Friendship, Investment, Life, Relationships, School Days, School Friends, travel

Friendship

10-May-2016 

“What a beautiful start of the day!” Ayush exclaimed while munching cashews and enjoying the mesmerizing view from Monkey point. 

“Couldn’t agree more. Trekking and morning view from the hills is a pure bliss.” avowed Ajay, “I am just missing my coffee. Sipping coffee, while enjoying the view would certainly have added to the pleasure.” 

“Here you go my friend”, Ayush revealed joyfully, while taking out a thermos full of Ajay’s favourite “Black Coffee” from his backpack. 

“You are full of surprises man!!!” affirmed Ajay with a broad smile. 

Both Ajay and Ayush were on a family trip to Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh, to celebrate Ajay’s 37th birthday. 

Ajay and Ayush were friends since they were in 3rd standard and now even their wives were best of the pals. However, their friendship had its own share of ups and downs and there was a phase when they had even started avoiding each other. 

3 Years Ago

24-Mar-2013

“Your phone is ringing Ajay”, shrieked Sapnaa while doing Yoga in the spacious balcony of her high-rise apartment. 

“Who’s missing me so early in the morning!” sulked Ajay with a yawn. 

Ajay picked his mobile only to put it on silent mode and slouched on his comfortable couch in the living room. 

“Who was it?” asked Sapnaa curiously while wiping sweat from her forehead. 

“Ayush……….., must be calling just formality’s sake, to invite me on his mom’s 65th birthday. I got to know from Pankaj about the party……” Ajay said with his eyes closed, still lazing on his couch. He stopped for a while and then continued, “…..there used to be a time when we would plan everything together but now, I get to know about things from others and usually I am the last one to know about it. It feels as if …… as if we are just dragging our “FRIENDSHIP.” 

“Who told you to “drag” it? You can always put a “Full-Stop”, if you don’t feel it is going anywhere.” She grabbed a towel and continued, “you are either “in” or “out”, be 100% a part of it or part your ways; and now please don’t give me that crap that he’s my childhood friend and all that non-sense. I know that you guys are friends since you were in 3rd standard; however, what I also know is that you both have grown apart and both of you should also accept the fact.” 

Ajay murmured, “…But Sapnaa, I just can’t le….” Sapnaa interrupted by saying, “I am not telling you to leave your friend, all I am saying is either start working on your friendship or accept the fact that things between two of you have changed. My only suggestion to you is, either change it or accept it” 

Ajay was not able to digest Sapnaa’s words, nonetheless somewhere he knew she was right. Conflicting thoughts started taking rounds in his head; He didn’t want to leave his friend however, what she said also made perfect sense. There is no point travelling if there’s no destination to reach; no point being into a relationship if none is comfortable.  

The Sunday had started on a terrible note. He picked up the newspaper to divert his mind and give his thoughts a break, but all he could see was negativity all around, maybe newspaper was a wrong choice. Then he did what most of us would do when in problem, he called his mom and spoke his heart out. She heard him patiently and then instead of offering him the solution, she simply asked, “You being a banker tell me, how do you decide the rate of returns that you give to your investors?” 

“Simply basis the amount of money that they put in. The one who is most regular and invests higher gets the higher returns.” replied Ajay almost instantly 

Relationships are also like accounts, son and like any other bank account there are two key things to earn great returns – Regular and Long-term deposits. When you show affection, you make deposits and when you break a promise or hurt the other person, you make withdrawals. Therefore, it is essential that your deposits are much higher and regular as compared to the withdrawals that you make.” She took a small pause and then continued, “If you have a large reserve, the other person is likely to give you more grace and forgiveness when you make a withdrawal. However, if you have a very low balance or are overdrawn, you have little room for another withdrawal.” 

Those profound words had given him the way to mend his shattered friendship. All he needed was to start “investing” and “stay invested” for long-term for superior returns.  

As they say “Today is always the best day to start investing”, hence as a proficient banker he took his first step immediately. Not only did he reach at Ayush’s party an hour early to help him with last minute arrangements but also, he was the last person to leave. 

He followed her advice and religiously kept nurturing his friendship like one takes care of a plant by watering it every single day and ensuring it gets appropriate sunlight, etc. He would phone him regularly just to know if everything is ok or sometimes only to discuss some trivial things like weather or a trending YouTube video. He would even discuss things like what phone he should buy or what should he gift Sapnaa on their anniversary. 

