The Land of Smiles

Cambodia, known as the Land of Smiles, has a special place on my mind as it was the country where I celebrated the Diamond milestone of my travel history — from the first country of Singapore to the 60th country of Cambodia. It is Cambodia for foreigners, but the country is fondly called as Compuchea, its erstwhile name, by the nationals. 

The local language is ‘Khmeo,’ but English is widely spoken. US Dollar bills are officially in circulation and do get accepted even at small tea shops. The River Side area is the tourist hotspot and the best place to stay in case you visit the capital city, Phnom Penh — pronounced as ‘Penumpen. The city is situated on the banks of the Mekong river that originates in the Tibetan plateau and runs through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, covering a distance of 4350 Km before emptying itself into the South China Sea. The Mekong river is a main trade route in Southeast Asia.

One important aspect of public health that I noticed in many countries is the availability of public parks for people to do physical exercises like jogging, cycling, etc; Such parks can be seen in sizable numbers in South American counties like Brazil, Peru, etc. Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Cambodia. had gone one step ahead by installing fitness-equipment at public parks. In the following album you can see people — children, youths, adults and elderly — exercising with such equipment in Phenom Penh. Such parks are definitely a good step toward public health!!

Cambodian food is closer to the Chinese flavor, but I could find a few dishes which were close to Indian food. Local food also includes locusts, cockroaches and beetles. If you feel an irresistible urge to taste these local delicacies, they are readily available at roadside mobile-restaurants. Take a look at these ready-to-eat roasted beetles and locusts.

Cambodia is predominantly a Buddhist country though I could see Christian churches in the capital city. There are many pagodas in the country. Wat Phnom is one of the largest pagodas in the heart of Phnom Penh, and it is also called “Monkey Temple” as there are plenty of monkeys in and around the temple.

The pagodas welcome one and all without any discrimination. Going around inside a pagoda offers virtual moments of absenteeism from the outside word as the carefully crafted statutes, painstakingly engraved walls and beautifully portrayed scriptural paintings steal your attention without attrition.

Inside a Pagoda:

The Diamond Island city, locally called Koh Pich, is very near to the Central Phnom Penh and is a residential-cum-business and entertainment place. It was a swamp till 2000 but had been developed as an artificial island. This island is the most opulent place in the capital.

There are many museums in Phenom Penh, and the following one I visited.

Vaishnava’, a Hindu deity, as exhibited at the museum:

Chann Thon is a famous Cambodian model who mostly does commercials connected with cosmetics. She is a friend of my acquaintance in Cambodia, and we all had lunch together.

Hinduism was the predominate religion before Buddhism reached Cambodia. The following is the replica of a 12th century Hindu temple. Surface: First level = 1500 m x 1300 m, second level = 1025 m x 800 m.

A woman in action on Cambodian folk dance:

Cambodia is famous for the 12th century Angkor Wat temple, which is located in Siem Reap, a province that is 314 Km south off Phnom Penh. I visited Siem Reap and would write a separate blog on Angkor Wat and the floating villages in Siem Reap.

COVIDian Reflections: Fear

Fear is the first and the last insurmountable that man can not overcome. The world is gripped by the fear of a virus that is only 1/164 millionth size of a man. What is this fear? It is the fear of death. Fear is the feeling that directly or indirectly reminds us of a disaster-in-waiting, and barring a few exceptions, origin of that feeling can ultimately be extended to death. Exceptions like a child being afraid of its parents; a student being fearful of his/her teacher, etc. We go through fear of unknown as well as of known. And both ultimately boils down to fear of death. 

Fear is better explained by looking at the opposite of fear, which is love. When I looked for antonyms of fear, there were many, and among them I chose ‘love.’ It is phobia versus philic, isn’t it? Fear of death is diametrically opposite of love for life. Anything that creates fear does not have space for love though love does not fully take fear out.

Fear immobilizes a man mentally, hence, has its impact on his physical-being, too. How does it immobilize? By unsettling the orderly thinking pattern, and this unsettling can even make temporarily inroads into our proven knowledge-based strength. For example, even when we know that man has only another man as his enemy, hearing any noise from a cemetery, while walking beside it, can scare us to walk faster and get out of the place. 

Ignorance is the root cause of the fear of unknown while knowledge can take out the ignorance and obliterate the fear of unknown. However, knowledge can also create fear. It is an irony that fear caused by ignorance can be removed by knowledge and at the same time the same knowledge itself can generate fear at least temporarily. The perfect example of this irony is the COVID-19. In the beginning of the outbreak, ignorance about the virus kept the world on the tailspin of fear. As scientists studied the virus and understood its genome, more educated-information about it came out, creating further fear, especially on its highly contagious nature, at least temporarily. 

In genetics, length of RNA and DNA is measured in Kilo-base pair, or kb. 1 kb is 1000 nucleotides or base pairs. A megabase pair, or Mbp, is 1 million base pairs. 1 Mbp is 1/3rd of a millimeter. It means 3 Mbp is approximately 1 millimeter. COVID-19 2019 is 30 kb in length. A 6-feet man is 1828.80 millimeters (1 foot = 304.80 millimeters). If we scale down man to Novel Coronavirus 2019’ size,  the calculation goes this way: 6-feet man = 1828.8x3x((1000000/1000)x30) = 164,592,000 Novel Coronaviruses’ length. Alas, man who sits at the top of the animal kingdom is in fear of a bio-being which is only 1/164 millionth of his size. 

From time immemorial, it is man’s ability to ask WHY that gave answers to conquer fear. This time, too, science will give answers soon to conquer the fear of COVID-19. A good news is, as reported by BBC, that vaccine trial for the COVID-19 had begun in Seattle, the United States, yesterday. However, it will take 1 year to 18 months to fully validate the vaccine as per experts. As of now, the ability of the virus to create fear will continue unless it disappears on its own or an expected breakthrough occurs. Till then, the virus lingers, so does the fear.

São Paulo

In September 2007, a bonanza came my way that I never dreamt of, and it was an opportunity to represent our company at a trade fair in Sao Paulo, thanks to the inability of someone from our office to attend the fair. Till then, Brazil meant only football for me, but that fortune opened the gates not only to Sao Paulo but also to a few other cities in Brazil, besides, another eight countries in South America. I had been fortunate to visit Sao Paulo around 10 times since then.

From Dubai, it was a long haul journey to Sao Paulo, almost 21 hours between the doors — from my room to the hotel room — with 15:30 hours non-stop flying time. Sao Paulo is a clean city with wide thoroughfares that are well connected to the link roads at frequent intervals. Avenida Paulista is the best, safest place to put up in the city, and it is easier to move around from this place as it has metro trains, frequent buses and enough taxis plying around. All metro trains in the city run underground, and one can travel from anywhere to any other place at a cost of Real 2 (USD 0.42). If you ask me whether São Paulo is a safe place or not, well, I will say that I never faced any security issues. However, one needs to be careful while going out, particularly at night.

