Let the light come into your life!

A sparrow trusts the divine and never complains of the rice it didn’t get but the wheat grain it had to eat instead. It never questions divine intelligence. It lives every day of its life joyously. It leaves its destiny into the powerful hands of the divine and lives peacefully. 

But we human beings question everything because we have to see the logic behind everything. 

When the things that should never happen to us, don’t happen, we think we have been betrayed or cheated. We lose faith in divine and take control. We fail to recognize that the force that makes us see with the eye that cannot be replicated; the force that makes our heart pump and feel emotions (a device that keeps working non-stop for as long as some 80 years); the force that runs the autonomous system within us which regulates temperature of our body more efficiently than the best of an air conditioner known to us; the force that runs the miracle of life – this force can have a much higher and intelligent plan for us than our limited thinking can even begin to perceive. We weep, despair and complain because rubbish doesn’t fall on our lap. 

When we cannot get the divine to bring rubbish to our lives we start creating rubbish ourselves and that is where the divine has no control. Because he has given us complete freedom to be whatever we desire to be. It will never let bad things happen to us. Never. But our action’s reaction, to the situations we do not accept, is a law that even he cant change. 

Many years later we always realize why what we did not get was rubbish. But by then it is too late. We, using our freedom, have changed our DNA because of the negative behavior and response to the things we do not accept. These negative patterns seep into our genes and become impossible to remove. We will always get the answers why certain things didn’t happen to us, but they have a habit of coming in late. We have to learn to be patient. 

The sparrow is frail, yet its sight is a joy to behold. Can we not accept what comes and be the sparrows for the world? Let the light flow in and be the light itself? 

Coz when we open the doors and windows to light, life becomes suddenly very bright. And a lot of good starts happening in that light….

The Guy Who Ate Aloo Chaawal

There was a guy amongst us whose favourite dish was the most inappropriate of the combinations. He would always order aloo (dry and without curry) along with chaawal when all of us sat down to eat. Everyone would gawk at the odd combination he would gulp down. What he ate seemed ridiculous to all of us!

Every other thing about him was weird. He used to wear a green shirt with blue pants, red socks and brown shoes. He would have been an object of ridicule but for his brilliance and most of us relied on him when we got stuck with our jobs. He was a mine of information and always seemed to be ready with solutions whenever we got stuck!

So everyone tolerated his weird combinations. If he would have been anyone else, he would have been an outcast in our circle.

Then for sometime, he began to stay aloof. He would disappear for long periods of time in the evenings and seemed to have quit from our social circle.

Then the transformation happened.

He was back to normal. It seemed incredible! He would eat what everyone would eat and stopped eating Aloo Chawal. He also stopped wearing weird color combinations when it came to clothes and looked very smart and handsome.

For sometime we did not ask him the reason of the sudden change. But when it became a routine for a fairly long time, one of us couldnt help but ask.

His reply was amazing!

“I was brilliant but foolish when it came to applying my brilliance. I had the desire to be a healthy human being but was messing with my health with smoking and drinking. I wanted to get the best out of my environment but was driving the most polluting SUV. I wanted other people to respect me while I had no respect for them. I was at odds with myself in almost everything. i did observe my odd behaviour but could do little to rectify it. So I decided to live with unsuitable combinations when it came to eating and dressing because my life was a horrible mix and match of unsuitable combinations. I vowed that I would punish myself till the time I achieved at least 80% harmony in the goals of my life. My weird combination of aloo chawal and my colorful dressing sense would serve me as a reminder. That my life was too messed up and needed attention and this was a good way to remind me of my priorities.”

“So what changed you? How did you get that 80% harmony?”

I started meditating. It gave me inner connection and the strength to change what I previously couldn’t. From observing my flaws helplessly, I could transform myself and get rid of my conflicting behaviour. I changed for good and now I don’t see any reason to eat Aloo Chawal. I am living in harmony with my priorities!”

So that explained his long periods of absence. He was connecting with himself, achieving the harmony and removing the discord. And he had worked it from inside out.

