Doing Meaningful Work

IMG_20170416_173001_132

Do you get to eat 3 meals a day?         -No

 

What is the average annual income of your family?         – 19000

 

How many members in your family?             – 8

 

What is the primary source of income in your family?         -Farming

 

Why do you want to undergo this training?         – I am 12th pass, unemployed and family is under abject poverty

 

How many times in your life have you stepped out of your village?        – On an average 2-3 times

 

 

This is the general profile of our guys. Today after 3 months of intense training, a lot of effort on our part, 60 guys are all set to begin a better life , all set to earn 20k per month and probably bring some change in their homes. Working with them is a humbling as well as joyful experience at the same time. Who said they are poor, I think the love they have for their family and the hard working attitude just sets them apart. Small perks of doing meaningful work. This picture was clicked during their flag off event.

A few years back when I did my post grad from a prestigious college in India, sky was the limit. I had small stints with a few corporates but felt something was missing in my life. I had had a taste of social sector when I worked with World Bank for about a year before pursuing my MBA. I now have been working in my current organisation for over 18 months and each day has been exciting with a new challenge. What has kept me going is the fact that if you change one life, skill one member of the family the socio economic status of the whole family changes. I hope few young people could take this path; change in our country will not come from swanky offices but from working on the ground.

Thoughts on my Birthday

Yesterday I completed another trip around the sun. I celebrated it with a small 100km round trip on the bike. For the past few years this has been the ritual. Being on the bike clears my mind a lot, especially it helps me channelize my thoughts. For me birthdays are a mix of both fun and reflections. It is a day which offers you the prospect of a fresh start to achieve your goals in life and also to assess your on-going life and make necessary changes for the better. So here are some musings:

IMG_20170409_123620_422

  • On love and relationships: The best relationship is when you can lay next to each other and just talk about anything and everything. I am so lucky to have found the love of my life and luckier enough to have married her. These are the good days, every part of it; I wish it remains like this forever.

  • On Health and Fitness: I ran a marathon in January and decided I will run the next one when I am more fit and lean. So started the phase of healthy food and regular exercise. I have already begun the journey and I am enjoying it so far.

  • Meaningful Work: Few years back I quit a well-paid job in search of something more realistic. I wanted to make an impact, become a change master. I started working for a great cause. Imagine a family of 6-7 with an average annual income of 20k vs the prospect of earning 12k per month. I work for an organization which addresses this cause and our target segment is the poorest of the poor of the country. I wish to associate myself in meaningful work in future rather than making rich corporates richer.

  • On meaning of life: It’s a question that mankind has long struggled to answer. We’ve built philosophies and religions around it, gone to war over it, and debated it for centuries. I feel that we need to find a meaning in what we do and it more or less drives you through. As far as the meaning of life goes, it is quiet dynamic. For me I think the current purpose of life is to inspire people.

  • Skills and good practices: I want to focus on a few limited things for this year, primarily do 3 things: 1) A certification in photography 2) few certifications in Microsoft Excel 3) Driving. Apart from this I would like to continue on my journey with meditation, I did around 40 hours of meditation last year.

IMG_20170409_221420_317

  • Travel:  Last but not the least; travel has changed me as a person. I have travelled and would like to continue to travel. After all have stories to tell not stuff to show.

You can read on a similar post written last to last year here.

 

Seeking Happiness

10

“Happiness is the state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.”– Taken from Atlas shrugged.

If there were a rule book for happiness we would all be happy but happiness is about an experience which varies from person to person.Your idea of happiness can be different from mine but essentially the essence is the same.I am listing down some points which is neither exhaustive nor would be appeal to all.

1) Good health[I love the writings of Khushwant Singh and in his autobiography dedicated a chapter to happiness and the very first point the 95 year old mentioned was health.I sometimes wonder how we blatantly overlook the the basic values  taught when we were young.The old adage,”Health is wealth” is probably the most important words to look forward to.For me Fauja Sing[Completed a marathon at the age of 100]h is happiness personified.

