Category Archives: Questions

Rowling’s Fringe Benefits of Failure

The fringe benefits of failure has always been a source of inspiration, hope and belief that if you want something to work out and are ready to give in all you got, then it will eventually work out for sure.

But times have changed since the last time I read the essay. I find her as mystical as her characters that my generation grew up with, the writer of the brilliant series of ‘Harry Potter’, J K Rowling. I say the times have changes because the last time I read it, I was at a 9-to-5 job, frustrated out of the tasteless work I was doing, and completely oblivious to the fact that things were about to get better. I guess, we’re always oblivious. I’m sure, things ahead will work out for the best if I’m honest towards my work.

Back then when I read this beautiful lecture that Rowling gave at Harvard, it made me feel so weak. Not because, I couldn’t do what she’s done, but I was looking at myself, and I knew what I had to do but lacked the courage to take a step forward.

I always felt that when I found my calling, the one I was sent here to do, I would give away everything else and jump into the unknown to find it. Here, I was, knowing photography is what I wanted to do and learn the art, but I couldn’t let go of my work and go do it! That was not a very comfortable phase in my life.

Not that I couldn’t get things done where in was working, I was in fact doing a really good job, but every morning when I woke up, the question stared my face every time. I kept asking myself what’s the purpose of all this. Now, don’t misunderstand me for a fool who take risks that are way beyond human comprehension. I was determined that I would make a change and for the same, there had to be a plan.

Now, the funny thing about a plan is, it’s execution. More often than not, what seems like a brilliant plan up in your mind, often comes short outside it. So, there were changes, improvisations and above all, the one thing that always kills joy, the wait!

Being patient is not my thing. Getting-panic-attacks-out-of-excitement-and-fear, that’s more like it!

But then, things slowly started to fall in their place and one fine day I was all assured that I should quit the 9-to-5, and do something to move towards the final destination. Now, the funny thing about this is, is that I still don’t know what the final destination is, but I guess that’s just the part of the journey.

I can’t tell the difference between a weekday and the weekend anymore. It’s either a time when I’m working, or when I’m not, so it’s funny, weird and complicated, all at the same time!

I hope years and years later, I’ll look at this and smile, be proud if the fact that I tried. Success, or not, this will surely be a journey to remember. And success, and/or failure is again, relative if you ask me. Ask me? Yeah, please do.

Give the essay a read here or play this YouTube video from the graduation ceremony.

There are indeed many benefits of failure. I’m not sure if I’ll have the fortune or misfortune of finding every single one of ’em, but I’m sure every single one would teach me things that I’ve not known before and would make every moment a little more special. There are indeed so many fringe benefits of failure.

I end this from an excerpt from her speech which I often read, “You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

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Chapter 16

Chapter 16 – From “The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel

We are all born like Catholics, aren’t we–in limbo, without religion, until some figure introduces us to God? After that meeting the matter ends for most of us. If there is a change, it is usually for the lesser rather than the greater; many people seem to lose God along life’s way. That was not my case. The figure in question for me was an older sister of Mother’s, of a more traditional mind, who brought me to a temple when I was a small baby. Auntie Rohini was delighted to meet her newborn nephew and thought she would include Mother Goddess in the delight. “It will be his symbolic first outing,” she said. It’s a samskara!” Symbolic indeed. We were in Madurai; I was the fresh veteran of a seven-hour train journey. No matter. Off we went on this Hindu rite of passage, Mother carrying me, Auntie propelling her. I have no conscious memory of this first go-around in a temple, but some smell of incense, some play of light and shadow, some
flame, some burst of colour, something of the sultriness and mystery of the place must have stayed with me. A germ of religious exaltation, no bigger than a mustard seed, was sown in me and left to germinate. It has never stopped growing since that day.

