Expectations

 

images

The word ‘expectations’ like the meaning suggests is pregnant with expectations! All kinds of expectations, without limits, no boundaries, adjust themselves according to the context, are situational and are potentially infinite. It is like the universe, ever expanding, infinite and unbounded. Expectations are all pervading and no one can escape from them. Everyone has all kinds of expectations from life, from their partners, friends, job, society and ultimately life. It is one of the most basic instincts in all living things even animals and insects. Just look at a spider waiting in its web expecting a prey to pass by and get trapped. Look at the crocodile waiting in water, with just eyes out, expecting a calf or a deer to stop by for a gulp. It is amazing how it is built into our psyche, we don’t need to be trained or instilled with it.

Expectations start right from infancy and keep growing as we grow and later assume unexpected proportions so much so that they start driving our life. The nature of expectations too changes as we grow. During childhood, they are innocent limited and most flexible. The child of a beggar on the streets is happy with an odd snack or a broken toy. However, a kid from a well to do family expects a pizza or a burger for a snack and a remote controlled toy or a tab to play with. Here the situation has shaped the expectations. However, expectations have an uncanny ability of growing exponentially. As we grow, the expectations start growing like water hyacinth, slowly but surely until the entire lake or pond is covered. Just picture this, in school, we expect our parents to buy us a better school bag, better compass box, better stationery, better tiffin box, better story book etc. In college we expect better clothes, better accessories, better shades, better bike, better girlfriend etc. Further in life, when we start earning, we start expecting a better job, better pay, better car, and better house and now we find ourselves completely trapped in our own and others’ expectations! That’s right; now others also start expecting from us, our boss, our spouse, our children, our colleagues and even our friends. Day in and day out, we are under the spell of expectations. Our boss expects us to perform better at workplace, put in more hours, more effort and more innovation. Even the team that rolls up to you starts expecting you to fulfill their expectations!

After a hard day’s work, when you come home to relax, you face the brunt of your spouse’s and children’s expectations. Just when we expect the expectations to reduce, they bounce back with even greater force and on a larger scale. However, they are not always bad. If they are nurtured and handled properly, can have a positive influence on the situation. God forbid, but if you find yourself in a bad situation, expecting the situation to improve can help in cultivating a positive outlook in that situation. It is kind of a double edged sword, you have to do a tightrope walk if you want to come out unscathed. If you drill down a bit, expectations are results of attachment. Our attachment to things, our near and dear ones, places and situations triggers expectation. Humans by nature are selfish and they expect a reciprocal gesture for every deed, feeling and action. Being part of the society, we are all caught in the web of expectations, all the time. Even God has not been spared of our expectations. Don’t we always expect good health, wealth and life from him irrespective of our deeds? This becomes the cause of our misery. Now we cannot get rid of all the expectations but can certainly keep them minimum and in proper perspective. Not expecting at all or expecting the unexpected seems to be the mantra here. I can’t help but quote Alexander Pope:

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”

 

Our Origin and Purpose

DSCN0618

About twenty odd years back, I vividly remember sitting idle in my house, just brooding over something when suddenly, I had this strange feeling. For a few moments, I was no longer thinking like ‘myself’. My mind seemed to detach a bit and asked “who am I and what am I doing here?” It was kind of losing my identity and questioning my existence. Well, I came back to normal and again started thinking like ‘me’ or not thinking at all! Not that it was a profound life changing experience but that question does keep coming back to me. I am sure many of us are also plagued by the same question. What is it that got us here, in this form, in this time. What is the purpose of our existence and what difference does it make? I was born like millions of others, grew up to adulthood, got a job, started a family, got about with my daily chores, got through mental and physical upheavals etc.. But does it make any difference to this earth, the solar system, the galaxy or the Universe as a whole? Is the Universe affected by me being a CEO or a beggar or me committing a crime or a good deed? Now that is not exactly an ethical question but let us just consider it for the sake of argument.

We are much too insignificant in the larger scheme of things. The earth is not even a spec when it comes to our Galaxy, leave alone the Universe. And there are theories that there are parallel universes!! So why are we really here and what is our role in this universe? On the face value, our existence seems entirely inconsequential, devoid of any meaning except for the fact that we are too tied down with our own lives, our relations, things that we own and above all our identity.