2)Enjoying everything without being attached to it and seeing it as a manifestation of the supreme power.[I feel this is a very positive attitude for happiness seekers and whenever I feel that I am getting attached to something I do a check and remind myself of the importance of detachment.]

3)Complete independence or lesser dependence on others.[Don’t depend on your happiness on others even if that other one is your loved one.]

4)Financial stability.

5)Putting a cap to your desires.Actually there are three types of desires:

  • Natural and necessary desires[food,shelter..]
  • Unnatural and unnecessary desires[Excessive wealth,power ..]
  • Natural but non-necessary desires[Exotic food]

[Of the three the second one is inculcated by false beliefs that having everything will guarantee happiness.The third one should be avoided because it increases our dependency on good food.]

6)Reducing the clutter in life.[It is very important to see the usefulness and purpose of things and once we start identifying this we will definitely reduce the clutter in our lives.]

7)Understanding and valuing the purpose and goal of life and also saying a,”no” whenever required.

8) Speaking the truth and living in the present.[Living in the present is a very effective method of being happy and equally a difficult one too.Whenever your mind takes a tour bring it back to the present and practicing this would certainly help you value your present.]

9)Selflessness

10)Getting the right emotional balance.[We live in an emotional world where everyone right from the marketing guy to a beggar on the street plays with your emotions.Love is one of those emotions which is highly hyped.It always helps to remember the fact that in the end self comes before anyone and so the concept of love is an entire myth.

11)Remembering the fact that your sojourn here is for a limited period.

“No matter what gets in the way or which way the wind does blow… I’ll just sit here and watch the river flow.”-Bob Dylan

The other side of the Coin

4

Life is so about perspective and views, to get a wholesome view, one must explore all the angles. Same with my trip at Varanasi took some good effort to be on the other side of the Ganges, but ola, what a view. Same goes with our life, our decisions and most important our opinions. In the world of Social Media it is extremely easy to express your opinion and equally easy to stand by your opinion with utter disregard to the contradictory theory.

I have always believed that there can be no absolute in opinions, perceptions, views, outlook and angle. Same goes with the important things in life: job, marriage, kids, education, lifestyle, entertainment, food, clothing, etc., there is no one absolute way of living our lives and that is what makes it fun to live, to live it you  own way. Next time you find yourself amidst conflicting views and contrasting angle, take it with a pinch of salt.

PS: The photo was clicked on the other side of Ganges at Varanasi

Notes to self- Happy New Year 2017

We as humans are so flawed, we easily judge others, analyze others and form an opinion.But of what use? Over the years, I have started maintaining a personal journal to keep a tap on myself, my actions, my strengths and weakness to become a better person in the long run. One such initiative is a page dedicated to,”notes to self”, these are a few pointers which  i noted down over the year which probably I felt I should note or ponder upon. Listed below are the points in no particular order as such. Between I wish all my readers a very happy new year and hope that in the coming year, you meditate more on yourself.

img_5182

* Love is an amazing feeling
* Ran my first full marathon, ran the second one again the same year , would love to do more of it and more often
* Some life lessons as kids were the most important in life – Discipline, Responsibility, Punctuality and Integrity.
* Do one international trip each year, it is amazing to experience a new country
*Purpose in life is an evolving process- this year it was to inspire and bring change in people’s life.
* I woke up one day at 3 am , drove for 6 hours , sat at a client’s place and fought with him for 2 hours to increase the daily wage of a laborer amounting to an increase of 600 bucks in the month- when I returned back at home at 10 pm , I was a happy person, the realization that there is great satisfaction in doing something for someone.
* Regularly meditated this year, finally it became a daily ritual- goal achieved, a good habit imbibed.
* Made a realistic list of goals for 2016, achieved or strived to achieve most of those- planning and right execution can work wonders
* Travel
* Never let anyone impose his/her thoughts on you.
* Start writing on the blog again- last 5 months have been so active
* avoid being impulsive

Excerpts from a random life of a guy…

“The full moon is silhouetted against the sea, smothering the waves with silver reflections. Sitting on a dune, we watch the continuous ebb and flow, each with our distant thoughts. ” Taken from Motor Cycle diaries.