He kept investing without thinking about immediate returns however, Sapnaa’s initiative speeded things up and the investment stream progressed towards a favorable course. She planned a trip to Ajay’s hometown Nainital on Ajay’s birthday and secretly invited all his school friends. It was more of a reunion than a birthday celebration. The party went on until 5 in morning with all the friends reliving good old school days. Spending time with school oldies and relishing those memories not only made everyone feel nostalgic but also triggered the start of another inning of Ajay and Anshu’s friendship.

It took time but his efforts eventually paid-off, as they say with regards to any other investment. 

artificial intelligence, humor, Life, parenting

SMART Lives 2030

5 May 2030

Akshay and his wife Shweta were really worried a few days ago, but now with a recommendation from Akshay’s best pal Vikas and also from some of the other close friends, they found some relief. They even went through the testimonials updated on their website, all of them appeared to have been able to get solution to their concerns. Cardinal care centre (CCC) was a rehab centre and was looking to be the right choice for their son.

Akshay’s son Kiyaan, aged-9, was diagnosed to be suffering from SMCS (Severe Mobile Craving Syndrome). Initially Shweta and Akshay assumed it to be normal as other kids but after watching “SMART Lives 2030”, a top-rated series on Airflix, they starting observing Kiyaan’s behaviour closely and eventually realised that he is critically addicted to his mobile and just can’t breathe without internet.

6 May 2030

As per the appointment they reached the clinic at 5:30pm, right on time. Akshay’s mobile buzzed while they were sitting in the waiting area, he took out his phone to see a message from the clinic that read,

“Your wait time is 13 mins. Dr. Seth will be seeing you soon. Apologies for the delay. CCC”.

Exactly at 5:45pm Kiyaan’s name got displayed at the electronic ticker board right outside the doctor’s cabin and they knew it is their turn now to meet the doctor. Before entering Doctor’s room, a charming girl in her early twenties, dressed in bright yellow linen kurta appeared from no-where and told them to submit their mobile phone and other gadgets, to which all of them complied.

While they were about to move-on after depositing four smart phones, one tab, three smart watches, two smart necklaces and two smart-belts, the girl in yellow pointed towards Akshay’s “smart” eye-wear, to which he replied that he suffers from myopia and just can’t do without glasses.

That’s alright. You may continue wearing them, but keep its internet connection in “Off” mode”, suggested the girl in yellow.

After giving up all the “gadgets” they finally entered the cabin and it felt as if they have landed in the Himalayas. The entire room, rather the hall (keeping its size in mind 😊), was engineered with some 3D technique and it really looked like they have reached one of the snow-covered Himalayan peaks. Dr. Seth was sitting on a cane chair dressed up in khadi kurta-pyjama. Both Akshay and Shweta gave each other a bewildered look. On Dr. Seth’s right-hand side, two purple-coloured yoga mats were lying parallel to each other. The room had perfect lighting, neither too bright nor too dim, just perfect. Light instrumental music was being played, but they couldn’t locate its source. Dr. Seth, with his right hand pointed towards the mats and the family quickly got settled on the mat and the Doctor also sat on the other mat opposite to them.

He interacted with all three of them for about 15 minutes and then suggested Kiyaan to go to the other room, as he wanted to speak to the parents separately. Their discussion went on for about half an hour and then he handed over some papers to the couple to sign-off. They looked really baffled but they both decided to go ahead with it. It was a residential camp of 30-days aiming towards digital-detox, starting 7-May-2030 i.e. tomorrow. Both of them wanted their son to be cured of SMCS at the earliest however, their only concern was about the web-meeting they were having with the neighbourhood families next week. Since the camp was starting the very next day, Kiyaan wouldn’t be able to attend it. Anyway, with a heavy heart they took the call and made the decision to enroll Kiyaan in this batch only that starts from 7-May.

6-Jun-2030

Akshay and Shweta were eagerly waiting to meet their son after 30 days of absolute zero-contact. They had lots of thoughts regarding Kiyaan’s state of mind, as he had never been alone and that too without any of the gadgets. They had reached 30 minutes earlier than the scheduled time as they wanted to meet him as early as possible. Right at 6pm, exactly as per the scheduled time, they saw the children coming out. They were about 40 in number. Within a moment, Kiyaan appeared from behind the group and he quickly ran towards his parents. He hugged both of his parents. Shweta looked at Kiyaan for a while, making sure if her son is doing fine.

Shweta asked Kiyaan, what would he prefer to have for dinner.

