your focus as you the demons of stress attack you all the time and block visibility to common sense reasoning.

Cut down Comparison:

“Sir, Mere dost ko admit aaya… Similar profile tha… Mujhe kab aaega???”

“Sir, Mere dost ne ye Safe University sochke apply kiya… Main kyu nahi kar sakta???”

While most of you are naturally inclined to compare your application/admit status with your peers, in my view, it would be a futile exercise if it has the effect of adding on to your stress. Stop comparing if you find yourself being sucked into the downward spiral of anxiety and stress. The only reason why I might possible permit you to compare is if it helps you pull up your socks in case you have the habit of procrastinating. Aside to this, I do not see any reason why you should compare your progress with your peers. You are already sailing through the ocean of uncertainty and it doesn’t really help your cause if you are desperately searching whether any other ship has landed on the shore especially when you find yourself in the midst of storm. Simply focus on your journey and use all your energy to steer your way out of the storm. Do not forget that I am sailing with you and will help you steer your way out of the storm…

Humility:

“Sir, Best admit aa gaya… Ab toh kahi aur ka dekhna hi nahi… Ab toh seedha America…”

I often see many students climbing the ladder of arrogance the minute they secure good admits. I am afraid this attitude will certainly backfire in the long run. It is indeed very important to have your head over your shoulders. You have a long journey ahead. Do not give life the chance to teach you lessons in humility.

Zindagi abhi lambi baaki hain mere dost…

Blame game:

“Sir, Mere recommender ne Reco Deadline ke baad upload kiya… Usi wajahse reject aaya hain mujhe…”

“Sir, GRE ke time pe bohot thand thi room me… Theek se focus nahi kar paaya aur 2-3 marks kho diye… Issi 2-3 marks se mera admit gaya…”

One of the worst traits that I notice in some of my student is the attitude of not owning up their mistakes and pointing fingers at all and sundry but themselves as soon as things go haywire. I have seen the difference in the lives and career graphs of those who humbly accept their mistakes and those who are forever ready to pin blames at other. It goes without saying that the students who belong to the former category perform well in the long run as they have the strength of character and objective mind-set that serves as the strongest weapons in the battle of life. This is also for the simple reason that once you move to the US and are compelled to take many decisions independently and do not find nobody but yourself to rely on, the inbuilt habit of affixing blame serves no purpose as you have nobody to blame but yourself. Hence, it is essential to retain your objectivity rather than getting drawn into the vicious cycle of blame games.

Cherish small success:

“Sir, Pehla admit aa gaya… Safe University tha, but kya mast lag raha hain…”

It is important to value and cherish every small battle that you win in this arduous journey. Even if you get an admit from a particular university that you do not intend to go, you should value that admit for the simple reason that it establishes your credentials and reaffirms the correctness of your efforts. When you learn to appreciate completion of every single step, for example (a) Completion of SOP; (b) Completion of RECOS; (c) Successful completion of application process; (d) Arrangement of all the finances etc., it has a cascading effect on your positivity and peace of mind. It helps you see as the glass half full and not only makes the whole process only bearable but positively enjoyable.

Hope you guys find my advice helpful. Last, but not the least, remember that I am always there for you! LOAD MAT LO… SAB HO JAYEGA…TENSION MAT LO… 😉

Hiren Rathod.

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Dashrath-Manjhi-7

What moves mountains? Is it faith? Is it firm resolve? Is it passionate love? Or is it a combination of all??? How do you cross the seemingly unsurpassable path of life’s tumultuous journeys made up of small and big goals in the midst of calamites, challenges and road blocks at every turn? Is anything ever unattainable? Is any obstacle ever unsurpassable? Is the mountain really movable? A deeply inspiring story of a poor labourer from Gehlaur, Bihar leads me to conclude that nothing is unattainable indeed. Every obstacle is passable… Mountains indeed are movable… The story of “Dashrath Manjhi” is awe inspiring, to say the least and I would recommend everybody to see the movie made on his life. This is for the simple reason the beautiful and inspiring story of his life will serve as a source of inspiration to you just when you might choose to give up on your dreams, your destination, and your goals.

