Random Thoughts Blog

Hello and welcome to my blog of random thoughts ranging from life’s philosophy, spirituality to socio-political commentary.

My name is Manoj Tiwari and retired from my 9-5 job in August 2020. Now I plan to write, travel, video blog, podcasts, act and direct short films and plays and create whatever creative thoughts come to my mind.

Why am I doing this?

Because it gives me a pleasure to create something new. I worked in software product development most of my life and created several products that were used across the US and internationally. Always loved creating, it gives so much satisfaction that the failures and disappointments that also come with it are miniscule in comparison.

Because it will help me stay focused on original ideas about everything in life. Blog is an outlet for all those random thoughts that grow over period of time and builds an ideology.

Because someone said if any of my thoughts and ideas help someone in the process, why not. So hope it helps someone else as well, as it has helped me develop new thoughts and theories.

Because it can help in starting a dialog on any of those topics that I write about.

Please comment or write to us directly but most importantly, subscribe and like this.

India 2023

This trip was an unplanned trip, borne out of nowhere and turned into a huge travel adventure. In 35 days; visited 16 different cities, spent at least one night in 15 of them, and visited  9 new cities. Literally, lived off of my suitcase. A whirlwind tour. See the detailed itinerary at the end.


  • Every region of India is so different that you have to reorient yourself for every region. From Delhi to Indore in MP to Kochi/Trivandrum/Kanyakumari/Madurai in the South to Assama and Meghalaya in the Northeast to Mumbai and Goa in the West to Varanasi and Kanpur in the North-Central region are wildly diverse in culture, food, languages, religion, and lifestyle. The only commonality is overpopulation and the middle and poor class’s struggles. 
  • India overall is much cleaner compared to 20 years ago. Every city has artistic murals on its main highways and even in some tourist places depicting that city’s culture, art, and history. Every city now has Indian-flag-colored lights on its highways, which looks beautiful. But cleanliness has a long way to go outside of Delhi. New Delhi is super clean in its mostly tourist areas, besides Delhi, Varanasi has changed drastically, is super clean, and has a huge amount of tourism growth, but lacks a service mindset.
  • People in the South and Northeast regions were extremely honest, polite, and courteous compared to the northern part of the country. Kochi is probably the best example and one of the finest cities to visit in the south. Kochi has a lot of history, modern comforts, places to see, and things to do for 2-3 days.
  • Assam and Meghalaya need more infrastructure development to take on tourism to the next level. Beautiful country, and very inexpensive. People there don’t feel like they are part of India. They are left out of the development. Some development is happening but not enough for it to become a powerhouse soon. Cherapunji, Mawlynnong, Dawki river, and many other attractions are wonderful. Guwahati is just another big city, cannot enter Shillong without spending hours in traffic jams. Roads are horrible in many places like Uttarakhand and Ladakh. Ziplining on the way to Cherapunji was thrilling. Cherapunji reminded me of much of Uttarakhand and parts of Ladakh. Weather is important. Mountain ranges were covered with smog throughout, like my trip to Uttarakhand a year ago.
  • Kerala is equally divided between Hindus, Christians, and Muslims but all religions live in complete harmony. They should set an example for the rest of the world. Similarly, Assam is predominantly Hindu but its neighbor Meghalaya is predominantly Christian and both states are equally at peace with each other.  All of India is fighting over beef but it is openly available and part of most Keralites’ meals every day. Southern people are very chilled and not in rush to go anywhere as compared to their northern neighbors.
  • Goa is still one of the best tourist places to visit. Its beaches and shack restaurants are designed to cater to tourists. Just have a load of money to spend because you can spend a lot of money here if you like to have good times. 
  • Mumbai is just the same as it has always been. Mumbai is New York of India. To see Mumbai, you have to go with some locals. Its cafes, bars, and restaurants can overwhelm anyone’s senses. Visited a cafe deep inside some hidden street inside the Bandra area, called Sabko, it has become a cult amongst the locals and tourists. Similarly, there are restaurants only locals will know about their food and existence. Having a celebrity along with you can get you a table and special attention in these places too. 
