I recently self-published my novel ‘You Only Live Once?’ and scaled its sales to make it reach in the coveted top 100 Amazon Bestsellers list. I sold a record 234 copies on Amazon and 50 copies on Flipkart in one single day, yesterday. My rank on Amazon was #85 (Books) and #13 (Contemporary Fiction). It’s a huge feat for me because I am a one-man army with a big dream in my eyes. It prompted me to write a blog to help other writers. I will run out of stock as I publish this blog. A truly happy-sad situation. Laugh. Sob.Read More
My father’s proactive measures and my mother’s mutual cooperation is helping my family battle COVID-19 to come out victorious. Here’s a survival story that will give some practical insights on how to deal with Coronavirus and why you must not panic due to Coronavirus!
Today, 2nd June 2020
Yesterday morning I woke up to 2020’s biggest fear – one of my family members being tested positive for COVID-19 and my inability to be with them due to the lockdown. I received a call at 9 AM and my mom explained that she has tested positive for COVID-19 and there’s a team of 6 odd people who’ve entered my parent’s apartment in the city of Indore, and they’re sanitizing every corner for the possibility of contamination.
And it begins…
The journey started almost 2 weeks back when Anupama Changle, my mother complained of extreme body-ache and high fever (101.2F) on 21st May. She had been showing these symptoms but her throat was completely fine. My mother proactively discussed being home-quarantined unless proved otherwise and my father, being a risk manager with SBI before retirement, instantly agreed. She was left in their room with an attached toilet and proper ventilation while my dad moved out to another room. Sohan Changle, my father has been managing the home, from getting groceries, to cleaning, to preparing food for my mother, 21st May on wards. He made sure she doesn’t have to step out for anything. She hasn’t moved out of the room since then except for four separate occasions.
Her symptoms were the same on May 22nd too.
On 23rd May, she reached out to our family doctor who prescribed her general antibiotics and multivitamins via Whatsapp since most of the clinics in our area are closed due to the lock down. She was also recommended to get tested for Malaria, Typhoid and Dengue and that’s exactly when she stepped out for the first time to go to the lab and submit the blood sample. But due to the weekend, labs also denied tests and asked to revisit on Monday i.e. 25th May.
On 24th May the situation didn’t improve and she continued to experience body-ache but milder fever. She also developed a sore throat for the first time around this time and had extreme difficulty swallowing food.
On 25th May she stepped out for the second time for the prescribed blood test but didn’t get the result on the same day due to less staff at the lab on account of Eid-ul-fitr.
On 26th May her throat got better with no fever, and no ache. Her blood test report came in and looked completely fine. She had tested negative for typhoid, dengue and malaria. The doctor also had a look at the report via Whatsapp and said she was fit and fine.
On 27th May she decided to step out and take over the household chores as she was already feeling normal and active now. Also, being quarantined in the room for almost a week had a negative impact on her mental health. She felt isolated, cloistered and demotivated.
But my dad insisted her to stay inside and keep no contact with the outside world. This resulted in a huge disagreement between them and further left her with negative feelings. This is when she decided to engage in some activity every day inside the room to stay motivated and happy. This continued on May 28th as well.
On May 29th she learned that Nagar Palika and Government teams had come to our township for collecting 100 random samples and testing for COVID-19 in our apartment complex. She thought this was an opportunity to prove it to everyone that she is fit and her infection was not a case of COVID-19 but maybe common seasonal Flu. She stepped out of the home on this day for the third time and waited in the queue in scorching sunlight for 4 hours before submitting her sample.
She kept waiting on 3oth and 31st May but had no idea about what happened with the test! She called back the authorities but they said many teams were deployed to work on this project and this team has no idea about what would have been the result. But they told her that if she was positive she would know within 3 days. Otherwise, there will be no communication from their side whatsoever.
On the morning of 1st June, she was 100% convinced that she is COVID-19 negative and stepped out of the room to go to the kitchen. She was busy preparing her morning tea when she received a phone call from the local police about her being COVID-19 positive and a team force reaching our home as soon as possible to help her in the current situation. She immediately moved inside her room and couldn’t believe what she had learnt on the phone call for some time.