Dashrath-Manjhi1

 

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A beautiful poem already written on the life of Dashrath Manjhi reproduced below aptly sums up the life of this remarkable man:

There was once a man who lived

in burnt rocky hills

village farmer frail and tilt

humble down to strips

 

and one day his wife fell sick

he took her in his hands

but in path for miles thick

one huge hill did stand

 

he knew but closest path to town

would take whole day on foot

if it weren’t this hill around

get there sooner he could

 

even though he tried his best

kept his faith alive

yet he failed the time’s test

could not save his wife

 

abruptly in his mind

did one thought arise

through conflicting reasons

to himself he surmised

 

“there’ll always be dreams to live

tears to wipe, things to moan

to witness coiling stillness give

reason to your lonesome tone”

 

with this thought himself he backed

and let go of his fears

whom neither Gods could distract

he faced the mountain near

 

a modest hammer in hand

not for once dismayed

unfazed by its candid stand

he stood not once afraid

 

“for he was just some lunatic

who sold his goats for a chisel

for no man can do such trick

surely its all such drivel”

 

inch by inch he chipped away

just one stroke a time

when scorching sun endowed the day

heat fueled up his mind

 

seasons came and seasons went

men who mocked him too

turned to dust who crossed his way

yet he went going through

 

long before his life would cease

two decades marked his trial

all in sweat on forehead crease

and scratched on time’s dial

 

and then arrived this moment

it surely had to come

for in pools of anguish spent

lilies of faith bear from

 

speak your will and do your speak

says the farmer’s life

say you’re strong when you feel weak

marching through your strife

 

for no paths does life forbid

it takes no account

keep on moving as he did

man who moved the mount

majhi2-jul15

Is it not awe-inspiring? So what are the remarkable lessons that we learn from this strong willed man?

Love is the biggest strength: What fuelled the resolve in this frail and poor labourer? What inspired him to take up the seemingly unattainable goal of carving path through the mountain? Was it not undying and deep love for his wife? It was this love that never left his side. It was the strong and selfless love that did not allow him to give up against all odds. It was his love that made him withstand and overlook all the ridicule, contempt and slides that he was subjected to for 22 long years. It was the undying, pure and selfless love for the woman he loved the most. If the force of love could make a poor man move mountain, imagine what love can do in your life. This leads me to conclude love adds meaning to life. In fact, love is life… If the aims of your life do not emanate from the source of love, they certainly aren’t worth chasing. This is because it is the force of love that will keep you going. It is the power of love that will help you surpass seemingly unsurpassable obstacles. Love is the shield that protects you from the pointed arrows of loss, small and big defeats, criticism and worry. To sum up, if you love the dreams that you chase, your dreams will eventually chase you and meet you half way.

 

Firm Resolve: What moves mountain? The remarkable life of Dashrath Manjhi proves that undying love coupled with firm resolve Moves Mountains. The journey may be long and arduous. The path may be thorny indeed. What keeps your faith going? Your firm resolve… You have no option but to be resolute. There may be many times when one might be tempted to give up for the simple reason of getting back into your comfort zone. What saves you from the clutches of your comfort zone? It is your firm resolve… Firm resolve is one of your strongest weapons indeed; for it helps you slay the enemy of dejection, defeat, drudgery, and derision. Keep the weapon of firm resolve close to your heart until your last breath.

 

Indifference to Public Opinion: Dashrath Manjhi was ridiculed, name-called, laughed upon, harrowed, mocked at and looked down upon. Did he give up? No! Did he feel defeated? No! What strengthened his resolve? It was the utter indifference to the ridicule, name calling and mockery that he was subjected to. He was single minded and focused upon his goal that was fuelled by undying love coupled with firm resolve. And what was the consequence? He moved the mountains indeed… What will you do when you are subjected to ridicule, mockery and contempt? Will you give up? Will you break down? Will you withdraw? Look at this man and just do what he did… If you ever intend to move the mountains of your life, be indifferent to mockery, criticism and contempt. That is the only way… There is no other way indeed…

 

Hard Work-The Key to Moving Mountains: Dashrath Manjhi laboured… He toiled day after day under scorching heat and adverse climatic conditions. His resolve was tested a trillion times by terrible conditions. His journey was long and treacherous indeed. But he continued toiling. He worked hard day and night against all odds. It is hard work that moves mountain… You have to work hard… You don’t really have too much of a choice. And why should you shy away from working hard? If your goals are lofty indeed, if you indeed want to move the mountains of your life, inculcate within yourself, the love for labour. Mark my words; love for labour is a lifelong companion. It will never let you down. It will not deceive you. It will only lend beauty and meaning to your life.

