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.

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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

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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…

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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…

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  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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This blog is not describing any incident. This is just a philosophical one to help many around…

Hope is Everything...

Metaphorically speaking, hope is strange person indeed! It is the best friend of the optimist and the fiercest enemy of the pessimist. Its presence has the effect of arming the optimists with the weapon of inner strength and peace! Its absence has the effect of disarming the pessimist of the weapons of confidence and positive action. Its presence gives the optimist a lot of reasons to look forward to and not abandon the cause half way through. Its absence causes the pessimist to take wings and fly off. I have faced several such situations when hope betrayed me and left me in a lurch. In those circumstances, I found myself clinging to the slipping hands of hopes in the desperate attempt of hoping to be pulled off the deep ditch of miserable circumstances. Surprisingly, those clinging attempts proved fruitful. Many a times, I was hoping against hope but well it did pay off and I was actually pulled out and many a times saved myself from falling into the abyss. Hope proved to be a kind mentor and an able guide indeed! This is for the simple reason that it not only pulled me off the desperate circumstances but also showed me the path of the future course of action. It was like a mother whose bosom I clung on to for the purpose of feeling comforted when I saw nothing but dark shadows all around! Like a mother, it not only succeeded in comforting me but also sufficiently equipped me to face my life heads on with full gusto!

You might be wondering what makes me pen my thoughts about hope at this juncture. Well, as a counselor, I see a lot of my students being under tremendous stress! It is the month of April and I see them wait expectantly for admits! They wait expectantly for kick-starting a new life! I see them running around and balancing a lot of stressful activities like a skillful juggler! Some of those who are working are forced to undertake a tight rope walk! In such stressful situations, in case they get a reject from a university instead of an admit, they feel as if the world has fallen apart! I see the slipping into the deep well of pessimism! A lot of students suffer from insomnia and suffer panic attacks. They suffer from a mistaken belief that a couple of rejects from certain universities is the beginning of the end for them! They feel as if rejection is nothing but the signal of death-knell of their hopes, their visions, their dreams and their future!

My dear students, I would like to assure you that you cannot be further from the truth! This thought process is extremely disillusioning and crippling! I trust your abilities and I want you all to trust yourself! Just because you get a couple of rejects doesn’t mean that you make the “state of misery” your constant companion! It is important to have hope! It is important to be full of optimism and confidence! If you cling on to hope and maintain a positive thought process, trust me and mark my words that situation will work out for you, either ways! There is no such thing as a “hopeless” situation! Be full of hope! Be full of life and face things heads on! And most importantly, do not forget that I am there for you whilst I am making every effort to ensure that I guide you well and make you realize your dream.

Again, this is the month of April and you might see many around you with multiple admits and this small write-up is just a small piece of advice for those who are still waiting to get a positive results! I am sure you will very soon… Hence, there is no reason to worry… SO BUCK UP AND RELAX!!!

Hope this helps many… :-)

Hiren Rathod.

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facebook likes

 

The other day when I went out for dinner, I came across a group of college kids sitting on the adjacent table who exhibited a not so very different and all the more common group behavior. These kids might have been around 20 to 22 years old. The waiter was waiting patiently to take their order. But I am sure the waiter wasn’t surprised what took the kids so long to choose from the menu. This is because the waiter, like me, was busy observing the antics of these college kids. 😉 There was this one typical cool dude with spiky hair who was insisting upon his pictures being taken from different angles with different girls in the group, at times, by posing with a ‘V’ sign with his index and middle figure and at other times by holding two of his female friends closely by putting his arms around each of them. His expression said it all. I could actually hear his expressions talking out loud. I could imagine him thinking while he was maintaining the plastic grin on his face until the time his cheeks might have pained. This is what he might have thought:

“I will at least get 45 likes on this picture”. His grin broadened and his eye bulged out during another click when he might have been thinking, “These dudes will get so J when they see my mobile upload with Suzzy and Shena”. 55 likes guaranteed!!! 😛

