Its All Inside..!

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I came home at 2 am in the morning last night, yes, for me it was still night. After all, isn’t it all relative? After a quick small snack and some water, I hit the bed. This has been my routine since last one and half years. Talk of work life balance! I was woken up by a steady clucking sound of a construction machinery at 0830 in the morning. It has been now been a good seven days since the construction work on an adjacent plot of land has started. I have sort of got used to that sound. Amazing how we adapt to not exactly pleasant situations. The monsoon has just set in and is making its presence felt since last couple of days. Heavens have poured more than 40mm rain since yesterday and still don’t look like easing off.

The morning is damp and hazy and even the refreshing cup of tea has not driven away the sedatory effect of the rains. Just finished reading the newspaper, it’s an old habit. The news about muggings, robbery, agitations and dirty politics has added the “icing” on this morning’s “gloom” cake. Why can’t they report on the sunny side of life? Why can’t I have a cheerful start for the day? Am I going to allow these external situations influence my morning or in the larger context, my life? Unfortunately, most of the times that is the case. Unknowingly, we tend to focus on things that are unpleasant or negative. The mind always “slides down” towards the negative because that is the easiest path, just like water rushing down the gradient. So, if I have to make things better, I have to make a conscious effort to literally “pull up” my mind towards the positive.

Applying that to my morning situation, the unearthly time when I come home, I encounter minimum or no traffic, that really helps. The sound of the construction machinery presents me an opportunity to filter out the unwanted and focus on what I am doing at that point of time. If I practise this, it would help me concentrate on what i’m doing instead of getting distracted. This is especially handy in a densely populated and noisy country like India. The next factor rain, has actually brought down the temperature, made the outside terrain pleasantly greener, helped fill up the catchment areas and has provided me a reason to go out on a long drive to the nearby outing spots. Hmm…not bad! Moving on to the newspaper, I can just filter out the bad news and read the neutral or good ones or else just read a book of my liking. Easier said than done, but worth giving it a try. Also, I can push up the energy levels by doing some indoor workout like stretching, push ups and some brisk skipping.

Here, am strongly tempted to quote the now famous Indian mystic, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. He says, we cannot change the situation because we have no control over it but we can certainly change the context through which we look at it. In my case, if I change the context, my “gloomy morning” becomes a  “good morning”, literally. Vedanta, the awesome spiritual scripture goes still further. It says the mind is a fertile soil which has a harvest of thoughts, impressions and experiences. These have grown over a period of time. If I sow good thoughts, good impressions and nourish it with positive experiences, the harvest would be all positive. The key is to weed out all negative thoughts and impressions. If someone is talking to you but your mind is distracted by some other thought, you would not really understand what he is saying even though he is looking at you and you can hear him. This is because the mind is focussing somewhere else which is also commonly known as being absentminded. Similarly, I should be absentminded to negative influences.

I have to observe the flow of thoughts and train the mind to cultivate only the positive ones. Our life, says Vedanta, is only a projection of our thoughts and impressions. If you have all the positives stuffed inside, you would radiate positivity outside. So all that matters is what is “inside”. If I manage my inside, my outside is taken care of!

A Different Shot

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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!!

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Flight

Flight is freedom, flight is fancy, flight is fantasy, flight is grace, flight is poetry. The mere mention of the word “flight” brings up a torrent of emotions. Just observe an eagle soaring high up with wings spread out or an airliner taking off and beauty of flight sinks in. We have always harboured an unbridled fascination for flying. For us earth crawling creatures, flight denotes breaking free, letting yourself go, savouring the freedom and exploring the vertical dimension. Haven’t we all made countless paper planes in our childhood, some of us even do it now, and played with them hours together?a-soaring-bald-eagle-john-stoj

I am lucky enough to have a vast open farm field at the back of my house, rich in flora and fauna. It attracts birds of all kinds and I do get a sneak peek in their flying styles and habits. The best and the easiest way to understand flight is to observe birds. After all that was how the airplane was built. A kite(bird family) or an eagle soaring up above with its wings spread wide open not only exudes grace but also style and is in perfect harmony with the wind. Once it catches a thermal, it can stay aloft for hours together without bothering to flap its wings. It is completely serene and peaceful. Watching an eagle glide has a calming effect on me Blue-Heron-Fly-4272014-1024x682just like watching fish in a fish tank. When it dives to catch its prey, wings folded, beak out and eyes locked on its target, you cannot help but get awestruck by the speed, grace and power. Its nature’s ultimate ground attack machine. Flight of smaller birds is swift, agile and random. They can change direction, speed and altitude anytime. At all stages, their flight is effortless whereas larger birds need a significant effort to get airborne but once in the air, they are equally at ease. However, they have one thing in common, they are in complete sync with gravity and air. Another interesting aspect of a bird’s flight is the ability to stay still in the air when faced with strong headwind. Smaller birds usually flap their wings and manage to kind of hover while the larger birds just spread their wings wide open and stay still  as if they are jet takeoff2hanging from a string. Watching a bird soar or glide has a soothing effect because it instantly connects with our soul’s inherent desire to break free and fly. Maybe that is the reason why we spread out our arms, hold our head up and close our eyes in ecstasy when we are standing on a high windy cliff.

