Artists that have shaped my life

Once Rumi, a 13th century persian poet was Questioned,

What is poison?

He replied with a beautiful answer!Anything which is more than our necessity is poison.It may be power,wealth,Hunger,Ego,Greed,Laziness,Love,Ambition,Hate or anything

Any one who truly aspires to understand love and happiness must definitely read this great persian poet`s works.Some of his poems on love are so poignant and deep that it will have lifelong effect on your heart and soul.Every poem of this magical poet is a masterpiece but if I had to select few that touched and shaped me,those will be “Because I cannot sleep”,”Beauty of the heart” and “love is the water of life”.Rumi was a legend in his own ways but one of the finest work of literature was produced by our very own Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali poet who won Nobel prize for literature in 1913 for Gitanjali.The work was originally written in Bengali published over different Bengali books on poetry from where 103 poems have been picked, compiled and consolidated in this book. The translation has been done by Tagore himself. Gitanjali in literal meaning denotes an offering of a handful of songs.

I Read Tagore everyday, in the mornings and evenings. A few lines at a time, enough to nourish my soul and bring me to the peak of beauty.Arguably one of the finest poets of all times, Rabindranath Tagore was an authorial voice in the pre-independence. Born in 1861 and having found his calling at the tender age of eight, Tagore chiselled his artistic bent to perfection by diligently harbouring a free stream of thought in his heart.Tagore’s scintillating and diverse poems remains unmatched by many a poets who succeeded him. He inspired millions to undertake the baton of chasing dreams irrespective of their colours of existence. And he continues to be a silent source of encouragement to people who attempt to see something beautiful in everything. Yes, everything.You need to have a big appetite to digest each and every word of Gitanjali

While poets like Rumi and Tagore did touch my heart and soul but the one that really inspired me was not an artist or a poet but a sportsman. He proved that tennis is actually an art form if played with grace and rythm. He is the perfect artist I have ever seen on court.Yes,I am taking about Swiss maestro Roger Federer.One of the greatest tennis players in history, Federer has won a record 18 Grand Slam singles titles.He is considered as the greatest player of all time by many past and present tennis players and coaches.The style and perfection with which he serves and volleys is simply poetic to watch .Tennis legend Sir John Mc Enroe once said”Roger`s forehand is the greatest shot in the world”.He moves like a whisper and executes like a wrecking ball. It is simply  impossible to explain how he does what he does.It`s as if he has some magic in his racquet.He is a perfect gentleman and strong warrior.At the age of 35 when most tennis players retire,he cameback and won Australian Open defeating his arch nemesis Rafael Nadal.He taught me that even if you are great at something,you still need to persevere to earn your place back among the best.

Fedex taught me that even sports can become an art if you play it to perfection but the artist that mesmerised me during my growing up years was a british singer.He was none other than Chris Martin,the lead singer of British alternative rock band Coldplay. A friend of mine introduced me to this band a decade back and it was love at first sight.I instantly connected to its magical tunes and deep meaningful lines.Every song of this band still gives me shivers.Iconic song “Yellow” which became an anthem all over the world is so simple yet so alluring.It doesn`t matter whether you are happy,sad,angry or excited everytime you hear a coldplay song it lights you up and brings a smile to your face,such is its magic.

The last but the most significant artist that has truly shaped my not so stoic life is a lady who has magic in her hands.She can paint as creatively as she can cook some lip smacking delicious food.She can get every seemingly difficult work done in no time with ease.She is no less than a magician to me,she is my beloved mother.She is the greatest artist i have ever met.I still have no clue on how she manages so many tasks from cleaning to cooking to acting to painting to virtually anything  with such remarkable poise .She is my greatest inspiration.

From Rumi to Tagore to Federer to Chris Martin to my beloved mother ;each one has had a tremendous impact on my personality and shaped me into who I am today.Finally, I would like to leave you contemplating in the words of my favorite poet Rabindranath Tagore

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf”

Thank you

 

Miraculous Wednesday

“Yes we Can”chants could be heard in the stands before the match.Everyone in Camp Nou were hoping for a miracle to happen.What happened that night was nothing less than a Stephen King thriller;it was outrageous,horrifying and simply insane stuff.

Barcelona started brightly,quickly taking the lead through poacher Suarez.Crowd  went into raptures as the opening goal went in and belief was beginning to comeback. PSG got it all wrong in the first half by not pushing barcelona and playing from the back.Having a defensive approach can backstab you especially when the opponents have the best attacking trio .They were all over PSG in the first half and chances were coming thick and fast.That pressure paid off when iniesta`s close control eventually led to an own goal by the PSG defender.Crowds went crazy on the second goal .They could sense that something special was beginning to unfold. Barcelona went into the break with a 2-0 lead with the tie far from over.”Hope is a good thing, may be the best of things and no good thing ever dies”This famous dialogue from the movie shawshank redemption was turning out to be so true.

