The Taste of Life – Cadbury’s Dairy milk

It’s a dream to be in the land of chocolates, enjoying every moment of the bite. Switzerland, quite rightly, is famous for chocolates and they make some awesome ones.

I had a chance to visit Nestle’s chocolate factory twice last month in the space of three days; it was a fantastic feeling. Something I just cannot express through words.

Back when I was a child, just like most children, indulging in chocolates was also my favourite past time. The habit has stayed, and I can sense my childhood days are back, especially seeing my friends here, fighting out for chocolates.

It is not about buying new chocolates, we get plenty of them, but one doesn’t get a particular brand of chocolate in Swiss that happens to be ‘Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.’

Coming here, I realised the love I had for Cadburys while I was a child, and then as I grew old, be it a quick snack, a gift for someone, etc., I relished every moment of it.

Last week, at the UK airport, I could see Cadburys everywhere, and for a pound, it was a good deal. I bought a big pack (Just for one pound!!!!) and finished it just before I could board the plane.

It was an incredible feeling, a sense of deja-vu, reminded me of the days, my grandpa and many other people bought me Dairy Milk. It reminded me of the ad, the famous ad, featuring models Shimona and Arvin Tucker.

The cricket setting was just a perfect theme, and it remains a top advertisement directed by an Indian (Abhinav Deo). Watching this video brought back my playing days of puerility, and I just feel fortunate that I was able to remember those days……..

Finally…. The Curse is off his back

Ten years back, same time, I was not too fond of the fact of watching Agassi win the French Open, thereby becoming one of the very few to have won all four Grand Slams in a career. He indeed became a legend, considering he did win an Olympic Gold at the Atlanta Games in 1996. I was a class 10 student, and a pro-Sampras fan didn’t like this fact. A degree of tranquility came when Sampras thrashed Agassi in straight sets to win yet another Wimbledon in 1999.

Sampras managed to win one more before he lost to Roger Federer in the fourth round of the 2001 Wimbledon Championships. That was the first and the only time they both ever met in an ATP tour.

I was in tears, at the same time couldn’t hate Roger, because he was a good friend and a mixed doubles partner of Martina Hingis (who still is my favourite) when the pair won the Hopman’s Cup in early 2001.

I was wondering, Did I see my new hero? Because I heard a lot of praise of Roger from Sampras, this impacted me to like him as well.

Another Swiss halted Sampras in George Bastl in 2002 before winning his last Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows. He retired, although the announcement came late, I knew he wouldn’t come back.

From then, it’s been all Roger; seeing him win the 2003 Wimbledon gave me so much satisfaction that, I felt, it was time the next King of Grass arrived. Defeats to Nadal at Roland Garros made me pinch myself each time, so I did till this very year when Roger won the elusive French Open, he completed the career Grand Slam. He needs one more to be one clear of Pete Sampras, who has 14 with no French Open. An all-time legend – Does anyone doubt? Only cynics, I suppose.

The curse of clay is gone; it’s off from Federer’s back, well and truly grounded at Roland Garros today. Ten years is such a long time, and I am in tears, tears of joy. Never I had a chance to enjoy and rejoice in someone winning the French Open since the glory days of Sergei Bruguera in 1993 and 1994.

On a personal front, there is nothing better than being in Roger’s home country to witness this historic moment in tennis and a historic landmark in his life. And somewhere, a sense of triumph for me as well.

Getting Rid of the Past – Do we have to all the time?

I thank you for having a decent memory; I often ensure it’s put into fair use. There are times when I am all by myself; few scars feel unhealed, although time has gone by, it seems as though they are untouched.

An element called stubbornness in me refuses to accept that things have changed; I don’t want to be judgemental, whether it is good or worse. I believe (philosophically) that everything happens for good, only when no options are left and we resign to what some call ‘fate,’ and few others call ‘destiny.’

There were times when things were different, but life is such a puzzle that only our perspective is the sole solution as to why it changed. Most reactions of ours are as a result of this belief.

It disturbs me that things didn’t pan out the same way it used to. That’s called evolution, maturity, growing up, moving on, etc., etc

Life as television with remote control operated by few friends can be quite an experience. It tries its best to entertain as per the channel desired.

There seems to be a trend with few to change the television with time because it’s antiquated and time for something new.

