July 1, 2011


I dedicate this post to the most brilliant, entertainingly educative, path-blazing, powerful, paradigm shifting, influential movie of all time.
Finding Nemo.
If you haven't watched it, you've stunted your growth for life.
You have missed out on vital life lessons.
You have foregone serious opportunity man.
 Seriously, close this window, and go watch the movie.
Download it, buy the DVD, and hug the cover when you sleep at night.
I'll still be here in the morning.

Watched the movie?
Wasn't it awesome?
Like the best thing you've done in your life?
I know, right?!?

Now, on with my post.

Ever noticed how much fun it is to watch a little baby taking his first steps?
How his tiny, little, fleshy legs, wobble with each step?
Then he falls.
His face grows somber, his eyes go blank.
He takes sometime to consider whether he wants to start crying or not.
Then he decides, it doesn't hurt as much.
So he gets up and starts trying again.
And he falls and he gets up, he tries again, he falls….
You get the point.

It's cute isn't it?
Yea. I'm not going to talk about his cuteness.

Have you ever wondered why it takes our human babies a year or more to start walking. I don't know if any other animal offspring takes that long. Even little birds can fly for a few seconds at a time, a few weeks after birth. Horse babies, cow calves, puppies, kittens start walking barely a few hours after birth.

And turtles?
Don't even get me started on turtle babies.
Those little guys are born on the beach. And they find their way to the water.
When they're only a few minutes old. They find their way.
They don't even ask for directions.
Not just the boy turtles, even the girls don’t ask for directions.
And once they're in the water, it's like they were BORN to swim.

Crush, the turtle said it best:
'The little dudes are just eggs,
we leave 'em on a beach to hatch,
and then, coo-coo-cachoo,
they find their way back to the big ol' blue'.

Human babies are wimps.
And you know what?
Humans are wimps too.

We hate being uncomfortable. We get uncomfortable with the thought of being uncomfortable. We spend our whole lives working so we are never made to feel uncomfortable again. And we don't even leave our kids out. They should never be uncomfortable. It's like we give our kids our wimp-i-ness as a legacy.
I'm afraid of being uncomfortable, and so shall you. That is my will.

So, obviously, when we are uncomfortable, we complain.

It's so hot.
It's so dirty.
This is too spicy.
This is too bland.
I hate this.
I don't want that.

As you can see, I'm pointing to only the physical discomforts. Mental discomforts are little harder to tackle, so I'm not even going there.

Why do we insulate ourselves from all discomforts? From the very beginning?
I mean when we are kids, I guess we don’t know any better.

Kids are born to whine.

A 6 year old is a big enough pest as it is, but the constant whining in their signature squeaky devil voice transcends to another level of annoyance.
Yea, I'm not a huge kid fan.
How did you know?

But what about later?

I started thinking about this because I have had the good fortune of seeing two different societies at complete opposite sides of the spectrum, in my short 27 year life.
Okay, fine. Maybe not short. 
But, well , 27 year life.

Having grown up in Dubai, discomfort was something that belonged in horror movies. Dubai stood for (and still stands for) every materialistic comfort that exists on this Mother Earth. With grass in parks imported from Holland to air conditioned subway systems, from French cheese to the latest limited edition Maserati, from a fully functional man made ski slope to an underwater sea-food restaurant, Dubai had it all.

The only discomfort you would feel would be in the milliseconds that you were exposed to the sweltering desert heat between the time you left your car in the parking lot and entered the mall.

There never was a sign of deprivation or suffering. Beggars were extinct, and the blue collared workers? Well, no one really spoke to them. They were invisible.

I grew up in an environment where everyone went to London and New York for their vacations. They shopped at malls and hung out at bars. They drove fancy cars (or at least their parents did) and ate exotic food at fancy restaurants.
Okay fine.
I didn't want to admit it.
But fine.
I was 'them' okay?
I didn't holiday in London or New York but I participated in everything else.
Are ya happy now?!?
May I go on with the point I was trying to make?

