Saturday, 28 December 2013

In Nothingness Is Everything


I am

I am this

I am that

I am this and I am that


I am

I am nothing

In nothingness is everything..

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Road Rage Claims Yet Another Life In Mumbai

A couple of days ago, my good friend, Chirag Randeria sent me a message from Texas, US, where he lives. He sought my help in drawing attention to a heinous act of unprovoked violence that claimed an innocent man's life.

The victim, Mayur Mehta ( in picture above), CEO of a DIagnostic Centre also happened to be Chirag's Uncle. How ironical that he lost his life while on his way to celebrating his wedding anniversary. Yes, life can be very cruel.

The full report of the incident can be read on this link of a leading newspaper's cover page story for today. While driving his scooter, he accidentally brushed a motorcycle rider. This offended and provoked the rider to such an extent that he slashed Mehta's thigh with a knife.

The deep gash was bleeding profusely, forcing Mehta to get off his scooter. He cried for help
but no one came to his rescue until another passerby on a scooter stopped. A 19 year old collegian, she helped tie up his wound but the blood loss by then caused Mehta to lose consciousness. The girl, Michelle, screamed at the onlookers to help her rush Mehta to Hospital. Nobody obliged. She hailed an auto-rickshaw herself, but the driver refused to help them. Infuriated, she hurled a stone and shattered the vehicle's windshield.

By the time they did make it to a hospital, it was too late. The Doctor said if he had been brought there in time he'd surely have survived: his femoral artery had been cut which led to his bleeding to death. An unavoidable death, a man could have lived to wish his wife on their Anniversary.

The brave young Collegian, Michelle should be lauded for leading by example and trying her very best without waiting for someone to join in. A role model for all of us!

The police are on the lookout for the murderer. My question is should the onlookers be, approximately fifty of them, tried for abetment of murder?

If even some of them had lent a helping hand and showed the humane approach of the young girl, a family would not been grieving a lost husband, father and my friend his uncle.

I'm less angered at the murderer (who reportedly is a drug addict) than by the bystanders: it is people like these who can make a difference but choose not to do so. They bother me more, Chirag.

R.I.P., Mr.Mehta.

(P..S. : Pictures courtesy Mumbai Mirror)

Saturday, 7 December 2013

'Who Are You?' The Voice Kept Asking Me

I was sweating profusely. The heat and suffocation in the cell were getting to be unbearable. Despite my eyes being tightly shut, the harsh light could be felt. Dare not open my eyes..the light was blinding.

My hands handcuffed behind me, I was seated on this creaky wooden chair. My every effort to struggle, break free gave me the sneaking feeling that the chair would collapse. 

I didn't know how I had ended up here nor when, in this hell-hole. Absolutely no recollection of the immediate past. 

Racked my brain. Where had I last been and what transpired in between...My mind was too clogged to help think clearly.

 'Who are you' he asked me.
My name is....was rudely cut short by Mr.Know All.
'Spare me. I already know your name, date of birth, where you live and work, how much you earn, names of your family and friends and all that. So cut that out and let's get to the real thing. Who are you?'

Huh? What's all this about? I know my rights. On what grounds am I being held? I demand an explanation (my eyes still shut).

'I do the questioning here. Make it easy for yourself, you won't be harmed. If you don't co-operate it is going to be one long night. 
Who are you?'

'You won't be harmed' you go..
God dammit! I'm already traumatised! I'm a human being, with a torso four limbs and a mind that has just blanked out: thanks to you!'

'Even I'm a human, as are 7 billion others on this planet. So what makes you special. Who are you?'

Okay. Look, I'm a law abiding citizen, have a clean record. Oh yes, one cleaner than any of this country's politicians certainly!. Have never been involved in any crime. So what answer are you exactly seeking from me?

'Look, you can do better than that. Cut out the superficial. Think deeper. I'll come back after a while. Think, think: Who are you?'

Benumbed by now, thinking about anything was not on my mind. The sweating, stress had completely drained me and I must have fallen asleep.

I awoke to 'The nap must have done you good. I think your mind would now be ripe to look beyond the mundane. The answer is startlingly obvious and you are among the select few who fully understand it.'

Now this made me want to search deeper! Beyond the physical?

'We are getting closer'

Oh yes! I am a soul! Beautiful, infinite, immortal and invisible! Detached from all the joys and sorrows that befall me, ever blissful, energised by His boundless energy.

At that moment, I felt a waft of cool breeze. 

In the cell?

'You are now free to go'

Hesitatingly I opened my eyes..Where WAS the prison? Where was the interrogator? What greeted me was a spectacular landscape! Flowing winds, undulating greens, blue skies..

