How Far Can You Go for Your Passion?

Passion (Pash-uhn):  a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.

Probably one of the most frequently used word by the young generation today.  Everyone’s just looking for what they are passionate about. Be it choice of a career, a sport they play, person (or persons?) they love or simply something that they just love doing. One needs to be ‘passionate’ about something or you are just wasting your life.

The generation before me (born in 70’s), and to some extent my generation (born in Late 70s / early 80’s) didn’t attach so much importance to passion. It was a ‘good-to-have’ criteria. Good if you have taken up your hobby / liking as a job, good that you could marry the girl/boy of your choice, good that you keep on harbouring your passion despite a complete lack of interest in other areas of life. 

As a result, lot of folks, have their ‘moment of passion’ in later stages of their careers, post marriage, post children or even after reaching the pinnacles of their career. And then they follow their passion with much more conviction and purpose. I must mention about a dear friend of mine, who despite a so-called-successful career (and much more ahead!) would rather choose baking cakes over utilization of technology for better sales and operations. For baking cakes gives him joy and satisfaction like nothing, and he sees his future as a Chef rather than a CIO. Hats-off to you my friend!

Similarly, one of my friend and ex-colleague has gotten through the much-coveted galleries of Ivy League and would be taking a two-year program in US. This is post his marriage of two years (no kids though), and his wife will not accompany him – instead, she is focussing on her own passion working at grass root levels in rural India, in an NGO.

Rules of the game have changed today – the present generation puts passion before anything, and seems to be much clear in their thoughts very early in their lives and the best part is, they are not afraid of making mistakes. The change is indeed infectious and these guys / girls have become inspiration for lot of us who are still struck in second gear. For this generation, it has become a way of life, the formula of being accepted and recognized socially – with or without support from parents / other stakeholders.

Coming back to my generation and generation before, If I look around at my elders and peers, we like to play safe – Like to be in complete agreement with the theory of risk taking capabilities being inversely proportional to age. We evaluate, look at pros and cons, compare as-is with to-be and more often than not, return to our current state, accepting it as some kind of reality that we can’t change. For us, the reality takes precedence over the happiness to be attained through following your passion. Its almost like one in hand is better than two in the bush. But then, you must make peace within or you will keep lamenting your decision, reflecting in your work, personal life, and everywhere…

So, its a big decision, similar to that in front of  Chaitanya in this wonderful short film (in Telugu, with English subtitles) on similar dilemma, ending with a beautiful conclusion to choose between  – “dying once or dying everyday?” Alas, not everyone is as lucky as Chaitanya to get to travel in future and compare the  better of two states, for life is cryptic code that looks easy if we look back and impossible to crack if we were to see our future.

All said and done, it all boils down to one question – How far can you go to follow your passion?

Stella!! Hey Stella!! A Desire Named Love, Companionship and Marriage…

A Streetcar Named Desire (ASND) – strange name for a story, I thought, when I first read of it. I was curious to know more. So, I lay my hands on this Tennessee Williams play book. Engaging, intriguing and thought provoking it was, without a single dull moment. This post is not a review of ASND; neither it is a hosanna. It is exploration of thoughts that flooded my mind after reading the book and watching the fabulous movie adaptation with superlative performance from vulnerable-yet-vanity-preserving Vivien Leigh and raw-dashing-uncouth-‘Polack’ (meaning – of polish origin) Marlon Brando. More on the book and movie, – here and here. For those of you who have not come across this masterpiece, here is the plot summary courtesy wikipedia:

The play presents Blanche DuBois, a fading but still-attractive belle whose pretensions to virtue and culture only thinly mask alcoholism and delusions of grandeur. Her poise is an illusion she presents to shield others (but most of all, herself) from her reality, and an attempt to make herself still attractive to new male suitors. Blanche arrives at the apartment of her sister Stella Kowalski in New Orleans; the local transportation she takes to arrive there includes a streetcar route named “Desire”.  The steamy, urban ambiance is a shock to Blanche’s nerves. Blanche is welcomed with some trepidation by Stella, who fears the reaction of her husband Stanley. As Blanche explains that their ancestral southern plantation, Belle Reve in Laurel, Mississippi, has been “lost”, her veneer of self-possession begins to slip drastically. Blanche tells Stella that her supervisor allowed her to take time off from her job as an English teacher because of her upset nerves, when in fact, she has been fired for having an affair with a 17-year-old student. A brief marriage marred by the discovery that her spouse, Allan Grey, was having a homosexual affair and his subsequent suicide has led Blanche to withdraw into a world in which fantasies and illusions blend seamlessly with reality.