The Brazilians are the most jovial and go-lucky people I had come across. There is always that ‘carnival spirit’ in them! Anger-management gurus will have a tough time finding a job in Brazil 🙂 Weekends throw up roadside performances in the evenings in São Paulo. The sights of a Saturday evening from São Paulo are captured in the following video:

An open-air movie theater at Paulista Avenue. 

Some restaurants in Brazil have a peculiar system of billing. One can choose food from buffet menu, get it weighed and pay according to the weight. It is a good system as there is no wastage of food, and one has to pay only for what one wants to eat. Rice is  a staple food in Brazil. However, they eat only small quantity of a bowl size for lunch or dinner but along with an array of vegetables, both fresh as well as cooked, and fish or chicken. At buffet or during regular lunch, Brazilian plates will have a variety of vegetable dishes with only small quantity of rice. Even the Chinese and many other peoples from different countries, I had seen them taking only a bowl of rice around 100 gm at a time. Incidentally, our Indian doctors say we have to take only 100 gm rice in a day  as a source of carbohydrate. Barring spiciness, Brazilian foods are closer to Indian food. 

I was delighted to see a Brazilian man wearing traditional Indian dress and selling Indian ancient books like Bhagavad Gita, Upanishad, etc. at Avenue Paulista in Sao Paulo. What more needed as he greeted me with “Hare Krishna!” I had a chat with him. He is a member of ” Centro Goura Ntai,” which has the mission of spreading Indian spiritual values in Brazil. To know more on this, visit and

During another visit in 2011, I met another man, Ujwala Das, a Brazilian, in the streets of Avenue Paulista, selling books on Hinduism. The book featured in the picture below is titled, as translated, “Words of Wisdom,” a manuscript on various Hindu books. He, too, greeted me with ‘Namaste,’ so did I elatedly. I spoke to him and learnt that he had visited India many times. He conversed well in Hindi. There are two mediation centers and a Hindu temple in São Paulo. 

 If you want to experience and enjoy sunny times, winter chills and a little bit of rain within the same day, then go to São Paulo as this is the way the climate loves to frequent the city diurnally. And these three phases come after one another during a day at short intervals!

Parque Do Ibirapuera is a good tourist spot to visit in the city. It is the most visited and the largest park in South America, with a spread of 158 hectares. The park is a venue for leisure, jogging, walking, cycling, etc. It has a few cultural monuments as well as a museum housed at its premise. I saw a lot of people jogging and working out at the park

 Once I was in the city in the run up to Christmas. The city gets decked up well to celebrate Christmas. A Christmas Carol video from the city:

I had a chance-visit to “Frei Caneca Shopping Mall,” which was mainly for gays and lesbians though it was open to all. I never saw such a dedicated shopping mall or similar place for the LGBT community in any other country. It is a 3-storey building with lots of shops, and I could see good-enough crowd.

The Republic Day of Brazil is on November 15. I was in the city on such an occasion, a holiday. Avenida Paulista thoroughfare was blocked for traffic in order to allow people to have the space to spend the holiday. I saw them celebrating the holiday in a sportive way as men, women, boys, girls, children, youngsters and elders alike were seen cycling, jogging, walking , skating, strolling, etc. The Brazilians spend enough time to sweat out outdoors, little wonder then that they have enviable physique! 

I visited other cities like Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, etc. Visit to each of these places has enough loads of memories to write separate blogs. So stay tuned for them soon 🙂 

Thank you for the visit to my blog, and I wish a good day to all!

Knowing Oneself, Knowing Others and Spirituality – A Look Through the Window

Friction, fruition and neither of these are the outputs in interpersonal relations. In other words, we do agree to or disagree with or are non-responsive to others while interacting with them. Also, a person goes through these responses within himself/herself. So these responses happen not only in interpersonal and social interactions but also at an intra-personal level. Fruition is seamless, unobtrusive outcome where both parties are happy with each other as there is agreement on whatever topic discussed or issue occurred between them. Friction happens when there are disagreements or when one party behaves in a way that is diametrically or partially opposite of what the other expected. 

Friction in relationships brings out many wrong opinions being made by us. For example, when disagreements happen, the following kinds of statements are quite common: “I know you well and did expect this to be done by you;” “You are incorrigible and expected to behave this way;” “I am not surprised as I knew you would do this;” etc. All these statements have one underlying assumption: The person who makes such statements thinks that she/he knows the other person fully.

Is it possible for anyone to know anyone else completely? Is it possible to predict  someone’s behavior accurately even if you have a complete set of data of his/her past behavioral pattern? The answers to both these questions are No. Is it possible one to know oneself completely? Is it possible for one to predict one’s own behavior accurately? The answers to both these questions are, too, No.  Haven’t you exclaimed like this at least once in life?: “I never knew I could do this!” You do not even know yourself fully, and that is why you do not say: “I am what I am,” instead, say: “I am X  or Y” when someone asks who you are. There is only one incident when someone said, “I am what I am” when asked, “Who are you?  

It is impossible for one to fully know oneself, leave alone fully knowing another person. I will explain this with an illustration of the Johari window, a technique developed by the psychologists, Jospeh Luft and Harrington Ingram in 1955, which helps people to understand their relationship with themselves and others.

Suppose that I am trying to understand my relationship with myself as well as others. There are four quadrants in this process as detailed below:

Open: That part of me which my peers and I know about.

Blind: That part of me which I do not know but my peers know.

Hidden: That part of me which I know but my peers do not know.

Unknown: That of me which neither my peers nor me know.

The quadrant sizes of the window are not fixed. It means that as we know more about others or ourselves, the space of one quadrant increases while that of another decreases. For example, one day I realized that I could write reasonably well, but my peers knew it for a long time that I had had this ability. In this case, the space of the Open quadrant gets increased while that of the Blind quadrant gets decreased. Another example: A person was known to be honest, though he was not, to his friends, but one day he was caught for lying by them. And in this case, Hidden quadrant shrinks and the space of Open quadrant increases.

As the Johari window illustrates, it is not possible for anyone to know anyone else completely. Hence, there is room for us to go patently wrong while making opinions about others based on their past behavior — baring of facts from our Hidden truths can hold us in a good or bad way before others; similarly, disclosures from Blind quadrant can pleasantly or unpleasantly surprise us. The very fact that each person has this window of 4 quadrants illustrates that it is not possible for one to know oneself completely. So Homo sapiens cannot answer, “I am what I am” to the question, “Who are you?”  Then, what is the exception that I mentioned in the beginning? In the Old Testament of the Bible, there is an incident when God appears before Moses. Then, Moses asked God, “Who are you?” And God replied, “I am what I am.” Only can God answer like this because His Johari window has only TWO quadrants: Open and Hidden. 

Is it possible to look at spirituality through the Johari window? Let me make an attempt. The most difficult part in this task is to define what spirituality is. If we break up the word, spirituality, we get something like this: spirit + u + ality. Ality means quality of being, so, quality of being in spirit by (yo)u. Spirit means soul. Hence, spirituality means quality of being in your soul. In other words, spirituality is the journey by you to your soul through your soul by being qualitatively in your soul. So in spirituality, the journey and the destination are one and the same. What is soul?  We cannot embark on a journey to a destination unless we know what the destination is.

