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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Happiness Project

I am seated in the hotel lobby situated in the heart of Madrid, Spain. Slightly more than a decade ago, I couldn't even imagine that I would travel around the world; actually I didn't even have a passport. Thirty - seven countries later it all feels like I am living in a dream. When I forget to carry a good book for the trip, I have a look at my passport. Each stamp at an immigration counter brings back memories of the trip. The highs, the wins, the sights and sounds, the food and the Brew, the local people, languages, and the local culture.

As I sit here thinking about it, there is a slight unrest and anxiety inside. Was it because of the call from the architect asking for the pending payment or the possibility of not keeping my promise of taking the kids to a foreign trip (has been pending since we started Project Belaku, the place we call home these days) or was it the anger that small maintenance issues back home aren't getting sorted when I am not around and get piled for me to manage on returning or is it the anxiety related to the meetings that need to be done in the following days? Maybe it is a mix of everything and maybe not…

Thoughts wander towards what I am reading and viewing these days… Nobel Prize, return to basic concepts of research, economic instability, clashes in beliefs, selfi(e)shness, change in perception of nature of foods, and a wide array of things. As I try to catch-up with my thoughts and realize that what is being published was years in the making or research and I was dwelling into the past. I gather my thoughts and suddenly they transport me to the future where it looks like the clash of beliefs will intensify, people are more impatient and instant gratification is almost felt as a right than a pass-time, the inevitable emergence of artificial intelligence to replace humans, increasing economic instability leading to huge societal disparity, and then health being at the foremost but most neglected aspect. And then as if magically, I hear Master Oogway whispering into my ears… “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift... that's why they call it present”. Well then Mr Oogway, what do I do to be in the present? Again the thoughts wander into the basics of happiness.. it is what we feel inside of us and need not necessarily be influenced by what others and external factors do to us. I start thinking about the role of the left prefrontal cortex and the chemicals dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins in making a person happy. Then there is the factor of being healthy to be able to relish these…

The definition of health has evolved over time. In keeping with the biomedical perspective, early definitions of health focused on the theme of the body's ability to function; health was seen as a state of normal function that could be disrupted from time to time by disease. In 1948, in a radical departure from previous definitions, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed a definition that aimed higher: linking health to well-being, in terms of "physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity". Just as there was a shift from viewing disease as a state to thinking of it as a process, the same shift happened in definitions of health. Again, the WHO played a leading role when it fostered the development of the health promotion movement in the 1980s. This brought in a new conception of health, not as a state, but in dynamic terms of resiliency, in other words, as "a resource for living". 1984 WHO revised the definition of health defined it as "the extent to which an individual or group is able to realize aspirations and satisfy needs and to change or cope with the environment. Health is a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living; it is a positive concept, emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities". Thus, health referred to the ability to maintain homeostasis and recover from insults. Therefore, health broadly can be termed as the culmination of mental, intellectual, physical, emotional, and social wellness that assist the person in being able to handle stress, acquire skills, maintain relationships, all of which form the basic construct and resources for a resilient and independent life.

Now, how do we link these lengthy, vague and immeasurable parameters to a healthy present and to the basic sciences leading to happiness? Of course by living the present with a bookmark in the past and an eye on the future. Therein was seeded the idea of the Happiness Project – A pursuit of healthy aging; which if successful could then be translated to the pursuit for healthy living for the kids. The outline for the Happiness Project is simple (it at least seemed so when I structured it in my mind). If you will note, it involves decluttering the excess triggers that make one resistant to the chemicals that lead to happiness. The idea is to be able to experience all emotions within the self and not let external factors impact emotions, response and most importantly the mindset. I fell back on the three things that I raise a toast to ‘Health, Wealth and Happiness’:

1.    Health
a.    Eat the right things and only when really hungry – helps you appreciate the food better
b.    Exercise – appreciate your current age and gently push the limits
c.    Sleep – well… J