In contrast, Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski, is a force of nature: primal, rough-hewn, brutish and sensual. He dominates Stella in every way and is physically and emotionally abusive. Stella tolerates his primal behavior as this is part of what attracted her in the first place; their love and relationship are heavily based on powerful—even animalistic—sexual chemistry, something that Blanche finds impossible to understand.

The arrival of Blanche upsets her sister and brother-in-law’s system of mutual dependence. Stella’s concern for her sister’s well-being emboldens Blanche to hold court in the Kowalski apartment, infuriating Stanley and leading to conflict in his relationship with his wife. Blanche and Stanley are on a collision course, and Stanley’s friend and Blanche’s would-be suitor Mitch, will get trampled in their path. Stanley discovers Blanche’s past through a co-worker who travels to Laurel frequently, and he confronts her with the things she has been trying to put behind her, partly out of concern that her character flaws may be damaging to the lives of those in her new home, just as they were in Laurel, and partly out of a distaste for pretense in general. However, his attempts to “unmask” her are predictably cruel and violent. Their final confrontation—Williams alludes to rape, but never states it directly—results in Blanche’s nervous breakdown. Stanley has her committed to a mental institution, and in the closing moments, Blanche utters her signature line to the kindly doctor who leads her away: “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

As it is evident, Blanche was devoid of love and companionship, which made me wonder – Is it that important to have presence of love and companionship in life? I know everyone’s life isn’t like Blanche’s, but, they surely have a lot missing. What if she would have found someone and married like her sister Stella? Would she have ended up in an asylum? Does marriage really brings the balance required in the society? Is one not ‘settled’  until he/she marries? Is all this relevant in today’s world?

Companionship

Man is a social animal – time and again this statement redeems itself in each individual’s life. As we’re growing up, we feel more comfortable with our friends than our family. We find solace in the fact that we know someone who shares our view on the world around us, is as clueless about a lot of things as we are, and have a lot in common beyond age. That’s where it all begins. Dependence on friends, companions and cronies. Life and age chisels us into an individual with independent thinking and decision making capabilities, which is not at all possible if we don’t have support from companions, as we learn a great deal on real, practical life from these people. Need for companion who share our likes/dislikes, passion etc. remains through out our lives, as all of us want to be heard/listened to, recognized/appreciated/feel important or just to let others know that we exist.

Love

There is no single definition of love. Its highly relative and means different to different people. But, everyone will agree to the fact that they are constantly on a look out for love. Yes, even those people who disagree!! Beyond satisfying carnal desires, we all need to be loved because of the following basic parameters,

  • it is satisfying that you are worth something on this earth,
  • you are desirable by people and they seek your company,
  • you see yourself as normal and not as deviation, following the normal code of society,
  • you have a follower who holds you in high esteem, giving you feeling of superiority over others.

Surface parameters such as – you want to appear cool, happening and ‘not-left-out’ among your peers, admire someone for any attribute of theirs, are in love-with-love or simply convince that you are beautiful/handsome in other’s eyes… 😉

Sentimental/Emotional parameters such as you want someone who can understand, listen, identify with you, has a matching wavelength, acts as a friend, would be there-with-you in-thick and thin etc.

Marriage

Our elders, peers, relatives, friends, movies, media, advertising, industrial companies  – pretty much everyone that comprises in society, makes us believe that we are not settled unless we are married. I believe in love, companionship and marriage. However, I believe its not necessary for one to marry. Marriage is basically seeking life long love and companionship. How true is that – will form a great debate topic. 🙂

Now, back to the question facing me, is it really important to get love, companionship and marriage (LCM)? Yes, it is true. We need at least one of these to make our life worth living. And love / companionship can exist sans marriage. Live-in relationships prove that.

