BOREDOM PROMPTED ME TO EXPLORE

Bearing a tag – ‘Fragile: Handle with Care‘, I lived my whole life till I stepped on the soil of the City of Joy – Kolkata in the year 2001. Till then I had lived my life amidst close relatives and family in a very cozy and warm atmosphere. I had never done anything on my own or went outside alone. But in Kolkata, the challenges were new and difficult for me to face. After office time I had nothing to do but to read books, write something or study Bible. There was no one to speak with, no one to play anything or nothing to do that would entertain me, or nowhere to go as I had no idea about this new city and I was all alone. Soon, I was dragged into a depressive shell called Boredom.

In those initial days at Kolkata, weekdays were manageable as I kept myself busy at the office during the day time till 6 PM and somehow managed the evenings till bedtime. Sundays were also okay as there were church services till afternoon which kept me engaged. But Saturdays were worst. There were no office or church services on Saturdays except my lonely world called, Boredom.

Every time I woke up on a Saturday morning, I had one worry, ‘How to finish this day as soon as possible?’ But every time, I ended up dwelling in that uncomfortable shell called, Boredom without stepping out of my comfort zone.

But one Saturday, I decided otherwise. I wanted to break free by breaking the shell of Fear and Boredom within which I had been dwelling for a long time. I decided to take that first step in my life by stepping out of my dwelling place called Boredom which actually prompted me to go out and explore; explore something new and challenging for me at that moment of my life, something I had never done before on my own.

I remember, I told my mom, “I am going out to roam and around the city as I am feeling so bored”. My mom was aware of the plight of a 25-year-old man who had been spending all his life with a lot of restrictions and obstructions which had actually cringed him in a dungeon called, Boredom.

I took a rickshaw and went till the main road and took a taxi from there. When the taxi driver asked me where to go, I replied, “I don’t know. Take me wherever you think best for me to feel elated and happy but within Rs. 200, I should be here at this place, safe and sound.” Rs. 200 was like Rs.2000 for me at that particular moment and I had that much only with me to pay, attempting to kill Fear and Boredom in one go.

The taxi driver was a compassionate man. He understood my heart and responded well, “You must have already known and seen Howrah bridge, so I will take you to another bridge which is a new one and called, Vidyasagar Setu”. I nodded without saying a word as my heart responded to him loudly, “Thank you! But know that, I am at your mercy“.

He took me there, on that bridge which was way beautiful than any other bridge that I had ever seen till that time. When he brought me back to my place, I remember, I paid him Rs.170.00 but we both were extremely happy which were priceless. I was happy for taking the first step to come out of my Boredom and explore the city all alone for the first time, and he was happy for being that change agent in my life.

Captured by me: The road leading to Vidyasagar Setu

Many years later, when I had the opportunity to capture the beautiful Vidyasagar Setu, I remembered how I explored it in 2001, all by myself.

Captured by me: A glimpse of Vidyasagar Setu

I had been to Vidyasagar Setu a number of times in the last 20 years of my life in Kolkata but that first trip to Vidyasagar Setu will always be my favourite one till the end.

Captured by me: Crossing over the beautiful Vidyasagar Setu

Every boredom prompts something to explore. If your boredom doesn’t prompt you to explore then remember you are not bored but actually enjoying where you are.

Today, due to my health condition, I don’t go out much but I found other avenues or have explored something else to get out of my boredom. But all these mini or big explorations have always made me happy and kept me joyful instead of dwelling in depression and boredom. And I will quote that same Bible verse again which has always encouraged and prompted me to explore – “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” We can not make use of our ideas, intellect when we are dead. We can utilise them only when we are alive and our God wants us to be happy and joyous in life, kicking off a life of grumbling and complaints. With this thought in my mind, I had initiated and gave birth to my child – Candles in 2006 and I am so happy to write this article today, which is the 2000th post published on Candles Online.

So friends! Never dwell in depression or boredom but be prompt to take the first step and come out of that shell called, Fear and Boredom to lead a joyful and cheerful life.

Stay blessed!

WHAT’S THERE IN A NAME

When I was about 10 years old, my parents and I happened to attend a wedding ceremony at my native place. Owing to the fact that we had visited our native after years, family friends and relatives – old and young were swarming from all directions to my parents. I had seen some of them when I was a kid and I could instantly recognize their face and recollect the names. The air buzzed with greetings and exchange of pleasantries like how it happens in a typical get-together. In the end, when the ceremony was over and it all fell quiet, my mom exclaimed, ‘my, you do remember people!’, at that very moment it dawned upon me that I really am gifted with this quirky but extremely useful talent, and that is remembering names of people around me.  

I catch the name of a person in the first meeting and almost never forget it. When I was in college, it took me less than a week to remember the names and faces of my fellow students in a class of 70. Now when I’ve tread into the real world, I’ve retained the names of my peers and seniors since the very first introduction. And not only that, I could think of countless instances when my friends have come to me asking the name of a senior in THEIR team which they had once mentioned to me but is now evading their mind palaces. I oblige every time.

