Barfi & the Pursuit of Happiness!

[Image courtesy: UTV Motion Pictures]

‘Barfi’ is a marvelous character created by Anurag Basu, which India would remember for a very long time. The movie was a grand success winning many laurels! But it is from the character of the protagonist that we can learn much about life!

A penniless, mute & deaf Barfi delights everyone with a disarming smile and mischievous tricks! He finds love and happiness in a socially awkward Autistic girl. The two live a seemingly perfect life inspite of all their individual imperfections and die together peacefully in bed deep into their old age!
God has given us much! Yet we complain all the time! Picking faults in all around! Impatient, Restless and unhappy all the time! Marriage, in our society, has become an act which needs to be carefully orchestrated to achieve lasting happiness!

There are vociferous voices on the issue of marriage. Some say “The castes and the sub-castes need to match else the ‘alliance’ is doomed”! Others say “ A particular groom is more appropriate as he is ‘foreign returned’ and gets the right pay check”. One person rejected a prospective bride because “She is two inches taller.She won’t look nice next to my son”. How more frivolous can we get !I think you get the drift!

These voices can be any one of us! We ‘modern’ people need to learn much from this wonderful character of ‘Barfi’ who in his innocent little ways teaches us much about life, and about our incessant ‘Pursuit of Happiness’.

The Power of Knowledge

This image appeared in The Economic Times Advertisement several years back. It is indeed an amazing visual which very successfully captures the essence of ‘The Power of Knowledge’.

In this Ad, the cat is aware of the leash of this ferocious dog and is able to sit gracefully in a state of perfect calmness and poise.

We also see this idea in action in today’s knowledge centric economy, where people with a complete and all-round knowledge of a product or a service, are able to tackle the most difficult problems with an effortless ease.

So does this image not reflect the epitome of the pursuit of ‘knowledge and excellence’ in life?

Does this image also not depict a philosopher in a state of infinite bliss who can face the most challenging situations with a disarming smile?

We as individuals, who get upset over so many issues in our daily life, can we not look at this visual and get inspired?

So does this image not embody a higher ideal which we can all aspire for in life?

Dhrupad-A chance discovery

I have been, over the years, more of a books and movies collector. It was recently that I ventured into building a music collection as well! It was on one such ‘collection building’ trips that I found myself in Planet M outlet in Select City Walk (South Delhi).

On this particular visit I was looking for Spiritual and Hindustani Classical records. Perhaps it was the eagerness with which I was searching Music records or perhaps it was the basketful of records that I was carrying, the salesman came over to me with a particular record and suggested that I consider buying it as well. The record was, Krishna Rasamrit (Ashtachap Sangeet) by Gundecha Brothers.

He said ‘This is a record which generally collectors of spiritual music buy. Others just look at it and put it down. They do not know what it is and do not appreciate it. It’s brilliant!’. I took a leap of faith and bought the record. This is how I got introduced to ‘Dhrupad Sangeet’.

After listening to this record a number of times, I agree whole heartedly that it was an excellent buy. Not only was it an entirely different style of music from what I generally hear but was very soothing and refreshing to hear. It is a rich form of Indian spiritual tradition.

‘Ashta Chaap Sangeet’ or ‘Haveli Sangeet’ is a 500 year old tradition based on ‘Dhrupad Gayaki’ and is one of the most prominent aspects of Krishna Bhakti.

Gundecha Brothers’, Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha, are among the most active performers of ‘Dhrupad’ in National and International Circuit. They run the Dhrupad Institute (Gurukul) in Bhopal which aspires to promote and preserve the rich heritage of Indian Classical form Dhrupad through the ‘Guru Shishya Parampara’.

The point is, there is an undue eagerness in today’s ‘modern’ youth to get overly influenced by foreign cultures. No doubt these cultures have progressed in art and sciences and other fields and have a lot to offer to the world! Agreed, that we need to learn from them esp. in the areas of science and technology. But the question is how much do we know and appreciate our own rich cultural heritage? Do we even make an attempt to find out!

Gambhir vs Alonso

This Sunday Delhi hosted its first Grand Prix. It was the first Formula 1 experience for a lot of cricket fans in this Cricket Crazy country. That includes me as well! It was an interesting exposure though I had a tough time understanding a lot of rules and technicalities. Hearing about the huge attendance at the venue and the immense excitement among people, one can safely say it was a great start for Formula 1 racing in India.

But what amazes me is this particular news item that compares the salary of Fernando Alonso with that of Gautam Gambhir, currently the most expensive player in IPL. Alonso apparently earns a royal sum of 203 Crore for approx. 60 days of labor while Gambhir earns a meager sum of 11 crores for some 100+ days of drudgery!

What does this particular news expected to do? Should the cricket fans switch loyalties to Formula 1 because it is financially more efficient (Crores per day of manual labor) for its prominent stars? Formula 1 is a wonderful sport and there is no reason to doubt that it would become more popular in India after Delhi playing host to a race. But should its popularity rise because it pays more?

Am sure Fernando Alonso is a great sports person! After a watching a few more races and improving my understanding of the sport I may become his fan, and so would a lot of other Indians! But is it not demeaning to compare the salary of a cricketer with another sportsperson?

