Reasons why you should travel

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Many people think that we need to wait for our later years of life to explore the world, and that the only places worth visiting are those that have a religious or historical significance. Well, everyone has the right to decide what’s right for them. But there is much more to traveling than just visiting places of religious and historic significance. Here’s my list of 5 reasons why you should travel:

  1. Disconnecting with your regular life: You get the opportunity to forget your problems for at-least a week or so. Sometimes this distancing away from the problem helps you understand it in a different perspective, thus helping you to solve it.
  2. The art of being patient: Traveling involves a lot of waiting, like waiting for your flight, waiting for your meal to be served at the restaurant, waiting to see God (or just the idol). All this teaches you the art of waiting, making you less twitchy and more relaxed.
  3. Making friends isn’t that difficult: Once we reach a certain age we find it difficult to make friends, why? The reason is that we are too busy meeting deadlines. But when traveling, we aren’t chasing any deadlines, and hence we are relaxed. This makes it the perfect opportunity to make friends.
  4. Flexibility: Probably not in the physical sense, unless you are visiting a yoga retreat. While most of the traveling schedule is planned, either by you or your travel agent, but there is always a surprise or two waiting for you. Like the unplanned rains, which makes you wait at a restaurant and sample Parsi cuisine.
  5. Improves social skills: Making small talk with your fellow passengers or having a lively discussion at the local bar, traveling will surely improve you social skills.

Life is a wonderful gift, and there is nothing more wonderful than traveling the world we live, understanding different cultures and most importantly creating beautiful memories that we can share and cherish.

Welcome positivity into your life (Part 3)

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Creating a positive life

The first part of the series was, ‘Identifying negative people in your life‘. In the second part of the series we saw how to ‘Re-organizing your life – away from negative people‘. This is the third and the final part of the series, in this we will look at ways in which you can create your own sense of positivity.

Here are some ways.

1 Use positive affirmations: Maintaining a positive lifestyle isn’t the easiest of task, especially during the transition period. Hence there will be times when you struggle to maintain a positive attitude day to day. To overcome this start your day by saying a positive affirmation out-loud to yourself 5 to 10 times.

  • “I will” not lose my temper.
  • “I am” good at my job.
  • “I can” live without smoking.

2 Keep a check on yourself: It takes time to get rid of negative habits. Initially you will find yourself slipping back into your negative lifestyle or getting diverted from the goals that you have set for yourself. As such you need to keep a check on yourself. Some common mistakes that may happen are:

  • Accepting an invitation from a negative co-worker
  • Again start consuming junk food.
  • Endlessly watching television.
  • Your exercise plan falls apart.
  • Sleeping for more than 8 hours.

3 Focus on an activity you enjoy: Set aside a specific amount of time (per week) for a hobby or activity that you enjoy. This should be something doable and something that you enjoy like:

  • Knitting
  • Yoga
  • Tennis
  • Running

Channelizing your energy in the right direction will keep your negative emotions at bay.

4 Take care of yourself: There is a huge difference between leading a self-centered life and self-care. A self-centered person is someone who cannot think beyond himself/herself, while self-care simply means setting aside some “me time” for yourself every week. Use this time to connect with your real self, or maybe pamper yourself with a massage.

Now that you have started leading a positive lifestyle, the important thing is to follow a schedule. It may take some time to get used to your new lifestyle, but you will soon start seeing and enjoying the benefits of a positive lifestyle.

Always remember, you cannot live a positive life with a negative mind.

Stay positive and always remember to help the needy.

Welcome positivity into your life (Part 2)

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Re-organizing your life – away from negative people

The first part of the series was, ‘Identifying negative people in your life‘. Now that you know how to identify negative people, the next step is to get rid of them.

Here are some steps that will help you get rid of negative people.

1 Limited contact or communication: Once we have identified negative people, the best thing would be to stay away from them. But it is easier said than done. Let’s look at it this way, what if that negative person happens to be your neighbor? You cannot indefinitely avoid your neighbor, or stop communicating with him/her for the rest of your life. Hence the realistic approach would be to limit your contact or communication with negative people.
Word of caution: There is a big difference between a negative person and a criminal/outlaw. If you believe or know that a person belongs to the second category, it is best that you stay away from that individual and stop communicating, unless you are a budding criminal or a method actor.

2 Make time for yourself: Once you have decided to stay away from negative people, the next thing that you need to do is plan activities to keep yourself busy. The reason being, your loneliness may not only make you vulnerable but also drive you back towards the very same negative people that you are trying to stay away from.
Here are some activities to keep you busy:

  • Yoga/Meditation
  • Book reading
  • Painting
  • Learning to play a musical instrument
  • Gym or mixed martial arts class
  • Cooking
  • How about starting your own blog?