  • Varanasi is much improved and much more commercialized since I visited in 2017. There are marked improvements in its infrastructure such as the airport, train station, trains, and highways but no one can help with its crowds and self-righteous, deeply superficially religious citizens. The service excellence is not what Varanasi is famous for, this is a city you come to, pushed thru the famous temples and ghats, and pushed out. No one seems to care about you, and you get overwhelmed but still feel that you have experienced a miracle. You come back still thrilled that you could see Varanasi.
  • Kanpur has been my love for life, it doesn’t matter that it’s decaying at its core, it hasn’t changed at the grassroots level since I left the city in 1978. Except for a few concerned citizens, like the Kanpur Parivartan Forum and some more socially conscious people, the rest of Kanpur thinks alike. Even though the new metro, highrise buildings, and malls may give the image of 21st-century Kanpur, in reality, It is still living in the 70s, and it will not change anytime in the near future. But no one in the country can beat Mithas’s Jalebi, mithai, and Lassi. Kanpur is for family, specialty food, and Paan.
  • Delhi has transformed into a modern city for the most part, comparable to any international city until you go to Old Delhi. Delhi has its own culture which is quite different from any other city in India. Its people are very adventurous, confident, and friendly, not your what-you-see-what-you-get types like in the South or even other UP cities, they are very self-absorbed, and love food. Go to any restaurant, they are all packed any time of the day. Delhi is foodies’ mecca. Its food places are popular from under-the-metro food vendors to seven-star restaurants. There is so much to do and see in Delhi that you can spend weeks and still not cover it all but Delhi is not for solo travelers, you must have company to enjoy it completely. And if you don’t like crowds, and cars, and struggle to reach anywhere on time, don’t go to Delhi then.   
  • Religion has come to the forefront and has become prominent in most people’s lives, especially among Hindus. Religious tourism has become a thing in India. So many people are traveling to religious destinations, especially Shiva Bhakti (Mahakal) has become a cult in itself. I don’t know how and who started this but you have to see the lines at the famous temples. Poor people stay in lines for hours. Even Vivekanand Memorial is now treated as a religious pilgrimage location. Your position in lines is for sale. You can buy your way into any temple. I visited more temples on this trip than ever before. Except for one or two temples, I went in and came out without even seeing the main Idol because of the lines. Waited for 1.5 hours to get to Vivekanand memorial in the fast lane. There must’ve been a single-file kilometer-long line for general admission at 7:30 am and later in the day. The same for Padmnabhaswamy Temple, and Kamakhya Temple, Vishwanath Temple; couldn’t even go close to the Mahakal temple and Kaal Bhairav temples in Ujjain. 
  • Important Travelling Lesson for going solo or no local persons – Look for 4 and above start hotels for a clean and good stay; a 3-star hotel ranking is deceiving. Demand 4-star if you are going with any tour. Getting a Sim card at the airport or in the city comes in handy when you have to deal with local hotels, taxis, Uber, etc. Always carry cash, cash is still the king unless you have PayTM or UPI for Indian transactions. Not everyone accepts your American credit card. There is no one rule, rules change with the service provider. Confirm everything, don’t assume anything.  Uber and Ola drivers can cancel anytime even after accepting the ride. You will have to talk to them after confirming the ride via the app. Uber is almost half the price compared to independent taxi drivers.
  • I believe in buying from Indian local vendors instead of western big corporate outlets. Spend locally and help the local economy. 
  • The last lesson – poor man is just poor, they have no religion or nationality, and their only hope is to get some money, love, and respect. At least treat them with respect. 
  • The bottom line, you will enjoy India only when you give in to the Indian way, otherwise, you will stay miserable. You cannot enjoy India with the western mindset. You will also learn about the Herd mentality in India. You cannot question anything, and you cannot apply logic to anything, Just have faith in the system. Even when things look bleak, they get done, you reach where you want to reach, may not be in time but you reach. In 35 days, I did not miss any taxi, train, or flight, my reservations showed up on time and I reached and achieved what I was set to do,  nothing. I traveled and enjoyed every aspect of it, good and bad.
  • Please feel free to send your queries, and questions directly via this post or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/manojtiwari