Nothing specific mom, just home-made stuff” replied Kiyaan.

Astonished to hear, Akshay told him it’s ok if he wants to have his favourite pizza or maybe noodles, to which Kiyaan asserted, “No, I have learnt in last 30 days that Home-made food is the best food

Akshay and Shweta exchanged looks, nonetheless upon hearing this statement of Kiyaan, without any further discussion they headed home to have “home-made food”.

Their house was at a 2-hour drive from the camp location, so by the time they reached home it was already 8:30pm and all three of them were really starving. Shweta and Kiyaan took a quick shower and waited for Akshay as he took time to freshen-up. Finally, Akshay appeared after changing into comfortable clothes, he picked up TV remote while approaching the dining table. Kiyaan noticed it and objected almost instantly to it.

8-Jun-2030

Vikas – What happened Akshay? You didn’t sound fine yesterday.

Akshay – I don’t know man

Vikas – You can tell me. We are best buddies after all. Is it with Shweta? Don’t tell me, you guys have been fighting again?

Akshay – Nothing of the sort my friend. Its Kiyaan again, who’s got me restless.

Vikas – Oh! Did the camp at CCC not help? I have heard all good things about them.

Akshay – I am uhhhh…..

Vikas – I, in fact have heard that they completely transform people. Come on buddy, tell me. You need not worry.

Akshay – That’s what my reason of worry is…. He is absolutely “Transformed”

Vikas – What??? I don’t understand.

Akshay – Yes Vikas, he so much transformed that it is becoming difficult to adjust with him now. I now even regret the decision of sending him to the camp.

He tells me not to watch TV while having food, not to use tab rather make notes on paper, have in-person meetings with neighbours rather than digital parties, ditch devices like smart coffee maker, smart lights, smart shirt and what not…

Vikas – How will you survive man? We just can’t do without these devices.

Suddenly Akshay’s Smart watch lights up, “You haven’t watered your plants for 2 days now. Keep watering them to have greener surroundings.”

Vikas – What was that sound? Is somebody at the door?

Akshay – No, it was my Smart watch. Time to water my plants. Bye I’ll speak to you later.

….. and he disconnects the video call.

Life, photography, travel

Nature through my eyes

Life is when surrounded by nature.

Its bliss to wake up to the chirping of birds, 

And not to the honking of crazy berserks. 

Always wondered about Nature’s marvel, 

Whether a chivalrous man or some pretty damsel. 

I now know for sure it’s a stunning dame, 

As it loves dressing up and adores the fame. 

Sun and moon take turns to adorn the charm, 

Just basking in its vibrant hues keeps one calm. 

Horizon is not where the two ends meet, 

It’s there just to give us the visual treat. 

Me and my camera are in love with nature, 

We attempt to add its frames to our treasure. 

She 🌎 loved getting “all dressed up” and he was madly in love with her. So he ☀️ himself became her make-up and gave all the hues, to colour-up her mornings, evenings and brighten up the days.
It was only when they parted for a while they came even closer … 
Boundaries couldn’t keep him away from her, he simply spread his wings and flew over to catch her glimpse.
Friends forever !!!
She painted his world silver, made things look just a little more perfect and alive more than ever….
Life, photography

Life Lessons from Photography

Photography is the beauty of life captured – Tara Chisholm

Photography is an art and like any other art form it teaches so many things. The practice of photography has taught me just to pay closer attention to what I see around me every day. Some of the most satisfying pictures I have taken have been of things in the immediate vicinity of where I live and work. I am sharing my reflections from the moments spent with my camera. I am sure that these five are not the only learnings and of-course there are many more, please feel free to add your learnings….

