كن فيكون (Be, and it is)

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Its been a long time. Its been more than six months. Time just flies. It’s a strange feeling. Sometimes, it feels everything is right. And then sometimes, it feels nothing is right. Probably, this is how life is supposed to be – momentary.

I have started feeling different hues of emotions all over again. But this time its different. I have held myself upright. Nothing can deter me. I am standing against all odds. I am standing tall with my head held high. Its going to be an uphill task. I know. Its going to be tough. I know. But I am a warrior. And warriors are supposed to fight till the end. I will fight. I will fight to rise up against all odds. I will fight for my life. Because Allah has bestowed me with only one life. And I cannot turn down Allah. I cannot turn down life.
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Its time to live a life that I have always imagined. Its time to be ‘me’. Amen.

M.I.R.A.C.L.E.S – Final Part

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So, the second part was left on an incomplete note. The best way to usher in the new year was to complete the final part of my story of MIRACLES. A story full of hopes, dreams, aspirations, courage, faith, determination and most importantly, belief.

While there was something holding me back from signing the appointment letter, I finally decided to sign it and handed over a copy to the HR. Probably, while it should have been a moment of immense joy and happiness for me, I felt giddy. I felt unsure. On my way back to home, I gave it a lot of thought. Was I heading towards the right direction? My confusion was somewhat answered in a saying from Rubaiyat, ‘Why ponder thus the future to foresee, and jade thy brain to vain perplexity? Cast off thy care, leave Allah’s plans to him- He formed them all without consulting thee’. And I lived the next two months of my life with full of excitement of exploring new city, new organization and discovering a new ‘me’. The time slipped out of my hands like sand. It was time to say goodbye and start a new chapter of life.

Two weeks of independence gave me a new perspective of life. Life was difficult without near and dear ones around. I was all alone. I was eating alone. I was travelling alone. I was exploring the streets of two new cities alone. In short, I was missing my home. I was missing my loved ones. Being the youngest of the child in my family, I must admit that I am an extremely pampered kid. But this journey made me realize, I was no longer a kid. I had grown up. Grown up to take a job in a new city. While I gave my best shot to adjust to the new environment, the changes were bit  overwhelming. Probably, I was not well prepared. But then life is all about uncertainties. And I had to accept it the way it came.

In the mean time, while I tried to accustom myself to the changed environment, more difficulties had started pitching. The set up of the new organization was not suited to my taste. All throughout the three years of my corporate journey, I have worked in a fast paced environment which throws new challenges everyday. But this new organization, it seemed like a place for people who would never want to retire from their comfort zone. While all other changes were acceptable, I could never figure out myself as a part of their comfort zone. Hence, after exactly two weeks, I decided to quit the job. A lot of people told me that it was too early to judge, too early to jump onto a conclusion, but I knew that this was not my true calling.

After returning to Delhi, the good time had ended. I had always read stories in newspapers of how xyz kid left a well paying job to take up a more niche job without a fat pay cheque. That time, I used to think how dumb such kids were, just to realize very soon that I will also be one such kid. Honestly, I feel proud of the choices I have made in my life. I can feel connected to such stories now and the thought process behind such decisions.

While for most of us, education would mean getting a well paid job with all amenities, I was fortunate enough to discover the true meaning of education. Education does not mean getting the best degree and best jobs, its an ongoing process which never stops till your last breath. Being educated means to become prudent enough to make your own decisions. Being educated means to make mistakes and learn from them. Being educated means to share your knowledge and values with others. Being educated means to learn from others. Being educated means to enjoy what you do. Being educated means to remain thankful to Almighty for bestowing his kindness on us.

Well, while the good time did not last for long, I guess the bad time was eventful enough to make me realize what I wanted to be. It addressed my question ‘Who am I’? Year 2014 was a fantastic year in all sense. It was full of lifelong learnings. It was a year of self discovery. And year 2015 will be a journey to develop upon the new discoveries. My journey has made me realize that while there are some MIRACLES which are driven by Allah, the rest of the MIRACLES lie in your own hand. The decision to smile in the toughest of the time is a self driven miracle. The decision to fight till the end if a self driven miracle. Rest, Allah’s help just follows.