3 Choosing your battles: After you have eliminated a couple of negative people from your life, you should not think that you will never encounter a negative person. Actually, something quite different would start happening. Since you know what qualities make a person negative, you will initially feel that you are meeting more negative people than earlier.
But this time when you encounter a negative person who tries to provoke you, think:
Is this where I make a stand?
Being positive is not about remaining silent, but it is about choosing your battles.

4 Help a friend: As mentioned earlier, negative people may not necessarily be evil. So if there is a friend or someone who you really care about, do help.
Start by giving small suggestions, as to how your friend can change his/her attitude towards life. If your friend is receptive and ready for a change, start sharing more. If you are able to save your friend from negativity, you would be really proud of yourself.

5 Meet positive people: Once you have decided to stay away from negative people, start making acquaintances with people who have a positive outlook towards life. While making new friends takes time, and it takes more time once you reach your thirties or forties. But the important thing is to start building a circle of people who have a positive outlook towards life. These people will not only help you grow in life, but will not be a drain on your time and energy and be unresponsive when you need them.
When making new friends, take things slow. Don’t open your heart to the very first person who is ready to listen to your feelings.

While we cannot control the way people in general behave or think, but we surely can change ourselves. A positive life may not make you the richest person in the world, but it would surely make you a happy individual.

Once you have re-organized your life away from negative people, the next step is to create a positive lifestyle. This is what the next and the final post of this series is going to be about.

Always remember, you cannot live a positive life with a negative mind.

Welcome positivity into your life (Part 1)

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Identifying negative people in your life

Negative people will cause you more harm than good, if any. The best thing is to stay away from such people, but to do that you need to first identify the negative people around you. Below are some pointers which will help you identify the negative people.

  1. Relationships are about give and take: Negative people will suck your time and energy, when they want something from you. But they do not reciprocate in the same way when you need them.
  2. Some people are always critical: Constructive criticism is good; it helps us improve and move forward in life. But you will find that there are some people who are always critical about you, no matter what you do. Such people may insult you, pick on you, and make negative comments about your looks or aptitude.
  3. Short fuse: Agreeing to disagree is a sign of maturity. But there are some people who will start shouting at you no sooner than you contradict them or present your point of view, which is different from theirs.
  4. Negative about everything: There are few things in life which we love, we hate a couple of things and are okay with most of the things. But there are some people who are critical about everything; there is absolutely nothing in the whole wide world that pleases them.
  5. Perpetual liars: We all lie, but most of the things that we say are true. However, there are some people who are perpetual liars. Such people will lie to you about everything, and no sooner than you ask them a couple of questions they will change the topic.
  6. Bullies: There are some people who make it a point to unnecessarily tease you, as if they are looking for a reason to bicker with you or pick a fight.
  7. You did it: It takes courage to accept one’s mistake. When a project or a task fails, most people tend to blame the other person. But there are some people who make it a point to blame you for everything that is wrong in their lives.
Once you have identified the negative people in your life, the next step is to get rid of them – and that is what my next post is going to be about.

Always remember, you cannot live a positive life with a negative mind.

The Winter of 1984: Lest we forget

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The human history is marred with recurrent cases of violence, deceits and cover-ups. But still there are some dates, and especially some events, which are impossible to forget. As some of the most inhumane acts were committed, in broad daylight, on these dates while the civil society silently and helpless watched all this from a distance.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.- John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

Like any other year, 1984 probably started on a happy note. We Indians were thrilled on the 2nd of April when Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma was launched into space, aboard the Soyuz T-11.

The terrorism in the North-Western Indian state of Punjab and the demand for Khalistan prompted the then Indian government to launch Operation Blue Star on the 1st of June. On the 4th of June Indian troops stormed the Golden Temple at Amritsar to capture and kill the terrorists hiding inside it.

The aftermath of Operation Blue Star

On 31st of October the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh security guards. Her son Rajiv Gandhi succeeded her as the Prime Minister of India.

“When a big tree falls, earth shakes.” – Rajiv Gandhi

Between 31st October and 3rd November an estimated 2,700 to 10,000 Sikhs were killed during the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and other areas. The mobs looted and damaged several Sikh homes, businesses and Gurdwaras in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

An Industrial disaster, of epic proportions

On 3rd December one of the worst industrial disasters took place in Bhopal. A methyl isocyanate leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, killed more than 2,000 people outright and injures anywhere from 15,000 to 22,000 others (some 6,000 of whom later die from their injuries).

The winter of 1984 was a period of mass genocide and massive government cover-ups. These were some of the darkest months in the history of Independent India. Probably the only expectation that the Indian people had from 1985 was a hope, that their country still remains democratic and that their fundamental rights aren’t violated once again.

