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There have been times in all of our lives when we have all wanted to say No but ended up agreeing and saying Yes instead. The results in many cases would have been disastrous. A failed relationship, loss of health, threat to life, loss of peace of mind etc. the list is endless.

The question is that why do we say Yes when we should be refusing. Most of us do feel morally obliged to agree because of various reasons. Primarily to get it over with or not stand out as a sore thumb or a rebel. We as a society are conditioned to fall in line regardless of the consequences. The freedom of self or the freedom to express ourselves is a concept alien to us, we are conditioned to kill our instincts, or our gut. We are brainwashed into believing that expressing yourself is wrong and should be avoided at any cost lest we stick out like a sore thumb. The ones that do express are called as rebels. Reminds me that when we were teachers used to tell us to “behave yourself” which actually meant shut up. Talk about contradiction 🙂

Let us say a person of authority asks us to do something, We know it is not right, and at our core we are dying to call out and refuse the task at hand, but then the conditioning kicks in, it tells us that if we disagree we stand to lose a lot many things including our jobs. But then we miss out on the core issue that the moment we overrode our gut feeling we compromised ourselves and our identity, we just fell in line like the other automatons around us.

Expressing your opinion or even yourself is illegal. The moment we agree to something that we do not want to , we cease to be ourselves. We hand over our reins to someone else and then begins the cycle of self deprecation, de-evolution and exploitation be it in a job, or in a relationship or in any aspect of your everyday  life. Which is why we see people ending their lives, or silently suffering abusive marriages and relationships they should not be in, or even exploitation, be it sexual or otherwise both in professional as well as personal life. Also health issues crop up as we end up bottling our feelings inside of us. There has to be an outlet and it comes in the form of ailments and psychological issue.

The remedy for this is pretty simple. Just 2 alphabets “No”. It makes your life simple and far less complicated and makes it easier for you to live with yourself. But for this the first step is self acceptance. Respect yourself, respect your choice and only then others will respect it. Nothing can be forced on you if you do not want it, neither a relationship nor a job or anything else. You will no longer need to be hard on yourself nor have to live with someone or deal with someone that you should be with or dealing with. Also with all the internal battles gone, you will have your peace of mind which will have a positive effect on your health too. A gentle push back is all that is needed. And remember, bullies back down when you stop and fight back. You just need to show the intent and the conviction.

Though the word “No” has a negative connotation, if used at the right time and in the right circumstance has the power to re/define your life.

You have the power, Use it wisely.

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Almost into the last leg of the assignment with the remainder of the team having already flown back to India. Another week remains and in exactly 7 days i’ll be on the flight back home.

It has been an interesting sojourn thus far. Have learned a lot about the Nordic region and culture. Have picked up some words as well and can’t but help notice the amazing similarities and influence of Germanic and Dutch culture. The Nordic region , especially Denmark, is peppered with references to the Vikings and the city of Copenhagen (Kobenhavn as mentioned locally) has statues dotted with Viking culture.

The week of Easter is when there is a holiday across Europe, pretty much. So the time was spent in travelling across Europe, mostly Germany and Sweden. Both are unique countries in their own right. Anywhere across Europe takes an hour and half at the most by air, but the trains take you across the most scenic countryside views. Honestly breathtaking those ones. Also the trains are fast, touching speeds of 201 kmph at max. The experience was a real good one. The spirit across was festive and the food and drinks were worth the experience.

However the one thing that I noticed that Euros do not work everywhere. While Germany does accept Euros, both in Denmark and Sweden the local currency is accepted. Denmark accepts only Danish Krones and only Swedish Krones  (SEK) work in Sweden. Germany, especially Berlin has got a serious economic divide between the central districts and the periphery. Whilst one is a pretty fast and developed, there is an undbelly in the city of Berlin, which possibly could have a criminal background to it. Unfortunately or fortunately I wasn’t there long enough to explore that. Sweden is pretty much similar to Denmark, especially the city of Malmo that is just around 45 minutes by train from the Copenhagen Airport by train. It does have a lot of decent hotels and places of tourist interest. May tourists also visit Stockholm and Gothenburg, the 2 biggest cities in Sweden. Hamburg and Berlin in Germany were also an interesting experience.

