Children too have stories to tell

A boy, around seven years old comes to my storytelling sessions. Bespectacled, with spikes for hair, he is all smiles but never seems to utter any word. Yesterday I took this beautiful book for my session. As I opened the book I noticed the wide toothy grin typical of excited kids on his face. He beheld the book with sparkling eyes, as if he was about to fly on a magic carpet. I could clearly sense that he had been waiting for this.

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In my storytelling sessions I have often found that children are natural readers. They gravitate towards books and stories, just as easily as they are attracted to say TV or other gadgets, provided these are not there in the first place. They love to listen to stories, to be read to and to read by themselves if the story catches their fancy. They are very open and receptive if you try to speak to them through the medium of stories.

But even more importantly they often have stories to tell of their own. I told them this poignant tale of two young children, two best friends who were separated by partition. They never saw each other again. After the story ended I fell silent, a lump in my throat. The lull was broken by exuberant voices.
“Ma’am I have a Christian friend. But their house has a tiger skin!”
“Miss I have five Muslim friends.”
“I bought khaki pants just like the soldier in the story for my Happy Barday.”

They told me so many stories, some were mischievous, some were funny and some were so warm and touching. They had captured life with the purity and innocence of their age. And it was so soothing, so refreshing.

We were not just exchanging stories, not just ideas. But love. Not between an adult and a child, but between two souls.

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Habits of another kind

In any self help book that one reads there is one thing common- they all exhort us to utilize the gift that is our mind. That it is the mind that determines our happiness and success or failure in life. Or that thoughts are things and what we think is what  gets reflected in our life. I could go on and on…

So it seems very simple. The mind is a very precious tool and all I have to do is to unlock this key and have a dream life.

Then why is it so difficult? Making the mind work for us seems to be the most difficult thing to ever do!

Why is it so much easier to keep repeating negative thoughts day after day when I know that I should be thinking positive thoughts?

Why is it so much easier to be fearful when I know that the very thought of fear will attract what I am fearing in my life?

Then today morning I had the answer. And you know what it is…

It is called as HABIT!

Habits of thinking in a certain way repeatedly, day after day, night after night. The mind kind of like becomes an automaton. Any disconcerting event and the mind effortlessly starts playing out those mental habits. Those habits could be anything but generally seldom do we train the mind to build habits of positive thinking. It is often filled with one liners such as… I can’t- do- this…I-am-not-worthy…this-will-never-work…things-never-go-right-for-me…kind of thoughts.

So when I spill coffee in the morning and consequently run late for work, not a very negative event in itself, but my mind starts thinking all those negative thoughts that come so naturally to it! And why not – I have trained my mind that way. And then when I tell myself to calm down and think bright happy thoughts, my habit is so strong that it overwhelms any positive thoughts that I am trying to think.

It is believed that to form a habit it takes eight long years! I guess moments of wisdom can come in a flash but really there is no shortcut to success.

Dropout hall of shame..oops fame!

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PhD and dropout are two words, antagonistic in meaning, but which inspire the same eye- popping, jaw- dropping effect on the hearer. However there is a fundamental difference. One is out of admiration and the other is out of shock and disbelief. Now imagine if these two words are said in the same breath. Picture this!

“I am a PhD Dropout!”

Boom! Dish! Bang! Thud!

I am just giving a voice to the various expressions which I have recorded on the faces of astounded shell shocked people when they hear that I am a foreign returned PhD Dropout! As if  their very breath has been sucked out of their lungs or a bomb has just exploded! They are like, “Really? Actually! What? How could you?”

But thankfully for me they never utter their horrendous reactions and out of feigned politeness quickly bring forth a sympathetic smile on their face and wonder what to say while some other well meaning folks encourage me to find a PhD position in India, telling me that India is now competing globally with Europe and US and there is no harm in pursuing, in fact it is even prestigious to do a doctorate here. And then there are some who genuinely want to know why I took such a foolish decision but are too polite to ask me.

Secretly I have begun to relish the ability of being able to arouse a wide array of emotions ranging from shock, disbelief, curiosity (most people display a mix of curiosity and disbelief) and sometimes even awe (or so I would like to believe) just by my being a PhD Dropout. Earlier I used to tell the truth about my career destroying decision: that I realized three years into my doctorate that I was not meant to a super intelligent geeky whizkid indulging in path breaking earth shattering research! Slowly it dawned upon me that nobody believed even an iota when I said that I did not like it and it is not my passion.

