Thursday, August 4, 2016

Prophets Of Doom

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I had touched upon this topic several years ago in another article (see: Doomsday) but felt compelled to revisit it once again.  It seems that there is a growing intensity in the media as well as in popular culture that includes movies, documentaries, television shows, books as well as online platforms, where a bulk of people seem to be obsessed with “end of the world” concepts and scenarios.  It is true that there are many things going horribly wrong in our times such as war, terrorism, famines, global warming etc.  No doubt these issues need to be tackled with potent counter measures and intelligent leaders, who are willing to walk their talk.  But if one were to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, they would find that the world has been plagued by similar adversities for many centuries now.  Poverty and disaster are not new issues that cropped up exclusively in the 21st century.

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Further, a closer inspection reveals that many positive changes have occurred in equal measure and in some cases overflowed the embankments of their epicenters and spread around the globe.  Sadly though, these seemed to be completely ignored.  Instead, conversations, news reports and thoughts seem to be gravitating with more intensity towards the negative, with far less leaning in favor of what is positive and right with the world.  Equally disturbing at times, is how a lot of people seem to relish the supposed omens or premonitions, which point to worldwide doom, where they even cite various prophecies by say Nostradamus and Vanga to corroborate their views. 

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While Nostradamus may have predicted certain events, which many claim have occurred just as he foretold, he also wrote other material, where he implored humanity to reflect on its current actions.  From that point, he strongly contended that if humanity could transform itself, where the hearts of people spewed out the venom of prejudice and absorbed the nectar of love and compassion, then the future itself could alter its course away from the highway of destruction he foresaw ahead.  Nostradamus himself believed in the transformative power humanity possessed and did have faith that the world would move ahead in a more progressive and positive direction.  However, those responsible for making that happen include the one who has written these words and ones who are reading them right now.  Next Take please!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Leap Of Faith?

Question: Is Rebuilding Burnt Bridges A Personally Lucrative Affair?

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There are moments, every now and then, where I find myself thinking back about certain friends from the years that have gone by.  For many, my friendship with them has endured and our bond remains as strong as ever (and in some case it has gotten even stronger).  With some others, I sadly reflect that our time of knowing each other went by all too quickly.  A few other faces sometimes pass by my minds eye and while I can say that we were never really close, it was good to have known them.  I can certainly say that I learnt some vital lessons about life from them and I do wonder what they are doing when their memory is resurrected in my head.  At other points, I also think of many close friends I had in my early school days and have not seen again, owing to my having to shift to another city or country.  Sadly I can recall some of them but either their first name or last name is eludes me.  Even good old reliable Facebook has not been able to help me locate them as yet.  But maybe when the time is right, we’ll cross paths again somewhere.

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But there are times, perhaps on a quite Saturday afternoon, where I do think of a very select set of people, who felt more like family to me.  Our affection for each other was strong but tragically with a majority of them, the bonds broke and they snapped ties with me altogether.  In a couple of cases, it was a real case of betrayal, where they used me to get ahead in whatever life quest they were pursuing.  I’m sure many of you can think of at least one person, who you felt hurt by.  With that it leads me to draw your attention to what I’ve started to ponder about in the last few weeks.  Is it perhaps time to reach out to that person or those people and find that last bit of closure? Let them know how you felt by their actions but more importantly forgive and let them know it?

A very dear friend of mine, has often loved to quote a famous line that that reads “some people come into your life for a reason, some for a season and some for a lifetime.”  She also quite often adds that it is crucial to not let any negativity affect you in the long run.  Her motto has always been to deal with it, cry your heart out if you must but above all to find the strength to let go and keep respecting yourself.  She adds that it is vital to learn from what happened and only remember the good things and walk on. 

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But while I understand that, with the select set of people I mentioned earlier, I wonder if it is indeed worth reaching out and taking that risk to talk to them?  Or if it might be worth trying to rebuild the bridges of trust that they burnt, when they decided to turn into pyromaniacs and set an inferno to what I thought they also held precious? Or perhaps instead I wonder if I should make a greater effort to focus on learning the reason for their presence, reminisce fondly on the brief season that was and hold that ounce of value close to my heart for the rest of my life?  I’d be curious to know how they feel now and if they would consider making an equal effort to restore what was lost.  Personally, it feels hard to be the one to make the effort and risk getting hurt again.  But as many wise people have told me before, if one looks deep within their hearts, they’d know if it might be worth the effort or not.  And as I write that I can almost hear Adele singing in the distance “Hello from the other side………” Next Take please!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cycle For Life!

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With the wind sailing through my hair, the only sounds I was aware of were the soft swooshes of my feet working the peddles and the steady rhythm of my own heart.  Everything else in the world had faded away as I cruised along the asphalt leading towards one of the more secluded beaches in Alibaug in the late afternoon.  There was a deep sense of freedom and a feeling of accomplishment as my two wheeler and I left the road and began up a mud trail leading over an embankment to the hard sand beach just beyond.  As the trail rose further, I passed through a large clump of pine trees that for the next couple of minutes hid the shoreline from view.  An experience such as this reminded me of just how beautiful life could really be, far removed from the monotony of urban existence.

