10 November 2009

Life is what happens to you.....

“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans,” thus spoke one of the great oracles of our times aka John Lennon. This is for some of you younger folks - John Lennon was one of the Beatles; he was the most prominent face of the Beatles.

Recently, I came across a blog post by an ex-IBMer; she provides some wonderful insights in her blogs. Here is the link to her blog http://whenfridayswerefridays.blogspot.com/2009/10/ten-things-to-do-when-you-leave.html

The ten things she has on her list:

  1. Go to the Gym
  2. Cook
  3. Read
  4. Master the laundry process
  5. Pay attention to what the kids are doing
  6. Annoy your spouse
  7. Learn what a savasana (shavasan) is
  8. Write a book
  9. Get some vitamin D – from the sun
  10. Watch Mad Men

This list is by no means exhaustive, and she acknowledges as much by asking her readers an open question about what is on their list.

This list is also not universal, some of these things may not apply to you at all :). I mean, what Indian man knows how to cook or how to do the laundry? Or, who, in their right minds would go to cramped, ill-equipped & astronomically priced gyms? After all that is not why you ordered the chicken biryani and Patiala Johnny walker for dinner, did you? And isn’t annoying the spouse something that you don’t have to learn – it just comes so naturally:).

It is the reactions which I read with much interest. Some of them felt that this was a superfluous list in that, except for numbers 7, 8, and 10, the rest should be done all the time – irrespective of whether or not you are a part of corporate America (or Asia, or Europe).

I happen to agree with this kind of reaction, while pleading guilty to neglecting some of these for some time.

I do not go to the gym, but I more than make up for it by clocking up some 30 miles per week on the roads of Atlanta. In the process, I also get a lot of vitamin D – from sunlight; in fact, despite being brown skinned, I have two distinct shades of brown on my body, the exposed parts of my body being darker than the covered parts. I will readily confess that cooking is not my idea of relaxing or spending my leisure time and that I never really picked up cooking as a child or as a young man. I also do the laundry at home, and I can say with some satisfaction, that I have really mastered the laundry process. I also practice yog(a) and I think I have mastered the Shavasan(a).

However, this is not about what I, or you, do. This is about what I, or you, do not do. As a young man, I used to be a voracious reader. Now, I just buy books and stack them in my bookshelf. In fact, I keep adding the names of books to buy to my list of to-do’s. Needless to say, the stack of unread books keeps growing. A long time ago, it seems like a lifetime ago, I would have finished a book in one sitting. I do not know when I quit reading books; maybe when I got addicted to TV; maybe when I go addicted to the Internet? I don’t know. I will not blame work, for that did not stop me from reading earlier in my life. I have now consciously started reading, even if it is only five pages that I can read before going to sleep.

Because of my traveling, I do not get to spend much time with my children. And, here is the sad part; even when I am home, I do not spend much time with my children. I have two very lovely daughters; I really love them very much. However, until this past semester, until my older daughter’s school started to put her assignments on the school intranet, I was not really aware of what she is/ was doing in school. I now, try to spend some time with her everyday, trying to talk to her. Not just about her homework, but about other stuff as well. In short, I am trying to be a Dad again. My younger daughter is still content to be cuddled and being told a bedtime story. I get the cuddling part, but I have not really mastered the art of story telling – not every night! Why? What holds me back? Once again, I do not have an answer.

I have also been planning to write a book. I even started on it, but, needless to say, it lies untouched and forgotten for the past one year.

Meanwhile, my list of to-do’s keeps getting longer. I sometimes, correct that to frequently, get the feeling that there are many things undone and life is passing me by. I do not know what I am waiting for to live the life that I had always dreamed of. The one in which I would be tending to the flowers in my garden, and the kids would be buzzing around close by, asking a million questions about all the plants and the flowers. Or, the one in which I would be sitting in my favorite chair and reading my favorite book, and the spouse would be hovering close by and trying to annoy me all the time. I am probably waiting for the dream home that I want to buy, or I am probably waiting for the vacation that I have been planning, the one in which I’ll have all the time in the world and I will not have to think about work. I don’t know!

This post has taken some time. For the simple reason, that in the time since my last post, I have decided to make, and have made some changes. I have now decided to follow the Nike slogan; no more planning, ‘Just Do It’.

I have started to read – I have already read one book and I am on to my second. I also got back to writing my book, but I didn’t make much progress there.

I will keep you posted on my progress, I’ll be delighted to share yours.

P.S. - I would like to thank my friend Sanjay Jha for the caption of this post; I have shamelessly stolen it from his gmail 'status update'. I'd also like to thank him for his insightful comments on some of my earlier posts.


  1. True, procrastination is the greatest laborsaving invention of all time!

  2. I hope you realize all your plans. And wish your list of "to do's" keeps expanding. After all, what the hell, we all need our dreams.

    On another note, I understand your concerns on the growing stacks of unread books. Understand, but not share. I too used to agonize over this, but I realized that stacks of unread books are better than stacks of read books! You can always pick an unread book on a rainy day, speaking both literally and figuratively. (Read books too are not bad!).

    A friend of mine told me once his philosophy of books/ book reading/ book buying: "I buy whenever I want, I read whenever I can."

    So cheer up Alok, nothing like having an arsenal of the best writers, thinkers, philosophers stacked on your bookshelves, at your beck and call, whenever you desire!