Great people don’t do what is obvious but they do things which can take your breath away.

Self exploration is the process which lets us get acquainted with the weapons we have to conquer the world.

Integrity might make you seem as a dumbo before the world; choose it nevertheless.

I AM IN THE SPOTLIGHT – Prerna

First of all, I would like to say, this idea of answering the questionnaire was quite unexpected. For me, it came as a surprise. When I came to know about this idea, I was like let’s see whose questionnaire comes into my account. So, I got Kalpana’s questionnaire. However, none of us knew whose questionnaire we will have and who’s going to have ours. But I am really happy with what I got.

1. Is there another side to you, whom we can only dream to know?

Well all of us have our private life. This private life is not shared with anybody. To world I am an outspoken, intimidating and bold person. My image is of a straightforward and I get to hear so many times that my attitude is harsh.

But only a few know how empathic and emotional I am. It really disturbs me to see any human or any animal in pain. I feel as if I am going through the pain. Every time I see people or animals in pain, the only question to the Almighty is, “Why can’t you take away their miseries?”

I like keeping this side of mine hidden. Only few can know but now I have answered this question and so it is no longer hidden.

2. The proudest moment of your life?

Actually, I am still waiting for it, I guess. There were some moments when I was proud. Recently, it was when I came to know, a guy started to write after getting inspired by my writings. And this really means a lot to me. 

3. Have you ever regretted helping someone, I mean anyone whom you realized later isn’t worthy of your time?

Yes, I did. Not once but several times. As I said, I am empathic and so I help those who are in need of help in every possible way. But it’s not necessary others will be like us. Initially, I do whatever I can do for the person who needs help. Eventually, I get to know the one whom I helped wasn’t worth it. It makes me sad at first but then I realize, not everyone is intended to stay in our life. 

4. If not present profession you are in, then what you would have been?

This question is really interesting. And I like it the most. During our childhood, all of us thought about being whatever seemed exciting and interesting to us. Well, I genuinely wanted to pursue law as my career but due to some circumstances, I couldn’t. Although I am fine with what I have now but I wanted to be a lawyer. 

Interestingly, when I was in my teenage, I wanted to be a student at Hogwarts- The school of witchcraft and wizardry (according to the famous Harry Potter series). Even now, when I am a grown-up, I still wish for the same. I know it’s fictional but I wish it was true. 

5. Your greatest weapon/trick up your sleeve that never fails you, whatever you do?

I think it’s my confidence and my fearlessness. These two behaviours of mine have always helped me in achieving what I truly wish for. Whenever I feel, I have no choice but to give my best, then my confidence and fearlessness never lets me down. 

6. If you are given a chance to change one thing about yourself, what it would be?

Actually, I love myself the way I am. I always have had pampered myself and loved all my flaws. I believe, my flaws are the most beautiful in me. Through my flaws, I get a feeling that I am strong and determined. So, I am not going to make any changes in my physique or appearance but yes if there really is a chance, I would like to change my impulsive attitude. I would change it into a very calm and serene attitude. 

7. Your Inspiration to write?

The credit for my inspiration to write goes to my urge to express my thoughts. I can never walk to a person and speak my heart. This is because I am a reserved person when it comes to expressing feelings. Only few can know and those few may or may not be always with me. Therefore I thought the best way to express is to write what I feel. Moreover, I loved reading, so it also counts to the inspiration. 

8. Intelligence (smartness) or honesty that could land you in soup- what’s your pick?

I would go for intelligence. An intelligent person is the one who can win over any situation. Intelligence always attracts me and I consider it to be the most prized possession. 

9. What is your biggest regret in life?

I think everybody has some regrets in their life. So do me. The biggest regret that I have is not one but two. The first regret that I have is: I had a pet named Bruno. Bruno was a small and an adorable puppy. To me, he was like a bundle of joy. The first time I saw him, I couldn’t stop myself from holding that little being into my arms. I used to cuddle him and together we would muffle in my blanket. One day, after feeding him I went on to the washroom without knowing that the door was open. Bruno went out and met with an accident. The poor being was slowly and excruciatingly moving towards death. All I could do was cry bitterly and pray for his painless and easy death. Had I been a bit cautious, my pet would have been with me. 

The second one is: It was the time when I was moving to a hostel for the first time. I hugged my parents and my brother before going. My grandmother was also there. She handed me a little bag full of some fruits and the snacks that she made for me. I touched her feet and took her blessing. I wanted to hug her but I don’t know why I didn’t. This was the last time I saw her alive. She died 22 days later due to cancer. This shook me and till today I feel sorry for not hugging her one last time. I could have told her, how much I love her and what does she means to me. But I didn’t. 