I write this post listening to the songs of ,”Udaan”. Actually this is my life,  equally predictable and unpredictable at the same time. It is predictable like the big rock on the mountain , at the same place at the same time and unpredictable like the flowing river , taking any course and just flowing .A few days back i landed up in a unreserved coach for a 3 hour train  journey. I made friends with a guy sitting by the window and he generously shared the seat with me. Amidst the multitude of crowd in the compartment i managed to find peace as the train sped towards its destination letting in some fresh air. I completed the last 40 pages of the motor cycle diaries somewhat squinting at times just to find enough light to read. I was reading this for the second time and probably in a most appropriate circumstances totally empathizing with what was going on in their lives.

Few excerpts from a personal diary written last week at a quiet sojourn with nature at Kumbalgarh fort , Udaipur, “At this moment of my life , I am happy and contented. Happiness is something that cannot be attributed to a particular event for i feel that happiness always  comes with a summation function. I have been sitting here for almost two hours , oblivious to the outer world with the winds rustling , birds chirping and a picture perfect view of the Arravali’s” . My tryst with destiny is still on and once again i came out alive from a lake believed to have crocodiles.It seems foolish but this is pretty much symbolic of the impermanence of our lives which we take it for granted. God has brought me out of many precarious situations in the past and i hope he keeps doing so in the future.

shoes

You must see your life as a series of fortunate accidents and never ever try to predict it. What are the odds of meeting the same person , in the same compartment for three consecutive years. During my second year B-tech days I met Mr X traveling alone ,then the next year i met Mr X and his wife and in my final year i met them and the kid. I was having a conversation with a female junior yesterday post my football game and she was saying,” You never know you may find someone in a trek “. How true was that statement is something i would not write about here but i will definitely say that i have randomly bumped into someone who has made me feel that this world is a good place and if you have faith you will find yourself or the reflection of yourself  in the most precarious and unpredictable of the places. Probably it once again accentuates the belief which i have tested over time that,”When you really want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you achieve it.

Let your life flow , let there be no constraints , let that cool breeze blow on your face and purify you to the core , have random cups of tea with friends, pick up your bag and just travel ,start running today , treat someone just for the heck of it, pay a visit to a friend in the most unexpected fashion , sing aloud , whistle if you want , let that laughter come out gently, dance in the rain , take a stroll in the night , experience a sunrise and look up at the stars. Last but not the least start falling in love with someone , something and you never know you find your self there.

Below is a picture of a good cup of tea at a dhaba yesterday amidst rain .

tea

As the years rolled by

“To sit back, relax and gaze at the million stars that lit up the night sky fills one’s heart with a sense of profound peace. This star, many million years old now will exist for many millions of years after I am gone. All academic deadlines, marathons, room full of books, achievements, friendships, failures, and little heartbreaks of life look exceedingly minuscule, a tiny insignificant spec in the universe…This starlit sky reminds me from time to time that…Life is Beautiful.”

As I write this post I contemplate on the fact that the next few months will be mostly the last of my academic life. From where i look i see a transition and probably the best way to gauze it is the journey I have had with this blog. Of what started as a experimental affair with writing has slowly turned into a hobby. The best part is that eventually i have started writing for my self and it really makes me satisfied and once a while someone drops by to acknowledge the work too. My academic life specially the graduation and the post graduation part has  been very very hectic and enjoyable at the same time. To summarize the happy memories come from the times spent on the football field, the lighter moments with great friends, in the company of a good book, traveling around India and of course the tryst with running. When i look back now I did most of the things that is expected out of college and probably at few frontiers i did somethings which has made me lovingly unique. So i was thinking today on the fact that few more months ,these months like days ,like seconds , like every passing moment are never going to come back and what is that one thing still left to do. I have led my college life both in limelights as few people may say, among friends, in teams but at the end of the day it has also been coming back alone, in solitude and all for oneself. I have never been a confider and some how that has made me stronger because I have dealt with all the things alone, have taken my decisions alone and even though i had friends at the end of the day i was all alone. Class- football field – running – mess – work has been the usual routine and have never had the chance of the company of the fairer sex. I think probably this should be done in the next few months , to have a good friend who is a girl and then my education will be complete.