We need it because of the most powerful reason  – if you are without Love and Marriage, and have companionship, I am pretty sure your companion will have/would look for one of these two in his/her life. Eventually, your companion would stop devoting time towards you, may not fulfill your companionship needs and you will be left alone. And everyone fears exactly that – being alone! Life would seem hollow at that moment. Without a purpose…

Companionship can be a short term measure, but for long  term, you gotta have love or marriage to keep you going. For those of you,  if its all about living  in short term, companionship would seem to be the best possible thing. If it works for you, great!! But all of the people I know, can’t stay alone, without LCM…That’s what happened with Blanche in ASND…

LCM is not an Indian concept, that is, its not only in India society gives more weightage to LCM. Wherever you may go, in any civilized society, rules of the game are alike. For example, look at all developed countries’ heads of state – everyone is married or has companion. The perception of man/woman being incomplete without a partner is deeply embedded in people’s mind.

Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives – Bertrand Russell

Whose Life is it Anyway? ‘Virtual’ly Social or Socially Virtual…

Q: Why are you on Social Networking sites?

A: Social networking is cool. it’s hip. It’s ‘with the times’.

Q: Those are its characteristics; good. But, why are you on these sites?

A: It let’s me stay in touch with people. I can tell my friends about my life. Plus, everyone on it, dude!!!

If you ever have/had this conversation with your conscience/or someone, read on…If you are not moved, definitely read on!

That’s what everybody around me says when I ask them – why did you join this? Because, everyone is on it! Worse, I asked myself, and got the same answer!

I have had it. I have made peace with ‘Active’ Social Networking. I define ‘Active’ social networking as something in which I post intimate details of my life on a periodic/intermittent, but frequent basis (ex. Facebook, twitter etc.). I will continue with ‘passive forms’ of networking like linkedin, blogging etc., where neither I expose my life to ‘virtual unknowns’ nor get exposed to things like “IPL weekend photos”, “Honeymoon pics”, “Crazy Status Messages and tweets” and long comment chains!!

Why I did so?

#1 Disillusioned with looking at pictures people post/status message/chain of comments or update and open their life to a stranger like me. Same goes for them.

#2 Amount of time I spend on these sites in office, and in home.

#3 Intrusion of privacy (I do) by checking individual profiles often visibly/invisibly (I felt ashamed!).

#4 Too much Unnecessary Information…overload actually!

#5 Out of 300 odd friends I have/had (?), I follow not more than 5 of  them…

#6 Looking at amazing pictures people post, I am tempted to spend my money on expensive SLRs and exotic travel..moerover, all these m.xxx.com sites and ‘forever’, ’24X7 online’ and ‘on-the-go’ social networking means buying an expensive phone and service…(for me 2G is good enough)

#7 Birthday wishes from random people. People who used to phone, now do it on my wall/via tweet/scrap me. I hate ‘just-for-the-sake’ wishes and double hate people who need to be reminded of my birthday via calendar programs in Facebook.

#8 ‘so-called’ cool apps (like forecast, astrology, tag etc.)/ stupid communities, groups and causes I joined/became a fan off…After which my profiles were spammed with all junk info!!!

# 9 I became lazy (all the time on laptop).. on second thoughts, I still am lazy…:)

#10 Most important – Too little time with ‘real’ people in my life…

I was an addict and I didn’t go to ‘AA‘ to get rid of my addiction. I just gave it a thought.  And I was clear! Enough is enough. If I want a ‘social’ tag, I will keep in contact with core set of people that I would like to talk to, in any manner possible. I have a good plan on my mobile, which is cheap. I am also powered by the Email and Indian Post.

I am happy, peaceful, talking to and spending time with people, reading books and thinking these days. There is no sudden urge or need to connect, belong, communicate, exhibit, entertain, intrude, watch, spy, sell, promote, follow or simply waste time. I think of writing more often. I feel good in office and in home.

I am not a social activist fighting for ‘save the snail mail’ or ‘down-with-technology’ campaigns. Nor I suggest you to do the same. I would just request you to give a good, deep thought to being ‘virtual’ly social or socially virtual’…

P.S> Those of you thinking about thoughts like ‘do-in-moderation’ and ‘do-a-balancing-act’ etc., contact me at once! I would like to be your disciple and learn the dying art. Who knows,  I may walk the alleys of Facebook again…

You & I: Six Commandments for an ‘Equal’ Marriage

Marriage is a great institution. Not because of anything else, but because of the complexities involved. But what’s so great about it being complex? Imagine the number of people involved on both sides, the adjustment, sacrifices and compromises required, the bride shifting to a totally new set up, promises of unwavering love, domestic chores division, hygiene habits, space, individual behaviours, career decisions, family planning, moving out….phew!! Despite in the know of everything, people vie to get married one day…that’s why I truly believe marriage is a great institution!! 

