Life back then and Now?

There was a time when life used to be simple. There were no smartphones, no social media, no YouTube and no Netflix binge. Instead those days after work were spent in playing card games, or playing cricket, or even going for trekking on a nearby mountain.

I remember the summer vacations were the most excited period of life back then. Because those two months of holidays ( April and May) in India were the most awaited days during the school year. As soon as the last day of school ended, the everglowing smile on the kids face, and at the same time, the angry look on their parents face ( as they would have to spend the next two months running away from their kids never ending demands, fights, masti, whatever you may call). The first thing we kids used to do is purchase some wafers, or chocolate as soon as we came out of the school gate. The street vendors were also wise enough to stand just outside the school, knowing the last day of school is about to over.

Then the next two months plan would include, not much but playing cricket all day, watching WWF (known as World Wrestling Federation back then). If you are from 90’s generation, you would have experienced that golden era when all kids were crazy after the WWF fights, trump cards, huge fan following especially for Rock, or the Undertaker and even going to the extent of setting up a wrestling stage at home using pillows, cushions and mattresses, and trying to emulate the stunts with friends. Oh, What an era that was!

As there were no tech gadgets, hence, we rarely stayed at home. Infact, I remember my mother and my friends mother’s would often complain that we kids never stayed at home during holidays. I guess, nowadays the biggest concern of today’s generation mothers is how to get their kids out of their room or house for playing! I can’t believe time has changed so much in just 20 years!

When I compare the kids life today with the time when I was a kid back in 90’s, besides the huge technological leap and the sophisticated lifestyle many kids today are living, there is another difference between both the times. And that is happiness. Our happiness back then was often associated with little things, like allowing to play cricket all day, buying favorite chocolate, a special type of wafer known as ‘Bobby’ ( I don’t think anyone eats these days), or even eating our favourite maggi while watching WWF fights.

However, even those little things which we eat or watched made us happy. Because we knew it was finite, and that we won’t get it everyday. Hence, we enjoyed every moment of it. Infact, our school teachers, and parents even tried to play a trick that if we studied for ‘x’ number of hours, then we would get our favorite drink -‘Rasna’ or even allowed to eat Ice cream. Maybe it was a psychology ‘Operant Conditioning’ on us, but we valued the treat we got later. And that made us happy.

Maybe because there weren’t many things to do, and hence, whatever we got we valued them. Life was not luxurious back then, atleast when we compare to current standards. But that never made us sad or depressed. While today, we see there is excess of everything. Kids are pampered by all sorts of things to such an extent that they lose the value of what they have got ( and how much they have got). And even worse, is the social media, YouTube, online games, which all comes for free these days. Facebook is free, watching videos is free, playing games is free, and thus what happens is when we get things for free and in abundance ( with the never ending supply as these social media, gaming sites are available 24X7), today’s young generation hardly realises the value of it.

Because we understand the value of something after we pay the price for it, or when we lose/miss it.

And today’s tech, social media is inherently built on the foundation that their service is offered for free, and is always available. Hence, we don’t pay for it, and neither do we miss it. Now, do we realize how big this problem is?

And the worst part is that all this is not making us happy anymore. As I reminisced about my days as a kid, I find it very depressing that today’s kids are not experiencing that happiness in small things anymore. Because all the things they are getting easily, freely and without any dearth of supply. Nowadays, it seems that there is no difference between a summer vacation and a normal school day. Because everyday is the same for the new generation.

Hence, even though we have progressed a lot in technology, but somewhere in this process, we are losing our own happiness. Sometimes, I wonder if my 90’s generation might be the last generation which lived through their childhood without any cellphone signal, internet data packets, social media chats and tweets!

© Abhishek Karadkar and, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The tragedy of success!

A personal experience on why success really not matters in life!

Who doesn’t want success in life? I am sure everyone are affirmative regarding success. Because failure is bad, it hurts, makes us feel sad and depressed. While success on the other side, makes us happy, popular and even powerful. The society praises the successful people. But, success brings with it its own set of tragedies, and we have to pay a price for that.

