Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Cycle of Karma

As I lay awake in bed, pondering and worrying over the present state of affairs, I grew more and more restless. It is way past 4 in the morning, my roomie is peacefully asleep, and so is most of the boy's hostel (not counting other people, like my friend 'Zehreela', who seem to be studying for tomorrow's interviews). And even as I battled (and almost lost) to the flaming internal demons of the mind, I realised something which made me pause and smile.

If I were to step back and look at my personal experiences, it seems things have a way of balancing themselves out. If one does a good turn today, he not only deserves a good turn but by a twist of destiny, is actually doled out that good fortune. Needless to say, the other side of the coin is a reality too. All in all, it seems there is simply no need for Heaven or Hell. All that is to happen is to happen here, on Earth, itself. And it will happen to YOU, while you live through your happiness and sorrow.

I think I can be adventurous enough to venture out a step further and say that I've just experienced the 'Cycle of Karma'. Good 'karma' --> Good effect, Bad 'karma' --> Bad effect.

A word of caution to those who might think there is an escape route, a loophole. Even if you were to act out your devilish deeds from behind a mask and the person who bears the brunt of your misdeeds doesn't know you or isn't even aware of your existence, his / her misfortune WILL one day come back to you.

I need not go ahead and mention examples; all of us have heard enough in stories we heard as children from our parents and in movie halls showing the latest Bollywood film (which has been directed by someone who wants to target the 'highly moralistic' average Indian). But the one example which simply refuses to go away is actually an image in my mind...that of King Dashrath screaming out on the top of his voice for his son Ram when the latter is away on 'vanvaas'. King Dashrath had, in a hunting accident, killed the only son of an elderly couple, remember?

Basically what I'm trying to say is:

Be Good / Avoid being Evil: It'll come back to you sooner than you think

'Never let them see you bleed'

In his last appearance as the legendary Q in 'The World is Not Enough', this was the first advice that Desmond Llewelyn had for James Bond.

They say it is important for one to let out their emotions, be it anger or misery, from time to time.

I think it is a weakness.

It is a weakness, at least in the minds of the people you work with. For them, you're now "just human". No harm in that, did you say? Of course not. But when you're the one who's supposed to be a leader, or plays the role of the motivator and is responsible for getting stuff done, this would be professional hara-kiri.

It is also a weakness in the sense that for that particular duration of time, you do not have control over your emotions, your reactions or the words that you're blurting out. And with that outburst of emotions also goes the future references to 'those weak moments' which might (and in all probability) will be held against you, or will be used to your disadvantage at the very least.

So what is it that I'm actually driving at?

Never display your emotions, at least not in public. Those moments are your moments which should be kept to yourself. For the world around you, let you be the "heartless block of stone who works with unflagging resolve and determination". Much better than being labelled 'a nice guy'; which, in any case, sounds like euphemism for 'oh, that poor loser'.


Monday, November 20, 2006

I will pray tonight before I sleep

It seems God has His own curious ways of telling us, from time to time, to take a step back and take a look at the BIGGER picture called life. Last November, this happened. And today...

I spoke to my good friend Bacchus today (the nick-name being given by me in recognition of the gentleman's abilities to gulp down excessive volumes of alcohol without pausing for breath...or thought) after a long time, only to be told that a good friend from school had passed away in a motorbike accident a few days ago.

I was dumbstruck at the news.

The guy who passed away was a couple of years younger than me and I could only wonder what justified his death. Had God known all along that this child had only a couple of more years to live when he last hugged his friends goodbye on the school graduation day? Somewhere in the drawer of my cupboard back home, there lies a white school shirt; the shirt is special since that was what I wore on the last 'working' day of school before our class XII board exams, and hence, we'd all scribbled stupid stuff (Boys will remain boys, and that is enough hint as to what was scribbled) on each other's shirts.

Somewhere on that shirt, in my dead friend's handwriting, are his good wishes for my future. Elsewhere, in another home in Calcutta which must be enveloped in a pallor of gloom, lies a similar shirt, where the good wishes of a number of friends are scribbled. Of course, those wishes hold no more meaning...

Somewhere in my collection of music cassettes back home, lies a 'Pink Floyd' cassette which my friend had gifted to me as an introduction to the world of rock. I could never develop an ear for rock at that point in time (I don't listen to much rock now either).

A few months ago, I told my Aunt how I was worried about the fact that I wasn't being able to pray daily. Although I would repeat the word 'Om' a number of times silently in a day and be grateful for His presence, I was worried I wasn't 'formally' praying to Him.

Tonight, amidst all this rush to prepare for final placements, I will pause. Tonight, I will listen to Pink Floyd again. Tonight, before I drift off to sleep, I will 'formally' pray again. I will pray, for the departed soul of my friend and for the family that he has left behind.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sleeping time

Of late, I've been sleeping like a log. I do not know what hits me, but I suddenly find myself feeling extremely exhausted and in dire need of taking a break. And so, I hit the bed, only to wake up after at least 8-10 hours. Considering that my usual sleep duration is between 4 to 6 hours, this is unusual.

