Monday, September 23, 2019

Our Hatred for Love

Do you know what is the first emotion that a human baby learns, or as a matter of fact, any animal baby learns?
What does an infant do? They cry a lot, right? That's a reaction. Guess the emotion behind this? Fear.

This is the first and foremost of the 5 basic emotions. And these five basic emotions form a thousand of complex emotions. Let's take a closer look at some of the reasons behind our unreasonable emotions.

Could you guess the second emotion that infant learns? It is joy and with it comes the smile. But unfortunately, there's no joy without sadness and as soon as the child learns to smile, it also knows the feeling of lack of joy, that is sadness.

Then comes the two most controversial emotions, that is "Anger" and "Love". Interestingly, anger is a far more complex feeling than love. A child learns to love its mother much earlier than it learns to hate anyone.
From these 5 basic emotions, countless complex emotions are born. For example: Pride, optimism, disgust, envy, regret, relief and so on. We will come back to this in a while.

Now that we are aware of the complexity of the 5 different emotions, could anyone spot a trend here? We humans have a tendency to display the more complex emotions more often than the simpler ones. Maybe the society and human evolution has shaped us in such a way that display of the simpler emotions is considered less attractive. For example, fear, the most basic of the basic emotions is considered shameful and even a sign of weakness? Whereas anger is glorified and seen as a sign of dominance and strength. We can't deny this, but let me remind you one important aspect that we so easily miss : fear is a survival instinct. It helps us stay away from danger and increase our chances of survival. Anger, on the other hand, it gets us involved in fights and potentially damaging circumstances. Yet after all these, we dignify anger and not fear.

Now to address the elephant in the room. The controversy of love. As we have observed, the feeling of "love" is less complex than anger. Hence, obviously it isn't the most preferred emotion to display in the society. But there's another problem. Rememeber I talked about the complex emotions. Apparently there are some complex emotions that are often mistaken with simple emotions and that my friends, is the root cause of all first world, second world and third world problems. What you suppose would happen if I ran out of my room's door right now and told the next 5 people I meet that I "LOVE" them? Maybe a few slaps from the girls and weird looks from the boys? The issue here? There's this emotion called "lust" that we so often mistake as love. Actually in this ultra modern world, where people grow up watching bollywood, or even worse, hollywood, love and lust is considered the one and same. On the other hand, we equally confuse "kindness" with love as well.

Another problem in this intricately arranged emotion system is that some emotions are apparently much stronger than others. From the pages of Anne Frank, "Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones, because regret is stronger than gratitude".

Now I don't have a magical solution to all these problems in the emotional hierarchy that I was discussing. Not there is any ultimate advice to guide as all in this maze. I just have a simple suggestion to put forward here. Don't discriminate between the simple and complex feelings. "Do not be afraid to be afraid, don't feel ashamed to be shy, be angry about being angry, be happy about being happy and love loving".  Before I sign off, let me quickly point it out, the emotion you are experiencing right now after reading the last line, is called confusion.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Unexpected Mentor

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And it generally involves waking up early in the morning.

Sometime around July or August last year, we had a plantation activity from Amdocs Blossom. I reached 5 mins late than the scheduled time of 7 am. I couldn't see anyone else in or near Tower 2. So I called up Amol and asked if everyone had left without me? He started laughing. Guess what, no one had even arrived. He must've been impressed, with my enthusiasm or stupidity that he added me to Blossom Community Leaders from that day. And from that day, I lost countless number of Saturday morning sleep.

Few months later we had a Blossom offsite event, where I spoke about my experience. I told this same story and Amol, once again for my enthusiasm or stupidity, decided that I needed to be a part of Toastmasters. And from that day, I lost my Friday afternoons as well.

Until I joined Toastmaster, I was very confident. I had full faith that my public speaking was better than average and I won't be nervous in front of a crowd. then I attended my first club meeting and heard my first speech and all that confidence was shattered to a million pieces.

Until I joined Toastmasters, I thought 5 mins was a very small time and speaking for 5 mins would be a no brainer. Then I realized how painfully long these 300 seconds could be to make a fool out of yourself, when you haven't prepared your speech.

Thanks to the captivating stories of our two flagship couples Akshay-Heena and Amol-Bhairavee, I thought Toastmasters would be a good place to meet your future life partner. But soon I realized every girl in Toastmaster was a great speakers, writers, thinkers and so far above and out of my league.

