Swimming pool is closed


Back in the days when we lived in a world which was clean and unpolluted, its the change in the fragrance that symbolised change of weather.

These fragrances, hard to describe, heralded the onset of a season. The subtle shifts in temperature when we moved from winter into spring and then into summer or when we moved into winter.

The shifts, subtle yet so sensorial, we loved them.

Spring cleaning and warm clothes being given lot of airing before being packed or being put in the sun to remove the smell of nephthaline balls as preparation for winters.

All the cues of the change were out there for us to smell and to see and feel.

The symbols have changed. “Swimming pool is closed” notice on the society notice board tells us we are moving into winter. Or in March “swimming will open from…” tells us that it’s time for summer.

The clearing sales by various brands are another signal of a change. The conditioned air in offices and people complaining that it’s either too hot or too cold are signals of change.

There are no fragrances in the air or the perceptible shift in the temperature anymore. More than that, we don’t have time to feel any of that.

The day we made one screen our window to the world, is the day everything changed. Now our world is just size of the screen. The weather app tells us the weather. Posts and tweets tell us of the changes. Detailed weather charts tell us of the summer or winter or the monsoon.

Pollution has played havoc (we are to be blamed of course. Let’s not try to shift the blame anywhere else) and made the fragrances disappear. The temperatures don’t change much. Winter is just about two weeks of intense cold. Summer just doesn’t go away.

I am not going to get into the role food plays with the changes in season because that will make this post never ending, given the foodie I am 🙂

So here is to the onset of winter – swimming pool is closed.

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Battered car


I have always been fascinated by life pretty much being as an automobile. Everybody knows that the car we buy symbolises the shift in our life stage.

I believe a car or any vehicle for that matter are far more connected with life in terms of how it all pans out. Especially in relationships and professional life.

The car is new, everyone is so excited, the smell of the new car is quite something. We all want to go take the ride, feel the engine hum softly, the speed thrills and so does the entire interior and all the different things one can do with technology. Then over a period of time, from being exciting new experience, it shifts into a mundanity of driving from point A to point B. Neglect comes into play. From getting the car serviced on time every time, we move into as and when we have time. The charm is gone. At some point we decide that the car has done whatever it could and we change it and the romance starts all over again.

Isn’t that what happens with our relationships and in work environment? Once the newness wears off, the romance dies, it’s a mundane day every day. Of course in the case of a relationship, we can’t just let go of the current one and get into a new one.

But workplace, either we change the job or the other part believes that we as a car have done enough and it’s time to change. So we are consigned to the junkyard called fired and jobless. For the organisation, they get a spanking new person and new romance begins.

In relationships and in our life journey, it is not easy to just get rid of old. You can’t get a new body for yourself just because this one is getting old. So either you spruce up (akin to denting and painting) or you keep yourself fit, the way you would ensure your car is fit with regular workshop visits.

Relationships though are even tougher. You can’t sell one and buy another. No matter how bruised or battered, you carry on. Flirting along the way is like taking a cab instead of driving. Your indulgence. But you always drive the old car.

A DISCLAIMER HERE – there is no gender discussion here. Irrespective of the gender, this car and life hold true.

So why this post. I was looking at my battered and beaten up Xylo (my son says it looks as if I had participated in Demolition Derby) and realised the age of the car and how it continues to carry on even after 100,000 kms is quite similar to how I feel. The ageing of the body and mind is inevitable as the odometer keeps clicking. How I am doing things to stay agile in the mind and physically to make myself go that much more further. Why am I doing that? So that I can beat the redundancy and not be pushed into the scrapyard. After all there is still a whole lot of commuting to do and miles to go (won’t say before I sleep)…

Yes at some point in time, when my next life stage is going to be defined, I will change the xylo. As with Stephen King books (where you pick up a book when it is time), I don’t think there has been a signal yet that there is a change in my life.

Also at an emotional level, I am way too attached to my car (a monstrosity even when it was new). The idea of selling it doesn’t sit well.

And also, we get along very well. We both look battered and bruised. We look good together. I haven’t done much to improve the battered look of the car, nor have I changed my look in anyway. The car and me, are not for the shallow people who only want new and shining all the time 🙂

As an aside, do read or watch Christine by Stephen King.

#Everything


This symbol “#” has become all pervasive.

In the digital world across social media, everyone wants to hashtag everything.

I come across posts even on LinkedIn which have a #!

I have seen people hashtagging in conversations on whatsapp or even a simple text message.

For what joy?! Why do we want keywords to be part of a simple conversation with a #

Hunger to be noticed? Hunger to be recognised where our hashtag might get linked to some trending topic or create a trend by itself?

