Category Archives: Till sunset

Tools for succeeding in this world

Come, let us share some Oxytocins ……

friendship
Don’t we all know that experiencing positive relationships puts us on a perpetual high?. We feel better, think better and behave better when we are with the ones we love and cherish. And now we have empirical evidence to substantiate what we always knew.

Scientists have found that the very experience of positive relationships releases Oxytocin (a very cool hormone) which lowers blood pressure, heart rate and gives us better ability to handle stress calmly. Moreover ms Oxy increases trust levels and thus prods and pushes us to seek more social contacts and this again flags off a virtuous cycle along life’s lovely tracks.

To add compliment to good health (My miserable take on the opposite of “adding insult to injury”) , stress related hormones like ACTH (beats me- so google it up pls) take a deep plunge while experiencing positive relationships.
In another mother of all studies, it was also found that Alzheimers patients who received considered social support started up (can’t use “ended up”, can we ?) physiologically much younger than those who didn’t.

So now- apart from gut feel, we have scientific proof to motivate us to make more friends , Close friends and followers.

Come, let us deplete some ACTH’s as well……

Blogged after ages today- Thanks for the reminder, friend.

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When the Heart says “Thanks”


“Thank you”, “Thanks”, “Thanks a lot”. After mumbling these words out in haste, we move on… and very often bury the gesture and the giver forever… never ever to be reminisced. So much for gratitude!!!!

And at times, the gesture would be so overwhelming that these mere words become utterly incompetent and worthless. But we have to articulate our gratitude nevertheless. We may not be able to repay in kind, nor return the gesture. In such situations, only words spoken sincerely from within the heart can convey our true feelings. If they are beautifully crafted though…..

Takes me back to our mid day summer adventure in Khorfakkan. We had stopped at the Friday market to check out some rugs. After menacingly instructing my first born Amaan to remain seated in the car, my wife Sunayna and I ventured out, meandering through the many stalls manned by disinterested uncouth salesmen. As we were arguing about the utility of a clay flower case, Amaan came into the stall. “What did you do with the car?” I interjected rudely. “I locked the doors Uppa,” he replied confidently with a very grown up air. “Locked it?” I screamed! The engine was kept running for the air conditioner and I realized that the little brat had locked us all out- And it was close to 45 degrees at 2.00 P.M at a place, far away from everywhere.

Aided with the familiar feeling of an adrenaline rush, I ran to the car and tried a few silly stunts. Like sliding down the windows and force opening the doors. My heart sank even further when I spotted my phone and overstuffed wallet on the dashboard. When my antics failed, I gave up and with a sheepy grin turned around for help.

The shopkeepers were not even sympathetic. They stood motionless as embodiments of apathy. A couple of them mumbled in some foreign dialect and I even felt that they were laughing at us. Resisting a king size urge to give them a lecture on “Samaritanship”, I turned my attention to the road. By now, my fully pregnant wife was sweating profusely, her face red like beetroot.

A few cars slowed down at my frantic gesturing. They sympathized with me heavily and after offering me a few lines of their wisdom drove on… leaving us to battle ourselves out of our predicament alone.

That’s when I spotted two cars on the other side of the road. I ran across to realize that it was a family of UAE Nationals, presumably travelling long distance, since both the Range Rover and GMC were stuffed with bags. I was slightly reluctant to approach them, since I hadn’t interacted much with Emiratis till then. I however put this feeling aside and explained our plight to the two young guys in the Range Rover.

They came out and approached the car. After trying the antics that I had tried myself, they started consulting someone over phone. By this time, the ladies in the car had approached Sunayna and Amaan and had taken them into the cool confines of their car. I soon found them feasting comfortably on fruit juice and biscuits. We were all dripping with sweat as the sun shone down on us with a vengeance. The guys were trying everything, darting from one attempt to another without complaining a bit. After more than 90 minutes it was done-the door was prized semi open with a metal rod and a stretched coat hanger pressed painstakingly on the window controls doing the trick.

With the door opened, the guys quickly moved to their cars. Sunayna and Amaan were disembarked and without even a gratitude soliciting gesture, they prepared to zoom off. But I, overwhelmed with their hospitality was overflowing with feelings. I ran to the driver’s side and in a mix of English and halting Arabic said……

What they did
“In this scorching heat, you spent almost 2 hours helping us out. Your clothes are soiled and you have been delayed. You even took my wife and kid into your car and quenched their thirst. You didn’t give up even after failing many times. You stood with us till the problem was solved”

What effect it had on us
“Without you, we would have been stuck here for god knows how long. My wife is expecting and this heat would have made her ill. Without the phone and even a dirham on me, we would have been really stranded. You have really saved us from a lot of trouble”

What it says about the helpers
“This speaks volumes about your culture and hospitality. It conveys your concern even for strangers and your drive to help those who are in need. The fact that you didn’t give up till it was solved expresses your sincerity and love for humanity”

Saying Thanks and praying for them
“I can only say thanks. I will also pray to god almighty for your family. May you complete your journey peacefully and achieve your objectives”

Promise to Continue
“I promise you that I will Insha Allah try to do the same if I find someone else caught in the same predicament. By doing that, your noble deed will continue….”