2.    Wealth
a.    Prioritize your aspirations for the future based on self, family, skills, environment and a huge helpful of common sense with a pinch of reality sprinkled on top
b.    Save enough to not be dependent on anyone when you are old, any further aspiration is an invitation to live continuously in anxiety of the future

3.    Happiness
a.    Prioritize, prioritize and before I forget it… prioritize
b.    Have a bunch of mates that will be there for you when you need them
c.    Learn from your kids how to be children again
d.    Spend time with family
e.    Meditate
f.     Weed the elements that bring negativity to your thoughts; if inevitable, reduce the interactions with these elements
g.    Phase out of social platforms and exposure to LED screens (these are the ones that are driving you into the well of instant gratification and making you resistant to the small pleasures of life)
h.    Take that trip, even if it means a small hole in the pocket
i.      Invest time for contribution to the community that you live in
j.     Be unpredictable, SURPRISE… not others, but yourselves first!!!

The executive at the lobby brings me back to reality. “Your cab is here Sir”. I walk a few steps and then turnaround to say, “Gracias. Have a great day ahead!” and then stepping into the cab I say with a renewed energy in my voice, “OLA amigo, conference center please!” Wish me luck, not for the conference, but for the Happiness Project!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Olympic glory

Terrific news for a nation that was starved for Olympic glory!

Sakshi Malik clinches bronze medal in women’s wrestling 58kg category, opens India’s account at Rio 2016 Olympics

Before and during the Olympics there were supporters and nay-sayers to the Indian athletes. Setting aside all the discussions, it is an achievement to win a medal at the Olympics. For a country or culture where education comes first and the thing that kids hear most is, “Finish your homework and studies and then play’, it is a win. There was a funny meme where there is a mob shouting for medals but when asked what they want their children to be, they say – doctors and engineers. Sad, but true.

The primary reason why the negative comments hurt are that these are people who don’t realize what it takes to qualify to the Olympics, let alone win at the highest level. Indian athletes – Deepa Karmakar in gymnastics and Sajjan Prakash in swimming to name a couple have taken huge risks to be at that stage. And these are not just financial and social risks – these are physical risks. Deepa performs what is known as the death vault which is called so because a small mistake can cripple a person or worse kill them. Sajjan competes in the 200 m butterfly which is the toughest stroke of them all and at that distance the swimmer finishes the last leg almost not mentally aware of him being alive or dead. Add to these the years and years of training and the missed trips, favorite food, movies, sports and everything else that other children indulge in. In the background is the dedication of the staff and their families. A swimmer, out of personal experience having seen my son train for five years now, on a daily basis spends 2.5 hours in a pool looking at the black line below and then another 2 hours working out in the gym. And this for 10 years to be able to qualify at the national level.

It will take time to move away from the cultural habits. For E.g. we see the Swachh Bharat campaign and it will take a couple of generations to build a habit to make that dream a reality. Fortunately, that might not be the case when it comes to adopting sports. Fitness and sports should gain importance, this doesn’t mean that studies take a back seat. But look around you, how many of you are doing exactly what you learnt in school???

It is high time sports get the due attention in the country. Until then, let us celebrate not just the Sakshis but more importantly the Deepas and the Sajjans for having performed at the highest level!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The forty minute commute...

March, Nineteen Eighty-Six

It is 8 AM in the morning and I am all ready to go to school. My parents tell me that from next year I should take public transport to school. This will teach me how to be independent and also timeliness, so they say. Six kilos of books on my back and a lunch bag in hand I start my walk to school with a slight nod of head, agreeing reluctantly to the bus commute. Adugodi on Hosur Road, Bangalore (yeah, Bangalore then and not yet Namma Bengaluru) I cross the road and start my journey. I call it a journey because it was one of things I loved about going to school.

