Death Wish!

We in India and we Indians, like to either play with death or we are born with a death wish! This is a very bold and blunt statement made by me. But what we read in many news items are the proof of what I am saying.

On Dussehra day around 5000 people had gathered to see the Rawan Dahan (symbolic burning of Rawan’s effigy) done every Dussehra, an old tradition of burning the evil spirits, near Amritsar in Punjab. The capacity of the ground was not more than around 400 people. All additional people decided that they must watch this show and thought that it is ok to stand on the railway track along the ground. The frequency of train movement was every ten minutes. A train came rambling down at a good speed and people elegantly avoided the train by moving to the other track. The crackers had started bursting, there was a bend on the track, one train was already passing, producing a big noise. Almost within ten seconds, another train came from the opposite direction at a speed of 80 km. As soon as the driver saw the people on the tracks, he started honking continuously; he put emergency brakes but to no avail. 59 people were crushed to death! How can one explain this? How can this happening be justified? Were these people unaware of trains passing at high speeds? Organizers were giving instructions all the time to not go on the tracks but it fell on the dumb ears of dumber people! Why did the organizers NOT stop the ceremony? Was this so important to continue with so many people on the tracks?

I do not have the statistics of different ways people get themselves killed. On Mumbai rail tracks, everyday average 10 people are killed, most of them are killed while crossing the tracks. This means every year 3600 die. I am sure a large number also get seriously injured, maybe with lifelong problems. Though these figures are known people do not stop crossing the tracks. What really is the hurry? Why not leave home a few minutes early and use overhead bridges? Do these OH bridges have the capacity to handle the crowd if nobody crosses the tracks? Do people cross tracks simply because OH bridges are overcrowded or simply because they don’t care for own lives? I am sure each person who dies such a death, has a brother, wife, husband, father and mother. As a human being is it not the right thing to follow the basic rule of going home alive? There can be accidents but what we are talking here is about a death wish. Who are these people who die? I am quite sure they must be from the cross-section of our society. But does education not teach you these basic things about living a safe life. I remember years back a classmate of mine from engineering days, a professional, died in the train accident in Mumbai. He is supposed to have fallen down from the running train. Why the hell was he standing in the door (rather hanging out)? This definitely is a capacity issue. It is so simple, the train should remain locked if all doors are not closed! This is not some rocket science.

Another death wish is special to my beloved Pune. We have a rule that we must wear helmets while riding two-wheelers! Pune’s smart people have taken so many protests meets, they have fought with authorities with the classic argument, “It is our life, who the hell are you to tell us.” Though it is your life, in many cases accidents are minor but the when you don’t wear a helmet it turns into a major event. You need hospitalization, you may become maim, a paraplegic and there are many choices. It is the business of the authorities to try and reduce the burden on health care and hospital systems which are for us. You have no right to overload them because of your stupid imbecile thinking. I know it’s your life but you have no rights to overburden us! The reasons given for not wearing helmets are naïve, to say the least. I am just riding for two minutes, I get suffocated (ventilator in a hospital is more suffocating), I cannot hear sounds properly (you cannot hear properly because you have earbuds on all the time- get them surgically removed), helmets are heavy (your head is also equally heavy- keep it home along with helmet if you have one), helmets are expensive (Oh, your life is cheap!) How reasonably large numbers in other places use helmets? What is so special about brains of Pune folks? Some organizations in Pune have made it mandatory for bike users to use a helmet while going to office; so do some families. Our friends wear the helmet when they leave home, after some distance stop, hang the helmet on a hook on the bike; stop just before reaching the office, wear the helmet and go inside (brain fade, no it’s a “no-brainer”)

Advancement in technology has helped us Indians to upgrade our methods of dying too! Yes, I am talking of selfie deaths. 25 years back when there were no cell phones in use, there could be no deaths while taking a selfie. India has become the capital of the world, for taking selfies. I am told that in a day young folks take god knows how many selfies! Why do they do it? It is ok when you buy a new cell phone, the camera is new etc. But your face hardly changes every hour and it’s the same for your friends’ faces too! Another thing is why do people make their faces crooked while taking selfies? Every couple of weeks we find new methods of achieving the “Selfie Death”! If they could use this ingenuity in doing something different, the world will be a better place. One Indian couple died recently at Yosemite in the USA. While taking selfie they fell down 800 feet in the valley. They were both engineers, travel bloggers. One week before, they had published a selfie, in their blog, taken at Grand Canyon. Their feet were dangling in the canyon, they were sitting on the age! The caption said, “Never attempt this, winds here can be so nasty, you may get swept away down the canyon”. Their death wish, of taking that last selfie when they were swept away at Yosemite was not granted by Him!

