Travel experience to remember

I don’t know how (good, bad, evil, bizarre or just another experience), but I will definitely remember the experience I had today. Today was the day when I was supposed to fly back to India. I slept well yesterday getting ready with packing and everything. I woke up to an overcast sky and started to watch the weather channel and noticed thunderstorms over Minneapolis and Chicago – two destinations where I had to take my first flight to.

As I was about to start from my place, it started to pour really heave, but stopped before I left and sky started to open. By the time I was at the airport weather was good and Sun was shining brightly. However, the personal at the airport that O’Hare (Chicago) has huge delays and my flight to Chicago is already delayed by 40 minutes. I was given a choice of switching my flight plans to Sunday, but I decided against it and decided to take my chances with the flight and connection happening. So, I went ahead and checked-in, passed through security checks and was at the lounge well in time. However just before the flight was about to leave, it got delayed even more and the woman ay the AA counter informed me that I will most certainly miss my connecting fight. The associate at the airport gave me following options:

  • Take a flight via London, but this was stricken out as there was no seats available out of London to Delhi Sunday;
  • Take a flight via France – these flight meant that I would have lost only 5 hours in overall travel time. The catch here was that the layover in France was only 90 minutes and France only allowed people with Indian passport and US VISA to be in country for 24 hours. If there was any delay in the flight to France and I was to miss the connection they would deport me back to US. This confused me on two counts – 1) why would they deport me after 24 hours; I was not going to leave the airport would just be stuck in transit and 2) Why would they deport me back to US. However, given that this was another country I just did not want to risk sleeping at the Airport or getting deported back to US and then restart my journey. I quickly dismissed the notion;
  • Next option was given was to move the entire trip to Sunday or just the trip from Chicago to Delhi to Sunday. And, again there was the catch that the flight on Sunday had just 4 seats left, so if I choose to wait until I reach Chicago and those got booked it meant that I would leave on Monday instead

 In the end, I decided against all my wishes to postpone the entire trip to Sunday. But, this time I will take a morning (9AM) flight to Chicago to beat any kind of delays (hoping). I rather wait in Chicago than to miss my connection again. I was asked to go to baggage claim and get my bags and come and check-in tomorrow.

As I reached the baggage claim, I was informed that bags could not be given to me because they were already on the ramp and I will not receive them at the Delhi Airport. Now, I didn’t know that or else I would have taken my chances in Chicago. But, nothing could be done now and I was stuck in Minneapolis airport for another without my bags and clothes.

Anyways, I could not do much and I just waited for Sahil and Jiten to come pick me up. As I was waiting on the airport, I decided to check a few things on the flight tomorrow and took out my tickets and passport. As I was still checking my mobile AA application, Sahil called up as they had arrived at the airport. I just got up and moved out. Only after 7 miles of travel I realized that I had dropped my passport at the Airport. I asked Jiten to take a U and we headed back to the airport. Next 20 minutes were so stressful because if I did loose my passport, I would not know what I would have done. I just knew that I was stuck in this country for a few more days or weeks or months.

As I moved into the Airport, I saw that where I was sitting the passport was not there. So my next stop was the closest Information counter and the guy there told me that they found it. He asked me to go over to the nice woman who was helping me with the baggage earlier and she did have that on her. When the woman gave the me the good news, I was so relieved and started my journey back to apartment.

On my way back, I checked the status on the flight (AA/292) from Chicago to Delhi and saw that it gor delayed by 30 minutes. And, I just realized that I would have made my connection. As I was sitting at Aum’s house having lunch I noticed that flight was now delayed by 90 minutes – I would have definitely made my connection. As I sit and write this blog post, the flight is not leaving at 6.20PM which meant I had almost 1 hour and 40 minutes between flights. But, here I am sitting waiting to start my journey tomorrow.

I don’t know why all this happened, but have faith must have happened for a reason and a good reason.

Three blasts rock Mumbai;

Mumbai police headquarters fort

Image via Wikipedia

Once again a sad for the country. May the souls of deceased rest in peace. Three blasts rock Mumbai - 8 reported dead, 70 injured. Read the full article from Times on India

Friendship

Friends

Image by matley0 via Flickr

How we feel is something that we cant control – or at least not at the very beginning. We may be able to over a period of time to control our emotions, but when something happens at that point how you feel tells you who you are what the other person means to you. Friendship is one such thing.