She called us up and explained the situation. My brother works in Bangalore and I live in New Delhi with my in-laws. We panicked as we thought now she would be taken away to be kept in a government quarantine facility. As she was already on her mode to recovery what worried us more was the fact that my father and my cousin who’s staying with my family since the lockdown might also be infected.
But much to our surprise, the team disinfected every corner of our home and suggested her to stay quarantined in the room for 15 more days. They also prescribed her medicines like Hydrocholoquine and multivitamins. They gave her some pieces of equipment like pulse rate monitor and asked her to furnish some details about her health on an app called Indore 311. She has been assigned a doctor who video calls her at least 4 times a day to monitor her progress. Also, she receives multiple calls from Ayushman Bharat who’ve become her everyday therapists and are supporting her like an infant. She would be tested on June 15 for the second time and only after two consecutive negative tests would be declared COVID-19 free.
Her advice to people:
- Don’t walk out of the home unless absolutely essential. She most probably contracted the virus when she moved out to get vegetables. She had walked out only till the main gate. She has been washing hands with soap and using the mask. She hasn’t moved out of the colony in months and neither has someone entered our home post lockdown 1.0 started. Apart from her, only one more person tested COVID-19 positive in our colony who works as a sweeper. She cleans the staircase and common areas of the building. She comes from an adjacent sub-urban colony.
- Aarogya Setu App is really good. You must download it now.
- Be positive. Every day she engages in something creative to stay positive while being in one room. Throughout the blog I have shared her pictures. She keeps saying that you can confine a human to a room but you can’t confine the human spirit. Get it?
Her blood test was very positive and promising. She has such good immunity that doctor had ruled out COVID-19 when her first blood test report came in! We may have to live with this virus for an year or more so the best way is to prepare our bodies to put up the fight no matter the age group you fall into.
How has she boosted her immunity?
- She has been drinking the traditional Kadha for months now. She drinks it every day. She adds laung, kali mirch, daal cheeni, methi daana, adrak, saunth, tej patta and tulsi to make the traditional kadha.
- She has been very active despite her age. She is a regular when it comes to yoga (surya namaskar and pranayam), cardio and dancing.
- She drinks green tea, amla powder in water, and turmeric milk on a daily basis.
Some more learnings from our first-hand experience with the COVID-19 monster:
- Many people stop showing symptoms but continue to be COVID-19 positive and put other people at risk. Minimize human contact as much as possible to safeguard yourself.
- Quarantine yourself proactively if you feel even a bit unwell to protect others.
- Not enough testing is being done in India due to limited supply of COVID-19 test kits. So the numbers that you see on the internet are just the reported cases. There are many who go unreported if the infection is mild. You’re allowed to get tested only if you face breathing difficulties so it’s almost impossible for people with milder infections to be sure of their infection.
- Last but not the least, not everyone will face breathing difficulties, so the best way is to quarantine oneself proactively if you feel even a bit sick. My father always said that’s the only way to minimize the risk and that’s what worked for us and many others who could have been infected due to my mother.
Jun 2 onwards
Our messages and phone calls were flooded with people genuinely wishing her well and lauding her spirit. Not just our relatives and friends but also residents of my township, Shalimar Palms, have been extremely supportive as if they were our own family. People offered everything from khichdi to groceries knowing that my family members can’t step out of the home. They also know that we can’t visit her due to government protocols. I love Indore for the fact that the warmth that towns have can never be felt in the metropolitan cities.
My dad has been her biggest support during these difficult times. As a hero, he has taken over everything to make sure that my mom feels well. Meanwhile, my mom is also engaging in everything productive and creative to stay fit not only physically, but also mentally.
Last two weeks have been hard for us but we’re all sailing in this bumpy journey with loads of courage and hope. I can’t wait for her to be COVID-19 negative and fly down to Indore to see her. I love you, Maa. I love you, dad. I love you bro, Swapnil.
Featured as ‘Blog of the Week’ by Goa Tourism Department.
