Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My keys and me!

I am normally an exceptionally organized and cautious person. But when it comes to my keys - home, office, car or bike, its like my personality, my mind, is rebelling against itself and trying to make a point. A very strong point.
To whom - I don't know
For what - I don't know
The point - I will show you what disorganization does to you, how high it can spike your stress level - so that you will never ever even think of being disorganized again.
And to teach me this lesson, it seems to have tied up with this institution called - Keys.
Their tagline -  Pioneers of "hide" in hide-n-seek for the last 25 years.
The contract between the two - Keys and my mind ( the part that takes it upon itself to train, retrain  and keep me abreast of all changes in the field of organized chaos ); seems pretty permanent and mutually beneficial.
Once in two days at least I am forced to undergo the training designed by the two.

No matter what I do - be it keeping a specific section in my bag or desk allotted for keys; or putting something bling on the keys or talking to myself and reminding where I have put my keys, it never seems to work. I am always at the bottom of this class of 1!
And "Keys" takes some special sadistic pleaure out of it. It comes up with new hiding places for me to seek; new nooks and corners in the room or hidden pockets in my bags.
For some unknown reason i cannot manage to get "keys" into my ususal orbit of organized efficiency. It resists just to test me.
So much so that my cousin, tired of my antics, asks me to have the "key conversation" in my head every time and not involve her in it!
 Today it has put me to an ultimate test.
It decided to fall through a very tiny little hole in my bag, a hole I did not even notice, but "Key" knew exactly where it was, and managed to squeeze through it and fall out on to the street, leaving me to deal with the stress of being locked out of my office and home, of calling and telling Sagar, of retracing my steps and looking like an idiot scrounging the streets - all for a bunch of keys!
But enough is enough. "Keys" took it too far this time.
I can get another set made ( a considerable and avoidable waste of time, but the damage is not undoable). The loss is not permanent.
But what about "Keys?"
Who is going to find it? And will the person who finds it be kind to it or just toss it into a filthy dustbin. Ha!
Or maybe take it home and even try and use it for something.. Recycle it, give it to some kids to play with, but no matter what "Keys" will never ever get the power and comfort that it so enjoyed at my place, in my life.
And I am sorry I lost you, Keys. But for the last time - it was not intentional.
I won't say I will miss you, but hopefully the next one to sign up with the crazy part of my brain will be a little more sensible and we may, yes we may just have a long and fruitful partnership! Maybe even become friends!!




This post is dedicated to my sister in law, Priyagee - who said I could write a book given my misfortune with keys. I am going to settle for venting through a blog post and would never subject anyone to a book on this!
Image source

Monday, November 24, 2014

What "Homeland" got me thinking about



(Spoilers in this post for anyone who hasn't seen the latest episode)

Wow!
This week's episode was just that - wow!
Anyone following this series is sure to have gone through all the emotions at once - awe, surprise, relief, shock and finally - what just happened? And how do i possibly wait till next Monday to understand what happens.
Since season 1, this series had caught my attention, and when they killed off Brody i thought this was the end of the series. Not everyone can pull off a Game of Thrones, where each episode a new character is killed!
And especially not a series like Homeland, which had 2, maybe 3 main characters it can boast of. But since the death of Brody, the series has jumped into another league altogether. Set in Pakistan (shot in South Africa!), the tale had descended into the gritty world of espionage and spies, betrayals and double cross, a complicated web of treason and murders, all in the name of national security.
To be fair, it is an American series and does obviously portray the war from an American perspective,  but they do seem to have kept an open mind - Pakistan nor the ISI is mindlessly berated, nor do American spies triumph all the time and the CIA does mess up massively too!

The truly interesting part is the series seems so dramatic, yet so real. It feels like this world of deceit and spying could exist.
We lead such normal lives because under all this something is keeping the world order steady, or as steady for us at least, as its ever going to be. The real game is being played down there, and all of us are inconsequential pawns in the grand scheme of things. A scheme that is being decided for us by the powerful few. 
With various government employees coming out with details of the extent of surveillance being carried out by governments all over the world, the conspiracy freaks are having the last laugh. 

When you think about it, is it really possible for the world to (dys)function as it does on its own?  Then powerful few hold the strings of this great puppet show and ensure it continues in the direction in which they want it to go. 
Its like living in George Orwell's novel - 1984.
The book that warned us not to give too much power in the hands of the government. 

