Archive | December, 2012

Dance of Life!

17 Dec

ShivaThandavam9In my mother tongue Thamizh (தமிழ்), there’s a saying “Mottaith thalaikkum muzhangaalukkum mudichu poduvadhu pol!” (மொட்டைத் தலைக்கும் முழங்காலுக்கும் முடிச்சுப் போடுவது போல்) That means “Connecting the dots between completely unrelated things” (the literal meaning will be a hilarious “Tying a bald head and knee together!”). Considering the multiple unrelated things that happened this week, Swamy decided to give the MTM2P2 a try to see if our forefathers really meant what they said (unlike us, they invariably did)!

Here’s the list of (significant or otherwise) events that happened this week in Swamy’s Life.

  • ShivaThandavam8Series of meetings with vendors for a critical business requirement (which became my top priority this week).
  • Working from my (real) office (that I refer in my conversations as ‘Jeeva Samadhi’ due to the complete absence of any opening to let natural light in) consecutively for 3 days, after a really long time (before the gossip mill starts buzzing, I do go to office everyday like any of you, but not necessarily to where I’ve an office room assigned to me).
  • 12-12-12 (ended up publishing 3 different blog posts to immortalize this once-in-a-lifetime day).
  • A rare invitation to attend a dance program (which I couldn’t attend).
  • Pitching to a steering committee for new features in organization’s learning platform (this is a part of my portfolio for which we’ve many a dream to transform learning interventions into ‘myLearning, myWay’ for associate delight).
  • A team get-together, with a few live ‘performing arts’ performances, including dance (that a group of enthusiasts prepared and performed within 3 days).
  • Riding my dear Red Bull (that’s a Royal Enfield Classic 500 in Maroon, for buggles, err., muggles of MotorBike world) after a while (man, how much I’ve have missed without riding it for several months).
  • Taking my son out for a few hours of street Cricket with his schoolmates (thereby automatically getting transmogrified into my own cherished childhood spent on the dusty streets of Madurai & Dindigul) and going for a brisk morning walk (again after a very long time) while he played (a sea change for him for he’s a professional Chess player who travels the world and doesn’t get to meet his pals on a daily basis like any normal student).
  • ShivaThandavam4Meeting Senthilkumar from Trichy during that rare morning walk, who looked like Samigiri Siddhar (you won’t know him unless you happen to read Cho’s Thuglak weekly – we’ve been loyal readers from my grandfather’s time), and was selling Arugampul (Bermuda grass) juice (a herbal concoction with amazing medicinal benefits that’s very popular along the beaches that are abuzz with morning walkers and joggers) at Velachery (which isn’t along or beside any beach in Chennai). I went to him assuming he was selling Tea, then bought the juice and listened to his fascinating story while enjoying a cup of the health potion (it won’t be a bad idea to start a walking or cycling regimen for enjoying his juice and news).
  • Shopping for a specific type of clothes for my wife and son who’re set to travel for spiritual event of significance at the Isha Yoga center this week (which is unusual for me, as I always buy clothes only during the Sale of branded garments or popular stores, which anyway happens throughout the year these days).
  • Tasting a cup of Tea brewed by my better half (and commending her for making such a good hot cuppa, something that isn’t usually her cup of Tea – pun intended ;-).

ShivaThandavam10Now that you’ve seen the enchanting list of unrelated events, what if I told you that the thread that connects all these beautifully is Dance! Not because the other performances during the team get-together weren’t impressive. What all the performers have accomplished – be it the parody song or skit on their own corporate function or the orchestra that hit the high notes despite the lead singer’s strained vocal chords – was memorable. But the dance (or dances rather as there were different set pieces) with a colorful ensemble of dancers was in an altogether different plane. While some were consciously performing their steps diligently (with the experts guiding them from the sidelines), few others toned their prowess down to enable others in the group shine and the true blue dancers – classical and neo – just set the floor on fire, by becoming one with the dance and sent the gawking raucous audience into raptures.