A few years back, I attended a religious retreat at Divine Retreat Center, Thrissur in Kerala, India. I am paraphrasing  what a speaker said during the retreat: “Only matter is real,” Karl Max said, the speaker quoted. When the preacher’s father died, he noticed that the physical matter of the dead body was the same as the physical matter of the body of his father when he was alive, but SOMETHING was missing in the dead body. The speaker concluded by saying that Max was wrong because there was something “really” missing from his father’s body though there was no difference in the body-matter of his father before and after the death. So matter is not the only real thing in life. That something of inanimate, invisible nature is the spirit or the soul that a man carries, that on which his-being is intangibly hooked up and that which he loses when he dies. Modern medical science also shows how our brain struggles to retain life(spirit/soul?) even after heart stops pumping, finally, giving up and grinding to a halt. Giving up what? 

In simple terms, spirituality is a journey by a person to find his soul by travelling to himself/herself. If one considers one’s soul as a part of Oneness, then spirituality is a journey by oneself through oneself into oneself to reach to or to get closer to the divinity within oneself. As spirituality is a journey into oneself, let’s assume you stand at the Open quadrant of the Johari window, and as you start and continue the journey, all those parts of you, which were Blind to you but known to your friends, will start to unravel before you. So your Blind quadrant gets merged with the Open quadrant. But, how does this happen? You need to completely give up your ego, hatred, jealousy and all such negative feelings that you harbor, and once you do that, there will be nothing that stops your friends and acquaintances from telling things about you that you were oblivious of.

As you continue this journey of soul-searching, you will realize the necessity of being truthful not only to yourself but also to the outside world in order to reach a state where you have nothing to hide about you from others as well as from yourself. Truth is the only absolute thing in this world, hence, the uninhibited happiness it gives to one is also absolute. By being truthful to yourself and to the outside world, you had eliminated the Hidden quadrant from your Johari window. 

Eliminating the Blind and Hidden quadrants is easier said than done. Buddha traveled across geographies in his spiritual journey before he sat down under the tree; Swami Vivekananda traveled across India before he sat down on the rock in Kanyakumari; and all those great souls who discovered their Unknown quadrant made such soul-searching journeys to eliminate their Blind and Hidden quadrants, for such elimination is a prerequisite to explore the treasures lying inside the Unknown quadrant. Such journeys give opportunities to meet peoples from different cultures, countries and ethnic groups; to learn from them; to reflect on such learning in order to unlearn and relearn; to sit alone and talk to the nature in order to learn from it; and many such things to detoxify oneself from all the negative energy and fill oneself with truth and only truth  Now, your window has only two quadrants: Open and Unknown.

The last and the most crucial part of your spiritual journey is to discover that part of you that resides inside the Unknown quadrant. It is the existence of you that carries the treasure of all those things, which neither you nor your friends are a party to. It is the seat of all the secrets about humanity unknown to you; of universal truths unknown to you; and of all that resides outside human intellectual vicinity. Your friends can not help you to discover it as they do not know about it, as well as you cannot help yourself as you do not know about it. So, who can help you?  None other than your creator! Only can He help you because Unknown is known to Him only. Now, it is between you and your creator! Time for you to sit under a tree or on a rock or anywhere alone to converse with Him!  It may take months or years for you to reach the stage where you can converse with your creator in a two-way fashion. But it is bound to happen because when a man who has nothing to hide and is overflowing ONLY with the ONLY absolute thing in the world called TRUTH, the gates of your Unknown quadrant will be opened to you by your creator, and you will reach a state of enlightenment or Nirvana as showed to us by Buddha. And that will complete a man’s spiritual journey.

A Rendezvous with the Dragon

“When America sneezes, the world catches a cold,” a common phrase that has nothing to do with health of people  but the financial health of the world. Though China is yet to grow to that level, it is definitely growing to that level. The post-globalization world is so interconnected demographically that a contagion in a small country can quickly spread to the world. Then, imagine how the world can be impacted when a significant part of a bigger country sneezes together! China has the Coronavirus, so has the world!

I made one visit to China in October 2019 and covered four cities: Guangzhou — pronounced as Gonchu — Shenzhen — pronounced as Shenchen — Shanghai and Nanjing. The visit was a business trip, and I was fortunate to have a host who did everything possible to ensure that I had the best times in China. Ten days and four cities, and I had not seen a single uniformed-policeman on the public space. Number of police on the roads is a sign that I successfully used to cue on the public safety in the countries I visited. And China is placed high on this ladder.

A couple of interesting customs in China: when you toast a drink with an elderly person or anyone who is from a higher social or economic pedestal, you ought to show respect by touching your glass below the top level of his/her glass. Another one: if host takes extra care to serve you food occasionally even when all are having food together around a buffet table, it means that host considers you as a VIP guest. A praiseworthy thing that could not miss my eyes: No littering of skyscapes — the roadways and public spaces are devoid of any hoardings.This is particularly interesting that the Chinese Communist Party, the sole soul in the political space, could have easily put up hoardings of it and of its leaders to season the people but did not do so.

There are eight types of foods in China: Chuang, Yue,, Xiang, Lu, Su, Zhe, Hui and Ming. These cuisines are the culinary bouquets from eight regions of China, and each one tables a big menu. During my visit, I tried three types, with all giving plenty to relish; still, my Chinese host told me that I savored less than 5% of the Chinese cuisines. A visit to China will be a great going for a gastronome!

There is a saying that roads are the arteries of a country. These arteries are the channels through which the protagonists — people and goods — of economic development flow. As we know, for this to happen, the arteries need to be wider and free of potholes to avoid blocks of traffic jams. Good roads are part of a developed county, but having them in a developing country is definitively a sign of determination to develop. While in China, I traveled by road from Guangzhou to Shenzhen — 2 hrs. The roads were of top-class build, wide and free of potholes. I could see such good roads at all the places I visited in China.

From Shanghai to Nanjing, I travelled by bullet train. It was a 4-hour journey. China had done exceptionally well in connecting different parts of the country by bullet trains which are clean and do provide top-class services. The make and facilities at the bullet train stations, which I saw, are of sterling quality and better than those we find at airports in many countries. The travel was a smooth ride through the urban, suburban and rural areas. China has got beautiful country sides, and the journey gave me an opportunity to scan this scenic and rustic canvas. The train traveled through populated areas, and in order to protect the people residing near the railway tracks from the sound nuisance, sonic-barriers were erected on either side of the track. Wow, I was delighted to learn this from my host that such care was being taken by the government.

A country develops when the whole country, including cities and towns, develops in a similar, uniform way. Shanghai is the commercial capital, has bigger buildings and other civil structures befitting its economic importance. However, the quality of civic infrastructures like roads — covering all: thoroughfares, link-roads and pathways — public parks and other urban management systems that I saw in Shanghai were also present in cities like Guangzhou, a manufacturing hub; Shenzhen, known for fish-processing; and Nanjing, a cultural and historical city. The ratio of luxury cars to non-luxury cars, a sign of economic health, is higher in China as compared to many other countries, and this was also almost similar at the four cities as I could observe.

