Why I Don’t Agree with “Enjoy the Journey, Not the Destination”

You ask an average adult what they would do if they came upon a windfall gain, call it the lottery, for example, the answers you would get, unsurprisingly, will be very limited – buy a big house, pay off all mortgages, travel the world, get a Porsche 911, buy a helicopter, buy a private jet, etc. 

Travel the world, in my experience, appears on almost 

everyone’s list. Mine too.

The minute I hear a travel plan is in the works, I immediately register the emotions of excitement, anticipation, and happiness. 

Dread doesn’t take long to knock at the door, though. 

No thanks to motion sickness!

For those of you lucky enough not to know what that is, here’s a little google love for you:

“Motion sickness occurs when your brain can’t make sense of information sent from your eyes, ears and body. Lots of motion — in a car, airplane, boat, or even an amusement park ride — can make you feel queasy, clammy or sick to your stomach. Some people vomit. Being carsick, seasick or airsick is motion sickness.”

You can see why it can convert the exciting world of travel to something quite the opposite for people suffering from motion sickness. 

A seemingly harmless road trip in an air-conditioned car can quickly become the ‘Remember-the-night-you-puked-your-lungs-out?’ 

Even an idyllic evening of swinging in the park can make for an awful experience. 

I know some folks who have gotten it much worse than me. But of course, I wouldn’t compare my situation with theirs. Where’s the fun in that? I will compare my case with those of the people who have got it all going for them, i.e., those who don’t have this freaking ailment.

Now, I didn’t know that I had this problem until high school- where one day, on a school trekking trip 2 hours away, revealed to me and to my dear friend sitting next to me the joys of motion sickness. Her shining new shoes and uniform got the worst of it. 

I will spare you the graphic details, but it took me a few months to get back to being able to talk to her again. Puke doesn’t look good on shiny shoes, you know.

After researching a lot and going through many remedies, I have found some that help me combat some of the effects, but my journey still needs constraints. I can not read on my trips, whether by road, sea, train, or plane. All the classics that I thought I would read on my trips somewhere. 

Thankfully, I can listen to music without feeling pukish, which helps with short trips. 

Guess the people who said ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ weren’t wrong. I have realized that the same motion that makes me puke, also easily lulls me into sleep if I let it. 

Lo and behold! My average sleep hours of 8 hours a day immediately increase to 8.067387 hours a day. I tell you, every extra minute of sleep helps. 

You know well what I mean if you are one of those people that specialize in waking up at the last minute every morning.

My love for travel has not diminished, despite the constraints, the journey might bring. My only gripe is with the people that said – enjoy the journey, not the destination.

They surely didn’t suffer from motion sickness.

What’s Your Answer to “What is Happiness?”

Some questions are ubiquitous, aren’t they? You will find them everywhere – on survey forms/emails and feedback sheets in restaurants, hotels, and government buildings… you name it. 

One of those questions is: are you happy?

This is one of those questions whose answers are probably more varied than any other question ever! Everyone has something to say about this. We all have a take on what happiness means. 

Happiness, to me, is an ethereal concept. I don’t think I will ever be able to define it; I doubt I will even try.

I recently finished one of the modern treatises on happiness; I will not name names. The writer was eloquent. 

But I felt like I didn’t get anything tangible out of it. 

Happiness remained as elusive and abstract as it was when I started reading the book. I was not too fond of the feeling of still wanting. 

So, naturally, I turned to my eternally patient friends that bear with my impromptu weekly surveys. I ran a survey to understand what happiness meant to the sorted kind

I got various answers – depressing, philosophical, too philosophical, fun, and positively insane! 

Happiness is money.

Happiness is relationships.

Happiness is a handsome husband that knows how to cook.

Happiness is being excited for every single day of your existence.

Happiness is performance.

There were some great responses there. 

However, when asked what happiness means to him, one of my friends told me this with a straight face:

“Happiness is being able to pee when there is an urgent need.”

This answer is one of the closest I have ever come to understanding happiness. Very clear, concise, tangible – no room for ambiguity. 

My friend unknowingly taught me a crucial lesson that day. Answers to tough questions can be straightforward.

If we let them.

Why Do They Put Washrooms in Such Obscure Places?

Every now and then, I get fed up with eating what I cook. In these instances, I sleepwalk to the closest restaurant, which usually happens to be where I have the entire menu memorized.

As the senses start springing to action one by one – I start preparing myself for an immersive culinary experience. My imagination takes me everywhere – the chef’s table, the sous chef in a frenzy, a scene from the movie Burnt, and even the feast from Harry Potter movies, where with a flick of Dumbledore’s wrist, the dining tables are embellished with all incredible delicacies. 

