Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And then there were failures

What do you do when you start failing to reach your goals? Set the goals low? No way.

Set the preparation higher.

And I've got to prepare.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Re: Generation Y: where is it headed for?

[This is an email response to this article, which I thought I should publish]

Hi sir,

I'm 17, in twelfth standard. My girlfriend - who's not exactly my girlfriend because she's always responded negatively to my "I love you"s - liked your article in The Hindu (Generation Y: where is it headed for?, Nov 13, 2010) . That's why I read it.

AND YOU'RE BANG ON ABOUT WHAT YOU SAID

If growing up consisted of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual growth; growing up has accelerated, but not all the aspects of it. There's sudden physical growth from the steroid injected chicken we eat everyday. And mental growth, thanks to the immense curriculum. The television and the loads of cheap fiction that's available has seemed to have incorporated all kinds of intense emotions into our everyday lives. And unfortunately only 2 magazines among the hundreds of magazines and weeklies I know has ever published an article about "Emotional Intelligence". Let alone spirituality; which's being looked upon as a post-retirement occupation.

I'm a biology student and can't go without speaking some science.

Mirror-neurons: I see someone doing something, my mirror neurons have already done that a thousand times in my brain. And what if I'm seeing (or more vividly, reading) all kinds of emotional moments (ranging from love through sex to violence) ? They're rewiring our mental make-up. Making us want to experiment.

We've all always remained curious, about everything. Right from birth we looked at others to learn. We assimilated knowledge by looking around.
Personally, I was from my very early childhood exposed to the right things at the right times. I read children's magazines till 6. Then science magazines for children. I saw Disney's Mickey Mouse cartoons. My dad (who's a doctor) used to take me for morning walks and tell me stories. He set up my morals and values. And he also introduced me to spirituality. And by the time I was 13 I had been influenced a big lot by Mahatma Gandhi.
In fact, my early childhood set the stage for me to grow up on my own.
And now I believe I'm strong enough to lead a successful life.

But I was very fortunate.

I don't know into what little monsters will children who are exposed to nothing but rubbish from their infancy evolve into by the time they're 10, or 20.
Yeah, you know. That's what you wrote in your article.

The media have gone awry. There's no way we can disinfect them.

But there's one seemingly simple, but practically doubtable solution: good-parenting.
Parents can always decide what we're exposed to (even in the internet). They can influence our values. They can mold our personalities before anyone even begins to notice us. They can let us prepare for life without getting injured.

Answer: Parental supervision is critical.

And when parents fail, children magnify.

(For good parents we need good grand parents, and so on. This cannot happen. So, we should somehow make our parents good. Education can help. So can media. But media isn't helping, except for some lonely Aakash Mehrotra's. And education isn't proper. So we need some intelligent people to re-evaluate the goals of our school boards and media. But nobody is motivated enough. The government, the least. People who vote, even lesser. We need a Messiah. And ironically, it has to come from Generation Y)

--
Have a blissful life,
ASD

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Strength of Truth

Answer all questions honestly in the next 24 hours.
And see if that brings any change in your life.

Gandhiji was not superhuman. Then how did he lead India to independence?
Because he used a weapon which was unbeatable.

And we all have that weapon.

Only that we have not tried to use it.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Talking About Sex

I was first taught about sex neither by my parents nor by my teachers.
The first time I really learned how babies are made was when I saw a porn movie when I was 14. Yeah, even before the advent of Internet.

And till today my parents haven't talked to me directly about sex either. (Though my dad has mentioned several times that it can be an addiction) And mind you, next year I'm 18.

I have had the chance to learn in two schools. But still, none of the 50 or more teachers who've taught me have ever talked about sex. Not even my biology teacher.
Of course the lesson "Reproduction in Human Beings" was much anticipated. But it went away like over-hyped bollywood movies do, without an active discussion. (There were muffled laughs from the corners to welcome a hypocritical lecture)

And even my beloved English teachers who talk about everything on this earth have invariably failed me. Somehow I gathered the courage to tell my teacher that we watched porn (in a relevant context) but she just responded "that's bad" in a surprised manner and walked away. She talked about drugs the next minute. But she wouldn't talk about this drug. I mean, if she had a point, she'd rather make it clear.

By that afternoon the news spread and I was receiving mixed responses from my schoolmates - applauses and questioning looks. As if I had done something. Heroic or great. Obscene or indecent.
Whereas I was standing amongst them, confused. Wondering as to what was so special about the topic I put in. Nobody asked me anything when I told my English teacher about the way I play football, or the way I love my father.

What are these adults shying away from?
Parents and teachers.

Should generation gap be a problem?
Well, it is not. Because though friends talk a bit about sex, they don't actually 'openly' talk.
The little that friends know about each others' problems is the little that comes after multi-filtering through cultural sieves.
SEX???!!! Taboo.

You don't have to worry about me. You don't have to worry about those teens who luckily fall into good company. But there are others who aren't so lucky. They do not get a chance to know anything until they are in a situation where knowing does not matter.

It so happens in the seemingly open but stringently closed society that we are born into.

Maybe you are thinking that your not talking about it makes us less curious.
You are of course wrong.
Not knowing only adds to the curiosity.
And curiosity kills the cat.

Talking about sex only reduces the risks.
It is not talking that multiplies the risk.

But there is no talking. There is only flinching.
The 3 letter word is never used. (Though the 4 letter word is always used)

Adolescence Education Programs were promised.
Well, we never thought any would ever be delivered.
For, who's to deliver it other than you?

Maybe you could answer. What is so special about sex that makes it a topic worth not discussing?

If you're gonna tell me that our culture prohibits us from talking about sex, tell that to the 1 million HIV/AIDS patients in the age group 15-29 from India. And mind you, that data is three years old.

And till you find me a solid reason not to talk about sex, I will keep on using the word loudly and in public.

-
A virgin.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Think Before You Forward: MP Salary in India (Myth Busted)

There's been a very clever e-mail running around in Indian inboxes for many years. It cleverly exploits multiplication into making people think that MPs are a huge waste of national resources. The mail first is this:

Govt. Concessions for a Member of Parliament (MP)
Monthly Salary : 12,000
Expense for Constitution per month : 10,000
Office expenditure per month : 14,000
Traveling concession (Rs. 8 per km) : 48,000
(eg.For a visit from kerala to Delhi & return: 6000 km)
Daily DATA during parliament meets : 500/day
Charge for 1 class (A/C) in train: Free (For any number of times)
(All over India )
Charge for Business Class in flights : Free for 40 trips / year (With wife or P.A .)
Rent for MP hostel at Delhi : Free
Electricity costs at home : Free up to 50,000 units
Local phone call charge : Free up to 1 ,70,000 calls.
TOTAL expense for a MP [having no qualification] per year : 32,00,000 [ i.e. 2.66 lakh/month]
TOTAL expense for 5 years : 1,60,00,000
For 534 MPs, the expense for 5 years :
8,54,40,00,000 (nearly 855 crores)
AND THE PRIME MINISTER IS ASKING THE HIGHLY QUALIFIED, OUT PERFORMING CEOs TO CUT DOWN THEIR SALARIES.....
This is how all our tax money is been swallowed and price hike on our regular commodities....... 


and then it goes on giving a number of pictures of poor people in India and telling 855 crores could do great for them.

The Myth:
There's more than 1 problem in this claim.

Firstly, the calculation of monthly salary is done by adding the real salary + the concessions the MPs receive for their travels or communication (which they of course must do)

The first 3 lines are quite sound.
Monthly salary, expense of constitution, office expenditure which adds up to 36,000 (the real salary)
The daily salary of 500 for parliament days can also be considered in this.
That's an added 15,000 per month taking the toll to 51,000 (though the parliament doesn't happen in every day of every month)

They then add 48,000 to it in the name of traveling concession (6000 km to Delhi @ Rs 8/km)
Quite agreeable. (Though I could still argue about the need for an MP to go to the capital city. Why do we need MPs at parliaments? Can't they sit at home?)


I add that too and get 99,000. Just under 100 k.

But the mail claims the salary to be 266 k by considering the other concessions the MPs receive.
I don't know how they add, but the concession for first class train fare any number of times, business class plane fare 40 times, free calls, free electricity, and even the rent for MPs hostel at Delhi are all added to the equation.
What is the mail trying to do? The real expenditure is just 100 k. It's made to go to 266 k. And that too by adding pseudo expenditures.
Note that the free calls, free electricity units, etc need not be consumed totally. (Of course they would be used up only if the MPs really work for the country)
And why the bloody hell is the MP hostel if not for the MPs to reside free of cost?

And in between the mail just claimed that the MPs have "no qualification" upon which I do not wish to comment at all.

