Monday, December 1, 2008


I can not recall too many incidents when I did not have an opinion. Whether needed or not, whether asked for or not, I always seemed to have an opinion! Right or wrong, but at least I had a point of view.

But this week - I do not have an opinion on the blasts that rocked mumbai. I was and still am desperate to know what I can do to contribute to lessen the misery and anguish of the people who suffered. What can I do to ensure that such an attack does not recur again?

I am not looking for a knee-jerk emotional reaction (though I confess it took great effort to keep some tears rolling down as I watched or recollected the events on the tv).

Honestly... I do not know. I do not want to sound that I do not want to do anything.

What can I do? I can vote? whom should I vote? Tell me one competent guy among those who stand for election?

Tell me one politician who has not politicized even this event. Do they even have the 'c' of conscience?

May be its a weak moment, but I feel I have lost faith in democracy. At least in the form that we see it in India today. We are democratic only on paper.

If we truely are democratic, can a common man with a salary of Rs.10,000 per month become the chief minister today? I woke up to a rude shock! We are pseudo-democratic... the guys in power are the only ones who will always remain in power. And yeah you get a great 'democratic choice' between one of the two asses who stand up for elections!

I have been trying to condition myself that hatred can not stop hatred. Its only love that can dissolve hatred. Heck... again call it a weak moment if you will... but I just am fuming with hatred, anger and the most ill-feelings against those wretched politicians who not only brought us to this stage, but also have let us down so badly through their insensitive responses to the terror attacks.

Yes... I am observing all this. But what can I do?

I live in a democracy! True! Please ... provide me an OPTION to vote for. Please provide me a LEADER!

I know I sound like a real looser when I talk in this helpless tone. But... this week... there is no denial that I feel like one!

I do not know how to channelize my anger, pain, disappointment... but the least I can do is to remember those families who have suffered in my prayers.

God bless all the noble souls who fought for us. Salute to them!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

4 years with a woman!

I respect women. A few months ago I happened to see an orkut profile of a guy who says he respects women ... and it freaked me when I noticed that all his 300+ friends were only women! Now thats not what I mean by respecting a woman!

I respect a modern woman. And modernity to me does not mean skimpy clothes. I see so many women talk so much about how "beauty is far deeper than skin"... but don't miss out a chance to spend extravagant amounts of money and time just to superficially look attractive.

I respect a woman of substance. A woman who can handle things that matter. A woman who knows how to handle a career and yet not compromise on the housefront. A woman who is confident of her worth. A woman who truely is independent in the real sense of the word. A woman who is ready to take on the world!

Heck! I have been married to such a wonderful woman four years ago!

Neither my friends nor I ever had the slighest inkling that I was destined to marry at 25! That I thought was too early to get married. And then they did not expect that I would go the "traditional arranged marriage" route. But then who can predict things?

And I recall the first meeting - where I asked her a few questions what most would find bizzare for selecting a partner for life. "Idealogically do you like communism or capitalism and why?"

Now you know why I call her a woman of substance? If she can handle a geek like me then that should tell you a lot about her!

In fact I am quite a boring character to hang around with. I don't watch much tv, I don't listen to music, I don't go out to parties, I do not watch movies... heck I don't even drink tea! I sometimes marvel at the way she has adapted to the way I live over the last four years.

I can be extremely unromantic too. I somehow believe that love has to grow with time and it has got lot more to it than 'pleasantries' and trips to exotic locations! And for me it always meant standing up and doing things when it mattered! And that sounds quite impressive as I write here, but the side-effect of that could be that you can become extremely unromantic... no frequent candle-light dinners, no hanging out to movie theatres... And she has taken all that in her stride. And I really wonder if I could ever adapt so much.

Year after year, I started noticing how lucky I was... I started unraveling qualities which made her command more respect.

