Harmony Beach Park – Montego Bay

In May 2021 the 16-acre Harmony Beach Park was opened to public in Montego Bay Jamaica. It was built at a cost of 1.3 billion dollars. It is a flagship project by the Urban Development Corporation. It was opened by the Prime Minister, Most Hon. Andrew Holness. Harmony Beach Park is located along Howard Cooke Boulevard and entry is free for all. I visited the park in July, the wide-open green space, the shady trees, the cool breeze, the clear blue waters and the clean beach was very, very beautiful.

There is a trail built for anyone who would like to jog in the park and this jogging trail is made of special recycled rubber. The beach at the park is a big plus. The early morning view and sun sets are great.

There are good rest rooms also and locker facility for visitors to store their belongings. The best thing is that there are enough of security personnel and I know am safe. No vendors are allowed into the park. I saw some new shops also constructed but they are not yet let out. I guess soon the shops will also open.

There is a special play area for children and a basketball court also. I have been to the park a few times to take either an early morning walk or an evening walk and it was very relaxing. The Park is well lit in the evening and during the day there are lots of trees that provide shade from the heat. Due to the pandemic, I could not visit the park as often as I would like to.

In Our Next Birth

The Bhagwat Gita explains that every being that takes birth eventually goes through the doors of death to be reborn again in a new body. The body is perishable but the soul isn’t, it changes from one body to another as it passes through the cycle of life and death just as a person change from his old clothes to new clothes. But what the Gita doesn’t explain is where exactly will the rebirth be and in what form will we be reborn again. This last line brings us to our topic today.

Even thought reincarnation is a concept that is specific to Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, imagine if every person in this world believed in this concept. I am not recommending that everyone should but just contemplating what the world would be like if everyone believed.

A person born in his present life with all comforts could be reborn in any war torn or poverty ridden country, terrorism ravaged country or a place oppressed by a dictatorial regime. If we are gifted with a human birth in this life, the next one could be that of a stray animal or scavenger, bird or as some endangered species. What if we are reborn as a chicken in a claustrophobic cage waiting in a butcher’s shop watching each and every fellow bird butchered.

Is it enough to take comfort in the fact that we have air that is still not too bad to breath, water to drink and the temperature is bearable? What if we are reborn into that time in the future where climate change has gone to the extreme and the changes are irreversible and survival itself is the greatest achievement. Wouldn’t we take better care of our planet if we are certain that today’s grandfather could be tomorrow’s grandchild in another vulnerable part of the world?

 Selfish and opportunistic politicians take advantage of international disputes and supply weapons to the war fearing nations rather than trying to maintain peace. Greed dictates every decision. Occupying territories that don’t belong to them, starting trade wars, pushing countries into the throes of poverty in the name of developmental projects or devious money lending schemes and the worst of all terrorism, chemical warfare and biological wars all of them are crafts of the trade. We even have dictatorial regimes that prey on their own population and suffocate their basic rights. What if the oppressors are reborn as the oppressed? Can they handle the misery that they themselves created?

Disregard and disdain for that which is inappropriate, unfair and immoral just because it doesn’t affect us directly in this birth could spell doom for us in our next birth. If every one understood this fully well and worked to achieve peace and harmony, we can create a better world.

Today if we take delight in racism, religious discrimination, religious intolerance, what if in the next birth we are born into that same religion we abhor or the same race that we tried to trample or born into that same hatred that we created?

If everyone believed in reincarnation, it’s not difficult see what kind of a world we are creating for our rebirth. We are sowing the seeds for the harvest we going to reap in our next birth. If knowledge was used not to create more misery but instead to save and improve lives for everyone, we will be creating heaven on earth for our next birth.

Do I Have The Right To Complain

In our world, there is an abundance of love and a multitude of hate.
I have not seen extreme hatred but, I have also not felt a loving embrace.
Do I complain about the lack of love, or should I feel great for the absence of hate?

