World Domination Summit 2014

I have

- no expectations but

- a lot of faith that this is going to be a great experience and mind-blowingly fun.

I have never been

- to Portland and everybody says it’s one of their favorite places

- left with so many strangers for 2 days in one place and

- in the middle of so many interesting, accomplished and creative people either.

It’s a first in more ways than one. Portland, here I come!

http://worlddominationsummit.com/~pichigh

 

The art of decision making

She was leaving, after 7 years. But I had been hanging out, travelling, chatting and laughing with her for barely a few months. We met every evening we could, we shared as many meals as we could enjoy together and last night, we even had a gala send-off party with friends. So, when I gave her a goodbye hug last night, I thought that was the last time I was going to see her in this country.

She was living alone, working her life out and trying hard to make sense of her existence. She had no true companions around, until we showed up. Our friendship grew and I understood the void she was sweating out to fill. Her struggle reminded me of my days of exile; it was painful but I had survived barely 2 years, she did much better. As she was packing up the last few weeks, it was draining for me to even think about it. When I was decamping from Australia with no one to say a heartfelt goodbye to and nothing really to come back to – I thought there was no one living a worse life than I did. The task itself wasn’t tough but the emptiness was filled with ghosts of stress. Due to this, unknown to her, I was vicariously feeling her tiredness of doing things on your own. And whenever I could, I gave her company and hopefully took some load off.

Exactly at the time she was leaving today, I had a class to attend. It’s a weekly class that offers me some much needed practice but it is not a session that I look forward to with a great sense of joy.

When I woke up today morning, there was a conference of voices in my head.

“But what about the French class?”

“Well, I do need to attend it.”

“Then shouldn’t you? You’ll lose your weekly sessions and would have to wait another week!”

“Yes I would. But do I enjoy the class?”

“No, you don’t. You still need to study right? Besides, how many times do you need to bid goodbye to her?”

“I did meet her last night but she is packing up alone. What would she be feeling?”

“She will deal with it. You don’t have to overdo it.”

“She might need help and she won’t say it. She never does.”

“I know attending the class is good for me, but if I be with her today, it will make me feel good!”

As the argument reached a conclusion, I realized that it’s one of the unsaid ways of decision making that I follow in times like these. So, when it’s about prioritizing between ‘what makes me feel good’ and ‘what’s good for me’, I’ll always go for the feelgood factor.

Let’s make babies

“When I’m gone, I want to leave behind something other than my children.”

This is one of the many beautiful words of wisdom that my partner keeps showering on me.

I find many people wishing the same in their lives, but by the time they are 40/50 years of age, they would have forgotten all about their life-vision that once used to burn bright in them. And this particular memory loss happens especially with women in Asian countries. Even in the current generation, despite our education, awareness and global connectivity, many women tend to lose the purpose of their lives. In fact, they forget when they got distracted and forgot all about even finding a purpose.

I find that one of the greatest reasons for this is bringing up a child. I am not a mother yet but I wonder a lot about – when and how many children I’m going to bring up. Every time I’m in that mode, I try to go deep into the passive understanding of what being a parent is. I collate observation of my own parents and life-stories of my friends.

Asian societies – especially India, tend to measure success & failure according to the conventional life chart. So, when we are in our prime and discovering all the amazing things in the world and in our personalities, we are frequently bothered with questions like :

‘Do you have a job yet?’

‘When are you getting married?’

‘Are you doing any future planning?’ (meaning kids)

Even the best of us sometimes are unable to ignore the pressure of the society and succumb to it. Of course, the answers to these questions could be quite rewarding too. However, coming back to the agenda of this post, when we decide to have children, life seems to take a 180 degree turn and we see a new horizon in front of us.

Nurturing a child is our first experience with being absolutely selfless. Caring for a growing life while ignoring our own wishes, wants and needs is an extraordinary experience. But when we encounter that feeling for the first time with an offspring, we unknowingly give up on our goal to witness selflessness outside of it.

Let’s forget procreation for a second and just think of creation.

“That product is my baby!”

“That painting is my baby!”

“That idea is my baby!”

Many of us never get to say this and this is the opportunity all of us must have – To be able to deliver a baby that’s not a human offspring. We can still leave behind our children for humanity. But our child could be our hard work, our idea or our masterpiece.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t procreate when we want but we must not forget that we can make non-human siblings for our children to play with.

Let’s inspire the future by building it in whatever way we can!

One More Year Here, To Be

A decade has passed since I started on my own path; well, out of my parents’ shelter really. Last week, I turned another year older and this write-up, let me warn you, is an indulgence in retrospection. So, be ready for a lot of words loaded with self-obsession.

When I think about it, I can divide the past 10 years into chunks of my various identities.

The Pride

Image

 

A high achiever, the first 1.5 years of being on my own were filled with a hangover of my bloated ego, arrogance and a habit of winning ‘everything’. Let me emphasize; I had to win everything – an argument, friends, status and my colleagues’ trust. In that vision of a successful life, I failed to win a heart. More accurately, I failed to keep the heart beating. Yes, the first heart-break changed everything about me.