I am ready to enjoy every morsel of the meal that will soon be put in front of me. I promise myself that this experience will become the best I have ever had regarding mindfulness meditation while eating.

One quick bio break and I will be ready. My waitress is very polite; she quickly gives me instructions on accessing the washroom facilities. 

It could have been the wee drink I had at the beginning, but those instructions sound cryptic to me – take the stairs down, walk 500 meters on the first door that you see to your right, then take the third door that you see to your left. Walk another 200 meters, and then voila, the door you see in front of you is the door to the washroom. It opens with a code – XXXX. 

At least, that’s how it sounded to me. I don’t know whether she said that verbatim, but I felt too embarrassed to ask and confirm. She thanks me and leaves.

“Well, how difficult can it be?” I think to myself.

I confidently brush my ignorance aside and jump at this opportunity to undertake this hero’s journey. I take the stairs down and am faced with a bunch of doors with no markings whatsoever. For the thousandth time, I overestimated my sense of direction, more importantly, my IQ. I use my little understanding of mathematical permutations and combinations, and luckily in 3-4 tries, locate the said washroom.

This, as promised, came with a combination lock. I am trying to remember the combination, of course, so I try the most secure combination known to humankind.

1.2.3.4

Red light flashes, and a very off-putting beep mark my imbecility.

Wait, I should have known better.

0.0.0.0

Yes, and green!

Flashes of Harry Potter flood my imagination AGAIN. The door to the chamber of secrets did lie in the washroom; this one obviously doesn’t have snakes on the faucets, the sink, or the plumbing. I do not know parseltongue, so my hopes aren’t up. I couldn’t locate the chamber of secrets, unfortunately.

I do take the failure in my stride, though.

Next time, I will listen when the waitress tells me the structure of the maze to get to the washroom and take voracious notes.

Next time, I will take my phone with me. There is no way for me to know the True North otherwise.

Next time, I will carry my map and my wand.

OR

And the time after next, I probably will sleepwalk into a restaurant that has their washroom on the same floor, preferably not more than 50 meters away.

Do You Ever Lie in Your Resume?

I was re-watching the famous sitcom Friends the other day, the episode wherein Phoebe attempts to teach Joey French to beef up his resume. 

Not only did he not speak French at all, he did not have any sense of what the French language sounded like. 

Je m’appelle to him was the same as blu-dee-blaa

Given how pathetic he was at it, it was not surprising that the casting agent saw right through the deficiency leading to Joey failing the audition.

Funny as the episode was, I had an eerie, unsettling feeling after watching it, which was immediately replaced by curiosity.

How many resumes out there would be padded like Joey’s? What proportion?

Some fascinating survey results came up as part of my internet search. Reference check companies found that almost 78% of the candidates applying for jobs had either lied in their application process or wouldn’t mind lying on their resume to land a job.

There was quite a spectrum to the lies, too – misrepresenting education, GPA, test scores, level of expertise in a language or a technology, and omitting a particular employer, to name a few.

It’s not easy for my little brain to process abstract concepts, so I made it personal. I assumed the role of such a candidate. I state I know french, but in reality, I am a level zero. 

For convenience, let’s assume the same proficiency level as Joey. Let’s assume, seeing my French experience; I get shortlisted for an interview/audition – which is in two days. 

It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out that it’s near impossible for me at this stage even to pretend that the situation can be salvaged – unless salvation means coming clean at the interview that I don’t actually have that skill.

Interviewer: Hi, I am a bla bla bla bla bla….

Me (wholly distracted, thinking): Oh my god! She is gonna ask me about my French language proficiency.

Interviewer: Tell me about yourself.

Me (thinking, I should come clean! Come clean you idiot, now now now): Hi, I am me. I am sorry, I don’t know any French. Sorry, I missed the question; what was your question again?

That is worse than a dream of being naked in front of a fully packed Wembley stadium. 

R.E.S.P.E.C.T for Joey! He had the balls to spit lies and then follow through with them. Although, his ignorance might have beefed up his courage there. Who knows!? 

In all that random searching and reading, I came across this quote by Stanley J Randall – a Canadian businessman turned politician:

“The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application form.​”

Even the employer ought to know that noone is perfect.

Getting Yanked Out of Sleep in the Middle of a Sweet Dream

There are some days that days and nights merge into one. Although most such days fall on the weekends, some fall on weekdays, the incredibly tiring ones. Ones where the phones would not stop ringing, the client wouldn’t stop complaining, your friends would all bail on you, all your assignments would be due, and the coffee machine has called it quits. You get the gist, right?