So, is anarchy the solution?
Not anarchy in its negative form of violence, lawlessness and destruction, but true anarchy - where people do what they want and the State does not dictate behavior and opinions. For anarchy to work, the greed of power needs to be absent, which means there is no one to dominate, everyone lives for themselves and works for their own good.
But every where you look, we have established systems and hierarchies. Some seem to be working, and some failing miserably. We are used to living by rules and being told what to do. It took centuries for us to change from freedom loving, not -ruled - by any form of society, to an establishment loving, rule craving, orderly society. 
Now can we really imagine a society without rules, again? Very realistically speaking, no. We need the comfort of structures, and there are times when we don't want to think for ourselves either. And if it's not the government, it is some other power hungry group that will dominate. In that case, the State seems like the lesser of the two evils.

It all works in a cycle and all we can do is try and get some sense of equilibrium. 
The problem is everyone's state of equilibrium is different, and some people are actively involved in pushing matters to their state of equilibrium and others are pushed about by them.
It all just goes to show how little we know of how things actually work. What we get is what we are made to see.
And that's why blessed are those who have formed a little world of their own; where they live and do as they please - what we call "living in a bubble".


Image: Source

What's in a name?

"What's in a name?"
A lot, i say - our whole identity, our being, our recognition.
Why i changed my name from Mirashi - to Bhandare after my wedding?

I have many feminist friends who say that they will never change their name after they are married or many married friends and cousins who have not changed their name and i agree with them. You are known by, and used to a surname for 25 odd years of your life and suddenly, in a blink of an eye, you have to get used to a new identity. It is like living two different lives, killing the first one and starting a new one!
How weird is that?
Get all your documents changed, change your social media statuses and surnames, be a part of a new family line whose ethos you may or may not be used to. Why would anyone want to do it, right?

I did. And i wanted to.

I was Neha Mirashi and i am proud of being a Mirashi. We stand for a lot - a long line of educators - principles and discipline have been the core values of this family line and i am so proud of being a part of this.
 I was "Mirashi" for all my school friends, who still are my closest friends to date, even after a lot of traveling and college and meeting new people. And for them i will always be Neha Mirashi. That's how they identify me, know me.
And then I married the most wonderful person. And when it was time to make a decision about name change, i wanted to change my name - i wanted to commit wholly and unconditionally to being a Bhandare - wife of Sagar Bhandare, daughter in law, grand daughter in law to the "Bhandare's".
There was no holding back.
I did not have to choose between being a Mirashi or a Bhandare, i was simply migrating.
Being a Bhandare did not make me any less of a Mirashi. I am still Neha Mirashi to all my pre-wedding people. It gave me a chance to carve out a new identity within the framework of the Bhandare family.
How many times we play the game of - "if i were someone else - who would i be"?
I had a chance to play it in real life. I could change my name, take all the good values from the Mirashi line, mix and match them with the Bhandare bits, and there - start a whole new life.
It was like being a new branch of a tree - sprouting out in a new direction, but my roots staying grounded in the very ground i grew up in.

I can be adventurous and move in new directions and places, be different, start anew. I can make my own identity as a Bhandare and at the same time i will always have the safety net of the Mirashi's. Who does not want the best of both worlds?
 I never thought i was giving up on being who i was, but i was moving closer to being who i was destined to be - not just a daughter, but a wife, mother and a daughter-in-law.
I completely understand where my friends, who don't want to change their name, come from and i respect them for it. Some are not comfortable with the change, some don't feel the need for it and that is absolutely fine. It is a fine step forward for women empowerment. It is a choice and no one can demand it of you. It is something you must choose to do willingly and for reasons of your own.

For me, aside from the practical uses of name change in India, it is an emotional bond, a shared family, that ties all things together. I am quite a traditionalist when it comes to some things, i enjoy a traditional courtship, the whole - going-down-on-your-knees proposal, and opening of doors and carrying of heavy stuff by the guy, ( translating this to our modern life - filling petrol in my car and washing my car, changing the bulbs and cleaning the fans, repair of electrical and mechanical things - by the man!). Changing my name does not mean letting go of my independence, it is a means to greater responsibilities and more independent decisions. I am not letting go of all my values, my identity and things i believe in, on the other hand, i am adding to it, and enriching it in the process.

