Sunday, August 11, 2013

Forecasts coming True

When i was around 10-12 years old...i was asked to get Toothpaste from a nearby shop.
I was given a Rs 100 note and the toothpaste cost was Rs 20 (approx).

The shopkeeper asked me to give change..
I refused to have any....
He asked to buy something else .
I told him to give 5 toothpastes.

My mother saw the 5 toothpaste tubes and asked me to justify the stupidity.
I told her the change thing...but she didn't buy the argument.
Argument that followed was...that this is something which will get consumed.
If we have spent something extra this month....we would be saving it in the coming months.

This argument was sound enough but this called for my father to arbitrate.
I repeated the argument...

Papa also took mother's side.
His reason was...that you cannot disturb the budget of the house.
We have a set budget for the can not skew your spending in just one department.

I got irritated with this.
In a fit of rebellion...i left the place murmuring something.

Papa caught me from the ear and asked to repeat whatever i was murmuring.
Out came the murmur ...clearer this time....
"Jab main bada ho jaunga..itni income hogi ki budgeting ki jarurat hi nahi hogi."

and this was followed with a challenge from Papa.

"Koi na beta...bade ho jao ....phir puchungaa.  
Jab khud karna padega samajh aaega."

After i started my job..
I tried to keep up to the challenge...
I would never keep any record of  what was spent where.
This was more out of stubbornness than me getting some value from it.

If Steve Jobs' hadn't intervened ..i would have gone on with the splurge
Yup it was an article on Apple which told about Apple's budget for the financial year.
The budget was really disciplined and focused.

 It took me by surprise that a company worth 500 billion was so financially prudent. 

...and hence after 15 years....Vashistg finally accepted that 5 tubes of Toothpaste could indeed throw a budget off.

Budgeting has nothing to do with what you are need to plan whatever you have.

So this was the day when papa's forecast #1 came true.

 Forecast #2 : Next Post.
Please share if any such forecasts are coming true for you as well. :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Plan A

Last weekend i was at Solan.
There is this small ground behind my house where we used to spend most of our evenings.

Standing on my terrace i was reliving a few memories of my childhood in that very ground.
Suddenly i see a father son duo come in the ground with a small bicycle.

The son was obviously excited for the new cycle
 but at the same time he was terrified at the chances of him getting injured in the process of learning.

Father starts the tutorial ...
"See son...these are the press these if you want to stop....this is the paddle...this is the bell case some body comes and you want him out of your way...thats the handle...this is like the steering of our car."

The father asks him to sit on the saddle and start paddling while he was holding on to the seat with one hand.

Son very reluctantly sat on the saddle ...insisting his father to keep holding the cycle in case he falls.

Next instruction was to look ahead on the road and start paddling.
Child tries to do as directed...
but he continuously looked back to check if his dad  was still holding the cycle or not.

I was watching both of them with a great sense of Deja Vu.
All this had happened with me...and with almost each one of us while we were trying to learn cycling.

So the training continued...after half an hour or so...the child hadn't progressed much.
He was merely able to sit on the seat and fall in the next 5-7 second to one side or the other.

Father who was a patient tutor in the beginning was now getting irritated.

"BETA .....I  am holding the are not going to fall...why can't you just paddle ahead ?"
With this assurance the child started again but things were stuck as they were an hour ago,

I could see a deadlock in the process.
Plan A was to teach Cycling to the kid...
Plan B was to teach Cycling to the kid injury free....

All those who know cycling ...
will know that they learn't cycling when someone made them sit on the cycle and just pushed them in the ground without any security.

The inital momentum of the push would carry the rider some distance ...
Then comes the moment when he realises that there is no one holding him.

Rider panics...starts paddling like a moment of adrenaline rush he falls.
When he falls he realizes the fall was not that he knows that he rode the bike all by himself...who cares if it was just for a few seconds.

Rider gets up again...dusts himself off...and asks that someone to give that initially dreaded PUSH once more.

This is the formula that gets people going.

Whereas more the father tries to comfort his child of not falling ..
more the child gets worried about the security his dad has assured
and lesser are the chances of him focusing on the Road.

After some 2 hours of trying..assuring and falling.
The duo went home...child was a bit demotivated...father a bit frustrated.

