Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fathers must be Aliens!

I remember mine didn't say a word when the world questioned me, but lost his wits when I came home late,
He forgot to have me learn how to cook, but appreciated every amoeba-shaped chapati I cooked,
He never forced me to live by his dreams, but I always found him backing me for mine,
He never shed a tear when my mom cried every day days before I wed,
But couldn't help take his handkerchief out when I was finally saying bye,
He never drafted the design of the life manual for me, but cried with me every time I failed,
He would never express himself out in the sun, but the fact that he's happy would make the world spin faster,
He wouldn't know personally the people I loathe, but he would become my mirror the moment he would see them first,
Fathers must be aliens, for they just don't behave the way normal people do,
They become the wind beneath the wings and also the storm, because that's what they do! 

Image Credit: 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Book Review # 18: The Greatness Guide

My rating: ●●●●
Robin Sharma 
The Greatness Guide 
India: Jaico; 2006
240 pp; INR 225
ISBN: 9788179925768

Summary: All the great men who talked, talked philosophy. The best thing about this genre of books is that it comes handy any time in life and one could start reading it from anywhere only to become wiser and more practical. The Greatness Guide not only inspires you to lead a better life, but also gives you salient wisdom to come out with better solutions to the issues. While the real-life examples quoted keep it all easy to relate, the simplicity in writing makes the content easy to grasp. A must read if you love Robin Sharma and, also, if you don't.

What really clicked? The reputation of the author; I had to start from somewhere reading the whole lot of books that he's written.

My take: The first glance at the book and you see an author who believes in establishing himself as a brand; cool, because he has been a very famous author, personal development expert and one of the most influential leadership gurus in the world.

A brief look at the TOC might leave you slightly intimidated for there are over 101 chapters, but you should dive into the content without any fear of not being able to reach the back cover as these chapters all compare to vodka shots – very small but give you instant kick!

What could be better than starting the book with quotes from two legends – Maya Angelou and Bono – you know you have made the right choice by giving your time to this resource which might just become your friend for life. The chapters are brief, to the point and extremely simple to understand and relate. The author might be leading a life way different than his readers but his habit of forming a strong connection with the readers in each chapter leaves them feeling like they are being addressed by a friend. The tone of the author is clear, concise, confident and courteous. While he’s busy narrating stories from his life, he’s also drawing conclusions all leading to a moral and strong one-liners in the end.

This book gives you innumerable pearls of wisdom, making you want to note them down to put up in your room or office later. There are various which I liked a lot, five of them have been quoted below.
  1. Nothing fails like success
  2. Success is all about consistency around the fundamentals. The only thing that’s rocket science is rocket science.
  3. Never talk when you can nod.
  4. There’s no such thing as a normal human being; if you have a normal brain, you are superior.
  5. The only place you’ll reach if you will follow the crowd is exit.
Wise men say you should read more and more philosophy because these books not only lead to self-improvement, but also some serious mental work on the part of the readers discovering well-thought-out answers to a lot of questions which keep occurring in life. Whatever problems we might be facing right now, someone might have already gone through them and their wisdom and advice might just come handy to us through philosophy. So, grab this book if you want some of the brilliance of Robin Sharma to rub off on you.

Final word: Do you know which of the resources could possibly make the world a better place to live in – physiological, like food, water, breathing etc., possessions, love, esteem or self-actualization to put it all into perspective? It has to be self-actualization, which could well be acquired by getting in touch with the people who have proved them well no matter where they have been. The Greatness Guide, by Robin Sharma, speaks very simple language and teaches you the fundamentals, making you feel great about being able to read and, of course, to choose what to read. This is a great book, which can prove to be a worthy counselor and wise guide. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Why Do You No Longer Ask?

This is the question to all the new age women, who love putting themselves into various shoes in an attempt to prove them as independent – why do you no longer ask? There were and there are strong pillars of a house existing right there; yet, why do you no longer register their presence? You have the power and the ability and, then, there comes sharing not only responsibilities but also desires, wishes and dreams; the question is why do you no longer let anyone enter that sphere of your mind?

I recall a conversation that I had with a colleague while on my way back home. She was utterly dissatisfied with the paltry salary she drew every month and thought she won’t ever be able to realize her bigger, expensive dreams. When asked what those bigger, expensive dreams were, ‘travelling, diamonds and clothes’ was all she said with a heavy sigh. I remember her boasting about her well-off family and her husband, who was down-to-earth despite being placed at a very high position in a reputed MNC. I wondered why she doesn’t ask her husband to participate in fulfilling her dreams, why she doesn’t  ask him to contribute. I probably would have done that tad too loud that she came back to add to what she had already said. She remarked, “I am not cheap to ask my husband to fulfill my dreams.” I could not find words to frame a reply then, but this sentence left me awake way past my bed time. ‘Why not?’ was all I wanted to question.

There were days when men would take care of their partners as a responsibility. There was an unsaid, mutually consented procedure of leading life, celebrating festivities, attending to extended family and saving money. Although there was only one person earning, the efforts of the other to nourish the family never went unnoticed. The wife would proudly ask her husband to fulfill all her demands, no matter how big or small. The question is – has earning left us, women, in a bad shape, where we are not able to suffice our expectations of ourselves and not able to extend our hand in order to ask? This egotistical aspect of our personalities has come to light now, when we have some money in our hands, but the responsibilities have nowhere gone down.