10. Which lane of time you want to visit and stay there forever?

Life is all about moving along with the time. It is not wise to hold on to our past no matter how beautiful it was. There were many beautiful phases in my life to which I am really very thankful, as well as there are many more to come. Also, we should look forward to what’s next. Therefore, instead of wishing to visit a lane of time and staying there forever, I would choose to wait for upcoming moments. However, sometimes I imagine how good it would it be to look at my writings and relive these days.

Thanks, Kalpana, your questions were really brain-storming. Though unintentionally but you succeeded in knowing my secrets. During answering these questions, I really felt like being in an interview. This was so nice.

I AM IN THE SPOTLIGHT – Kalpana

Avinash’s Questionnaire

1. What does life mean to you?

I don’t want to sound too preachy by quoting lines like “life is a book, read it”; “life is a journey, finish it” blah blah blah ( a secret: I used these lines while learning MS Office for practising fonts 😁).  To put it straightforward life can never be defined by a set of words, at least by me. It is only meant to live and register your experiences at every step.

2. What matters the most in life for you?

Happiness, as it makes life worthy of living.  I strongly believe in the concept of “sarvejana sukhino bhavantu” which means “everyone should be happy“.  Everyone includes my immediate family, my neighbours, fellow countrymen and so on. For we are social animals and can’t lead a peaceful life in solitude when others around us are unhappy, period!

3. How to discover the destiny of our life?

Let life take its own course! The only way to discover the destiny of your life is to make the next move and see how it unfolds.  One should constantly do his / her duty (Karma).  See, at this point I don’t know where I would be standing 5-10 years down the lane though I might be having few plans running but uncertainty hovers all along.  So shall I hold back myself from doing my part as I am oblivious about the future/ destiny/ the outcome? NO. Destiny is for a journey and no journey can be finished if you are stationary.

4. How do you shape your life to reach the goals of your life?

You should have asked this question to an achiever 😁 but nevertheless, I have a simple theory for this:

  • Identifying your weakness (mine is lethargy of higher order 😉) and acceptance is the key.
  • Be ready to accept/assimilate knowledge from everywhere. Learning should be a never-ending process.

5. How do you retreat your regret?

I ask a simple question “can I change anything?” If the answer is yes then I must do it instead of sulking in a corner and if no then I should better go to bed to avoid dark circles thinking over spilt milk. 😁

6. Why do I need God when I have everything?

Let “Everything” you have, formulate air and water for you to survive, then you surely won’t need God.  Do get back to me with your answer.

“God is the way of life”.

7. Is pleasure the ultimate meaning of life for you? 

Definition of pleasure differs from person to person.  For me, pleasure (Ananda) is a state of mind where materialistic gain or loss doesn’t impact you.  It’s a point of indifference towards worldly matters and a constant pursuit of the light guiding us. If you ask me then I won’t hesitate to say “Yes”, Yes pleasure is the ultimate meaning of life.

8. Is Godliness possible to maintain in earthly life or it is illusionary?

It’s important to define what’s my understanding of Godliness – wish good for others, do good in your capacity, so I believe it’s definitely possible on this earth in this abode.

9. Can integrity be compromised?

Absolutely Not. Let me give you a simple example… My father used to say that he came across people in his life who proposed to give money to him to know the status of their case files or to give a push to the same (though a handful) but he refused as politely as he could.  He believed money earned in scrupulous ways could buy you fortunes but the serenity of soul and peace of mind goes in smoke.  You can’t sleep without the fear of being caught, guilt makes its way for sure into your heart which is unhealthy.  Then why trend that way?

Hope you got the answer! Integrity is a MUST.  Had integrity not been an integral part of our life then there would be no difference between how we see Dr. Abdul Kalaam and Vijay Malya, the scam master, isn’t it?

10. What can I carry after my death?

I surely can’t carry anything but only leave. A name to be remembered – with love or hatred depends upon the course of my journey. I surely want to leave many parables to be talked about.

Avinash! I can bet my life that this is the most difficult questionnaire I have ever answered.  It reflects your zest for life. Kudos to you.

THE ADULTERATION OF VALUES

Sugar was found mixed with fine plastic crystals that naked eye can’t see. However, if sugar with crystals is added to cold water, it will not dissolve and settle at the surface of the container. If this test is done with milk or tea, the result may not be conclusive as even adulterated sugar gets dissolved.

White chilli powder is dyed with ‘sudan red‘, an artificial dye to turn it into an expensive red chilli powder. Whole red chillies are adulterated with coal tar to enhance their appearance.

