Words. Wisdom. Winners.
The person who makes ?3 lakhs per year, but only needs ?2 lakhs to be happy, is wealthier than the person who makes ?10 lakhs, but needs ?20 lakhs to be happy.
“Vidur, what’s the best gift mumma and papa have gifted you?”
It was going to be Vidur’s 6th birthday in May.
He rarely behaved so, but this time he wanted a gift.
There was one problem though.
We didn’t have the money.
All of 2016 and 2017 had been a hard time for nearbuy, the startup I was running.
We had burned through a lot of cash, with not much success.
For no fault of theirs, 80 folks had been laid off.
To conserve cash we were also going through a founder pay cut.
With my single income less than our monthly expenses, we had been dipping into our savings for the past year.
I had taken personal loans, maxed credit cards, and was down to 3,000 rupees in my bank account.
I felt like an absolute failure.
I was an absolute failure.
I had let down my employees, my investors, my founders. And now my family.
My 6 year old was requesting for a cycle on his birthday, innocently unaware of our financial reality.
And we couldn’t even afford that.
Ruchi suggested we sell her gold bangles, which will generate enough to buy the cycle and have some surplus.
We said yes.
While Vidur was away at school, we went to buy his cycle.
Brought it all the way up to the living room. And hid it.
When he came back home, we surprised him with it.
He broke down.
I don’t think he expected it.
We broke down as well.
We didn’t expect it either.
We were all crying, him with happiness, Ruchi and me at our state.
Uzma was born. She brought us luck.
By August, Paytm agreed to invest in nearbuy.
By December our income matched our expenses.
As part of a school assignment, Vidur was asked to answer a question. “Vidur, what’s the best gift that mumma and papa have gifted you?”
We expected him to say the cycle. He desperately wanted it.
He replied, “Uzma”.
We all broke down.
He, with gratitude.
We, embarrassed of ourselves.
The only gift that kids ever wanted, that we wanted too as kids, was love, not money.
The only gift we still want is love.
If we don’t get it, we think money will fill the void.
But it doesn’t.
Seek love. Embrace love. Explore love.
I recently saw one of Shah Rukh Khan’s interviews.
He was asked by Anupam Kher in his show, about the secret to his success.
SRK replied: I work very hard.
Anupam Kher said: isn’t that what everyone does?
SRK’s response? “Everyone works hard to get that one chance in life. However, I work as hard as I can after getting that one chance. “
And no one, absolutely no one works as hard as him, on every opportunity he has gotten. This is what makes SRK, SRK!
(Fun fact: SRK even remembers the conversations with journalists, even when they interview him years later. For late night interviews at his place Mannat, he asks every journalist leaving, about how they are going to travel back home. Wow. Just wow.)
Once, a scientist put five monkeys in a cage.
He also put in a ladder, and on the top of the ladder, were some bananas.
One of the five monkeys casually climbs up the ladder and tries to take a banana.
At that moment, the scientist sprays the rest of the monkeys with water.
This scares them and they pull the first monkey down.
After a while, all the five monkeys stop climbing the ladder.
Because as soon as they do, the scientist sprays water on the rest of the monkeys.
Now the scientist interchanges one of the old monkeys from the cage with a new one.
This monkey sees the banana and tries to climb up the ladder.
But as soon as that happens, the rest of the monkeys pull him down, without even the scientist spraying them with water.
This monkey doesn’t know what happens if they take the banana.
He just knows that as soon as he begins to climb the stairs, he gets beaten up.
Piece-by-piece the scientist replaces all of the five monkeys.
Now the cage has five new monkeys.
They have no idea what would happen if they tried to climb the ladders, no idea what happened before them.
But if any one of the five monkeys try to climb the ladder, the rest of them pull it down.
No one knows why.
Except, that this is how things have worked.
Question everything that you do that doesn’t make sense.
The best friendships will be made when NOT seeking friendships.
They will just happen.
It will feel like destiny :)
When we started working from home in the last 2 years, we learnt a few important lessons.
One of which is work is NOT our life.
It is an important part of life.
But that is just it.
Just a part of the whole pie.
I am so grateful to have realised this almost a decade before the pandemic, when I was working from home.
In 2012, while recovering from a hip bone surgery, I had to build a new team and set up new offices for Groupon India.
Vidur was born in 2011, which was the year I started the Groupon India business.
It turns out that surgery in 2012 eventually turned out to be a blessing in disguise where now I got to spend a lot more time with Vidur.
Your work is not your entire life.
Reminder for your entire life :))
He was my best friend growing up.
We used to share everything.
Our toys, our ideas, our moments.
I would beg and cry to spend time with him.
But then we grew up.
And as we did, we became two different people.
He made friends with folks I could not relate to.
But he maintained that he hasn’t changed.
In fact, whenever we used to meet, which had become rarer over time, he would often say “tu badal gaya hai (you have changed)”
I questioned myself.
“Had I really changed?”
“Was I betraying him?”
There were a lot of moments I felt guilty, felt ashamed, felt embarrassed.
A lot of moments when I told myself that he must be right. Maybe I had indeed changed. Maybe I was hurting him.
One day, we were chatting and I was telling him about my IIT preparations.
He listened and then remarked “kya kar lega IIT jaakar? (What will you do even if you go to IIT?)”
And that’s when it hit me.
Yes, I had changed.
I had started to take my life seriously.
While he was still there.
Living in the past.
We drifted apart.
I have lost a lot of friends in my life.
None of them intentionally.
But all of them have a common pattern.
They wanted to continue living in the comfort zone of the past.
While I wanted to shape the future.
And that is when I realize – they weren’t friends all along. They were friends with an image of mine that I knew didn’t exist anymore.
They were friends with an identity that wasn’t mine anymore.
And if I lost them, I am not losing a friend.
I am making friends with a new me.
The biggest sacrifice our parents made was to ensure that our education never suffered, even while they did.
My sister and I went to great schools.
We were never made to feel as if we didn’t have enough.
There were days when Ma and Papa would have just one meal, but our school fees would always go on time.
We are where we are not because we are smart.
We are where we are because Ma and Papa decided they would make it their life purpose to give us the best exposure possible.
Whatever it took. And it took a lot.
Don’t ever say that the world is not ready for what you wish to do.
That the world needs to change, to accommodate you.
Because the one that needs to change is the person in the mirror.
I recently completed 1500 days of meditation (30 minutes everyday).
That’s 4 years without a single day missed!
I meditate at 5am, focusing on my breath and listening to sounds of nature (birds, wind and water).
It has helped me gain immense clarity and awareness into my emotions and actions.
My ability to focus significantly increased.
It revealed me to myself.
It has become a core part of my morning routine, that I intend to continue for as long as I can :)
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