Saturday, 21 April 2012

Being Happy

More often than not you see and meet people not happy with their lives. I am not saying that nobody has problems in their lives.. There are people who are genuinely suffering because of  some reasons. But the number of such people is pretty low compared to those who are suffering with self inflicted sadistic approaches. This post is about the second type of people who unfortunately are found in every nook and corner of our lives.

You will see people groaning and whining about their lives which apparently to an outsider is nothing less than great. People keep complaining about how deep they are into the seas of boredom and misery while others think their life is awesome. Here I am talking about people who are earning more than enough money and living a life that is nothing less than enviable. The problem with most of us today is how much we are bothered by others' lives. We are more concerned about others' success than our own. People keep burning their hearts out by seeing the successes others are enjoying (rather earning) with their hard work. Conversely and even more shockingly, people enjoy when others fail. In some old Bollywood flick( pardon my bad GK in the field) there was a simple tip for such people - "If you want your line to be longer, make it longer rather than trying to erase the other line." Unfortunately, I see more people following the other option. Instead of controlling their own lives, they want to be controlled( unadmittedly) by others. How can you be happy and contented with such a life which is so much dependent on others?

Another amazing story that I hear very often is "I am not being able to do what I want". Just ask why and you  will invariably get the answer "I don't have time". I just can't make peace with that statement. Everybody gets 24 hours in a day. If you can't figure out how to get few hours out of them for what you love then you simply don't love it enough. The problem with almost all of us( including me) is we plan for everything and do nothing. We make huge plans but fall way short in terms of commitment when it comes to execution of those plans. And then we start making new plans.

All in all, most of the people say they are not happy. They simply fail to recognize there are simply too many opportunities around us to make us feel good about ourselves. The best solution that I see is amazingly simple-"help others". How? When? Living in a country like India, you will never find yourself short of such opportunities. Just get out of your air conditioned flats and you will see kids walking barefoot on concrete under the scorching sun. Is getting them a pair of slippers something we can't afford? But we simply prefer to look otherwise. We never think twice before spending a few thousands with our friends but we never even think of getting the poor something to eat. We simply live for ourselves. But then you may ask, "there are just too many people who need our help. Should we help all/ how can we help them all?" I Agree. Who says you need to be millionaire to do philanthropy. But at least try to help a few. For us it wont matter to keep aside few hundred bucks per month but it might improve some lives. A great opportunity is to adopt a child. It will cost you hardly what you might be planning to spend on the next Valentine's day but it will surely change a life. Another thing you can do is help elders whenever you think they need it. You will find them everywhere- in a supermarket, at an airport etc. In a nutshell, simply help the people you don't know because nothing is as satisfying as a selfless service, knowing that you are not getting anything back.

Again a question-what in the name of Jesus it has to do with me being happy? I prefer you find out the answer to this question yourself. As they say, nothing is as convincing as seeing it yourself.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Multitasking? Think again !!!

We live in an age obsessed with multitasking and technology. Who would have thought few years ago that a simple phone-presumably invented to talk-would be packed with a quad-core processor one day. Leaving technology apart, in our real life also we more or less tend to do just too many things at a time. More often than  not we are proud to call ourselves multitasking. Though we think that this enhances our performance and allows us to do more stuff but does it really help? In the end it all boils down to one simple question that we need to ask ourselves- Is it worth?
I have a note written on my desk in office that says "No Multitasking". People keep asking me the reason for the note. I found a very well written and straight forward article that answers this question beautifully. I am just sharing it here hoping that it might convince some of the readers to reconsider their 'modus operandi'.

"Why is it that between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work?
It's not just the number of hours we're working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.
What we've lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries. Technology has blurred them beyond recognition. Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive. It's like an itch we can't resist scratching, even though scratching invariably makes it worse.
Tell the truth: Do you answer email during conference calls (and sometimes even during calls with one other person)? Do you bring your laptop to meetings and then pretend you're taking notes while you surf the net? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you make calls while you're driving, and even send the occasional text, even though you know you shouldn't?
The biggest cost — assuming you don't crash — is to your productivity. In part, that's a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you're partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it's because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you're increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.
But most insidiously, it's because if you're always doing something, you're relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of energy over the course of every day, so you have less available with every passing hour.
I know this from my own experience. I get two to three times as much writing accomplished when I focus without interruption for a designated period of time and then take a real break, away from my desk. The best way for an organization to fuel higher productivity and more innovative thinking is to strongly encourage finite periods of absorbed focus, as well as shorter periods of real renewal.
If you're a manager, here are three policies worth promoting:
1. Maintain meeting discipline. Schedule meetings for 45 minutes, rather than an hour or longer, so participants can stay focused, take time afterward to reflect on what's been discussed, and recover before the next obligation. Start all meetings at a precise time, end at a precise time, and insist that all digital devices be turned off throughout the meeting.
2. Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day. It forces your people into reactive mode, fractures their attention, and makes it difficult for them to sustain attention on their priorities. Let them turn off their email at certain times. If it's urgent, you can call them — but that won't happen very often.
3. Encourage renewal. Create at least one time during the day when you encourage your people to stop working and take a break. Offer a midafternoon class in yoga, or meditation, organize a group walk or workout, or consider creating a renewal room where people can relax, or take a nap.