His words made us introspect. There was too much of Aloo Chawal in our life too. Only we were blind to it!

Some parts of North India experiencing a cold wave in June!

There is a cold wave blowing in North India. Yes, in the middle of June.

The temperature has dipped to 15 degrees centigrade at many places.

Many children have been affected by this wave have been hospitalized with pneumonia. Several of them are on nebulizers. The adults are showing symptoms of cold no medicine can treat. They have bad throats and fever. Yet another set of people have joint pains and body aches. The sale of light blankets and quilts has gone up too.

Don’t believe it? Heat wave is for the poor people. The rich are suffering the impact of a cold wave in June as their air conditioners set on 15 degrees cause all the side effects of a cold wave in North India.

Their children are on nebulizers and many of them have actually been hospitalized because the light quilts they wear at night fell off their body and their body was chilled to sickness.

Two kinds of people, living in two extremes in June, in North India.

Need some balance in life in heat. And everything.

Everyone will pay a price for extremes. Some sooner, others later. There is no getting away from it.

Act now. Achieve balance in life!

I hated my father

How I hated him for everything.

His inability to earn enough money for us. His laid back life. His preference for spirituality rather than wealth. His pathetic reasons for not buying me Smart phones and instead hand me over cheap phones I felt so ashamed to possess. His shirking brands and going in for cheap clothes that I am sure had many people laughing behind my back.

For every godamn thing he had a reason. There was no way I could win an argument against him.

I had wanted a laptop but he planted a desktop for me giving all the reasons why a desktop was a better option.

The fact was that he was taking life a bit too easy instead of slogging hard and getting in the moolah that was so necessary for me to have all the things I wanted.

“There is a fine balance between wealth and joy. Excess of wealth can eat into joy which I don’t want. We are happy with whatever we have.”

He was into a government job. While all his colleagues minted money through bribes, he was the only one who didn’t take any bribes. And because he did not pay out to his seniors, he was never promoted. He didn’t make a compromise and because of it I was making compromises everywhere in life.

OK, it is bad to take bribes, but he could have taken up to some business. When I suggested this to him he said that Govt rules did not allow that and so he didn’t take up any business. Govt rules my foot! Look left and right  and you will hardly find any govt official observing rules. He did. And I suspected it was more because he wanted to take life easy, rather than being an honest person.

So we had big quarrels at home whenever I wanted a new pair of jeans, pocket money, the latest phone, or the laptop. He would open his purse only for bare essentials like he called them. And this meant books and studies. As if nothing else was important.

So I would raise my voice, shout, cry and pull my hair but he would not budge. He would either become very quiet or leave the house, leaving me frustrated.

The one who said that one could choose many things in the world but not one’s parents was dead right. I hated him from the bottom of my heart. Everywhere I saw parents pampering their only child and here I was, the most neglected, only child of the home. What a suck kind of luck was I born with. And how I hated being a part of this stingy family. Maybe it had got to do with my being a girl and not a boy!

Despite his claims of having less, he wasted a lot of money on charity. He would give alms to the poor. Once I actually stood in front of him with a begging bowl. The poor were actually luckier than me. He did not budge from his position and laughed it off.

So there were no birthday celebrations, no dining out, hardly a few holidays and just one movie in say two years. It was like I was living in a deprived African nation.

Then one day he died in a road accident. With the only earning member of the family gone, I was worried about the future. Mom was handicapped, both her legs were useless. But Mom, when she came out of her grief said he had made provisions for us with a hefty insurance. The amount was so big that we were richer with him dead, than he was alive. And in some corner of my heart, I cheered the fact that maybe now, I can get all those things he denied to me. Moreover, I was about to complete my education from IIT and being one of the top performers, I would definitely get a good job. So freedom was not far away.

On the tenth day after his death, mom handed me an envelope.

“He always had a premonition that he would die early. That is why he insured himself so heavily. And he had written this letter many years ago and wanted me to hand it to you, in case he died.”

I rolled my eyes. What sort of a father was he? And what could he possibly have written. Let me guess. Instructions to spend the money wisely. To be conscious of value for money. Not to be lavish. Think of the poor (as if I was rich!). All those things that he repeated and which irritated me no end.

