Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When Time Stops….

It is said that time stops when Nataraja, the King of dances, does not dance! Time stood still in Chennai today! Not because the King did not dance but because the queen danced! I did not realise that it was a two hours concert… I did not blink an eye for that long… did not even drink water for that long… thankfully, breathing and heart beat etc. are involuntary actions! If not, I would not have done that too :-)

When I was getting ready to go to the concert, I was thinking, I am in no frame of mind to go watch Krishna stealing Gopika's clothes or Seetha asking for the golden deer or the heroine longing to see the hero, losing her bangles, hip chain etc.!!! I am glad that Shobana too was not in a mind frame to dance for these stories! Except for one thukkada, the rest were in alignment with what I was looking for!!! :-)

After I wrote the previous article, I was thinking of வாழாப்பத்து (Not wanting to live) songs of திருவாசகம் referred to in the article. Slowly my mind drifted off to Kannappa Nayanar, Shiva, Bhagirata, Mahishasura Mardini and Ardha Naareswara. I was wondering why they are so special! It is interesting how mind connects these stories!!!

After Kannappa Nayanar pierced one eye out with an arrow, that eye (or eyehole) must have been bleeding… how did he manage to see Shiva's second eye bleeding… what kind of mental strength does it take do that… what kind of stamina one should have, not to worry about his own bleeding eye but think about someone else' bleeding eye… how can one get that kind of conviction  to go to any extent towards their passion / goal…

Why should Shiva test Kannappa Nayanar so very tough… Will He only test… does He not descend for other reasons… what does Shiva consuming the deadly poison (ஆலகால விஷம் ) imply… why did Shiva decide to bear the speed of Ganga on His head…  Why did Ganga yield to Bhagirata's penance… why is Bhagirata so special to Ganga and Shiva… how could he believe that this will happen when there was no sign of Ganga emerging… how does one persevere when there is not even a ray of light… how can someone differentiate futile fight from perseverance…

Is only strength of Shiva portrayed in the stories… Is He not the most handsome man… in fact He is the only man in the world… Is He the only strong power… How about Mahishasura Mardini… She is fierceful, beautiful, ferocious and kind… how can someone be all this at the same time… why did Indian philosophy see these two together in one form as Ardha Naareswara… Before I thought of anything more I slept off :-)

And…. Wow… Shobana did a katha-maalika (string of stories) in a Raaga Maalika set to Tala maalika!! She was answering my questions… The time stood still… I did not feel like getting up… did not want any more dance… did not want anything… Looks like, in a beautiful moment like this too, one may want to leave the world like Maanickavaachakar did… But then… there is life left still… waiting for me to go thru the motions of life வருகஎன்றருள் புரியும் வரை… rest of my life is just bonus time till then… :-)

Monday, December 21, 2015


திருவாசகத்திற்கு உருகார் ஒரு வாசகத்திற்கும் உருகார் என்பது எத்தனை உண்மை!

சீரொடு பொலிவாய், சிவபுரத்து அரசே! திருப்பெருந்துறை உறை சிவனே!
ஆரொடு நோகேன்? ஆர்க்கு எடுத்து உரைக்கேன்? ஆண்ட நீ அருளிலையானால்,
வார் கடல் உலகில் வாழ்கிலேன் கண்டாய்; `வருக' என்று, அருள் புரியாயே!

வாடினேன்; இங்கு வாழ்கிலேன் கண்டாய்; `வருக' என்று, அருள்புரியாயே!

இந்த வரிகளை வாசிக்கும்போது உருகா உள்ளமும் இருக்க்ககூடுமோ? விழிகளின் கரை தாண்டாமல் நிற்கக்கூடுமோ துளிகள்? எழுதப்பட்டு பல நூற்றாண்டுகள் கடந்த போதிலும் உரையின் துணையின்றி பொருள் புரிகின்றதே! அதுவே பெருங்கருணை! தமிழின் இனிமைக்கும் இளமைக்கும் சான்று!

