When a “:)” will suffice, you don’t need to say more
You don’t always have to respond to every opinion with your own!
My Blogpost yesterday, I have shed my Hindu affiliation to reclaim my right to being just human, elicited a couple of interesting responses. One person felt that I was being “unfair to my roots”. Another felt that I need not necessarily be giving up my Hindu affiliation to reclaim my right to being just human. To both messages, which came on WhatsApp, I just replied with a “:)”!
I have realized that in matters related to personal opinion and preference, a “:)” works best. Ideally, just silence should do. But in a WhatsApp and FB Messenger era, a “:)” works just as well.
Just 10 years ago, I was different. I was always vociferous with my opinion. I remember having an ugly spat some years ago with my school friend at a restaurant, even as a class reunion party was on, when he ridiculed the former Indian Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh as “Maun”mohan Singh! I have often had abrasive and violent run-ins with my mother over fighting her opinions. And at other times I have cooked within myself when I have not been able to express my opinion to someone – either because I feared the consequences of saying what I felt or I did not want to hurt them with my views.
But the past decade has taught me a valuable Life lesson. Which is to respect the right that others have to their opinion. I have learnt that just as I am entitled to my opinion others are too. While on the one side I now realize that I need not always be right, on the other, I see great value in not even wanting to be seen as right – even if there is ample opportunity to prove my point of view.
This does not mean that you must not express yourself. Of course, you can and you must. You must say what’s on your mind and say it straight – without mincing words. But any counter to your view does not necessarily merit a rejoinder. I feel that just remaining silent in response to another’s opinion is a very intelligent response. And, as in the case of responses to my Blogpost yesterday, if a “:)” can embellish the silence, all the better!
I have shed my Hindu affiliation to reclaim my right to being just human
Isn’t humanity’s altar higher than religion’s?
The Supreme Court’s recent order banning the sale of firecrackers in New Delhi during Diwali this year is most welcome. But, as it appears, it’s not quiet welcome in a family WhatsApp Group that we are part of!
Joining the mindless cacophony (on social media) of right-wingers, some members of our extended family ‘see’ the Supreme Court order as an attempt to ‘muzzle’ Hindus and promote other religions. Since the sale of firecrackers in New Delhi is banned only until November 1, and because the ban is not effective during Christmas and New Year, these self-proclaimed custodians of “culture and religion” allude that this order will, in effect, promote Christianity. One venerable member of our family remarked that “slowly children will be weaned away from Hindu culture and be converted to Christianity”. Even as Vaani and I were discussing how preposterous seemingly “well-heeled, well-educated” people in our own circle sound, a young lady, who has married into our family recently, spoke up. She said she could not “tolerate this blatant, non-secular, intolerant, Hindutva stance” in a family group and so she quit the group. Vaani and I completely support and endorse her call for sanity, for fellowship and for us all to “first be human”.
In times such as this, I wonder where are we headed as a people? Does being Hindu also now mean being anti-other-religion, anti-secular? Is being secular now the new meaning of being anti-national? If pro-Hindu jingoism has pervaded an apparently familial setting, then clearly it is the nadir for India as a secular idea. I don’t seriously understand why we don’t get it. Is being a staunch Hindu a license to run roughshod over anyone who has a different faith or viewpoint? Isn’t humanity’s altar higher than religion’s?
It is imperative sane voices speak up and be heard. I am glad someone added the young lady back in our family group. I know it becomes suffocating to hear a biased, non-secular viewpoint, especially when a majority in a group are leaning in favor of that view. But this is when we must speak up. We don’t need to necessarily raise our voice to be heard. We must raise our discourse. And so, many more like that young lady must speak up.
Simply, when we all come from the same source, and will end up with the same source, why allow ourselves to be divided by a petty idea called religion?
Here’s how I see it and I will say this again and again and again – no matter what! I was born human. I was raised as a Hindu. But I am glad I have shed my Hindu (and all religious) affiliation to reclaim my right to being just human!
