Digital Marketing, Life

Doubt #Day 27

The serrated landscape of Dubai become an array of visual splendor at night. Bright yellow dots neatly arranged in rhythmical lines, appear as a mammoth inescapable labyrinth when the flight descends to one of the busiest airports in the world. What is find so fascinating about Dubai is the strangeness of life. It delivers surprise in every inch. Paranoia about the infrastructure and architectural perfection is evident in every tower built in the middle of this spectacular desert city. These buildings are massive, sometime gazing many hundreds of feet above your head, looking down upon your minuscule existence. As a runner, I have seen yet a different Dubai. When a runner cuts through the streets and covers the serpentine alleys, Dubai reveals a new face, a discovery akin to diver hunting for treasure at sea. Unexplored spacial scenarios appear, while you try to cope with the exasperated existence in a hot and humid environment. I met Vijay during one of these runs while preparing for Dubai Marathon in 2016.

Vijay is from Hyderabad and has been living in Dubai since 2005; 13 years of stay in Dubai will make him a veteran. He is also one of the most unassuming person that I have met and my reasoning would concur with most of others. Always ready to offer help in every possible way. When we were away with my father-in-law and my niece alone for few days, I had given them Vijay’s number in case of any help needed. Vijay used to be very fat, he shows me a few old unrecognizable pictures in support and also used to smoke profusely. He is now a reformed man, a runner and a very fine one. When I met Vijay for the first time, he was to run his first marathon in Dubai in 2016. A day before the marathon, he had fever and still ran the full distance (42.2 kms), medicines keeping his temperature in control. Since then, he has never looked back and has excelled in each new marathon and bettered his timing. What differentiates Vijay is his will and determination. He is doubt-less. His soft interior hides this side of him.

It was one of the usual Friday mornings, during one of our runs that I got an invaluable gift. We were on our way to the Club runs and we were late. The banters of the weekend Thursdays in Dubai had got better of us. I was driving, and had recently got my driving license. As a new driver in a foreign land, I built a rule that I couldn’t compromise with. When the green traffic light blinks, I had to stop. To the wrath of many around me, I follow this rule religiously. In Dubai, you should pray that I’m not ahead of you because even in the most urgent of situations, I would not go further, while you go on honking behind me. I’m shamelessly proud of my callous honest adherence. However this specific morning, my rule was to be put to a test. Vijay & I were late for our Dubai Creek Striders Club run. In the wee hours of the morning, if we didn’t reach the meeting point on time and we would be left to wonder where did the pack go. Thankfully, Vijay and I kept ourselves busy debating the choice of final destination and therefore the thoughts didn’t reach unwarranted conclusions. We were 3 minutes away from the start, and therefore I increase the speed of my Ford Explorer, the vehicle grunts and picks up the throttle and at the same time I can see the approaching green light. We are at a confusing distance; my mental calculation says that because it has been green for sometime now, it would start blinking any minute. As I come closer to the traffic signal, it does happen. The green light starts blinking, though I’m still away, I don’t stop. But this time, the ghost of the green light doesn’t bother me, I keep going on, crossing it in the nick of time.

In normal day and sane circumstance, I would have stopped. That was truly my first reaction. But I jammed on the accelerator. This was first exception of my holy rule to stop. Why? Vijay told something to me that made a lot of sense. Not just in this one instance, but I would refer to it in many more such scenarios. The words became like a flash card which I would use again and again.

When the lights were blinking and Vijay saw my confusion, he said, “If you doubt, you are done.”

Precisely, in the moment of crucial importance, the doubt impedes judgement, reasoning and could be greatest folly that you can commit. It doesn’t let you act and negates movement. Doubt is an ill that ails the will and determination. In most defining moments, I would reflect these words and the instance. Never to be at the cross roads on indecision and doubt. Else you are doomed to be in the limbo perpetually. Truth disguised as plain sight and beckons you unannounced.