And I guess they have a reason to disbelieve me – I mean I knew what to drop out of but for almost two years I had not even the slightest idea about what to drop into! In other words I did not know what to do with my life. Of course this did not turn me into a people hating recluse whose only mission was to find out her mission in life, since I began to enjoy dropping my PhD Dropout bombshell on people, for I began to see for real how society labels ‘Losers’ and how they are treated! And trust me they are not treated so bad 😛

Coming onto my wonderful family. They have been very supportive of my decision, just that they deeply lament that their daughter has gone crazy and mourn the almost-in-reach-now-lost-forever prestige, power and moolah that having a Dr in front of my name would have given me ..er..sorry them! Now they can’t say that I have made them proud though they still love me!

Oh but I hope you are not getting the feeling that I consider myself a ‘Loser’! In my eyes I am… well I will save that for another post! and also if you are interested about what I finally decided to drop into 😛 But just to give you a hint of what I feel consider this:

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Brad Pitt,Larry Page..I have them for company 😛 Thanks to them I already feel like a celebrity and the best thing is that I can now enter the dropout hall of shame..oops fame!

It is kinda fancy now to be a dropout 😛

 

What makes life beautiful

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Hop. Skip. Hop.

Bang…Auch!

Hopping over problems, skipping the hidden happiness in fleeting moments and then bulldozed by a trial..all this more or less sums up what life is for most of us. Moments of happiness and peace are sparsely scattered somewhere along. And in the frenzy to find them we forget what we were looking for in the first place! Forget beauty, happiness or any such fancy feeling, we are fumbling our way forward and all we know life is over. Zipped by in a flash of second!

Oh wait..this is sounding too melodramatic..So let me get straight to the point – what makes life beautiful? Ok so here is an illustration. Now imagine life is a person. Let’s call it Life. He (it could be she for you, or anything else you can imagine) has the most beautiful persona in the world, the most attractive being in this world. He is a fountain of sweetness and pure unconditional love. But he is wrapped in mystery. He comes near and as soon as you try to catch him, he slips away but you know he is lurking around. His very presence thrills and each time you get close he lets you unravel a tiny bit of his mystery. And as soon as you have delved deeper, there is more to know about him. And oh! all the while he is the most irresistible, enticing, charming person you have ever known. All you want to do is to be with him. You just can’t seem to get enough of him.

Ok, so with this knowledge, now let me ask the question again. What makes life (not Life) beautiful?

The answer for me would be to simply watch him (Life), to be mindful and aware of his presence. To keep on this love affair of hide and seek with him – Life. Simply put, just be with him. This is what will make my life beautiful.

Are you still there with me? I know it’s a silly stupid post, but then writers write all such gibberish in a fit of (un)profound inspiration 😉

Oh but still do tell me what makes your life beautiful? 😛

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you serious about having fun- part 2

Fun

 

Two things are in full swing at the moment – one is the sweltering heat and the other is the holiday season. I am glad because of both, the sweltering heat gives the most amazing, luscious mangoes and the holidays – no need to explain more!

Continuing from my last post, I thought about coming up with some real life examples to justify the benefits of serious recreation.

One of the benefits of recreation is that if we are lucky enough it might just become our profession. For many people this has been possible and wow! wouldn’t one love it if their play becomes work too! We could then say that all work has become play ;). Though there are many examples of people who have successfully converted their hobby into their livelihood, for inspirational purposes I choose these two.

Aamir Khan: his achievements and feats are known to all. What I want to tell is that Aamir was passionate about acting from childhood (he worked as a child artist) and even though his father was a film producer, still when Aamir decided to pursue acting professionally, his parents opposed him! And thank god he did not listen to their advice of taking up medicine or engineering 😛

Michael Faraday: what is amazing about this giant of a scientist is the fact that he never had any formal schooling. He worked in a London bookshop and loved reading books on science. From there on started his love affair with science and led him to many discoveries in the field of electricity, magnetism and chemistry.

Surely these examples are very inspiring but there is a flip side too, for instance we all know about the famous desire of Adolf Hitler wanting to be an artist and how his wish was denied by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Many have speculated about the course of history if Hitler had been allowed to follow his passion for creating instead of his passion for destroying.

Even if your hobby or recreation does not lead to becoming your profession, still there are ample of benefits to be had from indulging in pure acts of play, fun and enjoyment. One very clear benefit which I wrote about in my last post was about getting to know yourself. Increased concentration, self confidence and creativity are some of the other tangible benefits. Apart from this leisure and pastimes allow us to explore hitherto unknown talents and skills which were just lying unnoticed and useless. Off-course the biggest benefit and the most important one is that of a sense of well being, rejuvenation and happiness. In this mad bad world who does not want a few moments of relaxation and fun?

So whenever someone tells you to plan your fun and be serious about it, remember it might be the most sane piece of advice in a world drowning in insanity!

Happy holidays and hope you all have fun 🙂