I am a Hindu because of sculptured cones of red kumkum powder and baskets of yellow turmeric nuggets, because of garlands of flowers and pieces of broken coconut, because of the clanging of bells to announce one’s arrival to God, because of the whine of the reedy nadaswaram and the beating of drums, because of the patter of bare feet against stone floors down dark corridors pierced by shafts of sunlight, because of the fragrance of incense, because of flames of arati lamps circling in the darkness, because of bhajans being sweetly sung, because of elephants standing around to bless, because of colourful murals telling colourful stories, because of foreheads carrying,
variously signified, the same word–faith . I became loyal to these sense impressions even before I knew what they meant or what they were for. It is my heart that commands me so. I feel at home in a Hindu temple. I am aware of Presence, not personal the way we usually feel presence, but something larger. My heart still skips a beat when I catch sight of the murti, of God Residing, in the inner sanctum of a temple. Truly I am in a sacred cosmic womb, a place where everything is born, and it is my sweet luck to behold its living core. My hands naturally come together in reverent worship. I hunger for prasad, that sugary offering to God that comes back to us as a sanctified treat.
My palms need to feel the heat of a hallowed flame whose blessing I bring to my eyes and forehead.

But religion is more than rite and ritual. There is what the rite and ritual stand for. Here too I am a Hindu. The universe makes sense to me through Hindu eyes. There is Brahman, the world soul, the sustaining frame upon which is woven, warp and weft, the cloth of being, with all its decorative elements of space and time. There is Brahman nirguna, without qualities, which lies beyond understanding, beyond description, beyond approach; with our poor words we sew a suit for it–One, Truth, Unity, Absolute, Ultimate Reality, Ground of Being–and try to make it fit, but Brahman nirguna always bursts the seams. We are left speechless. But there is also Brahman saguna, with qualities, where the suit fits. Now we call it Shiva, Krishna, Shakti, Ganesha; we can approach it with some understanding; we can discern certain attributes–loving, merciful, frightening;–and we feel the gentle pull of relationship. Brahman saguna is Brahman made manifest
to our limited senses, Brahman expressed not only in gods but in humans, animals, trees, in a handful of earth, for everything has a trace of the divine in it. The truth of life is that Brahman is no different from atman, the spiritual force within us, what you might call the soul. The individual soul touches upon the world soul like a well reaches for the water table. That which sustains the universe beyond thought and language, and that which is at the core of us and struggles for expression, is the same thing. The finite within the infinite, the infinite within the finite. If you ask me how Brahman and atman relate precisely, I would say in the same way the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit relate: mysteriously. But one thing is clear: atman seeks to realize Brahman, to be united with the Absolute, and it travels in this life on a pilgrimage where it is born and dies, and is born again and dies again, and again, and again, until it manages to shed the sheaths that imprison it here below. The paths to liberation are numerous, but the bank along the way is always the same, the Bank of Karma, where the liberation account of each of us is credited or debited depending on our actions.

This, in a holy nutshell, is Hinduism, and I have been a Hindu all my life. With its notions in mind I see my place in the universe.

But we should not cling! A plague upon fundamentalists and literalists! I am reminded of a story of Lord Krishna when he was a cowherd. Every night he invites the milkmaids to dance with him in the forest. They come and they dance. The night is dark, the fire in their midst roars and crackles, the beat of the music gets ever faster–the girls dance and dance and dance with their sweet lord, who has made himself so abundant as to be in the arms of each and every girl. But the moment the girls become possessive, the moment each one imagines that Krishna is her partner alone, he vanishes. So it is that we should not be jealous with God.

I know a woman here in Toronto who is very dear to my heart. She was my foster mother. I call her Auntieji and she likes that. She is Quebecoise. Though she has lived in Toronto for over thirty years, her French-speaking mind still slips on occasion on the understanding of English sounds. And so, when she first heard of Hare Krishnas, she didn’t hear right. She heard “Hairless Christians,” and that is what they were to her for many years. When I corrected her, I told her that in fact she was not so wrong; that Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims.

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Exam Eve.. Ah..!!

As we’ve approached the eve of my last mid-term-paper, I can’t help but wonder all the other stuff around me. There’s something about exam times, makes you find the amazing in mundane. I love it, how I like to clean, shave for a change, give clothes at the laundry, collect clothes from the laundry and what not. Mother would’ve been so proud! Anyways, to sum it up, I feel one must answer life’s big question, find solutions to never ending problems, take major life altering decisions only when you’ve got a paper due tomorrow morning and you know nothing, I repeat, nothing about the subject.