I also came back wishing the child gets that much dreaded PUSH really soon.

Because if he doesn't ...
He would always keep worrying about stabilizing the PLAN B. 
and the PLAN A shall always remain un-executed.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Olympics for me.

I am back from the Olympics and i am really happy to share the  medal that i won in London.
The competition was tough and so was i.
You have to be real tough at that level.

After winning the medal i was showered with a lot of money, jobs, endorsements.
Getting these accolades definitely feels good.

At this moment all this looks so also might be thinking that how lucky this guy is...
He just has to play..and he is getting paid for it...and that too in crores.

Yeah i got a few crores...but if i take you a few years would definitely not want to be me.

I was a pretty decent runner in my school days.
Running made me feel gave me hope.
We had a group of  4 friends.
All four of us ran really well.

"Studies/academics according to me was as if somebody is telling me about  how the world was like?
and Running was like going out and figuring it out for myself".

It was all fun and all of us thought of our team as a world beating team.
then came the standard 10.

I was asked to choose between running and studies.
Infact all four of us were asked to make a choice.
Infact...none of us was given a choice...we were asked to stop running and choose studies.

The most crucial 2 years of our life had started...and my parents couldn't see me spoiling those precious two years..just running.

Being a runner for almost 5-6 years i had developed an iron will to achieve my dreams.
The way i ran out those distances...the same way i decided to stick to my dream and keep running.

I asked my running accompany me.

None of them agreed....

One of them had been cajoled by his parents to join Non Medical and prepare for IIT.
Another had decided to prepare for IIMs and be a manager..
Third had joined the Arts as his father was an IAS and Arts was how you got into IAS.

I was shattered as all of them would have made great runners.
I asked them if they are really excited by whatever they were trying to achieve.

I couldn't see the twinkle in their eye...
The spark ..the childish excitement was missing....
they were more excited by the prospect of
being an engineer..or a manager ..or an administrator
they were by engineering something...managing something...or administrating something.

I knew something was wrong...but i knew i had to run.
So I Ran.

I ran from my home.

I was not at all sure of how far i would get in this mad pursuit of mine...
but that was what i had learnt from running in all these years.

You concentrate on the next step..and than the next..and just keep going...
that's how you cover miles and miles of road beneath you.

So this was how i started.

The road ahead was tough..
It was tough keeping your focus on something that had no definiteness to it.
It got tough when my friends started getting hefty job offers.
It got tougher when they started asking me how long would i keep running.
They would occasionally call me up and tell me about how some random guy who got a 1.25 Cr. package in some college.
They also wanted to do it....but they didn't want to enquire about the things that 1.2 cr guy did to achieve that package...neither were they interested in what his job expectations were for that 1.2 Cr.
The only thing that fascinated them was 1.2Cr.

Running was all i could do...and that was all that came naturally to me.
these news kept flowing in but...
It got brutal when my girlfriend gave up on me.
She told me that she was not sure of my future and believed that i couldn't keep her happy.
She got married to an IAS officer.

After this i was shattered and what followed was a plateau.
I call it a plateau because my coach used to call it a plateau.
Plateau is a place where you see no improvements in your efforts...
there is no motivation to keep going...and you have no option apart from keeping going.

but according to my Coach ..Ultimate Athlete loves the Plateau

You get up in the morning hard...exercise properly...sleep well.
Repeat.(I can't emphasize repeat enough.)

What follows the plateau is ...for you to see.
If you endure through the plateau..

You do get the rewards..
You do win the medals...

and once you have won those medals...the nation obsessed with numbers,gold and ranks comes to shower praise on you.

I am sure my friends have absolutely no clue about the 25 mtr rapid fire pistol event...nor do they know about the repechage wrestling round...they know nothing about second wind.

The only thing they care about is 6 medals.
Best indian performance ever in olympics.
I am happy for the rewards but more than that i am happy for the decisions i took in the last 6 years.
My friends also consider me an a successful man today as i have been awarded 2 crore by the delhi govt.
I just hope they don't change there aim to be an athlete now...

As i am enjoying the welcome i have received ..there is one award  that irks me most.
I was made an IAS officer by the sports minister of india.