But, there can also be that life has become so busy that there is no time to watch television. So, what seemed to be favourite programs in the past, doesn’t find a place today. Reality bites, don’t it.

It’s fortunate at times, they get the updates, and few might even interest them.

I guess it’s time to accept that things have changed, and looking back; it was a good time except for the disconnection, not once but twice.

There have been new connections on a brighter note, but as I said, one has to pay the price for having a decent memory.

It’s just that those memories have to be conditioned and aligned so that, when I look back, I will get a reminder that, afterall I didn’t have a bad deal and will know as time goes by what caused the disconnection.

Till then, it’s ok; it’s good to reflect on what happened. Now I realise and thank the two I was constantly in touch with and have not lost any respect whatsoever.

You do get deviled at times, but I promise, I never made any conclusions, and the book is still open.

Without Limits (1998)

Five days staying in a room not going out isn’t that great for the mind, body, or soul. I managed to do that. I went out to my friend’s place to have lunch, we chatted for a while, and then I went shopping for some groceries before heading back to The Apartment.

I spent those days watching movies, a hell of a lot of movies, reading few things on the internet, sleeping, just about cooking to satisfy the hunger bug, and few visits to the toilet. I had not touched the main door of my apartment. I managed to survive, although this routine had given birth to certain ghosts. It had because, I can safely say, I am burying them with this blog.

In 2005 when I won the Sports Quiz at NLS (National Law School, India), I missed a question. I felt terrible that I didn’t know about it. There is nothing to feel bad about it in hindsight, but you see, my heart was shaped that way.

It feels like the itch of not knowing certain things. For a while, it itches. The mind then takes over and I don’t know about the itch and how old it is. In my case, it was a four-year itch.

Thinking about the athlete whose name I missed has given me a chance to see life from a different perspective and something I was looking for at the end of 5 days. It was not a panache but did have some ‘Mojo’ to bury the ghosts. I feel the change as I continue to write.

The question I missed was about a man who died at the age of 24. I am 24 now.

He was the best athlete the American distance running team had in the late ’60s and 1970s—a distance runner who had his ideology about running and winning.

Winning is nothing when you haven’t given your best.

It doesn’t feel the same when you win without giving one’s best. His coach tried to change his philosophy; he couldn’t. He represented the University of Oregon.

He shared a healthy relationship with the US running team coach, and they both agreed to disagree. Every time, they questioned each other’s fundamentals and philosophy of running and winning.

The first sign of protest came when the athlete took on AAU (Amateur Athletics Union) and demanded the athlete’s right to participate when qualified.

He was tipped as one of the favourites to win 5000m Olympic Gold in 1972 at Munich games, eventually losing out to Finland’s Lasse Viren. He finished 4th after leading the race till the last lap.

He couldn’t bear the loss.

He took some time out until he could come to terms with reality and distanced himself from his love. He hated so much that he didn’t have words to say to the one he loved.

Finally, he started training, refused an offer to turn professional, thereby kicking the chance to earn 200,000 dollars. He went to his coach and tried a new pair of shoes that his coach had made for him. He went for a run and agreed to be an Amateur and seek redemption at Montreal’s 1976 Olympics.

He raced pretty well in the trials, and he had planned to set a world record to win the 5000m in 12min 36 seconds. That was the time he had chosen, a world record back then.

Those were the last words he said to his friend. While on his way to his girlfriend, with whom he had just got good terms, he dropped his friend and met with an accident while foreseeing his race and commenting on his possible 1976 performance and how he would shatter the world record.

It wasn’t to be, his car was hit by another vehicle, and he was killed on May 30th, 1975.

I hope most of the readers are smarter than me; the athlete was Steve Pre Fontaine. Nicknamed ‘Pre,’ he was born on January 25th, 1951.

Now that name is on, I am sure there are better websites dedicated to providing his information in detail. I would just like to share few things:

  • In 1978, AAU agreed for athlete’s guarantee rights to compete wherever qualified.
  • The small shoe company which the coach had inadvertently had begun went on to became what we know today as ‘NIKE.’ The coach was none other than Bill Bowerman, founder of Nike.
  • ‘Without Limits’ made in 1998 is the movie’s name that depicts the life of ‘Pre’ played by Billy Crudup.