I have a family that is overprotective to the point of suffocation,
I know they will not leave me alone to take the fall, but I do not get to try something new and adventurous.
Do I complain about being held back from flying, or should I feel safe that I will never fall?

There is an ocean of opportunities for the talented and the educated.
When my job does not appreciate my talent, and I can only get this mediocre job,
Do I complain about my talent that goes waste, or should I be thankful to even have a job that pays?

I have the drive and desire to succeed.
I lack the guidance and wisdom needed to move ahead and succeed.
Do I complain about the absence of guiding light or succumb to the desire to succeed by any means?

I have my life planned out for me and well-wishers who will arm-twist all my hurdles.
I am standing at the top of the podium getting applause for a victory that I did not win,
Do I complain that I did not get to work my way towards a victory, or should I just stand and soak in all the ill-gotten success?

Weekend Adventure With A Rat

This weekend started like every other weekend. On Friday evening, I caught up with all the news and relaxed on my bed. One news article was playing on my mind. Due to recent weather changes in Australia, they have seen an unprecedented wave of mice infestation. The news article showed images of teams of mice running helter-skelter in barns and fields. Frankly, it scared the daylights outta me. I was taken back to my childhood when I encountered a small rat at school, and in its attempt to escape the room, the rat ran up my teacher’s leg. The incident took place in our music class, it was filled with different kinds of instruments, and the whole scene was complete pandemonium with 20 children, a teacher and a rat running around.

I went to sleep with these thoughts and woke up early the next day to see my nightmare realised. As soon as we opened the backyard door, a small rat ran into our house to escape the rain. As soon as we saw it run into the house, the chaos began. My maid, mother and I were jumping up and down, trying to escape the path of the rat and, hopefully, scare it away. But the rat was here to stay and hid behind the shelves. We needed a game plan to tackle the rat, and we needed it quickly.

Firstly we closed all the other rooms in the house to contain the rat in one place. Since it still was early in the morning, we could not run to the store to get a rat trap or those sticky pads. We each took a broom and started to scour each room to scare it and corner it. After half a day of frantic searching and running around, we managed to herd the rat into the balcony of our bedroom and forced it down the rainwater drain. We immediately blocked the drainpipe to make sure it did not come back up again. Finally, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief. We ended up tired, dusty, and hungry, but the house was once again rat-free.

Though we are drained out, the rat forced us to reorganise the house and remove all waste and useless stuff that was lying around. We did a quick cleanup under all the beds, corners, shelves etc. We did this to ensure that there were no hiding places for these cretins anymore. What should have been a relaxing weekend turned into a home cleaning mission all because of a rat.

How Effective Is Cancelling A Person?

Cancel culture is the latest buzzword nowadays. It is a way to call our small and big celebrities on their behaviour, views, misdeeds etc. Recently, we have seen several famous people who were cancelled for various reasons like their past tweets, behaviour, views and opinions etc. I became aware of this cancellation culture during the very public dispute between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. While Johnny Depp was dropped from major movie franchises, many were calling for the cancellation of Amber Heard. This was when I became aware of the act of cancelling celebrities and what it entails.

Many famous stars and public figures were cancelled in the past years, for example, actors Lea Michele, Chris Pratt, Ellen DeGeneres, Shia LeBeouf, author J K Rowling, Piers Morgan from Good Morning Britain, YouTubers Jeffree Starr, Shane Dawson, James Charles, David Dobrik and his vlog squad, musicians like Marilyn Manson, Lil Nas X, and many more.

Before I start telling you about my grouse with this cancel culture, I would like to explicitly state that I do not condone the wrong deeds of any of these celebrities, YouTubers, musicians etc. Many of them deserve harsher punishments for their actions. In fact, I am happy to see some of these famous personalities get their comeuppance.

Having made that clear, I also want to question what we aim to achieve by cancelling them. Some of the people listed above have done real-world damage, for which they should be legally prosecuted in court. Whether it be bullying, slandering others image, perjury, harassment, endangering other lives, harassing minors etc. When one has done such heinous acts, is cancelling them an apt punishment. Do they not deserve a stricter legal binding punishment? 