Dearest Anuradha,

I am very proud of the way you have shaped yourself. Worked hard to be where you are. Every day, whenever I see you, I feel happy of the decision I made 20 years ago. Your mom could not have borne a child because of her handicap and so we adopted you. My mother wanted us to adopt a boy but I wanted a girl all along and when I saw you, I instinctively felt you were born to light up our home.

Three days later, when you developed pneumonia and we were told to admit you in the hospital, mom, my mother tried to convince me to send you back to the adoption centre from where we adopted you. The pressure was so much, and the money which I had was so less that I drove you back on that rainy day. When I was about to get down from the car, to return you from where I adopted you, you caught hold of my finger and smiled a beautiful smile. A thought occurred to me that instant. What if you were born to me? And what if you fell ill? To which place would I have gone to ‘return’ you?

I made the decision then and there. I took you back home. Mom called me insane but I had made my decision. You would be our daughter. No way I would return you to the adoption centre.

I had to spent 2 lacs on the operation. In that difficult time, my new car, which I had purchased a few months ago, was stolen. Mom kept telling me that you were jinxed and I should pack you back before it is too late. But you were our daughter, come what may.

That difficult phase of life passed and it took a long way to recover from that setback but we never felt sad for a moment. You were there to light our life and our home and make us so happy. We were glad you were a part of life. You made us forget any difficulty I was facing at my job because of the extremely corrupt and harrowing environment that I faced every day.

I know I have not been able to provide you with luxuries but I tried not to compromise on any necessities. Whenever they arose, God helped us by way of increments and salary hikes. There was not excess but there was enough to cope with expenses.

If you get this letter, it would mean I am no more. With my death, you would have some wealth that I could not give to you when I was alive. But I did my best and expect you to be a shining example of humanity. More than the love for worldly things, I would want you to have love for worldly living beings. I can see it there in you and with your intelligence and compassion, you will surely become an inspiration one day.

Be good to your mom, she has been my strength all these years. She enabled me to rough out life, even though people call her disabled.

I am glad of the two women who came in my life. You and her.

Don’t grieve over my death. We are here to play our roles and make the lives of other people easier. When the role is over, it is time to quit. But let’s do the best of our bit.

God bless!

The paper got smudged with tears. I remembered the stories of the horror of adoption homes where girls had been exploited, abused and raped. I saw all those things he did for me without complaint. I saw his face light up with a smile I always thought was a sarcastic grin.

What kind of a father was he?

I began to sob uncontrollably………

5 Stray Dogs, 1 Dilemma & Life’s Learnings

We are a big joint family. My parents, my younger brother’s family and mine, we all live together. We have a joint kitchen too. Feeding nine people means cooking a bit extra and that means a bit of wastage when it comes to food. We did try our best to cook a bit less but then seeing someone go hungry while the rest enjoyed a feast was a no no.

Everyday food was being thrown and it broke our heart.

So we were faced by a dilemma: What to do? Solution was not far away. There were many street dogs in our locality who looked expectantly at us for food and all of them surprisingly well mannered.

So the dilemma was resolved and I started feeding them.

At this point another dilemma erupted. One of these stray dogs was very strong and others were nervous of his presence. He merely had to appear and all the rest would go away. Even if they tried to partake the food, a mere growl from this strong dog was enough to scare them away.

Seeing the dog eat away all the food while the rest went hungry caused another dilemma. What to do?

We tried to give food to the other dogs on the sly. But this big dog had an uncanny intuition. He would appear suddenly out of nowhere and the poor dogs that had just settled to eat a meal would run away.

So we tried to get them into our house and locked the gate behind them and let them eat heartily. For some days the solution looked perfect. But the stray dogs became so comfortable inside the house that all of them started roaming inside our verandah (which is big). They would jump at and topple the dustbin and scatter the garbage, leaving behind a mess. They would rub their bodies against the sarees hung for drying. The younger dogs would even poop and piss. As time passed by, they became bolder and started walking in to our rooms.

