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Leaving on a jet plane..


Change is not easy. And change from one place to another, even if it were a short stay, can unsettle me. Don’t mistake me, I love travelling. But what I’m talking about is living in a place for a while, having some emotional attachment to the place and having to leave. It happens to me when I leave Singapore to visit India, it happens on the way back. And now again, it’s time to leave this lovely little town of Fontainebleau, the INSEAD campus here, many wonderful people I met, but will continue to stay in France.. I can’t overstate my eagerness to go back to family, but I’m also in this transition phase which always makes me a little queasy.

Looking back and thinking about it, it was those good byes that made it hard. The countless times I bid goodbyes to my family at the Bangalore airport, the fleeting moment in Schipol when I last looked at Vishnu many months back, and now all those good byes to my lifer friends who will not be visiting Singapore during INSEAD.

I always thought it’s the place, the obvious changes in routine etc that caused the stress. But no, it’s so much more than that. Yes, I’ll miss Fontainebleau, I’ll miss traveling in Europe, but all that is simply overpowered by the feeling of being with family after ages. It’s less and less about places, it’s more about people, people I make connections with, people who make great conversations, people who simply love – family.

A few years ago, I think I was this aimless wanderer, dreaming of places to go with nothing to look back. I still am, but my priorities are different. I still explore, but with a deep desire to share every experience the people I care. I still dream, but with family in sight. For those little moments with people matter as much and more than just traveling and ticking places off a map.

I’ll have to dedicate many posts to my life at INSEAD.. but there is one really important thing that INSEAD has drilled into me. Life throws many options at you, but turns out, life is not as generous with time. So make the the best you can, in whatever way you value, ’cause time is always running out.


At Time’s mercy


As a kid I searched the sands of the shore for hidden shells and pearls..

The vastness of time..

Now I search the vast sands of time for answers..

They are hidden.. And waiting for none but time to reveal.

Only Time..


Enya. Enchanted is the feeling when I listen to her songs. One of her songs – “Only Time..” is a brilliant piece and I’m so in love with it recently. The lyrics are wonderful and very true too.

“Who can say
where the road goes
where the day flows.. only time..

Where the road goes..only time

And who can say
if your love grows
as your heart chose
only time..”

Listening to Enya is pure bliss.

Standby mode


Spread out a mat on the floor, turn the lights off, (or dim the lights, the way I prefer) sit down cross legged, back up straight, eyes closed. Take deep breaths and set your mind free. Do not restrain it initially, but slowly pull the reins on it and start focusing on one thing – be it the birds chirping, or the sound of the trains, or your breathing. (Well, these were the prominent things that came to my attention). Whatever it may be, rest your mind on that one thing. That’s how you go into what I call the Standby mode and what most people might refer to as meditation.

I tried it out for a short ten minutes. And I felt refreshed and clearly able to concentrate on my work following it. It left me charged and confident, wanting to do something productive or create something. (Oh well, here is a proof, a post on my blog after a super long hiatus, then you can imagine)

The benefits of meditation can’t be overstated and aren’t alien to us, yet many of us find it difficult to squeeze it into our routines. I realized what prevented me from making it a habit were some preconceived notions that it has to be done at this hour everyday, in this manner, in this order etc etc. Actually its not that complicated. Just get down to it, without any strings attached, and just do what is comfortable with you. I’m not saying you sit down and go to sleep. But just be flexible in your approach. Flexibility makes it enjoyable and you don’t need to have the perfect time+place+equipments to go about it. Just do it.

I learned 2 things from this short experiment:

1. Meditation works. It works really well. I felt peace. No, I’m not yet at inner peace, this is good enough for now.

2. It’s simple. You just need a small space on the floor or a chair to sit down on. A fairly quiet place (Pin drop silence is not necessary, but sitting in a rock concert won’t help either.)

Trailing on the second point,most activities for physical and mental health are fairly simple and straightforward. We just need to break the ice by trying it out once, find the groove and enjoy it. Try this today. Go standby. Let your mind rest in peace and wake up rejuvenated.

Paint a Picture #1


A creeper entwined around a palm frond..

In the walkway leading to the pantry at my workplace, an admirable sight has caught my attention in the past couple of days. Before painting the picture with my thoughts, I welcome you all to pen down your musings and interpretations on the photo. I would love to see a variety of ideas and stories cropping up around this picture.

While writing the entry, it just occurred to me to start a series called “Paint a Picture”.  Once in a while, I will put up a picture of something that has intrigued me or caught my attention for some reason. I welcome your interpretations on the picture, and I hope it will brew some interesting ideas and add many dimensions to the picture. It can be anything from a single word to a a few lines, preferably limiting it to 5-6 lines.

Ho Shuru Har Din Aise!


For those who need a translation – “Let every day begin like this..”

No, I don’t drink Nescafe. I’m not a big fan of any coffee. But it’s the Nescafe jingle – they simply got it right and nice.

What got me started on this entry was a perfect Sunday morning. Simply delightful, not overdone, just the right tone for a day to myself.  I’m going to describe here the elements of  a perfect start to my day. It’s my recipe and may not work well for everyone, and may even seem cliched for a few. But believe me, when you have to skip your breakfast and morning news, rush to your office and work in a cubicle for 5 out of 7 days a week, a perfect morning is made up of rather uncomplicated small things that we miss out on.