Just the other day, I returned from the mess at around 9 in the evening and suddenly felt very very tired. I walked into Surdy's room (room no. 310), spoke to Surdy about some nonsense while lying down on his bed and in an instant, was off to dreamland. I really don't know what got over me. I was feeling so tired, I just didn't have the energy to walk up to my room (room no. 309), unlock the door and hit my bed. Just the idea of reaching into my pocket for the keys and opening the lock seemed to be very energy-consuming.

However, I did leave Surdy's room at around quarter to 10, hit my bed and was again sleeping away to glory. I did wake up at 2 in the morning to see 'Mr. President' sitting on my chair discussing a point with my roomie, 'The Whale'. Mr. President, on seeing me getting up, greeted me with a cheery, "Good morning, sleepyhead." But, I was too drugged to make sense of anything. I just looked at my watch, and God only knows for what reason shouted "F*** !!" and promptly went off to sleep again!!!! As per reports, Mr. President kept abusing me for the rest of the evening. [For the record, I woke up only the next morning at 9, making it a 12 hour sleeping stint.]

Something similar happened to me last night as well. I felt drowsy and tired the moment I started walking towards the hostel building after the dinner in the mess. Even as I looked at my feet trudging its way on the gravel path, I knew I must hit the sack soon. So, as soon as I reached my room, I collapsed on the bed and didn't even bother with removing my sandals or my denim jacket. I mumbled a quiet approval to an anecdote that The Whale read out from "The curious incident of the Dog in the night time" (a book that he has intelligently smuggled out of the reach of Mini) and was soon lost in dreamland again. I woke up today morning at 9, and so this becomes another 12 hour stint. Of course, this is nothing compared to my record-breaking 40 hour non-stop sleep marathon, but then, that was another day and age.

I have just wished Sahu Sahab of room no. 308 on his birthday today. I feel fresh, at least physically, from all the bodily rest that I've received. However, as I can recall, my sleep was punctuated by dreams of which I can remember only 2. In the first one, I dunno why but I sported a beard and was looking at myself in the mirror. The other dream was a very Kal Ho Na Ho-ish moment where I was attending a wedding/engagement. Oh yes, and now I can also recall that I saw a lake and there were 2 groups of people in their snake-boats (the kinds you find in Kerala) practicing for the race. I wonder where that came from???

I have also been reading Karma Yoga from Swami Vivekananda's Complete Works online, and found some extremely inspirational words at the end of the first chapter. I think they are a beautiful way to end this post on the thoughts that fill my mind, and here they are:

"The ideal man is he who, in the midst of greatest silence and solitude, finds the intensest activity, and in the midst of intensest activity finds the silence and solitude of the desert. He has learnt the secret of restraint, he has controlled himself. He goes through the streets of a big city with all its traffic, and his mind is as calm as if he were in a cave, where not a sound could reach him; and he is intensely working all the time. That is the ideal of Karma-Yoga, and if you have attained to that you have really learnt the secret of work."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Dr. Ashok Garde reviews his book 'Canakya's Aphorisms on Management'

Yesterday was another dream come true for me. As the founder Co-ordinator of Sumantra - The Book Club at the Institute of Management, Nirma University last year, one of my fancied objectives was to not only present reviews of a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, to a diverse audience, but also, if possible, invite a number of guest speakers.

I was extremely happy yesterday when the culmination of a month of efforts resulted in Sumantra's first ever 'Authorspeak'. Around 2 months ago, I chanced upon the book 'Canakya's Aphorisms on Management' by Mr. Ashok Garde. [The book, originally published by the Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA), is now re-titled as 'Chanakya on Management', published by Jayco Books and is available at all Crossword stores. ]

Mr. Garde is only the third person to be awarded the Honorary Life Membership of the AMA, his only predecessors being the great Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and Prof. BS Shenoy. He is also a former Director of the Ahmedabad Textiles Industry's Research Association and a resident of Ahmedabad. I pounced on the opportunity and invited him to the Institute.

A septuagenarian, Mr. Garde presented a review of the book with much vigor and passion. He told us how the 'sutras' of Chanakya were essentially a training manual for Chandragupta and his fellow students. He gave us a few examples of Chanakya's teachings and how they could be considered relevant to modern businesses. Mr. Garde introduced us to Chanakya's 'definition' of Management and also scoffed at the idea of comparing Chanakya to Machiavelli. His main point of reference was that Chanakya spoke about ethics when he spoke of 'dharma'; Machiavelli never did so. Moreover, Chanakya was a nation-builder, and had disciples of the likes of Chandragupta who established a dynasty which ruled for almost 135 years; Machiavelli cannot make any similar claims.

All in all, it was an intriguing and spell-binding session. A number of myths regarding Chanakya were smashed to bits and a new figure of Chanakya now loomed large - not only that of a shrewd counsellor and king-maker, but also a nation builder who advised the king on how to manage his resources (defence, economic and administrative) for the well being of the masses.

Dr. Garde explaining a few 'sutras'
(You can actually read a few of them on the blackboard)

An audience, comprising of faculty and students,
was held spellbound

The Q&A Session

The Vote of Thanks

Friday, November 03, 2006


Examinations are how life tests you and your capabilities from time to time.

I'm lucky just to be attending to those exams which are sponsored by the institute. ;)

See ya later folks. Cheers, and keep smiling.