I saw her courage when she handled things when I was in the ICU for a while. I saw her determination when she managed to do her Woman entrepreneur course from IIMB - all while managing her work and her daily household chores. I saw her empathy when she she voluntered to teach kids from Government schools on weekends.

She learnt to cook, she learnt to run the house, she learnt to handle the priorities right, she learnt to handle my mood swings and temper... and what fascinates me is that she is always willing to LEARN and CHANGE!

And I think I have not seen a better daughter-in-law than her! That to any guy is the biggest gift a wife could bring to him! Well... almost... the exception being when both your mother and your wife gang up against your wishes sometimes!

On this fourth anniversary, I can pledge that I love her 4 times than what I loved her on the first anniversary! The more I have been discovering about our marriage... the more joy it has been bringing in.

Cheers to the woman who made it all possible!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No Hurry!

"How often do you read Gita?" quipped Hannah staring at the book I was holding in my hand. I smiled back at my co-passenger on the train and replied "I try to read it everyday. But usually at least two days in a week for sure."

And her curiosity did not seem to stop there. She was quick to ask "Why do you read it?" I smiled and replied back saying that I enjoy reading it and that it answers a lot of questions that I seek answers to.

The next question really startled me - where are you going after this life? Hell of Heaven? WoW! I tried not to show my surprise and smiled back saying "I do not know!"

It felt very eerie that the only phrase I was using for the next barrage of questions from her was " I do not know!" The fact was I really did not know!

I guess she was exasperated with my constant mono-dimensional "I do not knows" and it showed up when she said "does it not frustrate you that you know so very little about this life?"

I smiled back and said " I want to know... But I am not in a hurry!"

I do not know why I was smiling all through my answers! May because those troubled questions regarding life have bothered me enough all through my childhood. I remember troubling everyone with those questions very early in my childhood. It was even more difficult for me to understand "life" specially during the phase I was an atheist. With out the framework of God, it was extremely difficult to grasp the essence and meaning of life! And now in front of me is someone who is questioning my "curiosity" (or rather lack of it) towards understanding life!

Its not that I understand life. Its not that I do not want to know about it. It is just that at this stage of my life I just am willing to persevere and wait till I understand what it is. I am not talking about intellectual definitions here. I want the answer to come from within me - I cant really explain what I am searching for... but the quest is on!

Now that is something which did not go well with her. That I was willing to wait for the answers! She mistook "waiting for the answers to arrive" to "no interest in knowing the answers!" And she quickly said "what if you die before you know the answer?" Well, what if I die? I die! There is nothing much I can do if I die before I know the answers... and I just put the question back to her "yeah ... so what can I do if I die earlier?"

The most interesting question she asked me was what I meant by living life to the fullest? That was an answer I had given her for one of the million rapid fire questions she posed! And now she needed an explanation!

That really set me thinking.... she prodded me and asked if "fullest" for me meant "pleasures". I did not answer... i was still contemplating what exactly living my life to the fullest meant to me. Was it fun, pleasure, recognition, fame, success? I did not know. But I was sure it was none of them.

I want to live a life where I can really live the way I know is the right way to live. A life where I truely internally realize that all life springs from God and be compassionate towards every life form. Now saying that intellectually is one thing and practising it is other.

Practising by deeds is tough. But try doing it even at the thought levels, and you will know the challenge it is posing me every day! Can I forget and feel no animosity for anyone? Can I wipe out all the anger in me at a subconcious level? It is one thing to 'talk' about love for all creatures, it is another thing to restrain your actions to show that. And it is yet another thing that even at the level of your subconcious you harbor no ill feelings even to people who have been unfair. Can I ever get to that state of empathy? I do not know... but I will try ...

As I thought further, Living life to the fullest also meant that I contribute and do justice to all the intellectual gifts that God has bestowed on me. I realized that intellect breeds arrogance. I also learnt that intellect with out ability to empathize with other people's needs leads only to the downfall of the self. I have lived most of my life in the past as if I was the Sun and everyone else revolved around me like the planets. I would consider that I would have lived my life to the fullest the day I sincerely, from with in, bring in a realization that I am just a tiny spec of dust on the periphery and if I can put others needs at par with my own. Its easy for me to speak all this at an intellectual level, but to do it and to do it consistently before I die is what I would seek.

