Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dream... Dream... Dream...

Dream … Dream … Dream
Dreams transform into thoughts
And thoughts result in actions …

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam travels all over India repeating this to the children he meets.

I was thinking till now that he was referring to dreaming with eyes open, about having a vision. I thought that this is different from the dreams one gets during sleep. The dreams that one has during sleep, I felt, were more related to the fears and disturbances that one has in day to day life. I now feel that I have found a different meaning and that both are related.

Read on. . Because dreams are very important and they give a lot of insight into the person that we are.

I recently came across the book “The Interpretation of dreams” which is a translation of Sigmund Freud’s acclaimed work on analysis of dreams. Interestingly I came across this book because over the past two months I got some slightly strange dreams which left me wondering whether I was undergoing a total change in character and I was wishing if I could find a way to interpret dreams!

After cutting through some psycho analytic jargons and some complicated sentence constructions I figured out what Freud was trying to say. The underlying thread behind Freud’s theory is that dreams are indeed a fulfillment of wishes. If these wishes are straight forward and backed by good intentions you will have a good dream. If the wishes are selfish and against someone (even indirectly) you end up having a bad dream or contorted dream. This is contrary to common belief (like what I had earlier) that dreams are due to external and internal stimuli or a manifestation of images that get embedded in one’s mind before he goes to sleep.

I was really intrigued by this approach and I personally feel that this idea is really ground breaking. When I analysed my recent dreams I could link them to Freud’s theory and interpret them as a wish that I had around the time I had those dreams. Dreams are very personal and can leave the person exposed but I will share with you two dreams I had recently.

The first one is straightforward. I dreamt that I was talking to a relative sitting in our old house and I suddenly noticed my mom sitting next to me. I was left speechless and I cried and cried holding her hand while she was comforting me with an assuring smile as if nothing had happened. This dream doesn’t need any explanation that it was a wish fulfilled. It has been two years since my mom passed away and I have missed her every moment.

Coming to the second one, this was strange. In this one I chased a fly which was bothering me all over my house and crushed it to death. This was the strange dream which really got me thinking whether I was undergoing a total character change and becoming ruthless. On some analysis I found that around that time I had this dream I was being tortured by someone who had come newly into my professional life. I had made some extreme remarks about him to my colleagues and team members. I had even said to others that this guy was biting me like a bug and should be killed. It was that wish that had got transformed into this dream. I eventually started focusing on other things and this person no longer means anything to me but I think he has really helped me learn a lot, this dreams theory being one.

I know that Psycho analytical theories might not really interest everyone but I really feel that dreams are important. Have a closer look at your dreams and that will help you learn more about yourself. However you don’t need to share your dreams with me :-)

If you have read this far, you might come back saying that you had a dream which was totally not related to any wish and you might be right. The answer to that from me would be that it was still triggered by a wish and the wish was to prove me wrong!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Heaven Vs Hell

I cooked up this joke for my team. Inspiration was a Khushwant Singh joke on lawyers that I had read sometime back but I customized it for the scenario my team is used to.

God wanted to build a completely new IT stack to replace all his legacy systems and he wanted it to be a SOA based architecture. He floated a tender and there was heavy competition between heaven and hell. Finally God decided to give it to both because being god he was anyway never going to pay anyone and this option gave him a choice. Though he gave the project to both he was expecting heaven to do a better job than hell.

So heaven and hell were given the task of delivering the architecture in seven 90 day cycles. Unfortunately God was too much in touch with the latest and he wanted the development to be done in a completely Agile manner. He wanted to be involved throughout the development and wanted a working demonstration of software at the
end of each cycle.

God scheduled regular standup calls with both heaven and hell. Contrary to his perception he found that during the standups hell was presenting a very good status and painting a rosy picture while the status given by heaven was not at all up to expectations. Standup after Standup passed and God’s concern on Heaven increased and confidence on Hell also rose immensely.

Then came the day! The first cycle was over and it was time for the demo. God wanted Hell to go first. He found to his total disbelief that the application developed by Hell was pathetic and no where near the requirements. God moved on to heaven and was really surprised to find that heaven had developed a wonderful application meeting all his expectations.

God did a deep dive and found out why his perceptions during the life cycle were different from reality and he found out that ……

Heaven was full of developers and Hell was full of Project Managers!

I was just trying to be funny and wanted the majority to laugh. I had no hidden messages, though some people came up with a few! Reflections or Observations? I leave it to you to decide. Don’t hesitate to share your reflections (or observations) :-)

What's in a name?

I was trying to arrive at a suitable name for my blog and I suddenly hit upon the name reflections. My intention was just to share my random musings on whatever I felt like. To present my thoughts as they occurred to me. I somehow liked this idea that I read somewhere some time which said “If you have a problem with someone or something repeatedly, take a peek at the mirror”. Reflections seemed a very apt name to me.