I would go on with the Dubai resident (hereon referred to as Duba-ian) profiling but I think everyone knows the stereotype.
A hybrid of Paris Hilton and Bill Gates.
Except the Bill Gates part.

On a side note:
I, personally, know of many Dubaians who have turned out quite okay, despite Dubai.
I have just profiled a fictional, but representative, Dubaian.
No offense is directed towards either Paris Hilton. Or Bill Gates. Or Dubaians.
Please don't be mad at me.

And then by some divine intervention, I was sent to New Delhi for graduation. To give me a broader view of the world. I've always held that high school was the prep ground for my brain so it was in observation mode. After I graduated from there, I started using it by weighing things and forming my own opinions.
Mary's lamb became Mary.
Hm, that didn't come out right.
What I wanted to say is that the follower became the followee.
Okay. I'm going to stop.
You get the point.

I stopped sleep-walking and started thinking.

In Delhi, I met people who knew 'discomfort'.
What's more, they didn't shun it.
They accepted it.
They laughed through it.
Sometimes, even voluntarily invited it.
And by some more divine intervention, I didn't judge - I participated.

So when they'd come to class and laugh about the big ball of hair in their dorm bathroom (used by 10 girls) and how no one would pick it up, I figured, it's not that big a deal.

So it never struck me as something to get worked up about when I found a ball of hair in my bathroom (shared between 6 girls). You just laugh at the ridiculousness of it all and then patiently wait for the cleaner to pick it up. When it gets big enough, he will pick it up.

Or when they'd want to travel by public transport because they were short on cash and they didn't want to ask their parents for more, I figured, it's not a big deal to travel by public transport to save money.
For the record, until then, I never once thought about the fact that my parents sent me I money.
I had thought of it as my birth right.

When power outages during the peak of the Delhi summer would mean that the one ceiling fan in a class full of 40 students would stop working, they never complained about the heat. I'd see them bear it without trying. Almost like they didn't notice it. 

Seriously, all of us lived in cramped rooms without air conditioning in 45 degrees Celsius, but I don't ever remember talking about how darn HOT it was

I'd found the human turtle babies I was talking about.
And here's the beauty of human turtle babies.
They rub off on you.
And I thank my lucky stars they do.
Because they un-wimped me.

It's always easy to get used to the good stuff. Everyone does it. All too often.
But it's getting used to the bad stuff that's really going to make a difference. If you're comfortable with being uncomfortable, you're never going to have to live in fear of anything. Like the turtle babies, you can charge straight ahead screaming 'Bring it OOOOOON!'
Or like Squirt, the baby turtle, 'Rip it, Roll it, Punch it'

If I hadn't developed my comfort with the heat in Delhi, I would have been too chicken to sign up for Vipassna camp in the Jodhpur heat in May. I would have lost out on one of the most amazing experiences in my life.

If I hadn't developed my comfort with public transport and 'street-side' food, I would have never had the courage to take on the idea of opening a restaurant.
We were working on a very tight budget.
We saved money every way we could.

A lot of the un-wimping is also done by parents.
As Dory, the blue fish, points out, in this scene:
Marlin: I promised I'd never let anything happen to him.
Dory: Hmm. That's a funny thing to promise.
Marlin: What?
Dory: Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Nemo.

When I was young, maybe about 6-7 years old, we would come to India for the summer vacations. And we'd travel all over the place, to meet uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, their neighbors, their uncles and their aunts…
Basically we travelled a lot.

On one such occasion, they were out of tickets in the air-conditioned coaches on the train. So we travelled in the non AC coach, which didn't have cushioned seats. Apparently, I complained all night.
I complained about how hot it was.
I complained about how dirty it was.
I complained about how my butt hurt because of the wooden seats.
I complained a LOT.
Remind me never to have kids.

Anyway, my mom said that from that year on, my parents made it a point, to travel by non AC coach at least once every vacation.
Basically, my parents wanted to wimp-proof me.
I'd like to think it worked.

