Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We are the Prisoners & We are the Guards

I am reading a book "What I wish I knew When I Was 20 - by Tina Seelig". In this wonderful book, the author mentions about one of her favorite dialogue from the movie "My Dinner with Andre", which says,  New Yorkers "are both the guards & prisoners & as a result they no longer have ..... the capacity to leave the prison they have made, or even see it as a prison".

This line is so very powerful, yet so simple, it is so deep, yet it is just tugged away somewhere & we all tend to miss this very essence from our consciousness, from our daily life each & every moment.
Isn't it so true that we all are the Prisoners & we are the Guards, for ourselves.

 The extrapolation of this statement can be made in all dimensions, in all aspects of our life. 

We do make rules, assumptions, expectations, believe, value systems & then unknowingly become prisoner within this boundary & guard ourselves to make sure we stay within this invisible walls.  

If we step out of the philosophical metaphor & see ourselves in the realm of the real world & society, it is the same story, isn't it? 

We graduate in a particular field of study, we pursue a chosen career & do not challenge ourselves to see the endless possibilities of breaking the stereotype, we define success in terms of title, money, car, house, exotic vacations & sleep walk through our life as prisoners within this invisible framework of rules, we created unknowingly or unknowingly for ourselves.

In history & in our contemporary life, there have been many men & women, who perceived life, society & themselves with a very unique lens of their own. They were willing to identify & challenge assumptions, & to break free of the expectations that they themselves & others had projected on them. They were not afraid of getting out of their comfort zone, they had a healthy disregard for the impossible & to turn well-worn ideas on their heads.

Of course, leaving the well-worn path & choosing to walk against the current is never easy, but these unique men & women have left behind a legacy & tale of inspiration for all of us to ask this question to ourselves - "Are we the Prisoners & are we the Guards for ourselves?".

Knowing that you can question the rules is terrifically empowering. The sole rule is that you are limited only by your energy & imagination. - Tina Seelig.

Acknowledgement: The photo, is taken from Carl Pendle's beautiful blogpost 'Bird Tied Up'.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Educated - Real education or certificate education?

There are several questions in LIFE, which makes us feel very uneasy & not so comfortable. When I
became a Father, I wondered what is the right way of upbringing my son? What are the dos & do nots? Isn't it funny, that we have Soft & Technical Skills trainings in Professional life, we have a manual on how to install & operate electronic gadgets, but there is no Manual to refer to for the most important phase of our life, BEING A PARENT!

I remember many of those soft moments, filled with Love, Care & Affection & then those crazy moments of anger, frustration, losing my cool on not being able to handle my son adequately. I soon realized, my parenting methodology was trial & error, my knowledge was based on my thinking ability & my understanding which I inherited from my previous generation, in other words it is ‘My Way’, but not necessarily the ‘Right Way’. Quite frustrating isn’t it? We the average large section of the society seem to know about Economy, Climate Change, Politics, Movies, Cricket, TV Soaps, Property Rates, Fashion, Cars, Festivities & our Gods, yet we know so little about the most important role of our life Parenting & Child Psychology & Development.

As parents many of us lack the scientific knowledge of ‘Child Development', & in the urban scenario we have a busy lifestyle, we are working couples….thereby limiting our influence on the day to day process which shapes up our Child into a teenager & one fine day transformed into an adult. So to speak, for many of us, our Parenting outcome is ‘Luck By Chance’.

The grey areas of our country’s Educational Sector, keeps me introspecting further:
Most of the educational institutes are more focused on becoming coaching centers for cracking exams rather than preparing for life. 
On top, the approach of one size fits all in education, not taking into account each individual is different & offering career guidance leaves a big gap in the final outcome, by the time the child comes out of the education system. 
In a nutshell we cannot blindly outsource our children’s upbringing to the educational institutes & absolve ourselves from our parenting responsibilities.

I can speak for myself, I loved History, Philosophy, Archaeology, Teaching, Creative Writing, Theatre but never knew how to pursue them as a career, when I was in school. I followed what others thought I should do, because a Professional Degree is considered to be more secured & stands a better chance in the Job market, rather than MA in Philosophy or studying Archaeology. So today, here I am with a reasonable success & established career in the corporate world, but with graceful ageing now I have a realization may be, with proper guidance & encouragement to think ‘out of the box’ during my childhood years, my present may have been totally different. 
Well no complains & I know my parents are ‘Best in the World’ for me, but rationally speaking
they did their best in their own way, quite similar to what I am doing today as a parent.

