Friday, December 19, 2014

Toastmasters Matrix.

Trinity: I know why you're here, Neo. I know what you've been doing... why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit by your computer. You're looking for him. I know because I was once looking for the same thing. And when he found me, he told me I wasn't really looking for him. I was looking for an answer. It's the question that drives us, Neo. It's the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.
Neo: What is Toastmasters?
Trinity: The answer is out there, Neo, and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.

[Neo receives a cell phone in an overnight-mail envelope. As soon as he's holding it, it rings]
Neo: Hello?
Morpheus: Hello, Neo. Do you know who this is?
Neo: Morpheus?
Morpheus: Yes. I've been looking for you, Neo. I don't know if you're ready to see what I want to show you, but unfortunately, you and I have run out of time. The contest season is near. And this year I am the president of my club.

Morpheus: What if I told you that Toastmasters club is not a Spoken English course, nor is it toast making class.

Morpheus: Unfortunately, no one can clearly explain what a Toastmasters meeting is like. You have to attend it for yourself.

Morpheus: This was your first Toastmasters meeting. After this, there is no turning back. If you don't take the membership, the story ends, you wake up late the next weekend and do whatever you feel like with your life. But if you take the membership, if you stay in Toastmasters, then I'll show you how far and wide the communication and leadership track goes.
(Neo chooses to take the membership).
Morpheus: Remember, all I'm offering is mentorship. Nothing more.

Morpheus: Throughout human history, we have been dependent on our ability to speak, to surive. Stage fright, it seems, is nothing short of irony.

Morpheus: After snacks break we'll have Table Topics section in which you'll participate.
Neo: No way. No way. This is crazy.
Morpheus: There are two ways to attend a Toastmasters meeting. Either sit in the audience, or go over there and speak in front of the audience. I leave it to you.

Morpheus (to Neo): Free your mind.
(He lifts Neo's arm and the Table Topics master calls Neo for the table topics speech).

Morpheus: I'm trying to proof-read your speech. But I can only give you a good draft and correct your delivery techniques. You are the one who has to deliver the speech.

Morpheus: Neo, sooner or later you're going to realize just as I did that there's a difference between writing the speech and delivering the speech.

Spoon boy: Do not try and compete with others in a contest. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no contest.
Neo: There is no contest?
Spoon boy: Then you'll see, that it is not against others that you're trying to compete, but against yourself.

Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge evaluations?
Morpheus: No, Neo. I'm trying to tell you that when you're ready, you won't have to.

Tank: So what do you think you need to win this speech contest? Besides a miracle.
Neo: Feedback. Lots of genuine feedback.

Agent Smith: Tell me, Mr. Anderson, how good is a well written speech if you're unable to speak?

Agent Smith: I'm going to enjoy watching you forget your speech, Mr. Anderson.

Agent Smith: You forgot your speech.
Neo: So did you !!

Trinity: Neo, I'm not afraid anymore. The Oracle told me that I would fall in love and that man... the man that I loved would be The One. So you see, you can't losethe contest. You can't... because I love you. You hear me? I love you.
[Trinity kisses Neo; Neo stops shaking and feels confident]
Trinity: Now go deliver your speech!

Neo: I know you're out there. I can see you now. I know that you're afraid, you're afraid of the audience. You're afraid of being booed off the stage. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how its going to begin, by taking a membership with our Toastmasters club. I'm going to show everyone a world without stage fear, and ahs and uhms. A world where anyone can give a good speech. Where we go from here is a choice I leave to you.

(Speak Up, by Rage against the Stage Fear plays in the background).

Friday, November 14, 2014

For the love of good food !!

I've always enjoyed a good meal with friends, family, even strangers who become friends over a good meal. And everything so delightful deserves to be celebrated with a song.

I heard this song today, called Good Meal, and I realized that this is how I have always felt while eating something tasty, delicious, this is my good meal song. Like my tasty food, this song also makes me feel like dancing, singing and eating tasty food !!

So, how do you feel when you have a good meal?!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Dandruff Attack !!

There has been a civil war going on my scalp for almost a week now... the black natives (hair strands) were fighting to stay rooted to their native place (my scalp) against the sudden attack of white terrorists (dandruff flakes) (no racism implied/intended), thus causing unrest and disturbance in the rest of the region as well, including the higher body & mind (me).
Finally an aerial attack of bomb shelling (lemon drops) brought back peace, at the cost of many more fallen black natives... that was followed by egg supply to provide relief to the family members (remaining hair strands) of the fallen black natives so that they don't decide to leave their native place (my scalp)!!
Representatives of the higher body & mind, my hands, made sure the lemon drops and egg supply reached the required areas... the higher body & mind condemns such violent attacks in its capital area (my scalp) and assure the remaining hair strands that a separate committee will be set-up (a phone-call from home) to make sure regular hair-wash is being conducted to prevent such attacks in the future !!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Miracle Workers

Being married to the same person for 27 years is a miracle in itself !! And that makes my parents prophets of God !! So much for 'parents being form of God' in our Indian culture. Now I understand what that means!
I mean, how can someone share such closeness with the same person for so many years... more than boredom, I'm worried about contempt!
I've lived with myself for 26 years and what tops my list is the contempt I have for myself! I mean yeah I do respect myself and admire myself sometimes but most of the times, its comtempt. So whenever I mess up, I'm like, "you crazy ass, what have you done! Again !!"