It's also up to individuals to set their own boundaries. Consider these three behaviors for yourself:
1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time. If possible, work in a private space during this period, or with sound-reducing earphones. Finally, resist every impulse to distraction, knowing that you have a designated stopping point. The more absorbed you can get, the more productive you'll be. When you're done, take at least a few minutes to renew.
2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. If you don't, you'll constantly succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. Also, find a different environment in which to do this activity — preferably one that's relaxed and conducive to open-ended thinking.
3. Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you're off, you're truly disconnecting from work. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend. The research strongly suggests that you'll be far healthier if you take all of your vacation time, and more productive overall.
A single principle lies at the heart of all these suggestions. When you're engaged at work, fully engage, for defined periods of time. When you're renewing, truly renew. Make waves. Stop living your life in the gray zone."

Monday, 13 February 2012

Status Quo

While my last post was inspired by a coffee place conversation, this time I got something to write about while having lunch with few of my colleagues. I will refrain from decorating the article with superfluous adjectives and breathtaking metaphors as the topic is grave and it will only be served by bluntness.

The discussion was about whether a common man should pay his taxes when he knows that the money will be laundered to some tax haven by the corrupt politicians. We were five guys and four said one should not (of course I was the fifth one). Though I do not disagree completely with their arguments, nor do I blame them but its more than just paying taxes. If you can't carry out your responsibilities for the society you have no right to blame the government for anything.

According to me the biggest problem in the contemporary Indian society is not corruption, its the mentality of the people. My dad, being an expert in legal jargon, calls it the Status Quo. Everybody wants changes in the way India is moving forward but nobody wants to change himself. They say "what's the point? Everybody else is corrupt, then why should I bother?" , "...even If I change, it will not change the society. So why should I?". For me its hypocrisy. You can't expect others to change without changing yourself. But everyone thinks "let others change first". Its like a vicious cycle where everybody is waiting for others to do something and in turn are destroying the country one by one.

Even before somebody brings out a good thought to change the way we live you can find guys saying "nothing will change". The pessimism is way too much for the positive energy that most people can arrange for. For instance, let's talk about Anna Hazare. I am sure more people will still call him a failure than success. Because that's how an Indian  thinks nowadays. Nobody will even think of what he has achieved already before labelling him with a 'stupid' tag. FYI, how many of you could have even imagined a citizen's charter being implemented in Delhi in the pre-Anna era? How many of you can even think of getting your driving license without paying bribe before this Anna 'drama'? Nobody. But still people will not change. They love living in their utopian world where they always have money to pay bribes but not to pay taxes.

I take it in a different way. For me people don't want to change because they are corrupt themselves. They say that the taxes will be gobbled up by the politicians because they don't want to pay it in the first place. However foul they may cry against corruption but deep down somewhere they are getting benefitted from the same crooked practices. They want to live in this gutter of status quo because they have not only stopped hating its smell but have also started loving it a bit. I have a very strange observation and I don't say that it can't be wrong but people from corrupt families rarely turn out to be honest. I have not seen a corrupt businessman who teaches his children to fight against corrupt bureaucrats. Neither have I seen their kids doing that ever. On the other hand, those coming out of poor families or honest citizens are the ones who generally fight for change in the society. Because they have tasted the humiliation that corruption brings to a common honest man. And they don't want others to feel the same.

Sometimes I am so annoyed by this pessimism that I feel like punching some of those guys who don't want things to change or rather who want things to change but don't want to change themselves. But my punches can't change India. I hope the common man of India wakes up and break the shackles of slumber and inactivity. Instead of blaming everyone, I hope he starts taking some responsibility on his shoulders. Amen !!!

Monday, 6 February 2012

The Gadget Girl

Ok, we are told to accept the fact that nothing can puzzle a brain(or any brain) more than this mysterious entity more famously known as woman. And as I almost qualify to fall into the category of "somewhat" normal people I accept that this species amazes me too (and yes this is one of the qualifying criteria to be called normal). But my amazement is a little wayward than most other people wonder about gals(remember the "somewhat" clause).

So enough with the rambling, let's bring the curtains down. Simply said, I wonder why in the hell gals don't like gadgets? Though I have seen and talked to a number of gals, I am yet to meet a gal who can be called a "geek"  and who can keep talking when guys switch the coffee conversation from office politics to patent infringement cases (some of my friends call it a blessing in disguise for boys that should be used tactically and sporadically to make the chatterboxes(read girlfriends) mum). This post is all about capturing my quest to find 'that' girl whom I call the Gadget Girl.

