Acceptance…

 

Acceptance

“…Which means appreciating them just the way they are.” – I am really not there yet!!! Don’t know if I ever will be. I mean I am not sure if I can “appreciate” people the way they are. Accepting…..yes. I am trying.

I found this image on social media a couple of weeks ago. I have been wanting to write a post on this subject for some time now but just wasn’t able to figure out the right start to it. This image provides exactly that. 10 years ago – I wasn’t the person I am now. I was extremely judgemental and highly opinionated. I had very rigid ideas as to what was right/wrong or how thing ought to be. I have bitched about some close friends behind their backs for the choices they made(…and i regret it now). The realisation that everybody is –  after all, a product of their circumstances over which most of the times one may have no control – came a little late.

I don’t know why I was like this. Was it my upbringing?  I was conditioned to think in a certain manner. I’ve never been a close minded person but just this one bit.  I can’t pin point to what transpired this change. But whatever it was – am more happy and peaceful now than I used to be.  Really – once you start accepting people the way they are – you also start accepting yourself the way you are. Then you don’t try to be someone you’re not. And once you’re there – once you reach that state of mind – you experience a level of comfort with your own self – that you’ve never experienced before. You’re at peace with yourself.  You’re happy. At least that’s what I feel.

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A Nemesis

In andheron se, jujhunga kaise,

Is tarah roshni, itni main jheloon…

Yadoon ki bheed takra rahi yun,

Haath baandhe hue choor ho loon,

Chatpataate hriday ko daya kar…saans lene ka adhikaar de do, de do

Maine tumse kuch nahi maanga…

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Loss…

I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite a long time. Somehow – it kept getting delayed – or may be I do procrastinate sometimes. Just a couple of days ago while on a vacation with some close friends in Harihareshwar – one of them, out of the blue asked me how I am dealing with my mother’s loss. Since we were on a vacation I didn’t really want to go into that direction. We talked about other things. Besides most of what I feel – is either too personal or way beyond my level of comfort to be discussing with most people. But I can put it here.

I lost my mother to Liver cancer a couple of years ago. She was 63.I can go on and on about her. Anybody can do that. That’s not the purpose of this post. Like any other human being – she had her fair share of virtues & vices. But I must mention 3 qualities of her that I admired the most. Positive, Perfectionist & Hard working. I inherited the first two. As for the third – I’ll let you be the judge of that.

She wanted to live long(There are many who don’t). Not just for the sake of it but she had this zeal for life. She loved travelling – which is what she wanted to do the most with the money she had saved. She wanted to do a lot of things. You could feel her presence. You could feel the energy she radiated. The positivity she brought to the not so positive atmosphere at our home back then(more on it later). Even today when I go home from office – the house feels empty.

For almost till a year after her death – I kept getting seeing dreams(most of them I’ve forgotten) almost every day where she’s crying because she doesn’t want to die so soon. Crying, she’s asks me and my sister – “aa mane shu thai gayu?”(“What has happened to me?”)- clenching the quilt. I still get such dreams although not so often. A month before she passed away she told me she saw in her dream a little kid walking in our verandah. She didn’t say anything more than that and I didn’t ask. I guess She died wanting to see my first child.

She was diagnosed with Cancer about 3 months before she passed away. 3 dirtiest months of our lives. And I am not talking about the excruciating pain she went through. When the diagnosis came in, it was very clear to everybody – including my mother that she won’t live for more than a few months. And it’s the way we spent those few months that still gives me sleepless nights every time I think about it. The house that we live in was in her name. Plus she had the money that she had saved. That property had to be distributed. There was really only 1 way for her to distribute it and that’s what she did. Nobody in the family had absolutely any objections to it. But the implementation(paperwork, signatures etc) or a part of it at least had to be done BEFORE she passed away. And that’s where the problem started. I am not saying this paperwork wasn’t necessary. It  was. Only not the way we did it. All those 2-3 months my father, and an uncle kept discussing this. I tried hard to stop or stay out of that discussion. All you could hear all day was “DEATH” – literally every single day. What to do with this a/c after her DEATH? What happens to that FD after her DEATH? We should transfer these shares before she DIES. All of this while she as very much ALIVE and sitting right there in the living room. I tried talking to my father about the way this whole thing was going. I said we could just leave these matters for the time being. It will cause a lot of hassle later on but it was okay. It didn’t happen. There was no love or grace or prayers or any kind of peace at home. She didn’t die peacefully.