The economic development in China seems to have given economic and social freedom to many of its women, which was not so decades ago. As I understood from my interactions with a few people during my visit, economic development took the women along with it, resulting in the breaking of glass ceilings that once stopped women from venturing out to make career and personal choices. Now, many more women are economically independent as they are educated, employed or entrepreneurs. A commendable achievement in empowering women! And this is a great achievement for the humanity! My host was such an enterprising woman who started her business 20 years back, faced and overcame social barriers, now, a successful entrepreneur.

Nanjing is a cultural city. 

In Nanjing, I visited Sun yat-sen’s Mausoleum. Dr. Sun is considered as the Father of the Modern China, who fought against and ended the imperial Qing monarchy and established the Republic of China.

I also visited Ming Tomb Museum in Nanjing.


I was impressed with the progress China had made so far. Political correctness of observing only social and economic aspects but missing out factors like political freedom and human rights is questionable, I agree. 

I visited many countries, and the hospitality I received in those countries were always good. Many hosts that I came across took extra care to make me feel at home. With due respect to all these countries and the hosts, let me take the liberty to tell that my Chinese hosts — the entrepreneur-woman, her husband, her son and her staff — outdid others to give me memories galore to relish. I returned to Dubai after having a satisfying and stupendous time in China. May God bless China and its people!

Parenting — The Most Rewarding Act in the World

The first thing that comes to my mind while thinking about parenting is safety and security that parents are duty-bound to instill in their children, followed by teaching children to be honest, responsible, independent and to have balanced use of heart and mind. Let’s look at these elements in detail.

Should we fear or respect God? I am not at all comfortable with the phrase: God-fearing. I prefer God-respecting to God-fearing because there is no love where there is fear. As our children grow up, the first thing we usually do is to instill fear in them by telling them to be God-fearing. If children are to fear God, whom else should they not be fearful of? As a parent who wants to instill  safety and security in his/her children, the parent’s first priority should be to teach children to not fear God but respect Him. God-respecting should give way to God-fearing. Once this holy-fear is replaced by holy-respect in the ecosystem of upbringing, children will be respectfully daring to question and learn without fear.

As a parent, what feeling should I be able to evoke in my children? The answer is obviously not fear but safety and security. How do I do it? By dealing them with love and respect. 

Children will be grown up with the virtue of honesty inherent in their character provided that they do not learn dishonesty from their parents. It is almost but impossible to preach honesty to children when we show dishonesty or lie in their presence. For example, if you understate the age of your children to avoid spending on entry pass for a park and that your children witness this blatant lying by you, then you are unknowingly teaching your children dishonesty — a few bucks are saved but a BIG damage is done. A cloth that we use to remove dirt from a place should be dirt-free and clean; otherwise, we shall be inadvertently adding some dirt from the cleaning cloth to the place to be cleaned while removing the targeted dirt. A parent should have a clean hand like this cloth to mould up children who will be honest.

With social media having one of the biggest influences on how people think, hence, react, modern-day parenting faces a very difficult challenge: how to prepare our children to differentiate between fake and real information? The unabated flow of realistic-sounding fake information streaming down on social media unknowingly makes even an adult to take them as real. However, a conscious second-look at them reveals their fictitious identity. Teach children to have a second-look at information before reacting to them.

Being responsible and independent are two quality attributes that are closely inter-linked and mutually inclusive. After I stopped having mother’s milk, my mother started to spoon-feed me. And she stopped spoon-feeding me when I was grown enough to hold a spoon — I remember me, from the age of 11 years, washing and ironing my own cloths; helping my sisters in the household works; cleaning the plates after food; etc. I fondly and richly pay homage to my parents for allowing me to hold the spoon when I was ready to do so, and because of this upbringing, I was able to negotiate the difficult paths in my life and reach where I am now.

In order to make children independent and responsible, parents ought to stop spoon-feeding once children are grown enough to hold the spoons — grown enough to be independent and responsible. Independent is in-dependent, i.e., being independent means one is relying or depending on the abilities and capabilities present WITHIN oneself. Let me dwell a bit on being independent and responsible

In his best selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” late Stephen Richards Covey, one of the finest writers of motivational books, talks about three things: dependent, independent and interdependent. He explains that a dependent person does not use his/her skills but banks on others for fulfilling own needs; and an independent person uses abilities and capabilities to navigate through life. He suggests that an interdependent world is better than a dependent or independent one. Interdependent is a mutually beneficial relation between two independent people as either benefits from it, and it is not possible to have an effective interdependent relation between two dependent-natured persons or between a dependent and an independent person as being interdependent is a two-way relation. He summaries by saying that be independent to effectively present in an interdependent world.

When we break down responsible into two words, we get response and able — able to respond. Responsibility is the ability to respond to problems and issues that come up in life. Parents should not respond for the problems that children ought to be responded by themselves once they are able to hold ‘the spoon’ by themselves, rather parents should assist and train them to respond in the correct way. A parent doing homework for the child is spoon-feeding while a parent sitting with and assisting the child to learn the way to solve the homework is making the child to hold and wield the spoon. It is disturbing to note that modern-day parenting is more of spoon-feeding than letting child to hold the spoon. 

The world does not have much patience to give space and time to your children to train spoon-holding. Home is the best place for a child to get ample opportunities to train itself to master holding the spoon. Mastering of holding the spoon means child having ample opportunities to be independent— to depend on herself/himself through usage of its inherent and acquired skills — and responsible — ability and courage to respond to various problems and issues. This courage is drawn by a child from its faith to depend on its own abilities. You can not make your child responsible without allowing it to be independent as they are mutually inclusive. And if you deny this opportunity to your child by keeping on spoon-feeding, you are preparing your child to fail in the wild, wide world.

A dilemma many face while taking decisions is whether to use heart or mind. Well, it depends on the situation and the role one plays. However, we need to teach our children to not lose their heart to mind but to mind their heart, too. 

Parenting is like training someone to become captain of a boat inside a comfort zone, which also involves controlling the rudder that decides direction of sailing, with the trainee on the captain’s seat. The comfort zone is the home, and parents’ presence during “the training” gives sense of safety and security to handle the rudder. Controlling the rudder means channelizing child’s energy and attention to the right, fertile ecosystem of growing up, which includes exposing child to the world of science and books that build up knowledge — a prerequisite to be independent and responsible; teach them to be courteous and sensitive to human sufferings; sensitizing about virtues and vices; and imbibing the importance of physical fitness because a healthy mind resides in a healthy body.

Absence of such shepherding/training called upbringing from parents may lead child to sail the boat through uncharted territories, possibly resulting in mishaps, sometimes in shipwreck. It is equally imperative and important  that we should hand the control of rudder over to child once she/he is grown enough — independent and responsible — to handle the rudder by herself/himself.