And i would definitely not want to go down the road of - why should girls change their names and not boys, because, you see, the whole thing is not about ego - but Love!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 16, 17 and 18 of My 30 day Happiness Project

Continuing with the posting of "happy moments in the day" as per My 30 Day Happiness Project, here are the next 3 days -

Day 16
16th November, Sunday

I had invited mum, dad, Gauri and 2 of our very close family friends from Aurangabad for breakfast, before they left for Aurangabad. They had come to Pune for a day, for being a part of my uncle's 60th birthday celebrations!
The breakfast was an impromptu thing and i had to rely on what was there in my kitchen, as there was no time to go out and get stuff. That's when i realized our Indian kitchens are stocked to survive an improbable event, where you have to be cooped up at home and cannot leave, and we would have been able to survive 3 months at the very least!
The amount of food we store, right from food grains to cereals to chocolates, and biscuits and a host of other snacks, is mind boggling. This has given me an idea for my next 30 day project! (more on this next month)
The happiest moment of course was when my family came over, but i enjoyed the preparation for it - the planning, the multi- tasking, the preparing, arranging the table and re-arranging, the co-coordinating and basically working as fast as the wind.




Day 17
17th November, Monday

Again a typical Monday, spent at work. Lots of work, in fact.
And i think i have written for the first time, that work makes me happy. I mean i normally do not associate work with happiness, it is something that i do to earn a living. I don't even look at it as a source of happiness. It just is work!
Maybe there needs to be a change in attitude here. Why can't work be fun?
But how can it - how is calling and following up with suppliers for material, fun? How is looking at drab production reports fun? Or the hassle of exporting goods, fun? It is the usual, the routine and not a lot of fun. I am going to look at aspects of my work where i feel the happiest performing, and maybe get somewhere from there. For example, studying the costing and contribution statement is fun, having our focus area meetings and strategizing is fun. Hmm....




Day 18
18th November, Tuesday

Creature Village  heads to NH7 in 3 days! And there is so much to do!
For some reason, this time we seem to be running about a lot more than for any other exhibition / festival. Things are almost done, the planning had started before Diwali, but still it feels like something more needs to be done. 
I think these are the usual jitters before any event. 
Now the days are basically spent counting down the days to the biggest festival that Creature Village has participated in. The anticipation of the event, the crowd, the response!

http://epi-thinking.org/REFLEXIVE.html











Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 13, 14 and 15 My 30 Day Happiness Project

Another post in the My 30 days Happiness Project, where i try to understand what really makes me happy by noting down what i feel are the happiest moments in my day. The goal is, once i know what makes me happy - the big, the small, the tiny things, i can do more of them!
I think i am already drawing the conclusion that the Hedonistic Paradox does exist (you can read about it in my introduction to "My 30 days happiness project" post.)
But i do not want to jump the line here. Let us be steady, calm and objective.

Day 13
13th November, Thursday

If i have to be completely honest, nothing stands out as happy, i came down with a bout of food poisoning, thanks, i guess, to the fish i had gorged on the day before. I couldn't eat, and what i did came out. My homeopathy doctor was not available that day, and Sagar refused to believe me and thought it was one of my many antics to avoid going to a doctor. I don't like doctors and i hate the medicines they prescribe even more. I hide my hate under a very clever philosophy of - "My body is capable of healing itself". And the more i have repeated the line over the past few years, the more i have come to believe it. I really do think the body needs to be given 2 days, without any external influence to do what it can naturally and 50 percent of the time, this had worked for me. My body has taken care of itself and i have sprung back to normal living. Sagar, on the other hand believes in the modern power of medicine, you can imagine the clashes!
So, maybe, if i HAD to select a moment, possibly the least unhappy one, it would have to be the fact that Sagar stayed up the whole night with me, through my vomiting and stomach pains, made easy-on-the-stomach food for me at 2 am. Sat talking to me till i could fall asleep. I have no idea what time  he must have fallen to sleep after i dozed off. A loving husband, that is something to be happy about and grateful for!


Day 14
14th November, Friday

WEDDING DAY.
Remember the mehendi function of my friend that i had attended? Today was his wedding!
What is it about weddings that is so heartening and endearing? I have already started planning my baby sister's wedding in December 2015 and for the life of me cannot understand why she is not as excited about it as i am!