Trip Itinerary – Feb 12 – Mar. 18th, 2023

Feb. 12th – Departed from DC
Feb 13 – Feb 15th – Delhi
Feb15 – Travel by Train to Indore
Feb. 16th – Reached Indore, Ashoo’s Sangeet Program
Feb. 17th – to Ujjain for Mahakal Shiv temple and Kaal Bhairav temple but couldn’t see because of Shivaratri crowd, instead visited 2 other temples. Shadi in the evening
Feb. 18th & 19th – Indore excursion, Sarafa Bazaar
Feb. 20th – Flight via Mumbai to Kochi; 
Feb. 21st – Business meetings and Dinner
Feb. 22nd – Excursion to Fort Kochi and Jewish settlements, synagogue, palace, etc. Dinner in the evening at Grand Hyatt.
Feb. 23rd – Excursion to Periyar Estate and boat ride
Feb. 24th – Train to Trivandrum, Visit Kovalam beach and Lulu Mall in the evening
Feb. 25th – Train to Kanyakumari
Feb. 26th – Sunrise at Kanyakumari, excursion to Vivekanand Memorial
Feb. 27th – Train to Madurai
Feb. 28th – Flight to Guwahati
Mar. 1st & 2nd – Assam/Meghalaya 6-day excursion started. Zakai Eco camp in Kaziranga National park and visited Kaziranga National Park
Mar. 3rd – Shillong, Mahamrityunjay Temple
Mar. 4th – Mawlynnong, Dawki River, Bangladesh border
Mar. 5th – Cherapunji, Garden of Caves, Nohkalikai Fall, Mawsamai Cave
Mar. 6th – Guwahati, Kamakhya temple and Sunset Cruise on Brahmaputra 
Mar. 7th – Mumbai, Holi celebration with the family
Mar. 8th – In Mumbai, sightseeing, Sabko Cafe, dinner at Mahesh Restaurant with the family 
Mar. 9th – Flight to Goa
Mar. 10th – Goa, Morajim beach, Calamari restaurant, Aguada fort
Mar. 11th – Basilica and other Churches
Mar. 12th – Flight to Varanasi
Mar. 13th – Sankat Mochan, BHU, meeting with family, Ganga Arti, boat ride, Vishwanath mandir
Mar. 14th – Sunrise at Assi Ghat, Train to Kanpur
March 15th & 16th – meeting with family, Parivartan group, Farm visit, dinner with friends & family
Mar. 17th – Train to Delhi; lunch with the family. Flight back to the US.

The Pyramid of Hierarchy of Consciousness

Lately, I have become a staunch believer in the existence and recycling of souls, transforming from one body to another until they reach their highest level of hierarchy or growth in one form. I do believe souls are a form of energy and they stay in this form until some event triggers a transformation again. This event can be a level of growth or some divine force that transforms it. 

We all can hypothesize the post-human life, but none of these theories are proven one way or another. These are just theories based on our understanding of some real-life events, some imagination, and some rational connection of dots. Here is my theory on the Hierarchy of Consciousness which is developed using  Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation model. 

For me, the definition of Consciousness is awareness and the use of our mental capabilities beyond physical existence.   

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an idea in psychology proposed by American Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in the journal Psychological Review. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological (food and clothing), safety (job security), love and belonging needs (friendship), esteem, and self-actualization.

Similarly, I believe that Soul energy exists in every living thing from plants to animals to humans and beyond. Each unit of energy (a plant, animal, or human) goes from one form to the other in a hierarchical order. Just like in the hierarchy of needs in Maslow’s pyramid, energy travels thru different levels of consciousness. So we can call “consciousness” the equivalent of a need. Our consciousness moves up a level once a satisfactory portion of the lower-level need is satisfied.  There is no clear boundary of when this hierarchical movement happens. One moves to the next level without even realizing the move. It’s a gradual progression that we all go through in this life and over multiple reincarnations. There is no timeline.