Coming back to Copenhagen, the one thing easily noticeable is a lot of graffiti on the walls of shopping establishments, which makes me wonder if this city too has a cultural or economic divide or if it had a rather dark history that is somewhat conveniently hidden. But that apart it has been a wonderful experience, in terms of the people who are really genial or the public transport that is really well managed or the way the cities are planned or the nightlife that really rocks. The corporate culture is the same everywhere be it Indian or Danish except that the work life balance over here is way better than what we get to see in India.

There also has been a movement of the office to a new location, that is way more scenic to what it was since it on the bank of a canal. The visa needed to be extended as well since it was a 40 day limit so had to visit the immigration service desk as well which was simple and efficient.

Winter is gone and the days are getting warmer, so I guess its summertime here. The temperature in the day is a pleasant 15 degrees, a far cry from the 40+ summertime temperatures back home. For the first time, since I came here, I was able to venture out without without a sweatshirt or a jacket on and it was really wonderful.

It’s the last week, and that will be spent catering to the chocolate requests from back home. Picking up from the market and packing the stuff and making sure not many requests are missed. Also the work at office is almost done and just the one meeting where the final handover remains to be done and that’s about it.

After all these weeks of having some really bland food, not to blame Europe for that but my palette is not accustomed to the lack of taste and spice, the craving for really spicy food is really strong and so is the craving for alphonso mangoes (i’ve almost missed the entire season this time). Couple that with me missing my wife and the pull to go back home is very strong. The first thing I intend to do once I land in Mumbai is to grab a vada-pao and a tea from the roadside chaiwala. But there’s another week for familiar touches, faces, tastes n smells.

Till then, its back to work.

Until next time, have a great time.

Been a couple of weeks more and have been exploring the city more. I’d call it a nice sleepy town, without much of the hustle and bustle we see back home. The traffic is well ordered. Also drivers respect their lanes and again there’s no lane cutting that we see back home. In the 3 weeks that i’ve been here, there’s been just a couple of instances when people have honked, trust me it’s that peaceful out here.

To get a feel of any city is to explore it on foot or local transportation. Copenhagen by far is a small city and distances are very walkable. Also the fact that there is no pollution or heat to speak of helps a lot in the sense that you don’t feel tired. If  you want to explore the city over a weekend, i recommend you get a city guide and get on to those Hop on Hop off buses that take you around, you’ll not miss anything. Alternatively, get a 24 or 48 hour pass on the local bus and they’ll take you around the city. There’s a third way, rent a bicycle if you feel confident enough and explore on your own. This is the most efficient way personally speaking, I tried this one but unfortunately, the years have taken a toll on my stamina and hence couldn’t ride it at a stretch for more than an hour and half. There is also a boat tour that they take you through the canals in Copenhagen.

There’s a lot of places near the central railway station where you can eat out, more like the “khau gallis” back home. The cuisines range from Asian to African to South American to the local Scandinavian. They are tasty and come really cheap. Near the central station there’s an area Istlegade which is more of a hooker street with a lot of exotic strip clubs and pubs but also in the midst of all that there is an Indian restaurant called “Bollyfood” which has got a limited but decent menu of Indian food (this was shown to us by a colleague). At both the eating streets or markets or whatever you wanna call them there are Indian restaurants in case you are craving Indian food, overpriced but decent (do not try the lassi at Shahi, it sucks big time). Ice cream seems to be a favourite locally as there are lot of ice cream bars and the quality is really good. There is one brand “Frisko” that reminds me of “Kwality walls” back home. Chocolates as expected are also to die for. Thank god for a local Starbucks I still get my supply of hot chocolate.

Sunlight is at a premium here, the weather at this time is spring but its still pretty cold. On a normally sunny day you see the Danes basking in the sun in open areas drinking hot beverages or beer. Then there’s the healthy lot that does a lot of running /jogging (no wonder these people are healthy). They eat healthy as well, lot of salads and boiled veggies for vegetarians (that is the only stuff available for vegetarians and vegans) along with predominantly beef and pork followed by bacon, salami, chicken and lastly turkey and eggs.

On the work front things have been coming along pretty good. It has not been at a hurried pace, the way we see back home. The Danes take their breaks pretty seriously, people go on holidays, and work times are strictly from 8 to 4 and you generally will not find people in office after 4. Also they are pretty punctual when it comes to time, you seldom find a slacker.