The big police quarters ground to the left, sparrows and parrots and mynahs and other birds chirping away. An occasional cuckoo coos and I stop in my tracks. I mimic the cuckoo's coo. We exchange words, each time the cuckoo annoyed by my response and her tone becoming shriller and sterner. Out from the tree she bursts out flying and done with the mimicking. A few more steps and then I spot the touch-me-nots. In the middle of the dew covered grass they are inviting me to play with them. My index finger is my tool as I ensure that I delicately touch so that only a few leaves close. That way I can observe this phenomenon for a longer time. Done with the first growth I move on to the second one. Bored I start walking again. A few feet away I see colours radiating from a sapling. What is it? On closer inspection is it a brand new web woven by one of nature's best architect's - the spider. With dew drops at the intersection of the strings and the gentle early morning sun rays passing through the filter of the large tree reaching the web and make it sparkle brilliantly. Not worried about what will happen if I end up in a dirty uniform to school I sit down hoping that an unsuspecting insect falls into the web and I can watch the spider have breakfast. No luck today... 10 minutes gone and nothing is happening. An occasional car passes by and the sound brings me back to reality and the fact that I might be getting late to school.

Now I reach the fastest phase of my commute. In less than 30 seconds I sprint past the crematorium avoiding any chance of looking at the graves. Once I am in the clear, my pace is back to competing with the snails in a who comes last race. In the narrow gully leading to the mosque I trudge along all the while jumping from one patch of light that has managed to reach the ground, through the huge tress covering the lane, to the next one. Sometimes stopping to pick up the flowers and counting the petals on them. A mongrel lazily looks up at me as if my unconscious giggling woke him up rudely. I reach the Ganesha temple road and then I spot kids in familiar uniforms lining up for prayer in the ground. I run trying to make it in time. Yet again, I am late! So, stand aside and as punishment be the last kid that enters class. All of two kilometres at the maximum and it has taken me 45 minutes and a punishment to make it to class. Do I regret it though? No... on the way back I again repeat the routine. The spider web is empty so I decide to drop an unsuspecting ant into the web to allow my spider friend an evening snack. Instead he rolls the ant in the web and keeps it towards one end to be feasted upon later. Disappointed that I could not view the dining mannerisms of the spider I head back home. The evening clouds are gathering and looks like it will be a hailstorm in the evening. Another 40 to 45 minutes on the way back.

March, Twenty-Sixteen

It has been a good three and a half years since I started working in Koramangala. I have been thinking everyday that I should drop into my old school and surprise the Principal. But then... when? It takes me the same 40 to 45 minutes in my car for the 9 kilometres commute from home to office. Even today I pass by the same police quarters, now filled with houses. FM radio playing on my radio. I remember my old friend the cuckoo and lower the window to see if her descendants still spread happiness. I am welcomed by a black jet of smoke from a passing lorry, a gust of unbearable warm wind and the sounds of honking and engines. Quickly I close the window and move on. I reach the crematorium which is now covered and see if the spider is around. Let alone the spider there is no space for people to stand at the bus stand there now. I swear at someone who overtakes me from the wrong side and quickly check the time. Damn... I am running late for a meeting. Somehow I manage to reach on time and get along with the routine. The way back home is more treacherous. The same clouds gather, but that means that people are now competing with each other to rush back home. Chaos reigns and tempers flare.

The commute which was such fun and I used to long has changed so much. The days when those 40 minutes were a pleasure to now when I dread those 40 minutes. Life came a full circle when I started working in Koramangala... I am back to where I started my education I had thought. That was the only thing that came back a full circle I guess. I long for the day when I can spend 40 mins walking 2 kilometres without a care in the world; a world that puts such great value to every minute that I just get worked up with the thought of 'The forty minute commute...'

Friday, August 28, 2015

Why do we celebrate festivals???

Today morning when returning from the swimming pool my son Pradhyum asked me a simple question – Papa, why do we celebrate festivals?

I went into philosophical mode and explained how festivals in the past were a way to include everyone in the community and the things that matter in our lives (cattle for shankranthi, colors for holi, lights for Diwali, tools for Ayudha Pooja, sharing/ giving in Ramadan, etc) and also how food was an integral part of these festivities. This ensured that the harvest of the season which was important to consume reached even those who couldn’t afford it. It also meant that people cleaned and painted their houses – so health was maintained in the community.

