पैसा ऐसा चीज़, ख़ुदा से उन्निस बीस

Have you had an acrimonious dispute with your loved ones; relatives, children, parents and/or friends over a thing called MONEY?
If you have, this article might find a resonance with you.

To begin with, money is a much needed part of a human life. Lack of it is not advisable. This article doesn’t deal with lack or excess of money.

It deals with the problem which starts when a person begins to take interest in the money of other people. Let’s take an example.

Let us say, the net worth of a person is 100 rupees. A happy person is one who will adjust his/her living in this amount albeit striving to earn more through legal and peaceful means and subsequently improving his/her living standards.

But an unhappy person,

  • Will fret over a person whose net worth is over his/her 100 rupees. He/she will grunt, act jealous and feel vindictive over the other person. He/she will continually think his/her 100 rupees to be a result of the other person’s net worth and blame the other person for his/her presumed misfortune.
  • Will demean a person whose net worth is less than his/her 100 rupees. He/she acts abusive towards the other person and measures the other person’s life through money and money only.

A single human being has the strangest ability to be in both places at the same time. Over the period of time such persons will continue accumulating relationships which will be based on either of the two aforementioned criteria.

Any relationship which doesn’t have mutual love and respect as the base is bound to crumble, sometimes explosively.

To end with, I quote a line from Khorkuto, a bengali serial on Star Jalsha,

অন্যের প্রপার্টিতে আমাদের কোনো দিনই কোনো নজর ছিল না।
অন্যের প্রপার্টিটাকে আমরা অন্যের বলেই মনে করি।
We never had an eye on other people’s property.
We think of other people’s property as other’s only.

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How Easy is it to be Fooled 🤔

Yesterday, I came across a very dangerous chemical,

Dihydrogen Monoxide

This chemical

  • is the major component of acid rain.
  • contributes to the greenhouse effect.
  • may cause severe burns.
  • contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
  • accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
  • may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
  • has been found in excised tumours of terminal cancer patients.
  • symptoms of ingestion include excessive sweating and urination.

Such a chemical should be surely banned. Shouldn’t it?

Somebody should work on it. Right?

That is what Nathan Zohner, a 14-year-old student at Eagle Rock Junior High School in Idaho Falls, Idaho did. For a science fair project, he distributed a report titled, “Dihydrogen Monoxide: The Unrecognized Killer” to 50 of his classmates. The report contained many of the points that have been mentioned (which I have liberally taken from Wikipedia).

Nathan asked his friends to read the report and decide what to do with the chemical. His classmates studied chemistry and many had parents working in the nearby Idaho Nuclear Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. They also could have asked their teachers about the chemical but they didn’t bother to and in the end 43 students voted to ban the chemical as it could cause lot of deaths.

The chemical by the way is,

H2O i.e. WATER!

Nathan concluded that he was appalled that his peers were so easily misled and he did not feel comfortable with the current level of understanding. He won the first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair for presenting the findings of his little experiment. The title of his report was,

How Gullible Are We?

These 14 year olds are not the only gullible people around. This is true for most of the adult population.

We can be made to believe anything by anyone. Our prejudices can be used to induce somebody else’s thoughts as ours. When we are not ready to use our own brains, somebody will do it for us and not always would it be correct.

This gullibility of the common man is utilised by the special men (pun intended) to peddle their untruths to create a mass hysteria.

  • This gives rise to unscientific customs and rituals.
  • This gives rise to partitions in the society in the name of caste, colour and religion.
  • This increases idiocy, anguish and hatred.

This gullibility will certainly make a fool out of us and in our spate of foolishness we can do damages which will be irreparable and irreversible.

पहले जाँच करें फिर विश्वास करें।

Jai Hind.

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How I Learnt to Read Bengali : My Parents’ Mother Tongue

If you know me, you know that my parents are Bengali but you have seldom heard me talking in Bengali at length. It is Hindi that I prefer at all times. In fact, I have coined a term for me and my brother, “Hindi Speaking Maharashtrians born to Bengali Parents”.

But today, I am going to talk about how I learnt to read Bengali.

