Pankaj invited me to give a talk at the 41ers - a club that spins off the Round Table where the members retire from active social work at 40 years of age. In the 41ers they continue to do the good work in a more relaxed fashion and meet once a month. After we agreed on the date Pankaj asked me to come up with a suitable topic. It took em almost two weeks to finalise the topic titled 'What's on your shelf?'. The audience had a few old friends, Ajay Narne from Intermediate days, Pankaj from Engineering and MBA days and a few others.
The talk was primarily about how I discovered, one fine day that there were so many books to read on my shelf, that I have enough to read for a lifetime. Similarly, I also have many movies to watch, things to write about, places to see, people to meet and practices to adopt and master. I have enough things to do. What started with a book or two a year, grew to 12 books a year and then to 20 and in recent times has been 70-80 books a year. Now I get books gifted to me, I got two bookshelves gifted to me and have some 15 books lying on my shelf that are unread and an equal number that I want to buy and read. I also have a list of 1000 books to read so my life is full. It makes me feel very excited to wake up and look forward to the day with so many things to do. Same with movies or whatever else is on my shelf.
Then I spoke about my mother in law Dr. Nalini Nargundkar who at 90 is very active and happy. She lives alone in a big bungalow, her husband passed away 30 years ago. I noticed that she has a very clear routine. From her yoga at 430 am in bed to her lime, honey and warm water, walk in the courtyard, her TV serials, her food, which includes a laddu at midnight, her books. Every minute that we wait at the doctor's, she spends reading a book, mostly a Mills and Boon or some murder mystery. These days she says she forgets which book she has read before so she is happy just reading.
|Dayanand giving me a vote of thanks - he liked the concept of deliberate choice he said|
When I asked her how she stays happy, she told me that we have to work for our happiness and not expect it to happen on its whims. We have to make our choices and follow them deliberately. That she said, was the secret of her happiness. Even her house - she said 'the house is for me and I am not for the house' - when I asked her how she maintains her huge bungalow. So she only uses the parts she needs and does not care about making the other parts look good.
|Me and Ajay Narne, my pal from Intermediate days|
So I realised that as my shelf gets filled up, I now need to be more deliberate like her to optimise my happiness. what I read, watch, write, who I meet should be more deliberate. Having got her, that's what I propose to do from now on.
There were a lot of questions and we had fun chatting up on our views on the topic. The key here is simply - do what makes you happy or brings you joy. To the question that I was well off economically to try all these, I said I wasn't. I just lived within my means, how much ever they were.
Throughly enjoyed the interaction and I hope they did too. Thanks Pankaj.