I don’t remember the source. But I am sure that I had read this format somewhere. Luckily, I was able to say it well and from the looks on their faces, I was sure that our hearts connected and spoke with each other.
After wishing us peace, they drove into the sunset, over those endless winding roads.

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5 tiny Daffodils……and aren’t you closer?

Check the picture out. Millions of daffodils have bloomed for us. The scene is Lake Arrowhead in California. They extend farther than our weakling line of sight- rivers of daffodils in every shade of vibrant yellow. In the middle of this field is a board that reads “One woman, One at a time, Started in 1958”. By planting one humble daffodil plant at a time for the last 52 years, some unknown lady in California has created this wonder of nature. Giving generations ahead something profound to relish and learn from.

Learn that we can accomplish astounding feats if we simply persist in doing tiny bits. Save 25 dirham’s a day for the next 10 years and end up with a mini fortune. Walk 10 minutes every day and enjoy a life of difference. Speak to 2 of your loved ones each day and relish forever the companionship of people who matter. Utter a few verses of prayer every day and enjoy spiritual bliss and reformation….the list is endless.

Jack Canfield in his best seller “The success principles (Get it here) talks about the Rule of 5. Every single day, do 5 tiny things that would take you towards your goals. Don’t let the sun set on you without having planted these 5 seeds of success. For me they could be… Reading 5 pages of a book every day, making 5 connections on LinkedIn, Preparing 5 slides for my presentation, Sending my blog to 5 contacts, Writing 5 paragraphs/lines for my new post, Learn 5 new verses every day………..These things are simple and they look insignificant. But over the years they would fortify me with substantial stepping stones that would make my goal reachable.

Terry Fox, that inspiring role model who ran Marathons with one leg till he succumbed to cancer was asked about his impossible feat. He humbly told millions of viewers his success secret- “I just run till the next telephone post

So regardless of the time at which you read this post, make sure that you cook your 5 nuggets TODAY. And go to sleep rest assured that your valley of daffodils would be waiting for you at the apt time.

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Go ahead, say NO for a change…


In a Time Management course that I facilitated recently , I had asked the trainees to list the biggest road blocks that stood between them and the timely completion of their worthy goals. There were a couple of hot favorites. But the Numero Uno spot went to “The frustrating need to accommodate requests and errands of others” . And when I enquired about the root cause of this item that got the top slot, they unanimously chimed – “Our inability to say NO”. So in this post, let me share with my favorite readers, the secret of saying NO to this inability.

First of all, you don’t have to say No if you don’t want to. Even if the accommodation of that last minute, highly resource draining, outrageous request can make your own projects overshoot their runways, say YES emphatically, if this affirmative can grant you worthier outcomes in the long run. But be 100% sure. Don’t let an inherent streak of submissiveness convince you that the mirage is real. And when I say “long run” , it could be in here or in the hereafter. “I don’t have to do that….and I know that he will not reciprocate. But I do it for the bounty from my lord”, is a perfectly valid argument.

But what if the driving force behind your “YES” is fear? Then you have a problem. You teach the world how to deal with you and akin to the case of wringing water out of a towel, people will keep wringing till the towel stops dripping. So ask yourselves the question from the classic “Who moved my cheese”- What would you do, if you didn’t have fear ?.

If you want to say NO, do so. When you say No to others, you are saying YES to yourself and all your unfinished dreams screaming for attention in the dusty attics of your life.

And here is the technique to do it- SURDNO (sounds like a karate chop, doesn’t it ?)

S stands for YES (Don’t look at me like that… I mean it. To say no to someone, you have to start with an emphatic YES combined with a million dollar smile and a body physiology exuding hospitality and acceptance)

U stands for conveying your understanding. After the disarming “YES”, you go on to explain the rationale behind his request. Go on…. Don’t be stingy here. Say it from his perspective. Sneak into his shoes and give every justification for his request.

As he will look at you with a dazed look, expecting you to start working on his project right away, change tactics.

R stands for showing your reluctance. Phrases like “But I have a problem, I am afraid, there is an issue” will do. Try your own thing. But make sure that you start taking up a more defiant body posture from this point onwards.