Little did I realize then that words could be interpreted in several ways!

I was just reading Sigmund Freud today and to my surprise he had a lot to say on reflections. Here goes Freud in his own simple language of a Psychiatrist!

The whole frame of mind of a man who is reflecting is totally different from that of a man who is observing his own psychical processes. In reflection there is one more psychical activity at work than the most attentive self observation. This is shown amongst other things by the tense looks and wrinkle forehead of a person pursuing his reflections as compared with the restful expression of a self observer. In both case attention must be concentrated but the man who is reflecting is also exercising his critical faculty; this leads him to reject some of the ideas that occur to him after perceiving them, to cut short other without opening the trains of thought that they would open up to him and …
Freud goes on for a few more sentences on this.

Well that was really a simple way of interpreting reflection. Thanks to Mr.Freud.

Now don’t start imagining me sitting in front of my computer with tense looks and wrinkled forehead. There are so many ways of interpreting things (even a word like reflections) and some of them can be so complex and lead you to something you never thought of or meant.

I shared my intentions at the beginning and believe me I am as cool as a cucumber as I write this, really relaxed.

Back to the question that triggered this. So what should I call my blog? Reflections or Observations? Well, I don’t believe in complicating things. I still like reflections even if that leads people to believe that I am being critical as I reflect and I don’t expect a big psychiatrist reader community for my blog anyway.

Quoting from someone who I know for sure is not a Physciatrist

After all What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Krishna nee begane baaro …

I just finished reading this article on Krishna

On a Sunday night almost half asleep I let my thoughts wander. What does Krishna really mean to me? I have been hearing about Krishna for more than 30 years now.

Did Krishna really exist? Was he really an incarnation of the Lord Vishnu? The Lord who came down to earth in human form to destroy the evil? I don’t know if I can justify any of the above but I don’t doubt the existence of Krishna. I am sure he was a historic figure who lived several years before the birth of Christ. I do believe there are several parts of the story about Krishna which could be true.

Krishna must have been a great ruler. A prince who led a simple life and was close to the masses. A very knowledgeable person who was able to understand the essence of the Yogas and Upanishads and present them in a simpler form, the Bhagavad Gita. I don’t want to get into an analysis on Krishna’s wives but then all rulers of India in those days had many wives and I believe numbers might have been blown out of proportions over years. Krishna must have been a man who personified goodness and a great warrior who stood against evil forces. After all as Kannadasan wrote in Tamil “Manidhan enbavan deivam aagalam” (A man can achieve divine status by his actions and become worthy of worship). So Why doubt Lord Krishna?

Keeping questions on his existence aside, One cannot but marvel at the magic of Krishna. His stories have fascinated people over centuries and inspired so many musicians and poets. Hinduism is a way of life and Krishna and the Bhagavad Gita cannot be separated from Hinduism. I am sure the Story of Krishna will continue to fascinate people and his name will exist as long as this world exists.

As a child the stories of Krishna were really close to my heart. According to me the most impressive thing about the story of Krishna is simplicity. Any common man can easily identify himself with the story of Krishna especially the early years where Krishna is depicted as a careless mischievous child who liked butter and playing pranks on people. I used to get a bit scared imagining Krishna killing Kalinga a five headed snake. Scared as I was of snakes, this meant some sleepless nights as a child but then a more mature reflection of this makes me look at Krishna as someone who had mastered his five senses and kept them under control. A part of the story which might have got distorted over years as the story of Krishna was passed on from generation to generation. How could one dance on a five headed snake?

At home, we do celebrate Krishna’s birthday every year and I lose myself in the special delicacies that are prepared in Krishna’s name. If Krishna had not killed Narakasura we wouldn’t have had Deepavali, the festival of lights, a festival of happiness that is close to my heart and brings to me fond memories of the happy days that I spent with my mom.

On a lighter note, I am not sure if Krishna built any dams but it might not be long before some politician starts questioning about Krishna’s existence and his educational background in the name of rational thinking (Pagutharivu). Read this, the earlier Avatar Rama has just been questioned

Krishna nee begane baaro … (Come soon Krishna) If possible with your certificates and other evidences to satisfy Indian politicians.

Oh fool brooding over thy past!

In a rare moment of inspiration, I translated a Tamil song by Subramanya Bharathi which starts with the words "Sendradhini meeladhu moodare", not word by word though! Don't get me wrong with the opening line if you just happened to be reflecting on your past.

Oh fool brooding over thy past!
Think not about the past for
What has gone is gone and
never will it return

Think you were born today
Live and enjoy every moment
Your sorrow will vanish and
never will it return

Pursuit of Something Deeper

I read the following (given in Italics) in one of the blogs that I visit frequently. It is supposed to be an excerpt from the Preface of the book How? by Dov Sideman. I still haven't bought that book but this touches upon something I have been thinking about for the past few days."What is the motivation for me to go to work every morning?" I don't want you to assume that I am indicating that it is some kind of Celestine Prophecy that made me come across this post. It is not that I am not a believer, it is just that I am not a great believer of prophecy!

