Saturday, December 29, 2012

To be contended and Happy

Every morning when I start for my walk, I see one of my neighbors, squatting on the floor in the front veranda of his house, busy writing something in a notebook, placed on the low desk in front of him. On one day I stopped and asked him what was he writing every day? He smiled back and said; “I invoke God by writing the word ‘Rama Jayam’ to fill at least 10 pages every day, and when I have collected enough of these notebooks, I send them to the Rama temple in the city”

This fifty plus gentleman is a brilliant chartered accountant who was heading the Finance Department of a large Chennai based industrial group with all the perks that go with the job, including a chauffeur driven car. One fine morning he gave up all these privileges by resigning from his job. He was just 40. He was fed up of compromising on his values to keep his corporate job. His conscience was against all that the management was asking him to do to produce a healthy picture of the company, when the facts were otherwise. Interestingly, he decided not to take up any other job because he knew that in any corporate job he would have to make compromises and he had also begun to hate the rat race. He decided to stay put at home doing what he enjoyed the most.

He has a small family of three including his wife and mother and obviously has enough savings to lead a decent life. He acquired a bicycle and uses it locally for doing errands for the family. When he has to go out of the locality to attend functions he uses the public transport. He has kept himself busy with assignments from a professional institute, which he can do sitting at home. He hardly watches TV nor reads any books but uses any spare time he has to write the word ‘Ramajayam’ in his notebook.

When he is around you will always find him laughing heartily, narrating some interesting story or the other. I have never seen a more cheerful and contended man.

Another friend who was a doctor gave up his successful practice in Mumbai to settle down in Chennai.
He decided to play the stock market sitting at home in front of his computer. Rest of the time he takes life easy looking after the interests of his family and generally leading a relaxed life. He also seems to be very contended with his life.

I also know of two other friends, both brilliant students, opting for careers, where they refused to push themselves. Both were reluctant to take promotions after a point in life because of the stress and strain that would involve. One took to religion in a big way – a pious man who performed the ritual Sandya Vandanam three times a day. With no specific ambitions in life, except for performing his family duties he was a contended man who spent every spare moment invoking the name of his favorite, Lord Krishna.

The other friend reached a reasonably good stature in the corporate world. A practical, no-nonsense guy, he is the coolest person I have known in life. Nothing ruffles him, nor does he get excited over any event in his life. Though an atheist right from the beginning, he has been reading scriptures of all religions to find out the answer to the eternal question ‘Who am I?”. I don’t know whether he has found the answer yet but I know that as a person with no great ambition, no big targets in life but with a very positive attitude he has been leading a much contended life.

If contentment leads to happiness you can say that all the above people are a happy lot.

Unlike these friends, right from childhood I have been a very ambitious man. Always trying to take on challenges and converting them into opportunities. A born dreamer I am forever pursuing small targets often leading to bigger goals. I am aware that I give the impression of being an impatient man who cannot tolerate slow coaches leading to my being tense most of the time. Does it mean that I am not content? Am I an unhappy man? Certainly not! I have thoroughly enjoyed the seven decades of my hectic life and continue to find new challenges which will keep the adrenalin flowing in my veins all the time. That is what makes me feel contended and happy.

Happiness is a state of mind. So also is contentment. Obviously what leads to contentment and happiness varies from person to person

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Embarassing moments

We all face embarrassing moments in life, when we wish the ground below would open up and swallow us! Let me share with you a few such moments from my life.

One of the first instances relates to my son when he was still in school. A boy who was very fussy when it came to eating – like most children are, he hated the sight of many items, particularly Upma. Once on a visit to a friend’s place, it was tiffin time and my friend had prepared upma for everyone. Looking at the item, I confidently told her, “My son does not like upma, so don’t give it to him, he will only waste it.”

Before she could revert with an alternative, my son shot back, “No aunty, I like this type of upma very much”. He literally grabbed the plate from her. Not only did he eat the upma in a jiffy, but also asked for a second helping. I did not know where to hide my face. My friend consoled me by saying, “Don’t worry, my children also do this to me”. It is some consolation to know that all children are the same when it comes to embarrassing their parents!

I generally have a policy of not lying. That is mainly because I have found that to cover up one lie you have to tell many more lies to justify the first lie. With a poor memory like mine, I find myself caught with my ‘pants down’ on the rare occasion when I have been forced to tell a lie; as it happened the other day…

A person, whom I consider a pest, wanted to meet me on some matter. I was not very keen on meeting him, so when he called to ask if he could meet me on a particular evening, I told him that I have an appointment with a doctor on that day and he will have to excuse me. I completely forgot the talk with him and happily landed at another friend’s place for dinner at the same time. Much to my embarrassment I found that ‘pest’ also at the party. Naturally, I had to tell another lie to cover up my first lie, but I know I was not very convincing!

The most common disease that all of us suffer; leading to embarrassment almost on a daily basis, is the temporary lapse of memory in relation to names of friends. Engrossed in an interesting conversation with a friend when another friend suddenly slaps your back to draw your attention and you have to introduce the two friends – and then you realise that you have forgotten the names of both of them! I get out of such embarrassing situations by requesting both the friends to introduce themselves or asking for their latest visiting cards for updating my mailing list!

I will never forget an embarrassing experience I had on a train journey from Chennai to Bangalore. I had booked my travel ticket on my favourite Brindavan Express on a particular day. As is my practice I reached the station 45 minutes early and after double checking my coach and seat number, I got into the train. I was comfortably settled in my seat reading the morning newspaper when suddenly I realized that another passenger was tapping my shoulder to draw my attention. “Sorry sir, the seat you are occupying is my seat” he said. I pulled out my ticket, looked at the coach and seat number and told him confidently, “This is my seat as per the reserved ticket I have” and without even looking at the passenger’s reaction I went back to reading my paper.

A few minutes later the passenger was back .He was now beaming and told me, “I have checked the reservation chart on the coach and I find that my name is appearing against this seat number. Let me see your ticket sir?” Before I could look at my ticket, he grabbed it from my hand and when his expression changed to that of a winner in a contest I knew I was in trouble. “Sorry sir, you are late for this train only by 24 hours. Your ticket is for yesterday’s Brindavan Express!”

When I sheepishly got up to retrieve my baggage I could feel the pitying looks I received from my fellow passengers who were watching the fun. I have never felt as embarrassed and humiliated as I felt that day!!

These days, however, as a senior citizen I seem to be causing embarrassment to my children very often, with my behaviour in public. When they stiffen and their faces become red I know I have performed some indiscrete act or said something which I should not have!