Friends, I was simply so much worked up while I read about the death of these two, I think I have just blurted out something that came to mind. I get really upset when people have no considerations for their near and dear ones, their friends, their parents. We are not alone in this world! Don’t forget that you are inflicting lifelong pain on the dear ones. If I am irritated so much about these deaths, just imagine the life of those near and dear ones after such incidents! I am praying to God that somehow, He will be able to convince these folks to go away from the death wish!

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What is the mind?

This is a song from Hindi movie Chitralekha from 1964, sung by Mohmmad Rafi and Music by Roshan, written by my favourite lyricist Sahir. The song explains beautifully about the Mind which in Indian language is मन !

Can you arrest the Sunlight?

From rising and receding!

Can you imprison the colours?

Who has shackled the beauty?

All dictionaries define MIND in 2/3 ways.

  • The element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.
  • A person’s ability to think and reason; the intellect.
  • A person’s attention.

Obviously, it is not a physical thing, it not an attribute but it is something which exists but cannot be seen. It is supposedly having a great depth, sometimes it is said to be deeper than the ocean. The way we cannot see things deep down the ocean, we don’t know what is happening in someone’s mind. It is unpredictable. People jokingly say that it is very difficult to predict how a lady will react to a situation but (jokes apart) same is true about men too, in fact, it is predictable about the human race that unpredictable nature of human facet is predictable!  This is one of the pictorial depiction of the Mind!

mind

The mind is a data bank within the humans, with unlimited gigabytes or terabytes of ever expanding memory. Human mind always compares new things, new events with old data in mind! When we talk of mind, we point our finger towards our head but in the head, we have a brain and not mind! So where is the mind? Mind to me is the human intellect which during “thinking” accesses the data bank, compares and gives out the result by way of actions; these actions may be verbal, in writing or by physical action. To give an example, someone is being interviewed for a job. After various stages, the person is offered that the company will pay 20% less salary than demanded. That person recalculates in his mind and says Ok, I am good. What did his mind calculate? First, it calculated how much was the final expected figure in his mind? What was it based on? Expenses, EMI’s emergency expenses and savings! Based on such variables the mind recalculated the new situation.

How can we develop a mind which is very passionate and always questioning? Probably when we constantly inquire anything and everything, our mind becomes a free mind, which has a lot of data and a lot of flexibility. When the flexibility is gone, the questioning is reduced or stopped, our mind starts accepting everything at face value. Such a thought process then starts calling many things as traditions, which are to be just accepted. Our mind may be gets covered with some kind of rust; this rust coating does not allow our mind to remain active and ensures that we accept everything as beliefs and traditions.

I told my granddaughter the other day that it is not a good idea to watch YouTube or TV while eating food. She has a very sharp mind and mind which does not have cover of rust. She said please tell me what happens if she watched YouTube or TV while eating food. I could have given two answers. One, it is a tradition, which is really true; till 50 years back there was no TV and till 10 years back there was no YouTube. Hence the tradition was not to distract your mind while eating. But for a five-year-old girl both these things have been around from the day she was born. So, telling her that it is a tradition is incorrect! I explained to her scientifically and she was happy with the answer. So many times, beliefs and traditions are something which we use to hide behind instead of facing the truth, challenge an event or a thought process. Because thought is the way we respond to something with old data and current data,  then mixing the two to bring out an appropriate response.

I feel that the brain and mind are synonyms. But the  brain physically exists and in the case of mind, there is no physical existence. As the brain is made up of several materials, it can be studied. On the other hand, it is hard to conduct studies on the mind as it is not made up of any material. The brain is an important organ in the human body whereas the mind is equally important. It is in the brain that all the functions and activities take place. The brain, which is the center of the nervous system, coordinates the movements, thoughts and feelings. But these are put forth or felt through the mind. We all use the mind to think, feel and respond. The Mind refers to a person’s understanding of things and also his conscience. Mind also refers to a person’s thought process. The brain has a definite place in the head. But with regard to mind, it is only supposed to be in the brain. The brain may be affected with diseases and can be diagnosed whereas mind does not have such complications. But yes! If your mind becomes corrupt about something then it is very difficult to eradicate such a thought process.

The mind never sleeps. It is always preoccupied with something; it is preoccupied with thoughts and these thoughts keep on changing all the time. Now the beauty of the mind. This non-physical entity controls many actions and reactions of humans, some good, some bad and some are really ugly. These actions and reactions can result in some fascinating outcomes and some horrible outcomes. The preoccupied mind wears out humans to a great extent, even when they are asleep. A person is worried about something and the mind goes in overdrive. Mind keeps on churning out thoughts to arrive at a correct solution. Till this solution is reached, the non-physical entity tires human body! The result can be that the humans are  not able to go to sleep, or are tossing and turning even when they finally fall asleep. As described in the song above the mind or मन cannot be controlled, cannot be arrested; it will follow its own path at its own will! In the famous song from Sound of Music, “How do you solve the problem like Maria”, there is a line “How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” That’s mind for you!

