New Beginnings

All of us lead certain distinctive kinds of lifestyles. It begins when we are very young. We fall into categories, and usually just keep going deeper into them. Habits and patterns form. These turn into mechanical behaviour, more or less. Many don’t realise it. Those that do, find it difficult to reverse. Impossible, we say. “Nothing’s impossible!” our mind screams out in despair. That’s usually where 90% of the optimism gets drained.

A very few of us are fortunate enough to have a light thrown at us, and have somebody tell us that indeed, nothing’s impossible. Nothing. There are other ways to live. Better ways. Good people.

I am extremely honoured to say that I am one of those fortunate ones. I recently had a 7-day long experience that has definitively changed my life.

Starting at 8 AM on the 23rd of April to 2 PM on the 29th of April, I experienced what were probably the most relaxing, liberating and enlightening (roughly) 150 hours of my life so far. I’m being totally serious. Some of you who have read some of my previous posts, and especially the last one or two Coffee Updates, may have read about how I have enrolled in a two year long teacher training course on Yoga, at The Yoga Institute in Santacruz, Mumbai. Since it is an advanced course, it’s prerequisite is that all students must first complete the introductory 7-day camp. The 7-day camp is residential as well as non-residential, which means students can stay there at the hostel for the duration of the seven days, depending on the availability of beds, of course. It is meant to be done living there, to get the authentic experience. And that’s how I did it; I stayed there for 7 days.

It involves waking up early in the morning, doing exercises, or asanas, as Yoga calls it, and various other activities throughout the day, both physically and mentally stimulating, interspersed with wholesome, fresh, nutritious food at regular intervals. All of this not only rejuvenates your body, but it freshens your mind as well.

At this point, I have to admit that I was, at first, very apprehensive about doing this. Not in the ‘I-don’t-want-to-do-it’ way, because I knew I had to do it and I knew how good it would be for me if I let it. And that right there, is probably the thing. A part of me wasn’t letting the course be what it was meant to be. On the very first day itself, I was repeatedly reminded to open up my mind, let go, relax and enjoy. After what I learnt there, I realise that Yoga, as it is marketed in so many places around the world: loosening up your body, essentially becoming some sort of contortionist, is so badly interpreted. Yes, the physical side is an very important aspect, but to me at least, Yoga is more about the mind and being the master of it.

There were a few huge notions that I engineered into my mind while I was there, and these are the kind of notions that stick around.

The first one is of not judging people. There were about 57-58 of us taking part in the 7 Day Camp, out of which a good 30%-40% were from countries other than India. We’ve lived all our lives, being told to be wary of others, how the world’s a cruel place and whatnot. Some of the more skeptical people also tell us that the world’s become so shitty you can’t trust anybody. As we grow up, we also learn from experience and whenever we experience something of this kind, it sticks, because we’ve also been hearing so much of this kind from those close to us. Impressionable young minds. Classmates spreading rumours about you, having a fight with a friend about something you later realise was petty, having an experience of typically snobbish Government employees. This kind of stuff happens a lot in early life, and especially the first two. It all reaffirms our faith in what everybody tells us and how the world is basically a giant pisspot. What we don’t realise, though, is that it’s stuff like this that shapes our psyche, and ultimately our life.

Maybe the world is a giant pisspot. Depends on where you decide to stand. And that’s the second thing I learnt. I, and only I, have control over how I see things. If I see them from a negative light, then it’s only going to make me feel shittier about things. Not a single soul in the world would know. I control my state of mind, and Yoga is all about having a balanced state of mind.

I have always been a bit of a dumb perfectionist of sorts. I have wanted things to be a certain way, for them to turn out in a certain way. I have even wanted myself to be a certain kind of person. But that was a classical kind of punishing belief system that I had created. I even studied about it in Psychology class, but it never struck me. I guess epiphanies are like lightning in that way, they don’t strike unless there’s a thunderstorm. That brings me to the next thing I learnt. I have no box I need to fit into. There’s no hard-frame category I must be in, or a condition I must always be fulfilling. All I need to be doing is my duty, whatever it may be at that particular point in time. At 4 in the afternoon, for example, my duty is to go to the gym, because fitness is a duty to myself. Or at 6 AM three or four days a week, my duty is to go cycling with my sister. Once college begins, my duty would be to attend college from 7 AM to 12 PM 5 days a week. Every Wednesday though, I am allowed to watch The Flash for 45 minutes, since that constitutes recreation and that also is important.


