September 4, 2017

The Super Power That Can Change The World

“Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom”, said Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose while campaigning our country's freedom movement.

Somewhere, a few decades down the line, reading it to her class, a teacher pondered, “Give me young minds, and I shall turn the nation around.”

Powerful words by a powerful person.

It might sound like a tall claim to make, way too far-fetched even, but anyone who has been a teacher, anyone who has ever been influenced by a teacher knows and understands it to be true. It is huge and impactful, and, in no way, an overstatement.

PC: WeAreTeachers on Facebook
This idea became clearer to me when I myself got a chance to assume the most respectable, the most honourable profession in the world. The love, respect and admiration that I have seen in the eyes of my children (beautiful, lovely children that I doted on, and still do) strongly reinforced in me the idea that I had the power to influence and effect change. 

There is a lot a teacher can do to change the world around us. How do you help control climate change?  Teach your class to turn off the fans when they leave the class. How do help keep the environment clean? Teach your class find a dustbin, and use it. How do you stop wars from happening? Teach your class the value, importance and necessity of peace. How do you save humanity from dying? Teach your class to be human.

And lead by example every time. Children know it when you preach but don’t practise.

You might be speaking to a batch of 50 students at a time. Imagine doing that over several decades. How many young minds will you be able to influence? I did the Math here – 50 students per year for 40 years of teacherhood makes it a total of 2000 children in the average professional life of a teacher. And that’s what a single teacher can do. What if all the teachers of a nation decide to put this superpower to good use? Can such a force be stopped or challenged? Can they not inspire a whole generation of young minds to work towards a brighter, better tomorrow? Can they not change the course of an entire nation?

Might be something to think about.

Words are powerful tools and powerful weapons of change. Sadly, in this loud and noisy world, where there is too much talking and too little meaning, we fail to recognize the power of great words and impactful statements. This Teacher’s Day let us vow to do complete justice to the most influential 7 letter word in the history of mankind and stand true to it.

Happy Teacher's Day to all the wonderful teachers out there.

#Dedicated to all my teachers who have touched my life, and all my students whose lives I have had the good fortune to touch. God bless you all. Cheers to life, and to the little things in life!!

PS: For Brits and Indians, practice is a noun and practise is a verb; Americans don't have that distinction, neither do they have practise in their dictionary, which is why the word "practise" is either autocorrected or underlined in red in the very American MS Word Document. Also, the word “teacherhood” has been underlined in red here at the backend, but I am keeping it anyway.

August 15, 2017

The Enigma Of Life

The sun hung low in the sky,
With the river tides running high,
Crimson filled the horizon,
Scarlet waters danced in unison.

She sat on a lonely rock,
Her heart full of qualms amok.
Her concerns were uncanny,
But hardly had answers to any.

In vain was her labour,
Futile her endeavour
Inscrutable are life’s ways to mankind,
Mysterious its moves to the average mind.

The roaring river gushed by,
The wind whispered its lullaby,
She let it seep through her soul,
As God’s grace embraced her whole.

And a voice from within her rose –

Do not raise an alarm,
Do not lose your calm.
All things will have meaning,
Let life do its fine-tuning.

Remember, you're God’s beloved child,
And that ain't something mild.
He will guide you along,
Take you where you belong.

Everything will fall in place,
You will not lose life’s chase.
Every purpose will fulfill,
At the decided hour it will.

You can’t have before it's due,
Nor will you wait when the time is true.
It will come at the right moment,
This time is not your opponent.

You do what needs to be done,
And be at heart a peaceful one.
Every puzzle, every riddle shall be solved,
For you have in your life, your Saviour involved.

#LiveLifeBeautifully #CheersToLife

August 12, 2017

Paper Boats: The New Age Marketing Strategy

Remember the first time you came across the brand Paper Boats? I was first introduced to the brand by an endearing and engaging video I received on WhatsApp featuring a bunch of young adults who refused to let the child in them die. A few more of such videos followed, and then a few months down the line, we were neatly introduced to the very economically priced, interestingly designed tetra packs of flavoured soft drinks.

