COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGRIMAGE

At thirty-six, Tsukuru Tazaki recollects his life he had led up until that point in time. He ponders his time with four of his best friends over his childhood, the most testing time of his life at twenty when the prospect of dying had such a hold on him.

Tsukuru, Japanese for ‘the one who make things’ – and true to his name, he had a fascination to build rail stations, and that took him away from his closely-knit group of five friends and his family. From Nagoya, his home town to Tokyo, where he was to study engineering.

Tsukuru thought himself to be ‘colorless’ and an empty vessel and unknowingly was first to blame himself when things didn’t go as expected. Was he justified in thinking about himself in this light? Did he ever seriously consider how others felt about him? Should he be writing scripts for others on his mind? or maybe this is how Tsukuru was wired.

Some people write string quartets; some grow lettuce and tomatoes. There have to be a few who build railroad stations, too. And I wouldn’t say I have a passion for it, exactly. I have an interest in one specific thing.

He had a chance encounter with Haida, a junior while in college who had a philosophy besides music. “This might sound rude, Tsukuru, but I think it’s an amazing achievement to find even one specific thing in life that you’re interested in.”

And then one fine day…without any goodbye, Haida went away – just like a fellow passenger in a long train journey with whom you become friends.

You discover the next day they are gone while you were sleeping, without bidding goodbye or a promise to stay in touch. Tsukuru comforted himself by asking questions like – “Why would they stay friends with a guy like me?”

After failing to commit to any of the girlfriends he previously had, it bothered him why he wasn’t taking that final giant stride.

Was he clueless about the immense emotional baggage he was carrying all those years?

Why was (and is) he not curious to know why his four friends banished him one fine day, no reason given whatsoever, and no intent from Tsukuru to know ‘why’?.

And since that incident, sixteen years went by where he led a life which had no meaning whatsoever – but he carried on, walking those steps necessary to survive life. Probably, that is what he is, a survivor and a plain one at it.

And he meets Sara, and she, at 38, two years older than Tsukuru, fuels a spark which he badly needs.

Human traits do not change unless one is willing to change. That way, the human mind is a great player. It can play any game it wishes to, and all we do is react and act upon it. Within such dexterity, there too lies a rigidity of not letting go of how you view life, being relentless in believing certain things and how it would fail, each time and how you would ensure it would fail because….. it happened in the past, and it so must happen. Any room for a change?

All his life and especially those sixteen years, Tsukuru tried to hide those unpleasant memories – but deep down, it was there, in a dark corner and unknown to Tsukuru playing tricks on how he viewed life and its situations.

You can hide memories, but you can’t erase the history that produced them.

Sara convinces him why he must revisit his past, meet his four friends and how he must pursue to know ‘why’ he was treated the way he was a long time ago. Tsukuru knew he could hide memories for a lifetime, but what about the history that bogged him down, that made him a prisoner locked in a cell.

Doesn’t he feel like breaking out?

Tsukuru takes a blind leap and decides to revisit his past. Along this path, he meets his friends and realizes that others’ lives differed from how he had pictured in his mind.

While he was unearthing the past, he finds Sara on a summer evening, walking with an older man, holding hands, laughing, which gave an impression that she was delighted.

He knew he finally found a girl in Sara with whom he can spend the rest of his life, and yet those images of her holding hands with another man bothered him, every minute, every second. He had made up his mind that he cannot give her that happiness; he was colorless, empty, and probably that’s the reason people leave him, just like that… abruptly and all of a sudden.

And then…. a trip to Finland to meet his childhood friend with a hope that she would fill the void to that ‘history.’

Sixteen years later, those feelings of dying came back to him when he returned to Tokyo, and he was sure if Sara chose the other man over him. There was nothing left for him to live for.

His mind was on the brink of a collapse, took him to the darkest of the forest a man could imagine, and threatened to unleash deadly elves that would finish him.

If he had to lose it, he would rather lose himself.

….. and yet….. he manages to survive!

Another battle with his mind. And he realised one thing about himself – despite those colorless sixteen years he led.

Not everything was lost in the flow of time. We truly believed in something back then, and we knew we were the kind of people capable of believing in something – with all our hearts. And that kind of hope will never vanish.

As the title suggests, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage – the Tsukuru can be anyone we know and how each one has a story, a unique one.

Because of our thoughts, how our mind processes the same fact differently and makes us react in a way that makes us who we are.

The key to survival is not a set of formulas – but a constant game played on our minds, and that game knows no rules!

