Light Bulb Moments

Facts that Matter !

Introducing Mrs. Vanita Kandekar. She runs a small tea shop on the National Highway, from Mumbai to Goa.

A small shack with a gas stove. A vessel with oil inside. A few large bottles that hold sweets and snacks. A wooden bench. A thatched protrusion into the frontage. A picture of Bharat Mata that stares at you. ‘Tiger’ biscuit. There are a few other articles which are of lesser significance that escape my eyes.

We don’t see any of these. The drive has been long and we decide to break for tea. We park on the side and cross the road to the tea stall to be presented with the description above. We ask for tea. She smiles. And asks us to wait.

A sudden activity buzz abounds.

Four ceramic cups & saucers, that seem to have popped in from nowhere, get washed. The milk is boiled, the ginger is cut with a, ‘i’ll get it fresh for you‘ comment. Our tired legs smile at our luck. My wife spots the vessel with oil. A pleasant exchange between Ms.Vanita and my wife enuses in Marathi. Cut. Vada Pav is cooking !

The tea gets served. Four cups. We say we ordered only for three. She pours the tea into the fourth cup, and passes it on to the next store vendor. ‘Special Tea for you’. Matter of fact ! My stare stays static, focused on her. She has moved on.

I get curious and pop a few questions. My wife translates in Marathi. It gets Mrs. Kandekar talking.

“I have three sons. One of them passed away. The other is mental. The other does farming”.

No whining. No sad under tone. Just matter of fact. The by-the-side conversation seems to be her way of keeping us engaged as she focuses on the worn down stove.

‘We are brahmins. We don’t get jobs. My son didn’t get either. So he does farming’. No whining. ‘He is ok‘. Just matter-of-fact.

‘I make Rs.25/- every day. On a good day, i make Rs.40/-‘. Matter-of-fact. I look away into the undergrowth. ‘Rs. 25’ continues to ring in my ear. That wont get me half a litre of petrol, i think. She attends to the Vada thats cooking.

Soon, Vada Pav is ready. She serves it with green chillies.

We clean the plate like animals in a zoo who have been unfed for long.

We take it further. The incurable southerners that we are, we ask, if she can make us Bhajjis with the green chillies.

Sure‘. She says.

In 5 minutes, the bhajjis with green chillies are ready. Delicious. We munch on. She chats on. About Ratnagiri. About the weather. And so on. She asks us to take care while driving through. We thank her.

Its time to pay. She quotes a low figure. A ridiculously low figure. We think she has made a mistake and help her count ‘unit’ wise. ‘

Ah she says. Dont include the Chilli Bhajjis’. Thats on me.’

Did i hear that right ? My ‘disbelief’ stare returns. If the Rs.25/- per day income rattled me, the spirit to give ( in a matter of fact way) , sows a new seed.

I look away. Into the sky. I want to hug her. I suddenly want to talk to her more. To unravel the spirit to give. To focus on the present. To just be. I want to tell her that she left a mark.

A word clot and an emotion hemorrhage engulf me. I just stand and stare.

And today, i write. We moved from her road side tea stall a few weeks ago. The memory could be old. Her shade of ‘share ware’ seem to take new roots in me !

The Lady with the broom !

Just outside the Church of Bon Jesus was this lady. A glint from her nose ring caught my eye and my then my eyes just refused to leave the lady ! She moved with great elegance. As she spoke to a few of her colleagues i saw in her, a certain poise and a certain level of composure which i haven’t seen in many an individual in a long while.

Her broom stick caught my attention too. It was rather unique and the fact that it was ‘maintained’ well, was obvious ! The broom slowly lead me to see how they rested in the arm of the lady.

Many minutes later, i saw her go about sweeping the compound. With elegance, with patience and a certain degree of perfection. Ensuring the last leaf was removed and every visitor had nothing to look at but the church itself !

She smiled, she had a cheerful blabber ( i couldn’t follow what she was speaking) & a keen eye looking for the specks of dust or dirt which needed to be removed !

I wonder where does this commitment come from ? Can it be imbibed ? Can it be, at all, taught. What could be her vision ? What could drive her ? What would be her annual Key Result Area ? Will she have an appraisal …?

Passion shows up. Whether you clean the floor or build a few !

She stays in my mind. She doesn’t know, but in just going about doing her work she taught me a few things. And when i toss the odd paper carelessly on the desk or review a quickly drafted email, i remind myself of the lady. Her elegance and the poise. The well cradled broom in the arm and the dedication to completing a simple chore with perfection & energy. And joy !

