METLIFE – “HAVE YOU MET YOUR LIFE TODAY”

They are trying to sell Insurance but this tagline is just so deep in its meaning. I have learnt in life that we are not our bodies, we live in bodies till we are on this planet and then we leave. I have learnt that we are not our thoughts – we have these positive and negative thoughts and we often get consumed by them but they are a running train in our head all throughout our lives.

We are not all the possessions that we collect in our lifetime, they are just there to make our stay on this planet easier. We are not even our purpose that is just the work that we do for humanity.

We are attached to a million things – our body, our thoughts, our purpose, our possessions but we are none of this. We always get consumed by all these things throughout our lifetime. We are just life, we are just meant to enjoy this God-gifted life and leave when the time comes.

Have you really met the life that you are? Maybe not.

Nature has given us 5 sense organs to perceive the outside world. We can see what it around us, we can hear the sounds, we can taste what is in our mouth, we feel all that we touch and we can smell the world around us. Living is a challenge if one of these sense organs fails us. We can perceive the world outside with so much clarity yet we cannot feel the blood rushing in our veins, we cannot hear our heart that is working 24/7, we cannot feel our stomach, kidneys working.

Our sense organs help us tremendously to live a good life on this planet and those are really important for our survival. However we need to work a little bit and have some direction in life to go inwards. Only when we go inwards, we can meet life. Life that we are!

Simple techniques of meditation – observing your own breath and the changes in your body with each breath, eating food mindfully, being conscious of your own thoughts can help us tremendously be in touch with our inner selves.

Another way to meet life is to observe the life around you – the little ants that carry the burden so gracefully, the pigeons that collect to pick up the grains, the dog that looks into your eyes requesting for a pat, the leaves that just sway with the wind. Put a brake on the speed on your work and stop to appreciate these little things that are lives.

Life is not our jobs or deadlines, life is not our conflicts with other people and life is not the love we have for others. Life is just the constant transaction that we have with the world outside – transaction in terms of our breath, food, water, excreta. We are constantly taking something from the environment and giving out something. This is life – just observe this life and take time to meet this life.

Once it becomes a habit – you can truly say “I have met life today”

I DON’T WANT TO GIVE UP ON MY GOALS

Well, it has been a long time since I wanted to be a famous writer. Yes, I have a few 100 blogs, a published book, couple of other published stories – but I am far from where I imagined myself to be at this age. Is that bad that I couldn’t make it? No, I won’t judge myself. There have been reasons and there have been responsibilities that kept me from focusing on my goals.

When I was in my 20’s, I used to maintain a document wherein every year end I would write down what all I achieved in the last year and what are my goals for the next year. Then I would break them into monthly goals and plan on how to achieve them. I haven’t done this since last 8-10 years at least. I didn’t have the time or the energy to put in so much effort towards my personal goals. I just let life happen to me.

With the responsibilities of parents, a child, running the house, getting that promotion, meeting those impossible deadlines; I forgot to keep track of how many books I want to read, how many kgs I want to shed, how many stories I want to write, how many dance performances I want to do, how many paintings I want to make. It all takes a backseat.

Recently, I went through a serious bout of depression. It was only because one fine day I woke up and after some petty arguments with my family members, I realized that I am not myself anymore. I have become this subdued person who is ready to take any sort of nonsense from others just to keep peace at home. And when I thought about my own goals, there were none – absolutely zero. It was a huge setback to me to realize that I have come so far in life to discover that there is nothing that I have for myself.

That realization woke me up, as if I was in some dream world – and just got aware of some of the harsh realities. And now when I wanted to have my own goals and start working on them, I realized that I had no confidence at all. I couldn’t think straight and I didn’t trust my talents anymore. I cried, I blamed myself and everybody around me, I fought with myself and my husband, I got nightmares and woke up sweating on my bed, I got really anxious and had palpitations as if my life is over and it was a complete waste.

And finally my husband said, if you know that you are overthinking everything – then force yourself to take an action. After arguing with him for hours together, I did take an action; it was a simple action to just go for shopping for myself at 9 pm in Dehradun (the city sleeps before 9). That action led to something else and a chain reaction took over me. I started taking actions one after the other. That helped me build myself again.

I am not there yet. I am not as confident as I used to be. I am still not sure what my personal goals are, where do I want to land up a few years from now. But I know that even though my goals might change, I might not resonate with them now – I need to have them always. I cannot afford give up on my own goals in life – no matter what kind of responsibilities I am loaded with at work and at home.

I knew this at some level of conscience, still I ignored this aspect of life for almost a decade. And now it feels like I have to build myself up from scratch. I hope my readers find some inspiration in this article and never make this mistake in life.