I am no marketing professional, but being a fairly intelligent, generally observant kind of a person, I understand this to be an excellent marketing strategy. Their marketing is primarily through the social media and they evoke one of the most beautiful emotions in the world – nostalgia, and you can never go wrong with it. The simple joys of our precious childhood are some of the best things we love to reminisce about – our school, our school friends, the games we played, and, as the company has most beautifully named and captioned its brand, making paper boats and watching them drift away in the rains. Those were the first of videos from Paper Boats that I remember having seen and thoroughly enjoyed.

The company continues its marketing on the same lines via Facebook showing posters of siblings doing stuff together, of families celebrating Eid, of young children playing Sathodiyu (that’s what we called it), of train journeys and leaking ceilings and every other thing that made our childhood eventful and worthwhile. Each carry short, honest captions that you can easily relate to most of the time. 

They are so endearing, and you enjoy them so much that you tend to forget what they actually are – ads. On Facebook, it starts a string of conversations, and people just love to share their stories in the comments below, tagging more people along the way, and making the brand the talk of the town before you know it. 

Isn't it just a brilliant idea? The company is getting people to spread the word, and they seem more than willing to participate! The company, according to Wikipedia, had a brand value of $100 million in July 2015 and a production capacity of 10 million pouches per day.

So much for keeping simple things simple!

Life is a beautiful collection of memories, and anything that allows us to relish those beautiful moments is worth cherishing. Hats off to the efforts of this company that helps us to appreciate the beauty of little things in life, while also creating a brand value for itself.

Cheers to life and to the fond memories of fond childhood. Cheers to the little things in life!

August 11, 2017

On a Rainy Afternoon

It was a fine Sunday afternoon with the rain pouring outside. I heard the sounds but was too busy watching Sherlock to pay any heed to it. Thankfully, the show came to an end before the rains did and I then turned my attention to the brimming joy of nature. First, I let the sound of rain sink deep into my ears and into my soul, and then I saw the pouring of waters, the swaying of leaves and the green of the grass in my mind’s eye.

As I was basking in the sweetness of my imagination, I suddenly asked myselves, “How long has it been since you drenched yourselves in the rains?” An image instantly flashed before me – pouring rains, bunch of children (toddlers and teenagers alike) splashing and jumping, a massive thunder from the heavens above, followed by an old man glowering down on his grandchildren and rushing them inside the house. It was June 2005, Kerala. We, cousins, had ventured out of the house to indulge ourselves in the tantalizing rains while our grandpa watched on from the veranda. All was fine until it started to thunder. Thundering in Kerala is very severe and causes people to die sometimes. This must have caused our doting chachan (that’s how we addressed our beloved grandpa) to come for us and drive us inside the house. 

Aah, memories! Beautiful, fond memories. A beloved friend that pays me occasional visits and allows me to live and re-live those splendid moments!

Anyway, coming back to the present, I was grabbed by a sudden desire to do something impulsive and reckless. I slipped out of the house noiselessly (didn’t want to wake napping parents), climbed four flights of stairs (didn’t want to get stuck in the elevator in case the power went off) and stepped out into the rain. It was gorgeous, beautiful, soul-soothing and heart-quenching. The goodness of nature seeped through my soul, truly refreshing and truly magnificent. God has made all things beautiful. If only we would open our eyes and see!  

Life is indeed beautiful, and what make the journey worthwhile are the small things in life – the little things in life. Life is never about big things and great achievements. It’s about doing small things greatly. It’s about doing what you have to and doing it best, and about giving, believing and trusting. It will become great on its own one day at a time.

Live life beautifully! Cheers to life!

PS: Sherlock S04E03 had been very unnerving and endearing at the same time. While you are utterly flabbergasted by the cold-bloodedness of 5 back-to-back murders (Mycroft was up next!), you feel all your shock and disgust dissolve in a matter of seconds, and are moved to compassion instead, as you come to realize that the poor girl, though an era-defining genius, was dreadfully sad and miserable inside, and was, in fact, the little girl stuck on the plane not knowing where or how to land.

