Tretar 23, Today is my Favorite Day

[This post is the twenty-third in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

If I could unravel myself in this moment, I would. I would tell you the secret to life. I am an enthusiastic photographer and have captured a lot of moments. While I love my photographs, I also am wary of creating memories – because memories, no matter what, make you wistful. Whenever I look at a beautiful scene in my archives, I remember the good stuff. For example, this photograph from US Route 1 in California (supposedly one of the most scenic routes) is a picture perfect moment. It would seem that the past was so glorious and you are comparing every moment of your present with it. This is because we tend to romanticize memories. Try it out. Whenever you look at an old photograph, you would feel that it was the golden past and present can never match up to it. The fact is you would have felt exactly the same when you were living this same golden moment.

LiveMoment1small

Our ads, movies, those emotional whatsapp messages are all built around this theme – glorifying the past and being emotional – trying to offload your responsibilities by thinking that the good times have gone by. We like to victimize ourselves but the fact is we are constantly losing our present in this tug between ‘what was’ and ‘what can be’. Such a cliche message and yet I feel that this Tretar series would be incomplete without this one request to my readers – Please unburden yourself of the past and future. Live in the moment. While it is critical to unburden yourself of the hurt of the past, it is also important to not carry around the weight of a past that always seem better than it really was.

And this very moment (even if it is in my not so fancy room as this gorgeous California cliff) is as glamorous as any past I can invoke. In this silence of the night and company of the people I care for in my thoughts, I can smile. I created something in this moment and for me, that is more beautiful than watching a sunny sparkling day. I don’t want to wait for a day in future when I will read this and think – oh, that time was so perfect! I would rather say that right now – This is so perfect!

“Enjoy it. Because it’s happening.”Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.
A.A. Milne

  

My awesome interaction with Professor Damodaran

What makes some men so unforgettable and awesome? I believe humility is the defining quality of a great man. I have always been a fan of Professor Aswath Damodaran, the famous Corporate Finance teacher at NYU Stern – my Alma Mater. He is one of the two Profs I referred to in my post Teacher.

He is a master at his subject, great with students. I remember his prompt replies whenever I emailed him from school or my job for a concept related to Corporate Finance. But what has truly blown me over is this little email exchange I had with him.

This is what I emailed-

Dear Prof Damodaran,

I hope you are doing awesome.
I was a fulltime MBA student in Class of 2012. However, I dropped out after the first year (after having taken your Corp Fin) class when I got a great job at a startup. I eventually wanted to come back to India and start something of my own. I did come back in 2012, tried out few things, have finally found financial independence which gives me time to write – which is my bigger passion. I ended up publishing a spiritual fiction novel that has received good feedback. And while that is far far away from Corp Fin, I did want to send you a copy as I have always looked up to you as a great teacher and source of inspiration.
So, it would be great if you could send me your mailing address or if you prefer a kindle version, please let me know which email address should I send it on.

Thanks for everything,
Nistha

And I got this reply in less than 10 minutes-

Thank you. This will be a first time I will be reading a spiritual fiction novel but it sounds like something worth trying. I just bought it on Amazon. I am glad that you have found your passion and hope that you keep writing.

I have very high respect for good teachers and he is as good as you can expect a mortal to be.

Update: I exchange couple more emails with him and this one goes one step forward-

Nistha,
You write well and from your heart. In my book, that makes you a success. Of course, it is a bonus when other people read you and like what you write. (You should be proud about the nine five-star reviews for your book.. though I know that you would have been happy even if they had not given you the reviews).

  

Tretar 22, Reasons of the Heart

[This post is the twenty-second in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

It was twisted, it was rough. It was sunny, it was dull. It was hearty, it was dark. It was nothing like I had ever imagined it to be. It did not make sense to anybody and they asked, ‘Why would you choose that?’. But, in due course, it did not matter because I realized that it did not have to make sense to others. It was my journey and as long as it makes sense to me, it has been a great one. This is what this photo makes me feel. The vista from where I was standing said it all – ‘It was my journey and I am in love with it‘.

MyJourney-small

Sometimes, we want to do things for no reason and a good test to know whether that something is worth doing or not is this – does the thought of having done it makes you smile? If the answer is a resounding yes, then please go ahead – do that thing – however silly it may sound or scary.

Do one thing every day that scares you.Eleanor Roosevelt

If you’re reading this…
Congratulations, you’re alive.
If that’s not something to smile about,
then I don’t know what is.Chad Sugg, Monsters Under Your Head

So, my dear friend, find your pulse. Etch your journey on this planet and make it every bit uniquely yours. And when you are stuck, find something that will make you smile. Sometimes, it is the simplest of things that make you the happiest. Dare to choose your act without worrying about others. Resist the desire to be safe and sheltered in the known world. Nothing is more tragic than living by the rules you never understood and to reach the end of your life realizing there was no prize for following the rules – it is a shenanigan created by the society to preserve order. Go for chaos if that is what your heart wants, create ripples, build new rules. Go for the infinity.

