No sooner had I uploaded my previous write-up, “Presents of the Past” than I toggled to a few of my favorite albums from the 90s during my ride to work. It felt just right. It was not as though I was wallowing in past memories – a few songs in a 35-min drive, just enough to hum a few notes from the pages of nostalgia. One song that made me pause considerably was the scintillating, “Putham Puthu Bhoomi” from the caper Thiruda Thiruda. A quartet of small time crooks stumble upon a truckload (literally so!) of money and launch into a song. But the lovely twist is that the song doesn’t feature a single line about money or wealth. It is about a utopian future, sans poverty, hunger, a world where lasting peace satiates the mind’s appetite for a better tomorrow. Subsuming the ideas springing out of that song under the larger fabric of thoughts that stitched itself in my mind in the wake of my Aunt’s second death anniversary, I have put together a wish list of 10 items (in no particular order). For each of these ‘gifts’ that I would like to receive, I shall add a couple of lines on what attracted me to it in the first place.
- Ability to speak loudly with actions
o Ever since I heard Anu Hasan state that it is imperative to shift focus away from content to intent, I feel that I have to put more thought into the possible reactions derived from my actions, over any possible resonance that my words may hold.
- Thoughtfulness to appreciate effort regardless of outcome
o The CEO of a startup that I worked for in the 2004-05 timeframe once came to the cubicle of every employee before we headed to an important conference to thank us all for our hard work in preparing for the launch – he made it a point to not wait until we got to see labor bear fruit. Just the labor merited praise and acknowledgement. As William James once said, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” Our CEO has surely taught me a thing or two on how to cater to the cravings of my family, friends and colleagues.
- The magic mix of analysis and storytelling
o As I strive to advance in my career as an analytical marketer, I hope to never lose sight of the value of a well told story. My former manager once said, with his tongue firmly in cheek, “Never let the facts come in the way of a good story!” Well, let me find ways to make them co-exist.
- The alertness of a thinking leader
o Sanjay Manjrekar wrote of former captain and current prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan that when on a cricket field, he had never seen Imran’s focus shift away from the action. He wanted to make things happen, not wait for them to happen. If not for anything else, the thought of Imran (thanks to Manjrekar) is likely to help me resist the lure of multitasking and the distraction of my dumb…err…smart phone.
- Patience to convey pain without hiding it in a capsule of anger
o A dear friend of mine once told me in a very low tone, years after he got married, that he was very upset that I didn’t make it to his wedding. I have never felt a stronger urge to apologize.
- The zest to read non-fiction
o Given the abiding impact that non-fiction authors like Susan Cain and Charles Duhigg have made on me, I wish to never be bereft of meaningful words. After all, every author gifts me a fresh pair of lenses to view the world through. It all started with Sheena Iyengar who urged me to “be choosy about choosing.”
- The zeal to write about what is right
o When I lose myself in a train of thought, writing seems to provide the directions to the right stop where I must disembark and change tracks. When I write about my value system, I sincerely feel that the words come first, the thoughts later. It is strangely comforting and during times of need, the pen (well, the keyboard) becomes a friend indeed.
- An Undying love for cinema
o Movies have been an integral part of my life for as far as I can remember. To enter and exit worlds created by others is a gift that I am truly thankful for. For the characters to then enter my world and stay in the deep recesses of my mind is a kind of magic that I am very grateful for. Exhibit A – Rhythm. Exhibit B – Iruvar.
- The blessing of relevance
o In recent times, this has become a prized commodity for me – the strong need to feel that I am relevant, that I matter to those that are relevant and those that matter to me. May long distances not result in my fading out of sight. And that the mirror of thoughtful reflection correct any issues of myopia.
- And finally, the wealth of good health
o If I continue to receive this gift, then I am rich. If my loved ones all get this, then I will be superrich.