The final words by Bill Bowerman in the movie sums up ‘Pre’ –

“All my life, man and boy, I’ve operated under the assumption that the main idea in the running was to win the race. Naturally, when I became a coach, I tried to teach people how to do that. I tried to teach Pre how to do that. Tried like hell to teach Pre to do that. And Pre taught me. Taught me I was wrong. Pre, you see, was troubled by knowing that a mediocre effort can win a race, and a magnificent effort can lose one. Winning a race wouldn’t necessarily demand that he give it everything he had from start to finish. He never ran any other way. I tried to get him to; God knows I tried… but… Pre was stubborn. He insisted on holding himself to a higher standard than victory. ‘A race is a work of art’; that’s what he said, that’s what he believed, and he was out to make it one every step of the way. Of course, he wanted to win. Those who saw him compete and those who competed against him were never in any doubt how much he wanted to win, but how he won mattered to him more. ‘Pre’ thought I was a hard case. But he finally got it through my head that the real purpose of running isn’t to win a race. It’s to test the limits of the human heart. That he did… Nobody did it more often. Nobody did it better.” That’s the ending of the movie.

All I say – Watch the movie, don’t think whether to watch it or not – ‘JUST DO IT.’

Countdown to the D-Day Part I

This very day, April 6th, last year, will go down as the trigger day, or should I say the day that determined my future path. Just as when I had a feeling, I had quite a challenging stroll in the park, though I did an excellent job of going through it.

But it Happened One Evening. It was a Sunday, April 6th, 2008. I was able to appreciate it better because of few events that preceded this day. Although one cannot fathom the relevance, personally, all the events were necessary for what I turned out to be on that day.

This goes back to December 2007, when I was making plans about visiting Rajasthan with my mother. It was just two of us. I had made all the plans for the visit.

I got a mail from a very revered senior from my college about teaming up for an All India Cricket Quiz, sponsored by History Channel. I agreed. The next few days, we spoke at the most unexpected times, No hello, Just a funda (an appreciated factoid) from cricket would pop up, when I was working, sleeping, or having food.

That was the passion he had, or the superior managerial skills to pump up the intensity before a contest.

The quiz was to be held in Delhi on the last week of January 2008. We did well to weather the cold in the first place. It so happened, I got myself acquainted with a friend of mine in Gurgaon. She was kind enough to allow me to stay in her house, made Pav Bhaji one evening, took me out with her friends to have a hot cup of chai (tea) at midnight.

That was cold, and I never experienced that before coming to Switzerland.

Pradeep and I dreamt about smashing the quiz in our very own style. This was the second time we paired up as a team, the first one for the Cricinfo Quiz conducted by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan and George Binoy in Bangalore.

The theme was cricket, and we qualified for the finals and felt a bit warm inside the auditorium. The finals didn’t turn out the way we wanted. We missed quite a few sitters, coming third in the end. We left the hall disappointed and off we went to the airport. I messaged him early the next morning about taking part in the second round at Mumbai.

I was running short of cash since I had made all the arrangements for a long Rajasthan trip.

But, something inside me was haunting throughout. It was a case of redemption for me and us as a team in general. It is not often we get a chance to prove to ourselves that we are one among the league of very good Sports Quizzers in India. We knew we had to do it for ourselves if not for Rs 50000 as a cash prize for winners.

A fortnight later, Mumbai it was. On Valentine’s Day, I land in Mumbai. Oh, Ya, Good way to celebrate it, isn’t it? In my case, it was the best possible way to ward off the feelings from my previous relationship.

The next day, while he had some work to finish, I took this opportunity to meet Keith, a good friend from my undergrad days. We chatted after a long time.

Post Lunch, Pradeep and I were back for some Quizzing action. Bang bang, we were right on target from the go. We topped the prelims by miles, and it felt right for us in the finals. We earned it! Delhi episode was just a blur.

The form continued in the finals as we thrashed everyone by a 130-point margin. It was ruthless, felt for a while, as to why I idolise Sachin, Schumacher, and Sampras. It was for kicks for being sheer ruthless, not quite the way that undermines others, though. It was a point to prove for ourselves. To restore our pride, in some way, lost dignity. It was all in our minds.

“How about the All India Motorsports quiz?” – Pradeep
I said – “Let’s do it, mate.”