If I had an option to leave myself and go away, far away, never to be discovered by myself, I would do that right this second. But I can't, its not an option.
Marriages are also supposed to be like that, technically, by definition. However, despite being married, the two are still separate individual with their own identity. People do separate or divorce, many people are doing these days. But those who stick to each other no matter what, despite having an option, a choice to walk away when things start to turn ugly. Those who fight the storm because they know that the calmness of the shores would be worth it, once they survive. They are the miracle workers !!
Prophets of God is what they really are. Prophets are said to be able to walk on water. Marriage is tougher than walking on water! I mean you could walk on water when its frozen, can't you?! You could be smart and find a way out. For a successful marriage, your smartness ain't working for very long! No tricks helping you here. You have to be honest. You have to open up in every way to your partner and hope that they do the same. And doing that is an act of bravery.
There's pain but there's also pleasure. There are constraints but there's also new kinds of freedom. Its like doors to a whole new world opens up to you and as the age goes by you realize that this world isn't that new. Its just that you're looking at it from different perspective, because you're playing a different role now. Now you're not a kid but a parent, not a bachelor but a spouse.

Since I am so terrified of change, my father often tells me, "Things will change around you, even though you may want it to stay the same. Now it is your choice, either stay where you are and feel that pain of witnessing every change around you, or become a part of the change so that it doesn't seem like a change anymore."
(He implies that because most of my friends are already married so I should get married too. Yes father, I got the message!)

My father and my mother are truly miracle workers. And I'm not even counting the countless number of things they've done for me, apart from all the love, affection, care, protection, guidance, support etc. Being together in happiness and sorrow, today and tomorrow itself is a miracle. And I pray and I wish that everyone's life becomes an example of such miracle!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The kid who sold guavas

Previous Episode

There's this cobbler who sits at the end of the street at White Fields, besides Fresh supermarket.

I left the office early to get my shoe stitched as the bottom layer of the shoe was coming off. The bottom layer of my shoe had given me some trouble earlier as well and I had used fevi-stick to temporarily keep it in place. But now I had run out of fevi-stick and patience.
He smiled at me when he saw me walk in his direction. He was working on another pair of shoe, rubbing the sole of that shoe and then applying his glue to keep it in place. He left it to dry for sometime. I took out the shoe of my left foot and showed him the problem, and asked him to stitch it up as stitching even lasts during rainy days but he said it can't be stitched, only glued. Owing to his past good work that he had done for my other shoe, I asked him to glue it up.
While he worked, I looked around. It was unusual for me to wake up and be out of my apartment by 9:30 am. It felt good, starting the day early. I saw a boy, 10 years old I guess, who was standing with his wheel-cart of guavas and asking the passers by if they'd like a guava rubbed with red salt. While I stared at him cutting the guava from one side while retaining the cut pieces together on the other side, and offering it to a man who was carrying his daughter in his lap and asking her if she'd like to have some. She nodded her head in disagreement. He paid and left, and the kid looked in the direction of the cobbler, and saw me staring at him. I looked away.
The cobbler tried to say something to him but i couldn't understand his signs, but the boy did. But another prospective customer had come and bought a couple of guavas. While I saw him deal with that customer, I heard the cobbler call me. I turned and looked down at him looking up at me, smiling and holding my shoe to me. I took it, tried to find any gaps between the bottom layer of the shoe and rest of the shoe but it was sealed tight.
How much, I asked.
20, he said.
I was glad he asked more than he had asked last time and happily paid him.
While walking away I avoided looking at the kid selling guava, afraid he might ask me to try one piece. I was right, he did, and I said no and walked away. Only to turn back after taking few steps because my stomach was growling with hunger.
i didn't ask him how much, I nodded in agreement when he asked me if he should slide one guava for me. I stood there and enjoyed each piece of guava rubbed with red salt. It felt good and once again I felt grateful for food in my life.
Once I was done, I asked him, how much. I think he said Rs. 10 and I sifted through the contents of my wallet, including lots of ATM receipts that I think I'll use to note down any brilliant idea that I migth get while sitting in an auto or walking on the road. I gave out Rs. 10 to him but stood there for few seconds more. I took off my bag from my shoulders and held it in my hand, still uncertain whether I should do it, or not.
What the hell, I thought, it doesn't matter if I am few pieces short! Anyways its first come first served.
So I unzipped my bag, put my hand deep inside it, felt for those silver foiled chocolates especially made by my sister for me to eat and share, and took out two of them and held them out for the boy.
The boy looked at me and smiled. Nodded in refusal but continued to smile. I held it close to him. He looked at the cobbler who nodded in agreement. He took them, opened one of them and relished them. He was smiling broadly now. Gave me a chance to smile too. I zipped up my bag and started to walk away when he called me out and offered me another guava. I refused and walked away.
That moment I felt like superman, walking away after saving someone. Of course what I did wasn't very grand but I was proud that I could bring smile on someone's face despite myself being very shy and timid person, and someone who doesn't share things easily.
Now that my mood was uplifted, I wasn't upset anymore about going back to work after a long vacation at home!
On my way I wondered, what if I had taken another guava and given him some more chocolates in return...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thinking, my hobby