Most of us might have been to Goa before. If you still have not, all I got to say is pack your bags and leave for one of the most enthralling destinations not only in India but across the world. Goa offers a memorable experience of culture, food, travel, indulgence, adventure sports, nightlife, music, festivals and art. Everyone, at least in India, plans to visit Goa sometime in their lives and if you are just about to make a decision, you are definitely at the right place.
The travel season in Goa touches its peak in December on account of a pleasant weather like it goes for every tropical destination. The “Christmas”, “Sunburn” and “Carnival” are the best reasons to enjoy the festivity around in this season! The flip side is that Goa is extremely expensive and crowded during this time. If you are not that hip and party person and enjoy lying by the beach peacefully instead, you can plan a budget travel to Goa in February. An added advantage for the couples is in the form of Valentines’ Day. South Goa is the best place to be with its budget shacks and coco huts as against North Goa that offers more of clubbing & casinos. Palolem Beach, in the district of Canacona, is one of the best South Goa beaches. You could choose from a range of luxury to budget coco huts cum shack arrangement that is available by the beach for a delightful stay. The best part is that you could anytime put your beachwear on and move towards the inviting ocean, all on your feet. There’s a small jungle by the side of the beach which is echoed by the chirping of birds in the morning, a suitable place for trekking on your own. Running by the side of the beach with the jungle on the other side in the morning could fill you with all the energy and revitalize your senses. You could also enjoy the boat ride on your own or ask the local fishermen who reside there to take you to nearby beaches or into the jungle via the serene back waters. If you want to get the feel of staying in a marooned island for a while ask him to take you to the nearby honeymoon beach. You might just get lucky and spot a couple of dolphins in the sea water playing and indulging among themselves! If you are a social person, you can find travelers and backpackers from around the world who are willing to share their tales of travel over a mug of beer!
During evening, the entire seashore is lighted up with beautiful candles that are tactfully placed on the tables that are arranged right on the beach in front of the Arabian Sea horizon. You could savor a glass of wine with the delicious food served in the shacks as they offer a multi-cuisine menu to choose from, while listening to your favorite Beatles or Pink Floyd number playing in the background. Book a table to get transfixed with the ambience and feel blessed while you witness a mesmerizing sunset. This is just a glimpse of a day that can be spent at Palolem but exploring more to land upon new avenues of a perfect holiday is the key to get more out of this untouched beach village. Palolem is a place to explore and worth spending at least 3 days full of relaxation, rejuvenation, adventure and indulgence.
Startups, like humans, have DNA that defines its being – innovative, disruptive, risk-taking and fast-paced. They’re also cool, collaborative and impactful. As of 2016, India boasts of the entrepreneurial culture with about 2 million startups. Startups are in the newspapers, cafes and coworking spaces. They’re even on the billboards that stand straight on the traffic signals that lead to your office. A recent Accenture survey reported that
only 15% of the class of 2014 said that they’d prefer to work for a mature, established organization.
As an owner of a mature organization, no matter how strongly you believe in your processes and teams, what raises an alarm for you is –
- Hiring and Retaining the Best of Talent
- Fostering Rapid Fire Innovation
What do you do?
Calm down. Relax. Here’s a simple step-by-step action plan that has helped several mature organizations in the past and will come to your rescue too.
Intrapreneurship! Yeah, you’ve heard about it a couple of times, but, what is that? When your employees become entrepreneurs, they are called intrapreneurs. The average age for startup founders is 40. So, intrapreneurship isn’t for the new recruits only, it’s for the middle-managers too.
Great ideas can come from anyone, ok!
Empower your employees to come up with new ideas. Celebrate failures as much as the successes. Google encourages its employees to spend 20% of their time on new projects. This presents the employees with a new opportunity within the same organization and cultivates the drive for innovation. Ownership of ideas – yes you’ve got it right! The moment we start to own our ideas, we feel empowered already.
When you’d have asked your wife to marry you, it would’ve probably been at a fine dining restaurant. Similarly, for your employees to innovate, they must find themselves in a high energy environment. Building an office that has an open setup, no cabins, some Steve Jobs’ posters, a cafeteria, an incubator, in short everything that can let one’s creative juices flow and provide a conducive space for brainstorming.
