Monday, March 31, 2008

Above this

So... Above this, I have decided to come out of my shell and put up slightly personal stuff (of course, again much sifted through stuff). If you get who, what, where and when, you get... and if you don't... keep guessing 'cause I ain't tellin' ;)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Team Sports

Basketball. The game that I am so very passionate about. Not only because it is a great sport, but also because it helps me keep fit, and is a great stress buster, but most importantly, because it is a team sport.

Being part of a team and playing basketball for nine years of my life has defined a large part of who I am today. Not because of the wins or the losses only, but because I had to be a team player.

There are many things I learnt, being on a basketball team. One of them was discipline. Discipline to be punctual, discipline to concentrate on the ultimate goal – to convert a shot. Discipline also goes hand-in-hand with dedication and diplomacy. You can become the perfect team player if you’re a person who is disciplined, dedicated and diplomatic.

There have been innumerable instances when I’ve been in teams where there were people I didn’t get along well with. There have been the occasional times when I’ve lost my temper, when I’ve made mistakes, when I’ve made a bad judgment, and my teammates have had to cover for me. There have also been times when my teammates have made mistakes, and I’ve had to watch their backs. This comes with coordination and understanding, and also anticipation skills. It is in these situations that one has to learn how to be diplomatic because what you say can motivate or de-motivate a person instantly, which is reflected in the game.

A team game is all about masking the loopholes to display perfection. Nobody is perfect, and everybody has their differences. The most important and valuable quality that a team sport builds into your personality is the ability to coalesce and move as one, to see how someone on your team will benefit because of something that you do, which helps your team score.

Being a single unit is the challenge, and that is where your chance to prove just how great a team player you are is presented to you. Playing a team sport is almost like leading your life in those forty minutes on court.

A team sport makes one a team player, and prepares one for life. Without having had the opportunity to play a team sport, my life would definitely have been very incomplete.

Lengthening Human Life

One of man’s most fruitful ventures has been to lengthen human life. With the amount of research that’s being done in the medical and scientific fields, it probably won’t be too long before human beings become invincible.

Over time, medicines have helped people overcome deathly illnesses, and also, to a large extent, man has managed to fool nature’s rule of survival of the fittest and has escaped mass epidemics unscathed. The only things that seem to be stopping him are natural disasters and the natural life age limit.

Even though a longer life may seem like a boon, it probably would not be so. For one, you would keep growing older and not younger, and even if you were permanently young and invincible, you would get bored of it. And, there would no longer be a constant cycle to life, because, to keep the population under control, people will probably be born without reproductory organs so as to keep the same people living comfortably in their own space. And lack of variety definitely gets monotonous.

Also, with the current state of the planet, it would probably be a better option to die early rather than love a longer life and watch the world deteriorate. Because the deterioration is not even gradual anymore, anyone would agree. The world is changing at a really rapid pace – global warming, increase in natural disasters, and so forth. They are all only signs, minor trailers of what’s in store for us within the next two decades.

Thus, as brilliant an idea as it might seem, and as many opportunities as it may provide, lengthening human life is not the best idea, and that is my personal opinion.

Introvert or Extrovert

Back in college, one of my core subjects was psychology. We had many tests to determine various aspects of our personality, and one of them was to decide if you were an introvert or an extrovert. My results proved me to be a healthy extrovert.

An extrovert is a person who is characterized by extroversion; a person concerned primarily with the physical and social environment or an outgoing, gregarious person according to the dictionary.
On the other hand, an introvert is a person who is a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings, or a shy person; according to the dictionary.

I know introverts, even though I am an extrovert. It’s good to be able to see both sides of the coin. I am happy being an extrovert, although in some ways, I am an introvert too. Foe example, I don’t open emotionally very easily with people, and with most people, I need time to get comfortable.

In fact introvert and extrovert are two extremes. Everybody (nearly) can be classified as an ambivert, which is a balance of both. That, of course, explains why an extrovert is an introvert in some ways, and vice versa. We all need to find that perfect balance that suits us in life. As long as we’re happy with who we are, it doesn’t make a difference if we’re introverts or extroverts.

Experiencing Another Culture

If I was American instead of Indian, would I be the same person? If I were Spanish, what would my name be? If I were French, would I covet Paris?