With my limited 3-dimesional intellect, there are two ways to address these questions. First, through science as we know it and second through spirituality which also is a science but NOT as we know it. As we are all aware, conventional science has and is still trying hard to answer these questions. Genetic engineers have decoded the human genes and mapped our DNA and one day might be able to produce human clones. Haven’t they done the same with sheep? Astronomers and physicists have been trying to calculate the age of our Galaxy and the Universe and how everything came into being. New theories are being propounded almost every year and the old ones are being discarded. But they remain just that, theories with no definitive proof. And we have not got any closer to the question of why and how the nature got created the way it is and what we should be doing to have any discernible impact on the Universe as a whole. Clearly, conventional science has extremely limited capabilities. What is needed is something really out of the box, literally.

That brings us to the other side, spirituality. Neale Donald Walsch has tried to answer the question in his book “Conversations with God“. According to him, God, the super entity wanted to experience “itself”. Since God was all that was and there was nothing else, another reference point had to be created to experience “itself”. A simple example, if I want to experience myself, I would have to be someone else, another reference point, to really know or understand what am I like. Similarly nature, which we are a part of, got created through which that super entity is trying to experience itself. Drilling down further, the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedanta and the Upanishads have detailed explanations of this. Particularly interesting is the Samkhya philosophy of creation quoted below from the book “Meditation mind and Patanjali’s yoga”.

IMG_20160130_124248942It says, there are two types of super entities called ‘Purusha’ which is pure consciousness or pure sentience, uncaused and eternal and ‘Prakriti’ which is unconscious primordial matter. Though Prakriti is uncaused, it is the cause of everything in this universe, the matter, the energy or even the mind. Prakriti has three constituents, Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas also called Gunas. Needless to say, all these exist at a very subtle level which we cannot perceive. These three Gunas have their own characteristics and are in perfect harmony and equilibrium before creation. The process of creation starts when Prakriti borrows consciousness from the Purusha and begins acting like a conscious entity. At this juncture, the equilibrium between the Gunas is lost and as a result Prakriti starts evolving and changing. The gradual transformation of Prakriti leads to the formation of manifold universe. According to this philosophy, there are as many Purushas as there are conscious beings. So the conscious beings are a combination of matter and consciousness.

Prakriti’s first evolved state is ‘Mahat’ or cosmic intellect. The next evolved state is ‘Ahankara’ or cosmic ego. There are three kinds of cosmic ego or Ahankara:

  1. Ego with preponderance of Sattwa.
  2. Ego with preponderance of Rajas.
  3. Ego with preponderance of Tamas.

The Ego with Sattwa or Tamas cannot evolve by themselves, they borrow their energy from the Ego with Rajas. From the Ego dominated by Sattwa evolved the Jnanendriyas or Sense organs, the Karmendriyas or the Motor organs and the Mind. From the Ego dominated by Tamas, evolved the five subtle physical essences or Tanmantras. The Tanmantras are the potential elements or the Generic essences of sound, taste, colour, smell and touch. From the Tanmantras evolved the five gross elements, Akasha(space), Vayu(air),  Agni(fire),  Ap(water) and  Kshiti(earth). The five elements mingled together following certain permutations and combinations to become the manifold tangible universe as we know it.

It is all very interesting and intriguing when we think that we are a part of the same super entity, only in a gross form, trying to ‘experience itself’. All the Vedas, Upanishads and religions constantly exhort us to be one with God or that Super Entity and the cycle of birth and death is merely a journey towards that goal. So right now am pretty happy to be a part of that Super Entity!

 

The “Routine Wave”

Evening-Glide-by-Chris-Burkard

It has been four months now since I sat down to write. Amazing….considering the fact that just about an year ago, I was churning out, if you may, atleast one post a month and was very upbeat and confident about my writing. I reminisced about the past few months and soon found out that nothing significant had happened that would have prevented me from even trying to write something.