Living life to the fullest? Does it also not include the courage to accept the mistakes I did and then with determination and grit work on correcting them?

and ... and....

Now so much was going through my mind, but I did not want to scare a stranger away... so I smiled and said "a life where I live to my full potential!"

And then she came to the original question ... "now tell me... you do not know most of the answers that you are seeking for. Why do you read that book then?"

I was a little baffled and I said "thats exactly why I read it!"

"So you have all the answers there?"

I said "May be! I want to find out!"

Then she was back again "do you know where you are going to after this life?"

For a second, I wondered if she was sent from the other world to deliver me away from earth! I got a little curious and I responded with another question... "do you know where you are heading to after your life?"

Pat came the answer - "Heaven!"

Why? Because Jesus will take her to Heaven. Because she has faith in Him.

I was happy for her. And I honestly admired her for the conviction and faith she had in God. Here I was, at a stage of struggling to understand God, Life and nuances of karma - and in front of me was a girl who seems to have understood it all!

I smiled.

But she had more to say... "Please go and get a bible.... read it and you will find all the answers!"

"Sure! When I get time, I will definitely read it", was my response. She did not seem to be happy about it. She insisted that I read it with out fail and subtly indicated that it will clear things that Gita could not answer for me so far.

I was surprised but I was still smiling and said "If you ever read the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, you would realize that Gita was his guide whenever encountered tough questions in life. So it is not necessarily the book alone, it is ultimately the recipient who needs to be of a certain standard to receive the knowledge. And it is obvious, that unlike the Mahatma, I am just a beginner on this path and hence I do not find all answers yet! But, yeah... I am definitely open to read the Bible!"

That did not seem to make Hannah too happy. But I still should thank the girl to set me thinking on what exactly living life to the full really means to me!

While I was about to get off the train, she again said "read the bible and it will answer all your questions!"

I have not read the Bible yet directly, but I firmly believe ultimate realization depends on the sincerity and maturity of the recipient of the knowledge and not just the book - be it the Quran, the Bible , the Upanishads or the Gita! And I promised myself to strive to achieve that purity in deed and thought, so that someday I will resonate internally with what I read!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Religious but not Spiritual!

My cousin noticed that I pulled out a book before I hit the bed. She was kind of startled... "what? you ok? you reading Bhagavad Gita?"

Now these kind of reactions have not been very uncommon these days. The other day my wife was a bit visibly disturbed too. She asked me if this was the right age to think of spirituality?

Made me ponder if things have changed so much in my life that people started noticing them? If they did, damn! I am mighty pleased about it! For I think the direction I have chosen is to improve my life and definitely not a retrograde step! And what has age got to do with being spiritual or not? Its the experiences (and what you learn from them) which show you the right path.

I am struggling to be spiritual but I always felt I was farther from the destination than from the source of journey! Yes, I turned religious - that was easier! It has become a fad for people to claim that they are "spiritual but not religious!" Go around and you would see that on descriptions of most orkut profiles!

I will have to confess, inspite of the visual changes that people have been in noticing in my approach to life, I still believe I have at best turned religious. My spiritual journey is yet to start!

Turning religious was not easy for someone who was an atheist for a long while! For someone who believed that even utter chaos could be explained rationally! Even today, I do not want to get into an argument and support the existence of God. My thought process is clear - when I believe in His existence, I am at peace! And thats what matters to me! PEACE!

While being religious may be comparitively easy, even the attempts to turn spiritual are much tougher

I practise very simple exercises to get ready for the spiritual marathon. For example, with practice over 6 months, I now can turn away from the most mouth watering dishes - just with out a second thought! A few months of practise allows me to walk even in the most crowded place with the most beautiful looking girls with out giving any one even a second look.