 

Never Say Die-Don’t Give Up: It took 22 years for Dashrath Manjhi to move the mountain… 22 long years… It was so easy for him to give up. The hard and treacherous journey could have broken the spirit of many in a jiffy. But the indomitable spirit and never say die attitude of Dashrath Manjhi kept him going. This is the most important lesson… At times, you are tempted to give up just when you are about to attain your goal. After that, all that remains is lifelong regret. And you certainly do not want to die with regrets in your heart. If you would like to die as a contented man, do not give up. Never say die…

Dashrath-Manjhi-8

I am yet to absorb the life-lessons that I have learnt from this strong willed man. The one that I have set out above are just a few. I hope his story inspires you the same way as it has inspired me. Hats off to him and may his life lessons continue to inspire mankind for ever…

 

Hiren Rathod.

 

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10 Things About Time…

By Hiren | Filed in Personal

As an individual who has always oscillated from being a punctual person to a super-late person to being a punctual person again, here are my views on the Concept of Time…

time-management-blog-clock-image

  1. Time is the strangest illusion that remains with you in a fleeting moment and divides your life into two wide chasms of past and future; neither of which can be surpassed or conquered!

 

  1. Is the realization of infinite nature of time a comforting factor; especially when the finite nature of one’s life is hammered into one’s consciousness with every passing moment?

 

  1. Is it time’s fault if it is cruel to one who does not value it?

 

  1. When is time satisfied about its worthy use? Does time feel on the top of the world when one spends it hating, grieving, stressing, cribbing, complaining and whining? Or is time in a happy zone when one spends it loving, caring, rejoicing and sharing? Time is spent either which ways! The way you spend it becomes your definition of Life!

 

  1. Time existed before you were born! Time will exist while you live! Time will exist after you die. Why don’t you then learn something from the infinite nature of time?

 

  1. Time is infinite and you cannot possess it. Does it speak something about the nature of infinity? That is cannot be possessed? Infinity is something that the heart yearns for. Infinite and unbridled love! Why do we then try to possess finite things?

 

  1. What is the relationship between time and love? Is the racing of heart at the sight of your beloved which lasts for fleeting moments the measure of timeless love? Can the longevity of time be used as a yardstick to measure the depth of true love?

 

  1. The passage of time washes away the deepest of scar. What does that speak about the scar to being with? If time does obliterate or blunts the nature of the pain, does the pain surreal at the very first place?

 

  1. Is time not deadly honest right from the moment of men’s birth? Is time not taking a man towards his final destination with every passing moment? Why do man, then, choses to stay in a state of illusion and ignore the calls of time?

 

  1. Loving someone deeply and truly is the only yardstick of time well spent; time waits with baited breath for human race to realize this simple truth since infinity!

 

Hiren Rathod.

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“Where am I going wrong? Don’t I have the right to expect to be treated like a human, if not be loved?” All that I expect is that my feelings should be reciprocated? Am I expecting too much?”

Expectations...

 

These words by a friend who grieved after having broken his heart once again; are playing hide and seek with my conscience. I am a silent spectator to his sordid saga. My expectation of being a helpful friend is leaving me frustrated as I am of no help when it comes to helping him rationalize his expectations. Though my blood boils everytime I speak to him with this regard, but at the end, it all boils down to the theory of expectations. Expectation is an enigmatic person indeed. It has a very strong personality of its own. At times, an expectation come like an angel and lifts your heart from the ocean of unbridled agony. At times, it assumes the role of messenger of death and drowns you in the ocean of despair. Expectation, without doubt, is great illusionist. Expectations delude you into believing that the other person is waiting with bated breath for you, anticipating that you would run into that persons arm. And this is where expectation crosses path with reality! It plays hide and seek with truth. At times, expectations elude logic. At times, expectation escapes naked truth. At times, expectation defies plain common sense.

