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Sunday, March 25, 2012

THE RED BOOK & THE ART OF GIVING

When I started writing my blogs my intent was to share my personal thoughts and what I have learnt from life and my upbringing. I have been sharing many of my experiences with all my readers and those who follow me on my blog. Today I want to touch on a subject that has been very close to my heart at the same time I want to share how my early childhood shaped my thinking on this subject.

As I have said in my earlier blogs I was born in a small village in UP. Life in the village in my early years was good by what we knew as children. My family owned most of the land in the village and most of the other residents of the village were dependent on our land for livelihood. Most of them belonged to the lower castes (I don’t like this term but I don’t know how I can explain to my readers) and our family was the only source of financial and material support to them. My grandfather was a man who was respected by all in the village. He was always available to all for any help they needed and he never bothered if there is any return for what he did in his life. He was a man at peace with himself and I am yet to see a man who was so giving in his daily life. Sometimes I felt that he believed in the concept of trusteeship, where everything was owned by the community. My grandmother on the other hand was a very God fearing person; she was uneducated but had managed to learn to read with the help of the younger educated lot in the family. Her desire to learn to read was driven her curiosity to read the Holy book “The Geeta”. She spent two to three hours every day in the devotion of the all mighty. Some times when I used to ask her why do you spend so much time in this, she would reply that since you all don’t have time for God I have do it for everyone in the family. I learnt the art of giving from grandparents and it has made a great difference in my life today.

My grandparents, by the standards of the Village during those days, were well-to-do and they were financially supported by their three earning sons. However most of the money they had went into helping others in the village. I remember very clearly how even at the age of 65 plus he used to take the sick of the village to the hospital in the city. He even paid for the expenses for the treatment and would keep writing in his read book which was known as the “Bahi”. (The bahi was a red register which documented the amount of money given to people and the record of any money received from those who had taken it from him). Most of the entries were debit entries in his red book, there were very few credit entries in it. But this trend never bothered him and he continued his mission of giving and standing by those in need. As I grew up and was at Allahabad University, I had more opportunities to spend time with him. I would often take a break and go to the village and spend time with my grandparents for a few days. Every visit was an experience of a life time. Every morning and evening he would be with people who had come to see him. It was clear that all of them needed his help and he never turned down anyone. He would ask his trusted housekeeper (who is still alive) to give them what they wanted. Some on would come to ask for 40 kg of wheat for the wedding in the family. Someone would ask for 35 kg of rice for the festival season. There were others who wanted money to meet the expenditures of the family. He never let anyone go empty hand.

Everyone in the family was unable to understand what he was doing but he knew his mission and it was very clear to him. He was so giving that he had handed over his entire business in Mumbai before he returned to village to a person who had been working with him as an employee since the time he started his business. He used to say he has been with me throughout my life and I need to take care of him besides you all don’t need this. None of his children ever objected to this decision and the business was given away.

During his later years of life he still continued writing the red book and the attitude of giving never changed in fact it increased with his age. Someone in the family once asked him; so many people from the village come and take things from you but they never return it and you still keep giving them over and over again. He would say “so what can I do”, I can’t let the families be hungry after all some part of it is theirs. He once told me that anyone who has a share in my wealth will get it whether I like it or not. I guess they were getting their share. The best part of all this was that no one in the family ever objected to what he was doing. He had full support on everything.

He passed away and very happy and satisfied man and his RED BOOK still had the entries of all those people who had taken loans from him with the understanding that it will be returned. No one ever came forward to return what they had taken but we felt that he had never given anything to be returned in this life. May be he was collecting credits for his next life. The RED BOOK is a family story and I hope that all of us in our life will have a RED BOOK which will tell the tale of so many families who you have helped and made a difference in their life. I have started writing my RED BOOK but I don’t know if I will ever reach the heights of what my grandfather was able to achieve. I have never seen a man so honest, so pure and so giving in my life.

Grandfather..Thank you for showing me the right path..


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A CUP OF COFFEE

The happiest people in the world are not those who have no problems, but those who learn to live with things that are less than perfect.”

A group of graduates, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the simple and cheap ones.

