2017

My writing journey started in 2017 after I finally left my 12 year old career to plunge in. I managed to complete my first Novel.

I also managed by first 5k (believe me, I’m not the running kind…)

Present

I am a writer at heart and stay at home Dad. My first book “Unfinished” was published in Kindle and soon going to be available in print.

akashjoshi@gmail.com

2018

I aim to write two novels this year, run a half marathon, and continue being the stay at home Dad.

Goals are critical to life. I have told you mine. What are yours?

Author: Akash

Uncorporated! A year away from the Corporate World.

Uncorporated! A year away from the Corporate World.

Many friends still discuss with me the reason of leaving a cushy corporate role and starting off as a writer. It has been exactly one year (20.01.2017) and so here is an Anniversary edition blog toasting the last year. It was on 22nd of October that I shot out my resignation mail and pat came the acceptance. There were multitude of reasons for writing that letter, but in the world of decisions, there is always an overarching theme. That one single reason that despite everything else leads us to a decision. For me it was my heart’s wish to pursue writing.

In the last year that I have torn away from the corporate, I have come pretty far. I have written my first fiction thriller, blogged a lot more, hung on to the ropes of being a stay at home father (learning the ropes would be the phrase, but that will take a longer time 😊), traveled a lot, spent wasteful hours on the social media arguing with others, and much more. The plans for this year are also big. But then, this blog isn’t about that.

This blog is about the things that I miss and the ones that I don’t being in the corporate world. So here goes. Let’s start with the things that I miss.

Colleagues: I am an introvert who loves his solitude. But working over the years, being part of and building teams, one ends up meeting a lot of people. Out of these people, there are those who end up being friends. Here is a shout out to them; MISS YOU ALL.

Team Work: I never learnt the art of seeming busy, completed what was necessary as soon as possible, and always ended up looking ‘Vella’. The work is almost always mostly mundane. You can hype up by saying what you want, but at the end of the day, it is mostly mundane. However, every once in a while, you get the satisfaction of doing something of value; be it completing the last phases of a big project, or working in the plant at midnight getting the right humidity for production to start by trial and error, building a team, interacting with the youngsters at campus interviews, burning midnight oil working on the product strategy for the coming years. Those moments of satisfaction at workplace, I do miss. Now, out of the corporate, the satisfaction is mostly individual, so such occasions are fewer and rarer.

Routine: In my previous blogs, I have underlined the importance of routine for a satisfied life. Having a job gets you a flying start in being disciplined and maintaining a routine. A life beyond is less demanding, and therefore, it is much easier to fall into a casual mode of living. Trust me, I have had to work harder to maintain a sense of discipline post the corporate life. The struggle continues. 😊

That ends what I miss. And here comes what I don’t.

Pursuit of Profit:  That this is the reason for a firm’s existence, is a given. This pursuit however, corrupts the best of efforts. It dilutes noble intentions into numbers, CAGRs, EBITs, top line, bottom line. It is because of such dilution that most companies fail to attain immortality. When great leaders decided to change the world, profit was the last of their botheration. The rise of GE, Apple, Tesla, shows that profits follow perfection. Unfortunately, stock options, pay, compensation, overtake the need to be perfect.

Meetings:  This one is a no-brainer. Meetings are a pure waste of time. It is the number one technique of seeming busy. Call in everyone (doesn’t matter if he/she is needed) to a meeting room, switch on the projector, ask for some tea from the pantry, and keep going! Yes, I know that every once in a while, the meetings are needed. Note to self: Write about those some day 😊

Pursuit of Power: I’m talking about office politics. One may believe that their organization is politics free, but it would be like staying in la la land. I had once a colleague who aptly summarized office politics;

‘I love it until it goes against me.’

Ask any manager what he needs for getting the result, and he would jump at resources. It is corporate code for ‘I want to build my kingdom’. And you hire 10 where 5 are required, tongues start wagging, and that becomes the root cause of politics.

Well, that sums up what I miss and what I don’t. Don’t let my words change your opinion. Let your experiences talk for themselves. During the preparation of an employee survey, my manager told me the following.

‘Akash, every survey needs to have an overarching question. Despite everything else, how satisfied you are with your work?’

This question has a big significance in surveys. If the answer to this is positive, the other negatives end up being a hygiene factor. What would be my answer to the question ‘Am I happy about leaving the corporate’?

My answer is an overarching Yes. Despite everything I miss, I am loving it going solo. Have a great 2018 you all. This year my goals are tougher than last, so keep the encouragement going!

Miracles do Happen

Miracles do Happen

The incident occurred in 2016. I was working in Bengaluru then. For the past some time, I was seeing Lord Hanuman everywhere. It looked like he was calling me. I have never been too devoted a person. During this period, a sketch of Lord Hanuman by a local artist was the talk of the town. Wherever you went, there it was: Made on a black background, a very handsome and angry looking Lord Hanuman etched in saffron. This was the same image I was seeing every place.

From ancient times, mankind has always believed in ‘power’ beyond. If something was not understood, it became godly. And if something was beneficial, it became a god. So at one end, the lightening coming out of the clouds was equated to divine power, and at the other, trees that provided us nourishment became the God. Today, science can explain a lot; but on faith, it is yet to convince the believers. Thus, when I started to see ‘Bajrangbali’ everywhere, my mind began to explain it through science, while my upbringing took it as a matter of faith and divine calling. Whatever be the reality, I decided to go to a Hanuman temple.