ShivaThandavam12Time to connect the bald head and knee with dance, before you lose the remaining hair on your already fast receding hairline (all my XX chromosome readers – including most of the aforementioned dancers – can have a hearty laugh here as only the XY chromosome beings usually suffer from this condition).

ShivaThandavam1Before I call upon my Ishta Deivam (இஷ்ட தெய்வம்) and other divine beings to offer me the requisite revelation to connect the dots with dance, I recalled the description of a dance, a divine one no less, which brought a flood of Joy Drops in me, while reading it. This was the Thandava (தாண்டவம்) or Dance of Shiva, the Lord of Lords (or Mahadeva), which was mesmerizingly described by Amish from pages 75 to 79 in his enchanting book “The Immortals of Meluha” (you may read SwamyView of the book here), the first part of his Shiva Trilogy. Do read it (not just those pages), if you haven’t done yet, to understand what I meant.

ShivaThandavam13Life has been interpreted in many ways, by many talented beings – including the enlightened ones. But to Swamy, Life isn’t a mystery but a Dance. A pretty long one, that’s exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. Some like Lord Shiva, know how to perform the Dance of Life. Some others learn how to do it. A few at least are capable of marveling at it, even though they themselves aren’t adept at performing. But most, remain blissfully unaware or clueless about the awe inspiring spectacle of Life that dances around them all the time, until their time stands still.

ShivaThandavam7In the Dance of Life, you’re the performer (irrespective of whether you’re an accomplished dancer or not – for real Life isn’t really what you think it is). The dance is on all the time and it doesn’t matter whether someone’s there to watch it or not. Shakespeare understood the performance aspect of Life and his immortal “All the world’s a stage” would make a phenomenal Opera!

ShivaThandavam5Any Dance needs a stage, accompanying artists, music (and those who make it), choreographer and audience, apart from the performer. Think about our daily dance, umm, Life! Your home, workplace or any place you go to is the stage. Family, teams, colleagues and co-travelers on a commute are the accompanying artists. All the noise that happens – never ending small talk, phone calls, discussions in team meetings, sales pitch to customers, annoying honking during your daily Life on the slow lane, vroom of that luxury car, du..du..du.. of a Bullet, chirp of that bird and bark of this dog – around is the music (and its makers). Your wife, boss, that alpha femme’ fatale (male if you’re an XX type), family astrologer, mom-in-law (pop-in-law for XXs), traffic cop, your children and their teachers are your choreographers. Everyone who gets to watch you dance through the day are the spectators (as are you to them). It is curtains down at night and a brand new (or same old – solely dependent on the dancer) dance starts all over again at dawn. This goes on till the dancer runs out of breath and rests in peace.

ShivaThandavam2While Life’s dance is an endless beginning and dancers keep changing all the time, the types of dances are many and varied. From the emotional painting of Bharathanatyam to the smooth motion of Tai Chi to the gyrating Belly to the soulful Trance to the spirited Kuthu (or Folk) to the tantalizing Tango to the balmy Ballet to the mesmerizing Maori to the pulverizing Disco to the sensual Salsa to the rhythmic Tap to the swanky Swing to the flaming Flamenco to the expressive Kathakkali and a multitude of other forms that are local or global. The nature of your action, the level of your involvement, the pace of your execution, the degree of your emotion and the amount of trust in and from your partners determine the type of dance at any moment on any given day. Irrespective of the type of dance you perform, always remember that the whole point of dance is to just melt into it and be like the Lord of the Dance’s Formless Form!

ShivaThandavam6Now that your eyes are opened wide to Life’s many types of dances of varying rhythm, go back to the list of events in the beginning of this post, which happened in Swamy’s Life this week. And tell me if you see anything that’s not part of the grand Dance of Life!

Love + Gratitude = @PrakashSwamy.

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer!

And, of course, remember to Like, Comment and Share this post joyfully with your loved ones.

Fifty 50!