Let’s break it down in simple terms. I am born as Manoj and I have no idea where I came from and where I am going. However, I was born with certain soul energy at a certain level of consciousness. My soul chose or was sent to a household where I grew up in whatever conditions. That was my lowest level of consciousness in the level I was born in this life but not necessarily the lowest level in the pyramid of consciousness. Based on the pyramid diagram below, say Gautam Buddha was born in the “Sainthood” level but at the lowest level of Sainthood, hence he had to elevate his consciousness in this life thru his karma to reach the Divinity level.  Perhaps Gandhi was born at the “Social and Universal Consciousness” level and he elevated his consciousness to “Sainthood/Social Transformation.” I may have been born at the Survival level but because of my karma, I can raise it to the next level or stay at the same level and keep coming back to grow my consciousness to the levels higher.  

So the Hindu philosophy of reincarnation until we reach Nirvana/Moksha makes sense when using this model. The Divinity level is the Nirvana/Moksha level where a soul has reached the ultimate consciousness as a human. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. Perhaps it transforms into another being or non-being and that may have its own levels of consciousness. Is there another “conscious life”? We don’t know. The only thing we know is that energy never dies or ends, it transforms. And what that transforms to, only divine souls would know. Based on the book “Many Lives, Many Masters” by Brian Weiss, there is a hierarchy of souls. Perhaps the divine souls transform into what we call, a Godly hierarchy of consciousness. 

Let’s look at each consciousness level closely. 

  1. Transformation to Human Consciousness. As we say in Hindu philosophy, animal souls grow up to the human soul or human consciousness level. Plants may become animals or vice-versa and those plants/trees/animals evolve to become human souls. But they are born at the lowest levels of human existence. These human souls go thru a cycle of lives to evolve over a period. But they start their lives with animalistic consciousness.  
  2. Once transformed into humans, these souls learn to survive in this world. They are merely learning the human ways of surviving. Their consciousness level is still pretty low and has no knowledge or inclination to reach higher levels of spirituality or enlightenment. 
  3. The mid-level of this hierarchy is where our consciousness becomes aware of the value of family and the materialistic world and experiences the comforts and discomforts of life on earth as a human. 
  4. The 4th level is where you notice some aware souls who practice compassion and love for others, beyond their own. These souls realize the beauty of the coexistence of all things living and work towards making the surrounding a better place at the physical level. 
  5. Social and Universal Conscious people believe in Sewa (helping others). Their purpose in life is to help others thru them. They are sent on this earth to make others’ lives better and serve as the keeper of other human souls.
  6. People who change the world around them with no personal gain, belong to this level of consciousness like Gandhi, Buddha, Mother Theresa, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Vivekanand, etc… All these people dedicated their lives to the betterment of humans, animals, and the earth in general. They reach the level of sainthood in whatever work they do. And their souls become as pure as they can be humanly possible.
  7. Divinity is when a human soul becomes a divine soul. These souls come to life form to spread divinity in this human life, like Ramkrishna Paramhans, Shirdi Sai Baba, Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammad, Guru Nanak, etc.  

So what’s the purpose of this exercise of learning and contemplating consciousness? Well, it may define the purpose of life on this earth for those who are looking for a purpose. And if we understand our purpose, it helps us grow in this life. I have found my purpose, have you? 

This content is an original thought of Manoj Tiwari and is protected under Copyright Laws.

I have learned…. 

A series of random thoughts on my learnings and observations in my long life… 

There may be some humor, satire, and sarcasm in my observation. If you have issues with any of these, please find your life’s pleasure somewhere else. 

So here we go.   