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Over the past year, I had been very pleased to see that the number of people opting to use cycles for either exercise or short commutes had steadily increased.  Even more interesting, were the fine displays of high quality bikes and matching gear being used by various enthusiasts across the city.  However, as someone who is an avid cyclist I often felt a bit pained that while many shared my passion there were not enough stretches of roadway that were both safe and devoid of vehicular traffic for us to ply on at our own leisure.   Fortunately, in the month of February this year, fate decided to intervene and I did discover one of the many places, where people could get away and enjoy a more peaceful sojourn.

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Located on the Konkan coast of Western Maharashtra, just south of Mumbai city, Alibaug offered the ideal range for riders to choose either a solo or group tour through its small town habitations, neighboring beaches and vast open fields that lay inland.  Plus, with its large swathes of farmland and pristine hillsides further down its coast, it  also offered adventure seekers a number of great camping spots post the monsoon season (early June to mid-October).  But for just the day I ventured there with a group known as the Mumbai Travellers, our journey was equally thrilling in every way.  We did visit Khim and Awaas beach and were granted the opportunity to see several spots around Alibaug that are seldom visited by tourists.  But more important for me was the feeling of elation of being removed from the usual humdrum of engines to being able to soak in the relative silence and chirps of birds in the canopy of trees above me.

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Indeed, this tranquility also reminded me of my love of the symbiotic relationship shared between the bike and its rider. Each needs the other to get somewhere. Plus, there is a strong reminder to the rider that unless she or he makes the effort to push beyond their own limits they are not going to get anywhere at any time any soon.  Along a journey there will be points, where the rider will have to exert themselves and at others where they can enjoy just sitting in their seats and letting gravity take care of the rest.  It’s very much like life in that respect.  If you meet challenges head on and understand that if you work hard enough to overcome every obstacle then there is always a reward awaiting for you on the other side. Next Take please!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Have A Drink On Me

Courtesy: Sunayan Shahani 

Friend: So you don’t drink?
Me: No. I don’t.
Friend: How come?
Me: Well when I turned 18, I did give alcohol a shot (no pun intended). But I just never acquired a taste for it. So I figured if I don’t like it, why do it!
Friend: You on drugs on something to come up with that? 
Me: No.
Friend: Let me guess, don’t smoke either?
Me: Nope.
Friend: Strange. But yet you listen to heavy metal….
Me: So?

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Either way that I look at it, I’ve had this conversation numerous times with a series of people who I’ve met over the years.  It is funny when I think of some of those chats, for the friends or acquaintances with whom I was talking to, were so completely dumbstruck by my revelation that it seemed to affect their mood in some way.  Although I’m not quite sure why.  More so, a few of them seemed to lament and pleaded with me to give alcohol another chance.  But when I politely declined they seemed to slip into a bizarre state of melancholy and nurse their wounds over their favorite poison.  However, I will add that no one had or has ever been obnoxious and forced me to have a glass of beer, wine or vodka. But what amuses me the most as I recollect all those dialogues is that because I am such a big heavy metal music fan or lover, many outsiders assume that I am a heavy drinker.  Somehow all the fans of that particular music are labelled the same way.  [And now I have songs like Whiskey In The Jar, Cold Gin, Black Ice and Me And My Wine playing in my head]. 

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But putting that connection aside, I do realize that being a teetotaler can be a bit challenging at times, which is why some folks I know who have no acquired taste for alcohol still grab a glass of champagne, Old Monk or Peach Schnapps just to fit in.  And you may ask why do they do so?  Strangely enough just the other night I was at a house party and a dear friend of mine was mentioning how having an refined taste and knowledge of wine can help you score so much new business.  What he of course meant was that having this interest helps to literally break the ice with people across the table as it is a way of finding a common ground that could help people better connect.  Nothing wrong with that at all but that is one reason why certain people force themselves to drink a bit.  The other cause as to why they would do this is to become more accepted as they feel if they don’t drink they won’t be invited to office outings, peer parties, music concerts and New Year bashes.  Honestly, I can say that isn’t a feeling to hold onto.  If you stand by your decision and are comfortable with it, people around you will respect you for that. Plus, you can still rely on other interests and common grounds like art, sports, cinema or food to connect with people and build those bridges of professional and personal friendship.  Don’t fear that you’ll become a social outcast.  But, at the same time, don’t be a stick in the mud and judge others who do drink or remain aloof when you are at any social gathering.  My advice is to be in the moment and take part in the wholesome fun but watch out for your mates and keep them safe.

For the most part I am glad to see people enjoying themselves and being pleased with the alcoholic beverages that they do have. I’d add that I am a bit envious when I see how passionate some people are about their favorite liquors.  Of course, though I don’t feel the same way as they do, I still think it’s pretty cool. So to all those happy people I have known, do know and will know, I say cheers and have fun.  Pass me the heavy metal and you keep the ice. Have a drink on me! Next Take please!