Thursday, April 26, 2007

How modern life sharpens your focus

As a kid growing up in India I read the story about Arjuna, the famous warrior prince of the epic Mahabharata. He was a renowned archer. As a student he was told to practice his skill by aiming at the clay pigeon’s eye from a distance. Such was his focus that when aiming for his shot he could only see the clay pigeon’s eye, rest of the scenery used to fade away from his vision.

Now move to modern times to my humble life as a guy living in Princeton area of New Jersey and working in downtown Manhattan. My commute uses multiple modes of transport, wifey baby drops me at the bus station in the car which is 3 minutes ride, bus takes me to the train station, the express train drops me to the next train station, the second train takes me to the World Trade Center terminal and from there I walk 12 minutes to my office in the Wall Street area. Phew, friends this is my everyday morning commute which takes around 1 hour 45 minutes. I am an early riser who wakes up every day at a crazy hour of 4AM to do some reading and yoga on alternate days and to be out of the door at 6.35AM. To know how this schedule has sharpened my focus…to ridiculous limits, read on.

One fine morning my alarm clock woke me at 4AM and I thought what the heck, I can use some extra sleep. I reset the alarm clock to 5.45 which would have given me barely enough time to be out of the door at 6.35. Sure enough, at 5.45 I woke up and completed the 3 Ss(S**t, Shave and Showered for the uninitiated) and drank a cup of juice. I woke up my poor wife and dragged her half asleep to my bus station. Now my bus comes at 6.40 and I wait in the car on cold mornings till it comes. On this fateful morning I kept on looking at clock .41, .42, .43, .44, .45 and the bus is still nowhere. Now I called up my buddy on his cellphone who takes the same bus from the previous bus stop. My buddy answered the phone and in a sleepy voice asked me that why the hell I am calling him at 3.45AM!!!

Here is the explanation, what happened was that previous night my six year old had fiddled with the digital alarm clock in my bed room and set it at 3 hours ahead. All this time after waking up I was staring at only the minute digits of the clocks…the one in my family room, the one in the car…remember me looking at the time in the car “.41, .42, .43, .44 and when till .45”, all that while I did not even look at the hours side of the digits. Now friends, that is called the supreme focus similar to what Arjuna used to have while taking an aim. So you must agree with me now that the mechanical life of modern times sure sharpens our focus.

Oh, back to my story, we did come back home from the bus station, now what we did with extra 3 hours at hand and with kids sound asleep is classified :-)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Parenting – keeping your kite flying high

Being a father of just turned teen daughter and a young man of six I have always been intrigued by the various parenting techniques/theories preached by the “experts”. To add to this distinguished list here is my own – parenting is like flying a kite.

As a kid growing up in New Delhi, India I used to love flying kites, especially during the month of August and more specifically on August 15th, India’s independence day. That is where my expertise in flying kites comes from. To fly a kite you off course need a kite, a reel of thread, good weather and some breeze. But before I move to why parenting is like flying kite, let me introduce you some native terms and its meaning in plain English. “Tunka” – tugging at the thread lightly, “Kheench” – pulling back the thread and finally “Dheel” – letting go the thread.

Alright, now that you have my background and the native terms clear in your mind let us come to the subject matter. You might want to re-read the explanation of the three native terms as I am going to use these and not the plain English in my theory. Every parent wants to see their child become very successful in life and reach for the heights just like one wants to see one’s kite flying high in the sky.

Talking about kite first – to fly the kite one has to tie it with the thread and provide it with nice weather and with some breeze. In the beginning just to put the kite in the air one has to let it go in the air a little, let it catch the breeze and then do the Tunka and give some Dheel. The combination of Tunka and Dheel keeps the kite in the air and some times when the kite goes wayward you have to do Kheench too. This deft combination of Tunka, Dheel and Kheench get the kite stabilized in the sky. Once that happens one has to give more Dheel, i.e. allow more thread to take the kite go higher in the sky. You feel ecstatic to see your kite soaring in the air, though the higher it gets the farther it gets away from you. At the end of the day you know that though your kite is way up in the sky…it is still attached with you through that thin thread.

Same is true for the kids. By birth, adoption or maybe through marital misadventure they are already tied to you. One has to provide them the right environment to learn and grow (ala good weather and breeze) right from the beginning. At early age itself they should be allowed some level of independence (ala Dheel) so that they can be more confident. From time to time we have to check them (ala Tunka) to make sure that they are doing the right things. Sometime if they go wayward we have to pull them up too (ala Kheench). If you provide them the right environment and use the Tunka, Dheel and Kheench like an expert, you would see them grow into fine human being. Once they are old enough and responsible enough you have to let them go and take their own flight. It would be a sheer joy to watch them take on the world and reach the heights of their chosen fields. All you have to do is to keep that thread of love and compassion intact so that you are always connected to them.

Hey I have flown a lot of kites high in the sky as a kid but as a parent I am still at an initial stage. I am sure that if I keep on using my kite flying lessons in parenting, one day I will see my kids reaching the higher grounds than what I could ever reach in my life. That will be the happiest day of my life. All I have to make sure is to keep that thread of love and compassion as strong as ever…as that would be the only thing connecting me to them.