The frown on the face of Unai Emery increased exponentially as the half approached its end.I don`t know what he said to his players during the half time;French battalion came to pitch a bit late; may be to impede the storm rising in Camp Nou. Second half started in similar fashion with Barca on the attack. PSG to their credit were now pressing them high on the pitch. Neymar was beginning to show why he is the immediate threat to Messi and Ronaldo to break the ballon d`or dichotomy.Playing from the left;he started tormenting the PSG defense with mesmersing skill,pace and control,eventually winning the team a penalty 4 minutes after restart.Messi calmly converted the penalty to make it 3-0.Suddenly it was looking far more achievable target.But PSG had other plans,they started pressing barca more and more and eventually the pressure paid off when ever reliable Cavani buried home an exquisite half volley in the net.PSG players were celebrating as if they have won the tie;Away fans were already dreaming of quarter finals.Unai emery was jumping frantically on the  sidelines.Tide had definitely turned with this away goal; so was the mood of Camp Nou.

But this was Barcelona;they didnt give up;The front trio of Messi,Suarez and Neymar certainly had enough in them to still turn the tide.Neymar was more looking the most lethal player;playing on the left with his daggling breathtaking dribbling was simply joy to watch.Time was running out;Even messi could not conjure up his magical wand to save them this time.With 2 just two minutes remaining;it looked inevitable that barca would not make quarters for the first time in a decade.But Neymar had other ideas;He scored a sensational freekick to make it 4-1;suddenly it all seemed a bit more possible.Two minutes later(90th minute) Messi pulled off a sensational pass to Suarez whose bravery and astutenes got the team a penalty;Crowd sensed that something special was about to happen.Pressure penalty was taken ultra coolly by man of the moment Neymar.Suddenly in a matter of just few minutes it was 5-1 and there was still 5 minutes of added time. That`s why we love football ,its unpredictability;games can change in a flash.This game certainly was turned on its head.Atmosphere at Camp Nou was something special.you simply had to be there to feel it.Barca pushed again;this time with more purpose,determination and zeal.Minutes were ticking by slowly but surely.Neymar was taking charge of most of the play.Even the goal keeper came up in the last minute of added time when Barca were awarded a freekick for a foul on Messi.Free kick was not successful and it felt as if the chance was gone;But Neymar had other ideas;out of  nowhere he managed a sensational ball in the penalty area and substitute Sergi Roberto was first to react,throwing his body courageously and managing to finish with the outside of his right foot into the net;The place went berserk;It really was something miraculous;I have never seen a comeback of this nature;Yes Istanbul was amazing but surely this has to be the greatest;scoring with almost last kick of the game to put french power house out of the competition.

 

My Journey from playground to chemical field

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, an hour, a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”
these incredibly motivating words of Lance Armstrong always gives me strength during tough times.
It was a hot unforgiving noon in May 2003,The bowler had sweat dripping down his face,on the opposite end was a left-handed batsman batting on 99.The next scene I remember was that I was in my neighbour`s house begging for forgiveness and of course getting our ball back.Yes, that was the tenth time I had broken her window glasses in search of my elusive century.Good Evening Toastmaster of the day ,fellow toastmaster and guests,I am Shailesh Tripathi.My fond childhood memories are of playing cricket for hours with my friends on the street,breaking glasses and fighting with my sister.I come from middle class background. My father is an engineer and my mother is a housewife.I always wanted to be a cricketer.In fact I was so obsessed with cricket that apart from sleeping and attending school,I was always found on the ground. My childhood idol was Sourav Ganguly and I used to imitate his style and strokes to perfection.Not surprisingly I had 32 centuries in street cricket at the age of 14.

Things changed when I was 15,I fell in love with basketball.I became a die-hard fan of Kobe Bryant.I would emulate his skills for hours on the court but that infatuation only lasted for a year.Finally I found my true love in football in high school.From that day onwards I not only played football but also watched and analysed every game played in the world.I became a die hard soccer fan.Thierry Henry,Dennis Bergkamp,Zidane and Ronaldinho were some of my childhood heroes.My obsession with football got to a point that it affected my studies.In fact I almost failed in several subjects just because I was watching late night football matches.I was convinced that I should make a career in sports.