Now, instead of giving food we were trying to chase them away all the day. I used to even throw chappals at them but making sure that they were never hit. But they were undeterred. Soon I brought a long bamboo stick and was chasing them, making sure never to hit them because I shun cruelty to helpless animals. They understood that I was less of angry and more of frustrated with them. Naturally, it took a really long time to get rid of them.

The traumatic experience made us shun serving them food. And so everyday food was being thrown to the bin while the dogs outside starved.

The bamboo stick was lying idle now as the dogs had stopped coming in. One day as I was about to throw food into the garbage bin, I had an idea. I picked the stick and took the food outside our gates (there are two). The problem was of our own making as we had invited the dogs inside and after that they thought it was their territory (dogs are territorial animals). The minute I served them food, the big dog appeared. But I was ready. I showed him the stick and he backed away. The other dogs had their food to their fill and the big dog slinked away after making two attempts to overpower them. Every time, I showed him the stick and he backed off.

I had a solution!

Once again, everyday I started serving these dogs food and the strong dog would try to frighten them, but my stick would deter him.

I was happy with the breakthrough but over the weeks, seeing the big dog leave dejectedly created another dilemma. It was not his fault that he was strong. He was just living in an animal world where the fittest survive. And now I was punishing him just because he was fit. That was no answer to the problem. In fact he needed more food than others because he was built solidly.

So the next day, I offered him some food and beckoned him. But he was confused. He would see my stick and back away. Slowly, I won his confidence and he ate his food.

The next day thinking I had become friendly, he tried to scare the other dogs but when I showed my stick he quietened his growls. It was an uneasy equillibrium, but I could get them all to eat.

10 days later, the stick became obsolete. All the dogs learned to share their meal peacefully.

The dilemma was resolved as the animals learned to co-exist instead of follow the survival of the fittest story or take us for granted.

So how does it reflect real life?

The incident forced me to think. We human beings are no different from the dogs. The ones who are strong can really corner the weak. It takes the law and the fear of the divine for us to share our bounty with others. 

At another level, parents with two children, one strong and the other weak go all out to support the weak child, little realizing that the stronger child too needs support exactly because he is strong and can go really a long way with just a little push. The support to the weaker child should never be at the cost of the stronger child because the stronger child will lose his potential and the weaker child will become manipulative, intrusive, selfish and troublesome, just like the weaker dogs who created anarchy because we supported them wrongly.

The trick is to follow the middle path as suggested by Buddha. Not maximizing one person at the cost of another, but optimizing.

Would love to hear your views on this.

 

AND SHE LIVED FOREVER!

When she first uttered those words, he never imagined she meant them literally. At that time so much was happening in their lives that this one ambiguous sentence didn’t mean much. It lost its significance in the more important things happening between them, things that distracted…

…Like her first touch – when he held her hand and felt the smallness and softness of it.

…Their very first kiss in the shadows by the moonlight.

…Watching her in the pink shades of her dress in which she looked so beautiful.

…Getting drenched in the rain, being aware of no one, just her.

…Everyone looking at her, but she aware, only of him.

…And the flowers that she brought for him along with her smiles.

Her presence could change the Boat Club where he was a regular – it looked different, just like everything in his world had started looking different. He kept rowing on that moonlit night unmindful of anything because she was with him. Afterwards, when she noticed his blisters she had tears in her eyes. When she took them in her hands and kissed those blisters, he felt his pain easing away. And he remembered how her lips felt on them, long after.

He discovered joys as they unwrapped like parcels, bit by bit and so teasingly.

Some moments, he felt were more poignant because of which they are special. They remain as sharp as ever, in memories despite the march of the years. They had the power to take him, in one fleeting instant, right there where it all happened – for him to feel the fragrance, the intensity of the sunshine, the texture of clothes, the details of grass on ground and the person he was with. And it wasn’t a coincidence that most of these poignant moments revolved around her. Every single detail seemed to come alive – to make him participate in that time travel, once again. Most other memories seemed to fade away, not these moments, because they are immortal and as sharp as ever. They lived forever, just like she wished to live forever.