The glint of the nose ring seems to be a message ! A divine one. I call it the broom stick message !

Movie Land Lessons

Friday evenings were movie times. For the past few weeks. In the quest of sustaining and solidifying a tradition of sorts, the two movies that were releasing this week stared at us.

a. Mission Istanbul
b. Money hai to honey hai.

After watching movies like Love Story 2050 and Kismet Konnection, reason did not permit a risk in the name of ‘entertainment’. So, here we are, at home. After a long while, spending the evening, looking into the cloud filled night sky as it pelts rain with such ferocity resembling a self respecting movie goer who has been taken for a ride by movie makers !

Movies are stories and good movies are stories well told. Stories that grip & leave an impact. That cause you to reflect. Prepare you for something bigger. Or at the least, lighten your heart and leave your mind pampered. After each of the movies that we saw in the recent times ( except for JTYJN), every shade of the opposite effect took place.

By abstaining from watching a movie this week, we are infact, letting our esteemed movie makers know that we have no trust in them !

Dear Movie makers / Director / Actor…

We also know, you would care two hoots to our opinion. Your industry runs on the steady stream of normal people, who you mistake for ‘dimwits who will pay and lap up any crap’ that you dish out.

Such ‘normal’ people take a while, for evolving to stay out of the zealous crap that you spell as ‘m-o-v-i-e’ ! Until then you would have a field day. Enjoy it while it lasts. We are losing patience !

Just as i write, i see that both movies releasing today, have got a zero rating in a review by a TV channel. Sure baby, money is honey. Time is honey ! Emotion is honey.

Am glad i metaphorically learn’t all of that, without watching ‘money hai to honey hai’!

A captain bids adieu

What does it mean to retire ?!?

Sunil Gavaskar’s retirement was the first retirement that i had to come to terms with in my life. And there was something said like, ‘its better to retire when everyone is asking, ‘why retire’, than retire when everyone is asking ‘why not retire’ ! That comment stayed.

Some months back, amma retired. Then appa retired. And it left me with some basic questions. How does it feel to walk away from what you have been doing for ages. For most parts of your life. How would it feel to just fade away from the scene ? To see all the striving of a lifetime come to a day in life, when life changes from the next day onwards.

The thought appears scary. With the only background on retirement coming from context provided by being a son of just retired parents, i attempt to think through. Perhaps the most fulfilled retirement years are for those who left an imprint by being who they are. An imprint in the minds of people, that will stay permanently etched in the DNA of those that knew & worked with them!

To retire with grace and happiness, to me, seems to be a result of ‘working with love’ when it was time to work! And as Khalil Gibran says….

And what is it to work with love?

It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.

It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.

It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.

It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,

And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.

Young colleagues & friends talk of retirement as if it were something that happens in remote corners of a forgotten land, only seen on a BBC documentary, by the mistaken flip of the familiar TV remote !!

Every rail track tells the tale of a coming train. If only you put a ear to the track, the rumble runs through the ear ! A tale which the eyes cannot see ! But the train and its hurtling are indeed reality ! And the train does appear, faster than one can get to spell ‘retirement’ without doubt !

And when a captain hangs up his boot & the world takes a bow, you realise that he has lived his life, by leaving a mark. More often than not, the mark is not a result of a herculean special effort but more by being himself. Living with passion. Striving for perfection & a love of work thats best complimented by simplicity of thought and execution !

When such captains retire, you stand by the sidelines and clap hard. And just as the sound of the clap reaches the world and your own ear, you relalise that your zest for work and making a difference, grows.

What more can be a true tribute !

This post is written just as a captain & a gentleman that i have only known from afar, retires. today. He left a mark. On many.

On me too.

Graphs & Life !

This is a page that was shared by VSP !

Quite a blog ! Here are some excerpts from it. I have been hooked by both the simplicity and the profoundness !

Here are some excerpts from it

It was many years back that i studied venn diagrams and graphs. And then life passed me by. To see a connect between life and venn diagrams was not known to me until i saw this blog. And its been featured as well !!

So here is my take, in my own crude form

Monsoon Lessons !

When the monsoon rains hit the floor, or the iron railing or you or anybody else, they hit with such relish. And with the same non-discriminating intensity. And when they form those droplets that the dog and the cow shake off with vigour you realise that it is the same droplets that get absorbed into towels of many hues at home. Perhaps evaporating against the numbing power of a noisy hair drier.