While I sat on a late-night flight to Bangalore from Mumbai, I wondered, Can we repeat this?

Let’s see, for the moment I was looking forward to my trip to Rajasthan.

Countdown to the D-day Part II

Few hours from the moment I landed in Bangalore, I knew I have to come back again. My mother and I were all excited about the trip. First Stop – Jaipur, I was on a nonstop flight travels much to my liking in the past few weeks, and I had more to go.

We rested the night of the 16th before heading out for a city visit around Jaipur. The places we visited include Pink City, Hawa Mahal, City Palace, the Bhool Bulaiya Place, and the ‘Rang de Basanti’ place.

I appreciate my mom for giving me as a company. At that moment, she was the only one who could tolerate my silence and a sense of awkward behavior without asking why I am behaving the same.

Later that night, we went to Choki Dani – traditional Rajasthani village, Sawai Man Singh Cricket stadium and did a lot of shopping for my sister, cousins, and few friends. What about me?

And during this time, I went in search of oxidised bangles for a friend. Little I realised that time, I was being fooled, and she told me a year after when I finally managed to give it to her. Rajan, this isn’t oxidised bangles. Gosh, what’s wrong with her!!!

The next day, the flight to Jaisalmer was exhilarating. It was on an ATR, top of Pokhran desert, we manage to land on the Air force base. Jaisalmer has no airport, and we had strict Air force people taking us to the nearest stop point.

One of the officers showed me the area which was bombarded during the Kargil war in 1999. We relaxed for a while at the hotel before setting out to see the Thar Desert.

It was a hot afternoon; I had my jacket to protect myself from heat. We went on a jeep.

I had this fascination to ride on a camel’s back, and the driver took me to the place.

My mom wasn’t interested, so she went in the jeep and relaxed a few miles ahead in a caravan. Oh man, it’s an experience riding on a camel’s back. It’s so scary at times, because of the height.

It’s a pleasant feeling when it is sauntering, but we had to cover a lot of distance. It was like a movie, a deserted place, just me, the camel, and the camel owner.

When the camel is ambling at speed, the jerky movements are not pleasant for a newcomer like me.

Finally, I was all alone in a desert. I sat for a long time, wondering, all my life, especially the past year. A time, just for me.

And I cannot quite express how it feels to see no one for a long distance. I was alone, not lonely, though. I sensed a feeling of change in the way I looked at things. I knew the experience was worth a million dollars.

Actually, it’s priceless.

I always dreamt of the desert in my childhood. I am happy; I ticked one of the dreams off my list. Sunset was a sight to watch.

The next day, I visited on my own to Jaisalmer palace and other parts as my mom was not able to walk long distances and climb steps. Later that evening, we headed to Udaipur.

One of the reasons for the visit was to attend the wedding of Mun-Mun. She became a friend of mine during my last trip to Udaipur in 2006; she also happens to be my best buddy’s sister. I met their family, and the next two days, we went about having loads of fun.

My other buddy, Anmol, joined us too. It was hilarious. I had a chance to go to Lake Palace once again, City Palace, and other places. I (a Bangalorean) was the guide of Udaipur for Anmol and Mom.

I vividly remember the streets in Udaipur. The food was something out of this world. Overall, I was happy I managed to see all my college project mates in a few days. It started with Keith in Mumbai, and here in Udaipur, it was Anmol and Raj. Ahemadabad being close to Udaipur, I had decided earlier to drive down there from Udaipur. It was close to five hours to go by cab.

We took a flight to Bangalore, and that culminated our trip to Rajasthan.

It was five days, five flights, yet we managed to cover the places I had dreamt of. My mom was happy to see me back to my usual self at the end of this trip. I just got to know her a touch better. I owe this change in me to her.

Ok, excellent rejuvenation, here I was ready for Times Speed Quiz, India’s first Motorsports quiz.

Countdown to the D-Day – Part III

I was quite superstitious about my hair. I just had too many things running on my head from mid-2007. It turned out to be excellent fodder for my hair. I just liked it, long hair; I took good care of it. It didn’t matter; I was working because I never had doubts I would cut my hair, owing to some pressure at work or family.

And people who mattered at work and home never pressurised me either. They knew I wouldn’t budge.