I went on to tell him how with time the importance of festivals evolved – like in the Mughal invasion the need to feed everyone amidst the taxes and keep people rooted to our culture to avoid coversions, to the British era where Ganesh Pandals were used to communicate patriotic messages in the local language. I lamented that these days with nuclear families people have become myopic and it’s a show of pomp and wealth than the actual meaning of what it is supposed to be. The community factor is almost gone but for very few festivals. And with the modern era people celebrate more of those festivals at home that don’t need anyone else to be involved and basically treat it as a holiday.

I was worried if I told him something wring and checked if others share my views. Below is what Sadguru has to say. Read on…

The Importance of Indian Festivals – Making Life a Celebration!

Sadhguru explains the importance of festivals in Indian culture, and how celebration can be a passageway to the most profound aspects of life.

In the Indian culture, there was a time when there used to be a festival every day of the year – 365 festivals in a year – because a festival is a tool to bring life to a state of exuberance and enthusiasm. That was the significance and importance of festivals. The whole culture was in a state of celebration. If today was ploughing day, it was a kind of celebration. Tomorrow was planting day, another kind of celebration. Day after tomorrow was weeding, that was a celebration. Harvesting, of course, is still a celebration. But in the last 400 or 500 years, poverty has come to our country, and we have not been able to celebrate every day. People are satisfied if they just get some simple food to eat. So all the festivals fell away and only 30 or 40 festivals remain. We are not even able to celebrate those now because we have to go to the office or do something else daily. So people usually celebrate only around 8 or 10 festivals annually.

Make life a celebration

Nowadays, unfortunately, a festival means they give you a holiday, and you wake up only at twelve noon. Then you eat a lot and go for a movie or watch television at home. It wasn’t like that earlier. A festival meant the whole town would gather in a place and there would be a big celebration. A festival meant we got up at four in the morning, and very actively, lots of things happened all over the house.

To bring back this culture in people, Isha celebrates four important festivals: Pongal or Makarasankranti, Mahashivarathri, Dussehra and Diwali. If we don’t create something like this, by the time the next generation comes, they will not know what a festival is. They will just eat, sleep and grow up without concern for another human being. All these aspects were brought into Indian culture just to keep a man active and enthusiastic in so many ways. The idea behind this was to make our whole life into a celebration.

The Importance of festivals

If you approach everything in a celebratory way, you learn to be non-serious about life but absolutely involved. The problem with most human beings right now is, if they think something is important, they will become dead serious about it. If they think it is not so important, they will become lax about it – they don’t show the necessary involvement. You know, in India when someone says, “He is in a very serious condition,” that means his next step is you know where. A lot of people are in a serious condition. There is only one thing that is going to happen to them which is of any significance. The rest will bypass them because with anything that they think is not serious, they are unable to show involvement and dedication towards that. That is the whole problem. The passage, the secret of life is to see everything with a non-serious eye, but be absolutely involved – like a game. That is the reason the most profound aspects of life are approached in a celebratory way, so that you don’t miss the point.


An anthropologist studying the habits and customs of an African tribe found himself surrounded by children most days. So he decided to play a little game with them. He managed to get candy from the nearest town and put it all in a decorated basket at the foot of a tree.

Then he called the children and suggested they play the game. When the anthropologist said “now”, the children had to run to the tree and the first one to get there could have all the candy to him/herself. So the children all lined up waiting for the signal. When the anthropologist said “now”, all of the children took each other by the hand ran together towards the tree. They all arrived at the same time divided up the candy, sat down and began to happily munch away.

The anthropologist went over to them and asked why they had all run together when any one of them could have had the candy all to themselves.

The children responded: “Ubuntu. How could any one of us be happy if all the others were sad?”

Ubuntu is a philosophy of African tribes that can be summed up as “I am what I am because of who we all are.” 