  1. Live in the moment – Photography has taught me to be in the moment. When I go out with my camera, it’s only when I am completely in the moment, I get to recognize the surroundings and hence compose an image. There are lots of times when we get swayed by the circumstances and therefore don’t acknowledge the beauty of the moment.   
  2. Accept first in order to be accepted – I have learnt this while doing nature photography. Shooting birds/butterflies is really a difficult job; the moment you enter a location or even spot a bird it flies away, as they consider you to be a potential threat. However, if you stay at the location for some time, you also become a part of the ecosystem and no more considered an outsider and hence no threat to those birds around or any other creatures like grasshopper, butterflies, dragon flies etc. One stays at a place only when it has accepted the place “as it is” and therefore the entire location including all the living creatures accept you and then you can take pictures comfortably.  
  3. Once you decide your focus, rest of the things blur on their own – Photography is all about deciding what you focus on and that focus itself differentiates from the background and comes out shining. If we can apply the same philosophy to our lives, lot of things can change significantly. Wherever we go there’s lot of beauty around, we just need to have the right focus to identify it. Even the mundane things like shoe-rack, windows outside the building can appear to be attractive, if presented the right way and to present it that way one has to first decide what needs to be focused and what not.  
  4. Contrast makes things beautiful – Pictures appear beautiful when the foreground has contrasting colours to the background. If the subject and the background are of same colour, picture doesn’t appear interesting. If the subject is really bright, then the background should be relatively darker, otherwise, the subject will not stand-out and consequently it will look boring and would not catch viewer’s attention. We all strive for happiness in life and try to avoid gloom, however, cheerfulness will have no importance without melancholy. Only when we overcome the challenges, we get the sense of achievement. We feel proud of ourselves when we have accomplished a difficult task or have created something new.  
  5. Photography is just like meditation – Taking photographs and practising meditation might seem at first glance to be completely unrelated activities. In fact, both of them are in search of light, Photography looks outwards at the visual world through the medium of a camera, meditation focuses inwards. And whereas photography is concerned with producing images of reality, meditation is about seeing reality as it is. As practices, both meditation and photography demand commitment, discipline and technical skill. To go beyond mere expertise in either domain requires a capacity to see the world in a new way. The pursuit of meditation and photography leads away from fascination with the extraordinary and back to a rediscovery of the ordinary. Both photography and meditation require an ability to focus steadily on what is happening in order to see more clearly. Seeing things this way involves “shifting” to a frame of mind in which the habitual view of a familiar world is replaced by a keen sense of the unprecedented and unrepeatable configuration of each moment. Both meditation and photography are concerned with light. Meditators speak of “enlightenment”: an experience in which “light” metaphorically dispels the “darkness” of the mind and on the other hand photography also chases light in order to create pleasing images.
https://www.instagram.com/amit_exclusives/

***

Life

Thinker or Doer ?

I am a nature lover and really enjoy going for treks and nature-walks. Fortunately, I stay at a location like Kharghar (Navi Mumbai) which is surrounded by beautiful hills and in the monsoon, its beauty comes at its peak with all the mountains turning lush green and lovely water streams emerging out of them. 

Panoramic view of Kharghar hills

I am a regular for morning walks. It freshens up my mind thereby giving me a great jumpstart for the day. While I absolutely enjoy my morning-walks, one thing that really annoys me is the garbage that is spread by us. Negligence towards mother nature is something that I really dislike about our own species. Wherever we go, we really enjoy littering around. I very often say, “A place wherever a human can reach, can’t remain clean.” While trekking, I usually complain about the amount of garbage found in all those beautiful locations. Finding things like chips packets, tissue papers, beer bottles, etc. is very common and I find it really depressing. 

Today again as my regular routine, I got up in the morning and went out for the walk. But today’s walk was different as I came across three set of people which challenged the way I think.  

Team with new-plantations

While I was busy enjoying the view, I noticed a group of people at a distance; they were about 20-25 of them. I could very distinctly see blue colored bags that they were carrying. After observing them for a while, I realized that they were planting trees. They were spread across the mountain, carrying nicely packed plantations, water and the other necessary material required. It really felt great to witness those people coming all the way and making efforts to maintain the ecology.  

Team clearing the litter

As I moved forward, I noticed that this group was not just 20-25 people, it was much bigger than I had thought and well quite spread out also. But this group did not have those blue colored bags, which I had noticed about the previous group, rather they had black-colored bags. No, this was not the same group, they were a separate set of people working towards maintaining the “existing beauty.” They were in fact carrying the garbage bags and trying to make the location litter-free. Unlike my kind of people who easily crib and move on. I was really overwhelmed after seeing these two groups. While there are people like me who just enjoy the beauty and crib about not keeping it properly, there are people like those who actively think not only about just looking after it but also enhancing its beauty. 

Gentleman trying to save earthworms

While climbing down the hill and on my way back, I kept thinking about the efforts those people are making and what contribution have I made in order to preserve the natural beauty of these hills that I really love. While I was completely absorbed in my thoughts, I saw a person sitting on the road picking up something, but interestingly after picking up the stuff he was throwing it back towards the bushes. I was really amused to see this. Interestingly anything unusual captures our attention really fast, a minute back I was fully engrossed with my thoughts about those two groups and how they a making a difference, however, just by observing this interesting fellow all my thoughts instantly vanished. Only after getting a little closer to him, I came to know what exactly he was doing. He was picking up the earthworms that had accidentally come to road from the nearby bushes and sending them back to their habitat. 