The pain of a broken heart corrodes the soul. So what shall I advise my friend? Should I advise him to stop loving? Or should I advise him to stop expecting in the matters of love? I advise him to manage his expectations and pat come the reply from him; how can you be logical in the matters of heart? Well, I do not have an answer to that. Matters of heart are beyond the comprehension of mind. It falls outside the realm of common sense and logic. But when it comes to expectations, I believe, that to a certain extent, you do have the power in you to manage and rationalize your expectations. Firstly, if you see a pattern of suffering in your love life again and again, the least that you should do is try analysing whether you are expecting things out of a wrong person time and again? Why is your love unreturned? Why do you trap yourself into an abusive relationship? Why do you always feel as if you are being taken for a ride? Why do you fall for jerks all the time? Love is not a mathematical equation where both a + b will certainly be equal to c + d. But the equation certainly cannot be completely lopsided. You cannot teach a pig how to sing. If you are expecting a cat to bark and a dog to meow out of love, you certainly are going to bang your head against the wall. If you choose to love a person who is self-centred narcissist, don’t blame your lover for sucking the wind out of you. Rather, blame yourself for taking up the impossible task of trying to teach a pig how to sing a song! If you invest 100 crore rupee in a dead stock, beware that you are bound to lose your money, the stock price of the dead stock certain won’t increase.

If you learn to manage your expectations, you will certainly find a way out of abusive and one sided relationships. Lastly, before expecting anything out of a third person, you need to expect things out of yourself. If you don’t expect yourself to be treated with love and respect, don’t expect others to love and respect you.

Coming back to my friend, he continues trying to decode the reasons for his unrequited love while I continue counselling him to manage his expectations in order to prevent him from slipping into the abyss of despair. Sometimes it works, while sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes he sleeps peacefully, while sometimes he cries himself to sleep. Thus, giving us a good understanding that we need to manage our expectations right in order to have a peaceful night of sleep…

 

Hiren Rathod.

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I cannot forget the guilty look on my wife’s face when she was literally swallowing down the sizzling brownie while we went out for dinner last week! Her expression was amusing! It was amusing because it indicated a sense of guilt and a strange innocent trick at the same time! She was guilty because she not only missed out her work out schedule, which, to her disciplined mind, was as good as committing a blasphemy but also because she went a step further and had a full course meal that ended with a sizzling brownie instead of ordering salad as she had firmly resolved before agreeing to come out for dinner with me! The trick that she played on her own self out of her childish belief that the brownie would not add on to her calories in case hurriedly gulped it instead of relishing it was strange and innocent indeed! I think some different laws of physiology and digestion governs Bengalis! On our way home I tried making her feel better at a very heavy cost! Little did I realize that my well-meaning suggestion to ensure that she doesn’t feel guilty on account of a stupid brownie while driving back home would lead to a full-fledged word of war in which the looser, as usual, was pre-destined!

Sizzling Brownie...

Let me give you a glimpse of our conversation:

Me: Relax Esha… It was just a brownie…2000 calories max! You can work and burn it out! Why are you acting as if you lost a case in the Supreme Court of India?

Esha (With a pouting expression): It’s all your fault!

Me (Perplexed): How on earth is it my fault? What did I do now?

Esha (Glaring in Anger): You could have stopped me from eating!

Me (More perplexed): Why? You were not doing anything wrong! You were just enjoying your brownie guiltily! And I very rarely get to see the guilty expression on your face! From the time we are married, you declare me guilty on many counts on many occasions in the course of a day! And you now want me to snatch away from myself the only chance when you look guilty?

Esha (gruffly): I was not guilty! I was only testing you whether you would stop me or not! If you would have cared enough, you would have stopped me! You want me to die of heart-attack! And the expression on my face was that of sadness while eating brownie! You did not notice the silent tear that trickle down through the corner of my eye while eating the potato starters! While munching on the paneer, it stuck me that you want me to die of heart attack and hence you were not stopping me! PROVES ONCE AGAIN THAT YOU DON’T CARE!!!!!

Myself (Startled): But….

Esha (Interrupting me… As usual): I ate the brownie and the dal rice and the starters not because I gave in to temptation! I ate because I was testing you all the while of whether you care about me or not!

Myself: But…But…But…SPEECHLESS!! (My situation was same as Saif Ali Khan in Dil Chahta Hain wherein I went… Lekin Main… Magar Main… Sunoh Toh… Lekin Ye… And this is where I really started feeling REALLY GUILTY…)

We drove back in silence! I was gagged as usual! Esha removed a Cadbury silk and started eating it! In order to prove that I care, I snatched it from her hand! She glared at me and said, “Now after convincing me that you don’t care, you don’t even want to have my normal quote of sugar when I am feeling depressed on account of the face that you really don’t care! God… This Man!”