There is a phrase a “Mind Over Matter”! This phrase is one of the most important statements in our lives. What does it mean? Mind over matter is —used to describe a situation, in which someone is able to control a physical condition, problem, etc., by using the mind, the ability to keep going, even when he is tired, it is a simple question of mind over matter.

We have seen and heard of many examples of Mind Over Matter. Lance Armstrong is one best-known athlete who overcame his cancer to win many cycle races. (Unfortunately, he was later caught in doping scandals and stripped off all his medals!) Oscar Pistorius had both his legs amputated in while he was a baby but he overcame these issues by having prosthetic limbs. After becoming Paralympic champion, he took part in normal races too, representing South Africa! (He is currently in jail for murdering his fiance!) We had a co-passenger when we took Alaska cruise. He needed 100% Oxygen support because of his medical condition. But he not only was on the cruise but also took all the land excursions!  I know a couple of people with this condition, who simply died after a few months!

I am still amazed by this human “organ” which is invisible! It controls human reactions, it decides important things in life, it gives great support to humans along with Adrenalin, during excitable situations! There is a lot of discussion going on these days, about Artificial Intelligence becoming very powerful and may do most of the things better than us humans. But I don’t agree. How can an algorithm or any code decipher human mind? Humans themselves cannot fathom the depth of the mind, they don’t have real knowledge about how the mind behaves; so, don’t worry we are safe in the hands of the mind!

 

Every Why Has A Reply!

Every why has no reply because the sky is very high! The saying means that for every question there may not be a reply or an answer because there are no answers, because the sky is very high! No answer, period. But in life you come across many different situations, events, incidents all the time. There are number of papers, documents, treaties, books, articles suggesting how to handle them. But if you handle the situation with a question “Why”, you will get a better understanding of the advice, suggestion given to you! Our life is always full of interpersonal relationship sometimes mute, many times verbal and active. The question why, will make you understand the real reason for reacting to it.

Yesterday, I was joining the traffic from our condo and had given an indicator to show where I was going to turn. There was a vehicle on the main road and was having difficulty in getting inside a condo next to ours. A person from that vehicle was making excited gestures indicating that he was facing a minor difficulty. I had not questioned him at all by honking, blinking my headlights, I did nothing. Then I thought why was he so excited? I felt that maybe I did not understand his difficulty and he thought I may make an issue. But he was not aware that I am generally in conflict resolution mode in the traffic. I communicated mutely by not doing anything hence ended up without any conflict. If I had made my own wild gestures or indication there could have been a minor skirmish!

I will share some examples from work place environment. Think of conflict resolution in the work place. Again, the why is going to help. Two people have a conflict about a work-related issue and if they are mature enough, they will resolve it by simply understanding that whether they like it or not, as colleagues they will have to work together. If the same issue goes to the boss, the boss will ask the same question “why” to both independently and try to understand their sides. Then the decision will be taken to satisfy the need of the organization rather than need to stoke egos. While explaining the resolution the boss must call both parties and explain why it has been resolved in a certain manner! But same will not be applicable to issues which are between two departments or cross-functional work! In this case the goals, requirements and priorities of each department are different; at least initially it may look as if all sides are right but the conflict is still there. This issue can get escalated to very senior level with a person who has the birds eye view of the company’s goals, requirements and priorities. But this authority must also explain why resolution was done in a certain way.

In working environment, it makes sense to understand what your boss is thinking, why he is thinking that way. Your reasons, priorities, goals will be subset of boss’s goals. On personal levels those may be different. There is big a project at the final dash level! Suddenly, you find that your boss is distracted, looking to go home as early as possible. Ask about the reasons for distraction. Ask if the boss is having some personal difficulty, someone unwell at home, maybe critical exam time of children! Show empathy to the boss; maybe the boss will open out and share a way of doing things as efficiently in his absence! Because the boss is distracted the priorities have not changed but a small gesture is needed indicating full support to the boss!

In the work environment, there are organization-wide internal services. These are built up to make life easier for everyone. When people put in a demand, ask them why they need these things? Don’t be a judge to what they want. Find out a method why and how they will become your good customers, you are going to create internal services for them, is it not?  Ask them their pain areas. There will be some services across the departments. Make sure that ALL agree to different viewpoints, keep on asking why they want certain service? It’s all the time why, why and why!