My story of MIRACLES is best summed up by this wonderful composition from Queen (hope you will truly follow it)

Dhoonde har ek saans mein, dubkiyon ke baad mein
Har bhanwar ke paas kinare

Beh rahe jo saath mein, jo hamare khaas the
Kar gaye, apni baat kinare

Gar maanjhi saare saath mein, gair ho bhi jaaye
Toh khud hi toh patwaar ban, paar hoge hum

Jo choti si har ek nahar, sagar ban bhi jaayedownload
Koi tinka leke haath mein, dhoond lenge hum

Kinare.. kinare.. Kinare..
Khud hi toh hai hum, kinare..
Kaise honge kam, kinare..
Hain jahaan hai hum, kinare..
Khud hi toh hai hum, haan.. khud hi toh hai hum

Auron se kya, khud hi se, poonch lenge raahein
Yahin kahin, maujon mein hi, dhoond lenge hum

Boondon se hi, toh hain wahin, baandh lenge leherein
Peron tale jo bhi mile, baandh lenge hum

Kinare.. kinare.. kinare..
Khud hi toh hai hum, kinaare..
Kaise honge kam, kinare..
Hain jahaan hai hum, kinare..
Khud hi toh hai hum, haan.. khud hi toh hai hum

Lots of good wishes for 2015! :)

Who am I?

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There are moments when you want to hug someone and cry your heart out. There are moments when you want someone to comfort you and tell you that all is going to be well.But then there are moments when you look for a helping hand and you find none. It’s a terrible feeling to go through this all alone. It takes tonnes of motivation to muster courage and fight against the challenges which lie ahead of you each day. But probably I am not alone. Probably there are countless number of people who are fighting out there. Fighting to find their identity. Fighting to find their purpose in life. Fighting to break away from the social norms. Fighting to smile and please themselves for once.

At such an early age, sometimes it blows the wits out of me when I ponder over my thought process. At this stage, while some of my peers are competing to complete their masters from the most prestigious institutions, while others have just started climbing the corporate ladder in a race to attain professional glory,here I am, lost in a whirlpool of my thoughts. And I realize the reasons for it. I feel that I have experienced and seen a lot of things at an early stage of my life. I had already experienced the corporate when I was expected to be bunking college lectures, I had already turned financially independent when I was expected to demand pocket-money from my parents, I had already completed my educational pursuits while my counterparts just began their journey and I had already experienced the pleasure of pleasing my materialistic ego when I was expected to become serious about my career.

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Image Courtesy – Google

And the result is here. While a majority of people would consider me as already well settled, I, on the other hand consider myself as the most messed up person. I have lost track of my corporate aspiration. Corporate does not interest me any longer. While it remains as a a fantasy world for many, I consider it as Nazi gas chamber where your dreams are dying a slow yet painful death.While my consulting job can only feed me with money, power and position,my true craving lies in genuine happiness and inner peace. Hence, I want to quit this job forever. I have lost my motivation for pursuing higher education. I feel, I have already worked so hard in accomplishing myself, that I don’t have the patience of repeating that cycle once again. Hence, I do not know if I really want to invest my time in higher studies when there is no real value addition. Money, house and car have lost their charm. Materialistic possession do not hold any substance for me now. While I have had the option of turning myself into an ATM machine, I have realized that money cannot buy solitude and happiness.

Then what is it that I want to do? Then what is it that I am searching for? What does the present and future beholds for me? Is it that I have hit the quarter life crisis? I feel as if Almighty has thrown me in an endless deep ocean. I am trying to swim. I am scared of drowning. I want to live. I don’t want to die so early. I want to fight. I want to find my shore.

I feel after twenty three years of my existence, breathing day in and day out with myself, I still don’t know who I am. I still have so many unanswered questions about myself. I believe, the most difficult phase of your life begins when you start searching for your own self. When you start searching for the purpose with which Allah sent your soul wandering into this world. That search can sometimes stretch to years and in some cases probably to a lifetime. I am a wanderer. I am a lost soul who is finding his purpose in this world. The picture is a bit hazy. But I know I will find my purpose. I know I will find my shore. I know I will find myself one day. Because one day, I will stop caring for what this world would think of me. Because one day, I will start living for myself. Because one day, I will be happy. Amen.

M.I.R.A.C.L.E.S – PART II

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Sometimes, I feel my mind is brimming with so many thoughts at once, that it really becomes difficult to figure out what I should write and what I shouldn’t. Having said that, I feel my life is an open book and therefore, I have the liberty to share all the intricacies of my day-to-day being.