Yes, I was indeed free.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Biggest Festival Of Lights Is The One Inside

When I was a child, Diwali was keenly awaited
Over the years my joy has abated

Wonder if today's child even knows what Diwali is about?
The homecoming celebration in Ayodhya for Lord Ram

is forgotten, as his momentous, righteous victory, Raavan's rout

Things have grown messier, noisier
In tune, perhaps, with our lives, busier

The city gets a 'fresh' dose of smoke
In a slagging match firecrackers run amok

Birds duck for cover, flying helter-skelter
Bird lovers try to provide them a comforting shelter

My ears are benumbed by the relentless pounding
Complemented suitably by lungs wheezing

The beautiful aerial displays get dulled by air grey
Festivities over, the suffocating smog is here to stay

Resolve my mind to do a somersault
Sift the irritants, with a smile, brave these assaults

For a dear Friend's words gave me a fresh insight
Cleared my mind, threw new light

'The biggest Festival of Lights is within'
Said he, on this I am certainly with him.

The Friend I refer to here is Patrick Zimbardo.
His reply to a post of mine inspired this Poem.
Thank you, Patrick for these beautiful words of wisdom.
More about him on this LINK

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Keep Learning, Keep Growing, Keep Sharing

The past few months have been especially rich in terms of knowledge and wisdom gained. It all started with my friend, Dharmendra Rai's fantastic initiative: The TRAINERS EXPO.

Malti Bhojwani, Professional Life Coach and Tj Coulagi were both speakers there and as a follow up, I signed up for their Intensive Workshop. Am glad I did so!

To begin with, Malti's meticulous preparation and interaction with us before the event showed how committed she was in ensuring that the Coaching benefited each one of us to the maximum extent possible.

The whole proceedings came alive with her vibrancy, sense of joyfulness and being in the moment. The informal, joyous atmosphere made absorbing knowledge easier.

Rather than discussing the content of the day, let me share what I took with me... My belief system formed due to conditioning of my mind while growing up had a huge impact on my perceptions- a vital realisation.

I agree with her contention that 'one cannot just not think of something' without replacing it with something else. We hate vacuums, don't we. This is also a theme from the Book she has authored, 'Don't Think of a Blue Ball'.

The prime purpose I had attended the event was to sharpen my focus. An outsider's gentle nudge and prompting does wonders even as we fail to pinpoint something that should have been obvious. I had begun writing my first Book however hadn't been able to devote as much time or energy to it as I would have liked to. Yes Malti, good intentions mean noting unless backed by a 100% commitment to them!

A Coach to be effective has to be a leader by example: Malti both you and Tj fit the bill perfectly! I just couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the projected image of an obese teenager - who has now now metamorphosed into a stunning, slim beauty! Malti's story about the sacrifices made, fitness routine speak volumes about her commitment to get to the goal (ideal body weight), come what may. Leadership stuff!

Tj Coulagi, the Poet, as he calls himself, is an incredible man! His story of survival and fightback from an almost fatal car accident makes him a role model for people like me who need inspiration and motivation to fight the odds. His self discipline to keep himself fit is an exemplary pointer to the less challenged ones who hide behind excuses. His enthusiasm to change people's lives, which is his mission now, does not fail to affect the participant.

Tj's Time management tools and iHour were just what the Doctor ordered for me. Removing the clutter of activities that suck my energy and focusing just on my central goal has become easier now.
Magically have found the ways to juggle around my various activities that keep me busy yet make headway towards the central goal-my Book.

All in all a rewarding experience, topped up by an invaluable gift:

All of us received an assessment of our innate qualities, strengths and potential weak-links in various key areas. I found the comprehensive assessments to be so accurate that it appeared as if I were looking at my mirror image! 
It was as if she had an uncanny ability to read my mind! Moreover, the assessment is also a tool to understand myself better,work more on my strengths and iron out shortcomings.

Coming to the question, can a Workshop change you? My commitment to Malti: the book will be out in August 2014 and I'll attribute my new found discipline to her and Tj's coaching for that confidence! There's the answer for you.  

Thank you Malti and Tj!!

Keep learning, keep growing, keep sharing.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

'Cricket is our Religion, Sachin is our God'

'God retires' screamed the headlines of all the news papers yesterday and today. There are three full pages in tribute to this legend in The Times of India, the leading publication. Is the hype being overdone?

'I have seen God. He bats at No. 4 for India'
- Mathew Hayden, the Aussie great.

Undoubtedly, if there has been one unifying force in a country of so much diversity as India, it has to be cricket. Short of war, nothing brings its people together in celebration and despair as cricket does. Unfair for the other sports? Possibly a reflection of our lack of eminence in other team sports. We are a pale shadow of the world beating Hockey team of yore.
There surely are individual world champs like Leander Paes in Tennis, the emerging Saina Nehwal in Badminton..Does the country ever idolise them? The masses have not even heard of them.

Indian Cricket has been replete with legends such as Sunil Gavaskar, the Spin quartet and later Kapil Dev, who captured the imagination of all of us including me.

The Indian team, though, had an erratic run in world cricket, always known as 'poor travelers' due to our batsmen's inability to play on deadly fast, bouncy pitches overseas (read Australia, West Indies and South Africa). 