Actually, in a way, it turned out better. I was able to do a lot of work, which I enjoyed, meeting clients across Bangalore and Chennai. Ok, it was a coincidence that Dhoni, too, had long hair at that time. But who cares? He was successful, and often few people referred to me as Dhoni.

Coming back, March first week 2008, I flew to Mumbai for the zonal qualifying. We had four zones of qualifying Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai. The top two teams are selected for the semi-finals in Mumbai, followed by finals very same day. After a nice lunch at Pradeep’s place, we reached the auditorium.

We didn’t qualify; it wasn’t about Formula 1 alone; it was about the entire Motorsports, which was something. We both were shocked, but to be honest, we weren’t disappointed. There was a lot of quality in the teams. We felt out of place at some times when we watched the finals.

We asked if we could take part in the Chennai round with the quiz master Avinash Mudaliar. Since we had not qualified, we were allowed to take part.

Boy, the next two weeks was to determine our capabilities. Pradeep just called at odd hours, and this time he was asking me to put fundas. Once, he even asked his girlfriend to speak to me about focussing on the task ahead and not waste time with girls and other stuff. He was funny, and I admire his unique ways of pushing his partner to achieve a common goal. He knew I had it in me.

We went to Chennai two weeks later, and guess what; it turned to be one of the most challenging motorsports prelims we had ever encountered. We topped the prelims again. It was the final round of qualifying, so in a way, we weren’t dished out Formula1, etc.; it was hardcore motorsports. All forms of Motorsports. We were introduced as one of the best Sports Quizzers by Avinash Mudaliar, quite sarcastic, though. We had a point to prove.

Till the last round, Man, we had lost it. There was no way we could make it, unless, for the miracles in the buzzer round. We had to answer three questions correctly and hope others answered them incorrectly or did not answer them at all.

This was to take the second spot.

The first question, we answer. The second question, the 5th team (a team which currently in second, answers), The third Question, the leading team answers. We still had a chance if we answered two correctly and hoped the last one went unanswered.

For the fourth question, a toughie, we press the buzzer and answer.

Hi-fi’s exchanged, c’mon, we can do it.

The fifth question, no clue, we press the buzzer, we worked out quickly, and Pradeep answered Bugatti. Perfect. We were 2nd. The last question went unanswered, as we didn’t have to take a chance.

We got a round of appreciation for our late effort. It was the final two rounds; we went overboard.

Ok, we made it. At least, the sarcasm proved we were good enough for the finals. Now, we were among the top eight teams in India, after a month round of qualifying.

We felt Barcelona a bit closer. Yes, the winning team won an all-expense trip to Spanish Grand Prix 2008. Pradeep, from the beginning, had one aim, Barcelona.

And in the end, it turned out; we did this quiz, travelling crazily one place after the other in search of this.

This was what one calls chasing one’s dreams—a dream of watching a Formula One event live.

That night, at Chennai Airport, I was reflecting on few things. I wondered, did my hair play any role?

I know; I was superstitious about it. I felt I had all the luck and got everything I wanted because I had long hair. I somehow didn’t like to be under this assumption.

I saw Dhoni winning in the Australia ODI series with his short hair. Sometimes, we need to break out of this shell to understand who we are. It’s good to be getting things done, not because of the hair, because of the capabilities.

Next few days, I went about pondering, to have a hair cut or not. Fine, let me have it. And I felt a change; I was not the same guy who went about being ruthless in his work; I thought I was reborn, and I knew I was transformed emotionally, and now I was ready to look at life from a different perspective.

Just a week before the finals, I had my hair cut. I feel one of the bold moves I ever made considering the stake of the finals. I didn’t want this hair; I wanted to get out of this, it was a sort of force holding me. I wanted to be liberated. Liberated I was after the haircut.

The finals were to be held at ITC Sheraton, Mumbai. All expenses for flight, hotel stay, transfers, etc., were paid by the Times of India and BP (Bharat Petroleum).

The Last Supper before the D-day

After watching Virender Sehwag getting to his second double hundred, I took the flight early morning to Mumbai. When I got out of the airport, I saw the score on my mobile phone. The message read, “Sehwag out for 319 and Sachin for a duck”.

We were taken to our hotel, Sea Princess, right next to Hotel Taj Mahal. The view from the room was terrific, Gateway of India adjoining to the sea face. A few months later, when I visited the same place for my Visa, it was carnage after the bomb blasts.

