Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Beyond Bondage.

          As Soham read the mechanical report, the kind he had written for perhaps the fiftieth time, he thought, " What am I doing with my life?" He had always been a man of action and thrill. "I was the winner of the State debate. I have certificates for events like tree plantation and running marathons. I used to be filled with energy and adventure. Where did all these things go? What am I doing with my life?", he thought. At that instance, he left his office at 3.40 (which was 5 hours earlier than his usual slogging time.) He started his car and began driving. The destination held little importance as this journey was going to be a vital one. The fact that he knew his destination was another thing. He knew this was not some out-of-the-blue reaction or an impulsive action. It was the result of months of continuous, unappreciated and meaningless work in an MNC. As his thoughts went back, he remembered that he had taken that particular job only because of the popularity of the organisation and not because of his love for back office and data entry. As Soham approached the highway, thoughts started coming his way. It was impossible to ignore the strength of the voice from one part within him that said "Quit the job". Also, it was impossible to consider the weak debate from the other side within him which said "You need this job". He had already taken a decision. But what made it so difficult to say it out loud were the undeniable consequences and the drastic lifestyle change.
          Soham reached an abandoned lake. He shouted out loud. A scream of frustration. A scream of freedom. A scream of release. After sitting on the stairs by the lake, he mindlessly started looking at the flowing waves, the tall trees, the sun setting and the birds flying. He had always found a haven in nature. There was something in that breeze which would never match the cool of an air conditioner. There was something in the melody of those singing birds which was nothing compared to jazz. The silence of this place was leaps and bounds beyond the silence in his office. It wasn't the first time that he visited this lake. It was his spot whenever he faced tough situations. It was the place he ran away to. His nest.
          After some time, he saw a mid-aged woman at the other side of the lake. She was dressed in rags. Perhaps, she was sitting by the lake after washing clothes in that same lake water. Perhaps, just wanting some alone time, just like Soham did. Perhaps, because she had a bit of free time spared from her chores. Soham observed this woman. She had a constant smile on her face. Her body language was relaxed and peaceful. She seemed content. She did not let poverty get to her. Even in such a grim situation, there was that smile. The smile that conveyed she was stronger than any other circumstances. Soham was lost in that woman's smile. He thought, " I wonder what makes her so happy that she cannot stop smiling?" She then waved at him. He waved right back and there came a smile on his face as well. He then wondered, "What is it about her smile that made me feel better?" He then got the answer, at last. He was experiencing the power of happiness within him. Somehow, he struck a connection with her and it felt like she was saying, "Go and be happy". As he decided to leave, he had made a firm resolution. He was going to take a leave for some days from his job. He was going to travel. He was going to take adequate amount of time to understand whether what he wanted to do was really the right thing to do.
          The next day, Soham was on a plane to Fiji Islands. On his arrival at the Nadi airport, the positive vibes came in. Travelling was something which he loved. It was an expensive hobby but every part of it was worth the penny. Nadi was the tourism place in the archipelago of Fiji. As this was an impromptu trip, he had not made reservations. He decided to camp out for a few days and understand the essence of the place, in real sense. After all, one cannot know the place if they stay in a hotel room. The rare and unforeseen experiences in a journey are the ones which people remember rather than the comfort of a bed. As it was not possible to camp out anywhere he pleased, Soham decided on a resort that provided camping area. Enjoying the most of nature, he was pleased with his destination choice. Right from setting up a tent to barbecuing, the experience was memorable. He couldn't have done that along with his family. His wife would be like, "There are mosquitoes and wildlife here. You realize that this is not a good idea, I mean, you are joking, right?" He laughed at that imaginary conversation. It was not that he didn't love her. They both just shared quite different hobbies and interests. That night was a night of introspection. He knew he enjoyed travelling. He was aware of his love for nature. His passion was to explore the world and learn about each of the places, their traditions, their way of life and so on. That night he slept with no worries and tensions. In the next few days, he went to the wonderful beaches of Fiji. He surfed and hiked. He did all the crazy things which he had always wanted to do. He even took pleasure in their traditional festivals.
          He spent 15 days of camping, beaching, surfing, enjoying local delicacies, surfing, hiking, and touring an amazing island. In that period of time, he developed a deep relation with the nature & with himself. Now, he had the answers to everything. Life is temporary, he had known. Wasting even a single moment doing something you don't like is a waste of being alive. Soham was going to devote his life to nature and traveling. He knew he wasn't good at writing travel diaries nor did he excel at photography. His income would stop once he quit his lame job. The only way he could pursue his dream was by excelling as a tour guide. Not the ones who get thrown around but those with real knowledge about places. He had decided to document the places he had already been to, which included, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bhutan and lastly Fiji. He was going to prepare documentaries on these places and showcase his talent to the world. People would accept him because he possessed knowledge and experience over and above other travel agencies.
          Conveying his decision to his family was the start of a rough journey with many ups and downs. He had imagined his wife's reaction but reality had him better. When he convinced his wife and his parents with his 'tour guide charm', then there was no looking back. He set up his sole concern, with whatever savings he had. He published and advertised his work about the 5 exhilarating places where Indians can travel relaxing themselves & also their pockets. These documentaries included each and every aspect of those places. There were ordinary sections like how to travel, when to visit, where to stay. But there were also non-ordinary sections which mentioned the specific activities which they can enjoy, his own experience, the history of the place, the traditions and so on. Due to his exquisite study of places, he was able to attract many customers. His customers included people who really wanted to know a place, schools and colleges for industrial visits etc. His x factor stood out against everyone. His potential, efforts and dedication were reflected in his success. Five years later, with a successful business of his liking, he was still Soham, sitting by the lake, from where his life changed forever.