All these people who were cancelled were public figures, celebrities that thrive on publicity and staying in the public eye. So it makes sense to cancel them and cut off the celebrity worship that they enjoy so much. It is like cutting off oxygen for some of them, yet we also have people who thrive on negative publicity. People like James Charles and Jeffree Starr have made an art out of issuing apologies every time they are caught and continuing with their degenerate behaviour. People like Piers Morgan and JK Rowling do not care for their cancellation. They continue on with life as if nothing happened.

So that brings us back to the very pertinent question of, ‘How effective is cancel culture?’

It Is Time To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Often in life, we all reach a point where we are unhappy with the way things are going, yet we are unwilling to try something new. We feel that the known devil is better than an unknown angel. We might have faced many struggles before yet, we find it daunting to work our way out of this predicament. We pacify ourselves that the difficulties don’t outweigh the rewards yet. These are all classic symptoms of getting stuck in a comfort zone.

This comfort zone might be in our relationships, workplace, the projects we choose or life in general. On whichever front, it is just as detrimental to a person to stick to their comfort zone. It forces us to settle for less than the best. Even though we know we can be better and achieve more by taking a risk, it does not matter. Our fear of taking a chance just dulls our senses and distorts our objectivity. Comfort zones are like quicksands that appear harmless until they have pulled us in and we are stuck too deep to fight it.

Our fear to try something new, the inertia to change, the pessimistic attitude towards risk, and so on can hurt us on many levels. They are not just hurting us emotionally and financially but also psychologically. Many people waste their life stuck in the same relationship or job because they are scared to spread their wings.

As with all my posts, this one is also inspired by personal experience. Earlier, in my job, I was so comfortable in my own misery that I stopped seeing it as hell. I made excuses for bad managers, horrible hours of work and less pay. I perceived them to be industry standards. I felt enjoyable work is a myth, and everybody hates their job, so I would just suck it up and carry on.

I have since changed my job and even changed professions. I do not claim that life is better. Yet, I remember why I took the decision to change and that it was a valid concern. So as long as I know that my reason to change, I will not regret jumping out of my comfort zone.

There is no easy way to get out of this. One just needs to find the determination to change. The best way to fight your comfort zone is to keep pushing and challenging yourself. Having a loyal support group to help you change can be a big help.

At the same time, never forget why you have decided to change. As long as the reason is valid, we will always find the strength to keep fighting. Sometimes an honest and rude shock from reality can also wake us up. There are many ways to help you recognise the trap of comfort zones. We just need to be willing to take a step ahead.

Wise Words Are Like Pure Gold

In an earlier post, I had introduced you to the poems of Yogi Vemana. This 17th-century ascetic had written extensively on morality, ethics, human pathos and spread this wisdom through verses known as Vemana Satakam or Vemana Padhyalu.

The current verse is another pearl of wisdom from him:
Alpudepudu palkunadambaramuganu
sajjanundu balku callaganu
kancumroginatlu kanakambu mroguna
visvadabhirama vinura Vema !

In this verse, Vemana talks about how an unintelligent person can fool others with his loud voice and grand plans. His words are extravagant, but they hold little water. However, a wise man speaks softly, without any drama. His words are few, yet the meaning and impact are profound.

He compares the words of an unwise speaker to a brass pot that makes a lot of noise when disturbed. At the same time, pure gold may appear similar to brass, but it makes no noise.

Mother – A Wondrous Angel

We recently celebrated Mothers Day on May 9th. I wanted to do something special for my mother on that day. Since we could not take her out for dinner or get her any gifts due to the Covid 19 situation, I thought I will give her a break and handle her workload for the day. I thought that was equivalent to a day off at a resort if she does not have to cook and clean all day. I was in for a surprise.

All through the day, my mother kept interfering with my work. She was not able to relax and enjoy her holiday. My mom was constantly following me around the house as I worked. She was not relaxing in front of the TV or pursuing any of her hobbies. I thought that she might be worried that I am not doing a good job.