Playing with my thoughts under the shower in morning is perhaps my favorite time of the day. Those 10 minutes of seclusion from everything else gives me time with my thoughts and ideas, and with the cool water heightening my senses, almost everytime I come up with something cool and original, an idea or a one liner thought, that I feel good about for rest of the day!
While commuting to my office, I get about 10 minutes with myself while I'm sitting in an auto-rickshaw. Even with all the noise and commotion around, I find myself floating in the vast expanse of my thoughts. Yes, I enjoy playing with my thoughts, and some of it I write. Even in a group of friends, I have a string of thoughts running in parallel to the chatting happening around me.
One of my seniors and perhaps the most influential and wise student I met during my days at college, told us on 2nd day of our orientation that, "whatever you enjoy doing is your hobby. I enjoy thinking, so Thinking is my hobby. No harm in that!"
That very thought of having Thinking as a hobby intrigued me and I was deeply impressed by him. I felt motivated to make thinking my hobby, and it eventually has become my habit.
My physics teacher at Gurukul, the coaching institute at Jalandhar used to tell us that one should never stop thinking because whatever we think can be possible. His reason was simple: we are a part of this universe, so our thoughts would also be confined to the various possibilities applicable in this universe. So, he encouraged us to keep on thinking and be innovative.
The best part about thinking is that it only requires our time and our attention. No investments is needed, no team or partner required, and it can be done anytime, anywhere!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Does love exist?

"I love you".
This is perhaps the most invigorating words to hear, yet the most overused words as well. And I say this because I see/hear people use the word 'love' for almost anything and everything that makes them happy or gives them pleasure.
"I love my mom, my dad, my sis!"
"I love chocolates!"
"I love my new job!"
"I love Parineeti!"

I have heard people use the word 'love' so much that I had started to doubt its credibility and for sometime now I also wonder if 'love', not just as a word but also as a concept really exists?!

You say you like someone/something, its usually attraction. You get to know that person, it becomes affection and when you two spend enough time together, know each other and are comfortable in each others' presence/lives, that's attachment. Beyond that people say its true love.
Then there's care, compassion, worry... and many more such emotions that happen due to "love" for someone.

The way I see it, love is like a soul, unseen and not noticeable to almost all of us. Whereas other emotions/feelings like care, attraction, compassion, worry etc. can be perceived and well defined, like various body organs. They're tangible, understandable and can be attended to.
Or love is this entity that shows itself once in a while in these other emotions/feelings.
Or love is the amalgamation of all these emotions.
Or love manifests itself in various forms.
Or love isn't real, it doesn't exist. Its just a concept of convenience, a word to be used if you feel anything like care, affection, attachment, attraction, anxiety, about someone/something consistently!

Deep Dive:
Also, sometimes I think we feel that love between two young people is different from love between parent and child or love between siblings or love between friends, or even love of a person for his work or some particular subject. The truth is that we confuse all this by calling each one of these emotions as love. Each emotion is different. Parents pamper, scold, worry about, encourage their kids; siblings/friends fight, share, care for each other, pull each other's leg, and in many cases are ready to die to save the other person; a person can spend sleepless nights working on a big project or learning more about some subject. All these examples show a certain connection between two entities that we call love. But then we say love should always be good, but its not! Love also hurts when the relationship suffers due to some reason. Is it really love that hurts you or the failure, the mismatch of expectations, the lack of commitment? Is it fault of love, really?
Love is what we want love to be. Its like God, a man made entity. It is the emotion we must identify, it is the reason behind the joy or sorrow that we must identify. Then we will know that love is just a word of convenience that we call the connection we establish with another person or thing.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Room Cleaning Campaign

Dirty room (Check)
Floor, table, closets, travel bags covered with lots of dust that gives me asthma (Check)
Bed covered with books, laptop, dirty clothes, bedsheet (Check)
Covered my nose and mouth with a handkerchief (Check)
Music (Check)
Broom (Check)
Let the room cleaning begin !!

