Worth a Shot!

It has been long since I have posted something on my blog. Well, I have been busy, and have become quite a wanderlust if you ask me. I moved to Stockholm (Sweden) this January (one of the perks of working in IT sector), and will be here a few more months. Ever since I have arrived, there’s a new side of me that has surfaced quite recently. I tend to enjoy little things more than before, maybe because I have limited time and so much to do! I once heard a saying that if we think that this day is our last day, then we will enjoy the little things in life more than we normally do. And I believe the same is happening to me. Stockholm is a beautiful city, with all its amazing people, beautiful lakes, far villages at outskirts, the well-connected transport, wonderful places to see and a lot of interesting places which must be visited. So, I have been wondering that how I’ve got this new weird urge to travel around the world (well, some parts of Europe will do for now). I don’t call myself a professional, but I have a passion for photography. And although I may or may not want to show my clicks to anyone, I just love taking amazing shots. There’s a beauty in taking photos with camera and a few key points like the effort, the timing, the angle, the lighting, the distance, the post processing and so on. But the most important component of taking a shot starts a few moments before you look though the viewfinder.

The most common phrase that I hear from people who like my clicks is “Your pics are too good, you must have a good DSLR.” But then what about the ones I click using my phone’s camera? Let me tell you a secret. Before I lift my camera to click a shot, there’s a moment that I pass through –  a very short-lived moment that I call ‘The Vision’. It is in this very moment when I know how the photo is going to look like before even lifting the camera up for action. I will divide this moment further into three phases. The first phase is what I call the ‘opportunity phase’ where I search for a good opportunity to capture a shot. I have a DSLR and a pair of high storage memory cards doesn’t mean I go on capturing just anything or everything. So, I search for an opportunity that may be suitable for taking a shot. For example, the birds flying across the lake, the colourful buildings standing together, the beautiful architectural marvel, the reflection of city lights in water, etc. This phase provides you a reason to start with! The next phase is what I call the ‘story phase’. In my case, I don’t click photos unless I find a meaning to attach to it. Maybe because later I would want to write about it, but anyhow that’s how it goes with me. In this phase, I look at the opportunity created, take a moment and start building a meaningful story around it. It’s not like a regular story but just assigning meaning to the subject in the frame. It can also be an emotion or a feeling, like love, relief, peacefulness, timelessness, freedom, regret, etc. The third phase is the ‘evaluation phase’ which must be familiar with most of you. This is the phase where I evaluate the technical parameters of basic photography like exposure parameters (ISO, shutter speed, aperture), alignment parameters (angle, framing, cropping), focus parameters (identification of subject and background, manual or auto), and additional parameters (metering mode, storage format – RAW or JPEG, viewfinder or LCD). All these three phases together take an average 4 seconds and ‘click’, there you go!

You might be thinking that I might be processing too much in so less time, but that’s not true. In the beginning, it takes like 10 – 15 seconds to take a shot. After I have done it like hundreds of times, it becomes a habit. I don’t have to think at all, it becomes a reflex. The only part where I make the real effort is, as I said, before I look though the viewfinder. The journey starts from the mind and ends at the click of a button.

Everything that I do with passion helps me understand myself even better. I have been involved in photography for few years now, but it is just recently that I understood what really happens at the backstage before the final action. And when I become aware of the things that I experience, it just makes the whole experience more beautiful.

Perseverance – The Journey Towards Success

Perseverance – The Journey Towards Success

Success has no timeline. You can’t decide at what point of your journey, you will succeed or fail. Of course, you can choose the nature of your course you will be walking on, but you can’t be certain of at what exact moment you will achieve the result of your efforts. For example, a racer wins a race by crossing the finish line first and yes, we can say that he succeeded. But this is just one of the hundred attempts he has made where he had not failed. If you look at his timeline, the racer who crossed the finish line first didn’t start his race the same day. He had been practicing and trying to win since last few months or maybe years, and during all that time he might have failed many times. For him, winning the race that day was a success. And the efforts he has been making throughout his journey despite all the difficulties and downfalls showed his perseverance worked out in the right direction – a direction that leads towards success.