The funny thing is that the male counterpart in the house still appears ready to play his role, but alas! he’s being kept in the dark regarding the matters going on in the mind of the wife. He would well be ready to come back with a solution or an answer if only he was given a chance, but he’s being deliberately detached from the inner self of his woman, the self which dreams.

Here’s small message to all those who have stopped asking their partners to dive into their dreams – go and command! Create a common domain which might give way to utmost happiness for the family. Ask your partner for a ring, a suit, a shirt or a holiday. Work towards it in collaboration and enjoy the immense satisfaction your current status of ‘working’ will bless you with. After all, the fact that you ‘earn’ shouldn’t mean you should stop ‘asking’ for things since you now already have the money to fulfill your desires. It should rather mean that the family gets a better lifestyle with all the dreams getting comfortably fulfilled.      

Monday, April 3, 2017

Road Trip Saga: Delhi-Vrindavan-Mathura-Delhi

No matter where you go, there you are!
- Confucius  
Another first this year: a road trip down the Yamuna Expressway to explore a city they all lovingly call God’s birthplace – Mathura/Vrindavan! This was one plan which was made impromptu and, therefore, all the fun it contained came as a pleasant surprise. Having set out at around 7:30 in the morning in our serviced Enfields, we could comfortably grasp the pleasure early morning rides fill you with. Around an hour’s ride from Delhi on the Expressway and all that passes you by are passages of agricultural fields occasionally habited by grazing animals like cows, buffaloes or even camels. The rising sun just adds to the charm rarely encountered in mundane routine. The nip in the air associated with early mornings makes you want to spread your arms wanting to greet the universe a very good morning! I surely have fallen in love with the openness and space riding bikes benefits you with.

Inching closer to the Blissland!

Eyes on the highway!
We stopped at our resort in Vrindavan (Kadamb) at around 10:45 AM, almost three hours after we started moving. Everything about the property – ambience, aura, facilities, décor and service – had a beautiful touch of comfort, sprinkled over with a glimmer of luxury. Our one-day stay here was akin to a much-needed therapy.  Moreover, the food served here at their restaurant was enough in quantity, tasty and totally upscale. The ambience and the view from the top-floor-situated restaurant mesmerizes you, leaving you wanting for more.

Us, at the resort!
Our journey of checking Vrindavan out began with our first stop being Prem Mandir. What an architectural wonder this temple is! Read more about this temple here if you really want to get acquainted with the facts that really are the foundation of the truth we see there. For a spectator, this temple is a treat for the eyes. The intricate work you see on the walls and everywhere else, the etchings on the marble, the extravagant décor, which also included opulent chandeliers, the representations of the scenes from the life of Lord Krishna and the light show in the evening, all add up to the creation of nothing less than a world-class wonder. A must visit if you’re here!
Prem Mandir 
Truly an architectural wonder!
The 'satsang' hall, which is currently under-construction.
Beautiful tableaus depicting scenes from Lord Krishna's life could be seen all around the main temple.
Moving on, we visited Banke Bihari temple and it is this place where I was actually able to connect with the superpower. Relatively old and untouched construction, this temple is surrounded with narrow bylanes which are mostly thronged by vendors, hawkers and beggars. You get great street food here; we had samosa, kachori, rabdi, carambola, but the star of the show was “kulhar wala kada hua doodh” (thickened milk). This place, indeed, demands one cheer for its gastronomic delights.  
The next day, we visited ISKCON, Vrindavan. This place seemed like a tiny foreign land to me, for the sheer number of non-Indians I saw there, all chanting ‘Hare Rama, Hare Krishna’ and dancing in the trance. We also had tasty ‘prasad’ there, which apparently was our first meal of the day. Our last stop here in Vrindavan was Nidhi Van, which is a mysterious place and makes you want to believe in God and his ways. Here on, we also visited an ashram where more than 2000 widows or single women were staying, calling themselves ‘Meerabai’!

ISKCON, Vrindavan
The next stop hereon was Mathura where we visited Yamuna Ghat, Dwarkadheesh temple and, lastly, Shree Kishna Janmabhoomi.  The trip ended with us giving ourselves ample rest before we embarked on our drive back home.

Yamuna Ghat
Once back in Delhi, we could feel the essence of divinity almost everywhere around us, as if we have carried it along. We could see the signs of Radha-Krishna practically everywhere around us or maybe it was easy for us to feel the divinity blending into our aura. Magical, indeed!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Education is to Literacy is what Venus is to Mars

There’s been a lot of air around Gurmehar Kaur, her gimmick and an easy exploitation of social media by all the celebrities who thought they know it better. While there have emerged a lot of her supporters, there have also shown up a lot more opponents of the thought put forward by this student of LSR. The supporters have been calling names to the opponents, trying to mark their presence in the froth thus generated and the opponents have been trying to come up with equally wittier retorts to stage their presence. Meanwhile, the point that should have been the focus of the debate was lost somewhere in the echo.