The title of this post has really made a difference to my life. True to the core, I have experienced miracles in the most adverse situations. This time, it was on the professional front. Struggling through the corporate journey, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant which was again no less than a miracle. But the difficult part starts from here. Survival in a Big Four consultancy firm is no child’s play. I wanted to get rid of a job which was no more satisfying and which constantly gave me a feeling of being stuck at a wrong place. And hence, the struggle to find that perfect job began. In fact, this time I had a challenge thrown at me. Someone had challenged my capabilities, my commitment towards work and the grit to always excel in whatever I do. ‘What do you think you will be able to achieve post qualifying? You will still earn peanuts which will not be enough to buy a luxurious car or a lavish house!’. These words still rattle in my ears. It pierced me from within, more so because it came from someone whom I had considered as my mentor. It was difficult to digest such grey shades of a corporate life. But still, there was a constant fire under the belly to prove it all wrong.

So round of calls with the HR consultants began. I landed up for my first interview with another Big Four for a profile which was slightly linked to the kind of work I was already doing. I somewhat liked it, but was quite apprehensive because it was still a consulting job. I was able to impress the interviewer’s in the first instance. However, my current profile again overpowered my suitability for the job. Rounds of follow-ups with the HR, but no breakthrough. Interview I – crashed with a thud.

The second interview was for an industry profile in a top FMCG giant. All went well until the last round because of my ‘too frank’ attitude. I was somehow able to recall the scene from 3 Idiots – ‘Sir, aap apna job raklijiye, main apna attitude (‘Sir, you can keep your job, I will settle for my attitude’). Interview II- crashed with a louder thud.

The hunt continued with the third interview being scheduled with an extremely diversified Indian group known to recruit only those Chartered Accountants who were placed on the merit list of the Institute in the final exams i.e. ‘rank holders’. This particular organization was famous for paying a fat salary with the best perks. Probably, a job which a top B-school graduate would look forward to post completion of MBA. And here I was, someone who had cleared his finals in revaluation, was neither a rank holder nor had an MBA degree from a B-school. I was just SOMEONE. All throughout my educational pursuits, I have been a good student who was academically strong but not exceptional.

I was really apprehensive to even give a shot to this job. But still I filled up the preliminary information form, uploaded it on the consultant’s website and did not look forward to any call. After all, I was just SOMEONE. Why would someone pay a hefty monthly salary when people believed I was worth earning peanuts only?  And while I was being shown the door in the second interview, pat came the consultant’s call ‘You have been shortlisted for the first round’. Okay. But I have not been given the job! So why this euphoria? Again went for the interview, but this time around I was getting tired and sick of explaining people about my profile, my ambition in life, why I want this job and how will I prove to be an asset to the organization. The first round was taken by very senior persons from the industry. I actually discovered, how difficult it is to convince people almost twice or thrice your age. Their year’s of wisdom, experience and knowledge defies your ‘fresh out of the school thoughts’. One week later, my phone rang ‘ Congratulations, you have sailed through! We are booking your tickets and accommodation for the final round in Kolkata’. Okay, but still there are a couple of rounds more to go and the job is still not mine! Not a good time for that euphoric feeling. The next thing I remember was flying to the City of Joy. For the first time in my life, I was all alone. The little boy in me had outgrown into a young confident professional. I was travelling to a place in the far east without my parents, without siblings and without friends. All alone. My nervousness reflected in the way I handled my baggage at the airport, collected my tickets from the check-in counter and sat throughout the flight. But I tried to maintain my poise. There was just one thing that went over and over in my mind, ‘this job belongs to me and it will be an answer to those who questioned my capabilities’.