It is seldom, and that too by chance, that I turn towards the temples. I look at the sky once every morning to nod to that divine power. That is the limit of my meetings with the maker. No wonder, therefore, that the temples always seem angry at me. In between the road from my home to work, happens to be a small Hanuman temple. One evening, while returning from work, I stopped my car a little farther away from the temple. And started walking towards the God. It was around 5 in the evening. When I reached in front of the temple, I saw that the main gate was closed. I went closer. Thought that the smaller door might be open. It was not to be!

‘You have been calling me for this long. When I have finally come, you decide to close the doors?’ I smiled and left for home.

The work had been a little stressful of late and I was feeling like a vacation. Wife and kids were both asking for a road trip for some time now. There are loads of places to visit in the state of Karnataka, but wifey and I had made up our minds for Hampi. We were eager to glimpse the lost glory of the Vijayanagar Empire in its ruins. The plan was made, preparations done, and one fine day, the Joshi family jumped in the car and left for Hampi. My wish to visit Lord Hanuman remain unfulfilled. ‘well, some other time.’ I thought.

We landed in Karnataka tourism’s hotel in Hampi. The room wasn’t that great. In its hay days, the tourism department hotels were the best. Now they too looked like the ancient ruins maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. Anyway, the room was clean, and the place close to most of the tourist attractions. We threw the luggage in the room and left for sight seeing. When we returned in the evening, I noted a brochure in the room by the bed. Tourism department’s brochure indicating the attractions.

I started reading. While glancing through, my eyes came to a standstill at a corner on the brochure. There was a surprise in my eyes. A lot of places in Hampi have been associated with ‘Ramayan’. There is Sugreev’s cave, and also the temple, where he was crowned by Lord Ram. I was not surprised about that information. My eyes had stopped at the words ‘Anjaneya Hill’. About a quarter hour’s drive from Hampi was the place called Anjaneya Hill. It is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. He is also known as Anjaneya, in reference to his mother Anjani. Till now, Hampi to me was about Vijaynagar kingdom, and now it turned in ‘Kishkindha’. I told this fact to my wife and she was also surprised. We decided to climb the hill the next morning.

We rose early, completed our morning ablutions, and left for the hill. Hampi is south of the river ‘Tungbhadra’, while ‘Anjaneya Hill’ is to its north. The nearest motorable bridge is about 15 kilometers, the total distance by road is 35 odd kilometre. The funny thing is that the aerial distance is less than two-kilometers; if you prefer a boat ride. The state has a lot of hills, and invariably, on most of them, there is a temple. These hills made of huge boulders, look very pleasing. If one looks at the ‘Anjaneya Hill’ from afar, it would seem like a huge rock kept on earth and slashed multiple times by a massive sword wielded by some divine power. With time, plants and shrubs filled these scars and made them their home. It looks like some green lines on a huge brown rock.

We reached the base of the hill at seven in the morning. I looked up and said,

‘Everyday, I look for you in the sky. Today, I am coming right there to meet you.’

Have you ever given a small girl a slate and a chalk? The way she will scribble random white lines on the slate, was exactly how the view looked. Like someone had scribbled a lime powder coated staircase through to the top of the hill. Incredible! The stairs led to the Hanuman temple at the head of the hill. We started the climb, halting every so often to capture the beauty in the lens of a camera. The climb went off in a jiffy. People had put their shoes and footwear at the end of the stairs. I too sat down and started taking off my shoes. As I neared taking off the last sock, ‘Aarti’ (Prayer) started. Wife smiled at me and said, ‘Looks like they were waiting just for you.’ We paid our respect, and I felt a little light. For many days now, the image of Lord Hanuman was running wild in the mind, hopefully, now, my thoughts will be at peace. After the prayer, we started walking around on the hill top.

Even if you had a house on the top story of a high rise by the beach in Mumbai, the view from this place would beat the view from your balcony hands down. The hilltop was flat. There were a few trees. The small white temple was on one end. All around us was the earth patched in red and green. The blue morning sky was above us. I looked down. If the stairs were not there, the climb to this temple would have been impossible for a chair wrestler like me. The hill was shaped such that there were no slopes, only sheer 90 degree straight sides. As I looked down the wall, I was thinking of Tanaji Malusure, Yashwanthi the Monitor Lizard, and Sinhgadh.

After spending some time with nature, we decide to head down. We put our shoes back on. Close by, there were two monkey infants were playing. What? I didn’t tell you? Well, this is ‘Anjaneya Hill’ after all, the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. The general of Lord Ram’s ‘Vanar Sena’. Of course, there are monkeys here. In thousands that too, don’t be surprised!

Let’s get back to those naughty infants. Like the hilltop, their stony playground was also flat. They were not playing in the centre but on the edge of the playground.

‘Son, don’t play in the water today.’ Trying saying it to your kid some day. A billion dollar smile with light up his innocent face as he will reply, ‘Sure Paa.’ But as soon as he is out, he will jump in the water. These two were probably doing the same. Their mother was sitting a little away. And Dad was playing dead under the morning sky. Hey, I’m not insinuating anything about my fellow men. But just think about it. Is there a Sofa in each house, where the men species flat out in a slow stage-wise manner?

Absorbed in their play, the infants had no clue about their surroundings. They were playing on the edge of the rock. One slip and they could fall straight down. No slope, straight down. They would not land in the soft lap of mother nature, rather on rock hard surface. How far they would fall, was anyone’s guess. The bottom was not visible owing to the scattered trees and branches. I was about to say this to my wife when one of the infants decided to push the other one. We were stunned. My wife grabbed the hand of our kids. The monkey fell off the slope. He tried to save himself with his tiny hands and nails. But the rock surface was smooth. In an instant, he disappeared from our sights.