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In the journey towards success, there are many stages, and with each progressing stage, you learn something from the previous ones. One should know that there is a thin line between ‘perseverance’ and ‘trying hard’. Imagine hitting a nail with a hammer. If you just keep hitting the nail with hammer, you are just trying hard to push it into the wooden block. But if you position the nail properly and hit the nail in a strategic direction, you are trying hard but in a proper way this time. The second way demonstrates the act of perseverance, where you are aware of the direction and skill and then you make effort towards success. To bring your imagination alive, you need to practice but in the right direction. Only being persistent won’t matter, you need to be clear about what is it that you are being persistent for! Otherwise, giving up is yet whole another story. Only when you walk the road of perseverance, your timeline will become a success story.

Sometimes I Wonder

Sometimes I wonder,

How’s it going to be,

When the roar of thunder,

Sucks the breath out of me,

When the clouds pour rain,

And sky lightens a spark,

Will my eyes close again,

Or be open in the dark!

Sometimes I wonder,

How’s it going to be,

When I see the high mountains,

Or the vast open sea,

When the waves climb high,

Will I turn around and flee,

If I run from my fears,

How will I ever be free?!

Sometimes I wonder,

Is it ever going to be,

That confronting my fears,

Will bring the best of me!

An act of motivation

It’s fun to write down stuff going on in your mind for long. And gathering ideas and suggestions from readers is yet another part of the fun and learning. But sometimes, when the fun of writing is backed by a genuine cause, the context becomes more real. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine called me and asked me to write a story, actually a success story, for the wonderful initiative she has been administrating, planning and running with the help of some of her colleagues, friends and volunteers. This was titled as ‘Blanket Donation Drive’ under the tagline of ‘Ride for a Cause’. It was to be written as if she herself is telling the story about how a simple act of kindness and giving became a great success and gave her a feeling of wholeness within. I’m sharing the original write-up with you. I hope you like it and be motivated by it.

The Warmth in Their Smiles

When I was a little girl, my parents used to tell me that it is the fate of the people that governs if they will live in poverty or abundance. Some people say it’s their Karma (things they did in the past) of that makes them who or what they are today! I believed them then but today when I have seen the world myself, through my awakened eyes, I realized how wrong I was! Their Karma and their fate may or may not be in their hands, but what we do for them is clearly a matter of our choices. Therefore, I decided to step forward and start an initiative where we could help the helpless and unfortunates who are either struck by bad fate or pushed down by their own Karma of the past deeds. This initiative titled as “Ride for a Cause” is the first one of many that has become a success story on a much bigger scale than the rest.

Under the tagline of “Ride for a Cause”, the first initiative, named the ‘Blanket Donation Drive’, was launched by ForU Foundation and supported by NowFloats Technologies Pvt Ltd. and Bolt, with the intention of helping homeless people, who struggle to survive in such chilling winter, by facilitating them with blankets. The motive was to distribute blankets to homeless people sleeping in the streets, footpaths, bus stops, railway stations and roadside. Volunteers came forward to help. Some of them donated the money for buying blankets, some of them volunteered for riding through the town for distribution of blankets, and some volunteered for both, adding up to a total of 44 participants.

The journey started on 7th December at Driven Cafe – Gachibowli, where we all assembled and discussed the routes to be followed, important guidelines, safety measures, emergency contacts and other details. We left Driven Cafe at 8:30 pm and covered 4 routes with following checkpoints:

  1. Driven cafe – Kondapur – Cyber Towers – Madhapur Police Station – Jubilee Hills check post – Starbucks coffee – Ram’s Dosa House (Route R1)
  2. Driven cafe – Biodiversity Complex – Toli Chowki – Indian Oil Petrol Bunk – Nampally Railway Station – Ram’s Dosa House (Route R2)
  3. Driven cafe – Meridian School Madhapur – Borabanda – Yousufguda – Begumpet – Somajiguda – Nagarjuna Circle Road, Punjagutta – Ram’s Dosa House (Route R3)
  4. Driven cafe – Kondapur – Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University – Moosapet – Sanjeeva Reddy Nagar – Yousufguda Checkpost Bus Stop – Harley-Davidson – Ram’s Dosa House (Route R4)

The participants were excited and showed great enthusiasm throughout the journey. We distributed over 200 blankets which means over 200 homeless people were saved from merciless winter that day onward. Although this might look like a simple act but the impact it will have on their life and ours will be quite significant.