And as the lost droplet seems to linger on the railing, for just a while longer, playing a strange game with gravity, you watch with intensity. A fabian moment that lingers just a while longer.

The rain continues to fall noisily, showing what the Mumbai monsoon stands for : Relentless persistence. The droplets continue their game. You continue to watch. Time is on the run.

Or rather, time stands still. You watch.

And you watch the beauty of the rain water morph into beautiful droplets that run across the iron railing. And in a minute, gathering weight to fling themselves at the floor with the same relish.

Nature teaches you. Life & living.

Who moved my lottery ?!?

So, I have won the lottery. The UK Online lottery! Well, at least, that’s what this mail states. “After this automated computer ballot, your e-mail address emerged as one of ten winners in the FIRST category for the THIRD prize”. And at thousands of pounds for no work and my mail id bringing me luck, well, what can I ask for.

This is what the mail said :

The National Lottery is pleased to inform you that you emerged a winner of £3.000.000 GBP in the last concluded National Lottery online draws on 17 th Oct ‘07. However, no tickets were sold butall email addresses were assigned to different ticket numbers for representation and privacy.

After this automated computer ballot, your e-mail address emerged as one of ten winners in the FIRST category for the THIRD prize.Your prize award has been insured with your e-mail address and will be transferred to you upon meeting the requirements, statutory obligations, verifications, validations and satisfactory report. .

So, they said. And interesting it did seem !

There are two factors that drive all of the world, I read somewhere : “ Fear & Greed” ! Over the past so many months there have been ever so many lottery ‘winners’ who were supposed to send in ‘some’ money to a foreign account to ‘meet requirements, statutory obligations, verifications, validations and satisfactory report’.

Well, the money that these ‘winners’ were sending was booty for somebody else. People kept sending in money. Week after week. Some demand was made on a inventive pretext. “Transfer Fee’. “Currency Tax’ ! And the booty was just around, in the minds of people. They could almost reach it if they paid the ‘tax’. And finally, they did pay some ‘tax’. For money that stayed in their minds.

No way was i going to give my address, telephone number and bank account details. Well, maybe I am missing the thousands of pounds. Maybe I am driven by Fear ! what say ? Maybe I have actually won the lottery!

But what perhaps almost gives me a conniption fit is this: I emerged as one of the ten winners for the third prize ! This is a fictitious prize given by some gangster holed up in front of some computer in some land. He must realise that he is sending this to an Indian. Where 3,00,000 people fight to get admitted into colleges which do not have more than 7000 seats. The first prize matters dude !!!!

Oh boy ! The First Prize & me seem destined not to meet! Even in the concocted imagination of a creative criminal !!

Light Bulb Moments !

The last few weeks saw a few intense moments. Moments that i call Light Bulb Moments ! And somehow, the speed at which the light bulbs seem to be going on is causing me to smile and wince at the same time. Smile at the future and wince at the past and the process.

A couple of days back there wasn’t any electricity at home. We winced and whined and complained. And ofcourse, discovered, that we couldnt do much. We couldn’t run to our safe sanctuaries of books and TV. We sat and talked. About us. Our futures. Fears. Hopes. Neighbours. Careers. Families. Traditions. And we chatted. Chatted. And chatted. And CHATTED. The lack of electricity in the house brought a strange electricity to our conversation. The darkness around me couldn’t conceal the strange light bulb went on inside me: Staying devoid of comfort was actually empowering.

Yesterday, the conversation with Sanjay made a few more light bulbs go on. As we got talking, i found the conversation strangely empowering. About my own self. Abot him. His journey. And mine. The impact of ones actions on others. (Amidst all this, there was one particular light bulb glowed intensely : I came face to face with a force within me which seeks out relationships and manifests itself through harmony.

But there was more to it which I am internalising. The beauty of yesterday’s conversation with Sanjay was that more connections to light bulbs that were established. Just the connections. I am sure the bulbs will glow in the future using the magic of future moments as electricity ! That One more light bulb on !

To be conscious of and aware of light bulbs when they go on: To me that is brightest of the bulbs. To be conscious of a new awareness of ones own self. Of ones own moods, thoughts and feelings. Aware of a skill that was missing or a possibility that can be used in the future.

The beauty of lifes lessons is their being are wrapped in everyday life. To be able to spot capture a LBM ( Light Bulb Moment) has deep impacts on life. Strange, that all you need to do is to talk and listen. Care and stay connected.

Simple things to do ?

Well, the answers lie in the Yellow Lemon Tree. Wonder how. Wonder Why !