The infant who had given the push was mortified. He took a few steps back. Fear, shame, and anger shrunk his already tiny figure. Their mother was watching them both play. She jumped up and ran to her infant standing there petrified. What the mother did next, we will never forget. She took that child and hugged it with all her love. While we could not see the mother’s eyes; but here reaction gave out the whole story without a word. On the one hand, her heart was crying for the fallen child, and on the other, her maternal instinct was protecting the other one. I have never seen such a heart-wrenching sight.

In all this hustle, the father was not sitting quietly. He was slower than the mother to react, but he immediately got up and walked towards the edge. He looked down for some time with hope. My heart sank. Even my wife looked utterly without hope. But then, suddenly, there was a shriek from within the trees. The fallen infant was shouting at the top of his voice and jumping on the branches shaking the whole tree. He was safe. We both exhaled in relief. The kiddo had not been able to grasp the smooth rock, but had managed to hang on to the branches. Now he was in a terrible mood and abusing his sibling at the top of his pitch.

The mother had still not let go of the other infant. But father went back to his business. He went back to his stony bed and went back to sleep. We all started back. The trip to Hampi went well, but the example of exemplary humanity that we witnessed on the ‘Anjaneya Hill’, left an everlasting imprint on our hearts. The fact that it was an animal that taught us about humanity is beside the point. Even today, when my kids hurt each other while playing and come to me to complain, I am reminded of that mother who just hugged her child. When I sometimes get angry on one of my kids for hurting the other, I completely miss the fact that they were just playing. Getting hurt is part of playing and growing up. The other one did not do it intentionally. The man has too much pride on his understanding, but I guess he still needs to learn a lot.

Well, Lord Hanuman does not call me now, we are back to one nod at the sky in the mornings. Sometimes such events happen, which are no less than miracles. Whether it was him calling me to his birthplace was the miracle or the mother who hugged the kid was; I leave it to your good judgement. One believes, what one wants. The story sounds fictional, but it happened!

Jay Ram Ji Ki.

P.S: The photo is captured from the top of the hill. One can see the Tungbhadra too!

चमत्कार होते हैं

चमत्कार होते हैं

बात २०१६ की है I मैं तब बेंगलुरु में काम करता था I पिछले कुछ समय से मुझे हर जगह हनुमान दादा के दर्शन हो रहे थे I लग रहा था की जैसे वो मुझे बुला रहे थे I अपने जीवन में मैंने कभी भक्ति की ओर ज्यादा ध्यान नहीं दिया I बेंगलुरु में उस समय एक कलाकार की हनुमान जी की कल्पना बहुत प्रचलित हो गयी थी I सब जगह वो ही वो दिख रही थी I काले रंग की पृष्ठभूमि पे सिंदूरी रंग से बनी एक बहुत ही तेजस्वीऔर रूद्र स्वरुप में मारुती की मुखमुद्रा I यही छवि मेरी आँखों के सामने बार बार आ रही थी I

मनुष्य प्राचीन काल से शक्ति में मानता आया है I जिस वस्तु को समझ न पाए वो प्रभु बन गयी I जिस वस्तु से बहुत लाभ मिले वो भी प्रभु I तो कभी बादलों का गरजना शक्ति का स्वरुप बन गया और कभी पेड़ों का हमारा पोषण करना प्रभुत्व की निशानी बन गया I आज विज्ञानं बहुत कुछ समझा सकता है, पर आस्था पर उसका कोई बस नहीं चलता I तो जब मुझे हर जगह बजरंगबली के दर्शन होने लगे, मेरी बुद्धि उसे विज्ञानं द्वारा समझने में जुट गयी I दूसरी और मेरी परवरिश उसे आस्था का बुलावा मानने लगी I वास्तविकता जो भी हो, तय मैंने ये किया की हनुमान जी के मंदिर जाऊंगाI

देवालयों की तरफ मेरा मुख कभी कभार भूले भटके ही मुड़ता है I हर सुबह एक बार आकाश की और देखना, ये ही मेरा उस अंतर्यामी को नमन होता है I और शायद इसीलिए देवालय भी मुझसे कुपित रहते हैं I घर से नौकरी के स्थान के बिच में हनुमान जी का एक छोटा सा मंदिर है I शाम को नौकरी से घर जाते हुए मैंने गाड़ी मंदिर से थोड़ी आगे रोकी I और प्रभु की और बढ़ने लगा I शाम के लगभग ५ एक बज रहे होंगे I मंदिर के सामने पहुँच के देखा की मुख्य द्वार तो बंद था I पास गया I सोचा छोटा द्वार तो खुला होगा, मगर वो भी न हुआ I

‘इतने दिन से मुझे बुला रहे हो और जब मैं आया तो रूठ गए?’ मन ही मन मुस्कुराते हुए मैं घर की और निकल गया I

काम करते करते थोड़ी छुट्टी का मन हो गया था I बीवी और बच्चे दोनों ही हर रोज़ घुमने जाने की दुहाई दे रहे थे I कर्णाटक में यूँ तो देखने तो बहुत कुछ है, पर मेरी धर्मपत्नी और मैं हम्पी जाने का तय कर चुके थे I विजयनगर के खंडहरों में उसकी खोयी हुई ख्याति देखने की तीव्र इच्छा थी I सारी तैयरी के साथ जोशी परिवार गाड़ी लेके निकल पड़ा I चिरंजीवी के दर्शन एक इच्छा बन के रह गए I सोचा, ‘कभी और सही I’

