Posted in Life Gyan

Three Beautiful Stories

Storytelling is the most powerful way
to put ideas into the world.

– Robert McKee

From time immemorial stories have always fascinated mankind. And story-tellers have used various means to convey their message viz. narration, theatre, cinema or by writing. Some people tell stories to entertain and make you laugh. Some to impart life lessons. Yet others use this as a medium to touch upon difficult topics of social importance. And some tell stories to hide the truth.

No matter what the medium is, or what the end goal is, the job is said to be well done if you are able to convey your ideas in the most impactful manner to your audience.

Now there are few other type of stories. Those that leave you with a question to ponder or provide you some food for thought. They make you revisit the assumptions that you had always believed in your life. They do not just fade away after you have turned the page – they stay in your psyche for a long time. Some can even alter the way you perceive and live life. Today I am going to share three such stories with you which did just that for me.

The stories are itself simple but the life lessons they hold are really valuable. I urge you to go through each story one by one and reflect on the lesson rather than rushing through this post. Once you have gone thru them, pause and reflect. And if possible do share your thoughts in the comments section below.

So which story did you find the most impactful?

Posted in Life Gyan

Communication Before Internet

I remember very vividly the day when I first surfed the net. It was the last quarter of 1998, I was in Kolkata, West Bengal. A few cyber cafes had mushroomed in few neighbourhoods. Getting a first hand experience of the internet, to understand what was “surfing the internet” was on my bucket list for sometime. However, there was no pressing need to really “surf” the net. Also the budget was tight – i was fresh out of college and did not have any source of income yet . Also internet access was pretty expensive and almost prohibitive at Rs. 2 per minute, that is a whopping Rs. 120 per hour. Rs. 120 was a big amount back then and people without any income were not expected to squander it away just like that for “experience”.

Today internet is ubiquitous and inevitable. It is nearly impossible to imagine life without internet access . However, about 25 years ago, internet access was still in the nascent stages in India. People were still trying to grapple with the idea of internet and the possibilities it offered.

I smile when I remember those days – there were so many myths and stories about internet at that time. People were in awe of what could be done with the help of internet. Sending emails from one end of the world to another, almost instantaneously was considered pure magic. Everyone talked of Hotmail and Sabeer Bhatia.

Politicians, leaders, media and tech evangelists were unequivocal in narrating bold visions of 21st Century and what it had in store for the masses. Everyone talked about the 21st century as the Holy Grail. The mobile and the internet services were launched in 1995 in India. However, both mobile and access to the internet remained out of reach for majority of people in India for a good decade after their initial launch mainly on account of two reasons (a) infrastructure (b) costs outweighed the benefits.

In those days, sending letters by mail  (now referred to as snail mail) was the preferred and most affordable mode of communication. Business establishment would often send business communication via couriers (these were faster than snail mail but still took a few days to deliver) and for urgent matters there were overnight couriers to select cities. 

There was another form of communication which was fast but you could only send a short message (like a tweet) – it was the Telegram. A telegram could only be sent from one post office to another. It was transmitted by the use of morse code. It was expensive and was supposed to be used only in case of emergencies. More often than not the arrival of Telegram to anyone’s home would be assumed to be containing some bad news about family members from other cities.

Back then, mobile phones had not yet arrived on the scene and not all had access to a land line phone. Also most telephone exchanges used to be manual with operators connecting the phone line on request in real time. For those who had a landline, or had access to one in the neighbourhood could place or receive long distance calls called Trunk Calls. These calls would be of fixed duration (3 minutes to be precise) and had to be pre-booked with a telephone operator at the exchange. And the funny part was that the operator would be listening to your entire conversation all throughout the call and would alert you when few seconds were left for the call duration to be over.

Between the landline and the mobile, Pager was another popular device. However, it was short lived once the text messages were made affordable/free on mobile phones. The pager was a small match box sized device which people clipped on to their belt. It used to beep when a new message arrived. In my case, my pager was linked to critical client systems in production. A beep on the pager meant trouble. I had to login immediately to check system health no matter what time of the day or night it was.