CYCLE FOR A RUN – ZÜRICH RUN 2015

Another year, another run, and this time at Zürich marathon, I was part of a team relay, and my role was running a stretch of 11.4 km. Together with three other team members, we completed the marathon. This is the first of its kind for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed this after running single runs to date. This run, the first of this year (and many more in the pipeline for this year), is also unique in many ways – firstly, I ran more than 11 km at an event after nine years, and to prepare for this event, I experimented with a different training regime. I opted to cycle instead of running leading up to the event.

TRAINING LESS WINTER

Since I completed the Winter Run in Zürich last December, my training leading up to March’s second week was negligible. Winter, being a touch harsh and no indoor gyming (I didn’t renew my membership), I went through a period of three months with little running. However, I did walk, and those were quite a few miles along with my wife leading up to her delivery. I had few issues with my throat during January, and I chose to go easy on my body until our baby was born. Easy, in my definition was – no outdoor training while the temperature touched below zero, during snowfall, and when it was windy. Walking was the best option!

ZÜRICH RUN 2015

I signed up for the run with Asha Foundation, Zürich, and I was grouped in a team where I would have to run 11.4 km at the Zürich marathon. This was a challenge as I usually prefer shorter distances over more than 10 km. On the other hand, the whole run was for a cause – a fundraiser for THE betterment of education in India for underprivileged children.

With less than a month to go, and by this time, our 5-day infant was back home and my wife recovering, I was slightly worried about my lack of preparation. I wouldn’t say I like running more than 5 km at a time – but I know on a given day, I can finish long distances. That’s not the point; to me, after any run (be it any distance), I must be able to continue with my life without any difficulties. And preparation helps you immensely in going about your life, usually post-race. I had to be prepared! And I was not sure if I wanted ‘running’ to be an integral part of my training.

BUILDING UP THE MOMENTUM

It was in that indecisive moment of choosing how to train; I stumbled upon an idea. It was just a fortnight ago; while I randomly picked up the cycle and went for a ride, I came with the plan. The spring weather, with the cool breeze, light for most hours during the day, and the temptation to cycle more led to an experiment that I wanted to explore personally—cycling as a training method for running.

I have previously completed a half-marathon with fundamental preparation – but those times were different. I somehow cannot imagine me doing such distances as I have grown out of it. This 11.4 km was not my personal choice; however, wanting to run-ruled over the distance factor. Yes, let’s face it – I do not want to run 10 km every second day or more than 5 km each day, but I wanted to complete this 11.4 km, and at the end of it, the need to feel normal (as I had a four-hour meeting on a hill after the event) was paramount. The goal of preparation was not to feel exhausted and spent at the end of 11.4 km. And more importantly, at times during the race, an unprepared body gives up.

I decided to cycle hard and cycle alone as a part of the training. I started with 14.3 km and then 22.6 km the next day. Subsequently, 18.2 km, 21.3 km, 24.2 km, and 26.6 km. I concluded – if I were to cycle close to 90 mins and cover more than 20 km (keeping in mind the Swiss altitude), I feel I would have trained enough for the race.

THE RACE DAY

I felt good after a good night’s rest (which was a premium considering one has to be alert to baby’s call, anytime). The first runner completed 9.1 km, and then it was my turn to run a further 11.4 km. I ran, picked up my pace slowly with each kilometre. It took about 75 minutes to complete this distance. This was not lightning quick. However, the goal was to meet the distance and at a decent time. I felt good throughout the run and never once felt the need to give up. I came back home, freshened up, ate four parathas, and off I went to Felsenegg for a meeting.

Since the beginning of 2014, I had decided not to run more than 5 km (ok, 6 km at times), and this one came as a mini-challenge. With each challenge comes an opportunity to do things differently, and that’s precisely what I did when I chose not to include running in my training regime.

Next up is the Bern run (in three weeks), and I am taking it easy with a 5 km run.

YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO SOMEONE’S LIFE

Asha for Education, Zürich has raised close to 23,000 CHF through the Zürich marathon 2015. We have two weeks for the final fundraising, and we are short by 2000 CHF of our target. Request you to contribute any amount of your comfort by clicking here in my profile – http://www.asha-zurich.ch/marathon/p_runner.php?id=RAT

WHAT DO I LOOK FOR WHEN I WANT TO GET INSPIRED

There are plenty of websites, books, audio recordings, and seminars available to get inspired. There is no single formula for getting inspired. To get inspired is a personal choice and depends on the individual taste. Like anybody else, I too need constant inspiration(s) to do things.

