Bits and Bytes

The real poor

What does it mean to be poor?

It is easy to describe poverty through the lens of money. Somehow that is the one definition that seems to stick across the spectrum. There are programs for alieviation of this wretched state. Governments are made and unmade on this topic.

But what does it mean to be poor?

On a summer morning, from a construction site that was fast making realty a reality, I saw a lady pass by. A hop now, a skip otherwise and a jump now and then.. In tow was her daughter. Playing with an empty water bottle and struggling to keep pace. On her hips, her little son cackling with laughter and undoing her hair.

She spoke in a language I didn’t recognise. But her tone was enough to tell me a bit about her love for her children and the richness of her heart. Atop her head were building material in a red basket with a yellow safety helmet sitting pretty. Like a crowning diamond on Her Majesty’s crown.

The bright red flowers on her saree sat easy with the glass bangles and matched her happy step. Her work shift was all set to start. The anklets on her feet seemed to announce that with every step she took. It was going to be some time before family time in their temporary dwelling that they lived in. The builder had given them one until the high rise that they were part of constructing, got done.

There was genuine happiness in them. All three of them. The daughter often stopping to pluck flowers and throw them at the wind and then scampering to catch up with her mother. They went about reaching out to the morning with a joyous spirit and a gentle sprint. So full of life and yet with tenderness and care. Oblivious to the stranger in me watching them walk by.

Are they ‘poor’?, I remember asking myself. A monetary lens will affirm. But look at it this way.

To walk by with a happy stride.

To carry a weight but not seem bothered by it.

To provide life in real terms to your children by exchanging your living moments for it.

To embrace each morning with  smile and all the possibilities that it brings in.

That is not ‘poverty’! Ask any rich man. Or the office goer. Observe faces on a Monday morning as they come out of trains, buses and cars. It often is a weary lost look and an impossible to miss sadness. Not in all, but in many. And even as you wonder why, remember to look into the mirror as well.

What are we chasing? What do we have to give up in order to be ‘rich’? Poverty, as they say, is a state of mind. So is ‘Richness’. To be truly ‘rich’ is to be mindful of ourselves and our choices being fully present to how we think of our state of the mind. The lady with the red flowers and the eloquent yellow diamond atop her dirty crown showed that to me. She is long gone but the happiness in her voice and the cheer in her children remain in my memory.

The high rise she helped build now is lit by big swanky cars, sophisticated scents and solemn looks. Especially so, on Monday morning. Often it takes me back to the laughter of the lady with the bright red flowers on her saree. We have choices

We have choices! Lets remember to choose a rich life.

Happy Holi

When the giant bonfire lights up the night sky there are a few things that it does.

It tells you that the bright days of summer are here. It tells you tomorrow is Holi. A day of colour and gaiety.

It tells you that winter is over. And as the fire leaps to the sky and people bow in its honour, it seems to wink at me and say, the seasons are changing. And in its fleeting wink, seems to ask me, if am ready. As the crackle of the firewood changes the contours of the night sky, the fire doesn’t wait for answers.

It is warm. Actually, it is hot.We step back a few feet as it devours all the wood and everything else that was there to light it up. In a continuous go like a runner gasping and soaking in lungfuls of air on the home stretch.

Well, the fire is brilliant. It consumes you and even as it consumes you, it lights something in you. And from its flame, I await new colours that will emerge in the morning.

Happy Holi!

Pathways

The pathways aren’t often straight lines. Sometimes they are not clear. Many other times, they need to be created.  The undergrowth to be cleared. Concrete and stone coming together to make a permanent path. At other times, what’s required is walking through the undergrowth. A few more walks for a few more days and the pathways emerge.

Have you noticed that people look for pathways that have been created and simultaneously yearn for the rush of creating new pathways? It is often the case.

‘Creation of new grand pathways is not for everyone’, someone told me a few weeks ago.  I argued that creating new pathways in the brain is so important to keep things alive. To keep the mind young and fresh. It is the basis for curiosity. It is something that each one of us can do. Pick up a new task. Go by a different route. Talk to a new person. Listen like never before. Whatever. New neural pathway a keeps us moving forward.

These constantly add flourish to who we are even as new discoveries emerge.  That is the true story of several entrepreneurs who set up path-breaking ventures 🙂

Heres to a good day

Heres to a good day.

I spotted this in London on a wet and rainy day. It reminded me that the choice to have a good day or otherwise remains with us.

Viktor Frankl in his famous book “Man’s search for meaning” said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Today is a good day indeed to have a good day. Lets make those choices for making it a good day. No matter what the day offers.

Is that a deal? 🙂

Heres to a good day

Water

“Be like water”, he tells me. “Find your space. You may be contained by your present container. But remember you aren’t the container”. I am awestruck by what a simple man sitting under a giant oak tree in the courtyards of a simple temple is telling me. I look at him with wonder.

“You see water finds its place. Hold yourself lightly and keep going. There is a joy in the flow.”

He is old and the wrinkles bear testimony to the many seasons his skin has been in the game. A silence fills the moment as he stares into the sky and I stare into his lost eyes. “You will know what it like when you stand by the stream or watch a waterfall. You can here it’s energy”

He breaks free from his trance. And proceeds rather dourly. “You didn’t expect this from a wrinkled old odd smelling fellow like me, did you?” He doesn’t wait for an answer. And then says, “many years ago I was like you. Riveted by drive and laced with passion”

His pauses for the longest period of time. Unable to bear it any longer, I ask, “and then?”

He smiles, dusts himself up as he prepares to leave and says “I began to flow”.  He walks away leaving me in the company of a silence broken by the sounds of his receding footsteps on dried leaves