What’s your “High”

I was reading this book called “When strangers meet” by Kio Stark, gifted to me by a colleague, who also happens to be a very good friend of mine. The name itself was so intriguing that I couldn’t stop reading the book. It has some genuinely nice insights about interacting with strangers.

I reached home from work and started packing my bags, as I was supposed to travel to Munnar (Kerala) for a 4-day workshop. My flight to Cochin (Kerala) was booked for the next morning and in order to avoid any hassles in the morning, I pre-booked the cab thereby allowing myself to sleep for 10 more minutes; morning sleep is truly the most precious. Luckily, the cab arrived on time. I boarded and made myself comfortable on the rear seat. A lovely song, in fact one of my favorites, from a hindi movie was playing in the car. To be precise, “Sach keh raha hai deewana” from “Rehna hai tere dil me” was playing. Since, I was travelling to an exotic location Iike Munnar, I was anyway in a very good mood and this song added to the glee. Just by entering the car, I started dreaming about the tea-gardens of Munnar and its lovely weather. 

I thought of interacting with the cab-driver, just to make sure that I am putting my learnings from the book into practice. To start the conversation, I asked him where does he live in Mumbai, to which a quick response came, “Mahim” and then there was silence again. I was expecting that this question itself will initiate the conversation, but I was wrong; dynamics of every human interaction are different. So, I started to think about something else to keep the conversation going. Then a thought hit my mind, of going into reverse psychology, so that he’s bound to ask me a question. I told him to stop the music and to my delight, the plan worked, he asked, 

kya hua saab, aapko gaana pasand nahi aaya” (what happened sir? did you not like the song?). 

Now I got a chance to keep the conversation going, I told him, 

nahi nahi, ye bahut achcha gaana hai, balki mera favorite hai”, (No, the song is really nice and in fact one of my favorites)

My response completely took him by surprise. Baffled to hear this, he said,

arre agar pasand hai to fir band kyu karwa diya”, (if you really like it then why did you ask me to stop playing)

I told him that because I wanted to talk to him and music was the hinderance, that’s why I asked to stop the music. Hearing what I said, he got even more puzzled.

While now the conversation had started, I asked him, where did he belong to, as in where was his “hometown”, to which he answered “Begampur, a village near Allahabad”. Just to give him a little more ease, I shared with him that my hometown is also in the northern part of India and it is in Dehradun. By now he got a little comfortable talking to me and we discussed lots of things ranging from Mumbai rains, Marine drive, Vada pav, etc. I think we were around Chembur, when he stopped the car and got out to get pan-masala for himself. He came back in a minute’s time with his mouth full of some strong-smelling pan-masala. I really don’t like pan-masala and have always had this question as to why people consume it. 

Since we already had got comfortable interacting with each other, I couldn’t stop myself asking him about this habit of chewing pan-masala, however his response left me thinking even after I got down from the cab.

He replied by saying, “this is something that keeps him going”, and somehow, he already anticipated my response to it and therefore continued by saying, he knows this isn’t good for his health but anyway we all have our drives and passions which not necessarily are good. Now I guess, it was his chance to take me by surprise. I really got perplexed and asked him to explain what exactly he meant. 

He answered by saying, when you booked this car you had a choice of booking “Uber go” also which is comparatively less expensive and you could have saved money, but you didn’t do that, rather you went ahead and booked “Uber Premier”, why because travelling in a luxury car is something that gives you a kick. Same goes for me, consuming tobacco gives me a high. We all have our drives, for you maybe luxury or comfort is something that gives you a high and for me it is tobacco.

To be candid, I was not prepared for this kind of an answer. Although, I completely disagree with his justification of consuming something as harmful as tobacco, but the fact remains that he left me thinking about it. 

Yes, we all have our passions and drives and there’s always something that we do because of certain emotion attached to it and that emotion could be anything from luxury to comfort to status, etc. I think we must be mindful of all the activities that we keep doing as they slowly become our habits and before we even realize we become addicted to them. Its good to pamper yourself, however it is also of great importance to understand, is it actually pampering or does it harm you physically, financially or may be mentally.

More often than not, we get muddled between 

what is a passion and what is an addiction?”.

Actually, there is a very thin line of distinction between these two. In fact, any passion can turn into addiction. Addiction as we define it, “is a repeated behavior even though it is harmful.” I guess, if in doubt, we must ask ourselves, “given the harm, am I willing to stop?” and If the answer is no, “you are addicted”.


Just be “YOU”

We all, at least the people born in 80s, like me, have grown up hearing this question, 

What you want to be when you grow-up?

and every time I faced this question, I used to feel very puzzled and I had different answers to it every time ranging from Doctor to Fighter pilot to a mountaineer. Now since I had my next generation in front of me, I thought it becomes my chance to throw this question. So, one fine day I asked this question to my loving daughter and the response that I got, gave me a food for thought.

Sunday afternoons are usually slow and that is when I get a chance to grab some siesta and relax a bit from my demanding schedule. However, that is when my affectionate daughter also gets a chance to catch up with me. So, I always have to make a choice whether to take a nap or spend some “alone time” with her, as my wife has a ritual of afternoon nap, which nobody dares to come in between. Since I had come back last evening only from my week-long travel to Coimbatore, I decided to get some rest. But as the fate would have it, she comes to me and inaudibly says something, mindful of the fact that her mother doesn’t like to be disturbed while she’s asleep. I, half-asleep tried to decipher what she wanted, asked her to repeat, now this time carefully watching her hand and lip movements, understood her. She wanted to ask me if she can watch TV for some time. We want our children to be honest and obedient, but who knows it comes at a cost of your priceless afternoon nap. Nonetheless, I immediately gave my OK for TV, making sure my slumber is intact. She immediately went out and switched-on TV. 

I lay in bed, trying to sleep again, but I always had this problem, once woken up from sleep it is really difficult get back. After about 10-15 minutes of tossing here and there, I came out to see she’s completely glued to TV and enjoying her favorite show, “Peppa Pig”. I really loved the smile on her face, after a while she realized that I have come out and not sleeping anymore. She jumped and came to hug me, which she keeps doing, umpteen times a day and I love it every single time.

I sat beside her enjoying the look on her face and suddenly started day-dreaming about what happens when she grows up, etc. I don’t know what came to my mind when I asked her, 

what do you want to be when you grow up?

 I had never expected to hear this kind of an answer. She very gullibly and almost immediately answered, 

can I not be just me, even when I grow-up?”.

I was not at all prepared for this answer, I was expecting to hear a similar kind of an answer like a doctor or an engineer or something of the sort that I have grown up with.

What came as an innocent answer, started a chain of thoughts in my mind. 

should I prepare her for the real world?

is she too naïve to face the harsh realities of this world?

have we not been making her aware of truths?

is she living in a fantasy world?

We all keep hearing the phrase, “there’s a lot to learn from children” and my 7-year old (now almost 9 years old) is no exception to it. That day she taught me to “be real” for real. It’s in fact important to always be yourself and love what you are. I guess, in this rat race we have apparently forgotten “what we are?” and “who we are?”. I really thank her for bringing me back to basics.