Now lest we conclude that I am depriving myself of the beauty and pleasures of life, I feel lot more content and happier inside me that I can say NO to any kind of distraction at my will.

Its not that I have given up on sweets. Its not that I have given up on materialistic comforts! Its not that I stopped all my work and started meditating!

In fact, I work harder than ever before. Work keeps my mind uncluttered from negative thougts. It helps me not to think evil of anyone. I work because I realize my potential to contribute to this world through my work. It is no longer purely because of some self agrandizement. I do not claim that the last vestige of selfishness in me is removed - but I can definitely vouch that I am lesser selfish today than what I was yesterday!

And I do know that even my blogs have turned quite serious in nature. Am I aware of it? Heck! Yes! Because one of my first test beds to keep a check on my 'expectations' started on the blogs! When I look back a few months, it suddenly stuck me that I was writing for appreciation of others! While a genuine wish for being appreciated is nothing wrong, but I realized that I did actually visit other people's blogs not necessarily because I enjoyed them, but because that would return the favor and write a few comments on my blog too! I stopped blogging for a few months at a stretch for I had some serious thinking to do - whether I was blogging to 'socialize'? Whether I was blogging to seek 'attention'?

I decided that I will blog once again ONLY when I have learnt to work for myself. I decided that I would visit only those sites which I genuinely love to read. Not because I want them to come back and read my blog! Yes... if someone was interested in reading and sharing their thoughts they were always welcome... and surely it would make me happy... but blog I would ... primarily for myself! And that perhaps changed the complexion of the canvas... because now it started becoming more of 'bouncing board' to clear my concepts of bettering my standards of living.

A similar example was with my rather long hair. Wanted to grow it again... and I asked a simple quesiton "why?". The answer was a resounding "attention" and "appreciation" from others! Straight I went to the barber and ordered for a summer cut!

I have not turned spiritual yet... Its an ocean that I see in front of me. My limbs are not yet strong to help me swim across and hence my status at best today is "religious not yet spiritual!" I am just trying the swimming pools to strengthen my chest and arm muscles to take on the violent ocean later!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Every entrepreneur is warned that he has to let-go his personal life before he ventures out on his own. I never really bought into the fear of risk nor loosing your personal time. For I always believed that if you strived enough, you could still get time for your game of tennis in the morning, help your wife a bit (well, atleast you can pretend to help her!), find time to relax and yet work like there never is going to be tommorow!

I thought I maintained that balance quite well for a long time. But recently I realize I am getting addicted to work. I realize that I have not taken a single day off from work in a few months at a stretch now - no sundays, no festivals, no nothings!

I tried justifying it and rationalizing it. But my mind now is kind of stubborn and repeats a very tough question. Is it ok to be addicted to work?

Being a Workaholic - is that acceptable? How different is the lust for work different from lust for alcohol or women? Not very! An addiction is an addiction! Just that being workaholic is a little more culturally accepted norm and probably a little more respected compared to lusts of other categories!

If you go and ask a woman who smokes, she probably would shrug her shoulders and say .. hey you just dont belong to 'my culture'! That doesn't make smoking right - does it? I am not talking about just health reasons here - I am talking about it in a broader scheme of things and I think I would never encourage anyone to smoke. Now half my friends smoke, that doesnt make me hate them - but surely that does not make me approve of the act either!

Now, given my strong reservations against any kind of addiction, do I excuse myself from being addicted to work? I could not play for a month (ofcourse my knee is hurt - but thats an excuse only for a week), and I could not even spend much time with my wife who is carrying a 4 month year old baby! Why? Loads of work! Its not the time I spend at work that disturbs me - but the fact that I could not just leave it at office and it keeps constantly revolving in my mind... which earlier was never the case. But these days it scares me if I am getting addicted to work!