Another important situation where why is important is when someone leaves an organization. Why is the person leaving? Better opportunity or poor atmosphere? Better pay elsewhere or too much work in the current job? Is the person key person? Was the person’s manager unreasonable? It is not about a person, it is about a situation. Why such a situation came up? Could a company have done something differently? Could that person have done something differently? It is always said that the company is more important not the person but sometimes it is not so. Steve Jobs is a classic case (though such cases are very rare) Apple computers struggled for 20/25 years. In the initial phase, Jobs was trying to push his thinking all the time but it was not working. Then he was asked to go though he was a founder member. Later on, he joined back but again did the same things pushed his ideas and his own agenda!  Rest as they say is history. Apple is the most successful company, ever! So, don’t forget there may be a Jobs lurking somewhere!

It’s equally important when you are negotiating something in the workplace. Negotiations are needed because some conflicts come up where there are two sides involved. This resolution cannot be zero-sum game. Zero sum game means during resolution, the final conclusion will be such that one side will gain something and other will lose something; the sum of gain and loss will be zero in such case. But this does not resolve issues. To me it is a temporary resolution. This is achieved in the interest of the organization. Side which has lost will remember all the time about the loss. It will look for opportunity to strike back. Negotiations should be such that both sides feel that they have gained something. Negotiator should expertly make people understand that both sides have to take a step back to reach an amicable solution.

But friends work place and our life are fully intermingled, they run in parallel. Work place environment is part of our day to day life. There are compulsions of the work place, similarly try to look for compulsion in our life, most important thing is to throw away our ego in both places. My granddaughter has rule that she cannot watch YouTube while eating food. For the person feeding her, it is very simple to put on YouTube, feeding is completed before you say zip. She asked me what is the meaning of the rule. So, I told her that while eating if we concentrate on eating, the gastric juices are produced in correct proportion for good digestion and absorption. Similarly, let positive juices, positive thought process be there in our mind, all the time. It will help us feel good and we can absorb enjoyment better! Now don’t ask me “WHY” this is necessary!

Carpe Diem- Seize the Moment!

CarpeDiem2

Carpe diem, (Latin: “pluck the day” or “seize the day”) phrase used by the Roman poet Horace to express the idea that one should enjoy life while one can. There are different thoughts going on in the world about life and death, this includes the reincarnation. Reincarnation is the belief that the soul, upon the death of the body, comes back to earth in another body or form. Well, I am personally a firm believer of the thought process that there is no reincarnation. The life that we have got is the only one we have got. The picture above displays Sundial which indicates that time is always slipping by! So, seize your moment if you can!

What do we do with life? How has the dice fallen for you? How your mind is made? Circumstances or genes or DNA make your persona. But that is not what we are talking about. This one little life that we have, is all we are getting. We don’t know when it is going end, we have no control over where you are born, you have no control over who your parents are. You are what you are. You are born with a mix of different characteristics. But maybe you have control over what you become, what memories you leave behind!

CarpeDiem1

Carpe diem to me is a philosophy! It is like writing in the sand on the seashore depicted in the picture above! If you don’t seize the moment, the wave will swallow the the writing! Either it can be used in a constructive way or a destructive way. In today’s world, the term gets misused in a wrong way. You have an important meeting the next day or a job interview or an opportunity to meet someone to settle a broken friendship or relationship. A long-lost friend calls you the previous night and suggests to have a night out and have fun! Well, that’s a great opportunity to make and you think it’s a Carpe diem moment! It’s YOLO moment as per today’s buzz words! You Only Live Once! But will it be the right thing to do? Is it the right thing to seize the opportunity to meet your long-lost friend? Probably not, because next day you are trying to finalize that once in a lifetime deal, you may get your dream job, you are finally getting to settle that long-time issue which is dear to your heart! The interpretation “To seize the opportunity” comes with a rider! It is for the betterment of life, improvement of the quality of life or dream cum true! It is not just binging with friends and have a night out! Yes, that is also important when done at the appropriate time.

There is a story about the 89-year-old Naval officer from the British Navy. In the year 2014 people had decided to celebrate 50 years of landing at Normandy, 2nd world war’s decisive invasion point! This gentleman was in a sanatorium passing his retired life. He decided that he must join the celebration but there was no question of him getting the permission. He simply dressed up, wore a raincoat and a hat and walked out of the sanatorium to the railway station, 1 km away. He took a train, hopped into a ferry to go to Normandy. By the time people realized that he was missing, he was already in Normandy. He knew that he would be admonished when he came back. But the story of his escape was all over media; when asked by a reporter, he said only two words, “Carpe diem !” To hell with everything else! The ferry company gave him a lifetime pass for the journey he took! Alas, he died in six months!

