Posts Tagged ‘Einstein’

The prattle of tender feet around one keeps one very much alive and contented. Especially so when one happens to be in a phase of life where one can have the luxury of observing their behaviour at close quarters without having to worry about their mundane needs. Other then providing unalloyed joy and sparkling mirth, it also provides one an opportunity to grow spiritually.

When a Bollywood diva casts a spell

Take the case of a one-year old toddler who takes Master Thos to be his role model. If Thos was infatuated with a Hollywood diva, he happens to be besotted with one of the Bollywood divas. Play this particular song on the TV, and he goes into a trance which even the most advanced practitioners of Zen might not have experienced. Meals get forgotten. Toys cease to be of any consequence. Those around him might not even exist.

Sonam Kapoor, the diva in question, may be delighted to know of the brand equity she carries in the mind space of this young one. There is a good chance that he might even earn the distinction of being the youngest ever fan of a Bollywood diva.

One can only hope and pray that, as he grows, he never gets to emulate the goofy schemes of Thos the Terrible. In fact, thanks to the benign influence of the diva, perhaps there is a chance that he would end up performing such noble deeds as walking a few miles to fetch a newspaper for a guest or carrying any other injured young one on his tender shoulders, so as to win over the affections of his heart-throb.

The sincerity with which he expresses his fondness for the song featuring Sonam Kapoor is something which deserves to be emulated. It teaches us the innate goodness in all things musical, artistic and beautiful.

By being under the spell of a silver screen diva, he is merely following a long-held tradition of his ancestors. Soon, though, moving doors, books or other items may take his fancy.

He also demands equality in treatment vis-a-vis other kids in the immediate vicinity. If that does not come by, he knows how to shriek and attract the attention of his seniors, so justice gets meted out. This is invariably the scenario when some ice cream is getting distributed.

There are also times when he reminds one of Algernon Aubrey Little. When the father’s boss came visiting some time back, he was a model of ideal behaviour. No tantrums. No yells. Only some cute smiles. Peace prevailed. A promotion on the job soon followed.

Norway Schhol Art 1

A respect for technical gizmos

The other young boy, all of four years old, reminds one of Edwin the scout. It is not that his daily acts of mercy include dousing fires with paraffin and setting cottages on fire. But he does try to reverse-engineer and repair an egg-boiler, with catastrophic results.

Anything that moves attracts his attention. Curious to the core, he would tend to dismantle the gadget and then look on helplessly when attempting to put it together again. Door locks get fondled with much love. Remote controlled toy cars or toy boats are never safe in his vicinity. A family senior testing blood sugar or injecting insulin is an object to be closely observed and supported.

As he has grown, cell phones and iPads have gained his respect as reliable sources of perennial entertainment. Thus, these are no longer subjected to the kind of rigorous quality tests he used to conduct in his formative years. In his younger days, he has dunked many a cell phone in a mug of piping hot tea, marvelling at their steadfastness when compared to, say, biscuits.

One is yet to notice if, like Edwin, he is an expert on ant behaviour. But dogs, pigs, cows and horses do come in for stark appraisals under his watchful eye.

Locking up people inside dark rooms comes naturally to him. So does sneaking up from behind and suddenly yelling in one’s ear, thereby leaving one all of a twitter. Often, sudden bouts of some karate moves make one run for cover, lest one may need to review one’s medical insurance cover. Tying up one’s shoe laces surreptitiously makes him burst into uncontrollable laughter, much to the chagrin of the party of the other part.

Dealing with him is very instructive. His knowledge of all things mechanical and electronic makes one humble. One simply aspires to be a quick learner like him, so as to be able to quickly absorb the latest that technology has to offer and make progress in life, as defined by contemporary standards.

Norway School Art 2

A goofy mind, a tender heart

Consider also the case of a young girl of 6 odd years whose flair for drawing, painting and singing is often a talking point. But beneath the veneer of sophistication and innocence lies a mind which could churn out goofy schemes at the drop of a hat. The likes of Roberta Wickham and Stiffy Byng could learn quite a few tricks of the trade from her.

Much like Peggy Mainwaring, she is used to staring and giggling at odd times, leaving the party of the other part shaken to the core. A relentless chatter emanating from her often leaves one yearning for some peace and quietitude. A continuous barrage of queries fired at one leaves one exasperated at times. The value of courage and perseverance is thus learnt the hard way.

Compassion comes naturally to her. She loves being surrounded by pets she can shower her motherly affection on. When a bitter feud with a younger sibling results into the latter getting hurt, she gets immediately transformed into a caring and loving nurse. But Homo Sapiens often get bluntly ticked off by her for the slightest of perceived infractions on their part.