I became a sportsperson because i wanted to be a sportsperson.
IAS is as hallowed a profession as it gets in India...
but i want you to celebrate me as an Athlete....

By making me an IAS you are glorifying an already glorified profession.

I don't want parents asking there children to join sports as a means/a shortcut to be an IAS.
I want parents to ask there children to join sports to be a great Sportsperson .

That is one award that i won't be accepting.

Apart from that i am proud of effort
My fellow medal winners olympic team's effort
I am proud of our hockey team who made it to the 12 competing nations in the olympics.
I just hope our football team takes inspiration from our hockey team and reaches the olympics next time.

I just wish the football team's trials give hope to a lot of people who haven't formed a team yet.

and when you have tried would empathize
with the pain/ecstacy of
not getting a medal/winning that medal..
of not making /making it to the Olympics.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Nouns and The Verbs

Run is something i do for myself..Runner is something that i am for you.

On days when i am both...
the Run and the Runner ..i am happy
as i ran and got acknowledged as well.
On days when i just run and no one calls me the runner
I am OK.
as i ran without any external acknowledgement.

On days when i don't run and still someone calls me a runner.
I feel like telling them that you dont call me a runner on days i don't run.
Or i am not a runner whenever i am not running.

......but then i let the praise come my way...and don't tell anyone about me not being a runner that day.

As days pass...fascination may build up with the run
or it might get built up with people calling me a runner.

Fascination with being a "Runner" is a fascination with the Noun.
Fascination with "Running" is a fascination with the Verb.
Fascination with the Verb almost always ensures a fascinating Noun.

Vice Versa may not be true.

PS: CTRL A Ctrl C Ctrl V this blog into a text editor and replace Run with any verb that you can relate with.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Despicable Me

So finally Delhi gets the first showers...and yes...they were one heck of a shower.
I left at 6:20 from office to pick Shagun...

The weather was just awesome...
with winds blowing...rain pouring...
and radio stations playing the best of monsoon Bollywood numbers.

"Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si" was the song and along with it was me karoaking.
I called up Shagun to be ready for a nice monsoon evening drive.

This was where the niceness of the first showers ended.
I got stuck on a crossroad...for the next 35 mins we didn't budge an inch.

The engine was switched off...
Radio was still playing ..

"Bheege bhaage" songs had started irritating me...
I just glanced out of the window and saw one beautiful girl in the car next to me.
Immediately i started tapping on the car steering and acted as if  i was enjoying  the "Bheege Bhaage" song like anything.

With a side glance..i just confirmed if the pretension was noticed or not.
This act of pretension was cut short by a call from Shagun....

After giving here the traffic updates ...the morality and the irritation with the jam were successfully restored.

I picked her up at 7:10 and the jam just got worse.
Both of us were sitting in the car when i saw a girl  pointing at our car.
It was the same girl that i was checking out a few moments ago.

I felt as if she was going to complain to Shagun about me. :|
but no...she was pointing at our tyre...."Aapka tyre punctured hai."

I was not feeling any wobbling in the i thought i can drag it to the nearest puncture shop.
After 5 mins another guy on the scooter pointed out the puncture.

It was then that i pulled the car aside and checked the condition of the tyre.
It was raining ....tyre was almost flat...and i had no experience in changing a flat tyre.

First i thought of calling my friends in gurgaon who could bring a mechaninc along with or who themselves could do the mechanics needed to replace a flat tyre.

But...i didn't call anyone...the learner in me asked to atleast give a try.
I opened up the the tool kit and the jack out.

There was a pictorial manual on the jack...that told where to place and how to operate.
Shagun got out of the car.. and i was sitting and fiddling with the jack and the pictorial manual.

After 10 min or so...i was where i was..10 mins back.
The car didn't jack up...but the jack did surely sink in the muddy road below.

Suddenely a skoda octavia pulls over just in front of our car and a Haryanwi jatt offers help to Shagun.

With all the crime stories that you hear about Delhi.
and with all the tv serials (crime patrol,CID) ...i was not at all impressed with Shagun asking for help from a stranger.

The rain,the thundering clouds,the physique of the man.......
Everything was so very perfect for a "Crime Patrol" kind of a situation.

I was reluctant in taking his help...but he insisted on helping us.
He asked me to fit the jack and he would replace the tyre.

