The Greatest Fear!

The greatest fear in my professional life, I realised today, could be failing and appearing like a loser in front of someone you don’t admire much at your workplace. Today, I bet my life if I couldn’t figure the problem’s solution with all the expertise of my team and help at my disposal, there is not an iota of chance that he would be able to do it. Perhaps, I miscalculated something. Most nagging of all was the fact that we couldn’t even identify the real problem itself. So, finding a solution was out of question. I knew deep inside that this particular problem which kept defying me and my hard-working team’s all the possible trials to beat it for so long, may be a cakewalk for him. If not the solution, at least figuring the actual problem could be. After all, the problem belonged to his specialisation of education. He must have studied, read, seen it somewhere in college or elsewhere, who knows. But, my pride and inflated ego, blended with a disturbing truth of my constant failure at this  clouded my rationale. I openly declared in front of him and my team that we needed a third-party help there. It killed me from inside to learn from my team that they wanted to seek his help as he could probably do it for the above reasons. And, he being a part of the other team never really tried his hands to find the problem. May be that reinforced my assertions internally in my mind that he is really incapable to do it, and that my team is uselessly paranoid to get his help simply because he studied that specialisation in college.

Unfortunately, I am alloted a department which needs some knowledge in that kind of specialisation to work comfortably. Here was the miscalculation. I thought him to be equally incompetent as myself in the problem area and thus never sought his help. But, he gave it a try after several requests from my team. He figured the problem in seconds, rectified it in minutes. I don’t know if he was always sure he would be figure it with such ease and that he had just let us suffer in our own incompetence for sometime unless he was short of  pity to throw on us, but it doesn’t matter anyway.

What mattered then was this: I was seen as an incompetent person to handle my department and he became the star for years to come, an all-rounder of who could lead both the teams. Not that he was any less a hero in the eyes of the people around already, but, it kind of burst ‘my’ bubble. My own mental world where I was the hero of everything I did and had always felt complacent enough assuming that everyone happily subscribed to my work and thought process and appreciated it silently. That world came crumbling down. I felt weak, literally. I felt like escaping somewhere, may be through deep sleep, so that when I  wake up, all the events that just transpired gets erased and disappear like images in a bad dream.

What matters now, as I am writing this piece has nothing to do with failures and success. Just one thing, one lesson, one takeaway for today. Do not let a bubble of complacency, self obsession, haughtiness etc. form around you. Let go of your false ego. The more the ego, the bigger the bubble, and the greater the damage when it bursts. Everyone can do everything or may be not, do not bother. Not withstanding that, remember everyone is important and no one deserves to be

Once the mind transcends from hatred to love or respect or  even indifference, the greatest fear will cease to exist.


The Delivery Guy

I ordered something online last week, got it delivered, then raised a return request, for some reasons, impertinent to this piece here. The pickup guy called me today, while I was in my office. He had a little trouble spotting my office location and called me again, and I figured he was standing just a few meters away from office gate. Short tempered that I am, I was losing my nerves and asked him to get somebody’s help nearby as he was almost there, and hung up. Meanwhile, I was thinking if I needed some peace of mind through meditation or yoga as little things like this were beginning to take a toll on my calm disposition, of late.

He came inside, a short guy in his mid-twenties may be, dressed well and looked damn exhausted. Actually he was thirsty as hell, and asked me if he could have some water. I felt pity on him for reasons not quite vivid to me at that moment, something about the looks he envisaged made me feel depressed, but notwithstanding that feeling, I offered him my flask of chilled water. He drank with the speed of light if I may exaggerate, roughly coughing at the end because his food pipe could take only so much at once. I believe, and most of you would subscribe to this too, that the ultimate pleasure of gulping ice cold water after being dehydrated enough in the sun is too underrated. And not just the usual sun, but the sun in Kolkata during summers which rises much early and wreaks havoc on the poor people trapped there.

Anyway, so this delivery guy was cursing the heat as well, and soon after I figured the pains he and the likes of him take for making our lives simple, I felt guilty for being rude and impatient, although not outright on his face. Actually, the contrition made me uncomfortable and momentarily made me to think why this guy was there. Obviously he was there for me, to pick up the package for return, but why.  He wouldn’t be there if I had not changed my mind and rather accepted the product. So, on the face of it it seems, I created an additional service for him, which will get him paid. I was trying to sort out my thoughts about this whole revolutionised system of online shopping and the consequences of the flexibility they offer us. I mindlessly order something, then change my mind, request a pickup with a tap of my finger and voila, a person is right there at your disposal for your assistance. Makes me feel like a king in my own mind, such is the nature of service provided. But, somewhere I felt I was abusing the services, the boon which technology brings with itself. I was misusing the human resource standing right in front of  me. The thought that he is getting paid for the job was too easily overpowered by the thoughts driven by my conscience that I could have saved the guy all the trouble and  the life sucking parade under the sun.