Finally, after covering all these routes distributing blankets along the way, we reached the closing point – Ram’s Dosa House. Since there were many riders and different routes took different times to cover, the riders returned in batches at different timings. At Ram’s Dosa House, we had some food and refreshments after which we proceeded for a short video session involving taking suggestions and feedback from the participants. After refreshments, now it was time to put our energy on display with a flash mob dance just outside the Ram’s Dosa House, which actually turned out to be great fun! Finally, we captured the beautiful moments in our cameras, mobiles and on the canvas of our minds, whose barriers were recently broken down with the motivation and desire to do something great!

Throughout the journey, everyone around was delighted to witness this act of kindness and giving happening around them. One may think that the homeless people who received blankets must be the happiest ones that day but you won’t believe if I tell you that I was even happier than them. It gave me so much relief and a sense of completion like never before. When you become the reason for a smile on someone’s face, it’s priceless.

This Christmas, we became the Santa for those hundreds of unfortunate souls who haven’t witnessed the warmth of love in a long time. Be it donating blankets, providing shelter, facilitating food and resources or simply planning something for a cause, ForU will never be hesitant to take the first step! 

At last, I would like to thank all the participants, planners, co-planners, donors, contributors, and everyone who helped me with little but important things, for making this initiative a great success for all of us.

We end this chapter now with the hope to start a new one for the ones in need. Let’s end this with these beautiful lines:

“I was given breath, I only wasted it,

I was given death, I only tasted it,

And when I was about to leave out of pain,

The warmth of their love made me live again!”

© Written by Varun K. Sharma

 

The Journey to the Center of my Mind

The journey starts from outside the door of my home. To the other side of the door, I see a world full of commotion, polluted physically and mentally with immoral values and double-meaning words. As I step ahead to the inside of my home, the outside commotion starts fading away. I can now untie my laces and open my shoes to walk on the floor with bare feet. The ground doesn’t feel solid at all but feels cold and smooth like ocean water carrying me away. As I move towards my personal room with my personal belongings, thoughts about them start emerging to the surface. I hold my belongings for a while, then pile them up in a separate place. I sit on a chair comfortably gazing at the painting on the wall. This is the painting of Yin-Yang made so creative that in a single glimpse, it acquaints me with the duality of this world but also reminds me of the singularity I belong to! While I keep looking at the painting on the wall, I close my eyes and now I enter the part of my journey where I don’t exist as a physical being but become a tiny part of the unlimited Source of energy. Though I am tiny, I am not limited to a single part of this huge never-ending fabric of reality.

This journey is not a physical journey to a place at my home. In this journey, my home is my mind. Outside the door, is a world based on duality that we live in, but inside it’s quiet and all the noise, pollution and unwanted thoughts are shut off slowly as I enter. The ground that I feel is not the floor of my home but the path composed of same material as I am. I don’t need to walk on it, it will take me where I want to go. My personal room is my subconscious mind and my belongings are my thoughts that have taken refuge in my room, intentionally or otherwise. As I go deeper into my mind, I hold every thought that I see and pile them in a separate place. Now I enter the more stable state of my mind where I am free of distractions. With thoughts piled up at a place out of my reach, I sit down on my chair which is the seat for the center of my mind. I look at the painting of Yin-Yang hanging on the wall. This is the perspective that I have created for myself and a portal to a world much deeper than I have ever been. I close my eyes and finally reach the center of my mind. There is nothing that I see or hear or feel or touch or sense. I am in a state of complete abundance. I am no more limited to the boundaries of my thoughts or my perspectives but have entered the very center of creation and destruction. I exist and don’t exist at the same time. I belong no where but I am everywhere. I am complete!

And while the world outside perishes and fights over things, I am finally at peace!

This is the journey to the center of my mind…. !

YOU ARE NOT YOUR TAGS

YOU ARE NOT YOUR TAGS
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The False Identity!

Remember those old college days,

Those jokes, pranks and silly gags,

Friends together going for class,

With empty notebooks and sagging bags,

You were young, you were free,

To decide what you wanted to be,

Life was smooth, there were no lags,

Back then, you were not your tags!

And today at work,

If you look around,

Thousands of necks,

Tags hanging around,

Is it your identity,

Or just a card with your name,

Do you feel proud showing it,

Or do you feel it lame,

To wave it around,

At every gate,

This little thing decides,

If you are early or late.

You are not your degree,

You are not your tag,

And of your scores and figures,

Never should you brag,

You are more than yourself,

You are part and whole,

You don’t need those tags,

To feed your soul!