Celebrities like Virender Sehwag, Kiran Rijiju and Randeep Hooda have been speaking against her stand and have somewhere made sensible excuses to come out clean. In an attempt to counter them and, also, to give his byte to the media to count in, the famous lyricist Javed Akhtar has made a comment which nowhere grants him a certificate for having superlative intelligence.
 By directly commenting on one’s literacy level, he seems to be offending several ‘educated’ folks out there who never saw the face of a school. There is a thin line of difference between education and literacy and both of them have zilch to do with what degrees one decides to add to his name.

There might be several people who are mannered, talk sense, earn well and are doing their bit in making their family, community, society and country proud. However, there have also been several such highly qualified, literate folks who have been named amongst the most notorious criminals ever. After all, it all boils down to one’s sense of judgment or how he reacts to things or situations facing him. Javed could well have highlighted their ignorance if at all he was to express his support for Gurmehar and controvert the league of opponents. However, his choice of word has, in a way, demeaned everyone who’s ever done great in their field of interest, which does not necessarily have anything to do with the academics.

Talk about these people, for instance. Folks like Virender Sehwag or Yogeshwar Dutt need not prove their level of commitment to their work or their caliber, for that matter, to anyone. Their mettle has already created tremendous noise throughout the world in their shinier days. Using one’s qualifications, education or family background as an evidence to prove oneself right is not only immature but also stupid. He could just have made his point sensible enough to get him limelight while expressing his support, but it surely would have been a way tougher and brainier task, no?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Book Review # 17: The Great Indian Diet: Busting the big FAT MYTH

My rating: ●●●●○
Luke Coutinho and Shilpa Shetty Kundra 
The Great Indian Diet: Busting the Big FAT Myth 
India: Ebury, Penguin Books India; 2015
288 pp.; INR 299
ISBN: 9788184007480

Summary: A recent surge in the number of books being published on health, fitness and diet proves that this trend is here to stay and flourish. However, there has been a serious confusion in terms of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ when it comes to the eating habits and, therefore, any book which promises to guide on the right eating practices is always welcome. This book is a wake-up call for all those who’ve been blindly following the fad diets or the Western trends and is a wonderful eye opener to the immense power contained within the Indian food. Luke and Shilpa have rightly partnered to bundle up the information which can be banked on and used for life. 

What really clicked? The topic – I could go on reading anything and everything ever written on this line.

My take: There’s been an increase in the general health consciousness of the people of India and for this reason, the book, The Great Indian Diet: Busting the Big FAT Myth, has come out at the right time to answer the questions of the millions of Indians who lack a bankable fitness Guru to follow. The title of the book promises to stick to the food Indians eat daily and not the ones they wouldn’t have ever heard of and it does keep its promise. Therefore, this one is pretty easy to bring into practice in the real life as most of the food items it talks about are already present in almost every kitchen in India.

The title of the book perfectly marries the content it contains, for the jingoism for Indian food goes to another level through the book. Talking about the cover, the book showcases exactly the thing required to sell it – a star factor. Though I think the book would have sold like hotcakes had it included the Shilpa-Shetty bikini pic from the Shut-up-and-Dance song. Going off-topic, I was reminded of The Kapil Sharma Show from the chilly-and-lime evil eye warded used on the cover. The TOC is self-explanative and divides the book into five parts covering five broad topics related to busting the myths surrounding the Indian food – Indian food, what is going wrong, understand what you eat, lose weight while you eat right and cook healthy to stay healthy. 

Using an extremely easy to understand language, simple construction of sentences and colloquial tone, the authors have mostly stuck with the conversational style of writing to address the readers directly. The book not only busts the common myths related to Indian food like they are oily, spicy, hot, rich, fatty, difficult and time-consuming to cook, have curry powder and sugar and involve deep frying, but also tries to restore their faith in the traditional Indian meals. 

Talking about its setbacks, the Kindle/Kobo edition of the book lacks images which have been referred to in the text, which is a blunder. Further, since more than one author has written the book, it is extremely confusing to make out who is saying what. There have been quite a few contradictions in the content, like the one related to whether or not milk should be had. Lastly, even though the book bundles up a few sample diet plans for the people trying to lose weight, it does not mention anything for the people who are into some sort of workouts or sports. 

To sum it all, this book is a refresher from the fad diet books setting up a trend and making people give up their traditional eating habits. Apart from carrying diet plans for beginners and intermediates, it also takes along a few interesting recipes which will keep you hooked to the book for a little longer. In the end, the book should make all its readers proud of following Indian food and Indian eating habits.   

Final word: What do technical know-how books do to you – they dunk you in a pool of information; yet, you come out drenched in whatever you are able to retain on yourself. This is precisely what The Great Indian Diet does to you. This book is filled with a lot of information which basically all boils down to say that our Indian diet is akin to ambrosia and we just need the right information and technique to use it. Ending with a few, relatable recipes and fancy pictures of the authors, this book is sure to motivate you to adopt Indian food over Western fads and take your health rather more seriously. 
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