I was stumped! I was clean bowled! I was lawyered! And I continue being stumped, clean bowled and lawyered with the undying obsession of weight loss race competition of my female pals around me! I fail to understand whether they want to lose weight because they care about their health or whether it is just another fad! For I sincerely believe that weight has nothing to do with beauty! On a serious note, in case you want to lose weight because you really care about your health, I am on the same page with you that it is one of the best decisions of your life! However, if you are concerned about the second chin or bulging tummy or fat hand or heavy thighs, I request you dear ladies to stop torturing yourself about this weigh loss phenomena! It is perfectly fine if you want to shed some extra kilos because it makes you feel confident! But I beseech you not to torture yourself in the rat race of burning calories! The weight loss drive should not be indulged into at the cost of your peace of mind and happiness! You all are beautiful in your own unique ways! When you eat brownie, eat it without feeling guilty… I come from a family where food is given utmost priority… Some people EAT to LIVE whereas we LIVE to EAT and hence, the diet phenomena is quiet redundant at our place…

Coming back to my wife, the other day she asked me to take her snap! While taking her snap; she gave me a million instructions about the camera angle so that all her perceived flabs were not captured by the cruel eye of the camera! I was doing a tight rope walk! And I can very well empathize with all the husbands and boyfriends of my female pals who get spanked when they end up capturing a double chin or other area of flabs and commit the mortal sin in the eye of their better half’s.

My wife is a lawyer! Even if I want to convince her that she is beautiful the way she is, I will be lawyered as she will end up convincing me that she ain’t beautiful on account of those extra cruel kilos! On the top of it, once I have the convinced expression on my face, she will accuse me of not finding her beautiful anymore! It’s a checkmate situation for me!

However, insofar as the other less complicated ladies are concerned, I request you to stop checkmating your husband’s/boyfriend by commencing to love and appreciate yourself the way you are!

 

Hiren Rathod.

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A strange thing happened last week when I was travelling in my car with a close friend of mine, Rajesh and was forced to stop at a signal. While I was preoccupied on account of the heated conversation with Rajesh, my chain of thoughts was broken on account of one signal beggar knocking repeatedly at my car window. I was pulled out of my chain of thoughts by this strange scene! Instead of this beggar, I saw that it was actually Rajesh who was knocking at my car window with desperate expression resembling that of a hungry beggar who has gone without food for a year! I immediately turned to my friend so as to ensure whether my mind was not playing any trick on me! I did realize that my mind was certainly playing a weird trick on me as my friend was sitting right next to me and not begging as I was tricked into believing! Why is it that my mind superimposed my friend’s face on that beggar’s face? Now this friend of mine has a robust personality having been endowed with a 6 feet height and a broad frame on which a square face rests smugly! The poor beggar who was banging my car window was a skeletal looking man on whom providence was certainly unkind!

I did not tell my smug friend about my mind tricks for the fear of the fact that he would be offended! After all, it would be a mortal sin to compare an Upper-Middle Class Guy to a slovenly beggar! However, my mind, it seems, was at daggers with me! While I was watching news, my mind again superimposed Rajesh’s face, not only on the face of a house burglar in the news but also on the face of a terrorist and a corrupt CBI officer! I felt I had lost it! I mean Rajesh certainly cannot be a beggar, a house burglar, a corrupt officer and a terrorist in one vein! My mental imagery of Rajesh would make a devil look like a saint before him! Why was my mind demonising Rajesh? What was my sub-conscious mind trying to convey to me? What was the underlying message of these illusions? Why did I perceive Rajesh in the way I did? On what facts were these perceptions based? My mind was spinning at a furious rate! Just when my mind was getting bombarded with these crazy thoughts, the realization dawned on me that I saw the traits of a beggar, a burglar, a terrorists and a corrupt man in Rajesh at various stages of his life in the last two years!

My mind went racing to the stage right before his wedding! By some strange coincidence, I happened to be at his house when his then would be in-laws were at his plush flat! The father-son duo were telling Rajesh’s father-in-law with folded hands and with humility dripping in the honey laced voice of Rajesh’s father, “Hume Kuch Nahi Chaye, sirf shaadi Two Crore ki Honi Chaye… Hotel Taj Lands End Me…He He He He… Wo kya hai nai… Akhir hum samaaj me rehete hain… Baki ladki agar ek Jodi kapda leke bhi aa jayegi to chalega…Hume koi lalach nahi… Par samaj to samaj hota hain naa… He He He He”. (We don’t want anything. However, you should spend 2 crores in the wedding! After all we are answerable to the society! It is fine if you send your daughter in one pair of clothes. We are not greedy! After all society has certain norm!)

