Friday, August 14, 2015

Stories Retold[2]: Common Ground.

There was a father who left 17 camels as an asset for his three sons. When the father passed away, his sons opened up the will.

Will of the father stated that the eldest son should get half of 17 camels while the middle son should be given 1/3rd (one-third). The youngest son should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the 17 camels.

As it is not possible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, three sons started to fight with each other. How can they divide their father’s inheritance?

Do you have any thoughts about how to divide 17 camels among three sons as prescribed in their father’s will?

So, three sons decided to go to a wise man.

The wise man listened patiently about the whole matter i.e. dividing 17 camels as follows:

½ to the eldest son, 1/3rd to the middle son and 1//9th to the youngest – How is it possible?

So, the wise man, after giving this thought, brought one camel of his own and added the same to 17. That increased the total to 18 camels.

Now, he started reading the deceased father’s will.

Half of 18 = 9. So he gave the eldest son 9 camels

1/3rd of 18 = 6. So he gave the middle son 6 camels

1/9th of 18 = 2. So he gave the youngest son 2 camels.

Now add this up: 9 plus 6 plus 2 is 17 and this leaves one camel, which the wise man took away.

So, the attitude of conflict resolution is to find the 18th camel i.e. the common ground. Once a person is able to find the 18th ground by using his or her intellect, the issue is resolved. It is difficult and at times, it is not easy at all. However, to reach a solution, first step is to believe that there is a solution. If we think that there is no solution, we won’t be able to reach any!

Recently I have found a source where people post nice short stories, with some moral/meaning. I have decided to make a collection and so I will keep on posting them here so that we have a common place to read them whenever we feel like. All the stories in this series Stories Retold are shamelessly copied and are not my work. Please enjoy reading them.

Stories Retold[1]: Stress Management

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

“It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses.
As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down.

Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!”

Recently I have found a source where people post nice short stories, with some moral/meaning. I have decided to make a collection and so I will keep on posting them here so that we have a common place to read them whenever we feel like. All the stories in this series Stories Retold are shamelessly copied and are not my work. Please enjoy reading them.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The longest night!

I want to tell you a story today, a story that has a big room in my memory. I didn't like to share this story earlier, but today I feel I should pen it down. I want to pen it down not because someone would learn something from it, it is just an event and don't expect a moral of the story statement at the end. I want to write because I want the memories to be afresh every time I read it back. So here is how it goes.

I was in school then. I don't remember the class but I was not very matured. I was still a child who could go to dad and mom to sleep with them at night when I was scared. One fine winter night after completing my homework, I enjoyed the dinner with my parents. I always enjoyed the food mom cooked, it was better than the buffet served at the 5 stars and it still is. After the dinner we went to bed. Since it was winter and was cold outside, we regularly went to bed by 10 or 10:30. I was lying in my bed thinking of something when some footsteps down the road broke the complete silence outside. After the few seconds I heard someone screaming. I couldn't figure out what he said but I was startled to find out commotion at this time of night, specially because there were curfew orders after 8pm. While I was trying to digest the sudden irregularity, I heard a few rounds of gunshots. By this time I knew something was going wrong, really scary. I slowly went to my parents room and slid in their bed between them. I knew both of them were awake. Dad assured me that everything would be fine and not to worry.

I know, I intentionally missed out the preface. Let me give you some background before I proceed. The political situation of the place where this happened was not very stable. A group had decided to rebel and they used to run their parallel government. There were frequent attack on government institutions and the military also almost always gave a equivalent reply. Now you know the reason for the curfew and you know why even a few screams and some rounds of fire can wake up the whole family. Then began which feels like the longest night of my life.

Now that you are a little aware of the situation let me proceed with my story. Apart from the small attacks on government institutions this group sometimes had a large scale attack where they would target all the government institutions, offices and police and military bases of a city simultaneously. These attacks were so planned and large scale, they almost felt like wars. After they opened fire things started gathering pace. Within a matter of a few minutes, a few rounds of fire turned into a full fledged armed action. What happened after that is impossible for me to describe in words. But still I will give it a try. The first attack was made at the military base camp. Very soon there was no electricity and the phone was dead. My house not being very far from the military base, I could witness(not eye-witness, we could only hear) the events very clearly. As time passed, the gunfight became heavier. It was less than half an hour when I heard the first bomb blast. I was scared, I couldn't sleep, I didn't know what to do, so I thought I would keep track on the number of bomb blasts that night. Till today I don't understand what was I thinking when I decided to do that but what I remember is that within a short duration of less than 10 minutes there were more than 50 blasts and very soon I lost the count.