If you don’t want to invest in the old office, consider moving to a coworking space.
It will also help your employees to network with the startup people.
A team is as motivated as its leader is! Not just the CEO; motivation, energy and an appetite for risk must run from top-to-bottom and soak everything that comes on its way.
Can we make everyone feel that they’re a part of the idea, the impact that they’re making?
Of course, we can! Rewrite those mission statements to make them more contemporary, upgrade the reward system and consider ESOPs to make them feel as if it were their own company. It truly does magic!
Open culture isn’t really about sharing beers with the co-founders, it’s more about being able to share everything without a drop of it!
Yes, we’re talking about having an open-door policy. A flat hierarchy fosters innovation through early feedbacks and failing fast. Listen before you speak, listen to their failures as much as their achievements.
But, Technology First!
In the times of Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, deep learning and advanced robotics; what you can’t certainly miss out on is technology.
The fifth industrial revolution is all about – do or die.
While innovative business models are ruling the market, it’s time that every company appreciates the power of innovation and disruption. MNCs are being wiped out overnight due to the lack of it. Invest in relevant technologies to reap benefits in the long run.
The core capabilities of a mature organization give it a competitive advantage, that added with the learnings from the startups can help mature organizations to cut from the clutter and stay ahead in the times of Uber and Airbnb.
Entrepreneurship presents you with various challenges from the very moment you decide to take the plunge. But, isn’t challenges the thrill of an entrepreneurial life? As a kid, most of you would have played video games. Would there be any thrill, if there were no villains or obstacles? Certainly not. Similarly, the journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur is a challenging one as well.
Here are some hacks for you to nail it!
Self vs. Product Validation
It is a good idea to seek everyone’s opinion, however not at the cost of questioning your core values. Listen to the criticism carefully, however, do not let anyone validate your own values.
A few days into the business, and you would start to occasionally look back on your big fat pay cheque corporate life. You would question your choices on the days a few setbacks would knock on your door. Negative thoughts like, ‘Maybe! This is not for me!’ and ‘Maybe. I’m not the one,’ will start to surround you. You need to kick it out with, ‘Yes, I can!’ and ‘Yes, I am the one.’
Keeping At It
The definition of success varies from person to person. But, if you are an entrepreneur, measuring success from an internal frame of reference will help you keep the external distractions at bay, and concentrate your efforts on what matters the most – your company! Celebrate small successes and wins with your team. Your vision could possibly take 7-8 years to come to life but that doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate. Hustling will become the status quo and you need to welcome this lifestyle with open arms.
The Wrong Circle
During the early days, it is imperative to find your circle of people, who can guide you through, ably. They are the ones who will encourage you when you start to look back and reflect too often. Network, and meet a couple of fellow entrepreneurs who will add to your enthusiasm and energy.
Read good books. Take a brisk walk in the morning. Engage in some sports during the weekends. Call back home. Practice mindful minutes and yoga for your mind. Do everything under the sun to keep yourself motivated. If you feel good, you energize your team with a good amount of positive energy.
Once you are done with the internal challenges, it’s time to face the world. The good news is that by this time you have become a stronger version of you.
Originally Published On: https://iamanentrepreneur.in/startup-business-trends/challenges-successful-entrepreneurs/
The more you fail, the more techniques you’d know to rise up again, and return stronger
Odds would become the order of the day when you start your business. Unruly life, unlikely outcomes and unknown obstacles make the milestones on the long road to success. While most odds would be external, the others would be internal. Internal odds are easier to overcome than the external ones. If you’re prepared as a warrior from the inside, it would be easier to combat the outer world. Wouldn’t it?
Always remember, in Martin Luther King’s words, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” That’s the simple mantra you need to abide by as an entrepreneur when it comes to keeping at your inner calling.
Awareness is the first step to success. As an entrepreneur, you must be aware of the unruly life and know that the challenges are the norm. Being mentally aware would then bridge the expectation-reality gap and you’d be ready to take up the hustle.