In a country starved of genuine, world champion sporting heroes came Sachin Tendulkar.
His fresh, fearless approach to the game percolated to his team. What separates the greats from a true all time legend of the game is not just the contribution he makes to the team in terms of runs, wickets or fielding. Sachin with his fiercely competitive attitude, the willingness to face challenges and above all unquenchable desire to win gradually saw team India elevate from survivors to competitors and finally to world Champs in all versions of the game.

Is this an exaggeration? Hardly. Even today, when he is well past his prime, all his team-mates swear by his contribution to their personal growth and his helping nature.

I have been an avid follower of the game and have almost idolised Sachin over the decades. True class is rare, sheer genius is so rare that it has to be cherished when on display. The word genius itself is used very loosely nowadays.

'He had the astonishing ability to play three shots to the same delivery to different parts of the ground. He played all the shots in the game plus invented a few of his own. A sense of the team situation and the ability to quickly adapt- he was an opposition captain's nightmare.'
Former India Coach and Aussie great, Greg Chappell

What is the one defining factor that marks out the all time greats of any sport?
Dom Moraes, the late columnist and cricket fan, described it beautifully.
'These players have an aura about them. When they walk onto a Cricket ground or leave it, you can sense it'

Sachin goes beyond that.
'The atmosphere at the Wankhede when he walks in to bat is nothing short of scary. I wonder how this man has carried the burden of the hopes of a billion fans on his shoulders, that itself makes him the God of cricket'
-Mark Waugh, one of the most elegant batsmen to have played the game.

'Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, what they conceal is vital'
Are all the practically insurmountable pile of batting records that he has set, notably the only one to have scored 100 international hundreds, the only proof his greatness?

Sir Geoffery Boycott, at one time the scorer of most Test runs was regarded as a boring batsman. Legend has it that Ian Botham intentionally ran him out once!
He was never considered a genius, just a technically correct opener.
Sachin's greatness lies in the joy his batting has brought to all of us- whether experts, admiring rivals or his legion of fans around the world.

'I'd pay to watch Sachin bat'
This is perhaps the greatest accolade, coming from a batsman I consider superior to even Sachin.
-The great Sir Vivian Richards, who himself thinks 'Sachin is the best ever!'

Another facet that separates the greats from the highly talented is consistency in all conditions, against all types of bowling attacks whether spin or extreme pace. Now if one has been delivering exactly this for 24 years, under the unbearable burden of massive expectations, he is an all time great. From Waqar, Wasim, McGrath, Lee, Donald, Pollock to Warne, Murali and Saqlain- he has faced them all with aplomb and tamed them.

His ability to adapt overseas is supported by stats- he has a better average abroad than at home! Possibly lesser pressure from the home crowds must have been a relief..

In his prime, his attacking stroke-play in virtually any match situation against any attack made him so special.
The full range of shots came out..the straight drive, on drive, paddle sweep, short arm pull and cover drive piercing the field, driving the bowlers to desperation!

Coming to fond memories, which shall never fade, I agree with Steve Waugh's selection of his finest innings. The Aussie captain was at the receiving end of his swashbuckling performances more than once.

Sharjah, Semi-Finals of a Triangular One-day tournament. India had to either beat the Aussies or score at a frantic pace to qualify. Sachin delivered and how! Half the side gone, he fought on valiantly. Midway, a desert storm interrupted the match. The reset target got stiffer. In the forced break, I got to see over television what defined Sachin. He neither took his pads off nor his helmet. There was a steely look in his eyes.
India made it to Finals on the back of his magnificent hundred when the other stars flopped.

The Finals, on his 25th Birthday, was an action replay: another magnificent ton! India won the Cup. Steve Waugh said 'We lost to Sachin'
Much later, when the Cronje Match-Fixing scandal broke out, I read the then Coach, Anshuman Gaekwad's statement.
'A few players, apparently involved in the ugly match fixing fracas, had agreed to flop in the match. On suspecting this, Sachin said  "I'll win the Cup for you, Coach."

There are so many other gems from his career, but his ton at Perth early in his career, on a really fast pitch where his team mates fell like nine pins is widely regarded as his best.

His fighting ton against Saqlain and company on a breaking wicket when he all but took India to victory is my favourite. He was playing in great pain due to a back problem.

And yet the thankless handful will say..'He's never been a team man, he doesn't win matches. 
You can't please everyone. On the other hand, if you are revered by a billion, then the critics are a drop in the ocean.

Barack Obama, once asked his team in jest-
'Who is this small man? Every time he is nearing a century the productivity in the my country goes down?'
( a reflection of the dominance of Indians in the Infotech and allied industries in the US).

Without Dravid and Lakshman  Indian cricket will never be the same again.

With Sachin's calling it a day, world cricket will be poorer- for he was a fantastic ambassador of the game he lived and breathed for so long.
Legends are not born everyday.

When a stars fades out, among the billions in the sky 
it is one star less..
When the Sun fades and calls it a day, it makes us sit up and take notice.

