There’s opportunity every day to do something meaningful or experience something beautiful – if you really want to.
Most newspapers this morning are commemorating 25 years of liberalization and reforms in India – of the unusual partnership, between then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and Finance Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh, that changed India forever. Seeing all the coverage about this epochal Budget speech of July 24th, 1991, I asked myself, what was I doing 25 years ago, around the same time?
A flood of memories came rushing back.
I remember, Vaani and I had just moved to Trivandrum on July 10th, 1991. I was working with India Today then. Since my senior colleague Ramesh Menon was transferred to New Delhi, I was asked by my boss, the venerable Prabhu Chawla, if I would like to shift to Kerala as the state correspondent for the magazine. I grabbed the opportunity. We moved into the same apartment that Ramesh had lived in. He and his wife Geeta had left behind some cane chairs that would be the only furniture in our home for many, many, months. This was our first home – for Vaani and me. We had been living with my parents until then – a decision that I quickly realized I should have never taken – for almost 18 months after our wedding in February 1989. So, to be on our own was a big high.
It was a beautiful time, very intimate, very romantic. We were 24 and 25 – Vaani and I. I barely made Rs.4,500/- a month as salary. We had no refrigerator or mixer or grinder. Vaani often made a simple, but delicious meal of kappa and puzhukku-ari kanji, with green chillies to go with it, for dinner. We slept on the ground as we did not have a bed or a cot. We spent memorable weekends doing up our home with artefacts that I would pick up from my travels around Kerala. Each month, we saved up a wee bit to buy appliances or furniture or linen for our home.
Our son Aashirwad was only a year old. When he was just six months old, we had tonsured his head so that his hair would grow richer. So, one Sunday, I decided to take Aash for a haircut – his first – on my Bajaj Cub scooter. I can recall that day so vividly. Aash was so excited. And so was I. It was a big feeling to be a parent, to be living in an independent apartment, to be raising a family with Vaani.
Soon after, for the next 15-odd years, I immersed myself in building my career, and later our business. My memories of the time I spent at home during this frenzied phase are not as vivid as I would like them to be. It wasn’t until our bankruptcy struck, and Life forcibly slowed me down, that I realized how much I had missed in the years that I had been toiling away – mindlessly, possibly avariciously. While I do remember random work-related, mostly stressful, events, I don’t have too many home or family memories from everyday moments to lean back on. That’s how I learnt this lesson, the hard way, that pretty soon, you will arrive at a point in Life when all you will have are memories. And so, it makes great sense to create beautiful ones even as you live, often barely getting past, each day.
This means, on a daily basis, no matter what the stress, no matter how packed your day looks, no matter what the situations or contexts you are placed in are, create one beautiful moment or participate in the one that is available to you. For instance, always kiss someone dear goodbye. Or pause to see a sunrise or sunset. Or feel the rain as it comes down instead of rushing away indoors. Or look someone – a random stranger – in the eye to thank them for their kindness. Or just make it a point to have 5 minutes with your family, without looking at your smartphone, daily.
Treat this time that you will dedicate daily to create memories as your true ‘Selfie’ time. That is, time for yourself! Time, that you will upload to your memory, to draw upon, when you have nothing but lots of time on your hands but no one to spend it with!! I didn’t do this for a significant part of my Life. Thankfully, I no longer regret it – because I have evolved to understand that regretting is a complete waste of time. I say it here now, just so that, in case you are living your Life the way I used to, you can awaken and go make some time to make memories.