Jan 28, 2009

Are You Going to Finish Strong?

Just as I was thinking about what I could write on next, I stumbled upon a video that perfectly appears to be a sequel to my earlier post.

There are a million obstacles that we may come across in life... but there are people around us with deeper sufferings who somehow still emerge winners. They are truly worth emulating.

My hero for the moment is Nick Vujicic. He was born without limbs and has continued to live without them. For someone like him probably managing to live life is a challenge in itself. What is amazing is that despite all odds he's also helping a whole lot of others (including those of us blessed with limbs) help live theirs more meaningfully.

Check out this video. It is just one of his inspiring short talks.

The audience is left in tears at the end of it.
I'm sure you'll be silently sniffing once you're done with watching it. I only hope you feel as much stronger, as me once you're done with that :)

I'd only like to add... that however much you may feel down and out, just keep hanging on to the idea that things will only get better than what they are now... eventually! Hats off to you Nick... you made my day!!!

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Jan 19, 2009

Hope is a Good Thing

After months of having got myself a copy of the movie The Shawshank Redemption I finally decided to watch it yesterday.

The movie is based on a Stephen King novella [new word I picked up when I wiki-ed for the book :)] called Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

Tim Robbins plays the role of a banker called Andy Dufresne who is given a double life sentence for murdering his wife and her lover - a crime that he badly wanted to commit but had not. As fate would have it he was sent to Shawshank Prison where he spent the next 19 years of his life!!!

Morgan Freeman plays the role of 'Red' who was another inmate at Shawshank Prison. Freeman sure has a class of his own. After this movie and The Bucket List he has one more fan in me :)

The movie is hard-hitting with a whole lot of dialogues that leave you dumbstruck. It is yet another visualization of how harsh things can get on the other side of the bars. It is yet another attempt to convey that there is nothing more powerful than hope. It is yet another attempt to reinforce the fact that no matter how mean life can get, it is that undying spirit of hope that will help us sail through and come out smiling despite the hardships that we will eventually leave behind.

I am glad the movie has influenced me positively. I only feel more positive about clinging on to my hopes, however irrational they may seem at the moment!!!

I decided I should put up a post about this on Bindaas Baatein. There's nothing more satisfying than spreading one's positivity around - who knows, this might just make you want to change your mind over things you have given up on.

I'll sum this up in Andy Dufresne's words from the movie - 'Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies'.

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Jan 16, 2009

50 and running

2009 is probably yet another year with a lot in store for all of us. Our year-end posts will take care of summing that up :)

Among other things, 2009 marks the golden jubilee of 2 of my favorite comic characters - Asterix and Obelix!!! Just wanted to let them know how much I love them and the rest of the Gauls :)

I've read practically every one of the 33 titles and I doubt if I'll ever get bored of reading them up over and over again. The names of each of the Gauls - including the cute li'l Dogmatix - is something that always charms me.

The complete Asterix collection is definitely worth its space on your bookshelf - and mine too. Did I hear someone saying 2009 is good to go gifting??? :P

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Jan 7, 2009

Movie Time...

'List out your New Year Resolutions'... I have been telling myself to sit down and work this out for the last week or so. But somehow I have not managed to get myself to do it yet. Ordinary people find it difficult to live by their resolutions. Some like me find it tough to even sit down and get those resolutions on paper (make that blogger :P)! I wanted to do it over the weekend but I ended up watching two movies back to back.

Ghajini was the first. I loved it! Aamir is at his perfect best. Asin did a good job too. I was only left wondering why the movie was named after the villian... and why Ghajini! Also Aamir's character was supposed to be some super popular business tycoon. How come no one recognized him then when he played Sachin!!! Oops sorry... when it's movies... you're not supposed to 'think' and ask! That apart it was a fine movie. I've decided to watch the original Tamil version now. I love watching sequels, prequels, originals, 'inspired from' movies and then play 'spot the differences and similarities' :P

Alright then... next on the list was the recent Tamil hit Vaaranam Aayiram. I could not get beyond the interval. No no no... don't frame opinions about the movie! I could not get beyond the interval coz my PC went for a toss around that time. Oh by the way did I tell you... one of the resolutions I'm contemplating is to stop watching DVD rip offs? Oh by the way again, did I tell you... I was contemplating that for my list of resolutions for the year 2045?? :P

Alright, coming back to the first half of Vaaranam Aayiram... it's an awesome movie! Yes, even though I watched only part of it for me it seemed like a perfect complete movie. And I must tell you that my review is not biased by the first half alone... the 'I hate suspense' keeda in me made sure I find out what happens in the second half :P.

