Why I Greet People With a Salute

(And why you could too)

A lot of my friends know I do this. Whenever I meet them, whether it’s when we see each other during the first lecture of the day at college, or when we catch up with each other in the canteen, or when they open the door to me when I go to their house to hang out, I greet them not with a handshake, not with a nonchalant, “Hey, man,” or an embrace, but with a salute. Of course, I do partake in handshakes and nonchalant versions of, “Hi,” and hugs (hugs are the best, especially if it’s with a dog), but more often than not, it’s a salute. Here’s why.

 

Continue reading “Why I Greet People With a Salute”

Enjoying The Ride

Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes along. Wise words. Not mine, Samuel Butler’s.

When I was young, no, younger, I was diagnosed with a kind of leukaemia. I was too young to understand what that meant for me, so the obvious next step in my mind was to get rid of the illness. And that’s what we did for the next couple of years. But there were times when I remember thinking, why me, why not any of the other 20 kids in my class? Why now? I didn’t understand the potency of what I was asking myself.

This is true to an extent for all of us. We all at times, question circumstances, and not to be outdone by others, some of us question life itself! And that’s pretty natural since we don’t understand what’s happening, why it’s happening, why it’s happening now and why it’s happening to “just us”.

Not everything makes sense in life. But maybe, not everything has to. Life doesn’t have to answer to us. All life does is get us from point A to point B. We are merely passengers.

And since we are passengers, we might as well enjoy the ride.


I’ve mentioned quite a few times that I’m doing this 2-year long yoga course at The Yoga Institute in Mumbai. One subject we study there is Public Speaking. The course trains us to ultimately be qualified enough to teach Yoga, so speaking in public is obviously important to be a teacher.

The subject includes assignments where we give speeches every couple of months for incrementally increasing time limits. What I’ve written in my post was my first speech I gave. It was 2 minutes long.

Let me now address the elephant in the room. Yes, its been very long since I last wrote here. I know. I could excuse myself by saying I was very busy, or that I didn’t know what to write, or I could attribute my absence to writer’s block or innumerable other things, but then I would be lying. So I won’t say any of that. All I’ll say is that I’m going to try my best to work through my shortcomings when it comes to writing because writing is one of the few things I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.

Thanks a lot for reading through this, because it means a lot to me. I’ll see you guys next time.

Two Miles An Hour

One morning a few days back I was coming home from college since a couple of my lectures had gotten cancelled.

Now that’s not really out of the blue (teachers don’t turn up to class some days, some days they turn up but not many students do, or they’re “cancelled” because I don’t go) but this time they’d been cancelled because the seniors were having their exams and they’d occupied most of the available classrooms.

So, since I’d left earlier than I normally would, I decided to take the scenic route and come home real slow, ideally while having a hot samosa pav and sipping something chilled. I took just the samosa pav instead. Now, in this scenario, I’d normally take out my headphones and put on Twenty One Pilots, or Queen, or some instrumentals. Or put a little of all of those into a playlist and hit play on that. But that day, when I flipped my backpack towards the front, unzipped the front pocket and let my hand plunge into its depths, I realised I’d forgotten my headphones at home.

What I did instead, was have a really slow walk. Like reaallllyy slow. Like, two miles an hour. And I actually had more fun than I’d anticipated. As it turns out, what would have been a 25 minute walk with my headphones on and me walking at my normal pace, became a nearly one hour walk without my headphones on and me walking slower than usual.

As I walked along, and noticed all the trees and their green leaves moist with the rain, something I’d hardly noticed earlier, and snickered at some of the buildings with really whimsy names, and some stray dogs I’d never seen before, I noticed that people were noticing me more too. In a city like this, where most people on the streets are in a hurry to get somewhere, you don’t see a random teenager just walking as if he has nowhere to get to, nothing to do except intently look at the stuff that’s going on around him. I distinctly noticed people giving me weird looks as they walked past me. Many elders tell us to ‘slow down’ once in a while, ‘put the phone aside’, ‘take those things off your ears’, and then when we do, they look at us in a way that almost makes us want to go back to doing all of that.

So, I’ve got a task for you: Take a slow walk. Like, reaallllyy slow. NO HEADPHONES. Just you. You’d be surprised by the stuff you’ll notice.

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!