But then ” you don’t always get what you want“.My parents turned out to be the biggest detractors for my sports career dreams and instead wanted me to chase academic dreams.So when I passed 10th standard with flying colors,they introduced me to a beast called IIT. They said intelligent boys don’t play sports. Impressionable innocent mind of mine got misled.So like many other Indian students,next one year I was balancing my studies and IIT coaching like a circus artist.Obviously I didn`t clear IIT as I never prepared for it.But I was already catapulted into this world of engineering.I joined Fr. agnels college for B.Tech in Mechanical engineering.

.It was during my engineering days that I became more passionate about quizzing.In fact even during my school days I was an ardent follower of Derek O Brien and Siddharth Basu. During my four years in college I enthusiastically participated and won many state level quiz contests.I have loved every bit of this exciting journey.

I always fantasized engineering to be all about creation,innovation and design,but I was so wrong,it was all about getting that cut off marks to get to the next semester and finally be eligible for campus placements.Thankfully,I got good scores in my engineering.After passing out from the college I got a job in a research department in L&T.I was supposed to research on deep water and sub sea pipeline design.I had no idea what it was and for a someone who hates technical stuffs this really was a great joke.So after 5 months of torture I ended up quitting the job.

I struggled for few months to get a job,finally after 5 interviews I got a job in a major oil and gas company ONGC.I was excited to kick start my career.The first year was more of a whirlwind as I was under training in different locations meeting people from various backgrounds.After the training I got posted in a field job in LPG plant in Uran.It was exciting as well as scary.I have been really doing well during the past 4 years.Though I got many awards and accolades in my corporate life but deep within I knew my heart is looking elsewhere.

So this year I decided to rekindle my passion.I started my own blog to pursue sports writing and also joined toastmaster to become the world`s best public speaker. In the words of Tennis Legend Sir Arthur Ashe:

“You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy.”

Over to you,Toastmasters of the Day!

Magic of Auroville

There was something about this place  that mesmerized my senses the moment i reached.The owner was a German but surprisingly polite,he gave me a room next to an Italian guy.Right from the moment i entered into this world of auroville there was a special aroma in the air that was better than the best perfume i have ever used.This funny 30 years old Italian guy`s name was Antonio.It didn’t take us long to introduce ourselves.Football was one of the common factor that helped us gel fast.In no time we were arguing about whether Italian football is better or english. Antonio was a frequent traveler (not tourist),in fact he had been travelling for last 3 years.That surprised me because we Indians don`t travel so frequently ,in fact we cant afford to(1 euro=73 rupees).I was simply in awe of the place and people living there.

There was so much to explore in auroville,I knew my two days trip was not enough.But still I bravely bought a map ,rented a cycle with Antonio,decided to explore the forests and community of auroville the next morning.As per plan we got up around 6 to see the sun rise in this beautiful land surrounded by lush green forests.Cycling in the beautiful forests of auroville is a feeling i cannot describe in words,the air was so pure and divine with melodious sounds of birds chirping,winds blowing and an amazing Italian companion to explore the unknown roads..So our first destination was Maitri Mandir ,a unique meditation center located in the center of this magical city.We got the tickets and went in with a group of 15 other seekers.The guide was an Australian middle aged man who knew how to capture an audience`s attention.He told us about the story behind the construction of this architectural marvel.Finally after 20 minutes of lecture by this fit Australian , we were allowed inside the Mandir and let me tell you the first step i took into this center ,i was truly awe struck by its beauty,it is indeed a masterpiece to admire.Right from the design of the dome to the symmetry of the staircase and pillars,everything was so peacefully aligned that calmed my mind and soul.Spending an hour meditating at the center was an out of the world experience for us.

After this soul touching journey we set out again on the unknown paths of auroville;after half an hour of peaceful cycling we heard a beautiful music coming from a villa nearby;We set out to explore that space and finally found the youth center( a hub for various creative activities at auroville).We met two cute lively British teenagers smoking cigar in a notorious way.Their innovative house was made of bamboo and wood and beautifully decorated with graffiti on walls and exquisite contemporary paintings.Pretty quickly we introduced ourselves and sat down to have a chat with them.It turned out that they were living here for last 12 years;their parents though divorced are working in auroville. Sia,the elder sister explained us about the concept and culture of this place.How the idea of living as a united soul in community that has people from 43 different nationalities simply astonished me. Sia talked about her school life in auroville;how volunteering plays an important role in the community; a unique idea of aurocard with no cash transaction.People have access to learning various skills such as farming,carpentry,cooking,art forms like dance,music and photography.I think this idea of living together with love and compassion is really what touched my heart and soul.