Let me tell you my school days story. I used to be a topper in my school. I was a A student or grade wise, a straight 4.0 guy. My primary focus in my school days was just study, get good grades, become a topper and again study more. Its almost like I was stuck in a infinite loop where more study made me topper in my class, but then I used to become afraid that I might lose out, and so I used to study even more for the next grade. So, basically, I was stuck, quite badly stuck!

Now, when I look back to my 14 or 15 year old me, I simply cannot stop laughing. Because I really don’t understand what made me so obsessed for topper rank or in other words, fascinated for success. I had tasted my fair share of success, but somehow that taste soon became insatiable. I wanted more and more, and however, more I got, I was not happy. Still the fear to lose out the top rank or even lose the praise from the society or family made me do that.

But now I realise that becoming successful is actually dangerous in life. Because the price to pay for success is much more than the fruits gained out of success! Why do I say so?

Let me elucidate by what I mean by tragedy of success. As I said, I got success quite early in my life. But assuming that was the biggest mistake I ever made. Because I did not learn the joy of hard working. Even though I was hard working, but my attention was always fixated on the outcome, and not on the process of doing. Hence, whenever I achieved the end result, I just moved on to the next goal, without even thinking how much efforts I had really made. Its almost like I had become some sort of machine.

So, when I say I did not know the joy of hard working is because the ones who fail in that age, know how much efforts it takes to become successful. They know how much work is needed to climb the ladder. Those who fail early in life become appreciative about their own efforts. Those who fail and succeed, not only understand what they have gained, but also the means by which they have reached the zenith. And that’s the best part of failing and succeeding. Because at the end, its not the goal that gives the joy, but the journey that takes us towards it. Its like a roller coaster ride, where the ups and downs are what we enjoy, and not the end of the ride, right!

This is the first tragedy of success which makes us forget that it is not the end, but the means that really matters!

I missed that train in that tender age. Because I not only feared failing, but also feared to change the path. Because once I knew the mantra to success, I just kept blindly following it. By that I mean I just started emulating the same way of studying or working to get the final goal. And it worked, because my path gave me the top rank. And that’s why I said before, I had become some sort of machine, because only machines never change their way of working. It’s as if I was programmed in some sort and I religiously executed the code!

But in that process I failed. Why? Because I missed the important lesson of not trying to change the course. When we stick to some way of work or living, we get stuck. We then don’t innovate or try something different. We then don’t learn new things and miss experiencing new adventures in life. And when we don’t learn or experience, that means our life is stuck. Its like a pond where water gets stagnant and eventually dries up, without no fresh inflow of water. While the river on the other side, flows and is dynamic.

This is the second tragedy of success, where consistent success makes us stick to the same path, thereby turning our river like life into a pond, which someday gets stagnated and eventually dries up( and making us bored of success as well)

Finally, the third tragedy of success is quite known which is nothing but complacency. As the legendary CEO of Intel Andy Grove quoted, “Success breeds complacency, complacency breeds failure…” When we get too much repeated success, then we gradually become complacent. This is the law of nature. Because if this would not have been true then the mighty empires like Roman, Ottoman, British would never have fallen down. Even the toppers, the richest, the most famous would have always maintained their status quo. But they all went down, eventually. Because they got complacent at some point in life.

So, the third tragedy of success tells us that even success is not eternal. Yet we strive for it, because we forget that it is not going to be with us forever. Of course this does not mean, that we should not aim for success. No. But knowing the wisdom that if we cling on to just success, then either we become complacent, or we become paranoid to maintain it, which is nothing but the first tragedy of success, where we become like machines to guard our precious success. But doing so, just makes us lose the joy of achieving it. Then what’s the point of getting that success when we can’t even enjoy what we have achieved, right?

Thus, I end this post, with the simple message I learnt from my personal experience of being an early success in life. And that is, to never go after success. Rather to focus on the path of excellence, which inevitably leads us to the pinnacle of success, someday. And the magic is we don’t even know when we have climbed the Everest because we were busy enjoying the ascent of Everest!

© Abhishek Karadkar and, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Copyright © 2021 AbhikNotes – Powered by

The missing part in life..