Being Indian, I have had the privilege of being able to experience the variations within the Indian culture. Fortunately, I have also had the opportunity to make some friends who are not Indian, and are from various parts of the world; there’s my Canadian friend, my German friends, my ½ Iranian friend, my Singaporean friend, my French friends and my British friends. This does not include Indians who’re living outside India or were born and brought up outside Indian territory.

I am very intrigued by people who are from different cultures, different backgrounds, and with completely different views on life. It’s so interesting to learn about the differences between their lifestyle and my lifestyle. I like to learn about them with am open mine, objectively, because what they believe in and who they are because of it, makes them so different from me.

I love finding out what they think, how they feel experiencing a different culture – the diverse Indian culture at that. What do they think of the people, the food, the traffic? Wouldn’t it be the most amazing thing to be able to read the thoughts of people who step into your country for the first time – Awe? Disgust? Amazement? Amusement?

Unfortunately for me, I have not visited any other place other than Singapore that’s outside of India. I would love to travel, to experience different cultures, interact with people in their own land of comfort. With my limited perception of what people who come to India think of India, I can’t draw any conclusions of what people envision India as. Do all Pakistanis hate India? Do Sri Lankan people think of us as similar to them? Do people of Saudi Arabia think we’re backward? Do people of China think we’re an overpopulated country? Do Africans think we’re racist?

In fact, the question many times is even – do people think India is still largely a village or filled with jungles and people riding elephants; a land of snake charmers every few feet? We all have our own perceptions of every country based on what we learn and how much we get to see of it.

What is most important though, is to enjoy it all to the best of your ability; being open minded and respectful when experiencing another culture.

An important person

Each and every one of us is an important person – important to somebody or the other, in some way or the other, for a specific period of time.

You are an important person because you are somebody’s parent, teacher, daughter, nephew, cousin or friend. You are important to all these people, and also perhaps to your dog. But what is most fascinating is that you’re an important part of the threads that connect people. After a point of time, you understand that you are impacting someone’s life even without knowing it. Because one person you know might, through a long chain of people who are not connected to you at all, know your best friend. And it is a small world, and what goes around does come around.

My personal belief is, that at some point or the other, you will realize the impact you have had on something, and maybe without knowing it, how important you were to someone, or in a particular situation. It’s not “written” in a book that ‘at this and this time, you will meet this person on whom you will have such and such impact’. Rather, it is determined by the choices you make in life, and the paths you choose to take. It is determined by how you do things, who you know, how you know them and how long you’ve known them. This is something I have almost come upon by chance, by living life, falling, learning; and it’s not ‘philosophy’. Either way, the most important thing to remember, is that you are an important person.

An Important Event

Is a wedding an important event? For most people, it is. In fact, it is for almost everyone. People plan their weddings years before they have even found somebody to get married to. Many people can even picture their wedding in their heads – they have a vague idea of what kind of wedding they want to have, and what kind of man or woman they want to be with for the rest of their lives.

Birth of a child (especially a first child) is an important event for everybody too, and an occasion you cherish. I have had many important days, like getting my first job, or my first day of college and so on.

But for me, one of the most important and memorable days of my life would be, the day my sister was born. The entire time during which my mother was pregnant, when I kept changing my mind about whether I wanted a younger brother or sister, right until the day I first saw my little sister at the hospital was the most important event of my life. Seeing her there, plump and asleep, with fingers, toes, and fingernails oh-so-tiny and delicate, brought me a kind of happiness I had never known before.

Everyone has had or will have an important event that they will cherish, no matter what. To me, the birth of my sister (and all the time I spent with her from then on) was one of the most important events of my life.

An Environmentalist

Global warming is becoming a growing concern. There are unpredictable natural disasters everywhere. Today, something you do without thinking in your house could be one of the causes for a hurricane in Oman. Not shutting a tap properly can cause a flood where you are, but can deprive another place if water for survival. There are few people who think about things they do before doing them, with the health of the earth in mind.

An environmentalist is not necessarily a person who goes all over the country with a backpack, cleaning, putting up fliers and preaching. An environmentalist is merely a person who is aware of the fact that the little things we do without thinking adversely affect the planet.