I was a mischievous child, to put it mildly. ‘Rowdy’ would be a better word. At the age of 3 or so, my mother decided that she would read from the book, ‘Hansi Khushi (হাঁসি খুশি)’ by Jogindranath Sarkar (যোগীন্দ্রনাথ সরকার). The book had lot of rhymes and I memorised each one of them. I had no idea about the alphabet and couldn’t read anything. Over the period of time, I learnt the alphabet and could read the book on my own. I also read the ‘Dharapaat ধারাপাত’. I used to read Bengali books of Ananda Marga Schools, where my uncle was a teacher. I had problem reading the conjunctives (যুক্তাক্ষর) and I still face the problem.

In the summer of 1995, my aunt was to be married. I went with my uncle to his house one month prior to the marriage. I was alone, away from my parents, and at my mischievous best. My uncle decided to buy me a Bengali book, ‘Sukumar Rachanasamagra  (সুকুমার রচনাসমগ্র)’, a collection of works by Sukumar Ray (সুকুমার রায়). He was correct. I got completely engrossed in that book and my mischievousness decreased.

I welcomed myself into the world of children rhymes like Aabol Tabol (আবোল তাবোল), Gonf Churi (গোঁফ চুরি), Kumdopatash (কুমড়োপটাশ), Ramgaruder Chhana (রামগরুড়ের ছানা) and others. I read the stories of Paagla Dashu (পাগলা দাশু), Ha-Ja-Ba-Ra-La ( ) and dramas, Abak Jalpaan (অবাক জলপান) and Lakshmaner Shaktishel (লক্ষণের শক্তিশেল). The book also had lot of articles on history, science and adventure that had appeared in the magazine, Sandesh. It took me about a year to finish the book. But at the end of it, I learnt how to read Bengali.

In the ensuing years, I read a lot of magazines, newspapers and story books whenever I was in Ketugram, my uncle’s home.

After my Masters, I went to Calcutta and bought Feluda Rachanasamgra – I and II (ফেলুদা রচনাসমগ্র ) by Satyajit Ray (সত্যজিৎ রায়), Byomkesh Rachanasamagra (ব্যোমকেশ রচনাসমগ্র) by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay (শরদিন্দু বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়) and Galpa-101 (গল্প১০১), a collection of stories by Satyajit Ray. These books improved my Bengali reading and increased my appetite as well.

After I got the job in 2010, my early spending was on books like Shanku Samagra (শঙ্কু সমগ্র) by Satyajit Ray (সত্যজিৎ রায়), Kakababu Samagra (1-6) (কাকাবাবু সমগ্র ()) by Sunil Gangopadhyay (সুনীল গঙ্গোপাধ্যায়), Tenida Samagra (টেনিদা সমগ্র) by Narayan Gangopadhyay (নারায়ণ গঙ্গোপাধ্যায়) and Ghanada Samagra (1-3) (ঘনাদা সমগ্র ()) by Premendra Mitra (প্রেমেন্দ্র মিত্র). In those days, I used Flipkart and Infibeam to the fullest. I would come back from college, eat and start reading these books.

My Bengali Books collection has swelled over the years but I mostly have the books in the Fiction genre. My aim is now to collect and read books in the Non-Fiction genre. I also have the aim to read and understand Geetanjali (গীতাঞ্জলি) by Rabindranath Thakur (রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর). If you have any suggestions about the books I should read, feel free to message me.

In the next blog, I would write about how I learnt Marathi.

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Facebook Posts (2010 – 2013)

A few years ago one of my students, Kalyani Bhande, said that I should try to create an Anthology of my Posts on Facebook.

I didn’t take it seriously at that time.

But today I thought that I do a lot of stupid things everyday. Let’s create an Anthology of my stupid FB posts.

And here we are with the first instalment…

Face Book Posts (2010 – 13)

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Left, Right and Centre

People across the world are being characterised as Leftists and Rightists in so many discussions and that also deridingly.

Let us look what a Centrist is so that we can define the Leftist and Rightist accordingly. The Oxford Dictionary puts it as, “A person who holds moderate political views”. That brings us to another question about what moderate is. Oxford Dictionary gives it as, “Make or become less extreme, intense, rigorous, or violent”.