10 Dec

Asura_BookJust completed reading Asura by Anand Neelakantan, an interesting tale on Ravana’s perspective of the Ramayana epic. Ravana’s tale was all the more interesting to me as I’ve already reminisced about the near complete absence of this great King of Lanka in the Sri Lankan history. Devouring 500 pages in 4 days transmogrified me to much younger days, when I used to borrow many a novel from my uncle, who was a member of the prestigious Victoria Edward Hall library in my hometown. I had to finish the books quickly so that he can return them and borrow new ones, which in turn I could borrow (is that borrow2 or 2borrow!). Worked very well for me as those books and a weekly dose of Hollywood flicks shaped my linguistic and communication skills better than what was taught in school and college (I did have fantastic English and Tamil teachers, btw). Sadly, the focus of schools and colleges pretty much remains on studying and not learning, even today!

ThevarMaganWhile writing the review of the book (read Swamy’s review of Asura here), my mind wandered off (just doing its job, that’s all), introspecting human nature and Life (my favorite subject of all time) as we know and live. And I ended up concluding that each one of us are part Asura and part Deva, irrespective of whether we like this hard hitting fact or not (which is the case with all hard hitting facts anyway). Interestingly, the thespian Kamal Haasan tried emphasizing the same thing in more than one of his movies like Thevar Magan (my favorite, not just for Kamal’s stellar transformational performance but also the great Sivaji Ganesan’s first and probably only opportunity to showcase his real acting prowess – ah man, what have the directors denied us all along!), Nayagan (fan favorite, Wow, what a performance!), Anbe Sivam (critics’ favorite – hard to believe it was directed by Sundar C!) and Aalavandan (everybody’s joke, despite his awesome take on playing the villain, which his other avatar as Director messed up big time). Well, before we transcend to the suspended reality of mythology and movies, let’s spend some time on dissecting the AsuraDeva mix of genes in us.

Gardening1When the seed is sown, every one of them has the same, if not equal, chance to grow into something valuable, purposeful and memorable. The eternal rule remains the same for Flora, Fauna, Humans or the multitude of other beings whose existence we don’t even know about or incapable of perceiving in the realms beyond the physical.

KashGarden22sEach flora seed can grow into a plant blossoming with vibrant flowers in myriad colors, attracting honeybees and butterflies that get drunk on pure honey and romance them for an endless supply of that elixir. In return, they also help seed more plants through pollination. Some seeds grow into plants that bear grains, fruits and vegetables, which other creatures consume for their survival. And a few other seeds grow into magnificent trees offering shelter to birds and other tree living creatures and shade to humans and other land beings.

KashGarden26sThe Gardener who shaped and nurtured the flora certainly has taste. And patience. But humans, needless to say, have neither. We will pluck the flowers from the plant and make garlands out of them to decorate our hair or favorite deity, as a daily offering along with Camphor, Sambrani and Agarbatti. How many times have we restrained ourselves from plucking them and spent time instead marveling at their vibrant colors, intricate shapes and delicate texture? While animals take only what they need from plants, we try to make them produce more by dumping chemical fertilizers because we always want more of everything. A lot more than what we really need. We also promptly saw the huge trees off to craft furniture, carve musical instruments and build houses!

OMG-LionbEach fauna seed can emerge into a marvelous creature that’ll coexist peacefully with Mother Nature, living Life the way it is. From the mighty Lion to the exceptionally fast Cheetah to the chirpy Sparrow to the gentle giant Elephant to the mammoth Whale to the slippery Seal to the magnificent Peacock to the slithery Snake to the busy Ants to the majestic Eagle to the chatty Parrot to the cheerful Squirrel to the clever Crow to the agile Ape (oh, we’ve lost all that agility in the name of evolution brother) to the mesmerizing Cobra to the friendly Dog to the curious Cat to the spirited Rabbit to the motherly Cow and a million other known and unknown species, they all play the Game of Life by the law of Nature and go through the 3 stage cycle without needing a 5-Why analysis on Living Life!