The train & the plane fairs are the only things that could be told as wasteful because the MPs are already being given Rs 8 per km for travel.
And I don't know how they add up to 266 k per month.

But assume that this is really true. That we spend 266,000 per month for an MP.

So, how much is that? How much money do you need to live per month?
50,000? No?
25,000? even lower?
meager 10,000?
So, an MP "spends" 26.6 times an average Indian.
Considering that there are only 550 MPs for a population of a billion, I can without any hard feelings allow them to spend that.
And that too including all those ludicrous "costs" of rent at MP hostel, free calls, etc.

Now the most interesting calculations.
Imagine you earn 25,000 per month.
That's 300,000 per annum.
Now take 500 people like you.
All of you collectively earn  150,000,000 per annum.
And in 5 years you people earn 75 crores!!! (Not so surprised?)
75 crores would also have been enough for all those poor. So you should be thrown out of the country.

Just know that multiplying monthly salary by time and number of people increases it multi-multi fold.

And to the emotion that made this forward a success, the joy that you receive when you criticize politicians and politics.
It shows only your ignorance in hosting these kinds of stupid ideas.
Politics has of course been corrupted, but only as much as anything else has been.
And our constitution still shines as a beacon of knowledge and justice above everything.
And if you are so good in managing the country, why don't you show what you can do?

If politicians are still corrupt it's only because the voters are still fools.


The best argument against democracy has been and will always be a five minute conversation with the average voter.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Do Not Deserve the Right To Wish You a Happy Independence Day

I won't wish you a happy Independence Day this year.
Not just this year. Henceforth.
Because unless I begin doing something for my country, I simply do not deserve to wish you.
I was notified of this day coming. By the facebook event which asked me to show my love for my country by setting up India's flag in my profile.
Is this how I should show my love for my country?
I was sure I wouldn't be attending the event. I said myself if at all I uploaded anything to facebook it would be photos of how I served my country this I'day.
But till this moment, I have not did anything worthy to be uploaded under that tag.

I'm disappointed at myself.
I'm disappointed at not being able to do anything for my country.
Sure, I have dreams.
But I live only in dreams.
I have written dozens of essays on the role of students in improving literacy (the last one, today morning).
But I haven't taught a word to anyone. When will I? How long will I be a student, to do that?
Not that I didn't have a chance. There was a woman who sold helmets by the National Highway. Just opposite my house. And she had two children. One girl about 10 years, and her younger brother, my brother's age. I knew neither of them went to school. I knew they deserved school as good as my brother and I. Yet I simply walked past them for weeks. Many a times had my hands reached for the paper and pen in my pocket to teach that little boy something. I even planned giving them an apple and teaching them the letter 'A'.

But I never did these.

And I'm angry about that. There is no point in crying now. Because they've had enough sales here. They've gone.

I could have taught that little boy and little girl something. Anything. Anything would have been valuable for their lives.
But I didn't.
What do I lack?
I dream so much about changing India. About empowering lives. If I can't teach a boy of 6 ABCD, how am I going to change India?

I speak so passionately about how dirty politics is. About how we shouldn't vote on the basis of religion, race, caste. But who am I to say that?

I don't even deserve to be a citizen of a country where people like Nani Palkhivala lived and died for protecting the rights of the people. And I don't wish to be one in a country where his name or the names of the thousands of others like him are not even heard.

I'm such a parasite.

Sure I have published a few posts in this unread blog about changing India. And some essays in school competitions that not even the judges care to read. What do I hope to happen? That all of a sudden all the Indians will get motivated and change themselves reading what I've written?
And who is to change India? My readers?
I ask everyone to change.
But I never did.
And I now realize my mistake.

But I knew my mistakes even before. Just that I won't rectify. I won't change. I will continue to be a dreamer. I will get into a nice profession, fill my purse, and eat unhealthy till I die. I will never feed the hungry. I will never enlighten souls.
I will never bring about the change I always speak so high about.
Because I'm such a loser.

What is the point in fighting hunger through facebook? What's the point in feeding children through clicks? What's the point in filling truckloads of paper with essays about changing India, taking her to the heights of development, etc?
What's the point in blabbering about good leadership when you can't be a leader yourself?
What's the point in thinking about action?
Action is physical. Not mental.

Do I deserve to wish you a happy Independence Day? No. I don't.
Because I don't act.
I can't even promise you that I will change myself. For, if I could I would have done something for my country already. I can only tell you that I will try.

And for that reason I do not deserve to ask you to do something either.
And I do not possess the right to express myself. I must shut up. Now.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Emotion is the Mother of Creation

Necessity is the mother of invention.
Emotion is the mother of creation.
And experience, it's father.
-
Because experiences make people emotional. You fall in love, you make a tough decision, you break up, you get a gift, you fall sick (no you'd be sick, then), you watch a touching movie, you catch up with an old-friend. All of the experiences in your life come with emotions attached to it. (If not, they wouldn't be called experiences)

And when those emotions are intense, your brain gets a lot of blood. (In other words, you're in the mood)
And your brain is special in that when it gets a lot of blood (the blood, which carries oxygen, the oxygen which helps the neurons think - now you don't want me to begin talking about sodium-potassium pumps, do you?), it begins working efficiently. And very efficiently.

So that words come from tranquility. They just mix up together. And you will wonder whether it was indeed you who did that.

That's how creativity is borne.

Experiences=Emotions=Masterpieces

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Use Distractions to Distract Distractions

I hate it when my brother switches on the television when I am reading.
Reading textbooks is so boring and when there's that funny little scene of the all-time-best-movie on the idiot box there is no question where your mind is.
It's so easy to get distracted when you're doing something boring (even if it's very important)

So what do I do to prevent getting distracted?
More distractions.
I switch on the computer. Play music. Run Pidgin chat client. And then open the book I'm reading as e-book (sorry I didn't tell you I have my textbooks in pdf too. But it doesn't matter, most books are easier to obtain as e-books than paperbacks)
And how does that help?
Now, the way I'm reading is much more interesting than the way I was reading.
I don't even think about the movie on the tv.
And I'm reading with much more blood running to my brain than earlier.
That will keep me alert for even longer too.
(And of course there is the added advantage of being able to access the world wide web any time, to clear any doubt)

Might be necessary disclaimer: This worked for me. But this won't work for most others. Because umph... I display an uncommonly strong control over my mind. :D It is easy to get to porn sites while online. And your mind will urge you to update your facebook status. It takes men of metal mind to succeed in this.
If you want to learn how to control your mind to the point you can safely try this, try this.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why Run After Life? Let It Come To You

You could plan every day in advance. You could plan your life in advance. But most of the fun in life comes unplanned. Even a planned prank works out funny because the person being tricked wasn't prepared (hadn't planned). You watch Federer because though you and I know he'll be showing his class, even God doesn't know whether he'll win.
And school days were never interesting, because you knew your teachers, you knew your textbook, you knew what was going to happen, you knew the future.
When you plan, you may feel comfortable in catching what life throws at you, but you will never feel the fun.
So, if you feel like you aren't having enough fun in your life, don't plan your tomorrow.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Disability Matters Nothing to Human Spirit

Aimee Mullins was born with fibular hemimelia (missing fibula bones) and, as a result, had both of her legs amputated below the knee when she was a year old.
33 years later, today, she is an athlete, actress, and fashion model best known for her collegiate-level athletic accomplishment.
People around the world love her not out of sympathy, but because of the hope that she breathes in to anyone who think they have a bleak future.

Just hear what she has to say about her 12 pairs of legs.

I was speaking to a group of about 300 kids, ages six to eight, at a children's museum, and I brought with me a bag full of legs, similar to the kinds of things you see up here, and had them laid out on a table, for the kids.  And, from my experience, you know, kids are naturally curious about what they don't know, or don't understand,  or what is foreign to them. They only learn to be frightened of those differences  when an adult influences them to behave that way, and maybe censors that natural curiosity,  or you know, reins in the question-asking  in the hopes of them being polite little kids.  So, I just pictured a first grade teacher out in the lobby  with these unruly kids, saying, "Now, whatever you do,  don't stare at her legs."

But, of course, that's the point. That's why I was there, I wanted to invite them to look and explore. So I made a deal with the adults that the kids could come in, without any adults, for two minutes, on their own. The doors open, the kids descend on this table of legs, and they are poking and prodding, and they're wiggling toes, and they're trying to put their full weight on the sprinting leg to see what happens with that. And I said, "Kids, really quickly -- I woke up this morning, I decided I wanted to be able to jump over a house -- nothing too big, two or three stories -- but, if you could think of any animal, any superhero, any cartoon character, anything you can dream up right now, what kind of legs would you build me?"