தந்ததுன் தன்னைக் கொண்டதென் றன்னைச் சங்கரா ஆர்கொலோ சதுரர்
அந்தமொன் றில்லா ஆனந்தம் பெற்றேன் யாதுநீ பெற்றதொன் றென்பால்
சிந்தையே கோயில் கொண்ட எம்பெருமான் திருப்பெருந்துறையுறை சிவனே
எந்தையே ஈசா உடலிடங் கொண்டாய் யான் இதற் கிலன்ஓர்கைம் மாறே!!

எளிய வார்த்தைகளில் உயிருருகும்! புரியாத வார்த்தைகளில் புரியாத கருத்துக்களை எழுதியவை மட்டுமே காலங்கள் தாண்டி நிற்கும் என்ற மாயையை உடைத்தெறிந்த இந்த வரிகளைப் படிக்கும் பேறுபெற்றதே பெருங்கருணை! இதில் சங்கரா, சிவனே என்ற பதங்களுக்குப் பதிலாக "தமிழே" என்று சொன்னாலும் பொருள் பிறழாதென்றே தோன்றுகிறது! தமிழுக்கும் அமுதென்று பேர்! இன்பத் தமிழ் எங்கள் அசதிக்குச் சுடர்தந்த தேன்!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why Karma Clearing Program?

This is one of the interesting initiatives started in 2011 but still struggling big time! After four years of attempt - mere attempt with not much of success - do you think it's worth continuing, do you really think there is such a thing called karma were the questions I was asked as a response to my previous article. YES, it is worth continuing!! I have given my reasons for the same in my earlier articles in 2013 and 2014; though 2015 has to be written off, I still believe it is! :-) Because, every year, I seem to understand a little more and make a small progress!

First of all, let me explain, why I think there is such a thing called Karma. It is as simple as the famous Newton's third law - for every action there is an equivalent and opposite reaction. It is an extension of the basic principles like "you will reap what you sow" and the famous thirukkural "If a man inflicts sorrow upon others in the morning, it will come upon him unsought in the very evening" ( பிறர்க்கின்னா முற்பகல் செய்யின் தமக்குஇன்னா பிற்பகல் தாமே வரும்). Some times, the reaction does not happen immediately and the feedback loop is longer I feel. Main reason is, I could never explain why I was born in India, not in any other country, why to my parents and not to some cruel people and so on. It is not due to any my actions I could recollect! Similarly there are also some tough /  difficult things I had to face for no reason - for example ill health that is not a result of any bad eating habit or lifestyle and totally unexplainable! A more recent example is the 2015 Chennai floods.  Many parts of Chennai suffered the most by the floods. But, the maximum impact I got was, my broadband connection was cut for about 10 days, there was no power for just one day and no milk for one day while many lost their lifetime savings and establishments, a few lost their lives or their loved ones and a few others had to stay away from their homes though nothing else is lost. How do we explain this?  All these made me believe that there is a longer "action - reaction loop" beyond this life time! Ancient Indian systems call this feedback loop as Karma.

If there is a next birth, it is better to be born with a clean slate and face quick feedback loop :-)  After all, I do not want to go thru something without knowing the reason for it - like this birth!  That is why I set out to clear this thing called Karma! But I will continue with this program even if there is no rebirth. In fact, after I started this initiative, I was not bothered about a next / previous birth. If someone can explain the unexplainable items better without associating them to karma, I am okay to drop the idea of Karma too! However, I feel, this initiative made me inch towards being a better human being - however small the move is!

It is an interesting mix of rules that test your will power and self-control, push you to do things out of your comfort zone, introspect continuously, be mindful and attentive all the time, manage the stressful outcomes with better behaviours than just expressing the dissatisfaction. I realise that all these rules can be achieved only if we love ourselves and others, live and let them live their lives as they like, understand that there is no right or wrong action but there is a consequence for each action, decide your action carefully based on what you want. I could also understand that there are contradicting expectations from others and yourself.