Let alone a misunderstanding, what if people don’t want to understand you?
Choose to be amused, curious, bewildered about people’s behavior – and not bitter!
“Why can’t some people understand us? No matter what we say or do, why is there only an effort to misunderstand by them,” asked a reader on FB Messenger yesterday.
My answer: “Such is Life. That’s just the way some people are.”
Indeed. I see no other explanation for the way some people behave. In fact, personally, I have even reached a stage when I don’t even want to understand – or explain – why some people behave the way they do. Ultimately, everyone does what they think is right. If they thought otherwise, they would not be doing what they are doing! Simple.
The other day, members of my estranged, fractious, family were trying to reach me for a reason. I was preoccupied for a while and so I did not respond immediately to any of them. But the number of messages they pounded me with on WhatsApp, SMS, FB Messenger, e-mail, the number of calls they made, and the tone of their messages indicated that they felt I was deliberately avoiding them. We haven’t been in touch for several years now. Nothing much has changed in the equation among us. But to assume, within an hour of sending someone a message, or after calling them, that they are avoiding you, I believe is being, unfortunately, judgmental.
I wasn’t angry with the tone my family employed. I was amused. And I guess that’s a good way to deal with people that don’t understand you or perhaps that don’t want to understand you. Respond with amusement, not anger. If you look at it objectively, people know what they are doing. If they are saying something nasty about you, or to you, or if they are doing something irrational, illogical, unkind and unjust to you, they are doing it only because they want to do it. I have realized that you can’t stop someone who’s determined to do what they want to do. So, I just let them be. I live in the comfort that the opinions they hold of me, the way they choose to express themselves to me and their actions cannot affect my inner peace.
Actually, it is equally fascinating to see how different people look at the same situation or at the same person differently. This variety makes for an interesting study of human behavior. I am eternally curious to see how people imagine or think up plots, sub-plots, theories and conspiracies in plain, mundane situations. Without such colorful imagination, I believe, Life will be boring. So, I have learnt to let people’s machinations and manipulations, their interpretations and misuderstandings, keep me entertained. I don’t crave for being understood anymore. If they are choosing to be the way they are, it is only appropriate that I remain the way I must really be – unruffled, curious, bewildered, and never bitter!
Uncork the happiness in you to let it flow!
Stop setting conditions on your Life and you will be happy.
A young reader pinged me on WhatsApp to ask: “Why don’t some people realize they are capable of being happy? Why do they only reflect back on old times and say that those were happy days?”
The one reason why people miss being happy is because they think happiness is conditional. “I will be happy if I get a raise.” “I will be happy if my boyfriend returns to me.” “I will be happy once I land myself a job.” This is how people impose conditions on themselves. They end up believing that they can be happy only if certain conditions are fulfilled. Often, their conditions are never met by Life, so they pine and they suffer. Sometimes, their expectations, the conditions they set for themselves, are fulfilled and they do experience fleeting phases of happiness. But very soon a new set of conditions has been set and the game of pursuit has begun again. That’s why such people are constantly searching for happiness or are almost always unhappy – they are leading unfulfilled, incomplete, lives.
The other reason why people are unhappy is that they are steeped in worry, they are frustrated and they are suffering. Happiness is when you have learnt to be non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering. Non-worrying means not given your worries any attention; because worrying is downright useless, it is futile! Non-worrying does not mean striving to be worry-free. Truly, you can’t have a situation of no-worry; you can only learn to be non-worrying. Non-frustrated means keeping the focus only on the efforts and leaving the results and outcomes to Life. When you judge yourself basis the outcomes is when you become frustrated. And non-suffering is when you stop asking why of Life; when you accept your Life for what it is and you go to work on it with equanimity. This state is possible. In fact, if you look back at times when you have been happy – when you have thought to yourself that some of the times you have lived through were happier times – you will realize that you were happy only because you were non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering. The point worth considering is, how can you be consistently happy – despite your circumstances?
