When I was growing up, I had to face an annoying member of my family. And the member being an elder one bullied me to no end. Then, I use to think that let me grow up fast, and then I will show this person what I am! I then believed that once I grew up I’ll be independent in my life and then no one will have any say in my life. I did grow up and became fairly independent at a very early stage, both financially and emotionally, and had a good fortune not to see that person anymore. Well, being a family member we still have contacts but the person was out of my life long back once I stepped out of my house. But did it mean I did not have anyone else subsequently in my personal or professional life who was not a trouble monger to me? Or to state the broader perspective, did my problems seize to exist?
You are all aware of the answer! The ‘problems’ never seizes to occur. Rather they continuously appear in your life, time and again. The intelligent is the one who accepts this fact and makes his or her lifestyle such that it has ample room to accommodate the problems. The problems then don’t scare the intelligent because he or she knows that the only way to tackle them is to take them head-on and not by escaping or trying to avoid them. With this mindset, you attack the problems rather than getting defensive about it. And when you attack the problems head-on, you are actually engaging your-self in finding the solutions to your problems.
My experience in life has taught me one thing; a problem is as big or as small as you want to see it. And an example to that statement would be of a soldier who has lost a vital organ in the battle field but still has a smile on his face and continues with his life dealing with all problems still managing a smile on his face and with pride in his heart. At the same time, you will find many people in your day to day life, despite having the required materialistic possessions to sustain a good life and reasonably sound physical health, still complaining and cribbing day-in and day-out about the pettiest of issues! Really funny! No?…No, the real irony.
My simple suggestion to tackle a problem is to find the root cause of it. When you find the root cause, you will be in a better position to make a judgement about it. To give perspective to this rational, I would like to quote an example from the usage of technology. When we deal with systems and applications, there are occasions when we find errors showing up while using the system or the application e.g. when you check your bank statement every month, you find that your total balance does not tally as per your calculations. You do a deep dive and provide all the details to the bank staff. The bank representative looks into the matter and finds that all papers and documents are proper and in place. He further forwards the query to his technical staff for resolution of the issue. The technical guy after doing a thorough check finds that one particular investment account is not linked to your master account and hence there was a discrepancy. So, here the root cause was the linkage of a secondary account to the primary account was not in place.
Similarly, in life too we have issues interlinked with people and things. Only we need to untangle one wire at a time to reach to the main cause. See, if you can fix that. If not, continue to live with it making arrangements in your life so to have a bare minimum impact on your well-being and mental peace.
Some interesting quotes about problems:
“Never tell about your problems to others…20% don’t care about them and the rest 80% would be glad that you have them!”
“If you decorate your problem, you may not want to get rid of it.”
“When you only focus on problems, you will have more problems. When you focus on solutions and possibilities, you will have more opportunities.”
Your true potential lies in starting from scratch again. And you are never too old, never too late and never too weak to start from scratch again.
Everything begins with a desire. Desire leads to action. The action gets you results. If you can dream it, you can do it. And if you can imagine it, you can achieve it.
You are UNHAPPY with what you have. Someone is HAPPY with less of what you have. What makes one happy? It is not the materialistic possessions or money but your ATTITUDE! Have a positive and healthy attitude always.
I am holding on to my grudges, anger, and hatred. What am I getting in return? More grudge, more anger, and more hatred. The cycle is vicious. What if I let it GO! I will have a chance to discover peace of mind and joy. Decide for yourself. Pick the right choice!
When the time is tough and things are going wrong, just close your eyes and say ‘I know I am being shaped for good, this is my test and I’ll pass it with flying colours. I’ll wait for the day when God will reward me for being this strong’!
Fear, anger, and hatred are the outcome of your insecurity.
A child fears nothing while trying something new…and enjoys the whole process and the outcome. An adult thinks ten times before attempting something new….and lives with constant fear throughout the process. Have a child’s attitude always!
Life is like that; when you thought all is set and nothing can go wrong now…you get hit the hardest! Similarly, when you thought all is finished and nothing can be done now…blessings happen and you hit a fortune!