When it comes to others, you do not judge their actions but when it comes to your actions, you observe it very carefully all the time. You act based on what is right according to you but keep watching if your right is really right and it plays out right! You are setting an environment for others to be themselves and change if they want to change; whereas you focus seriously on changing your own behaviours to adapt to any environment. It is like the difference between the personal development initiatives and organizational development initiatives. Both are needed for a high performing organization. An organization should focus on setting up right environment that suits any type of personality and the individual has to focus on improving the personality to suit any environment & influence right change. Karma clearing program expects you to do both org change and personal development at the same time! This is one of the opposing thoughts I referred to in "Extremes"! I am hoping to achieve it at some point in life!! :-)

I should agree that, there were some learnings in this direction before even I started Karma clearing program. If you read my lessons learnt series (incomplete though), you too may agree with me. For example, not giving unsolicited advice is a key lesson that resonates with this program. I feel, all unsolicited advices are indirect criticisms in other words, telling people that they are not intelligent enough or smart enough to figure out their own solutions. "Never speak of anyone who is not present" lesson is also close to expressing criticism or dissatisfaction. But I did not follow the lessons consistently at all times with all people, in spite of making the mistake and getting hurt, unfortunately. Moreover, it is easier in professional relationships than in personal relationships; when you have personal and professional relationship with someone, it becomes even more murkier!!! I will call myself successful, only if I can refrain from expressing my dissatisfaction or criticism to my mom (Mothers are the most "taken for granted" species on earth I feel!). Till then, I will not accept success even if I do not express it to others for nine consecutive days!!

Other rules such as rising earlier, eating one meal a day and doing something that you do not like can make you tired and proud at the same time! How do you control your behaviour when you are tired and proud at the same time? On top of this, you need to introspect by observing thoughts and actions and recalling your day in reverse! Please bear in mind that any introspection will bring out the darkness in our own selves!  Just knowing the gap without taking action can be really stressful. Tired, stressed out, proud person will usually react to even the slightest trigger from outside; but you can not express dissatisfaction or criticise that is, you can not react to any trigger from outside! This can build further stress and make you depressed easily…

Of course, it is just not all tough rules only; they do have some rules to help you come out of this stress too - helping others and meditating.  But they are not straight forward as you would like!! Meditating is cool except that you may find it hard to concentrate with so much of stress and tiredness! You may get over it eventually. But helping others is not that straight!! Sure, recent research in the field of neuroscience has proved that helping others can release certain happiness hormones. But the catch point is, you can not let the beneficiary know that you are helping and they can not appreciate you. You may see them smile but can not receive thanks for all that you have done.  I do not know if the neuroscience research eliminated this part when the happiness hormone levels were tested. Not sure, whether they measured if the happiness hormone is released by the act of helping or as a result of hearing the appreciations or seeing the smiles of people.  Smiles are contagious and there is a bidirectional influence between happiness hormones & smiles! But how will the hormones react if you see their smiles but they don’t recognize you for helping them rather don’t even know that you helped them! Sure, you will start smiling, but will you continue to smile? Hmm… That will be an interesting experiment!

So the rules of the game are tricky. It is like solving a tough puzzle! It motivates you by its challenge level :-) !!It also is fascinating to see there is new learning about life every time you think thru the rules and how these rules are interwoven. There is no opponent in this game other than your own self to make it even more interesting!. Absolutely brilliant game!!! In any sport, when the player is busy with something more compelling, there can be a gap! 2015 is just that!! But, I am starting it all over again!! Even if there is a no rebirth, even if my "Karma" does not get cleared, the sheer size of the challenge and the benefits I have got so far motivate me to try it again. I can surely say, my ability to withstand pressure has gone up reasonably! My ability to let go has increased! My ability to keep mental distance from people has improved a tiny bit - but that itself is great improvement I feel. Considering all this, I believe it is worth the try with a hope that I will win this game one day! You can expect an article next year around this time on the same topic!!! :-) :-)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

பாரதியும் நானும்

நேற்று பாரதியின் பிறந்த நாள்! இன்று புதிதாய்ப் பிறக்கச் சொன்னவரின் பிறந்த நாள்! என்றும் புதிதாய்ப் பிறந்ததாய் எண்ணி மகிழ்வுடனும் தன்முனைப்புடனும் பணி புரிவோருக்கான முன்னோடி பாரதி! உலகனைத்தையும் நேசித்து, உரிமை கொண்டாடி, அதே சமயம் உலகனைத்தையும் தள்ளி நிறுத்தி அதனால் முரணாய்த் தெரிவோர்க்கும் முன்னோடி பாரதி!