STOP. LOOK. APPRECIATE. FALL IN LOVE

I lived in Dwarahat – a place in Uttarakhand in middle of Himalayas for 4 years. Those 4 years were also the best part of my life, the 4 years of Engineering. Beautiful memories of those mountains are just so many. However, when I left that place – I told myself I would never go to the mountains again. I felt that I had too much of mountains and moreover the problems of living in mountains had overtaken the beauty of the place from my mind. There were problems related to water availability, electricity availability, no heating mechanism in the hostels in the utter cold and many more. Over the years, I forgot how beautiful that place was. There were some of the amazingly beautiful scenic beauty of the forest filled green mountains that we witnessed in those 4 years. 

Today I am reminded of those days so much because I am quite close to this place where our college was. I am in Jim Corbett National Park with my family. We did the safari in rain, we went to the Kosi River and ventured into the Jungle ourselves too. In short, I experienced the nature after too long. Living in the hustle bustle of city life, I have forgotten what it is to feel the nature. We just get way too busy in our lives, running behind the deadlines of work and home. We forget to appreciate the little things in life. 

We forget to notice the little ants who carry the broken piece of Lays. We forget to notice the pigeons picking up little twigs to build their nests. We forget to notice the clouds floating in the mountains and little wind that makes us feel so cold that it gives goose-bumps. We forget to notice the dogs waiting to get that pat on the back. We don’t even notice the little blue and orange butterflies fluttering around the flowers and not even the beautiful texture, colors and fragrance of the flowers. We forget the simple fun of getting drenched in the rain. 

We don’t notice these little things and then even at a beautiful place of nature we take support of alcohol, smoke, weed and other things to make us happy when all you need to do is to look around and breathe in that fresh oxygen. If you do that enough and more, you will be intoxicated naturally – there won’t be any need to take in all other stuff to get high. Today a monkey very silently walked past us and came in uninvited in our cottage to steal the bread, it just made me and my son feel so joyful to witness that, something that a city life can never give.

I noticed all of these little things a lot in last few days and it is life changing. I have always been the kind of person who has constant To-Do list in her mind. Along with the To-Do list, there is a huge emotional baggage that feels so very heavy. Noticing these little things in life gives me that much needed break that all of us crave for. It makes me meditative. The feeling makes me feel wiser and heals the wounds.

Stop living your regular life for some time, look around you and appreciate the nature. You will definitely fall in love with this magnificently amazing life that you are. 

TRUSTING MY OWN DECISIONS BASED ON MY INTUITION

Well, my intuition is one of my best friends. It guides me when I need it the most. It makes me feel secure and safe in this wild world. It makes me do the right things at the right times.

What is Intuition?

It is that tiny little voice that says – “Just do it. Everything is gonna be alright.” It is your own sixth sense that tells you if your decision will take you where you want to go or not. It is that gut feeling or the vibes that one feels when something is not right. Even without enough analysis of something, you sometimes just know that you should do something or not do something.

Is the intuition always right?

No. It has failed me many times so that I could only learn better from my experience. Sometimes I failed multiple times but that’s just life. Isn’t it? Intuition is not always meant to be right. If it were, then all of us would be Gods.

When do I use my intuitions the most?

In trusting people. About 6 years back, after a few unfortunate incidents of betrayal at the hands of my “so-called” friends I made a decision. That decision was to get away from any friendship (or relationship) that seems fake. If I cannot make any meaningful conversations with a particular person, then there is no point in being in touch with that person just for gossiping about rest of the world.

Since that point in time, I have used my intuition the most in choosing my friends. And I must say that I have been really successful. I chose the right people who brought out the best in me whether it was the group of my apartment buddies, or my office lunch group, or my Candles family, or my child’s school friend’s moms etc. I am so glad that I haven’t faced any sort of a discomfort from any of my friends since I started to use my intuition to choose my friends and to decide how much to open up in front of whom.

I recall one such incident where I really trusted my intuition and took a decision. And I really got what I wanted. In the year 2013, I suffered a miscarriage and at that point of life I was so upset about not being able to conceive. We had seen doctors, got a lot of tests done and even taken a few treatments. It was not working out. We changed doctor after doctor because I had a strong feeling that I am not finding a good doctor. Little did I know then that infertility clinics is such a huge industry and it is very difficult to find an effective solution. I was looking for a doctor that I could connect with, a doctor who listened to me and my concerns about my body.

Eventually I found a doctor, recommended by a friend. And as soon as I met this doc, I knew that she was the one. She didn’t talk too much, she listened, she empathized and she didn’t talk medical jargon. She just looked at the reports and said – “Everything’s normal. Let us not worry too much. We will just take the right steps and see how it works.” The calm way in which she spoke I just knew that I could trust her. My intuition told me that this will work. And it did. Finally we were blessed with our boy in 2015 and life was good again.

