In Search of Myself…

Wooden bridge across the river

When I was a child, in the school

I never wondered who I was

I was a carefree soul…

Study and play that was all what I did

Never bothered as to who I was…

A good or a bad boy, a dumb or an intelligent student,

I was who I was and never bothered about how or what I was

But as I grew older, in college

I started wondering, who I am

What I will be in life, if I am good…

A good student?, a good son?, a good friend?

I was bothered…bothered about everything

What I studied in college, it was not what I wanted to

But I had no choice, I had to…

You need to be a graduate to be eligible for any job, I was told

And I graduated and still remained unsure of myself…

Who I was, what is my place in this world..

I had dreams; I had the fire…to conquer the world…to show them what I am capable of

But actually, I never knew what I was capable of…

But I was sure, I never wanted to become like a common man

I thought I was different…and I was different, I believed

I was different but doing the same odd things that everyone else was doing around me

But still I believed I was different and never wanted to become like the common man…

Doing the same odd things led into a job, only to make my parents happy

It was an achievement then…to get a good job, ‘good’ directly related to the salary

Could not figure out what was the good in the job…but continued doing it for years,

And still believing I was different and I will show it to the world….I continued with my job

I made some money, bought a house and a big car;

And continued doing the same things as what everyone was doing

Over the years I became more as a Manager, Vice President, Director…

My friends and colleagues too, had more or less similar or even better adjectives

And then suddenly after all these years I realised I was no different from others…

And that I could not show anything different to this world…

And now, there was even no fire left within…

In fact the fire died long-long ago…and I was never ever aware of the fact

And I had only this much to show the world

These few adjectives beside my name…

This is what I could show to this world…in all these years, only this much! What a pity!

And now I ask myself; Are you The Manager or The Vice President or The Director?

No, I am not…I am none of all these, I tell this to myself

 I am none, I repeat again to myself

I am a free soul, I am the master of my own life, I slowly whisper to myself

I want to write my own destiny…even at this stage of my life, I want to write

And whether it makes me or breaks me completely, I care none

But I want to be the writer of my life’s drama, my life’s karma

And no one should dictate me my terms

And No, I don’t want to be anyone else…

And neither wants to carry the heavy burden of those phoney adjectives…

I am the wanderlust, the painter, the writer…an artist

Let me see this world as the wanderlust, as a painter, as a writer…as an artist

I take this small step forward…to see the world, in search of myself…

Note : Written in autumn of 2012

Life Quotes : 1

Life is not about finding yourself; Life is about creating yourself.

When life leads you to a difficult path; it is to take you to a beautiful destination.

It’s a funny thing about LIFE; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, very often you get it!

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

Life is a box of chocolates. you never know what you are going to get.

Life is like riding a bicycle. if you stop, you fall. So just keep moving.

I believe the primary purpose of life should be to be happy. if you achieve all other things and still be unhappy, that life is not worth living.

Note: Compiled from various authors.

5 Daily Habits To Improve Your Life

Do you feel a sense of guilt or remorse when you go to bed in the night or when you wake up in the morning? Do you often feel that life is not going the way as how you would have wanted it to be? Well, if the answer is Yes, then what are you doing about it? How are you going to change this situation? Whatever be the situation or circumstances, some basic daily habits if followed religiously can help us to lead a meaningful life. It will help you to lead a beautiful life where you will have inner peace, a sense of belonging, growth for your self and a sense of joy. Remember what you do on a daily basis greatly impacts your life in the long run. The following daily habits will surely help you in leading a better life:-

  1. Sleep early/Get up early:This can be of immense benefit to you. When you get up early, you have couple of un-interrupted hours for yourself. Use it to your benefit. Read, write, exercise, and meditate…whatever that will help you in your life. Just remember- use your mind to create the environment and not let the environment dictate terms to your mind. For example,  getting up early in the morning and the first thing you do is to reach out for your smart phone and then just waste your time going through endless notifications, posts and updates …No, not a good habit! It is a real waste of time!
Early to bed and early to rise Pic Credit: Google

The morning time is very precious. How you utilize your morning hours will define how you would be spending your entire day. And remember, how you spend your each day would ultimately define your destiny!