Over my life I have heard many people say “she is my best friend” or “he is my bestest friend” or “we have been good friends for an entire lifetime”. I have always just said “he/she is my friend”, i was never able to categorize. For me either you are a friend or a classmate/colleague.

Wikipedia defines Friendship with the characteristics like wanting the best for the other, sympathy and empathy, honesty, mutual understanding, trust and positive reciprocity.

I have known many people especially through school, college and various jobs but only a few people outside of my family who have moved into the second decade – Rajat, Shallja, Deepika, Samita, Pankaj and Prashanth. None of them are from my school or college. Couple of them are from NIIT and rest from my first jobs. And, then there are a few other who have come close to either getting moved over or are still in the first decade but are in the zone – Naina, Sitija, Anubhav, Babul, Bhawana, Raminder, Praveen, Nikhil, and Sachin.

Over a period of time, we have all moved on with our life and we have got busy and have spoken less over the time. However, even now when I see their name on the screen of phone I feel delighted, and I look forward to speaking to and call them when I can.

Sorry guys for the context, and no matter how much this seems irrelevant, it is important for me to get to my primary thoughts.

The friends who have moved to the 2nd decade are the ones, for who I feel happy or sad based on what I hear. I no longer expect them to call me as the first person when something big happens in their life. I am happy that they remember me and in no particular order. I believe that if they have been unable to tell me about something, they had a reason, and when we meet I just congratulate them or share my sympathies and not worry about why was I not told about it. I just do not worry about where I am in their priorities, because I know I am a part of their life and when if I am not needed today it is because my friend is struggling with a part of life where they need me to around for them to reach out. I no longer offer my support, I just offer my companionship.

 

We weren’t friends overnight, but it took time; it was built. It took commitment to make it work. The journey to this stage of our Friendship is what held the ingredients for a successful friendship. It started off with a mutual association and a mutual liking for each other’s company. It built on top of trust and honesty in all our dealings especially when at work. We made sure that we were fair to each other and kept our personal lives independent of the professional ones. It was built on understanding, that we were a part of their lives but ones priorities are always changing. It was built on faith that when we need them they will be around and if they can not be, they will tell us why.

 

So, now when I hear about a “friend”, and my first emotion is not to be happy for them, I know it is not friendship. I just know – I don’t understand why I was not remembered; how come I am not remembered every time. I know it is time to let go. I know we are not friends any more, we are just “ex-colleagues”.

 

Why can’t he just be a leader?

I sit here at 11 in the night and waiting for my approval to trip back to India. I sent request for the approval on Thursday and have been waiting for three working days. I know the approval will come but I am waiting for the date that will come back in the approval – can be 15 or 22 july.  I was supposed to go back in early July but has been pushed already. My anxiety to meet my family is increasing.

As I sit here and wait for the email to come, I can not reach out the person who has to approve the request. Only person I can reach out to is my manager and he is three levels down the person who has to approve. This makes me think – are they leaders? Why can I not reach out to anyone above my immediate manager? Why do we even have a hierarchy in place? Can we not do work in a horizontal leadership model? Why does pyramid has to exist?

The reason I know I can’t reach beyond Harsha (my direct manager) is because I have been asked so, I have been told rather instructed to go via Harsha for any details I need from people above him in hierarchy. I have been told by Krishna (Harsha’s manager – our Director) that he will meet his direct reports for any details he needs and there is no need for us to meet regularly. I feel he has shut the door on us and it will only open when we have any issues or escalations.

Why can’t he have the door open for all of 150 people who report into him? Why not? Why can’t he just be a leader? Or are they just managers?

Selfless deeds don’t matter

Memorial plaque dedicated to Mother Teresa by ...

Image via Wikipedia

A few weeks earlier when I was having a conversation with my nephew this topic came up. He said there is ni deed as selfless deed. We all see people around us praisung selflessness and any selfish acts are seen with disgust. The big question is do people know of an act is selfish or not? And is there a deed that can truly be defined as selfless?

Selfish deed can be defined as a deed that has been done for self interest or happiness. Ones selfishness leads one to do things that are directed for their own benefit. Any selfish deed will only mean their own benefit.

A selfless deed can be defined as a deed that has been dine without any self interest and only for the benefit of the others. A true selfless deed should not bring any benefit to the one who is performing the deed.