June 20, 2017

Get, Set, Go!

Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook. But this idea was so clear to us — that all people want to connect. So we just kept moving forward, day by day.
— Mark Zuckerberg in his Commencement Address at Harvard in May 2017

When you start something you never know how it is going to end. But you have to start somewhere and then just keep going forward – one day at a time. You have an idea within you and a vision before you. You just need to keep working towards it, learning new things as you go along and improvising with every new step you take. Fear of falling cannot keep you from walking.

If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever. But that’s not the point of having a ship. Ships are meant for sailing, for venturing out into the open sea and bracing the storms.

Starting something new or taking a new direction in life is never easy. There will always be someone telling you that you can’t do it. There will always be people raising questions and offering skepticism. But it’s your life. Nobody makes decisions for you but you. You own up to yourselves and to your decisions, and make your way through the world.

June 19, 2017

Little By Little

A poem I find really inspiring..

“Little by little,” an acorn said,
As it slowly sank in its mossy bed,
“I am improving every day,
Hidden deep in the earth away.”

Little by little, each day it grew;
Little by little, it sipped the dew;
Downward it sent out a thread-like root;
Up in the air sprung a tiny shoot.

June 13, 2017

3 Quotes to Remember

1.    It is what it is. Not good, not bad. It is what it is. (John Watson, BBC Sherlock)

2.   It is a choice between what is right and what is easy. (Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter)

3.   There is a stubbornness about me that can never bear to be frightened. My courage rises at every attempt to intimidate me. (Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice)

May 22, 2017

Come, Speak, Leave

In a world where food is fast and coffee is instant, you really don’t have time for long lectures and endless discourses. I personally don’t read the first paragraphs of any article that I read on the internet. (It’s just an introduction, slowly trying to sweep in to the main point. Some of them just beat about the bush.) I just skip to the main points and skim through the text looking for words that sum up the whole point.

There was a time when people used long sentences and big words to sound important (read Pride and Prejudice, Sherlock Holmes; you will know what I mean). But today our attention span is too short and our patience is too little to hold on to lengthy, extensive write ups/ videos/ blogs. So the key mantra these days is: Come, make your point and leave.

February 7, 2017

The Beauty of Just Being There!

On a day off from work, staring out of my window, I was stuck by the beauty of the sun. It just stuck me that simply how glorious the sun is and simply how soothing the breeze is. It is then that I realized that in the race of life, I had forgotten to slow down and to appreciate the beauty of small things. 

I decided to take some time off for myself, simply to stare at the sunlight, to take in the smell of the soil and to listen to the chirping of birds. I simply stared. I simply listened. I simply breathed. No thoughts crossed my mind. No words escaped lips. All was silence, all was peace, and then the peace of nature simply seeped through my soul.

Sometimes, that’s how things work – so simple and right there in front of our eyes and yet we don’t see it. I was stuck with awe simply by looking at the stillness of nature and by the depth of its calmness. God has made all things so simple and so beautiful. All we need to do is to turn to nature, to this immense source of solace and peace will simple follow. 
Sometimes, we need to slow down to speed up. We need to stop so that we may start again. Break the routine, or the routine may break you. Take a break, or the brakes may fail you.
You don’t need to fly off to a distant land or ski your way through the sea to have that break. You simply need to step out of your home to the nearest park and stare at the setting sun and the children playing.

While driving to work the next day, I stared at the horizon and the rising sun to admire its boundless beauty. I took a few moments to absorb the scene – the sun throwing out some magnificent shades of red and orange, the trees beautifully lined up the street and the sweet chillness of the air spreading its joy into the very bottom of my soul. Everything was simply so glorious, simply so beautiful. And that – just that – made my day.

Silence is a gift most of us fail to appreciate and only a few of us can truly cherish. Life is beautiful. Live it beautifully.