  1. No matter how many inspirational messages I read, I wake up as inspired as I was before reading those messages.
  2. We are where we should be based on our efforts put into being somewhere else.
  3. Anyone who thinks that other people are stupid is most likely looking at a mirror.
  4. No matter how rich, successful, and confident you are, you will always have doubts about your capabilities, money, success, your spouse, and your children that you will not share with others. 
  5. I have learned everything that I was capable of learning so far. If you try to teach me something, and I am not learning, that means my glass is full. Try it another day. 
  1. Relationships are about commitments without commitments being imposed. True relationships come from the heart, naturally without any expectations. 
  2. Life is about connections we make not at the professional, academic or social levels but between souls. When you meet someone your soul knows if you are connecting at the soul level or not. Souls don’t ask or care about your social or financial status. Those are the connections worth saving, despite the differences at the physical or social level.
  3. No matter how much you bug someone to do something, people will do what they want to do in their timeline, especially if they are your children between the ages of 5 and 25. 
  4. Life’s meaningful lessons are cheaper than life’s stupidities, no wonder YouTube pays people to make videos about their stupidity. 
  5. We pick on other people’s shortcomings that are our own shortcomings. It is not scientifically proven but made it up because it sounded like a good quote. 🙂

The State of Confusion

Since I retired, I have been contemplating frequently, if I am doing everything as I am supposed to do to avoid retirement blues. I am fearful of doing nothing and slowly degenerating into a vegetative state. I am guessing most retired people go thru this phase of thinking, or maybe I am hypersensitive about being inactive since I’ve been active most of my life. It is a very personal feeling. I have not heard many other retired people expressing this fear but have seen retired people live thru that phase of life and that is terrifying. 

We all have our fears, some known, some unknown. My foremost fear is becoming dependent on anyone in my lifetime. I have worked hard and long so that I don’t have to depend on anyone physically, mentally, or financially. But circumstances and life situations can shatter our dreams and plans and throw us into turmoil that is beyond our control. If such a thing happens, of course, I will accept it. But if something happens when it was under my control and didn’t do anything to avoid the situation that will be the most dreadful moment of my life. 

Lately, I’ve been in that state of confusion. After much reflection, concluded that this fear of the unknown happens as we enter every new phase of our life, generally every decade; but it is more prominent now because there is less chaos happening in my life and there is more time to give it a thought. 

We all experience a state of confusion in every new phase of our life at varying levels but recognize only when it has a direct impact on our psyche or life. When my friend Prakash was about to turn 50, he started talking about spirituality, and pilgrimage and became an ardent follower of Shiva. I have seen some close friends and family members how they went into a different state of mind but mostly the state of confusion. We are always searching for ways to make our life meaningful as long as we live, hence the fear of dependency. Not being relevant or meaningful brings hopelessness that can cause mental health issues of its own. 

So the fight continues to stay relevant and meaningful. Now I am constantly searching for ways to stay physically, and mentally active. To start 2023 with a big bang, I have already planned activities for 2023, which include acting in a play after a long gap, producing a Take 2 Creations film, writing a couple of film scripts, and traveling to another continent. Giving a clear direction to the state of confusion. 

I have miles to go before I sleep.

Think About it…

I was contemplating the other day the biggest problem in this world is everyone’s set ways of thinking, our rights, and wrongs. If not everyone, most people are working so hard to change the thinking (mind) of others around them. Sometimes very bluntly, sometimes very subtle. And this is not only limited to individual relationships, this calamity exists at every level, be it religion, culture, social structure, financial system, or political system. 

Take for example, for decades the US government paid and spent billions and trillions of dollars trying to convert other countries’ political systems because they thought the democratic system is the best for everyone in the world. Then Russians and Chinese tried to do the same to promote Communism in many countries around the world. Christians trying to make Muslims and Jews believe in Jesus Christ, and Muslims want you to believe in Quran and Mohammad’s philosophy. Hindus think their philosophy is the best in the world and so do Buddhists. People of different cultures think they are the most culturally advanced community. Take, for example, even within India, Bengalis, Marathis, Kannada, or the people of the Hindi speaking belt, they all will give you tens of examples as to why they are the most cultured and artistic community. 

You can extend the same logic to relationships. And the relationships can be of any kind, be it spouses, siblings, parents, children, boyfriend, girlfriend, or just friends. Relationships make or break where two people think or don’t think alike. Where they don’t think alike, there is a constant unspoken battle that goes between the two. Rarely you will see two opposing thinkers loving and living happily, or at least constantly bickering; they will be like the US and the old Soviet Union during the Cold War era. (Now, don’t claim you are fine, that means you are the one who is trying to control the other mind.)