The meeting of the families, the smug groom, the lost bride, the loud aunty, the shy uncle, the uptight sister in law, the funny brother in law, the religious aunty and the fashionable one, the uncle looking for drinks and the cousin providing them, the noisy bunch of cousins, the pretty looking friends, the harried moms, and calm dads - every wedding has these characters and many more. The colorful character and their interactions make an Indian wedding so special.
It is not about the bride and the groom, actually, it is about anything and everything, but the bride and the groom, and yet no matter what role you play in the great Indian wedding drama, you are bound to enjoy it.
I hate just "attending" a wedding. It is not a true wedding for me until you are a part of the family, by blood or otherwise, and can play an active role in the proceedings. I mean, wouldn't you rather play an Ariel or even Caliban, than say Stephano or Trinculo, the inconsequential characters in The Tempest?
And that is why this wedding was so awesome. 

                                    


                                    



Day 15
15th November, Saturday

It was a celebration of my uncle's 60th birthday. And that in itself was a happy occasion.
Mum and dad were coming from Aurangabad for the day.
This got Sagar and me discussing how people from Aurangabad are extremely enthusiastic and make numerous little trips to Pune every month, for one event or another, which when we travel the other way round we crib about the time and the traffic.
Why are people there so full of energy? 
People are more open there, the big city concept of calling - before - going does not exist, doors are kept open, if not we know where the keys are!
Life is super social, i don't remember even one evening where i can sit at home and not visit people, or have people come over, and this attitude translates into travel elsewhere too. 
When they think of travelling to Pune for an event, the thoughts are not on the travel time and distance to be covered, but on the person celebrating his 60th birthday and the joy of looking forward to meeting the rest of the family there. It is the destination that guides the journey, not the obstacles in the journey!




Monday, November 17, 2014

Cranberry - Coffee cake

Sunday morning was spent baking this yummy cranberry - coffee cake for guests that we had invited over for breakfast.
It is a simple recipe, and if you have cranberries at home, can be made without even a minute spent in planning.
(Unfortunately, i forgot to take a picture of the cake, but it tasted so good!)

Cranberry - Coffee Cake
Serves : 4 people (who are not satisfied with one slice alone!) 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup frozen / fresh cranberries

3/4th cup - all purpose flour (maida)

3/4th cup - sugar (granulated)

1 tbsp - baking powder

1 tablespoon - coffee

2 eggs - beaten

1/2 cup - milk (or maybe a little more, depending on how much you need to get a nice consistency batter)

1/2 cup - butter, melted

Method:

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F)

1. Combine together flour, sugar and coffee and baking powder

2. Add the cranberries and coat them well with the flour-sugar-coffee mixture

3. Beat eggs in a separate bowl, and then add to the mixture. Also add butter.

4. Add milk to the mixture, and check the consistency. You should get a thick batter that can be moved about with a spoon, but not very liquid-y. This is difficult to explain. Just ensure it is not very thin. Add more milk if it very hard.

5. Pour the mixture into your baking container, and put it in for 40 minutes at 175 degrees.

6. Poke a knife and if it comes out clean - your cake is done!

Serve warm.

Notes:
1. If you are not a coffee fan, you can skip the coffee. The last time i had made it without coffee, i had added walnuts in it and they tasted just as good. And i do have photos of the last time i made this cake !





2. The consistency of the batter is not like a normal cake mixture. It was to be very thick.

3. Source of inspiration; All Recipes

4. Check out this and many other recipes and DIY projects  here.



Saturday, November 15, 2014

Day 10, 11 and 12 of My 30 day Happiness Project

It has been a while since i posted on this project, but not because i have forgotten about the project or because i have not been happy, in fact, just the opposite, it has been a very happy and busy week and here is why:

Day 10
10th November, Monday

Remember as little children how overjoyed we used to be when relatives came home, from other places in the world (and our world was very tiny, limited to school, home and surrounding neighborhoods and possibly our mother's hometown where we spent summer holidays)? The best part about guests at home was the gifts they used to bring - the package being shown to us, we having to say a "thank you", snatching the package and tearing it open (i think even as a kid, i did not tear open packages, but neatly unraveled them and kept aside the packing paper!), being amazed at the unexpected addition to our doll / car collection, book collection or toy collection.
Also, remember how this particular joy did not diminish with adulthood, maybe the reactions did, but the joy of getting a gift from a person who had traveled remained the same. And thank god for that, there are things from childhood that should never change, and this hasn't.
So, on this particular Monday, my cousin and my sis-in-law had come back from a fabulous trip to Bangkok, and guess what?? I got a beautiful big red bag ( my sis-in-law, is one of the few people in my family who supports my bag addiction!) and a very pretty and apt wind chime - made of buckets and pails and brooms, given my obsession with cleaning! They also got a set of charming cups for our office and it was gift-a-mania. If only we could leave aside our maturity, and jump with joy and scream with glee every time we receive gifts, because secretly we really just want to do that, and that expresses out gratitude and joy so much better than a polite "thank you".