Some aspects are situational, bounded by the life we lead and the way it is presented at any given point. Rest, I go looking for something to do! However, without any bias, each person needs inspiration at some point in time, and here again, we interpret this word in different ways.

Are we running short of ideas? Do we lack the spark which we previously possessed? Are we on the look out for a change? How can we tackle the same problem with a different approach? How do we seek clarity from a clouded problem? How do we face our fears? How do we accept and manage our responsibilities? How to do just about anything for the first time and carry on doing it?

One can ask many more questions, and one of the critical solutions is to get ‘inspired.’ The best part of getting inspired is that it has no set patterns. The same story narrated by an adventurer to a large audience can be interpreted in many different ways and, in turn, get inspired or discouraged, entirely based upon an individual’s interpretation and application skills. This is the beauty of creativity – the same idea, when executed by different people, results in different scenarios, products…

“Inspiration to me is… anything that ticks me to take a particular decision, perform a set of actions or even think about getting to a destination – it is a journey of thoughts mixed with choices and actions”.

WHAT DO I LOOK FOR

First and foremost, I look for a situation that needs intervention, a sort of inspiration that would help me resolve. Parallely ask, why do I need to fix it? I need not sit in one place and keep pondering. Just wanting to improve will present ways.

Why do I need to get inspired? I peg myself constantly with this question until I am satisfied with the explanation. Often, this answer sets the foundation for future elements. This exercise itself has inspired me many times just to take that hesitant first step. One can call it ‘introspection’ or ‘mindful thinking’ instead of just clocking in hours and then feel.. ‘what am I doing’? This helps me to be more aware of myself and have an opinion on my choices.

Being open-minded while absorbing the inspiration. I believe this is one of the tough things to endure. It is natural to relate any external talks immediately, solutions to our problems. Though it is difficult, I try to be as open-minded as possible! But again, I try!

Feel the situation from my point of view. It gets to me to a zone where there is this large pool of untapped thoughts that serve as inspiration within me. That is how I get inspired impromptu, i.e.; a simple act was done at a random hour. A regular task performed differently, or even an unrelated business or a task can act as a source of inspiration.

And lastly, the process of inspiration has two points. The start and the end (or in some cases, the end is never unless we deliberately put an end to it). I look for the journey from start to finish. This journey gives me a perspective and, therefore, some inspiration to keep it going, which I may not apply directly – but it all goes into my conscious bank. However, the lesson learned is that I undertook many tasks, and most of it I went on to fulfill them while a few I gave up at different stages of the pursuit. All these serve as sources of inspiration: How to do and how not to do.

To sum it up, getting inspired is a beautiful process. At this moment, unconsciously, subconsciously, our body, mind, and soul are getting inspired. Take a time out occasionally and live this chain of events that unfold in you – and you will be surprised to witness, inspiration is nothing but an exchange of experiences of any kind.

THERE IS NO PERFECT……………………………………………….

I know everyone has been in a dilemma of whether to do or not to do; to have or have not and how!  This feeling is universal, and the path is frequently travelled, most times crowded, yet it seems like we are all by ourselves. However, what we choose to do with the feeling is something worth talking about.

How many times a day, a minute, we would have procrastinated ‘a sure thing’ for later or even convinced ourselves to do it at a perfect time?

Let me tell you; there is no perfect time!

Many tasks need an appropriate time; anything before and after is of no use. We all get that sort of commitment, and we ably do it. However, there are many jobs which are independent of ‘time’ is what irks us the most, tests the individuals and a group in general. What are we going to do with the time if we have procrastinated on a specific task? Is there something better to do, or is it a feeling that comes in between performing that particular task – which quickly gets postponed? Or are we just too lazy and oblivious about it?

I have learned this, and yes, I, too, have procrastinated and will do in the future. Isn’t it natural? The question is – when do I procrastinate?

These days, I have started to question the very process of procrastination. I am in the middle of creating a habit of asking why I feel like delaying a particular task with the hope the process will evolve and gradually becomes instinctive.

LOOKING BACK

When I look back, I see a pattern emerge as to what factors motivated me to procrastinate things in my life. I would categorise items or tasks into priority. If I felt it was not significant, they would be done later, or I would do specific tasks only when required. Whereas many functions in our daily lives are intuitive, and you know it needs to be done.

Why so? Because you know it, and you will find a way to get things done…Period!

It is natural; it’s instinctive, it’s common sense, it is one’s reaction to individual action and is to no small extent a degree of freedom where you do without an iota of thought.