“The most amazing people in your life will find you, the moment you’ll start doing what you always wanted to.” This is one line which i have learnt in the past few years and have tried and tested it. Like this post, these lines have been just put randomly here with no definite idea of the why.

I must probably talk of something inspiring here. The girls from my NGO went on to win the football tournament in Spain.At some part of my life i was a part of the change. DSC_1793-1024x678

Another inspiration is recovering from the ligament tear.I started running within a week of the tear for staying in room was not my cup of cake. The situation was horrible and the pain was immense and sometimes inscrutable but it did not stop me. It has been 8 months now i am back to football, though it will be another two months to attain my full strength but i did it as i had to do it. Last two months have been horribly busy both academically and leading the sports club at college. I have faired well. As an initiative have started a running club which i guess is doing well too. Will be going back to teaching rural kids soon as i have managed to strike a deal with a Teach for India school. I ran and completed another half marathon last sunday adding to the huge tally. Reading has taken a dent but i am still aware of it and making time for it.

This post has been haphazard and  purposeless probably but still wrote it because i wanted to do so.A pic from the Sunday’s run.

2

English

“It should not be denied… that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led West.” taken from into the wild

Thanks you life for sometimes you bump me across interesting people. Had a conversation with a friend or let me say a confession as this is an era of those to name IIT confessions se lekar all college confessions. There was a time in my life when i had come back from a village and found myself totally lost in the city. It was one of those evenings when i found my brother kneeling before one of my neighbors and  he making fun of him just because we were from village and did not know the english or anything else like them. This was probably the most important day of my life because on that i had decided that i will show them in my own way. From that day to the journey of this day has been wonderful.They talk of year on year growth at b schools , we must see the growth of some of the guys i have met and they will realize everything is vanity.

I don’t now how the talk today came on our CAT exams when a friend told me his story. You must listen to him once for i will never be able to bring out the essence. It goes like this that this friend of mine was very very weak in english , to an extent that he could hardly speak anything till standard six. So he landed up in a small fight at school and landed up in the principals office. He could not comprehend what the master had to say and just kept on shaking his head in the affirmative.Later when his father told him that why he did not wanted to study in the school he just laughed off saying that he could not understand what his principal had to say. We also laughed off but there was something that small thing which made me realize that really life is wonderful. To the kid carrying his dad’s credit card and ordering a subway enumerating all the minute specifications he wants , my friend , me and many others may appear as foolish but somewhere the fun of life is all about all those small things in life.

I am a very professional guy and quite formal too. Even if the company has offered me a huge sum of money to spend daily on accommodation and travel I know i will be modest and return the rest like a good boy because  i have always been like that. The whole post reminds me and so does the evening of the day i wrote my cat in the evening slot. I brought in professionalism because i was playing football for a club and being payed. On the day of exam i was supposed to play in the morning and i could have excused my self but i knew the team needed me. I had to tell a lie , i told mom that i had exam in the morning slot and later called up that i had messed up and i had my exam in the evening slot and that there was no point in returning back. I played the game , went and rested for sometime in a restaurant and wrote my exam. I know you may laugh at me , call it ridiculous just like the hundreds who think that Chris from Into the wild was a recluse and made a wrong choice. Let me be honest , in life if you don’t do these things then there would be no meaning to life.

Find below a pic from rishikesh , a place where i am happy really happy.

2

To all the friends there you all are wonderful.

In search of light – Vrindavan and Agra

Strangers passing in the street 

By chance two separate glances meet

And I am you and what I see is me  

There is an urge sometimes to just pick up the bag and set out and this is what i did a few days back all alone on the road. There is something about travelling alone , it at least ignites the thought process . Last week I was in a flight back to Delhi from home and there were times of turbulence every time the pilot mentioning about the bad weather outside. Having been on a flight quite a few many times I knew it was something normal but a conversation a week back came to mind. So next time when you are flying , I know there is always a apprehension but just think of what if this was the day , are you happy ?, have you done the things you wanted to do ? , just reflect upon your life and think that have you taken more than what you have given back ? , think of family , friends, a relationship that went wrong or something that was good, one trip that you always wanted to do , the sacrifices you have made , were they worth it or was the other option better. These are some basic questions we must keep asking yourself daily. 