Monday, 27 April 2015

A Year Since Kashmir.

          After sharing the experience of my Kerala visit, I have developed an interest in travel writing. I may not have climbed mountains or jumped from a plane. But in my opinion, travel is something different for every individual. For me, it lies in the beauty of a place. Last year, I visited Kashmir and within it lies the most effusive natural beauty and solitude. It is that feeling which I had when I stood at 15000 feet that made me write this post. Dedicated to the place I will always treasure.
          The heat here in Mumbai, just reminds me of all the snow-clad mountains over a wide range that spread through the Himalayan range. We visited three places; Sonmarg, Chandanwadi and Gulmarg to enjoy the most of snow. My favorite was unquestionably Gulmarg. The amount of excitement was so much that I just couldn't wait until I was way above the normal altitude and in the midst of all the clouds. The moment we reached on the third and the highest level, I was stunned by the beauty that was Kashmir. I just stood there open-mouthed staring at the place which was so unique in its own way. It had some sort of magic which had me bewitched at the first glance. There was nothing but snow and clouds. We could see the city far away from where we stood. But mostly it was all white, snow draped over all the mountains. It was cold but somehow I couldn't feel it because of the adrenaline and anxiety that was pumped up within me. At that moment, nothing else mattered. My mind was fully in that place, in real time and I was busy taking it all in. We could see the shadow of the white clouds upon the white snow and it felt unbelievable to envision such beauty. Even though there was the partition rope between two countries right in front of us, the place symbolized peace. It was a place where a person can be when he was fed up with all the people down there. It was a place for meditation and concentration. I would have loved to stay there pondering and thinking about all of the mysteries of life and nature. It was a marvelous place which penetrated hope and life. I had seen nothing quite like it and it became the closest most favorite place near my heart.
          I clicked around 100 photos of Gulmarg alone, among which these are some of the best ones.

The magnificent view from 15000 feet.

Of snow and clouds...

The shadow of the clouds upon the snow clad mountains.

          Today, even after one year, as I close my eyes, I recollect all the memories, thrill, amazement and pleasure I had when I was at Gulmarg.

Friday, 24 April 2015

One Last Time.