I had been busy with my work and played my part in delivering a project as per the “SLA”, meeting client expectations, no issues/defects in production blah blah blah which incidently most of us do, so nothing to shout about there.  Travelled to my native place to celebrate diwali with my family and then travelled again to the same place for getting my driving license renewed. The icing on the cake being the fact that my driving licence had expired 3 years back but I found out about it a few months back and on top of it, was lucky enough not to get a traffic ticket. Also, I drove back from my home town to Pune, a decent distance of 750km with a slightly damaged engine crankshaft bearing, without an incident. Guess I was too charming for Lady Luck! However, this misconception was quickly dispelled when I had to shell out 40,000 bucks to have the engine overhauled. Innumerable mails to the General Manager-Service and fights with the technicians to get a discount bore no fruit. There was no doubt left in my mind that my charm had dried up.

I continued riding the “routine wave” for the next forty five days, visting friends, attending family functions, getting some repairs done in my house, taking the family out for dinners which every ordinary householder does. In between, there was a team event wherein I went out with my colleagues to a nearby beach resort. Everybody had a hell of a time since the event took place after almost an year. Even though I enjoyed it to the hilt, I was completely exhausted, sleep deprivation being the culprit. The body gave ample indications that I was now on the “other side” of the hill. Getting back to work was not easy and took another day to recover from the after effects. Soon it was “appraisal time” and the pain started. Even though it is one of the occupational hazards, the process of judging people, pointing out mistakes and discussing them at length is particularly stressful. It takes up hours of slander, mudslinging and lots of bad blood to arrive at a mutually agreeable(mostly it is agree to disagree) list of top and low performers. But hold on, the pain is not over yet. Putting across the negatives, “areas of improvement” being the sugar coated term, to the affected ones is the highlight of this process. I am particularly bad in this area. No matter how well you put out the facts, the human tendency of not accepting the improvement points starts another round of angst, protests, unwanted comparisons and sometimes tears!  Incidently, this is marked as an area of improvement for me!! Well, this is part and parcel of the brutal corporate life.

So looking back, it has been pretty much “business as usual” but here I am, trying to break that “routine wave” that is always taking me for a ride but in few hours from now I would be back at work. Unlike the wave surfer who catches the wave, here the wave never fails to catch me and never lets me go.

The Writer’s Block Conspiracy

images (1)

One of the many creative urges, it’s far from many though, that I started getting lately is writing. People usually tend to get creative under extreme pressure, exceptional circumstances, a flash within or pure in-born talent. However, for someone like me who is exceptionally sedate, laid back, perpetually short of ideas and with a distinct lack of initiative, it’s a kind of mystery. Nevertheless, I sat down to write and that itself was an achievement. But that’s how far I went! Suddenly the enthusiasm, thoughts and ideas(as if I had many) went dry like a solitary tap in the middle of Sahara. But I was not giving up so easily. My mind frantically scrambled to look for ideas, past experiences, my interests, trending topics and anything under the sun! I closed my eyes trying to summon the thoughts within, then looked here and there and finally burned few calories pacing up and down the house. But all I got was vast emptiness, like deep space, finite but unbounded. Like a car with critically low battery, the thought engine would just not kick in.

writers-blockFinally I decided to take recourse to what else, Google! I searched for topics to write and was flooded with hundreds of topics, techniques and writer’s block. What I was experiencing was essentially a writer’s block. At some point of time or the other, every writer had or still has writer’s block. So now I gleefully shifted the blame on this phenomenon and restored my self-esteem. Usually am not inquisitive, but decided to take a deep dive. Soon I found out there was tons and tons of data or research on writer’s block. There are thousands of pages written about what are the common blocks and how to overcome them. The more I searched, the more I started getting lost. I kept opening new tabs and windows for different blocks and the ways to overcome them. The RAM on my laptop was now getting suffocated and my head was getting hazy.

There were so many types of writer’s blocks like not being able to come up with an idea, not able to build upon that idea if any, you have an outline but cannot get started, you are in the middle of a plot and don’t know what happens next, you simply get bored with your characters, you keep imagining that people would not like your story, you can’t think of right words to convey the idea, you have a great story lined up but suddenly go numb, you think you are good in a topic of your interest but just can’t write anything significant about it, you are revising your work but can’t seem to get past the blocks, phew!! The list goes on and on and there are equal number of ways listed out to get past them. From the search results and the amount of content written on this phenomenon, am smelling a conspiracy to blow the problem out of proportion and prevent budding writers like me to write. Even there are forums where people are ever ready to dish out advise on how to overcome the block. The more you search ways to get around the problem, the more you get entangled and finally after sometime you forget what kind of block you had and end up getting totally disillusioned.