Well played Sachin.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Butterfly That Refused To Fly!

With a Pinch of Salt 

Diti, our 9 year old adorable daughter is going through one of the most arduous examinations of her life: her standard Four Mid-terminals. As her parents, we are burning the proverbial midnight oil to help her in hour of need. The titles of her School Books bring a wry smile on my face.

'The Joy of Mathematics' goes one (I dare say, the author is either a MENSA level scholar or he doesn't particularly like children). Let him explain to me how figuring out those brain-churners is a source of Joy to anybody, leave alone a child! 'Write 652317788331' in figures and words as per American system (100 thousand..) and Indian system (lakhs and crores).
Great, at least they are teaching downright practical aspects of life to my child. The future value of onions considering our tame inflation, for instance.
There are, of course, countless gems like this one.

The winner of course is, 'Grammar Magic'- hands down! A Chapter goes like this "Words Confused and Misused". For sure, I began doubting my language skills each time Diti ran across to defuse her confused mind!

On the eve of the Arts and Crafts examination, my joy knew no bounds! I preened to Khyati, 
(my better half, in terms of knowledge too: after all, she's an ex-teacher) 'not to worry. See, am a creative guy, this craft stuff is my kind of thing.'

I regretted having said that. It was well past eleven in the night. We had cut and pasted dozens of marble paper, no sign of the butterfly. Didn't it seem ridiculously easy in the 'step by step guide' (for dummies like me)? Try as we might, neither did the contraption we conjured up look anywhere close to being a butterfly nor were he heading in that direction.
I forgot to mention, creative people are impatient and irritable too.
My daughter brightly came up with a life saver. 'Why don't we try making the Chinese lantern instead? I think it was easier.'
Viola! We had a Chinese lantern made by two Indians. Diti comforted me, now I know how to make it at School tomorrow.

I can imagine the Author of Crafts book, cock a snook at us. 'If Maths and Grammar didn't get you, I will!'


The Picture of the glorious Butterfly is the one made by Diti last Sunday, under the tutelage of a truly Creative (ahem) girl, Bhagyashree. Thanks, Bhagyashree, at last we had smiles on our faces!

This Butterfly can certainly take off! 

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Education Is Continuous And Training Is Focused Education

'Just how many Training programs will you keep on attending?' my wife and sister ask me. (my score is five in 45 days)

My answer was, one Mind Mapping Seminar by Dharmendra Rai changed my life. Should I stop evolving?

(L to R in the Picture, standing: Meenal Jaiswal, Harish Mehta, Dharmendra, Anil Dagia, Tj Coulagi and Vikrant Chaphekar)

India's leading Mind Maps Trainer, Dharmendra Rai, who I just mentioned, had invited me to his Trainers' Expo. It is his fascinating brainchild, where established Trainers showcase their skills and promote their upcoming Events.

More importantly, eager learners like me lap up the unbelievable expertise packed in a day of Training. Budding trainers are also encouraged to take up the exciting profession of training. The interactive sessions encourage them to make this transition.

The Event held on Aug 30, 2013 had slots for five Trainers. The day was kicked off by Anil Dagia,

a Certified NLP Practitioner. I call him the Michael Holding of Training! 'Emotional Fitness Gym' was his Topic. The most striking takeaway for me was emotions are not positive or negative. How we channel our emotions makes the difference. Confusing? Anger, for instance. When Gandhi faced the brunt of racial discrimination in South Africa when he was thrown out of a train, the resultant anger changed not only him but the face of the India's independence movement. This was an important learning for me. I'm an emotional person- rightly channeling my emotions empowers me.
Change your signature, change your life! Appears to be a tall claim?
Graphology is a science of studying handwriting to analyse a person. Vinit Bansode, founder of The Graphology Research Institute, is a master of this skill. I was tempted to discard it as another form of mumbo-jumbo: how wrong my pre-conceived notion was. The proof of the pudding was the display of slides of signatures of legendary names from history and present and the connection with their characters. I found his session so compelling that I subsequently attended his one on one session and benefited hugely from it. 
Malti Bhojwani, Professional Life Coach (ICF) enthralled us with a session on the topic of Ontology. To me, her most powerful message was that in order to discard a negative attribute we have to replace it with a positive one. The importance of 'Letting go' was ingeniously demonstrated. When one holds on to guilt from past incidents the best way to reconcile to is by understanding that circumstances compelled one behave in that manner. The release thus experienced is liberating. I particularly liked the the tools used to relate to emotions, circumstances and behaviour. I have in fact, registered as a participant for Malti's full day Workshop on 21st of September.

Harish Mehta is an ActionCOACH and LOA Trainer. A powerful speaker, I particularly liked one
theme he touched upon- 'OAR' Ownership, Accountability, Responsibility: Aren't these the cornerstones of every successful person? Hiding behind excuses,blaming and denial are the path to failure. A probing question by him 'How many of you spent twenty minutes everyday together with your family, undisturbed?' Thank you for 'The Secret' handout, beautifully worded and printed: 'I promise myself'. Great affirmations to begin a day with! 