So i spoke about this flight because when you are in a flight or in an AC compartment of train you tend to forget of a world that exists outside. The 400 kms covered were done on a state tourism 3/2 bus with common men who unlike the so called elite class talk and enjoy the little pleasures of life. From time to time it is very important to me to come back to the core, to experience a life very different from what I normally live , to remind me of the commonness that I a part of . While returning back from Agra it struck me that all the foreigners were travelling in AC buses while there was no such facility of enough frequency for us and it made me wonder the policies of government who in spite of generating so much of revenues cannot provide comfortable buses for everyone, a sorry state of affairs that we are to an extent responsible.

There is something about those faces which tells you a story. I sat for a cup of tea besides a sadhu and I knew he wanted a cup of tea too so I ordered 2 . The shopkeeper was asking for 16 bucks but he insisted on paying 10 which he always did. I always go to Vrindavan for peace , to see people like these who survive on bare minimum , for whom every meal is joy and who are free to an extent. It is here that you pass multitudes of faces, the millions of devotees at temple . Happy content faces, searching faces , desperate faces and peaceful faces all come together to bow before the almighty. India is a country of crowds which was apparent from the thousands of people on my frame while clicking pics at Taj Mahal and so is the varied thoughts and life they live. It is in journey’s like this that you understand them , you feel them and still feel that the enormity is beyond your comprehension. Incidentally it was a Dusshera day and there were coloured faces in Agra , people going for the visarjan of Durga idols. Faces colored to hide something , trying to find joy , trying to live something of their mundane lives , to celebrate something out of nothing. While going my bus met with an accident and there were people sitting on the first seat who got hurt. While boarding the bus I asked whether i could sit there but was sent back, destiny is a funny thing. But at the end of the day there were mixed feelings of a calm of coming back to life and of despair on seeing the condition our fellow Indians live in and above all a feeling of hope on seeing all the coloured faces still trying to be happy. Ideally travelling with someone else would have meant asking the question of how we would return back to our destinations from the bus stand at 11 : 00 p.m in the night but I did not care as i knew something would turn up. Things happen i big cities like Delhi and 14 people do fit in an auto in India and there are people travelling on the last metro all you have to do is to be on the right place at the right time.

   I am not the cause,
nor the effect,
I am not the doer,
nor the deed.
I am not this body, this mind,

nor the thoughts.
I am Joy,
I exist everywhere,
I am space,
I am Bliss,
I am what I am, eternally.
I am Sada Shiva, Sada Shiva.

The Gurgaon Half marathon and life in general

1

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream!

For the soul is dead that slumbers,

And things are not what they seem.

2

Life is real―Life is earnest―

And the grave is not its goal:

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.

3

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is out destin’d end or way;

But to act, that each to-morrow

Find us farther than to-day.

You know what is the most easiest thing to do in life ? To give up. For me life has taken a complete U turn. Over the last 45 days i have written 28 exams , 14 PPTs , assignments, the number I can”t recall and a plethora of classes.A B school never sleeps and time runs fast here. To top all this,there is someone toiling harder and the pressure soon becomes a pressure cooker. There is no life here or rather one forgets about the possibility of life.

So last Sunday I ran , I ran for my life , for all those  people who had forgotten that it existed. With almost no practice , humid and difficult conditions , these were the toughest 21 kms till date but at the same time equally exhilarating.It marked the slow coming back to life.Post marathon there are at least 15 people who have started running and the upcoming Delhi marathon will have a good participation. It feels good to bring back life here, in mine and many others.

To the readers, i have been not writing much and this is again a small and uninteresting post.But every post has a significance , a personal one here, to remind myself of the things I love and in future if  I feel like accepting a defeating probably this post will give some motivation.Happy running to all of you.