Reflections On 2014 – Counting My Blessings


hourglass webThe sands of time have slipped through from 2014 to 2015. Another year has passed and a new year has begun. As I sit back and reflect upon the events of the past year, I start thinking of the events that took place during the year 2014, and my initial thoughts are that it has been an eventful year in every respect, and certainly not the best period of my life…

But wait a minute, I tell myself. This is negative thinking – something that I am trying very hard to avoid. And it is at this moment that the words of Zig Ziglar come back to me – make a list of things that you are grateful for. In other words, count your blessings. And that is exactly what I sit down to do – to contemplate on the events and to connect the dots, because, as Steve Jobs said, the meaning of events becomes clearer when you think back to the past, and it is often in hindsight that one is able to connect the dots and see a pattern emerge, and this is exactly what I did. I sat down to make a list of things that happened in 2014, for which I am grateful, and I find that the more I look for it, the more I find reasons to be grateful for. It is only a matter of making an honest assessment, and reflecting on the past does give one a vantage point – a clearer view, so to speak. Things that were not clear when they happened seem to suddenly become clearer and leap into focus, and I see a pattern of blessings emerging, as I list them all down one by one. I will not bore you with the details, but here are some things that I am grateful for…

I am grateful to God for letting me wake up on each day of 2014 and to have been able to lead a healthy life.

I am grateful to God for giving me the strength not only to go about my daily routines, but also to be able to discharge my duties and responsibilities.

I am grateful to God for a wonderful family, and for their support to me. I am grateful to God for making them my pillars of strength.

I am grateful to God for some wonderful friends and well-wishers, who have stood by me in times of need and who have constantly encouraged me to do well in whatever I have attempted. I am grateful for their moral support in bad times as well as good times. They have proven time and time again that they are not just fair-weather friends, and can be relied upon in any season.

I am grateful to God also for my detractors AND also my fair-weather friends, for they are the ones who made me realize who my true friends and supporters are.

I am grateful to God not only for the mistakes that I have made, but also for the wisdom to learn from those mistakes.

I am grateful to God for all the things that could have gone horribly wrong, but didn’t, simply because God was watching over me.

I am grateful to God for all that I did achieve in the past year, and also for the fact that I am alive in yet another new year, for that will give me another opportunity to work on what I could not achieve.

I am grateful to God for all the failures that came my way, for they will now become my stepping stones to success some time in the future.

And with so many things to be grateful for, I can now focus on facing the challenges of the coming year with a lot more confidence. I humbly Thank God for that too. I am ready to face 2015.

Humanity Vs Technology – A “Quote-Unquote” Debate #edcmooc


Humanity vs Technology

This is my digital artefact submission for the E-Learning & Digital Cultures MOOC (EDCMOOC 3 : Nov-Dec14). No, I’m not referring to the image above – that’s just a visualization. I am referring to the presentation below.

I was initially planning to prepare a powerpoint-based video on The Internet Of Things – a subject that fascinates me, but while searching for material to use there in the content, I stumbled upon some powerful quotes on technology. When I dug deeper, I found a wealth of quotes related to differing views on the impact of technology. The quotes bring out beautifully the debate on technology vs humanity and utopia vs dystopia – a debate that is as old as recorded history itself, and eventually, I have ended up building building my artefact on this theme – it is called a “Quote-Unquote” Debate.

And why a presentation featuring quotes ? Well, there is no simple answer to this. However, what I would like to say is that as mankind has evolved, so has technology. From the day and age of the wheel to the age of space travel, we certainly have come a long way. Yet, the viewpoints on technology differ. The dystopian view would be that technology tends to make slaves of us humans, rather than being masters of the technology created by us. The opposite view would perhaps be that we owe our very progress and existence to technology. Are either of the views wrong ?

Not in my view. Both are equally valid. Too much of a good thing can be bad. But then, when we speak of humanity falling prey to technology, we really cannot generalise. In my view, technology is there to make life simpler and more advanced. It all depends on how we use it. Becoming a slave to technology is also a choice, as is using it judiciously. That’s my view, and you, the reader, are welcome to yours. Neither of us would be wrong. The debates on Humanity vs technology have always been there and will continue to rage long after you and I are gone. These quotes, however, bring out the essence of the debate, and I will let the slides speak for themselves.

To view the artefact presentation you have three choices below. Choose the method that suits you best.

Authorstream Embedded Presentation Version

View the presentation while enjoying the audio track. You have full control over navigation through the slides. The slides will advance on clicking, and you have the ability to go backward or forward.

Slideshare Embedded Presentation Version

View it as a simple, no-frills powerpoint presentation, without any audio or animation. You have full control over navigation through the slides. The slides will advance  on clicking, and you have the ability to go forward or backward.

YouTube Embedded Video Version
View the presentation as a video. However, the video will progress as per the preset slide timings and you will have no control over the transition of slides, and depending on your reading speed, you may need to pause the video on some slides in order to read the text fully.

 

Hope you have enjoyed the presentation. Please feel free to leave your valuable comments, suggestions and feedback using the Reply option below.

Thank You !

As Destiny Would Have It


Exactly a week ago, on 03 March 2014 to be precise, I was doing some work on my PC. It was late in the evening, past 9 PM, and it was sheer luck that I was logged in on Skype at that hour. Normally I log off after working hours, at about 6 PM. But not on this day, because I forgot that I was still logged in. Because destiny wanted it otherwise.