Since he was picking them with his bare hands, I couldn’t control my curiosity and went ahead to ask him

Aren’t you scared of them?” 

Not at all, they are completely harmless,” he replied. He continued, “most of them get crushed under the vehicles going by, I am just trying to save as many. Just doing my bit” 

As if those two groups had not given enough “food for thought” for the day. I was rendered speechless; I had no words to speak. I simply saluted him and went ahead. 

These three sets of people clearly demonstrated that there is certainly a very thin line of difference between “Thinkers and Doers”. While people like me appreciate the view and easily complain about not maintaining it, there are people who step out and try to make sure that the view of the natural surroundings is kept like the way it is and few people even go a step further and try to make it even more vibrant.

***

humor, Life

Funny Language

Usually on Sundays, I make sure that I spend some of my free time playing along with my daughter, which fully charges me for the coming week. Apart from recharging myself and creating memories to cherish forever, it sometimes rather mostly keeps me busy for the coming days as well 😊😊. During this “we-time,” we play all sort of games like enacting a scene at the airport or at some holiday resort, playing with dolls (her favourite 😊) and many more, where we go into some kind of a fantasy world, off-course completely scripted by her.  

It was one of the lazy Sunday afternoons and as usual I was playing with my daughter. After a while, she asked me to read a book to her. She loves reading and generally this book reading session happens just before she goes to sleep, however, this time it suddenly came during the daytime. I quickly picked up my Kindle and opened a book called “Grandma’s Bag of Stories” by Sudha Murthy, which I had downloaded for her couple of days ago. We both were enjoying simple yet interesting stories from her about princesses, when suddenly my 7-year-old (now 9) asked me a simple but a very tricky question, 

Why do we pronounce Cycle as Cycle?” 

I was like, “what kind of question is that?”  

Then she explained her question,  

The word “Cycle” has two “Cs” and both are pronounced differently. Why?” 

I got really perplexed by the question and by looking at the expressions on my face, she assumed I have not understood her question yet, so she tried to explain herself again. 

She said,  

The word “Cycle” has two “Cs” one of them has a sound of “S” and the other one has a sound of “K.” Why?” 

Since I did not have the answer to her question, I simply and very honestly told her, 

Usually the alphabet “C” has a sound of “K” however in certain words it is pronounced as “S” also nonetheless I will try to find out more regarding this, as to when and why does its pronunciation change.” 

By admitting that I didn’t know the answer, I bought myself some time. I started asking all my colleagues and friends the same question. I checked with lot of people, however, did not get any success cracking it. With days passing and not being able to find out the answer, I felt like getting closer to my annual review without being prepared for a question like, “What were your achievements in the last year?” 😊 😊

After exhausting all the resources within my circle, I sought shelter in internet. I tried lot of websites but to no avail. Finally, after checking on all the sites that I could, I came across “BBC Learning English” where I got the perfect answer to my question. Thanks to BBC people!!! God bless you!!! They gave out a clear rule about it. 

Whenever a “C” is followed by “i,” “e” or “y” it is pronounced with a sound of “S” rest always it is pronounced with a sound “K.”  

I was really relieved to eventually get the answer and very confidently shared the same with my daughter. To confirm whether this rule is correct, she checked it with a couple of words and to my respite it worked out fine.  

It didn’t end there and like I had assumed this was only the beginning. Even before I could enjoy my victory over decoding the mystery behind different sounds of “C,” another question regarding different sounds of “G” was waiting for me and that too the very next day. 

I utterly agree with the statement that “English is a funny language” as it keeps surprising me every other day and off-course keeps me on my toes. 

***

humor, Life

Lockdown Diaries

Last 4-5 months of this pandemic has taught us quite a few new terms, like “Quarantine”, “Social distancing”, “Sanitise”, etc. Another phrase which has been trending is “New Normal”, whatever we want to do or apply in the wake of current situation is a “New Normal” and of-course business meetings can’t conclude without applying this new phrase. Interestingly the word “Positive”, which used to be very frequently utilised to encourage people, be it in formal meetings or informal discussions, has suddenly become the most “feared” word lately 😊, for all the obvious reasons. 