Friday, August 10, 2012


Accepting the Most Preferred Technology Partner Award on behalf of the Nokia Life Team from the CEO of GamaTechno. Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

mHealth for MDGs

mHealth as a tool to help a country meet it's Millennium Development Gaols. Jakarta, Indonesia

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Train Journey

In one of the more happening and busy airports on the planet, I get on to the sky train connecting 2 terminals. Time to get homebound. Strange, I am the only person on the train or not so strange because it is 5 AM and the first trip between the terminals. I wander back to the first time I had been on this train. 4 years ago, or was it 5? I hadn’t the strangest idea that I would be there 5 years on. So much happens in life, people, places, incidents and yet, LIFE has to go on.

Less than 48 hours since I decided that I will move on and another 48 left to reveal this to people who matter. A strange feeling engulfs me in the loneliness of the train. A lump in the throat, clouding of the eyes and the feeling of losing something. How will I face the people I have to when I have to say the words, “Until next time; bye and take care”? The journey has been rewarding for multiple reasons. Few forgettable memories and a lot that I will cherish for the lifetime.

Well, the terminal where I need to get off approaches. Strangely brings me back to the cliché that life is a train journey. People get on and off, but the train moves on. The show will go on; one actor less, but nonetheless it will go on.

The new terminal announces that there are new things to look out for. New people, new emotions, new challenges and the most beautiful moment in life repeated by HIS grace twice for me and Dee; parenthood. I walk off from the train only to look back at what I have left behind. Satisfied that I have done my part and more. Happy that I will be remembered fondly and if I have done the right things, missed for the good things.

One thing shall remain constant in my life though; MEANDERINGS!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

RIP Dear Balls...

Sometime in 2004 like most people in our circle, my life was undergoing rapid change. The pressures of work, managing family and the big question of what next was bugging me day in and day out. During one such day where my mind went from one extreme to another, I decided to ride up a hillock that was close to the place I lived at that time. I picked up 2 555's and went up there. I sat there confused and lost and like you might relate to the feeling, wanted to speak to someone. Without even realizing or sparing a second thought, I had dialed out to Ashwin Balaji (Balls for those who were close to him). He picked the call and the comforting voice on the other end immediately put half my tension at ease. I went on and on and after half an hour disconnected thanking him for listening to me.

Going back to that day, if I remember what transpired during the half hour, nothing. There was a one way communication from my end about what my thoughts were, what I was planning to do and more of myself. He didn't say a single comforting word, he didn't tell me a  way to manage the situation and nor did he empathize or sympathize with me. But I felt better after that conversation, because he wasn't judgmental, he didn't say his views on the situation nor did he say something that made me feel bad. He was there on that day as a bouncing wall, a shoulder that I could rest on and a way to vent my fears, anger and frustration.

Ashwin Balaji for most of us was the strikingly handsome person with a smile always on his face. How many of us can claim to know him as a person? Not many! Let me tell you that despite him being incommunicado for most of the time I have known him, he was one of the few people I reached out when I felt like speaking. Of late we used to joke that if Balls picks someone's call, the person should buy a lottery ticket as that would be his lucky day.

On the 6th of April, sitting on the bench outside a hospital 100 kms from Bangalore at 2.30 AM, it struck me... I would never hear that calm voice on the other end of a telephone line again, ever. Pains me to think that such a peaceful, smiling, harmless soul had to be taken away from this world so suddenly, cruelly and untimely.

RIP Dear Balls. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The year that was 2011...