That’s enough of me preaching, I guess. I’ll sign off while you guys are still tolerating me.

Just kidding, I’ve got some more epiphanies to rant on.

LOL, kidding. Again.

I’ll show myself out.

starts meditating

White v/s Yellow

How many of you have normal white light bulbs and tubes in your homes? Probably, the photons of those lights are shining down on you right now, while you read this.

The rest of you most probably have the yellow ones.

Ever noticed how the yellow ones almost always seem more calm, sombre and soothing. Depending on your mood and circumstances, the yellow ones may add to your ‘sadness’. I put sadness in inverted commas, because I feel it is almost always a state of mind. But that’s not the point here.

So, yes, this post is in fact about light bulbs, but that isn’t the premise of the post. The premise is the emotions and state of mind light elicits in us.

What drove me to write about this? Well, its been coming for a while, because I’ve felt this way about white and yellow lights for a long time now, just never thought I should write about it. But the immediate stimulus was the yellow light that recently got put up in my bathroom, while there also is a white light in there. I am a person who thinks a lot. I don’t mean that in the sense that I routinely overthink (although I do overthink at times), but just that I think deeply. Its tough to explain. A lot of thinking happens in the bathroom, as I am sure it does for a lot of others as well. Now, it is pretty well-founded that the surroundings, the setting, influences our thinking and state of mind and I feel illumination surely plays a big role in that. You should experiment with this, and see for yourself. Of course, this is subjective so you may not feel the same way I do, but its worth a shot if you have the time and the inclination.

Without getting too psychological, I realised that I find it much more soothing, calming and uplifting when I’ve got just the yellow light on. The white one seems a little… harsh, I guess would be the right word.

 


 

So, that was what was on my mind for a while now. Maybe this post was a tiny step away from what I’ve been writing recently, which honestly isn’t a lot, but I felt like maybe there’s others who feel the same way.

Is this what you feel too, or is there something else you feel, apart from this? Anything at all, let me know!

Coffee Update #4

COFFEE UPDATE4

Its Coffee Update time again! Getting tired of coffees? Well, then there’s a table by the corner with seven different kinds of teas and sixteen different types of other drinks, aerated and non-aerated. All non-alcoholic of course.

Pleasantries out of the way, let’s get down to it. Let me update you with stuff over a nice cup of…whatever it is that you have chosen to drink.


Neerja-poster-1024x519

If we were having <insert drink here> right now, I’d tell you that I watched Neerja yesterday. Neerja is an adaptation of true events, about Neerja Bhanot, an Indian air hostess working for Pan Am. She saved over 300 people following a terrorist hijacking in Karachi, Pakistan, at the cost of her own life. It isn’t a documentary per se, and they’ve altered a few of the minor plot points I guess, but regardless of that is a pretty heartwarming and at the same time gut-wrenching movie to watch. Its about Neerja Bhanot’s spirit, courage, and above all, her commitment to her job, her duty, of serving the passengers of the plane. I’d recommend it to anybody who’s reading this.

If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you that 50% of my Boards are done. I wrote my economics paper yesterday and that was the third of the six subjects I have. I’ve got Philosophy up next on the 4th of March, a long break up until Psychology on the 17th and then Logic to wind things up on the 21st. But it feels good there are three textbooks that I won’t be needing now.

If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell those of you that don’t already know, that I am a big football fan and a really big Manchester United follower. All you need to see is the wall by my desk. I’ve got tons of posters of the Class of ’92, Sir Alex Ferguson, Anthony Martial, Cristiano Ronaldo, David de Gea and what not. So, naturally, when there’s a Manchester United event in the city, like the I Love United event today (which includes an interaction session with United legends David May, Denis Irwin and Louis Saha and a live match screening of the Manchester United v Arsenal Premier League match later today, among other things), I’ll try my best to go. Unfortunately, studying for the Boards, I came across this information a little too late yesterday evening as I’m finding it difficult to find tickets to it, so I guess its next year for me. Oh, well.