Taking risks at appropriate times is seizing the opportunity, it is not doing whatever comes to your mind, though the end results may be bad, sometimes! It is about doing the proper risk analysis, thinking through the opportunity and then seizing the moment. It is not for only seizing the moment or for YOLO.

The message of Carpe diem matters more than ever today. We live in an age of distraction, where we are checking our phones, on average, 110 times a day, and are more interested in being spectators of life on the screen than living it for ourselves. Immersed in the second-hand pleasures offered by our electronic gadgets, we need to reconnect with the wisdom of Carpe diem, a philosophy which calls on us to taste the wonders of experiential living in the short time we have before death. In a group of college friends, we made the group, forwards free. There were so many fights, so much resistance. We have very become used to the second-hand pleasure of sharing forwards. Finally, when we could make the group forwards free, there are only 3 to 4 contributors, most others prefer to be silent spectators because they have nothing original with them. We seem to have forgotten that the formation of the group of friends, who were in college together 50 years back,  was a Carpe diem moment!

I will share one simple incident. A gentleman, aged 84 was in a hospital for a few days. His daughter went to be with him for the day. He said to her that he wants to eat Masala Dosa. The daughter said, ok I will get it. He said no. He got up, changed his hospital clothes and said let us go. They went to the restaurant had the dosa and came back. Of course it was no big deal, but that was Carpe Diem. But change the case to a 45-year-old patient sick with liver issues; he goes out similarly and has a couple of drinks and comes back. That is not Carpe Diem, it is sheer stupidity.

Carpe diem is seizing the moment or seizing the opportunity! The word “opportunity” comes from the Latin ob portum veniens, meaning “coming toward a port”. It originally referred to a favourable wind that would push a ship into a harbour. So, the question is whether we’re going to hoist our sails and catch the wind, or whether we are so worried about hitting the rocks that we keep the sails down. Yes, if the real opportunity is there, take it even at the cost of some risk.

Spontaneity is a form of Carpe diem , which involves throwing plans and routines to the wind and becoming more experimental in the way we live. We need to liberate ourselves from our electronic calendars and booking up our weekend’s weeks in advance and take a more unplanned approach. Take an unplanned weekend holiday when we are not constantly checking the time and are obsessed with being “efficient” and “productive”. Let go things once in a while!

Political and social Carpe diem? Don’t be surprised!  This is about taking up from the individual level activity to the collective level through mass political action. Think of the Carpe diem demonstrations that brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989, which were full of spontaneous and enjoyable spirit. We need more of this today to challenge the big issues of our time, from climate change to the rise of far-right extremism. Look at what is happening about the MeToo movement! It is happening by the collective action of women from a different field, coming out in open for their rights!

As the modern generation says, YOLO! Yes, you only live once, so make the best use of the opportunities, make best of the chances you get! What are you waiting for? Just jump from the plane you are flying on but don’t forget that you have your parachute with you!

Chalo Ek Bar Phir Se अजनबी बन जाये हम दोनो!

This song, is the best song rendered by Mahendra Kapoor, who was known as Mohammad Rafi clone, till then. (I have met him when I was in 9th or 10th grade, he used to play badminton in our club in Mumbai. (silk shorts and all!) The song is from 1963 movie Gumrah directed by legendary B R Chopra.

Sahir Ludhianvi was a poet who came to Bombay, to earn his bread in Bollywood. I don’t know what compromises he might have been required to make for movies but I feel that in some of the songs the poet in him, comes out predominantly. An important trait of Sahir was that he was very forthright in what he wanted to say, sometimes to the point of bluntness. The way he used the Urdu words was unbelievable. Many a time it so happens that for the Urdu words used by him, other languages don’t have the right words, with required lyricism, to explain his real feelings. Sahir Ludhianvi, who was truly one of the most gifted poets, ever, to have written for Hindi cinema. Known for his cynicism and disillusionment with society, Sahir Ludhianvi wrote lyrics that reflect a great deal of emotional complexity and maturity. In contrast to his contemporaries, Ludhianvi chose to remain unhindered by the constraints set by the Bollywood love song; many of his songs are refreshing to hear for their expression of biting political satire, heartfelt grief, or outspoken anger.