Tea is tastier in these new cups

I don't understand anyone who cannot appreciate a bag

Windchime


Day 11
11th November, Tuesday

It started off as a very normal day, plenty of work - new ideas tossed about and discussed with my dad in the morning.
And this Tuesday also marked the day, Renu (my equally obsessive cousin) and i started planing Creature Village's participation for NH7. Planning and organizing neatly in our little brown books, makes something in our heads and hearts go "toiing", i cannot describe and you cannot understand the feeling if you haven't (or can't) experience the joy of to-do-lists and planning registers!

A brief background - Creature Village started off as my sister's hobby that we converted to a slightly larger scale - we design products out of recycled fabrics and have tied up with various women's self help groups in Pune to convert these designs into beautiful products to be sold online via our website.

Creature village products - check them out on our site www.creaturevillage.in

Made with love!

NH7 Weekender, Pune is the biggest music festival of Pune and we have secured a stall for Creature Village at this festival. We plan to showcase our existing products and develop new products specifically for NH7. The planing for this had started almost two months ago, but has gathered steam now, with the festival just 6 days away.
If you happen to be in Pune, be sure to come to  NH7 on 21st, 22nd and 23rd November 2014, and do drop by our stall and pick up fabulous buys.



Day 12
12th November, Wednesday

Who doesn't love a wedding, and when it happens to be of one of your best friend's?
And weddings in India are so much more than the actual ceremony itself - the numerous functions that precede and follow the wedding, the rituals - some that make sense, and some that are downright ridiculous, and best of all the "mehendi function".
I love mehendi - i love watching the artist in action - the beautiful picture in the artist's head being translated into an intricate design on your hand, to make a traditional peacock designs, feathers, and curves come together in a beautiful pattern.
And it is said, the deeper the red of your mehendi,just as deep is the love of your beloved for you. Mine turned almost black the next day - what?


Monday, November 10, 2014

An attractive head gear - The Helmet

An article in today's Pune Mirror, spoke about the reluctance of Pune's citizens to wear the helmet or even accept the law that makes wearing of helmets compulsory.



Sections 128 and 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, detail safety measures for two wheeler riders, with section 129 clearly stating Every person driving or riding (otherwise than in a side car, on a motor cycle of any class or description) shall, while in a public place, wear protective headgear conforming to the standards of Bureau of Indian Standards".
However, it is provided further that "the State Government may, by such rules, provide for such exceptions as it may think fit".
So, the Maharashtra government has laid down the following exceptions in rule 250 of the Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 -

"250. Wearing of protective headgear.-(1) The following persons are exempted from the provisions of Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1998 (59 of 1988), namely;
(i) persons driving or riding all motor cycles in municipal areas;
(ii) persons driving or riding all motor cycles on roads, other than the State Highways and National Highways, in areas other than the municipal areas; and
(iii) persons driving or riding two-wheeled mopeds fitted with engine capacity of less than 50 cubic centimetres on the State Highways and National Highways in areas other than the municipal areas."

The amendment was brought into force by a notification dated 26th February, 1997.
The state government, more or less, made section 129 of the Motor Vehicle Act ineffective. They did not take into consideration the rise in the number of vehicles and the inability of the infrastructure of the city to keep up with the rising vehicular traffic. 

This rule was challenged by 8 petitioners, including students and the director of Symbiosis College in 2001. They submitted that two wheeler ownership and accidents have increased substantially over the years. Citing various studies, they submitted that helmets be made compulsory, even within the municipal limits.

The State government quoted various reasons justifying the rule -
1. Studies supporting reduced vision and hearing due to wearing of helmets
2. Studies supporting adverse effects of wearing helmets in cases back problems
3. Lack of enough helmets
4. Opposition form various committees and MPS and MLAs for enforcing this law.

The court, among rulings on may other points, also ruled that the exceptions cannot make the principal law ineffective, as this one had done. 
"It cannot be forgotten that the Rule is a child legislation. It cannot travel beyond the provisions of the main statute nor be repugnant to or inconsistent with the parent Act. In such cases, the rule must be held ultra vires. It is, therefore, not open to the State Government to make such a rule which has no nexus with the principal provision in the Act and would result in making such provision totally useless, unworkable and non-functional. In our opinion, therefore, such provision cannot be allowed to be implemented and an appropriate direction can be issued by this court in exercise of extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution to the respondent-authorities to enforce the parent Act i.e. Section 129 of the Act".