Meenal Jaiswal, a MBA, who quit her job to pursue her passion
since she was a five year old: Photography. Her session brought to fore to the uninitiated how minor things make a difference in how an image turns out to be in the final reckoning.The importance of all things visual in this era of Social Medai was underlined. Composing, innovation, a few technical terms were the topics she focused on (pun intended!). For an amateur like me who loves my photography and all things visual, this  was a session that had me glued to every word, every image on the screen..In order to translate my amateur status to a trained amateur, I'm attending Meenal's full day intensive Photography workshop.
Rounding up, back to Dharmendra Rai.
Thank you, it is your creative genius, innovative marketing ideas, sheer enthusiasm in the field of Training and path-breaking approach to presenting Trainers that has ensured that the Expo concept has now evolved into such a resounding success! Looking forward to more learning and....sharing.

It is because of the knowledge and wisdom gained from such workshops over the past eighteen months that I have made a successful transition in my career. The interaction with geniuses is invaluable. My Blogging and writing career I owe to these workshops.

Any further reasons for not attending even more of these in the future?

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

I Quieten My Dissenting Voice..

I quieten my dissenting voice
Reluctantly let it drown in the deafening noise

What used to be a sumptious feast for the ears and eyes
Time has morphed it into an opulent device

The festival full of bonhomie which celebrates You
Wonder if all this cacophony pleases You?

For Your large ears, even a pin-drop is loud and clear
Yet, all the din You have to bear and hear

The DJ's play banal music, the loud speakers blare all night
The immersion celebrations are such an ungainly sight

While the fireworks and lasers pierce the skies
You say to Your devotees, all I want is love in your eyes

As Your idols vie for pride of place, compete on size
The seas brace themselves as no one heeds their cries

Of all this fracas, I steer my tranquil mind clear
Chosen to keep You in my heart, always near

A faithful Devotee
of the
All powerful

Jai Shri Ganesha

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Strut Your Stuff

Strut your stuff
Let them call your bluff

Display your wares
So what if they stand and stare?

Do you see their tongues wag?
Ignore them, its your right to brag!

Do not be a bird in a flock
Stand tall, firmly like a rock

You are special, you know it
Step out, let the world see it!

Dare to be what you are, a maverick
That's what it takes to make your brand stick

So, are you willing to shout out loud:
'Am extraordinary, have no place in the crowd!'

Saturday, 24 August 2013

From Baby Steps to the First Big Stride.

One can either summon all of one's will power, resources and courage to take on a challenge and overcome it, or meekly surrender to it. -
 Vijay Nallawala

Thankfully, more often than not, I chose to fight back- and won.

It was on the 21st of May, 2013, that Bipolarindia was launched. At that time an audience of 10,000 would have been a pipe dream and on a distant horizon. Well, thanks to the support of all the readers it has clocked that figure in a mere 95 days!! 10,000 Visits in 95 Days!!
It is also a reflection of how timely, relevant this site is and that it fulfills a need that was possibly ignored all this while: a community for and by Bipolars. Where one can learn from experiences of people coming through and winning their battles, the methods they employ and similar inspirational stories. Also available are many practical Do's and Don'ts, Roadmaps to Recovery, Links to sites that could provide detailed medical information, etc.

How well fellow patients and their relatives have connected with it is evident from the number of phone calls and messages I received to seek advise and to commend me, from all corners of India- and beyond.

The one incident that is most relevant is a Journalist telephoning me from Bangalore. He happens to be a Bipolar from an early age and wants to write about it but can't muster the courage for going ahead. Reading my posts he feels he just might be encouraged to finally to so. These small victories matter to me more than just numbers: the site is serving the purpose it was set up for.

Puneet Bhatnagar, my Mentor friend, your Creativity Mission informally started with this initiative itself! Your brainchild worked and how!

Until now it has been a short, although exhilarating journey. Going ahead, the plan is to gather momentum by seeking the help of more fellow passengers, like Jaswinder Grewal who so graciously consented to and contributed an article for us. A sincere appeal to all Clinical Psychologists/ Psychotherapists/Counselors to pitch in and contribute to the cause by writing helpful articles and answer queries. That there could be an estimated 70 Million Bipolar afflicted in the world is a scary thought. About time we lent a helping hand.

I share with you here, a few of the popular posts of the Site:

An Outsider's View - by Jaswinder Grewal

Helping Hand

Managing Bipolar

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A Walk through a Raging Storm - A Poem

The rain, ferocious rain pours as I'm walking
Where am I headed, what am I seeking?

As the cascades get stronger, it comes down in droves
I can hear the thunder, feel a cruel storm brew

Seek shelter around me, left and right
Not a comforting nook anywhere in sight

My inner turmoil adds to my anguish and pain
Dread the thought of going through it all again

Falling apart, piece by piece
Show me a way out, I wish

Searched for the fallen pieces all around me
They had merged with the wet muddy path I had left behind me

It then came to me in a flash, to the fore
Hadn't I been through all this before?