Remembering people’s names might sound like a trivial feat prima facie, but it has greatly helped me in building my social skills. As the saying goes “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. So, nothing warms someone up to you as much as when you address them with their name (with a smile on your face, of course!). It increases your likeability. It makes people feel valued, and this can a long way in building a harmonious relationship with them. Also, not to mention, it reduces awkward encounters by several times. For someone in a profession like journalism or a client-facing job like sales and marketing, this is the best skill to strive for.

I believe I’ve successfully proven that remembering names is a crucial skill. Just think of my elation when I realized that this is the hidden talent I possess!

FOODICTED

Out of all the pleasures in the universe, there is a pleasure that stirs up my senses, refreshes my insides and satiates the hunger bubbling in me literally. The pleasure that is derived from the joy of cooking and primarily the love for food found its way into my heart a very long time ago when I was just stepping into the shoes of my teenage self. That I was a big-time foodie was known to me much longer than ever but I became a food addict when I discovered that the path to food heaven lay in learning the tricks of the trade of cooking. Initially I was of this thought that I would cook only to fill my belly but gradually I just couldn’t figure how this guilty pleasure became a passion. I would call this definitely a hidden talent as not many people are aware of it except a few of those who have got a taste of my handiwork.

Years ago my first cooking stint began in my kitchen where I was preparing for my final Home Science practical examinations, the final accomplishment of which I am still proud of. I passed with flying colours and praises alike thus giving me a boost to explore the possibilities in the world of food if at least at home. I started with collecting recipes for all kinds of cuisines and dishes and there were times when my dear mother brought out my talent in front of people visiting our house by entrusting me with responsibility of the kitchen along with my sister. There were innumerable things that I didn’t know about and which were impossible to learn just by looking up recipes. I learnt a great deal from my sister including the cooking time, standing time, and which ingredient goes with what, and the art of making the perfect round chapatis and a lot more. The basic knowledge is always an igniting factor which stays inherent even if you experiment with your cooking.

The art of cooking is not easy to master. One needs to be aware of the texture, the palate and the technique of cooking to be a forerunner. Lately I have shifted my focus towards baking which is again a higher form of art. I feel mesmerized by the smell of baked goods and therefore the venturing into this field. Again it involves science, perfect measurement of ingredients and time. Well, there can never be a perfect baking or cooking if there is no love involved. To me, cooking is an expression of love. The cook brings soul to the recipe and that is how it transforms into a piece of art. Learning about different styles of cooking, different cuisines and ingredients has really helped to create praiseworthy dishes. I get high just by seeing the food in my pan change its colour and exhibiting the fascinating aroma. The joy that I see in people when they bite into the dish that has been made gives me a delight that has no bounds.

However I have not been able to channelize my energy in this direction because of professional pursuits and there is a dire urge in me to go forward with what I love more than what is ideal. I nourish this dream to serve happiness, love and peace in bowls and platters but I still need to prepare and learn a lot to make that happen.

I believe in this statement that no one is born a great cook but is made by doing. You may burn yourself, cut yourself … yes that has happened to me several times but it is by failing miserably that you learn to rise up. Cooking to me is more than ingredients, recipes and cooking it is more about harnessing imagination, empowerment and above all creativity. Well I would like to thank my forefathers for discovering fire which is indeed one of the best things ever discovered. It has made my life worth enjoying! But besides playing with fire I am learning the freezing technique as well. A time arrives when all you want to do is what you are mostly interested in. Finding out what you are passionate about and tremendously staying interested in it is what makes you a go-getter. You truly need some TLC for yourself if you need to contribute the same amount to the masses. Let not your talents stay put in your closets and as far as budding chefs and cooks like me are concerned I would leave you with this dialogue from the movie RATATOUILLE, “Anybody can cook, but only the fearless can be great”. Bring it on!

1, 2 – CHA CHA CHA, LET’S DANCE

Hello Everyone,

December 2006, party in the office and I was pretty excited because it was my first.  After feeling shy to open up, my feet succumbed to the beats of the music and I did hit the “Dance Floor”. Party was over, turn the page to the next day in office – people started recognising me for the first time and for a reason other than my work. “Is she the new girl from phase two who danced yesterday?”, “Is she the one who danced yesterday? – this is how they wanted to be sure, this is how people outside my team and block started to recognise me (I became pretty popular 😋). That was because of my “Dance” and I enjoyed every bit of that appreciation and popularity (me being a human have my own follies, appreciation do flatter me😉).

And this is not just one occasion in my life, I have incidents (read parties, celebrations, friends get-together etc.)  where my moves were applauded.

I loved dancing since the day I knew about it. But could never pursue it. I don’t regret it because that’s the way my course of life was shaped up.

Dance for me is a way to be happy: There was a time (precisely 2006-2009) when I used to work as a collection executive for a banking firm, everyday after returning to home, at the end of every stressful day at office I would simply switch on the music channel on television and let my hair down and flow with the beats. That period of barely ten to fifteen minutes would lead to flushing out negativity, release stress and not to mention the perfect exercise it was.   And when stress is at bay I am definitely a happy soul, isn’t it?IMG-20170726-WA0023

Dance – Dream:  Well I don’t want to mince words and make it sound like “dance is my passion”.  No, it’s not and I am honest about it.  Had it been passion then I would have pressed hard to acquire professional training in dancing.  But it’s still my love not to the level of obsession. And for the dreamy person I am, I literally dream that I am dancing when physically it’s not possible. In my head when I dance there’s a full setup around along with people and it’s only me who hold everyone’s attention. And the bliss that I enjoy in that music trans is evident for sure on my face. If you have experienced it then you know what I am talking about 😀.