Two things that make you RICH are good health and peace of mind. No matter what all you accumulate throughout your life, if you are not healthy enough to enjoy it or if it does not provide you any peace, you remain POOR.
When things are going on well, we all perform well. It’s only in crisis that our real potential is tested… as to how well we can perform in the adversity. Be the real performer!
We get engaged in our daily fire fighting mode, busy making stop gap arrangements, putting stuff under the carpet… and life goes on. Take a break! Think about the person you want to be and put your efforts in that direction.
Excerpts from my upcoming book Fireflies of Gulab Bagh and other Short Stories:-
Udaipur, the city of lakes is situated in the state of Rajasthan, India. It is a beautiful city with a rich heritage of the legendary warrior- Maharana Pratap, the erstwhile king of Mewar. It is also the city where many iconic movies were shot like the Bollywood movie Guide and the Hollywood James bond movie Octopussy.
The city is really beautiful or was beautiful during the seventies and earlier periods. It has beautiful lakes; all filled with water and could touch the brim during the rainy season. The city also has lots of mesmerising forts and palaces which speak about the royal grandeur that this city once enjoyed. And then there are the beautiful green parks all across the city. There is the ‘Sahalion ki Baadi’, the Nehru garden, the Town Hall Park and many more. But the biggest of them is the Gulab Bagh – the Rose Garden. It is situated at the north corner of the city. It is a huge public park and had a special garden only for Rose plants. This rose garden had a variety of roses in terms of colour and breed. Legend has it that at one point in time it even had Rose plants producing black roses!
The entrance has a huge green coloured iron gates. There are two lion statues carved out of stone atop both the pillars supporting the huge gates. The lions are painted yellow and their tongue painted red. This magnificent rose garden was built by Maharaja Sajjan Singh and is situated near the royal palace and on the east side of the lake known as Lake Pichhola. Within this garden, there is also a zoo which at one time had lions, tigers, leopards, bears, and many other wild animals including various kinds of bird species. The most spectacular part of Gulab Bagh was a public library in the middle of it with collections of ancient manuscripts and other books. This library was situated in the high ceiling building which was of Mewar style architecture and was painted in lemon yellow colour. It also had a reading room where newspapers, journals, and various magazines were kept.
The year was 1977. Just outside of the Gulab Bagh, there was the Garden Hotel. This place or the building belonged to the royal family who was known among the locals as ‘Durbar’. They now run this place as a tourist hotel. There was a small paan shop attached to the outer walls of the ‘Garden Hotel’ just adjacent to the main entrance of the hotel. A straight road ran in front of the GulabBagh gate with either side of the road having a housing colony. One was known as ‘Radha Niwas’ and the other one as ‘Kamla Badi’. These were middle-class localities where most of the households were engaged in services, either government or private, and some managing their small business or shops.
The Kamla Badi was bigger in terms of having more houses. Most of them were single-story, small to medium size bungalows except for a few which were of two stories. In terms of the overall area, Kamla Badi was more or less similar to Radha Niwas except that Radha Niwas was differently laid out. The entire area (land) of Radha Niwas belonged to four brothers, the Agarwals. The land was divided among the four brothers and each one got one portion also known locally as ‘Khet’(in local language land for ploughing or agriculture). They had built independent bungalows on the periphery of these four khets. They had a palatial three-story bungalow in one corner of these khets and rest of the houses, eight in all with two bungalows to each brother were all rented out. The khets were given on contract to a farmer annually. Among these eight bungalows of the Agarwals, two adjacent bungalows were rented out to the Mukherjee family and the Hopkins family respectively.
Every day in the evening I would go for the walk, all dressed up in track pants and sports shoes. I would look around to the people and the shops that were there on the side of the road. The road had a variety of shops…from hair saloons to wine shops, from small tea stalls to medium size restaurants, from grocery shop to furniture shop and many more. It had almost any and everything that one can think of. Slowly, I began to recognize the people and the faces looked familiar.