Being workaholic may be socially acceptable and in some cases even be laudable. But for me there are some universal, invariant principles which do not depend on interpretation of culture! And one such rule that I have been learning over the last few months has been not to get addicted to any damn thing in this world - NOTHING!

Can I walk away from anything in this world and not think about it for the second time if need be? Now that does not mean I want to avoid work and not contribute. I feel blessed to have been given the intelligence and energy levels to deliver and contribute in my own little ways to the people around me. And I will never retire into "not doing anything". I want to work with the same energy that I have now... but if need be, I want to be able to switch to ONLY the present.

If I am at home and I talk to my mother, I want to be present just there... not think about office emergencies! Perhaps I am getting there.. or so I thought!

But then I am not too sure how much progress I have made in that direction. Since I did not have a break from work in a few months, a couple of days ago, I called S and proposed that we go out for a long drive. He was ready. I had to break from work! I just had to! We drove around, spent some time in coffee day and off we were driving again. In the beautiful rain that lashed out, we were chatting till I realized it was 1:30 am! And I was about to head home after dropping him at his appartments. Thats when I realized the irony... that I ended up discussing the next expansion plans of my company and validating strategy, processes, pricing and what not with my classmate! The very thought scares me... am I that deeply addicted to work?

It scares me... But the only silver lining is that this has been only a recent phenomena. And since the symptoms have been diagnosed quite early, I hope to curb the addiction with a little more effort!

Friday, August 1, 2008

No Shame Please!

I remember when I was in my late teens, I was almost arrested by the police because I stood up and raised my voice against a policeman using unfair force in bullying a rather helpless guy at the railway station. If not for the timely intervention of my dad who came running from behind, I would have ended up being beaten up and thrown in the jail that evening.

For a long time I have been struggling to understand why I have lost that "courage" to stand up for what I believe is right. Was it education? Was it the "influence" of people around me preaching me how important it was to be "diplomatic" and "practical"? I know not, but I surely confess that I had lost a few of my traits and regretfully even compromised on my value system.

I remember a few years ago, I picked up sprite and poured it in my glass and not my usual 'orange' colored mirinda/fanta at a party. Why? Because I wanted people to think I was sipping vodka! I didnt want to be the only guy left out from the "crowd". To be "cool", may be I wanted them not to know that I keep away from alcohol.

A couple of months ago, I saw a grasshopper perched on my bike mirror. In an attempt to get it back onto the tree, I accidentally hit it the other way. It fell right in the centre of the road instead of the trees on the side. I kept looking at the little green creature trot and trying to move to the other side of the road. With so many vehicles whizzing past, it was not an easy task. I kept looking but did not budge to help it - inspite of the fact that I was the guy who was actualy responsible for it to be thrown into that situation. Why? I was thinking "what would the onlookers think of me? That I would go with a paper and save such a small insect and leave it back in the trees?"

I could not stop thinking of the grasshopper even while I was driving back home. Something kept haunting me that yet again I failed to stand up for what came from my heart. I still can remember the little green fellow and the "dot-like" eyes it used to stare right back into mine while it was perched on my bike mirror. I still feel as if it was asking me "was it more important to give into your false ego than to save me from a potential runover by a truck?"

A month ago, I saw a few guys sleeping on the footpath. I just walked on, as if to say "I do not care!" But something kept haunting me again... is it right for me to just walk away from the incident? Am I really that helpless? Would I not have bent backwards to keep one of my customers delighted! And if that earns me a tag of being "extremely professional in business", then what shameful tag should it earn me to just walk away as if I was blind to the poverty and despair around me?

I do not know when I last had even a weekend for myself away from work. Am I running away from a stream of disturbing thoughts that seem to be comming up from deep inside by keeping myself insanely busy? I am not able to answer my own conscience if I have lost my way somewhere in between.

I ought to change myself. And I resolve to do that. And the little step in that would be that I will not hesitate to express and execute what I think is right - atleast in small ways.