Marriage has been there since the starting of evolution, with or without it being solemnised with rituals. However, when the society became civilized, and family system evolved, an average human being was supposed to complete the lifecycle by marrying, having and raising kids…. So, uncountable number of people have married, even though nothing concrete can be said, whether they lived happily ever after :)….Nothing unusual, eh?

However, in modern times, there is lot of effort being put to unearth the ‘secret code’ of successful marriage. Trying to go behind the questions like, what does it take to make it work? What should be the ‘roles and responsibilities’ of the individuals involved? Nguyen Vi Cao of Geneva School of Business believes his team has cracked the formula for a perfect wife….In my opinion, if you were to ask all the married people around you – What is the key to successful marriage?  I bet you will get all different responses. And why so; because, all of us are unique individuals. You can’t have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy…you got to look at each union on its own merits and demerits…

Quite moved by the phenomena of marriage, our national newspaper, The Times of India, has come out with a very ‘cool n hip’ matrimonial product – You & I – Equality Matrimonial, which is all about, would you believe – a democratic marriage!! So keeping in mind that in a democracy, the institutions woo the followers with a manifesto, You & I also proposes the following “Marriage Manifesto” (or shall I say commandments) which shall be abided by both the parties…:

 

There is a very interesting view on this matrimonial ad, you can read it here.

Indeed, I would completely praise the intent behind this concept, that both individuals have to be treated with equality. However, the idea of a manifesto seems ridiculous. Compartmentalising the concept of marriage in some bullet points, and fixing rules of the game – doesn’t work out that way in real life. There is much more to the story. Life is way too random and non linear to be bound in a certain rules and bulleted points. Having said all that, the very concept of this manifesto is against the ideals of marriage – it is never about ‘me’ or ‘I’ in a marriage. It is about ‘us’ or ‘we’.  All the clauses in this manifesto are just talking about what I want, rather than what we want and respecting what the other wants! In a marriage, the first thing you do is to respect other person’s viewpoint and then you sit together and chart out the kind of life you envisage…This manifesto looks like a merger contract between two parties. Sad part, however, is that 70% of mergers between companies fail…

The other thing this ad talks about is to see the married couple in isolation, which is not at all practical view as marriage in India is never between two individuals – but between two families. Yes, you can still talk these point out (not necessarily agree) if you have only two individuals getting married without any family involved in the whole process. The whole manifesto falls flat when you consider the family angle. That reminds me, if we were to do a survey and find out the number for people posting an ad in a matrimonial for their marriage and number of people delegating the ad posting to their parents (by choice or without it), there is no prizes for guessing which one would be more!!! You can’t really keep the parents and relatives out of marriage in India, at least not in the foreseeable future…

The ad does talk about the key issues responsible for failure of marriage, but leaves the subjectivity to the individuals. That’s hardly surprising, because even makers of the ad know that its better to let the individuals in a marriage to decide what’s right and what’s wrong for them. Even if you agree to abide by these commandments, you can always prove your need to be greater than the other person. And by the way, does anyone remember the vows they had taken while marrying? …:)..Basic premise of this ad is entrenched in subjectivity and complexity – the very characteristics making the marriage a code that is difficult, not impossible to crack!! I feel rather than featuring their profile in such ads, I feel people may better opt for live-in relationships.

Rather than setting the myriad contract clauses and safeguarding your own interests, one may better spend time listening, understanding and acting on views and wishes of one’s spouse. I still feel the old school approach of ‘doing small things for your spouse’, ‘sacrificing here and there’, and ‘becoming a helping hand’ among many other small nothings can do wonders for the relationship. The biggest change after marriage is the ‘intrusion of space’ –  how well you handle that is totally up to individual’s willingness to go that extra mile and help accommodate each other. For any marriage or relationship to work, the intent has to be there and effort has to come from both ends. Whether the effort put has to be equal? Ideally, it should be. However, in real life, its the woman who puts more efforts to make this whole thing work. Till the time there is a drastic change in the marriage process (like a guy going to a girl’s house), the woman will continue to put more effort into the marriage.