வானிற் பறக்கின்ற புள்ளெலாநான்
மண்ணிற் றிரியும் விலங்கெலாநான்
கானிழல் வளரு மரமெலாநான்
காற்றும் புனலுங் கடலுமேநான்.

விண்ணிற் றெரிகின்ற மீனெலாநான்
வெட்ட வெளியின் விரிவெலாநான்
மண்ணிற் கிடக்கும் புழுவெலாநான்
வாரியி லுள்ள வுயிரெலாநான்.

கம்ப னிசைத்த கவியெலாநான்
காருகர் தீட்டு முருவெலாநான்
இம்பர் வியக்கின்ற மாட கூடம்
எழினகர் கோபுரம் யாவுமேநான்.

அண்டங்கள் யாவையு மாக்கினோனான்
அவைபிழை யாமே சுழற்றுவோனான்
கண்டநற் சக்திக் கணமெலாநான்
காரண மாகிக் கதித்துளோனான்.

நானெனும் பொய்யை நடத்துவோனான்

- பாரதி

நேற்றிரவு அவர் கவிதைகளைப் புரட்டியபோது கண்ணில்பட்ட கவிதை இது. நேற்றுதான் முதல் முறையாக வாசித்தேன்; ஆனால் பலமுறை இந்தக்கருத்தை உணர்ந்திருக்கிறேன்! பாரதி இருந்த காலத்தில் பிறந்திருக்கலாம் என்று சிலசமயம் நினைத்துக் கொள்வதுண்டு! நேற்றும் நினைத்தேன்! கடையத்திலேயே வாழ்ந்திருந்தாலும் சந்தித்திருப்பேனா என்பது கேள்விக்குறியதுதான்! இத்தனை எளிதாய் அவர் கவிதைகளும் கிடைக்காமல் போயிருக்குமே! அதனால், காலத்தின் தூரமும் நல்லதுதான்!

Thursday, December 10, 2015


The terms extremes, conflicts have been running in my mind in the past few months! Life has been showing me different sides of the same thing all thru. But this year, I felt it very strong! Especially last quarter of the year has been like an eye opener that took me to the next level of this understanding - rather quest!! In fact I started feeling that the extremes need not be just two sides same thing and they can very well cover more angles! Only in 2D, extremes have two points to oppose each other. With just 3D, the number of extreme points grows enormously.  But life is just not 2D or 3D! So the number of opposing points / views becomes almost infinite!! It is this phenomenon that makes life beautiful as well as difficult!

Maturity of a person is determined by how they handle the extremes or opposing views. Holding opposing views concurrently needs highest form of intelligence. It is very difficult to consider opposing views without getting annoyed or agitated. But with the help of structured brainstorming techniques, system's thinking, problem solving frameworks, analysis tools like Pugh matrix etc. , that can be addressed to a large extent. These techniques can help considering different options / views objectively and thereby reducing the anxiety.

The next level of complexity is when some of the concepts we learn or try to implement are at conflict or appear to be at conflict. You can easily notice such things if you are trying to apply self-development techniques and you are also responsible for organizational change management. The former category will talk about how do you improve your behaviours in spite of your environment and will suggest not to expect any change in the organization for you to change your behaviour. Whereas, the latter will talk about how to change the organization so that it becomes easy for people change without even realising that they are changing and will suggest that it is not possible to change individuals unless the system changes! This is also understandable and manageable to a reasonable extent because the scope is different and we will understand the scope difference at some point in time.

One level up is principle level conflicts like when our principles and responsibilities of the roles we are playing are opposing each other. This can be resolved in many different ways. It is difficult but not impossible to manage. But when our own principles are in conflict with each other, the difficulty level rises up exponentially. How do we know which principle applies when? How do we know if we should evaluate "one principle or the other" or strive for "one principle and the other"? My Pugh matrix does not know what are the weightages and what are the parameters when it comes to principles! I am searching for an answer! As always, I am not looking for a dose of philosophical gyan but I am looking for techniques that will help me do this!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

மயிலிறகால் ஒரு யுத்தம்!