The rule was modified on 1st October 2001, and the exceptions to the rule were -
1. Bikes with less than 50cc engine capacity, and 
2. All other towns, excluding Pune and Dhule area.
The objective was to introduce and implement the law in a phased manner, and hence Pune and Dhule areas were selected. I remember i was in college, when there were protests against this rule in Pune and people had set helmets on fire on FC road as a mark of opposition to making wearing helmets compulsory in Pune. I also clearly remember thinking, even then, how can anyone protest wearing a helmet?

Hence, i was surprised by the headline. I agree with the so-called committees - there should be no law that makes it compulsory for a person to wear a helmet. But my reasoning is different - what can the law do, that clear logical thinking can't?
Personally, i have been using the helmet for as long as i have been using the bike. I never liked the concept of wrapping a scarf around my head, as is so common on the streets of Pune -  like a piece of cloth was going to protect my precious head!
I use a helmet every time i am on a bike, no exceptions. Even if it is to go the the grocery store at the corner of my house. And i use my scooter everyday.

And from long time personal experience, the helmet does not obstruct my peripheral vision, nor does it affect the noise of traffic, honking, braking, police whistles, mobiles ringing and people talking, that reaches me through the helmet, sometimes, i wish it did! My back is absolutely fine. And i have an extra bit of "peace of mind" because in case of an accident, the helmet is going to help me prevent head injuries. 
I don't need the Central government to frame laws, and State government to make rules, for me to realize that wearing helmets will probably save my life some day. I don't need laws and rules to tell me how to value my own life.
And even if this is a conspiracy of the government to help the helmet manufacturers to make a profit, i don't care! Let them make profits, saving my head is more important that limiting the amount of their profits. 

So instead of opposing the move, we should embrace it wholeheartedly. 
Maybe even appreciate the efforts the government is putting in to ensure safety of its citizens. Instead of opposing any law just for the heck of it, try and understand the consequences of saying  "i will not use a helmet." There are young minds absorbing all the drama here - it is an opportunity to teach the next generation, on the cusp of entering the riding / driving world, the importance of following traffic norms and laws.

Be logical. Drive Safe.


Sources:
1. Legal citations



Day 6,7,8 and 9 of My 30 day Happiness Project

This is an experiment i started from the 1st of November - to record things, events and moments that make me the happiest in the day.
The objective of this project is pretty simple - to understand where do the happiest moments of my day lie and to understand the hedonistic paradox, which says, we cannot actively pursue happiness, but it must come as a by-product of the activities we do. You can read more about this project here.

Day 6
6th November, Thursday

It is payment day at work, i am trying to think of something, anything else, that made me happier in the day, than having my pay check in my hand - as a reminder of why we work (other than the diplomatic and nice sounding answers - for satisfaction, passion etc). i work for money, money makes me happy, i get to buy things that make me happy with this money, i can stay in the house i love and pay the bills with this money. I can buy groceries and cook exotic sounding dishes with this money - and that makes me happy.
The four of us - mum, dad and Gauri (my sister) had a conversation on this very topic that day when we went out for a late night coffee - how we are apologetic about money, even more so about inherited money. Especially in a Brahmin household, how money is frowned upon, how pertinent it is to make your own way in the world and how we are taught not to rely on your parent's money at all. Which are all good lessons - kids and adults should learn to make their own money, to fight in the world, have a job or business and not treat inherited money as one's own. However, in this process be honest enough to say that i am making money and i want to make lots of it. Let us not be uncomfortable discussing money or our motivations for it. Why is it so hard to talk about something that is so important that our lives revolve around it, in one form or another. Money needn't be at loggerheads with our value system, but should be allowed to fit into it. There is nothing wrong in thinking about profits in a business, investments for personal finances and money based promotions, just as there is nothing wrong in understanding that not everything is about money - happiness, satisfaction and relationships are the driving forces of life.
The blog post that i had written in August, Can we survive without money?, was quite clear on one aspect it is impossible to imagine a world without money, however how much importance each one of attaches to it is different, and no one can judged for it - on either side of this scale.