The scenario not only has enhanced our vocabulary but it has amusingly impacted our family conversations also. Earlier we would discuss things like –  

new movie to watchnext family holiday,  

new washing machineschool syllabus,  

trafficpollution, etc  

and now the topics have transitioned into –  

how to sanitise vegetables? after how long is it safe to touch the courier?  

whether to use N-95 mask or a regular one?   

which fruits boost the immunity most? and so on… 

Besides these topics there is another big subject, which is a considerable matter of discussion and that is “house cleaning”. Now since I am operating from home and not getting “tired” because of not commuting to office (my only saviour has gone 😉), I need to actively participate into it. But a task can’t be given to you, just because you are available to do it.

After a lot of deliberation, I was assigned “dusting” job, which precedes brooming. As dusting is a part of “cleaning”, it has to be done in the morning only and therefore I have to schedule my morning activities in a way that I am able to complete this task before I login for my office work. After a few initial days of skipping it, because of mostly my reluctance and blaming it on early morning “Zoom calls” or getting up late, it eventually became a part of my daily routine. 

I had thought of “dusting” as a very small and trivial activity and hence assumed it would not take much of time. I thought it will be just about the centre-table, dining-set, TV cabinet and a bit of here and there. Who knew, that “here and there” would prove to be the most time-consuming portion. Anyway, I had to start so I began with what I had “presumed” to be my centre of activity. However, as I got into this, I unexpectedly found it to grow in size and I must say the growth was quite rapid and unusual. To my surprise, every nook and corner had a lot of dust, but that’s not what startled me. What came as a revelation was, I would clean the dust every single day and the next day it’d come back in the same quantity and sometimes even more. I felt like I was fighting an enemy and my opponent was fully enjoying it and coming back with full force every day. 

Every morning I would take more time than the previous day, each time discovering new “dust hubs” like above the almirah, behind the bed, on the top of the doors, behind the sofa, on the ceiling fans and whoa! the list went on and on. Maybe I was taking my job too seriously 😉.  

I assumed that the onset of monsoon would bring some relief, as rains usually settle the dust by making the sand moist and hence making my job easier. I started praying for an early monsoon like a farmer waiting for the rains to come and irrigate the crops. Finally, after what seemed like a very long wait, rain-gods showed up, however situation on the “dust front” didn’t improve 🙁.  

Now, even the monsoon is almost over and I haven’t found the solution yet. I am still wondering where does all the dust come from? I am afraid when “Mumbai Monsoons” can’t solve this problem who can…? 

**** 

Life, travel

Holiday

It’s been exactly one year since my last family holiday. We had travelled to Ooty (Tamil Nadu, India) and stayed there for about 5 days and believe me those 5 days were so much full of fun, laughter and enjoyment.

View of Nilgiris with “Toy Train”

It’s such a beautiful hill station and rightly named as “the queen of hills”. We all had so much fun that even after a year its memories are absolutely fresh and vivid. I clearly remember the excitement we all had, right from the time when we were shopping for our vacation to the rainy morning of 1st Sep 2019, when we finally commenced our journey. There are so many memories from that holiday that we as a family keep going back to; from going for a walk in the rains, to visiting the tribal village, to shooting birds (with a camera 😊) and many more.  

Our flight was scheduled to reach Coimbatore at 11:20 am, but owing to a late start from Mumbai, we touched-down at 11:50. Since Coimbatore is a smaller airport and therefore cabs were not readily available. After waiting for half-hour, the cab arrived and we made ourselves comfortable in the car and excitedly started our second leg of the journey. We took a break at around 2pm for lunch and enjoyed “authentic” South Indian food, served on banana leaves.   

It took us close to 4.5 hours to reach Ooty from Coimbatore. We all were really tired as we were travelling since morning; nonetheless, the moment we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by the cool breeze of the mountains which brought a pleasant smile to our faces. We were welcomed at the resort with a warm and refreshing lemon tea. Within a minute’s time we all felt completely recharged, I don’t know whether it was the “Tea” or the “beautiful weather” of Ooty, which took our tiredness away so quickly.  

We were very clear with our holiday plans. Even though we had about 5 nights and 6 days with us, we intended to be in Ooty only, for the next five days and therefore we hadn’t planned to cover any other nearby location like Coorg, Mysore, etc., as our idea was simply to unwind and spend next couple of days there only, exploring just the nearby spots or maybe lazying around in the resort itself. We came across a lot of surprised faces when we told them about our idea of staying at one place for 5 days, as if we were committing a big mistake by staying at one location for these many days. I think Rain-Gods were also listening to our thoughts and they took us quite seriously as it continuously kept raining throughout our stay 😊, because of which we anyway couldn’t have gone to any other location.  

