Tag Archives: life

What I learnt since quitting my job a year ago?

Today, a year ago, was my first day after quitting my very first job. It was part-scary and part-exciting, so much so that I woke up from one of the best sleeps of my life and had a fit of paranoia in the same week. From getting up in Bangalore that morning to a year later, writing this blog from a small town on a river bank about 33 miles from London, it has been quite the journey. 2014 has been kind and excruciating, although when I look back, it’s only the good things that I can recall but the year has been challenging and if given a chance, honestly, I would change 100 different things in it, but I think it is okay to accept facts and move on. It’s been a year of Yoda-level wisdom gathering and epic goof-ups. I met some fantastic people in the past year, from riders in the mountains to fellow passengers who for some reason, never hesitated to share their story and add a life-tip after our conversation; maybe I made them feel that I could use some, and no doubt I could have used some, I can use some still. As much as this blog is about coming a full circle, it is also a hopeful look-out for the times to come.

What I’ve learnt since a year of quitting my job to move onto doing something I have wanted for a long time is what this blog is about. I’m still in the process of getting there, but I’m sure it’s going to be just fine.

You’ve Got To Really Want It! — I worked as an engineer in a technological firm and moved into photography without realising how utterly low my skill-sets were. The first week at the new ‘job’ was a jab to the gut, but you’ve got to Karate the shit out of the situation! You have got to use this to your benefit, because the less you know, the more there are opportunities to learn. And you have got to have the interest to learn, it is otherwise a downward spiral of non-recreational alcohol, binge-watching reality TV and gaining 10pounds in a week (and no, I don’t speak from experience). I wish, if I could tell the year-old me that you’re not as good as you think you are. There are so many out there who give up everyday and move-on; why do that if you can find the courage in yourself to power through and that could happen only if you really want it, so you’ve got to really want it.

Grow A Pair — The funny thing about priorities are that people like me, have it figured out but don’t necessarily have the drive to be loyal to them. When I look back, I wish I had the courage to do the software-engineered trash talk and say, “F*** this piece of code, I am done debugging”, but I didn’t. There were a few nights that I would sleep thinking of problems at work and how unhappy I was with the way ‘things’ were happening. It usually makes perfect sense, if you’re unhappy, make a change, but the courage to follow through changes and own their repercussions is down-right scary at times. I think, on this day, I have a lot more courage to follow through my plans and take decisions that I wouldn’t have risked taking a year ago — in pop culture term, I might be refereed to as someone who has grown a pair.

Being Paranoid Helps — But following this pair-growing phenomenon comes the phase of being paranoid and if you go by what I have to say, it helps. As paradoxical as it sounds, it is true. The process of making life-changing decisions follow the paranoia-filled uncertainty. And that is a good thing! New neural networks in the brain start firing up making it the phase of enchanted self-discovery while maintaining a flow and ebb of ideas that are affecting your well-being day by day. This for me, was the first week of my new found freedom, starting Feb 04, 2014 to Feb 09, 2014. Soon after this phase of brand-new neural network arrangement I was left with just paranoia! And just paranoia did great for me. I was always worried, always tensed and hence always prepared. In retrospect it was because of the fact that I really wanted to be a photographer, I still do. The paranoia is still around and in some ways I have arranged for a symbiotic relationship — it feeds off my constant worrying, I try to keep myself prepared in return. Trust me, being paranoid helps.

You Always Have A Plan B — Life’s too short to NOT do something you like and too long to experiment and fail with a thousand different things. I’ve had the pleasure of being passionate about a few things — from the want of being a professional sportsperson in high school, to later being a musician; for lack of a better understanding of ‘things’, settling for studying engineering (which I thoroughly enjoyed), to becoming a graphic designer and finally a photographer, that too in the first week of my job as a software engineer. But every phase has taught me something, much like it teaches everyone something. It is always helpful to nurture this feeling of “being taught” by experiences. And truth be told the way things work out, in hindsight, it seems like a carefully executed plan. We might always know it, but we always have a Plan B.

What’s The Worst That Could Happen? — As scary as it sounds, the analysis of this question, personally is the best stress buster. Ripping off John Mayer on his quote, as true to the fact that fear helps in being prepared of uncertainty, it’s also a friend that’s misunderstood. The way I look at it sometimes, if the worst that could happen isn’t that you “DIE! DIE! DIE!”, the situation is manageable. It got a little morbid there but the point I am trying to drive home is, more often than not, a Plan B lurks in the analysis to this question and isn’t too far from the ideal situation. Yes, instead of getting the utopian ‘there’ in the best possible time, if might take a little longer to make it, but it is still okay. So in my opinion, lay down all your scenarios, plan and deal with it (if it’s not death) because, what’s the worst that could really happen?

Find a Sensei. Trust the Sensei. — I was lucky to have found mine – Aneev. Brutally honest and extremely funny, that’s all you need in a master. What you’ve got to be is completely trusting, and that’s all. I held myself accountable for some of the most basic errors I made, if I could change this other thing, I would have liked to be harder on myself than what I was. The thing is, there is barely any room in this world for mediocrity; there are so many out there who could half-bake a cake and complain about the ingredients being wrong. Having said that, there is definitely no room for self-loathing as well, which is why it always helps to talk to your mentor and reason out your understanding of things. And who knows, the sensei might recommend you to apply for a photography programme in the UK over a round of beer after a good day of shoot and about six months later you could be writing about it for a blog. For that sake alone, find a sensei and trust the sensei.

Familia — The exceptional amount of support, trust and strength I have received from my family has been exceptional to the point that it was surprising! It counts a lot to talk to your family about what’s going on and the sheer enthusiasm with which they want to know about the recent changes. Nothing beats the fact that a year ago, I made a joke to my father (who back then had quite recently taken an early retirement from work) about being unemployed, suggesting that we’re the only ‘jobless’ ones in the family. It is under their protection and heartfelt support that I know that I can achieve what I have set out to. Always, love thy familia.

Don’t/Can’t/Won’t/Shouldn’t Quit — As I wrote earlier, there is barely any room in this world for mediocrity. Added on it the pressure of performance is the daily struggle of the once-much-celebrated Generation X. It doesn’t ever make sense to give up, unless you’ve tried a million different ways of making things work, because if you haven’t, the ‘change’ in itself is not justified. This is where I like to think about the 1000-day rule, it is pretty much the theory that if you’re working on an idea, giving it at least a 1000 days to workout is necessary. This is where the collective effort from my family, my sensei, my paranoia, my analysis to the dreaded question and my plan B helps. The way I look at it, if all else fails, think of doing that one that you find the most pleasure in, so much so that you wished it was the way of life – right there you’d know how to carry on.

I hope what I’ve learnt from this past year stays with me and keeps me moving forward. For better or for worse, it has gotten me so far, I don’t see why it won’t take me all the way.

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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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