Easter holidays begin this week and I intend to take a trip somewhere in Europe for those 5 days. Germany probably Hamburg and Berlin. Will post more of the same when I return from that trip.

Until then, have a great time.  🙂

 

 

The wheels of time have taken me now to Copenhagen (on work this time). A nice place to be in, so typically European with its architecture and the people like I mentioned, so genial and friendly. The first few days there were hardly any encounters with Asians, let alone Indians. Its pretty cold down here especially in the nights and early mornings. These days its pretty sunny during daytime and the sun is up till almost 7:30 PM and the Danes make the most of it by basking in the sun.

The journey to get here was pretty tedious with a 10 hour flight from Mumbai to Paris followed by a flight from Paris to Copenhagen that takes just over an hour. But the overall experience has been nice. So far so good.

The houses are old European style with heavy usage of wood, and that is probably due to the cold weather. The streets of Copenhagen are dotted with statues from Norse mythology and probably figurines from Danish political history.

The cuisines are pretty much bland as with any other European country, mostly consisting of beef and pork with chicken coming in a close third and of course a lot of salads. There are a lot of eating joints and pubs with beer freely flowing which it seems till now is to keep the “spirits up” in the literal sense of the word (Danes even have beer at work, but i guess that goes with the culture of the place, there’s no “chai” here being served).

Public transport is fantastic and Copenhagen is connected very well by a range of trains “tog” , Metro and buses. As expected it is a left hand drive society and people follow traffic signals to the “T”. Danes ride bicycles a lot, you actually get to see people of all ages riding bicycles to work (bikes as they call them). So most of them are healthy, you seldom see obese people around here. Cyclists get the maximum respect in the pecking order with them getting the most respect on the roads, followed by pedestrians. Drivers actually respect the “zebra” crossing and slow down when people cross the roads on a zebra crossing.

So far I have hardly seen any policemen patrolling the streets, but there are police personnel patrolling on bikes and cars. Very few beggars and most of them are either playing musical instruments or doing something else. There have been just a couple of instances where I have seen them just lying around.

At work the Danes are a pretty transparent and no nonsense lot. There are also quite a few people from other nationalities who probably have been in Denmark for a while now and have mingled with the culture. The day begins early around 8 and ends at 4 which I guess is due to the climate. The sun does come up early and it gets pretty chilly in the evenings. All in all there is a work life balance around here, or so it seems, so no wonder the Danes are the 2nd happiest people in the world.

That’s all for now, its just been over a week and there’s 3 more to go. There will be more updates to follow.

So until the next update.. have fun.. 🙂

 

 

It was late in the evening, the sun had begun to set and people were returning home. Old men were merrily chatting along the road leading to the parks and walking tracks while a few others were hurrying along to their homes.

Akram picked up his pace, any moment now and his pursuers would catch up with him. He did not want to fight, or even get into an argument, at least not today. He had promised his son that he they would have dinner together. He picked up his pace, hoping to put some distance between him and the two that were following him.

“Are they really following me? Or is it just my imagination?” Akram wondered. He quickened his pace. Maybe he was just imagining things, maybe they were just walking in the same direction with some urgency. “Am i being paranoid?” he asked himself. But then life had taught Akram some tough lessons and he knew that it was better to be safe than sorry. He shot a quick glance over his shoulder to take a look if his pursuers were following him. There was just one of them now, the other one had turned in a different direction. Akram let out a sigh of relief.  He was being paranoid, he thought. Who would have recognized him in this town anyway? A few more minutes and he would be home. Akram stopped at a roadside vendor selling fruits and bought half a dozen apples. This gave him a moments time to scan the area. The remaining person who followed him turned into another alley and disappeared. Akram loitered around the area for a few moments more to make sure nobody followed him and then headed home. He wanted to keep his promise to his son. It had been long since he had spent some time with him. Iqbal, his eight-year-old son would be waiting for him with his eyes at the door expecting Akram. The thought of Iqbal brought a smile to Akram’s lips. He entered the building and headed up to his apartment on the second floor. He put the key in the lock and turned it. The door would not budge. Akram tried pushing the door but still it would not budge. He tried pushing the door harder but the door did not open. Akram’s heart sank. Had they found him? Would they be vicious enough to target his son? Thousands of thoughts started going through his mind. “Iqbal” he shouted, “Iqbal , beta” and thumped the door. Luckily for him the apartment next to him on his floor was empty so his voice did not attract any attention. “Iqbal” he shouted and thumped the door again. Just then a weak voice came from the inside. “Abba..” it said “Abba..”.. There was a distinct pain in that voice. Akram’s heart skipped a beat, he imagined the worst had happened. He pushed the door harder with his shoulder with all the strength that he could muster and then suddenly the door gave way.