Self-belief is that weapon from your arsenal which would empower you to win the battle with the external odds. Most of the entrepreneurs believe that they’re subjected with criticism and opinions only until idea validation stage. Then they realize that no matter where the company is, they might have to deal with beliefs contradictory to their own, and convince the world about the vision they believe in. However, to be so focused and headstrong, you must have a very strong belief in your potential and your goals. This self-belief must be constant and unwavering much after the 1000th day too.
Learning is a constant loop, it never ends. Learn from the mistakes made in the past to build the future than crib about clients who would not pay or partners who would not stand by when need be. You’ve had your tragedies, so have the others. Anytime you feel bogged down, pat yourself on the back, get up, learn and move on. Where? Forward. Period.
Fail to rise
Success tastes the sweetest after a series of failures, and remember, every success is preceded by failure. As a child, you’d fall a thousand times before you would confidently walk on your feet someday. Similarly, don’t be afraid to fail. The more you fail, the more techniques you’d know to rise up again, and return stronger.
Focus on where you’ve to reach. Also, never forget where you’ve come from. Celebrate success, however small, with your team. When your focus is at the right place, your dream and the action plan to achieve it, all the obstacles and circumstances become irrelevant.
Invest your time with someone that you look up to as your mentor. It could be your investor or simply a teacher. During the entrepreneurial days, good and bad, you’d be able to reach out to them without hesitation, and you would not feel alone after all. Also, believing that someone can guide you better than you can guide yourself keeps you grounded and never lets your ego take too much control of you.
How about the external odds, you might think?
External circumstance would never really be under your control so why not make the most of your inner strength and persevere to establish your business?
Originally Published On: www.entrepreneur.com/article/326638
From Facebook to Uber, many companies were started because their founders wanted to solve a problem they, as consumers, faced
As a human, you’d be forced to take several decisions on an everyday basis. It is almost impossible to rationally evaluate various choices, when it comes to making a decision. In fact, emotions from our previous experiences play a vital role in influencing our decisions.
Antonio Damasio, professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, argues in his book,Descartes’ Error, that emotion is a necessary ingredient to almost all decisions. Emotions → cognitive processing → decision making → choice → outcomes!
Thankfully, most of the decisions are trivial with short-term repercussions. Should I have coffee right now or grab it from a Starbucks on the way? What should I wear for the weekend party? Should I have scrambled eggs or baked beans for breakfast? The list is endless. However, some decisions are bound to give us sleepless nights. Should I take up this cool new job or pursue further studies? Should I continue with my job or start my own venture?
Just like any other scenario, an entrepreneurial journey is full of instances where you’d be taking critical decisions. In fact, research in psychology shows that most of the entrepreneurial decisions are emotion-driven. Emotions will trigger your action to build your way forward in the journey.
Since emotions strongly persuade entrepreneurial decision-making, you’d better be aware of it and exercise this awareness to build positive outcomes. If the positive emotions are as overwhelming and omnipresent as the clouds in the sky, the awareness will give action the essential wings to fly. If the negative emotions are as wavering and inconstant as the water in the ocean, the awareness will give actions the essential boat to sail. Whether you sail through and fly with success depends on the action. In other words, starting up a venture is the best way to experience the ends of the emotional spectrum. The journey is full of emotional highs and lows and, therefore, it becomes absolutely essential to recognize what one is feeling at any point and make better decisions. Lows overpower the highs, on most occasions, and so, to constantly keep at one’s calling will be challenging for most of the times.
If you’re reading this, chances are that either you own a business or have been contemplating starting one for a few months now.
Let’s start from the beginning
Ask yourself a simple question: Why did I start my business in the first place?
Most of you’d say, because I wanted to solve this problem. Chances are that most of you’ve experienced the problem that you wish to solve. When you experienced the problem yourself, you had a sudden surge of emotions. The experience stayed with you for a while and when you had to embark on the entrepreneurial journey, this idea overruled every other idea and you decided to pursue it.
Some of the greatest startup ideas of the 21st century were triggered by emotions. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook since he himself struggled hard to make social connections. He thought to himself, “Why not create a platform that helps people connect virtually with ease?” Boom! Facebook was born. On a winter night in 2008, two friends, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, struggled hard to find a cab while they were in Paris to attend a conference. A few months after Uber was born!