Bottom-line is,  Listen to every advice you get from various people on how to make marriage work, read all the ‘successful’ marriage formulas people come out with, appreciate the effort marriage related research scientists conduct world over, but when it comes to decide for what’s good for your marriage, along with your spouse, stand up and call the shots!!!

Increasing Influence of Friends…

Have you ever done something about which you were really not sure, but you nonetheless did that because your “friend” said so?? If yes, read on for my take on this…

Friends have become more important than ever… I am sure, in previous generations, friends would have been important too… But today, as I look around, friends play much important role in our lives than parents or siblings. Almost all of us have that one close friend whom we entrust our life’s secret with, go to get support or opinions, and sometimes even let him take a decision for us !!!

As humans, whosoever we get close to, we let them overpower some portion of our personalities. That is why we get happy/sad with whatever they do with/without respect to us. So far, I guess parents and siblings (by virtue of their age/relationship) had the maximum influence on us. But as we grow up, we try to decide and develop an attitude for people around us and what role they should play in our life. Mostly, we are in awe of our friends (who we idolize because of their skill, intelligence of position in our peer group) rather than anyone else. Moreover, we have instant tuning with our friends as they are going through the same phase as us vis-a-vis our parents or siblings.  That explains why it becomes easy for friends to dictate somethings that we do in life.

But when we see in retrospect, we often rue the fact that we let somebody else decide for us or we were blindly following whatever friends were doing. No two person think alike or react same to situations. I have people around me – who studied a particular course as their friend convinced them that this would be the best thing possible for them; who changed jobs just because his friends made him believe the other job was best proposition; Did Alcohol/smoking because his friends said he would not want to be left out of  ‘it’ people…There are so many things we do and regret later… Many a times, I have been influenced by my friends (and I regret that..) and I have also influenced my friends (I am sure they regret it too ;)… )

If it is so normal, why even bother about it… a decision here and there…does it matter?? Afterall, we decided to take the decision and go forward…Aren’t we equally guilty?? I would say ‘No’…and we should absolve ourselves from any guilt that we have on any decision which changed the course of our lives… Especially, those decision which we took in impressionable age (This age can be anything based on your maturity)…

I say so because, no one has right of pushing us into something for which we were not sure…irrespective of whether they knew the consequence or not, majority of guilt lies with people who pushed us...

As there is no ‘undo’ button in life….people…stand up and take your decisions…take opinions, consult every quarter…but decide on your own…and ‘Mavens‘ …please refrain from pushing people to take proxy decisions…

P.S> Sometimes, friends help us take good decisions as well…But frankly, it is coincidence or just fate, bad decision have more bearing on your life than those good one….:)

Bad or good, please take your own decisions….

What We Have, We Don’t Want…What We Want, We Don’t Have….

Once upon a time, there was a boy – Hans. He was a poor boy who left his mother and worked for 7 years for his master. After 7 long years, he wished to see his mother. He said to his master – “Master, my time is up; I must go home and see my poor mother once more: so pray pay me my wages and let me go.” The master gave Hans a lump of Silver as big as his head. Thus, Hans set off on a long journey back to his mother. While travelling, he found the lump of Silver to be heavy and exchanged the Silver for a horse to complete his journey. The horse was too wild for him, so he exchanged it for a cow. The cow was old and stringy, and gave no milk. He exchanged the cow for pig. That pig was a stolen one, so he exchanged it for a goose. In the end, he exchanged goose for a grinding stone to start earning afresh – as a knife grinder. As the stone was very heavy and he unable to carry it, dumped it down a well. Hans returned empty handed to his mother.

This is a summarized version. you can read the full story here.

Hans kept exchanging his possession to get the things he didn’t have. He always was in awe of what other’s possessed. Its paradoxical as whatever he wanted to have, as soon it became his, he set his eyes on a new thing which he did not possess.