Lets refer the Oxford Dictionary to find the definition of Leftist and Rightist as well. They are,

  • Leftist: A person with left-wing political views.
  • Rightist: A person who supports the political views or policies of the right-wing.

Its still confusing. The definitions have thrown new words, left-wing and right-wing. Lets look into them as well.

Left Wing: The radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system.
  • Radical: Relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something.
  • Reform: Make changes in something, especially an institution or practice, in order to improve it.
  • Socialism: A political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
Right Wing: The conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system.
  • Conservative: Averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values.
  • Reactionary: Opposing political or social progress or reform.

Using these definitions, we can now define the Leftist and Rightist as,

Leftist: A person who is averse to the prevailing traditional system and believes in improving it drastically so that the entire society benefits equally.

Rightist: A person who believes in the existing traditional system and opposes reforms against it.

If you look at you, your friends, your relatives, your neighbours; you will find the Leftist and the Rightist residing in the same person. We want radical changes in certain matters while we want some others to be kept unchanged.

But when we think politically, we conveniently interchange Leftism with Communism and Rightism with Religion. If Oxford Dictionary and the definitions we arrived at are to be believed, these parallels are not only inadequate but quite incorrect as well.

As a political leader (for that matter any other person as well), being at any of the extreme ends can be inconvenient and inappropriate. It would be a distress for the citizens who are not on the same end as him/her.

You may ask what are the drawbacks of both ends. The biggest drawback of both the extreme ends is Extremism and the associated Violence. Both sets of people, the ones who want radical changes and the ones who oppose all sort of changes, do wholeheartedly accept one intense doctrine; the doctrine of using force to make everyone toe their line. Another drawback is that both the systems have been abject failures historically.

Ideally, a political leader should be a centrist. But Physics tells me that Ideal Conditions are always hypothetical. In this case also it won’t be applicable and useful.

So, I believe, a political leader and for that matter any person should be Centre – Leftist.

  • He should uphold the necessary and upright traditional values (not everything is bad).
  • He should have unprejudiced, impartial and logical lookout to different matters in his hand.
  • And lastly he shouldn’t be averse to reforms (Change is the only Constant).
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Why do we have Inefficient Workers?

Whenever we talk about getting a job done, there is always a Mr. X (or Miss / Mrs. X) about whom invariably we say that,

“He is not sincere about his job. He is not going to do it efficiently”.

There is always a negative image about him. It is because; Mr. X has never done a job in his workplace with sincerity. So, we are always worried whenever we have to approach him. Now let’s see what exactly this Mr. X is.

Scene 1: Efforts

At home: He strives hard to make his own family prosperous.
At work: He is irregular because तनख़्वाह ढेले भर की और काम मन भर का!

Scene 2: Finances

At home: He takes utmost care to spend even 100 rupees.
At work: He negligently spends lakhs of rupees incurring a loss because अपने बाप का क्या जाता है!

Scene 3: Urgent Work

At home: Will take all pains and measures to finish it as efficiently as possible.
At work: Will dilly-dally. ऐसी भी क्या जल्दी है.

Scene 4: Extra Work

When work is given: मै क्यों?
At the time of appreciation (when he has done nothing): वो क्यों?

Scene 5: Emergency

At home: He will take all measures to reach the place of emergency as soon as possible.
At work: He will try to avoid the place of emergency. साला रोज़ रोज़ का नाटक है। जब देखो बुला लेते है।

Scene 6: At Lunch Time

Mr X. has some work: साहब इतने दूर से आया हूँ। मेरा काम कर दीजिये। फिर लंच कर लेना।
Someone has work with Mr. X: अभी नहीं हो सकता। तुम्हारे चक्कर में लंच भी ना करूँ। एक घंटे बाद आना।

Scene 7: When in Trouble

When he is in trouble: मेरी कोई गलती नहीं और दुनिया की सबसे बड़ी मुसीबत मुझ पे आयी।
When someone else is in trouble:उसका क्या है! ये तो उसके कर्मों का फल है।

We can go on thinking about various cases where Mr. X behaves differently in the same situation but with reversed roles. If we ponder, we will find out that most of us are very negligent of our duties because we feel it to be just a job which pays to feed and take care of our dear ones. We believe that our colleagues are not our friends but we are stuck with them. The pay is related to the work we do and is too less. Hence we are not required to take extra efforts. Our presence is more important for our family because there is nobody else to take care. At workplace there are so many people to take care of work and even if we don’t do it, somebody else will do it.