He could see the inexperience in my approach and asked me to get a side and did the jacking up himself.

Then he asked me to open the nuts of the punctured tyre...which was again taken over by him as i was taking just too much of time.

Shagun kept smiling at my inefficiency..hurting my male ego even more.
The man asks me to get the Stepney.

After failing in all the tasks assigned to me earlier..i so wanted to do this right in the fastest possible time.

This one i knew...I immediately opened the diggy...flipped the tyre out...closed the diggy ...and i was back with the tyre within no time.

Another glance at Shagun to register the fact that i ain't a complete loser.

Within 10-12 minutes the guy was done fixing the tyre...
I shook hands with him ...thanking him for his gesture...(Although reluctantly)

"Bhartiya hi bharatiya ke kaam aata hai"
Were his last words and then he left asking me to jack it down myself.

I was cursing him..for not completing the job.
When he did 99% of the job and he knew that i was not comfortable with the could he leave me with the jack....Jackass.

At around 8:30 we restarted with our journey.
Shagun immediately started with her mocking..."Kya yaar ..kuch bhi nahi ho raha tha aapse. Wo kitna fata fat kar raha tha."

I started getting angry at her as how could she ask for help from a complete stranger and that too in Gurgaon.I would have taken time but would have done it.

"It wasn't a big deal"...was what i was trying to make her understand.

I even told her that he only stopped because he saw a girl standing in trouble...he wouldn't have stopped if it was only me.

Shagun kept laughing at my childish trials...and after some time i also acknowledged the guy's brilliance and his gesture.

Rain went on... Radio came back again....
Kishore Da with "Rim Jhim Gire sawan...Sulag sulag jaye re mann" gets both of us humming again.

Finally at 10:05pm we complete a distance of 33 kms in almost 4 hours.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Why do people run marathons ?

On 29th September, Shimla is going to host a marathon. I am pretty excited about it and this excitement is easily seen in my disucssions with my friends.

In one of these discussions my friend asks me a few questions.

"Mujhe to samjh ni aata marathon bhagte kyun hai?
Na to wo koi race hai...sala teen ghante tak bhaagte raho.
Aisi race ka kya fayda jisme pukka harna hi hai.
Jeetenge to wo Kenya wale hi."

I couldn't answer him than but let me try and answer him now....

From the time i have got hold of my senses and till date i can see  a ridiculous obsession with being the "Best".
So lets start in the chronological order...
  • Mother to Kid :"Mera bacha... jaldi jaldi finish karo...first aana hai...(She wants the kid to eat fast.)
  • Father to son : "Is baar agar top kiya to cycle milegi."
  • Any Parent trying to motivate his kid : "Beta Gaurav se seekho kuch...har baar top karta hai." 
  • A Child trying to justify his low scores : "Papa mere 32/50 marks hain...par Gaurav ke bhi 39 hi hain. Is baar strict thi marking bahut"
As you can see from the above examples...the obsession is with being the "Best".
However in order to be the Best you have to find someone who will be second best to you.

So if you want to be the best student in the class you have to find out the present best student in the class.

This approach produces a false impression of having achieved everything that there was to achieve.
Going for the best is a limiting approach as you become contended once you are No 1.

The Best Syndrome was so much hardwired into my systems that i could not enjoy the brilliance of any performer individually.

If Sachin scores a 100 hundreds it was difficult to enjoy Sachin's artistry in isolation.
I'll be satisified only if someone says he is the best and he is better than Lara or Sir Bradman.
Approaching "Best" is limiting...."Better" has no limits.
Trying to Achieve "Best" is daunting and intimidating to start with any effort....Better is doable.
"Best" approach tries to impress..."Better" Approach enjoys .

So how do you get this Hardwired "best" approach out of your systems? a marathon. :)

Before i ran a marathon ...I was asked to run races whose end point was visible.(100 mtrs,200mtrs,doing homework,coming first in class.)

So when the end point is visible it becomes hard to enjoy the process.
Or i should say when the end point is visible..i don't feel the need to enjoy the process.

As the destination is visible,i can afford to reach the destination with/without enjoying the race.

All my focus is on the competitors...if someone goes ahead i'll put in a better effort...once i am ahead.... i'll try to maintain the lead and once i am sure of winning i'll relax and not put in my best effort.

