That’s my SocialDistancing

I moved away from Whatsapp, reduced my time on Instagram and Facebook (my job doesn’t allow me to move away completely), and pretty much became non-existent on other social networks and groups.

Some of my friends said, I have taken social distancing to an extreme level. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I realized that being connected (or so we assume) digitally was distancing me from my loved ones. Here goes the story of social distancing.
– Birthday calls (and these were so important to me), that used to last for a couple of mins of fun and chatter, suddenly turned into dropping messages on a WhatsApp group and Facebook accounts (and eventually belated birthday messages).
– Random calls to check in on how my friends and family were doing turned in to random ‘Hi, how have you been?’ messages with the delusion of staying in touch and of caring for their existence.
– The extreme level of social distancing was actually replying to an incoming call with a template message ‘Can’t talk right now. Can I call you later?’

No matter what situation we are in, the world doesn’t need this kind of social distancing.

I will not treat my loved ones this way (even if they have come to terms with the new norm).

Want to know the withdrawal symptoms of this behavior?
– I call
– I meet (not now given the situation)
– Yes, I do message but not template messages
– I respond not like I am obliged to, but like I care

Side Note: There’s definitely merit in all the social networks, but don’t get to a stage where you WhatsApp your loved one (in the next room) for dinner.

Ignored your Calling?

…then what are you cribbing about?

Your current situation is a result of the choices you made and callings you ignored. If there is anyone to be blamed, it has to be ‘YOU.’

Stop blaming others and situations that have forced you to ignore your calling. You still had a choice.

Now that you have made the choice, the best way forward for you is to come to terms with it. Why, you ask?
– So you can be at peace with yourself
– So your friends, family and loved ones around you don’t have to hear your rants
– So you can be better at the option you selected
– and more importantly, you can reflect on your choices and make better choices when you get a chance.

Side Note: Heard this quote somewhere and might be apt to quote it here – “Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.”

Won’t unlearn This

Covid-19 has done its bit – both good and bad. As I continue to rail through these turbulent days, I realized that it is not all that bad. There is obviously a silver lining to this pandemic and appended below are some of my observations around what Covid-19 has tried to teach us.
This is not an exhaustive list and if you have your own list, please add them in the comments and I will update this post.

Some high level observations:
– Minimalism is possible
– Sustainable living need not be a fad anymore. It can be a reality.
– Nature is a great leveler
– Re-emphasized the fact that materialistic things mean nothing
– If we don’t keep the planet clean,
– Cleanliness as a habit can be formed no matter how old or young you are
– Hinduism (not as a religion) as a way of living is our best chance of survival
– Folded arms greeting is not just safe for now but is here to stay. Wherever possible (including official emails), I open my sentence with ‘Namaste.’ The only reason is to form a habit of it when you meet people in person.

These are more specific to me (so purely personal):
– Whatsapp is 95% garbage (especially more during pandemic times)
– WFH is more effective than stressful
– Kids don’t need gadgets to stay engaged
– If you thought, intoxication is the only way to having a relaxing time, try getting high on meditation.
– Saying ‘Namaste’ was odd but now I take total pride in it.
– Checking-in on at least one of your loved ones and providing assistance to a complete stranger is not a big ask and it is fulfilling.

Side Note: I fervently hope that tomorrow when we weather out this situation, we don’t unlearn what we learnt from these tough times.

Earth does a Detox

Right from my 8 year old son to the world famous Greta to a lot of people like me who live in the illusion of being climate activists have been talking and at times walking the talk of protecting the planet ‘Earth.’ Little do we know that we were being arrogant (and/or foolish to say the least) to think that we humans can protect earth.

Earth can play ‘Thanos’ at its will.”

Clearly, earth wasn’t very amused with our efforts. With not much of an impact, planet earth decided to turn a climate activist itself. If anything Covid-19 was its way of proving that our actions determine our fate not earth’s.

Planet earth is sorted.”

Side Note: For a long time now, we have been selfish enough to not worry about anyone else but us. The change has to happen for the same selfish reasons with survival being the top one.

Do you love You?

How many times do we get asked ‘Do you love me?’

Sometimes it’s our wife, sometimes it’s our girl friend (or a special friend), sometimes it’s our children, and in some rare cases its our parents. As you fight the day to prove you do love them, here’s my question for you – Do you love ‘you?’

It’s a question important enough for you to answer.

To put on a smile on your love’s face, I see you putting on a frown through most part of your day. I know the usual saying, it’s worth it. But really, is it?