हम्पी पहुँच के कर्णाटक पर्यटन के होटल में ठहर गए सब के सब I कमरा कुछ खास नहीं था I एक ज़माने में पर्यटन विभाग के कमरे सर्वश्रेठ मने जाते थे I अब तो ये भी पुरातत्व विभाग के द्वारा सम्हाले जाने वाले अवशेषों जैसे लगते है I खैर, कमरा साफ़ था और सभी दर्शनीय स्थालो के नज़दीक I अन्दर सामान रख के हम घुमने निकल गए I शाम को जब लौटे तो कमरे में एक पर्चा रखा हुआ था I हम्पी और उसके करीब के स्थलों की जानकारियों से भरा हुआ पर्चा I

पढ़ते पढ़ते मेरी नज़र पर्चे के एक कोने में आके रुक गयी  I आखों में विस्मय था I हम्पी के काफी स्थल रामायण से जुड़े हुए थे I सुग्रीव की गुफा थी, और वो मंदिर भी था जहाँ राम ने सुग्रीव का राज्याभिषेक किया था I पर मैं इन बातों से दंग नहीं था I मेरी आखें तो ‘अन्जनेया पर्वत’ शब्दों पे स्थिर हो गयी थी I हम्पी से पौने घंटे की दुरी पर अन्जनेया पर्वत है जो की हनुमान जी की जन्मस्थली माना जाता है I आपको अवगत करा दूं की हनुमान जी को अंजनी पुत्र भी कहा जाता है  I मेरे लिए हम्पी सिर्फ विजयनगर साम्राज्य था, अब वो किश्गिन्धा बन गया I मैंने हस के भाग्यवान को बताया तो वो भी आश्चर्य चकित हो उठी I बाकि कार्यक्रम बाजु में रखके हमने तय किया की अगली सवेरे ही पर्वत पर चढ़ेंगे I

प्रातः काल जल्दी जल्दी नित्य कर्म करके हब सब निकल पड़े I हम्पी तुंगभद्रा के दक्षिण में और पर्वत उत्तर में I गाड़ी के जाने लायक पुल १५ की. मी., गंतव्य तक पहुँचने के लिए ३५ की. मी. I अजीब बात ये है की अगर नाव से नदी पर करो तो दुरी सिर्फ २ की. मी. की है I कर्णाटक में बहुत सारे पर्वत हैं, और लगभग उन सभी पे कोई न कोई देवालय है I बड़ी बड़ी चट्टानों से बने ये पर्वत बड़े रमणीय लगते है I दूर से अगर अन्जनेया पर्वत को देखा जाये तो ऐसा प्रतीत होगा की जैसे एक बड़ी चट्टान को धरती पे रखके किसी दैवीय शक्ति ने एक बहुत ही बड़ी तलवार से उसके जिस्म पे बहुत सारे घाव झिंक दिए I उन घावो में वक़्त के साथ साथ पेड़ पौधों ने अपना घर कर लिया I भूरे रंग के पत्थर में हरे रंग की लकीरें दिखती है I

हम लोग ७ बजे पर्वत के तले पे पहुँच गए I मैंने मुहं ऊपर की और किया और बोला,

‘रोज़ तो आकाश में तुम्हे ढूंढता हु, आज तुमसे मिलने वही आ रहा हूँ I’

कभी किसी छोटी बच्ची के हाथ में स्लेट और चाक दिया है? जिस प्रकार वो उस स्लेट पे सफ़ेद आड़ी टेढ़ी लकीरें खींच देती है, पर्वत और उसमे बनी चुने में लिपटी सीढियां भी कुछ ऐसा ही दृश्य पैदा कर रही थी I अद्भुत I सीढ़ी पर्वत के शिखर पे बने हनुमान जी के मंदिर तक पहुँचती थी I चढ़ाई प्रारंभ की, और बीच बीच में रुक के फोटो भी खींचत रहे I पता ही नहीं चला की कब ऊपर पहुँच गये I सीढियां जहा ख़त्म हुई, वही लोगों ने जूते रखे हुए थे I मैं भी बैठ गया और जूते उतारने लगा I दूसरा मोजा जब उतरा ही था की सुबह की आरती शुरू हो गयी I बीवी हसी और बोली, ‘लो तुम्हारी ही राह देख रहे थे I’ दर्शन किये और मन को थोड़ी शांति मिली I बहुत दिनों से बुलावा आया था, अब शायद मेरा मन सतोष का अनुभव करेगा I तत पश्चात् , हम सब ऊपर ही थोडा टहलने लगे I

ऐसा सुन्दर नज़ारा तो मुंबई नगरी की समुन्दर किनारे वाली बहु मंजिला इमारतों की छतों से भी नहीं मिलता I पर्वत ऊपर से सपाट था I कुछ पेड़ पौधे थे I एक ओर छोटा सा सफ़ेद मंदिर था I चारो तरफ लाल और हरे में लिपटी धरती थी I ऊपर नीला आसमान था I मैंने अपनी नज़र नीचे की तरफ मोड़ी I अगर सीढियां न होती तो इस पर्वत पे चड़ना मेरे जैसे कुर्सी के पहलवान के लिए नामुमकिन होता I पर्वत का आकार ही कुछ यूं था की क्या कहने I चारो ओर से सीधी पथरीली दीवार थी I ढलान का कही नामोनिशान नहीं था I देखते देखते मुझे तानाजी मलुसुरे, यशवंती गोह, और सिंहगड की याद आ गयी I