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Well, I very frequently answer questions on Quora. And even though Q&A platform hosts a plethora of topics, I find many questions coming from teenagers or young college going folks about life. They seem to ask very depressing questions about having lost interest in life? Or have failed in life at the age of 19? ( which stunned me for a while..) or having failed in exams repeatedly and so lost interest in life? And even few of them write about having no girlfriend, and so depressed in life and even going to the extent of being prepared to commit suicide?

I find that many of the questions and worries arise at that time are due to over-expectations from life. At that age, we feel the world is perfect, because we are taught so at school. We think we should never fail, because we have always been good at school. We think if we fail, that’s the end of life, because our friends will move on to the next class or some good college, and we have lost the race. So, we have lost the chance in life to rise.

When I read these questions, I feel very sad at the thinking of these teenagers or young folks. Ofcourse, I am not very old either, but atleast I have crossed the stormy waters of teenage and even to certain extent the good old college days. All these questions come from over-expectation from life. Because the canvas of our understanding of life is very narrow at that time. And due to which, it is very easy to get entangled in the negative thoughts and ideas. So, whenever I see such questions, I feel it as an obligation to write answers to their questions to try to convince them with the reality of the world, and so they can start thinking positively about life. Here are some of the questions which asked.

The above is a classic case of over-expectation from life. I find the problem is until school, we are being raised up in an almost ideal world, enclosed within the school premises and safe home environment. We are being guided by school teachers and even college mentors about the career decisions we need to take in life, or what subjects should we choose etc. But no one teaches the most important subject which is life itself! We hardly fail until we get into college, and even in university, we always strive to be A-grade student throughout. We have stable relationships until we reach college, where our parents support us, financially and emotionally, our school or college buddies are with us, and everyone is nice with us. But things change when we leave the secure home or college gates, and venture out into the world of job or business. We get hit with new deadlines, with work pressure, and no one seems to be trust worthy. Suddenly, we see we are failing at our work or even our relationships start to crumble, and then due to being raised in a near perfect world of a nice and goody environment, we suddenly lose interest in life. One breakup, or one failure shatters us completely. And slowly and steadily, people start losing interest in life, many blame of being tricked until school that the world is a good place, and they blame everyone in this world, except themselves. And then people ask the above questions when things totally go wrong or in a bad direction..

So, I wish we were taught in school or college itself that this world is not a perfect place. It is not fair either. When we are taught about physical education and science of how the world works, we are just taught the principles of how it works ideally! Rather, we need to be made aware of how imperfect this is and it is our moral obligation to make it perfect. We are lauded for our grades, and achievements, and special care is taken that no one fails, just to be politically correct. Rather, we should be allowed to fail and experience what failure is. Because it is better to fail at an early age, than to fail later in life. We are being conditioned to concentrate more on exams and preparation for cracking the tough exams, but the real puzzle is life itself, and no one even dares to crack this puzzle. People expect that we will learn as we grow up and get the experiences as time passes. But we are not taught that a set of bad experiences can shake our self belief and crumble us down. Because we are set to sail the boat in the stormy life, all alone. Its almost like sailing the boat without even knowing how to steer the boat in the right direction. Then when the storm of emotions due to some bad experience like failure in exams or getting a job, or even losing a loved one like parents or girlfriend hits us, how can we expect to sail this boat safely?

Hence, I feel this part is what is missing in life. That’s why people ask such depressing questions on such platforms, and many even take the worst steps which inevitably decides the fate of their life. I feel this over ideal, over safe, over secure, over caring life in school or college is something a obstacle to know the reality of life. Even though many of us, like me, learn it the hard way sooner or later. But isn’t it nice to know it before? Like for example exams like IIT entrance, SAT, CAT or GMAT for MBA entrance, or even UPSC for Indian Civil service are just entrance to a career stream. But when we are in school or college, we are taught that if we crack these exams, then life is SET. Then Life is the best with no money issues or job security problem. Its like a safety net for life. I was also eluded into this WEB of LIES… To my 28 year old self, I want to ask now that was it really worth preparing so hard for those exams? Has life been so good for me? Has it provided me a safety net?