This is the song in which two lovers are caught in the social situation which prevents the two lovers to fulfill their romantic desires and living life together. It is supposedly his real-life situation where he and Amrita Pritam could not stay together though they loved each other. This song is an outpouring of their accidental meeting at a party with her new husband, in Bombay. He was never an idealist hence the first two lines show his pragmatic approach to the situation.

chalo ek baar phir se, ajnabii ban jaaye.n ham dono.n 

Come let us become strangers again!  

na mai.n tumse koii ummiid rakhuu.n dilnavaazii kii 

I shall no longer maintain hopes of compassion from you 

The last four lines are those of a protagonist. He feels that it is counterproductive to pour energy into a relationship that is doomed. His words indicate that sometimes it is good to put an early end to a love story which cannot end in happy circumstances, ever!

taalluq bojh ban jaaye to usko toDnaa achhaa 

Should a relationship become a burden, then it is best to end it.  

voh afsaana jise anjaam tak laanaa na ho mumkin 

For that tale which cannot culminate in a conclusion, 

use ek khuubsuurat moD de kar chhoDna achhaa 

it is best to give it a beautiful turn and leave it be. 

I am sure that is a tough call to bring into practice what Sahir has preached. What Sahir has achieved is one of the best songs he has ever written! The lovers during their love phase and later if that love is broken, are in a highly emotional state. It is quite possible that sanity may be lost in their actions. But Sahir has suggested a very mature way of handling the situation. Let us be strangers again!

The middle stanza of the song is a practical way the poet is suggesting how the love needs to taper off.

na mai.n tumse koii ummiid rakhuu.n dilnavaazii kii 

I shall no longer maintain hopes of compassion from you 

The poet is indicating to his love that he no longer would be compassionate in the relationship nor does he expect his beloved to do so.

na tum merii taraf dekho ghalat andaaz nazaro.n se 

Nor shall you gaze at me with your deceptive glances.  

na mere dil ki dhaDkan laDkhaDaaye merii baato.n me.n 

My heart shall no longer tremble when I speak,  

Poet suggests to his lover that the deceptive and furtive glances will not make his heart to flutter. Nor would his words will reflect feelings of the heart.

na zaahir ho tumhaari kashm-kash ka raaz nazaro.n se 

Nor shall your glances reveal the secret of your torment. 

Over a period, my love, your glances will not display the pain in your eyes!

Friends I am amazed at the way the artists express themselves. Painters’ expressions are seen in the paintings and singer will express through the depth of his voice. These days even cricketers say that they want to go and express themselves. By this, they all mean that they want to show their feelings. But in Sahir’s case,  it is simply amazing that he is able to find the apt expressions and perfectly fitting words. The word Ajanabii just hits the bull’s eye. From lovers to the other extreme, strangers! Somebody may have said, ”Let me walk away” or let us forget each other! But the word Ajnabii hits as if a dagger is plunged inside your heart! How can lovers become strangers in a broken relationship? But that is Sahir for you. Was this song the result of Sahir’s personal experience? Was it the wound to his heart that found the word Ajanabii?

The last line in the poem (ok it’s a song) is also equally impressive.

use ek khuubsuurat moD de kar chhoDna achhaa 

it is best to give it a beautiful turn and leave it be. 

Sahir says now that our relationship is getting over, why not give the situation a beautiful turn, as if he is driving a car and he simply wants to take an unexpected turn on the road which will never come back to his lover. Is it as simple as taking a U-turn? khuubsuurat moD to me is a metaphor where he simply wants to walk out but expresses it as only Sahir can!

Sahir Ludhianvi is the pen name of Abdul Hayee (8 March 1921 – 25 October 1980) who is popularly known as Sahir, was an Indian poet and film lyricist who wrote in the Hindi and Urdu languages. His work influenced Indian cinema, in particular, Bollywood film. Sahir won Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for Taj Mahal (1963). He won a second Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for his work on Kabhie Kabhie (1976). He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1971. But lest you forget, his best work was in 1957 Gurudutt film,  Pyaasa! 

Don’t be anxious about anxiety!

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous. There is a difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder. Getting anxious is natural in humans and getting anxiety disorder is also not uncommon. But mind you, the disorder is a disease whereas anxiety is a natural thing. Anxiety is a natural response of our mind to the situations we are in! In life, we do not have much control over a lot of things that are happening around you. In such conditions, we have apprehensions which get converted into anxiety. The chart below shows the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder.

Anxiety-vs-Anxiety-Disorders-Infographic

What are the causes of anxiety disorder? Most of us can handle day to day anxieties regularly. In fact, some of us excel when under stress. Stress and anxiety have a correlation with each other. From sports field typical example is of Virat Kohli. His game blossoms when there is stress, like chasing a large score in a one-day match. He is one of those rare sportsmen who takes anxiety or stress in stride and in fact does better under such conditions. Let us not forget that all of us can do this but we need to train ourselves mentally and should be willing to take challenges!