          Yesterday was officially the last day at college. One last time I had to give an exam. One last time I had the chance to be there. I reached an hour early & had the classroom to myself. One last time I was the first to open that door, switch on all the lights and just live the air of college. I had decided which parts to revise for the exam, but nostalgia hit me right in my brain and I was lost in all those sweet college memories. I found myself in the past, the present and the future. I was recollecting memories from the past, viewing my college with awe in the present & hoping for a great future I'll have only because I was a part of this institution. I felt sadness that it was over & anxiety for how amazing a journey it was. I felt grateful & also indebted. I felt so many feelings at once which I hadn't expected. Just two days ago, my fellow classmates were talking about the end of a journey & the many 'one last time' things & and I couldn't even care to bother. But yesterday, after being in my college & realizing that I wouldn't be there anymore estranged me. And since I was the girl who fled home at 10:37 as soon as the lecture ended at 10:36, all these feelings took me by surprise. I truly loved my college. It had given me a few experiences of the difficult world to get me outside of my shell. It gave me immense knowledge. It helped me find an interest & develop a hobby. It gave me some amazing teachers whom I will idolize till the end of my life. And it gave me amazing friends, to last forever.
          As I look back, I can only see memories. The time we were so fascinated by college days and the college festival, back in FY. Those friendship day celebrations, over the years were so fun. The amount of anxiety we had during our first presentation in FY was insurmountable. The great event of 'Teachers' Felicitation' was something we all enjoyed. The three industrial visits, which brought us all closer, will remain in our memories forever.
          All those times when our happiness knew no bounds when a lecture was cancelled. Or, at other times, the sadness when we compulsorily had to attend some seminars. That one day we looked forward to when we had our favorite teacher's lecture. And also that one teacher whose lecture was equivalent to a free lecture. The times when rains made it impossible to get us to college, but we still went, because it was our college, our habitat. Those numerous times when we just sat in canteen because that was our place after we had bunked the lectures. The list is infinite and so is our love for our college. Whatever happens, we will look back upon these days and a smile will come to our faces, in an instant.
          Now, we are adults. We are graduates. There are great expectations from us. From now on, our real life begins. It is our choice whether to start a business or study more or take up a job. It is us who have to take the responsibility of our future in our hands. We had the time of our lives in college but now is the time to get up and experience the world.
          I will always relish my college life, for it had many friends, memorable experiences and enthusiastic learning (in and out of the classroom.) Few years down the line, when I'll be reading a novel about a college story, I'll remember my college and then the sea of memories will flood in and I'll be grateful for having chosen such an amazing college which truly changed my life. To conclude, I'd say this-

Bunked the lecture, one last time.
Gave an exam, one last time.
Did time pass in canteen, one last time.
We will be nostalgic about this, some time.

Monday, 13 April 2015

9 Things I'm Doing This Summer.

          Summers equals vacations. This time it's probably going to be my last enjoyable summer vacation. Because henceforth there will be seriousness, maturity and all of those corporate ethics to bind by. That is the basic reason why I have decided to make this summer count. I have decided on doing some productive yet fun activities instead of just lazing out on the couch and watching television. (It will obviously be one part of it though. I mean, it's television!) So here goes some of the things:

1. Reading.

My bookshelf.

          Reading is like breathing or eating for me, so I'm going to read a lot. The ones in front are some of the books I look forward to reading. The new thing which I'm doing this time is to read classics and also some authors whose books I haven't read yet. Instead of re-reading 'The Fault In Our Stars', which is my favorite, I am going to expand my reading horizons. What's your 'To-Be-Read' list?

2. Writing.

          After careful consideration of all the fields around me, I think writing is something in which I find solace. Writing, to me, is peace of mind. It is thinking about any subject from 360 angles and expressing upon it. I am going to dedicate myself to writing as well as blogging, which is going to be a lot fun around here. I am hoping to write book reviews, movie reviews, cooking experiences, travel diaries and much more. You can know that as you finish this post!

3. Exercise.

          This one is in every person's list and somehow it is always ignored. I think that vacation is about fun, relaxed and happy people eating pizza and ice cream! Sure, I love to believe that because that's the easy way out. If I want to enjoy ice cream, then I'm going to pay for it by exercising. It is not even that hard to take out an hour for exercising, especially when there are no studies. So I'm going to hit the grounds, work out in the gym and burn some calories this summer and so should you!

4. Exploring.

          There are so many places to visit and so many things to see. Even if it's not possible to go on fancy tours, you can still explore your own city. There are some places I  have never been in my own city. There are a few hangout spots where I was keen to go but never actually been. I'm going to check out such places along with my friends and add some adventure to summer.

5. Cooking.

Yummy donuts made by my mother.

          I love food and I am proud to be a foodie. Honestly, I don't know a single person who is not a foodie. Everyone loves to eat! This time, I'm going to learn cooking, for real. My mom would be pleased after reading this. She is the most amazing cook and I don't have any doubt that she will be an amazing teacher as well. Maybe not baking or grilling but I can start with something basic like sheera and pohe, which are the Maharashtrian necessities.

6. Knowledge add-ons.

          I have heard enough times that you need that something extra to survive in the industry. It can be anything from working for an NGO to solving the Rubik's square to bar tending! None of these, but I am going to decide on something and excel at it. Another thing which is on my list that I can include here is, study. Not academic study, of course. I am going to take up a subject on the current affairs and study it. It would be like a project. If I want, I could even present it to my family members or friends. Topics could be anything like politics, music industry, women empowerment etc. Such an activity will keep me updated on the news as well as help me in project planning in the future.