Robin Sharma, the motivational speaker and the mentor to world famous billionaires has worked hard for four years to write the book – 5 AM Club! In the book he emphasis the benefits of getting up daily at 5 am and how to utilize the morning one hour to improve your life drastically

Getting up early would be possible only if you sleep early!…yes, that’s true. Ninety present of people spend their time watching TV late in the night. This is absolutely hazardous not only to your health but to your overall wellbeing. Another important thing- to sleep early, you must have your dinner early. There should be a gap of around two hours between your intake of dinner and going to bed. Post dinner you should engage in some sort of light movements of your body so that whatever you have eaten is digested properly.

So, the bottom line here is – you need to form healthy habits that would improve your life drastically in the long run. And believe me, once you start a routine and follow it daily for around two months – it will become a habit. Subsequently, you will find it easy to perform those habits. 

2. Have a To Do list Ready Prior NightSpend some time before you hit the bed about your schedule for the next day. Think about the activities or the tasks that you would be doing. Better, write it down in your note book or in your diary. Set priority to the tasks. This way, you would be very clear as to what all things needs to be accomplished the next day resulting your day to be highly productive and also saving you on your precious time. Your daily plan would help you to set your short term and long term goals. Once you start achieving your daily goals then soon you will start achieving your short term goals as well. Achieving your short term goals would automatically yield in achieving your long term goals in future.

The crux of the matter is that your day should be productive enough to have a cumulative positive impact on your future.

Things to remember- Just making a To-do list is not enough but completing the listed tasks is more important! And to achieve this, you need to ensure that you have a focused mind and a positive environment around you.

3. Have your Meals on Time- This is very important. Ensure that you are having timely and healthy breakfast/lunch/dinner. Whatever be the circumstances and how so ever you are busy and engaged- still try to have your meals on time. If you want you can do it…all the time!

Have timely meals with Family Pic Credit: Google

One of the key ingredients to a better life is staying fit and maintaining a healthy life style. Often this salutary knowledge comes to one self very late in life! But sooner the better! Physical activity along with good (read it as simple) diet is a must for a healthy and a happy life. There is a vast amount of information available on the internet on what to eat and when to eat etc. Make yourself aware as much as possible and then decide on your diet. Remember, the more informed you are the better decisions you will make. My suggestion would be to take more of homemade food rather than going for packaged foods. More raw fruits intake rather than processed fruit juice. These are very basic and simple eating habits that our parents and grandparents followed. And you can surely vouch what excellent health they had even in their old age!

4. Spend Quality Time with Family As a habit; ensure that you spend couple of hours daily with your wife/kids/parents. Be just a family person during this time (forget about your big designations or how big a business tycoon you are…!). When you are with your spouse, just be a husband or a wife! Nothing more! Don’t treat your spouse like an employee of your organisation or one of your team members. And especially for the Husbands- never try to win over an argument with your wife…just accept that her wisdom is much more than yours (no pun intended!). Similarly, when you are with your kids, just be like a father or a mother. Don’t try to impose your maturity and the righteous of things on the poor kids. Enjoy the time with your children and ensure they also have a good time with you. Remember that you don’t distract yourself with TV or your smart phone while playing/interacting with your kid. The child will not like this. For grown up kids, try to have meaningful conversation with them trying to know what is happening in their world. Ensure that they are comfortable interacting with you. And lastly, don’t be harsh to your old parents. Along with love and care, they expect kindness and respect. Do make them feel important by listening to their views and opinion.

If you are staying alone or are single/bachelor, ensure you spend quality time at home where you can enjoy and relax by listening to music, reading, cooking or simply just laze around. Always remember that you might be alone but don’t make yourself feel lonely!

5. Be Honest- Lastly, ensure that you are neat, clean and honest in your thoughts and in your daily life. Be honest. Honest to yourself and honest to the others. Whatever be the situation or circumstances, never lose your honesty and integrity. Always hold your head high and be proud of your achievements- big and small, personal and professional. At the same time accept your failures with grace. Remember the greatest courage is to bear defeat without losing heart. Give yourself a chance to rectify your mistakes. You deserve a pardon from yourself. When faced with failure, feel the pain and then get up again with more vigour and enthusiasm to pursue your goals. And this cycle should keep on repeating till your last breath as you are in a journey- a journey leading to your freedom. Freedom from everything and….everybody!