TV shows March

If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you I am unbearably pumped for all the TV action that’s coming our way. Suits wraps up its fifth season on the 3rd of March, and if the penultimate episode that aired on the 25th February is anything to go by, its going to be a hell of a season finale. House of Cards returns with a fourth season on the 4th of March and then later that month we also get Daredevil season 2. Amazing. On the DC front, The Flash is going great guns with their second season and the Arrow is not too bad either until now, so that’s something to look forward to as well. All in all, been a great year on the entertainment front so far, and its just getting started (quite literally as well).

If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you that I recently watched a TED talk and it was just plain hilarious. I mean, on another level it was genius, but the guy presenting it was just awesome at the job. It may be a little long, but its time you won’t regret having spent on it. You can check it out below.

If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you that I just finished watching the first six Star Wars movies a few days back. I’ve wanted to do it for a while but didn’t get time to do it like many do it: marathons. Instead I had to do it incrementally. One movie a time. That did give me time to think about each one, though, and I guess that’s a good thing. To me, the original trilogy was definitely better than the prequel trilogy, the way it is for many, but I would have still needed to watch the prequel trilogy to understand it all, regardless of whether they could have been made better. Now I can’t wait to watch The Force Awakens.


Whelp, that’s about all I’ve got for this coffee update! I hope you guys enjoyed getting to know a bit more about me and what I’ve been up to recently.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Makin’ it Right

There’s those few times when you’re really pumped for something. Like, completely excited. Sometimes its more of an amalgamation of excitement and nervousness, confidence, and the lack thereof, surety and doubt. In that kind of state of mind, there’s a million different thoughts shooting to and from every nook and cranny of your mind, some appearing from corners you may not have thought you had. Little paradox, I made up right there, eh? It does feel like that is the case, at least in those kinds of moments.

I had that kind of moment earlier today.

Some of you may know my Boards are going on. In fact, they just began today. I appeared for the English exam this morning. Now, a few hours before that, I was sitting on the couch at home, and revising a couple of questions from the chapters I had to study and I was going through some notes I had on my phone simultaneously. The chapter I was studying at that moment, had something to do with the education system in the country, and a question the textbook posed to us was whether we would change anything in the current education system of the country, if we had the power. It also asked to elaborate on what that would be, and why. Anybody who has had the littlest of experiences in the Indian education system has definitely considered a lot of changes that should be made to the same, and I admit I’m no different. It is evidently a flawed system. Of course, nothing’s perfect, but sometimes the flaws are just plain stupid and worse, unfair. So I went through the answer the textbook guide had, thought of whether I agreed with it (which I did), and thought up what I, personally, would write if such a question were to appear on the exam, before quickly moving on to the next chapter, like we usually do.

Well, not quite. Something must have stuck, since I found myself circling back to this topic a little while later when I’d put aside the books and was just sitting there thinking about how I’d be managing my time during the exam, because the English exams I’ve given in the 12th Grade so far have all been lengthy.

This, precisely, was one of those moments where I had a shit ton of different thoughts and muddled in all that was one thought that I somehow managed to hold on to. There’s gazillion different things floating around our minds and its not even surprising that we lose so many thoughts that could potentially be huge.

The thought I had was about that same question I read in my English book. It occurred to me how we always reminisce and say things like, “What I would give to go back to school/college. Ah, those days!” I realised that what we actually mean is to go back to the time when we were that young, with the kind of circumstances back then, not literally back to school or college. We generally mean to refer to friends and the experiences we had with them. We hardly ever want to come back to school or college, and especially not for the academic-side of it, because that’s just plain boring, no?

Well, yes, partly, but then that’s exactly what must change. The kind of change I want to see in the education system should make me want to go back to school or college to study again, but in the changed environment. It should make me go, “Oh, what I’d give to be able to study that way!” And although I won’t be able to do it and it may make me envy those that would be, I’d be able to deal with that fact because of the sense of pride I might then get, and the satisfaction in the fact that there’s at least somebody who is studying the right way, or at least a better way.