El Salvador

A career in International Sales throws up a lot of challenges and difficulties: Jet lag from a long haul flight; body dynamics vis-a-vis different climatic and time zones; introduction to unfamiliar foods; new languages; getting ready in wee hours to catch a flight; and so on. And the most challenging part is the inexplicable mix of thrill and anxiety while visiting a country for the first time. I was engulfed with such a feeling on April 6, 2014,  when I boarded the flight from Mexico City to San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador.

El Salvador is a small Central American county with a population of 6.40 million. A 6-hour drive can cover the distance between the western and the eastern regions of the country. It is the smallest and the most densely populated Central American country. However, I found that San Salvador was sparsely populated, with traffic snarls, a bane of the most cities, absent here. The city has very few high-rise buildings,

I found that the people  were friendly and helpful. It is a Spanish-speaking country. Security is an issue, I was told, but I did not confront any safety problem in San Salvador. However, one needs to be careful while visiting the downtown, and it is better to have a local person accompanying you while visiting this area. For business travelers, a visit to this place is unavoidable, for it is the business hub of the capital. If you happen to visit San Salvador, do stay at Santa Elena or Zona Rosa as these areas are safer. American visa holders can get visa on arrival in El Salvador.

I visited two tourist spots in the city. Puerta del diablo meaning “Gate of Devil” is a popular hill station for tourism, especially weekend tourism, for the nationals as well as tourists in San Salvador. It has got such a devilish name, for it was the place to torture people during the civil wars . From the city center, it is 2-hour drive to the hill station. I was motivated to climb the mountain after seeing children and elders alike climbing up to the hilltop with enthusiasm. The hill top is a fantastic place with stunning views of mountains. Watching sunset from the hilltop is an enchanting experience.  

Another tourist place of archaeological importance is “Ruinas de Tazumal,” a complex formed by pyramids which are placed one on top of another, with the top-most one being 23 meters high. It is located at 720 meters above the Mean Sea Level. This architectural group refers to two time periods: Late Classic period (600 A.D to 900 A.D.) and Post Classic Period (800 A.D. to 1200 A.D.). The structure is a ruin of the Mayan civilization, and it is believed to have functioned as a ceremonial place. The monument is situated at “Chalchuapa,” a place away from San Salvador by an hour’s drive.


‘I knew it was going to happen;’ ‘I did not expect it;’ I knew we were wasting our time.’ We come across these kinds of retorts more often than not, and they are symptomatic of the presence or absence of one crucial factor: Foresight. There are two components in making judgments leading to decision:  Analytical look at facts and foresight. And in this blog, I will try to take a look only at foresight as I already dealt with the former in the blog titled, “What is the most difficult thing in life?”

Ability is the sum total of doable and potentially doable possessions that are naturally present in a person while capability is the set of skills that one acquires as she/he courses through life. We say “differently-abled person,” not differently-capable person. Right? This clarifies natural nature of ability and acquired origin of capability. Basic intelligence, talents, and wisdom come under abilities while skills, knowledge and experience are capabilities. Capabilities sharpen abilities. Foresight is the ability to see now every relevant factors from future, which will have a definite bearing on one’s capability to make judgments. The operative word here is ‘relevant.’  How do we develop foresight? There are two prerequisites to foresight: common sense and peripheral awareness.

It is difficult to explain what common sense is. Let me explain it with an example. Why do teachers, while examining answer sheets, use pens that have ink whose color is different from the ink color used by students? It is because, though not meritoriously relevant, same color ink will make teachers’ notes and markings visibly irrelevant. Thus, in order to make their markings and notes visibly relevant on answer sheets, teachers choose pens with different ink color. So we can say that common sense is the ability to differentiate relevance from irrelevance in order to choose relevance.

Analytical look is reasonably filtering through facts available in the immediate arena of a subject on which decision has to be taken. And you need a bridge from facts to reach foresight, and that connecting link is peripheral awareness. Peripheral awareness is the ability to comprehend the extended reach of facts-of-the-matter without losing focus on the facts itself. It largely depends on the faculties of decision-maker to conjure up that reach. Let me bring in the game of cricket to illustrate what peripheral awareness is meant by in decision making.

The Time Magazine, while featuring the cricketing legend, Sachin Tendulkar, on its cover page titled “Cover Drive,” mentioned ‘Peripheral Awareness’ as one of the qualities which enabled Sachin to emerge as the most successful cricket player that the contemporary times had seen. The magazine further explained that while batting, including while facing the toughest ball from the fiercest bowler, Sachin had the entire ground, especially positioning of fielders, on his frame of mind so as to adjust his batting to find gaps and score though he did not look around frequently. In an abstract, peripheral awareness, as also explained by the magazine, is the ability to factor in facts from all the possible extended reach without overreaching.

Subtle clues — that can be verbal and/or non-verbal —  which we usually fail to notice during social and interpersonal interactions are the food for foresight. Noticing and deciphering them reveal general contour and portends of things to come. There are people who have the ability to see the appropriateness or inappropriateness; and relevance or irrelevance of these subtle clues as they flash before them although present utility value of these clues is negligible or naught. As a corollary, they visualize and judge the future ramifications of these subtleties, filter out irrelevant things, arrive at educated inferences and keep them on a ready-to-use mode as and when required. It is to be noted that you can not catapult yourself to this deliberate sight-in-advance from facts but have to cross the bridge of peripheral awareness to reach there because you also need the help of the extended reach of facts to decipher subtle clues.

A piece on foresight is incomplete without touching on hindsight and farsightedness. Hindsight is post-mortem analysis to understand something after it happened. Foresight is an intangible asset with future value while hindsight does not qualify to call itself as an asset though it may offer a few pointers for future. 

Farsightedness is a medical condition in which one can see distant objects clearly but nearby objects blurry. So figuratively, farsightedness also means ability to see distant physical objects. Furthermore,  farsightedness is a synonym of foresight, and both can be used interchangeably barring one context. Let me explain this usage difference with an example. A good driver is said to have long and much-beyond visibility, making the drive as careful as he/she otherwise does even when there is good distance between the driver and the vehicle just ahead. In this case, we can say that driver has farsightedness, not foresight. Barring this exception, farsightedness and foresight are interchangeably used. 

Analyse facts, build a bridge of the extended reach of the facts called peripheral awareness, cross it and bring home relevant insights from subtle clues. And thus allow foresight to add value to correctness in decisions you take in life.

The Land of The Highest

The Kingdom of Nepal was the only nation in the world that had Hinduism as the state religion. It was till 2007 when the elected representatives of the new parliament in Nepal abolished the monarchy and pronounced the country as a secular nation which was renamed as the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Nepal is a tourist destination, especially for the Westerners, who wish to learn and experience the rich oriental heritage.

The capital, Kathmandu, is a quiet city placed in a valley, surrounded by a circle of mountains. An aerial view of Kathmandu:

There are many tourist attractions in Kathmandu, among them the most famed one is the Mount Everest, the 8848-meter high rooftop of the world. Thanks to a mountain flight, I went to the marvel as close as a few kilometers. The sky was clear, so the mesmerizing views of the peak and of the snow-capped adjacent mountains were clearly visible. There are tour operators in Kathmandu, offering flights to the mount at a cost of USD 200. The flight is an hour’s outing in the early morning hours when the likelihood of clear sky will be higher.