I, as an environmentalist, do a few things such as not littering, shutting running taps wherever I go, I advice people not to litter, I get my vehicles emission tested… little things like this that may not seem like they make much difference, but if you do put all the small things together, they do. Like they say, and ocean is made of millions of tiny droplets of water.

All we need to do is be a little conscious of what we can do to make the world a better place, to use a cliché. After all, when you think about it, what little things we each do does add up, and we all make a difference sometimes even without realizing it. You see, being an environmentalist is not difficult at all.

A Successful Person

What defines a successful person? The clothes he wears? The money he has? The company he keeps? I think the above do play a role in measuring the success a person has had, but these do not necessarily define success. To me, success is happiness. If I am happy doing whatever it is I am doing, then I’m bound to have become happy and grown to like it more because it made me feel successful. When you achieve your dreams, you are successful. Even if, through the journey of life, your dreams kept changing, and you went ahead to achieve them, you have been successful. Success is determined by growth. And reaching a point where you claim to be successful does not mean you stop growing. In fact, success is incessant growth. Because once you are stagnant, you stop being happy, and if you are not happy, then you can’t possibly be successful.

It may sound like a very ideal and almost cliché thing to say, but when you think of all the people who are actually successful, it may not be because they are the richest people in the world. A tea stall boy in India is successful if he passes his twelfth grade with flying colors. That’s what success is all about.

People may not look at me and, especially because I’m young, say that I am successful. But I think I have been, because I managed to sketch out some dreams for myself, and I have grown closer to achieving them. Yet, there is room for growth. And I am happy. I am a successful person.

A change in Attitude

For five years of my college life, I had worked hard only before the exams began, and otherwise I was just fooling around, making friends, relaxing, enjoying life, and basically taking it easy. I never had to be serious about anything, really. And the fact that the lifestyle I was leading never caused anybody any problems, and in fact, worked great for me, I grew extremely comfortable in it, and I changed, my attitude evolved to suit it.

And then, I finished college and started working. First, for a small documentary film making company, and then for Google. In my time at the documentary firm, I never felt the need to behave any differently from how I had been in college, and I can’t say I did great work, but I did a good amount of good work. But three months later, when I shifted to Google, I realized that when Google said “You can be serious without a suit”, it meant – bottom-line – be serious.

It took me a while before I understood that another change in attitude was in order. During this time, my performance varied. It rose and fell, creating peaks on my graph, indicating that I was capable of good work, but I was lazy too. It was time for me to adapt to the work culture and get serious. I could not afford to lead a life of not caring any longer. My attitude to life has been changing slowly. And it’s definitely a good thing!

Women in Military Combat

When I was young, I wanted to join the air force; be a combat pilot. Just imagining myself in the air in one of those beautiful fighter planes used to give me an inexplicable thrill.

Until one day, I found out that (in India) women are not allowed to fly combat planes. The reasons given were – “The plane is suited for the physique of a man, and besides, women are biologically not in a position to handle that kind of pressure, even more so when they are going through their period cycle.

Although I am no feminist, I fail to see the logic in that reasoning. Life does not stop for women in every other respect when they go through their cycles. In fact, they’re expected to carry on as they generally would. What makes flying combat planes so different?

Besides, more than anything else, it’s a matter of choice. Man or woman, combat fighting should not be forced. It is very honorable to be in the military, and a matter of pride to have fought for your country. If it is forced on anybody, it is plain painful. Whether the participants in military combat are male or female, the bottom line is that they must at least have the choice.

Women in military combat may not be commonplace, but there are more and more women who’re physically and mentally strong, and are eager to prove that they can be just as aggressive as anyone on the battlefield. And also, it requires a lot more character and courage for a woman who has been suppressed for so many years to take a step as great as this one, and yet, hold her ground.

Violence in Movies

The amount of violence shown in movies is almost directly proportional to the violence in real life. And many movies are true stories, showing real life violence on reel. Whether or not violence shown in movies has caused an increase in the amount of violence in real life is debatable, but one thing is for sure – they are related.