“I wish to live forever!”

On their wedding night she repeated the words.

Though he had taken her a little more seriously this time, the promise of the impending moment distracted him, yet again.

They explored each others bodies and souls and felt complete oneness. And he forgot all about her strange wish.

 

———

 When they went to see the Taj on their honeymoon, he was awed by its beauty and the backdrop of romance in which stood the monument.

“What are you thinking?”

“It’s a strange monument. I can feel a lingering sadness here. It’s because it is in the memory of a death.”

“But it’s in memory of love.”

“No. It’s predominantly a tragic love story, which is why I don’t find it exciting.”

“I find it beautiful-”

“Death makes me uncomfortable. Can’t it be conquered? I can never celebrate death. I wish to live forever, and be with you.”

And then he understood that she was speaking of immortality, physical immortality.

“Everyone has to die one day,” he said. “We are no exceptions.”

“I wish to be.”

“But I’m a writer, not a scientist. You married the wrong man.”

“Wrong? But you are imaginative! To overcome death, all you need is imagination.”

Her persistence made him a little uncomfortable.

“Promise me you’ll find a way. I’m afraid of death. Afraid of losing you. I don’t wish to die. I wish to live forever.”

“I can’t promise you something I may not accomplish,” he said. “And it’s because I love you, I can’t feed you with false promises.”

“That’s why you are my hope. But say you’ll try.”

“I will.”

And she had snuggled up to him.

———

Necrophobia, another name for the fear of death and fear of dead things, is the most common; this surprisingly common phobia causes countless people needless distress.

He read the words on his computer screen. It wasn’t unusual. Millions of people shared her fear. To him it meant fear of the inevitable. Where to begin the impossible search for an eternal life? He didn’t know that, what he knew was that he loved her.

From vampires to rituals to potions to cults, he read through the dark side of immortality. The beliefs and practices nauseated him. This wasn’t his way and he would not even try the route. So what else could he do?

He extended his search and spent more time on it.

———

 Years passed by, but he found nothing and the search became an obsession.

And once every year, on their wedding anniversary, she would remind him of his promise. So he would double up his efforts, spend all the time he had on his research.

He explored different places, met strange people who had insights to offer. But at the end of his quest, he didn’t have anything concrete.

———

 Every development in science made him happy. He felt on a surer ground here. Genome mapping, gene therapy, stem cells and RNA developments would make human beings immortal one day.

“One day, yes. But I may not live that long.” She would say whenever he would show her a clipping.

“Just another 10 years, you wait and see,” he would say. And file away the development in a thick book that had every tit-bit on aging, death and immortality.

———

 It turned out that her fears were based on an uncanny intuition. A bus hit her while she was walking through the rain, to meet him. She had been late.

“My fear was right…” She said.

He held her hand.

She tried to smile as she lay on her bed, surrounded by gadgets that were beeping nervously. She was in a lot of pain, despite the sedatives, her head bandaged. The brain surgery had failed.

“I’m going…”

“No! You’ll live. You can’t leave me like this…”

“There’s no hope. I know…”

“I-I failed…” He began to sob. And kissed her hands.

“Don’t feel bad. I know you tried. It’s impossible not to die. Hey look! I’m not afraid anymore?”

“Yes. I can see that…”

She looked so frail, so vulnerable at that moment. And he felt absolutely helpless, watching her edge out of existence. Every moment taking her to a distance he would never be able to catch up with.

“Smile. I wish to see you smile before I leave. Not like this…”

And then she closed her eyes.

———

 “She’s brain dead. Her heart is functioning but because of the severe head injuries she-”

“Any hope she’ll recover?”

“No. In scientific terms she’s dead.” The doctor said.

He grieved for her and a life without her. He grieved because he couldn’t find out a way to make her immortal.

“But I’m a writer. Not a scientist.”

“You are imaginative. To overcome death all you need is imagination.”

He remembered those words when they wheeled away her body.

To overcome death, you need imagination.