I started gazing at the moon as I walk back from home every night from work amidst the cool breeze and I tell myself that I am made by the same creator that made that white heavenly sphere. And I also tell myself that even that moon is not blemishless but it still is so beautiful. So with all the weakness I have, I still wish to make an effort to bring out some beauty in the life around me.

And last week, I was on the tennis court, I am terribly proud that I stopped, picked up an ant from the court and left it in the safety of the grass blades outside the court. This I did while the other three players waited and were looking and smiling at what I did! Now, thats a small step in the direction I want to go... I do not want to be ashamed or feel shy to express what I think is right! I want to live for myself - and with my beliefs even if the whole world mocks at them. I pray that God gives me the courage and will power to stand up for what is right.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Step # 2

The most difficult thing in excercising control is the initial oath. When I read that from Gandhiji's "Experiments with the truth", I started pondering on his observation from his life.

Now, its no more just an academic read. I can now see why he states so. I struggled a lot to take up the vow of turning vegetarian. Myriad of questions thronged my mind. Self doubt about my ability to have my will under my control was the most daunting.

But once the ship started sailing, it was not that rough a ride. Yes, there was some craving for the hyderabadi biryani or the prawns curry for a while in the initial days. Today, I do not even feel the temptation to deviate from my stand. Yes, sometimes the craving kicks in - trust the mind to do it! But that craving just whimpers away as a small rat on the big stage! Its gone even before I notice it!

Encouraged by my own little success, it has given enough confidence to take the step #2. Yesterday I have decided to start version 2 of the changes. Its about killing each of my bad habits - this time its about my thought processes.

I made sure that I have nothing accessible to me which could potentially entice me back to my old style of thinking. I thought that would be the easy part, but believe me it looked like someone was screaming at me not to embark on this new route. There was a huge pull to hold me back! I dont know how I fought that demon called inertia but I decided to set sail on my next interesting voyage.

I have been going through some withdrawal symptoms in trying to adopt this new system in purging all my thoughts. But if I were to go by my experiences of my first set of experiments and their results, I have a belief that sometime sooner or later this will be internalized in me. I do not have to consciously fight it out.

I do not know if I currently have all the wherewithal to reach the destination I have set out for. But I do know that I will find my ways to get there if I work hard enough. I am not under the impression that controlling my thoughts (not just actions) is any easy ask. But theres the target I set for myself and over a few years (or may be a few decades) I hopefully would have weeded out all that symbolizes impurity in me.

And yes! I am enjoying the sailing part as much as the joy of anticipation of reaching my destination! And thats such a big encouragement for me to keep sailing!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How old art Thy?

A few years ago, I had to adjust to being called 'uncle' from 'anna'! I was making a mapping in my mind that I have grown older and should slowly accept being called 'uncle'. Not that I had issues, it just sounded funny that the same guys on the street playing cricket would now yell at me "Ball please UNCLE!" Now that was half a decade ago.

Come another six months, and I am eagerly waiting to be addressed as "DADDY!" Heck! I am growing older day by day! :P

Its not always that you want to be young. Infact sometimes I wish I looked older. When I used to meet people to talk about my software product, I was amused when people used to enquire about my age - does it matter I used to ask myself? I am here to talk business with you. I am here because of a belief that I can add value to your business and why should you be bothered about my age?

One of my dreams from the company I set up is to facilitate education in remote areas of India. In this regard, I once went on a trip to some rural and semi-urban areas to check out the technical feasibility. I almost fell off my chair when one gentleman in Bhimavaram first asked me my age and then followed up with whether I was married! And that was even before I explained to him about my software that should help him! My uncle later explained to me that he was looking for a suitable "groom" for his daughter! (Now! What a way to find a son-in-law! - - are you listening? )

And then I started taking it as a compliment. Specially when they tell me that they could not tell me apart from the kids preparing for their 12th class exams! :) But then, while it did make me feel happy, I soon realized that I desperately needed to look older if people were to take me serious! I am not here to feel flattered, I am here on business!