And immediately a voice shouted, "Kangaroo!" "No, no, no! Should be a frog!" "No. It should be Go Go Gadget!" "No, no, no! It should be The Incredibles." And other things that I don't -- aren't familiar with. And then, one eight-year-old said, "Hey, why wouldn't you want to fly too?" And the whole room, including me, was like, "Yeah." (Laughter) And just like that, I went from being a woman that these kids would have been trained to see as "disabled" to somebody that had potential that their bodies didn't have yet. Somebody that might even be super-abled. Interesting.
Yes, she thought of being disabled as being super-abled.

And interestingly, from an identity standpoint,  what does it mean to have a disability? I mean, people -- Pamela Anderson has more prosthetic in her body than I do. Nobody calls her disabled.
 Today, I have over a dozen pair of prosthetic legs that various people have made for me, and with them I have different negotiations of the terrain under my feet.  And I can change my height -- I have a variable of five different heights.
She was confident about herself. And she believed
Confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can have. It's much sexier than any body part.
May be that is why she appeared in 5 movies, and was featured in 3 books.

Now here is the transcript of her TED talk Aimee Mullins: The opportunity of adversity 

I'd like to share with you a discovery that I made a few months ago while writing an article for Italian Wired. I always keep my thesaurus handy whenever I'm writing anything, but I'd already finished editing the piece, and I realized that I had never once in my life looked up the word "disabled" to see what I'd find.

Let me read you the entry. "Disabled," adjective: "crippled, helpless, useless, wrecked, stalled, maimed, wounded, mangled, lame, mutilated, rundown, worn-out, weakened, impotent, castrated, paralyzed, handicapped, senile, decrepit, laid-up, done-up, done-for, done-in cracked-up, counted-out; see also hurt, useless and weak. Antonyms, healthy, strong, capable." I was reading this list out loud to a friend and at first was laughing, it was so ludicrous, but I just I'd just gotten past mangled, and my voice broke, and I had to stop and collect myself from the emotional shock and impact that the assault from these words unleashed.

You know, of course this is my raggedy old thesaurus. I'm thinking this must be an ancient print date, right. But, in fact, the print date was the early 1980's, when I would have been starting primary school and forming an understanding of myself outside the family unit and as related to the other kids and the world around me. And, needless to say, thank God I wasn't using a thesaurus back then. I mean, from this entry, it would seem that I was born into a world that perceived someone like me to have nothing positive whatsoever going for them, when, in fact, today I'm celebrated for the opportunities and adventures my life has procured.

So, I immediately went to look up the 2009 online edition, expecting to find a revision worth noting. Here's the updated version of this entry. Unfortunately, it's not much better. I find the last two words under "Near Antonyms" particularly unsettling, "whole" and "wholesome."

So, it's not just about the words. It's what we believe about people when we name them with these words. It's about the values behind the words, and how we construct those values. Our language affects our thinking and how we view the world and how we view other people. In fact, many ancient societies, including the Greeks and the Romans, believed that to utter a curse verbally was so powerful, because to say the thing out loud brought it into existence. So, what reality do we want to call into existence, a person who is limited, or a person who's empowered? By casually doing something as simple as naming a person, a child, we might be putting lids and casting shadows on their power. Wouldn't we want to open doors for them instead?

One such person, who opened doors for me, was my childhood doctor at the A.I. Dupont Institute in Wilmington, Delaware. His name is Dr. Pizzutillo. Italian American, whose name, apparently, was too difficult for most Americans to pronounce, so he went by Dr. P. And Dr. P always wore really colorful bow ties and had the very perfect disposition to work with children.

I loved almost everything about my time spent at this hospital, with the exception of my physical therapy sessions. I had to do what seemed like innumerable repetitions of exercises with these thick, elastic bands -- different colors -- you know, to help build up my leg muscles. And I hated these bands more than anything. I hated them, had names for them. I hated them. And, you know, I was already bargaining, as a five year-old child, with Dr. P to try to get out of doing these exercises, unsuccessfully, of course. And, one day, he came in to my session -- exhaustive and unforgiving, these sessions -- and he said to me, "Wow. Aimee, you are such a strong, powerful little girl, I think you're going to break one of those bands. When you do break it, I'm going to give you a hundred bucks."

Now, of course, this was a simple ploy on Dr. P's part to get me to do the exercises I didn't want to do before the prospect of being the richest five year-old in the second floor ward, but what he effectively did for me was reshape an awful daily occurrence into a new and promising experience for me. And I have to wonder today, to what extent his vision, and his declaration of me as a strong and powerful little girl, shaped my own view of myself as an inherently strong, powerful and athletic person well into the future.

This is an example of how adults in positions of power can ignite the power of a child. But, in the previous instances of those thesaurus entries, our language isn't allowing us to evolve into the reality that we would all want, the possibility of an individual to see themselves as capable. Our language hasn't caught up with the changes in our society, many of which have been brought about by technology. Certainly, from a medical standpoint, my legs, laser surgery for vision impairment, titanium knee and hip replacements for aging bodies that are allowing people to more fully engage with their abilities, and move beyond the limits that nature has imposed on them, not to mention social networking platforms, allow people to self-identify, to claim their own descriptions of themselves, so they can go align with global groups of their own choosing. So, perhaps technology is revealing more clearly to us now what has always been a truth, that everyone has something rare and powerful to offer our society, and that the human ability to adapt is our greatest asset.

The human ability to adapt, it's an interesting thing, because people have continually wanted to talk to me about overcoming adversity, and I'm going to make an admission. This phrase never sat right with me, and I always felt uneasy trying to answer people's questions about it, and I think I'm starting to figure out why. Implicit in this phrase of overcoming adversity, is the idea that success, or happiness, is about emerging on the other side of a challenging experience unscathed or unmarked by the experience, as if my successes in life have come about from an ability to sidestep or circumnavigate the presumed pitfalls of a life with prosthetics, or what other people perceive as my disability. But, in fact, we are changed. We are marked, of course, by a challenge, whether physically, emotionally or both. And I am going to suggest that this is a good thing. Adversity isn't an obstacle that we need to get around in order to resume living our life. It's part of our life. And I tend to think of it like my shadow. Sometimes I see a lot of it, sometimes there's very little, but it's always with me. And, certainly, I'm not trying to diminish the impact, the weight, of a person's struggle.

There is adversity and challenge in life, and it's all very real and relative to every single person, but the question isn't whether or not you're going to meet adversity, but how you're going to meet it. So, our responsibility is not simply shielding those we care for from adversity, but preparing them to meet it well. And we do a disservice to our kids when we make them feel that they're not equipped to adapt. There's an important difference and distinction between the objective medical fact of my being an amputee and the subjective societal opinion of whether or not I'm disabled. And, truthfully, the only real and consistent disability I've had to confront is the world ever thinking that I could be described by those definitions.

In our desire to protect those we care about by giving them the cold, hard truth about their medical prognosis, or, indeed, a prognosis on the expected quality of their life, we have to make sure that we don't put the first brick in a wall that will actually disable someone. Perhaps the existing model of only looking at what is broken in you and how do we fix it, serves to be more disabling to the individual than the pathology itself.

By not treating the wholeness of a person, by not acknowledging their potency, we are creating another ill on top of whatever natural struggle they might have. We are effectively grading someone's worth to our community. So we need to see through the pathology and into the range of human capability. And, most importantly, there's a partnership between those perceived deficiencies and our greatest creative ability. So it's not about devaluing, or negating, these more trying times as something we want to avoid or sweep under the rug, but instead to find those opportunities wrapped in the adversity. So maybe the idea I want to put out there is, not so much overcoming adversity, as it is opening ourselves up to it, embracing it, grappling with it, to use a wrestling term, maybe even dancing with it. And, perhaps, if we see adversity as natural, consistent and useful, we're less burdened by the presence of it.

This year we celebrate 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, and it was 150 years ago, when writing about evolution, that Darwin illustrated, I think, a truth about the human character. To paraphrase, it's not the strongest of the species that survives, nor is it the most intelligent that survives, it is the one that is most adaptable to change. Conflict is the genesis of creation. From Darwin's work, amongst others, we can recognize that the human ability to survive and flourish is driven by the struggle of the human spirit through conflict into transformation. So, again, transformation, adaptation, is our greatest human skill. And, perhaps, until we're tested, we don't know what we're made of. Maybe that's what adversity gives us, a sense of self, a sense of our own power. So, we can give ourselves a gift. We can re-imagine adversity as something more than just tough times. Maybe we can see it as change. Adversity is just change that we haven't adapted ourselves to yet.