All pervasive and totally irrelevant I say. Why would I want to read something that has everything third word with a #!

First it was the SMS way of texting. Shortening the words till people like me could not figure out what the damn word is! And now hashtag.

#cn #u #c #how #irritating #it #is??!!

Those were the days


First up, I would like to thank my friend Ashu Sabharwal for sending me a link to songs from a different era. It was a trip down memory lane. The days of listening to western songs on “Forces Request” on AIR. 7 or perhaps 8 songs in one hour with endless dedications interrupting.

The title of the post is from a song by Mary Hopkins in 1968.

“Those were the days”, we all reminisce once we cross an age when we have teenage kids. We try very hard to tell them how our lives were as exciting if not more as compared to their lives now. We are trying to compete because deep inside, we are jealous. Jealous of their lives in this new age where it is very easy to be spontaneous and impulsive. More importantly, it is perfectly fine to give in to an impulse.

“Those were the days” is not actually us thinking about the wonderful childhood. It is more about realising how dull it was compared to the lives kids have today. Yeah yeah we all can rationalise that by saying we didn’t have kind of stress that exists today.

Today when the kids argue with us, we are not upset that they are arguing with us. We are upset that we were not as strong willed or confident when we were kids. We never dared to voice our opinion or discontent.

“Those were the days” we tell our kids when we studied so much and spent endless hours with our books. The truth is that we didn’t have anything else to do! Today the kids don’t need to spend that much of time because their awareness due to technology is way more than ours used to be.

“Those were the days” is our way of holding on to our youth in our memories. It’s probably our “go-to” place to escape our current lives full of stress.

Heart of hearts, we wish we were born couple of decades later to maximise everything that this world has to offer. We want TARDIS. Travel back in time to relive our lives. Ain’t gonna happen. 

When the brakes fail



Life flashes in front of your eyes. Depending on the speed you are at, either you become the news people read in the paper the next day, or you live to tell the tale.

What brought this on? Happened to me yesterday. Made me wonder. Those few seconds (if I was any faster, it would have been fraction of a second) were a whirlwind of thoughts. Of course in between all those thoughts, I did manage to switch off the car and use handbrakes. Lived to tell the tale.

But while I was sitting by the roadside for two hours, waiting for the tow to arrive, I was thinking. The thinking was a continuation of a lot I have written in past posts. Is this what life is about? We build our lives around people, around acquisitions, around things we like to collect and hoard. And all of it can go poof! In a fraction of a second it can stop being meaningful. Become useless. Makes you wonder isn’t it?

Our lives are like automobiles. We drive our lives. Sometimes at a fast speed with open uncluttered minds or the life gets stuck in a jam. Jam of emotions, circumstances, people who want to come in our way, slow us down.

There are times when the car is full of people and there are times when we drive alone.

I always get confused between analogy and metaphor but life and automobile, they are kind of interchangeable. It’s about constant moving from point A to point B. Mundanity is defined by where you travel. If it is all about home to work and back home, the route is predictable and boring. So is life. 

Do we ever travel from point A to point Z? Do we even travel to point D?! I very much doubt that.

We put miles and miles on the odometer of the car, travelling to same old places year after year (and then we change the car and do the same thing). Similarly we go through the years of our lives doing the same thing over and over. In life actually we continue with the same life since we got only one life. Till the engine just shuts down.

I have put many miles on my life and those two hours made me wonder. Yes this drive has given happy moments. Have driven on expressways and also through potholes. Have been stuck in jams frequently but as it happens, there is always a way out of the jam eventually.

There are still many miles left on this old warhorse. The trick now is to explore Point D or E or….

The road ahead is defined by what you see from the windscreen. Not in the rear view mirror. The rear view only shows you wants coming behind you. Far too often we are choosing our left or right basis what’s coming from behind. Whereas we are supposed to navigate what’s ahead and keep moving forward. 

We would all like our roads (and life) to be an expressway but it doesn’t happen. Just as it is tough to find a free road, similarly in our country governed by all the archaic societal traffic signals, our progress is slow. There are bullock carts (rules of the society set in 18th century) and then there are Audis and BMWs that are whizzing ahead and around us. Whoever said driving is easy and life is easy, think again. One bogs you down and the other creates expectations which you can’t match and get left behind.

But then we do get through. We may not travel very far. But can we make the most of the drive? Aim for point E?

Will we wait for the brakes to fail?