Don’t you think there is a little bit of Hans in all of us? We are chasing far too many desires and wants. As soon as they are fulfilled, we stop caring for what we have, and create a new list to possess. Think about it – after getting that coveted job, MP3 player, Mobile phone, laptop, Car, Clothing etc. (list can go on and on…), have you ever told yourself – this is it. I am satisfied with this and I don’t want an better/expensive version. There are two schools of thought working here –

First school of thought says that, well, this paradox of wanting-having- wanting is the prime cause for dissatisfaction in our lives. Its a materialistic race that we are getting ourselves into. All the marketing by sellers/media is creating hollow dreams of possession among common people.  Often, possession is linked to status in the society and friends circle. Those who caught in this web, will keep hoarding things and would not ever be satisfied resulting in inferiority complexes and mood swings.

On the contrary, other school of thought says that wanting is the prime objective of human kind. People seem to get a direction and keep setting fresh, harder goals for betterment of their lives. The phenomena of desire is what keeps them ticking. There is nothing in comparison of a goal/dream achieved. That is how people have done inventions and discoveries. Without, this ‘want’, many of us would not live a lifestyle we afford today.

I don’t wish to be preachy and take side of any school of thought. I would leave it on you, wise people who understand what is good/bad, right/wrong for them. I just wish to say that from experience, that most people (including myself), almost 99% of them, start with being the first kind and end and end up being second. That doesn’t mean being first one is wrong and the other is right. It is just that standing  at a given situation, we all use previous experience and some gut feeling to decide between appropriate and not so appropriate. We all wish to become ‘been-there-done-that’ personality and gain respect from those around us looking at us in awe with their mouth wide open…

What will you choose to become is entirely on you…After all, Hans could have taken home all his Silver and would have lived happily ever after….

If only, life was a fairy tale….

The Act of Moving On…

Think about it – how many times you have been advised or you have advised others to move on in life over some situation… I guess zillion times…But, how many times you or your friends moved on from that particular situation..?? I can safely guess…very few or even none…we still hold the grudge/pain/anguish/guilt/helplessness close to our heart as it would be a dear friend….

Why on earth we can’t move on…What is that ‘thing’ that just doesn’t let go of the memories…why do we ‘thrive’ in the state of abeyance?? What is so ‘sexy’ about feeling/being miserable??

In the instances where I/people around me did not move on, I discovered that this whole process starts with some common thoughts that don’t let you move on:

– How can this happen to me?

– I have the poorest luck in this whole world!

– I am being victimised!

– God is unfair to me…

– I did whatever needed to be done…still..

– How can he/she get what I deserve!

– I have lost…

– I am useless/ugly/incapable/loser…

– I never got what I wanted in life…

– How can he/she not like me…

– Only If I was born somewhere else…

– He/She cheated me..played with my trust/faith…

and so on.. if you take a closer look at these statements, all of them are externally controlled (meaning you can’t change any of these or have control over..)…shifting the blame on someone else (read fate mostly)…which is quite human thing to do…and as B*Witched says “Won’t blame it on myself, Just blame it on the weatherman”

Now, the combination of these thoughts and the fact that we can’t do much about it..puts us in endless circles…and we feel comfy in the miserable situation that we are in… we start liking it and think of us as one hapless, unlucky human being upon which great injustice has been done…adding the extra attention and care that you get from your friends just makes being in this state more attractive…

At certain level, all of us have low confidence on our abilities to act well in some situations that demand a lot from you…When we don’t move on..this is exactly what happens…We face difficulty (sometimes we not at all try!!) in doing things in which we faced failure…we fear the unknown…and make that unknown in our minds as defeat..because memories from the past haunt us all the time…….Loosely, this combines with our resistance to accept changes…and makes the whole moving on process complex…

To move on, it depends upon personal capacities and will power…it is not at all an easy thing….It is a mind game which (among many things) depends on how experienced, mature and objective thinker you are..

One thing that surely works is keeping yourself busy…it goes a long way in diverting your mind from endless calculations, assertions and designs that you make in your mind… in unsuccessful relationships, I guess snapping/avoiding all sort of interfaces and communication works the best…people argue it can’t be done in a day….but I have seen lot of people doing avoidance gradually instead of a snap decision and failing miserably at it…They just can’t move on from there…One more ingredient making relationships and life unfathomable…

If only humans were objective like computers…but then, would such a beautiful world exist?