Now, there is no method to living Life. There are no mantras either. There is no formula that you can employ. The happiness you seek is available in you, to you, 24 x7 and it is free! You just have to uncork the happiness in you to let it flow, for you to experience it!! You simply stop setting conditions on your Life, you simply don’t let worry, frustration or suffering get to you – and you can only be happy. Then the circumstances don’t bog you down. And you are in a state of flowing, unbridled happiness. That’s how you experience happiness – in the here and now – no matter what you are dealing with!
‘Musafir Hoon Yaron…Bas Chalte Jaana Hai…!’
Have I given up? Have I grown too old?
I have been trying to convince a legendary actor, who is 75 now, for a conversation I am trying to have with him for my Sunday column (for DT Next) and for my forthcoming Book, “The Happiness Road”. He responded saying he is busy with a mega project involving a Tamizh literary classic and so he did not have the time. I respected his choice.
When sharing this update with my photographer-partner (on “The Happiness Road” project) Vinodh Velayudhan, I added that I found it interesting that I will not be pursuing this actor for a meeting anymore. I told Vinodh that all my Life I had worked with the principle that I should not take ‘no’ for an answer. As a journalist, this principle helped me a lot – I am among the few people who have interviewed Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry (Cyrus Mistry’s father), Vijay Mallya, Ramesh Gelli (Global Trust Bank), C.Sivasanakaran (who I later worked with as Executive Assistant), Rajarathinam (the takeover tycoon who funded all his takeovers by debt) and several other elusive business leaders; I was the only writer-journalist to be allowed on the plane carrying Rajiv Gandhi’s dead body on May 22, 1991 (read my blogpost on that experience here). To be sure, this don’t-take-no-for-an-answer attitude helped me in my business Life too – I stitched together international deals and partnerships with a unique combination of passion, conviction and aggression. Simply, if someone said ‘no’ to me, I pursued them, and like the car rental company’s positioning line, “I tried harder!” And often, I got what I had set out to achieve!
“Why then is today’s AVIS taking ‘no’ for an answer from this actor,” asked Vinodh on WhatsApp. “Is it that you have grown old or is it that you are giving up,” he prodded.
I smiled and replied that I found his questions deeply provocative and reflective at the same time. I said I would answer them through a blogpost. And so, here’s today’s post dedicated to answering Vinodh’s questions.
I believe that to refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer is a good trait to possess. Without ambition, without aggression, there is no progress. When I reflect upon my behavior as a young, firebrand journalist, and later as a young business leader, I feel my primary driver for pushing a door open, when it didn’t open to a knock, was my ambition. I wanted to be famous. And fame, as I believed in back then, came from being among famous people and doing things that others had not done before. I also had this egotistic streak in me – it was pretty well pronounced – so, I always responded with a “How dare you say this to me” whenever someone said ‘no’ to me. This unbridled aggression and drive defined me in the first 15 years of my career – it gave me a lot of fame, a lot of professional success and it gave me this tag that I loved: “AVIS is a man in a hurry, a dreamer, a doer!”
I have no regrets about who I was, and the way I was, back then. But the next 15 years of my Life, from 2002~2017, have really been about me asking far more meaningful questions about my Life. What is the point of success, fame, money? What is the Purpose of Life? Can there be a simpler way to do things – when you do it for the sheer joy it gives you and not necessarily to prove a point or achieve something at the cost of defeating someone else? What is happiness? How are some people happy despite their challenging circumstances? And why are some people unhappy despite the blessings, the abundance, in their lives?
These questions have brought me to this path, “The Happiness Road”, and I am enjoying the journey. I know for sure that there is no destination on this path. There is nowhere to arrive at. On this road, I wrote my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal . I curate interesting, reflective conversations in public spaces, I deliver Talks and I seek to meet people who are willing to share with me – and with Vaani – their idea of happiness. Everything we do – including our Workplace Happiness Firm www.avinitiatives.co.in – is about “Inspiring Happiness” among people who care to pause and reflect.