My father's brother has a similar issue. He is one of India's finest liver transplant surgeons in India, but since he is quite young, he jokes around that he tries to look older to help his patients psychologically! :)

Now I wonder what it is with age? I have also fallen into that trap of believing that the older a person is, the more responsible the person shall be. But I was proved utterly wrong. So these days I believe that a person is who he is ... nothing to do with the age! Age brings in wisdom only to those people who value their experiences and better their thoughts, actions and behavior by each passing moment. Age has effectively zero significance in adding to wisdom for people who choose to have a very short term memory of their experiences and continue to behave in an irresponsible and reckless manner.

Having said that I learnt that age has got nothing to do with wisdom or trustworthiness of a person, I still do my best to look older when I meet my potential customers. I am an engineer who loves to interact with the market even though I do not come from a sales background. But I take my sales pitches very seriously. When it comes to age and looking older, I make sure that I am in formals when I step out of my office.

Otherwise, when I go to my office its always a t-shirt and shorts for me. Since when I am in my office, I do not need to pretend to be more "wise" with my colleagues. In fact, I should confess that I like it when they call me "bhaiyya" or "anna", so much so that "sir" has been officially banned in my office :)

Just a couple of days ago, after quite a gap, some one actually asked me the same "dreaded" question - "Raghu, how old are you?". Believe me! That was the first question he asked me! But I actually felt happy when he asked. For I could make out that he asked me not to doubt my capability in delivering on my promises. He genuinely felt happy with the energy levels I showed in my pitch and he just wanted to know a few details about when I started my company, etc etc. At the end of the meeting, he entrusted me to rollout tuningfork for all his 70 schools. Now that was the biggest deal I ever closed! May be its time that I can call myself a sales-pro now! :P

Nah... I am better off being an engineer :) Old or young, doesn't matter... as long as people like me for any little value addition that I bring into their organizations and their lives!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Yet another tag from Impulsive Outpourings. Two tags on the same day? I guess this a way of taking your revenge for cheering for you in your TT matches? ;)

(1) What were you doing 5 years ago?
Working at India Software Labs, IBM.

(2) What are 5 things on your to-do list for today?
Zzzzz... (5 Zs in the snore) as I intend to sleep in a few minutes! :P

(3) What are 5 snacks you enjoy?
I will list them out only if you promise to deliver them to my house.

(4) What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire
Here is my ICICI account number - 341267845 - Please do the needful and I will practically demonstrate it to you! :P

(5) What are five jobs you’ve had?
Do you work for ;) Sorry.. am not looking for a change right now!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One Veggie Mc Please!

For twenty nine years, I can barely remember when I ordered a Veg pizza or a veg burger! I wasn't too sure if I could keep up my resolution of turning vegetarian!

Three months ago, I resolved that there needs to be some wholesale changes in the way I live my life. And one of them had been in controlling what I eat. I must confess that the very next day I broke my resolution as I gave into the temptation of eating chicken biryani. That incident raised a lot of self doubts in whether I can actually go about implementing the changes in my life that I was seeking for.

There is one quote which kept ringing back in my head.... "only the worm does not stumble! Everyone else does!" I resolved to have more control over my senses this time around.
Everytime I saw those helpless hens clipped off their freedom and being butchered, it made my resolve stronger. I asked myself the tough question - "is my momentary pleasure more important than their lifetime agony?"

Controlling diet was not alien to me. Being a fitness freak I always maintained a well balanced diet. But the reasons this time are very different - its not about health, its not only about compassion to other living things, but its about controlling from indulgence.

There has been so much going on in my life externally. Infact so much happening on my professional front that I have to consciously slowdown to strike a balance with my personal life. But I think last few months have been so hectic in a different direction... an urge to conquer my earthly desires. Being an entrepreneur, it is not the easiest thing to strike a balance of controlling the desires and yet strive for betterment of the setup that I run. But thankfully, there have been multiple sources from where I get my direction and inspiration.

