The subject(ive) success

What is success? We engaged in a short debate around this topic over lunch today.  This was done against the backdrop of Chandrayaan 2, India’s lunar mission, where there was loss of communication with the lander, Vikram at the last moment, when the science enthusiasts and patriots across the country waited with bated breath during the wee hours today. (The Prime Minister of India flew out to Bengaluru to witness the event, straight from the control room of ISRO along with its scientists.)

ISRO

Courtesy: Google images

The social media was a veritable whirlpool of messages, with many expressing solidarity over the fact that the mission as such was not a failure as the orbiter will continue to orbit the moon and do its job. This message particularly from a NSF scientist struck a chord with millions of netizens:

“If Vikram failed to land – which it looks like – REMEMBER the ORBITER is where 95% of the experiments are. The Orbiter is safely in Lunar orbit and performing its mission. This is not a total failure. Not at all.”

Of course, there was a cross-section of netizens who mocked, calling the mission a failure, with tongue-in-cheek comments!

Coming back to the moot topic of discussion, my answer would be: success is about  having vision and passionately working to one’s capacity in the given constraints. Capacity could mean one’s intelligence; ability; perseverance; enthusiastic devotion; dedication; determination and so on. Constraints could mean the limiting variables/factors that are not directly related to one’s work, but incidental to accomplishing the work at hand, and these include intrapersonal (oneself/self-concept); interpersonal (people/self-esteem); climate (organisational/political/economic/geographic); health; the unknowns and so on. That said, success is an intangible term/aspect and thus difficult to measure! Ohh, yes, success turns out to be personal, subjective, and relative too.  For a toddler, the first steps and the first bits of speech are success while for a nonagenarian, to hear and being heard are success. Failure is just the opposite: to NOT have vision and to NOT work passionately to one’s capacity in the given constraints. So, whenever one takes the liberty to label somebody or something a failure, it’s best to sagaciously look into the two Cs (mentioned above) and accordingly decide. By the way, to label as such also depends on one’s self-concept and self-esteem levels – the upbringing and the environment one is a part of have a role to play.

Nevertheless, the hallmark of excellence is to continue to move on despite all odds. And, the reaction during odds stands testimony to one’s character! Here’s an evergreen quote: “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” Another one is, by the philosopher Confucius: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

May we do our best. Let’s chase the missions and battles in life with elan!

Cheers,

Rukma Vasudev

PS: Do feel free to leave your thoughts on the subject. 🙂

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The colourful garden

Nature’s bounty is best experienced when you are a part of it, living close to it. Quite a substantial period has been spent at my parents’ home called Dharani in Hubli, Karnataka, India. It is indeed enchanting to observe the garden here – a garden that my mother has tended to with so much love.

I take a stroll in the colourful garden every morning, watching out for some dainty flowers for the pooja (prayer rituals) performed by my father. The hues offered by  flowers such as shanka pushpa (Asian pigeon wings); parijatha (coral jasmine); sampige (champak); dundu mallige (Mysore jasmine); yeLu sutthu mallige; nithya mallige (common jasmine); pink, red and yellow trumpets; kanakambara (firecracker); kepala (ixora); dasavaLa (hibiscus); kaNagile (oleander); roses and so on are simply eye-catching and refreshing. Every evening, I pluck some common jasmine flowers from their lush green creepers in the balcony and string them together. Ohh, what a blissful feeling that is! The seasons have a telling effect on the flowering plants – the nandi battalu (crape jasmine) and swastik (chandni) flowers that were seen in abundance during pre-monsoons have almost depleted now in the peak of monsoons.  (By the way, there are 200-odd species of mallige or jasmine in Asia. They are known for their ethereal beauty whilst some are famed for their sweet smell.) The karibevu (curry leaves) plant is another favourite – it feels nice to smell the fresh aroma and use the leaves for cooking, straight from the garden. The tulasi/holy basil plant adds beauty to any garden. The sitaphala (sugar-apple) tree yields its fruits occasionally. The mango trees lived their lives, and a couple of times gave us unmatched joy with their luscious fruits; the next set of saplings planted are still in their growing stage. The papaya trees that grew magically had bestowed on us their yummy, seedless fruits. Apart from the heady smell emanated by the champak tree, it is a paradise for birds and butterflies. Occasionally I get to see chirpy birds such as a cuckoo, a red-vented bulbul, a sunbird, an ashy prinia, a tailor bird, a sparrow, or a coppersmith barbet perching on the champak tree as yours truly is sitting on the swing and basking in nature’s glory.

Ahh, the blowing of winds, the falling of rains and the chirping of birds are making for a natural melody these days! As Albert Einstein said: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Nature does serve as an antidote to the vicissitudes of life. Here goes my homage to the colourful garden, through some pictures.  