I may win with a time that was worse than my best performance till now...and still feel happy about being the best athlete.

With marathon this is different...

As the distance is small small bursts of brilliance won't do.
As the distance is a monster..i won't even be able to complete it... if i have not practiced for it.

...that's when i have to enjoy each and every step..i just can't afford to be focused on the destination...destination is way way far ahead and getting obsessed with destination makes the situation worse.

I have no choice but to enjoy the journey.

Completing the marathon becomes a challange for 99% of the participants.
You feel those legs aching...breath going haywire...lips drying...heart pounding...but you have to go on as your sole motive is to complete the race.

and that's when you are fighting/challenging yourself.

Once you complete the race you have no clue who won the race..who lost the feel like a champion as you have outlasted yourself.

You start appreciating the people who completed it faster than start respecting people who completed it slower than you.

.....and that's when the "Best" syndrome is knocked out of your systems.

....and once the "Best" syndrome is knocked out of your system.
You'll see magic happening. :)

PS: If you also feel bugged with the "BEST" Virus. Please run a marathon.

Symptoms Of Best Virus:
1) Craving for "Best Employee Awards".
2) Feeling like a King if you are enjoying the highest CTC amongst your batch mates.
3) You are 80kgs at a height of 5' 7'' but feel happy as you are the fittest in a team where average weight is 120 kgs.


Sunday, June 10, 2012


If someone was to plot a graph showing the relation between the Activity on your Facebook wall and the events in your life.

I am sure to find some seriously abnormal peaks on my Birthday ... Diwali  also brings a lot of activity along with it and so does a New Year.
(This graph would be similar for SMSs recieved on my cell)

Recently me and my wife celebrated one such event of our lives...and that was our first wedding anniversary.
and as expected my facebook wall starting brimming with wishes .

but there was something unusal about these wishes....they were lesser in comparison to the other events of my life.

No matter how less they were.....I was really really feeling happy for each and every wish i recieved. ...i wanted these wishes to continue.

Not that i don't feel happy when someone wishes me on my b'day or on a diwali or on independence day.
but this was comparitively more deeper...more profound..... more heartfelt.

I could make out this difference and immediately my mind went into analysis mode.
Alrite what was different with my wedding anniversary and the other events of my life.

One thing that was strikingly different for me ...was that my wedding anniversary was a outcome of my efforts.

It was my choice...the day existed because of my efforts and that was what made it more special to me.

It is not true for my bday...may be my parents would feel that happiness but not me.
I think i try to feel happy on my bday as i am supposed to feel happy on my b'day.

Same goes for Diwali....may be God Rama would be happy for all his efforts...but the wishes that i receive on Diwali are i think...more of a expected societal norm rather than a heartfelt wish.

For me Diwali is more of a metaphor and less of  it's historical meaning...and that metaphor holds true through out the year....through every moment and not just one day of the year.

So what's the point i am getting to.

I think the satisfaction that comes after you have made a choice is huge in comparison to something that you have not chosen.

My choices define me..they are a few things that i stood for someday.

Ok let me just summarize a few things that i have chosen and a few that i haven't.

Chosen Few

  1. My Life partner.
  2. My hobbies.
  3. Respecting/Disrespecting Ideas.

Not chosen

  1.   My B'day
  2.   My name
  3.   My gender
  4.   My Family
  5.   My caste
  6.   My country
  7.   My language
  8.   Respecting Elders/Gods/Country/Religion.
  9.   My religion
  10.   My festivals
  11.   My Places of worship.
  12.   The Gods i worship.
  13.   The Way i am treated after my death

hmmm.... the items in the  "not chosen " list are way too much than in the chosen list.
but the intensity or the attachment that we are supposed to show towards the items in the second list is huge in comparison to the first list.

Going against anything in the second list is nothing short of blasphemy
going in favour of any thing in the first list is more than blasphemy.

This is really confusing personality is a function of very few choices and a lot of non choices.
but  it was my choice that made me happy.

My choices say a lot more about me than do the other non chosen attributes.

So i think ...the focus from here on has to be on the behavior that comes from my choices and not on the behavior that is expected out of me because of the second list.