As there are so many Mr. X in this society, we find that the work efficiency and the expected prosperity have never been met. If we talk about work, Mr. X will invariably play his “family” trump card. As far as I am concerned, it is not an “Either Or” situation. It is basically maintaining a balance between work and family thereby neglecting none. None of them is inferior. It is just that at certain situations, one takes precedence over the other and that is when you should also give it the due  required extra attention.

Whenever anyone takes a job, he must think how it will affect him if somebody else did it. Taking care of this simple thought can bring involvement and betterment in his work.

Finger crossed for a better society.

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किसका Nation सही?

The nation is abuzz with a debate on what exactly “Nation” is. Each party is putting forward his or her own theory of nation and anybody who doesn’t agree with their definition is labelled with different adjectives. The adjective can be “anti – national” or “intolerant”. One may say that it’s his freedom of expression while other may label it seditious. One may say that it’s how the nation was envisioned by our forefathers while other may say that it is a backward thought which needs modifications.

This debate reminds me of the story of the blind men and the elephant. The concept of the nation is the elephant and we are the blind men. Just as they fought over their limited knowledge, we are doing the same when it comes to our discussion of nation. And as they never understood what an elephant is, we have also failed to understand what the definition of a nation is.

Let’s think about what these people think about nation,

  • A person living off the footpath in a metropolis
  • A village dweller
  • A lower middle class employee
  • A housewife managing a household on meagre resources
  • A student from a underprivileged section of the society

Now, let’s think about what these people think,

  • A billionaire
  • A student in a premium institute
  • An employee in the higher echelon of his department
  • An urban upper middle class

We can also think of different situations apart from these. But what remains constant is the difference in what these people think. Their definition or rather expectations from the nation vary according to their present situation and would generally change if they swap positions with each other. These expectations actually define their idea of a nation and they stand by it whatever the others may think about it.

But if you ask me whether these people are patriotic then I would say that it is ingrained into their DNA and they cannot shy away how much hard they try. That is the beauty of being human. We are divided over everything but when it comes to devotion for our country, we are all the same.

But if all are patriotic then why don’t they have an agreement. Let’s forget about this debate for a while. For some time, let’s make our world very small. Let’s just think about our family. We all want progress, happiness and prosperity in our family but it is seldom found that all in the family have a common agreement over everything. Each one wants to put forward his idea and if he is not allowed to do so, he would say that the other is insensitive or intolerant. But that doesn’t stop us from respecting and loving each other.

In the same way, the constituents of the nation also have their own views and each view much be listened to before labeling them with colourful adjectives. By force we can make others to obey our orders but we can’t make them love us. And love can take a nation forward, toeing the line can’t.

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GOD

GOD

This is the word which is uttered by an average human in all sorts of situation from his birth to death.

(Well I am just using the generic name in English. You are free to use the sound which describes him/her in your language. The content of this blog will still remain the same.)

The very first method which we learn to understand God is religion. Every religion might have different processes of understanding, processes that have been passed on for generations (with modifications by humans as and when required). Few religions have a pantheon while few believe in “the only one”. Whatever be the case, it is agreed upon, across all religions, that God is the supreme power who controls the working of the universe. While the theists believe this power to be a superhuman, atheists question the very veracity of this argument. But nevertheless everyone believes in the existence of a superpower.

I as a young kid always faced the dilemma of choosing between the Gods. For example, I being a Bengali learnt a few things about Goddess Durga. But I was surprised to know that while “our Bengali Durga” rode on a tiger, the ones in Tumsar rode on a Lion! I was confused about this “Vahan duality”. How did Durga manage this change of “Vahans”? Well the plausible answer provided was that she was a Goddess. And, even now, most of the questions related to Gods normally end with this fantastic argument.