I am sure if you imply these habits in your daily life and follow it religiously on a daily basis, you will definitely see the compounding effect within a short span of time. Do share your feedback and let me know if you found this helpful.


How To Become Mentally Strong in 180 days!

                                                                  Mentally Strong?                                Pic Credit : Google

We have often seen in our daily life, in our home and at work place, how some people doing so many things single handed but always wear a smile on their face. We have seen them taking all the pressure or stress and still delivering the results in a timely manner .Despite all obstacles and issues (personal and professional) they never fail us in their behaviour and delivery. They portray a calm and restricted response in all adverse situations. Often we hear people say ‘Oh, how efficient they are!’ or ‘My god! They are really mentally strong!’

So, did you ever wonder what does it mean to be a mentally strong person? Did it ever cross your mind that, is being mentally strong an inborn quality or if it is a skill that can be acquired? Do you find yourself mentally strong enough?

Firstly, you need to know that you cannot become mentally strong overnight. It needs time and patience. A mentally strong person would be someone who can take pressure, both at work and at home, that is devoid of any anger, panic or any unnatural form of behaviour. A mentally strong person remains calm under pressure while performing his obligations in an compromised manner. He or she deliver results,takes criticism on face without getting hyper, mostly responding to the difficult situations rather than reacting to it, maintains his or her cool in all kind of adversity and finally have the guts to bear the pain without complaining. Yes, these are the attributes of a mentally strong person.

How can you attain these attributes? Well, you need to have the following attributes in your character to help you become mentally strong:-

Self Confidence   

Cultivate a sense of self confidence. Develop self-confidence over a period of time by working out independently, achieving small goals and small success. Reach out for help only when it is critical or if there is an emergency. Be very hands on with whatever you do. Have faith in yourself. Remember knowledge is power so acquire as much knowledge as you can by reading books on various topics. Gain experience in different environment and with different people. Getting exposure is really important. Remember, the dictionary meaning of self-confidence is ‘a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgement’.

Another way of developing self-confidence is to learn from your failures. Instead of losing heart and sulking over your failures, do a stock taking of the events and move ahead. There will be many more opportunities to prove yourself but just ensure you are not repeating your mistakes. This way you will gain confidence in yourself and in your abilities.

‘The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.’ — William Jennings Bryan

Facing Criticism

One of the toughest things in the process of becoming Mentally Strong is to learn how to face the criticism. There would be plenty of occasions when you will be criticized- un-necessarily. You have to learn to face the flak without reacting. And this is a big challenge! You need to understand that this is basic human nature- to criticize. And many a times, most of the criticism would be from the near and dear ones. The people whom you think you are close to. The best way to deal with it is – just don’t get too much bogged down with it. Just listen and filter out the trash- the small talks of small people! Keep in mind one thing- never inflate your ego when showered with praise and similarly never get bogged down when pelted with criticism. You should ensure that your character remains constant in all circumstances. You basic character should not change with time or situation.

Along with unwanted criticism, you may also have to face with insults and humiliation. In all situations, hold your head high and maintain your self-respect. There may be occasions, especially when dealing with close family members or during a critical job/business related situation, where you have to swallow your pride. Never mind! No one can take away your pride from you… you have earned it and it will always remain with you. Sometimes, when the winds blow very hard during storm, the gentle trees have to bend so that they can get straight again after the storm recedes. Mentally strong people behave like the gentle trees!

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.’ ― Dale Carnegie

Accepting Failure

Mentally strong people are not afraid of failure. They understand that to achieve success they have to pass through the lanes and by-lanes of failure. And failing not once but multiple times! In fact they take lessons from their failures and ensure that they are not repeating the same mistakes again. Treat every failure as an event and always tell yourself- there would be another opportunity or rather many more opportunities!

So, who’s afraid of the failures? Not You!