For years, Putin is forcibly trying to convince Ukrainians to think like him otherwise he will kill thousands of people who don’t agree with him. Through his lies and political maneuvering, Trump convinced millions of Republican Party voters to think there was election fraud. 

So why is it important that we make others think like us? Because it gives us the feeling of attaining power. If I win a debate, that means I am more powerful than the other person, verbally and logically speaking. When one controls the other person’s mind, they feel powerful in their own small world. Putin makes Ukrainians agree with him, it gives him the power that he so desperately seeks. Trump seeks power in everything he says or does. 

But if we take this reasoning to a personal level, in relationships, it may not seem like a power struggle but it really comes down to the power. Usually, one person gives in to the other, only then the unspoken battle ends. The power superiority is usually determined by who is dominating the other person’s mind and thus their behavior. In a husband-wife relationship, a husband or wife may decide to voluntarily give in to the other’s thinking to make their relationship peaceful at home, and it wouldn’t matter how powerful they are in their world outside of their relationship. A president of the United States may easily give in to their spouse’s way of thinking at home while they persuade other country’s heads to change their political system. 

The real problem is that we are so set in OUR way of thinking that we find it easier to change another person’s thinking than our own. In that process, often we end up sacrificing truly meaningful relationships; and in extreme cases end up killing thousands of human beings; because we cannot change our thinking. Because, then, we lose our power over the other. We lose the cold war. 

Think about it again…. 

Disclaimer: Yes, I am also one of those who try to influence others’ thinking. This is in no way a self-absolution.

Retirement Lessons

Since I have retired, I have been asked innumerable times how my life has changed. Searching for an honest and meaningful answer, I went out on solo cross-country travel for several months and meditated non-stop while I was enjoying my cheap wines and whiskeys. Finally, I found my answer. 

I discovered, since retirement, my sense of humor has suddenly disappeared. And I am sure most of you might have noticed it too. That was a discovery but I had to go deeper and do a root cause analysis. After meditating several more days with cheap wine and whiskey, here is the revelation I had…

  1. While I worked, my body never spoke to me. But as soon as I retired, my body started talking back to me. I found several new noise-making body parts that grew after retirement. 
  2. Most of my body parts are alcoholic, they behave like drunk people; they smell bad and fall all over the place for no reason. 
  3. Mind has developed its own mind, a new one. It does whatever it feels like doing. The new mind thinks it is a 16year old young boy who can go on a mountain hike in the middle of a hot day without anyone on this earth knowing where I am going and without any earthly communication.  
  4. At the social level, people have started treating me like these are my last few days on this earth. Whenever they meet they treat me like they have come to pay their last respect.
  5. In my professional circle, all those who thought I possessed many skills, high level of wisdom and a ton of experience, now use my name in vain, as a scapegoat for every bad decision and everything that’s wrong. 
  6. A year later, my fantasies for domestic and international travel seem so overrated. After travelling for almost a year, I have fallen in the lowest level of taxpayers category i.e. income below poverty level. It is traumatizing to fill zero in my annual income field in forms.
  7. I discovered, most people are busy and not available for 11 am yoga class or 3 pm to 6 pm happy hour on weekdays.
  8. I also learned I don’t need many things in life, just a drivable car, a bank account, 1 suitcase of clothes and a few hundred close friends and family. I have learned the value of having a close group of friends and family around to save myself from depression. Without them, life is incomplete and meaningless. 
  9. Gautam Buddha discovered that life is filled with sorrow and miseries. I discovered life is filled with love and happiness, it’s all about our perspective and attitude. 

Strings of joy…

I was walking down the street the other day and saw many strings of lights people had put up for Diwali and now for Christmas, thinking why a string of lights look much better than a large size strobe light at any place even though the strobe light provides thousands more lumens in brightness. And a string of thoughts started lightning up my mind. 

On a side note, In our family or perhaps in entire Indian culture, everyone born before 1972 is a philosopher. The year 1972 means they have turned or are about to turn 50. And they relate with Socrates more than they relate with their own children. 