Beautiful flowers in the resort

Fortunately, the property was really amazing and flora inside the resort itself was no less than a botanical garden. Our favourite place in the resort was the holiday activity centre, which each one of us enjoyed fully. My daughter loved playing carrom or air-hockey with her grandmother while two of us sharpened our Table-Tennis skills.  

Adyar Ananda Bhawan

Despite non-stop rains, we managed to explore a couple of nearby spots. Although all the locations in Ooty were so very beautiful, however it is not possible to move ahead without mentioning a few of them, like the vibrant botanical garden whose roots go back to 1848, mesmerising “Dolphin’s nose”, serene Tea-gardens of Coonoor and the slow and romantic “Toy -Train”, which gives you the view of “Divine Nilgiris”. Apart from the majestic locations of Ooty, one more thing that I and my wife very fondly remember is the amazing dessert, “Kesari Bath” that we had at Adyar Ananda Bhawan. Every time we crossed the restaurant, we made sure to stop-by and have it, we convinced ourselves by repeating this statement to us” Holiday calories doesn’t count”. It was so really delicious that even while writing also I could feel its taste in my mouth. 

Now, about a little over 4 months being home-bound, we as a family have got a chance to spend some quality time with each other, since a lot of time is being saved that I used to spend commuting to and from office. Although an important aspect of a holiday is spending some quality time with family, but that’s not all, I believe the beautiful surroundings contribute a lot to it. I feel I am quite fortunate to have travelled with my family to a lot of beautiful locations like Shimla, Nainital, Mussoorie, Goa, Tehri Garhwal, Mahabaleshwar, Ooty and many more. I believe every holiday gives us lot of memories to be cherished forever and further strengthens our bond. I reckon, similar to getting our cars serviced at constant intervals, it is quite important to take a break from our regular routine and give each other a quality time at a “beautiful location”. 

View from Dolphin’s Nose

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Life

The Other Side of the Coin

We all have been experiencing a lot of things which have changed around us owing to the difficult times that the entire humanity is going through. While we continue to fight this invisible enemy, I am writing this to share a couple of things that I have come to realise in last 4-5 months of this pandemic. Besides all the sad things we have been facing like financial difficulties, emotional imbalance, panic attacks, etc., there are indeed a lot of things that have happened which interestingly fall on the positive side. Since this is a disease, problems and difficulties are bound to come, however, as they say “every coin has two faces”, this one also has given lot of things to be grateful about. 

During this period, we celebrated our wedding anniversary, my wife’s birthday, my daughter’s birthday, Raksha-Bandhan (Indian festival about celebrating the bond between a brother and a sister). Though we missed being with our loved ones, shopping and dressing up for the occasion and all the other things of the likes that we correlate a celebration with; one new and a very interesting thing that I experienced is that we spent our resources like time and energy on purely the celebration and nothing else. Things like handmade cards, homemade dishes were in the forefront and the best part was that we spent and devoted the entire day completely to ourselves. “Did I say I missed the cake?”, No I didn’t miss it, as these are the perks of being married to an excellent baker. 

One interesting realisation is about the “choice of vegetables” for meals which I used to be quite vocal in complaining about. Now since I am the one who usually goes out for vegetables and interestingly, I also end up buying similar sort of veggies, I no more have the luxury to express my displeasure. I initially thought the idea of only me going out for these errands had a larger and noble objective to minimise number of people going out, however, after a while I realised the hidden agenda and now, I can very well relate with the analogy of teachers appointing the most disturbing student as the monitor. 

Given the kind of profile I am into, I was literally living out of my suitcase; in fact, there used to be times where I was travelling for about 20 days in a month. Although I love travelling, but eventually it becomes tiring when you come back only to change the packing. Although it’s been more than four years that I am staying in my current house, nonetheless, I hardly would have got a chance to socialise in the neighbourhood, leave alone making friends. And I am sure lot of people in my society also would not know me. One fateful day after being into the house arrest for almost 3 months, all thanks to COVID-19; I planned of stepping out for a small walk, “of-course with all the precautions” in the mind. While I was enjoying my evening stroll after ages, of course in my society compound itself, I noticed two gentlemen interacting with each other, maintaining the proximity, so as to ensure “social distancing”. I greeted them and tried to strike a conversation with them and to my delight they were pretty welcoming. Within next 2-3 minutes, I also found myself chit-chatting with them comfortably. We had a great time together discussing lot of things like current situation, our surroundings, movies and what not. What started for me as a random meet, became a weekly activity and now I wait for Sunday evenings to meet with my new friends. This encounter is very close to my heart as I got my inspiration to “write” from it. I love reading books and would sometimes write also, however never thought of expressing my thoughts with a larger group at a platform like this. Although my wife had been pushing me to write for a very long time, I don’t know what, but something was stopping me. But a book written by my “Sunday evening friend”, who’s now a very good friend, acted as a tipping point and here I am sharing my experiences and realisations with you all. 