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’ ― Winston S. Churchill

No Expectations

Mentally strong people don’t expect much from others. They are aware of the reality and are intelligent enough to manage alone if required. Once you start expecting from others…then you will be inviting only pain and disillusionment for yourself.

No, don’t ever expect from others because your expectations would never be met! The realities are very harsh and painful. Be prepared to accept that. Mentally strong people tread their path cautiously and never get derailed during their journey. If they get help along the way…it’s fine! Otherwise they find their own way to reach their goal. They move towards their goal with all the zeal and gusto…even if at times they have to tread it all alone.

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.’ 
― Alexander Pope

Never Complain

Mentally strong people never complain of their problems and discomforts. They bear the pain and ensure that they are performing their duties and delivering the results. You will see a gentle calmness on their face and in their behaviour. They will not make noise of the challenges that they face but would rather engage themselves in finding solutions. And, ultimately they do find solutions! That is what Mentally Strong people are made of! And once they are done with their job or have achieved their goal they will never brag about it. They will quietly move to their next goal or to the next obligation.

So, to become Mentally Strong, your focus should be to find solutions to the challenges you face in adverse conditions rather than making noise or getting panicked.

“Never tell your problems to anyone…20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them.’ ― Lou Holtz

Life will never be easy. When you are done with one issue, two more will crop up! And the cycle will continue. What is the point in getting upset or to feel bad about it? Get your act together and ensure that you are Mentally Strong enough to tackle all the challenges that life has to throw!

And by the way, did you know that most of the sports people believe that it requires 90% mental toughness and 10% physical fitness to win the game??


Identify Your Passion, Interest and Talent

                                                           The common Suggestion                      Pic Credit : Google

You often hear people say- Follow Your Passion!!

This is truer for the young people during their growing up years. Also, when one crosses his middle age, say at around forty, a sudden awakening arises and one starts thinking I should be following my passion!…So, the big question arises as to ‘What is my Passion?’ You ask this question to a senior corporate executive and he will instantaneously reply saying “Well, I always wanted to write! ‘I know I have something in me…I had written couple of poems and stories during my college days but somehow could not continue due to studies and job. But Writing is my passion!”

Would you agree to such a reply? And someone else might reply as ‘My passion is painting…you know! I use to draw beautifully in my school days and my teacher used to appreciate it very much! I had even won some prizes in school!! What to do…because of the studies and job I could not pursue my passion otherwise I am sure I would have earned a good name in the art field’.

More so, eighty per cent would tell you their passion was either to sing or to act and that they could have become a singer or an actor if they had persuaded their passion!

But have you ever heard from a painter or a singer or a writer that his passion was to do something else and that he or she became a singer or a painter or a writer by accident? Have they followed their passion??

Now the question arises as to how one can define what is his or her Passion? Or for that matter what is his or her interest or talent?

Let us try to figure it out. I’ll ask you a question-When you have time what you normally do? Well, you may like to read, watch TV, listen to music, play games, surf internet, meet friends and so many other things that you would do. Now, if you are to be asked ‘what is the one activity that you would always do when you have time?’  And you point out any particular activity/activities which you would always do when you have time. Then, can we say that this particular activity or these few activities are your ‘Interest’? Whenever you find time, you would like to do these activities because that is what you are interested in. To some extent this rational seems to be correct. The oxford dictionary states the meaning of interest as ‘An activity which one enjoys doing’.

On a broader level then, we can say that interest is something that one enjoys or likes to do or get involved in as it gives the person a mental joy and happiness.

Talent, on the other hand is very different from interest (and passion). My definition of talent would be – any skill or knowledge when executed or performed or exhibited by an individual achieves certain agreed standards and is appreciated or applauded by a big mass of people, it can be said as a talent of that particular individual.