If you watch a few episodes of Shark Tank, you’d analyze a pattern. A lot of people talk about an idea in specific because they’d faced the problem that they chose to solve. Most of the companies have real emotions, people and stories behind them.
By now, you’d start to believe that the decision of pursuing an idea, in particular, is itself based on emotions. Isn’t it?
Now, you’d “decide” to pursue the idea!
The decision to pursue the idea is also driven by emotions. Isn’t it? You will have to be crazy enough to quit your cushy 9-5 job and dive deep to test the entrepreneurial waters. It’s as challenging as breaking up in a relationship where you had attained the comfort zone, but now you’ve decided to embrace the change, and eventually discover one’s true self.
Now that you’ve embarked upon the entrepreneurial journey, your journey can be broadly classified into:
The good days
In the beginning, you’d be so emotionally involved that you’d let your health suffer, won’t call back home as often, and also decide to skip your best friend’s wedding for that much-awaited investor pitch. But as long as you get to work on your dream venture, you’d feel good.
A positive customer testimonial will fill your heart with the ultimate bliss that the world has to offer, so will the positive tweets/reviews post-launch.
As a relationship progresses, the intensity to express love to your partner goes down but in the case of your company, the passion will keep building as you achieve short-term goals and feel the exhilaration to do more.
Positive emotions have proven to deliver better decisions and hence, the best outcomes. So, the good days aren’t the ones that we need to lose our weight about.
The bad days
Have you ever imagined yourself a character while you were watching a movie? Meeting new people, day in day out, would be a process as immersive as watching this film. You’d want to be the hero, listen to all things positive and try and seek out a deal from every conversation. But a majority of the times, you’d be faced with criticism on your product or return home without the deal.
One fine day, you’ll wake up to negative customer testimonials, and also read it on a blog that your competitor has raised more funds than you did. The kind of thoughts that will iterate in your mind will go like, “Gosh! So the investors potentially believed in the idea but did not see the potential in my team!”
Unfortunately, the negative emotions triggered on the bad days overpower the positive emotions triggered on the good days. More often, the bad days outnumber the good days. The entrepreneurial journey teaches one to believe in oneself and hustle no matter what. It fuels the optimism towards living a full life. Edison once said, “I have not failed, I have rather found 10,000 ways that do not work.” Yes, that’s the level of optimism we’re talking about.
When you’re emotionally involved with something, positive emotions and negative emotions become an indispensable part of your journey. But your ability to recognize the negative emotions, working on it and eventually converting it into positive emotion will determine a positive outcome. You’d have lived life to the fullest capacity should you choose to startup as you’d have experienced the whole spectrum of emotions in the truest sense.
Originally Published On: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/324408
It was Christmas already, and as each day passed, I could sense the gravity of the impending situation more than the fervour of the burning candles and the purity of the scent from the potpourri. Even after countless persuasion from my friends, I had not bought tickets to any of the New Year’s bash that were going to rock the city in about a week’s time. My parents had been calling me every weekend for almost a month in order to confirm my arrival at “sweet home” as they were too excited to celebrate the New Years with me. My school friends had planned a trip to Goa and they were going to have the time of their lives as they ascertained in their never-ending pitch. Every time I spoke to any of them, all I could say was that I was still not decided as to how I wanted to spend the New Year’s evening. Neither my friends nor my family could understand what I was actually up to. But it was something else that scared me even more! The very fact that even I did not exactly know what I wanted from myself had given me sleepless nights in a row now.
I am a regular college going girl and I had spent the last 22 new years of my life either with friends or with family. Until now it had all made sense to me, you should spend your time with your near and dear ones, more so on a special occasion. But of late I had wanted to spend time with myself more than anyone else. It was 27th December and everyone around in my hostel was packing their stuff. Most of them were headed back home, the rest were leaving for a trip with their friends, a few others had bought tickets to the hottest parties in Delhi itself. I plugged in my earphones and started making my way through the corridors in order to escape the probing questions that were destined to come my way.