Such behaviour emerges with practice and being more aware of what ticks you! Just like a feeling of being an artist who has mastered an art. Everyone loves to be in this kind of a zone, I know I do… but – there are more roadblocks one needs to overcome to get to this zone. This is one’s behaviour – and whether it is good or bad depends on how you define ‘good or bad’ and how others perceive it.

50:50 CONUNDRUM

I remember a famous quote printed on a T-shirt I used to wear during my college days – “A person who thinks he can and a person who thinks he cannot are both right.” A beautiful quote wakes your brain cells and makes you wonder which side of the pasture you want to graze.

I often go through scenarios in life that I term as 50:50 conundrums. The more I encounter such situations – the more I am experimenting or being adventurous. Or am I taking too much time to learn or adapt?

I believe this is more of a personality issue. This dilemma, which I talked about earlier, tests or perhaps decides many things in one’s life.

More often, I encounter these thoughts – “How would it be? What will happen? How will they view it? Is it worth doing it? Will, someone judges me because of my actions?…. plenty of questions, and these questions bog me down at times and have the potential to mask the clarity of what is required, what needs to be done, and how it needs to do.” Sometimes it makes me wonder – why an inevitable result is not coming my way, do I need to find other ways?

Personally, this ‘feeling of uncertainty and making sense of it’ is what makes me learn. I am a person who likes to reach the same destination in different possible ways – well, it’s just me, and I don’t think about it. I do think about it!

Without this problem, I would have learned less. This uncertainty does not drive me crazy. Instead, it buoys me to ‘choose’ and go through a series of ‘action-reaction’ thoughts within myself and try them out in reality.

It is a feeling where any feedback is like progress, which is how I wish to take it. Back in my days as a chemical researcher, I learned an important lesson. “Even a negative outcome is a result, and to get to the objective of an experiment, one cannot fudge the results or tamper with the observations.”

It is entirely against nature – a lesson for life indeed.

A SECOND LAYER

Beneath the polished mindset lies the second-layer where the 50:50 conundrum is most active. This is where one’s character is shaped and one crucial step away from revealing to the world. This aspect determines how to proceed further and in what direction, and most importantly, when or give up. This zone is what I call ‘a critical one’ – where one is exposed to a lot of things or new scenarios, and one doesn’t know how to react to it and not confident of taking some actions.

If things go our way due to making a choice, we do not think much – a sense of relief surrounds us, and we began to wonder – what the fuss was this all about.

What if things do not go as per expectations? This is what happens to most of us during experimentation, right? When decisions have to be made, one needs to bounce back or come back with another set of ideas or leave it at that.

People get segregated and get defined by choices based on their awareness. It is not the result; it is the numerous trails that test whether you have it in you to drag yourself forward.

When there are chances to get lost for a while, or at least I do… go into a mood of introspection – visualise the sequence of events and come back at it.

This is a personality issue, and I believe in tackling this – there is no perfect way or to get back; there is no ideal time…

I do understand, when in doubt… make a choice towards what you want and accumulate as many responses (it is incredible how humans instinctively select or reject depending on their interests) as possible. Very soon, you will be out of this 50:50 conundrum, and your actions become instinctive. What’s important is – it is ok to be awkward as long as it is part of the learning process.

THE CORE

One needs fuel to execute things in a manner we do. I call ‘the intellectual fuel’ – which is present within and replenished as a result of our behaviour and its outcomes in everyday life. It is one’s core and the primary source of ‘how we do things in a certain way and be unique.’

This core of mine is a very personal thing. It takes ages to realise why we choose one over the other. This understanding of one’s core needs pattern, and that one has to keep doing things repeatedly.

It remains in the comfort zone and seldom takes risks. It is a haven, and it convinces you to believe your view is the way to go. When surroundings favour such thoughts, the result is a blast’, and the little one can stop! Unless you press the self-destruct button by yourself.

What would you do if you are not being judged? Think about it – dwell on it from time to time because this is what stands out with time.

The most challenging task is to be in touch with this core. And the annoying part is; it shows only a part of it and not entirely at once. If you are aware of this part – trust me, you will have never have to worry about the puzzles.

What you think or believe deep inside is what you do?

In most scenarios, one never encounters an ideal match that resonates your core. Either you condition the core to suit the surroundings or be continually looking out for ‘the one.’ In both cases, you invest time, energy to make it comfortable. The 50:50 conundrums continue…..