                                                                 Talent can be developed?                            Pic Credit: Google

I was reading some time back about cricketer Yuvraj Singh. It seems that he was more interested in Tennis than cricket in his childhood. He wanted to play Tennis but his father made him play cricket. His father was also a cricketer but could not make it big but did make it till Ranji Trophy level. So, two things here -Yuvraj was interested in Tennis but his father saw his talent in cricket. Or maybe his father wanted him to become a cricketer and hence developed his talent in cricket. So, the question arises- Can talent be developed? Yes, talent can be developed too. I quoted Yuvraj’s example as a case where the talent was developed where as his interest was in something else (Tennis). I will now give you an example of natural talent. Many legends have achieved great heights without getting trained or attaining formal education in their chosen field. A good example is of singer Kishore Kumar. No training in classical music or any other form of music but look what great heights he has achieved in his career! Just listen to his songs- sheer magic!…this is inborn talent or what you call a natural talent. In this particular case, his interest and talent were the same- music!

Now where does Passion fits in all this?

Let’s first try to define what passion is all about? As per the Oxford dictionary, it states ‘An intense desire or enthusiasm for something’. In our context, let me put Passion as ‘ Any activity which makes your thought process revolves around that activity, makes you find time to perform that activity, makes you hungry to acquire more knowledge about that activity, and lastly it gives you immense joy performing that activity- this activity is Your Passion. You are just mad about this one thing and find means and ways to ensure that you are devoting maximum of your available time and energy doing this activity.

Again, remember one thing. You might be very passionate about doing an activity but it does not mean you are good or have talent for that activity. I have seen people spending their entire life in pursuing their passion in-spite of having no talent for it (sub-standard performance level).

Here I would like to share an interesting anecdote- Few years back I knew a person in my office who would always complain about the poor quality of Television serials in India in terms of content and story. He would always say ‘What are they showing?’

‘Is this the standard of our TV serials?’

‘What nonsense is Ekta Kapoor dishing out to our audience?’

‘I can write much better stuff’ and then he would talk about what all should be there in the TV serials. So, out of curiosity I asked him once ‘Have you ever written anything worth sharing?’

He was blank. He nodded his head in negative.

You see, people like him think that they are very talented (for example writing content for TV serials here). But this talent is only stored in their head. It has never come out among people. There is no feedback on what he has in his head. It’s like living in fool’s paradise thinking you are very talented!

So, coming back to our discussion, you can now see that all the three- interest, talent and passion as such are very distinguished among themselves but at the same time they are not mutually exclusive also. There would always be a common thread connecting all the three- Interest, Talent and Passion’.

I hope now you would be very clear in your mind as what to answer when somebody asks you ‘Are you following your Passion?


Baba -A Beautiful Short Story of Human Bonding

The old man!
                                                                                                Pic Credit: Google

It was a lazy hot summer afternoon in the month of May. I had just finished my Sunday lunch and was about to hit the bed for an afternoon siesta. As I lay on the bed my mind started wandering. Useless thoughts started pouring in. How I was heading in my professional career to how much financially secure I was so as to think of an early retirement….about my personal life. I also remembered my father, my Baba to me. Mind is like a universe. There is no circumferential limits to it and for that matter no visible horizon as well. So, the thoughts have the liberty and the opportunity to travel far and wide.

I was into these thoughts with some amount of sleep in my eyes when suddenly I heard a loud bang on my main door. I was surprised. Today being a Sunday, who could be there? As it is I don’t have many visitors at home and my only visitors on weekdays were the postman or the courier guys. I could not re-collect if I was expecting some one in this hot afternoon. I thought may be the cable guy has come and as I reached out for the main door, I heard a voice …’Sahib!’ and there was again a bang on the wooden door.

’ Sahib! ’

And again the bang!… and this rhythmic process continued. I pulled up a vest on top of my black shorts and headed towards the dining area. It had the side door leading to the main entrance in front of of my beautiful garden.

’Sahib’…this time the voice was more firm and louder. I opened the door and was amazed to see an old man in front of me with folded hands and a smiling face. On a second look, he seemed to me very old. He appeared to be  around eighty or eighty five five years old. He was dressed fully in white attire though not very clean. He had a white head gear which in Rajasthan, men wear it as a symbol of prestige and is called as Pagdi. It’s like a turban. He had a white subtle of 3-4 days. There were lot of wrinkles on his face but the most remarkable thing about him was his pair of eyes…bright and smiling! He was wearing a white kurta sort of shirt and a white dhoti with black old leather shoes. Somehow, he had a striking personality and his smile was mesmerizing donning that toothless face!