I know that that is a very vague answer to that question, but it still holds true in a way, doesn’t it?

Now, I hope I don’t come off as a complete dick in what I wrote up there. Like, some may think, what is a 17 year old suggesting changes to complete education systems; a 17 year old that’s barely through college himself. Just expressing a thought of mine.

Thank you very much for reading!

Before I sign off for today, I’ve got an Awesome Quotes post coming out tomorrow. I’ve scheduled it, and kept it on auto-publish so bar any glitches in the matrix, it should be out tomorrow, so do come back for that. In case you haven’t been here for a while, then I’ll have you know that the post coming out tomorrow is part two of a two part awesome quotes feature, and you can check out the first part by clicking here.

See you guys next time 🙂

 

Naked With Black Socks

(Or the tale of how stupid I can sometimes be)

Okay, picture this:

Stage in front of you. People in the audience expectantly looking at it (okay, those people who aren’t staring at their blue-light emitting smartphone screens). You standing by it, or behind some curtains or something, dreading the time you have to go up there. Your heart is pounding, you’re probably sweating more than usual, maybe trembling a little, maybe yawning more than usual as well. But you’re still trying to keep a smile on your face (that’s probably gone white by now).

See the picture?

That was somewhat the picture I was a part of today. I wasn’t the only one though, it was a lot of other students as well, during our Hindi examination, which was orally taken. Okay, maybe I exaggerated a bit up there, since the audience apart from our subject teacher, was comprised of fellow students who understood our predicament if we fumbled a little up on the stage.

So, we were supposed to give a small speech of sorts, on any subject under the sun (or beyond it, for that matter), in Hindi, ideally with perfect pronunciation, enunciation, and clarity. Beyond that, the examiner usually expects a little over-the-top, nerdy vocab if he’s to consider scoring the speaker anywhere near the 90% mark. You don’t use at least 4-5 big, long, royal-sounding words, then don’t expect a great score. Once that was done, he also asked each of us basic questions like where we lived and what our native place was, including questions from chapters from our textbooks.

Now I’d gone prepared with about a 2-minute long speech, I figured I’d improvise if he asked for more, but that hardly ever happens because they usually get what they want in a about 5-7 lines of speaking itself, and that’s exactly what happened. So that was all good.

Now, I don’t usually get flustered in the face of public speaking. At least not as much as most others. I’ve done it a lot all through school. In fact, I used to volunteer for such things. My dad’s profession involves him to do lots, and lots of public speaking. Hell, that’s what his job revolves around, so he’s told me a lot about it at times I’ve been scared to do it. However, when I had to go up to face the examiner’s questions, I was kinda nervous since he was going to ask us questions from chapters from the textbook, and I hadn’t really revised this a lot, going into the examination. Let’s just say I wasn’t confident about it.

So, he says, “NEXT,” and that means I’m supposed to go up. I walk up to his desk, sign on the sheet we were all supposed to sign on (which denoted our presence for the examination), and waited.

He began with the easy ones like my name and where I lived. But here’s where it got interesting. He asked me where I studied.

And I said…

“At home, at my desk.”

Yeah, I actually said that. Not even kidding right now.

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I did realise that I was supposed to answer with the name of the college I studied at and said it too, but, well…

So, yeah. That happened.

In my defense, I do actually study more at my home than I ever have at college, because there hardly ever are lectures to attend/interesting enough to attend.

Interesting thing though, I was worried about how I’d do at the questions he asked me from the textbook chapters and not about the rest, but I did really well at those questions and instead messed up at the basic stuff. Its all good though, I did really well at everything else in the examination and there were people who goofed up more exponentially than I did and I take solace in that fact.


 

So, have you ever had this kind of experience? Did you screw up publicly like this, and have despised yourself for doing that, ever since? Let me know, so we can laugh at each other’s momentary lapse in, well, intelligence.

Until next time, folks.

Post inspired by the following daily prompt – Naked with Black Socks