My relationship with my sister back then wasn’t just not cordial it was on the verse of collapse. That’s something that bothered my mother the most. I have had and still have differences with my younger sister but never to the extent that I would disown her. Something that my mother failed to realize. And just when they moved her to the ICU it struck me that I must give her that assurance – that no matter what – I’d always be there for her. She immediately slipped in to coma. It was too late. How much I regret not being able to tell her this. It would have meant a lot to her. It would have brought some peace to her in her last moments.

I can’t close this post without a mention to her relationship with my father. One could write an epic on it – or I can describe it in one sentence. 32 Years – they had their knives at each others throats. Me and my sister were the reason my mother didn’t call it quits. That was the sacrifice she gave for us. And that not even once in her last days could I express my gratitude towards her – is a regret I am living with. She was this oasis of positivity and optimism midst the vast sea of negativity and pessimism that is my father. His negativism ruined us – pulled us down every time we tried to do something. Something as simple as booking a railway ticket – “Oh but it’s too late now, you won’t get confirmed tickets”. Without even trying? You see what I mean. How did she spend  T h i r t y  T w o  Y e a r s !!! of her life with this man? God…I shudder to think.

So this is the baggage I am carrying. I don’t intend to forget it – because your past makes you the person you are. But am trying to move on. To being a better person and not repeat the mistakes I’ve made in the past. It’s a long journey….so help me God.

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A Bridge Too Far…

WWII movie buffs like me would know exactly what this title is!!  Wonderful movie as it was – this post isn’t about the movie. For I’ve my own story to share here. I’ve been hooked to beautiful bridges ever since I saw the movie – “The Bridge over the River Kwai

I cannot ever stop admiring a good bridge. They mesmerize me each time I pass by. There’s a certain type of romance associated with them. I particularly like Wooden and Steel bridges. And the Bridge over the River Kwai has a special place in my heart. What a marvelous piece of engineering it was. I’ve no clue who designed it. And it’s really stupid you know  – having to build such a beautiful bridge, in one of the most picturesque locations possible only to blow it up – just so that you can have your perfect shot. Months and months of effort gone down the drain river in a matter of seconds. As if this was not bad enough – they even had a train passing through just as it was being blown up. I’d rather not describe the scene.

Kwai Bridge

The Bridge over the River Kwai

I am so madly in love with this bridge – I had to make a model of it – for my living room. So it’s always there in front of my eyes. I did start working on it. Spent about a couple of weeks constructing its 2 main hexagonal? sections. Some of my calculations went wrong and  there was a difference of about 1/2 cm in the deck height between the 2 structures. Which means that I can’t construct the deck before first aligning the deck height. And this was a YEAR ago!!! I spend 2 weeks constructing the most difficult sections and what should take a day or two to complete has been waiting all this while. The title makes sense now??

I don’t want to post incomplete pictures. It’s still a Bridge Too Far…like many other bridges all over the world.

This also brings to fore a desire I’ve had for long – to actually work on a real bridge. I am a software engineer by training & profession and it’s not the most satisfying professions as in – it is exciting at times but I don’t think I can ever derive the kind of satisfaction or joy or a sense of achievement/fulfillment associated with building a bridge ( or any other infrastructure for that matter – that connects people). I envy those engineers and workers and each time I see a picture of them – huddled together,  helmets on, faces covered with soot,  smiling, pride on their faces : they’ve just connected the 2 ends of the bridge – I want to be there!!! And that satisfaction is not just for the moment. It’s there for every single moment of their lives. Every time they pass by with their families, kids, friends they can say, with their hearts filled with pride – “We worked on this bridge”.

And I’ll never be able to do that. For me it’ll always be the Bridge Too Far….

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The rule of Giving/Helping

I used to help people when they asked for help or give them things they needed – when they needed it – expecting them to reciprocate similarly when I needed help. And when they didn’t – it made me miserable. I could just not get over with it for days. I felt like being used or taken for a ride. Felt stupid and what not. It caused me a lot of mental agony.

And then one day about a year ago – sitting alone at the EME Temple here (I go there quite often. Mostly on weekdays, during lunch hour!!! When there’s absolutely nobody there except for a couple of Guards. Just me and the silence) – where I go when I want to introspect or may be just be by myself, I thought about this whole giving/helping people. I am not a good writer and so I am going to spare you guys of the description of the thoughts that raced through my mind then but this is what I came up with:

You want to help somebody or give away things to somebody, do it and be done with it. End of story. Do it only for the satisfaction you derive out of it. Do it for the Joy of giving you feel. Do it for that priceless expression you see on the faces of people you’ve just helped. Do it for the glitter that you see in their eyes. Do it for that most honest ‘Thank you’ of gratitude you’d hear from them . You expect people to reciprocate and when they don’t you’re only negating the satisfaction and the happiness that act of helping brought to you. You can’t do this to yourself. Why should a noble act bring agony to the doer?