I think the greatest adversity that we've created for ourselves is this idea of normalcy. Now, who's normal? There's no normal. There's common. There's typical. There's no normal. And would you want to meet that poor, beige person if they existed? (Laughter) I don't think so. If we can change this paradigm from one of achieving normalcy to one of possibility, or potency, to be even a little bit more dangerous, we can release the power of so many more children, and invite them to engage their rare and valuable abilities with the community.

Anthropologists tell us that the one thing we as humans have always required of our community members is to be of use, to be able to contribute. There's evidence that Neanderthals, 60,000 years ago, carried their elderly and those with serious physical injury, and, perhaps, because the life experience of survival of these people proved of value to the community: they didn't view these people as broken and useless; they were seen as rare and valuable.

A few years ago, I was in a food market in the town where I grew up in that red zone in northeastern Pennsylvania, and I was standing over a bushel of tomatoes. It was summer time. I had shorts on. I hear this guy, his voice behind me say, "Well, if it isn't Aimee Mullins." And I turn around, and it's this older man. I have no idea who he is.

And I said, "I'm sorry, sir, have we met? I don't remember meeting you."

He said, "Well, you wouldn't remember meeting me. I mean, when we met I was delivering you from your mother's womb." (Laughter) Oh, that guy. And, but of course, actually, it did click.

This man was Dr. Kean, a man I had only known about through my mother's stories of that day, because, of course, typical fashion, I arrived late for my birthday by two weeks. An so, my mother's prenatal physician had gone on vacation, so the man who delivered me was a complete stranger to my parents. And, because I was born without the fibula bone, and had feet turned in, and a few toes in this foot, and a few toes in that, he had to be the bearer, this stranger had to be the bearer of bad news.

He said to me, "I had to give this prognosis to your parents that you would never walk, and you would never have the kind of mobility that other kids have or any kind of life of independence, and you've been making liar out of me ever since." (Laughter) (Applause)

The extraordinary thing is that he said he had saved newspaper clipping throughout my whole childhood, whether it was winning a second grade spelling bee, marching with the Girl Scouts, you know, the Halloween parade, winning my college scholarship, or any of my sports victories, and he was using it, and integrating it into teaching resident students, med students from Hahnemann medical school and Hershey medical school. And he called this part of the course the X Factor, the potential of the human will. No prognosis can account for how powerful this could be as a determinant in the quality of someone's life. And Dr. Kean went on to tell me, he said, "In my experience, unless repeatedly told otherwise, and even if given a modicum of support, if left to their own devices, a child will achieve."

See, Dr. Kean made that shift in thinking. He understood that there's a difference between the medical condition and what someone might do with it. And there's been a shift in my thinking over time, in that, if you had asked me at 15 years old, if I would have traded prosthetics for flesh and bone legs, I wouldn't have hesitated for a second. I aspired to that kind of normalcy back then. If you ask me today, I'm not so sure. And it's because of the experiences I've had with them, not in spite of the experiences I've had with them. And, perhaps, this shift in me has happened because I've been exposed to more people who have opened doors for me than those who have put lids and cast shadows on me.

See, all you really need is one person to show you the epiphany of your own power, and you're off. If you can hand somebody the key to their own power, the human spirit is so receptive, if you can do that and open a door for someone at a crucial moment, you are educating them in the best sense. You're teaching them to open doors for themselves. In fact, the exact meaning of the word educate comes from the root word "educe." It means, to bring forth what is within, to bring out potential. So again, which potential do we want to bring out?

There was a case study done in 1960's Britain, when they were moving from grammar schools to comprehensive schools. It's called the streaming trials. We call it tracking here in the States. It's separating students from A, B, C, D and so on. And the A students get the tougher curriculum, the best teachers, etc. Well, they took, over a three month period, D level students, gave them A's, told them they were A's, told them they were bright. And at the end of this three month period, they were performing at A level.

And, of course, the heartbreaking, flip side of this study, is that they took the A students and told them they were D's. And that's what happened at the end of that three month period. Those who were still around in school, besides the people who had dropped out. A crucial part of this case study was that the teachers were duped too. The teachers didn't know a switch had been made. They were simply told these are the A students, these are the D students. And that's how they went about teaching them and treating them.

So, I think that the only true disability is a crushed spirit, a spirit that's been crushed doesn't have hope. It doesn't see beauty. It no longer has our natural, childlike curiosity and our innate ability to imagine. If instead, we can bolster a human spirit to keep hope, to see beauty in themselves and others, to be curious and imaginative, then we are truly using our power well. When a spirit has those qualities, we are able to create new realities and new ways of being.

I'd like to leave you with a poem by a fourteenth-century Persian poet named Hafiz that my friend, Jacques Dembois told me about. And the poem is called "The God Who Only Knows Four Words." "Every child has known God, not the God of names, not the God of don'ts, but the God who only knows four words and keeps repeating them, saying, come dance with me" Come dance with me.

Thank you. (Applause)
Now, that is called spirit. The indomitable human spirit which took Aimee Mullins from a bedridden double amputee to a fashionable super(role)model. Get ready and display some of that courage on your own.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Multitask to Get Boring Things Done

I hate writing school work for reasons you must have guessed (ya, who writes when we can type). But should I get through school, I must get through those too. So how do I scrape through?
I multitask.

For, this post is being written along with my assignments. I write one sentence here. I write one paragraph there. By the time I finish this post, I will finish 3-4 pages there.

So, combine boring stuff with interesting stuff to get both stuff done.

Why this works: Boring stuff are boring because they are usually repetitive tasks like copying, calculating, etc that require less or no active involvement. So, when we are doing such things our brain will be working less, and soon it starts sleeping.
But when we mix interesting things with boring things, our brain gets an alternating current shock of rest and activity, keeping us awake.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Friends, Indians, countrymen, lend me your ears

I come to concede Tharoor, not to praise him;
The evil that ministers do lives after their term,
The good is oft interred with their files,
So let it be with Tharoor ... The noble Modi
Hath told you Tharoor was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Tharoor answered it ...
Here, under leave of Modi and the rest,
(For Modi is an honourable man;
So are they all; all honourable men)
Come I to speak in Tharoor's farewell ...
He was my hero, faithful and just to me:
But Modi says he was ambitious;
And Modi is an honourable man….
He hath brought many traders home to India,
Whose exchange did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Tharoor seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Tharoor hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Modi says he was ambitious;
And Modi is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Modi spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did vote for him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason…. Bear with me;
My heart is in the smartphone there with the MoS,
And I must pause till it come back to me twittering.

--

Enough of the Victorian Shakespeare. And enough of our mentality running older than that. Why do we always have to think old? Why can't we think in new patterns? Are our brains too concrete?
Does using twitter make a minister alien? Or does a website make him Extra-Terrestrial. It is called technology. Technology that makes public life social and social life public. So did Obama. And so did Advani try to. But when Tharoor did it successfully people ask him to stop shooting mouth off.

When Tharoor stayed in a 5-star hotel it was luxury. Had he stayed in Mumbai's Taj Palace, it would have been patriotism.
When he called the 'cattle class' the 'cattle class', people became cattle, thanks to the English pundits.
When he said people should work on Gandhi Jayanthi, it became anti-national. Destroying a holiday of a billion Indians? Oh My Gandhi.
When the terrorists came in rowing boats the government started asking the flight passengers a few more questions. When Tharoor questioned the logic behind this he was helping the terrorists blast peace off India.
And then he's reported to have questioned Chachaji's and Bappuji's foreign policy. He's reported to have.
And the Oxford Dictionary's Pakistan edition is still undecided about the meaning of the word 'interlocutor'.

Throughout he's called the man of controversies. Tharoor should be awarded some prize for this skill.
Where other politicians find it very tough to attract controversy even while making controversial decisions, or accepting huge gifts, or spending too less for an ordinary minister; Tharoor seems to have acquired a knack of creating controversy with sentences less than 140 characters long. When Tharoor talks there is controversy, when he sneezes there is tsunami, and when he watches a cricket match there is extortion, profiteering, breach of trust, venality and corruption.
We've got options. Change our attitude or cut the tongue and all those digits off Tharoor.

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The Way Troubles Are Solved (Between People) And Friends Are Earned

Don't argue that I'm wrong, because I'm dead sure about this:
All the fuss that people make, all the hassles, all the quarrels are because they do not talk.

In other words, there is no trouble in human world that cannot be solved by talking.

You disagree with X.