We did try hard, but the pack had left the moment we arrived. Fortunately, we could catch them and the efforts didn’t go in vain. As the delicate atmospheric effect of sunlight permeated the early hours of the day, Dubai reveled in yet another glorious day. Wisdom illuminated like the bright sunlight for me, while my exhausted self was screaming inside to stop. Vijay went on and on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Digital Marketing, Life

Apollonian & Dionysian #Day 26

Homes have uncommon aesthetic power and reflect the material and spiritual splendor of people who inhabit it. Few homes that I have seen reflect riot of creative and visually captivating designs and are surprisingly beautiful. However say very little about people who live in those enclosed space. “Classic question of convenience vs time. You cannot have both.” Priya’s response for those who fit aptly in favor of this logic. Irrespective, I belong to the school which proposes that the design ensemble, of bits and part of self and the experiences, creates rhythm.

Apollo and Dionysus are both sons of Zeus. Apollo is the God of sun, of rational thinking and order, and appeals to logic, prudence and purity. (Shamelessly quoted from Wikipedia). Dionysus is the God of wine and dance, of irrationality and chaos, and appeals to emotions and instincts. Although contrasting in nature, the Greeks never considered the two Gods to be opposites or rivals. The two reflect the duality of life, a harmonious form cannot be without chaotic artistic sensibility. A captivating home is never divorced from interestingly layered chaos. Or maybe inspires it.

Very few close friends have been honest enough to provide a stellate outline of my appearance. None of the accolades have anything memorable that I can boast about. Understandably, I have 3 pairs of jeans with the latest 5 months old, my t-shirts 4-5 months old (Priya has gifted most of them). Also all wedding occasion that I have attended have my photograph in the same suit (dark grey & shiny maroon shirt). I don’t give up on my clothes easily or get bored with them, unless in dire circumstances they get torn. So, what is common to my inordinate appearance and the place that I inhabit? None of the shine, glitz, or the art in my contribution. I’m Apollo from every perspective. Also because the Dionysian, king of good times, is my wife Priya’s forte.

Priya’s passion for design and art reflect in her sensibilities and appearance, quite contrary to that of mine. She is like a teacher, who knows where to put the comma so that the words display true meaning. At the same time, she is like a CEO, who has a participative approach towards management. Put the options on the table, before making the choice. Each choice is carefully evaluated, screened and dismissed for lack of purpose. Many treasures in this world won’t be able to allure her, each choice has to have a reason and a motive for it’s existence. Getting to talk about the house had all the makings of a thriller.

From the start I was never in favor of giving our house to an interior designer; I’m quite stingy that ways. I figured out, the fee could easy fetch me an article more material and real. My hard earned money, why should I gamble with it? Priya had a different line of thinking. She wanted a part of us in the house where we live, our child to see where we came from and what we believed in. She wanted it to be an extension of us. Easier said than done. My only demand was it should be easy on pocket. We don’t make rushed and immature decisions and end up regretting, as if there were less things to fight about in our daily lives. So, I wanted less things in the house and things which could be multi-tasked, and therefore more return on our investment.

A compromise, and the result was quite spectacular.

For 6 months after moving into the house, there was nothing in the house, except for our bar. I loved the spartan look, dazzling marble flooring, nothingness created the vast empty space, the lightly colored walls amplified it further. We would get ample sun light in the house and it lit every corner of our living room. Dhriti, our daughter loved it, she had recently started walking and for her, it was a playground. As pieces came together bit by bit, each corner and furniture, our home looked more complete. In the 6 months roughly, we saw through our new home as a little child, being very careful about each and every element it imbibed, and watched it grow.

It was beautiful. And I never had a sweat over the spends.

There is a certain reluctance in appreciating “wildness” as it being opposed to the “orderly” nature, that we are, or at least I am, more likely used to. The Apollonian is the basis of all analytic rationale. Everything that is part of the unique individuality of man or thing is Apollonian in character;  Rational thought is also Apollonian since it is structured and makes distinctions. And is that complete? Charles Lindberg, who made the first non stop flight from New York to Paris quotes and reflects an aspect of truth…

If we combine our knowledge of science with the wisdom of wildness, if we can nurture the civilization, through roots in the primitive, man’s potentialities appear to be unbounded…, he can merge with the miraculous – to which we can attach what better name than ‘God’? And in this merging, as long sense by intuition, but still only vaguely perceived by rationality, experience may travel even without the need to accompany life.    