Another year passes and a new one arrives with promises of new beginnings, new frontiers geographically, relationship & target wise, re-live the rigmaroles of life, celebrate another year of hopefully getting wiser, togetherness & challenges with bringing up a child in a society and environment filled with instability and uncertainties, and make & break resolutions. Looking back at my friend for 350 days, Ms 2011 was a mixed bag for all. Personally the year marked the beginning of travels with a new passport that now looks like with not survive past 2012. Work wise the evolution from being a physician to being a “corporate coolie” was complete considering that I could count the number of weekends I spent at home with family using the digits on my hands and feet. Human emotions, egos and idiosyncrasies did a “Full Monty” like I have never seen in my entire life and continue to be the excess baggage that threatens to come with me into 2012. The little bundle of joy who is the only semblance of order in the chaos all around turns out to be more understanding, less demanding and pleasurable company than the other mature individuals around. Addition of a new member to the family due to the sibling tying the knot opens a “Pandora’s Box” of possibilities while it comes to changes in the way we have dealt with each other. The people who claim to govern “My Country” continue to fight corruption, terror and financial instability like amateurs adding to the stress and thereby contributing to the greys on my mane fearing for myself, the family and the little one. “The 3rd rock from the Sun” continues to get pushed to the brink of collapse both financially and environmentally. Yet, here I am feeling happy about it, looking forward to the week or so break that will help me welcome young Ms 2012 and say farewell to Ms 2011. Bruised, battered, shaken she heads off into the realms of history hoping she is remembered for long. Bye dear friend, this is my way of remembering you for times to come!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Practice Across the Borders!!!

Being a physician who crossed over to the tech and consulting part of contributing to society, I always was confused if I did the right thing by crossing over. There were three interactions I had with a peer, a colleague and a mother that made me feel that I can still contribute as a physician even though I don't practice anymore. 

My peer is 10 years my senior and is now the President of a company in India that is reviving the concept of Family Physicians in India. He told me over beer one day that I should remember always that I am primarily a physician. Whatever, I do in life, I shouldn't forget that I am a physician first and then a analyst and a product owner. Thanks to him, I try to think what my patient wants and how I can make a solution or platform simple enough for my patient to use. 

My colleague, now ex-, has moved on to being the Country Head of a not for profit organization in Uganda. At an airport in sub-Saharan Africa, he reminded me that as a practicing doctor I could only attend a limited number of patients in a day. By moving on to the tech side, I can influence the lives of millions of people by making it easy for them to stay connected to what matters to them. Without realizing it, I was probably had the power to influence millions of lives with what I was helping create. The thought scares me even today and keeps me grounded to reality when it comes to developing solutions and information for the users. 

During a visit to Jakarta, we were doing field visits and went to some Primary Health centers in the outskirts of Jakarta. As usual the places were crowded and lot of people bringing kids for immunization, etc. We were part of an initiative that involved information dissemination to pregnant and young mothers on the importance of breast feeding and health checks. During one of the visits to a Posyandu (health center), one of the organizers introduced me as a Dr. from India. Then there were lot of people from the crowd speaking and I don't understand that much of Bahasa except for thank you, sorry and give me food! When someone translated I understood that they wanted me to sing a Bollywood song of all things!!! Fortunately for them I decided not to scare them with my limited skills at crooning.

What happened next was what made the entire effort of bearing the equatorial heat and the mad rush satisfying. A young mother brought her frail son and asked me if I can examine him. She heard there was a “foreign” Dr visiting. She said the local doctors had diagnosed her 5 year son of a heart condition and the heart institute had recommended a surgery. She was scared to put the child under the knife and didn't go back to the hospital though the surgery would be free in the Govt Heart Institute. For the first time in nearly 6 years I picked up a stethoscope to examine anyone other than my son. What I heard clearly showed that the child had a septal defect, means a hole in the heart in simple English. I was really concerned now, because the frailty of the kid was because the blood from both the chambers were mixing and that meant the oxygen levels get reduced in blood leading to decreased availability for the body to grow. If left without intervention the child's condition would worsen over time. I didn't speak her language and she didn't understand mine. I looked at her and speaking very slowly told her what the kid was going through and that the procedure would save the child from certain death. There was someone translating what I was saying in the background, but I felt that it wasn't needed. I guess she understood because she promised she will get the child operated.