Furious but thoughtful, I started taking huge steps in order to flee as soon as possible. As I reached the main gate, my classmate who was loading his luggage in the taxi said, “Hey! Where are you headed without luggage?” For a while, his question made my anxiety come to life. I could only revert that I was planning to take a small walk in the park outside as it was a beautiful sunny day in winters. As I moved forward, I breathed in the air of consciousness and thanked God for several times as this question was easier to dodge than the one I had imagined, “What is your plan for the New Years?” I reached for my cellphone and started playing motivational songs like “Zinda hai toh!” in order to feel good about myself.
Surprisingly, most of the arrangements in Goa for my friends were made by me as I had been there a couple of times before but much more than that, my favourite pastime was indulging in wanderlust. I had spent half of the lectures sleeping while half were dedicated to browsing endlessly about travel on the internet. Only if there was a quiz on places to roam about in the world I would have topped any and every exam that I would have written. But unfortunately, we are taught only a few subjects, especially the ones that get us jobs. How about getting a life but a job? Quite difficult to answer in this seemingly deceptive world that values money and security above all. I had been reading stories about some unbelievably great startups and geniuses that were shaping the future of mankind.
Yet unbelievably I had given in to the systems and norms around me. The feeling of being trapped by the dogma seemed to exacerbate as I took restless steps on the road that led to nowhere, in thoughts and reality. I came across the dhaba on the other side of the street, where I had spent almost two years now, with my friends, having tea and chit-chatting, doing nothing. Today, I felt like having a cup of tea to beat the chill in solitude as I pondered hard about life. “Bhaiya! Ek chai aur maggi dena,” I said as I looked for the corner place to have a seat. In a couple of minutes, a huge crowd of students approached the tea stall and started placing orders of maggi and tea in volumes.
The only guy, who maintained the dhaba, acceded to their requests and served them with utter patience. His smile was as warm as the tea. Unperturbed by the chaos that the huge rush caused all the time he would always stay chirpy and optimistic. He had aspired to scale up for long and had resolved to inaugurate another tea stall next year. I could gather this from overhearing the conversations he used to have with his regular customers. He said he just loved preparing tea and serving it to people and though he had a choice of driving a taxi in Dubai and making more money he chose not to take that up. He loved his country, his people, and above all, he loved what he did.
I reached for my cellphone again, to change the song, as the motivational playlist had played for long. The moment my screen came to life, it got loaded with bulk WhatsApp messages. As I kept sliding my thumb towards the right, while still on the screen, to kill the notifications, one of them caught my attention. A travel app had just asked me, “Where are you travelling this New Year?” The train of thought came to a lull as I glanced upon it and then read it almost thrice. Without giving another thought, I got up and started running back towards my hostel.
I was happy as I knew what I was going to do this New Years. I packed my backpack by putting in all the stuff that I needed and booked my tickets to Mussoorie online. I boarded the late evening bus and with all the hopes up left for a place where I could get lost in the eternity of the Great Himalayas. If Ruskin Bond would have known me, he would have loved me for sure!
Two days had passed and I still could not get enough of the beautiful place Mussoorie was! It was just perfect with the clouds abound and temperatures that formed captivating smoke while I spoke. Winters had fascinated me since childhood, but living all on my own on a hill station, with a silence that stretched to infinity, was once in a lifetime kind of an experience for me.
But something even more fascinating had happened! I had met a woman from New Zealand during the dinner buffet at my place of abode for these two days. She had promised to see me again at the Little Llama café today. I wanted to talk to her and know more about her as she was a solo traveller and had held me captive with her extraordinary tales of travel the other day. Being in my regular rather ordinary environment I had never come across such a personality. She was in her mid-thirties, charming and elegant, her eyes spoke volumes about her maturity as they seemed to be wrinkled around the corners. She had an aura of optimism and exuberance. She had straight blonde hair and blue eyes. She would wear kurta, afghani salwar and a pahadi topi to look like someone just from the hills.