His grin just grew wider every time the camera flashed. The girls were trying to look their cutest best. They tilted their head slightly and winked upon being asked to say cheese for the click! The other cool dudes did not want to be left behind and took their turns in getting them clicked. The waiter was waiting patiently all along. This is because the waiter knew that they would ask him to take a group picture. After all how will the facebook album be complete without the group photo? After all the group picture fetches the maximum likes. After the group picture, the group finally obliged the waiter and placed the order. No sooner did the waiter disappear, each member in the group pulled out their cells and started with the mobile uploads coupled with the check-in and status updates. One girl in the group yelled! It was a typical yell of a 19 year old gets excited about everything in general and nothing in particular! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! She said, “Oh my God, see who liked my picture! Sahelllll! Oh my God” The other girl got emotional and hugged this excited girl! It was a big achievement after all! Getting the FB picture liked by the hottest dude of the college! 😛

No sooner did their dinner arrive, many members from the group again pulled out their cell and started clicking pictures of the cuisine from different angles. A girl insisted upon her photo being clicked with the lemon ice tea! Another girl wanted her photo with cherry between her lips! The guy wanted his photo to be clicked with the sizzling brownie, maybe to earn some brownie point with some girls. In between taking pictures, they were conversing for a short while and eating as well I guess!

The sight was amusing. And one gets many chances to get amused these days. Mind you, this behavior is not only exhibited by youngsters in the age bracket of 15 to 25! People in the age group of 25 to 55 are no different! They give tough competition to youngsters in the race of getting maximum likes on their picture! It seems that one of the important motivating factors behind socializing at the coolest places is to add another album on Facebook and subsequently keep a tab on the number of likes one gets on each pictures.

I respect the genius in the Facebook team who came up with this idea of Facebook like! He may not have been a software engineer! On the contrary, I am sure that he may have been with a Major in Psychology with an astute economic vision. 😉 This is for the simple reason that he exploited the weakest psychological trait in-built in every human being. The weakness is the need to seek social acknowledgment and approval! The body language of thumbs up has been traditionally used to convey approval/acknowledgement! No wonder this feature of “Like” with the symbol of “Thumbs-UP” un-leased a new social phenomena by exploiting this inbuilt need of seeking the maximum approval/appreciation.

The other day I saw my two colleagues quarrelling bitterly! At first, I was worried. The fight looked so fierce. Upon intervening, I realized my worry was baseless! The fight started because one of them was very hurt as the other refused to “Like” her Facebook profile picture. I had a look of being a ‘Man of NO Words’. 😛

The system of Face-Book likes has created an unwritten social obligation. It can be labeled as the “System of Mutual Likes”. If I like your picture, you should like my picture as well. By a natural corollary of this rule, if you like a person’s picture, and if he doesn’t reciprocate by liking your picture, you stop liking his picture!

I am not saying that I am entirely free of the influence of Facebook likes. Though I sincerely wish that I do get liberated of this psychological need of seeking social approval and socializing purely with the intent of socializing and not flaunting the fact that I socialize!

Hiren Rathod.

Like Me???

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As a thumb rule, whenever I go to see any Hindi movie, I completely switch off the left side of my brains that is responsible for logical reasoning and analyses! As a typical Indian, I want my worth for every penny spent! It is for this very reason that I put the left side of my brain to absolute rest so that I enjoy every frame and scene, howsoever illogical it is and I leave the theatre fully satisfied that the movie was worth my 300 bucks! 😉

Off the many actors in the industry today, I feel that Amir Khan is certainly an exception to the rule and I must admit that I can keep both the sides of my brain completely active and yet not leave the theatre with a sense of guilt about wasting my money! PK was, without doubt, one of the best movies of Amir Khan until date! I was quite pleased with myself for having taken the decision of watching this movie and not feeling dejected or guilty at the end of it. This movie conveys many beautiful messages without getting overtly preachy! These messages not only force you to use the left side of your brains but also compel you to ask the tough questions that we conveniently ignored. Below are couple of messages that I honestly believe are worth taking note of:

 

“Shadi vyah me pataka fod ke band baja baja ke, kaahe sare sheher ko bataya jaat hai ki aaj “I am having sex”???”…

PK1

Question 1: Aren’t we the biggest Hippocrates when it comes to the most basic human instinct “SEX”?