My answer is a big NO! Infact, I faced some of the toughest problems in my life even after I had secured admission in one of the finest universities in the USA, or even after I landed a well paying job. The exam preparation didn’t help me to solve my life problems. It just handed over me to the gates of a career which I didn’t know whether it was right for me or not. It did not make me happy. Even after passing the exams, or getting a degree, I wasn’t happy. Why? Because they were never my life goals or something I deeply wanted in life. They were the tasks which were assigned to me due to the influence of peers in school or college. Everyone was persuing them, and so we do not want to fall behind. So,we also enter the rat race, and slog hard to pass them. And then we get blacked out! So,the problem is even if we pass or fail them, life doesn’t change much. Still people give so much over importance to them, that they get depressed when they fail in such exams.

So, this is the missing lesson of life. I learnt it through a hard way that above all such school or entrance exams, it is the life’s exam that matters the most. And the bad part is there is no syllabus, no particular exam dates, no graders and no evaluation of it. We have to give this exam everyday, any time, with surprises and shocks, and we ourself have to evaluate whether we passed or failed….

So,till then, lets keep filling these missing part of wisdom in our life, which act as a wheel to steer our boat in the right direction…

© Abhishek Karadkar and, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Small things add up…

Nowadays, when we are staying or working from home, and this being considered the new normal, it is natural to remember the old days ( not very old, but just few months or years back), and it seems that things have come up a a long way. Today, when we find ourselves stuck up in the virtual world of social media, Netflix and work from home, but we forget there used to be those days when we cherished the small walks in garden or in nature, drinking the hot chai during the rains, going for trek in nearby mountains or hills ( my hometown is blessed with many surrounding hills, and I have very fond memories of it), meeting friends in the evening and talking about out of the box topics, or even roaming around the city by car or bike, just for the sake of passing the time.

When these things were easily done by everyone, everyday ( without even being aware of it), we somehow did not value them. But even those small things add up. We often know and understand more by discussing with friends, rather than internet or books. We make good friends in real life by actual meeting, sharing, with all those fun and random gossip, and not over social media, or accepting follow up request. There was a time when people did not need daily motivation quotes or inspirational videos to stay motivated, but just looking at the real life problems and striving hard to solve them, kept them inspired. There was a time when people did not join weight reducing program to stay fit, but just doing the daily work, traveling by bus, walking, cycling, climbing the stairs, doing housework kept them fit. Gone are the days when every kid had to suffer the punishment at the hands of their parents and teachers, and that punishment somehow got engraved in their memory, which reminded them of not committing that mistake again. But today, on the contrary, we hear that the parents and teachers are punished if they do the same. But even those small things added up in life. We discarded them on the grounds of modernity, freedom and independence, but somehow, we see the need of those things.

After all, we are not meant to be confined to a virtual life or digital image on some online website. We are not meant to be just working to survive the competition or to stay ahead in the success race with family members or friends. As J K Rowling famously said that many people confuse between life and qualifications. We see that in old days, the reasons of stress were poverty or famine or floods or any natural disaster which would destroy the crops or house. But today,we are much much ahead of them, and still our generation has more stress then ever in human history, for what? To beat the competition, to keep social status, to maintain the relationships?? We are stressed out in our work not to make life better or find solutions ( there are exceptions like Elon Musk though), but just with the fear of public opinion, or to avoid breakup in marriage or relationship etc. Today, the equations of life are altered to such an extent where the good old ways of living is simply out of fashion. In this quest to carve out our digital identity in a virtual, encrypted world, we no longer find time for simple, random acts, or loving nature, or even just finding time to be with ourselves.

For the Indian audience who grew up watching the movies during 70’s and 80’s, there were some unique set of movies which glorified simplicity, honesty and innocence. They used to be called parallel cinema. After hearing the sad demise of Basu Chatterjee, many of us were reminded of that era. Particularly were Choti si Baat, or Rajnigandha, or Baton Baton Mein. Today, do we find the satisfied life, or happiness in simple things as depicted in those movies? Even though they were movies, but still those characters and the story touch common man’s life even today. Why? Because they showed reality, they showed the day to day life problems, and also showed the way to live happily amidst all those problems. That tolerance level, capacity to accept the hardships in life, patience to wait and let evolve the beauty of relationships is what we miss today. In many ways, that life was much much akin to nature.

More to write on the beauty of parallel cinema..