As the communication revolution continued, PCOs became very very popular. Anyone who could not or did not want to own a landline, could go to a PCO to make phone calls. Though the PCOs were common sight , the call rates were still very high and you would be billed by the second. In those days if we were staying in a different city we would call our parents only once in a week. In those days hardly anything was “instant” and there was no pressure to share minute by minute updates of one’s life with others.

Coming back to my story of my first “encounter” with internet. Let me tell you that this was the pre-dot com bubble and pre-Y2K fever days. Cyber cafes were slowly getting popular. And they started a variety of paid services. Here is a glimpse of the services they offered –

  • Email ID creation – Rs. 300 (in reality creating a Hotmail ID was free but since common people did not know, these shop keepers would make most of the opportunity)
  • If you did not know how to access email or did not want to create a mail ID – you could receive email on the cafe’s email address. If you enrolled for this service, the cafe owner would call you on your landline to inform you if any email was received in your name.
  • If you wanted they would print the email and delivery it to you at your doorstep for a fee.
  • They would help you send an email to anyone – again for a fee.
  • And if you knew how to use a computer and navigate the internet, you could pay Rs. 2 per minute and surf the internet yourself.

Anyways, one fine day I made up my mind and went to a nearby cyber café. Asked him if he could show me what actually “net surfing” was. I told him to sit at the keyboard while I would sit right beside him and watch. He showed me some of the popular sites like Yahoo (the world had not heard about Google yet) Then the cyber cafe guy gave me a demo on sending and receiving emails. I might have spent hardly about 10-15 mins in the cyber cafe before I ran out of options of what to do next. So i concluded my session early, paid the Cyber cafe guy and walked back to my room thinking about the new questions that had now started popping up in my head.

Surprisingly these memories are still crisp in my head. And when i look back I am amazed to see how the world has changed over these years. For those who are born in the 21st century, it might be difficult to imagine how life was without 24×7 internet access or how people would meet at busy public places without having mobile phones or how people would wait days and weeks to receive the reply of their letter.

I am sure you might also have memories and experiences to share from that era. Please do share in the comments below.

Posted in Life Gyan

Three Enemies of Success

I am a huge fan of Brian Tracy’s work on how to prepare yourself to be successful in life. He offers a lot of thought provoking questions and concepts which when applied for onself will surely result in transformation. I wanted to share some insights from what I have learned from Brian.

He talks about the 3 destructive traits that he calls “enemies of success“. By being aware of them we can avoid these traps in our own lives and can move faster towards our goals in life.

The first and the foremost is the Comfort Zone. It is like a slow poison. You become comfortable doing with what you are doing. You don’t realise that you are doing anything wrong but slowly you start slipping into the comfort zone. The daily routine is comforting. You know the drill like the back of your hand. You are able to navigate thru the daily hurdles with skill and you consider yourself successful. And all this while without realizing that you are getting deeper and deeper into the comfort zone. When you think about it you know that change is good and beneficial however you feel it is too much effort to move.

The next enemy is Learned Helplessness – where people think “i can’t do it”.  This is the next stage of Comfort Zone. As you set your sight on new goals and decide to move in that direction, the inertia pulls you back giving you various reasons why you should not pursue the goal or why it can’t be done. To navigate the way out of comfort zone, you must break the inertia and move forward.

Now you come across the third and final enemy – Path of Least Resistance. So you have decided to move out of the comfort zone and you have also handled the inital resistance from your mind. Now you have started taking the steps towards your goal. Soon you realise that it is a long journey and requires a lot of hard work. When the first fatigue sets in, the goal starts to look distant and again your mind tries to look for short cuts. You may even think of changing your goal to something much more smaller and within easy reach. Bur remember nothing worthwhile can be achieved without hard work. Anything worthwhile requires a long period of hard work with many failures on the way. There is no shortcut for sustainable success.

So beware of these mental traps and do not lower your goal – instead increase your effort.

Posted in Life Gyan

Find the Lost YOU !