To be frank, this dialogue would pull the carpet off the feet of many traditionalists! We may not admit openly, but the basic role of the institution of marriage is unfortunately to legalize sex! One basic question that does not cease to bother me is that if sex was as sinful as it is projected by each and every religious folds, why would, in that case, nature or god make sex as the medium of procreation! Inbuilt hypocrisy is the hallmark of many religious folds! A person who is open about his sexual preference is often termed as characterless! If sex is so sinful, how does it become pious merely by chanting few mantras or exchanging wows? Is it not obvious that the goal of institutionalized religion is to control and direct human race as a whole! And the best way to control human race is to create a strong sense of guilt amongst them by making them feel unworthy for honouring their very primal instinct! The concept of ‘first night’ is highly overrated merely because of the underlying presumption that a person is “not” supposed to indulge in this so called “sinful” activity without religious sanctions! We need to ask ourselves these questions whether we are have been manipulated since time immemorial by institutional religious bodies? This question merits much consideration in my view!!

 

 “Asli God fark banata to Thappa laga ke bhejta, Hai koi thappa baadi pe?”

PK2

Question 2- Are not all differences in the mind? Why do we blame nature for the differences?

The worst trait of human mind is the in-built trait to differentiate and classify! Don’t we excel in the art and science of differentiating and discriminating! Us versus them is our favourite past time! Don’t we come across a person who might be completely ignorant and who may not have done a single good deed gloating in self-satisfaction on account of being a “Brahmin” or “Rajput” by birth? We divide, divide and divide. Rich versus poor/ Brahmin versus Shudras/ Hindus versus Muslims/South Mumbai versus Suburbs/ India versus Pakistan! We simply excel in the task of dividing! What do we stand to gain by this? All that we do is that we massage our big fat egos in the name of these divisions! Don’t we?

 

“Humka laagat hai bhagwan se baat kare ka communication system is gola ka total lul ho chuka hai”

PK3

 

Question 3-Are we really communicating effectively with our inner selves? Are we communicating effectively with our inner guiding light?

The concept of God may mean many things to many people. To me, the concept of God is a Myth… I feel that it is what we do that determines who we are… It deals with my sense of right and wrong. It is not an external penalizing god sitting right up there with a stick in his hand just waiting to punish me if I do not behave as per his whims and fancies! I might very well be regarded as an “ATHEIST” in the conventional sense as I do not believe in the God who is sitting there as a judge! I do not become un-godly if I refuse to go to a temple or follow rituals! I am certainly ungodly if I hurt somebody or refuse to help if it is within my capacity! How many of us really communicate with our inner selves fearlessly? Are we not guided by certain preconceived notions that stems out of fear? Miscommunication not only affects human relationships with each other, it fundamentally and adversely affects a person’s relationship with himself or herself!

 

“Apne Apne bhagwan ki raksha karna band karo, warna is gola me insaan nahi bas joota reh jayega…”

PK4

Question 4-Isnt the whole world going mad in the name of defending individual religious beliefs?

The history of human civilization reeks of the smell of blood! Numerous holy wars were fought historically in the name of defending one’s faith! So many militant religious organizations are springing up right, left and centre in the garb of protecting one’s faith! And let us admit that every institutionalized religion has been guilty of sowing divisive seeds in the name of defending and protecting one’s faith! How long will we continue like that? Does the all-power and all mighty creator really needs protection from human race who is so fickle and weak in thoughts and deeds to begin with? Presuming if God exists, are we not grossly underestimating his own capacity to continue without the need for us to bicker and fight over him? Is our faith so weak that it will perish merely because someone else is badmouthing about it? Why are so insecure about our beliefs and value systems? Why are we always so willing and eager to remove our swords and slay fellow human beings in the name of defending our religion? Does it not exhibit our weakness? Is in not the sign of in-built fallacies in our value systems to being with?

These questions are very relevant if we want to move ahead on the path of sanity! Rather than getting offended by the film, it is advisable that we pick up the right lessons and ponder over it! I wish Bollywood comes up with such meaningful cinema a little more frequently.

And now I am sure that after reading this post, some people will come knocking on my door asking me to either block this website or bring it down… 😉

Hiren Rathod.

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