Cricket is so popular in India because the common man is able to identify himself with the sport and its stars! How many times have we laughed and cried with the ever changing fortunes of the Indian cricket team! Many cricketers in the team symbolize the ‘rags to riches’ story which gives hope to so many Indians who have difficulty in affording two square meals a day. It is mixture of hope and identification with the stars that has led to the phenomenal success of the IPL.

This salary comparison is not in great taste. It is understood that the marketers of Formula 1 in India want to attract ‘eyeballs’. But, perhaps it would have been better to highlight more prominently that Sachin Tendulkar was waving the chequered flag! That should have been enough.

Gurbaksh Chahal: Spirit of Entrepreneurship

I did not know about Gurbaksh Chahal till about a few days back. It was on Linkedin Headlines that I stumbled upon an article on him. I liked what I read about him and wanted to know more. I ordered a copy of ‘The Dream’, read it, and now I am fascinated by him.

A Sikh in the Bay Area, belonging to a family who was having a hard time to make ends meet, is having adjustment problems at the local school, how does he respond? He quietly starts a company dealing with online advertising from him bedroom, accumulates a 100 Grand in his account then discloses to his dad that he wants to drop out from high school to work full time on his venture. The father quite understandably throws a fit thinking that his son is going to jail! But then comes around, goes and tells the headmaster that his son has better things to do. And he did, he sold his first company, ClickAgents, at the age of 18; Sold his second company, BlueLithium, to Yahoo! for another vulgar sum.

The guy is not even 30! He is not a whiz who spouts code! He did not go to the right college! Rather, didn’t go to college at all! But his companies have had a significant influence on online advertising!

He, to me, epitomizes the spirit of Entrepreneurship! And offers hope to countless many ‘ordinary souls’ of the heights one can reach if one sets his mind to achieving them.

Running, Weight Loss and Matrimony!

Yes, I weigh a few extra kilos. Yes I am still single. Yes, I run. When people come to know that I run, and run regularly, the conclusion that is most frequently reached is that I am trying very hard to shed the flab so that I can enter the hallowed institution of matrimony! Some are forthcoming enough to blurt this out. Some say it in a round about manner in not so many words. Some have that naughty twinkle in their eye! I have now learnt to smile at this thought process and almost see humor.

I have been running regularly for the past two years. I have lost quite a few kilos. And it feels excellent to be in a better shape. And the idea of marriage is not altogether appalling. I may even like it. But this instantaneous derivation is not only factually incorrect but it reveals that many people fail to grasp the immense positive influence that running is capable of having on one’s life.

I began running at the time when life had thrown quite a few back-to-back rough seasons at me. Running has been a companion as I have come to see better days. To attribute this turn of tide wholly to Running would be rather dramatic and incorrect but yes, it has had a definitive influence.

There are some obvious advantages that running offers, and then there are the subtle ones, which may not fuel one’s vanity but may add to one’s substance!

Positivity and sense of accomplishment

When I ran the first time, i could hardly run 200m. I was gasping for breath; it felt that my knees would crumble. I could hardly take another step. The day I ran 400m, the high lasted for a few days! Can you imagine the feeling, the sense of accomplishment that I had when I (still visibly overweight) ran my first 5 km, on the picturesque bank of Nervion estuary opposite theGuggenheimMuseuminBilbao,Spain?

Energy and confidence

The increase in physical stamina fills one’s days with more energy. The success on the running track adds to the confidence. I have found that these two attributes have enabled me to take on more challenging assignments on the work place and there has been an overall improvement in the decision making than before.

Strengthening one’s will

There are always forces standing in opposition to one’s desire to run, and run long distance. Sometimes it’s the weather! Sometimes the lack of energy after a tough day at work! Sometimes you just don’t feel like it! Then there are days when there is a cricket match! (Such days have alarmingly increased in number). And there are countless other reasons. So running is almost always a test of one’s will to run. To develop stamina to run long distance, such will has to be displayed on not just one or two days but over a considerable period of time.

Endurance

Then there is the thought process when one is actually running! The way mind rationalizes and thinks of excuses for not running the extra lap! Yes, the knee aches! Yes, you are breathless! But it’s that elusive distance one has set one’s mind on! So, endure!! Again, this is not a one time occurrence, but happens repeatedly as one tries to push for longer and longer distances. This longer distance can be a mere 200m or can be several kilometers, but one must endure to make the distance!

But, after several months of ‘endurance enhancement regime’ when one sits back and reflects, one finds that there are so many things in life which test once endurance. Whether it’s the work life or relationships often the best course of action is to willingly endure!

Commitment to a cause

Long Distance running demands long term commitment. Goals are met long term, short term, it’s riddled with pain and difficulties. For me, a ‘Couch Potato’ who loves food, the going is even tougher. It meant giving up ‘Zafrani Kesar Pista’ Ice Cream, cakes, chocolates and the likes, cutting down on the watching the ‘Men in Blue’ (The Indian Cricket team and the Chelsea FC) and as a reward what I got was the pain in knees and the delight of finishing that long distance that I was almost sure I would never make it.

There are many more things that I want to write about. But I guess that would be done in another post.

So over the last two years, running has been a valued addition to the lifestyle. I have still not participated in any racing event. I have still not shed all the extra kilos, I am still in the ‘wretched’ state of bachelorhood but I have enjoyed long distance running every bit.

So whether you are thin or ‘well fed’, happily married or ‘still looking’ I would suggest get a pair of running shoes and Run!