While returning, I used to pass by a particular bus stop. This bus stop was the last but one to the place where I stayed. And at this Bus stop, I started noticing one couple every day sitting on the bench. They were in the twilight stage of their lives. Both the man and the woman must be in their late sixties or early seventies. The man wore specs and was tall. He was partially bald and had a very fair complexion. He was lean and athletically built. At least, he appeared to me like that irrespective of his age. I should say, he must have been a handsome man in his younger days. He still looked handsome I thought. On the other hand, the lady was short in height but had sharp features. She too was very fair and had big black eyes beautifully lined with kajal (black eyeliner) and had a glowing complexion. Her hair was long…sometimes loosely tied and sometimes left open. She looked very elegant in both the styles with her tresses. She always had a smile on her face; a very warm and genuine smile. The man also looked very content.
I seldom saw them talking. The man would look straight most of the time but the woman would rotate her head to have a glance in all directions as if not to miss any of the happenings around them. I believe this is how men and women differ in their respective basic nature! Initially, I thought that they must be waiting for the bus but slowly as I noticed them every day at the same time, I concluded that they were not waiting for any bus. I was curious to know why they were at the bus stop rather than to be at the park which was nearby. Maybe, they liked to watch people around and at this time of the day, the park would be empty. Somehow, they reminded me of the lines of the famous Welsh poet W.H Davies, who wrote in his poem Leisure ‘what is this life if, full of care; we have no time to stand and stare’.
Yes, they had all the time in this busy world and they were enjoying all the moments which life was offering to them. This bus stop was not much crowded and was on a wider road. So, in a way, it was better. Sometimes, I saw both of them eating sandwiches which they brought with themselves. Later, the man would pour some hot coffee or tea for both from a Thermos.
This is life, I thought. Life can offer so many beautiful moments. Only we need to have the time and patience and a sense of appreciation for it.
This has been happening for a couple of years now. There is a traffic signal just near to my house. Actually, it’s at the turn off to the main road which leads to my housing complex. So, what’s special about this traffic signal? Let me give you some background on what I am talking about.
Almost around two years ago while returning home from my office I first noticed him at this signal. It was late in the evening in the month of July and was drizzling mildly. Mumbai rains are at their peak during this time. I distinctly noticed him as among the halted cars and other vehicles at the red signal, he tried to balance his little and somewhat torn umbrella with his tilted shoulder on one side and limping around trying to hold on to his crutches with his two hands. As he halted near the window of a car, he stretched out his hand. Yes, I believe he was a beggar by profession. He must be around sixty years old and was wearing a white skull cap. He was having a little beard and wore a loose-fitting kurta (a long full sleeve shirt with button till chest) with a lungi wrapped around his waist. Somehow, he had a striking personality! And on top of it, he was constantly smiling! I don’t know the reason but I had a liking for this guy.
This particular signal near my house was the longest red light stop that I had to face daily while returning from office during late evening times. As that man limped around near to my car, I thought of helping him out with a ten-rupee note. I stretched my hand to pick my wallet and I could see him stretching his hand outside my car window wearing the same smile that he had all through this while since I noticed him. Suddenly, the traffic light changed to green and I could hear loud honking by the cars just behind mine. As I struggled to get the money out from my wallet with one hand and with the other opening and adjusting the car window pane, the honking got worse. I knew the green light was for a very short duration maybe for thirty seconds only. Everyone was in a hurry especially the guys on the bikes and scooters as the drizzle was getting worse. I looked outside the window and saw him smiling. This time I was not sure whether it was his genuine smile that he had all this while or if it was at my struggle to take out the money from my wallet. As I had half-opened the window, the drizzle was pouring inside my car now. The fear that the signal might turn red any moment now, I changed the gear and moved ahead looking at him with an apologetic smile. He was smiling as usual and waved me goodbye!
I felt bad as I parked my car inside our residential complex. I was feeling bad that I could not hand out the ten-rupee note to him. Maybe next time! I consoled myself.
And the next time happened the very next day itself! I could hand out the ten-rupee note to him and we exchanged some pleasantries too! I felt good.