I am always amazed by Amandeep's extraordinary social skills. One of his most important advice has been to excel at networking. When I joined Toastmaster, I thought networking meant talking to people. After attending a few conferences and roaming around in the hall with a cup of tea in my hand trying to strike up conversations with strangers, I realized most people are already part of their own friend circle. In networking terminology, I like to call that VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). They had their networking ports already blocked and setting up new network connections from my side felt pretty much impossible.

All of these incidents are from my initial days at Toastmaster. It was the 260th meeting that I attended in October and today is 290th. The catch about Toastmaster is that it doesn't make you a better person overnight, but is so gradual that we often don't notice. Today when I look back, I find so many things have changed. I am still not the best speaker in my club, or maybe not even in top 5. But earlier my heart used to reach 130 bpm when I came on stage, today it's only touching 90. Hey, I am not bluffing. I literally wear a watch that measures heart beats.

I have heard grim people giving humorous speeches. I have seen introvert people giving animated speeches. I have also witnessed people preaching values that they never follow themselves. again and again I have noticed, the topic for humorous speeches are always the speaker's husband or wife. In case of standard speech contest, the topic would be some heroic story about the speaker himself or herself. What I have learnt is not to judge people for that 7 mins. The journey of one week or even months that leads to the speech impacts us a lot more than those few minutes on the stage.

I may not have met my dream girl yet, but I have met some amazing friends whom I didn't even dream about. And I don't have a captivating story, I have captivating stories regarding each one of you.

I have realized I am not good at setting up long distance networking, but I do have a 5G connection with my club members. Short range, but with a huge bandwidth.

For all these enlightenment, I wanted to thank my mentor. We usually have a notion that a mentor would be a single person who would be guiding and teaching me. But over the last 9 months, Toastmaster as a whole has been the mentor I never expected. Each and every meeting, conference, speech, role player, guests and every member has taught me something new. And I am pretty sure one single mentor would not have been able to fill in all these shoes. This has just been the first mile of the thousand miles journey and I am looking forward for the remaining nine hundred ninety nine miles with this silent mentor.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

My Journey with Blossom, Amdocs.

Almost one and a half years back, on a fine Saturday morning at 6:30 am, when the whole Magarpatta is still asleep and the veteran runners have only started their rounds of the Inner Circle, one boy stood in front of Tower 2 with a frown on his face and mobile on his ears.

Hi Amol. Have you guys left without me?

Amol Nitave, on the other end of the call replied laughing

"Oh no Anand. I think no one has arrived yet. I'm coming there. See you in 5 mins"

Yes, that boy was me. And since that day I have been a part of the Blossom Volunteer Leaders group. This has obviously led to countless number of sacrifices of Saturday morning sleep, but surprisingly, every single time, I was happy to have made those sacrifices. This is something I wouldn't have believed in my wildest dreams 2 years back.

For a lot of employees, Blossom has always been a oasis of refreshment after 5 days of sitting behind a pair of screens. As aptly put together in its tagline, the "Do Good, Feel Great" factor is what drives CSR activities in the corporate world, but at Amdocs, Blossom is something much more than that. Every meeting is memorable, no matter sun, rain or storm, we will have families, kids, elderly people and even pet dogs joining us. The sheer amount of positive energy is guaranteed to brighten up your mind. And most importantly, you'll be pleasantly surprised to know that there are so many other people who are equally crazy and happy to sacrifice their Saturday morning sleep. There is no specific leader in Blossom, instead we have focals. We don't have rules, instead we have guidelines. The way we encourage each other to lead and take responsibility, keeps people engaged and coming back for pushing their limits.

I must emphasize the role of CSR committee in making Blossom what it is today. Constantly taking up new challenges, accepting failures, improvising and collecting feedback. A unique approach, I have repeatedly noticed in Blossom is that we consult every stake holder. Starting from the employee, to the villager for whom we planted trees, or the child in the orphanage we donated food grains for. This helps us in making sure that our activities are not only just to fulfill CSR quota and flaunt on social media, but we instead make an actual impact on the betterment of the society and leave a mark on the minds of people whom we come across.