With all my might pulled myself together again
Saw the new me coming up despite the pain

With my arms open wide, face up, dared the rain
Felt cleansed, renewed, my joy was insane!!

And then suddenly saw the path ahead gloriously lit up
Tearing apart the dreary clouds the kind, warm Sun had come up

After falling apart, disintegrating,
Was finally the whole me that I was seeking

Come on, rain, willing to take you on again
The fire in me has been lit, cannot be doused again.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

One does not require to be in a quiet place to Meditate.

I keep experimenting with the way I meditate. On a couple of occasions, have tried something directly opposite to what conventional wisdom would suggest. Learning this way stimulates the mind.

Was in my meditation position in the morning, seated on a low cane chair: no, I don't sit cross legged. It is easier if one sticks to a regular routine with a fixed time slot and place for meditation'

Before shutting my eyes, I took in the sight around me. The curtains on the window, the dark grey skies, the 
visible  top half of the palm trees, a few buildings and birds flying in all directions.

Then shut my eyes and paid attention to all the sounds I could hear.Since the windows were not fully shut, the sounds of traffic- tried to pinpoint where each sound came from. The 
revving engine of a bus, beep of a bike and the variety of car horns.  Its fascinating to pinpoint on a 360 degree mind-view the origin of the myriad sounds. Some from the vicinity, kitchen utensils clanging, voices..some external: birds chirping, a busy city's busy sounds. When one shifts attention from thinking to listening, the noise which disturbed earlier, does not seem intrusive any more.

My focus shifted on smell. Not much to notice but there were the faint aromas of meals being cooked hurriedly in the morning wafting up from the floors below. Some times the smell of smoke as dried leaves are burnt in the vicinity.

As for feeling my surroundings, there was the gentle morning breeze, the feel of the soft cushion of the chair and the cool marble flooring that soothed my bare feet.

All this with my eyes shut, all my senses fully immersed in the surroundings.

After a while, quietly, without a conscious effort, my mind slipped into a tranquil state. Where I could still hear the sounds around me, but they hardly registered nor did they intrude.

The conscious process of 'being' in my surroundings had robbed my mind of all thoughts that were furiously running through it earlier. 

Meditation is nothing but giving your ceaselessly working mind a break from conscious thinking. Connecting with you inner self, your soul which is the source of eternal energy, inspiration and creativity.

That reminds me. Whenever we are on a vacation (invariably at quiet places such as in the mountains) I always at first think: Isn't this a great place for meditation?

Guess what? The mind finds the total quiet disconcerting. To the extent that the thoughts refuse to die down. Not that I mind it at all. Feeling, enjoying the silence and natural surroundings is in itself a cleansing process for me.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Pros and Cons of 'Pro Something' and 'Anti-Something'

Mother Theresa when once asked if she would participate in an anti-drug rally, replied:
'If it is a cause for pro-health, I'll surely support it, not an anti-something rally.'
This theme resonates with the Law of Attraction, popularised by Rhonda Byrne's The Secret.
Irrespective of whether the cause is worthwhile or not, 'Anti' is negative energy whereas 'Pro' is positive energy.

When we lend our energy to 'fighting' something, we create more and more such circumstances in our lives, which could be more challenging and draining than the previous ones. 

I'll share my own experiences.

Although I have been a vigilante for over a decade now, I'll stick to recent incidents.
A couple of months ago our Housing Complex and the Co-operative Society have been at the receiving end of things. Being a resident, it would have been cowardly to turn my back and ignore the dire situation.

What had happened is the Municipal Corporation had illegally demolished our main entrance gate in the month of June 2013. Ironically, this gate was part of the plans approved by the corporation itself, way back in 2002. Naturally, this had caused anguish and anger among all the residents. This barbarous act was indicative of the frustration vented out by vested interests against our momentous victory in The Bombay High Court (a resounding culmination of our twelve year struggle against the powerful Developers lobby). As they were left with hardly any legal recourse, such desperate means were adopted.

In pursuit of justice, I too was actively involved as a dutiful resident. I even got the demolition story covered by the press and television media. The final outcome of this fresh struggle is awaited.

A snowball grows in size and momentum as it hurtles down a slope..

A month ago, a friend of mine visited my home as she needed guidance regarding a placement offer for her daughter in an upcoming Airline. 
The only catch was that a grand sum of Rs.1,20,000/- ( $2000) had to be deposited in a Bank account! One thing led to another and my vigilante mind made me unearth a huge fake jobs scam that lured job hopefuls with 'guaranteed placements'.  The Airline officials shrugged off the matter with disinterest and did not even respond to my emails for three days. This led me to bringing the matter to the notice of the press and television media so that other innocents would not fall victim.