कुछ देर पकृति के साथ रहके हम सब ने फिर नीचे जाने का मन बनाया I हम सबने फिर से जूते पहन लिए I वही पास में पत्थर पे दो छोटे वानर खेल रहे थे I क्या? मैंने आपको नहीं बताया? अरे भाई, ये अन्जनेया पर्वत है, हनुमान जी की जन्मस्थली I राम की वानर सेना के सेनापति थे वो I तो वानरों का यहाँ होना तो स्वाभाविक है I अचरज मत करिए, यहाँ पे असंख्य वानर है I

फिर चलते हैं उन दोनों छोटे उधामखोर वानरो की ओर I उनकी क्रीड़ाभूमि सपाट पत्थर की थी I पर वो उसके मध्य में नहीं, उसकी धार पे खेल रहे थे I ‘बेटा, आज पानी में मत खेलना I’ कभी बोल के तो देखिये अपने नन्हे मुन्हे को I मासूम चेहरे और चंचल मुस्कान के साथ बोलेगा, ‘ठीक है पापा I’ पर जैसे ही घर के बहार निकलेगा, सीधा पानी में कूदेगा I ये दोनों भी शायद वोही कर रहे थे I उनकी माँ थोड़ी दूर बैठी थी और पिताजी आराम से नीले आसमान के नीचे शवासन का अभ्यास कर रहे थे I ना, ना, मैं पुरुष जाती पे कोई टिपण्णी नहीं कर रहा I पर आप ही बताइए, क्या हर घर में एक ऐसा सोफ़ा नहीं होता है, जिसपे हम पुरुष प्रजाति के लोग पीठ टिकाते टिकाते पुरे ही टिक जाते है ?

खेल में डूबे नन्हे वानरों को अपने अगल बगल का ज़रा भी ख्याल ना था I वो चट्टान की धार के ऊपर ही खेल रहे थे I अगर पाँव जरा सा फिसला तो गए सीधा नीचे I ढलान नहीं थी, सीधी खाई थी I और नीचे भी धरती का कोमल आँचल नहीं, पत्थर था I कितना नीचे गिरते, ये भांपना मुश्किल था I पेड़ और उनकी टहनियों की वजह से ज़मीन नहीं दिख रही थी I मैं पत्नी को बोलने ही वाला था की तभी एक छोटे वाले ने अपने भाई को खेल खेल में धक्का दिया  I मैं और बीवी स्तभ्ध रह गए  I उसने मेरा और बच्चो का हाथ अनायास ही थाम लिया  I छोटा वानर किनारे से फिसल गया  I उसके नन्हे हाथो ने पत्थर पे नोचते हुए खुदको बचाने का प्रयत्न किया  I पत्थर की चिकनी सतह पर उसका हाथ पकड़ नहीं बना पाया और वो एक पल में ही हमारी नज़रो से ओज़ल हो गया  I

धक्का मारने वाला बच्चा सहम गया  I उसने दो कदम पीछे लिए I गुस्से, डर, और शर्म से उसका मुह सिकुड़ गया  I उसकी माँ दोनों को खेलते देख रही थी  I वो पलक झपकते उठी और अपने डरे हुए लाडले के पास दौड़ी  I उसके पास पहुँचके उसने जो किया, वोह हम आज तक नहीं भूले  I माँ ने बच्चे को अपनी छाती से लगा लिया और कस के पकड़ लिया  I दूर खड़े हम पति पत्नी उस माँ की आखे तो नहीं देख पा रहे थे, पर उसकी प्रतिक्रिया ने सब बिन कहे बता दिया  I एक तरफ उसका दिल उस गिरने वाले बच्चे के लिए रो रहा था, और दूसरी तरफ उसकी ममता गिराने वाले बच्चे को गले लगा रही थी  I मैंने आजतक ऐसा आत्मा को झकझोड़ने वाला द्रश्य कभी नहीं देखा  I

इस सब झमेले में पिता चुप चाप नहीं बैठा था  I उसकी प्रतिक्रिया माँ से धीमी थी, पर वो तुरंत उठा और किनारे की ओर गया  I थोड़ी देर उम्मीद से नीचे देखता रहा  I मेरा दिल बैठ गया था  I पत्नी के चेहरे पे भी कोई उम्मीद नहीं दिख रही थी  I पर तभी टहनियों के बीच में से एक वानर के चिल्लाने की आवाज़ सुनाई दी  I वो जोर जोर से टहनियों को हिला हिला के चिल्ला रहा था  I वो बच गया ! हम दोनों ने एक साथ गहरी सांस ली  I छोटू ने पत्थर तो नहीं, पर टहनियों को सफलता से पकड़ लिया था  I अब वो भयंकर गुस्से में अपने भाई को अपशब्द कह रहा था  I