I stood there at my door, scanning at my room, wondering where to begin, which part of my room demanded my immediate attention, where should I go first, to the nearest one or the dirtiest one... these questions kept me standing there for a few minutes, until I realized that I was feeling tired. I took off the handkerchief from my face, took a deep breath of air from outside my dirty room and went and sat down on my bed. As soon as my bum hit the bed, something hit my bum. It was my Natraj pencil sharpener. I took it as a sign from God to start my Room Cleaning Campaign from the bed!
I covered my nose and mouth with my handkerchief once again, determined to free my room of all the dust and garbage that had been living in my room uninvited for many weeks now. I covered my nose and mouth not to hide my face in shame because cleaning one's own room is not shame, its quite a recreational activity for me. You can immediately see the result of your venture, which is very satisfying. After collecting all that dust that had been sprawling around and getting rid of all the wrappers, and unwanted stuff that are either broken and not being used anymore, one feels a sense of happiness when looking at and staying in one's room.
This makes me wonder, why don't I get my room cleaned by the house keeping staff, on a regular basis? But then how would I get to enjoy hunting down these things till the last speck of dust in my room is identified and thrown out.
I get busy with my broom, slowly collecting all the dust and wrappers and hair and other stuffs, from under the bed, table, edges of the floor and walls, and even the cobwebs from the roof and the window sill. It is quite a workout for my arm and wrist. Like a warrior I wield my broom (read: sword) and vanquish (read: collect) my enemies (read: dust and garbage). I like to be thorough and until my sweeping doesn't change the appearance of the floor, I keep sweeping !!
Suddenly I felt this sudden blocking in my throat and I coughed out...
OMG the dust is attacking back !! Its triggering heaviness in my breathing, I feel choked !! I fastened the handkerchief and with few quick sweeps got rid of most of the dust. Hastily I walk out and few steps away from my room, open my handkerchief, take a deep breath of relatively cleaner and dust free air, and cough out. I see few people walking nearby give me a cursory glance after hearing me cough. With tears in my eyes, I sniff, glad to be able to breathe normally again, and walk back to the door of my room and look in.
Not bad, I think. Now to clear the clutter on the study table and change of bedsheet, which has earned its right to take a break and get washed, after having served me for almost a month now... even a govt. employee get a Sunday every week.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

White Sheet of Paper

When I see a white sheet of paper, I get this urge to fill it up with words, sketches, numbers, anything would do. Just that I want the whiteness of the white sheet to vanish.
The whiteness overwhelms me, mocks me, yet serves as a playground if I choose to play. It is here that I try out my ideas, brainstorm and bring new things to life, with each stroke of pen/pencil reducing the whiteness lesser and lesser and in the end leaving behind a trail of whiteness arranged in interesting patterns.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Shadow of Gap

I feel in whatever I do and however well I do it, there's a gap. In my mind I see it as a dark shadow between where I stand and where I wish to stand. This dark shadow perhaps hides the depth I will fall in case I try to bridge this gap and fail.
There is light at the side I stand and light at the other side, beyond the gap. That light is definitely brighter and the other side looks more appealing and comforting, yet this gap stands in between, like a black fog, perhaps protecting the other side so that only the worthy and the daring close this gap or get through it.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Everyday Sine Wave of Emotions

Everything's good in my life and around me but in my mind I keep going through the sine wave of emotions !!

Each wave starts early in the morning and ends late at night.
Its the same everyday. The sine wave starts at zero, then rises to its positive peak value by lunch time during which I have my first cup of tea, I exercise, I have breakfast and I spent a couple of hours working at my desk. After lunch, and conversations with others about how life can be so much better, my emotional curve starts to fall and reaches zero by snacks time as I realize that life can indeed be so much better!
By dinner time my emotional curve hits rock bottom as it reaches its negative peak value. This is when I am back from office, and connected to office from home. Sometimes I feel sad that I am still connected to office while others in my apartment are done with their office work for the day. Add to it the misery I go through while surfing the internet and feeling jealous by looking at all the happy faces on Facebook, some updating their marriage pics, others their promotion or admission news.
After dinner I watch some nice TV shows or movies and my emotions start rising back from negative and towards the neutral line. Before sleeping I do some light reading and relax myself to enter the world of sweet slumber.
This is one full day for me, everyday.

Monday, January 06, 2014

The end is near

Sometimes I feel that the end is near.
The end of my job/career if I am not working properly or getting much to work on.
The end of my life when I fall badly sick and cough throughout the night.
The end of my happiness when too many good things happen and I wonder if its leading to the beginning of a new curve of sadness.

But that is one way to look at life I suppose. I could never picture the end of my bad habits, negative self talk, lack of physical fitness or abundance of social awkwardness.
It would be terrific to live life nearing the end of all that, isn't it !!