So my philosophical mind rushed to find a connection between the holiday season lights (just to be politically correct but I meant Diwali and Christmas lights), and the meaning of life. Well, I tried hard but couldn’t find a connection, not even a distant relative. Then suddenly, like lightning, the connection between festival lights and happiness struck me. I realized happiness is not one strobe of powerful light that lightens up a large structure, rather hundreds of little joyful events in life that makes us happy, just like the strings of lights or candles that make a house glow during Diwali, Christmas, and all those festivals where we use these lights. We humans always keep looking for a strobe of light to make us happy and ignore the small lights, strung together which can make a beautiful display of our happy lives. 

As some wise man has said before, it’s the journey that matters more than the destination. So enjoy the journey; enjoy every small little bulb when you see a light string, think of them as little joys in your life. I enjoy it when my grandson smiles after seeing me at the door or when he holds my finger to walk with me or just simply calls me Nana in his soft voice. I enjoy it when the chime outside my door makes beautiful sounds. My heart gets filled with joy when I cook something, and my guests say it’s not bad. Yes, it’s a miracle when I cook something and it’s not bad. 

So if you are under 50 and/or not a born Indian, start philosophizing everything around you and I can guarantee it will give you such a joy that you will stop looking at big strobe lights in front of the buildings and statues. On that thought, those strobe lights also look good when they are accompanied by a string of small lights. So when you are driving or walking down the street, look at those lights closely and let a smile add to your holiday joy remembering this philosophical thought and the wise man who pointed it out. I am looking forward to many strings of lights when I take my grandson and granddaughter for a ride this holiday season and we cherish those little strings of joy. 

Happy Holidays!

Perception, Opinion, or Judgment

I often struggle with these 3 terms, perception, opinion, and judgment. In our casual social conversation, often these terms are used with a negative or positive connotation. For example, my perception of a place, thing, or person is nothing more than my opinion based on my direct or indirect observations, which is a judgment (a conclusion) I have made again from direct and indirect observations (perception). 

So, I have redefined these 3 English words for myself. Perception is an image I have drawn in my mind based on some data, hence, this is the data collection step. Now data can come from multiple sources, data can be valid or invalid but at this step, we don’t make the final judgment, we just create a visual image, a perception of that place, thing or person. Next comes the step of the analysis. Once the data is gathered, we start analyzing, so we start forming opinions about the place, thing, or person. Opinions are analyzed perceptions. And lastly, we make a conclusion from our opinion, we call that Judgment. 

I always wondered why people say don’t be judgmental. For some reason being judgmental has a very negative connotation but it’s nothing more than a conclusion reached based on our perception and opinion. As a normal developed human brain, it is impossible not to form a judgment, if you have already collected the data. Data just can’t sit idly in a corner of your brain and not do anything with it. When we analyze the data, it is the only natural process of our brain to form an opinion and come to a conclusion.

When we say don’t be judgmental, I think we mean two things – 1. Check our data thoroughly before analyzing it. Form an opinion based on only valid data. 2. Form an unbiased judgment. Often our judgments are based on our past experiences hence we can only create biased opinions and judgments. We often forget to even acknowledge that there is personal bias. In social conversations, opinions are usually regarded as personal bias-laced analyzed data but people always expect judgment to be unbiased. 

So when we make a judgment, especially about a person, people say “don’t make a judgment” or “don’t be judgmental”; is it because people may not trust our judgment, know that our judgments are biased, or are they questioning the validity of our data. Imagine judgments based on invalid data and highly influenced by personal experiences.

Coming back to the original thought of perceptions, I learned two things from this, one that we have to be very careful with our data input. As they say, Perceptions can be deceiving because more often than not, the data sources are unknown, unreliable, or highly biased. Someone else’s judgment can become our data source, OUR perception. We say I trust that person or a news/information source and form perceptions, opinions, and judgments based on that one source; exactly what happened with the followers of Trump, who trusted him to be their sole source of socio-political perceptions, opinions, and judgments. (Of course, that’s my personal perception, opinion and judgment 🙂 )

So who you trust can become the source of your perceptions, opinions, and judgments. Select your data points carefully. As they say in the IT world, garbage in, garbage out.