I have not reached there yet. But all I have understood is that – our life will be determined by the choices we make when we are in doubt. And how we react when things do not go our way is when we get to know more about ourselves.

So here is food for thought – how motivated are you to reach a state where you do just the way you like without any inhibitions? This explains why some people choose to become recluses; stay away from civilizations, and be available to people at their discretion. No, I have not met such a person until now in my life… because I believe that’s the perfect state one can achieve.

As long as you live.. you learn.. and as long as you know… you are not perfect!

TREADING ON THE MILL

I believe a personal level of acceptance (Read Previous Post – Why I don’t love Running) has helped me understand and look at the concept of ‘running’ in a completely different way. It is nothing elaborate, just that I feel a lot freer whenever I run, jog, or sometimes ‘waun’ (walk+run).

All along, I wondered – why conform to the norms of training? Though I never took any active measures to ponder what or how I wanted to run. Now, I want to know more.

I realise the importance of training to suit my body type and to get better with time. I had some ideas, and reading perspectives and runners’ life stories helped me get few ideas on various elements associated with running.

However, it is important to start testing those perspectives one by one. I ran, ran from time to time before realising I was not enjoying it. Instead of holding on to it tightly, I thought about rediscovering the touch by starting from scratch.

Most would know instinctively what’s möglich and what isn’t? It is a matter of effort, and it might involve some time (proportional to effort) to trust those instincts and enjoy the process of training. Be it anything, work out a pattern. Here’s what I did:

When I realised I could use the treadmill to train myself (I was not too fond of it before), I thought, why I never fancied myself training on a treadmill early. It’s simple – I never gave time to treadmill training nuances and instead preferred running outside, where I could control speeds and choose roads at will.

Now, I still love running outside but what’s changed is that – I do not mind using treadmills. Acclimatising to ever-changing seasonal weather also helped me to decide to give the treadmill a go.

Ok, coming back to the pattern. This technique is a work in progress. More work has been done, so I can comment on the progress I have had so far. Have a target time and commit to engaging yourself on the treadmill – it helped me define a direction because it was a personal project.

I would suggest ‘music’ helps – but it masks the feelings you undergo during this training process. I prefer to hear my feelings out during training and focus on achieving a zone where I just run, oblivious to what’s happening around me. Again, choose the method that aids you to train better!

I get a lot of ideas if I listen to my thoughts on how to make this process of training better.

Start by selecting a raw walking speed, a factor that indicates the km/h or miles/h. When you start to feel comfortable walking, shake up the order – plan to move outside your comfort zone gradually.

I devised a test on myself to simulate the outdoor running conditions at will. No, it isn’t the 3D views of my surroundings! I continuously increase the speed by 0.1 km/h every 30 seconds. I start my training with – say, 7 km/h (again, this is my comfort zone). A gentle walk for about a minute or two, and then I start jogging. The moment I begin to jog, I increase the speed by a factor of 0.1 and continue this trend every 30 seconds.

Now, my concentration is focussed on those 30s and multiply into as many intervals as you can. My target is not to run more than 5km at any point in time. Start at some speed, run, walk, jog for some time and track your progress.

We all love change for the better. The more challenging part is the path. I believe humans are creatures of evolution and not a revolution in the long run. So keeping this in mind, my training involves a gradual increase in speed.

It does not harm you and will only improve your fitness levels and, more importantly, the confidence levels. Who doesn’t want to feel better? This method of training is one such way of creating ‘those feel-good factors’ within you.

And why am I doing this? I believe in testing my abilities and move towards excellence, if not perfection, during my lifetime. So I pick up hobbies (trial and error), habits that trigger my brain, fuel my creativity, and test my limits.

I love experimenting with something I fancy or inclining to shake up the norms from time to time.

I don’t love Running!

I took to the treadmill very late in my life as a basis of training. There is something about these treadmills that create a feeling of ‘suffocation’ while I am on it. And this feeling stayed on with me until very recently.

Eureka! It took some beating to accept that I do not prefer treadmills, and more importantly, I am not a massive lover of running. I like running – but I am not a big fan of it. I run when it is needed, I sprint when I least expect it, and I speed walk as a matter of habit.

The bottom line is – I don’t love running. Oh, this sounds very different from saying – ‘I hate running,’ which I don’t. Isn’t it?

Now that ‘particular ego’ has been conquered let me move on. It has been so far smooth sailing in the past few weeks when it comes to running. Mind, body, and my inner soul connects well whenever I wish to run. The only question I had to answer was – How much is too much?