Now, to list a few things that I want to do right now but surprisingly won’t do tomorrow same time is,

1) Go out into the night clicking pictures

2) Read about the subject and assess my performance of the paper I took today

3) Find out the Google-Story

4) Read the novel – ‘Shantaram’

5) Clean my desk

6) Shave

7) Clean clothes at the laundry

This feeling of ‘not-knowing’ sets you free, to venture in the unknown, to try and figure out how you’ll reach your goal. Isn’t this the same, the way great Alexander felt before his first invasion? Isn’t this the same, the way great knights feel before heading over to rescue the princess, slay the dragon, and bring honour to thy self?

I too, set to venture in my unknown, even though, I will not slay a dragon, I will not receive a kiss from my the princess, but I’d sure fight my way to numerous sums, formulae(s), slay some problems, get some marks (pun-intended 😛 ) and rush my way to victory. Because, in the end it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, what matters is “Where’s the booze party!?”

One thing I know I would love to do – be it an exam eve or not – is blog. Talking to my 15″ Laptop screen, see words forming, see my hands hovering over little keys and write a piece of my mind. Ah… I like it!

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Finders Keepers Losers Weepers

Is it just me or is this really a conspiracy against everyone who, at any point of time has lost something. I mean, has it ever occurred to you guys that you’ll always find people who have lost something rather than found something? The list of things that I’ve lost over my 20 years of existence varies from a 14-G Digi-Cam to a 4-buck worth pencil. I’ve heard people always complaining of losing stuff, but who finds it? I mean, there’s gotta be somebody who’s at the receiving end, right?’

How can it be that everyone is losing something without anyone getting that something? Its breaking the usual nature of ‘things’ as we know it. What I want to know is, where is my camera, where is the pencil I lost, where is the note-book I used today in the class? But these are the questions which are beyond human comprehension because, there’s always a higher force working – working to steal away your things ranging from mundane to extraordinary. If its gone, don’t fret wondering how. Just accept it!

The rate at which people are losing stuff is kinda too damn huge in comparison to the rate at which others are finding ’em. Sad but true.

Share the love.

Adious Amigos.

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Being Pointless

It’s a funny world out there. Full of surprises, full of hopes, full of things you want to do in life, things that you once wished you’d do for the rest of your life, things that you do now (ones that you long back craved a chance to do). Life is funny and at times, very distant in terms of people, in terms of the opportunities that you’ve come across.

I love my life right now and I’d like to live it the way it is now. But eventually it is going to get  better and for that to happen, it has got to get worse. It’s true! It is, definitely, not a lecture on life and how to live it, I am nowhere near to even qualify, to comment on something of the sort. It’s just an observation from my perspective.

And the ‘worsening’ part is not limited to your life being torn apart to shreds, well in most cases, it’s not even close. The mystical ass-whooping that everyone gets at a point of time, comes in mysterious ways. It’s a 70s conspiracy theory meet 90s assassination meet the present day 2012 theory. And on the ‘2012’ bombshell, why bother if all this is going to end! Man! Isn’t this all a waste? – The slogging off at work, constant abuses from your boss, meticulous preparations for exams.

Amidst the nonsense, a simple question makes you wonder, makes you work hard, every day! It asks, “What if..? What if 2012 is a hoax? What if, this is not what you’ve wanted all along? What if this is not what you’ve dreamt all along? What if, there’s something out there for you, something that you’re still to discover? What if, you still await –Your calling?”

This is what I love about blogging. A space, where there’s a one-way communication. I know, what I wrote just now would have been plain crap! It could’ve been a series a discussion, one after the other, pointing out the irregularities of topics, the no-sense making sentences. But I love talking to a computer-screen sometimes, watching the words being written as I hit some keys on the keyboard. It makes me stop, stare and wonder sometimes how miraculous it is.

It’s a nice night =)

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