D stands for describing the reasons. This is the phase for freaking out, verbally that is. Don’t hold back. Come up with every reason (rational, tearjerker…) for why you can’t say YES. Go on… take 10 minutes. It’s your time to hog the limelight.

N stands for NO. Say it…. Look into his/her eyes and deliver that message without any trace or hint of any apology. This is not the time to beat around the bush. Say it clearly and directly.

O stands for counter options. Be careful here… Offer options only if you really really want to. Don’t get back into the towel –wringer routine. Remember- You teach the world how to treat you.

Quite simple isn’t it ?- SURDNO.

So let’s work an example out together…read each word carefully and consider the implications. You are about to say NO (probably for the first time)

You work in a department with many others. Life has been hectic recently. You have promised to take your family to the show that evening that is running its last night – they have been sitting bored at home for many days. Your boss comes and asks you to stay late that particular night. How do you say no ?

Here it goes

BOSS: ‘I want you to work overtime tonight’

S: Yes (smiling)!!!!!

U: We do have workload, there are many things to be done, projects to be completed..blah blah….

R: But I have to tell you something

D: I have not seen my children very much this week and tonight I promised to take them to the show…. blah blah..

N: So I cannot work overtime tonight

O (only if required) : Would it be helpful if I stayed tomorrow?

Now I don’t assure you that this will start working from the first instance onwards. He may still succeed in twisting your arms and your kids may miss the show anyway. But you have started the process of making him unlearn his unfair ways of dealing with you. You taught him over a period of months or years may be. Unlearning will also take its own time. But eventually, he will stop wringing the towel and will move on to another submissive victim- who hasn’t read my post yet.

So all the best with SURDNO. Let me give you something for the weekend. Try this case out…..

You work in a department with many others. Its crisis time. When you joined you were promised a raise within 6 months of starting. This was not given. It’s now 12 months. You have scored well in your appraisal and have been given more responsibilities. However the boss refuses to give you a raise.

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One of the most enthralling movies I have ever seen….

Racing Stripes is the title. It’s an old movie, released in 2005 (5 years is a long time now a days, isn’t it?). I watched it on HBO the other night and man!!!!! It was really inspiring… Truly, life changing if one manages to read its message without getting lost amidst the cute graphics, slapstick situations and a catchy background score.

The protagonist is a zebra who was abandoned (accidentally perhaps) by a travelling circus that is rescued by a retired race horse trainer. (Forgive me for not including names in the narration… remembering them have never been my forte). The trainer brings him home, to an ailing and semi neglected farm inhabited by a wonderful bevy of talking animals. His co inhabitants try their best to make him comfortable and acclimatize him to the easy life in the farm. One day he casually happens to see the Race course that runs alongside the border of the farm. He gets quite excited, seeing the galloping horses, the drive of the Jockeys, flash of the camera bulbs, din and the bustle and the thumping excitement of thorough bred horse racing. The poor thing believes that he is one of them convinces himself that he is destined to be a race winner. Very soon, he takes to racing full time around the farm. He even races against the mailman, the flock of visiting birds and even the young foals practicing on the other side of the fence.

His enthusiasm catches the fancy of the trainer’s daughter whose greatest ambition was to become a jockey. But she was strongly forbidden from riding as her mother had died in a racing incident- the tragic event that had led to the Trainers retirement and his self imposed exile from the course. The young girl and the zebra form a team and they start training together. The trainer comes to know eventually and though he tries his best to stop them, their enthusiasm finally wins him over.

Lot of things happens in quick succession. An old race track gambler sees the duo practicing and comes over to support the team. The thorough breeds, threatened by the progress shown by the zebra across the fence tell him what he really was and convinces him that a clumsy Zebra can never win against race horses. Though our hero gets totally de motivated and almost gives up, his friends come together to convince him that he has a winner’s heart and that was all that mattered, when it comes to winning and losing. Braving direct attacks by the horses and the jeers and insults of the race course authorities, the zebra- girl team gets into the race….

In a nerve racking heart thumping climax that takes up almost 20 minutes… the duo, beating all odds , challenges and even foul play by the competitors, go on to win the prized trophy. The last scenes had me sitting at the edge of the sofa, biting my nails and cheering loudly as “Racing stripes” crosses the finishing line first.

A wonderful movie…. It’s more convincing than any book or training (even mine… ha ha). Tells us that though genes and pedigree matter… attitude and hard work matters more… and with the heart of a winner, even a clumsy zebra can outperform any thorough bred…. Any day…

Don’t miss this movie and watch it with your kids….

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Bhakthi instead of Shakthi

So the verdict is finally out.

And how do I feel? The word “I” in the preceding sentence is stressed because I have taken the liberty to assume that I represent all educated, forward thinking Indian Muslim fundamentalists- deeply religious souls who abhor rabid communalism. If you want to know my interpretation of the difference between R &C, please read an earlier post.