I also made up my mind that I will never – ever – remind anybody of the favours I did to them, for then its basically making them realize their indebtedness towards you, which is really the same thing as expecting them to reciprocate.  I’d rather keep my mouth shut and stop helping them in future, than help them today only to remind them about it in future.

Does this make sense to you guys? Let me know your thoughts.

 

 

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Another masterpiece…

Another masterpiece from Gulzar and composer Vanraj Bhatia’s perfect choice of the ever sublime Bhupinder Singh!!!

Jab kabhi mud ke, dekhta hoon main…

Even after so many  years of listening to Hindi film songs,  every once in a while I still keep coming across such haunting masterpieces – that have me hooked, for days on end.

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The questions you’re asked when you apply for a leave…in INDIA

I was catching up with a close friend who has just returned from the US after a 6 year stint and obviously  if you both happen to be in the same line of work the conversation is bound to steer towards discussing work culture and ethics – apart from other things of course.  It reminded me of an incident almost 7 years ago and I realized that I hardly talked about it so I thought this is a good place to share. Here it goes…

It was June 2008 and I was about 16 months into my second job. I had been slogging on this job right from the beginning taking just a couple of sick leaves, to save leaves for a Motorcycle trip to Ladakh for which I had been planning for a full 6 months. Money saved, companions confirmed, route and itinerary locked, the only thing that remained now was to book the train tickets to Ambala Cantt from where we were to start riding. But not before I first got my leaves approved.

The system there was – in case you wanted more than 10 day’s leave at a stretch you had to first write an email to your reporting manager(RM) making a case for such a long absence. First of all, I hate this system (which I think is a very Indian thing). Its invasion of privacy. If I am entitled to leaves and if the managers are in a position to grant the same – they should just do it. I shouldn’t have to explain to anybody as to “WHY” I wanna go on such a long(or short for that matter) leave. Anyways, in this case I was more than happy to tell him about my plans. So I wrote the email. I wrote about how I had been looking forward to this trip for so long, how I had a hard time finding companions and that finally everything was in place.

I always knew my RM was a dumb ass so I was least expecting him to approve it promptly or wish me luck, or a word of encouragement. But what he told me – had be dumbstruck. He calls me in his cabin upon reading the e-mail and tells me : “I would have approved your leave request if it was something important but not for something like this!!!”

And in my mind I am like – “what the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“Sir, what do you mean by something like this  ? ”  – I ask

“I mean if it was some medical emergency in your family or there was a wedding I would have approved it at once but not for something like this.”

Just WHAT do you tell this guy? I realized at once that for a lot of people life as an adult means having a 9 to 5 job, coming home in the evening and looking after the family affairs. And that’s all. You do anything different, anything outside of that predefined boundary and you are labelled as weird or asocial etc etc. They’ve no concept of somebody being passionate about some form of art, craft, theater or travelling or music or anything else.

So I am standing there, at my wit’s end, wondering what to say when he calls in one of his peers and tell him – “He wants 15 days off for a M’cycle trip to Ladakh. We can’t entertain something like this. What do you think?“. This time I wasn’t surprised the other guy nodded his head in agreement.

I knew it was pointless to try and reason with these guys. It wouldn’t have worked. I know it. They’ve been moulded that way and my arguing wasn’t going to make the slightest difference.

So I said “OK” and got back to my seat, typed my resignation letter and gave them a months notice!!! Yes, There and Then. They weren’t ready to change their position and they knew I wouldn’t change mine. So they accepted it. In fact, even if they had agreed to my leave request I had already lost all inclination to work with that firm. Was going to resign in any case after the trip. Did it 2 months before.

So yes – the Bike trip did happen in September and booooooy!!!…. what a trip it was. 15 most wonderful days of my life – pretty much shaped the person that I am now. Made some new life long friends, cemented some friendships.  Never looked back in life thence.

Now I am a Team Leader and have a bunch of people reporting to me. They come to me sometimes with their leave requests and if I am in a position to grant it……I approve, No questions asked. Sometimes they give me reasons without my even asking and I cut them short. I say ‘Don’t give me reasons. I am not interested. You’re entitled to it so take it.’

Have you ever been in situations where they asked you such  ‘why’, ‘where’ questions when you applied for leaves? How did you deal with it? Why do you think people ask these questions

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