He was still folding his hands the way people do a Namaste. The first thing that I uttered seeing him was ‘Baba!’… I could see the similarities in the old man’s and my father’s eyes when he was alive. I often wondered if most of the old men looked alike with those wrinkles and toothless mouth?  I was impressed and not minding the hot summer wind blowing across my face and body I heard me saying ‘yes Baba…what?’

‘Can I clean your garden…there seems to be lot of wild grass around’.

‘But you want to clean it now…in this afternoon heat?’.

He laughed loudly and said ’no problem…I am used to it’. How wonderful he looked when he laughed with his toothless face!

‘I’ll clean the whole area’ he pointed out with his fragile hands and a serious look…he was not smiling now.

Twenty five rupees!’…he said and smiled again. He quoted his price in a manner that there was no room for any negotiation. Anyways, I would have given him hundred rupees without letting him do anything. He was just too old…and I had a soft corner for the old people. I was in a dilemma now…the man looked very old and fragile to me but at the same time he was asking for work and not begging. For a moment, I quickly did a stock taking of my house to see if any worthwhile work could be allotted to him. At least that would spare him to work in this heat outside. But nothing clicked to me at that point of time. The hot afternoon blaze was making it hard for me to stand outside . The summers in Rajasthan could be  horrible.

As I turned towards the old man, I saw him already getting down to his work! He had brought a small sickle with himself which he took out from the old plastic bag that he had kept near the gate. Even before I could provide him some directions as to what needs to be done or what needs to be cleaned, the old man was at his work. This really amazed me. A thought crossed my mind then. So this is what my Bosses always expected from me. This is what they always meant by saying ‘be proactive’. I believe every Boss’s expectations from his subordinates would be to be ready with all the plans and processes as soon as any new client is on boarded. I am sure my Bosses would have liked this old man seeing his pro-activeness and his focused nature. I just smiled at my thought.

I saw the old man start working from one corner of the garden. He was working very slowly but that’s how one would work at his age. Rather, he was doing very fine considering his age and the hot summer.

‘Baba, just remove the wild grass and only the weeds’. Finally, I instructed him.

Peeple tree
Pic Credit: Google

He did not give any ear to me. Just like my current Boss! I thought again. He also never gives any ear to any of my valuable idea or advice. But sometimes he does appreciate my ideas which results in a lengthy email by him  and circulating it to all important people with the subject line ‘Just a thought’! How shameful! …But I am sure my Boss would have liked this old man for being so focussed at his work. This ‘being focussed’ has been a point of discussion in many or almost all my appraisals so far…’you are doing a good job! But you need to be more focussed…you know! The Boss would say. No, I never knew until I saw this old man working in this hot afternoon with all the focus. Now I understand what ‘being focussed’ really mean. I am sure my Boss would have given this old man an excellent rating! Suddenly, I had a feeling of respect for this old man…after all he did taught me some good work ethos!

The heat was too much to bear now. I looked at him again and asked ‘Baba, you need water?’

This time he looked at me and smiled nodding his head in negative.

 ‘Ok then. Call me when you are done’. I told him and turned to get into the house.

As I entered, I could really feel the difference between the outside temperature and the coolness inside the house. I started the water cooler again and lay on the bed with soft pillows beneath my head and by my side. I don’t know why but I started remembering my father. He would sit for hours in the garden doing nothing but picking up the leaves that would fall from the tall Ashoka trees. He would also water the plants that were there in the garden. He was very proud of the house and the garden that he built. Our garden was the best maintained in the entire neighbourhood. This gave him lot of pride. He used to sit there, practically the whole day irrespective of seasons on his easy chair and would watch the garden as if he was sitting on the promenade of marine drive in Mumbai and staring at the sea. There was so much of joy and contentment in him doing all this activity day in and day out.

Sometimes I really wondered that if life could be this simple? So much joy out of nothing…When I had gone to Mumbai (then Bombay!) for my career prospects, I had requested both my parents to come and stay with me in my flat there instead of staying alone here, in Jaipur. My mother agreed but my father never agreed. He wanted to live and die in his ‘own house’. And ultimately he succeeded in doing that… and with full pride. I too felt proud of him! I still do. Deep into the past, I did not know when I just dozed off…

‘Sahib!’ I heard the old man calling me. I quickly got up and went out to see if he was done.