They have created a whole industry out of this writer’s block with many books, articles, blogs, support forums and what not. Am all the more convinced about the writer’s block conspiracy but hey, I just got an idea to start a conspiracy theory series similar to what Jesse Ventura, the former Governor of Minnesota had.

Failure……Really???

EmilysQuotes.Com-Success-failure-courage-Winston-Churchill-inspirational-great

While going through the newspaper today morning, I stumbled upon an article “Bolster your CV with a failure”. Wonder why, of all the news and the articles I chose this one to read. The article was about entrepreneurs who did not succeed in their first shot at what they wanted to do. They initiated startups but due to some reasons did not work out the way they wanted it to. They would be branded as ‘failures’, until now! Like Bob Dylan would say ‘For the times they are a-changin’, times are surely changing and for the better. Some of the big corporate companies are hiring these very people! The reason being, they have been through the rough and tumble of the game. They had the guts to dream and give it shot. They toiled hard with blood and sweat. They’ve seen it and did it all. Do you need any better reason? Remember, things we learn in a ‘failure’ stay with us for the rest of our lives. These corporates want to use precisely this experience and insight in their ongoing battle to gain an upper hand in the market. They feel that these battle hardened men and women are better equipped to handle real world situations than the number crunching wiz kids who have fancy MBA titles. So times have really changed and it is no longer a taboo to fail.

We just keep forgetting the famous examples of people who never gave up. Abraham Lincoln was unsuccessful as a businessman, as a lawyer and even as a politician. Edison’s teachers in school considered him incapable of learning anything! He was fired from his first two jobs and he tried close to 1000 times before he succeeded in inventing the light bulb. Einstein could not read until he was seven. One of his teachers described him as mentally slow, unsociable and forever lost in foolish dreams! Steve Jobs’ attempts to get HP and Atari interested in his personal computer were rejected. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lacking imagination and good ideas. In 1947, a certain Norma Jean Baker was dropped by 20th Century-Fox because the producer thought she was unattractive and couldn’t act. Amitabh Bachchan was rejected for having a deep baritone by All India Radio and was considered too tall by earlier film makers. Mahatma Gandhi was not successful as a lawyer. One thing is clear from these examples, all the great mean and women had much greater vision, wider horizon and a bigger canvas to paint. Their talent and creativity did not fit into the conventional mold that time. It would be interesting to know what all these men and women who rejected the famous personalities, thought at a later stage once they found out you know what………

After all what we perceive as failure is just something that did not work out as expected or the way we thought or perceived it. Something that did not fit in our narrow conventional frame of mind. Something that did not meet the expectations. So it’s all relative, perceived, not conforming to a set of human made rules. Our society and education has instilled a deep embedded fear of failure in all of us. Or maybe the devil in us derives pleasure in others’ failures. Failures have so far been stigmatized. No credit is given for the intention and the effort. Instead, the focus is on the result. But that should hopefully be changing now. With the society and the corporate world recognizing the intent and the efforts, this could have a positive multiplier effect and people would be encouraged to come up with groundbreaking ideas, innovations and processes, ultimately resulting in a better world. Who knows, the word ‘failure’ may one day be removed from the dictionary.

A Different Shot

street foto

Far off I could see the sun going down. The sky had got an orange tinge to it. The birds were flying back to their nests. My day was about to start and I was feeling good about it. It was Friday evening and slowly but surely the crowd was building up on the streets. The office goers were hurrying back to their homes looking forward to the much awaited weekend. They radiated exuberance and excitement. Their body language was that of a school child going home after a long day. Meanwhile the lights on the streets and in the shops had come up giving the whole place a festive look. By now the billboards which had lighted up, gave a larger than life feel to the place. The roadside stalls too were ready to serve their customers. The aroma of the pav bhajis, the biryanis, the vadapavs and dabhelis wafted through the air. The street food aficionados were already thronging the stalls.