செப்டம்பர் ஆரம்பத்தில் சிறுவர்களுக்குக் கொடுப்பதற்காக வாங்கிய  மயிலிறகுகளைக் கொடுக்க முடியாமல் போயிற்று. அது குறித்த வருத்தம் இருந்த போதிலும், இறகுகளின் அழகில் மயங்கி அவற்றை அறைகளில் வைத்திருந்தேன்என்ன ஆச்சர்யம்!! என் பரணில் வசித்த அணில்கள் திடீரென காலி செய்துகொண்டு சென்று விட்டன. பின்னர்தான் தெரிந்தது அணிலுக்கு  மயிலிறகென்றால் பயமென்று! மயிலுக்கு அணிலும் பல்லியும்  இரை! அதனால் அவற்றுக்கு மயிலும் மயிலிறகும் பயம்! என் வீட்டில் இப்போது அணிலுமில்லை, பல்லியுமில்லை

அணில்கள் வரவர தொந்தரவாக மாறிக்கொண்டிருந்தன அவையறியாமலே! காயப்போட்ட என் உடைகளைக் கடித்துக் குதறின. புத்தகங்களும் இரையாயின. கோபம் வந்தாலும், தனக்கு கூடு கட்ட அவை எடுப்பது நியாயமானது என்று தோன்றிற்று. தீதென்று தெரிந்தும் வீடுகட்ட மனிதன் ஆற்றில் மணல் அள்ளவில்லையா? அதை விட அறியாப்பிழை செய்த அணிலைப் பொறுப்பது சரியாய்ப்பட்டது. ஆனால் சிரமமாக இருந்தது. அவை என்னை விட்டு நீங்கியது வருத்தமாகவும் மகிழ்ச்சியாகவும் இருக்கிறது!!!

ஆஹா! மயிலிறகால் கூட யுத்தம் செய்யலாம் போல! மௌனம் கூட வதைக்கும் போல! வித்தை தெரியாமலே  யுத்தம்  செய்யலாம்  போல! சில சமயம்  வித்தை தெரியாமலிருப்பது உசிதம் போல! தெரிந்திருந்தால்   மயிலிறகு வாங்கியே இருக்கமாட்டேனே! வாழ்க்கை சுவாரஸ்யமானது! எண்ணங்கள் விநோதமானவை! ஒருவரையே  ஏன் சந்தித்தோம் என்றும்ஏன் தாமதமாகச்  சந்தித்தோம் என்றும், நல்ல வேளை  சந்தித்தோம் என்றும்,   நல்ல வேளை பிரிந்தோம் என்றும் வெவ்வேறு காலகட்டத்தில் தோன்றுவது ஆச்சர்யமானது!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rain Rain… Come again another day!

If anyone says anything against rain, I am usually the first one to go fight them! To me, rain is precious! I would argue that, if you are in south India, you better get used to rains, rather learn to welcome and enjoy the rains, after all this is a tropical country!

As a child, I never could venture into rain! But, I made it a point to enjoy every rainy season after my childhood days!  There were days, we travelled for about twenty kilometers in a two wheeler just to enjoy the rain and get drenched! It is a  lot more fun to shake a tree after heavy rains to get wet by the raindrops from the leaves! If we could go to the water falls when it rains, it is heaven on earth! After all the rain adventures, if we could settle down with a favorite book and something to munch on, it is a bliss! This has been my view about rain in general.

Even as a child, I hated the "rain, rain...." rhyme. If little Johnny wants to play, he better plays in rain is what I said. Except for sewage, water is beautiful in  any form I felt! I never thought, I would wish the rain to stop! For the first time in my life, I felt it is better for the rain to stop!  Hmmm… this is an interesting year! In 2015, there were several "first time in life" situations, and I reacted, oh I never thought I will do it this way!

One whole month of rains and 49 cm in one day made me think, oh that is good enough, please stop!  It poured out as if clouds had a mandate to give us all the rain they forgot to give in the past five years or so! Or as if, some one cut open the clouds and there was no way to close them back! We forgot that there is such a thing called Sun and earth revolves around it. Our day revolved around rain and the call trees! I am grateful that the mobile network worked and we could reach all the members of the team and family to check if they are safe!!

Night has set in! It is  quiet outside! Is it after the storm or before yet another one? Will I dare to say Rain, Rain Go away?!?!