Being a meandering physician, there are instances that I come across every single day that are frustrating as well as taxing on the mind. There are hilarious and scary instances like an incident of a flight where I prevented a schizophrenic??? who had discontinued medication from joining the "high mile" club. I had to sedate the person on the flight to prevent him from doing what he was intending to do!!! There are sad instances where I helplessly assisted an old couple with the death certificate for their young son (who happened to be my colleague and died in a traffic accident). Then there are instances as above that remind me the famous quote from the Spiderman movies, "With great power comes great responsibility!!!"

Monday, May 30, 2011

My first hero!!!

Two days a week can sound like a lot of time with someone. But when it is with your dad, two days are not enough. I realized that when today morning when I was dropping Prad off. The way he looked at me said everything. The eyes said bye for now dad, see you in the evening and thanks for the lovely 2 days you gave me! The best part of the weekend was when we got into the car in the parking lot after watching the much awaited Kung Fu Panda 2. Much awaited, not because the entire world of Po fans were waiting for this, but because for the past 2 months Prad has been asking me how many days left until Part 2? We settled down in the car and he leaned over from the back seat, gave me a hug and a peck on the cheek and said “Papa, I love you!” Was it because he was moved by the climactic scene with Po and his adopted goose dad or because I kept my promise and took him to watch the movie or just like that??? 

Po, as we know by now is the adopted son of the goose (not that we needed to watch part 2 to understand that). His biological parents did what they felt was best during troubled times and thought saving his life was better than clinging on to him. The untold and more touching story is that probably Mr Goose didn't even have a Mrs Goose as that would lead to uncomfortable moments with his own offspring around. He was first Po’s dad more than anything else. That one hug of recognition that Po gives his dad was the rewarding moment for all the sacrifices that a dad had made. And know what, the best thing is dads never tell that they made these sacrifices.  

It is no secret that I admire Dads of all ages for what they are. The first hero that any child has is his/her own dad! As kids grow they tend to adopt comic book heroes, movie stars, peers, seniors and people in the society as their heroes. The defining moment however is when life comes a full circle. Kids grow up and have kids of their own and that is when they realize that in the process of growing up they somewhere forgot their first hero. But,is there even a small sigh that a dad gives out during this entire process? NO! And when you indeed are back to the starting point you are too grown up or mature to give him that hug and peck on the cheek and say those words, “Papa, I love you!”. But does he care if you don't express it? NO! you can see it in his eyes, he has that same expression that your child has on his face. Thanking you for a few moments of togetherness, that odd imported whiskey bottle or just being present there in his friend/ relative’s child’s wedding. How much I feel that I could just go back in the years, put my arms around him and tell him that no matter what he will be my hero and I love him!!!  

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's a Love-Hate Relationship

love  (lv)n. A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.

hate  (ht) v. To feel hostility or animosity toward.

Come to think of it. Is there any individual who can only hate? I don't believe it is possible. For according to Newton, Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

For a person to hate something or someone there has to be the same amount of love and affection to a person or concept that is quiet the opposite. Is there a way for the world to better channelize the LOVE part of the emotion and make it a better place for everyone? Our lives are too short to accommodate hatred to everyone and everything.

Think about it - if at all you want to hate something, hate global warming, hate the situations that lead to poverty and starving, hate the trends that led to a skewed sex ratio, hate the have not's who hate the have's and don't do anything to change their situation. This will lead to a lot of love for the better!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Worship on Wheels???

I was headed to work today and though not the best thing to do, was on a call. Of course there is hands free that reduces the guilt a bit. A van zipped past and I noticed something written on the side of the van. One moment I was taken aback. Did it say - Worship on Wheels? Looked at it again and it actually said - Workshop on Wheels.

What was I thinking?

This also set me thinking. There are workshops, libraries, hospitals and hotels on wheels. Why not Worship? Isn't it high time that Gods got mobile as well and became available where people need them. This could be across religions, wow a secular thought. Look at how politicians could make us of the platform.

Thinking deeper, can spirituality or worship be converted into a business model. One might argue that it already is and that's what most religious organizations do. There are trusts, people who can afford to make donations, the funds are used to build temples and other facilities, more money flows in, this time from lesser affluent masses, money gets spent back to the society in some form or other, people who control this money get greedy and corrupt, allegations and counter allegations follow ---- but interestingly the BELIEF continues.

