Friday, 23 September 2011

The monk who wouldn’t buy a Ferrari

From my treasure trove
I’m no monk myself but I also wouldn’t buy a Ferrari either, given all the money in the world. Wisdom says you don’t live long enough to experience everything there is, yourself; which is why you need to learn from other folks’. It is last year that I adopted the philosophy of kaizen into my life. An ancient Oriental concept of constant and never ending improvement. The purpose was to enrich and empower myself and live an inspired life.

It has been a journey of transformation. During this journey I have made a few things, a part of my life that has added meaning to it. One of them being books, mostly self-help books. I have always loved reading; I only rediscovered my passion last year and consciously set a goal to read atleast one book per month. Modest and realistic. To this effect, I have read 11 books so far and I am bang on target up till now. I also decided to read only books that would help me add to my cup of self-knowledge (I had picked up two others; one by Upamanyu Chatterjee and another by Amitav Ghosh. One lies half-read till date and I don’t see myself finishing it anytime in this life, regretfully). The one book that stands apart in this category and will be in the foremost row of my library in the coming years is Robin Sharma’s “The monk who sold his Ferrari”. I was already walking the path to self-discovery and enlightenment and coming across this book only helped me re-inforce my faith in what I had already learnt and knew to be true.

I don’t like reviews myself so I don’t offer the same to my readers. I will only attempt to sum up the wisdom from Robin’s book in a nutshell and in my own words.

What it is that you want to leave behind or what it is that you want to be remembered for long after you are gone?

Do you in your twilight years wish to reflect back and regret or wish to recollect with pride and joy?

Will it be enough for you to just say you have lived and done what every Tom, Dick and Harry did?

What does a “fulfilled and satisfied” life mean to you?

What are those few things you would want to do before you die?

If you do not yet know the answers to these qs, it’s time you did some soul-searching.

Living in the times of instant coffee and nirvana I realize that the attention span of readers is getting smaller and smaller. Hence brevity is the order of the day.

If you are still walking this earth, you haven’t yet fulfilled your life’s purpose. Go find yours and live it.. Crisp, clear and simple enough?

From the writer's desk: This post has been emailed to Robin Sharma ( as an acknowledgement of the positive effect his book has had and my note of thanks for something I find worth revisiting every now and then.
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Friday, 16 September 2011

All smoke and no fire

That's probably how you would choose to describe our country's politicians. But then, that's also what the new age cigarette is about. Its called the e-cigarette. But the smoke has been replaced by nicotine vapour! Talk of being in the e-era. First we had this e-mail thing take over the world by storm many years back. Then came many other of those "e-things" that have transformed our existence painfully into a virtual one and the latest to join the bandwagon now being the "e-cigarette". Reading about it in the daily one morning and imagining how one would look while inhaling puff from a device gave me a funny feeling. Sounded more like the vapor inhaler I was given post surgery to help ease my breathing problem, except that the vapor I inhaled was made of a liquid we are all too familiar with - water. With the new thing in town now, the joke about the cigarette being a thing with fire on one end and a fool on the other will have to go through a makeover. And then the saying "there's no smoke without fire" will have to be read as "there's no vapour without nicotine solution". The statement has lost its punch with the fire element gone, literally. And you'll have to carry about with you a battery adapter/charger to charge the cigarette-like looking device. 


Smoking has been banned in public places. Yet oft I found myself waving off smoke billowing from some "not so friendly neighbourhood"(read bus stand or maybe even a public building) and staring stone-cold at the perpetrator who then inched away hesitantly. Sometimes I have even had to approach some to let them know that they are actually violating a law post which, I had to be at the receiving end of cold stares. I haven't noticed much of these signages educating people about the ban in any of the deemed public areas. It's not too difficult to understand why. News is that soon these battery-powered devices will be stationed in theatres, airports, etc to allow people to smoke LEGALLY in public places! Huh! Which other country in the world has such law and administration that first bans an activity calling it illegal and then makes provisions for its citizens to "legally" pursue the very same activity in full public view?? No prizes for guessing this one.

The debate in favor of the e-cig is that it will help folks kick the habit and that it is less carcinogenic. Nothing can be further from the truth. The market is already abuzz with competition among brands to lure in customers with interesting flavors such as cooling menthol and fruity strawberry. For those who cannot live without letting off some smoke, their family/friends can look forward to a little less annoying time with the suffocating smoke, that's all there is to the e-cigarette story. For now, let them stop smoking and start vapourising.

Statutory warning: Cigarette smoking is injurious to health, be it "e" or otherwise.
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Friday, 9 September 2011

Eat, Pray, Live

Below is a list of tried and tested(not borrowed) stuff that I believe each one of us should do to make our lives better. Have a read :
1. Be yourself. It doesnt help being someone else, really. If you're not true to yourself, you can't be true to others.
2. Listen to what others have to say. But do what you think/know is best for you
3. Be acceptable of change. Adapt. Change yourself when needed.
4. Be grateful about what you have. Live in gratitude. Rem that man who lamented not having shoes until he met a man without a leg?
5. Forgive. Easier said than done, I know. But if you do, you'll feel light. If you cant, atleast try to forget. Even that helps to an extent.
6. Meditate. No you dont have to pack off to the Himalayas or become a sage. You can do it right in your home...after making sure you have the right ambience.
7. Eat well, eat right. Its your body. If you don't take care of it, who will?