Such is the conflict between Apollo and Dionysus. The motive for “intuition” in our lives is not discerned readily, “chaos” cannot be good and “wildness” not a a part of natural order. In this duality, there is a compromise, a balance that I’m happy to live for, while still searching its meaning.

Maybe the most irrational thoughts are the most sanest ones.

 

Life, Transformation

Connectedness #Day 23

EVERY BALL COUNTS (2)

It was my last day in Mumbai, as a person seeking admission to a college. My dear father had gone back after the formalities were done. Big city, much bigger than I was used to. That day I roamed alone, a day alone with the city, where I would spend the next 6 years of my life. I decided to take a double decker, and got on to my favorite seat, the front row. I could see everything on the road, as a driver would. I could see the sea and Haji Ali on one side and skyscraper and traffic jam on the other. I would be lost, the city is too big, I thought. I felt like a dot on the planet, while the horns blew in the background, red lights flashed in front of me and BEST bus revved in heat. I felt lonely. The bus conductor asked me for the tickets. And he also told me the stop that I would need to get down. He tried to explain me in as much as he could in his Marathi accent.

I was on my way to catch the train from Dadar central station, exactly two days after my father had left. He had an important business to attend to. He filled me up with every essential. I was a grown up man, enough to travel alone. And yet, I felt small, the city seemed too big. My only luggage was a small bag, which I was holding close to me, to mitigate any mishap. I had also put my wallet on my front pocket, which otherwise I would use my hip pockets. Bombay is very crowded, you should be careful about the pickpockets, I was told, you would never know when your wallet disappears especially when you are in a crowd. The eventuality of losing my wallet was scary. How would I reach back home, better keep close attention on my items. I was very careful. The man in front of me kept reading the newspaper and the one standing next to me, kept looking at me. I offered him my seat when my stop came, he smiled and nodded in approval when his patience paid off.

I was on Dadar station, it was evening, didn’t know what time it was. I had a bag and wallet in my front pocket. I had to cross over to the other side to get to the train and as a matter of fact, I looked down. Not an inch of space on the platform. I could only see people everywhere. It was the evening time when every one is rushing back home. Like a ant colony, I felt small again. Probably, I won’t survive. In the midst of this chaos, there was a sudden realization that I needed to get to the train; I could afford to miss it. I wanted to get away from Mumbai, as fast I could. While I was walking, I asked a person who was walking by about time. “It is 6.30.”, he didn’t look at me and walked on. He was in hurry, to catch his local train, but had heard me. He helped me as much as he could in the time he had. I remember he also said, “Get off the last platform to get to Dadar Central.” I didn’t ask for his last piece of his advice, but I guess he saw my luggage. He walked on and didn’t look back or expected anything in return. I never met him again and he left memories that made me fond about the city & people.

My first few recollections of Mumbai were of concern, full of anxiety and sense of loneliness. And it took just about few days to settle in. The people, the food, the language, exuded warmth. I found spirit of people inimitable, it was grand and connected to each Mumbaikar. The culture and love is extended to strangers and the new. I miss Mumbai, so much so that when I went back to Delhi, the place I have spent longest time, I felt shallow. I couldn’t identify with people, I took me 3 years to feel at home in my  home city. We seemed to be running all the time in Delhi.

We were a group of 9 people in a yoga session and none of us know each other. My first exercise was to approach every single person in the group and tell him, I belong to you. Didn’t make sense to me at all. We did this every day of our course. Sincerely, even by the last day, I wasn’t able to truly say, I belong to you. We would leave after a week and none of us would connect again. We do belong to each other, even if it is for a fleeting microsecond. But it may take many years for us to realize it. I haven’t realized it yet.

And it is difficult, and takes courage to say, I belong to you, and stand by it. It doesn’t come naturally, as it comes for our siblings, parents or children. These boundaries, in our minds, are created by us and difficult to break. Irrespective, connectedness is one of the strongest virtues, that empower us and give us hope and strength. For the sake of simplicity we would just let it be. If it doesn’t affect me directly, it is none of my business.

Kids understand it the best. They have amazing 6th sense to know who is genuine and feel connected to them. First few interaction with a new person would tell you how genuine you feel with each other. There is an invisible bond amongst all of us, essential like air; we will feel suffocated if there isn’t any.