‘Yes Baba. Done?’ I asked.

‘Yes. Please check’. He said putting his old sickle in the torn out old polythene bag that he brought.

‘Ok…you have done a good job!’ I said seeing how nicely he had cleaned the whole garden. I went inside and got a fifty rupee note.

‘Here Baba, take this’. I said handing over the fifty rupee note to him.

‘I don’t have change’ he looked at me holding the note.

‘No, keep it. You have done a good job.’ I praised him again.

‘Thank you Sahib! So kind of you! He said folding the note and keeping it in his side pocket of his kurta. He turned slowly and without saying a word more, took his baby steps to proceed towards the main gate. I was slightly perplexed and disappointed. I thought he would talk some more showing his gratitude as to how grateful he was to receive twenty five rupees more but alas… 

Next Sunday, early in the morning when I was reading the newspaper in the garden having a cup of tea, I heard somebody opening the gate. I turned around and saw Baba…with his baby steps he came towards me and gave me a warm smile.

‘RamRam Sahib!’ he said with folded hands. (‘RamRam’ is synonym to ‘hello’ in Rajasthan and normally people fold or join hands while greeting each other. This is a tradition and a great culture which I really admire.)

‘Baba…Good morning! How are you?’

He just laughed without saying anything. Again, how wonderful he looked when he laughed with his toothless face!

He sat on the lawn. I went inside to get some tea for him. I handed over the cup to him and he held it with both his hands. I folded the newspaper and kept it aside. We chatted for some time. He told me about his family. His wife passed away few years back. He had three daughters and two sons. All his daughters were married and were staying with their husband. The two sons were also married but they stayed with their mothers-in law. I questioned him about that and he answered with grief that both the mothers-in law were better off than him and that is why both his sons deserted him. What a pity! I thought. And how shame full. What is the use of having a family which you bread all through your life if no one is around you in your old age.

I truly believe that this evil is present in all section of our society and across all classes. How can the sons and daughters become so selfish to desert an old man who is their father? …We chatted for some more time and I told him about myself and my job, my mother and father etc. He listened with great attention but did not ask any question. Then after some time he got up on his own and left. Before leaving, he washed his cup at the garden tap, and then took his baby steps towards the gate. I don’t know why but I felt good and liked his company. To be honest, I liked him the first time I saw him!

This became a ritual on every Sunday. I would wait for Baba to come in the morning and then we would have tea together discussing his family issues. I updated him about all the developments at my end. I would ask him about what he cooked that day and would joke with him that I’ll come to his house for lunch one day…and he would laugh loudly hearing this and then smartly point his hand towards my stomach saying that I had a big belly and for this reason alone he could not afford me for lunch! He told me that normally he made Bati and Dal (Dal Bati is a traditional Rajasthani dish made of wheat balls known as Bati heated or grilled usually over coal stove. This is served with hot Dal which is a cereal along with butter or ghee).

Seasons passed…from hot summers in May to rains in August and then to winters in December. Baba was regular at my place on Sundays. We chatted and had tea together.
Initially, I gave him some clothes on my own including a new Nike T-shirt that I had bought for myself. I made him wore in front of me…how happy he was and how wonderful he looked wearing a Nike maroon coloured round neck T-Shirt. Slowly, as time passed, he started putting forward his demands. And his demands related to the change of seasons like an umbrella, a pair of socks, a warm cloth, a blanket etc. Every Sunday he used to come and after having our morning tea, I handed over his things that he had demanded last week. To be honest, I liked it. The joy of giving this old man was very satisfying and fulfilling. Nothing else mattered to me at that time except to see him happy. On days when there was nothing to be given, I would give him some money then.

As days passed by, he took this for granted. On some Sundays if I would still be sleeping and  he would knock the door, I would just open the door and hand over the money to him. And before closing the door, I would see with my half open eyes his toothless laughing face with folded hands. How wonderful he looked when he laughed with his toothless face! He would take the money and would proceed towards the main gate with his baby steps.