Something snapped in his mind as he remembered a cutting he had pasted in that thick file of his, the one with all the facts he had gathered on developments and facts on aging and immortality. Maybe there was a way out, still.

“Wait!” He stopped the ward boys.

———

He rushed to the doctor who had been in charge of her surgery. He was breathless when he reached his room.

“Doc-

”Yes?”

He told him what he was thinking.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Please. I would like to complete the formalities immediately.”

The doctor made some calls.

Within 20 minutes a team arrived and they carried her away.

———

 Two blind children had their eyes restored. A firefighter with 70 per cent burns survived because he received her skin. A woman with damaged kidneys survived after doctors had given up all hope. An engineer, an accident victim with damaged intestines, lived. A middle aged executive lived because he got a heart transplant – her heart. A girl with severely damaged lungs got life. And a youth got his pancreas just when his family had lost hope.

7 people lived, because they received organs and tissues from her, after her death.

———

 “No! Don’t.” He told his sister when she was about to garland her photograph.

“Why?”

“She doesn’t need those flowers because she isn’t dead. She lives in all those people she gave life to.”

“Oh!”

“And she’s immortal because even they have pledged to donate every usable part of their body after their death, to emulate her example.”

“You are right. She’s become immortal.”

Though she smiled, he could see tears in her eyes.

Maybe that is why you had more faith in me than a scientist!

He could feel her presence.

He would never be alone.

Because she would live forever!

THE ANT WHO TAUGHT ME A LESSON

Yesterday I saw a huge ant. It looked menacing and I didn’t know what to do. It was near my computer and I knew if I ignore it, it would bite me, my daughter or my wife one day.Or bring more of its companions. Which was even more dangerous. It was conveniently near a hammer.

I respect life. But “Something as menacing as this can’t be ignored,” was the logic that prevailed.

So I picked the hammer and killed it. And made me guilty, immediately.

Something was wrong and it forced me to introspect.

That ant was a complex life form. So complex that no human being could create it.

Then did I have a right to take away its life?

And then dawned an understanding of what was wrong.

I could have picked a paper, scooped it and left it outside, in the open in an environment that was friendlier to that ant.

I would have removed the passive threat from my home and let it live.

I resolved I will do this for all life forms in the future.

And the analogy extends to human beings too.

Some people trouble us and our first reaction is to hit them with a hammer (our retorts, anger etc.) But each individual is complex and varied, adding to the diversity of human beings that has helped us come this far. Each individual has exceptional qualities not found in any.

The ant is a scavenger and is among the many animals necessary for a human being’s survival. 

Similarly, irritants like the colleague or next door neighbor who trouble us are important in creation. 

Otherwise they wouldn’t have been here among us. They all have something to teach us. Lessons we have to learn and master.

If we are not aligned to the views of these irritants, it’s best we scoop them out of our lives, mentally. We can’t set them free, but we do, ourselves. We get liberated.

The life of that ant didn’t go waste. I will ensure it won’t.

5 Bread Slices and Aloo Gobhi

He was a newbie to our office.

He brought 5 slices of brown bread and Aloo Gobhi to office everyday. He would heat it in the microwave and gulp them down with two cups of coffee.

We all shared food amongst each other and found his eccentric behaviour funny. In every other matter he was normal.

He ate alone and didnt eat with us. Besides who would want to share the kind of meal he brought to office everyday. We would have been the losers, not him.

He was ‘normal’ in every other way.

Office is office and there will be gossip behind people’s back. Everyone used to comment at his back. Laugh at him or speak in an unkind way.

This continued for two years. Then he resigned one day.

It was his last day at the office. This time when he opned his tiffin box there were no bread slices. But biryani, kadai paneer and curd. This was completely unlike him.

It was this day or never. If we didnt ask him the question that was uppermost in our mind we would all die with the mystery unsolved.

‘Sir, if you dont mind, can I ask you a question?” We formed a semi-circle around him, with him at the centre.

“Yes?” He was not the least intimidated.

“Why did you just eat those 5 slices of bread and aloo gobhi everyday? For 2 years?”