The casting and execution was brilliant. Sameera Reddy had the perfect combination of oomph and girlish innocence. Surya and Simran played their roles beautifully! Surya stole the show in all the three roles that he portrayed. The school boy look and the old man look were well crafted. About the awesome hero look that had me floored... I think it just comes naturally to the guy! :-)

The movie's a little emotional. It hurts when Sameera dies in the blast and Surya's left heartbroken. Apparently he gets over it in the second half... drugs, realization, an army stint and a poem that his mum recites... come to his rescue!!! Somehow made me think that every real life love story that's not meant to work out should end that way. A blast or an accident or something fatal would make it a lot easier for the lady. For the brave macho gentlemen... life will somehow move on!!! (Thank God we don't have a Aadmi Mukti Aandolan trend around :P)

If I have to wrap up this review... I'd just say that it's a must watch for the 'romantically challenged' :P

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Jan 2, 2009

Collect Your ‘Good Stuff’ Bags

(Here's the script I used for my 'Inspire your Audience' speech at CCTM. With this I finished the Competent Communicator series. I'm eagerly waiting to pursue my Advanced Communication track now.)

Picture this. It is eight in the evening. Rohit is at his office desk, busy with his conference calls. A few blocks away his wife Rita is busy at work, delivering some important presentations. Just another long day at work for the couple. At around 10 pm the two of them meet up and drive down to their home. They open the door of their apartment… the lights suddenly come on, there are balloons all over and a complete festive setup. There was a huge cake on the center table… ‘Happy Anniversary Mum n Dad’ read the icing on the cake. On the sofa… their 8 year old daughter was huddled asleep… with a frown on her face. Her parents had forgotten their own anniversary and she could not manage to stay up late enough to remind them!!!

How often have we felt just as sorry as Rohit and Rita?

The world we are in today almost literally personifies the phrase ‘Survival of the Heartless’. As mean as it is… that is how it is.

I want to spend the next few minutes trying to inspire all of you to slow down, look around and take stock of all the smaller, yet sweeter things in life.

Let me share a story with you all. It is written by Robert Fulghum and he calls it ‘The Daddy Prize’.

Molly lived with her father and brother. She was a little school girl. Molly would pack the lunch bags for all three of them every morning. Each bag would get a share of sandwiches, apples, milk… and sometimes a note or a treat.

One morning Molly gave her father two paper bags as he was about to leave. One regular lunch sack. And an extra paper sack.
"Why two bags?” Molly’s father asked in a hurry.
"The other one is something else.", she said.
"What's in it?” her father asked – more irritation in his voice.
"Just some stuff – take it with you."
Not wanting to get late for work, he stuffed both sacks into his briefcase, kissed Molly, and rushed off.

That’s how fathers are. Practical, to the point and always in a rush. But when it comes to their daughters there is an inevitable soft corner. Fathers of daughters would agree.

Coming back to the story…
At midday, while hurriedly gulping down his real lunch, Molly’s father tore open the other bag and shook out the contents. Two hair ribbons, three small stones, a plastic dinosaur, a pencil stub, a tiny seashell, a marble, a used lipstick, a small doll, two chocolate kisses, and thirteen coins.

He had a momentary smile on his face. The next moment he remembered he was getting late for a meeting. He swept the desk clean – into the dustbin – leftover lunch, Molly's junk, and all. There wasn't anything in there that he needed.

All those of you who are fathers here, just look back at the many moments you felt nice when your children did whatever little they could to make you feel special. When we were kids, my sisters and I would plan for weeks about what to present our parents’ for their birthdays or anniversary. The end result would not be so happening… a hand made paper card with doodles and wishes in our scrawly handwriting. But my parents were always sweet enough to speak so high about it. They would even put it up on display for a couple of days and boast about it to any visitors who dropped in. It felt really good.

Molly’s father sensed similar pride… unfortunately his ruthless demands at work did not let the feeling sink in. Wonder how Molly would react to her father dumping away her gift.

That evening Molly went and stood next to her father while he was reading the paper.
"Where's the bag?", she asked.
"What bag?", he asked without even looking out of the paper.
"You know, the one I gave you this morning."
"I left it at office, why?"
"I forgot to put this note in it."
She handed over a note and continued… "Besides, I want it back?"
"Why?", Molly’s father asked, surprised.
"Those are my things in the sack, Daddy, the ones I really like – I thought you might like to play with them, but now I want them back. You didn't loose the bag, did you, Daddy?" Tears puddled in her eyes.

He lied to her that he forgot the bag at office.
She pleaded with him to bring it back the next day… she was embarrassed.
He agreed.
As she hugged him with relief, her father unfolded the note that had not got into the sack: "I love you Daddy.", it said!!

He realized then that what the bag had was definitely ‘something else’. Molly had given him her treasures. Love in a paper sack. And he had missed it. Not only missed it, but had thrown it in the dustbin because "there wasn't anything in there that he needed."