While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.
In most cases, it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… Then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this:

·         Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.
       
Sometimes, by concentrating on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. Enjoy your coffee!.”

·         The happiest people don’t have the best of everything.

·         They just make the best of everything.”
1. Live simply.
2. Love generously.
3. Care deeply.

4. Speak kindly.

5. Leave the rest to God.

You are the miracle, my friend; your life either shines a light OR casts a shadow!
Shine a light & enjoy the Coffee!!!
 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

THIS IS THE REALITY OF LIFE

Following is a letter to his son and daughter from a renowned Hong Kong TV broadcaster cum Child Psychologist. The words are actually applicable to all of us, young or old, children or parents!

I am writing this to you because of 3 reasons
1. Life, fortune and mishaps are unpredictable; nobody knows how long he lives. Some words are better said early.

2. I am your father, and if I don't tell you these, no one else will.

3. What are written are my own personal bitter experiences that perhaps could save you a lot of unnecessary heartaches?
Remember the following as you go through life.

1. Do not bear grudge towards those who are not good to you. No one has the responsibility of treating you well, except your mother and me. To those who are good to you, you have to treasure it and be thankful, and ALSO you have to be cautious, because, everyone has a motive for every move. When a person is good to you, it does not mean he really likes you. You have to be careful; don't hastily regard him as a real friend.
2. No one is indispensable, nothing in the world that you must possess. Once you understand this idea, it would be easier for you to go through life when people around you don’t want you anymore, or when you lose what/whom you love most.

3. Life is short. When you waste your life today, tomorrow you would find that life is leaving you. The earlier you treasure your life, the better you enjoy life.

4. Love is but a transient feeling, and this feeling would fade with time and with one's mood. If your so called loved one leaves you, be patient, time will wash away your aches and sadness. Don't over exaggerate the beauty and sweetness of love, and don’t over exaggerate the sadness of falling out of love.

5. a lot of successful people did not receive a good education that does not mean that you can be successful by not studying hard! Whatever knowledge you gain is your weapon in life. One can go from rags to riches, but one has to start from some rags!

6. I do not expect you to financially support me when I am old, neither would I financially support your whole life. My responsibility as a supporter ends when you are grown up. After that, you decide whether you want to travel in a public transport or in your limousine, whether rich or poor.

7. You honor your words, but don't expect others to be so. You can be good to people, but don't expect people to be good to you. If you don't understand this, you would end up with unnecessary troubles.

8. I have bought lotteries for umpteen years, but I never strike any prize. That shows if you want to be rich, you have to work hard! There is no free lunch!

9. No matter how much time I have with you, let’s treasure the time we have together. We do not know if we would meet again in our next life.

Your Dad and Mum


Monday, March 12, 2012

BORDERLINE LIVING

Being born in this world we all have to live a life whether we like it or not. The important question is what kind of life we would like to live? I have always lived a life with a purpose and then devoting my time to the purpose that I have defined for myself. But there are a large number of people who spend more than half of their life just in finding the purpose for living a life. Then another 25 percent of their life time is gone in motivating themselves towards that purpose. By the time they are ready to push that purpose forward a long time has passed and very little can be achieved. Life is worth living and has a lot of meaning if we consider it as an adventure. A journey with uncharted path, a direction where you have to define the path as you move forward. Have you ever noticed that many people whether at work or at home are just not motivated enough to do anything but want everything from life.

At work we find people who will just do sufficient so that they don’t lose their job. They don’t have any passion for their own achievements. They are normally those that will not come forward to take up any responsibility. Many a time they would not even bring up any issue due to the fear that they may be given the responsibility to complete it. They would rather sit and talk about others than to do something constructive. These are the people who I consider as those that have a Borderline living. They follow a marginal approach to life. What they don’t understand is that the only people they are hurting in the log-run are themselves. They tend to have many explanations for their behavior and they can very easily justify their approach to life. They consider themselves as the incarnation of the super human and consider themselves as perfectionists. They tend to believe that they are always right but are very weak workers/ employees. There is another characteristic of such individuals; they are very respectful to their superiors as that is the main weapon of their survival at the work place. They also tend to speak the right language and have strong public relations traits. They are however, not long-term players as sooner or later they trend to get exposed and they have to move on to the next job.