Find your spark


Restart the physical transformation 

Get disciplined 

Mind what you eat



Look beyond your job

Help someone 

Pursue your hobby


Spend time with your family 

Call your friends 


Learn something 

Posted in Life Gyan

Each Day is Special !

Let me tell you a short story. 

A friend of mine opened his wife’s wardrobe and picked up a silk-paper-wrapped package:

“This, he said, “isn’t any ordinary package.”

He unwrapped the box and stared at both the silk paper and the box.

“She got this the first time we went to New York, 8 or 9 years ago. She has never put it on, she was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is it.”

He placed the gift box on the bed next to the other clothing he was taking to the funeral home; his wife had just died.

He turned to me and said: “Never save something for a special occasion. Treat every day of your life as special”.

This story had a huge impact on me when I read it for the first time.  And since then I might have read it scores of times. What I find interesting about this simple yet impactful story is that it connects us with our mortality. Often, we save the best for the last. But we do not know how far into the future “the last” is. And those little joys that we could have experienced right now never get fulfilled waiting for those “special moments”. This story emphasises – Treat each day as “special”. Let us live our life to the fullest with what we have right now. Surprisingly, it also brings the focus back to the things that matter. It is a reminder to live your life in the present.

Obviously, I am not advocating to throw everything to the wind and just indulge yourself with a blatant disregard for prudence. We must make long term plans for the future and in the process we even consciously defer short-term gratification for those long term goals. However, we must remember that reaching the milestone or long term goal should not become a pre-condition for us to be happy. Life is lived in the present moment. It should be looked upon like a series of experiences to be lived and cherished, not to be survived through.

All I want to tell is that don’t postpone the simple joys of life. The quality of life that you are living today matters. Don’t confuse life with lifestyle. For example If you have the opportunity to spend a few hours with your friends, don’t defer it. Those moments are priceless. Another way to look at it is, if you feel like using your crystal glasses every day, do it. Don’t wait for a special occasion to take them out. Don’t save your special perfume for special occasions – use it whenever you want to. Dress well. Don’t always keep the best dresses in the wardrobe for the special days. If it gives you joy, wear them whenever you feel like it.

Enjoy the little things in life for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things. Try not to delay, postpone, or keep anything that could bring laughter and joy into our lives. As someone has aptly said, Life Is Not Measured By The Breaths You Take, But By The Moments That Take Your Breath Away.

Each day, each hour, each minute, is special. Celebrate everyday.
Celebrate Life.

Posted in Life Gyan

Keeping Your Mind Active !

The mind is very comfortable when you follow your old habits, you eat the same food, you wear the same colours, you take the same familiar route to work. For most of these things in our daily lives, the body is on auto pilot, you do not have to apply a lot of thought. For instance if your drive to work then you do not have to navigate the route consciously, your sub-conscious takes care of it. You might notice that if you happen to get a phone call on the way, your sub-conscious takes over the driving while your complete attention is on the conversation with the person on the phone. You do not even realize what you saw on the way but you reached your destination. 

The moment you introduce anything that is different from what you usually do, the brain becomes alert and starts to takes notice of all the new inputs.  The new inputs could be being aware of the neighbourhood through which you are driving or  making note of the landmarks on the way if you took a different route from the usual to reach your destination.

The point I want to drive home by the above example is that for the mind, routine is boring and anything new makes it excited. So if you want to keep your mind active and develop the ability to think on your feet, you need to provide new inputs to the brain on a regular basis.

The idea is to keep your brain sufficiently challenged and active. Step out of your comfort zone – just a little bit once in a while for example you can use the below for starters and then develop your own –

  • At every opportunity do some mental math. Resist the urge to use the calculator for simple calculations. For example, If your milkman has sent you the bill for the month, see if you can do the math mentally or at least on paper before reaching out to the calculator.
  • Every once in a while take a new route to the mall you frequent or to work. See how your brain suddenly becomes alert
  • Try your hand at a new activity or skill for example try solving the Rubik’s Cube or a Sudoku or Crossword
  • Pick a different author or genre of book from what you usually prefer
  • Watch a movie from a foreign language

It is by continuously giving new inputs to your brain you not only enhance your knowledge but also become a more confident person in the process. It helps tame your fears and makes you more adaptable and open to changes.