माँ ने अभी तक दुसरे छोटू को नहीं छोड़ा था, पर पिता फिर अपने काम पे लग गए  I धीमे धीमे अपनी चट्टानी शैया के पास गए और फिर से सो गए  I हम सब वापस चल दिए  I हम्पी की यात्रा अच्छी थी, पर जो मानवता का स्वरुप अन्जनेया पर्वत पे देखा वो हमारे दिल पे अपनी छाप छोड़ गया  I ये बात और है की ये ममता और मानवता हमे किसी मानव से सीखने को नहीं मिली  I आज भी जब बच्चे खेलते खेलते एक दुसरे को चोट लगाके शिकायत करने आते हैं, मुझे वो सहमा वानर, उसकी माँ, और उसका चिल्लाता हुआ भाई याद आ जाते है  I मैं जब अपने एक बच्चे को दुसरे को चोट पहुँचाने के लिए डांट मरता हूँ, तो भूल जाता हूँ की है तो दोनों बच्चे ही  I खेलते खेलते तो चोट लगती ही है, कोई इरादे से तो नहीं लगाता  I मनुष्य अपनी समझ पे बहुत इतराता है, पर शायद उसे अभी बहुत कुछ सीखना बाकि है  I

खैर, हनुमान जी अब मुझे नहीं बुलाते, हम दोनों फिर से सुबह एक बार मिल लेते हैं  I कभी कभी ऐसी घटना घट जाती है, जो चमत्कार से कम नहीं लगती  I उनका मुझे यूँ अपनी जन्मस्थल पे बुलाना चमत्कार था, या उस वानर माँ का अपने बच्चे को गले लगाना, ये तय करना मैं आप लोगो पे छोड़ता हूँ  I मेरी कथा काल्पनिक लगती जरूर है, पर है नहीं I

जय राम जी की  I

प. भा: चित्र मैंने अन्जनेया पर्वत के ऊपर से खींचा है I ध्यान से देखे तो तुंगभद्रा भी दिखेगी I

Seven Signs of a Complete Man

Seven Signs of a Complete Man

Nope! I have not selected a wrong image. At the outset, if you noticed the ‘Man’ in the title, don’t let it stop you from reading ahead. Since this is the new age of equality, let me admit, that I’ll probably never use a ‘she’ as a general descriptor while writing. Of course, I could have written ‘Person’ instead of ‘Man’ in the title, but hey; don’t miss the forest for the trees. The ‘Seven Signs’ and ‘Complete’ is the forest here, ‘Man’ is the trees. I have always used ‘he/him/his’ and I’ve always meant it for all the genders. So, this article is for everyone regardless of their gender. You can read an interesting article here on the gendered pronouns.

‘Completeness’ and its search thereof, have been of significant importance to humans. Wise men (there I go again, please laugh it off 😛 ) throughout the ages have dedicated their lives to finding completeness. In India, the concept is known by the term ‘Purushartha’, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Object of Human Pursuit’. I leave it to you to find more about the concept if you like. What I am writing here today, is inspired by the same idea. I am part of the new generation; born and brought up in cities, amidst the new-found westernization, irradiated by first the television and now the social media. Till some time ago, the word was alien to me.

The concept of completeness, however, was never foreign to me. It is not alien to the most of us. We keep searching for something more, something that will make up happier, something that will satiate our thirst for completeness. Let me warn you, beyond this point; there will be no dissemination of ‘Gyan’. So those of you, who were looking for ‘Nirvana’ can stop reading now! Now starts the serious, actionable stuff. If you want to feel complete, then read on…

There are seven key ideas to grasp in your journey to completeness. The practice of these will help you live well. So let us begin.