I love waking up early. I concede that it’s not the easiest thing to do, but once I manage to break the force that holds me down to the bed at 6.00 am in the morning, the feeling is excellent and nothing less. Excellent is the word.

Get moving! Yes, it’s 6 00 am in the morning, and it’s time to get some light exercise. It sure adds some energy to the morning.

Splash! A cold shower will do the trick of weeding out any remains of tardiness that’s left even after exercise.

Reading the news or a book while sipping on a refreshing cup of tea comes next. I like the quiet mornings, watching the dawn break into a lovely blue,  reading, and enjoying the aroma of a classic breakfast tea.

After an hour or so, it’s time to plan my day. Highlight the activities that need to be marked off as done. Mentally go through the chores that serve as breaks amidst ongoing work.

Followed by breakfast time! It’s a Sunday, so time to flip an omelette (or a yummy dosai) and throw in a couple of kiwis or strawberries on the plate.  A good hearty breakfast is the best part of the day!

After that, it’s time to go about the day as planned. When things are as right as above – that’s when the jingle “Ho Shuru Har Din Aise” rings in my head!

There you go, as simple as that. In contrast to a harried weekday, where I have to rush out of the house at 6 40 am, skip my breakfast and stare at my work at 7.30 am, I love my simple Sunday mornings.

A dive into the deep blue! – Part 2


The first dive. Early morning, P.Dayang
The island is pretty small. The place near the dormitory is was abuzz with different diving groups. The dormitory we stayed at was run by  a local family who provided us with food as well. The rooms were very close to the shore, and as soon as I got onto my bunker bed, the sweet sounds of the waves lulled me to sleep. Early morning, we were ready and well fed by around 8.00 am. The first dive spot was a 40 minutes ferry ride away. This was it. I suited and geared up, ready to delve into the blue expanse of the South China Sea. The surrounding was a sight to behold. Lush green mountains, clear skies and pristine waters. We queued up to jump into the water – with a 12 kg oxygen tank, tight wet suits, goggles, and flippers!

One arm outstretched, and holding my nose with the other hand, I took one big stride & simply fell freely into the water! The chill waters engulfed me as I broke into them, took me a couple of feet underwater & back to the surface. Like a little child struggling to walk for the first time, it took me a while to gather myself and get into a comfortable state. To be amidst all the beauty, to take in the feeling of being in a huge water body, was overwhelming. Once our group of 6-7 beginners were ‘off’ board, we started our underwater drills.

The first dive commenced with our basic tests like cleaning goggles, managing the regulators etc. We knelt down on the seabed 5 m underwater and performed the tests in a row.  Having completed them, we slowly warmed up to diving around the area in a group. A visibility of only 15 m doesn’t help much when we are already in unfamiliar territory, and more over, one that does not belong to us. Nevertheless, slowly but steadily, I warmed up to the environment, and began to soak in the feeling. I could move around almost effortlessly, feel light and slow and simply amazing. I began to enjoy the experience thoroughly, and by the end of it, I was only craving for more. The maximum depth we reached on the first dive was only about 10 m, and by the end of the 5th dive, we spent most of the dive time at 18 m. That’s about 5-6 storeys, which may not seem that much, but remember, it’s underwater!
On the first day, we performed 3 dives, each of which lasted roughly an hour. At about 6 pm we called it  a day and freshened up for dinner. We dined and chatted on wooden benches on the shore. There we were, in the middle of the sea on a small dot of an island, going about dive stories.
By the end of the next day, we were 5 dives old. And needless to say, exhausted. For the evening tea break, I came to the beach to find some banana fritters being served. Relaxing on the beach, partly wet from the dives, soaking in the tropical sun, and relishing the banana fritters. It just couldn’t get better.
During each of the dive, as a beginner, I was fascinated by the sights of the underwater. Once, I was literally diving amidst a school of colourful fish, ranging from angel fish to clown fish. That was also when I spotted a fairly big sized squid a few feet away from us. And not to mention the really cool tiny christmas trees, which disappeared into the sponges when touched, like an underwater version of touch me not! At one point, when we were making our way back to the surface, I spotted a huge angel fish, that just appeared and disappeared simply, like that!
It was not all smooth, I also had my share of tough and slightly tense moments. It is important to control your buoyancy during the dive, so that you remain a couple of feet above the sea bed and adjust as and when needed. Coarse tuning of buoyancy is done by directly pumping air into or out of the buoyancy jacket that one wears. Fine tuning is actually done by breathing in and out – changing the volume of air in the lungs. During one of the dives, I was so lost in observing things around me , I didn’t realize that slowly I was going up and almost hit the surface. The whole group was ahead of me, way below at a depth of 16 m,  and the assistant instructor failed to notice this. Whoa, I had to remain calm, and join the group. Slowly contracted my lungs, and pumped out air from the jacket and made my way back to the group. Phew.
Sometimes I had a problem exactly opposite to the above, I went so low to the seabed and stirred some sand, creating a haze. That’s a common problem with most beginners though. Barring these hiccups, the dives were fairly smooth.
Nothing less than a unique experience. I had a whirlwind of a time. The trip went by quickly, and I was so craving for more dives. It’s a totally different, almost of out the world experience. And for all you water lovers out there, you simply have to go dive! – at least once in your lifetime.