Because ever since I've grown up, I've travelled in buses, trains (AC and non AC coaches), with and without tickets, with a whole seat to myself and stuffed with three others and I've never noticed anything inconvenient about it.
In fact, the wimp-proofing treatment allowed me enjoy the good bits.

We can all run after the comforts of life, and if we work hard enough- we will get them. But no one has control over their circumstances.
Yes, even those of us, that think God loves us more than everyone else.
It always pays to hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.

Dubaians are never likely to find themselves in a position where they have no other option but to travel by a non air-conditioned train. But if they are stranded at the airport, due to bad weather, not being afraid to travel by train will throw open a bunch of possibilities.
I can hear them say, 'I don't want those possibilities'.
I don't mind camping out at the airport for 3 days.

To which I, first, say that it's easy to reject something that you haven't tried with an open mind.
Notice I said open mind.
It's the operative phrase here.

Secondly, I only hope, for their sake, that they will at some point look beyond their comforts and see the amazing experiences that lie on the other side of the shiny glass.

And you know how I can say that with so much conviction?
Because I was lucky enough to have been on both sides.
With an open mind.
Seriously, an open mind is imperative.
Because if you do something with a closed mind, there's really no point doing it.
It's like wearing spectacles when you're blindfolded.
No point.

And I'm not even done yet.
I've only listed the protective advantages of wimp-proofing ourselves.
Now I move on to the causative advantages.

This is the area I'm still exploring. But I'm quite convinced of the benefits.

The more comfortable we are with discomfort, the more open we will be to life and the richer our lives will be.

I know, that sounds awfully pedantic. But it's not.
Trust me.
I'm don't claim to be an anti-wimp-adventure-sporting-daredevil-life-liver.
Live-er. Like a person who lives.
Not liver, like chopped liver.

I've been President of Wimp Country, all my life, in that respect.
Public speaking, swimming, sailing, bungee jumping, white water rafting- might be fun and exhilarating for some.
For me they're suicide attempts.
Yes, public speaking included.

But I've begun to tackle these one by one.
Except the 'swimming, sailing, bungee jumping, white water rafting' part.

Anything new is going to bring fear with it, by the way.
This applies to everything in life.
Work, play, relationships.

If you wait for the fear part to go away or if you wait for something that comes 'minus' the fear:

You'll be waiting forever.

Not everything is going to go really well. Sometimes, you won't know what you're doing. Sometimes you will fail.
And if you're me, you'll fail a LOT.
You'll fail so much you won't even notice it anymore.

You'll be like 'Dude I totally succeeded that time.. I had so much fun'
And then someone will be like 'uh… no dude, actually you failed that last time.'
And you'll be like 'No way… Seriously? I didn't even notice!!'

But every such thing will make you smarter, better, stronger.
Like Kanye West, once very wisely said:
'That that don't kill me,
Can only make me stronger'
You're much better off having tried, than not.
“ The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise. ”
— Tacitus

So the next time you say 'No' to something, anything -stop to ask yourself if you're saying 'no' because you really don't want it or it's because you're wimping out. If you're saying no because you know nothing good will come of it, or because you're afraid of the bad stuff that might come out of it.

'Cause face it dude. You can't insure everything.
You'll be the one losing out if you do.

Sometimes, you just gotta 'Rip it, roll it, punch it!'  
This is to confirm that permission had been sought from Mr. Marlin, Ms. Dory, Mr. Crush or Mr. Squirt before quoting them in this post. They, however, were not available to comment as they were on holiday in the Arabian Sea. Their office secretary said that I could quote their lines from the movie as long as I mention that none of the views expressed in this post are theirs. They cannot be held legally liable for any damage, physical, mental or otherwise, resulting from actions taken on the basis of the information provided and opinions expressed in this post.

They don't know the author.
They don’t even know that someone like the author exists.
If they saw the author on the street, they wouldn't recognize her.
The author means nothing to them. 
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The Pious Hippie by Ms. Pious Hippie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.