  1. Work out that ‘Body’: This is the key to the next six ideas. I do not know how the life evolved, and I certainly have no clue what happens after it ends. What is certain, is the fact that we are here for a limited time. And we are going to spend this short period in the rented house called ‘our body’. Need I say more? Cracked walls, faulty plumbing, peeled off paint, non-functioning electricals; these make a ‘not nice to stay in’ home. Same with the body. Keep it healthy. Eat well; Exercise well. Let me confess, that I have not maintained myself well. My eating and exercising are experiments worth writing a book about. In the last seven odd months, I have changed certain habits to get to a point where I am mildly out of shape. This is contrasting to the earlier state of horribly out of shape. It is an ongoing battle. Like one of my managers, I too hate present continuous tense. Hence, there is a deadline for getting in shape.
  2. Learn a ‘Trade’: This does refer to selling goods and services but in a very personal sense. All of us must learn a skill, which we can get paid for. Money talks, and it talks like nothing else. Financial Independence is crucial unless you are becoming a Monk. Believe me, a lot of us have learned, that, despite the education system, and in spite of our parents pouring in their hard-earned money, we are not ‘employable’. That is because we inherently believe that a piece of paper (read: Degree) can miraculously get us a job. It well might do so (read: A degree from a prestigious college), but it will not take you far. You are the only one responsible for making yourself employable. Learn languages, coding, machining, mechanics, what so ever. Learn it well, and it will pay you.
  3. Learn to ‘Cook’: Not talking Gourmet here, just simple edible food. Each one of us should be capable of cooking. Yes, money will get you home delivered food and maids, but it is an extreme form of dependence. Food and water are the key elements of Therefore, there is no reason for you not to cook. It is not a ‘girl’ thing. Man please! If you still believe it is, then learn cooking just to spite them off ;-p . There was a curious case of a British national who wore a skirt to the office to look equal! The situation nowadays is so bad, that even girls are forgetting this skill to be equal to I don’t know what. Eating right is essential; Ergo, knowing how to Cook is essential. Matter closed!
  4. Learn to ‘Drive’ & to ‘Change Tyres’: If the above point was considered a Woman’s forte, I need say no further here. How many of us have heard Girl Driver Jokes? There are videos too. Driving is an extension of your body. You can take your body a few miles on the legs, while this gives you considerable ‘Range’ if you like. so unless you are living in cities like Copenhagen (I did not need to drive there at all! Public transport is superb.) and never want to explore beyond Copenhagen, then forget about this. Along with freedom, comes duties. Or along with babies, comes diaper duties, take your pick. The same way, along with driving, it becomes necessary to learn a bit of maintenance; tyre change, oil, and wiper fluid top-up, cleaning of the car, You get the drift. So learn it too.
  5. Get a ‘Routine’: This is a tough one. I have still not been able to convince my family on this, or the meaning of this. I am convinced, but have great difficulty is following it. ? Human ‘Mind’ is the best and the worst of gifts. It has modernized the world, made it comfortable and livable on one hand. And on the other, it is the cause for most pain. It is often said that the fear of punishment is greater than the punishment itself. This Fear is generated by the mind: Fear of failure, of an uncertain future, of an outcome, the list continues. And while it takes a saint to control one’s mind, a routine can help us avoid the fear. I have seen some people whose life runs on a routine like clockwork; get up at 0500, get ready by 0600, breakfast at 0700, personal time till 0830, work from 0900 to 1800, personal time till 2000, dinner at 2030, family time till 2130, reading at 2200, sleep at 2230. Rain, hail, or sleet, this routine never changes. It becomes so set in your mind, that you stop thinking about uncertain things, and instead concentrate on the current job at hand. When the time comes, mind moves to the next job. It does not think beyond the next job thereby avoiding unnecessary thoughts. A routine will help you face the future in the present instead of in your mind. (Let me know if I managed to convince you.)
  1. Find a ‘Passion’: Incomplete understanding of this word has spoilt many a life. People throw around this word a lot; writing is my passion, books are my passion, world peace is my passion blah blah blah. I feel relaxed when near books, family, kids, and mountains. When I am relaxed, I am happy. To me, Happiness = Passion. For some fortunate people, their Passion becomes their Trade. The number of such people is terribly small. So don’t go and leave that day job for your passion! Having said that, finding work (for a very few fortunate ones passion and trade are the same. Don’t run after that!) that is meaningful to you is a necessary condition for ‘Completeness’. Go on then, let me know what’s yours?
  2. Know ‘Yourself’: This is not a Philosophical statement. This is you. I know I like to own my time, have no intentions for a career (a job will do!), like ‘thinking’ a tad more than ‘doing’, prefer reading to going out, enjoy hiking to biking… (get the drift? ?) Knowing about your likes and limits helps you improve the quality of life. For example; I prefer to spend more time with my wife and kids. This translates to I cannot clock long hours on job. This translates to having a job instead of a career. This translates to happier me. On the other hand, let’s look at this: I prefer to rise to the CEOs position in my work. This translates to clocking more hours and after hours on the job. This translates to lesser time for the family. This translates to a very understanding spouse. We can go on, but the matter of the fact is that everything in life has a tradeoff. The more you know yourself, the better you will be able to manage your decisions.

Life over the last century or so has sped up a lot. Everyone is running their own races. Some are running for their own, while others are running because someone else is running. You there! Stop right this moment. Just for a minute. Now breathe. Look around you. How many complete people do you see? Look in the mirror. Do you see one there? Think about it.

The first four points are related to independence. One who is not truly independent, cannot be complete. These points are related to your physical well-being. The last three points are connected to your heart, mind, and soul. They relate to the higher consciousness. You can relate these points to Purushartha, or to the concept of Body, Mind, and Soul. Or to Maslow’s Pyramid if you like. If you know a complete person, then try to verify if the article makes sense! Read on!

P.S: with these points in mind, I feel far from complete. But it’s something to strive for!

Five Months sans Salary

Five Months sans Salary

In my first blog sometime in May of 2015, I had made a promise to myself. It had something to do with finding the courage to pursue my dream. Like all good things in life, this promise too had a deadline. Two years.

When I put up my papers last Oct, my Manager responded in less than five minutes accepting my resignation and wishing me all the success. Ouch! Never knew I was that popular! 🙂  On the other hand, I was thrilled to note that the acceptance cleared the path for fulfilling the promise.

My colleagues bid me farewell on the 20th of Jan this year. We (Wife, Two Kids) put our affairs in order and moved to my hometown. We had an agreement. I will pursue my love for writing, and She will pursue her long lost career (Eight years of managing two kids, one overgrown monkey, a house, the in-laws, relatives, and misc. leads to careers being long lost!).

In the last five odd months of ‘no salary’, a lot of things have happened.

1] A lot of well-wishers have asked the both of us ‘n’ number of times, ‘What is Akash doing?’ We usually laugh it off.
2] A lot of well-wishers have given us their full sympathy. ‘Don’t worry. Akash will get a job soon.’
3] Some friends have forwarded open positions to me. Sincere thanks to them. Trust me I have been tempted by multiple openings. But I want to pursue more meaningful (to me) works. Writing liberates me, will think of some other worthwhile things soon.
4] Wife has searched for jobs, took one, left one, and she keeps on going. She starts another today. Sometimes I wonder, with her kind of dedication, if she had continued her career, she would have far exceeded my career graph.
5] I have learnt a lot of handy man things; electrical, plumbing, car cleaning, drilling, the list is longer…
6] While my Wife worked, I managed to take care of the kids and house (sure, cooking included). Since my Post Graduate days, I have always been independent. But this was my first time taking care of the house.
7] I have managed to write about 28000 words of my novel, wrote a short story, and penned a poem. There is a deadline here too. 😛
8] I took on a few consulting assignments and will keep on taking the same.