What was the difference between Rajesh, his father, and the slovenly beggar? Weren’t Rajesh and his father beggars in their own right? Assuming if they were not greedy, weren’t they begging to please the society? On the other hand, presuming if they were greedy, in that case, the beggar on the signal merits respect in comparison to these greedy father son duo! At least the signal beggar has a valid reason to beg! Is pleasing the society and/or adhering to superficial downgraded social values ever a valid reason for extracting an exorbitant amount from a family who is reposing so much of trust and faith in you? NO WONDER THAT MY MIND SUPERIMPOSED RAJESH’S FACE ON THE FACE OF THE BEGGAR!!!

A couple of days before the wedding we went out with Rajesh dinner! Rajesh was very happily narrating the details about his future fairy tale wedding! However, he pulled the carpet off my feet when he informed us proudly that his then would be father in law mortgaged his house to arrange for the fairy-tale wedding funds! I asked Rajesh why couldn’t they split the expenses if he was so keen upon having a fairy-tale wedding at the risk of digging his father-in-law’s financial grave? Rajesh gave me a dirty look and said “Are you out of your mind you fool?” This is a part and parcel of life! “Itna toh unko karna hi hoga… Agar ghar girvi rakha toh kya? Dheere Dheere karza chukka Denge”. (This is the least that they have to do! So what if they have mortgaged the house, they can repay the loan later.) Rajesh was perfectly comfortable snatching away his father-in-law’s house for his own selfish end! NO WONDER THAT MY MIND SUPERIMPOSED RAJESH’S FACE ON THE FACE OF THE BURGLAR!

I thereafter recalled the Tilak Ceremony! While we all friends were busy indulging in the wedding delicacies, I saw the terrorized expression in Rajesh’s would be father-in law’s eye! It appeared as he was scared to death! The look on his face was that of a man who may have just embraced death in all its glory! I couldn’t control myself and asked Rajesh if his father in law was okay? He told me not to worry! He further told me that there was a small problem about the Tilak amount! Rajesh’s father declared grandly in a short while that “Samdhji ji ne 5 lakh ke tilak par manzuri de di hain… Bas hume aur kuch nahi chahiye… Rajesh ke liye gold chain aur anghuti aur 5 lakh ka tilak… Itna toh banta hain.” (Rajesh’s in-laws have agreed to present Rajesh with 5 lakh cash in the Tilak ceremony! We do not want anything else. Just a gold chain and a gold ring for Rajesh and the Tilak Amount)! I was feeling giddy! Rajesh’s father-in-law was wiping the sweat off his forehead while talking to his relatives! Rajesh and his father succeeded in terrorizing him into doling out large amount of cash! NO WONDER THAT MY MIND SUPERIMPOSED RAJESH’S FACE ON THE FACE OF THE TERRIORIST!

What else could they have asked for? I-20 car! That’s it! So humble and selfless this father-son due were! Just a petty car! To go ahead with the marriage ceremony, this was the final pre-condition! It was as good as a file pushing clerk wanting a bakshish of Rs. 50 to push the file to the next table! It was as if Rajesh’s father-in-law was stuck in a bureaucratic bottleneck and was compelled to dole out large sum of cash to get his tender passed! NO WONDER THAT MY MIND SUPERIMPOSED RAJESH’S FACE ON THE FACE OF THE CORRUPT OFFICER!

2 years down the line, when I was travelling with Rajesh last week, the status was that Rajesh’s father-in law died of a heart attack within a short span of time as he couldn’t bear the financial pressure! Rajesh’s mother in law was forced to sell the flat and was compelled to move into a smaller rented house! Rajesh’s wife is a muted doll who perfectly fits the bill of the ideal Bahu who is confined to the kitchen and displayed like a trophy in social occasions!

Is this not a tragedy of the highest proportion? And the bigger tragedy is that we are perfectly comfortable with this! We entertain these people who are nothing but a combination of a beggar, burglar, a corrupt official and terrorist in one body and soul! It is extremely shocking that it doesn’t shock our conscience with having such friends around who are perfectly satisfied with this sordid state of affairs! We have to take a call! The next time when your friend comes and boasts to you about his wedding budget, prod further! And in case you see Rajesh’s reflection in your friend, I request you to crown your friend with a title of a beggar, a burglar, a terrorist and a corrupt official publicly! He has to realize that he cannot have a fairy tale wedding in the financial graveyard of his in-law! I hope you will do your bit in making him realize this! I hope you will do your bit in reducing and/or eliminating this social evil!