  1. You keep mum.
    • X thinks you are not interested in what X is saying
    • X just does not understand why you seem disinterested
    • X thinks you hate X
    • X gets angry at you
      1. X keeps mum about X thinking that you hate X
        • You think X is happy
        • But X is angry at you (and you don't know this, for X hasn't told you)
        • So when X doesn't talk to you, you think X is not interested in you
        • So you get angry with X
          1. You keep mum with X about getting angry with X
            • and so on 
            • and so on
    Instead
  2. You tell X why you disagree.
    • X is intelligent enough to see whether you're disagreeing for the right reason
    • If you got it wrong, X will correct you
    • If X had it wrong, you correct X
    • The problem solved.
But when we disagree with someone we don't tell them that we disagree, let alone where we disagree.
Result: Trouble.
Instead: Talk.
Result: Happiness.

You doubt Y.
You think it is rude to say "Y, I doubt that you're lying"
So, you say "I trust you" and disbelieve.
[so Y doesn't get a chance to prove Y's innocence] Y is a liar
Now three weeks later this situation repeats. And you still keep mum about the disbelief. Y is a bigger liar
And three more weeks later Y lies. (This is the first time Y really lies) But you think Y was lying all the time before and Y is surely (with proof) lying this time. Thus Y is a professional liar - assured.

Instead if you said Y you disbelieve Y at the first instance, Y would have proved Y's innocence.
And the second time too.
And the third time when Y really lied you will know that Y is just an occasional liar.

But instead we keep mum. We think everybody around us are liars. We waste our lives living among 'liars' disbelieving everyone (whom you needn't disbelieve)

You had an angry dual with Z
You had a really nasty day. You hit your colleague in the face. You disagreed with your boss. You shouted at your spouse.
And you sleep (somehow) that night.
And the next day you remain silent to Z. So also Z to you.
Both of you think the fight is still on. The fight remains on.

Instead you talk with Z about the previous day. May be you apologize (even if it's not your fault). And Z recognize that you do not intend an intense situation. Z apologizes to you too. Both of you smile. Both of you happy.

Or what if Z is not ready to be happy with you? Try reconciling Z the next day.
And what if Z isn't ready the next day too? Try a week later.
Still not? Try a month later.
Still not? Try an year later.
Still? Stop trying. There is something wrong with Z.

Result: You did everything you can to be happy. And you are happy.

And whatever else be the situation.
The above are three ways where talking saves relationships and friendships (and kills enmity)
Not just these, every interpersonal problem can be solved talking.
That is why human beings are given tongue and ears.
But we seldom listen. And never talk.

Stop being silent. Talk. Talk more. Talk, of course, with the friends you already have. Reaffirm the friendship. But also talk to those whom you rarely talk with. May be someone among them is waiting to be a great friend of yours.

[Add to it that I gained a true friend day before yesterday. It could have come a lot lot earlier. But it didn't because I failed to talk earlier. But it's never too late]

--
Have a Blissful Life
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Avoid Instant Wisdom

This thought descends directly from the old saying "Think before you talk".

My little brother once threw a key towards me. He threw it a bit steep and I could not catch it. I immediately felt like telling him 'You should have thrown it flat, so that it will cross me no matter how slow you throw'.
But I thought for a moment. Another day had he thrown it flat, the key would have hurried past me, and I would then tell him 'You should have thrown it steep, so that I will get the time to align with the flying key'

And so I did not tell him anything.

I realized that when I form 'wisdom' from instant experience, that instant wisdom goes useless more often that not.

If you are older than someone else you live with, you must have had this moment in your life when they did some mistake and suddenly you jumped on them and told them that they did something extremely foolish, something which must have been avoided.

But from now on, when you think someone just made a silly mistake; instead of reacting quickly with an instant wisdom "You must have done the opposite"; just think whether that mistake is a real mistake at all. Whether it could have been really avoided. Whether you are just giving out instant 'wisdom'.

And in case it was really foolish, tell them what could have been avoided.
In case it wasn't, just smile, and move on.

Remember, think before you advise.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Error: Your Soul Needs to Be Upgraded

The analogy is that our body is the hardware, and our mind or soul is the operating system.
When you are exercising you are upgrading your hardware.
When you are learning a new language you are installing a new software.

But mind you, you are stuck with the same old operating system.
You might be tweaking your soul with a lot of new software, but basically you are just that same old operating system with a lot of vulnerabilities, missing dlls, and accumulated junk files.
You learn a lot of new things in life. You learn how to make friends, how to spring back from mistakes, failures, how to be infinitely happy and so on. But very soon you revert back to your old ways, you uninstall those software.

When you try to ADD a quality to your life, you display that quality for some days, and then you become the same old person. Because YOU are that old person, YOU have not changed. Deep inside, you are thinking that you must go back, you must be you again.

So, instead of adding new qualities, just change that basic YOU. Upgrade your operating system completely. Just redefine YOU. Let the quality be an integral component of you (a system service that cannot be uninstalled). And thus even if you become YOU again, you do not lose that new quality.

With every new thing you learn, you must redefine who you are.

Scenario 1:
Once you were not going well with others. "I do not go well with others"
And then one day you just decide you will start behaving well with people that day onwards. "I usually do not go well with others, but I will try to do well"
And the next day you get angry with someone. "I knew I am an insensitive idiot who just cannot get on well with others"
RESULT: Back to square one.

Scenario 2:
Once you were not going well with others. "I do not go well with others"
And then one day you decide that you are someone who goes well with others. "Who told you I am bad, I do go well with others"
And the next day you get angry with someone. "Well, I go well with others, but today is just not a good day"
RESULT: Just a momentary glitch, nothing to worry.


So, when you find some 2-3 new qualities that you could have in life, just bundle them together, and release them into your soul as a new OS update. Just be a new person, with those qualities inherent. Be a new you.

And those qualities will never leave you.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How 6,692,030,277 People Live on this Earth

I like to travel. Because whenever I go outside my home, I see people. The old man sitting right next to me in the bus, the man who is selling oranges, the woman waiting anxiously in the bus shelter, the kid talking to his friend, the youth resting his eye on every one coming his way, the sweeper, the policeman, the drunkard who asks the way to the policeman, the people who smile to the policeman when he answers the drunkard, and hundreds more, may be thousand.

So, how does that make my life blissful?

With every new person I see, I realize that everyone among those 6 billion+ people who are living on this earth has a life of their own.

And then I think how egocentric our lives are. About how our lives revolve around our own existence only. About how selfish we are.

Because every one of the people I meet, every one among them is doing something. Every one of them is going somewhere. Every one sleeps at night. Everyone lives.
And so do I.

I am just another one.

That thought can bring us a lot of relief.
To know that we are just another one among those billions.
To know that our lives are as valuable and as worthless as the life of anyone else.

And that brings us the ability to empathize. The ability to listen to what others have to say. The ability to feel for others, and be sincerely a part of their lives. The ability to regard their lives as a part of our own.
It allows us to see the interconnectedness of the lives.
It allows us to talk to the minds of others.
It allows us to open up.
It makes us human.

We soon start to respect everyone, regardless of what their status in the society, what they are, or what they are doing. We start to love everyone. Everyone starts to love us.

And when there is infinite love, there is infinite bliss.

So, the next time you are in a bus, look outside. See a man, think of how he is struggling to move forward, think of where he will sleep that day, think of how many people will be waiting for him. Then think of yourself. Then see another person, think of how she is going on in life. Then see another, then another.

And by the time you reach your destination, you will be feeling the love for others welling inside you.
Just pour it out on your friends, enemies, everyone you meet.

Start loving sincerely.

Soon you will have a blissful life.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Brand Your Self through Personal Branding

All those companies out there, they are brands. Google, Pepsi, Reliance, Nokia, Vodafone, Adidas, LG, Samsung, Hyundai...
Think of any one of them, without their name.

Think of Adidas selling their sports wears without their logo on it. How about a new Google service which does not begin with "Google"? Every one of those companies, and the others out there, have a brand.

This branding does not come on its own. They need to advertise, they need to put logos on their products, they need to put in their product as theirs. And after all of this they grow as a reliable brand with customers worldwide.

Not just that, when we hear of a brand name, all the values, all the ideas, all the causes that brand supports suddenly pops up into our mind. So, when we hear Google we will know it is about simplicity. Firefox - open source. LG - Making life good. Pepsi - Selling more (dil mange more :D).

Now how do we apply that to human beings?

Let us say a person X has a lot of qualities. X finishes the task assigned well in time, X meets all dead lines, X is punctual, X never wastes time, X loves working late.

Now, if you were asked to give an urgent task, one that will become messy if postponed, would you not consider X automatically?

Because you know X knows to manage time.
Then we say X is a brand in a person. A brand which puts time up in their priority list.

For becoming a brand you need to have a set of values, which you strictly adhere to.
Could be Gandhian values (like me), Buddhist values, Islamic values, or for that matter the values of any religion, English values, American values, European values, Indian values.
Or it could be hybrids.
Or it could be a new set of values that you define on your own.