7. D.I.Y stuff.

          These are the bookmarks I had made 2 years back during Diwali vacations. I made a lot of them and gave them to my cousins and friends. Being a reader, it's natural that the first 'Do-It-Yourself' thing I thought of was a bookmark! However, I am planning to make some new and simple things this time. It could be a pouch out of a tie or a wall-hanging out of CDs. There are so many ideas available on the net these days that it has become quite easier to make such articles.

8. Workshops.

          This plan is still in the works as I haven't searched which workshops are happening this summer. I would like to attend as many writing workshops as possible. That is going to be the goal. There are many other workshops that one can join. I was even considering photography or pot-making. It's all about searching and remaining updated on the social media sites from where you can get reliable information.

9. Television.

           As I said earlier, I am not going to compromise much on television. There are so many sitcoms and movies to watch. The plus point of watching a movie is that I can write a blog review on it later. So, who's the real winner here? My all-time favorites are 'Grey's Anatomy', 'The Big Bang Theory', 'Sherlock Holmes' and 'Pretty Little Liars'. This summer I'm definitely watching 'Friends', "HIMYM' and 'Game Of Thrones', if I get any time from doing all of the above listed things. Movies that I want to watch are the ones which are from books. So, Insurgent and Paper Towns basically. 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2' comes out later in November. So, more of waiting on that one! So, that's that!

          I really want to complete this summer bucket-list and have a great time this summer. What are your summer plans? Do share. :)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Are You Living?

          The human body needs a heart and a brain to function whereas the kidneys, liver etc are secondary. If a person is brain dead or his heart stops beating, then that's the end of everything. Now that's the science part. I don't write a science blog. I write a thought blog, you can say. In my opinion, there are five major constituents that are crucial in someone's life, excluding which they are not alive. The five components which I believe in are trust, passion, hope, happiness and love.

          If you think over it, you may realize that my theory has some sense. Our lives are filled with innumerable events, countless people and infinite feelings. Humans can be cheery at one moment and absolutely raged the next. There is no way of predicting human behavior or the impact of environment on us. Such random changes in mood, trust issues, depression and craziness can come to an end if you practice this simple theory. All you have to do is ask yourself five questions whenever you are feeling down.

Do you trust yourself and others?
Are you passionate?
Are you hopeful?
Are you happy?
Are you in love with what you are doing or whom you are with?

          Let's take an example of your job. After graduation or post-graduation, many educated people are still clueless about their life. They never get the time to really think upon what interests them or whether it is all right to evade something that the whole world  does. Many of them just take up whichever job they get and live with it forever. They don't understand or trust what they are doing. There is obviously no passion, happiness or love. There is just hope that something better will come along (which, to be honest, never comes.) So, what's the point? That isn't living. That is just surviving. Such depressing work force can lead to many sad psychological downturns. I understand that income is a valid point to stay but is it not better to find something that you are passionate about and earn from that? Loving what you do and doing what you love. That's the goal, right? And when you find something like that then there is guaranteed success!

          Another case is friendships or relationships. Obligatory hellos? Fake smiles? Awkward silence? Yes, these are the kind of things you go through around people with whom you are not comfortable or happy. Humans are sensitive and that is why you cannot just quit on them like jobs or objects. You can try to talk it out with them. If they are all right with your decision, then they will understand and let you go. If they really do care for you, then they will stick to you and make things pleasant for you. There should co-exist a bond of trust, passion, hope, happiness and love between family members, friends and lovers. Otherwise, what is the meaning of any relationship at all? Why to name it something when there is no exchange of feelings or thoughts? You can follow the five step mantra to evaluate where you stand in a relationship and understand yourself better.

          The last and the most important aspect where you can study this concept is, with yourself. You will have to consider external aspects such as your job,relationships and so on while doing this. Because, the things that are inter-related to you are the things that can make or break you. To decide that is completely within you.
          Do you trust yourself, your personality, your values and believe in them the way others think you do? Are you optimistically hopeful for your future and for what it has to offer to you? Are you happy with the kind of an individual you have become? Are you the kind of person that radiates happiness and spreads it around all the people surrounding you? Are you in love with your life? Are you in love with those people who make your life worthwhile? Are you living?
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