OMG-MonkeybEnter the all knowing all conquering human and instantly their absurdity of existence comes to the fore. Lions and Cheetahs are caged in zoos (a treatment meted out to convicted human criminals); Sparrows are chased away by towering skyscrapers and cellular transmission towers (all they need is a tiny box or hole); Elephants are chained in temples and murdered for their tusks (how would it feel when someone plucks out our gleaming white teeth for decoration); Whales and Seals are either hunted mercilessly or haunted by the slimy and lethal deposits dumped into their abode, the ocean; Peacocks are defeathered to be used as decoration (will we ever hang our hair and nails on the wall!); Apes are cut open or injected with chemicals in the name of evolution research (we’ve evolved into something monstrous that they’ll never want to be!); Cobras are captured repeatedly for extracting venom or beaten to death (how does one pray to yet kill the same thing!); Dogs are stoned and chased away or instructed to behave and win contests for their proud owners (which is the same we do with our children as well); Cats are associated with bad omen (bah, humbug!) and will be lucky to have even the 2nd of their 9 lives; Cows are milked and then slaughtered for meat (hard to imagine even the hard core criminal among the beef lovers having cannibalistic tendencies towards their mothers!). And invariably all fauna are cooked and eaten, by humans the world over!

LordShivaThe Creator who has given shape to the fauna from the endless beginning would never have imagined how his magnificent creations would someday end up as toys or playthings in the hands of his most puny and meek creation, that is truly, madly, deeply, hell bent on proclaiming that the only business of belief left is the mindless destruction of nature and it’s way of Life, which sadly is the polar opposite of how Life is supposed to be!

Thinking_ChimpAnd do we even have to get started on ourselves? The less said the better, for obvious reasons. Right from (pro)creation, we want to live Life on our terms, i.e., the way we want to live and not the way it is meant to be. Children are selected and given birth (boys outnumber girls, despite the well known fact that only women can give birth, still) at the time of our choice (the birth star and sun or moon sign is critical for their success in Life – some idiots even go for fancy dates such as 11-11-11 or the up and coming 12-12-12, supposedly our judgment day and also happens to be the birthday of a Superstar, which is no different from getting a fancy number plate for their car by paying a premium). They’re enrolled in premier educational institutions (which is one of the most thriving businesses, in case you finally realize that your monochromatic job sucks and look for an alternate career) that are totally focused on the output (100% pass) than outcome (inherently good, intelligent citizens who can raise the standard of living for all – including themselves – and make this once great planet great again). They’re advised to pursue multiple co/extra-curricular activities that’ll improve their earning capacity or popularity (irrespective of whether the child actually has a natural affinity or aptitude for any of them). If they manage to grow up and find their footing in this planet despite all this nonsense, their natural attraction to the opposite sex will be opposed vehemently by the so called elders, citing social and economical status. And if and when they’re finally married and start their own family and mind their own business, the whole vicious cycle starts repeating itself for the next generation.

Galaxy_AndromedaWe don’t fare any better when it comes to stepping beyond ourselves as individuals and looking at how we are in the larger context of society or nation or planet or universe (merely imagining our existence at that magnitude will result in the Zen moment of realizing our insignificance in Nature’s scale and scheme). We compete, compare, consume, loot, rape, kill, dump waste, wage war, insult, grow jealous, get angry, curse, scream, cry, wallow in sorrow, complain, point fingers, fail to accept failure, crave for more, celebrate success than contribution, ignore wisdom while trying to acquire knowledge, don’t care or share, pity ourselves rather than believing in the self and live forever in darkness while light is just a window or doorway away and not at the end of the tunnel as it always presumed to be. All it takes is lifting the veil of the ignorance curtain to let the light of Life in, but since we’ve been taught ‘Ignorance is Bliss’, how would we even strive to know what true bliss is! Unfortunately, we never really understood the true meaning of simple but profound quotes such as ‘Old is Gold’! In reality, Gray hair doesn’t necessarily assure wisdom, for our choice is always to react and not re-act in Life!