I know I don’t have those perfect moves of those learned ones, I am not that flexible but I enjoy what I do.  I dance for myself and dance (whenever I can) like there’s no tomorrow. I am not sure whether I am talented or not and that makes least difference to me but till the time I can dance I would and would never hide it. And would love to learn it some day to have gratification of  “Me” in me and it doesn’t matter at what age.

DON’T HIDE THEM!

Something which is hidden ought to be discovered and put to some use, because you never know the hidden jewel might be the brightest of all!

We all have talents inside us and some of us have a package of talents in them. Discovering them and putting them into some good use is the ultimate goal.

When I was about 11 or 12, i.e. during my ‘tween’ years I started watching people closely just as all other kids do during this age. My closed circle included only my family because my friends shared the same position. So I used to watch my family members closely. My older brother was at his teens and he already had developed his interests on various things. Singing was one of them. He would play loud music and sing along and he would write down the lyrics. He was pretty good at that. Watching him do this I started singing too and within no time I fell in love with music. I would listen to the beats and try to sing along and wished that my voice would someday be like one of those singers whom I used to listen. The passion developed and with time I started singing at the church on Sundays. Later when I went to college, I joined the college choir and had one of the most amazing experiences visiting other colleges and churches and singing in front of them. I count those moments very precious in life.

But the sailing was not always smooth. There were times I did not justify songs (as I am not a trained singer)and was depreciated. I felt I am not a professional and I should quit singing in front of the crowd but some things give us so much  pleasure that quitting  them makes our lives void. So no matter how bad a singer I am or how good I am I choose to follow it and I still sing at the church and am appreciated by my family and friends. Over the years I have learnt more about music and singing and I thank God I didn’t give up just because at times I sounded off beat.

So here’s the message for you guys out there, “You might be good at something but you might not be sure about it. Don’t hide it! Let go and see where it takes you. Of course the initial stages where your talent is just developing, it will be difficult but with time it will all fit in and not just fit in, but bloom if you give it a chance. May it be cooking, sewing, singing, dancing, writing or anything else, don’t hide them within you!”

“Your talent is God’s gift to you, what you do with it is your gift back to God.”

DO YOU KNOW YOUR DREAMS?

Dream is something that keeps you awake. Dream is that spark inside every person that we call Passion; it is something that keeps us alive and makes a meaning out of our lives. Without dreams there would be no difference between humans and animals.

doubt-623847_1280It is true that most of us do not get a chance or opportunity to live our dreams, but the bigger problem is that many of us do not even know what is it that they are really passionate about? Do you know what is it that you are really passionate about?

I remember when I was 24, I joined an NGO that was working on creating awareness on Child Sexual Abuse. I did a course with them that certified me as a Sex Education Counsellor. While talking to my coach in the course, I told her that I am deeply worried because I am 24 and I don’t think I love my job and I have no clue what exactly do I want to do in my life. And she gave me a reply that I am going to remember forever. She said, “Don’t worry, I am 49 and I still don’t what exactly I want to do in my life. Life is a journey and you will continue to discover new things in life that will excite you. You will continue to weave new dreams for yourself. Till you are in that exploration mode, you will continue to grow. So, don’t worry about what is it you want to do in life. Do whatever makes you feel good and you will create new and bigger dreams each day.”

I continued to work with that NGO for a couple of years and had tremendous learnings. But the most important of them was that our dreams are always evolving and growing. Do not restrict yourself to the dreams that you saw as a child. Yes, start with them and continue to explore what more the world has to offer you. There is no end or limitations to the amount of the opportunities available today.

I love writing and so I did some freelance writing work for a year or so, but it did not make me feel fulfilling. Yes, I was writing but I was writing stuff that was not inspirational. That is when I realized that my interest for writing stems from my interest in counselling people and in inspiring them. I realized that I would like to do that instead of write for some business and earn money out of it. That is when I started blogging and sometime earlier joined Candles Online because the vision of Candles really called out to me.

human-767000_1280There are cases when you discover your passion from the darkest of your time. When you face failures and struggle in life, you see something that you would want to pursue throughout your life and it becomes your passion. So, don’t limit your dreams to just your hobbies. Go full out and play them; you never know which passion of yours will be staring at you in your face. Grab every opportunity available, do not worry about time; you will always make time for your dreams.

I invite you to think right now – what is it that I am/was passionate about? If you can think of at least 2-5 things, you are still in touch with your dreams. If you can’t, then my friend, it is high time to take a break from life and think of your dreams. If you say that you are already living your dream, then I would invite you to think further and beyond of what you have achieved; think of the next goal, next vision and next dream.

Just take one little step towards your passion and you will be surprised how life will throw bundle of opportunities your way.

Prabhjot