Why does it become okay for you to compromise on your dreams, your aspirations, your interests, your vices to create a ‘forced’ future for someone else?

Side Note:
Stop building a purpose for others if you cannot find yours.
If you cannot love yourself enough, you aren’t really loving others.

I’m sorry Honey

Everytime you came to me to complain about how difficult our Moms are being with you.
Everytime you talked to me about how frustrating it was to plan anything with our (difficult) friends.
Everytime you wanted to discuss your challenges of disciplining our chipmunks.
Everytime you made an attempt to discuss your problems with building OneSkin.

I am sorry for trying to solve your problems and not listening to you.

I lost my skill of being a good listener among the multiple journeys I embarked as an entrepreneur, consultant, speaker etc. I forgot the skill that was ingrained in to me (thanks to my early stint at Google) – the skill of saying and living it by every word, “I understand how you feel….”

Little do we realize that when people (friends, colleagues, family, etc) come to talk to us, 9 out of 10 times, they are coming to us, not for advise (surprise, surprise) but to get heard (what is also popularly referred to as ‘to get validation’).

All they want to hear from you is those 3 golden words – “I Hear You.”

I Hear You by Michael S Sorensen

Side Note: I haven’t been very successful in saying ‘I hear you.’ It might sound cliche but the truth is it is difficult (but not impossible). Like any other skill, ‘validation’ needs practice.

Religion over Country?

I don’t know if I am the only one who noticed it this Thursday when India was celebrating its 73rd Independence Day. I hardly got any individual messages or calls wishing me ‘Happy Independence Day.’ I wouldn’t have been harsh on this, if people at least treated 15th August as a festival (because I do get calls, individual messages and Whatsapp messages for Pongal, Diwali, Eid, Christamas and even for Onam).

“Instead, I believe that we treat Independence Day as a holiday – just like a Saturday or a Sunday but wishing it doesn’t come on the weekend.”

I am no historian or a hypocrite secular politician to talk to you about India, it’s history, it’s pride and how we need to act (not be) Indian. But the time ‘to really be’ is now more than ever before and it isn’t difficult. One small step makes all the difference. A step as small as calling your close ones and wishing them ‘Happy Independence Day.’ A step as small as buying sweets from the ‘mithai shop’ for Independence Day like you do for Diwali or Eid or Christmas or did this time around for Raksha Bandhan.

Side Note: The first step to change is to acknowledge the shortcomings. Ignore at your risk.

Death winked at Me

I got up from a nightmare (or so I thought) where death winked at me.

It was surreal with a beautiful girl (I am still not sure if I should count this as a dream or a nightmare) standing in a corner and waiting to grab my attention. When I did look at her, she had death written even in her smile.

After I got up, neither was I wasn’t able to shake it off (like my many other dreams) nor was I able to stop myself from pondering on these thoughts:

– Do I learn more or teach more?
– Do I speak more or listen more?
– Do I smile more or make others smile?
– Do I react more or I help more?
– Do I run ahead or walk slowly?
– Do I frown more or meditate more?
– Do I help businesses make more money or give my family more memories?
– Do I gulp multiples of scotch or drown myself in books and my articles?
– Do I reply to Whatsapp messages or pick up and call my old buddies?
– Do I watch a sitcom so I sound updated or watch my favorite Hrishikesh Mukherjee or Jandhyala’s movie?

I will pull myself up and find answers to these and many other similar questions but my question to all of you – ‘will you be lucky to get away with just a wink?’

Side Note: I always believed that you need to experience something to believe it and this was no different. The difference has to be in how I react to this now.


Fear of Losing

It could be very good for you. Let me explain by narrating a weird (and there is a reason, I call it weird) dream I had last night.

My wife was leaving me (reason unknown at least in the dream ;)) and I was trying everything possible to stop her. Tears were rolling down our eyes and it felt that both of us were living pain in whatever decisions we were taking/facing. I hanged on to the dream (in spite of the urge to get relief in the true reality) to see if I could get to the reason that was causing this pain to us but that did not help.

Now some context – my wife and I have been happily married and are still crazily in love with each other. But the moment I came out of the dream, I curled up to my wife and whispered ‘I love you a lot’ as slowly and deeply I could. It also set off a series of thoughts on how my life would change if she wasn’t with me.

The fear of losing her to anything will make me love her more, respect her more, hear her more and more importantly let her be her more.

Side Note: There is a reason I used ‘could’ in the first sentence. If you are losing your sleep (and dreams) for the wrong person/thing, its a start to a downturn.

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