On Monday morning, a colleague at work asked me, “So, how was your weekend? What did you do?” My answer was instinctive, “Weekend was good. Did nothing! Was at home.” When I thought about it later, I realized that this ‘Nothing’ actually meant a lot. It meant quality time spent with my wife. It meant playing and sharing laughs with my daughter. It meant conversations with my parents. It meant flipping through a good book. It meant watching a great movie on the television. It meant going for walks in the evening. This is just my definition of the ‘Nothing’ that I did over the past weekend. ‘Nothing’ can mean so much more.
‘Nothing’ is actually pregnant with possibilities. It is an open canvas on which you can paint whatever you want. How liberating! There are no limiting factors, when you start out with nothing. You can do whatever you want. It means freedom. Not everyone can handle it. I think a lot of us working in the corporate world would become quite unsettled with it. So much so that we like to keep a ‘To Do’ list for the weekends and even the vacations that we take. Continue reading
Wow! It has been a long time. A really long time. More than a year actually. An eventful year. I became a father for the first time, and may I add, probably for the only time. Fatherhood! I have always been scared of it. I have always questioned how can a person like me, who likes to call himself ‘an eternal child at heart’, shoulder the responsibility of taking care of a child. To tell the truth, I’m still scared. Will I be able to help my wife bring our daughter up well? Will I be able to provide for her? Will I be able to take care of her? Will I be able to do as much as my wife does for her? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I love her. A lot! My daughter, the light of my life. It is great to go back home and see her welcome me with a big smile, her hands clapping in happiness. It is magical.
That leads me to the topic of this post. When and how do we lose this ability to be happy about the everyday things in life? Even if we do feel this kind of happiness occasionally, do we express it? Why do we become cynical over time? We keep postponing happiness. “I’ll be truly happy after I retire”, “I’ll be happy after I buy a house”, “I’ll be happy when I become self-employed”, “I’ll be happy when I buy a BMW” or in my case “I’ll be happy when I own a PlayStation 4”. Well, mine’s a weird whim, isn’t it? Continue reading
Turn the clock back. Remember how, as kids, we were asked by our parents to eat one whole bowl of vegetables because it was good for us? Remember how we were told that making the bed would somehow make us a better person? Remember how we were asked to clean the house before festivals? Remember how (my Indian friends would be able to relate to this more) cycling up to the flour mill with an impossibly large load of wheat would make us stronger and better? In summary, according to our parents, all that was good for us used to make us miserable and as a corollary almost everything that made us miserable was somehow good for us.
I used to think that, this phenomenon was restricted only to India until I was introduced to Calvin & Hobbes. One of my favorite characters in the strip is Calvin’s Dad. His quirky habits, such as, getting up at the crack of dawn, even when on a holiday, going for walks and occassionally cycling in a blizzard, insisting on going to wild, ‘itchy’ islands for holidays, giving bizarre, nonsensical answers to Calvin’s questions, make him one of the most endearing characters in Calvin & Hobbes. Well, that is for the readers, not Calvin. Calvin’s Dad always keeps looking for opportunities to build Calvin’s character by asking him to do things that are good for him. And like it is always with children, the things that Dad thinks are good for him, make Calvin miserable. Continue reading
I have not yet come across a kid who loves taking a bath. Think of your own childhood; did you love it? I sure did not! A lot of people I’ve spoken to did not. So, we can safely say that children in general do not like to take a bath. However, I have not yet come across a kid who hates it as much as Calvin does, and the lengths to which he goes to avoid it, is hilarious.
Calvin’s strategy to avoid baths is unidimensional – hiding from his mother who’s got the water nice and hot in the tub. He manages to hide in places where he is very difficult to find, like say, the roof of his house or the window ledge. He once hid inside the tub itself figuring that Mom would never look for him there.
- An Ordeal for Mom and Dad
If he does get found, he makes it an ordeal for his parents to take him to the bathroom, throwing all kinds of tantrums. If his parents do succeed in taking him inside the tub, his hyperimaginative brain goes into overdrive and he starts making shark attacks and killing water demons. For Mom, giving him a bath translates into her taking a bath as well, because Calvin’s antics get her all wet as well.
One of my favorite strips is where Calvin imagines himself to be Godzilla. He gets out of the tub drooling, much the same way as Godzilla emerged from the ocean; goes down the stairs to the kitchen and spews water on Mom. Only Calvin could have done that. What I find funny is that his mind does not evaluate the outcome of his actions. He is ‘Id’ personified in Freudian terms. He does what he wants to do. He does not even learn from the outcomes of his various misadventures. What makes it funnier is that he is no dumb kid. Calvin is a very smart child with a very sharp brain. So, when we see him not learning from his past mistakes, it is apparant that he just does not care. He does what gives him pleasure in the present moment. The future can take care of itself. We all can draw a leaf out of Calvin’s book here, can’t we? Continue reading
The Time Machine
Want to time travel? Or make clones of yourself? Or transmogrify yourself into something else; let’s say, a pterodactyl or a dinosaur or a lion? You’d be wondering what is the connection between these apparantly discrete activities. What if I told you that you could do all of these with one simple device – a corrugated cardboard box? Well, at least in Calvin’s world, you can.
You can change the function of the box by simply turnning it from one position to another and changing the label. Let’s say you want to time travel – all you need to do is keep the box’s face up with the top open and sit inside it. Well, you have to be careful with which way you are sitting; otherwise you may time travel the wrong way. Calvin once went into the past when he really intended to go into the future. He realized his mistake when he saw a dinosaur. Continue reading
I had once appeared for a job interview where the interviewer asked me, “So Ritesh, training & development!…was it by design or by accident?” The interviewer was a typical corporate warrior, donning the badge of his many years of experience in the HR fraternity, proudly on his, may I add, puffed chest. He told me about himself, how many functions he handles and how he plans to change the course of the organization with his extraordinary leadership. With the restless energy that you quite often find in such corporate warriors, he shifted in his seat, head tilted back, trying to size me up. He was waiting for a response to the question he had posed to me.
I considered the question and contemplated on the best course of action. Should I tell him the truth or should I give him bulls**t about how much I love working with people and how I always had the passion to help people realize their potential. In the end, I thought, what the heck, let me tell the truth and I confessed it was purely by accident. I went on to add, however, that having spent close to seven years in the profession, I have developed a passion for it and I cannot think of doing anything else now. You develop a passion for something only after you have done it for a while. Continue reading