Crying_GirlOur biggest – and probably only – problem is that, despite having mountains of literature and mines full of scriptures that tell us in black and white about Life the way it is, we won’t listen! We are so focused on winning at all costs by driving our Life on the fast lane in the expressway to excellence that we’ve totally forgotten that Life on the slow lane is far more joyful, and can also help us realize that the Journey is the Destination and Joy Drops from exhilaration are far more valuable than tear drops from exhaustion. Our skulls are so thick and ego so swollen that we won’t spend even a single quiet moment to comprehend what many a Yogi, Guru, Mystic, Spiritual Master and Philosopher have tried telling us about Life, from time immemorial. They keep trying till this moment however, but we keep following them blindly without really listening to their message!

Human neither understands FINE isn’t Fine, nor knows that when Life recycles Time, the Present becomes the Past in the Future! And No, we can’t go on like this forever and still expect to evolve further. I realized the folly just in time before joining the ranks of the Forty+ fools and chose to communicate about the most precious four letter word – Life, the way it is – as often as I can, to open wide as many eyes I could, to the possibility Life offers to all, without any discrimination or disproportion. And my Master’s grace is the guiding light in this second – hopefully better – half of my Life journey, in which I write, therefore I am.

Puppy_PotpourriOur survival in the long run is so bleak that I would say we’ve about an 80-20 chance – Eighty for self-destruction and Twenty for self-realization! Wish you will listen and change for the better now, before it is too late. If we steadfastly refuse to change our ways even now – despite harsh reminders from nature in the form of a tantalizing Tsunami or rapidly melting Polar ice or even an uncontrollable Contagion – the difference of 11 and 12 won’t be 13, but zero. Even the cup-is-eternally-half-full compulsive optimist in me wouldn’t give us a chance of Fifty 50!

Love + Gratitude = @PrakashSwamy

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer!

X Cheers to Vitamin F!

3 Dec

Multiple unrelated (yet closely linked) events happened during this busy week and each could potentially result in a blog post. But I chose not to overwhelm you with 7 blogs about those 7 days (not because it might sound too much like that good ol’ dramedy Andha Yezhu Naatkal அந்த ஏழு நாட்கள்) and write about just one instead!

Cheering4Every year the various organization teams (projects and support functions) get an opportunity to go for an outing at the company expense. Though we weren’t sure about that this year (it’s obviously the economy, silly), as soon as we knew we can, we didn’t waste any time in finding a place and cobbling together a plan within a couple of weeks.

Taking hundreds of team members to a place for a day and making sure they have fun is one helluva task that no manager fancies. But just as most managers don’t have a choice when it comes to handpicking a team (same holds good for most team members in terms of picking a project or manager of their choice), it’s a job that has to be done and doesn’t offer much of a choice. Time then to summon the most enterprising souls in the team (No We Can’t do it ourselves, however hard we try), who’re always up to the task of organizing (whether they’re organized or not).

Cheering1A bunch of enthusiasts went around and managed to find a fairly new place (along the Expressway to Excellence, err.. East Coast Road), that’s the farthest we’ve gone for team outings so far. Transportation and other logistics were planned and done swiftly (you may ignore the crushing sound arising from grinding of teeth by the organizing committee members, unless you were one of them) and everyone started (or at least pretended to) looking forward to D-Day (‘all’ isn’t necessarily a synonym for ‘everyone’ in this case).

The events in such outing resemble an endless beginning as they don’t begin with the end in mind (remnants of a recent 7 habits workshop) and typically go on like this…