When I asked her what she would like to eat, my mom listed stuff that dad or I enjoy eating. She would insist on cooking it herself as a thank you for doing the housework. I was confused and told her that this was her mothers day gift. She should not thank me for it. My mother and I ended up arguing about her reason for not relaxing and enjoying the holiday.

By the end of the day, I realized that the whole idea was causing damage rather than being a gift. I sat her down and asked her what her problem was. I see that she could not relax even for a day and would interfere at every step. I gently prodded to see if she did not appreciate the gift. The answer she gave me was an insight into how a mother thinks.

She said she did not want a holiday from the housework though she appears to complain about it. She said that she complains so that we would work along with her. She felt she has a connection and communication line with us while we do the work. She was following me around the house and interfering in the work, only to start a conversation with me. She had no particular favourites in her mind because all the foods that we, her children, love bring back memories of us as kids. Every time she cooked my favourite dish, she reminisced on an incident where I was happy. That made her happy.

A mother doesn’t want a holiday from her responsibilities. She just wants her children to connect back with her in a way we did when we were young. She wants to feel relevant in our lives, especially now that we have become independent. Knowing this, I asked her for a redo of the gift. I promised to help her in the kitchen whenever I can. That way, she can teach me recipes I already know. I would help her clean the house, and she can teach me the importance of cleanliness all over again. This would be the best gift I could think of.

Respond, Don’t React

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
-Wayne Dyer

I read this quote of Wayne Dyer, an American author and motivational speaker. Initially, it seems like a simple statement about life in general. It, in fact, reminded me of another management lesson of how we should always respond and not react.

Both these quotes convey the same lesson, i.e., we should watch how we behave while responding to what is done to us. We should observe if our reaction is a knee jerk response to everything or if we understand the situation and reply accordingly. Many times, it leads to either resolving conflict or aggravating a simple misunderstanding into an all-out war.

Coming back to Wayne Dyer’s quote, when we are in a situation, there are several ways to handle them. Some are knee jerk responses, while some are strategic moves planned to build a brighter future. Some may be conniving schemes that create destruction. The situation we land in may not be our karma or our destiny. However, our response to this unforeseen situation will create our karma. If we handle it gracefully and peacefully, we build good karma. By taking out our anger and seeking revenge, we only create bad karma.

To better explain it, I will narrate a small anecdote. It occurred many years ago, but it highlighted this quote.

One day, my friend and I entered the bank and met an old acquaintance. This lady lived in our neighbourhood previously, and she was notorious for her unhinged rants at passers-by. I saw the same lady verbally abusing another person. This person was thoroughly embarrassed in front of all the bank employees and customers, so she ran out crying as we all watched in shock. Now the lady saw me and started abusing me. She recognised my friend and spoke ill of me to her. But I ignored her as if I had no recollection of her. As a result, I did not react to her abuses, turning my head and going about my business. My friend acknowledged her, and while calmy speaking to her, she led the lady out of the bank. Once the lady went out, everything went back to normal. Everyone in the bank praised my friend for handling the situation. They appreciated me for not fighting back.

The lady created a situation where three different people were embarrassed. We each responded differently. The first person reacted emotionally and ran out. I ignored her and carried on with my work. My friend intervened intelligently by removing her from the bank and stopping any further conflict. The lady’s behaviour was her own karma, but each of us created our own karma while we handled the situation. Thereby, one ended up in tears, and another (my friend) ended up as the hero. Isn’t this thought-provoking?

Nothing Comes Easy

‘I wish this topic was easier’, ‘why do these exams have to be this difficult’, ‘why can’t all my problems just vanish away like the fairy tales’ and so on. Every one of us has complained like this at some point in our life. We all crave a smooth road with no bumps, blind turns or speed breaks. Such a turn of events is an impossibility, yet we dream of it. We even pray for it to come true.

Imagine, if life suddenly removed all obstacles in your path and it became a smooth ride for us, would we be able to enjoy it? This very thought made me think, and I had a fun discussion with my family about this.