The house we were in had tin shed roof. Not very far from our house was a building which had almost all the important government offices. It was merely a 10 minutes walk. We knew that it will soon be attacked, and as soon as they started bombing the building we could feel the vibrations even in our house. With each blast some particles would fly as far as our house and land up to our roof. I could hear the particles sprinkling on our roof with each blast. Since it was a huge building and was very strong, we could feel the vibrations for very long. To keep it bluntly they struggled destroying the building whole night, and I would say they succeeded in it. But I had a bigger reason to worry. The district court was merely 2 minutes walk from our house. If they would have that in their target, my night would have turned out to be more horrible. But by the grace of good god they didn't do anything to the court.

The fight continued whole night. Military forces were giving a tough fight. As time passed the sound grew louder and louder, the ammunition grew stronger and my heartbeats became faster and faster. There was nothing to say the whole night. I didn't know it I would be able to see the next sunrise. Hours of gunfire and blasts had nearly torn my eardrums. The whole night I could hear people running and screaming. They were cursing each other, abusing each other, killing each other. By 3:30 am or so the firing had decreased. The continuous bullet spray had turned to an intermittent firing and hiding routine. In the dark suddenly they would fire something that would cause a very bright red light all around and with it came heavy round of firing which ceased as soon as the light went off. I think they could see their opponent in that light and so they shot. When the light went off they saved their bullets because they had to last the whole night with the limited stock they had carried with them. After a couple of hours resumed the silence of previous evening. It was dawn and they had gone. Everyone in the city was awake, nobody had the courage to step out of their door.

At around 6am we heard a group of people singing some song and marching. It was the military. They were motivating themselves and the others and were letting the civilians know that the situation was under control. The drama for the night was over. Slowly people came out of their houses. Everyone was happy to see the day's sunlight. I, along with many others, went through the roads of the city, and found out the abhorrent scene. There were empty bullet shells scattered everywhere. We could see grenades lying on the ground, some of them were still alive. We could see blood at places and the government buildings completely destroyed, not a single shred of paper remains. One scene I would never forget, someone was shot on the head and pieces of his skull fell around and his gray matter remained intact on the road. Many shops were looted. Doors could be seen broken open and showcases could be seen destroyed. It was disgusting. After a short round I returned back to home. I knew that this event was going to make a lasting place in my memory and I still feel the same about it.

I am not trying to draw conclusion here but I would like to appreciate both the sides of the fight who were sensible to keep it between themselves and not to drag a single civilian. Not a single common man was killed in such a massive firing. After that event it took many days for the people to get back to normal. Schools started again after a few days. But after that day, every evening I was afraid if I would again have to face the same long night. I was never mentally ready to go through another similar mental trauma. This fear haunted me for a few years. Today I know things are alright, but that night remains vivid in my memory. That was the longest night of my life.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

It is not easy being a man in India.

"The son, lover, husband, friend, father. They say you have the power, they miss the pressure. You can't talk about it. You have to land on your feet. You are a man.

An evening, after a busy day, I am lying on my bed. I don't feel like having dinner today. I am not devastated, but certainly disappointed. I unknowingly managed to blow up my Infosys job interview. With final semester about to end, I am an average Indian teenager boy, an engineering student. The Infosys rejection doesn't bother me because my girlfriend will dump me for not having a job. Nope! I never had any girlfriend. I spend last 20 years building my 2 pages resume, studied my ass of just to score 2 marks more than the neighbor's son, participated in every sports and social event so that I can know my society and its people. yet, I sit alone on my bed, lonely. And girlfriend? Huh! Who cares! I have bigger problems to deal with! I am worried about dad.

I wonder how will he console me when I say I blew the interview when he is the one who wanted it to go correctly. He is retiring in a couple of years. He never said but I know if I don't land up a job, his savings won't last very long. See how difficult it is to be a father. His son blows up interviews,  daughter is yet to get married (Yes, in India it is a very big deal!), he can't say a word. I see frustration and agony in his eyes but only kindness in his words. He thinks he couldn't give us what what we deserved, and so to fulfill an additional inch of our desires he spends extra hours in his office for years. He looks a little older than he actually is and the shoes he wears are the same he has been wearing for years. I never saw him complaining about it. I thought he was satisfied with what he had until lately when I realized that he didn't complain be cause he is not allowed to. He is a man! If you don't earn enough for your family, it is your bad. You don't get to complain about your own wishes not being fulfilled. I know you are wondering I didn't say anything about mom. Well she is equally upset about the situation. She has always been very supportive and helped dad in every way she could. But when things so out of hand, she can cry out loud, show her emotions. But dad? He is a man! He needs to console his wife.