Lastly, I hope that you will not have a fairy tale wedding at the financial graveyard of your father in law!

 

Hiren Rathod

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Quakes...

What we saw last week was something which is normal in some parts of the World, but those parts don’t see active civilization. But what happened last week disrupted an active civilization. Several questions arose in my mind after watching the news. How do you explain this deadly destruction? How do you rationalize this meaningless misery? The force of nature unleashes itself in full strength, in ruthless glory, without any warning, without any hint, without any sign, and alters the life of millions of people in a fraction of second! Mother Nature is a mysterious personality indeed! She nourishes you in one breath and destroys you in another! She sustains you with her bountiful love for years together and severs you off from your roots for reasons you fail to fathom! Her mighty force makes me fall in love with her all over again in one moment and sends shiver down my spine in another! The Nepal earth quake triggered the images of the Gujarat earthquake, Mumbai floods and Tsunamis and those gory images resurfaced from the dusty by lanes of my memory. I felt humbled when the realization dawned on me that I am nothing but a speck in the hands of this mighty universe! I felt as if I am a leaf who is precariously dangling from a branch and who will be ripped off from it at the lethal nod of Mother Nature. In the midst of being busy with a million mediocre tasks; I was jolted back to reality concerning temporary and terminal nature of my very existence! The dreadful dance of death that nature performed with perfection triggered off a volley of questions in my mind!

Why did it happen in the very first place? Can we do anything to control it? If not, how do we possibly handle it? Do we have an option to give up? Can we exercise the choice of remaining indifferent? Can we escape it? If not, how do we face it? Is life, in any event, not temporary? Just because it is temporary, do we stop living it? Is death the final destination or living life to the fullest in every moment? When do you really die? Do you die when you breathe your last or do you die when you give up on life?

I feel that it is meaningless to bother yourself with questions; the answer to which is beyond the realms of your comprehension. Since ages, philosophers and messiahs have tried decoding the purpose in life and the meaning in death! While I do not claim to be a philosopher in any form or respect, the only thing that is abundantly clear to me is that life is temporary indeed! Just because it is temporary, should I stop living it because it will end sooner or later? The loud and clear answer to this is a big NO! You cannot stop living! If you want to stop living just because you would not live for ever, it would be as good as not watching a movie because you know it will end! It is like not driving because there is a chance that you might meet with an accident! It is like not falling in love because it might be unrequited! Will you stop breathing in because you breathe out?

The only explainable logic is life is to live and love! And more over because it is temporary, you have to live and love to the fullest! You have to cherish every precious second of life! Death is your ultimate companion. But that does not mean that you stop cherishing your temporary companions in life! The events of last week remind me of a very beautiful song and I recommend everyone to hear at regular intervals! I am sure you will start cherishing your temporary life all over again:

 

Har ghadi badal rahi hai roop zindagi
Chaanv hai kabhi, kabhi hai dhoop zindagi
Har pal yahan
Jee bhar jiyo jo hai samaa
Kal ho naa ho
Har ghadi badal rahi hai roop zindagi
Chaanv hai kabhi, kabhi hai dhoop zindagi
Har pal yahan
Jee bhar jiyo jo hai samaa
Kal ho naa ho

Chaahe jo tumhe poore dil se
Milta hai woh mushkil se
Aisa jo koi kahin hai
Bas wohi sabse hasin hai
Uss haath ko tum thaam lo
Woh meherbaan kal ho naa ho
Har pal yahaan
Jee bhar jiyo jo hai samaa
Kal ho naa ho

Palko ke leke saaye
Paas koi jo aaye
Lakh sambhalo paagal dil ko
Dil dhadke hi jaaye
Par soch lo is pal hai jo
Woh daastan kal ho naa ho

Har ghadi badal rahi hai roop zindagi
Chaanv hai kabhi, kabhi hai dhoop zindagi
Har pal yahan
Jee bhar jiyo jo hai samaa
Kal ho naa ho
Har pal yahan
Jee bhar jiyo jo hai samaa
Kal ho naa ho

Jo hai samaa kal ho naa ho

 

With this, all I wish that the Souls of all who lost their lives in the Earthquakes Rest in Peace and I hope the Survivors get back on the feet at the earliest…

Hiren Rathod.

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