And it is all so powerful. Connected people make good families, teams, society and nation. Where each one respects the existence of the other, where there is a dignity of life in every individual, where there is strong connectedness.

Do you feel it? Slowly, one day at a time is all it takes to truly and sincerely say, “I belong to you.”

Photo & layout courtesy: canva.com

 

 

 

 

 

Life, Transformation

How to become a millionaire in 10 steps #Day 22

EVERY BALL COUNTS (1)

A humble submission and resolution for next half of the new year.

  1. I won’t read any self help books
  2. I won’t read any blog or article that begin with headers such as “How to become a millionaire in 10 steps.”

This is at the cost of the blog not being popular or my inability to simplify life and experiences for the mass majority. I guess we lack patience and the rigor to go through the drill. Or possibly, the life too short to be enjoyed as a journey. I feel, we all have unique experiences and each of which makes this planet a better place to live in. If there was a formula, commercialization of this idea wouldn’t have been a problem and it would been biggest funded venture capitalists startup.

Such articles follow a typical methodology

  • They start with a successful personality and trace his life. Put in perspective all his/her hardships etc.
  • They look at few common traits such as courage, optimism, risk taking, etc and comment on the traits. “Taking risk” would be by far the most citied term. And encourage you to take risk and follow path.
  • Celebrate and equate “Risk taking” to amount of wealth generated, the most respected symbol for success.

Reading autobiographies are better because at least it is first hand. At the same time, we are assuming that all the facts mentioned in the memoir are true and verified. Whatever be the consideration, the success outweighs any other factor. By another argument, “Failure”, though a celebrated word in our context, won’t be seen as a successful plot; will have few takers. Have you read memoirs of anyone who has been failure? Probably none, because the chances are more likely that such stories wouldn’t have been written. Though such people in normal life would have demonstrated the same set of traits, courage, optimism and risk taking, however there exists a fine line between success and failure.

I was inspired by one of the section in Malcolm Gladwell’s book that I’m reading, David & Goliath, underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants. He dedicates a section to a Hollywood personality, who had been very successful. He began working very early in his life because his father would ask him to fund half of everything, pester him if he left the light switch on, “We are paying for you being lazy.” His father had a scrap metal business, where he worked and swore that he would never get back there again. So left with no choice he had to chart is own journey of being financial independent. His father had 3 sons who were motivated and did well in their work. I’m sure, few would be interested in the father’s side of the story. And even after reading, they may wonder where is it going. Unfortunately, what is learnt can never be taught.

Education is an admirable thing. But it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught- Oscar Wilde

Mr. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his book, The Black Swan, calls such phenomenon as the Silent evidence. He cites the story of drowned worshippers to further elaborate. One Diagoras, a non-believer in Gods was presented with a tablet which had portraits of worshipper, who prayed and survived shipwreck. Diagoras asked a very pertinent question, “What about the people who prayed and then drowned?”. The chances are likely that the dead worshippers won’t be available to pose as model or share the experience. To establish the truth we will take the part of reality that appeals to us the most. According to Mr. Taleb, the neglect of the silent evidence is the endemic to the way we study comparative talent, particularly in activities that have winner-take-it-all-attitude.

Phoenicians are credited to have invented the first written script. They were merchants and need a method to measure commerce. As it is said about the Egyptians, who used tablets to keep a record of treasury. The utility of these method was to facilitate the understanding and not just rely on memory. This wasn’t art, plain simple arithmetic. It served a purpose, it helped us count. It was real.

We may enjoy what we may see, but there is no point in reading too much, because we don’t see the full picture. The only complete picture that we have is of ours, which maybe ordinary, but is true and real. It requires courage to accept it as is.

And there couldn’t be better learning about success than from our own. Each day and every hour and the celebration of the ordinary, the mundane and the inconsequential. It is the most influential story that you can ever write.

Photo & layout courtesy: Canva.com

 

Life

Goal #Day 21

EVERY BALL COUNTS

The England Croatia match would be probably one of the worst semi finals. I was in a sports bar watching a match, where the English fans were outnumbered, not in their voice or spirit. I wish their players played like one.