Although there is quite a bit wrong with days like that, they have a major silver lining. Sleep, with its arms, stretched out, waits to engulf you in its warm embrace.

You are floating in the dream world, weightless, before your head hits the pillow.

In the dream, your conscience is as clear as it can get. By a significant stroke of luck, you have run into billions- can afford a lavish lifestyle – holiday homes in all your dream destinations, all the shopping you had ever wanted to do. You eat at the best restaurants and have a date with some celebrity every evening. To top it all off, you are getting everything right on Jeopardy. The night just couldn’t get any better.

All your subconscious mind is playing for you is good dreams, a cluster of bliss as if to make up for the horrible day you had. Awww!

You are excited about the next episode of this incredibly awesome life you are living. This one, you hope, is bringing you the Prince Charming, your Knight in shining armor. What better way to sign off, than ride into the sunset with the love of your life for a Happily ever after?

It’s precisely the moment when some @#$%@# roommate draws the curtain in your shared room in the college dorm. 

And then there was light.

“I’ve Been the ‘Employee of the Month’ Twice and I don’t even work there” – John Pinette

I love John Pinette and his brand of comedy- nice, simple, and elegant. It doesn’t hurt that so much of it revolves around food, which I am naturally drawn to, like a moth to a flame.

One comedy sketch of his is just the best – Get out of the line! Highly recommend watching it if you haven’t.

In bashing (in a very endearing style) the slow waiters, baristas, and budget customers, he mentions jumping behind the counters to work the fries just so the queues would move faster. 

“I have been the employee of the month twice, and I don’t even work there,” John Pinette says in his classic, playful manner while the audience guffaws. 

Now, I have been in one of those slow queues, way more than I would like, and every time I take a chance on the neighboring line that seemed to move faster up until the second I jumped to it, it freezes. 

Murphy’s law isn’t a theory, folks. It’s about as real as it gets. For people who don’t know what the Murphy Law is, here it goes:

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

Try any grocery store. Any store in a decent-sized town. 

Mr. Murphy was born to impress.

The image of a customer jumping on to stand behind the counter to serve is too funny AND complex for my little brain to process. A person such as that must really have a fire lit under their behind to be switching their role over from customer to employee. 

Not to mention a streak of control freakishness, some degree of samaritanship, and maybe a little altruism.

A minute ago, they had the easier job – hearing everyone list down everything wrong with the world – society, aging, control freak families, the age of robots, and long queues. A solid camaraderie that will last them a total of 10 minutes and 30 seconds, equalling the time of the wait till their turn. 10.5 minutes of free therapy right there. 

You get your groceries, and the relief from the mini go at the catharsis. Unlike the waiter at the nearby restaurant, they can’t pee in your soup. 

No blowback whatsoever.

And then assuming that there is a world where it’s a real option to jump behind the counter and work the fries, I wonder how many of those complaining activists from back in the queue would have it in them to do that? 

Even if they had the option, would they like to? 

Arleen Lorrance once said – 

“Be the change you want to see happen.”

I have major flaws, including but not limited to switching queues over and over despite uncountable demonstrations of the truth of Murphy’s law. 

But I don’t think you will ever see me complain, nor would you ever see me jump behind the counter and work the fries. I can’t seem to pick a side. 

So naturally, I turn to Henry Powell Spring’s sagacious advice:

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.

Now that the oil is hot might as well work the fries.

People Who Knock With Their Knuckles, How the Hell Do You Do It?

Now and then, I visit a friend or a family member who chooses NOT TO have a knocker on their door, a bell I could ring, or even a security system that showed them my face on their home camera. 

Nope, they won’t have any of it. 

They like and respect the good old knock. I knock at the door and pray they don’t have adolescent kids playing loud heavy metal music at full volume, tailored to drown those knocks out. 

Sometimes, luck is in my favor, and I do get in. Other times, I stand outside their door and call them on their mobile, announcing my royal arrival in a befitting non-royal tone.

My imagination has also taken me to a world where doors exist, but knocks don’t. So you… enter. 

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” comes to mind. 

Well, I don’t want that done unto me. Ancient Athenians must have valued their privacy too, I suppose, for otherwise, they wouldn’t have come up with such an ingenious way to transform the world of respectful arrival announcements.

I assure you, I am not trying to be fussy here. I have tried. Tried and failed (might I add, miserably) – at the subtle art of whistling, snapping fingers, and knocking. 

What I haven’t done as bad at was identifying the root cause; almost all of them have to do with expert use of fingers, or some part of it, to some degree. 