9] There are still people who do not believe a word when we tell them about my intention of writing. 🙂

These are all new things for us, we take it in our stride. I have been relaxed, stress-free, and have not worn a wrist watch since I left work. Yes, we do have fleeting bouts of anxiety with regards the future; but hey, who’s seen the future. I spend enough and more time with my family.

We intend to keep on going like this with the hope that the positives of such living far outweigh the comfort of a well-paying job. In all humbleness, it is because of the well-paying jobs, and kind employers that we are able to take on such mission. I turn 38 today, I have kept my promise, all thanks to my better half, family, and friends. This is just the beginning, it is now more important to continue on the path.

P.S: heard an apt song while returning after dropping my wife off to her first day at the job. From the film ‘Three Idiots’; ‘Saari Umr Hum, Mar Mar ke Jee Liye…’

Enjoy.

Time is the Essence

Time is the Essence

This was the first blog written by me that is the begining of the current journey.

The pen is mightier than the sword, someone once said, and right the person was. Words are a serious business, and when introverts like me do not find a way to release the words from the confines of their minds, terrible things happen. Therefore whenever my mind becomes heavy with unsaid things and emotions, I write to let it all out. Writing has always come more naturally to me than speaking. The words that travel from the maze of my mind to a paper always hold more weight that the ones that simply end up being hurled from my tongue in the air. This is because the words that end up on the paper end up there after slow simmer and ageing in my mind while the other ones just end up and out.

This is not to say that it’s a universal truth, but it applies to me. I am a ‘think first’ person. I dare say that I have met many individuals who have the gift of the gab and the words from their mouths are poetic.So it will not be a surprise for anyone to read that I have been thinking of (in the interests of my sanity and of those around me 🙂 ) writing a little more seriously and steadily than the sporadic outbursts. Now after some work, the basics are in place; the website is created. What remains is as always the crux of the matter. Funny how we always forget the difference between the interesting and the important.

Lionel Robbins in his groundbreaking 1930s essay defined

Economics as the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.

To simplify, Economics is a science of scarcity. Thank you, Lionel, now we can all call ourselves as Economists. Who knows scarcity better than your average Joe? Money and resources are scarce, and therefore I have been running most of my life running after these resources; studies, jobs, promotions, money, property, fame. These are all external items, someone else’s idea of who I should be and what I should do: things to ‘show off’ that I have made it. It only is natural that to have all these; I would have to give something in return. But who knew the real price? You know the saying, “be careful what you wish for; you might get it.”

I had a lot of hobbies as a student; reading, martial arts, guitar. As my career progressed, work days started getting longer. I moved on to everyone’s favourite excuse for not giving them time, “I just don’t have the time for it.” Often in career, I have come across contracts, and the legal department is always running after us saying, “make sure that this phrase is not there in the contract.”

Time is the essence of the contract…

Well, I made sure that the contracts that I read through did not have this line. Time is the core of our contract with life too; it’s the price you pay for all the other things you want.

On Mar 09th this year, while I was celebrating my elder brother’s birthday one whole continent away from him, renowned Stanford Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi breathed his last at the young age of 37 in a third continent. Paul fought a valiant battle against cancer and lost it, but his words live on. I read through his soulful essays and was overwhelmed. One gets a perspective when facing finality. We, however, never think about finality.

Humans have an inbuilt mechanism to ignore mortality until it strikes close to home. When young, we think we are invincible, and our bodies age far earlier than our minds thereby keeping up the illusion of invincibility for all our lives. This illusion is helpful in living life to its potential without fear. But I believe I can do better by always remembering my mortality with the intent of understanding the finality of the passage of time. So keeping in mind one’s finality is not to stop but rather start living.

All said and done, when one realises that it is not the money and resources that are scarce but rather the “time”, one has to give into a little introspection. Last week, I was travelling on a train, and the chain of thoughts led me to this little Epiphany. I am 36 (well, considering today’s stressed out world, it’s the new 50s one might say) and till date, I have been running after the wrong things. One might argue that it was the obsession with time that led me to a successful career and a comfortable life. Success as per whom and comfort as per whom, I might retort.

Time is the most valuable resource since the others might come and go, this never comes back. So the question I asked myself was, “if it is such a precious resource, what should I spend it on and more importantly who should I spend it with?” This question forced me to re-evaluate my priorities. I would like to spend my time doing things that make me happy. I would like to spend time with people who make my life a memorable experience. Happy memories helped me answer the questions of what and who.

 I remember being happy sitting and watching movies with my brother in the upper stall before all these multiplexes came along. I remember the road trips and treks that I had with the whole family during the school days. I remember being happy sitting in the co passenger’s seat while my father drove the car. I remember being happy on the road trip with my dad to see the forts of Shivaji. I remember being happy reading books on the sofa. I remember being happy doing the final research projects during my two post graduations. I remember being happy writing poems in my spare time. I remember being happy finding great places to eat with my wife when we were in Denmark. The present too has a lot of happiness for me; happiness when playing with my kids, when having a late night coffee with my wife, when finding new dimensions to the old books that I had read multiple times.

The Happiness for me comes from; family, books, writing, historical travels, and studies (no wonder I keep going back to the college). Starting today, with this blog, I promise to start spending more and more time on these things. I do have my current commitments, and I will see them through. Once these are taken care of, I will devote all of my time only to these activities.

Wish me luck and keep me on track…