So, at about 9.15 PM, I had a message pop up on my screen. It was Dr Mel Gill wanting to know if I was available for a chat. Boy ! Was I available ???

Those who have read my blog earlier would probably recognize his name, as I have written about him in the past as well, and also have a page dedicated to him. I must admit I was taken by surprise. I have been a fan and follower of Dr Gill for quite some time now, and have also been connected with him on Facebook, and he had earlier shared his Skype ID as well, but we never got around to actually having a chat there. Anyway, coming back to the point – we started chatting.

Dr Gill mentioned his long terms plan of bringing his training programmes, films, and books to India, and I was thrilled to hear that, because I have long wished for a one-to-one interaction with him. As we were speaking, he also mentioned that over the weekend he would be visiting Bangkok to conduct a seminar. I was elated to hear this – Thailand has visa on arrival facility for Indians. Here was an opportunity to get to meet him in person ! However, just as soon as my elation had appeared, it was replaced by a sense of despair. My passport had been submitted for renewal just a few days ago and there was no hope of getting it so quickly.

Little did I realize then that destiny was playing a hand again. My passport got delivered to me the next day ! And with the passport returned the hope of flying out to meet Dr Gill in Bangkok. Next step- to organize a ticket to Bangkok and back. My wife happens to be an airline employee and is entitled to rebated tickets for self and family, so I asked her to apply for a ticket for me, which she did promptly, only to be told that there was an embargo on staff travel on the Bangkok route. And so my hopes took a dive again.

However, she learnt that the embargo could be waived by the higher authorities, and so began the running around to get the waiver, which eventually happened the next day – a day before I was scheduled to fly out. By the time we got the ticket issued it was already late afternoon, and thereafter I rushed to the office of a very dear friend who is also an industry colleague. Within a matter of a few minutes, he had my hotel booked, and my airport transfers in Bangkok arranged. Last step was to pick up foreign exchange. BY the time I got back home it was late evening, finally relieved that all had been organized and I was all set to fly out the next morning.

But once again I was jolted out of this sense of complacency by a phone call that my wife received from a colleague of hers, who informed her that staff ticket holders were only accepted for travel if they had obtained a prior visa from India, and once again my hopes were dashed. A few phone calls later to friends in the airline, I was finally relieved to know that the shift duty officer had the discretion to accept such cases, and was assured that such a discretion would be applied in my case.

And so I flew to Bangkok on Friday, 7th March 2014, and arrived there late in the evening.  The sole purpose of this trip was supposed to be to get to meet Dr Gill – someone whom I have idolized for a long time. After checking into the hotel, I called Jes, his associate in Bangkok to inquire as to when I could get to meet Dr Gill, and once again got a pleasant surprise. Not only did Dr Gill want to meet with me, he also wanted me to attend his seminar on both the days. This was too good to be true and I just couldn’t believe my luck !

So next morning I found myself on a cab heading towards the seminar venue, and reached there well before it was due to start. Shortly thereafter, Dr Gill arrived there and I finally got to meet him face to face. A big hug later, we sat down and chatted for a while, before the seminar commenced. Dr Gill and his Thai associates treated me like a guest of honour and I was humbled at the warmth of their welcome. They went out of their way to make me comfortable. The seminar, which was titled “Developing An Enlightened Mind” was an excellent one. Dr Gill is an accomplished speaker who holds the audience in rapt attention throughout. That, coupled with his tremendous sense of humor makes a great combination, and it was a huge privilege for me to be able to participate in this amazing event.

Dr Mel Gill & Rajiv Bajaj

As a person, I found Dr Gill to be wonderful, warm and very down to earth, despite his formidable reputation as a speaker and motivational coach. When I had initially met him, I was in awe of him but soon found myself warming up to him, as he went out of his way to make me feel comfortable. I was the only foreigner in the seminar room, and though the initial moments were awkward for me, I soon found myself feeling a part of the group, differences of nationality and cultures notwithstanding. The other attendees, all Thai nationals, went out of their way to make me feel at ease. On both the days I found myself seated at Dr Gill’s table for lunch, and on both the evenings, he invited me to join him for dinner at his hotel, where I got an opportunity to know him even better. The more I got to know him, the more I found myself liking him. What also excited me was the fact that he wanted to bring his programmes, films and books to India and that somewhere in the coming future, I would perhaps be able to play a small role in it.

Which brings me back to the subject of destiny. I am a strong believer that destiny has a strong role to play in our lives, and the way this whole trip came about has only served to reinforce this belief. It was no coincidence that I had not logged out of Skype on the day of our first contact. It was no coincidence that my passport arrived when I least expected it to. It was no coincidence that despite all odds I was able to get the staff ticket to travel to Bangkok at such a short notice. And it was no coincidence that I managed to travel even without an advance visa being stamped in my passport. This was destiny at work. We were destined to meet, and I was destined to get an opportunity to enhance my learning through him. And who knows what the future has in store, but one thing I am sure of – there is a grand design at work somewhere and perhaps when the time is right, things will fall in place. And I am eagerly looking forward to that happening.

This trip was no accident, and I am sure that this is only the beginning.

My New Year Wishes For You


Happy New Year 2014

Today is the last day of 2013. Tomorrow is the start of a new and more meaningful chapter of life – another opportunity to make a new beginning, to make new mistakes, to learn from those mistakes. The quote below sums it up beautifully:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

– Neil Gaiman

So go ahead and make wonderful mistakes in the coming year. Learn and evolve from those mistakes to grow as an individual. Because “Mistakes are the portals of discovery” – James Joyce.