To those reading this article, come join us if you haven't already. How will you find us? If you see a group of people gathered in front of Tower 12 in Magarpatta on a fine Saturday morning, that will be us. 😊

Friday, April 12, 2019

Live or Survive

Do you like waking up early in the morning, stretching out, going to the balcony, taking in deep breath of fresh air, and hear the sweet chirping sound of the birds? Peaceful and calm right? No. Not actually. The birds are looking for food, gulping down worms and insects, fighting with each other, for partners, territory and what not. Anything but sweet. This is because, the life in animal kingdom is governed by three entities: "Food", "Mate" and "Territory". But don't be grossed out, this is how the planet itself, from its very inception, has been designed to work. In fact, you, right here, right now, are a part of the same process.

These are not my words. I am not presenting my own theory here. This is all just rewording Darwin's theory of Natural Selection. Survival of the fittest, that the ultimate goal of every living organism on this planet is to make sure their own DNA is carried forward. On the other hand, nature wants to select only the best strand DNA. And this is where all the competition creeps in.

Fortunately, we live in a civilized society and we don't have to fight for our food. But we do have to compete to earn money, which is basically the same. Fights for acquiring a partner? That's pretty common. And fights for territory or property? Let's not even talk about that.

And this my friends, is the very reason driving our lives right now. We want to be a good public speaker, obviously for social and financial benefits. We want to be leaders of our teams or companies, earn more money, live a better life, make a better life for our children. Everything ultimately, one way or other, will trickle down to the one and only goal: "survival".

But is that all humanity has to offer? Is it really so ruthless and selfish? Forgive me for painting such a sad and violent picture till now. There are actually aspects of human life that Darwin's theories fail to comprehend. We like listening to music, for no apparent survival benefits. We help strangers whom we would never meet again. We fall in love with dogs and cats and birds. We go climbing mountains, intentionally lowering our chances of survival. And we humans, also come to Toastmasters club meetings just to make a fool out of ourselves.

It'd be a logically incorrect advice, but I must say this. Don't spend your entire lifetime chasing the three golden entities "Food", "Mate" or "Territory". Because we're meant to live, not only survive.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

From Home to Room - an Essential Journey

Imagine yourself sitting in a flight. You just buckled in your seat belt. The cabin lights are being dimmed for takeoff. You take out your mobile and quickly type in a last Whatsapp message. 
"Hi Mom. I'm taking off. See you in 6 hrs"
Your destination is your own home. Is there any other feeling that is so relaxing and exciting at the same time?

Ladies and gentlemen, let's dedicate our next 5 mins to the journey almost every one of us has to take, a journey of leaving behind our own homes. It's a rite of passage, of sacrifice yet achievements, riddled with fear yet excitement. Of letting go yet new discoveries.

It was July 2017, approximately one and a half years back from today. I had just collected my provisional pass certificate of M.Tech from NIT Agartala. Also the call letter of Amdocs. I had like a month to spare waiting for the joining date to be communicated. There wasn't much to do. Life was fun in a lazy way. Like running on 1% CPU. This is 3rd of July, morning 8:30 am, I am still in bed, trying to get another 5 mins of sleep. I could hear mom in the kitchen, shouting at me to get up among the sound of utensils and the sweet yet sharp smell of the food being cooked. Seemed like the maid had just swept the floor and she had forgot to turn the fan back on. No choice but to get up. Eyes half shut, I search for my mobile and start clearing the notifications. One email notification makes me stop. It read "Amdocs Joining Date and On-boarding Process" - Sanjay Dcosta. I pause for a moment to fully open my eyes and quickly click  it. I was happy. I jump down from bed and run to the kitchen. "Mom! Amdocs has mailed with final joining date". Mom greeted me with a smile. "Wow. When is it?". I said "17th of this month". She calmly said "Very good. When would you leave for Pune?".  It was at that moment reality struck me. And it struck very hard. Felt like everything blurred and the voices faded for a moment. I bunch of tangled thoughts came up in my head "I will be leaving? Leaving my home? Where I have been for last 24 years? I would forever me a guest at my own home from now? What about that chair in the corner of the dining table, I don't remember having my dinner without sitting there. Who would play with our dog after dinner every night? Who would smuggle biscuits for the cat? The cold early morning breeze on the terrace, the sunshine in our balcony, the one legged sparrow that visited every evening. How would I be able to live without all of these?". My systems hanged.
Brain.exe is not responding. Would you like to restart the process?


Everything loads again and I could hear mom saying "Better start packing soon. I will make you some laddoos for the journey".

Fast forward to present day. 
I now have a 1 BHK room that I call my home. 
I have a chair and a computer table where I have my dinner every night. 
I have befriended three dogs who stay in my society and go walking with them after dinner. 
I don't have a terrace here, but the balcony does have sunshine in the morning. There's an one legged pigeon which visits me regularly. I recently bought a bag of rice for it. 
I have started to love my Room here.