Monday, November 30, 2015

தமிழோ?! இசையோ?! கவியோ?!

நின்னைச் சரணடைந்தேன் எனத்தொடங்கும் பாரதி பாடலை வாசித்தாலும் கேட்டாலும் இந்த உணர்வு எழாமலிருப்பதில்லை! மயக்குவது யார்? தமிழோ? இசையோ? கவியோ? கடையத்தில் பிறந்து பாரதி பாடல்களுடன் வளர்ந்த எனக்கு, அவரது பாடல்கள் பிடிப்பதில் வியப்பொன்றுமில்லைதான்!! ஆனாலும் இந்தக் கவிதை கொஞ்சம் அதீதமானது! இந்த பாடல் என்னை அவ்வளவு தூரம் அசைத்துப் பார்ப்பதன் காரணம் பாரதியா,இசையா, இனிய தமிழா?

இந்தப்பாடலை யார் பாடினாலும் கேட்பது சுகம்! இளையராஜா, பாம்பே ஜெயஸ்ரீ, சுதா ரகுநாதன், உன்னி கிருஷ்ணன் என்று யார் பாடினாலும் சுகம்!! வலியோடுகூடிய சுகம்! பாடும் விதம் சற்று மாறினாலும்கூட, பாடலைக்கேட்கும்போது எழும் உணர்வுகளில் வேறுபாடோன்றும் இருப்பதாய்த் தெரியவில்லைபந்துவராளியில்/புன்னாகவராளியில் யார் என்ன பாடினாலும் எனக்குப் பிடித்துவிடுமோ? அப்படியும் சொல்வதற்கில்லை!

பாரதி என் மானசீக வழிகாட்டிகளில் ஒருவர். 32 வயதுக்குள் ஞானத்தெளிவுடன்மாமனிதானாய் வாழ்ந்து முடிந்த பாரதி தனது குழப்பங்களை, வலிகளைச்  சொன்ன பாடல்களில் இதுவும் ஒன்று!! "தன்செய லெண்ணித் தவிப்பது தீர்ந்திங்கு நின்செயல் செய்து நிறைவுபெறும் வண்ணம்" செய்ய கண்ணம்மாவைக் கேட்கும்போது பாரதியின் மனநிலை எப்படி இருந்திருக்கும்? காலனைக் காலால் உதைக்கும் துணிவு கொண்ட அவருக்கு, வீரம் சொட்டும் புதிய ஆத்திசூடி எழுதிய அவருக்கு, எத்தகைய குழப்பம் இருந்திருக்கக்கூடும் இப்படி ஒரு வலிமிகுந்த கவியெழுத? தன் வாழ்வின் தளம் கடந்து வாழ்தல் எல்லோர்க்கும் எளிதாகுமோ? பாரதி போல வையம் பயனுற வாழவேண்டுமென்றால், என்ன செய்யவேண்டும்?

மிடிமையும் அச்சமும் மேவிய நெஞ்சத்துடன் புகழையும் உயர்வையும் கேட்கும் தமிழா? நல்லது தீயது பிரித்து அறியாவிடிலும் சோர்வில்லை தோற்பில்லை என்று நம்பிய திடமா? 12 வரிகளிக்குள் வேதனை, பயம், வலி, குழப்பங்களைச் சொல்லி, இவையாவும் நீங்கும் என்ற நம்பிக்கையும் தருவது தமிழின் வலிமையா அன்றி கவியின் வலிமையா அறிகிலேன்!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Karma Clearing Program - Gone for a toss!

I can't believe that it is already four years since I started trying Karma Clearing Program.  I have posted the results of 2011, 2013 and 2014. All reported failure / partial success (however you want to perceive!!). This year, it is a total flop! Every single rule was broken on every single day. I did not even remember the program till last week! When I was looking for an article link to be included in a new article, I accidentally looked at my earlier Karma clearing program progress article. That is how I remembered the program :-(

I have never been successful on all 9 days with the first two rules "No expression of dissatisfaction" and " No criticism" since the time I started. This year, it was worse. I expressed my dissatisfaction and criticism in ferocious manner many times, though some times, I did not express it! Some times, I did not express immediately but I expressed it later - may be with more intensity as a result of bottling up the emotion! If there is any negative marking, this year would have got me only that!!