Meeting these british teenagers was a refreshing experience for us as we got to know the real essence of the way things work here.On the advice of these cute little teenagers we set out to explore fertile community.After cycling for 20 minutes on a difficult terrain we finally arrived at the place.We were welcomed by a lovely lady named Sarah who was busy in preparing delicious lunch for its community.The place was charming in the sense it reminded me of my own village.With cooking being done in open on coal,greenery all around and beautiful little house made up of bamboo.Community members resting on hand made wooden sofas and cots was a sight worth seeing.This community is named as johnny`s community after its British founder johnny who has spent 40 years at this place and has been one of the chief architect of auroville. Many regard him as their grand father.This 65 years old man has a distinct aura around him that will instantly connect with you or anyone.Sarah served us delicious dosa made from red rice.Then we had authentic Italian pizza brought by some Italian guests.Everyone has a different role to play in the community and this concept of community kitchen is simply amazing as it helps in instant bonding.Everyone helps in making the food and they enjoy it together.There  is no free lunch in this world they say but this place actually gives you free lunch if you are willing to contribute in making the food.The place has its own subtle charm and aroma that will make you more loving and compassionate.You will certainly meet some good souls here who are truly living their life with freedom.

Set me Free

life is all about exploration,about discovering yourself,setting new boundaries  and conquering new territories.The basic desire of every sapiens is to live a free life.Yet we are chained in bondages at various levels and in different ways.How do we break away from these bondages? and what exactly are these bondages which have imprisoned us for centuries?

The biggest and the only bondage that keeps us in the past is our own mind.It is rightly said that  you are as free as you think.So basically our conditioned thinking itself is a trap that doesn’t allow our free spirit to express itself fully.So its upto us to decide the degree of freedom we require to enjoy our life to the fullest.Choose carefully because ultimately this freedom is what will give us ultimate joy ,ecstasy and fullfillment in life.

Where is this world heading to?

Every time I switch on my idiot box to listen to news I hear stories of murder,rape,suicide ,theft and violence and many more darker forms of human atrocities.This has made me ponder on why is this happening all the time.Why is there so much suffering all around?Now a days I have stopped watching new channels altogether so that i can remain in a positive state of mind.But ignoring what is happening around you cannot be the solution.This got me thinking that is there a way we can solve this problem of crime and violence.

Education is one of the ways we can solve this problem.By education I dont mean the ones we get in schools,but real education that involves developing the mind in such a way that we can distinguish between what is right and what is wrong.Now the question arises that where do we get this education and can we educate( in real sense) our 1.2 billion vast population.This kind of education is not taught in schools although we have a subject called value education in school that is given the least attention by teachers.So the question arises that how can we inculcate values in our children.For children its easy if each school truly teaches the essence of value education which is in fact the real education.Teaching meditation and yoga in schools and colleges can definitely be step in the right direction.But unfortunately this country is in dire needs of some great teachers like Gandhi ,Dr. Kalam who can be the guiding souls to the youth.We need a complete shift in perspective to make this dream a reality.For this our leader need to step up and create an environment that can impart “real” education where every one actually learns with a purpose to develop their mind.I was truly impressed by the vision of our prime minister Shri Narendra Modi who insists on yoga being an integral part of our curriculum.But each one of us needs to realize and take action individually to create a peaceful environment in this country.

Imparting value education and yoga to students across the country is one step towards reducing crime rates and communal violence.But the question is how can this be practically implemented in our daily lives.For children its easy, we can include it their curriculum and the unformed innocent minds will easily pick it up in no time but the difficult part is to convince adults to include it in their daily habits(I mean Yoga and meditation).If we truly understand and practice yoga in its right spirit,it wont be long before peace will be restored in our country.True essence of yoga means that your mind,body and soul are in perfect harmony .If we these three  are in perfect union then you can’t think of doing harm to anyone.So it basically changes the perception of your life in ways you cant even imagine.Starting Yoga or meditation is indeed not easy and requires immense discipline and will power,but once you start getting the results,the habit will set in that eventually transform your life.

Conversations

conversationThis topic has intrigued me for a long time so i finally decided to write something on it to understand it better.Conversation forms an integral part of human life but do we really pay attention to it.Are the quality of our conversations even worth mentioning?

Majority of our conversations in daily life revolve around trivial issues.Very rarely have I seen someone having a meaningful conversation.In India when i hear people conversing it is almost always on topics like politics,marriage,office and neighbourhood gossip.I am astounded by the fact that why we dont have better stories to tell,better ideas to discuss.It is rightly said you are what you speak.So conversation can be a way to judge a person.Do you want to know a person ?Just observe what topics he converses on everyday,you will get to know that person inside out.You dont need to be a psychologist or a telepathist,simply observe the conversation.