Visa is available on arrival for most of the nationalities, including the Indians. As a people, the Nepalese is closer to the Indians in terms of culture, food habits, lifestyles, etc. There are historical as well as clannish linkages between the peoples of India and Nepal. English and Hindi are the common languages spoken in Nepal, with the Nepalese language, Gorkhali, being the most spoken among the natives. There are many Indian restaurants in Kathmandu, and the Indian currency is accepted in Nepal. The economies of the two countries are also interlinked, with the Nepalese currency, also called Rupee, being pegged to the Indian Rupee. 

Another must-see tourist attraction is the 5th century built Pashupatinath temple. It is one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world, housed on the bank of the Bagmati River. The temple is considered as the seat of the national deity, Lord Siva. The temple complex has a string of temples and ashrams that have well-carved portraits of different Hindu deities and other important Hindu cultures. The temple is named in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. During my visit, I had seen a cremation along the bank of the river which runs beside the temple.

The Budha Stupa, a world heritage listed site, is another attraction in the city. Boudhanath Stupa, or Bodnath Stupa, is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It houses relics of Buddhist monks and nuns from centuries-old times. It is situated in the town of Boudha and is a centre of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu. Of late, the Tibetan people settled in Nepal came under severe restrictions thanks to the Chinese government pumping in millions of USD for developmental works in Nepal. India made a few foreign policy blunders in the recent times vis-a-vis Nepal, and that drove Nepal closer to China. But, will Nepal go the Sri Lanka way of a well-laid debt trap by the Chinese? Only time will tell.

If you visit Kathmandu, do take a trip to Bhaktapur cultural city — a place of century-old architectural wisdom. Bhaktapur when translated to English reads, “city of devotees.” It is located in Bhaktapur District in the Bagmati Zone. It is listed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage roster. Bhaktapur, established in 12th century, is famous for its art and architecture. It is a city steeped in culture that survived natural disasters such as earth quakes and invasion attempts over the centuries. 

Basantpur city houses many immaculate temples of Hinduism. I visited the the Mahabudha temple in Basntpur.

The Rudravarna Mahavir temple in Patan city, a city of fine arts, is another tourist attraction.

If you wish to capture the beauty of a sunset in the backdrop of oranging mountains, go uphill to Nagarkot, a sleepy village in Kathmandu, which is 7200 feet above the Mean Sea Level. Naagarkot is well equipped to receive tourists, with the place bustling with throngs of tourists. The overlooking view of the snow-covered Langtang range of mountains, which with an elevation of 7205 meters is the 106th highest peak,  is fantastic. A view downward from the place is another wonder — cascading views of houses on the hills.

A holiday in Nepal will be worth taking out. And Kathmandu assures that a part of your holidays will be holy-days.

The worlds of Our World

Quite often we come across the following kinds of pop-ups in our social interactions: be practical, be realistic, you are living in an idealistic world, etc. We unavoidably traverse through three different worlds in our life. ideal world, practical world and real world. 

Ideal world is that part of our daily dwelling where we wish to have our ideals to drive us while dealing with various issues that come up in life. Ideal is a principle or a set of principles that you keep close to your heart and consider them as the guiding spirit of your life. Ideal can also be read as I-deal. Hence, an Ideal world is that which has value systems with which you can identify yourself through your principles. It is extremely difficult to live through our idealistic world because the dynamics of the bigger world do not give enough space for it. Let’s not confuse ideal with ideological. Ideological is being wedded to an ideology whose aim has a broader, worldly cause and appeal. Ideals are intrinsic to a person, so it is personal while ideological has linkage to external so is social. 

Practical world demands us to behave in a certain way which has a precedent but with our volition. It is the world that has set norms and standards to do things in a ‘certain way,’ and these norms and standards are indicators of the practicality as shaped by the society over the years. Living in a practical world can be a bane as well as a boon. It can be a bane as it limits you to a comfort zone of set dos and don’ts,hence, highly likely inhibits you from branching out and finding new, efficient ways of doing things. It is a boon, for it gives a proven and successful but not necessarily efficient way of doing things.

Real world offers freedom to tailor-make the way we want to deal with various issues in life without the need to tread the historical paths. In other words, real world offers unconditional freedom to an individual to use his/her intelligence and wisdom to navigate through life. However, operational part of this freedom can be subjected to influence by external forces that can be either innocuous or inimical. Let’s  look at these forces in detail.

Our decisions ought to be based on reasoning, thus, not putting our volition, the willingness to act, to undue test. But our volition will be severely tested when real world gets spiced up with vested interests and spin-doctors whose deceptively convincing explanations can influence our thoughts to the extent that our views and perceptions — contributors to volition — get changed without our conscious reckoning. We all can probably take correct decisions if enough lead time is given to act when an issue or problem pops up in our life  However, when put to an impromptu situation, many fail to respond with correct decisions. This is where it is easier for spin-doctors and vested interests to play their games to manipulate our thinking, thereby putting huge pressure on our volition. 

How do we cordon ourselves from such inimical forces?  We need to realize that except against truth, there is a shadow running parallel to anything and everything in life. Vested interests play in this shadow and try to make us believe that the shadow is the real thing. How far we are capable of succumbing to or successfully resisting such shadowy-manipulation depends on our ability to see the fact of the matter. 

But we also come across good people in real world. How do we identify them? In  a discussion, if a person unknowingly loses his/her diplomatic cover and starts to talk from the heart, then pay good attention to that person’s words as those words will possibly have the truths and facts that you are looking for.

Life  is more realistic than practical though we wish to have an idealistic life. It is all but possible to have an idealistic life as most part of our life goes through either practical or real worlds or both, out of which real world is the one that we confront more often. Hence, in order to survive in this world, we need to be not only practical but also sensitized to the merits and demerits of real world. 

A life without ideals is a life not worth living. “For what profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul,” the Holy Bible says. So we ought to make our ideals a part of our real world as much as possible even when we are not able to fully do justice to our ideals. A day without learning something is a day less lived. And our ideals are the foundation on which this learning accrues on. Live a life not succumbing to the norms and standards set by the society, branch out and create your own world by fighting it out in the real wold without losing your ideals. “Do not follow the footsteps, create your own milestones.” ~ Steve Jobs

The Land of A Thousand Hills

If you ask me, “Which is the cleanest city in sub-Saharan Africa?,  I will answer, “Kigali.” Safety being the primary criterion involved in deciding your tourist destination, you, I am sure, will ask one more question: “Which is the safest city in sub-Saharan Africa.?  I will add Accra, the capital of Ghana, to Kigali to answer your question. My answers are based on me visiting 33 countries in Africa, spanning 15 years. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is the safest and cleanest city I had come across in sub-Saharan Africa. I visited Kigali many a time from 2007. One can venture out in the night without the fear of unknown. I did never face safety issues in Kigali though I used to go out in the nights. Plastic bags were banned in Rwanda from 2008. It is a practice here that people come out in large numbers and clean the city once in a month on the last Saturday when the entire city shuts, with no vehicles plying and no offices opened for a few hours in the morning. Also, to reduce carbon footprint,  the city observes car-free time till noon on the first and third Sundays on every month.