By the way, the current Educational system has a very short history, just dating back to the emergence of Industrial Era, in the 19th Century. The bulk of the certifications, diplomas, degrees are batch production mode, to make supervisors & officers to run our Industrial Houses.

I came across a beautiful talk on TED, by Sir Ken Robinson (Author/Educator) on the "How our current Education System undermines Creativity". In this talk, he elaborates about the phenomenon of 'Academic Inflation'.

Think about it, during our Grandfather’s generation a Diploma would have fetched a good job, in our Dad’s generation a Bachelor’s Degree would be needed for an equivalent job, in our time we need a Masters Degree & by the time our children enter the job market PhD or Post Doc for a job will not be a far stretched nightmare. The Academic Inflation is inevitable, with the huge population explosion, impact of Technology, Business reallocation based on emerging markets, low cost centers, downsizing of Work force, cost cutting, dramatically changes the Business environment, the Degrees having no values & Employment rate shrinking in our ailing Global economy. (UNESCO – “In next 30 years, worldwide more number of Graduates will come out, than the entire Graduate population in the whole of history”).

When I see my son now, I can see a reflection of my childhood in him, full of potentials &
possibilities. Will he too follow the same pattern of ignorance, herd mentality & might live a life in full sync to his true self? It’s painful to pen down, but that probability is quite high,unless I as a parent, first unlearn, re-learn, introspect & partner with him, in this new light of conscious parenting.

Hence it is absolutely important that we help our children to recognise their true talent & potential, help them pursue their interests, we should not suppress their creativity, we should not force them to have a herd mentality & follow the safe mediocre path just because of our own fear & insecurities.

We really need to reassess our own mindset, our insecurities, our methodology & what should be our
Objectives & Motives behind upbringing & educating our children? Do we want them to be educated by Certificate or 'Truly Educated in preparation for Life’. Someone who grows up to be Truly Confident & Competent to take on the world, a world which will be far more complex, difficult, unstable, dynamic than our's. We may or may not be there, but our Children will live in that world & it is our responsibility to prepare them for those unseen times, through the right upbringing & holistic education.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Beautiful from Outside, Ugly from Inside

I have a 3 year old son, who has started his new phase in life: going to Kindergarten. In mornings, I drop him to his kindergarten & after that I head off to my office. The morning ritual of dropping my son to his school, is one of my most treasured moments, as we get time to spend with one another, talking, walking, bonding with each other. 
On one such occasion, I was holding my son's hand & waiting on the pavement outside our Community gate for a Taxi. There was a young couple standing few paces away from us waiting for taxi, probably headed to their office. They were very attractive, well dressed, sophisticated, well groomed urban couple. I spotted a taxi coming from the other side of the road & waved my hand & called out Taxi! Luckily, I managed to catch the cab driver's attention & he drove his cab towards us. Since he was on the other side of the road & our destination was on the opposite direction I signalled the driver to make a U-Turn. 
The cab steered it's way, towards this side of the street & came to an halt mid-way between Us & the Couple. I started walking towards the cab holding my son's hand, matching my pace to his small steps. The Beautiful Lady, rushed towards the cab, opened the door & sneaked in. The guy, was still hesitant & perplexed, he came near to the cab & had a short exchange of words with her (probably, telling her, it's not right moral values). He then looked at me sheepishly & told SORRY (poor soul, he lacks courage to do what he things is right) & got into the cab & drove off. 
My Son, asked me "Pappa, why he said Sorry?".
It is normal for us to lose our temper, spoil our mood over such irresponsible & unjust act of others. Such emotions did start to empower me momentarily, but being a PARENT now, I have started to realise I have an opportunity each time to help my child learn a lesson, from the GREATEST TEACHER of all, i.e. LIFE. 
So I quickly regained my calmness & refrained from getting into an impulsive reaction. I explained my son, what happened & told we should never become one of them. That particular unpleasant event at the start of our day, now turned into a Life's Lesson for my Son. He got lessons on Etiquettes, Good Behaviour, Respect for Rules, to make right judgement & build moral values, no school could have taught him better than Life itself.
I was also left behind with a philosophical thought by Life, "The real Beauty resides Inside..... what's the point in being Beautiful from outside, Ugly from inside'. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Concert of Incomplete Orchestra

I had heard a lot about the Movie Director Akira Kurosawa from Japan, who is regarded as one of the 'All Time Greatest Director' in the history of World Cinema. I came across Akira Kurosawa's movie collections at a DVD Shop in Shanghai & without a second thought, I picked it up & since then it is one of my prized possession in my humble sized library.

This weekend, I watched my first movie of this great director, the movie name is "One Wonderful Sunday" (English translation) (Original name: Subarashiki Nichiyobi - in Japanese), it's a black & white film made in 1947 & runs for 108 minutes.