 

 

The So Cold Freedom

ImageUnable to accept the loss and filled with a self-induced anger, I crawled for over 3 years to regain my state of mind. I came across this philosophy of ‘Actual Freedom’ and as it suggested, I decided to follow my ‘thoughts’ and not ‘feelings’. Oh boy, did I follow it. My hardened opinions, beliefs and expressions were kept locked and I trained myself to move with my thinking. I worked for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and it looked easy! Except that it wasn’t. The inexplicable emotional bubbles would burst at night, to the extent of experiencing lucid dreams. And yes, I had to consult several psychiatrists, psychologists and had to share a lot with my sister to prevent a nervous breakdown. I had turned cold but I was struggling to live in the frozen state.

 

The Explosion

ImageA career-shift course that lasted for 18 months is the greatest breakthrough I have ever had till now. It wasn’t what I was studying but what I learnt during that period. The bottle of emotional energy that was overfilled and was tightly capped, finally exploded. In the most painful phase, I started seeing the truth of who I was. I wasn’t my thoughts I realised. I was who I felt, what I felt and how I felt like. My thoughts were guided by my feelings. In the survival game that I played in a foreign country, I was evidently winning but was miserably failing to live; live up. I was breathing but the oxygen was going nowhere. I had to let go of a lot of my rusted image; give up a lot of prejudices; drain out a lot of remorse and accept that to thrive in love, I had to create it first.

 

The Reinvention

ImageThe period between 2008 & 2012 was the golden era. The colors of emotions were finally being used to paint stories. I wrote ads but I used my energy efficiently. It wasn’t just the work but the people I could talk to, relate to and lend an ear to. I was interested, excited and part of everything around me. Everything I looked at, I had to love. I invested my energies and time in growing with everyone around me. And as I grew everyday, I saw myself. I had managed to create the person I wanted to live with everyday. I had, at last, discovered self-love.

 

 

The Love

ImageThis chunk was sort of mixed with my reinvention. I found an extension of myself in my now life-partner. Furthermore, I understood that the learning from all the failed relationships was immaterial in the face of self-discovery. I connected with my partner without any effort and without a doubt. I could only shower love and bask in it when it shined on me. I also realised that even though it’s difficult to live with someone, it could seem like child’s play if you truly devote yourself to the labor of love. No sacrifices and no compromises – at least you don’t see them that way.

 

 

The Bridge

Image Last year, I unexpectedly walked onto a bridge that I am still walking on. I had to walk into a find-your-own-engagement phase too early than I was ready for. I must say I haven’t done too bad. However, it’s been a challenge. I learnt new things, worked on interesting projects and moved continents. l also saw my partner in a new avatar of discomfort, pain and a lot of complaints.

After a short vacation, things are back to being happy. I wonder however if the future is what I make of it or what it holds for me.

 

The Blur

ImageWhen everyday is a plan, it’s also a no-plan. I have no schedule and no routine that I ‘must’ follow. I am working on creating it though.

And this is the greatest challenge that has surfaced in my life. I no longer have the freedom to do everything that kept me fulfilled. I can(rather have to) choose to be happy with the things I can do. So, community service it is along with some creative life design – for as long as the clutches last or when I make them dissolve with my arrogance TO BE.

Why do women carry bags?

It’s one of the many “Why do women…” questions that we come across quite frequently in our lives. The usual answers are quite logical, such as “they have to carry so many things..”. However, the last time I answered something like this, I was struck with this realization that people’s lifestyle items are not add-ons but are an indication of thoughtlessness.

Women’s clothing, accessories and everything from what they need to what they want are all designed around how they must look. “Well, men care about looks too?!” Yes but their comfort & convenience comes first.

Women – form over function

Men – function over form

Maybe I jumped the gun.

History proves that women were confined to home spaces & spent most of their time decorating it. The time they socialised, they had to showcase how well they took care of themselves. And this was inferred from how good they looked. Tight corsets that they must fit in and wide dresses that extended to a space for two. No questions asked, it made them look good. Or so the patriarchal society wanted. Smaller steps, slower walk and a restrained existence – it all appealed to the society. And thus emerged the definition of a “Good Looking Woman”.

Times changed. Women were no longer sitting, knitting or just watering plants. They were doing what matched their intellect, abilities and interests. Naturally they had to move around more. They started wearing trousers, shorts and whatever made their movement more convenient. However, if we looked closely at the design of these clothes and wearable items, they are all created keeping in mind a historical outlook.

Why are woman’s jeans so tight that the pockets are useless? Why are stilettos around when heels were invented for men to ride horses? Why are skirts designed to hug the lower part of a female body?

I know that many women want to draw their perfect figures since that makes them look attractive. But how many of them really think about what defines this attraction quotient? Impressions between men & women are perceived and yes, we can’t deny certain conditions that we’ve grown up with. However, if we don’t set out to redefine our outlook by putting our practical needs first, we will not move towards a more evolved society.

The most comfortable clothes I have, were bought for Mt. Kilimanjaro expedition. I can carry money, cellphone, paper and a lot many things in those trousers & jackets and still feel comfortable walking. However, if I can’t find a party-wear that can take some of the basic things that I need, I will end up carrying a bag to keep my items safe.