Rwanda is known as “The land of a thousand hills.” It sets itself in valleys and hills, so you can go as much uphill as downhill if you wish to take a walk along the city. The country has numerous hills in the backdrop of a green topography, and that is why Rwanda got the hilly pet name. In the night, Kigali looks wonderful with the houses and commercial establishments on the hills and in the valleys well lit that reflect like waves of lights in no-motion. There are plenty of motorcycle-taxis plying around for those who want to pillion-ride. Due this unique terrain , people pillion-ride on motorbikes even for short distance. Indian motorcycle brands like Bajaj and TVS are the most popular ones.

The people are very friendly and cooperative. I found them very helpful, too. I have a long list of customers from this country. Rwanda is a land-locked country which relies on Tanzanian and Kenyan seaports for cargo movement in and out of the country. Dubai is a favorite trade destination for the Rwandans to come in, purchase a multitude of products and take them home for making a living. Almost all of my customers are women, and I had seen women running many enterprises in Rwanda, a country where women power is in full play. More than 60% of the elected representatives of the Rwandan parliament are women. Great, isn’t it? 

A few of my Rwandan customers when they visited our office:

Historically, Rwanda was a Francophone country, thanks to the colonization of the country by Belgium for 46 years. The country got independence from Belgium on July 1, 1972. Rwanda has two prominent tribes. The people of one tribe, the minority totaling around 20%, are more than 6-feet tall and have facial features closer to the Europeans. The Germans, who colonized Rwanda from 1884, considered this tribe as the forefathers of the Caucasians, hence, gave prominence to them in administration of the country. The Belgians, too, followed this tradition. The people of the other tribe, which is close to 80%, are not as tall as the minority tribe but closer to other sub-Saharan peoples, felt alienated for centuries. All these pent up feelings took a bloody turn in April 1991 when the majority tribe came to the power, leading to a genocide in 1994. More than a million people were butchered in this internecine war in 1994. The United Nations and all the world powers remained as mute spectators to the worst genocide that mankind witnessed in the recent history. 

As a realization and respect for the people who were killed, Rwanda stopped identifying and naming the people based on their tribal ethnicity. I refrained from naming the tribes in this blog as a mark of respect to this heartening new tradition. The Rwandan government also encourages inter-ethnic marriages. An aftereffect of the genocide is that the country had moved from Francophone to Anglophone. It is alleged that besides not doing anything to stop the genocide, France provided weapons to the government that orchestrated the genocide against its own people. The new government that came to power after genocide decided to move from French to English as the official language. Now, you can see as many people as you want who speak English in Rwanda.

I visited the Saint Andre Church and the accompanying complex in Kabayi. This church is more than 100 years old. This venerable monument played a monumental role in saving thousands during the genocide.

There are about 200 genocide memorials in the country, and the one I visited had 250,000 souls Resting in Peace. When I walked beside the tell-tale pictures and narrations at the museum, I went completely silent. A pall of gloom was visible on the faces of visitors around, and I saw everyone silent as he/she moved along. At the end of exhibits, there are posters/portraits and photos of peace and forgiveness by the survivors as well as perpetrators. No cameras are allowed inside the museum.

The visitors were stunned into silence at the unquenchable hatred that the human mind was capable of and the havoc it could wreck. The genocidal memorial is a must-visit, for it is a powerful reminder of the viciousness of hatred. A stark reminder that there should never be another catastrophe like this! What I saw at the genocide memorial still lingers in me.

A few pictures form the museum:

Rwanda walked past its bloody future, and the county is one of the fastest developing economies in Africa. The country is also progressing well. From 2010, when I visited Kigali for the first time, to 2019 when I last visited the city, I could see massive development in the city. Many high-rise residential and commercial buildings adorn the skyline of the city. There exists an unusual camaraderie among the people, possibly as a repentance. Forgiveness and reconciliation as the national themes after the war helped to develop such a feeling of belonging-to-each-other among the people. I love Rwanda and the Rwandans and my prayers and well wishes are always with Rwanda.

Success Ingredients

Google says success means accomplishment of aim, and I borrow this definition to begin this blog. There is no one-shot formula for success; in other words, there is not any particular model to pinpoint that if you follow that model you will become successful. Nonetheless, there are certain ingredients that are common in any formula that makes a person successful in life. Let me list a few of them: goal, determination, passion, hard work, perseverance, discipline, humility, attitude of positivity and receptiveness. These ingredients are common terms as there are enough literature talking about them. Through this blog, I will make an attempt to define them. 

Goal is the output that one sets as the final destination before one begins the journey toward success. We have no goal but goals in life, and at the same time, goals are parts of a bigger GOAL of, say , progress or happiness, or whatever you choose.

Determination is the consequent-resolve arising from the realization that any shortfall in our capabilities vis-a-vis what the goal demands needs deliberate efforts to work on all possibilities to shorten the shortfall. The cumulative sum of our capabilities to reach a goal can not be taken for granted. Our capabilities need either sharpening or adding up or both, and it does not happen naturally but with deliberate efforts.

Hard work is putting in effort on mission-mode, devoid of laziness and procrastination. Laziness is overt aversion to do a work, with individual not necessarily knowing about such self-limiting trait. Procrastination is an act that gives momentous feel-good but false hope to a person that he/she will do the-task-on-hand later. Thus, laziness is remaining knowingly or unknowingly inoperative while procrastination is knowingly going to an inoperative state with uncertainty of when. Hardworking people hardly have laziness and procrastination in their character repertoire.

Perseverance is the non-competing edge of hope over faith without faith getting relegated. Faith is the present while hope sands for the future, and both are mutually inclusive. Hope is the energy that enables us to visualize a better-than-present future, and the strength of this energy is a manifestation of our intrinsic confidence — faith — in our capabilities.

Discipline is the ability to successfully negotiate the ambivalence between willingness and laziness in favor of the former, and intrinsic to this successful negotiation is the respectful adherence to self-established norms and rules.

Humility: When knowledge conquers us we become arrogant, but arrogance is replaced by humility when we conquer knowledge. Arrogance is “I-with-extra” feeling resulting from accumulation of knowledge or wealth or both, and most of us are prone to it. And if we can take that extra out, we can remain humble. How do we do it? Instate and reinstate the following thought into your character: I am NOT more or less with the knowledge acquired and/or wealth accumulated though I possess both knowledge and wealth.

Positivity: Everything has got pleasant and unpleasant sides. Attitude of positivity is the ability to absorb and reflect only the pleasant side. Merits of being in a positive mindset can be highlighted by looking at the deadly nature of the way negativity works in a person.