Akram rushed inside imagining the worst had happened and yelled out for his son. “Iqbal.. he shouted Iqbal.. “but no voice answered back. “Beta…” he yelled and looked around him.

.. to be continued…

A teenybopper couple sitting on the next table at CCD, I walk into the coffee shop (been months since I’ve taken this independent walk but let us leave those experiences for another time) and take a table next to the table where these 2 kids are squabbling. From the gist of the conversation I understood that they were having a discussion on if they should be breaking up due to issues that recently crept up between them. In all this discussion for the past hour the phrase “F**k Off” was used more than ten dozen times by the both of them. But what was the most striking part of this conversation was the “pathetic English” used by both of them. Grammatically disastrous and phonetically a torture on the ears. Also the fact that the guy was acting like a bully and in essence he was literally bullying the girl. It also told me that the desperation with which the girl stuck around with this person meant that she had severe esteem issues. Yet another observation was that social identity meant a lot to this couple than a real life identity.

But what struck me as the most disturbing of all things was the amount of physical pain the guy was threatening the girl with. I called him and had a word with him and told him off and that it wasn’t appreciated. from what i overheard was that the guy was in the right but that is no way of treating a lady, whatever she has done it does not justify a man hitting a lady. To me the chap seemed earnest at the core and I did give him a thumbs up for his behavior after our little conversation.

Personally speaking I completely abhor the idea of getting into a relationship just for the heck of it and he was trying to bring it to closure was what i could figure. I couldn’t help but notice the resemblance to Kartiks track to Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2.

There is a possibility that these guys may get back into a relationship and repeat the cycle all over again, but for both their sakes I sincerely hope not.

There come phases in life that leave a lasting impression on your psyche. After childhood it is experiences like these that shape a person, his personality and design a pattern for his way forward. Nothing wrong about those experiences, some would argue that these experiences make a person stronger and all that jazz that the life coaches throw to you but personally speaking I’d rather live an uncomplicated life. But then you don’t get to choose do you? Obviously not, but there is something you do get to choose, the outcome of all this, and like it or not it is like coming out of a furnace, you emerge as a new person or else a shadow of your old self or even worse a completely broken person.

Different people deal with situations in different ways, some come out successful and some come out dead and another set trundle on with all the baggage that comes along with it which in turn affects their future relationships and in essence their entire life. Take a look around you, you’ll find a lot of people just living out their lives, existing, plain and simple, not living. And it is just not the person in question that needs to move on, it also involves the people around them.

Moving on in life is not just about putting up a brave face, it is about handling stuff, dealing with it and going on with your life as you do it. By that it involves jettisoning a lot of stuff and letting go. Any emotional baggage that is carried on is bound to inadvertently affect the subsequent relationships that ensue in life. Even when a person wants to move on and feels he has the means to do it and is confident of making the distance on his own there is a possibility that someone else, probably a friend or a relative or a fellow human from his environment having weighed down anchor at the disputed point in time and in such cases moving on becomes difficult because it becomes something of a scenario of a bunch of crabs trying to get out of a pit with the others dragging the ones down that were trying to get out of the pit in the first place. This situation is more difficult than going the distance alone because there is a third party involved here that is beyond your control.

In cases like these it easier to ignore or choose not to be affected by things and people around you. Ignoring negativity, in terms of both people and circumstances which involve people wallowing in self-pity or self-deprecation or playing the victim or situations created by these people, is pretty much effective. A lot of people get lost along the way, they tend to lie to themselves and create an illusion around them where they try to convince themselves that they’ve handled things and moved on, but in these cases the things that they’re running away from or trying to ignore return back to haunt them in one way or the other and these people end up going around in circles and re-creating the same situations over and over again.

The crux of the whole matter is moving on, and moving on is not possible without handling things. Running away from people and situations may be effective in the short term but if you are looking for a long term solution it is all about facing the reality of the situation, accepting it, dealing with it, disposing off the baggage and moving on.