It has been decades, yet the victims of the anti-Sikh riots and Bhopal gas tragedy still haven’t received any justice – but they still haven’t lost hope.

1990s: The Decade that Transformed India

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There is something nostalgic about the 90s. The very mention of it lightens the face even of the gravest person, and why shouldn’t it? After all it was a decade of innovation, optimism, globalisation and a period when the walls of authoritarianism finally started crumbling.

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven. This is what William Wordsworth said about the French revolution, before the be-headings began and he returned to England. Just like Wordsworth’s romanticism for the French revolution, most of us have a very rosy picture of the 90s.

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Major events in the 90s that shaped India

Mandal Commission

Since government jobs and higher education institutes were dominated by people belonging to the upper castes. V.P. Singh, the Prime Minister of India at the time, tried to implement Mandal commission recommendations in August 1990 which led to protests and self-immolation across the country. While caste based reservation still remains a touchy subject in India, many poor people belonging to backward communities got government jobs owing to this policy and thus saved from further exploitation. This also led to the strengthening of regional political parties in India.

Economic liberalisation

In 1991, a balance of payment crisis pushed India to near bankruptcy. In return for a bailout, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forced economic reforms upon India. But this was good for the general public. Since state monopolies were broken, the economy was opened for trade and investment, private sector enterprises were encouraged. While implementing economic reforms was not an easy task, but a quarter of century after its implementation India became the sixth largest economy in the world.

Hindu-Muslim divide revisited

The demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 and Bombay bomb blasts in 1993 played an important role in bringing back the old animosities to the forefront. While vote bank politics was nothing new in India, but this certainly was the beginning of a new chapter.

The Idiot-box

The 90s is considered the best decade when it comes to Indian serials and shows. These programs not only provided entertainment, but they also made people aware of the country’s history, mythology, news, lifestyle, trends, etc. This helped people understand their country better, they became slightly liberal and most importantly it increased the aspirations of the people, especially the ones living in smaller cities. Seeing women on television, talking about their achievements or being felicitated for their accomplishments, also acted as an inspiration for many young girls.

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India – A nation evolving

The Indian government through their economic reforms and caste based reservation policy in the 90s made an effort to not only bridge the gap between the rich and poor, but also between people belonging to different castes and communities. But India is not only the largest democracy in the world but also a developing nation, as such it takes time to bring about a change in the society. Till then, India and its citizens are trying to find unity in their diversity as they conquer new challenges and create new milestones.

The economic liberalisation, which was followed by the rapid growth of private sector, has driven millions of people to different parts of the country – creating young, vibrant and liberal communities throughout the country.

Little boy meets God

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“Mama! Do you know where God lives?” Raghu asked his mother innocently.

Raghu’s mother, Sandhya, thought for a second and said. “No one knows where God lives. But he visits the park in the neighborhood sometimes on Sunday’s.”

“Today is Sunday!” Raghu spoke excitedly. “Will we be going to the park today?”

Sandhya pretended to think for a moment and said. “Okay. We will go to the park today. Tell your dad to get ready soon.”

“Okay.”

“Wait! When you meet God what are you going to offer him?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’ll pack pop-corn and sweet lemon juice.”

The three soon got ready and left for the park.

“If God decides to visit the park, he sits on either one of those three benches.” Sandhya said pointing towards the three empty benches.

Raghu started playing around the benches, while Sandhya and Rahul kept an eye on him from a distance.

Soon an old woman, with a slight limp, came and sat on one of the empty bench.

Raghu curiously started looked at her. The old woman observed him and smiled back at him.

Raghu silently sat next to the old woman and started observing the wrinkles on her face, which made her look all the more beautiful.

“Are you hungry?” Raghu asked. “I brought pop-corn and sweet lemon juice for you.”

“How did you know that it is my favourite?”

For the next 30 minutes the two laughed and talked.

“Where are your parents?” The old woman asked.

“There.” Raghu pointed in their direction and they waived back.

“Now go back to them.” The old woman said. She then kissed his forehead and happily left.

With a big smile Raghu returned back to his parents.

“So, did you meet God?” Rahul asked.

“Yes. God is a woman and she has pain in her right knee.” Raghu replied immediately.

When the old woman returned back to her home, there was a big smile on her face.

“You look very happy, met someone special today?” Her son enquired.

“I had pop-corn and sweet lemon juice with God. He is much younger than I thought and has a slight lisp.”

As we Hindus say about God’s presence, Yatra Tatra Sarvatra. Meaning that God is present, here there everywhere.

God is present everywhere. All we need to do is share our happiness and make others smile to feel him.