Now let us look at the other group of people who give everything that they have for the purpose they have defined for themselves. These are people who are seen everywhere in the organization. They don’t like to be bound by job descriptions. They tend to find problems all around and take the responsibility to solve them or put a process in place to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to solve them. What type of DNA do these employees’ posses? It’s a difficult question to answer. I feel what we are, is to a large extent determined by a number of factors which include our growing years, the environment, the family conditions and the role models that we are exposed to in early years of our life. I have felt that those people who have been surrounded by people who have made easy money in life, the impact of such environment is likely to lead to a characteristic defined by Borderline living above. Some of these values are also taken from our own families. If you see your parents and family members working hard to make a living, it is likely that the same value systems will become part of your living life.

It is important for all of us to take a look at our own way of leading a life. Income without work is not what we should be looking at. What we earn should be in proportion to the contribution that we make to the organization. Life becomes interesting if you move away from the borderline living to life without border. Experiment and innovate, find new ways of doing things and finally be honest to yourself. If you can do this much you will find the right path to the journey of your life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

TAKING OUT OF CONTEXT

Today I am writing on an issue that I have been thinking of writing for a long time. It is the issue of a situation when what you say or do is taken out of context and blown into a mountain. I am sure that all of us have gone through this at one time or the other in our life and if you are one of those lucky one that has not.. it will come sooner or later.

Think of a situation where you say something to a person and after a few days you find that the whole meaning of what you said has taken a different shape not to the person to whom you said it but to all those who came to know about it later. I have had a number of instances where this has taken place in my life. Trust me it hurts a lot because you now realize that you have been made a monster even though all your intentions were always good. You might have had the best interest of the person to whom you said but the world looks at everything in the color that it wants to see. These kinds of instances drain your energy and make you think where I went wrong. Many a times you do or say things to a person because you feel you can take the liberty to say it. You will be surprised that it may not be taken in the same light in which you might have said.

Now the important question for all of us to think of is ..Why do people do such things? Well there is a lot of fun and joy in talking about others. This is more so because every person can have his or her own interpretations of what has been said. There is nothing surprising about it; historically we have been doing this. I can give you evidence of so many different versions of the Bible, the Quran, and the Geeta. These are different interpretations of what we as human beings considered that the all mighty or the messenger said and that is how our society gets divided into smaller communities with different belief systems. So think of this, if we as humans can have different interpretations of the God/messenger, then why it would be difficult for us to interpret what we say or think about things that we express in our daily life.

I have always felt that people have their own agenda to carry forward. In most instances there is conflict between the agenda that one person wants to take forward and that some other person wants to take forward at the same time. This conflict, results from the self-centered approach that most people have towards life and work. So what is the purpose of doing something like this? Is there some material gain in it for the person in question? Well I personally don’t feel that there is but not everyone may have the maturity to understand that. That is where all the problems start and life begins to become more complicated. So I am here, listing things that you can do at individual levels to keep away from the negative force of taking anyone out of context.

1.       Always remember that people define their limits of thinking by the way they express things in reality or in different situations. Don’t count it against them, give them space for some time and they will realize it.

2.       People love talking good things about themselves and negative about others (there are always exceptions). Sometimes people can show themselves as being good only by showing how bad others are. This is what I call scoring points not due to you. Such people have not done much in life and they take shelter under the roof of relative comparisons.

3.       Don’t get upset about what they are doing. If you do, they win and you are on the losing side. Keep your cool and do not get angry, be nice to them as you would be under normal situations (I know it is difficult).

4.       Every person has a limit to their understanding which is a result of their upbringing and the environment that faced while growing up. We need to give benefit of doubt that it is not a well thought of strategy but just something resulting for past experiences.

5.       You don’t need to say anything bad to those who have taken you out of context. If you do then there is no difference between you and them.

Next time when you begin to interpret what someone else has said, wait for a while, take deep breath and ask yourself am I being hard on others. Your life is important but so is others, protects the reputation of every person and you will always fly in life. Let’s leave everything to the day of final judgment.