(Image courtesy AA1car.com)

Time


Needless to say, it is the most precious commodity. Every second that passes, reduces that from our balance. Unlike money that can be earned to keep the balance stable, we can’t earn it back. Yes we do make efforts to increase the available time that we have left. We try hard to slow down the process of ageing. We want to ensure that time doesn’t run out quickly.

The other way of course is to maximise value of time. It’s like getting a bigger bang for every buck that we spend. So we seek to make the most of every second available to us.

There are products and services that make money out of it. When you use any device to get access (a call, a message, mail or whatever), you pay for the time you have used the service. Modes of transport also make you pay for the time saved. A flight vs a train. A car vs walking. Even the watch on your wrist, you paid for it. There is a price to pay when you want to make the most of available time.

More often than not, we focus our attention on what’s most important to us in that particular second. We prioritise. We have a “to do list!” We pack in as much as possible.

But the unfortunate part is, we are always running out of time. There are always events around us that stop us from making the most of our time. Think about it. From the time you get up to the time you go to sleep, can you claim that you did justice to every second of that day? Did you do all your work and connected with everyone who matters to you? Did you make everyone around you happy?  If the answer is yes to all, an honest answer, then you are truly a magician

The truth is, we struggle and we juggle. And since everyone cannot be a magician, we do tend to drop the balls. Some we catch, some we don’t. Probably what we catch are not the right ones. But as the saying goes, we can’t make all the people happy all the time.

The screw up though is that we use this as an excuse and we choose who to make happy. That becomes your priority list. We prioritise people and events that will have a future bearing on our being content. It is a selfish way of looking at things but hey, that’s also about making the most of the time right?

For many of us, while we know there is all the pressure in ththe world bearing down on us, we let ourselves have time for ourselves. Do things that we want to do rather than being driven by all the people and events that are vying for a time ( distraction is the term people around us will use)

Now I am possibly the one who is very bad at time management. Imagine, I could be doing something far more constructive than wasting my time putting up this post about time! But that’s me. Yes I will get through the day too and get the required things done but just like the time I spend at the gym as ‘me time’, this post also is my ‘me time’.

I am not chasing longevity. I don’t want to make the time last forever. I want it to move at the pace it is moving. I want to do things that matter but as someone said yesterday, we only control 10% of the things in our lives. Else everything else is an environmental impact.

(Image courtesy: Dick Bolles.com)

Unifinished


It’s a scary word.

We all like to live a structured life. Things happen when they are meant to. We make a ‘to do’ list. For work as well as for personal life. The list could have two things to do or ten, but we make the list. It could be on a piece of paper, digital or in our heads. Ticking off things as they get done.

It starts from an early age. The school time table for each day. And it becomes a habit.

We start to live by the list. Everything is done according to the list. Even during the down time, we are thinking about the things that we need to get done.

When we go to bed at night, we think about all that was accomplished from the list. We feel good about getting everything done and then think about things that need to be done next day.

A structured life is considered successful. Have read a lot of self help stuff on how important it is to make a list – for a day, for a month, for a year and even for your entire life! Structure is what sets us humans apart from other animals.

Work to be done. Bills to be paid. Things to be bought… endless.

Hence ‘unfinished’ is a scary word. If there is a task that is left unfinished, it gnaws at our mind. Sits there poking our brain that we need to finish the task. We need the closure. It is unsettling. We worry that people will brand us as procrastinator.

But I want to question this premise. Are we becoming so driven by the ‘to do’ that our entire thinking is governed by that list? I know of a few who are so focused that their mind probably short circuits if they have to think of something that’s not on the list! Linearity must be maintained. Is there ever a winding down that happens? Where we just let go and not think about things to do. Our weekends also are a list of things to do. Even our holidays!! Why??

In my entire working life, I have never made a ‘to do’ list. Well actually I tried it a few times and it just didn’t work. While am not a model of the so called successful people, I think I have turned out alright. Unfinished for me doesn’t mean am not doing it, unfinished for me means that the particular task needs time to finish in the most productive way rather than it being a process and strcuture. It makes my mind run unfettered and be creative. It makes me act on impulse and get excited over little things. It keeps me connected to the child in me. Conventionality and predictablity are so boring. Working towards a defined outcome makes the mind focus only on that particular outcome.

We were given the power of thinking, not to put a structure to it but to think in a freewheeling style.

Think about it. Most startling discoveries have happened when the mind was not thinking a structure or a format. Pursuing a predictable outcome makes us rats or monkeys in a controlled environment of a large lab called society and work culture.

Coming back to unfinished. Yes there is work to be done and if I was a list driven person, I would not have had time to post this. 🙂