If all this was not draining my energy, just last week, got a call from a dear friend, whose identity I choose to keep secret for the sake of privacy. The same 'snowball' was engulfing him, it appears. He had been served an Arrest Warrant and had asked me if I could accompany him to the police station. I readily agreed and off we went and were greeted by the cumbersome, bureaucratic paperwork of law. I readily agreed to stand surety for my friend of high stature who I hold in the great esteem. This incident enraged me even further, since aspersions had been cast against the noblest of souls. It took all my recently acquired self-control methods to keep my emotions in check and not let them cloud my judgement.

These incidents, all within the short span of two months brought back memories of my being involved in ugly battles for justice against all sorts of people including greedy Developers and my own distant relatives. Every single time, it had ballooned into more serious repercussions.

By saying this, am I suggesting that one should shy away from the duties as a responsible citizen? That's not my intent at all.  

'Be the change you want to see in the world'
the words of the icon I look up most to, Mahatma Gandhi.

Every time I think about this statement, it's relevance grows. Whenever I have attempted an activity to help people (rather than fighting people, again, despite the cause), I have found fulfilment and am inspired from within to go one step further. Have shifted my focus to being the best I can be. Positive actions result in positive energy, creating circumstances that bring us joy, peace and fulfilment.

My small endeavour in the community space, is an example. Am a new person after this initiative although it is barely three months old. 

It has reinforced my belief that we are all born to serve. Wondering how can we achieve this? By rising to our fullest potential so that the abundance spills over to benefit all around us. An abundance of love, energy, resources and creativity.

My dear friends on the Social Media networks are shining examples of this.

Take Paul Polak, for instance. 

His selfless dedication to eradication of rural poverty in
developing countries has met with unprecedented success. A vision of gigantic scale beyond an ordinary mortal's imagination.
SunWater Project, his brainchild has helped lift twenty million people above the poverty line! In pursuit of his work he often visits countries like India and more importantly, ventures into hinterlands where we have never been to. His project is sustained partly by donations and on cost-plus pricing of the radically designed, affordable solar powered water pumps for irrigation that boosts agricultural productivity.
How can I not be inspired by such legends who are literally changing the world by their positive action rather than fighting the system? 

Time to refocus, realign my goals. Target decisive, positive action for which I've been created.

Thank God for such fine friends who inspire me across continents.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Aah! A Poem

                                                       The early morning chill is refreshing
                                                             A leisurely stroll is beckoning

                                                  The inviting path flanked by lush green trees
                                       The morning sun weaves a pattern through the leaves

                                             Brushing all it beholds with a golden sweep
                                                     My eyes trying to savour it for keeps

                                                   I love walking on paths without endings
                                      Walking amid the choicest of natural surroundings

                                                   The path follows its twists and bends
                                       At times level, at times undulating ups and downs

                                                The songs of the birds, the rustling leaves
                                                   Am enjoying the fresh morning breeze

                                                 Have lost track of how long I have walked 
                                               Did not know nor care where I was headed

                                                     Try as I might, all thoughts desert me
                                                          Am in a mind vacuum, only me

                                                      Am relishing the present moment, 
                                                       One with nature, one with myself.

                                                       Aah! Falling in love with life again

                                                    Aah! Beginning to love myself again

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Day He Hauled in The Sun!!

Nitin was a senior site supervisor at a major construction firm in Mumbai. As the day shift was petering to a close towards the late afternoon, the skies clouded over- ominously dark grey as a typical monsoon sky would be. Looking at his watch he reassured himself that it was just about half an hour for the shift to end and head home.

As he glanced anxiously again skywards, Nitin was stunned by what he saw! The sun, which would have been a blazing, fiery yellow otherwise, was a silver ghost. The thick cloud cover had robbed it of it's brilliance and it appeared very much like a full moon would. What's more, the sun had started creeping towards the construction site and..and..was snugly poised right atop the huge hoist crane!

For a few tantalising moments there it sat, perched. Nitin, frantic with excitement, yelled to his juniors: 'Now! Now, is the opportunity to haul it in! Instruct the crane operator right away: this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Be careful, make sure that it doesn't topple over'

There it was on the huge construction site's unfinished top floor. Everyone simply mesmerised by the spectacle, trying to believe all this was for real.

'Out you go, all of you! Not a word to anybody about this.' thundered Nitin to his men who were still dumbstruck.

All night, Nitin could not get a wink of sleep as he kept a hawk-eyed vigil over his treasure. As he patiently awaited dawn to return the the sun's brilliance and power, his scheming mind just could not stop ticking. Oh yes, I've the world's largest source of energy all to myself now, he smiled smugly. 'I'll harness all the energy for my needs first and then be the world's monopoly supplier of Solar energy! People boast of their big catch while out fishing. How's this one for a catch?'

His luminous watch dial now showed it was almost six in the morning. The clouds had given way to a dark blue early morning sky. Slowly at first, then gaining momentum the sun began shining to it's full glory. His joy turned to horror as the huge ball of fire's extreme heat vapourised him in a few seconds.

