“Be a Man!”

What is simple logic,
Common sense for you and me,
What is it to be rational
Has been for me a real mystery.

When I say I’m right,
They say I’m wrong,
And when I think I’m wrong,
Praise from people comes along.

I’ll do what I want, thus be what I can
All the world tells me to be, is to “Be a Man!”

My pursuit of Happiness

The other day (long back actually) I read about this research study being conducted to find an equation for happiness, in like real mathematical terms! I don’t know how far they have got with that…and in the mean time I decided to make one for myself!  

And this formula I came up with was not because of any long hours of research work, but due to the fact that I did not get any sleep all night (thanks to a power nap in the evening and a huge hot fudge ice cream at 11.30 p.m)

  I was up watching the Bowling Green Sunrise from my window and just like that I thought of that formula again…*it keeps popping up in my head at odd hours now! They better come up with something soon!

And here’s what I thought of….

Happiness = Reality + Hope

Happiness I believe would never be achieved if I don’t learn to live in the real world. I have to know what is me; what is not…but then there are times when reality is too bleak to associate it with happiness. That’s when Hope comes into the picture.

When ‘reality’ and what you would ‘hope’ for, are the same, I believe you have maximum happiness, but then when ‘reality’ is not enough, add the hope factor to it, to increase the happiness quotient.

But hope can only be added with limitations, you cannot hope for foolish dreams to come true without working towards it, for then it will be very momentary and when the bubble breaks, happiness will drop so low, even a good reality won’t be able to help.

Socrates, Hippocrates and Cheddar Cheese :P  may argue that happiness would mean getting rid of all worldly desires and expectations (thus eliminating hope and accepting reality as it is), but they are the ones who may have attained perfection in life unlike most of us.

In my world and to go where I want to go, hope is surely an ingredient very important along with accepting reality to be Happy.

*Inspired by two of the most amazing ideas presented in the movies-

Pursuit of Happyness & Shawshank Redemption- “for hope my friend is a wonderful thing”

Since I’ve Been Gone…

I have been going places.

I have travelled more miles in the past 15 days than I have in all my life put together. From UP to Mumbai, and then the United States of America via Kuwait and Germany. But the one landing at Washington DC was not enough, I guess, I travelled the next day to Bowling Green Ohio…

I am a college student once more! The fourth year of undergrad degree, is what I am studying now, at Bowling Green State University.

Teacher to student transition, the new life and for real being ‘away’ from home. A new chapter.

And hence, Welcome!

My ZAF Story.

So long I have been writing about the different events and my observations while I ran ZAF’s Model English School in a village in India.

This post is my story, feelings and comments for ZAF. I came to the village exactly one year and ten days ago to teach… Went on to become the Principal and I am glad I can say, started the process for a few children to hope and live their lives differently…better.

I sit in the principal’s office for the last time as I write this. I handed over my duties yesterday, and the sweets I will distribute before I travel back home lie on the table in front of me.

I wish now more than ever to be able to be in two places at the same time…I want to travel further for I have much to learn, and yet want to see the sapling I planted here grow and bloom.  And for this I promise I will come back here again and again.

Looking back I understand what ‘Greatness being thrust’ on me was. This challenge and the work I took up was far greater than I could have thought of, as also the reward. I have people to thank, my people.

Jeej and Sam- without your talks I wouldn’t have done my best- I cannot thank you enough… I have all your conversations saved, they are my personal motivation boosters :)

Hb and Bhabs- Your challenges made me more what I am than all the love could ever have.

PM- Those every week everyday(?) phone calls…while I spoke and laughed so hard it hurt…I prepared to get back to work all anew.

My family back home…The ‘isspert’ comments you all took, the ‘gaon wali teacher” that you guys loved, loves you more now :)

And last but not the least- all you people who taught and said I couldn’t. The biggest thank you, this was my first time taking up such a big challenge and it feels awesome! just to be on the winning side!

There is a looong list and little time. I have to go meet the village elders for whom I was the “bumbai ki bahini”. My stay here is over, not the connection.

I sign off as I chew on a toffee…

It indeed is sweet. I will come back.

iPost (For I lack a better title)

When so much is waiting to happen and yet you can’t tell if it will, for real,

When so much is there to say and yet words fall short for what you feel.