So it must be my fingers. 

A kid in kindergarten would probably do a snap-finger routine much better than I do. 

Whistling has always evaded me AND haunted me. For some reason, I am surrounded by expert whistlers, taunting me every opportunity they get. 

Knocking should come more naturally than those two, you say? Well, not to me. And I have microfractures to show them.

I have tried many styles of knocking: palm facing the door, palm facing me, fingers bent, fingers straight, but none of them generate enough sound to get the attention even of the person standing next to me, let alone the person who’s in.

It’s as if my fingers are layered with some additional silencer skin. 

But there is one good thing about me; I am lazy. So, naturally, I am good at finding shortcuts. 

I now have a variety of ways to do the knocking – and the means I use depend on my mood at the time, on a scale of complete frustration to fulsome zen. 

The means to get the resident’s attention would range from a scream outside the door, “Hey, it’s me, open up, where the hell are you!?” to “ using the key ring to rhythmically tap on the door to a song I like, followed by a complement of some heavy bass fist bangs. I have noticed that the latter approach, i.e., the fulsome zen works better for me.

I am yet to find someone who suffers the same way I do. Misery loves company. It’s unbearable to think I am the only one with this condition. I wish to find at least one person like me one day. 

It’s going to be a thing of history when that happens. 

Guess what the first thing I would do when I find out where their humble abode is?

Knock knock.

Want to Witness True Happiness? Go to an Airport

I am a huge fan of the movie Love Actually. It’s my Christmas season staple. I watch it at least once a year, and subconsciously, my screening criteria for the inner circle of close friends is them having the same level, if not more, admiration for the movie. 

So naturally, I carry it everywhere with me in my head. If you haven’t seen it, you are missing out on a lighthearted ode to love.

the official poster of the movie LOVE ACTUALLY

There is a scene in the movie where the British prime minister, played by the charismatic Hugh Grant, remarks, “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere”.

It made me think.

Curiously, I do find that true. And this isn’t specific to Heathrow either. I am no world traveler, but the airports I have had the pleasure to visit, fortunately, painted the same picture.

I had gone off to pick up a relative at the local airport a few months back when I witnessed the same thing.

This airport, being a reasonably small one, allows people to receive guests inside the airport. Visuals of family reunions are heartwarming, even when they are of strangers.

I happened to notice an older woman with a young German Shepherd, leaning by a nearby telephone pillar, with the dog on a tight leash and eyes glued to the escalators taking travelers down to the Arrivals area.

The flight may have been delayed, because the woman was there before I found the nearest bench to sit on. Every 10 minutes or so, she and the dog would go out for a five minute walk, and then come back to the same spot and adopt the same posture.

Twenty minutes into this, I realized another member was in her party—a very young girl who looked like her grandkid. The girl was doing the same thing. Hiding behind another pillar, with her head sticking out, eyes glued at the same spot as her granny’ scanning for a sign of somebody.

It was apparent they were eager to meet this person. There was a lot of love and excitement in that wait. It was contagious. Definitely to the dog, because he, also from time to time, hid behind the woman to not blow her cover. Unsurprisingly though, he was the most distracted of all three.

There was an announcement of flight arrival, and they all became extra cautious, regaining their earlier postures—woman on one corner and grandkid on another.

Suddenly the girl and woman made eye contact, and the girl mouthed something the woman seemed to have lipread because she immediately hid behind the pillar completely, with the dog in tow. The girl must have spotted the person they were receiving. That anticipation lured me in, and I followed the girl’s movement with my eyes. 

The mystery is going to be revealed soon enough, I told myself. 

The girl now seemed to be tiptoeing behind a tall elderly gentleman and, without a moment’s notice, hugged him from behind. The gentleman had barely handed over a giant soft toy to the girl when the older woman and the dog made their way to this man. All three hugged like a family while the dog took turns jumping at all three or pulling at their coats. It was a sweet reunion. 

Heartwarming! 

At that moment, I forgot all I had heard in the news that day; the world was alive and well- a big happy family. The moment reminded me of all the goodness out there in the world. And also that the flight my relative was in had just landed.

Why My Gym and I Don’t Like Each Other

 “When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.” – Yogi Berra

Pizza, they rightly say, is a slice of heaven. And I have been known to indulge when it comes to that. And I think I have figured out why that is.

Pizza is everywhere. Everywhere I go and think of going, pizza is waiting for an opportunity to pounce on me. If I did not know any better, I would say it is stalking me. But I think I know better.