During that time, I read in one of the “Anand Marg” moral science books that GOD was an abbreviation for,

Generator

Operator

Destroyer

It seemed a very nice answer. I again asked for the meaning of these words in the context. I was told that God created whatever is present in this universe, controlled how all these creations were to function and then the creations were eventually destroyed. (My uncle had actually three names assigned for each task, Generator – Lord Brahma, Operator – Lord Vishnu and Destroyer – Lord Shiva.)

My understanding of Gods continued to remain in a haze. The more I read, saw, discussed and thought, the more confused I became. At one point of time, I actually became agnostic. I found it a fruitless exercise. But then “Pune” happened in life. The university not only provided me with the best education in Physics but also provided me with people who were ready to discuss on various topics. These discussions might have seemed as arguments and fights to others but we cherished them. Sumeru Gondane (at Yashada, Pune) told me later that the first answers to every question were provided by religion, then philosophy and eventually science.

You are free to choose a method of your own but eventually you are just trying to find answer to the very basic question, “What is the reason that this thing happens like this”. I also went through these discussions to know the answer. Well, it is impossible to have a finite answer to a question having infinite ramifications. But these discussions compounded with the study of Physics and especially Cosmology leads me to believe in a Supreme Power.

We can call it by any name; can give it any form we like but the function of the power is eventually what I read in the Anand Marg book. The researches in all sciences have shown these processes to work in the very same way, Generation → Operation → Destruction → Generation → … The circle continues and points towards a supreme power whose effects we see in our respective microcosms. If you look at these things in the micro to macro regime, you will find an unending symmetry. I think this symmetry prompted Einstein to say that God doesn’t play dice.

We can call this superpower as God, अल्लाह, भगवान, Nature, Singularity, पूर्ण ब्रह्म, Ad Infinitum or whatever you like. Eventually this supreme power is the ultimate truth and whatever is being studied anywhere in this universe is the understanding of the manifestation of this power.

So, even though we cannot tell precisely the exact form or appearance of God but its existence is undisputable.

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Constructive Criticism

निंदक नियरे राखिये, आँगन कुटी छवाय,

बिन पानी, साबुन बिना, निर्मल करे सुभाय।

AV.B = 1

The first is a chaupai by Kabir and the second is the feedback condition for an oscillator (where AV is the amplifier gain and B is the feedback).

Now you must be thinking that what Kabir is doing with an electronics equation. Are they related? Yes, if you look closely, both are pointing towards the same direction.

The oscillator equation says that feedback helps in sustained oscillations. If we have to put in a very simple manner, it says that the output becomes better with feedback. Now, what Kabir is saying? He says that we must keep the critic near to us. The critic helps us to become better.

Criticism is always positive. It depends on the criticized person to decide its constructive or destructive nature. As a thumb rule, most of us love to criticize others and never want to be criticized. Some criticize in front of the victim. Others do it behind their back. This second type is more popularly known as gossip. All of us in one time or the other have resorted to either of the methods.

The second method gives a relayed message to the victim. And as is it true with all relayed messages, information is always lost in translation. The criticism that we get in this manner has always the inputs of the messenger. And it is sometimes difficult to extract the original unmodulated criticism from the modulated message that we receive. It is better not to engage ourselves with gossips. And neither would I in this piece.

But the first type of criticism must be taken seriously. In a face to face discussion not only we listen to the words of the criticizer but also see their body language. Words can be deceptive sometimes but eyes never speak lies. The question is what to do if someone criticizes us on our face. We can resort to a blame game and start pointing out the fallacies of the criticizer. This way we can easily absolve us. But I believe that this is not the correct way. We must remember that there is never smoke without fire. Or we can put it as Einstein said, “nothing is absolute, everything is relative”. So, what we find to be correct may not be correct always. I once read a very beautiful line,

“In every argument, there is my side, your side and the correct side”

Criticism may not always be correct but the positive way is to accept it and do an unbiased introspection of our acts that prompted the criticism in the first place. A relook will always give us different scenarios where the objective can be achieved by avoiding the unwanted. Incorporation of the feedback positively will always result in sustained, constructive and beautiful results. If we fail to do this, it can only be termed as haughtiness on our part. And haughtiness has never yielded constructive results.