He laughed. “You took a long time to ask the question. Well, every day we take the same route to office. Everyday we sleep at exactly the same time. Every day of our life is no different from the previous. We do nothing with our lives. When every aspect of our lives is the same, why should the food be different. I vowed I would eat the same stuff as long as I would do the same thing day after day…”

“And this change today ? What’s the reason?”

“For 7 years I was trying to complete a novel I was writing. Every other distraction was welcome, because it was damn tough to work in discipline. So I took the vow. That I had to publish my book before I would get rid of those 5 slices and aloo gobhi. Yesterday the novel got accepted. I had broken my routine. Did something with my life after all.”

He shared his meal with us that day. It was the tastiest lunch I ever had.

“Please do show us the copy of the novel when it appears in print,” we told him as we saw him off.

It was amazing, we had a writer amidst us and we never knew anything about him.

While driving back home, I saw his point of view.

The same boring road. The same routine.

Life was precious and ticking by.

I too began to think of my passion. Photography.

I would have to do something about it.

Next day, I too brought 5 slices of bread and aloo gobhi.

I was not alone. Three more colleagues had the same menu.

We didnt laugh when we saw the coincidence.

Warning: Don’t let yourself be Hijacked

We are constantly being hijacked from that space we need exclusively to ourselves. Where we connect with our inner being. Have a conversation with our self. Get to know where we were supposed to be and where we are. Introspect. Connect. Course correct.

But somehow we have come to dread this coming face to face with our self. There is a reason. We do not wish to face the discomfort that entails: We are happy doing whatever we are doing. Inconsequential things because they are easy.

Facebook. Ipods. TV. Time at the pub. Ticking off lists whenever free. Looking for more work. Chatting. Calling a friend. Surfing the net for no reason. Checking mails, ten times a day.

These activities and platform are not bad in themselves, but the excess is what takes us away from the inner silence we must have.

Why do we avoid this?

It is because inside we know we have a lot of potential in us. But it would need application. Some tough times. Difficult days, maybe years. Compared to it, the present with all the distraction is so comfortable. And what does one need anyway? We argue? Bread, butter and money enough for EMIs to pay? Why chase impossible dreams?

Chodo yaar. Jane bhi do. Chalta hai. Enjoy this moment.

Fine. It’s an attitude. No harm in just wishing to survive one day from the next.

But then why are we unhappy deep within? At the party we paste plastic smiles, seem to crack jokes that make others laugh, steal the show with our dresses and hair style. But when we reach home, try to sleep, why is there this restlessness. This lack of joy?

It is because the shell in which we have chosen to live, the complete environment that we have build around us is not our real self. We have drowned it in the cacophony of excesses. We don’t wish to face it.

Remember the ambitions you had at 18? The passion to do something different? Where has it gone? And dint people swear by your talents? That mellifluous voice? The uncanny play of fingers on the strings of guitar. The jugglery with logarithms to create some amazing programming. The ability to fix any faulty electronic goods. The ability to pen a thought. The ability to run faster than the rest. The ability to make any doodle look like awesome art.

Where have all those abilities gone? Those amazing things cannot be forgotten. They were pushed under the carpet because they made you uncomfortable. Needed lot of hardwork to nurture and give shape to. Compared to getting any job, earning a decent wage.

Isnt it so remarkably easy to comply than try to stand out. And that’s what we did to ourselves.

At the end of it?

Life passes us by. Hira janam anmol tha, maati bhaav gawai…..

We sigh. Regret. Of what we could have been and what we turned out to be. We look at other people’s efforts with a tinge of jealousy. Some of these were not as capable as we were. They were mediocre but they turned out to be better than us. Did they get godfathers to achieve success? We wonder.

Right and wrong. When you want something, the universe conspires to give you that very thing. You wish comfort? You will get your BMWs, your Bunglows, your favourite beverage.

You want evolution? Nurturing that exceptional talent? You meet mentors on your journey, Godfathers. Unexpected breaks.

It is you decide what you wish the Universe to do for you.