So what drives a conversation?It is the idea or opinion that a person wishes to share with others.Conversation forms a vital part in our life.In fact every moment of our life is filled with conversation either with one self or with other sapiens.It is so vital that it has the potential to make or break our lives..Right kind of conversation with the right people can take you to places.Conversation with someone could either light up your day or dampen your spirits.So its important to keep the right company.So how do we improve our day to day conversations.If you are a voracious reader on various subjects and enthusiastic traveller and explorer of human cultures ,history and behaviour,your quality of conversation will be far above mediocrity level.

Recently on a trip to beautiful Hills of Munnar in Kerala,I met a man named John Paul.I stayed at his accommodation for two days.Here I found out what effect a good honest conversation with a noble man can have on your life.This man is running a business of accommodation and he truly treats his customers in a royal way.The care he showed during my stay at his house was genuine,kind hearted and incredibly compassionate.We had some really meaningful conversations even though i could not understand his language (malayalam) ;Though he spoke some broken english and he truly spoke from his heart so language was not a barrier in any way.We talked about life in general,his family and his experiences with previous customers.He said that he was delighted to meet me and i believed he meant it and said it not to please me.Real people excite me more than fake “so called” charming people.The real charm is in being authentic,when what you say is what you mean.Real honest conversation truly reach our soul and has a profound impact on our lives.It can give you a new perspective of life.

Conversation is such a vital aspect of our life but we rarely give it the attention it needs.It is like a fodder to your gray matter,better the quality of your conversation more is the growth of our intellect.Learning how to converse is an art that needs to learnt.Especially in my country where conversation almost always takes the shape of a gossip.So we need to question our interaction with our fellow sapiens and make a conscious effort to improve the quality of our conversation to make this world a better place to live in.Lets put an honest effort in improve our interaction because it has far reaching impact on this world.

 

The day that changed my life

In Seven days God created the world and in seven seconds I shattered mine.This famous dialogue from Will Smith`s 2008 movie “Seven Pounds ” keeps revisiting me, again and again, every time I try to remember what happened on that dreadful Friday noon.

I was just beginning to explore life in my young care free teen years.It was a beautiful month of December, beautiful in the sense that our winter holidays were just around the corner.(it was not at all beautiful in terms of weather, in fact, it was cold and harsh).We were playing some weird game that I don’t remember in the classroom.Yes, you guessed it right, it was a lunch break.Everything in my life was perfect till then, I had good friends to play with, good books to read, good home-made food to eat.But then that fateful moment had to come that changed my life forever.May be it was written in the destiny, may be they did not want me in the school, may be I had committed some sin in my past life.My friends and I were enjoying our break time,frolicking around carelessly,When suddenly a little monster (one of my class mate) pushed me to the floor and I got hit on the head by the sharpest edge of the elevated platform of the floor(i still don’t understand why they make elevated platform for teacher’s table in government school),I wish I could sue the school for such illogical dangerous design.Upon getting hit on my head, I cried like I had never before.The next thing I remember was that I was in a room full of teachers and one stranger.My beloved teachers were asking me to identify that stranger, Now for someone who had been hit on the head as badly as I had, to ask questions that will involve using my head was senseless, cruel and funny.I expected myself in the hospital at that time.I was wondering where is the humanity in this world? I was simply gazing at everyone and that stranger with a blank face.After few minutes of torturous interrogation, teachers came to the conclusion that I had lost my memory because that stranger was my sister who was studying in the same school.Now the blood from the head had spread to my entire body and these callous teachers were busying playing guessing game.So I decided that the only way to save my life was to cry out as loudly as I could, Finally, the teachers realized that if they keep on performing their idiosyncrasies, they will lose one precious student in next few seconds.So my sister picks me up in her laps and ran towards the nearby hospital along with callous teachers following from behind.Let me tell you honestly, at that moment I felt as if I was almost dead.As we reached the hospital, we found that doctors are gone for a lunch break(from that day I started hating lunch break), only one nurse was available, she seemed like an angel who could save my life.She took me to stitching room and without giving me anesthesia started stitching the back of my head the same way my mother used to sew my sweater, I was writhing in pain, crying in anguish, but she went on sewing my head callously.Finally, she stopped, by then I had become comfortably numb.But finally I was relieved that all my agony and pain was over and I was still breathing and was able to recognize my sister, so thankfully I had not lost my memory.

This funny yet life threatening incident taught me the value of life.