Now I would often meet this guy at the signal provided it was red at that time of my crossing it. I would hand over him some money and would inquire about his health and other things. He would answer my questions and then would talk some general talks about the neighbourhood and about his family etc. He told me that he was a factory worker earlier in a packaging plant and lost his one foot due to an accident. He could not retain his job and due to bad financial circumstances at home, he had to resort to begging. One thing that I came to know from him that he was not coming to the signal daily but only on days when he was in need of some money. I found that very striking but it gelled perfectly with his personality.
After a few months, I observed that during our interactions on the signal he started chanting some prayer as soon as I use to hand over the money to him. Just for clarity, I had also raised the amount to Rs Fifty and some time I gave him a hundred rupee note. And for more clarity, my giving him money was more from my liking him and enjoying his interactions rather than to be a saviour to his monetary need. Somehow I believed he did not require any monetary help but was doing this out of his love to interact with people. So, in a way, we were mutually helping each other!
My one-minute interactions with him over the months and year led to an enhancement of my knowledge about the locality and some religious beliefs of Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. I was not sure about his education being the result of his reading books on these subjects or if it was what his father and grandfather taught him which he was sharing with me. Anyways, I was not bothered about that. I just like listening to him. I was in awe of his simple demure and that soft gentle voice with that all-time smile on his face.
It was in the month of May. That particular day while returning from office I was slightly off- mood. I had a really bad day. A lot of issues that day in the office and had some heated arguments during an important meeting. My mind was wandering in too many directions. As I reached the signal near my house, I saw him waving at me. He was at the window of the car in front of me. I smiled back at him and reached out for my wallet. I found I just had a five hundred rupee note in my wallet. By this time he had reached near my car’s window. I lowered the window glass and smiled again at him. He started talking about the heat. It was really hot outside in spite of being such late in the evening. I was not listening to him but was thinking about the only five hundred rupee note that was there in my wallet.
‘Should I give him….but five hundred would be a big amount’. I was thinking.
‘So what, you like…don’t you?’ I heard my inside voice.
‘But what if this raises his expectation?’
I could hear him still speaking on whether and as I reached out to pick my wallet reluctantly I saw his eyes staring at my wallet. I had still not opened it and was not sure if I wanted to…I again looked at him with a kind of confused look. He understood my dilemma…I believe. He suddenly closed his eyes and started chanting the little prayer that he always chanted. Suddenly, the cars behind me started honking. The signal turned to Green. I was still in a dilemma and looked at him. He slowly opened his eyes and with his ever smiling face moved a couple of steps behind and with a bigger smile waved me goodbye. I signalled with my hand that I will give him money next time. I moved my car ahead. I gave him one last look and gave a guilt-ridden smile. He had his normal smile on his face. His was a genuine smile. He again waved at me in a sense more like as if blessing me.
I reached my home. I was now feeling miserable as I parked my car in our housing complex. I hated myself.
‘So, Rs Five hundred is so dear to you? You hypocrite..!’
‘Ok, I am sorry…It was a mistake.’ I heard telling myself. While changing in my bedroom, I took out that Rs Five hundred not and kept it in the inside pocket of my wallet.
‘I’ll give this to him tomorrow. Yes, I would get down at the signal and will give him the Rs Five hundred note.’ I seem to be consoling myself. Actually, I was consoling my guilt.
Next day as I reached the signal while returning home, I tried looking for him but could not locate him. I crossed the signal and looked around. He was nowhere to be seen. I got down from my car and inquired about him with a couple of local shopkeepers including that Paan shop guy. They said he has not come today.
The next day too he was not there. That whole week I did not see him.
It has been more than three months now…I did not see him again after that last meeting with him.
‘What could have happened?’ This question intrigues me every day in the late evening as I cross the traffic signal while returning from office. My eyes search for him all around but he is nowhere to be seen.
He seems to have gone…forever!
I miss him. I have lost a friend.
The crisp Rs Five Hundred note is still kept in the inside pocket of my wallet.
What has been the lesson for me?
We take many things for granted in our life, especially the ones which appear very simple and trivial to us. But life plays on different rules and nothing is for sure. Though there will always be a next time in your life but on those rare occasions, the ‘next time’ will never happen! So, do now what you feel is to be done now rather than leaving it for later or some other time.