Also by trying different things you develop empathy and humbleness. Empathy because we get a chance to look at things from the other person’s point of view – understand a different perspective. We become more accommodating as our world view widens. Humbleness because when we understand that the world has so much more that our limited view of things, it is a truly humbling feeling. We realise the vastness of knowledge and what we know in comparison – it is akin to standing at the sea beach and realizing the endlessness of the ocean in front of us.

What are the interesting things you do that excites your brain? Please do share your inputs.

Posted in Life Gyan

The Professor and the Golf Balls

“The most important things in life are not things” – sometimes we get so obsessed with our material possessions that we forget to give importance to the people in our lives. At other times we are busy chasing other shiny objects and completely lose focus of the important things of life. The below story is a simple way to understand this and remember to prioritise the important things in life.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.  The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.  The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes’.  The professor then produced two large cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.  The sand is everything else—the small stuff.  ‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.  Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.  Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.  Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’  The coffee just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a cup of coffee with a friend.

Posted in Life Gyan

30 Short but Impactful Habits

1. Write things down – our brains are for having ideas, not holding them.

2. Take a second to pause before you respond. Become less reactive.

3. Read something every day. Even just one page.

4. Write something every day. Even just one paragraph.

5. Automate and batch as much as you can. Our brains have more room to be creative when they’re not constantly making decisions.

6. Get some sun on your skin as early as you can in the day.

7. When your brain hurts. Stop working. Take a quick break to disconnect and recharge.

8. Limit your to-do list to the top 3 most important tasks of the day.

9. Write down anything that resonates with you.

10. Break down goals into the smallest steps possible

11. Value your time above all else.

12. Find hobbies that engage your mind and soul – do them as often as you can.

13. Place your phone outside the room while you’re working.

14. Track everything you do for one day to the minute. Find where the time-sinks are.

15. Stop comparing you behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.

16. Be bored more often. Our minds get the best ideas when they are allowed to wander.

17. Listen more than you speak.

18. Create more than you consume.

19. Compliment more than you complain.

20. Delete apps you don’t use.

21. Donate clothes you don’t wear.

22. Serve others as much as you can. This is a powerful source of happiness

23. Make a habit of reaching out to old friends.

24. Never say “yes” simply because you feel obligated.

25. Take care of your information diet – Junk info hurts our brains like junk food hurts our bodies.

26. Look at your phone less, look at people’s eyes more.

27. Revisit things that have brought you joy in the past. They will probably do it again.

28. Set time limits on tasks. Use “Parkinson’s Law” in your favor.

29. Remember people’s names and use them often.

30. Remember you’re going to die one day.

Posted in Life Gyan

An Alternate Perspective – Part 1

In this post I am going to share a different way of looking at the transition of world power and influence in the World with the passage of time. We all know that –

Goddess Durga is a symbol of Power
Goddess Lakshmi symbolises Wealth
Goddess Saraswati represents Knowledge

If we look back on the last few centuries, you will notice the following –
From approximately 16th Century to some part of the 19th Century the European countries like Britain and France had sent their armies across the length and breadth of the world and had colonized a large number of countries. You can see the spread of the British and French empire from the visual below. These European countries would approach the other countries on the pretext of trade and later overpower them and make the host country their colony. That was the era of power : Durga. Focus was on : Land | Agriculture | Materials

Spread of empire of Britain & France

After the World War 1 and until recently the world witnessed the dominance of USA as country and the influence of its dollar across the globe. Both in the World War 1 and World War 2 the US entered late into the war. Also the US was the main supplier of weapons and other goods to the Allies during both the wars. Most countries paid in gold making the U.S. the owner of the majority of the world’s gold by the end of the war. And depleted reserves of the other countries forced them to abandon the Gold standard for their currencies and instead adopt US Dollar as the new benchmark for regulating their currencies. this was known as The Bretton Woods Agreement. Thus, the U.S dollar was officially crowned as the world’s reserve currency. This was the era of wealth : Lakshmi. Focus was on : Money | Manufacturing | Industrialisation