After having a nice lunch, I relaxed for a while. Pradeep, who stays in Mumbai, met me at the venue. We all had to wear sponsored T-shirts, and the Quiz Master was Derek O Brien.

It was a showcase event as the top management from B.P., Times of India had graced the occasion. Narain Karthikeyan was the special guest, and he did his bit like a quiz master towards the end. We managed to qualify for the finals by winning the semi-finals round. The scene was set for a grand finale. After a stage of some entertainment from Mansi Scott, we began the finals.

The finals were more of a game show than a quiz final. You had lots of unusual rounds. One team wasn’t performing and you had three teams going for the kill until the final round. We were one among the three.

Final round, we did our bit, two questions to go, we had lost the race for the top spot. The top two teams tied, and we were third-placed in the end. A college team from NIT Allahabad won the jackpot.

Wait, a minute, Second Prize gets an all-expense trip to Bangkok.

Third Prize, a lot of goodie bags, including Rs 6000 worth fuel, a small trophy, a chance to stand on the podium just like in Motorsports for prize distribution. The spray of champagne for winners and a group photo.

We knew we came close, and in hindsight, if it were to be out and out finals like it is usually conducted with scoring and other things, we would have won.

Nevertheless, it was some experience to be known as the third-best team in Motorsports Quiz in India. It was nice chatting with Narain Karthikeyan after the event for few minutes.

A few days later, this event was featured in the Bombay Times, and we had our picture on it. Looking back, it was March 29th last year, when we were verge of being Famous; it turned out we were ‘Almost Famous.’

I was fortunate, my partner was Pradeep, and I learned quite many things from him. It’s no joke, he was like a mentor, and I was happy to learn the tricks of the trade, which he had been for such a long time and continues to do. He taught me to calm the nerves before a big event, and we did pull each other legs during our so-called ‘Indian Sports Quiz Trip.’

To our team names ‘W.G. DisGrace’ to Mon-key (Mann ki) Shakti Tann ki Shakti (keeping with the theme of Harbhajan – Symonds incident), we did come a long way. In India, New Year begins around the last week of March. I can say it was a new year for me on a personal front. That was it, and it all ended in Mumbai. Quizzing terms, Yes. Personally, all the above experiences heralded the dawn of my new found life.

I had so much to tell that I ended up writing a blog in early April last year titled ‘Love story or is it my Story.’ The ramifications were such that it changed my life completely.

And April 6th was the D-day that soon turned out to be an important day of our lives. I know the events that occurred in those three months last year made me write a blog on my love life about a girl I never met, cut my hair, and start a new life.

In the end, the superstitious would have won; had I not cut my hair, we could have won. Who knows?

I don’t regret it. I am here in Switzerland writing this, a day after seeing Kimi Raikonnen losing out in Malaysia this year compared to him winning on April 6th at Bahrain last year. As the race culminated the previous year, I felt I was’ Out of my Comfort Zone’ for the first time in a week.

And that’s how it stands to date. A special friend did something ‘Out of her Comfort Zone,’ and since then, she has become extraordinary in my life, and so on we went about living the days of our lives.

A Writer’s Mis(s)-Inspiration

I do have a belief in the concept of “Change.” Having a perception-oriented world around you, it’s always hard to conclude whether things are for better or worse. In any case, the experience is attached irrespective of the state of mind we are in.

I had an opportunity to meet a person while I was flying from New Delhi to Bangalore. He had everything going for him, a decent family and steady romantic relationship, and a great promise in his career. He told, it wasn’t stable concerning his girlfriend, and it took them three years and two breakups to get to this steady state.

One of the things I got to know was his talent for writing essays on philosophy, cars, music, and relationships. He doesn’t have a blog to address them but maintains a notebook to pen his thoughts.

He showed me the book, and it was empty for the last few months. He says he has become too lazy to write these days. Fair enough, responsibilities on the career front were stopping him to an extent. But, at the same time, he was frustrated that he wasn’t able to write.

He was kind enough to let me read few articles. According to my, the best ones were scattered here and there. Some of them showed his unintentional writing, I mean, writing just for the sake of it, not having a soul.

I pointed this to him, and he did agree.