I reached the Little Llama café before time and waited for her. I ordered the delicious food out there and her favourite burger as a token of my love to make her smile. She was just on time and impressed me even more with her punctuality and the fact that she had lived up to her promise. Where do you plan to travel next? I enquired in an innocuous tone. “I will be travelling to Nepal in a week’s time,” she replied. She was surprised to see me there, sitting right across the table as she was not expecting me to come over to see her again at her favourite café. I had asked her everything about her travel and life in the first meeting itself and that had inspired me to the core to meet her again. But there were still some questions beyond that, that hadn’t been answered. I did not want to lose this opportunity to satiate my inquisitiveness.
I asked her that being a woman didn’t she fear taking such huge travel stints across the globe, where does she get the money and the luxury to be doing that, didn’t she fear the fact that in case things don’t work out well she is just gonna be wandering alone. I kept going on and on as I bombarded her with my silly questions. She waited for me to stop before she could start speaking. In the meanwhile, she started munching the delicious burger but heeded complete attention to what I had to say! Finally when I was done with my blabbering she spoke something to me that still reverberates in my mind like a sound in the hills. Those words made my New Years as special as it could be, and gave me a reason to live when I returned to Delhi.
I had read it in the books, watched it in the films, dreamt about such people in my mind, but speaking to a living legend reinvigorated the flame of setting myself free in me. All the questions that had haunted me all this life seemed to have taken a backseat. My fear had surprisingly tapered off with every day that passed post that encounter. I had realized that everything I had wanted in my life started and ended on travel. The only thing that had ever made me feel good about myself was travel and yet, unfortunately, travel was the only thing I had been most reluctant to take up. I returned back with the focus of taking this up for the rest half of my life. I ditched any other opportunity to work that came my way with just one resolution – It was just travel that was all I was going to do from now on. This New Year resolution seemed to be much more ecstatic than the false promises of shedding weight that I had made to myself in recent years!
I felt liberated, calm, determined and freed as I resolved to live my dream and face all the odds that came my way in order to protect my only reason for existence – travelling. That New Year proved to be a turning point in my life. It wouldn’t have been the same, had I not decided to spend some time with myself.
The words of the mystic traveler from New Zealand
Do what you love and everything else follows. You can make others happy only if you are happy from within. Think about what you want to own 10 years down the line. It is Ok to be happy with a car or a bungalow if that’s what you really want. It would get much scary with time if it is actually something that you don’t want. I had realized it only when I had started travelling on my own that it was only travelling that I had wanted from life. I have been divorced thrice because the men I married ran for money. But while I live my dream every day I am happy with all the bad decisions I took as they have just made me realize even stronger that I want to travel. Every person has a story and it is their journey that sets them apart from others. You need not be wealthy or impoverished to be successful. Success isn’t measured in terms of money. It can be measured only in terms of the fact that were you really able to do what you wanted to do. If it is travel that you seek, shed your inhibitions and accept the fact that you already have the answer to all the questions and just get going with what you want. Questions are the face of fear but remember that on the other side of fear lies freedom.
Though she uttered many more words of wisdom that day, her final words left me puzzled, intrigued, speechless yet thoughtful.
Do you really think that Mahatma Gandhi or Warren Buffet are the only people who are successful? They are for sure, but there are quite a few of them around you as well, it’s just that you see them but do not notice them. Although, it’s still a fraction of the entire population but not really difficult to find. Who in your vicinity do you think is really happy, satisfied and successful? Your teacher, friends, relatives?
Much to my amazement, I could not think of any of them including myself. All of them had wanted something but they were trapped in the rat race and ended up doing something blatantly different. All of them had enough money, moreover, quest for more money. But none of them ever seemed satisfied with what they did. Lightning struck me as I could finally think of a name and had an answer. I didn’t have the guts to speak it aloud as it somehow pinched my ego more than anything else. I had finally bid the mystic traveller adieu silently without speaking up a single word. But on my way back to the hotel I could still see only one name that flashed all over again in my mind. It was Bablu, the guy who owned the dhaba, near to my hostel!
Originally Published: https://www.tripoto.com/trip/a-new-year-spent-like-never-before-5673e1ed3ce81
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