So, all my ambition is now channelized, directing the energy, inward. It flows uninhibited like always but it flows fueling my inner joy. I am not here to prove anything to anyone – not anymore! I am not preying on famous people so I can become famous being seen in their company. I am looking for fellow voyagers, like me and Vaani, who will sit down for a conversation along the path that we are traveling together on. If someone says ‘no’, I respect their choice. It doesn’t matter anymore who is saying ‘no’ to me; a ‘no’ does not have a debilitating impact on me either. It doesn’t matter if I appear to be behaving like I am too old for being ambitious or that I appear to be giving up. It seriously doesn’t matter!
I am on this path, “The Happiness Road”, and I am blissful here. I am not here pursuing anyone or anything. I am here, I am happy and I know I only have one thing to do on this path – like in the iconic Kishoreda-Panchamda-Gulzar song ‘Musafir Hoon Yaron’ from the 1972-classic ‘Parichay’…Bas Chalte Jaana Hai…I just have to keep walking!
If something has to be said, just say it!
The simplest way to get from point A to point B is a straight line.
A reader asks me what he must do in a situation when he has let his wife down. His wife is a very loving, very compassionate lady – she does not even realize she has been let down! She keeps showering him with all her love. This makes the man feel even more guilty. He does not know how to face her. He asks me how can he tell her “all that she must know” without having a “fear of being rejected or punished for his actions.” “I don’t want to hurt her. I don’t want to hurt myself. I want it to be smooth. Is there a way,” he asks me.
The only quality worth striving for in any conversation is to keep it honest. Trying to make a conversation simple or easy, trying to cushion someone from the impact of the message or outcome, trying to control the outcome of the conversation – all these, quite frankly, are irrelevant. What is it that you want to tell someone? Can you sit down and say it with a straight face, honestly. If, as in the reader’s case, you want to appraise someone of what you have done, what you have learnt from doing so and seek their understanding, then just say it. Be honest. Say everything there is to it – don’t hold back, don’t sugarcoat – just say it! The same approach works when you are giving feedback to someone or are sharing perspective with them. The point of avoiding hurt and injury has often already been transgressed in such cases. For instance, if the reader wanted not to hurt his wife, he may well have never let her down. Or if you were not already hurt over someone’s behavior, you will not necessarily be in a conversation with them sharing perspective or providing feedback.
I have learnt that the simplest way to get from point A to point B is a straight line. If something has to be said, just say it. If you must tell someone you love them, say it. If you must say sorry, say it. If you must hold a mirror to someone, hold it. And when you can’t get yourself to say it face-to-face send them a WhatsApp message. Simple. Grief and guilt, in such situations, come only from postponing, or fighting shy of, what you really want to communicate.
Clearly, you don’t have too much time
A constant awareness of your mortality is a great way to live enthusiastically!
Interestingly, several signs and reminders on death have come my way in the last 24 hours.
It was my father-in-law Venks’ birthday yesterday – he passed on a couple of years ago, so we reminisced about our times with him on the family WhatsApp group. Besides, it was also MGR’s 100th birth anniversary yesterday. I thought back to the day he had died in December 1987 – when I had walked 18 kms (as public transport had shut down after riots broke out in Madras) to meet Vaani; it was the first time I was visiting her home. I am glad I walked that distance – she’s sure been a great companion who’s walked beside me every step of the way, these past 30 years! A close friend wrote in yesterday saying she hasn’t been able to come to terms with her husband’s passing. A reader pinged me on WhatsApp to say she was catching up with my blogposts after a while because she had lost her mother last week. And then, of course, while watching a movie at a Cineplex last evening, the Tamil Nadu state government’s newsreel melodramatically showcased the funeral of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa!