Now the next question. “Sir, what has been the greatest source of motivation or, say, the inspiration to write such things?”

“Pain….. It’s something which is very much required to bring out the best, at least for me. When I look back, I feel my creativity was best when I had a hard time with either my family or with my girlfriend. I wanted some stir inside me to bring out the feelings and be honest; my best writings were when I had something inside, some uneasiness. When I wasn’t with my girlfriend, I thought that period to be a great motivating factor because I loved her, and I couldn’t convey and convince how much I missed her. All this energy was put on my writings, and friends said it was well written, that included my girlfriend too.”

Aren’t you harsh on your girlfriend by concluding like this? I asked
“Initially, I did not think this to be the reason. But, if you look back, my best writings came when there wasn’t any clarity in our relationship. Now it’s clear much clear than what it was. You know, I don’t mind this writing. I don’t want to hurt my girlfriend by telling her what I feel and the reason for my inability to write anymore the way I used to.”

At this point, I wasn’t convinced with his argument. It was a sign of him losing his touch since he feels he doesn’t have anything to say to her about how much he cared and loved. I was wondering how his girlfriend would react if she finds out about this.

Usually, I don’t interfere in people’s way of working or living. But at that time, I felt I had something to say. Also, he did ask my opinion. I chose not to be a diplomat.

“The path of self-discovery is exciting. When we decide that this is the person, we stop our discovery channel and instead switch to exploring the person regularly. This can be a judgmental call, and one has to back oneself and be convinced. It depends on what you expect from a partner. If it doesn’t match in the first step, is there any point in exploring?”

I continued, “When you say you are very at peace with yourself after getting back with your girlfriend, then it’s a positive sign. Life isn’t all about writing masterpieces. If your girlfriend’s distance away was your main source of inspiration, then think about the kind of inspiration she can be now that she is even closer. I am sure she doesn’t want you to be upset because of her. I understand we do have our ways of getting inspired, but it isn’t the right way to judge or conclude. If I were in your position, I would have expressed my feelings to the concerned and would find newer ways of looking at things.
In a way, this gives you a chance to write about things differently rather than looking at the same monotonous routine. It’s time you accepted the reality and allow the change to interact with your writing and analytical skills. It’s time for a change in the way you looked at things. You asked for my opinion, and I have given mine.”

He was surprised and suspiciously looked at me and asked me, “Have you ever gone through something like this?”

I was made to shut within no time. But I did reply, “It doesn’t matter whether I went through this all. I can say, at least I wouldn’t blame anyone but me. I have decided for the little skills I have, it’s my responsibility to find constant inspirations to keep it going. It’s tough at times, but the beauty of nature and life is such that it will give many sources; it’s only up to us to choose.” I hope this answers your question.

I didn’t realize Bangalore was such a short journey. He was in a hurry, we exchanged numbers, and that was it. And before saying goodbye, he said, he will look into whatever I had said.

In the end, it didn’t matter; whether it was because of me, he got back to his writing ways; I hope he feels excellent about writing again without having to blame someone else.

"Out of my Instinct Zone"

Few things in life must not be changed. Yes, I agree with it, unless the replacements are worth a change.

An instinct each one possesses is a unique strength that demarcates individuals, their decision-making abilities, and their choice.

To me, personally, I have always trusted my instincts to take control over most situations. It’s not a maxim that I have set; in my brain. It’s a routine or a mundane activity that controls most (99%) decisions wherein I do not have to think so much. It’s more in-built.

While at work or doing something different requires a fair amount of new ideas, Can I rely upon my instincts? Well, this question was asked, and I did find a solution that seems apt so far.

When one makes decisions, we back our experience, expertise, and other’s experience. We look into prevailing situations and then end up making a decision. Before executing, sometimes, I have encountered two possibilities.

One that is defined by logic, wherein one can conclude with the events that have taken place. This seems to be the best possible solution because it can be backed by specific data or events previously. It doesn’t leave much scope for ifs, but’s and eliminates most of the uncertainties.

On the other hand, I have this personality called ‘Mr. Instinct’ who has this sense for the changes that are likely to happen in the future. The logic is very illogical in this case, and it only doesn’t have a set pattern to explain the events’ unfolding.