When germs of acute goofiness strike, the sky is the limit. A younger sibling’s trousers are found wet in the middle of the night. Wisdom dawns when one notices the empty bottle of drinking water by the side of the bed. Guilt-less pleasure is felt when the younger sibling gets a reprimand for an act of omission committed by her own self.

Post-ablutions, she turns out to be a great bathroom singer, requesting the support of a senior to clean up. ‘Potty is over’ is belted out, in tune with a nursery rhyme like ‘Twinkle twinkle little star….’.

Her receptivity is not to be taken lightly. When it is playing time at a friend’s place, she realizes the rest, solitude and enjoyment the hapless mother would experience while she is away. The hapless mother’s rights to such well-deserved rest and recuperation come in for open and frank criticism.

Norway School Art 3

Competing with the Bermuda Triangle

Yet another case which merits consideration is that of a young lass of 7 years who is built along the lines of Kid Clementina. She is a not-so-quiet saint-like child, when in a good mood. When taken out for a movie and a dinner, she is full of gratitude. She gazes at her benefactor in silent admiration. But while at home, a stubbornness tests the patience of the seniors around.

Great deal of perseverance is required so she may partake of any single meal which may last well over 90 minutes. Each morsel is punctuated by a commercial break, so to say. Unless, of course, the meal comprises a pizza alone, followed by the temptation of either an ice cream or a chocolate.

The threat of changing the WiFi password alone works wonders and makes her obey various commands at home. Fond of playing such brainy games as chess, she is quick to perceive that an attempt is being made to make her falsely win the game of patience and strategy. She resents such acts of chivalry. Her artistic skills are remarkable. So is her passion for karate.

There being no ink pots around these days, one is sure that she is unable to put any sherbet in the same in her classroom. But messing up the password of the iPad of a schoolmate comes readily to her. Rapid progress gets made by her in the realm of mastering all kinds of technical gizmos.

She believes in keeping one on one’s toes. While going out of the house in a hurry, one suddenly finds one’s footwear missing. Or, a ping-pong ball resting inside one of the shoes. A toothbrush can suddenly vanish, leaving one gnashing one’s teeth in disbelief and dismay. A toothpaste tube could get replaced by a cold cream tube. Unless one is alert and agile, the experience leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth, literally as well as figuratively. One’s shaving kit could go into hiding for two weeks, leaving one feeling like a distressed soul pining for one’s beloved, beard and all. One’s favourite comb could get hidden, leaving one shuddering at the prospect of making an appearance in public. Overall, the house appears to provide stiff competition to the Bermuda Triangle.

Norway School Art 4

A Core of Innocence

Put any two of the kids together and the results could be disastrous. Put all four of them together and the foundations of civilization start quivering.

The combined goofiness of a group of kids is directly proportional to the square of the number of kids together.

Unlike what the Theory of Relativity postulates about there being an upper limit for the speed of light, one does not believe there could be an upper limit for kids’ goofiness. With three kids of his own, Einstein himself might have been in agreement with this proposition.

Their interpersonal interactions are more like sinusoidal curves, putting the Dow Jones Index and the Sensex to shame. Loving embraces are quickly followed by bitter arguments, accompanied by loud background music and tantrums of all kind.

Their minds are highly creative. Their imagination is vivid and fertile. More often than not, they are a reflection of what one is and how one behaves in their presence. In a way, they hold a clear mirror to us, especially when it comes to ethics, values and social leanings.

It is true that kids are simply adorable. Perhaps because their external sheath of goofiness is built around a core of touching innocence – a virtue which one loses as one advances in age. They radiate the purity of their chaste souls, yet to be corrupted by social prejudices and materialistic considerations. A sheltered upbringing obviously helps.

Towards spiritual progress

mothersymbolmeaningThe Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram has spoken of twelve attributes which help a spiritual aspirant to make progress. Sincerity. Humility. Gratitude. Perseverance. Aspiration. Receptivity. Progress. Courage. Goodness. Generosity. Equality. Peace.

Being with kids surely paves the way for rapid spiritual progress, besides keeping one amused and entertained at all times.

The challenge of minimizing Screen Time

While families have shrunk, technology has entered the family space. For hapless parents, there are two challenges. One, that of minimizing Screen Time, weaning away kids from gadgets and involving them in outdoor activities. Two, that of imparting them the values which would last them a life time. Perhaps it is time to consciously revert back to the joint family system. More about this in another blog post.

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Whenever you pass by the desk of a colleague in office and see him staring with blank eyes at nothing in particular, you may 'The Thinker' : Rodinbe wrong in assuming that he is either worried about his upcoming annual appraisal or concerned about the academic performance of his kids. For all you know, like Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’, he could simply be withdrawn into himself, in a rather introspective mood, and trying to unravel life’s managerial mysteries which appear unfathomable at normal times.