In primitive ages, human life was always full of anxiety. Gathering food every day, looking for water every day (due to lack of big storage systems), gathering twigs for fire, saving oneself from natures vagaries. On top of that saving yourself from wild beasts, and the worst enemy was sickness or injury. Medical science was so primitive in those days, that getting well from sickness and injuries was a big anxiety! In today’s life, these basic things don’t cause anxiety but probably each era has its own anxieties. Now we can still have anxiety about health because some of us may not have money for treatment. Latest no. 1 anxiety point today is the temporary non-availability of internet connection or not having your cell phone near you! Anxieties will be there, it is how we handle them is going to be the key!

Our main endeavour should be to handle day to day anxiety and to know when we have an anxiety disorder and how to handle it.

In the case of an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating. This type of anxiety may cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the anxiety will keep getting worse. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

What are the causes of anxiety disorder?

As with many mental health conditions, the cause of generalized anxiety disorder similarly arises from a complex interaction of biological and environmental factors, which may include:

  • Differences in brain chemistry and function
  • Genetics
  • Differences in the way threats are perceived
  • Development and personality

The treatment on anxiety disorder is  too vast a subject to be discussed here. So in brief anxiety disorders can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Some people who have a mild anxiety disorder, or a fear of something they can easily avoid, decide to live with the condition and do not seek treatment.

It’s important to understand that anxiety disorders can be treated, even in severe cases. Although anxiety usually doesn’t go away, you can learn to manage it and live a happy, healthy life.

Day to day anxiety

This is already explained above, humans can find their own way of overcoming it and in fact, there are ways to handle this to our advantage. We need to understand what anxiety is.

Anxiety is a Body Signal

Anxiety is a signal sent by our body to our mind and brain. We need not like the experience of anxiety. In fact, our body generates this signal so that we will pay attention to the issue in hand so that we can stop that issue from getting out of hand. It is like a baby crying when the baby needs milk or needs a change of diaper. It is like a patient in the hospital ringing the bell for the nurse. Once we start looking for a solution and start working on it, the anxiety level starts reducing simultaneously.

Never let anxieties accumulate

Treat anxiety like a water storage and its management. Rainfall brings the water to the rivers and we build dams to store water which is later used after the rains stop. At the same time, we can use the stored water and send it to areas which don’t have sufficient rainfall, using canals. If the stored water in dams is not released on time, then the pressure will build up due to excess water, the dam can break. Stored up anxieties do exactly the same thing. We can collapse if our anxiety level crosses a limit, which again depends on the individual!

Put anxiety to good use

In cricket parlance, if a batsman is good then he can utilize the fast bowler’s speed to good use. If he connects the ball well in the right direction, the fielder will have no chance of stopping the hit, because the batsman has taken the advantage of bowler’s speed. Another thing anxiety does, is to release adrenaline in our body. When used well, adrenaline can help us to perform the same job even better and more efficiently.

Treat anxiety as your friend

If you treat anxiety as a friend, you will be able to focus better and will have more energy, even if you are tired. Anxiety keeps us on our toes and makes us a pay attention to issues on hand.

What are natural remedies for anxiety?

Lifestyle changes can be an effective way to relieve some of the stress and anxiety you may cope with every day. Most of the natural “remedies” consist of caring for your body, participating in healthy activities, and eliminating unhealthy ones.

These include:

  • getting enough sleep
  • meditating
  • staying active and exercising
  • eating a healthy diet
  • staying active and working out
  • avoiding alcohol
  • avoiding caffeine
  • quitting smoking cigarettes

I will share with you an anxiety story. My colleague, Deepti who was handling all technical aspects in my software business, has now been handling the India operations of a US based company since last 4 months. This was a major change in her life, as when we were colleagues the buck stopped with me. Now it stops with her! I am  sure she has gone through a major anxiety spell but I am also sure that she will manage to overcome these anxieties and handle the show confidently in future, once she starts accepting  these anxieties as day to day anxieties, and, this is important, with support from her family and friends! !

Friends, anxiety is a thing with which all of us live! Whether to make anxiety our friend or foe is in our hands! Cheers!

Human nature, a mystery!

Free as the wind
Tall as a tree
Wide as a mind
Deep as a sea

Human nature is a bundle of fundamental characteristics—including ways of thinking, feeling, and acting—which humans have in them, naturally. I have used a few lines from a Michael Jackson song, released in 1983, which appealed to me very much the way the lines tell us about the nature.

The question of whether there are truly fixed characteristics, what these natural characteristics are, and what causes them, are among the oldest and most important questions in philosophy and science. The science that examines human nature is psychology and more recently also neuroscience. These questions have particularly important implications in economics, ethics, politics, and theology. This is partly because human nature can be regarded as both a source of norms of conduct or ways of life, as well as presenting obstacles or constraints on living a good life.