Kolkata is a totally different city when compared to Delhi. Busy and narrow roads,extremely humid climate and still stuck in time. It had an old world charm. I managed to grab one of the famous yellow taxis at the Kolkata airport and reached the assigned accommodation late at night. Next day was a big day. Full day interviews. I reached the office which was in the heart of the city. To my utter shock, I was the only candidate who was shortlisted out of the ten odd candidates interviewed in Delhi for the first round. I was joined by four competitors from Mumbai and Pune respectively for the final rounds. There were three rounds lined up for the day followed by a last round with the CFO of the Company (only if you sailed through the earlier rounds). Each of the four competitors were well grounded professionals.They already possessed the necessary skill set and experience required for the job. But who was I? SOMEONE who has handled a niche consulting profile and who just wanted to win a challenge thrown at him sometime back. The interview was quite grilling. Three rounds of interview with three different people who were accomplished in their respective fields. I felt that I had given my best. But lady luck rarely shines bright at me. These four young budding professionals were far more sorted out than me, they were outspoken, well-groomed, level-headed and knew what they wanted.On the other hand, I was juggling with my cluttered life. I was still trying to find my way. I was still trying to solve my jigsaw puzzle. By the end of the day, I was exhausted. I wanted to go back to my home and just sleep.The HR personnel entered the room where all five of us were seated. One of the competing candidate was totally anti-Big Four. Unfortunately, he couldn’t appreciate a consultant’s life. Irony being, I myself couldn’t appreciate the same. How the hell in this world I could convince this guy when I myself wanted to get rid of it! The HR personnel settled down comfortably. ‘So, all of you have done pretty well. But for today, only Arpit has been selected’. What a joke, I mumbled to myself! This SOMEONE, who has been living a messed up life was selected against the clan of sorted professionals. I felt bad for them because their profile was far more suitable than my hollow consulting experience. Where was that euphoric feeling? Still missing! Because I still do not have the job. Next day, again, an interview. I had to meet the CFO of the company. This gentlemen was rated as one of the best CFO by Business Standard. Again, someone so senior both in age and experience. This man was known to hand-pick Chartered Accountants before he bought them on board. I google searched his profile while sitting in his lavish office. His Executive Assistant called me for the final interview. He simply threw some bouncer questions relating to my profile (ah!! finally, somewhere consulting profile helped, else I was told by one of the interviewer in my past interview with the FMCG giant not to give consultant type answers). But soon he realized that the googlies were getting too much. He smiled and said  that those were too difficult questions. Thank God! Else he was giving me a minor panic attack with each of his googlies.

Finally, I managed to return to the visitor’s lounge and waited for the result. In – out, in -out…. playing that ‘she loves me, she loves me not’ game. HR came in. ‘You have sailed through’. What ? What? What the hell are you saying? This sounds like some alien language to me! So can I finally feel that euphoric moment? Yes, I could. She handed over the appointment letter. The CTC just bowled me. I had never seen so many zero’s in my life. What the hell? A miracle just happened again. This SOMEONE had actually achieved SOMETHING in his life. Honestly, I had tears in my eyes. I was sitting all alone in the room and just recalled the last few months of my life. How I failed, how I passed, how I was rejected and how I was finally ACCEPTED. The feeling did not sink in. But again a MIRACLE had happened. But there was something holding me back from signing the appointment letter, something was missing, something was wrong.

Image Courtesy - Google

Image Courtesy – Google

( To be continued…….)

M.I.R.A.C.L.E.S – Part I

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After a long break, today I have finally decided to pick up the pen and pour my heart out. This year has been no less than an emotional roller coaster ride for me. I have seen and experienced the myriad shades of my emotional being. I felt myself as an artist’s impression transiting from the shades of deep grey to bright yellow. The artist here being the Almighty and I, being a mere extension of his thoughts being painted on the canvas of life.Oh! how badly I hated this artist when he painted me in deep grey. I felt like taking away the brush and painting the canvas all by myself  in all the bright shades of yellow. But the irony is, I am a mere impression of his thought process. I am one of those several million canvases he keeps stroking with his brush and puts on in his exhibition of life. I am nothing but just a human being.

The month of January had started with the declaration of CA results. No matter how strong I appear, I was left emotionally devastated on realizing that I had missed my goal. I think more than being disappointed with myself, I was hurt with the cold and callous attitude of some people on the professional front whom I respected and unfortunately considered as my mentors. I was taken aback with the fact that people could stoop to their lowest level to attain professional glory even if it meant evading the emotional space of the other being. I had never felt so weak and helpless. But probably, that is the way corporate works. I had locked myself away from the world and cried. I cried like a child. I was angry with the Almighty. After all, his own creations were trying to destroy and supersede the other. I remember sitting alone for long hours with just remorse and tears in my eyes pondering over the infinite dark space that lay ahead of me.  I found my companions in books and music. I remember how Tehmina Durrani (the author of My Feudal Lord),had expressed her belief in miracles and Allah. I too longed for it. I too longed for a miracle to happen. I too longed for the divine intervention. But I guess Allah couldn’t hear my prayers. Each day was a struggle. A struggle to survive the emotional imbalance I had encountered. A struggle to regain my self- respect and dignity. My fight with Allah had begun. I discarded all items symbolizing faith and humanity and challenged his own being. Why is it that his followers have to prove themselves? This time, he had to prove himself, his very own existence or else he was losing on one of his loyalist.