This transition is like switching your laptop after 2 years of usage. At first all our files are spread around. Things are working perfectly, but we don't know how. We've forgotten how they were actually set up. It is when we are forced to clear our hard drives and move to a new laptop that we realize the difference between important files and files that are just there, never opened and taking up disk space. Apps that we never bothered using, photo backups that we forgot even existed. This is when we learn to streamline our dependencies, optimize our requirements and learn to use the cloud for better productivity. We learn to live on WiFi rather than fixed Ethernet.

Till date I have visited my home 3 times. Thrice as the guest I feared to be. There's a different kind of happiness in going back as a guest. Of course not to mention the huge number of home made delicious dishes you get to enjoy everyday. Being associated with a big company and working in critical projects has its benefits too. It broadens our horizons and thinking space. I met a few of my college buddies who were launching a small startup in my hometown. When they asked for technical help, I was glad I could help them without breaking a sweat. It was like my brain was running on 16 GB of RAM instead of 8 GB from one year back. I , at that moment, was confident that leaving my home for a rented room wasn't a bad decision at all.

Love your home, keep it and its members very close to your heart. But don't let the geographic distance be a hindrance to your journeys exploring new opportunities and going new places.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Time and Tide, wait for some

It was the date of Biology in PCB category exam. The exam was going to start in 5 mins. People were busy taking their seats and getting ready. Now or never she said to herself. She turned back and asked him "Are you good in Biology?".
He was busy arranging pen and paper. He stopped and looked towards her "Not much, why?", he replied, a bit surprised.
"Please help me a little, I am not good in this subject", she said, trying to make it sound genuine with a smile.
"OK, sure", he assured and smiled back.

The exam was of 3 hours, 4th and last one since the two day long 12 hours exam marathon.
Halfway through the exam, she asked something related to mitochondria, he replied, and that was all. At the end of the exam she wanted to say thanks, but the room was too crowded to see him. 
He was slowly walking through the corridor with the crowd, slightly hoping he would walk into her somewhere. But luck was not with them. They saw each other, but only at the last moment. Both were leaving with their parents, and a smile was the only thing that was exchanged.

5 years later, he asks her, "I still don't know why you said you are not good in Biology". She laughed, "And I don't know how I became a doctor, I wanted to be an engineer actually". "You seem to remember that day pretty well?", she asks curiously.
"Of course I do, you asked me three MCQs, none of which I was sure about. I issued a disclaimer : Please take my answer at your own risk, I'm not confident". You said "It's fine".

She said, "Thank god I took the initiative of starting the conversation, you were sitting there for 9hrs without saying anything and the last 3 hours were going to pass too", in a slight scolding voice.
He tried to argue, "I'm not used to having good looking girls sitting in front of me in exams. So not familiar with the concept of initiating conversations". "But I specifically checked out your name on the attendance sheet after that", he tried to calm her.
She started laughing. "Oh poor fellow. Is that why you remembered my name for long?". 
"No, actually I wanted to check your result and see if you cleared medical entrance or not. In case you sued me for those three wrong answers. But after seeing your rank, I was wondering why you had lied", he said imitating a suspicious look.
Not used to compliments about herself, she felt shy. Looking away she said "Believe me I am really not good in Biology".

He continued "And I checked in Facebook that you didn't have an account, which reinforced the fact that you were actually a studious girl."
She smiled "That's some serious investigation you carried out. How did you remember to search after one year?"
He shrugged his shoulders "Just intuition... Anyone who is studying in medical is bound to come in touch with Facebook at some point. Should take one year at most....", he paused for a bit thinking deeply "But you know, if you actually had an account already, I probably would have never sent a friend request... ever!"
"Why so??" she looked surprised.
"Because that would look too desperate and stupid!" he laughed. "Instead, sending the request after one year, is a very decent thing to do"
"Only problem is, by that time the girl will probably have a boyfriend", she added.
"Well, that's not a bad thing entirely" he smiled.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why you shouldn't feel shy about speaking your own language.

Let nobody tell you that your language is not a good language.
It is nothing but stereotyping and propaganda when some people say one language is superior than another.

When we speak informal Bengali, it's considered derogatory, even by our own people. But when people in America and Europe go informal, it's  prestigiously termed as 'accent'.

I mean what the hell? RIP logic .