Most of my life struggles were to convince my mind, which takes sound decisions based on facts. Whereas instincts, which create its route map, persuade me to decide based on his ill-defined logic. But it works, trust me.

Very rarely have I gone against my instincts. I am indeed fortunate to have a mind and an intuition and their theories to agree to disagree. They agree on most terms, and other times, one eventually compromises, saying I had made a wrong decision and ended up supporting the different conclusion.

For the first time, I have taken a decision that is in direct conflict with my instincts in my life. Now, instincts aren’t behaving the same way. It is indicating the past events and the present situations to keep me reminded about my decision.

If I am unsure, I let time do the talking. I wanted time to make an important decision in my life. I know it could have been a straightforward decision for the state of mind I was in.

Finally, after weeks on self – assessment, I concluded. I am not backing my instincts.

I am backing my beliefs and my theory towards life. These are logical.

Wait a minute – “you just can’t make decisions without convincing me, hey look, I understand I have a difference in views but convince me first and then go ahead with your decision” – Instinct in a repulsive mood.

This made me think a bit more…. Come on, after all, someone’s asking me something, and I should give. If instinct is asking me to think over again, then I must.

After few days, Fine, Mr. Instinct, I am again going against you. I know it hurts or says it will hurt me in the future for having gone against you or for having expressed my inability to convince you, but I am sure you will be there to support me in other things apart from this. This will be a nice change for both of us.

What made me go against my instincts??

I always believed, to attain a greater sense of achievement in life, it’s not what you conquer; it’s not what you did; it’s how you did.

I have few beliefs, which I have acquired due to living this life, watching, traveling, reading, and having conversations.

“One must always give another chance, I know it might not work out, but I am not going to lose anything because the equilibrium of karma puts it this way, when you are gaining something, you are bound to lose. Unless we do not experience we cannot say what we gained or lost, we can have an idea, although one cannot fathom it.” – First reason

“I always told my friends if you want something in life, go ask for it. You will at least get clarity in terms of the response you get. So, if you want something from someone, ask for it. At times, life is too short to play mind and understanding games; one needs to express to get what they want.” – Second Reason

Now, someone close (is it?? Asked instinct) to you comes all of a sudden and asks for something… What do you do???

This time I didn’t rely upon my instincts for memories I had. Instead, I have taken this as a challenge to convince my instincts that let time heal this… I know time alone cannot heal; it’s my ability to ward off negative energies from my instincts and the concerned person and situations. If all are on the same plane or at least align in one particular direction, then the future seems bright, or else, I need to answer this question from a book I read….

On the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is considered the highest peak in Africa, there is a jackal carcass on the height’s dry snow layers.

Now the question is, why would a jackal go to such an area in the first place? What made it go such a distance? Did it know it wouldn’t be getting any food or shelter over there? Why did it go?? Why did Ernst Hemingway bring up this in his book, The Snows of Kilimanjaro?

I know the answer as to why it went there. Sometimes, we do sense the scent wrong. It seems foolishness for a jackal to go that far. But it just followed the scent, and in the end, it turned out to be the wrong scent. It followed its instincts, and it failed….

Or I would like to put it this way; this so-called ‘failure’ became an excellent example for my life.

I know Ernst Hemingway mentioned the puzzle…. But the solution to it is entirely mine, or should I say interpretation, based on my experience. The difference between a man and an animal is that man is capable of establishing priorities.

I might change this in the future… because I don’t know whether I would also end up following the wrong scent of life… I haven’t followed jackal’s life to come to a proper conclusion.
At present, I can say…. I have challenged my norms, and for at least one issue, I am out of my instinct zone…. It’s a battle nevertheless to prove my decision right to my instincts.

Ultimately, this isn’t any wish. Being with a person I like is a goal…. a long term. This isn’t like any other unformed wish like “I want to make money, I want to win, or I want to find true love.” These wishes aren’t goals as per my definition. I want to enjoy the intermediate steps associated with the objectives. Analyze them, correct them whenever necessary and keep moving on.

At last, this is the most challenging part….. Having gone out of my instincts, I have to ensure I retain the confidence and stick to whatever I have decided upon.

Edison remarked, “Success is defined as 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”.

Well, I am all ready for 99% perspiration…. Unless and until I get 1 % inspiration from time to time….

From who?

It’s a million-dollar question…..