Sunday, August 23, 2009

Nothing can beat the feeling of achievement, not even money

I have been thinking long and hard about this. And also trying to see if I can get any evidence to prove/disprove it. And the more I think about it and the more I try to find evidence about it, I am convinced that there is some merit in the case.

Let me get to the point. My essential thought is, in life, is money the greatest satisfier? Or, is that feeling of achievement, of having done something in one's life more satisfying (most satisfying)?

In order to see the merit of this case (there are de-merits), I have been looking at a cross-section of people from different walks of life. Sports, writers, etc. Now, most of the examples seem to be glamourous. But across disciplines, I notice that the sense of thrill, elation, and happiness of reaching the pinnacle of your discipline, seems to far override any thought of money. Let's take the example of a Wimbledon champion - any champion at the All England Club more often than not breaks into tears on his/her victory. Any cricketing World Cup champion is overcome with emotion of having conquered the world - just think back to 1983, when there was no money.

Think of other streams, the Oscar awards maybe - a chap like A. R. Rahman grabbing 2 Oscars and performing at the top of his mark on the world's biggest stage; or maybe, an author who wins say a Pulitzer or a Booker Prize; a scientist or an economist winning the Nobel Prize; other sportsmen breaking records held for years; historians cracking the code on ancient myths; painters creating that one masterclass item that will put them above others (why do we have only ONE Mona Lisa?); advertising gurus, trying to get that ONE ad right, all their lives.

Simpler things, like a mother seeing her kid reach the top of his/her stream; or, a kid jumping around if he/she wins a prize in a school competition or tops his/her exam; a banker or a consultant getting past tough competition and scoring points with a hard client; a child's dream coming true - whatever it may be (Taare Zameen Par?); a childhood dream coming true; two people, a boy and a girl, growing up together, falling in love and getting married to each other; the birth of a kid; a student getting a rank in his/her university; winning a match or a competition for your school, college, university or country...the list is very long, and actually, endless.

In all this, I really do not see any evidence of the money factor adding to the thrill of the human being. As people, all of us have our dreams and aspirations (yes, monetary included, but not overriding, always). And, when we realise those dreams in real life, I doubt, if, at that moment of glory, one looks at the money. I am guessing that, that moment is for the person alone i.e. to sit back and relish the moment. Simply because he/she knows the amount of struggle that went into scaling that summit (whatever it may be).

Yes, the counter to this can easily be, that money is everything. But, for the truly passionate achievers, I would think, that money is a derivative; not the main thing.

Perhaps, there is no end to this argument. But, I would think, that for the truly passionate achievers, money is only a function or outcome of what they set out to do. Else, I doubt if the world would have progressed the way it has, across time i.e. if everyone wants ONLY money and no specific achievements, we would all be robots chasing currencies.

Like I said, an endless debate. But, I would think, that we need more passionate achievers, than currency-driven human beings. That is the one great way of ensuring progress. Else, money will come and go, people may not achieve enough to transfer a better life for the generations ahead.

Money, is passe. True achievement, makes life worth living.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My first drive on a highway- to Ramanagaram

I had not imagined that it would turn out that way. Nor did my friend accompanying me. Aravind and I had gone to our gym, like we have always, on any given day of the week. On reaching the gym, we were told that they are closed for the day. We had no prior wind of this and were caught off-guard, as we are generally serious about our workouts.

Given this sudden turn of events, we were wondering what to do. We were not in the mood to go back home immediately. At the same time, we were not exactly well attired to go to any public place like a movie etc - after all, gym wear is not exactly presentable! We trudged out of the gym to my new car and were generally wondering what to do next.

Out of the blue, I suggested to Aravind that it might make sense to go on a long drive. Both of us are recent buyers of our first cars and he completely understood the excitement that I was hinting at! On the spur of the moment, we decided to go past Mysore Road and enjoy some music along the way. That was the start of a very sudden weekend getaway on this lovely Sunday afternoon.