"Observe actions and thoughts" was the only rule I was following religiously till last year. This year, even this rule was broken on many days. I felt there is no connection between my thoughts and actions. I thought of something but did something else. Even though I did not think of acting, I acted and I did not act even though I wanted to act and thought about the action very well! I missed to even observe how I am thinking, why I am thinking what I am thinking etc.! But still, I would say, this rule was followed to an extent while all the other rules were completely gone!!

"Arise earlier" and "One major meal a day" were the simplest ones. But my sleep pattern was random this year! My sleep quota increased in the first quarter of the year; second and third quarter it touched the lowest limits that I slept only for a couple of hours a day sometimes. But the pattern was so erratic that I can not say I rose early! My eating pattern was equally bad too! On some days, I ate much more than my usual to the extent of two full meals and on some other days, I did not even have one full meal!

"Help some one without leaving a trace" was a big flop again. I could not  / did not even help those who asked for help forget about helping without leaving a trace!! The next rule is to meditate once at least before sunset! This is another practice with twists this year. Interestingly, though,  I learnt a new meditation technique this year, I can not say this rule was followed! I was not able to meditate since March! My concentration level was so very poor - it still is! I hope to improve soon!!

I got so many opportunities for doing something that I dislike - not only an hour a day - but more than that. But I did not even think that it is an opportunity to shed out Karma and leave the baggage quickly! Instead, I resisted and fought against the need to do the most disliked activities. When any new disliked activity crossed my way, I cribbed! However, I should also agree that I could do certain things against my ego and liking - in fact, I did somethings that had the potential to shatter my ego completely! In the upcoming year, I am setting out to do something I like but has certain elements that I do not like. It is almost like, the unlikable elements are overshadowing the likable  aspects and making the whole initiative a painful process. Let me give a try to follow this rule.  This is going to be my intrinsic motivator to do that work! Who knows, I may become a saint by the end of it :-)

I completely forgot to "recall the day in reverse at bed time (starting from bed time and traversing through to dawn)". Only today, I am thinking restarting it!!! Though I did not follow this rule, I realized the science behind it. If you have to recall the day in reverse order, you should have been conscious of what you are doing; you should be "present" all the time. Harvard university proved the effectiveness of techniques to be "present" which includes speaking with alphabets instead of words, that is, instead of using words to form a sentence, you will use the spelling of these words to form the sentence and communicate your intent. this practice makes you more attentive; you start to become more intentional about communication. I thought that as a person I strongly believe in intentional living and live intentionally without leaving things to chances!! But, it does not seem to be so! There are several things that were tacit, involuntary, unconscious (not even subconscious :-)!!!) I will try to be more intentional in the future!!

Overall, I am writing off 2015 in this nine days nine rules journey and hoping for a better 2016!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Less equals!! Ha!!

This is yet another follow up article! In fact, this is an explanation for the earlier articles and my stance on dressing up!!  There was a strong feedback from a reader. She was very upset with the articles and me. She quoted Chain around the neck and asked what is wrong in wearing jewelry or dressing up for a loved one; quoted Blame Game and asked what is wrong with using cosmetics; she quoted Minimalistic decision making and asked what is wrong in spending more time shopping if that can give relaxation… like an entertainment. She felt offended that I am considering women who dress up or who spend more time in shopping as less equals; she also quoted that women tend to behave this way as they grow up in the ladder and they have a need to prove that they are not "feminine" or they do not have the characteristics of the other women.

My response to all her three "what is wrong" questions, of course there is nothing wrong as long as it is you who consciously decide to do it and it is not out of a compulsion or mandate by someone else or as a result of social conditioning. Don’t I dress up? Of course I do! I do dress up differently for different occasions or environments; my liking towards different types of attire has changed many times over a period.... like all of you! More importantly, I have considered / I do consider the sentiments of loved ones when I wear an attire for a specific occasion. For example, I try to avoid wearing black when my parents are around as they fear that I will fall sick after wearing black. But I do have a quite a number of black in my wardrobe! When I go to work in India, I dress up very formally and it is Indian formals. Off work, I wear western casuals quite a bit.  When I visit other countries, I dress up in a way that works for me in that country. When I go to weddings, I wear jewelries and deck myself up. You can easily see the range of variations in clothing from these details.