  

Tretar 21, Revealing your Truth

[This post is the twenty-first in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

At one point, I was struggling to get on with my book. Nothing I wrote seemed good enough. And I remembered a quote by some great writer, he said – ‘write the truest sentence you know’. Somehow, that was when a very dear character in my book was born. This excerpt is from the Conversation of Purpose and the character is Satyapoorna - the fulfiller of truth. Truth, like the rising sun, can erase all darkness. Have you ever wondered, what’s your truth? what’s your purpose?

sunrise_hawaii_small

‘Hi Meera, how are you?’
‘I am very well, thanks.’
‘My name is Satyapoorna, the fulfiller of truth,’ the woman added with the trace of a smile.
‘Nice to meet you. Your home is very simple and empty.’ ‘Truth needs no adornments, does it?’
‘No. And you can help me understand the truth?’
‘Well, I am your own truth. I am the truth that lies within you but is still to be revealed. So what I tell to anyone depends on what lies within her and how much is she capable of understanding.’
‘I’m sorry but I don’t understand. What is my truth? Isn’t truth absolute? How can it vary from person to person?’
‘That is what you think but truth comes from knowledge and knowledge is inherent in everyone. When we say we know, we simply mean we have discovered that piece of knowledge that already lay covered within our soul. We have the infinite library of the universe in our own minds. Newton did not discover gravitation from some external flash of knowledge, it was all there in his mind. Some are able to tap it better and others not so much.’
Meera was taken in by the novel concept propounded by the wise lady in front of her. ‘What is my truth? What can I know?’
For the first time, Satyapoorna laughed. ‘You cannot expect me to unleash the infinite knowledge in a flash but the gist is simple. You know the truth once you understand the illusion. What remains after you remove the illusion is the only truth.’

Nistha Tripathi, Seven Conversations

I thoroughly enjoyed writing this full conversation in the book, it was like an act of mental cleansing. Hope you will enjoy it. To read the rest, please check my book (which is now available on Amazon (paper and kindle, India and US), Flipkart and Crossword).

P.S. This picture is of the most magnificent sunrise I have seen in Hawaii.

  

Indian life in USA

I love Quora, I suppose it is one of the better social networks out there and I have got lot of knowledge from it. So, I am pretty active there. Recently, someone asked me to answer a question – ‘What is an Indian’s life like, after they get a job in the US after an MS in the US?

I was amused. This is what I answered-

This is what its like after getting a cushy job in USA-

  1. Rent a decent apartment, buy new clothes, laptop, SLR and all gadgets you want to show off with.
  2. Get a car if you are not in NYC.

On weekdays-

  1. Get up early for work, talk to your Mom while commuting in a public transport.
  2. Have lunch at your desk or sometimes in cafeteria, finish by 6-7pm earliest.
  3. Come home, cook with your roommates/spouse or go out for a cheap dinner if you are not cooking type.
  4. Watch some sitcom or surf/facebook.
  5. Call India and talk to your family.
  6. Sleep by 11pm.

On weekends-

  1. Drive to a nearby beach/mountain/park or any picturesque place. Take lot of pictures, share on facebook.
  2. Do hour long skype calls with your family.
  3. Go out for dinner at fancy places esp with non-Indian cuisines and click lot of pictures (closeup of food items), share on facebook.
  4. Once in a while, go to factory outlets for branded shopping.
  5. Slowly, start hiking/trekking/swimming/diving/jumping/flying/cycling or whatever activity you can – its become your new passion. Click lot of pictures, share on facebook.

On Diwali-

  • Light fancy candles, scented oils, draw rangoli – click lot of pictures, share on facebook. Post about ecofriendly Diwali.

On Holi-

  • On weekends when actually you can celebrate it, go to a community gathering, put gulal on your cheeks, click lot of pictures, share on facebook.

Same for other festivals like navratri. Gather with friends, click lot of pictures, share on facebook.
For US festivals/holidays-

  • Dress up awkwardly on halloween, go to parades, click lot of pictures, share on facebook.
  • For fourth of July, go to nearby places for the cracker show, take a lot of blurry pictures and share on facebook.
  • On New Year’s, stand for hours in line in freezing cold in NYC or something similar, and end up exhausted by midnight.

Move from cricket to baseball, soccer to football and spend couple of years learning the rules of the game (or don’t even bother). Call your friends when a popular match is about to telecasted (Rose Bowl etc), decorate potato chips, nachos, guacamole and fancy dips on your table with 2L coke, sprite bottles. Cheer loudly when commentators seem excited. Post furiously on facebook how the winning team was frickin’ awesome. When some Indian friend asks about it in the comments, refer them to a link and tell how awesome the game was.

The bottomline is do anything on the weekend that lets you click lot of pictures, and yes, you got it – share on facebook!

—————-

I think I even offended some people. To that I just say – don’t be offended, I was there, I did it too :)

See the post on Quora here.