But whatever be your values, you need to strictly adhere to it.
If you say "you will always be happy", you must always be smiling.
If you say "impossible is not a word in my dictionary", you must display that courage to do anything.
If you say "I love sleeping", you must have even tried polyphasic sleep.

The idea is you must be predictable. If you say "I will be unpredictable", you must be always (and predictably) unpredictable.

And then people will know what to expect from you and what not to.
That way when there is some thing that you can do well, they will know who can do it well.
When an expert is needed in what you love to do, they will know whom to run to.
And you will not have to explain the reason behind things you are doing. Because they know that it is your nature to do such things. You will no longer be misunderstood, because they know what you are meaning.
Life becomes so much more easier.

So, brand yourself.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

How to Mess Up Life and Still Be Happy in the End

Sometimes messing up life can be more delighting than going through the routine systematically.
How?
When you do something systematically:

  • You do it
  • You go home
You talk with people, but you are not emotionally associating with people.

When you mess up:
  • You try to do something
  • You mess up
  • You try your best to make amends for the mess you made
  • In that process you talk with a lot of people (or may be just one) most often through your heart
Finally you end up emotionally a lot more closer with those people than you would have in the first case.

Emotional intimacy converts into friendship or at least a deep sense of attachment.
That is increased number of people ready to provide warmth to you.
And in the end how happy you are depends a lot on how warm they keep you.

So, if you do something as you should have; OK, go home, sleep well, be happy!

But if you mess up?
Make amends.
Try all out to make amends.
Do not leave anyone unhappy.
Do not allow anyone to sleep that night with a grudge on you.

Then go home. Sleep well.
Next morning you will wake up a lot more happier.

When you have no problem in life you will be happy; but when you have problems and you solve them, you end up happier.

Mess up life.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Instant Mood Transformer

Today evening I was thinking:  'Life is pointless, where am I leading to, what should I do next'
I was feeling enervated.
I knew I was not in a good mood at all.
I tried finding some motivational quotes in the world wide web. But all those awesome quotes suddenly felt like mere words for me.
Windows media player was playing only the sad songs.
Everything in the TV seemed to be worse than boring lectures
I thought about reading some book, but I did not have the energy to stand up and walk to the book shelf.
Everything let me down.
I thought I would find some solace in my gmail inbox. I found a lone mail there from a friend. She had already forwarded it to everybody I knew. And archiving the mail showed me that familiar "No new mail!" slogan.
I was depressed. I was angry at myself for being so. But I was unable to get out of the mood.
And then it happened. I just walked out of my house. I was amidst all those plants and trees. They had this exceptional aura of calmness surrounding them. And the wind which filled my lungs to its maximum. Sure it was not one of the most colourful moments of my life, but no amount of colour would be able to make me happy in that mood too. But the serene nature suddenly turned me into that productive, creative, willing-to-go-for-it me. As though the energy flowed directly from the tress into me through the wind.

And then I knew it.

All those high tech gadgets, they are sure fun. But only when you are in the mood for fun.
When you are depressed, down, what you need is some soothing.

And there is only one thing that is instantly available for everyone which can provide that solace: mother nature.

Take a stroll through the garden. Smell the leaves. Breathe the wind. Get in harmony with nature.
And then you will once again feel it. The blood rushing in your body. Your brain resuming from its slumber. Sparks of creativity in your mind.
And, you are back.

Our eyes were meant to see curves, the branching trees and arching grass and the rabbit and the river. But what we see is rectangular blocks of text in a rectangular screen or sheet on a rectangular table inside in a rectangular room. See some curves.

We are living. But what we live with are machines, inanimate and emotionless. Multimedia can fool the eyes, the ears. Junk food can fool the tongue. Ceramic tiles can fool the skin. Perfumes can fool the nose. But there is something inside everyone that senses life. And you cannot fool it for long. You've got to be near some life. Or soon the one inside you will die down.

Whenever you feel depressed, breathe some fresh air in the garden.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Life is a Matter of A Few Hours

You may be 70 years old. But if I ask you to look back at your life and tell me something which you did for days at a stretch, without doing anything else like talking with friends, playing, exercising or anything else, I am almost sure that you will not tell me an answer straightaway.

Because for almost all of us, life is a matter of a few blocks of hours.

You might be a highly successful employee in a well known company. You might have got a couple of promotions, double-raises, several other incentives. But when you look back at what got you those, you would probably find that the tasks that got you into that high position were done in a few hours.

What the? I took 7 days to finish my work on XYZ.

Yes, you might have took 7 days. But if somebody logged all your activities in those 7 days, you will find that it was in some handful of hours that you really did something towards XYZ. You slept, you talked, you dined, you did other things, and you did XYZ too. If you take a really sincere close look, you can see that it was only those 3*5=15 hours in the office that you took for the task.

OK, I understand I did XYZ in a few hours. But are you suggesting me to get rid of sleep and do it all in 1 day?

No way. What I am asking you to do is to acknowledge that most important things that happen in your life happens in a few hours.

Remember all the learning you did in your school. There were those hours when you were actively listening in the class, those hours in the days before exams when you actually came to understand what is meant by Newton's Third Law of Motion. Those are the moments. You did not set out on a long journey and learn or do things. There were some hours, when you really learned something.

With that understanding comes a great deal of inspiration.

That you can do things, because it's just a matter of a few hours (or may be minutes)
You could earn a friend with a smile, that's just a second.
You could help somebody in a few minutes.
You could learn something new in an hour, (or if you're learning c++, in less than 5 hours)
You could work on your dream project with just 20% of your time.

But you think it takes a lot of time, and never do it. Where in real life, it takes only a few hours.

Do not over estimate time. 

The next task you are up to. Find what is to be done. Do it. Look at the clock.

You can do anything; talk, chat, play, watch, enjoy. But those few hours you must give your 100% for the task at hand. And at the end of the day you will have done everything.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

How to Get Rid of Addiction to Facebook, Myspace, Orkut, Twitter, Other Social Networking Sites, Internet or Computer in General

This is an exclusive way to get rid of your obsession with facebook, myspace, twitter, orkut, other social networking sites, or internet in general, computer to be specific.

(If you reached here searching google for "How to get rid of facebook addiction", "How to get rid of internet addiction", "How to get rid of internet" or "How to get rid of that feeling to google my answer to whether I should stop surfing now", you are good enough as an addict)

Follow my orders carefully. It is absolutely important to do so.

  1. Save all your open files. [Save everything that may be lost in case of power failure]
  2. Stand up.
  3. Those of you who are still sitting, stand up.
  4. I told you, if you don't follow what I tell, this won't work. So please STAND UP.
  5. OK. Now go to start menu, click shut down, click shut down again.
Now by the time your browser process is terminated by your processor, tell me a good bye.
And then when your wallpaper comes up look how beautiful it is.
And when your screen goes blank, switch off the UPS, pull out the power cords, and if possible disconnect monitor, mouse and keyboard.

Do something productive. (And be assured nothing will happen in the e-world by the time your urge to check your inbox returns to you)

That will do.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Meaning of Patriotism in the Global Scenario

You stand up for the National Anthem of your nation, and then your hairs stand up. This is patriotism.
But what does being patriotic mean after globalization?
You are politically correct. Because after your independence (which almost every country has) the people who struggled for your national entity decided upon an agreement that you would vote regularly and decide a leader to rule the nation and so on...
So, during elections, you are legally confirming to be a member of an organization that spans across your country.

Just like imperialism died with revolutions, nationalism must die with globalization.

You are no longer talking only with people whom you can see. You are no longer reading words that were written by your country-mates. You are no longer restricted to your nation.
So why should your love be?

Science is global.
So is economics.
Let alone climate change.
Energy crisis?
Terrorism.
Market. Trade. Business.
Sports, literature, art.

If nations were formed to eliminate a common threat and preserve a shared culture, then why should nations stand alone? Because almost every threat that we face today is global. And almost everything that we do today is global.

Our curling up into fragments of earth only shows how small we are.
Nationalism is just the same as racism. And wars are nothing but fascism.

This neither justifies brain drain nor suggests you to hate your nation. Your parents who cared for you all through your childhood deserves your care when you can stand alone. And if you do not love your nation you are doing the same as throwing your parents into hopelessness.
You must retain the love for your nation. You must stand up for your own national flag, but also for others'.

If our true love is for the mankind, then it is time that we stop hating people on the basis of nationality.

We must be patriotic, but our nation must be Planet Earth.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Yesterday, Shiv Sena was against SRK and we made MNIK a success.
Ram Sena is against Valentine's Day. Let's do something on Feb 14.

Here are some beautiful love quotes I found from around the internet.


Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love. ~Albert Einstein

Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart. ~Author Unknown

A hundred hearts would be too few
To carry all my love for you.
~Author Unknown

Who, being loved, is poor? ~Oscar Wilde

Are we not like two volumes of one book? ~Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

What I need to live has been given to me by the earth. Why I need to live has been given to me by you. ~Author Unknown

At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. ~Plato

Love is missing someone whenever you're apart, but somehow feeling warm inside because you're close in heart. ~Kay Knudsen

You know when you have found your prince because you not only have a smile on your face but in your heart as well. ~Author Unknown

Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly. ~Rose Franken

Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. ~Robert Frost

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Guy In The Glass - by Dale Wimbrow

This is an inspirational poem by Dale Wimbrow, I found while reading Pluginid

When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.

For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.

He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.
- Dale Wimbrow 1895-1954

Read more about this poem here.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Idiot's Guide to a Blissful Life

If you could just follow a handful of principles and make your life the happiest, how would you feel? Well, here is a chance.

Things to note about this handbook: You may find self-contradicting statements. They are meant to be there, because this guide will get tougher and tougher as you go down the list, and tough steps may contradict easier steps. In case of a conflict, the rules that come down the line will prevail.

The Idiot's Guide to a Blissful Life

A: Do not be prejudiced.
Do not judge anyone by their appearance, talk, gestures, or even by what others say about them.
Do not judge anything by advertisements, brand, etc.
Do not form an opinion about anyone / anything without first coming to know a lot about them.

B: Love everyone, unconditionally.
Love anyone and everyone you see unconditionally.
May them be sore, may them be cheaters, may them be fools, may them be bad, but just love them. That is to say when they talk with you, hear them like you would hear one of your friends.
When they ask for your help, help them like you would help one of your friends.

C: Talk only the truth:
Whatever people ask you answer them honestly.
Never tell a lie when people expect you to be truthful.

D: Give yourself to others:
Whatever they ask you give them without question, without attachments, without worry.
Whatever help they seek from you lend your best hand.
Whatever work you do, do it sincerely.
Give your 100%

E: Do only good:
Do not ever act against your consciousness.
Do not do anything if it is not going to be for the common good.

The more of these you can practice in your life, the happier you will turn.

Try and enjoy the bliss.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

10 Ways to Post on Blogger

Looking for ways to make a post at blogger? I'm sure you never heard of at least one of these.

  1. From Blogger Dashboard  (the normal way) (bookmark the New Post link for added comfort)
  2. From Blogger in Draft Dashboard  (the extra way)
  3. From BlogThis! bookmarklet (the quick way to recommend web pages)
    To set up blog this bookmarklet, BlogThis!   <-- drag this link to your browser's Links bar 
  4. From iGoogle using the Blogger Posting Gadget
  5. From Gmail using the Blogger Posting Gadget
    Setting up this takes a bit longer.
    1. Go to Gmail Labs Settings 
    2. Enable "Add any gadget by URL", the last option in the list.
    3. Save preferences
    4. Now find the Gadgets tab in settings.
    5. Enter the follwing URL in the "Add a gadget by its URL:" option
      http://www.blogger.com/gadgets/post.xml
    6. Now you will be able to see the gadget along with your chat and invite options.
  6. Through email posting.
    1. Go to blogger dashboard.
    2. Click on the mail icon to the left of your blog name.
    3. Replace 'SecretWords' with words, letters or any other secret code of your own.
    4. Remember the whole email id. (yourdomain.yoursecretwords@blogger.com)
    5. Send a mail to this email id; the subject will be the title and body the content of the blog post thus created.
    6. To further edit settings go to Settings | Email
      Tip: Put #end at the end of your mail to avoid unnecessary additions by your mail program.
  7. Through Blogger Mobile.
  8. Through Microsoft Office 2007.
    1. Run MS Word.
    2. Select New from Office Tab.
    3. Choose New Blog Post from Installed Templates.
  9. Through Ping.fm.
    1. Create an account at Ping.fm 
    2. Add your blog to ping.fm account
    3. Now you get some 14 alternative ways to update your blog through ping.fm.
    4. Use @bl prefix to post only to your blog 
  10. Through Scribefire firefox extension.

Related
How to make sure that you blog daily

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    Sunday, January 31, 2010

    What To Do When You Get Too Many Ideas Together

    The creative mind is like a desert.
    When you want something desperately it will show you mirages and endless sea of sand.
    But when you are wandering aimlessly, hoping for nothing, lo! it's an oasis before you.

    When people get ideas they get too many in a row. And within minutes they forget all but one on which they focus. Thus a huge part of their creativity is lost.

    How do you block the leak?

    Simple.

    When you get ideas, write them down.

    When you get more ideas, write them down.


    And after all your ideas are poured out, start developing from the beginning.


    Your creativity - saved.

    Always keep a pen and paper near you, who knows when you will get your next idea.
    (And what do you do when you are a blogger and has just uncovered a topic about which you could make 20 posts at least?)

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    Thursday, January 28, 2010

    Why You Should Visit Trizle

    • Other sites: If you wanna be productive, blah blah blah blah... And so blah blah blah blah... For example blah blah blah blah.... And finally blah blah blah blah....
    • Trizle: Example. Point. Period.
    Think of every site you are subscribed to.
     Think of how much words they take to explain a thing.
    And think of how much of what you read from those sites you follow in your life.

    Now, go visit trizle

    Trizle. Rock Business.

    Why not others?
    • They introduce the point to you.
    • They go on and explain the point.
    • They then give a few examples.
    • They then explain the examples.
    • They then conclude.
    • They go on and on...
    RESULT
    TIME = WASTED


    Why Trizle?
    • Trizle gives you bulls-eye examples.
    • Trizle tells you the point.
    • Trizle keeps to the point.
     RESULT
    TIME = SAVED

    Go there. 
    Have fun.

    (I have tried to maintain throughout this post the style that the trizle team uses to make their point. If you liked this style, you will really love trizle too)

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    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    Rule #1 for Productivity with Computers

    After tussling with my 256 MB RAM for more than 3 years, I bought a 1 GB RAM last week. And that very instant I knew that I was making myself a fool for 3 long years.

    The #1 rule for productivity when dealing with computers is

    UPGRADE YOUR HARDWARE

    This does not apply to those who already have tons of RAM, and amazing processor speed and graphics accelerator and so on...

    But that poor consumer who just knew that computer can be used to calculate when he was buying his first PC; who bought a PC at the lowest prize (and slowest configuration implied) and then learned so much about everything and computers too; but still forgot to upgrade his own computer, this is to you.

    When you bought your computer you were only learning. You needed just a little power.
    Once you are in the second year, you have learned almost enough. You need twice the same power.
    And every 2 years so forth you will need to make fine adjustments to the configuration of your system.

    Or else, you will be doomed.

    I learned it the hard way. Thought that the time my computer takes to respond to a click could be used to think about what to do after that. But I was wrong. When my computer started responding faster, I started thinking faster.

    What are you waiting for? Go and buy some new chips.

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    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    What To Do When You Are Angry?

    Anger is one of our worst enemies. When you are angry you feel very very strong. And most often people break valuable things, including glass-wares, and relationships.

    But with a very simple tip, anger can be converted into a very powerful productivity tool.

    It's simple.

    You are angry with someone. Instead of bashing the one you are angry at, you control your emotions. And you do something productive.

    Done. You were so concentrated at the cause of anger that the whole concentration was transferred to what you did instead. And so you did it better than how you would have done normally. And by the time you finished doing it, you are no more angry.

    For example, this post was written and published in about 10 minutes in which I was really angry. And I'm really happy right now, because I suddenly got almost 3 weeks worth of content to write on.

    So, the next time you feel angry, instead of blowing your top, convert the heat into work.

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    Monday, January 25, 2010

    !! Happy Republic Day !!


    WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
    JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
    LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
    EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
    and to promote among them all
    FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
    IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HERE BY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

    Republic Day



    India, though she became independent on the 15th of August, 1947 did not become a republic until the Constitution was adopted on the 26th of January, 1950.

    Starting from a meeting in the Constitution Hall in New Delhi (now known as Central Hall of Parliament House) on 9 December, 1946 it took 2 years, 11 months and 17 days and 299 members of the Constituent Assembly including Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Acharya J.B. Kripalani, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Smt. Sarojini Naidu, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Shri Sarat Chandra Bose and Shri C. Rajagopalachari to complete the historic task of drafting the Constitution.
    It was this Constituent Assembly which took over as the Legislative Assembly of India late in the evening of 14 August, 1947.
    The Constitution of India was adopted on 26 November, 1949. In all, 284 members of the Constituent Assembly signed the Constitution on 24 January, 1950. On that day it was drizzling outside, as if nature was excited about what was going to happen.