I began expecting too much from college and ended up running 21 km and several 10 km runs. I had injuries to my ankle (not while running), which made me feel not to run for close to two years until the time I started to run again in Doha, Qatar.

After completing a few 10 km runs in the past year and a half (five), I realised one important thing – ‘I do not enjoy running for more than 30 minutes’.

Yes, it’s me! It took me time to understand this level of understanding after running more than an hour all these years. What a revelation, phew!

Now, I revel in my 5 km runs and not sure how long this will last. However, I must admit I never relished so much during these 20 to 30 minutes of the run than I ever had in my ten years of running life. I believe that’s where I learned a key message – “It doesn’t matter where and how you do it as long as you like the process of doing it in the overall scheme of things.” And another important message – ‘Run your race.’

This belief of ‘enjoyment in the process of running’ is my secret of sorts for constant motivation to turn up any given day and run. And while I am at it, one never knows if this expands my boundaries!

And who knows few years down the line, I will be enjoying running the entire duration of 60 minutes or more. For now, I let myself savour this new ‘discovery’ within me.

Like I said – ‘I don’t love running,’ but I am more comfortable with the idea and benefits of it whenever I run these days. And in fact, this discovery has only made me run more regularly and consistently than I ever did in my entire life. To top it, it doesn’t matter where and what I run on!

My Thoughts on Freedom on ‘A Wednesday’

At first go, it seemed like – Man, I should have watched it when Saagar’s (a good friend of mine from college) mom recommended this movie to me way back in 2008. Since that day, I never really bothered to watch or overthink the film.

I was on my way to higher studies, and this movie never crossed my mind until a few days ago when I saw a status on my wife’s Facebook wall. The status read this way – “I was watching A Wednesday some days back and loved it for the sheer cheek of Naseeruddin Shah as a common stupid man! I think now we need more and more of them!!”

I didn’t look at the reviews, and neither I knew what the plot was.  All I knew; it had Nassiruddin Shah, and his role was really good, as told by Saagar’s mom. After reading the status last week, I got interested, and I decided to watch this movie. A sheer coincidence, I chose a Wednesday to watch this movie.

The screenplay was quite impressive, and I liked the flow with which the movie moves ahead and concludes. There were no songs, a plus in such a film, and there wasn’t any violence in the story. It was artistic, and movies are all about communicating one’s stories, and this did.

To add my personal view, somehow I always feel while watching the movie, the stupid common man played by Mr. Shah isn’t a terrorist, nor does he have grand plans to upset the everyday public life. It was his way of dealing with justice. “We are resilient by force and not by choice,” and frankly, this line quite sums up the voice of a common man.

We live in a country where a common man is suppressed to make his choice, by and large, forced to make a living. Our patriotism isn’t just talking about injustice; it is about making a difference and showing the way.

I read a quote yesterday – “An activist is not a person who complains about the surroundings being dirty; an activist goes about cleaning them.” This very act of his seems foolish to most of us when he could have led a less stressful life by not getting into it at all. This quote summed up why the protagonist, the unknown caller, calls himself a ‘stupid common man.’

Since my college days, I have been asking myself this question– “What it takes to lead a better life?”  Over a while, I have come to understand that the answer lies within us. Only I can define the better life I want to have, and for that, I need to get to know my inner self and where it wants to be. This, I believe, is an on-going process and will only get better with time.

If I am not happy with my surroundings, all I can do is, change myself and hope for a better tomorrow.

We fought for our freedom, and finally, a date was chosen, 15th August, to celebrate our freedom. But deep down, we all agree with ourselves we are far away from freedom. And what is the meaning of having freedom? It is to live by choice and not by force.

To be free isn’t just having a corrupt-free government; it goes beyond it. Although it isn’t easy for me to accept this wholeheartedly at times, the truth is, each individual gives his/her best action based on his/her set of beliefs at any instant of time.

In an ideal world, everyone can do anything, and yet no single individual will suffer. This is the definition of freedom according to the perfect life. In practical terms, what (privilege) seems like a panacea maybe a potion that would stop our evolution as a human.

I am attached to many people, things, etc., unless I get rid of each one, I may never be able to attain freedom. Or is it a restriction I am putting on myself?

Well, it is all about my choice. I have to accept that I have a place in this world, and I have a role to play.

And at the same time, acknowledge the fact there will be others with their own set of ideologies living around me. There will be a clash in some way or the other from time to time.