USA wielded its power across the world on the strength of its currency

After the era of dominance of power and wealth we are now transitioning to the era of the Knowledge Economy. The knowledge economy is based on the four pillars: education, innovation, information and communication technologies. It asserts that sustained investments on these pillars, will lead to sustained economic growth. With intellectual property fuelling the knowledge economy, the Asian countries have made huge strides in pharmaceuticals, health biotech, new materials, telecommunications, information technology, software, medical equipment and avionics. China has been the most prominent of the countries who are trying to capitalize on the knowledge economy in the last three decades and in the recent years India too is making good progress.

Starting from the last few decades, we are witnessing the Global power center shifting to the Asian countries which are high on creativity and innovation. And this is expected to continue for many more decades to come. This is the era of Knowledge : Saraswati. Focus is on : Creativity | Knowledge | Innovation.

The present and future belongs to Asia due to their focus on Knowledge & Innovation
Posted in Life Gyan

Six Ways to Expand Your Horizon

Here are six ways to expand your horizon and to have a broader world view.  Each of the below listed items will help you push the boundaries associated with a different aspect of your life. As a result you will become a more fearless and confident person. Over a period of time, it will enhance your wisdom and give you a broader perspective of the world.

(1) Travel to new places – Travelling is one of the best way to expand your horizons in many aspects simultaneously.  By travelling I mean visiting a new place preferably outside your own state/country – a new region which has different culture, different staple food and different clothing. There is no dearth of options in India as we are known for unity in diversity. You can go to any state and experience the diversity. Once you travel be sure to observe how the people and customs are same or different from your home state. Relish the local food, interact with local people. This will help you get a very different perspective not only of life in general but even of the assumptions and beliefs you have held mentally so far.

(2) Learn a new skill – Learning a new skill like swimming, accounting or coding can be a great experience. It adds a new dimension to your personality. It provides another channel to express your creativity. Learning a new skill will help you come up with new ideas which you were not capable of thinking because you lacked this knowledge. It also opens up new possibilities for you to explore.

(3) Read books – First of all reading itself is a rewarding experience. Even though you may think – who reads books these days and lot of people adopting kindle and other digital means of reading but the data suggests that more books are sold each year. According to the website Books of Brilliance The country that reads the most books is India! They led every country on the map with an average of 10 hours and 42 minutes. That is enough to finish a book and start a new one in the same week! So incase you are not already in to reading, go pick a book if you do not want to be left behind. And if you already love reading try reading books from a different genre that would certainly open your mind to a whole new domain.

(4) Try different cuisines – Don’t be afraid to try a different cuisine once in a while. Next time when planning to go out, choose a cuisine or food item which you have never tried earlier like Sushi or Gelato or anything else that catches your fancy. The idea is to subject your senses to experience something different from what they are used to.

(5) Pick up a new hobby – Trying out a new hobby can be really fun and refreshing at the same time. Pick up something you have never done earlier. There are so many new hobbies that you can explore like starting a Bullet Journal or drawing Zentangles if you are the creative kind. You can try hydroponic farming or Origami. or even blogging. There is no dearth of new and novelty hobbies these days. Also the availability of so much information online and even online/offline classes makes it easy to pick and explore new things.

(6) Live in different geographical region/country – If possible relocate to a different geographical region or country and stay there for at least an year to experience the whole cycle of seasons, customs and festivals of that area. It will change your assumptions and boost your empathy to a different level. It will help you be sensitive to the thoughts and feeling of others especially when you are dealing with a diverse group of people.

This is just the start. You can apply this to any area of your life for example if you usually practice yoga you could try zumba, if you do kick boxing you can try pranayama or meditation. It is all about moving out of your comfort zone and embracing change. Whenever you do any new activity which is outside of the usual or routine, in some way or the other it will expand your current limits.

Be curious. That is the key. Never stop learning. To learn anything new, your cup needs to be half empty. And to be able to learn continuously, you should be able to expand the size of your cup so that there is always space to accommodate more and absorb new knowledge.