Rain drops falling from Ashoka Trees
Pic Credit : Google

Life continued and my fondness for Baba grew to the extent of caring and concern. I used to be worried when he did not turn up on any of the Sundays. My first thought at that time would be ‘Did he die?’…he was so old that anything was possible. But before my concern could turn into a worry, Baba would show up the next Sunday!

My job was becoming more hectic now. There was lot of pressure on me.  But I believe this is part and parcel of life when you are into job. The corporate culture these days is of ‘push & pull’. You have to pull down someone to push yourself up. The environment  sometimes becomes really polluted  in this pushing and pulling game. It so happened in this pushing and pulling game that I got transferred to Mumbai again. It also so happened during this time that Baba did not turn up on two consecutive Sundays. As I was worked up in the office matters, I did not pay much attention and hoped that Baba would surely come the coming Sunday. The Sunday came and passed but Baba did not turn up. Now I got worried. I had not informed Baba about my transfer to Mumbai and I had just one month’s time left in Jaipur. I called up my close friend Jaiprakash and told him everything. He was already aware of my friendship with Baba. In fact, out of curiosity, he did visit me one Sunday morning just to meet Baba. Jaiprakash told me that we will go out this weekend to look out for Baba in my neighbourhood. I was not sure why but it was my innermost desire to meet Baba once before I leave the city.

The weekend came and myself and Jaiprakash went out in the neighbourhood to look out for Bab. We went to the nearby temple, to the cycle shop, the only road side tea stall in the area and few other places as well where there was a possibility of locating Baba. Some did talk about him but no one had any idea as to where he lived. We returned without getting any concrete information about Baba. Jaiprakash told me to forget and concentrate on moving to Mumbai. Baba did not turn up the next two Sundays as well…I gave up the hope to see him again. I just prayed to God that he be well wherever he is. ‘Did he die?’ the thought crossed my mind few times. I knew he stayed alone like me and hence I was worried more. Though winter was receding and it was month of Feb, I was concerned if Baba died of cold…I remember giving him a new blanket that I was using for myself and hoped it helped him in the cold.

Now I had just one week left before I was to move to Mumbai. There were lots of matters that need to be settled at the office before I was given the release order. There were matters at home as well that need to be looked into. And on top of it, my eighty five year old friend was missing…I was not sure which issue was to be given the top priority! As the week was drawing towards end, I was feeling sad from inside. I was sad for leaving this beautiful city, sad for missing my close friend Jaiprakash’s company whom I have known since my school days and very sad for not able to meet my Baba for the last time. I accepted that now it would not be possible for me to see Baba again for whatever reason and hence gave up the hope. I asked Jaiprakash to see if it would be possible for him to look out for Baba again in my locality after my departure. He assured me that he would do it with all sincerity.

That Sunday, my last day in the city, was really hectic. My packing was almost done by the movers and packers agency guys. How things have become easier these days! I remember during our father’s time how each one of the family was involved in packing the household things whenever a transfer happened. Even the neighbourhood families used to get involved. Life has become easy today.  I was to catch the evening flight after loading of the goods was done in the truck. The goods would reach Mumbai two days later that is what the agency guys had promised. Jaiprakash brought some homemade meal cooked by his very efficient wife. We had the meal in one of the empty rooms after all the packed goods were uploaded in the truck. While eating we talked of the good time that we had during my stay  in this city. We discussed our future plans and Jaiprakash promised me that he would visit Mumbai sometime in the near future. We remembered Baba as well…about his naughty laughter and his innocent demands. I told Jaiprakash that this would be my only regret of not meeting Baba one last time before I left Jaipur…

As we were discussing all these there was a mild knock at the door. I thought it must be one of the packers and movers guys…I got up and went towards the dining area which had the side door leading to the main entrance in front of the garden. I opened the door and got the shock of my life….!!! It was Baba standing right there in front of me, fully attired in white dress including his white turban. His hands were folded doing a ‘Namaste’ and he was laughing. How wonderful he looked when he laughed with his toothless face!

My whole body was filled with joy and with great excitement I heard myself uttering ’Baba!!!’

Blooming flowers!!

Note: Written during summers of 2010