How to sharpen your intuition

This is something that I am not an expert in (I am still learning). But I know for sure that to sharpen your intuition, you need to do the following

  1. Keep your thoughts organized. Don’t let your mind clutter with all the negativity. Negative self-talk is the killer for a strong intuition.
  2. Meditate and focus on the process of life. When I say process of life, I mean focus on something that proves that you are living. Like your breath, or the movement of your abdomen when you are breathing, or just focus on one of your fingers etc. There are a million ways to meditate effectively. Use what works for you.
  3. Do not take decisions when you are angry or upset. Your intuition is simply shut off when you are in a negative state of mind.
  4. If you are in doubt whether you are taking a right decision or not, take time. Time to breathe and slow down your thoughts or time to just sleep over it.

Your intuition will always make you trust your decisions and stick to them. Use it wisely!

A TRIBUTE TO OUR BEST COMPANIONS

Hachiko was a Japanese dog (breed: Akita) who waited for his master’s return for 9 years at the train station. His master died while he was at work and Hachiko tried his best to stop him from going to work that day because he could sense that something might happen to his master. Today, there is a statue of Hachiko at the train station as a tribute to his utmost loyalty to his master.

God bless these amazing creatures who are called “Man’s best friend” because they are the most loyal companions to us.

The poem below is dedicated to Hachiko and all the dogs who demonstrate remarkable loyalty to us and tremendous courage for our safety.

I run and I run coz I know my master is going to be in pain, 
I need to somehow stop him from getting on the train, 
He looks at me and finally stops driving, 
He pats me, kisses me and gives me a bone for licking. 

Bone is not what I want, 
My master’s safety is all I want. 
He doesn’t understand my tone, 
Even when I cry and howl. 

They say I am being naughty, 
But they can’t see I am doing my utmost duty, 
My master is my God, 
Even though I am just his Dog. 

He never returns, but I wait. 
It has been days and weeks, but I wait. 
It has been seasons and years, but I wait. 

They try to take me to a new home, 
But my master who gave me all the love is my only hope. 
I don’t need a new family, 
I am just content to be lonely. 

I wait for my master’s return till my last breath, 
Finally I unite with him after my own death. 

My master is my God, 
Even though I am just his Dog. 

STORY OF COURAGE THAT INSPIRED ME

Sometime in mid-1990’s, there was a man who worked as a Scientist for a CSIR laboratory in a small city of Dehradun. He had limited resources but immense will and courage to make a difference to the society. He was deeply moved by the rag-pickers who would keep hunting for clean waste in the piles waste dumps. It was unhealthy and utterly filthy.

For months together, the sight of these rag-pickers troubled him. Somehow he had to help them get clean waste so that these people don’t have to hunt for recyclable waste and carry them to the factories to earn their living. They deserve a respectable life, they deserve a healthy life. This thought made home in his mind.

In 1990’s, there was no concept of waste segregation existing in our country. This man lived in Government quarters with his family in a Government colony. And he came up with the thought of waste segregation – it was just a thought to start with. He wrote articles on why we should segregate waste at source and how it can help the society as a whole. He wrote poems on the same. For advertising his thought, he even dressed his younger daughter as a rag-picker during the fancy dress competition in colony fete (she got the first prize for acting a rag-picker, reciting her father’s poem and conveying a social message).

He had already put his thoughts on paper which had become quite famous. Now he wanted to put his words on action. A couple of his colleagues supported him and he went to each household in the colony and educated them on waste segregation. The idea was simple, they had to keep biodegradable (food) waste in a separate bin that could go to a compose pit and they had to keep non-biodegradable (plastic, glass, etc) in big plastic bag provided to them. Every week he would arrange for a few rag-pickers to come in colony and pick up the non-biodegradable waste from all the households. It was win-win for all. Rag-pickers got clean waste and residents of the colony could now become 0 waste producing community.

He called it “Rag-picker” scheme. It was a huge hit not only in the colony but in the entire city. He got media attention and attention from educational institutions. In spite of all this, he stayed grounded. His team of rag-pickers was not huge but with time he saw a tremendous transformation in them. They were now in better clothes, had watch on their wrists and they were in a position to buy small houses for themselves. He did everything possible to keep the scheme going till he was living in the colony.


Union Ministry of Environment in India released Solid Waste Management rules in 2016 which called for Waste segregation at source as a mandatory requirement. But a common man made this mandatory under “Rag-picker Scheme” at least 20 years earlier in IIP colony, Dehradun.