One of the profound mysteries is that of facilitating innovation. History of major breakthroughs tells us of at least one factor which prompted the coveted ‘Aha!’ moment – a spot of idleness. Not the kind of idleness which is a trademark of laziness, but the dynamic type where the mind, firing at all six cylinders, suddenly decides to take a break, looks at its own self in a detached manner, delves into the realms of the sub-conscious and comes up with a gem of wisdom which had eluded it so far at the conscious level.

Some Unforgettable ‘Aha!’ Moments

Rewind to around 250 BC. If Archimedes had not decided to take some time off and soak himself in a bath tub, possibly playing with some floating toy ducks and singing along in a leisurely fashion – much to the discomfiture of his neighbors, world would have surely missed great many developments so far. There would have been no boats and ships. Countries the world over would have been dependent only on their foot soldiers and armies to defend their borders. At a more mundane level, the streets of ancient Syracuse would have missed the sight of a guy in his birthday suit running along, shouting ‘Eureka’ in gay abandon.

Visualize this scenario in 1666 AD. Newton has once again retired from Cambridge. In a contemplative mood, he is taking a leisurely stroll at Lincolnshire, in an apple orchard ostensibly owned by his mother. He has just been enjoying some tea which has had a remarkably invigorating effect on his grey matter. He sees an apple falling to the earth and starts wondering why it always has to fall down, an observation which lesser mortals like you and I would have merely shrugged off and resumed our walk. He gets down to doing some calculations and ends up giving to the inhabitants of Earth a great theory on forces of gravitation. Goes on to show what a relaxing cup of tea sipped in quiet repose in an apple orchard can accomplish.

Einstein, who left us as late as 1955 AD, was much impressed by the violin sonatas of Mozart and used to play chamber music. An inspiration for all those who suffer from absent-minded professor-itis, he pushed the frontiers of knowledge to mind-boggling levels at that point in time. History does not record a particular ‘Aha!’ moment when the theory of relativity got discovered, but the connection between the paradigm shift in our understanding of the universe and his love for music and the soothing effect it has on one’s grey matter can be readily understood. There is no doubt that the great man did not find the environment of the Swiss Patent Office conducive enough for innovative thinking.

Contemplative Downtime   

A common thread running through all these events is the presence of a unique ‘Aha!’ moment of illuminating thought, undoubtedly facilitated by a phase of idleness. Some scientists in California now say that even lesser mortals can benefit from a spot of daydreaming. This goes on to prove – if proof was ever needed – that sitting idle is not wasteful, as many whip-cracking CEOs would have us believe. A vast majority of managers, workers and students would heartily attest to the fact that difficult assignments are handled much better if only preceded by a spot of contemplative downtime. This way, they are likely to envision a more productive approach to the issue at hand, resulting into substantial savings for the organization they serve. As Tom Hodgkinson says, ‘The art of living is the art of bringing dreams and reality together’.

Globally, managements need to seriously look at the utility of mental downtime when the thinking faculties are allowed to wander freely. Rather than mistaking hectic physical activity for real efficiency and effectiveness on the job, most bosses heading a team of innovators and developers typically create a work culture which facilitates a contemplative mood. They also perfect the art of refraining from micromanaging. Nor do they abdicate. They lead simply by inspiring and standing up for their team members, whenever necessary. The result is an exponential jump in the much-coveted ‘Aha!’ moment for their team members.

Does A Rigid Hierarchy Stifle Innovation?

It has been shown that under favorable circumstances, problem solving abilities tend to improve by as much as 40%! If such moves are introduced, and further backed by tea/coffee breaks, the results could be even better. High time some ad honchos took up this clue and designed some clever TV spots for companies marketing these beverages!

In India, where the propensity to innovate appears to have diminished substantially compared to what it used to be in the Aryabhatta days, this proposition deserves far more serious thought. Perhaps our national laboratories, centers of excellence and R&D institutions need to work more days, but provide for additional tea/coffee breaks and exciting vacation binges. Going in for flatter organizations devoid of strict hierarchy could also lead to better quality of informal interactions, thereby increasing the productivity and rate of innovation. The Peter Principle is proof that organizations which put a higher premium on seniority are more likely to have a dismal record in the realm of innovation.

The Power of Daydreaming

Scientists may now claim to have discovered that the rejuvenating powers of officially sanctioned breaks are reduced if people skip off-times and use these to perform other equally demanding tasks. But the power of dynamic daydreaming was never in doubt. Our grand-parents have always held that ‘All work and no play make Jack a dull boy’!

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