Books, my teacher and my own innerself - have been very useful in helping me show the direction. A book which has profoundly influenced my decision to turn veggie is Mahatma Gandhi's "My experiments with the Truth". I have heard from various sources (including my recent 'art of living' classes) that the food we eat dictates our senses. But I must confess that I have been "arrogant" enough to believe I was a very strong-willed person and I could control my thoughts without resorting to changes in dietary habits. But as I read through Gandhiji's autobiography, one question started staring in my face - "What the hell do you think of yourself? A Mahatma like Gandhiji found it useful to control his diet and where do you stand?"
Yes... sprouts for breakfast soon replaced dosas and vadas. Am not able to give up spices completely yet. But here is a start and I must say that I see a lot of changes in me already.
I started hesitantly but in the last 3 months, I have had various ocassions of temptations. But I will tell you that the happiness and pride I have in not giving in for those momentary pleasures is immeasurable.

According to Gautama Buddha in Dhammapada, one who conquers himself and his desires is a thousand times more powerful than the warrior who has slain a thousand men on the battlefield. Now when I read that, surely I was inspired to try that. But I will admit I was scared too. I doubted whether I can even start the journey.

My teacher encouraged me to meditate to calm down my inner conflicts. Again to be honest, my "ego" started dancing and I said "I dont need meditation to cool me down! I am born intelligent and I shall find answers through my intellectual skills!". But then something prodded me to start meditation which definitely introduced me to what I now consider as the finest form to connect with the one-ness of life! Well, its not all rosy and I still struggle very hard to feel that bliss, but I will confess that I do notice that meditation gives me a lot of strength from within. It generates a feeling of compassion to life (specially the weaker ones) which most probably was absent (or at best inactive) in me earlier.

I can sometimes get a little difficult to handle for my over eagerness to do things in a fast pace! Everytime my teacher tried to congratulate me on every little step I could take, I would always ask her if there would be a day where I could walk free from all temptations even with options and temptations right around me!

As if to answer my question, I had to make a trip to the Forum mall with my wife. I wondered if I could really keep up my experiments when I walk into a place of so many distractions! I have resolved not to give any girl a second look however beautiful she might be! And here I am walking into a place like Forum where all the girls would come in their best attire, some of them even in short skirts. I wondered if I could still walk through that crowd with out reacting to any of the external stimulus. I have not been 100% in the past in this experiment - I think I did turn around a couple of times to have a second look in the last few months - and here I was wondering if I could actually do it in the shopping mall.

I went around the mall... spent sometime with the books there in Landmark. Surprisingly I did manage not to give anyone a second look even from the corner of my eyes! We walked to Mc Donalds. Feeling a bit odd, but with out a second thought I proudly said "Veggie Mac Please"! Yes I said VEGGIE!

The evening reassured me that I was capable of sticking to my resolutions if I try hard enough. Sticking to my resolutions for three months by avoiding to go to the eating joint is one thing. But to turn it away when it is just a 'pick away' is something different! And I felt elated with that.

The same evening also showed me to let go all the things that my intellectual brain ever taught me and to embrace and listen to my inner voice. But then things do not end here...
What I really have achieved here is to control my actions not necessarily the thoughts. The urge to take care of my stomach and other senses still lingered on. It is just that I have learnt to refuse to give them any leeway. But an ideal situation would be to not even your thoughts wander. Tall ask, but I would believe that would be the next logical thing to follow. And I seek encouragement from what caught my attention from Bhagwad Geetha - "When you abstain from the object of desire (maya), the urge still lingers on. When you realize your full potential with the help of Grace even that urge gets annihilated!"

Well... that could take a lifetime. Atleast this time around I would not want to be arrogant to believe that its a cakewalk!