Brutally Honest?

Have you heard people saying I am being brutally honest? Yes, I have and I have used that phrase myself. But I am going to take this phrase out of my vocabulary now. I do not practice this phrase but I use it to communicate the extent and intent of my honest opinion. 

I recently read one FB post (sorry forgot who posted it, hence no credit), saying exactly what I have been trying to convince some of my friends to do, instead of being “brutally” or “blatantly” honest, try to be “nicely” honest or just be honest. I believe when I say I am being brutally honest, I am telling the other person to get ready I am going to be brute, even though I don’t mean it that way. This also tells the other person that I am going to be lazy and irresponsible in selecting my words and say things that most likely will hurt their feelings. 

If I already know that it may hurt the other person, why be brutal then? 

One can be honest without being brute to another person. And it’s not as hard. Just pay attention to the words you are going to say. The words you are using in your mind are not necessarily always the words you want to use to express yourself. Instead, think of it if someone else uses the same words for you, will it hurt you? I think just saying that I am being honest is enough and if you feel that it can be hurtful, be honest but use nicer words to communicate the same honest thought. Usually, we are brutally honest to the people we are close to, then it doesn’t make sense to hurt them by being lazy in choosing our words with them.

It is not easy, but riding a bike was not easy, driving a car was not easy, but we all learned it by practicing, by falling a few times, or had a few accidents. The same applies when we are communicating honest thoughts with others. Just like having a car accident will increase your car insurance, or will not have insurance if you already had 3 or more accidents, in relationship insurance terms, that means a soured or completely broken relationship. So use brutally honest words when you don’t care about that relationship.

Avoid accidents, deliberately, with good communication practices, good driving habits, and keep your insurance premium low. Driving forward,  I am going to be Nicely Honest !!!

Soul Detox

Every time you meet someone, do you get a positive, negative, or neutral vibe from or about that person? And does this happen every time you meet this person? I do. I think everyone gets some kind of vibe from or about every person we meet in life, every day. Some we acknowledge and some we don’t. We generally acknowledge and react to strong positive and negative vibes. I call this soul connection. Our souls connect, disconnect or disregard people based on the type of vibration we receive from the other soul. With everyone, our relationships are based on these vibes. 

Since Covid and social distancing started in March 2020, I have started feeling a sense of distance from people. No matter how many jokes or inspirational messages I might have shared with them I felt a line has been drawn within my social network. My soul feels so deprived of human-to-human connection. Yesterday, for the first time I felt a sense of depression. It’s ironic that I have my son and his family visiting, still I felt depressed. I was invited to a party with close friends but decided not to go because my depression took over my judgment and I couldn’t figure out why I was depressed. 

What are some of the reasons you feel depressed or down at times? For me, when I lose hope. I was losing hope on several fronts and I didn’t have a clear solution or clarity about all the issues I was dealing with for several days. All the sad news about Covid in India and close family and friends’ families dying from Covid, which was exacerbated with the existence of minor personal issues. 

Today, I woke up very early morning when suddenly a thought occurred to me and decided that I will rekindle my soul, connect with people that I have a positive, and negative soul connection, one-on-one. I developed a strong desire and commitment to re-establish my positive connections and acknowledge my positive soul connection with them. AND connect with negative soul connections as well to discover the reasons for the negative vibes between our souls. This may lead to exploration into the possibility of converting a negative connection into a positive one. This is an effort to deepen some relationships that have stayed mostly superficial because we didn’t try to connect at a deeper level. 

I figured this depression happened because I have not been able to nurture my soul with positive vibes from people close to me, those who were my pillars. And negative vibrations usually cause negative results in the body and mind. So, I have decided to reconnect, rejuvenate, and re-energize my soul with only positive vibes. I especially want to convert negative connections to positive ones, call it Soul Detoxification. 

In the coming weeks, if you receive a random request from me to meet you one-on-one, don’t be shocked. And if you are feeling down, try doing the same, it may pull you out of your temporary depressive mode too. Fight Covid’s effects, positively.