If life suddenly became easy, I would not trust it for quite some time. I strongly believe in the saying, ‘if everything is coming your way, you are probably in the wrong lane’. I would be suspicious of everything that happened. I cannot enjoy something that I have not worked for because I have a constant fear that it will be snatched from me.

My mother said that if it happened to her, she would enjoy life for a little while. Finally, life would be an easy path after a lifetime of difficult decisions. Eventually, she would lose her sleep if she did not have anything to worry about or any crisis to resolve.

My sister said she would grab it with both hands and run. Considering how hectic her life is, I was not surprised by her answer. She did not believe in staring a gift horse in its face. She spends her day running around her two sons, so she waits eagerly for a slow day.

When I asked dad about his reaction to such a situation, he said it is impossible to get a smooth road. He would not bother to waste a thought on it.

My niece felt that if all obstacles were eliminated, there would be no learning. Since she is young, she believed that she would miss out on the experience and the fun in dealing with tricky situations.

Based on all these reactions, I can only conclude that most of us will not really be happy if life removed all the obstacles in our path. Complaining about our problems is a fun process in itself. We just wish life would go easy on stacking up problems all at once.

Time Flies

During the teens, you can’t wait to spread out your wings and have a test flight.

The twenties lets you travel far and wide to explore this wonderous world and meet your match, who makes your heart flutter.

The thirties bring responsibilities; you have a nest and, “the early bird gets the worm” is your mantra.

The forties are for keeping a hawk-eye on things and saving up for the long and cold winter ahead.

In your fifties, you are tired of flying around. You want to rest a bit and crave a second chance to admire what you missed in a hurry.

The Sixties is when you want to return back to the nest.

The seventies makes you crave for your nest to be as filled and be noisy as it was during the thirties.

The eighties are like a bitterly cold winter storm that drags on and on, and you just can’t wait to get over with it.

The nineties are about silently staring at others going through the same thing that you did all along.

When you hit a century, it’s a celebration for everyone around you but you.

I Did It My Way

As a part of his vast repertoire of music, Frank Sinatra sang the song My Way. It was written by Paul Anka. I love this song of his. Though I love the song, I never really paid attention to the lyrics until the other day. Earlier I always felt the song was about a person celebrating his successful life and the journey. As I listened to it, I recognised something about it. The person is not only celebrating his success, but he is also taking full responsibility for all his decisions and actions. That part struck a chord with me. How many of us can truly take responsibility for our choices?

It is a common complaint we hear among youth that they have no control over their life. They say that all decisions are made for them, either by others or by situations. I agree that in many of the cases, it is true. We are often under obligation to choose a path, or we are forced by societal norms to be a certain way or coerced by family emotionally to adhere to rules. It would seem that we hardly had a say in the decision.

An old saying comes to mind when I think of such situations, ‘We can take a horse to the water, but we cannot make it drink the water’. Same way as we can be forced to choose a particular path, but no one can make us walk it unless we want to. So, when we walk down a road in life, we have to remember that at some point, we consciously choose this path too. We have decided on this course of action, either due to lack of a better choice or lack of will to resist. We realised the benefits of this decision. We may disagree with the decision, but we have accepted the decision.

I would like to add a disclaimer here that I am not blaming anyone here. I do not intend to put the guilt on your shoulder and absolve everyone else. My intension is to remind us that we decided to follow the path based on logic and reasoning. We have chosen to sacrifice something to gain something else. There was a rationale behind our choice. We made that choice because this option outweighed the others. As long as we remember this rationale and reasoning, we should not doubt our decisions. We should take responsibility for it.

Whether our decisions lead to failure or success or took us on an uncharted path, we can only find peace and happiness when we remember our reasoning and rationale behind that decision. As long as we blame others for influencing us and forcing their decisions on us, we can never see the beauty and adventure in our journey of life. More importantly, as long as we remember the reason for a decision, we can be proud of what we stood up for and what we sacrificed to get to this position in life.