Like everyone else, the gift of staying confined for the pandemic came bearing ‘gifts’ – of online orders and expedited food delivery.

And also twenty pounds of unwanted weight.

All that pizza weight is starting to show everywhere. The pile of clothes that no longer fit is a shameful reminder that ‘I let myself go’.

A quick scan of bank statements revealed that a shopping spree for replacing clothes is not on the cards. I would have to go for the second best, albeit the dreaded option.

A gym.

I enrolled for a gym membership, hoping to God I become a regular there.

Why prayers?

Because I know I will probably make it there for two days, once in the excitement of the first day and the second to renew the membership.

Although the company of health nuts is invigorating initially, it goes downhill pretty quickly. This is considering how soon I usually realize my ignorance in sustaining the conversation and, after some point, even understanding it.

While the former makes me look disinterested, the latter makes me look completely dumb. Neither of these is ideal, considering the end game.

I summoned all my willpower and directed it to become a regular gym attendant. I can do it, I tell myself. I am so pumped that I even play Eye of the Tiger on my earphones while walking to the gym. 

I use all the excellent self-improvement tips that I have learned over the years and create a plan with four major guiding principles : 

1) Start small.

2) Take it one step at a time.

3) Avoid distractions.

4) Reward yourself.

It worked out well for the first week. I managed to spend at least 30 minutes in the gym every day for the week. I avoided guilt and consciousness by choosing a time when barely anyone would be there.

Frankly, it irks me to see people who can keep running on the treadmill for hours without breaking a sweat. I don’t want Jason Bournes or James Bonds training in my gym. They are bad for my self-esteem. I hate them, mostly because I manage to be breathless on the treadmill in less than three minutes.

With this non-existent level of fitness that I began with, I am in awe of myself, completing the first week. I found that especially impressive, given that the shortest route to the gym has a pizza shop.

Okay, I made good on the first three guiding principles; now it’s time for the reward.

It’s day 8, a cheat day, and I can eat whatever I want today.

Any guess on what my cheat meal is going to be?

What Happens When You Say that “Gray” is Your Favorite Color?

“What’s your favorite color?”

This is probably one of the most commonly-asked questions on the planet. Thanks to its simplicity and sophistication, it finds a way to get into the lives of toddlers, teens, and adults alike.

I distinctly remember being asked this question in my school admission test for Grade 1. So the examiner picks up a piece of paper with small squares painted in different colors and keeps it in front of me.

How many colors can you name, sweetie?

Weeks of rote memorization came in handy (my tireless Mom had a huge role to play in that).

Impressed, probably more by my enthusiasm than my answer, she gave me a sweet smile and asked me the following question:

Can you point to your favorite?

I didn’t know what favorite meant, but I knew what ‘point’ did. I picked the very first color square. It was black.

The teacher probably had not seen many children picking black as their favorite color, going by the expression on her face. 

On the walk home, I asked my mum what ‘favorite’ meant. 

Something that you like the most, she said.

I now knew the word’s meaning, but I realized I still didn’t know the answer. I liked red, yellow, green, pink and blue. I did not have any favorites. Black, I guess, was a better answer than an utter and complete freeze.

As I grew up, I noticed that it became easier to pick favorites, and I liked probably every color in the spectrum at some point in my life.

However, the best entertainment I have gotten out of a choice of favorite color has only come in adulthood, especially when I mention, “Favorite? Oh yeah, gray’s my favorite color”.

The best part about that answer is that the follow-ups don’t last long.

Gray has been a certified conversation killer, at least in the experiences that I have had. I only assume that’s because it’s difficult for people to fathom how it can be anyone’s favorite color when it is usually (mis)understood to stand for everything dull.

My reasons are more utility than choice. 

Sure, I would choose white if it weren’t for my being a massive klutz. I think wearing a white shirt to work is one sure-shot way to make my day stressful. My shirt or dress would stay white for precisely 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Wine glasses, orange juices, and plates of freshly baked quiches have a special affinity to anything white. No matter how elegant the color is, it can not be mine—too high maintenance for poor ol’ me.

I tried going with black for a while, with its magical powers to make me look thin. But I realized soon enough although it saved me from orange juice and the Californian red wine (to an extent), it also signaled to the mosquitoes of the world that I was available as their feeding ground. Also, black and a head full of dandruff don’t go together. 

You know from all the anti-dandruff shampoo ads out there, even if you are lucky enough not to have any.

Gray conveniently came to the rescue- with its capability to combine the best( and worst) of both- to a dulling degree. Guess you can call it boring. 

I kid you not; there are color tests for personality profiling. 

Which color are you? They ask.