Nearby, a well-known bigger hotel too had its customers lined up while the valets frantically worked to park the vehicles. Being a weekend, there were more families at the hotel with the young, the not so young and the old dressed in their best attire waiting to have a go at the food. On the streets, I could see youngsters zipping  on their bikes to their weekend party destinations. It was hard to miss the contagious enthusiasm. By now, the shopping crowd was building up and the salesmen at the stores had their hands full catering to the customers. The customers at the apparel store across the street, not satisfied with the variety of clothes on display, kept asking for more options. The kids could not stop ogling at toys in the toy shop next door. While some persistent kids could force their parents to visit the store, other mellow ones kept pleading to go in there.

The grocery store too had its share of the crowd with people picking up their wares for the upcoming week. These are the people who are busy the entire week and this is the time they can stuff the grocery for the upcoming week.  The traffic policeman stationed at the busy road junction was having a tough time controlling the burgeoning rush of vehicles. I always enjoy the view from up above. It gives me a different perspective of the scene around. The buzz on the street had reached a crescendo.   It sustained for a few hours and in accordance with the nature’s law, started to wane . The rush was subsiding and the crowds started thinning out. The stalls were preparing to wind up. The bigger shops were in the process of calling it a day. It was now significantly quiet and a chill had built up in the air. The clock had ticked well past midnight and the busy road junction which was buzzing with activity a few hours back now had a subdued feel to it.

Time passed by and the dawn was breaking out in the eastern part of the sky. The sun was about to light this part of the globe and my light was about to go out. After all, a street light is supposed to go off in the morning!!

Music  Best Seller Books  RC Planes  Time Pieces  Shades

Coping With Work Life Balance

work-life-balanceWith the ever increasing demands of a modern work life, the working hours have undergone a drastic change. Depending on where you work and the type of work, work timings could vary between 9am to 6pm, 12pm to 9pm, 3pm to 12am or a complete night shift. Sometimes the shifts are rotated amongst the employees based on the work needs.  In the Indian context, the employee almost always ends up working extra hours. This results in unsettling of the biological clock leading to stress, tension, loss of appetite and sleep. For the married ones, the problem is compounded due to the additional needs of the family life. On top of that, with smart phones and laptops, you are never really away from work and the pressure to reply to an email or answer a call could be overwhelming.

But there is no getting away from it, not yet. After all we have to pay up the EMIs for the home loan, car loan, that exotic modular kitchen and yes those insurance premiums!! So how do we deal with it without burning out? First and foremost, try to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. Now this is below the recommended eight hours but then whatsapp, hike, facebook and viber etc do extract their pound of flesh. If you are commuting by bus or a cab, grab at least 20-30 minutes of sleep during commuting. If you need to work sitting at one place for extended hours, ensure that you do get up and take a brisk walk or stretch for a few minutes after every couple of hours. Keep your sitting posture correct so as not to strain your back or neck. Drink plenty of water and less coffee. It is always advisable to have a heavy breakfast and light lunch or dinner. If your work involves lots of travel, avoid travelling at late nights. Avoid eating spicy food. Though it is not always possible but try to keep the lunch and dinner timings regular.  This can help reduce or avoid problems like acidity, migraine etc. Whenever you have free time, always work out a bit, jog or take a walk. If you are residing near your workplace, use a bicycle instead. Try to pursue your hobby or play a game or just do something that you like. Yoga and meditation are a great way to unwind and get some calm and peace back. If you are interested in a social cause, go for it. There is no greater joy than giving something back to the community.

If the shift hours are changing after a gap like a weekend or a holiday, it’s okay. However, if the shift hours need to change suddenly then try to do it gradually over a period of two to three days. Remember, there is no running away from work. We have to work to support our families and sustain our lifestyle. So let us try to do it the healthier way. Happy working!!


You might want to check these out:

Music   Best Seller Books   RC Planes   Cool Computers   Time Pieces   Shades


Yeh Dil Maange More…

My friend woke up at 8am in the morning, something he would not do even if the house was on fire. But this day was no ordinary day. This was the “Big Sale Day“ on an e-commerce site! This was the day you could buy a smart phone or a 16GB pen drive at Rs.1.  After battling for about 2 hours he finally reached the payment step when the site could not cope up with the load and flashed a “transaction declined” message.  His world came crashing down and for the next two days he was in a kind of depression. Now he could not boast of having bought a smart phone at Rs.1 on the big day sale.  Buying stuff on the e-commerce sites has now become “cool” especially amongst younger population. If you haven’t bought some fancy apparel, that jazzy wrist watch or those hip shoes, “you ain’t there” yet.