Well, this story is a metaphor for my own experiences. Success itself is difficult to define and is a subjective term. I am referring here to my successful battle with Bipolar Disorder over the decade. Had been through the horrors and developed my own methods of keeping my mind calm and focused. It needed a friend to notice that my abilities and resolve in tackling this disabling illness and leading what could be defined as the closest to a 'normal' life (if that means anything) were commendable.

Puneet Bhatnagar, who has also mentored my writing initiatives when I was new to this skill, drilled into me that the gift I possessed needed to reach the far flung corners of this country and beyond. We Indians have hardly done ourselves proud in the area of awareness, diagnosis, consultancy and treatment of mental illnesses. Although my journey is in its infancy the disquieting fact is that not a single Bipolar whose relative spoke to me describing the agony they faced, was reported Bipolar in a stable condition.

This Blog has some posts detailing my tryst with Bipolar. Puneet, however felt (and rightly so) that a focused site was the need for the hour.

Thus was born If I have a God given gift, it had to be utilised optimally for the benefit of the society.Am overwhelmed by the gratifying response to it in the short period since launch! What is even more satisfying is the interaction, queries and cases of Bipolar patients that have come to light. Am getting a sense that gradually the purpose the site was set up for is being achieved. The fulfilment it has ushered in is difficult to describe. 

My positive energy and my sense of purpose, increased manifold when I shared my light with the world. 

Holding it close to my chest would have burnt me, too.


Saturday, 13 July 2013

When Walking On The Beaten Path Becomes A Challenge.

‘When you look back in life, the biggest regret shall not be over something you had done, but something you had not done’- Mark Twain.
The scant respect I had for mentors who were selflessly willing to guide me during my teenage years is a telling indictment of my attitude. There was the iconic Brother Murphy in high school and later, during my college days it was our principal, Shri Kodolikar (Sir, as we called him).

I was literally letting most of my potential go down the drain and Sir knew it. Our strong relationship strengthened because of his being a co-resident of our apartment complex. He would drop by once a week. A well read, simple and jovial person, he was very disarming by nature. That was perhaps one reason I took his advice a bit too lightly.

He had an enviable personal collection of Books, from classics to the contemporary, fiction to non-fiction. We were the beneficiaries of his largesse: he would hand pick books for me to read. I distinctly recall most of them although over three decades have since elapsed! Among them were a few by the
renowned Biographer, Irving Stone: ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ on Michael Angelo and ‘Lust for Life’ on Van Gogh. Somehow, among all the books they had the most profound impact on me.
A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.’- Wiiliam Styron

I recalled my discomfort and anger when our Professor for English quoted from a story: ‘artists are weak men’. Both these books highlighted that disturbing aspect about artists, painters and sculptors. The reason it upset me was because my art was something I cherished. My Art teacher at School spotted that talent in me and suggested I join Sir J. J. School of Arts (Mumbai’s venerated institution for aspiring Artists). Pencil profile sketches with shading were my forte. I had no formal training, yet my work had quite a few admirers: one portrait done by me had been retained by a noted Cardiologist.

I was disturbed by the aspersions cast on artists and indirectly at me: I found an uncanny similarity between the eccentricities of these legends and my own. Subconsciously, I had developed a dislike for artists. One of my strong points (or weak points) is that I don’t do things in half measures. I did what an impulsive seventeen year old would do. Overnight, I abruptly gave up all my drawing activities- just like that. Would you believe it, I gave away my most valuable possessions- my art kits, paints, brushes, pencils, et al, to my nephew. I retained not even a sample of my work.

There was a sense of resentment against Sir. My immature mind made me believe he was the person responsible for me giving up what was my finest skill, my obsession.

Today after having been a successful entrepreneur and professional for over three decades, I realise how timely and vital his intervention was. Separated parents mandated that I first and foremost bear my familial responsibility towards mom and my sister. My ailing maternal uncle who had magnanimously supported our family since my childhood, needed to be relieved of the pressures of managing a vast business single-handedly.

I had to adapt myself to what was demanded of me and rightfully expected of me. I would be a coward to shirk this responsibility.
A pragmatic approach towards life meant a huge change from my earlier self-centred attitude. What I learned while initially assisting my uncle who was a pioneering entrepreneur and as good a family man as you would come across, was priceless.

Slowly but surely, I filled the large shoes given to me.

Do I regret having totally forsaken art, my passion? Financial security, a sense of having been a responsible family man and some gray hair bringing much needed wisdom, are irreplaceable. Wisdom to realise that the two books given by Sir had changed the course of my life: for the better.

There’s always the right time for everything. Destiny has its ways. God has now given me this glorious opportunity to express myself in another creative form:
Writing. I’ve taken to it like a fish to water
! If Books brought about a transformation in me, am excited about returning the favour!

Gratitude to Dr.Amit Nagpal for inviting me to write this story and selecting it for his wonderful, creative e-Book:
'And One Fine Day. The Power of Storytelling'

Get a FREE Download of this e-Book here.
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