You can perform miracles with your life but you need to connect with your self. You need to be silent on a daily basis. You need to be unplugged from all those gadgets that surround you. Only then you can be what you were meant to be. An exceptional person.

And not a rat in the rat race.

Happy evolution.

Why do Authors need a Website & the Making of Ours

For years I have debated this question. I did have the money to create my website four years ago but didn’t have the conviction. Even when my book was published, I wondered: Do I need a website?

What does one do when faced with a dilemma?

Google. And Google I did.

The advice from various authors proved that while many of the reasons why I felt I didn’t need a website were right, there were compelling reasons to have one. I have given an analytical pro and con for a website.

What a website does not do:

  • A website doesn’t  push your sales for sure. A few copies that it might manage to sell will be offset by the costs and time involved
  • A website doesn’t make you famous or read. It actually works backwards. You have written something good and people wish to know more about you. To achieve this you have to slog, get published to be on the road to be taken seriously. Just parking your website in the worldwide web and sharing the links with everyone you know doesn’t make you a celebrity
  • A website is definitely not a place to showcase the work you want to be published. World over, stuff that has appeared in an e-format before is not taken too eagerly by publishers. It doesn’t have the freshness with it, if and when it is published. Free content is just that -‘Free’: very few take it seriously.
  • A website doesn’t necessarily make your presence felt in the web. It takes time, and a network of friends and appreciative readers to make that happen.

What a website can do for you:

  • Make you feel committed to your hobby or profession. Having an identity is the first step to creating layers around it. Even before we were conscious of it, we got a name. And with the passage of time, we wanted to attach value to our name, do something unique. Similarly, a website makes us conscious of the journey as a writer we have to make
  • You published a fantastic story which was read by a film director on a flight. Now it gets him/her worked up and he/she wants to make a film. How do they contact you? Ten to one he/she will Google your name along with your story and if you are there, they will find you. Otherwise the obstacles to your discovery (read copyright agreements) become huge and the enthusiasm of this director might fade with time as he has many other challenges on his or her plate
  • It helps people to contact you for commercial reasons: films, book contracts or projects if they like your work and style
  • It helps people in the event industry to locate you for possible interactive sessions if your work happens to be of a specialist nature: Green Planet, Human relationships, Psychology, Technology, Science Fiction etc. You can be a contracted speaker at prestigious events.
  • Create a buzz about your work, however small by leveraging the internet: You can upload excerpts of your work and make people interested enough to read your work
  • Act as an archive of your published work (never future work)
  • Build you as a brand (only after you have built a body of work)

The making of our Website

We contacted Dreams Media because they enjoy a good reputation in the market with regards to making customized word press websites. Authors need websites where they can add, delete or edit the content they write without being dependent on website managers or administrators. They should be able to post stories, articles and blogs etc with ease and on their own. A normal website doesn’t allow you that but websites modeled on WordPress blogs allow you that ease.

Harish helped us create a website that was quick to load, is friendly on all browsers and gives us complete ease and a lot of flexibility in content management. We had many exotic ideas which he shot down because of his experience: most of them were impractical, would have slowed the website or would have been against our interests.

The present website we feel is creative and affordable: we got a website that does full justice to the spirit of the book.

Based on our experiences while making the website we arrived at the following conclusions:

  • More than being creative it is necessary for the website to load quickly. But if the website is fast and creative then it is a great combination
  • The website should be compatible with all browsers and their older versions too
  • It should have back up options at two locations to take into account failure at one place
  • It should be readable in mobiles: in future this trend will be more common
  • Youtube promotions if they exist should never be housed on the website, instead a link to the upload at Vimeo is a better idea. Vimeo for some reasons is better than Youtube video. We did as we were advised.

Conclusion: If you can afford it, have a website

If money is not a constraint, all authors should have a website. It is like having an identity. The earlier you do it, you are likely to get the domain name of your choice. If you are short of budgets, then it is better to wait for the right time: No need to jump the gun. Websites are better than blogs because they are more professional, speak of your seriousness to your business and have many features which blogs don’t provide. They help you rise from the clutter.

Wish you all the best in your quest for success.