Monthly Archives: November 2018

Necessity – Creation – Jugaad

India has started a new system where every Indian is required to get an Aadhaar card much like the Social Security Number (or SSN) in the US. Now, India has a population of 1 billion and the USA about 328 million. While I was in India, my parents suggested getting my Aadhaar card done as well. So, we go to the bank, and like all government offices in India after a little bit of back and forth across a few officers we got the form, got a token and sat down for our turn. The bank was like a regular bank – a cashier, three counters, two offices, and a receptionist. The only twist was a guy was sitting on a makeshift table with a lamp and a laptop with a webcam. I asked my dad – who is calling out the token numbers and just then the guy on the makeshift table called out our number – he was processing the applications for Aadhaar cards.

I go over to his ‘office,’ and he has to take a passport photo to complete the application. I sit on a stool – there is a white paper behind me stuck to the wall with sellotape (scotch tape for those who live in the US), and he uses the lamp as a flash and takes a photo using the webcam on this laptop. And we are done. This kind of a temporary ‘Make-do’ arrangement is what I love about India and Indians. It is the only way you can get done something on a large scale (rolling of the cards to 90% of the population) where most of the population is illiterate. It’s people like the guy sitting in his makeshift office across India that made it happen.

Such arrangements are so common in India that we have a word for it called ‘Jugaad’ – Jugaad (a word taken from Hindi which captures the meaning of finding a low-cost solution to any problem in an intelligent way) is a new way to think constructively and differently about innovation and strategy.

And that is why necessity is the mother of creation which we Indians are born with – we have limited resources, lots of constraints and stuff still needs to get done and does get done.

A lot of times we are hung up on having all the right tools, right resources to get work done and in some cases right mood or the right attitude when what needs to happen is to take the first step, fail fast and not worry about getting it perfect. For people who have the means to get all the right stuff before usually fall into this trap but for those who do not have the means – their focus is on getting it done, they don’t have distractions like having the right size pencil to start drawing. If you think in this fashion, then there is nothing that can stop you from doing anything. All you need is to want something badly, and you will find a way to make it happen.

What are we waiting for? Let’s make it happen.

Birthplace and Death

All of my paternal grandmothers have breathed their last in our ancestral village – the village where they were married into not the village where they were born. This topic was the talk of the town for quite a while. Even now somebody will say – it is very curious that all the daughter in laws of this family died in their husbands’ house. In Indian culture after a daughter is married, she is technically a part of her husband’s family, village and hence the significance that they died where they were married into – and also in the ancestral home not in the city they lived.

In India, these things are not just mere occurrences – there is some meaning behind everything – we might have forgotten the meaning, but the meaning still exists. For example, women in India wear bangles because the touch of the bangles on the forearm is supposed to calm you down and in olden days women folk all lived together, and hence patience was a much-needed quality.

The reason I bring up this topic is – I believe that you are born in a place for a reason, and your body inherently knows it as its home because that’s where it breathed its first breath and that’s where it’s most comfortable. For the last two years due to some reason or other, I could not visit India. And towards the end, I could feel it as a physical imbalance in my body. Now, I don’t know how true that is and how much it is in my head, but something was happening. When I landed in India – the minutes I stepped out the plane my body breathed freely even though it is hot and humid. The smells, familiar faces, accent makes me feel at home. It’s like I can be myself without thinking. If you have never lived in a different culture or a country, then it will be hard to comprehend what I mean by ‘being myself without thinking.’

Every culture has its norms some of them are explicit and some of it implicit. Like in England – talking about the weather is a way of saying Hello. In India, it is ok for a stranger to ask you how much is your salary. If you move to a different culture in some ways you are trying to fit in as you do not know what is accepted – what kind of clothing, food is accepted – so whether you realize it or not if you are thinking about these things which do take a toll on your body. And then some places are a lot more inviting to accepting other cultures, and some are not. For example, London invites different cultures, and that’s why I still feel at home in London. But not all places are as welcoming as London, and that means you, your mind, your body, and soul have to do extra work to fit in.

At the end of the day, you are where you need to be – there is no denying that, whether you believe it or not is not relevant. And it only makes ‘the’ you in you more defined.