For just a brief while, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I wondered if there was any symbolism in so many death-related references and inferences in one day. Given the fractious family I come from, it has been a few years since I have met my father although we live in the same city! Momentarily, my thoughts went to him, his advancing age and fragile health. I may well have begun to walk along the line of emotion and worry, about my inability to repay my family the money I owe them and, at least, repair my credit rating with them, even if I really can’t redeem my relationships there; but my awareness held me in good stead. I recalled Osho’s masterful perspective that Life and death are just two sides of the same coin; that death is accompanying us every step of the way, like a shadow, from the moment we are born. Or simply, as I have come to see it, we are all speeding towards our death, albeit at different speeds. So, no symbolism, there, I told myself as I fell asleep.
This morning, over coffee, glancing at the obituary section in The Hindu, I thought those thoughts again. If death is the absolute, non-negotiable, reality for all of us; if it is indeed that one reason which must compel us to live fuller, meaningful, happier, lives, why then don’t we live that way? Why do we fritter away our lifetimes fretting over petty material pursuits or even pettier squabbles among those that we live with?
I guess the Dalai Lama nailed it when he said, “The problem with humankind is that we think we have a lot of time!” A beautiful song from the classic Choti Si Baat (1975, Basu Chatterji, Yogesh, Salil Chaudhury, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Amol Palekar, Vidya Sinha) comes to mind. The opening lyrics are: “Na jaane kyon, hota hai yeh zindagi ke saath, Achanak ye mann, Kisi ke jaane ke baad, kare phir uski yaad, Chhoti chhoti si baat…”. They mean: “Why does the mind think up even the smallest memories of those who have gone away, after they have left us…?” The song’s essence (not in the movie’s context though) is a potent reminder of our mortality. It tells us, ever so subtly, that the inevitable is lingering around, just there, somewhere within our immediate circle of impact. It implores us to use the opportunity of this lifetime intelligently – to do what we love doing and to live happily, joyfully, with all those among us, in the time we still have left with us here.
I believe that fearing death or feeling sorry for the dead or for yourself is of no use. The awareness of your impending death, and of everyone you know, must be used very constructively to live your Life fully. To live without squandering even one precious moment. And the only way you can ensure living without wasting any of your finite lifetime is to only do what makes you happy and celebrate the presence of everyone in your Life – even your detractors, for they teach you what not to do! You will no doubt face your share of challenges along the way, not just with the path you have chosen but also with the people you meet on your journey, but your inner joy, your enthusiasm, will make the ride fulfilling, meaningful.
This reflection over the past 24 hours has only reiterated a truth about Life. Death is not the physical passing on of the human form alone, it is also what happens to you in every moment that you don’t live fully when you are alive! Think about it! Clearly, you don’t have too much time. If what I’ve shared here makes sense, then please go live that kick-ass Life you have always wanted to live but have been postponing for a better day and time. Remember: there is never a better time to live than now!
Invest 1 hour in silence daily and reclaim the remaining 23!
Learn to be a witness of your Life and you will anchor in inner peace!
A friend sent me a WhatsApp message to share how much he was benefiting from the practice of ‘mouna’ which I talk about in my Book – ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’. His message made me want to share my learnings from ‘mouna’ here, on this Blog, one more time.
If there’s one practice that you want to develop in Life – learn to be silent for at least an hour daily. This practice is called ‘mouna’. Most forms of meditation require that you silence the environment before you begin to still the mind. But ‘mouna’ does not require the environment to be silent, it requires you, your mind, to be silent. It instils in you the capability to be just a witness of your own Life. Being a witness means not to pass judgment, not to evaluate, not to condemn and not to appreciate. A witness just is.
The human mind is always trafficking thoughts. Of all kinds – relevant and irrelevant, both at all times. 24 x 7. Research reveals that the average mind thinks 60,000 thoughts a day – and all of them are soaked in worry, anxiety, fear, anger, grief, guilt and, rarely, some of them are happy and peaceful thoughts too. ‘mouna’ helps in organizing this traffic and ensures that through your inner awareness, you detach yourself from your situation and simply be a witness of your Life.
