Posts tagged meaningful life

Travel Tales from the Tragic Cambodia – Reflecting Upon the Ruthless Destruction of Life in the World

I was climbing the stairs of a high school in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. No, I did not intend to repeat high school to recognize the petals and sepals of a flower better. The school wasn’t ordinary. The faces of the men and women that had been tortured and killed in its classrooms stared at us from behind the glass frames hung on the bloodstained walls. The rusted iron bars, withering waterboards, and used bloody clothes kept in those classrooms narrated a gruesome story of the ruthless Cambodian massacre, that happened not so long ago. The metal shackles with which people were tied to the waterboards and to the iron bars were still chained to them; I assume those metal chains couldn’t be used for anything else now.

Unwillingly, I vividly imagined the bodies possessing those faces and donning those gory clothes tied to the iron rods with the cold shackles. A guard came throughout the day to beat them and torture them with electric shocks as the helpless stifled on the floor. Or to cut them with knives and suffocate them with plastic bags. Blood oozed out of the wounds of the tortured but medicine was out of the question. Four small spoonfuls of rice porridge and watery soup of leaves were given to them twice a day.

My skin crawled. I shivered in the scorching month of June.

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A One–Day Road Trip From Bangalore to Panchapalli Dam and Bettamugilalam Village

One needs to control his or her mind to do anything in this world. Even the most enlightened of us all, Plato, Seneca, Marcus, Aristotle, Buddha, Socrates, valued this virtue. I do not possess this quality, yet, and hence couldn’t sleep the Saturday night before the Sunday drive. At 4 am, when I disabled the alarm and dragged myself out of bed, I felt as if a hundred pins pierced my eyes. 

Determined to hit the road, we packed our country-egg-omelet and Amul-butter-pasted sandwiches, that I had already prepared the night before, in tiffin boxes and then in a backpack, along with bananas, water bottles, and Unibic protein bars. We wanted to hike the world. Soon, we sped on the road in search of a green and sunlight-lit golden Sunday in some distant hills or next to a lake or a dam, may be accompanied by an elephant or two. 

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Indian Marriage Conundrum – How I Hold My Ground as an Unmarried 30–Year–Old Woman.

My mother called me thrice at 8 in the night. Editing an article, I thought something had happened and picked up the third call. And then after some small talk about my writing and if I was ever going to take up a job, she said she wanted to talk about something.

As a thirty-year-old unmarried woman in India, I recognize this something, like dogs can sense tsunamis, for at least five years now. This something — without any exception — is marriage.

To humor her, I asked what did she want to talk about. She said she always worried about me and often cried because she cannot do anything else. That she didn’t know what my life plans were. That nothing made sense. That I must have been lonely. Didn’t I like having a family? Was there anybody? That why couldn’t we — mother and daughter —share everything with each other.

These sentences stumbled out of her mouth as she choked.

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Cracking The Art of Learning with Josh Waitzkin – Let’s Learn from the Best

 

The right learning could make you or break you — and the one who understands that stands above all.

Josh Waitzkin — a child prodigy, an international chess master, and a Tai Chi Push Hands world champion wrote a book called The Art of Learning. In this book, he penned down his inner and outer journey to success while listing the various techniques he applied to master chess and martial arts.

I picked up his book — not to learn from a chess master or a martial arts champion — but to learn from someone who has cracked the art of learning.

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What Travel Has Taught Me – About the World and Myself

This is not one of those articles where I suggest you leave everything and travel and quote Robert Frost that the road less traveled is the one I took.

Why do so many people change their careers and lifestyles to travel? Sometimes even indefinitely?

Do they travel to see new places and eat different food? Or to fill their passports with stamps? Or to be able to say at their deathbed that they have seen the world?

Could be. But it is more than that.

Let me take you through what travel has taught me.

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My First International Solo Trip to Thailand – Mistakes I Made

Thailand was my first solo trip.

I pre-landed in Bangkok at 5 AM. In the on-arrival visa line, a friendly attendant helped me skip the line and processed my visa faster. The airport was far out of the city and having decided that I would take public transport, I climbed into an about-to-crumble bus to go into the city.   

In the three-hour-long bus ride, as long as the flight from Bengaluru to Bangkok, a lady passenger helped to hold my bag and told me that I was beautiful as I managed to not-faint in the crowded aisle. The bus crawled a kilometer in almost an hour. Due to my skepticism of being able to explain the situation to the angry and rude lady ticket collector and the bus driver, I didn’t leave the bus to hop into a taxi. She kept buying weird-looking dumplings for him from the street while I craved and my stomach growled. 