Good part about being from a country which never makes it to world cup football is that I can support any team I like and at the same time I can change my favorite. England clearly started off as favorites, with the star players amongst whom, Harry Kane would be considered one of England’s all time soccer stars. I have found England to be a one man army. I can recall only single players from memory – Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer, and Wayne Rooney, with no recollection of any other member. However, this time, was different. England had few other players, other than Harry Kane, such as Marcus Rashford, Dele Alli, and could be considered one of the better England teams. I though they had a chance.

Sadly, England gave the game away, they didn’t go after the ball. They lacked finishers spirit & celebrated victory too early.

I started watching the game, when England had already scored the first goal, brilliant free kick by Kieran Trippier in the 5th minute. Thankfully, I was happy I didn’t see the goal, else I could have changed my mind about England. The English team did pass the ball and had about 4 great chances. Right fully, they could have been 3-0 in the first half. However, it felt like, England had already won the game in their minds. None of the players went after the ball and trying to score another. They didn’t have pace, they didn’t have the spirit. The game went on in insipid fashion; I was only hoping that the game doesn’t go into extra time, which would have been extra waste of time. Credit to the England team, they dominated the first half of the game.

On the other hand, Croatia was much spirited. It took them some time to get their act together, but you could see that they didn’t give up. This was their second semis and they wanted to make it a special one. Croatia team had many misses, but kept on creating more opportunities. Croatia in the 68th minute with Ivan Perisic scored the equalizer. Though their attack was not as fast as French, but they kept the momentum. The English team didn’t see it coming and still played the same way. Harry Kane missed an important pass, he couldn’t see the ball come. Lazy body language.

In the extra time, the better team triumphed. Croatia won 2-1 and deserved every bit of the game. They went after every opportunity, after every ball.

Maybe France will win the world cup, but today was Croatia’a day and the victory of their never dying spirit.

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Life, Transformation

Humility #Day 20

100% (8)

I had been following with the gentleman’s office for almost 10 days, and I got his direct number eventually. Menon was known to be a tough professionally and very straight in talk. I had never met him, and this was my first interaction. Menon’s background indicated that he had been at helm of affairs for a considerable period and therefore a decision maker. He was an important contact and I was convinced that my product and service could deliver him incremental results. My enthusiasm showed in my fast delivery of introduction. He told me to call him back. And so he did the third time.

These interaction were during the Ramadan days, when work hours are short. In Dubai, people are relatively easy at work during these days. There is no pressure, because a large number of the day is spent in prayers. I was determined to call Menon again and so I did. And this time to my surprise, I did get his attention. I again introduced what I did. While speaking this time I got a sense that I very little time to make an impression. And what I did that day goes as a lesson for the rest of my life, not to be repeated. Absolutely.

Menon (sounding hasty): So what do you want?

Me: I need to meet you to explain about our service. I have studied your business and I believe we can deliver you results.

Menon (sounding still hasty): What is your summary?

Me: I can send you the opportunity gaps that we have found, which may help us increase your business.

Menon (completely losing it): You don’t have to tell me what I need to do.

Me: Mr. Menon, I haven’t even started to give you recommendations. Moreover, you can use it only when you have debated internally. It is your business.

Menon: No I don’t need your recommendation or your business. I hope this is the last interaction that we are having.

Me (completely losing it): It is your loss. I hope you do well in your business.

I remember my last emotions; it was anger, contempt and hatred for Menon. How can he deny me without listening to me? He is so fixated. And the thoughts went on and on. Clearly, Menon’s rigidity had made me upset and I was very livid. And it was also true that I had lost the business and an opportunity which may have resulted in large contract. It was not just opportunity loss, it was a deeper regret.

It was a habit that costed me tremendous opportunity and I decided never to do that again. I reacted and that was incorrect. When Menon told me that He didn’t want me tell him what he needed to do, I started hating him for his loftiness. I was saw him as abusing his position of power that he held in this relationship. I felt like a victim, which is where I was defeated.

When you are consumed by emotions, it is not the best time to make a decision. Reaction is even worse. There are more chances that you would regret it later. No matter how bad the situation is, the humility counts.