Unabated state of being in bitterness makes bitterness no more bitter, and this state is broken only when we get exposed to sweetness. This is exactly how negativity works in us; a person with a fixed negative mindset will continue to see everything only in a negative way until the person himself/herself realizes the state that she/he is in, and this realization comes from an eye-opening incident which can be a pleasant one or a tragedy.

It is important to keep ourselves away from negative people. We should cut such people off from our thoughts and daily life. Let me explain it with an example. Sometimes, we come across this: “The link is not available,” when we search for something or someone on the web, and even the repeated search attempts gives the same result. There is a lesson for us in it: in life, we come across many people — some masquerading as our friends and relatives — who are breeding grounds of negative thoughts and actions like jealousy, hatred, back-talking, etc. They knowingly or unknowingly make these toxic assets contagious to our lives and pollute us, many a time without our conscious reckoning. Just avoiding them is not enough to insulate us but complete erasing, like the web does, of such people from our lives is the best way to prevent their negativism deviating us from our journey of success.

Receptive to new ideas: I happened to read this somewhere: ‘We are students till the last day of our life.” Receptiveness can not be explained in a better way than this. The biggest hindrance to being receptive to new ideas is our false feeling of being perfect. Perfection is the progression from the accepted-norm to a point where you find a way to improvise the variable for which the norm is set, and the moment you find one way to improvise, door opens for another way. These openings happen only if we are open to embrace new ideas and knowledge that show up before us, irrespective of whether they are coming from our friends or foes.

So we are here. Success is a journey to a goal through hard work combined with determination, perseverance, discipline, humility, positivity and receptiveness. That’s it. No. Isn’t something missing? Determination, but, how do we remain determined till we reach our goal? Hardworking, but, how do we maintain ourselves on that hardworking-mode till we succeed? Similarly, for other variables like discipline, perseverance, etc. Yes, something is missing. And it is passion.

Passion is the fuel that energizes you to remain determined; to remain hardworking; not to give up but to persevere; be disciplined; be grounded; be positive; and be receptive. Where does this fuel of energy come from? From the present-value of the future satisfaction of accomplishment of goal. So let me define success as a passionate journey to a set-goal through hard work reminded by determination and aided and guided by perseverance, discipline, humility, positivity and receptiveness.

South America

Many people think Latin America is the same as South America, but it is not correct though South America is Latin America. Latin America is a broader term covering South America, Central America, Mexico and a part of the Caribbean islands that predominantly speak Spanish.There are 20 countries and 14 dependent territories in Latin America while South America has 13 countries, out of which I was fortunate to visit 9. In this blog, I will write about the Latinos of South America. My first visit to the continent was in 2007, with a trip to São Paulo, Brazil, and the last one I did was in 2019 to Peru and Paraguay. 

The most fascinating aspect about the South Americans is that they love their lives. Well, all the peoples of the world ought to love their lives. But there is something special when I say the South Americans love their lives. Here, people do not throw away their lives just for any cause. Have we ever heard of self-immolation or people blowing themselves up for any cause in South Africa? No. We see these kinds of self-destruction in Asia as a mark of protests for the causes people support. This love for life is also manifested in their lifestyles: the carnival spirit of the Brazilians; easy-going nature of the Ecuadorians; warm and good-heartedness of the Peruvians and liveliness of the Bolivians are some examples of this passionate love for life.

There are many definitions for honesty, and the one I like: Honesty is the principle of telling truth. The South Americans are straight and honest people. I experienced this both in my personal  and professional interactions with them. Even when I sent a commercial offer titled as the best offer, I used to keep 5% as a negotiation element. Later on, I learnt from my South American customers that when they saw the best offer, they logically interpreted it as the best one they could get from me. But I was not honest when I said the offer was the best offer. It was an eye-opening incident for me, and I learnt the lesson that honesty does not have space to pad truth. 

Honesty is not only telling truth but also not selectively hiding part of truth. I was floored by awe to experience the innate willingness of my South American customers to share all details of their business, including profitability, though I did not demand such details. Personally also, I experienced their honesty and forthright character. I will explain this with an example. I had noticed many Asians, including the Indians, have a habit of telling someone, who is waiting for them, that they will arrive in, say, 10 minutes even when they knew very well that they would not be able to reach in 10 minutes. But the South Americans do not do this, they are punctual to what they promised to be punctual, a sign of honesty. They are also straight in their dealings, and we do not have to do any kind of discounting or scaling up to arrive at correct judgment about what they say — no hoodwinking or lying or padding up of what they say.

The peoples of South America are friendly and do welcome visitors with a warm hug and pecks on the cheeks – in Paraguay it is only one peck. A very noticeable aspect is that there exists a heartening, seamless bond among the peoples of the continent, who hold goodwill for neighbors — the Chileans talk good about the Brazilians or the Peruvians saying nice things about the Colombians. In each country, there are roads or city centers named after neighboring countries — an Avenida Brazil in Lima, Peru; an Avenida Lima in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Food is South America has a wider plate, with the Peruvian cuisines being the best one. One interesting aspect about food of this region is that it, unlike Indian food, hardly uses oil in its making, resulting that we can savor the taste of dishes with their ingredients in their natural flavors. In India, we use much oil in food, and in that process, we miss out the natural flavors of many ingredients — oil partially takes ingredients off their natural flavors and gives different taste — as well as it makes us more prone to high rate of heart ailments. Recently, I read the Indians are genetically prone to heart-attacks, it might be because of our food habits over thousands of years.

Most counties in South America have re-planned their city-roads to provide cycle-tracks, thereby reducing carbon footprints! Life seems to be happy and eventful — in Brazilian terms: carnival spirit — with a hard-working week and a partying weekend. Discotheques will be packed on weekends, and they dance well with rhythmic movements; it is a visual treat to watch them dancing – the Peruvians and the Ecuadorians are the best on dancer floors. In all these countries, there are public squares and parks at the city centers where people throng during weekends, with festivities like music extravaganza, dance performances, painting exhibitions, makeshift eateries, etc. In many cases, respective municipalities organize such events as a part of giving people feel-good weekends. If you happen to visit any South American city like Lima, which has the Kennedy Park as the public square for weekend festivities; or Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where Plaza 24 de Septiembre is the city square, plan your trip in such a way that you will be in the city during weekend.

Weather patterns have moderate thresholds: winter and summer do not go extreme. I have been traveling to South America for the last 12 years and had never  experienced any safety and security problem. Many a time, I ventured out at night without having any problems. Try to stay at the city centers which are safer and lively. Well, almost all the cites have  got certain pockets where one should not go to at night. Apart from this common narrative, I found the South American cities safe and secure. In your lifetime if you have time and money, you should make a trip to South America, a world of different life, culture, lifestyles, peoples, food and wholesomeness. Two out of the New 7 Wonders of the world are in South America: Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru, and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro Brazil – I was fortunate to visit both. Colombia has got beautiful mountains; Rio’s Copacabana beach; seaside Guayaquil city of Ecuador; and many such beautiful places you will love to be in.

Notwithstanding the work, I enjoyed the days whenever I visited South America. I have only pleasant memories of South America! If I were given an option of rebirth, I would ask God to give me a berth for my birth in South America.