  • Screaming7Wake up early (despite it being the weekend, when usually your parent or spouse are averse to disturbing the Kumbakarnan hidden deep within – children don’t give a damn, of course) and get ready.
  • Board a vehicle (bus if you’re lazy to drive or a friend’s car if they committed the cardinal mistake of announcing that they’re going to drive to the venue).
  • Cheering2Reach the venue (you may get a free tour of roughly 10-20 kms past the venue when the bus or car zips past the venue, which usually has a 80% chance, especially if there are highly enthusiastic souls on board who firmly believe the journey is the destination and keep you and the driver continuously distracted).
  • Sheepishly enter the hall or place for get together (not wanting to be caught being late, but realizing soon that you’re indeed one of the first to arrive)
  • Have a welcome drink (which usually is a watered down version of some juice that neither quenches your thirst nor supplies sufficient energy to survive the first hour) or breakfast (irrespective of whether you’ve already broken fast before starting or not).
  • Start the ‘hi’, ‘hello’ small talk routine (which will continue till end of the day, thereby ending up as one long talk).
  • Cheering3Gawk incredibly at the variety of costumes (ranging from same-old-same-old to nice and easy to trying-hard-to-look-a-decade-younger to downright bizarre) and those wearing them (invariably wondering ‘man… how the heck did I work with or manage these nut cases all these days’).
  • Screaming4Join the line or group to play, which is always a mix of routines including but not limited to screaming at the top of your voice (though no one’s going to hear what you say in the ensuing commotion), running around (varying from jogging to sprint to speed walking, irrespective of your sports cred), holding hands (either someone else’s or one’s own, usually the latter), discovering totally new ways to use balls and balloons (that’s got nothing to do with playing with either), laughing your heads off at everything anyone does (without realizing they do the same while looking at you) and doing all kinds of crazy things that you dare not do on any other day (in front of any other person).
  • Eat or drink at regular intervals (which happens at random) irrespective of whether you’re hungry or not.
  • Puppy_PotpourriTry to please the boss by getting him a drink or soup or helping her jump the queue for lunch (the fact that most such outings happen around the annual appraisal time does have a telling effect).
  • Dance like there’s no tomorrow (irrespective of the fact that the only step you know resembles flying a kite while stamping on a spider repeatedly) and
  • Run out of gas long before winding up for the day (it’s back to work the next morning)!

Screaming6There’ll also be characters that just sit around in groups as if it’s just another day in paradise and keep on yakking about everything in the universe (except the outing itself) all day long or stand in a corner clapping their hands (cheering ‘em up eh) or keep walking in and out of the venue (you might actually end up concluding they’re the organizers looking at how busy they’re) or just vanish after the breaks!

Screaming5But this post isn’t about those who just exist in such outings but live them up instead. The following traits will help identify the souls whose sole business of belief is truly, madly, deeply having fun.

  • Trying to be an Ikeator assembling teams, organizing games or helping the event management team voluntarily
  • Explaining the details of each game and plotting the winning strategy, not just to their group
  • Dragging the ‘OMG, what am I doing here’ type participants into games (and making them feel like Toys R Us)
  • Screaming2Cheering every game or performance with relentless screaming and clapping
  • Offering their service without being asked from serving food to setting up the PA system to pulling everyone back after the breaks
  • Dancing or running around like crazy (never letting others enjoy their life on the slow lane)
  • Seizing the moment without bothering about the bosses or their position in the hierarchy
  • Ratcheting the energy of their group tirelessly, irrespective of the time of the day
  • Ensuring everyone enjoys the event, irrespective of whether they seem interested or not
  • Staying back to complete the settlement and cleaning up, if required, at the end of the day

Cheering5The objective of such a gathering is to leave lasting memories of getting together with the known and unknown. These souls are the live wire of any such gathering who make such outings memorable and cherished till next year.

Team outings are all about day long nonstop fun (unfortunately there’s no skill pill to boost your FQ). These blokes supply the much needed oxygen that keeps the group alive and kicking, all day long.

Without them it’ll just be a day out with the team. But with them it’s the best day of the year with the same team. Just watching them will make us feel guilty about the absurdity of our existence in the outing!

Milo1bTeam outings are fantastic free opportunities to sweep aside our titles and shed those jumbo sized egos to be joyful and have fun, together. The next time you choose to be a part of such an outing (irrespective of whether you were this time or not) but don’t know how to live it up, find the ones who joyfully do one or more of the above. And join them (without performing a 5-Why analysis of how they’re so joyful)!

Child-creativeOur world will be a dreary place without such joyful souls, who not only know how to have fun but also supply a healthy dose of Vitamin F(un) to ensure everyone else has fun too. The least we can do in return is to cheer such souls who keep our world a joyful place. And Joy begets Joy. So join me and scream loudly “X Cheers to Vitamin F!

 

Love + Gratitude = @PrakashSwamy

Be Joyful & spread the cheer!

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