The e-commerce companies have created a huge market by playing with the psyche of the consumer, catering to the base human desire to have more. As per a report in Business Standard, the e-commerce sector is pegged at Rs.18,000 crore and is expected to grow up to Rs.50,000 crore by 2016.  Except for a new car, a boat or a house (at least as of now but who knows!) you can buy anything online. Just look at the obscene profit Flipkart made on the “Big billion Day“ sale. This is consumerism at its best. People sometimes end up buying stuff that they to buy things that are heavily discounted or dirt cheap if you are lucky. Just take a look at the twenty something population working in IT companies. You can see them logged into these sites many times a day looking for better deals. I know many colleagues who buy at least one apparel or a pair of shoes every alternate week. Just spend a few minutes in the afternoon outside any IT company and you would surely spot a Flipkart, Amazon or Snapdeal delivery guy waiting to deliver the stuff.

Buying online is definitely a lucrative option considering the facts that you do not have to travel to the shop, jostle with the crowd, get a chance to evaluate lots of products, pay online and have it delivered to your doorstep in a relatively short time. Also, you get the required warranty/ guarantee in addition to a fairly robust replacement policy. Hmm…not bad if you exercise adequate precaution while making online payments and manage to avoid the trap of mouth-watering deals and the resultant burgeoning credit card bills. After all “Ye dil maange more !!”

Managing Your Photographs

wp_20140622_043On a lazy Sunday afternoon while I was going through the pictures stored in my phone, I was amazed to see the sheer quantity of them. There were pictures of sunrises, sunsets, clouds, pictures of family members, birthday pictures, wedding pictures and snaps of outings and of course some selfies! A lot of pictures were of bad quality with incorrect focus, bad light or just hazy. A lot of pictures were clicked by my seven year old daughter who had started taking pictures right from the age of four. Kids do have an early start these days! The pictures were randomly placed and if I had to search for a particular picture I had to do quite a bit of searching. I wondered if I really needed all the pictures, I had been deleting some pictures routinely but that was it. I am sure this is the case with most of us. In this digital age where even feature phones have a decent camera, each one of us has become an ace photographer or that’s what we think. Photographs are moments frozen in time.  Moments that we treasure and cherish down the line.  Moments that we can share with our family, friends, children or grand children. With easy internet connectivity, we can instantly upload photos on facebook, twitter and other social media. This acts as a catalyst to click more pictures anywhere or everywhere and share them on the social media. On top of that, the craze for selfies is such that we even had a macaque monkey taking a selfie which resulted in a bizzare patents row!! We gradually start losing track of them and they end up consuming space on the memory card or the hard disk. However, the picture is not so bleak, there are lots of apps for you photo freaks.

If you are an apple fan, there are apps like Dropbox, Web Albums HD, iPhoto and Cloud Photos that help you manage your photos. With Dropbox, users can create albums and move photos between them. Web Albums HD offers a standalone application for your photos stored in Google’s cloud. The iPhoto is a true blue Apple app with an interface familiar to Mac users and through PhotoStream can directly connect your images with the Mac desktop. The CloudPhotos app can capture and save your photos to the cloud thus saving space on your phone. It features an album management system, sharing of your albums with friends and sending photos to social apps.

If you are in the android ecosystem, apps like QuickPic, F- Stop Media Gallery and Flayvr are popular. QuickPic can help sort photos by name or date, set photos as wallpaper, contact icons or share with any other app. It can exclude or include certain folders in your gallery and password protect photos that you do not want others to see. F-Stop Media Gallery has a powerful tagging feature that embeds your tags and ratings right into the JPG files, and then you can browse by tag as well as the more traditional options. If you have a ton of photos on your phone, this might be the best choice. Flayvr, which is now MyRoll creates living memory collages based around events, combining interactive photos and videos letting you relive those memories as they happened.

So with technology on your side, it is pretty easier now to manage your photos. Go ahead, take your best shot and share with the world.