I think, all of us do have a range! Men do too.  I am sure, men also would not like to go to board meetings in shorts and  they would go in their choicest formal suit if the meeting matters to them. So the points I raise are not against dressing up suitably for the occasion nor against having a wide range of choices. It is about who decides what is appropriate for an occasion. I believe, women have the necessary intelligence to decide what is appropriate for an occasion and others do not have the right to decide it for them. If someone wears an attire that is traditionally not worn to  a specific type of an occasion, that person may feel odd and learn what to wear next time; if they do not find it odd to wear, it is fine too; they will continue to wear it next time too. It is their choice!  If someone is willing to let go of this right to decide, I am fine with that too as long as it their conscious decision to let go! My concern is about how the social conditioning is blinding women and making them believe that wearing an extra chain represents their love for their husband or the longevity of his life and they can not wear certain colors depending on whether he is alive or dead.  I do not want some one to stop me from wearing my favorite colors because of my marital status or force me into liking pink because I am a woman!

Shopping is the most interesting feedback for me! By all means, if shopping is like an entertainment for someone, they are free to do that as long as their time and budget allows it. My contention was against the inability to take decisions! If someone spends more time in shopping because they are not able to decide which clothe to buy, it is a problem to be fixed or opportunity for improvement! They need to train themselves in taking quicker decisions.

It is about striking the balance between satisficing and maximizing! It is about understanding that all estimation techniques are useful only to an extent. Cost of decision making will depend on cost of information collection.  Accuracy of an estimate depends on breadth and depth of information used for the estimation. Without some basic information, no one can estimate. Till about 60% of information, there is good positive correlation between amount of information and accuracy of estimation. But beyond  60% of information, accuracy of estimation does not correlate that very well with amount of information and it fluctuates around the same level. The next peaking of accuracy of estimation happens when we have close to 100% of information.

Ironically, all information is available for estimation only when the activity is completed!  Estimation is useless at that point in time! Task is completed anyway! It is the same logic, I am applying for shopping! One needs to learn to take decision with less information except for some very rare scenarios that expect high level of accuracy. If you do not consider shopping as a task to be completed, a decision to be made, and treat it as a recreation, this logic does not apply to you. The logic I use for my recreation will probably be more comparable! Spending a lot of time in decision making is a costly affair in terms of time as well as the amount of energy it can drain from our psychological energy pool. If the returns of that spend is not worth it, do not spend that much is my only recommendation!

Make up interpretation was a shocker to me! I took a decision not to use cosmetics when I was 18 years old in an effort to be eco-friendly! Believe me - yes, to be eco-friendly! I wanted to reduce the chemicals I use. Of course, I do not have control over all the chemicals used in the value chain of all my consumables. But wherever possible, I wanted to reduce chemicals! Definitely not due to the fact was I was going up in the corporate ladder :-)! I was not even in the corporate world when I took that decision! In fact I did not even know that such a thing called corporate world exists!

More over, I do not use chemical cosmetics does not mean that I do not like things like henna. Not many people would have seen my nails without the color of henna / maruthani! I do take time do it. In the middle of the night, after all my calls are over, I spend 10-15 mins to apply maruthani about once in two weeks!  In Blame-game article, I did not mean to promote "no-cosmetics" idea. When someone is not used to do something for a long time, doing that activity will  not be perfect, will take more time, will not feel good and they may feel that they are clumsy! At least, I felt I was very clumsy with these things and I did not like the stickiness of the moisturizer! This is my only point! :-)

Coming back the "less equals" feedback, all I am saying in these articles is, I do not want any one to generalize and influence how women behaved generally or a specific woman behaved all thru her life. In fact, I am against any & all generalizations and tagging people to these generalizations!  All of us change, all of us have choices, and all of us are free to exercise those choices with an eye for improving ourselves constantly! I do not claim to be better than other women!! To me, there is nothing called as "better than others"! Each one is unique and precious, if you care to be one, that is!