Let me share a story that I have read in one of the books that Osho, the Master, wrote.
One morning Gautam Buddha was talking to his disciples. The king, Prasenjita, had also come to listen to him. He was sitting right in front of the Buddha. Prasenjita was not accustomed to sitting on the floor – he was a king, you see – so he was feeling uncomfortable, fidgety, changing sides, somehow trying not to disturb and not to be noticed by the Buddha because he was concerned that he was unable to sit silently, peacefully. He was continuously moving the big toe of his foot, for no reason, just to be busy without business. Some people are like that – they cannot be without business; they will still be busy!
Gautam Buddha stopped talking and asked Prasenjita, “Can you tell me, why are you moving your big toe?”
In fact, Prasenjita himself was not aware of it. Sometimes, you – and I – are doing a thousand and one things that we are not aware of. Unless somebody points them out, you may not take any note of it.
The moment Buddha asked him, the toe stopped moving. Buddha sought to know, “Why have you stopped moving the toe?”
Prasenjita said, “You are putting me in an embarrassing situation. I don’t know why that toe was moving. This much I know: that as you asked the question it stopped. I have not done anything – neither was I moving it, nor have I stopped it.”
Buddha said to his disciples, “Do you see the point? The toe belongs to the man. It moves, but he is not aware of its movement. And the moment he becomes aware – because I asked the question – the very awareness immediately stops the toe. He does not stop it. The very awareness, that ‘It is stupid, why are you moving it?’ – just the awareness is enough to stop it.”
This is really what ‘mouna’, and your being a witness, can help you with. It can help you realize that you too can be ‘aware’ – and so you too can stop doing many things that you go on doing, just like that. Worrying incessantly is one of those things that we all do – many a time without knowing that we are worrying. When you learn to still the mind and organize your thoughts, you learn to weed out worry. When you step outside the orbit of your worldly Life and assume the role of a witness, you will see the futility in squandering your precious lifetime thinking debilitating thoughts. When the witness in you becomes active, the mind becomes slowly powerless. Through your continuous practice of ‘mouna’, you eventually learn to fully still your mind, making it totally inactive. It is in that 100 % witness state that you discover the secret to living happily and being at peace with what is!
Now, practicing ‘mouna’ takes up an investment of one hour daily. Won’t you rather invest one hour to reclaim the remaining 23, which you would otherwise fritter away? Doesn’t that sound like an impressive, irresistible, unputdownable ROI on your time?
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Demonetization of Life, not just currency, can make you happier
Live as if money were not an object. And you will live a fuller, happier Life!
The hope among Indians is palpable.
For the first time, the generations that were born after Independence, appear to nurture hope that ‘something worthwhile to seriously cleanse India’ is being attempted. That includes people like me who have been critical of Modi and skeptical about his promise of ‘achche din’. I am not rubbishing his leadership and the efforts of his team over the last 30 months. But I did not see anything worthwhile being done by his government. There was a lot of drama, PR and optics over all his utterances and policies, but it seemed nothing would crack open Indian culture, stamp out its crab mentality and build an ethos of co-ownership and pride in building a clean, efficient nation. To be sure, I liked the Modi idea of a Swach Bharat – but I know it will never be an immediate reality because for that to happen, every Indian must transform. And that is asking way for too much from our aam aadmi! But the idea to demonetize the Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes and strangulate the parallel economy, theoretically, holds out hope. Yesterday, while traveling in Uber cars, at coffee shops, talking to rank strangers on the street and going by the conversations on social media and WhatsApp, I got the sense that India is hopeful of this progressive step helping us cleanse her of corruption! Even if this new system does not sound fool-proof – in that corrupt officials and dishonest citizens, unscrupulous politicians and wily black money hoarders will surely do jugaad to work around and through the system – at least, existing stockpiles of ill-gotten money has been reduced to nothing and the so-called rich, notorious and powerful have been rendered momentarily powerless. So, theoretically, the political and governance aspects of this demonetization move appears worthwhile.