The bus ride wasn’t enough torture that I had to climb four levels of steep, dingy stairs with my suitcase to reach my just-enough, single, air-conditioned room.

Tired, hungry, and lonely, I went down for food and ate a mediocre Pad Thai. Having grabbed a few cold water bottles from the fridge downstairs, I climbed back up again. Sudden rudeness and a hint of racism coupled with sleep deprivation and loneliness made me sleep for almost 5 hours.

It wasn’t just that.

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Why is the Process of Learning More Important Than the Result

 

When we wake up, how many of us think of what we want to do today? Almost all of us.

How many of us think of improving at what we do? Not many.

The presentation should be ready at 2. The code should get deployed. Author’s biography should come under every article. Let’s put in a hack. Grammarly shows that this pronoun doesn’t make any sense in the sentence. I don’t understand why but let’s get rid of it. Spaghetti over boiled again. But at least we have dinner.

As Josh Waitzkin, the chess and Tai Chi Push hands world champion, said in his book The Art of Learning, “We focus so much on the outcome that the intrinsic details of the learning process are lost on us.”

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Friedrich Nietzsche: How to Choose Between Ambition and Happiness?

After an hour or two of the daily evening walk, I tell myself that I should go back home and read. But sometimes, I want to keep walking with my friend. I want to sleep at 4 am after Netflixing zombie movies back to back. I want to wake up late and then write and let the day design its schedule.

But during those zombie movies, I keep looking at the watch. The MacBook throws the low-battery warning, but I don’t plug in the charger as I want the computer to sleep its natural course. And then we can sleep too. But then we stay awake some more and talk about our lives.

As every hour passes by, I realize that my waking up time is getting shifted by one hour and that I had to sleep early and start the next day with a fresh run in the morning. But I continue the conversation as that was what I wanted to do at that moment.

And the next day, when I start writing at 11, I brood over the valuable time that I lost by getting up late.

Also Read: How to Make a Schedule – To Live and Work Better

 

Why can’t we do what we want to do when we want to do?

Why do we think about the future  —  the most uncertain and unpredictable   and not about now?

What do we want out of life?

Why do we wait for Sundays for lunch with our family? 

Why do we make a house and live in it and go to the office and come back to do the same all over again?

 How do we choose between ambition and happiness?

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15 Things We Care Too Much About

In today’s noisy world, choosing what to care about is essential.

Our brain neurons still keep sending messages even when we want to stop thinking. Sometimes, we cannot control our thoughts.

We hang out with our friends on a Wednesday evening or a Saturday night. We listen to music or Netflix and drink — to take our mind off things we do not want to think about, anymore.

Imagine — if we could be in that chill phase all the time. If we could block the redundant noise.

We think about two kinds of things:

  1. The ones that are important
  2. And the ones that are not

Unimportant things cloud our mind like the winter fog. Except that they never clear out even when the sun shines out our window.

Let us look at some of the fog that can be lifted.

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Why Starting Over is the Answer Sometimes and How to Do it?

I went to Chile in July 2016, and going to South America was the best decision of my life. That vibrant continent added an additional layer to my personality. It was like discovering rosemary suddenly.

I learned so much in those nine months that I would not have in many years in my home country India.

I started speaking a new language — Spanish, made friends from all over the world, taught English, lived with complete strangers from different continents, ended up loving them, experienced the Latin American culture closely, traveled to places that I had no idea existed, and met people who continue to love me.

The Spanish accent in Orange is the New Black was the initial pull but there is a difference between the fictional world and the real one. In fiction, everything looks glamorous. In reality, it is not.

Except that it was.

South America gave me a new energy and a new outlook.

I did not know all of this when I left. Then why did I leave?

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What is the Meaning of Life

 

Why do we need a purposeful, meaningful life?

We are born, play around, attend school and college, get a job, set up a  family, and then die. Each one of us — hopefully — adds something to the world; we evolve, the human race becomes smarter, and this repeats.

In the end, we do not get out alive, then why does everything — a broken relationship, a layoff, a fight at work, a stomach ache, a smartwatch — matter so much? What is all of this adding up to? Evolution?

All of this is adding up to these moments that the life is collectively composed of.

Why is it important to have a meaning in our life? So that all these moments together sing a melodious song and not blare out a cacophonous cry.

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