    Finally when the Constitution came into force on 26 January, 1950, the Assembly became the Provisional Parliament of India until a new Parliament was constituted in 1952.

    Indians started celebrating Independence Day seventeen years before actually gaining independence, from January 26, 1930 onwards. And hence, this exact date was chosen to enact the Constitution.

    Every year on January 26, a grand parade is held in New Delhi beginning from Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan, along the Rajpath, past India Gate, and on to the monumental Red Fort. Different regiments of the Armed Forces march in formation. The President of India takes the salute. A Head of State of another nation is usually the Chief Guest. The forces will be followed by dance troupes to symbolize the cultural heritage of India, students dressed in the tricolour, NCC cadets and recipients of National Bravery Award. At the end there is a flypast by the Indian Air Force. Jet planes fly leaving a streak of tricolour in the sky.

    Republic Day like the other national holidays is a day to pause for a moment, look back into our past, and then jump forward into a great future.

    And for this time, I wish you all a great Republic Day and tremendous growth.



    My India, My Pride Badge

    - Akshay

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    Saturday, January 16, 2010

    Why Your Dreams Must Be Unattainable

    What is there in simply dreaming about things that would never happen??!!!
    You can dream, dream and dream...(like APJ says).....but...life is not a bed of roses.
    When I showed my list of dreams, one of my dearest friends asked me the above question.

    And I answered: Because,
    Reaching the goal is not the goal. Striving to reach there is the goal 
    - Swami Chinmayananda


    To repeat Chinmayananda in my own words, dreams are not meant to be achieved they are just reminders to move on. When you are a student, score maximum, when you are writing entrance aim for the top, when you are a doctor, try to be a better doctor, and then try to start a hospital of your own. Then may be you can expand that as a chain to other parts of India, then the whole world. Or start blogging. Or travel to places. Or treat poor people in remote villages.

    Just having a dream is not enough. The dream should be sky high.


    If you have a small dream from your childhood, and you somehow achieve that dream, then you stop growing. You stop learning new things. You get stuck in life. Problems begin to pile up. Your job will have become so boring to you that you will concentrate on your problems more and innovative ideas less. And then life starts to become boring. And that is when life is really going to be a thorny bed.

    But when you dream big, you try (at least try) to make things happen. And that would require that you grow. You will have to learn new things to make your dream happen. You may have to travel. You may have to meet people. But you grow.

    If you really take life in its sense, then these are really roses.

    Heard this story?
    Two guys were walking through the jungle when they spotted a lion. One of them reached into his bag and pulled out a pair of running shoes. The other guy looked at him.
    "Do you really think those shoes are going to make you run faster than that lion?"
    "No, and I don't have to. I just have to run faster than you."
    Though I don't suggest this policy, this is life these days.  You don't have to be the best, but you can be somewhere in front of the trailing lot, and you will be surviving. When you do nothing you just rot away. But when you try to reach somewhere, you end up at least a little higher.

    So, dream high so that you move on. And remember that even though you may never reach your dreams, you will reach higher than most other people, and that would suffice almost always.

    To sum up,
    "When you stop dreaming, you stop growing."

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    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    The Never Forget Rule About Reading

    Of course reading is the best habit on the planet. A man IS what he reads. This is very evident from the fact that children who are exposed to books on atheism or rational thinking grow up as atheists or naturalists and the children who are forced to read the mythological books only most often end up as hard and fast believers.
    (Well if you think the above observation is invalid then try that at your own kids. Even if they are a few years too old, when they get to read books like Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained they will start telling you thousand reasons why God probably does not exist)
    Or leave all that ask a kid doing well in science whether they are/were subscribing to any scientific magazines or weeklies. The answer will most probably be "...for 4 years or so..."

    But I know reading is great. I thought you had something else to tell.

    Yes, I am coming to it.
    This might not happen to everyone. But some people when they find a book interesting, they keep on reading the same kind of books one after another. And they will never be tired, so they will read more and more of the same kind.
    Now, that is a problem.
    You should NEVER read the same kind of things.
    Because reading is supposed to gain you ideas. And when you read the same stuff, may be from the same author or of the same genre, you will end up addicted to the same. Books are all interesting. You may be finding this interesting. But it does not mean that you will not find the other interesting. And may be when you start reading the other you will find that the other is more interesting than this one.
    But you never read the other stuff, so you will never know the other side.
    It is like always having vanilla shade of ice-cream because you liked it the first time you ate it. Sometimes you may like strawberry much more.

    And this is particularly true when you are reading things that may shape your opinion.
    For example you read a a book about socialism by Karl Marx (may be Das Kapital).
    Socialism is great and Karl Marx will show you why. And that idea will seem interesting to you too.
    And then you have two options.
    Either go for the Communist Manifesto or for a "Capitalist Manifesto"
    If you go for the first you will end up as a biased frog in the well.
    But if you go for the latter you will end up learning a lot about both the ideas, about the differences between them, about the pros and cons of each and you can always decide which one is better.
    Because when you read only one, unless you are reading from wikibooks, you are hearing from just one side. And you will never know what lies they tell you.

    So that is it. Read. And read diverse.

    Don't narrow your collection to a single colour.

    Make it a point to read an entirely different book after you finish the one you are reading now.
    You will end up a lot more.

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    Sunday, January 3, 2010

    Couldn't mind be naturally 'supernatural'?

    I just got a hypothesis to prove that supernatural may be natural. Well I actually got that idea when I was trying to make my first post at Brights India (a group of Brights in India, Brights are the people who like the naturalistic way of the world), but there's no way I can adapt that in another way to put in here. So I'm just copy pasting the whole thing. Keep in mind that I wrote this not to you, still I want to say this to you too.

    Let me first excuse myself, this is my first post here, I might be sounding odd.

    But couldn't mind have powers that some of us are just being unable to use?

    Let me clarify myself.
    Our brain can convert sensory inputs from eye, ear, nose, skin, tongue (that's where modern science is now) that is visible spectum, audible frequency, smell, temperature roughness, taste

    Now think of sharks which can sense electromagnetic field.

    To continue what I'm going to say I need to make an assumption -
    "that there could be, like the electromagnetic waves, another kind of waves or radiation or energy, which the modern science is yet to experimentally confront."
    (and with that i must add "did anyone know about electricity before faraday (or is it oersted?) discovered it?")

    and there's one thing to note that if there's such a thing it's properties could be vastly different from any other things we have observed. It may not be like light. it may not be like particles or waves. and of course i can not tell what it will be like.

    [the whole point of this post is that assumption. if that is wrong i'm dead]

    If you agree with that let us call those rays asd rays (that's the abbreviation of my full name - so that if in case someone finds it i can tell that i had predicted it and name it under my name, got the point? :D)

    now i hope i am right when i say that "evolution does not depend on whether we understand it or not"
    (that is to say like we have the electron behaving like a wave when we observe it and like a particle when we do not in Young's double slit experiment)
    So I believe that
    "even if we don't know that asd rays exist, our DNAs know it" (my goodness, that is an interesting point, could our body be knowing what our mind doesn't? could we be knowing more than what we know?)

    And so let us assume our body has evolved mechanism to receive asd rays (like we do with light rays)

    And if we can receive asd rays we may be able to send asd rays too.. may be (like we can create sound, and hear sound)

    And may be there is some organ in our yet-to-be-studied-fully brain which CAN actually send and receive asd rays.

    now, may be the composition of asd rays is such that it doesn't require a medium to pass through.
    and may be it could interact with things (sound can make things vibrate, light can strike electrons off)
    ------------------------

    OK. that is all the assumptions we have to make.

    Now my intentions are clear.

    Couldn't there be such a mechanism in our brain or mind or body? (which can make things like telepathy, spoon bending, apple from thin air, etc. possible)
    ------------------------

    Reply from akshay s dinesh to asd of india

    But if there's such an organ, our body would let our mind know it. For, do we have to learn that we can use the eye to see, ear to hear, etc. Should there be such an organ we must be knowing about it.

    reply from asd to akshay

    but do we come to realize that we have a liver, or a spleen by ourselves? (I never knew there existed an organ called spleen until I watched a mother killing her step daughter hitting on the spleen with a hammer in reality tv)
    i mean may be this is an involuntary organ.
    (like our heart rate gets automatically lowered when we're calm and vice versa)

    ------------------------------------

    Well I know all these are assumptions. But this is my hypothesis to make many things that we term supernatural as natural.. So that there wouldn't be any fight at all (i don't like fights)
    and therefore i wish to invite you to contribute to this idea too. That is to say instead of asking me questions. Help me make this idea a perfect hypothesis waiting to be proved.

    Well, that's it. I know this is crazy. Still.
    This is the link to the actual thread.

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