But I also see a human dimension playing out across India over the last 24+ hours. Indeed people are helping each other with methods and means to survive the ‘unsettled’ phase till normalcy in cash-based transactions is achieved. A small-time bangle seller in Hyderabad, reports today’s Hindu, gave away a pair of bangles worth Rs.50/- to a bride-to-be because her family did not have change and had only Rs.500/- to transact. People have been reporting of a new ‘way of living’ where they have the money but not the currency to transact. Friends have been talking of ‘feeling lighter and liberated’. And several people have been reaching out and helping the less educated, daily wage earners, get food and basic supplies till they start re-earning a livelihood. It is heart-warming to see humanity thrive in these apparently cold, material, insensitive times.
Living without money is not new to Vaani and me. Over the last 9+ years, we are only too familiar with this ‘way of Life’. In fact, my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal talks about how we were left with just Rs.2000 on 31st December 2007 and the film Rise In Love shows the last Rs.80 we had in April 2014 that we gave away to an auto-rickshaw driver. After that incident, for 70 days, over four months, we lived penniless in Chennai. In this time most devices and appliances at home also broke down. So we had no money, no washing machine, no TV, no micro-wave, no mixer. Besides, my mobile phone and Vaani’s laptop crashed too. But Vaani and I never let all this material dysfunctionality affect our spirit. We had no work, no money and no car. So spent a lot of time speaking to each other about our Life, our experiences, our learnings, our love for each other….we went on long walks, for 10 kms, often for over 2~3 hours daily….our walking shoes wore out in this time and we didn’t have money to buy new ones! But we kept walking – literally, figuratively. There was a lot of pain, but we don’t remember suffering!
One day, Vaani discovered that she had only one onion at home. No other vegetables were there. There was no money to buy fresh veggies. So she made khichdi and onion raita. It was a beautiful meal. We focused on the joy of being able to eat the meal together and not on what it comprised of. On another occasion, we suddenly realized we had Rs.236 available in a bank account that we were not using anymore. We felt we could do well with that cash. So we walked a long way to that bank’s ATM to try our luck on whether the account was a. functional and b. if it would allow us to withdraw Rs.200. Our effort paid off on both counts. There was so much joy when the ATM spat out two hundred rupee notes. We both observed that while it seemed so bizarre that we had come to such a level of abject penury, we were grateful for the miracle of that Rs.200 in our hands that evening. We celebrated our fortune by treating ourselves to Rs.5 worth of roasted and salted peanuts we bought from a roadside thelawala. It was an unforgettable, magical experience.
The lessons we have learnt from living without money are invaluable. We have learnt to celebrate Life. We have discovered that watching sunrises and sunsets costs nothing. We have felt magic and beauty in hearing the birds chirp and seeing the trees sway in the breeze. We have learnt to value conversations between ourselves, with our children and among our friends. We find the joy of our companionship priceless. There’s bliss in walking together, through treacherous terrain, even when we are penniless, when we are virtually check-mated legally and financially. All the expensive, candle-lit dinners that we have had in the past, in the most exotic locations across the world, pale in significance and comparison! And we have found great inner peace in giving our time and in sharing our Life learnings, with all those who care to pause and reflect. In fact, we have now understood that while money is very important, money is just a resource. It must be used. And we must never get used, or consumed, by it, by clinging on to it. The real opportunity of happiness, being available free, and 24×7, became visible to us only when money ceased to be an object in our Life. For this realization, we will remain ever grateful to our enduring bankruptcy that truly demonetized our Life. Which is why, I see this 24+-hour currency demonetization experience in India as an opportunity for everyone here to learn to live happily ever after!
PS: If you liked this blogpost, please share it to help spread the learning it carries!