Last week, I was in Amsterdam walking for days in my flat-bellies. I had the most unbearable foot pain since the shoes didn’t provide enough padding. I was again stuck with the same disappointment. I wore my sport-shoes with my skirt, dress and everything else for the rest of the trip.

Brands come up with walking shoes for women, partying shoes, sports shoes and boots while men mostly have shoes (except the sports part). Why can’t we throw away the perfect woman image?

I really want to be able to buy what I need and not be enticed by what’s cool. I would like to be able to choose something fancy when I feel like instead of being presented with stylish clothes all the time. Yes, nobody is stopping me from doing that but my rant is aimed at those who question why I am the way I am. Because they refuse to see different.

A woman is different from man but her image need not be beautiful by her figure, the smile, the eyes and her perfume. She could be what she wants and not what she ‘should want’.

Seriously, how about some functional fashion here? 

 

 

 

 

 

How YouTube taught me how to swim

6 years ago, I had joined swimming lessons in Brisbane, Australia where I was paying & learning per class. After a couple of classes, I could float and also learnt the leg movement for freestyle swimming. But even after 10 sessions, I was unable to learn the breathing technique. That was the end of my first real attempt at learning how to swim.

Last year (2013), I joined another monthly group class in Bangalore. The teacher turned out to be as strict as Adolph Hitler but sleazy like no 56-year old. Yes, the second class was a disappointing revelation of the wrong kind of teacher to learn anything from. I & my cousin went out looking for another place to learn. I was getting desperate as I knew I enjoyed the water but had a deep desire to cruise through it like it was home. I found a pool guard who offered to train me. Just watching him swim was so calming and inspiring at the same time. My aspiration found a definition. Alas, I couldn’t keep up with the schedule or the discipline to follow through the course.

This year I moved to San Francisco and from the balcony of my 8th floor flat, I could see the beautiful landscape pool that stood in the centre of the concrete jungle. I had lots of free time and a pool calling out. I decided to jump and figure out how to swim. However, I did something different. One of my friends had learnt to swim by watching YouTube videos. I decided to give it a try.

Week 1 & Week 2 – Fix freestyle swimming

I was able to get the hand movement right, my breathing position became comfortable and I developed a standard speed of movement. Most of all, I was able to do 10 laps, each lap of 100 feet by the end of Week 2. I had developed a course, count and goal for every swimming lesson.

The two videos that helped me were :

How to pull under water

How to swim faster

I continued to practice these till I got better. But then it was time for the next lesson.

Week 4 & Week 5 : Breaststroke

I like the way butterfly stroke or breaststroke looks when people swim. Naturally I wanted to learn it. However, my last attempt ended in me giving up, since I couldn’t bring my head out of the water the right way. It’s after I checked my video lessons that I realized I was doing it all wrong. I noted the sequence of hand and leg movement, and tried it through the width of the pool in 4 feet water. A few sessions went in just getting the style right. Few days later, I started my laps with breaststroke and continued in freestyle for the deeper end. It’s amazing how gradually I could increase the distance for breaststrokes and one day, I was cheering for myself because I completed an entire lap moving like a butterfly in water.

That was the day I truly wanted to acknowledge how immensely useful YouTube swimming videos are.

Simply Swim – Perfect Breastroke

Speedo (Slightly more instructional)

And here I am, swimming through a pool in my friend’s apartment (I didn’t do my sessions here).

Of course, having a swimming pool in your apartment area is a big advantage and that accelerated my learning as well.

I hope to be able to dive into a pool someday soon.

 

 

Possessions

The word can be a noun, a verb, an experience or an after-effect. Shuhei Morita’s animated short film is all of it, and more. The film’s introduction is with a Japanese belief that “in 100 years, objects will acquire souls and trick people”. One can quite easily guess what the film is all about. But wait, your guess is as good as mine. The colorful, spooky, cheeky and cute skit is full of surprises and it intrigues you in a way that you would be left craving for more.

It’s really too short for a creative masterpiece.

Possessions

Artwork on the characters is larger than life yet very life-like. Every stroke of an illustration seems to hold value. The graphic design also renders a culturally centric yet globally appealing personality to everything. The film is animated in Manga style mixed with occasional film noir. At the top of the treat is the visual depth, as a new visual layer unfolds with every narrative twist. It’s like a flip book, except the pages are transparent.

The original language of the film is Japanese but nothing seems to be lost in translation as the English subtitles seem to befit the storyline very well. The plot is in-tune with the fast yet deep changes that are redefining world societies. Ironically the story is crafted and narrated in a very childlike way. So, a 5-year old may not get the final message but will nevertheless be spellbound with the elaborate, evocative art. And a 50-year-old may not relate to the voice of the characters but will definitely connect with their spirits.

The only disappointment, which probably is intentional, is that after trapping you with its magical show, it suddenly ends. It’s like you were really enjoying the meal when it got over and you smirk at your own expectation of it being everlasting. At that moment, if you were truly enjoying the film, you would be subconsciously widening your eyes as if that would help you see more; know more; feel more. You would realise that the film has indeed, in its own special way, possessed you.