Day 7
7th November, Friday

This was my weekly day off, and if were in Pune, i would have spent the morning and possibly even the afternoon cleaning, organizing, re-organizing the home - sorting and labeling in the kitchen and completing other chores - bank runs, grocery runs.
But i was home, and i had nothing to do - i read my book, spent quality time with Simba my dog and waited eagerly for Sagar to come to Aurangabad for the weekend.
It was an overall "happy" day!

Simba basking in the sun

Day 8
8th November, Saturday

This was the day i said yes, on an impulse, to
a hike organised by Gauri's colleague Natasha and Natasha's husband Sameer. It was an eclectic bunch of people - a journalist, a Marathi film director, 3 people from Czech republic - working at the Skoda office in Aurangabad, social activists and workers, an architect. The 11 of us headed for a "two hour hike" a little beyond Daultabad fort in Aurangabad. After a lot of out of breath moments, we reached the flat top, and walked across, wanted to set up a bonfire, (could not manage it because of the wind) ate sandwiches and chips and looked across at the almost - full, orange moon casting a beautiful glow atop the mountain.
The two hour trek was more of a 4 hour trek, descending at night time, along the ridge by the lake and dinner at Hiranya resort at the foothills.
There is something exhilarating about going out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself.



This is the only snap i managed to take of the hill we were going to climb
Day 9
9th November, Sunday

It was time to leave for home, but before that we had a breakfast invitation from Sagar's uncle and aunt (who also happen to my dad's partner and our closest family friends) in Aurangabad. The food was delicious, with his aunt making her specialty - potatoes wada - one of these days i should get the recipe from her!
And this was a happy time - with my family around me, laughing, joking and reminiscing.

It was followed by another gleeful prospect of having Sagar all to myself in the car and we (read i) could chat and talk for a 4 hours till we reached home. I also coaxed Sagar to let me drive the whole way to Pune. And i have thoroughly enjoyed the drive - along the highway, through tiny villages and crowded towns, across little streams and small mountains, looking at fresh vegetables being sold by the vendors in markets alongside the road, and stubborn bulls being pushed into pulling carts.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Day 3, 4 and 5 of My 30 day Happiness Project

Continuing with My 30 day Happiness project, where i jot down the one "happy"moment of my day - you can read about it here, here are my happy moments for day 3, 4 and 5.
You can read about day 1 and 2 here.

Day 3
3rd November, Monday

There is nothing to like about a Monday - getting over the Sunday laziness, beginning the week with a "to-do" list for the week, deciding what to eat, what to cook, things to buy, focusing on aligning tasks at work for the week, dealing with other cranky Monday-hating people. I thought it would be quite difficult to even experience a "happy" moment, forget remembering it and jotting it down in my blog. But, it is quite easy, i was the happiest, when on an impulse i decided to try on this jacket - vest that i had bought in my MBA college and which is back in style now, re branded as "corporate - wear". It was kept right there, hanging in my cupboard and i remember wishing someday, one day, i would fit in it. And i decided to try in on a hunch. And it fit!
What joy!
A true testament to my perseverance of getting up early morning and never missing a yoga workout.

Day 4
4th November, Tuesday

I don't have to think twice about this one - i met my parents after they had come back from their vacation, holidaying in Greece. We drove down to Aurangabad from Pune, and i had them all to myself for 4 whole hours, trapped in the car with me.

Day 5
5th November, Wednesday

Now this is a tough one. I can't seem to choose between two "happy" moments, so i am going to jot both of them down here.

a. My morning cup of tea, with my mom, on the swing of my childhood home, gossiping, giggling, chatting, discussing. Why can't all mornings be like this? So calm, no rush to get anyplace, no thinking about common everyday domestic chores. Having my lunch prepared and having warm, fresh breakfast placed in front of you.

b. My evening cup of tea with my dad, after i had returned from the factory, discussing strategy and management with him. It is at times like these, where i want to be a sponge and learn and retain and use every little bit of precious knowledge that he shares with me.
There!

So i am not going to choose between the two and be thankful that there are days where even this can happen!



Monday, November 3, 2014

Day 1 and 2 : My 30 Day Happiness Project

It is time to start November with noting down my "happy" moments as per the project.
You can read about My 30 days Happiness Project and what i wish to accomplish with it here.

In simple words, all i have to do is note down my happiest moment in the day.