 

 

–  Rukma Vasudev

A lot can happen in a coffee baron’s life

The celebrated Café Coffee Day’s founder CEO, V G Siddhartha went “missing” on July 29. On July 31, 2019 he was found dead in the backwaters of Nethravati river, Ullal, Mangaluru, India.  It has been hard to believe that he took this extreme step of taking his own life. Sigh! There was a letter apparently written by him to his employees, blaming his own self for the “failure” he had been as an entrepreneur. He had also mentioned about some entities of the ecosystem who were bothering him. (The authenticity of the letter is to be verified though.)

CCDay

Courtesy: Google images

Café Coffee Day (CCD) is a desi company founded in 1996, with the tagline, “a lot can happen over coffee.” CCD made it into the international arena, by establishing itself in Nepal, Vienna, Czech Republic and Egypt. It is coffee served at a premium compared to the local coffee shops in India. But the brand CCD has grown to command that price, be it for a café latte or cappuccino (my favourite). It is a brand that resonates well, specially with Gen Y and Gen Z in urban India. I happened to discuss this brand in one of my corporate communication classes, when dealing with aspects such as brand identity, image and perception. The overall feel of the outlet in any place in India is quite international. My husband and I chose to visit Café Coffee Day in Vienna in Europe back in 2012 (https://goudenleven.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/vibrant-vienna).

Philosophically speaking, untimely death knocks at the doors of mortals in forms such as (incurable) diseases, accidents and natural disasters.  With appropriate support, people strive hard to come out of them. Natural death due to aging is a given. But how would one treat suicide, that too from an entrepreneur who had generated jobs for close to 50,000 people in a developing country like India? Reasons for the extreme step could range from mental pressure/harassment, depression to cowardice to face the reality. (I am aware the reasons may be anywhere far from these.) It is also a known fact that an entrepreneur’s journey is always bumpy. That said, what about lives of near and dear ones who are left high and dry, with barely any inkling of such an impending loss of a valuable life? What happens to the soul of a voluntarily shortlived life? What about repaying of karmic debts (let alone financial, in this case)? These questions haunt the mind. Anyway, here’s a prayer that the coffee legend Siddhartha’s soul rests in peace, and his family and friends are able to come to terms with the situation. This episode has left one to ponder over the lesser discussed subtleties of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. It is hoped that the brand will continue to enjoy its loyalty.

– Rukma Vasudev

 

 

 

 

The all-powerful emotions

I am elated…I am disgusted. She is on cloud nine…she is shattered. There were peals of laughter…there was a vale of tears. What are these opposite shades of characteristics? In simple terms, they are emotions one experiences during every second of one’s life. How one reacts to a particular situation depends on one’s mental make-up. Upbringing and surroundings too matter a great deal.

Given a trying situation, A may react in a calm manner, B may turn hyper and C may show lukewarm response. The reaction may result in an unending argument or amicable settlement if it happens to be a dispute. Otherwise too, in the everyday “drama” of life, one may don the mantle of an angel, always helping others, or that of a villain trying to pull others down or stab them in the back. The target group is bound to react in a particular fashion. Action and reaction of human beings are adaptable and change from person to person and one situation to another. The idiosyncrasies of human behaviour have a role to play too!

Love, hate, anger, pride, ego, happiness, passion, rivalry, sadness, etc are all a state of mind. They cannot be measured in specific terms. They say the mind too maketh a man to a great extent. So, if the mind has such a pride of place in shaping the character of a person, why not mould it into in a mass filled with 3Ps – peace, positive energy and progression?

Be level-headed. Observe people. Try to study their body language. The eyes say a lot. Talk to people. Reach out to them. Your life gets a better meaning and becomes all the more interesting. This is not philosophising about life, but rather adopting a pragmatic and positive approach to it. 🙂

PS: I had written this piece for a college journal years ago!

It’s life…

In the company of rich and lovely flora at an institute of higher learning and amid all the calmness surrounding it, I sit to contemplate on what’s life…

Life is a humdrum affair for some while an exciting affair for others, with striking alterations and altercations in the way it’s dealt with…

Life is meaningful when it’s lived well, meaningless when lived less…

Life is a challenge with all its ups and downs – to be accepted and responded to with measured calmness…

Life is mostly what we feed into it – as we sow, so we reap…

Life is a game of probability where winning and losing have an equal chance…

Life is a cellular miracle where each cell needs to be nourished with good care until it wears out…

Life needs dignified handling with the passing of years, as it assumes different roles and forms…

Life needs to be respected – its reputation to be guarded…

Life is more beautiful when it’s wrapped with meaningful doings where we go the extra mile to touch another life (be it in any form) or simply reflect on the simple pleasures of living…

Well, it’s life – live it, love it, enjoy it!  Never say die!

Cheers!

PS: If you have any thoughts to share on life, feel free to post them here.