Coming to what I wanted to say, How many of us will be able to give a clear answer to such a question? "What is the motivation for you to go to work every morning?" An answer with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

At this point you are mostly thinking that I am either getting old or I have a lot of time at my disposal. I am not denying that, I am getting a lot more mature and most people link maturity to getting old. I don't blame you. I have a lot of time at my disposal now because I have managed to find time for what I want to do instead of doing what others want me to do.

On a serious note, I think this is something everyone should ponder about and try to relate success to something larger and deeper, something that gives a sense of fulfillment. If you are younger then that is all the more reason you do this now, because you have a longer time to define and achieve success!

A new vision of HOW requires a new way of embracing why we get up every morning and go to work. I believe the inspiration to do so lives in the thought that there is a difference between doing something so as to succeed and doing something and achieving success. I am in the business of helping companies and their people do the right things in the right way. The mission of my company is to help others and we make a living so doing. We do not help others so as to make a living. The latter speaks to a journey of intermediate gain and the former to a journey of significance, something of long-term value that makes not just money, but a difference. Significance lies in the ability to see one’s endeavours in terms of service to others, to be guided by a desire and ability to connect. In the vastly different conditions of our hypertransparent and hyperconnected world, I believe success can no longer be pursued directly, that it can best be achieved — and only achieved — through the pursuit of something larger and deeper.

A truly amazing person

When I wanted to start a blog, the first thing I wanted to write was something on my mom. She was the main source of inspiration in my life, she still is...

My mom was a truly amazing person. She had an unbelievable mix of good qualities, some of which I have seen in shades in some really good people I have known over years. In fact I should say everything about her was good. The best thing she did to me was the confidence that she instilled in me. I would have been nothing without her. Right from my childhood, she gave me the feeling that I was the most knowledgeable person, the best in everything, when she had so much within her.

The greatest thing about her was that she was there for me always, a shoulder to lean, eyes to cry for me (though not in front of me), heart to pray and a patient ear to listen. She was like the Sun, my source of energy and inspiration. She still is, it is just that she is not there with me physically at the moment, like the Sun is not visible to us at times!

It took me a few years to realize that my mom’s circle of influence was too big and it was not just me who was having such a great experience with a wonderful friend. She was encompassing the lives of everyone around her, in her own humble way. She was handling so many roles with ease and always had time for every relative and friend, anyone who needed her. I have seen her as a great mom, a caring wife, a loving daughter, a wonderful sister and an amazing friend. How could someone do all this?

She was a balanced person and seemed to have unending energy to carry on people around her. Sometimes I wonder what she did about her problems! I am sure she had her own worries on top of what others like me dumped on her but she never seemed to show them to anyone. Where did she draw her inspiration and energy from? Was she an angel or some kind of a fairy godmother, a blessing for her family and friends, someone sent to earth to just make people’s lives?

One thing I realized about her was that she never seemed to expect anything from anyone. In many ways she was like a child. She lived and enjoyed every moment. She would do everything to make someone feel good, not artificially though. She was genuine. I remember her holding my hand on Westminster Bridge and thanking me with tears for bringing her upto London, such a historic place where so many great people would have trodden in the past. Most people would have assumed it was the duty of their son to do that but not my mom. We both didn’t know then that it was the last trip we would go on, before cancer would taker her away from me.

I didn’t know much about cancer till my mom passed away. Not even when she was diagnosed of cancer or when she was fighting cancer did I know the seriousness of this disease. I never realised the struggle or the pain she was going through. That was my mom. She was dying and she knew it but she hid it behind her divine smile and kept assuring us that she was fine. Whatever I know about cancer today is only based on reflection, thinking back and running through what happened. To me, this phase clearly brought to fore her courage and determination. She fought cancer, went through several rounds of radiation and two rounds of chemotherapy and even when she had a recurrence she was still the same person. Not once did she cry or complain and only finally when she realized that we had come to know of the situation did she give up. She gave up life gracefully. She lived and died the same person. Cancer or death could not change her.

I always used to comment to her that her eyes kept moving too fast. I still clearly remember the last time I saw her eyes moving. I was starting for work on that dreadful Monday and she was lying on the bed. She seemed to be asleep and as I moved away her eyes opened. She realized that I was getting ready and moved her eyes slightly and bid me farewell. Little did I realize that it was farewell really. Maybe she knew it. When I came back an hour later, she was in total peace. She had given up her fight.

A few hours later, as I turned back after seeing her for the last time before fire would consume her remains, I was reminded of Wordsworth’s poem which I had read a few years back

Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss? - That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn,
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore

That heavenly smile can never be restored!