In the interaction with Menon, and in the heat of the moment, I ignored the good and let the untamed part of me take control. I wished I were more calm and requested if there was another time that I could call back. Maybe he would have thanked me later when he would have witnessed an increased business.

I also lost my focus on the outcome, which was to do business. And this was the larger worry. When we lose focus of the merit of discussion and get governed by the emotions, no one wins. The emotions shouldn’t decide the outcome, you should. Maybe I should have paused and kept the speaker off my ears.

Or maybe I should have just listened. There are many possible alternatives, but the reality stood unchanged.

After few day I shared this incident with my friend. He laughed. I laughed too, I felt lighter. Lesson learnt and time to move on.

Maybe I should write a book with the usual bestseller title: The Subtle Art of Not Taking Things Too Seriously.  

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Life, Transformation

Reality #Day 19

100% (6)

I fancy cooking, at least I used to. I still cook, occasionally with my daughter and wife. It is exactly in that order, first with Dhriti and then with Priya, in reference to the control that I have. In the case of latter, it is none.

One perfect afternoon, Dhriti and I decided to prepare Pizza, right from the start. We picked up our favorite Italian cuisine author, Giorgio Locatelli’s book, Made at Home. Perfect and apt as the book title suggests. Giorgio has the tradition of making Pizzas for his entire staff on Saturdays, a simple Margherita pizza and calls it The Saturday Pizza. It was Saturday and therefore it had to be Pizza. Few ingredients were missing, which we shopped from nearby grocery store. Yeast was the most important, which was our first purchase. Giorgio’s recipe mandated that we get the dough prepared right. The dough was to be kept at least of 8 hours in refrigerator. The following day it was to be kept out for at least 2 hours. The dough looked good, when it came out of refrigerator, we had our first step right.

Margherita pizza is one of the easiest preparations and the only one that Dhriti has most of the times. It was a new acquired taste for my 8 year old. Therefore, deciding which pizza to make was not a problem. Rolling the pizza or making the sauce was also not the problem. The problem as that we were using the oven for the first time. We, father and daughter, were making the pizza for the first time. And we were very confident, so much that we could taste our pizza before it went in. Our pizza was decorated with garnishing no less than a Christmas tree. It was our first time and we spared no effort. The smell of the first pizza of it’s kind had filled the room, leaving us wondering when would it come out. We set the time for 14 minutes at 220 degrees temperature and by 13th minute the father and daughter were on the table waiting for their magnum opus to arrive.

It looked ok from the top, a bit black, could have had lesser garnishing, but the bread was definitely thin. My first bite confirmed the suspicion. The pizza did lacked taste and was hard to chew. It’s a good pizza, I told Dhriti and also myself. I expected the words to work magic, like making dead alive. Internally, I was consoling myself, Don’t worry, Dhriti will find it good.

No Dada, it doesn’t doesn’t taste like Pizza we had.

This was real, 100% truth, undeniable reality. I wanted it to be different. I wanted Dhriti to have liked the pizza, because we had followed all the process and proportions. It was meant to be a perfect pizza. The reality was what it was, but I didn’t accept it. I wanted reality to be different, what I wanted it to be. This is not fair, a learning again. 

Our inability or unwillingness to see things the way they are, maybe is the single most important cause for dissonance. Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. The root for this bias lies in our emotions. We can’t take less perfect version of ourselves, because it would make us wrong. We would rather be right than wrong, emotionally being wrong is a heavy tax to pay. And lets face it, it is the most difficult thing to say that I was wrong.

How do we get rid of our myside bias? By developing a value system of acceptance, without judgement, with emotional equanimity. By daily practice of seeing things as they really are. And by not putting our egos in everything. This will take tremendous amount of time, practice and denying social acceptance of our acts.

After our first namesake pizza, we made pizza again, under the supervision of masterchef, Priya, who knew the art of making the secret sauce, the perfect tomato, the melted mozzarella, hint of basil, served hot. Italian King Umberto 1 and his queen Margherita would be proud that we were able to restore the sanctity of queen’s name in our second attempt. By the way the Margherita Pizza truly represents the Italian flag, as described by Giorgio.

The pizza was really good, genuinely.

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