Dreams, desires, reality bytes and more…

This  past two weeks have gone by in a jiffy…Visited my favorite people :)) Planned, unplanned and then some more about the second year of  ZAF. Sent a few more than necessary mails…

It all feels so real and yet a part of a dream.

I travel tomorrow to UP. I look forward to the 28 hour journey by train this time, I need some  sleep without the guilt that I could be doing something besides!  More from there.

-S

P.S- Saw Inception this week, I liked what I understood and I’d like to watch it again for what I dint’.

You Herd The Latest!?

I was home yesterday, so were my other family members who generally are at work on a Monday. As also my neighbors, friends, their friends…well…actually a greater part of my countrymen were.

Rickshaws and taxis were off roads, private vehicles too. To tell you, the only people on the roads yesterday were the ones who were asking everyone else to stay home. The opposition ‘partieses’(they are so many, the usual plural will definitely fall short) of my country united together(“on the very first thing in history”) and called for a nation wide strike.

The strike was to serve as a wake up call to the ruling party and to bring to their notice the immense trouble the “aam junta”-common man (I bet this will be the next hindi word to go into the oxford dictionary) is facing due to the increasing price rise.

You will find all about it on the internet or simply if you ask any Indian you meet (There won’t be any trouble in finding either) But, what strikes me the most about the ‘strike’ is that I don’t even know if I wanted to support it… Everyone else who stayed home is not very sure they liked the idea of the strike either. But stayed home we all did. So ultimately, support the strike- we all did.

And this is the latest…the forced herd mentality- the new meaning of our ‘democracy’. The government increased the price- everyone is paying the new rate, you do too. The opposition calls for a strike- you “better” stay off roads to make their mission for the “aam junta” a success.

Why does it feel that democracy is now slowly becoming the freedom of a few to make the rest go “moo” with the herd?!

With An Upturned Umbrella Or Without One?

Imagine you have to step out of your house… and it is pouring outside. You either take an umbrella along or don’t carry one at all. And suppose you do carry one, and it turns upside down…

Until a certain age in life, all of us are in our cozy, comfortable homes. Here, I mean that you take what you get, served on a platter. People dictate terms and you accept them and enjoy. Home will be home, schools will be chosen- you get to choose the subjects, picnics will be planned- you get the permission… The time spent at home though, may differ from person to person. Some leave home earlier than usual, some later, but leave home, almost all of us do.

And when the time comes for us to leave home, some carry the umbrella some don’t. An umbrella of hope and expectation. And in our journey along the road, leading to our goals it pours cats and dogs. Your umbrella turns and you face the same wind and rain, just like a person who doesn’t carry one at all.

If you carried one- the umbrella can be turned back down again, at least you had protection while it lasted and what if it just did not have to turn at all!

If you didn’t- Without the umbrella you were still on your way to the goal, saves time and embarrassment, brave the rain like an adventure!

Imagine you have to step out of your house… and it is pouring outside. You either take an umbrella along or don’t carry one at all. And suppose you do carry one, and it turns upside down…

Which one would rather be your case, if one of them had to be?

You Have Thought of It Too!

Destiny- A topic so hot for discussion, I must have heard it at least once every week throughout my life (and it is no exaggeration) . And like the title says, each one of us have (maybe just) once (but) definitely given this a thought.

And especially, in a culture like mine, in India, ‘taqdeer’, ‘qismat’, ‘bhagya’ and such terms are used  all around. And since my stay in the village I have been hearing it all the more often, that wring this article became a compulsion!

When a 19 year old boy failed to clear his standard 10th examination, in the third attempt even (because he did not work hard, of course!), his nani very lovingly said, “uski taqdeer mein nahi hai’- “it’s not in his destiny”.

When a lady had a chance to move to the city with her kids so they would receive good education; she denied, saying, “Now my destiny is here, for I was married here and so, I will live here with my children…hope their kids have better ‘qismat’.