Adding glucose, dextrose, molasses, sugar syrup, invert sugar, flour, corn syrup, starch, or any other similar product, other than floral nectar to honey, adulterates it.

Adulterated milk is what we end up drinking these days. Other contaminants like urea, starch, glucose, formalin along with detergent are used as adulterants. These adulterants are used to increase the thickness and viscosity of the milk as well as to preserve it for a longer period.

When we hear the term ‘adulteration’, the imagery that immediately appears before us is that of adulterated food products. The word ‘adulteration’ comes from the Latin word adulterare which means corrupt. More than any other thing, the word ‘adulteration’ aptly applies to a degradation/corruption of value systems.

Civilizations have become advanced. Technological know-how is on the rise. Awareness levels have increased. Independence has increased. Economy has shot up. But, the latitude of acceptance has come down. Tolerance levels have plummeted. Conditions have taken the place of trust. Virtual relationships have taken the place of real-world relationships. With dysfunctional and single-parent families on the rise, the definition of family is gradually getting skewed. Lust has replaced love. Corruption has become a part of life – shell out money and your work is easily done without delay.

A group of teenagers came to me with the question, “Do values and integrity matter in this day and age?” I paused for some time before answering them, thinking that we are living in times where the very existence of values and integrity is being questioned! The information explosion at the click of a mouse, the lure of reaching heights of accomplishments, settling for mediocrity in place of excellence with a ‘chalta hai’ attitude has diluted the desire to conform to existing values.

We are living at times where a substitute can be found for almost everything. Live-in relationships as substitutes for families, internet games in place of the sweat and laughter of playing on playgrounds, extra-matrital relationships in place of the warmth of one’s own spouse – you think of it and you can list the gross adulteration.

Not that such things never ever happened previously. While the rarity of such occurrences in the past made people startle, the rarity of such incidents not occurring today, makes one marvel.

No matter how powerful the pull of the world may be, if our equation with the Almighty is strong, the likelihood of getting sucked into this whirlwind of adulterated values will be lesser. Yes, we may end up being victims to it all for the stand we take, but our conscience would remain clear of not victimizing anyone or ourselves of such dilution.

BREAK-UP WITH YOUR SCALE OF MEASURING MISTAKES

What a week!!!  All the write-up’s from my co-authors this week were very thought provoking. I loved reading each one of the articles…

All of us have one understanding which is similar, that being honest is the way to integrity and its very hard to be able to do it. A lot of us agree to the fact that it is a lot of struggle to maintain integrity. It has a lot to do with our upbringing.

As children all of us made some mistakes – may it be small lies we had to say, or stealing chocolates  or cheating in games or exams. As we grew up sabotage, not showing up to work on time, gossiping, intentionally working slowly, procrastination become part of our life style.

It’s very important for parents and teachers to know how something needs to be taught in such a way that one learns the gist of it. Parents overlook some acts of children marking them ‘mischievous’, like stealing a candy. When this happens once or twice in the vicinity of our home, it’s perceived as being an acceptable behavior. Imagine our kid doing the same thing at a friend’s house or a grocery store, immediately we mark the act as a wrong doing.

What we essentially are teaching our kids, is its all OK to do the same act at our home but not else where. So, we are the ones tying the situation or place or people effected by the act, to the scale of the wrong doing or marking it right or wrong.

Do kids have the ability to understand why we do this? No, they don’t. They don’t understand the difference between being mischievous or making a mistake. For them everything is an act of fun… Stealing candy is adventurous… Copying in an exam is an easy way to build their grade. They choose easy path to escape from doing all the hard-work. 

As elders, we always try to set examples and expect our children to learn from them. Parents leading by an example may not always help. It’s not about being strict and objecting them at their very first mistake. Let them have the liberty to choose what is right or wrong. We should be watchful on them and be the guidelines to make them better at making apt decisions.

Once I heard about a teacher’s training program on Child Psychology. The faculty asked the teachers what they think about the right age of a child when the parents should start correcting and disciplining them… The teachers gave different ages but not the correct age. The average guesses were not even close. Then the faculty disclosed the age as 6 months to be a child’s right age from when he/she should be disciplined. Everybody were stunned hearing that. So discipline is essential at a very early age of a child to teach the right thing. 

Integrity is born in the mind and heart of a person. It comes from who you really are and what you believe about right and wrong, good and evil. And integrity is not exhibited through one act of goodness, but in your whole character.

“The thought manifests the word;
The word manifests the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character;
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let them spring forth from love
Born out of compassion for all beings.
As the shadow follows the body, as we think, so we become.”
Juan Mascaró