We crossed the city limits in about 30 minutes and hit Mysore Road. I soon realised that this was the first time ever that I was in a car of my own, on a state highway. The road was immaculately laid out and the weather outside was quite magical. I was as excited as a small kid boarding his first flight and being greeted with chocolates by a good-looking air-hostess!

Given that both of us are travel maniacs, we quickly sized up the situation and realised that this could be a fantastic, quick/sudden trip that can be converted to a memorable one if we stretched a bit. While Mysore is a good 130 kilometres from Bangalore city and was a touch impractical to achieve (given that we were well into Sunday afternoon & had a Monday morning coming up!), we decided to go to Ramanagaram - about 25% of the way to Mysore.

Ramanagaram, as the average Indian Bollywood fan would know, is the venue of that giant of a movie shot in the 1970s-Sholay. This is exactly where the characters of Gabbar Singh, Jai, Viru, and Basanti hit national headlines and captured the imagination of the Indian populace. And for us to see those tall hills, big rocks, and the paths that led to the top of the hills was indeed exhilarating. What added to the spice of the afternoon was the beautiful cloudy weather, with a tinge of sunlight peeping through the skies.

I was particularly excited when the speedometer in my car hit 100 km/hour. To do that on Indian roads in my own car, was truly a moment to cherish. I had dreamt of that moment for years. The fact that it happened without any planning and with no hint of a trip coming up, made it particularly thrilling.

We crossed Ramanagaram and reached a place called Janapada Loka - translated in Kannada as the World of Janapada (a folk dance in Karnataka state). It was a lovely, low-key kind of a place run by the Government of Karnataka. The beauty of the place lay in the manner in which the history of the state was captured - it was a place that showcased the state's rich culture & heritage, had a museum full of old artifacts that were used in yesteryear in interior Karnataka, had colourful dolls replicating real-life artistes with great attire in folk dances etc. In particular, the magic of the Yakshagana form of art was brilliantly depicted in all floors of the museum.

Following the visit to Janapada Loka, we proceeded to the neighbouring building - Kamat Yatrinivas, one of the most famous restaurants in the state! There, we had great south Indian dosa, authentic Maddur vada (slurp!) and a coffee that was par excellence. For a non-coffee chap like me (tea -freak!), the coffee here was amazingly crisp and strong.

We finally trudged out of the hotel back onto the highway for our return journey home. The drive back to Bangalore was replete with a couple of rash drivers giving me an opinion or two about my safe driving on a highway + dumb auto-richshaws crippling the fast-moving traffic. Well, they need to understand that I was driving in a new car for the first time ever on a big highway! And in any case, even if I were a veteran highway driver, I don't think I will be a rash one.

I dropped Aravind at his place and came home directly. On reaching home, there was a sense of immense thrill and satisfaction of having driven a car on a highway and clocking very good speeds at that. An old dream, suddenly fulfilled. Like Aravind rightly said, the best thing to do in life is to take it as it comes - who in the wild world knew this morning that we would end up making a round trip of 100 kilometres, on the outskirts of Bangalore between 230 and 630 pm! That's life!!:)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Recession and curves...

I never knew that curves can make national headlines. I only know of curves being talked of in page 3 columns and by adventurous writers. But, this recession has changed that perception on its head.

We now have economists, policy-makers, bank governors, analysts, financial engineering experts, TV anchors, news reporters, authors, and people from every discernible walk of life talking about how the economic recovery will pan out. Some call it the U-shape curve, othes say its V-shaped, and more creative ones say that it will be a W-shaped curve, driving all of us along the path of recovery!

While that may be technically true (in economics, at least), I find it hard to associate curves with alphabets like U, V, or W. I mean, curves are meant to be naturally admired and not defined into specific alphabets, isn't it? I mean, the last time I ever heard of curves being viewed, but never talked about too much was during Baywatch days!

Ok, I may have stretched it a bit in this piece, but well, I think we lightened our lives a wee bit, given the treachery of this recession around us.