Camera Lens

I practice Vipassana Meditation – Vipassana in Pali means “To see things as they are”.

And in the book Non Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg he also talks about “Observing without judgment”.

At one level it makes perfect sense – how can we live in this world if we are not able to see things as they are?. If you see a red apple, you see a red apple. If you see a tall building, you see a tall building. It is easy to see the reality as it is in such matters.

But, how about when you look at your best friend talking to somebody else, and you think, “she does not love me anymore.”
Or, when you see someone else and think, “He is so much more handsome than me.”
Or, you see somebody at work and think, “Man, I will never be like that person.”

Now, in these instances are you seeing the reality as it is? And these are the situations when we should see the truth as it is and not as we would like it to be.

When a baby is born in the world, let’s assume that they start with a clean slate (not getting into past karma) – They should be able to see the reality as it is right? Is that true? If your parents smoked when you were a kid smoking will not be a bad thing for you, and that’s your reality but is it how things are in the world. From the time we are born we are creating our realities – as we grow up we have created the world we live in and the illusion is so strong that it is almost real.

When the seed of enlightenment sprouts within you (because all human beings have the seed) then we have a desire to see who we are. And we start exploring which leads us to things like NVC, Vipassana, CPM, etc. And what these things do is to give us a way to see within ourselves – look inward because from the time we are born we are always outward focused. And when we look inward and can understand the inner workings of our body and mind, we move one step closer to realization. One way to start is to look at life as you are looking at it from a camera lens – for example, “All you see is your best friend talking to somebody else.” (not that she does not like you anymore).

Then the question arises – how do we know that what we are experiencing is the ultimate reality? This is where my favorite quote comes in as the answer, “In this plane, there are no answers, and beyond this plane, there is nobody to ask the question.”

One thing is for sure, what you experience right now is your reality, and that is as good as any the place to start from. Maybe when you start you blame the other party 100%, and maybe after working on oneself for a while you will begin to see your part in what happened, and as you continue to work on yourself you will eventually come to the realization that whatever happens is 100% because of you whether you know it or not. Once we accept this reality as our real progress begins – changes truly start from within. And we are more focused because we are not distracted by what others are doing but what is going on inside of oneself.

Food For Soul

Have you ever had an experience where you had met a good friend(s) and left feeling more energized than when you entered the conversation?
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book which inspires you to be creative and leaves your mind buzzing?
Have you ever watched somebody speak and felt the energy change in the room – People came in angry but leave hugging one another?

These are all examples of soul food – that nourishes your soul, not your body or your intellect. So, what do we mean by soul food?

No Judgements or comparisons – instances where you are just yourself without the fear of being judged or being not loved or pressure of being a certain way because that is how it is supposed to be.

Laughter – not a superficial laugh but laughter that starts in your belly and resonates in your entire body. These moments become memories or mental screensavers that bring laughter to you whenever you think about it.

Nonsensical – there is something to be said about the times when it does not matter what utter nonsense comes out of your mind/mouth but it all makes sense because the sense of connection is much deeper than words.

Energy – instances where no matter how you felt at the beginning of the interaction, by the end of it there is a change for the better.

At Ease – we do not realize this because most of the time our bodies are not at ease – they are clenched in some area or the other, and sadly, we are so accustomed to it that it is our default state. However, when you have soul food your body is at ease – complete ease – there is no disease.

I am sure you could relate to one or more of the above instances. Why is the soul food important? Because this is what keeps us sane, keeps us who we are and not what others think who we are. If we lose touch with who we are then why do we even exist?. And just like your body which needs sustenance to continue your soul needs nourishment to maintain the life force which is inside all of us.

In an ideal world, all that we would consume would be soul food, unfortunately, or fortunately, the world we live in cares only about intellect and the outer skin and not about the deepest core which is what connects us all humankind with the planet earth. If we were really on soul food all the time we would be more connected with the planet earth – we will see the trees on this planet as the ‘lungs’ in our body and take more care of them. We will be kind to our fellow humans because we would see them as ourselves.

We are so distanced from each other that we are losing touch with ourselves – and if we cannot retain the bond with ourselves how will we ever connect with others. There are many ways to access soul food – the first step is being aware of the hunger for soul food. Are you hungry, now?