Julia Roberts on a trip to India. She embraced Hinduism during the visit so she can "chant, pray and celebrate" her life.
8. Exercise regularly. Even 30 mins of brisk walking helps. Its proven.
9. Pray. There's no better way to connect "Upwards" than to spend some time talking with Him.
10. Live. Don't just survive. Give it your all and you won't regret. After all, you'll get only one chance to be around.
11. Learn from your mistakes. Experience is a teacher. It helps you become wise, if not wiser. ;)
12. Have dreams. Yes, I said 'dreams' n not 'a dream'. They will help you stay charged and directed. Having more than one helps ensure that when one is fulfilled, you have another one to live or die for.
13. Spend time with Nature, once in a while. Take time off to wander off. You will return rejuvenated.
14. Do something you love. Find some time just for yourself whenever you can, to do that one or two things that make you happy. Be it watching a movie, eating your fav food or reading, listening to music, whatever.
15. B positive. No, that's not my blood group. But its what will help you gain control when you feel things are slipping out of your hand. Know that whatever happens, happens for the best. Its the Cosmic scheme of things.
16. Believe in yourself, your abilities. Don't underestimate yourself and get going.

This list is not exhaustive. There are many more things that you can do, should do. But as I said, this is "My list". Give'em a shot and if you want to give me kudos, I don't mind. :-)
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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

If pictures tell a thousand words, then these tell a short story

The Laddakh Story Slideshow: Sutapa’s trip to Leh,

When a friend called one evening to ask if I would accompany her to a trip to Laddakh, I knew that this could very well be my only chance and before I knew I had already said Yes to her.

For the uninitiated, Ladakh is the highest plateau of the Indian state of Kashmir with much of it being over 3,000 m (9,800 ft). It spans the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges and the upper Indus River valley. It is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. It is sometimes called "Little Tibet" as it has been strongly influenced by Tibetan culture.

The largest town in Ladakh is Leh. It is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism in South Asia. Leh has a cold desert climate with long, harsh winters from October to early March, with minimum temperatures well below freezing for most of the winter. The weather in the remaining months is generally fine and warm during the day. (Source:wikipedia)

Surprisingly though, the thin air makes the heat of the sun even more intense than at lower altitudes; it is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time!

The highlights of the trip were Khardung La(pass), Chang La and Pangong Tso(lake).

Khardung La at a height of 18380ft above sea level is the highest mountain pass in the world and Chang La is the third highest. They are both all round the year pass.

All through the trip, we were greeted by terrains of diverse nature. A surreal panorama unfolded itself for the next 6 days as we drove round the mountains. Some were snow-clad; appeared to be powdered liberally by The Great Hand above, some wore desert-like look, some looked carved out from a BIG boulder resembling the Grand Canyon in the US. The changing landscape did enough to change the landscape of my mind and heart. The precipices and cornices of the snow were a delight to watch. Photography became a passion and we went trigger-happy. A word of caution though: brace yourself for some chilling temperatures by carrying some warm clothes and do take deep breaths whenever possible. Drinking lot of water is not an ill-advice either.

At Khardungla and Chang La, I was shaken, frost bitten and altitude-sick. A canteen that serves hot maggi in big, steel bowls is touted as the world’s highest canteen. The hot maggi managed to give us some warmth along with the tea/coffee.

Pangong Tso, which is almost on the India China border, lies some 14,500 ft above sea level. Here it is that you will be able to view the ethereal beauty of a lake, a salt water that is. A breath-taking view that captured my imagination for half an hour. A spectacular scene, never before in my life have I seen. A body of water; purple, blue, green, turquoise all the same time and changing continuously. It seemed like a painting..a masterpiece to be precise, by The One Above. Speechless, I stood gazing and soaking in the splendor for some time. Indeed, as they say Kashmir is the heaven on earth. When on a trip to Ladakh, be ready to open the windows and doors of your soul to Nature.

PS: This post comes as a result of some people asking me to share the story of Ladakh. Some also wanted to know how to get there, which isnt part of this post.
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Saturday, 3 September 2011

Life….after Anna

If you say that I am a bit late in posting this, I may agree with you. But it takes time for the dust to settle down, you will agree. The cacophony surrounding corruption has died a natural death. The incessant fluttering of the Tricolor is no more to be seen. Assortment of all kinds of men discussing  the Bill and its two versions(actually three) and their after-effects if implemented; in various channels across the visual media is no longer the order of the day. The print media going gaga with a couple of pages or more dedicated to the Man with a mission possible and the Lokpal bill have all returned to their daily business. Groups of people, all shapes, sizes and ages aggregating here and there shouting slogans or taking to the streets on a protest march or sometimes a solidarity march no more hold traffic at ransom. Students who had a field day bunking college, all in the name of participating in a movement of their lifetime have reluctantly returned to their classes. All of India was in a carnival-like state. The Bill and the ball both are now in the Parliament’s court. The August Kranti’s over. Life’s normal once again. Gone are the days when all roads led to Annapolis. You and me have returned to doing what we were doing before it all began.
The Ramlila Maidan in Delhi and the Freedom park in Bengaluru bore the look of garbage dumps, strewn with plastic bottles, covers, food packets, etc. While hurricane Irene swept US, India went through its Hurricane Anna days. Buzzword of the month August were – Anna, graft/corruption, Jan Lokpal, fasting, democracy.

Common people of Assam lighting candles and protesting against state corruption on the bank of the Dighalipukhuri in Guwahati, Assam, India 08/08/2010. Picture by AMANB from DEMOTIX.

This movement brought a few points to light. Fasting as a means to register one’s protest or to bring attention to a cause still holds good in India. If that’s comforting news or not I’m not sure but it is surely a non-violent means. What however is definitely a comforting thought is that the nation can come together for a cause, other than cricket. Gleams of hope that democracy is still a Govt. of the people could also be seen. But the question still remains as to why a nation of billions needed an Anna to raise its voice against something as commonplace as corruption. Why we said – Anna tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hai (Anna you struggle, we are with you)? Why couldn’t we stand up for ourselves in the first place and why did it take so many years for us to wake up? This country is as much his as much it is yours and mine, isn't it?
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