Over the years, the amount of violence we see in the movies has increased. Commercial films never showed violent and gory scenes in as much detail fifteen years ago, as they do now. This has probably been the reason for people getting desensitized to violence. People can tolerate watching more blood spill, more people injured, tortured or killed nowadays. This is not to say that there weren’t movies about violence made; there were. For example, ‘Life is Beautiful’, which is a film about the Holocaust, possibly one of the most violent events in history, but the audience does not see and bloodshed. But, if I were to take an example of another movie in today’s age that was about something violent, an example would be ‘Blood Diamond’. Of course, there are movies even today, that have disguised violence, but they are few.

These days, there aren’t too many movies that are “too violent” to watch, because repeated exposure to violent movies, and to violence in life itself has increased the peoples’ threshold for tolerance of violence by degrees. There is probably no way of stopping this vicious circle of violence in movies connecting with violence in real life, but it should not become the cause for us being absolutely nonchalant about somebody who’s badly hurt and needs help.


Time is relative. It flies by when we are at the peak of our happiness, and it crawls by, painfully slow when we’re having a bad day. If I were to build a time machine considering this dynamism of time, rather than by using the standard ticking of the hands of the clock, then I would make sure to elongate the ‘good times’ because they get over too quickly.

Wise people say that time heals everything. Thus, our experiences in measurable time, especially the bad ones, are gradually tucked away in the back of the mind, only to be brought forth to relish moments of nostalgia.

Yet, time fools memory. Some of my best moments in life I have almost forgotten. There are impressions life still pictures and videos in my mind that I have to make an effort to remember. Things begin to overlap. One set of memories flows into another and also joined by things that are imaginary. And with all the swirling pictures and episodes, a lot of things become difficult to remember correctly. Sometimes you even surprise yourself because you could remember, in all its detail, an incident that occurred more than a decade ago accurately even though you can’t, for the life of you, remember where you kept that pen you were writing with fifteen minutes ago.

At the same time, you understand yourself better with time, and the ‘good times’ you had can be your best companion.

Man has been trying, almost forever, to capture time, control it. But the closest any of us would possibly come to doing that is, capture the memories in our heads and play them back and forth and jumble up time.


I have grown with the television. It first came to India around the time that I was born, so I have even lived in a house where there was no TV, though after a point the TV became something everybody had, so imagining a house without a TV is so hard.

I have seen the TV grow from a huge bulky box with antennae to the sleek, awesome LCD screens of today. I have seen the TV grow from DD1 and DD2 to 500 TV channels on Satellite Network Television. I have seen in grow. I have seen it grow from ‘button on the telly’ operate to remote control. It has metamorphosed from the tiny box to the Home Theatre System.

And we too have grown along with the television; grown from that crazy phase of addiction to ‘the idiot box’ (remember Roald Dahl’s poem ‘On Television’ from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and how everybody loved it because it told the story of the television in every household at that point?) to the ‘Aah, so who feels like channel surfing today?’. The TV has become so common that it is merely another piece of furniture, a common must-have article in the house. In fact, it will soon probably become a fashion not to have a television set at home!

Also, people are too ga-ga over the computer now for the television to hold their interest any longer. Although, one must admit, that however old the television gets, it is one of the ‘coolest’ inventions of mankind!


Regret is pointless. Regrets only exist because we look back and think about how we could have done something differently. Why I say regrets are pointless is because unlike the greatest tool in a computer, CTRL + Z, there is no undoing what is done in life. And constantly looking back at something and contemplating about how you could have done this or that better, or you shouldn’t have done that won’t get you anywhere. In fact, those moments spent dwelling over the past may have been more useful than you thought, and you might later regret letting them slip by.

I don’t think I have any regrets, because I’m moving ahead in life. People who are filled with regrets, more often than not, stagnate at one point of their lives. To overcome regret, a lot of motivation is needed, but what we don’t realize is that regret is eating into our motivation and also our self esteem – questioning ourselves before doing something, wondering whether by doing it like this instead of like that, might make us regret it later.

Living without regrets is not impossible. You prevent yourself from moving forward when you live without forgiving yourself. As is the well known quote – ‘let bygones be bygones’ because nobody is going to gain from anything by holding back in anticipation of regret. There are obviously many things you did in your life that you’re not entirely proud of. Rather than crying over spilt milk, gather yourself and realize that at least you learnt something from whatever it was you had done. Many times we can’t even anticipate that we might do something that we will later regret. But that is just a part of life that you can’t be complete without.
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