Have a life beyond work – don’t wait for retirement!

Sitting in the office cafeteria I was eloquently framing a picture of words to explain a friend why I wanted to leave my job. I was speaking with force and conviction about my favourite subject: chasing dreams. I realised, after a while, that he was no more interested in being my audience, but I went on; I didn’t really need an audience. I was doing it to help myself, not him. I wanted to be finally convinced before taking the plunge.

It is a decent, convenient and to some extent well paying job. Things can turn really messy with no financial certainty in life once it is gone. It might leave me a big failure in front of my family, and society. To make the matters worse, I haven’t even drawn any definitive steps I will take to achieve my dreams yet. On the other hand, if I don’t disturb the status quo, I am almost assured of a bright future.

I am aware that there are many people like me out there who dream of doing ‘something different’. Most of them enjoy saying that they will, one day, follow their passions. I have heard some of them detailing out their plans as well. And, the blueprint of their plans have the following common structural points:

  • Work till 40, 45 years of age, earn loads of money by that time – and interestingly, they will just stop there, refusing to accept money thereafter. Seriously?
  • Pursue doctorate in subjects like history, psychology, literature etc. to devote their remaining lives to academics – that’s noble! Only they don’t appear that noble while fighting to take credit away from one another in office.
  • Start a new venture after retirement (at 45) – and risk all the money they have earned and saved thus far. Things at stake at that time would be their children’s careers, their home loans, car loans, vacations etc. Easier said than done. 
  • Focus on health – only by that time, they will have to, if they aren’t doing it today already.
  • Reading and writing – if they didn’t read and write for 45 years, they aren’t really likely to leave their jobs to do that. Hard to digest.

Honestly, barring aside the proverbial exceptions, most of these people either are not passionate enough for anything, or they are too scared to pursue them. If they can’t do it at 30, they will have many more reasons not to do it fifteen years later.

They don’t all need to leave their jobs and take retirements to do what they love. Just have a life beyond office, particularly when you don’t very much like your job. There are people who read books non-stop, write blogs, play Badminton, T.T., Tennis, run half-marathons, publish books, and all that with their day jobs. How can something even be called a passion, if you can’t take an hour everyday to follow it. I urge they call such notions as fantasies. Passionate people take action.

One needs to keep alive ones’ interests. It really doesn’t take much time to do that every day. It only takes a desire. Maybe after fifteen years these small sparks would have acquired enough combustible energy to develop into a flame.

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Love Reading Books? In Their Original Paper Form? Me Too.

Books have always attracted me. Even when I didn’t read much, I would often find myself halting in front of a book shop, and staring through the glass at the stylishly stacked books – all colourful and beautiful; each one ready to tell a different tale, each one exhibiting a different font style – peering out at me, glorifying the name of the author. Books, I felt, whispered to me in a language I didn’t know I knew – to be picked up and taken home. And, it appeared, that not many people were capable of hearing that inviting plea, or perhaps, only a selected few were spoken with. Duly brushing aside my imaginations, I would shake my head off these sounds, and move ahead. Only a deep corner of my heart knew that it was a plea, and a whisper, but not from the book store.

Today I know I love reading and read as if my life depends on it. I don’t stop when I am travelling, I don’t stop when I am in office, and I don’t stop when people around me talk in high decibels. And, this is made even more convenient by my kindle. Hundreds of books are available to me all the time now. Words demystify themselves at my command. The bookmark makes itself available at the slightest touch of my finger. Highlighting passages, lines, and words have never been easier. And I can read in dark too; it comes with an inbuilt back-lit screen. It is as close to magic as anything can get where reading is concerned! It truly is much more than a book. Though a constant fear of losing it all or getting it damaged keeps hovering over my head, but that isn’t such a big issue, if I am careful.

Having said that, books in their physical and original form haven’t yet released me from their clutches. I still order books in the form they were meant to be, and wait eagerly for the delivery when these can easily be downloaded by a click of the mouse. Just a look at the cover of a newly arrived book and its heavenly fragrance send me into a trance. Some people might declare me psychologically unstable, if they witness me looking at the front and back cover of a book several times, before I go ahead and open it. Unlike many other readers, I like to start the book from the very first page, and even read the section where copyright infringement laws are mentioned.

I find a book so much more personal. I scribble down on its pages – thoughts that might well be considered useless, ideas that I am sure owe their genesis to some or the other movie, new goals as the deadlines for the older ones keep expiring all the time, and even grocery items to be bought. I don’t just read these books, I interact with them. I confide in them.

I am not really advocating books over e-books; I love reading from my kindle. However, I might never shift to it completely. My study table is full of books littered all around, and that sight howsoever untidy makes my exhaustion from the day’s work vanish away immediately. And, it somehow even inspires me!

The City of Chaos – New Delhi

A Delhiite is rarely fortunate enough to find – an auto driver readily starting the meter, without a spirited fight against the idea; the general public on roads obeying traffic rules of their own accord, even at five in the morning; and, policemen standing guard to protect citizens every 100 meters – and yet that was what I happened to witness on the morning of August the 15th.

Perhaps the occasion of our Independence Day was too big for the auto driver to take the unrighteous path, and it could have been his way of answering to the call of patriotism that seems to make its way into our hearts on such occasions. Policemen, on the other hand, sure had orders from the powers that be. One wishes to see the city so protected, so fearless under dark, all the time. If only we could have a fraction of this force to safeguard us in a similar fashion every day, Delhi would really justify the title as the Capital of India. With this ubiquitous sight of police force with rifles, it was hardly a surprise to see cars giving way to autos, autos doing the same for pedestrians, and pedestrians actually using zebra crossing.

Not just that, everyone around seemed to have been made aware of their rights and duties. And, as a result; pavements were left for the people on foot, reluctantly though; full width of the roads was up for use, making one wonder where the perpetually parked vehicles vanished to; and queues remained unbroken by impatient intruders. The feeling was overwhelming. Another reminder that things can work so well. Not everything is out of control. People do understand rules. Sense of responsibility exists – even if it requires an external force to pull it out of us.

This makes me imagine if we can have an August 15th every day. No fights in road rage, no exorbitant demands from auto-drivers, a feeling of security for women in Delhi, greatly controlled traffic jams, and lesser accidents due to traffic-rule violations. Some would say it is an unfair demand on the city of chaos. Indeed it is. It is not possible to imitate and implement what we do on an Independence day throughout the year. But if it can be done on one occasion, we cannot deny the existence of capability. Administration will have to do the feasibility checks, however the achievement of the feat depends on a collaborative effort. A small bit from every citizen will immensely help the cause. Just try letting the other car cross before you do on a crossroads with a defunct traffic light, and slow down for a pedestrian even if it is a green light, or cross the road only on a red light for that matter. Some day, taking such small steps would prove beneficial. We should not wait for an Independence Day to arouse our duties and patriotism within. Patriotism can be exhibited even by small acts of responsibility. We don’t all need to go fight on the borders.