That’s the very essence of work in progress.  On the other hand, there will be some beautiful moments. It is essential to strike a balance according to one’s idiosyncrasies. Understanding oneself seems the most effective solution, in my view. It is by far the best homework to understand others.

For freedom, all I can say from my experience is that; there will be brief moments in life where our mind will think, our heart will feel things without any notion of fear. Such a condition to me is freedom, especially in the world we live in. How long it lasts? I do not know, but I can safely accept that I look forward to such moments more and more.

‘A Wednesday’ is a 2008 thriller movie made in Hindi. Directed by Neeraj Pandey, this movie was well received by the audience due to its brilliant story and a well-twisted ending. Apart from Nassiruddin Shah, the cast includes Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill, Deepal Shaw, and Aamir Bashir.

My short Independence Day Speech

You know, whenever I read about our Constitution, it makes me wonder, as to what is independence? Was it just a day? Or was it a starting point of something significant?

What is happening to India isn’t just India’s result but also a combination of the inconsistencies across the globe and co-incidences?

Irrespective of how we have come along these 64 years, I still can say, India is its competitor, and one needs to look in before looking out. I never realized much about being an Indian when I was in India because I didn’t understand its feelings.

Over the last few years, whenever I am outside of the country, my passport (which is the defining factor mostly) speaks a lot and then meets people. Many are informed about India through different opinions, and all I add is another opinion from an Indian perspective. There are several perspectives on a particular thing, just like we have several Gods and Goddesses in our mythology. We fight to prove our views are right, but I guess I realized that’s the beauty of the country I was born.

“All differences in this world are of degree, and not of a kind because oneness is the secret of everything.” – Swami Vivekananda

Over the years, India has made people give their opinions and that I feel is a freedom of speech. So in that sense, I am independent to give out my thoughts. That’s fine until now. I sense we need to move ahead and take a step forward with the conviction that action speaks louder than opinions.

I believe we seek to be independent more than ever before, at least in my generation of living. We, the people, haven’t realized the government’s power that is made by people alone. We need to understand the importance of being a drop and its contribution to the ocean. I seek our country to be more self-aware and for that each individual to be self-aware before going out and condemning things.

As Swami Vivekananda said – “The goal of mankind is knowledge… now this knowledge is inherent in man. No knowledge comes from outside: it is all inside. What we say a man ‘knows’ should, in strict psychological language, be what he ‘discovers’ or ‘unveils’; what man ‘learns’ is really what he discovers by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.”

India is merely a geographical land if we remove the masses from it. So in that sense, I have to think of the power we people hold. We can accept, we can change, and at times we can hope for the better.

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies” – Shawshank Redemption

We… The Leaders

Leadership is to lead a ship. As long as you show and ensure you give it a direction, you are a leader. I am in India after seeing a different world for the past year, and I am looking at it differently. It is no longer just India; it is a place that has given me my identity in this world. (Very rare, you are judged only as a person).

I have been noticing, and after reading texts on ancient history, medieval, modern and present, all I can say at this moment is; it has not changed. It is my perspective and opinions that have evolved.

The five elements would exist in any part of the globe, but attitudes about their existence, the behaviour is given by us. Yes, we the people.

A country on its own never created boundaries never imposed restrictions upon itself. The limits in each country are courtesy the consequential, and several amendments have been made from time to time as the power equations have changed. This seems natural, something part of our social evolution. (Something contradictory to the way human freewill has been designed “without limits”)

Each country is made to look unique because of the people, and it is the people that define or instead, it’s the people that build a nation. A country, if looked upon as a vast space (say like a water body), something like an ocean, or any other water source depending on the size (defined politically), each individual is just a drop.

With the ever-increasing concept of globalisation, we have opportunities to travel, understand and learn different things happening around the world. Is it right, not good? One can wage a verbal war, and it will end up in an endless loop.

I have ambitions of being a leader, and the first step towards it is I want to understand the meaning of the word ‘leader.’ I have various examples to look for, but what suits me?

It requires a scenario to bring out a leader in oneself. In my opinion, a leader does not wait for the system or beg for one, it comes, and he or she shall emerge. That’s leadership. Be it small or big.

It is not about the countries because it is about privileged versus under privileged, because on a human level, strong versus weak.

I want to bring improvements, so let me get improvements in myself first. I want to purify the surroundings; let me clarify my inner surroundings first. I want to change the present conditions, let me change myself first, and finally bring peace to this world, first; let me bring peace within myself.

To me, the way individuals look at situations brings a leader in him or her. As Swami Vivekananda once said – “The true learning comes from inside out.”