If I put all those difficulties that we all are treading through because of the pandemic, there are lots of positives and learnings also. It has given me the time to rekindle my own relationship with myself. When I look back, I realise that it has given a chance to spend more quality time with my family, which I was missing even when I was not travelling. This scenario has given me an opportunity to interact with the people who were just “some familiar faces” until sometime back. It certainly is a difficult time for all of us, in terms of its emotional and financial impact, but that is something beyond our control, what is in our control is to look at the positive aspects it has given. 

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Life

Do we really get tired or it’s just a state of mind?

Imagine, it’s Monday morning, alarm bell rings at 5:30 am, with your eyes still closed, you drowsily move your hand and after dragging yourself a bit, your hand finally reaches to stop the alarm. Although it’s time to get up and start moving ahead with your routine activities like a small work-out, cup of coffee, newspaper, getting ready and finally off to office, you still lay in bed as you don’t feel like going to work today. You feel really exhausted and even before you realise, a chain of thoughts gets triggered in your mind,  

Should I go to office or take a day-off?“,  

I am badly tired”, 

I am putting so much of hard-work, I truly deserve some rest”,  

I am really exhausted”,   

It’s fine to take a day-off sometimes”  

You mentally decide to take some rest, as you really had a hectic week. You plan to take a day-off in order to refresh yourself and gather some energy. The more you think about your strenuous week and the way you had to really slog to complete your project, you feel all the more tired. While you lay in bed with this self-talk, you suddenly realise that you are so badly tired and can’t even gather the courage to move from your bed. You decide to call your boss to inform that you won’t be coming today and a minute later you finally you pick up the phone…  

Sounds Similar ???

Why do we get tired?“, I sometimes wonder……

Is it because of the physical and/or mental fatigue, that we experience after a frenetic day? 

Or, is it just a state of mind? 

If it is just because of the exhaustion that we experience after a hectic day, then how come we suddenly start oozing up with energy if we get a phone call from our best childhood buddy even if we have just entered home after a long day or if it’s a weekend and we have plans to go out

We binge-watch our favourite series for hours together and we still feel energetic but only an hour of working on a presentation or some data analysis reminds us of the screen time going higher and we start feeling our eyes burning

We get bored and feel sleepy after reading a document pertaining to the terms and conditions of the insurance policy that we have just purchased, however, we want to finish an interesting thriller novel in one sitting

Our exhaustion from the entire day melts away just after having a look at the innocent smile on our son/daughter’s face. 

What does all this suggest? 

It means tiredness is more of a psychological thing than a physical thing. Having said so, I am in no way discounting the efforts that we all put while commuting to our workplaces or while working on a challenging project or handling daily chores and so on. We all work really hard towards a lot of things and we do get tired also, nonetheless, up to a “great extent” it is psychological than anything else. 

So, what does it mean? 

Does it mean, if we are in control, we can switch-on and switch-off our mental states? 

In my opinion, the answer is “yes”. If we can prep our mind not to get overwhelmed by the challenges that we have handled “today” or the challenges that we are expecting to face “tomorrow”. I believe the key lies in training our mind to live in the “NOW”, the “present moment”, rather than living the stress of the day all over again or thinking and getting anxious about what’s going to happen tomorrow. This doesn’t mean that we should not plan things, it is very important to plan our goals but as they say “journeys are often more enjoyable than the destination”, therefore, we must learn to enjoy every moment of the journey rather than getting astounded by the complexity of the final goal.  

Robin Sharma also quoted beautifully in his bestseller, The Monk who Sold his Ferrari, 

The past is water under the bridge and the future is a distant sun on the horizon of your imagination. The most important moment is NOW”

If we can train our mind to step away from this “time-trap” of living either in the past experiences or in the anticipation of future events, we can enjoy each and every moment with almost similar energy and it will surely add more life to our lives. 

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