To do an act of this kind is courage. It takes patience, drive, will and most importantly it needs courage to stand up for an ignored section of society and do something for them.

This man is my Father. And this one act, inspired me to the core. I understood at a young age that without making a difference to your society, your life is practically worthless. Courage is not always about swords and fights, it is almost always about using a Pen to put your thoughts in words and then to use those words to create an action that makes a real difference.

COURAGE TO LEAVE THE SAFE HAVEN AND BE INDEPENDENT

“Courage is not always a roar. Sometimes, it is just that tiny little voice in your head that says – I can do it and I will try again tomorrow.”

Just today I was listening to the Amazon music station “Best of Bollywood in 2006” and Alexa played songs like – Mitwaa and kya mujhe pyar hai. And I got transported to that year of my life that was one of the major transitions for me.

I passed out of Engineering College in 2006 and was without any campus placement as our small little government college in the middle of the Himalayas had no such opportunities. All of my batchmates were moving to Bangalore to look for a job but my dad didn’t believe in living in PG’s and searching for a job. He wasn’t ready to send me to a city that had none of our relatives who could help me. So, the farthest I could go to was Mumbai at my sister’s place. 

I spent a month in Mumbai only to realize there were no opportunities that could suit me there. And I was also aware that my friends in Bangalore were writing entrances all over Bangalore. I spent hours at the internet café applying for jobs on the job portals. I had no laptop, no internet and a basic Nokia 1100 phone.

Finally, I got an interview call from Bangalore and I jumped at the opportunity. I told my parents and my sis that I have to take this and I went. I stayed with my friends in a PG for 3 days and did everything possible to participate in as many fresher’s job fairs as possible. During those 3 days, I got rejected at least twice in the interviews. I came back to Mumbai to stay for some more time but not a single call in that city came my way. Fortunately for me, I got an interview call from GE which I managed to postpone by a week and arrange for the tickets. This time I was sure that I wasn’t coming back to Mumbai. 

I packed my bags and told my family that I have to do this. I cannot keep travelling between the two cities and it wasn’t helping. That was when my dad decided to support me. He arranged for me to stay in one of CSIR guest houses. While on the train (Udyan Express) that took 24 hours from Mumbai to Bangalore – I was a nervous wreck. I was too anxious and spent most of my time crying and getting panicky. It had been 3-4 months since I was on a job hunt and nothing was working out. I had been rejected a few times already. I had been the topper in my college and I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t making it through. 

The CSIR guest house was an amazing place, a huge room just for me. I stayed in that guest house for 2 days and literally didn’t step out of the room even once because I was busy preparing for the interviews. Manipal Hospital on Old Airport Road was right opposite to the guest house and I just went there twice a day to eat food in the hospital canteen. 3rd day was my interview at GE which went inconclusive. 

After that, the challenge began as I had to find a place to live. I couldn’t stay in the Guest House for longer. None of my friend’s PG had a vacant place, so I just found a Working Women’s Hostel near my friend’s PG. The room had to be shared with 4 other girls and the first day I entered and saw my bed – there was a lizard on the mattress. But I had no choice now. I just drove the lizard away (it was a big deal because at home I wouldn’t sleep in the room that had a lizard) and slept on the mattress. I mostly ate at Shiv Sagar nearby which sold the North Indian meal Rs. 35/- then. It was more than enough for me. 

A few days later GE called me in again and the next round of interviews bore results finally. In those few days, I and my friends would travel all across Bangalore with copies of our resumes, dressed in formal clothes, travelling in local BMTC (non-AC) buses – we always bought the daily pass of Rs. 25/- and continued to hop from one job fair to another. 

Every night the uncertainty was killing. The next day was the same struggle. Even though we were going through a tough time, we found ways to keep ourselves elated. We sang to each other, danced at weird times in the night and did a lot to keep ourselves going. Life was tough, one night we had a theft in the hostel. Some random thief entered our room and took away all the cash and phones. That was the first time in my life that I felt terribly scared and felt like giving up. I didn’t care much about the lost cash and phone but felt worried about my own safety. All the stories of struggling girls getting raped were circling in my head. 

Finally, when the job came my way, it all got settled. I finally left that hostel and moved into a flat with one of my friends and life looked nicer and in control again. 

This is the story of 2006 and sometimes I just wonder – where did I get all that courage from to deal with this struggle? My parents were more than happy to just let me stay at home with them and arrange a groom for me. That would have been a convenient option, but that wasn’t acceptable to me. I craved to earn my own money and earn my independence. I didn’t want to live with family, I wanted to live that struggle because I really needed to know then – How much courage can I really muster? And I did surprise myself.