Only when we seek something from inside, the external factor can come into play.

Go out seek what you want, your soul desires, because our inner voice is our teacher. For some, when the inner voice is inaudible, several theories and opinions end up acting as a teacher.

Ideas help, but certain limitations bound it. Hence the real experience is our best teacher.

I believe that for a leader, one must possess intuition combined with open-mindedness and briskness to learn, grow, etc. These act as mentors as they frequently communicate and guide the leader’s path of purpose.

Do not look or wait for situations, instead discover and nurture the leader in you. You never know when the problem arises…………..

In leadership, one deals with creatures of emotions and not creatures of logic.

Birth by Chance, Life by Choice

When I was born, I did not have the option of choosing my parents. The first lesson I learnt over a long time is to accept my birth was by chance, although it was a choice made by my parents. In a way, I am born through choice, not mine, though.

Ever since that, apart from the initial growing years, chances started to diminish, and choices began to appear more in the radar of my daily life and the routines associated with it. But in general, choices have mostly dependant on chances. Or should I say, options appear whenever one gets a chance?

I am sure, the other way it is not so clear. Pardon me, at this time of writing; I am looking just at the situations and the choices we make for them.

Staying in a non-English speaking country for the best part of this year has taught me a lot about blaming others for the situation I am in. So far, I have learned that it is up to me to make a problem look better, if not worse. It is so true when the situation involves significantly fewer people.

In fact, as a whole, choosing to change the situation itself is a step closer to reality. We become clear and understand ourselves as to why we are doing a particular thing. In one of the management classes, I came across a beautiful term called ‘Self -fulfilling prophecy’.

It is due to opinionated minds that refuse to believe otherwise unless one becomes open-minded and shed the curtains of narrow mindedness or generalisation.

The truth is, do we have the patience to know the truth? Reality itself is a time-consuming process; often, when you are confident of something, it helps deal with the frustrations of being in the ‘waiting’ period.

By knowing people who are different and react differently, it has helped me a lot to understand the meaning of patience a touch better.

And also, it is a chance to acknowledge the different ways of looking at a situation. I know, I do not personally agree or do what others do. And that is where the word ‘choice’ comes. I would rather embarrass myself with the choices I made at a particular time than look for someone to blame. It is tough, though.

Humans, as we are, emotionally strive for security or instead crave for the feeling of assurity. Although people do a lot of ‘crazy’ (something different from the accepted social norms of a particular society) things, it is a general tendency of the majority to seek comfort.

Like food choices, we tend to seek comfort in our ways, and it is this aspect that often leads to conflict.

I am trying my best every day not to conclude things as they appear. One can make opinions but must also have the audacity to change them as we proceed towards the path of reality. Time does reveal one’s real character, and understanding can only happen with time. I feel strongly about this.

The dark side of this intense feeling of mine is that I have to ensure I do not blame others for anything that happens to me. It is so tempting, and few times I still ended up doing and then feeling disgusted for having done that.

For an individual, that is how it must be. What about a partnership? Yes, there is an obligation if one enters the partnership. Somewhere in time, the partners’ extremities must be given away to a more amicable one.

Thats what team ethics is all about and so far from what I have seen, relationships have flourished when it is made to work from time to time—not just looking for excuses.

The other person(s) can affect the partnership. There is no denying in that, then but what about ourselves. We have a choice to either play the game of blame, or just move on with life.

Some people are not given choices; I would say that such people seek comfort in not making choices and believing in things to happen by themselves. It looks like a general statement, yes it is. More often than not, people do what is comfortable even though they endure pain. I have learnt, pain is a part of the process of believing in someone or something.

I love senorita, although there are situations that make me think about whether it is the right choice? Whenever the question of choice arises, I close my eyes and listen to my instincts. It has the same answer as it has been before. I trust my instincts, and it is entirely my choice.

Senorita is different in a lot of different ways. Still, I am happy overall because my instincts refuse to pose restrictions on senorita and yet make me love her each time.

In a way, I trust my eyes more when it is closed. That way, it gives me a chance to listen to my instincts. Instincts have a vision, and they are awake all the time. So I trust those eyes more often than what my actual eyes see. It’s a choice afterall.

Asked about Ferrari failing this year, Massa said – “We definitely need to analyse our mistakes and understand how they can be avoided, but I don’t think it needs a revolution which the always emotional onlookers demand: it would be wrong because it’s not a case of us suddenly becoming stupid. It’s the playing field that has changed. We must be aware of that and tackle the situation with a different approach.”