Come March and the spring was somewhere around. The tormentors had their share of pie and were about to part ways but they still spewed poison like pythons. 14th March, 2014 was a day I will remember till my last breath. A random click of mouse here and there on the laptop. I was about to shut down the system but thought of just checking  the status of the revaluation result of CA exams. Rarest of the rare cases were people who cleared the CA Final exams in revaluation. Allah was not by my side. Despair and hopelessness was only I could think of till that moment when somebody painted a stroke of bright yellow on my canvas. I was left numb and couldn’t move a muscle. I felt choked with temporary loss of voice. I remember shouting aloud and calling my mother and every single person to just see if this yellow was truly yellow or had I turned color blind. That day I understood the meaning of MIRACLE. That day Allah proved his existence. That Holi was and will always be the most colorful Holi of my life. Because that day, Allah had filled my canvas with all the colors of his palette. That day, my faith was restored forever.

And he held back my hand till eternity....

And he will hold my hand till eternity….

The pythons had their bait ready. If 3 months of continuous spewing of poison was not enough, there was more to come. This time, the pattern had changed. This time, the poison was being spit against me through others.

I calmly ignored it. A single thought went on in my mind. If I will stoop to their level, then I was no less python. I let it go off. Go off the bunch of good memories I had.

Spring had set in. Flowers were blooming and the pythons had left the garden. Only bluebells, lilies, camellias, dahlia, gardenia and lilacs were to be seen. There was bright sunshine and eternal peace. I felt my canvas was his perfect creation.

 

 

C’est la vie!

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Searching through an old memorabilia, I realize how badly I have missed the pure joy of writing in these past years. I have deprived myself of the enthusiasm brought by every single comment sent across by someone reading my thoughts in a corner of the world. I have failed to jot down and share my experiences of work, travel, education, money and relations. In short, I have missed to share my life ~ Time for some sweet revenge @ bitsnbytesoflife

Well, it is time to break the monotony. It is time to tighten the reins of my life and do what I have cherished and missed all this time. It is time to love myself back for what I am, for what I think and for what I have. All these past months and years gone by, I have learnt to hold my head high with dignity and respect. I have worked hard all these years to make a niche for myself. I have seen the highs and the lows. I have tasted the sweet fruit of success and the bitter syrup of failure. But all throughout, I have learnt. I have learnt to make lemonade when life threw lemons at me.

Yes, I failed. Yes, I could not make it in the first attempt. Yes, I have to wait for another five months to prefix the two letters before my name ‘CA’. I have dedicated five years of my life to this profession and all these years my respect for it has manifold. I feel you never cherish something until you realize its worth. I had been reading omens for some time now. Something was telling me that it will not be November, 2013. Something was holding me aback from thinking November, 2013. I had envisioned May, 2014. I have never been a person who has believed in omens or sixth sense. But off late, I have realized that there exists a karmic connection. As a matter of fact, year 2013 has been really restless for me. I was not able to enjoy anything, be it travelling, catching up with friends, watching a movie, reading, writing blog or even working in office. I thank almighty because the storm has crossed and has left some unsettled sand. I have picked up myself, trying to get hold of the old me – a determined, courageous and a hard-working person. This storm has made be more determined to fight back and chase my dreams. It is said that you do not fail if you fall down. You fail only when you do not get up to walk again. Yes, I have fallen down. But I have got up with more determination to cross the finish line this time. I have got up for my happiness, for my dreams and for my life.

Yes, I cried. I cried out aloud. But I cried for having stood through this failure. Life is all about the choices you make. I have made a choice to be happy and give my last shot to it. This time I have promised myself to gift those two words ‘CA’. I believe my success has only been delayed by five months. For all the tireless efforts of my family, for all the midnight oil I have burnt in the bygone time, for all the endless sacrifices I have made, I have to fight. These failures are just learning lessons for success. It is your choice whether you want to cry over the spilled milk or bounce back with a winning spirit. I have chosen the latter.

Last but not the least, I have been mesmerized by a poem of Robert Frost which I read long time back during school days and which perfectly sums up my thoughts, “The road not taken“.

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

So let your spirit rise up against all odds and miseries. Do not let failures boggle you down. Fight for your existence. Fight for your loved ones. Fight for your dreams.

P.S. I had something different in mind for the opening post of 2014. But I didn’t find any reason for not starting this year with an inspiring and a motivational post for all the readers. :)