Even though after the passage of 65 long years & me as an audience who is not Japanese (alien to the cultural aspects), the movie connected instantly with me by the storyline's pure innocence, the wonderful chemistry between the two lovers, the heart touching beautiful moments of hope & courage to keep alive their dreams & the heart wrenching moments of their despair & hopelessness, in the back drop of post-war Tokyo.

The story plot goes like this: Yuzo & his fiancee Masako, are in love with one another. They do not earn enough to met their ends & possibility of a better job, better income is remote during the post war times in Japan. Due to their financial constraints, they haven't been able to take forward their relationship into marriage, as Masako's  family would not approve of Yuzo, due to his low social standing & low income. 

Masako stays with her family in the suburbs of Tokyo & Yuzo stays with his room mate in a rented shabby room. They save whatever they can from their meagre income over the week for the eagerly awaited Sunday, the day of their dating. The typical date starts with Masako arriving Tokyo in train early in the morning with Yuzo waiting anxiously at the platform to receive her, then spending their whole day within their meagre budget & at night they part off with a heavy heart at the railway station, with the lingering hope to seeing each other next Sunday once again.

The movie, is about one such Sunday, they spend together with their weekly savings of 35 YEN..... the story takes you through the whole gamut of Human Emotions of the two lovers, through the day they spend together in the middle of the difficult times.

One of the scene & the narration: "Concert of Incomplete orchestra" will always stay with me, probably it was the essence which Kurosawa-san wanted to convey. Our life's may not be perfect, but we should try to make the best of it........"Concert of Incomplete Orchestra".   

Friday, July 27, 2012

Not black text & a photo, but made up of Blood & Flesh like You & Me

I remember in school, in History books we had was a photo of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, wearing a circular hat & some two to three lines in black text saying, he abolished the customs of ‘Sati’ in the year 1829 . The purpose of this reading was to get 1 or 2 marks in the short answers section of the examination.

After so many years, when I have grown up to become mature with age (well I hope so that I have maturedJ), my interest of history, philosophy has taken more concrete step. The other major factor, which I think has really helped all of us to expand our thinking, exploration & access to knowledge, has been Internet. Out of my curiosity & my interest in history, I have been browsing through YouTube for documentaries & other videos from which I will be able to get more insights in the historical events & the interesting & fascinating characters from the history gone by. Moreover, I can know about them without pressure & worry of scoring marks in the exams….. J.

In one of these regular browsing sessions, I came across a short documentary on Raja Ram Mohan Roy in Youtube. In that 15 minutes of documentary, I got to know so many fascinating things about this great man. It just made me think, wow! I hardly know anything about him, apart from the photo in school history book & 1 liner description of him.

This made me curious & I found a full length feature film on him, titled Raja Ram Mohan Roy in Youtube in Bengali language (unfortunately, it doesn't have subtitles for reaching out to the wider audience). The experience of watching it was so very moving, that it left a deep impression in my mind. Till today, my connection with him was the school history book which carried a small photo & one liner about his life.
But seeing the movie, the connection evolved to a humane level. In the back drop of dark ages in India (when Mughal rule was diminishing & East India Company spreading over India & social illiteracy, malpractices in the name of Religion was at the peak, when Indian masses had lost faith in themselves & were leading a life in delusion, despair, lacking self belief & confidence), a little boy by name Ram Mohan, set out on a journey for seeking the eternal truth & with the burning desire of uplifting the countrymen.
In this treacherous journey, he was disowned by his own parents, was cursed by his mother, thrown out of home to live on his own from a tender age as a punishment for his radical thinking. Such was emotional torture; that he was not even allowed by his Mother to lit fire to his father’s pyre & was not allowed to participate in the rituals. In such an emotional turmoil too, he didn't give up his principles & ideals for the larger cause of mankind’s upliftment.
All throughout his life, he withstood the pressure of sarcasm, social boycott, resistance through social pressures, money & muscle power but he never succumbed to them, & kept up his faith that one day Truth will prevail. He finally died ailing, fatigued & lonely, working till the last breath for what he believed in.

I kept wondering for quite some time, about his biopic, his life’s story. He didn't look like Black Text & one photo anymore.

The story became a humane story about a boy, who grew up to become a Renaissance Man, who went through so much of trauma at emotional level whole life, he was the true super hero who had the courage & strength to walk against the tide when everyone was going down the hill. It’s unbelievable to see, how enormous mental strength he had, how strong his conviction was, that no pressure could buckle him down. Truly he was the torch bearer of Renaissance in India.