Point 1:

The court says that the site is the birth place of lord RAM. Well, we all know that this cannot be proven empirically. However this has to be respected since millions of people believe it to be so. And beliefs are important. We believe that the sun will rise tomorrow. We believe that good will triumph over evil. We believe in our parentage without resorting to DNA tests. There is a slight discomfort since a court which has to go either by empirical data or circumstantial evidence has chosen to base the verdict on beliefs instead. This is really strange and I sincerely hope that it doesn’t set a precedent. But confusion notwithstanding, I reiterate… beliefs are important and must be respected.

Point 2:

The court says that the mosque was built after demolishing a temple. Well, even if the Archeological Survey of India has judged that a Massive Temple existed at that very site, it cannot be proven that the mosque was built by demolishing it. This is particularly confusing since there is ample documentary evidence to show that Babur, the invader generously patronized certain other temples and shrines. Yes, a Temple existed at the site. But No, there is no evidence to prove that it was demolished to build the mosque. If this was the case, the mosque would be an illegitimate structure built against the tenets of Islam and must be, by all means brought down. But In this particular case, I cannot say this with conviction. But let me; with lot of reluctance admit that the probability of that mosque being built after the demolishing of the temple does exist.

Point 3:

The court says that both Hindus and Muslims used to worship in the structure for ages, in different parts of the site though. This is a very comforting fact. Not so long before in time, we were able to enjoy our differences and seek solace in our respective concepts of godhood, side by side. It would have been so nice if we could have continued to do so…

So my Hindu brothers get 2/3rd of the site and the Muslim community gets 1/3rd. Though this is absurd from a legal standpoint for the obvious reasons stated above, I welcome the judgment since I believe that the end justifies the means in this particular case.

By accepting this judgment I get to…..

Respect the belief of my Hindu brothers

Feel good about my gracious beliefs particularly since I have chosen to accept the illegitimacy of the mosque based on a remote and very unlikely possibility

Go on a trip to Ayodhya and worship Allah standing next to a grand temple. By doing this I am sure that both the Muslim and Indian in me would be satisfied.

Feel safer since this verdict favoring my Hindu brothers has robbed the right wingers of a wonderful opportunity to create more mayhem and chaos. The problem will now shrink into its own self till it cannot be kindled further.

But let me also say this

The act of destroying the mosque in 1992 can never ever be condoned. It was a criminal act against the dictates of our democratic and secular system. The government of India must ensure that such acts don’t happen again… Never again… Nowhere.

There is no need for the Muslims to give away their 1/3rd share. It is their right granted to them by the legal system of the land. They should have a place of worship at that spot and must run it with the blessings of the local authorities and the temple administration. This is a definite challenge. But every Indian should work towards such an arrangement.

The building of the temple and the adjoining mosque must be done locally. No political party must make it a pan Indian affair by organizing rallies and meetings across the country. This will surely lead to inflamed passions and riots. Let the construction be a celebration of Bhakthi. Let it not degenerate into a vulgar display of Shakthi.

Let us all leave this incident behind and move on as soon as possible. We are stated to be the third largest economy by 2050. Let us equip ourselves to make the most of this boom. Let us all make our millions, share it with the have not’s and take our beloved country to greater heights…

I am sure that this will happen. My son and his friends were in the drawing room as the celebrated anchors in the various TV channels were excitedly dissecting the verdict. Despite the graphic pictures and the raised voices, neither Amaan, Rahul or Victor gave even one cursory glance towards it. They were too busy preparing for their upcoming exams…..

India has moved on….Alhamdulillah… Jai hind

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May Sense Prevail……

Tommorow afternoon, a court in India will give a verdict on a case that has evoked intense desctructive passions in our country for years…..

Please join me in uttering these few words in prayer…..

May Truth and Justice prevail……

If the (mosque) was indeed built after demolishing a (temple), may that land be given back to its rightful owners and may a splendid (temple) come up in its place. May closet and unborn (muslim) tyrants learn for good that the worship of (Allah) shouldn’t be enforced upon anyone. Least of all, by demolishing the place of worship of others.

May all (Muslims) succeed in accepting the truth and peacefully swallow their grief over the fall of the illegitimate (mosque). May their collective respect for the law and desire for peace dissuade anyone from venting their unjustified anger on innocents. May all the attempts of ones with cruel vested interests fail.

May everyone learn to leave this incident behind and get on with self, family, society and nation building.

To complete this prayer, please substitute the words in brackets with the following alternatives respectively…

(Makeshift Temple, Mosque, Mosque, Hindu, Ram, Hindus, Makeshift Temple)

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