DAY 1
November 1st, Saturday: The day was packed - lot of work, followed by a house party at a friend's place. I had thought the "happy moment" would in all probability be at the friend's house, with a drink in my hand and chatting with new friends and giggling with the old ones. Turns out, the party was good fun, but when i thought about my "happiest moment" it was when i was having my evening cup of hot tea, with Sagar playing his bass. He has started playing again after a gap of 6-7 years (yes, my husband was in a band! i am so sure 16 year old me would have fallen in love with him).
And while i don't understand a thing about the instrument, or pitches, or sounds ( i am completely hopelessly tone deaf, and that is why i am not even a bathroom singer, I can't tolerate my own singing!!).
It was a happy moment, sitting on the little stool, sipping my tea on a cold November evening, listening to him play some of my favorite songs.

DAY 2
November 2nd, Sunday: Sunday is lazy, Sunday is fun. The best part of this Sunday was getting up early in the morning, and deciding to get fresh veg puffs from a bakery close by. The usual Sunday morning breakfast, however, it was so cold and lovely, i felt like taking a walk. The bakery is 15 minutes away, so it was a good 30 minutes of leisurely stroll, on one of the busiest roads otherwise! Bhandarkar road was quiet and the silence and stillness seemed so alien, especially to this road. The little rays of sunshine finding their way to the road through the gaps in the trees, noticing that this road, in fact, has a lot of trees, the rustic sidewalk, broken in places, old houses that looked so majestic and out of place in the concrete jungle, dairies opening up for the milk deliveries, closed shop shutters, worshippers at the big Ganpati idol (why is it there? Right at the corner of a lane, almost on the main road, the big and colorful idol of Ganpati), the smell of freshly baked bread, aahh...the little joys of life.


The dancing sun rays #no filter

Quiet Mornings, #no filter
Empty streets #no filter





Saturday, November 1, 2014

My 30 day Happiness project - An introduction

Recently i read about the Paradox of Hedonism, simply put it means we do not or cannot actively pursue pleasure, it comes to us indirectly because of something we do. Happiness is not the aim, it is a side - effect is what i understood. ( I am equating pleasure with happiness, as many have, but that may not be true always. But for the sake of simplicity, what gives you pleasure, does make you happy)

Logic dictates to maximize happiness, we need to find out what makes us happy and do it. The paradox says, that this can be self defeating, because if i do something solely with the aim that i am  going to get happiness out of it, it will not make me happy! How?
Essentially, it means happiness is not the end result. We cannot make it the goal, it is but a by-product. A by-product of activities that we do, of hobbies we pursue, of the good we do. Focus on individual happiness will not make you happy!
A simplistic example would be as given by Alexander Erler; "Let us imagine a person who is obsessed by the idea of making her future certain. First, she will do everything to put enough money by, at the cost of renouncing many goods, the enjoyment of which would have given her pleasure: books, travels… Then, wishing to ward off any blow dealt by fate, she will spend the rest of her days trying to make her money yield a profit, by constantly inquiring about the best way of investing it, instead of enjoying life. In the end, she will have missed the happiness she had so scrupulously tried to build."

But haven't we been made aware of exactly the opposite with all our cultural and social influences - do what makes you happy? The ultimate goal is being happy? Pursue happiness, and success, wealth and health will follow?
Now, we say do not pursue happiness, you will never get it?
What?

And to answer this question, is why i have started my 30 day Happiness Experiment.

I am going to note / photograph / write at length about the one thing that made me the most "happiest" in the day - i am not making any presuppositions and am going to be completely honest here. To think of that one thing today that made me the most happy. To define "most happy" is very difficult. I am just going to have to rely on my internal emotional system to give me indicators of being happy.
Why do i need an experiment of 30 whole days to understand what makes me happy? Try answering the question - what makes you happy? And try being really specific. It is quite a difficult question to answer - what makes me happy - the material things around me, i would believe, maybe loving relationships, but all of this is so vague. You cannot mold your life based on these answers. And so to search for an answer to the most basic question - what makes me happy, i am starting this project.

At the end of this, i believe i can possibly have an answer to these questions -

1. What makes me happy?
2. Does the hedonistic paradox exist? Whatever it is that makes me happy - do i actively pursue it in my day to day life, or does it just come to me as an effect of something i do, while not pursuing happiness? Is yes, what is it that i pursue that brings happiness and is there more of it i can do?

It is going to be quite a struggle to think and write about this, i can already feel it.
I am going to slip up on some days and some days i am going to be full of insights :)

Sources
1. Hedonistc Paradox
2. Image Source
3. Wikipedia - Paradox of Hedonism