So, if we want to become better persons it is wise to follow Kabir.

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Literate: Yes; Educated: ?

Literate or Educated. This sums up the conundrum the youth face today. In Hindi these words are, साक्षर or शिक्षित. So, Literate basically means, one who knows the letters (अक्षर). Whereas Educated means, someone who is in possession of a systematic intellectual, social and moral instruction based on study or experience.

In the first case, the person merely knows what has been taught or rather told to him while in the second case he has to develop a reasoning regarding the situation in hand. It is indeed not possible for a single person to be educated about everything that he comes across every day. But when I look around myself, I find more literates than educated.

Even 20 years ago the literacy percentage of India was dismal. But that does not obviously tell us about their education levels. 20 years hence our literacy percentage has improved but the education levels have not improved much. A large percentage of the Indian population did not have access to schools and colleges 20 years ago. This resulted in the aforementioned dismal literacy levels. But the people then and before them took it upon themselves to develop such skills that helped them in countering the needs of the society.

Now getting admissions and degrees is not that big a problem as before. Educational institutes of all hues and colours are available in the country. This has certainly taken the literacy percentage upwards. But still we see large scale unemployment in the country. People will argue that the large population and the unavailability of jobs are the major factors. Well these factors can surely not be rejected. But jobs here certainly mean the Government sector and the big private companies. If someone cares to find out the attrition rate in major companies, they would find that a sizeable chunk of their employees either leave on their own accord (not only for another company in the same realm but for something altogether different) or they have to be phased out owing to them being a burden to the company (You know what I mean!). And they are supposed to be the best in the country (at least their mark sheets say so!). The attrition in the smaller companies is not recorded but we can safely say that it is even higher.

Now everyone will accept that it is certainly a disturbing trend. I can safely say that I have seldom seen a worthy person not getting his/her due. The question now arises why we are having such a number of unworthy. I would put the same in a different way that they are white – collared mules. They are neither race – horses nor donkeys. These are the people who have studied well for the examinations and excelled in them. But the process has been mostly GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out). A lot of the information they processed was not assimilated. In most cases it is seen that the job in hand is neither their priority nor do they have the aptitude for it.

The question now arises that what should be done to rectify this. The education system in hand has been designed to be an all – inclusive model. It is bound to produce the same goods over and over again. It is the duty of the goods to become finished products. It is okay to flirt. But flirting cannot be the way of life. It has to culminate in a pleasing marriage. One has to develop a base skill either from the regular education model or take outside help. The base skill will help in getting a job where one can use his knowledge to excel. Having a base skill helps as one is always confident and comfortable when he uses that skill. He knows that he would not fail while using it.

But one should not be content with just a base skill. The learning curve should always be raised higher and higher. Firstly, learning is not a bad habit. Secondly, the base skill one has learnt (and not improved upon) might become redundant later. Knowledge is just like the horizon. As you approach it, it continues to shift away. But the quest for the horizon should never stop. There are two basic ways to learn, DIY (Do It Yourself) and reading. Neither of them is a self – sufficient method. The best way is to read first and then DIY.

Reading is becoming obsolete day by day. Moreover reading is becoming more and more need – oriented rather than being learning – oriented. This needs to change. It helps us in knowing about things that we certainly would not have thought, improves our imagination process and helps us to get away from the I am the best syndrome. DIY helps us to explore our limits. Most of us think that a job which we do not do for a living is something which we are not even supposed to do. It is either hi – fi or downmarket. This mindset needs to change. It will help us in our jobs as well outside it.

To sum up, for me education is that knowledge which one would love to gain rather than something which is just an obligation. And the quest for love should only increase throughout the lifetime. It is said that, everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. I strongly believe that if you love something, you are bound to strive to succeed. The love gives you the inner strength to wade upon stormy waters.

किनारों पे खड़े होके, कश्ती कोई तैरा नहीं करती,
पानी के बहाव में ही उसकी असली इम्तेहान होती है,
वो कश्ती ही किनारे लगती है, जिसके पटवार में ज़ोर होता है,
यूँ तो कमज़ोर कश्तियाँ डूब जाती है, रह जाती है पानी के किस्मत में सिर्फ गालियाँ।

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