He now no more appears to me made up of black text & a photo, but made up of blood & flesh like you & me. How I wish I had got this perspective while reading History in school........

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gitanjali - Tagore

Some of my favourite poems, from Tagore's Gitanjali

The child who is decked with prince's robes & who has jewelled chains round his neck loses all pleasure in his play, his dress hampers him at every step.
In fear that it may be frayed or stained with dust he keeps himself from the world, & is afraid even to move.
Mother, it is no gain, thy bondange of finery, if it keep one shut off from the healthful dust of the earth, if it rob one of the right of entrance to the great fair of common human life.
I must launch out my boat. The languid hours pass by on the shore - Alas for me!
The spring has done it's flowering & taken leave. And now with the burden of faded futile flower I wait & linger.
The waves have become clamorous & upon the bank in the shady lane & the yellow leaves flutter & fall.
What emptiness do you gaze upon! Do you not feel a thrill passing through the air with the notes of the far-away song floating from the other shore?

He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon. I am ever busy building this wall all around & as this wall goes up into the sky day by day I lose sight of my true being in it's dark shadow.
I take pride in this great wall & I plaster it with dust & sand lest a least hole should be left in this name & for all the care I take, I lose sight of my true being.

When it was day they came into my house & said, "We shall only take the smallest room here".
They said, "We shall help you in the worship of your God & humbly accept only our share of his grace" & then they took their seat in a corner & they sat quiet & meek.
But in the darkness of night I find they break into my sacred shrine, strong & turbulent, & snatch with unholy greed the offerings from God's altar.

Where the mind is without fear & the head is held high,
Where knowledge is free,
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls,
Where words come out from the depth of truth,
Where tireless striving stretches it's arms towards perfection,
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost it's way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought & action - Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

The rain has held back for days & days, my God, in my arid heart. The horizon is fiercely naked - not the thinnest cover of a soft cloud, not the vaguest hint of a distant cool shower.
Send the angry strom, dark with death, if it is Thy wish, & with lashes of lightning startle the sky from end to end.
But call back, my lord, call back this pervading silent heat, still & keen & cruel, burning the heart with dire despair.
Let the cloud of grace bend low from above like the tearful look of the mother on the day of the father's wrath.

This is my prayer to thee, my Lord-strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys & sorrows.
Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys & sorrows.
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before the insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
And give the strength to surrender my strength to Thy will with Love.

I thought my voyage had come to it's end at the last limit of my power, - that the path before me was closed, that provisions were exhausted & the time come to take shelter in a silent obscurity. But I find that thy will knows no end in me. And when old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart, & where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with it's wonders.

When the creation was new & all the stars shone in their first splendor, the Gods held their assembly in the sky & sang, "Oh, the picture of perfection! the joy unalloyed!"
But one cried of a sudden - "It seems that somewhere there is a break in the chain of light & one of the stars has been lost".
The golden string of their harp snapped, their song stopped & they cried in dismay - "Yes, that lost star was the best, she was the glory of all heavens!"
From that day the search is unceasing for her & the cry goes on from one to the other that in her the world has lost it's one joy!
Only in the deepest silence of night the stars smile & whisper among themselves - "Vain is this seeking! Unbroken perfection is over all!".

I have got my leave. Bid me farewell, my brothers! I bow to you all & take my departure.
Here I give back the keys of my door - & I give up all claims to my house. I only ask for last kind words from you.
We were neighbours for long, but I received more than I could give. Now the day has dawned & the lamp that lit my dark corner is out. A summons has come & I am ready for my journey.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My first post

Today finally I took up the courage of creating my Blogging Account. I have always loved Writings, though I can never claim myself to be an intellect or a professional writer in my wildest dream, writing has always been something which I have loved from within & enjoyed doing so since a child.
Though with the growing up years, I took up Science & specialised in Pharmacy & eventually took up a Corporate career, I try to keep myself connected with my love for writing through Diaries, writing emails to my friends about my thoughts, some events which touches my inner side, journaling, maintaining memories of my son's childhood days which I plan to hand over to him when he grows up.
I am trying to take up Blogging to extend my Love for Writing & to explore my undiscovered Inner side. But, it has been quite a 'Start Up' problem today, the whole concept of Blogging, the Interface, the Options, the sophistication of the webpage, my complete ignorance of this medium has held me up like a slow moving traffic during the rush hours. Hopefully, in coming days, things will get settled down & my mind will be less agigated & the Blog will feel like my diary & pen in my hands.....hopefully, I will not have to name by Blog again as 'Starting Problem' :)