After the delivery boy was done with his packet verification, he asked something to me. Something which sounded weird at first and I felt like ignoring him pretending like I did not hear anything, but I couldn’t as he spoke them very clearly and he knew I had heard it. He asked “Does this company of yours recruit? How can I become a part of it?”.

My mind was calm now, all the previous downpour of thoughts fully flushed out. I explained him that he needed to be an engineer and write some exams to get in. He further enquired, rather expressed his dismay, if he could get in with a 12th pass branding. Now you know why I tried ignoring his question.

I could make out the conversation would lead to this, and there I was, in an awkward situation of unfolding the whole painful struggle it takes to get in an organisation like that. To a person already in despair, someone like me rejoices in giving hope, but as I spoke, I only amplified his hopelessness. I could read his otherwise blank face which reflected how he hated his job of courier service. May be because he did not like the sun eating him up everyday for a much less compensation he got in return. May be because he had enough confidence and regret at the same time that his education and talent was not in conformation to the kind of work he was made to do. May be he felt life has been unfair to him. He wanted to change all of that.

I felt so small, so helpless. I had  never been more grateful to life before for giving me luxuries I don’t deserve.

Caution! Appreciation Ahead.

What does appreciation do to us mortals? It’s a two headed sword, you see. On one hand, it can keep you going for the great work you are doing, making it even better and bigger. It gives you the much needed boost in confidence inevitably required to soar to the top. The darker side is that it makes you vulnerable and addictive to itself, much before you are even close to realizing it’s ill consequences. It captures your mind to make it believe that the driving force behind what you are doing is the accolades and praiseworthy words it will bring to you, the sweetest music to ears, ever. But, that’s not the reason why you do what you do, is it? If it is, sooner or later, you would start losing the stability of your mind which is indispensable to delivering the great work you have been doing so far.

I feel great when sometimes, people appreciate the strings of my thoughts put down on paper. So much so, that they put my words in quotes and tell me how those words were an inspiration to them. I get all puffed up. I become all the more confident about the thoughts conceiving inside my grey matter every second and then think of ways to bring them to the external world, to give them birth in the most beautiful form. But, then the negative force plays, clouding all my strengths, feeding on the universal weaknesses we humans carry with us. I begin to become extra cautious about what I write, weighing every syllable, scrutinizing the consequence of every other sentence on the readers. That is essential so long it doesn’t debar you from the whole writing process or make your working speed dead slow. Worst of all, it may take a toll on the originality of your thoughts in its most crude form. Notwithstanding whether your audience nods all throughout while reading your brainchild, or gets into an imaginary debate with you, your words should flow straight from the heart.  This mantra for being original, as cliché as it may sound, is easier said than done. Most of us fear the criticism and its various forms of expression towards our work, and take a step back before leaning in. And then never move ahead. This fear eats away our freedom to share and voice our feelings. It comes in the guise of self-critical thoughts, seemingly innocuous to us, and subtly makes you believe that the world is already better off without you playing your bit. That’s one of the biggest delusions our mind gets clouded with. Let your due appreciation always kick you ahead but don’t let it become the fuel for your sky-rocketing imaginations in the mind.


The Unsocial Network!

I came across this thread article titled “the dialogue that divides” in The Hindu, some days ago. It talked about how, in the last few years, the jaws of social media has taken political issues and happenings, in its robust grasp. It’s unfortunate to see insignificant incidents which don’t even qualify as a local news become highlight of the day, thanks to a few attention beggars sitting with their empty skulls and sole motive to spread chaos in the system through the social networks.

As we get associated with electronic media much more than print media these days, we are liable to get influenced by whatever pops up on our screens. So much so that even if you are confidently neutral in your political and likewise inclinations and do not follow much of the news, some heated argument or virtual melee would sneak its way on your screen. That’s when you read the inflammatory headlines tempting enough for you to open the link and read ahead. So long, you were a person who has almost imaginary knack for cultivating opinions about some tenth fail netaji or some anti-national biology student who misunderstood political science with medical science and ruined his career (sorry for the lame sounding sarcasm). But after reading about the details of the events, presented with a string of flowery words and made to sound like a movie plot, you have now started taking interests in every Tom Dick and Harry’s preposterous comments about how everything is wrong with this nation. Moreover, you are ready and all geared up to voice your opinions, make yourself heard and get an acknowledgement about your fine understandings of the matter, in your social network. You take the plunge, confident with your line of thinking and facts and just about to prove that pen is mightier than the sword. More the number of thumbs up you get, more are your chances of becoming the next Krishan Kumar. Or someone else closely resembling the name, who cares.