Molly’s dad was filled with remorse. How often have we felt that way? How often have we hurt someone, maybe even without meaning to? I’m not sure if we can entirely blame Molly’s dad… coz probably each one of us here have done something similar to what he did… not just with our children… but with any of our near and dear ones. What I like about her dad is that he realized his mistake and set out to make amends.

After putting Molly to sleep, he rushed to office. He reached just in time before the cleaning staff began their work. He picked up the dustbin and poured the contents on the floor. He sorted out the trash looking for each piece of Molly’s treasure.

He washed the items and spraying the whole thing with breath-freshener to kill the smell of onions. Next he carefully smoothed out the ball of brown paper into a semi functional bag, put the treasures inside and carried the whole thing home. The next evening he returned it to Molly, no questions asked. The bag didn't look so good but the stuff was all there and that's how Molly looked at it.

After dinner he asked her to tell him about the stuff in the sack, and so she took it all out a piece at a time and placed the objects in a row on the dining table. It took a long time to tell. Everything had a story, a memory, or was attached to dreams and imaginary friends.

To his surprise, Molly gave the bag to her father once again several days later. Same bag. Same stuff inside. He felt forgiven. And trusted. And loved. And a little more comfortable wearing the title of Father.

Over several months the bag went with him from time to time. And came back each time too.

In time Molly turned her attention to other things...found other treasures… she lost interest in this game. Her father was left holding the bag. Molly gave it to him one morning and never asked for its return. And he still had it. He called it the ‘Good Stuff’ bag and kept it forever.

Spend some time thinking over the possible number of ‘Good Stuff’ bags that you may have turned down. Simple day to day incidents are potential moments to treasure.

I remember an incident from my family. My cousin sister was elated one Friday morning to see her jeans tearing away at the bottom. She badly wanted to have the torn jeans effect that her cousins from Bombay had. That evening when she came back from college she was shocked to see that our grandmother had neatly folded and stitched up the shabby looking trousers. My cousin was mad at her and yelled and howled. Poor grandma didn’t get the point at all. She was only trying to help. Fashion fads had taken priority over a loving grandma’s gesture. Today my cousin repents her impulsive reaction… all’s well between the two of them now. :)

People who truly care about you go that extra mile to give you their affection, love and respect. Good stuff may not always be tangible. It could be something as simple as a smile or maybe someone going all out to help you with something you are working on. At times you may not need that help, but that does not take away the warmth from the help someone offers.

Things today have become so materialistic, that we fail to appreciate their genuinenesss. ‘Whats in it for me?’ is what we ask ourselves before doing or accepting something.

As we grow older, our life revolves around work and money. Our families, parents in particular, slowly seem secondary. Money and work are important, but what is even more important is to strike a perfect work-life balance. We must not forget that we work only to lead a better life… not to stop living at all.

There are so many opportunities where we can collect our ‘Good Stuff’ bags. But we’re just too preoccupied to even spot them. Leave alone the pain we cause when we overlook the feelings behind the bags.

Take a couple of moments more… slow down your pace… contribute to the ‘Good Stuff’ bags of people around you… collect your ‘Good Stuff’ bags… if nothing else it will keep you smiling even when you’re sporting a toothless smile!

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Jan 1, 2009

Wish Wash

It's a New Year again!!

Time again to draft out 'Happy New Year' and 'Seasons Greetings' mails (the lazier lot have the mail forward option :P). For those of us who still believe in paper greetings it's time to go greeting card, envelope and stamp shopping. For those who eat, drink and breathe blogs it's time to adorn our online spaces with festive stuff and the ever popular list of resolutions (mine's coming up soon :P).

'Happy New Year! Have a great 2009 and may you have all that you wish for in the year ahead.'

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? You either just read or heard a wish like that or wished someone the same just a couple of minutes ago.

How much do these wishes really help? Will the coming year actually brighten up with a handful of 'live the moment' wishes? I'm suddenly not convinced.

I don't mean to sound like a pessimist on New Years... but wishing each other on New Years or for that matter any similar occasion seems more like a formal pleasantry to me.

Life brings in its share of ups and downs irrespective of the wishes we accumulate. Of course I buy the philosopher's argument that little things like these add value to life. But I'm still confused about how much we really mean it when we wish each other. Is the well-wisher's job over once he or she simply conveys the wish??

Why wait for an occasion is what I ask!!! Why wait for the calendar to run out of pages before you want to wish all and sundry in your address book? Why not keep in touch and exchange similar pleasantries more oftener?

I believe that a truckload of clock-worked wishes don't really help. It sounds more like a part of the whole orchestra that's playing its chorus. I'd rather have a gentle hum through the year, even if it is from one person or a small bunch of people. It's this hum that will keep me going... especially during my 'life's not fair' moments.

Happy New Year, nevertheless.

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