Come to think of it. Build out a good business plan on how a company around spirituality as a product will be developed. Register the company as a tax paying entity, get some VCs to fund the initial investment, wait it out for a few years, build a chain of places of worship or better still franchise them out, make money, pay taxes and have a transparent way of all things that matter in the company like any other corporate entity does.

If there is an "angel" out there, you know who to speak to for the Newco idea! ;) 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Innocence Lost

On a lazy Sunday morning, at the in-laws place getting ready for an engagement function, chanced to watch the show on India on Discovery Channel. As usual, my mind meandered into the memories of the past and I remembered two people from the past who influenced me at various junctures in my career, both professionally and personally. The show was about how the holy Ganges was getting polluted and the belief Indians had about Her power to cleanse all sins. The two people who came to mind were both doctors; Dr Malini S and Dr Jayachandran Thampi.

Year 2000, I had gone to New Delhi with a few friends to attend the Short Service Commission exams for selection into the armed forces as a doctor. We extended the stay there and headed out to Rishikesh and Haridwar for some sightseeing. The first time I was on the banks of the Holy Ganges, there was a sense of positive energy that engulfed me. I could feel the positive thoughts and energy that were associated with the place for thousands of years. I stood there in reverence of the Holy River that had the magical power to cleanse all sins that a person would have committed. The only other places where I felt this level of positive energy and belief was at the Raj Ghat, the resting place of the Mahatma and in the sanctum of the Tirupathi Tirumala Balaji temple. I took off my clothes and took a dip, feeling a flow of energy through my body and actually came out of the water feeling light and actually devoid of all sins.

Year 2002, I was working for a holistic medicine setup where I met Thampi. He would always call me his younger brother and impart on me knowledge on the best way to put you forward as a doctor. One late evening when he was really drunk, he let out the reason why he liked me so much. He told me that though I was 25 something, the fact that I had a childlike innocence about me was what made him like me. He told me that come what may, I should retain this innocence as that is what keeps me generally happy and free of all tensions in life. That is what, according to him, gave me my biggest asset a person could have; the ability to laugh at myself and not feel bad about committing mistakes.  

Year 2005, I was employed with a KPO that managed scientific content and events for pharmaceutical companies. Informally, Dr Malini had taken me as her mentee and trained me well in relating business needs with medical domain possibilities. We were on a client visit and scientific workshop in New Delhi and got the day off. We headed out to Haridwar again and there I was standing at the banks of the Holy River again. A priest walked by and offered to help us offer Pooja to our ancestors. I stood there watching him do the rituals and at the end he took water out of the river and asked to drink it. For one moment as the water touched my hands, I somehow couldn't convince myself to drink it. Memories of 2000 flashed before me where I had so willingly taken a dip in the river. But now, there I was seeing how muddy the water was and wondering the amount of bacteria I would consume if I drank the water.

On the way back to the New Delhi, I remembered what Thampi had told me. In the span of 5 years from my last visit to the Ganges, I got married, came across some forgettable relatives, fought hard to please all, changed the way I applied my medical knowledge from serving patients to serving corporate, been through the pain of not having lived with my parents for the first time in my life, expecting our first child, highs and lows of life after a student’s phase, and a host of other memorable and forgettable things.

April 10, 2011: Watching the show on the Holy Ganges on Discovery Channel. Eleven years since I first stood at the banks of the Holy Ganges, I could take some heart based on the fact that I was indeed turning out to be a professional success owing in a big way to people who contributed to my growth right from Dr Malini and a lot of my mentors in various organizations and my family (Deepa and my parents). However, where was I as a person? Had I in the process of growing professionally missed out on the person front? Was I still the same person who Thampi admired for my childlike innocence? I want to say yes, I hope it’s a yes, but deep inside unfortunately I know what the truth is, the answer is a big NO.