Now that we have the definitions out of the way, lets think abiyt his would you judge a deed to be selfish or selfless. Okay, did the definition not cover it? I think it did, but lets see that I be again. A deed that has been acted upon without any self interest will be considered as selfless only if there are alternatives that exist and are more profitable for the person acting upon it. However, a true or an absolute selfless deed would mean that the action has absolutely no benefits irrespective of the options available. I. Other words, if there are more profitable options availabe, the deed performed should bit have any benefits even if they are lesser. Anything else is selfish (phew that was easy).

The next big question is – how are the benefits quantified? The can be material or emotional. Lets say, if I was to do charity for an organization run by a friend or a colleague, and in return I expect to bb benefited in a contract or job than that is material benefit. But, if I do charity for an independent organization where I know no one and I don’t expect any returns, I am doing it for my internal peace and happiness. So now, if we take this argument and apply it all deeds and say that every deed is for self-hapiness then it implies that big deed cna be selfless. Everything that is done is don’t for an emotional or internal benefit. Every person has some interior motive to do it.

The last part may be philosiphical, but it is interesting and eventually leaves no room for any other discussions. I do nit know if I have an answer for it yet, but I do feel it very intriguing. Why? Simply because if thus is true, then all the praise that goes in for selfless deeds is nothing but a hypocritical, the praise itself would imply that the person who has done a deed with openness had an interior motive of getting praise out of it and hence getting benefit in the society of being a “better person”.

Now, having said all that, I think of Saint Mother Teresa and all the good she has done, and it breaks my heart to call her selfish. However, if I apply the same rule to her then she was very selfish. Now that simply can’t be true. But, the logic takes me there.

And makes me sad to think that it is these so called “selfless and great” people who get the most out of it and other who have motives of salvation and happiness are left behind. Ever heard of “neki kar kuain main daal” (do good and forget about it, don’t tell it). That is something which is a rare commodity today.

Thinking all this, I have come to a conclusion that it don’t matter if a deed is categorized as selfless or selfish, as long it is a good deed. If the society can go past the selfless act and praise all good deeds, the world would be a better place to live in.

Not Careless but Not too Careful Either

Cover of "D3: The Mighty Ducks"

Cover of D3: The Mighty Ducks

It’s easy to be confident when you have control of your life. It’s very, very difficult to keep that confidence when you gotta take whatever strange bounces life throws your way. Don’t be careless, but don’t be too careful either. You cannot be afraid to lose! That’s how you gain the confidence to attack the life when its not on your side. That’s how you attack life… even when you think you don’t have any control.

Inspired and re-phrased from an inspirational talk by “Coach Orion” in “D3 the Mighty Ducks“.

Be a Slave or Be Selfish

Slave transport in Africa, depicted in a 19th-...

Image via Wikipedia

My nephew (Sushant) has started his new blog and he started off with a great topic – Being Slave. However, as the comments started up and we picked up the debate it left me with this thought – “Be a Slave or Be Selfish”. In one of his comments, Sushant mentioned that there is nothing called “Selfless deed” and argument being – if a person chooses to be selfless and take up pain, that is for their self-satisfaction and hence it is not self-less.

I see things a little differently. Let me first explain now I perceive these 2 scenarios:

 - Slave: Is a person who does not have a choice and are asked to do something against their wish.

- Selfish: Is a person who performs a deed for their own happiness.

Every person will fall in either of the two categories.

In my comment here, I have explained the point where people are given the option of being able to choose or not. What is unquantifiable, is the fact if someone has chosen. It is easy to spot bondage and slavery when it is physical and people are chained and beaten when they don’t do as asked for. However, when someone is chaining their thoughts and taking away their free-will it is simply not  quantifiable.

To set the semantics right, it is not one’s choice to be a slave and in relations one would not even know that they are slaved because they are brain-washed by the master. A Slave in relation would not even know what hit them, and they are driven by a feeling within them that leads them to believe and do what their “master” says.

It is only when you have a choice is when you can be selfish or not, but a topic for another day. And, I re-phrase a few things I said earlier in the post:

Every person will fall in either of the two categories. Do they? Or is there a 3rd category – Non-slave and non-selfish?

Being a Slave is not a choice, it is thrust upon; so you cant be selfish. You just don’t choose