How much do we know each other? It is a million-dollar question and I am not sure if we have an answer to this question. Let me assure you that this is not a rhetorical question. Yesterday, we had chat session, over a cup of coffee, with an old friend of ours. His wife has travelled to the US to help their daughter with the baby. He is from the same engineering college as Jaya and I went. He is a couple of years senior to me and we have done some professional work together.

We met, maybe, once a year or so, for a cup of tea, generally in my office; he would leave his home early to come to my office for updates and tea. We always had terrific interactions both professionally and personally. Jaya also knew him from college days as his sister was a year senior to her in school. Somehow in all these years, we had never met personally. I would always tell Jaya that he is a terrific person, with a lot of clarity on everything, a great sense of humour and the person to have as a friend! Yesterday’s chat reconfirmed all our views about him. We reluctantly ended our session, with a promise to meet regularly and asap!

When can we say that we know someone well? When we have a few meals together, or when we meet someone over a drink, once a while? Or when we meet someone over a cup of tea once in a while? In Hindi, someone may say, पहेचानता हूँ पर जानता नही हूँ ! This means I know of him but I don’t know him! Our friend told us a story. He said that a few years back, he and couple of his friends went for stag holiday out of Pune, for 2/3 days. On the first night, they chatted a lot, had a few drinks, and in general, enjoyed. By the time they felt sleepy, it was well past midnight. One of their friends insisted that the next day they all must go for a walk on the beach, early morning. Except for this person, others felt that they should laze around, instead. This friend was insisting so much that there was a minor disagreement. Ultimately only that person went to the beach. My friend said they all knew each other for 55 years plus, they were aware that this friend had a few strong views but on that day it was almost like “My way or the high way”! My friend said that though we knew each other for so many years, have met reasonably frequently but they came to know about this aspect of his personality only after they stayed together. Does it mean that you know someone only when you live together at least for a small duration?

I am sure one would start knowing someone well during life and death situation like war, or when you live together in hostels or dormitories. This living together for studies, doing small and big things together daily, borrowing small money for tea during month end money shortage, helping each other with studies, playing together and most importantly living together, brings that bond, a closeness which otherwise can never be there.

This brings me to another question. What forms your nature? What forms your persona? Is it in your genes? Is it in your DNA? When we say that something has come from genes or DNA what does it really mean? Children from the business community become business minded because from childhood they listen to various aspects of business being discussed at home. Children from doctor families tend to join medical courses because they always hear medical stories or discussions at home.

Consider this example. Two siblings one a lady and the other a man, not much of age difference. Born and brought up in an orthodox modern family. Their path in life has been, outwardly, exactly the same. High intelligence,high IQ, same education engineering plus post-graduation in management, started as trainees, reached the top of their respective organizations, extensively travelled, with long stays abroad for various professional reasons! The lady is a leader with excellent management skills, equally involved in family life, excellent human relationships! The gentleman obviously a good professional but as human being very difficult to deal with, sometimes too aggressive in personal things too! What has made that change mentioned in the last sentence? Only thing I visualize is the vast difference in EQ or Emotional Quotient! Do you pick up EQ on your way? Similarly you can pick up Empathy on the way! In simple language, the lady has become a cosmopolitan and the man has never reached there, missed his bus! The man missed out on picking up stuff from EQ & Empathy shops!

Considering complexities of human nature, I am just going to comment on a couple of important characteristics of humans as there are are too many to discuss!

What is the difference in introverts and extroverts?

One major difference between the brains of introverts and extroverts is the way they respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that provides the motivation to seek external rewards like earning money, climbing the social ladder, attracting a mate, or getting selected for a high-profile project at work. When dopamine floods the brain, both introverts and extroverts become more talkative, alert to their surroundings, and motivated to take risks and explore the environment. But this dopamine is higher, in general, in extroverts!

Why people become aggressive?

There are many psychologists who believe that our aggression is mostly due to a biological input such as hormones, genes or our amygdala. Experts feel that our aggression is more nature than nurture, suggests that aggression can be found in the structure of the limbic system of our brain and this is where the amygdala can be found. The Amygdala controls one’s ability to perceive emotions towards others. This idea first started as it is believed the amygdala triggers our aggression. There is the other side of the argument, in which people believe that our aggression is a learned behaviour due to our experiences and the people around us. Jury is still out why we are aggressive?

Friends, the concept of human nature is traditionally contrasted not only with unusual human characteristics, but also with characteristics which are derived from specific cultures, and upbringings. The “nature versus nurture” debate is a discussion about human nature in the natural science that will always go on. The type of human nature I prefer is expressed the lines below, which are also from the same song by Michael Jackson.

And do just what comes natural
The first thing on your mind
Do just what comes natural
I prefer your kind of human nature

Only problem is that the natural in some people is not good enough to make you a good person in the society where we live!