Yeah, the title sounds like a reality show but I neither have the sponsors nor this much time to organize such event (of course I didn't consider the (im)possibility of gals participating in that show but who cares). So I decided to use my daily encounters with gals as my way of 'doing it'. I started out talking about gadgets and/or technology with friends in the presence of gals. But the whole exercise remained a notch below useless as with every statement spewed out of a gadget freak mouth, I found one beautiful lady missing from the discussion. And as it always happens with guys we were then divided into groups supporting competing gadgets/technologies after which I was so engrossed in the discussion that I forgot my "objective".

So I decided to take the challenge head-on. I asked few girls at my workplace about what OS is in their phone( sorry guys I could not think of anything dumber than this). It was difficult for me to believe the freaking awesome phones I saw in their hands and the answers I got to this seemingly kiddish question. A beautiful lady with a even more beautiful Experia said that she got the phone because his boyfriend suggested it. When I asked another gal having a Nexus about her IceCream Sandwich update she thought I was taking her to Barista across the road and gave me a look that is difficult to explain (but any guy who is/was ever rejected by a gal for a date would know and empathize with me).

As I was getting bogged down by a feeling of failure and was on the verge of declaring gals dumb I saw THE messiah. I finally met a girl who was talking about Android (yeah I was awed too). When done with overhearing I hacked into the discussion and asked the girl,
Q. Why Android?
A. Because Android is awesome.
Fair point. +1
Q. But so is iPhone/Mango/BB ?
A. But Android is so fast.
Q. Really?
A. Of course. Don't you know that Android phones have dual-cores?
Q.So what?
A.That means they are fast.
Though I was about to laugh at her face but maintaining some decency I rather switched my question,
Q. So what? iOS and Mango are also 'fast'. Why android?
A. Because Android phones have great battery life.
What ??? Come again??? It took me a while to recollect myself and before that the talented gal had moved on to how beautiful are the Androids and how dull are all the other phones in this small world. The quack went on for a while before she struck the last nail in the coffin of the Gadget Girl. And I quote, "...Apple can never compete with Android because Android is now such a large company that it has acquired all the mobile companies like Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola etc. ..."
I was forced to interrupt her enlightening talks with my last question,
Q. Do you know what OS android phones run on?
A. Of course I do. Linux, what else. And that's why there are no viruses in Android phones,.

I cursed myself for even imagining the existence of the Gadget Girl and promised myself that I will never ever indulge in such stupid and useless expeditions where the result is known even before the start. Needless to say, Project Gadget Girl stands scrapped !!!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Secularism: Really???

I was reading 'Absolute Khushwant' over the week. Though the first impression of the book was not that good but not judging it by cover I started it partly due to a strange curiosity. The curiosity to know how a 96 year old feels after seeing so much. The curiosity to judge the world through his eyes hoping his interpretation of the world will be more clear and unbiased just because of the number of years he has lived (and partly because of so little time he has left with).
If I have to be honest, I must say that I was amazed by the simplicity and frankness with which he talks about issues considered taboos in our society. He talks at length about sex, extramarital affairs et al. with distinctive ease and brazen bluntness. He talks about being such an old man and enjoying the various privileges that come with it.
So the book is a good read, what's the big deal about? Just as I was thinking of adding him to the microscopically small list of Indian authors whom I admire, he starts talking about politics and to top it all religious fanaticism in Indian politics. And he ruins it all !!!

For a person who has lived so long and more importantly who has seen this country for so long, his vindication of few political parties and conviction of few others seems juvenile, if not stupid. This blog is not a political one but still I can't control the urge to name the parties here. The man has seen the 1984 riots, he has seen the role of then PM in Babri Mosque demolition but still he calls Congress a secular party. How dumb is that?
He speaks of BJP very lowly and call them fundoo (fundamentalists) and in the same breath calls Congress a secular party. Though I agree with him that BJP is not secular, but calling Congress one is just like boasting about your son's honesty when everyone else knows him as a thief. How can a person call a pro-hindu party as fundoo and a pro-muslim party as secular. To me it smells like double standards. FYI, the secular party just announced that they will arrange for yet another quota for Muslims if voted to power in upcoming UP elecctions. He even makes a mockery of himself by justifying his claim by saying that at least Manmohan Singh apologised in the parliament for 1984 but Modi never did for Gujarat. How ridiculous is that? He sees India in safe hands of MMS, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Seriously, Rahul?? You got to be kidding me now !!!

Leaving politics apart, I wonder why Indian journalism/literature is so biased ? Why people fake their feelings even when writing for the common people who know the truth? Why can't they appreciate the good and torment the bad? After seeing the long association of Khushwant Singh with the Congress as well as the Gandhi family I wonder if the man who talks about frankness while talking about his personal life has missed a trick or two when he starts talking about the big and mighty ones of Indian politics.

So my curiosity was thwarted prematurely and I never finished the book...

Hey folks, so here I am with my own blog. Call it whatever you like- caving in to peer pressure or just another tantrum to push your thoughts onto others- but I am here and here for good.
But the question still remains- what prodded me (if not forced) into having a blog? I am not very sure myself but I guess (and I hope) it will allow me to capture the flickerings of my mind. It will allow me to share my thoughts without any word limit - as Facebook does (Oh I hate it so much !!!).