But, this setup of showcasing your views, invites some sensitive complications. Your friends, relatives, notwithstanding close or distant, may not subscribe to your mature, fact laden thoughts and opinion. Being your well-wishers, they try to show you the right path apparently and save you from going astray by presenting their valuable thoughts, with much conviction corroborated by all the facts. You can’t disagree more with what they have to say. That starts of a debate, a virtual debate, which is way different than some drawing room debate, or a dinner table dialogue. Online, the world is watching you, silently reading your views, mentally gauging your ideals and forming an all new outline of mindset. You are well aware of all that. And since you have taken a stand, you must adhere to it, support it with all the facts, evidences and instances available on internet at your easy disposal. You ferret through the ocean of facts, and shoot back at your friends turned rivals. It’s a matter of prestige now, as is nicely put in the above mentioned The Hindu’s article. Had it been a dinner table debate, it would have easily and more naturally occurred to you that the end to this discussion is beyond infinity, and you would rather start concentrating on relishing the food and switching to more fruitful talk. But, when it’s an open forum with innumerable eyes looking inside your mind through your words, you tend to sideline the importance of relationships and sentiments, morals and courtesy and try your best to obstinately defend your stand, leaving no stones unturned. In the worst of the situations, you stop talking to a friend or an acquaintance for a disgraceful comment of his which you took personally or vice versa. Even though it is far from being true, but you start believing that the other person whom you might have known for a long time is poles apart from you and you can never fit in a single equation together. You tend to rely too much on your perception of the other person’s ideals and beliefs merely on the basis of an impersonal discussion.

It does not take much wisdom to understand that, post discussion, nothing changed for the better. Indeed, the relationship got jeopardized in an attempt to prove oneself to an audience which, here, has no face. I am not saying this is how all the debates which happen in the virtual world come to an end, but even if one out of hundred mortals became a victim of this social media induced failed dialogue, the technology takes another little step towards being a curse. That’s disheartening.

Remember the last time you were hanging out with your friends or loved ones for spending some quality time, cellphones aside and just picking on random discussions. Difficult to remember, right? Actually, no matter where we are, sitting alone on the bank of a river, or jammed in a room full of college friends gathered for a get together, most of us prefer to be glued to our cellphones, trying to inhale in the real world and exhale in the virtual one. In a world where we can’t imagine life without a persistently nagging online presence, the least we can do for our own self and for the love of everything good on this planet is learning to value people more than anything else. The avarice for this transient fame, the longing for prestige is not something new we humans have been part of, but when it interferes and takes a toll on our invaluable bonds with the folks around, there can be no bigger a loss for us.

Becoming the parent of my parent- The universal role reversal!!

Very often, the writers and philosophers have compared Life to a Drama and this world to a stage. We are all essential players in the drama playing our roles to the best of our capabilities.

The other day I was guiding my mother through the basics of using a smartphone, getting her started with Whatsapp and Facebook, apparently the 3rd and 4th basic necessities of Life after Food, Shelter and Clothing. I knew I had to be patient while explaining all the features, meaning of various associated terms and symbols like notifications, wall, last seen, blue ticks etc. As an ideal teacher, I taught her the basics of using the apps and sat back while she tried her hands at it, and constantly enquiring about the doubts and troubles she had while using. Trying to be a good calm teacher who encourages doubts and discussions, I clarified the small questions she had. Later that day, may be because the philosophical being in me got awakened, I started wondering how we as kids were brought up by our parents. My mind started juxtaposing morning’s teaching episode with the times of my childhood, and then dawned the realisation upon me. We, as children were so curious and inquisitive, always shooting up questions at our parents about whatever we witnessed around us, answers to which would be more than obvious to a grown up. But, nonetheless all our silly questions were a priority for them and they answered as if those were the most intelligent questions ever asked. They never looked down upon us or displayed slightest of impatience. That is why and that is how we learned. This unexpected realisation, more like an awakening, pushed me in contrition. I realised even though I was sincerely answering all the questions of my mother while guiding her, I was not eager enough doing it. I did not rejoice it. In fact, I had started to get irritated a bit as I found it difficult to explain some of the most obvious things. There were good questions too, like broadcasting messages on Whatsappetc, but the silly ones were starting to eat away my patience gradually, although I did not express it.

I would always remember that moment of joy she felt upon getting connected to everyone with a flick of finger and being able to scroll through the pictures and whereabouts of her friends and relatives all of whom have a remarkable presence on the social media. I was amazed to see the amazement on her face on being able to see through the happenings in the world with such ease. Being able to surf FB or text on Whatsapp or run some other apps is no big deal for us, but for her, it was quite an achievement. Her joy was no different than mine, when I had first learnt cycling or when I had first read the wall clock correctly.

That day, my mother reflected my own childhood, every bit of it. And so does every parent at some point of time. It’s just a matter of time. Sooner or Later, the roles ought to get reversed and there is much bliss in delivering this role perfectly, in becoming the parent of your parent.