And so on and so forth all day long…

Another very annoying thing that I have heard is by the village men- almost 60 percent of them are jobless- and those that have work such as farms- they don’t work hard enough or have shops, they don’t open for at least 4 days in a week! I don’t know how they fail to realize, even a stupid person could tell they were being lazy.

So, they are lazy, barely work and so barely have money and the comforts money brings along. They live meagerly and very conveniently repeat these lines once everyday for themselves, and for people like me when they are questioned – “this much is our destiny. What God has to give, He will. We are not the greedy types- we have faith in our Lord.”

They say this with the most sincere face, the grave eyes and preachy voice- that anyone who heard would agree. As for me, I would initially sit alone, start reevaluating my wants, priorities, desires…

But now, (and I am grateful for it) I go and add another thing in my list of ‘things- to-do’, every time I hear someone like that, say those line.

I hope I have made it clear what people associate with the word ‘destiny’ here.

Failure, laziness (on the person’s part) = Destiny (blame it on God!)

I know and it is my firm belief (aqeedah) that destiny whether good or bad is from my Lord. I know that success, failure, riches, wisdom and everything I would ever want to achieve is written and I will only get that which is due to me. And none besides my Lord can provide me with it.

But what I am most thankful for is that I do NOT know what is in my destiny. I do not know how much, from where is due to me. I do not know what I will have to go through to achieve it.

And thus, I plan, work, strive and persevere to achieve what’s in my destiny and together also get with it- a meaning, a purpose and satisfaction, that comes along.

As a human, we are born with a great intellect, freewill- how can one live life like the cattle around!? In fact, even the grazing cattle moves to the greener patch in an attempt to get better grass. Sometimes it gets, sometimes it is shooed, but it does go, every time!

As a famous saying goes, “Tie your camel, and have faith in Allah.”

You cannot leave your camel untied for it to stray away and blame destiny for loosing it. If it is not for you, you will loose it either way, but do as a man with some intelligence would and destiny will do what it would.

Here, I am reminded of the joke of the drowning man who refused help saying, “My lord will save me” and drowns; and God says to him, “were those boats and help from someone besides!?”

Exactly my point in a nutshell- Opportunities, youth, strength, intelligence and more were given to us by your Lord. He made this huge planet with all it’s bounties for man. If there are high mountains, it is accompanied by deep valleys. There are green fields and deep oceans. If He really was to put the destined morsel of food in the mouth, why would He create all this? Wouldn’t a flat world with huge walls all around be more apt?

But He did not.

Then why these walls of ignorance all around with laziness at its centre? How can anyone pack their failure away with the card labeled, “Destiny.”??

Even Sarcasm Fails At This!

In my very first blog post I had written that my BA exams were hopefully my final encounter with the University of Mumbai…(and I am still continuing with those prayers everyday!)

I ventured out again today to the long lost campus of the University ready to beg, borrow or steal what was due to me at least 2 months back! My convocation degree- I need it ‘urgently’ and that is one word they have skipped in their dictionary and instead put ‘lunch break’ twice( I am very sure)

I arrived there at about 11 am and was made to go around the campus for the next one hour until I finally reached the correct building, the correct floor and the correct room! (I thought of a business venture to give bicycles for hire inside the campus, could make real money!!)

Got there, waited, sat, stood, spoke politely, yelled at a few…answered questions of why I want to go, where, when, how…. Assured a few that I would not forget them when I got my work done…( I don’t even know what that means!?) And finally got my degree at 3 pm- exactly the time, when offices close and no one is available to attest them. “ Come again tomorrow!” How Welcoming!! But frankly, and most sincerely WHY!!

It was a five minute thing- A Mr. Somebody, (who everyone referred to as “Sir saying…so we giving. Go talk to him”) signed my request letter and I got it.  And the most frustrating part is that everything they do is made to look as if they just did a life-saving favor for you! As I walked my triumphant walk down the hallway and out the campus they all (right from the enquiry guy to the rickshaw driver who took me around the campus) looked and nodded as if meaning to say “it’s okay, it’s okay… we like to do odd favors from time to time!”

I had left home listening to Fireflies and Vanilla Twilight and returned home listening to Linkin Park. I venture out again tomorrow for the attestation, will sync Nine Inch Nails to my ipod tonight.