afterburner3Similarly, watching birds like cranes, swans or large passenger/military aircraft take off is absolute treat. The birds run a little distance on land or water to generate air speed and then slowly start gaining altitude. It feels like gravity is gradually letting them go. Similarly large jets build air speed over the runway, their wings arching up as the speed increases and finally lift off.  While the larger jets have grace in their flight, the smaller combat aircraft radiate power, swiftness and arrogance. Not only do they get effortlessly airborne within few hundred meters or runway, they also cock a snook at gravity by climbing 30000 feet in few seconds! A sure shot way of getting that adrenaline rush is to watch a fighter jet take off with full afterburners. With advanced flight controls and thrust vectoring, these aircraft have turned the conventional laws of flight upside down. Rockets and missiles jet1present another enjoyable aspect of flight. If you happen to watch a rocket lift off live or even on television, it doesn’t get more dramatic. The humongous thrust it builds up behind the smoke plumes, the gradual lift off and then the overarching trajectory on its way to space is nothing but heavenly.

But you don’t always need to look at birds and airplanes to appreciate flight. Simple objects like shuttle takeoffa boomerang that curves back to you or even a flying disc or a frisbee skimming through the air is pure joy to watch and play. The bottom line is, the phenomenon of flight continues to fascinate us and activities like hot air ballooning, parasailing, paragliding, gliding, sky diving and bungee jumping reinforce this fact.

I can’t help but sign off with lyrics from the song “Plane” by the band Jefferson Airplane:

I’m getting ready for a great leap forward, ready for a leap in the pool
Ready to touch the stars again, ready to go back to school
Puttin’ the pieces together, put on your wings and come with me and
Fly, fly, fly to the centre of the sky, let’s go flying….”

How Rock Rocked Me

11140069_637321496368485_7470551228740965423_n (1)When I was in school, like all other kids, I was enamoured by “western music”. Yes that’s what we called it since we hardly knew about the genres of music. Any music produced in the west was western music. I still vividly remember the LP player that we had in our home and the only LP records or discs that had western music were Boney M and ABBA. Listening to them was pure joy even though I did not understand a single word of the lyrics. Just the thumping drums and the energetic vocals gave me a high since Hindi music at that point of time still used Indian instruments and the songs were based more on the classical.

maxresdefaultIn my teens, was introduced to pop music by my school chums. Back then, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Wham had burst on the scene and albums like “Thriller”, “True Blue” and “Fantastic” dominated the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Those days we had cassette players and visiting the music store scouring for the latest released album had become a part of our routine. The cassette had the lyrics of the songs in the album inside the paper cover. I would read and memorize the lyrics while listening to the songs. Me and my friends would sing those songs aloud while hanging out. My room was cluttered with posters of the pop stars. I was enjoying my new found “freedom” feeling like a “lucky star” and everyday felt like “just another day in paradise” trying to do crazy stuff like “walk like an Egyptian” and if anyone had a problem with that, would tell them to “beat it”.

All this time, a best friend of mine had been goading me to listen to some “heavy” stuff. He was 738102-ac-dc-concertinto metal and hard rock. I said, not my cuppa. He persisted and one day made me listen to “All I want is you” by Bryan Adams. Now Bryan Adams is more on the pop side of Rock, definitely not metal or hard rock. However, I instantly took a liking to the sound of electric guitar. The riffs synched with my inner strings and felt like this is what I always wanted to listen. I longed for more and started listening to likes of Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, ACDC, Van Halen and Motley Crue. Now these are the artists who embody everything that rock is. Rock is intense, power packed, high octane and right from the gut. Check out Def Leppard’s “Have you ever needed someone so bad” to experience a power ballad. If you want to get a real kick, listen to Motley Crue’s “Kickstart my heart”. Today there are few guitarists who can match Eddie Van Halen’s speed and dexterity. Inspired by Jimmy Hendrix, he took the electric guitar to new heights. Slash’s guitar intro in “sweet child of mine” is one of the greatest of all times. To compliment the guitar, you need to have drums to keep the audience’s heads bobbing. Alex Van Halen provided the thrashing force to Eddie’s out of the world solos. Tommy Lee provided the mojo to Motley Crue’s grooves. Def Leppard’s Rick Allen who is known as the “Thunder God” amongst his fans can still whip up the same drum frenzy with one hand. Yes, here is a drummer who lost his left hand in a car accident but came back two years later with an improvised drum kit and recorded many albums.

397658-de325c94-ac66-11e4-884c-4d3ab9bafe58These and many more Gods of Rock with their ability to set the stage and billboards on fire had a deep impact on me and thirty years down the line after I heard my first rock song, still continue to give me goose bumps. Rock music in its most raw and pure form needs a good vocalist, lead guitarist, bassist and a drummer and an unlimited amount of passion and energy. These days, people may prefer dance and electronica but nothing beats the pyromania that a genuine Rock show can produce. For me and other rock aficionados, we are still “thunderstruck” and “for those about to rock, we salute you!!”


You might want to check these links:

Music    Best Seller Books   RC Planes   Cool Computers   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.