Here comes my roommate giving me a wry smile. He got the job, I didn't. I don't have hard feelings for him. After all it was a race and he won it. He earned it. He also has to think about his family, friends, his status in the society. If he wouldn't have got a job, he wouldn't be able to support his family. There is no way he was getting a bride, leave apart the wedding gifts. They would have cursed him in every social gathering, would have judged him for his weaknesses and made a good fun out of him on the dinner table. Getting this job was as important to him as it was to me. And yes, all these would happen to me too, so I will have to figure out something quick, real quick. But as of now his expressions are tearing me apart. It was yesterday that we were preparing for the interview together and were sharing some good laugh, but today things have changed. Today he has a job and I am still unemployed, he has climbed one tire above and now I can't share my feelings with him. When I was younger had had many friends, dad always questioned, how many of them will remain friends with me? It was a silly question then, but today it makes complete sense.

I can't handle his looks any more. I don't have the courage to call home. I should talk to Pallavi. Did I not mention about her? Oh no, she is not my girlfriend. As I said earlier, I don't have any. She is a very good friend, in-fact the only friend I have. But there lies this problem in the Indian society, the Indian mindset. The first time you heard her name, you immediately drew your conclusion, she must be my girlfriend. Damn! Why can't a boy and a girl be just good friends? I never understand. Neither does she. So we continue to have our friendship for 10 years now. I know her from the school. She has always cared for me much more than any other friend did. We talk  lot and can share our feelings. We are physically far away, studying in different cities. But we are close at heart. She calls me whenever she has something which she can't share with others, and sometimes just to say hello. I also call her at times. We can talk for hours without any particular topic of discussion. There you go, you have again started drawing conclusions. I told you we are just friends, very good friends. These conclusions of yours stop me from calling her many of the times, and even today I am dropping my plan to call her. I am afraid if she starts thinking the way you think and stops talking to me, I will be left no one to talk to. I know I can always talk to dad and mom, but there are things you can't share with your parents.

Enough of mentally torturing myself. I am feeling hungry. I must go grab something to eat. I think I will take the bus. Oh wait, it is dark already. I can't take the bus. If, by chance, I happen to stare any lady in the bus I will be termed as an eve-teaser, rather a rapist. I can be beaten up to death. How should I convince them that every teenager travelling by the bus at at night is not a rapist and he is not necessarily going to bar. I can't sit on a ladies seat and if a woman is sitting on a general seat despite of some ladies seats being vacant, I can't tell her to go to some other seat, because she is sitting on a general seat, not a gents seat. Chivalry is taken as flirtation. I agree there are some un-social elements, some jerks, but there are many gentlemen still left. Women want equality in every field. I am not undermining their potentials and capacity. They are very much welcome to work hand in hand with men. But there are some shreds of hypocrisy in their demands. You can't expect to give a lecture of equality over dinner and then expect you boyfriend to pay for it or open the door for you or pull the chair for you. And if someone does all this, he is not necessarily hitting on he, he might be one of a few gentlemen still left. I strongly believe that in the fight for equality between men and women, gentleman is dying.

Taking a bus would surely not a good idea. I should take a short walk, being careful not to look at any woman walking on the roads, get some food and return quickly. Walking is good for health, and anyway I have not done any exercise for months now. Being a man I am expected to be physically strong. After all, a well toned body, 6-pack abs is what most girls dream about boys apart from having a stable job. No matter what I have inherited, I have to be tall to be a handsome man. We can't wear makeup, but we have to look good. Choosing clothes is being girly but try wearing something random and you will be showered with comments, suggestions and sarcasm.

Is the world so unfair or I am over-thinking because I didn't get a job. I always wanted to be a singer but that doesn't earn bread and butter so may be over-thinking for the job is a justified reason. After all being a man, you are expected to have earn as much as you can killing all your dreams so that you can have a family and raise you children either to get them married or to teach them how to kill own dreams to earn money so that they can further do so. I realize I am writing gibberish and I am very sleepy and tired. I postpone the dinner for tomorrow. I should go to bed because tomorrow is waiting for me with another interview, TCS this time. I hope tomorrow I can call home and call Pallavi to say that I am no more unemployed. After all it is not easy being a man in India.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It says, don't repent

26th March 2010(Poem).

I ask.... Can I improve?
It says.... You have to.
I.... But how?
Its completely your problem dear, there was a time you were the best.
Yes I was, but today...
Think of those days, try to grasp and boost up your potentials again.
Really, do you think so, I mean can I be the best again?
You always are. You just need to realize.
Will you help me in doing so?
I am always with you. After all I am your own instincts.
Then I will start a new life from today, full of optimism and enthusiasm.
If so, I can see you have already won half of the match.
And the rest half, I will certainly win.
Coz mistakes give experience. They threaten but seldom harm....