Most people wish they had a great boss. Who is a good boss? Is it someone who is on your side, won’t you down, will help you rise, will give you holidays without questioning, will tell you it’s alright if you haven’t met your deadline by giving a smile. But what happens when you are your own boss. I have been free-lancing as a musician and a graphic-designer for a long while now and the only person who I am answerable to is ME.
It sounds like a cruise ship holiday sometimes, but it’s actually quite scary. Every day I have to wake up facing myself. It’s true that I don’t need to make lame excuses like …..I was stuck in traffic jam, or I was helping my old neighbours to the hospital if I get late for work. I don’t have to wait for my boss to leave office before I leave. See the deal is I can never be late for work, and there is no question of leaving office because my work can go on through the night. And if I don’t finish it there is no one to blame but me. No boss who will yell at me, but a boss who without yelling at me will make me feel and realize that I suck.
I don’t have to ask anyone if I need to take a holiday. It’s awesome if I chose, right now, today this very moment I can decide it’s a holiday. But wait I cannot do that…..if I leave I don’t get paid, and if I don’t get paid I can’t pay my bills. See it’s a perfect situation where I have endless holidays which I can’t really use. And when I am on vacation I am never really on vacation. I am always, working, because I cannot say no to a project when it comes.
And if I screw up I have no one to blame. I have only me staring back at me, telling me what an idiot I am.
But there are some things that are awesome, like if I am sleepy I don’t need to pretend to sleep with my eyes open trying to stare intelligently at a piece of paper, all the while trying to balance my head and everything else. I am sleepy I can take a power nap right there. And my boss doesn’t yell if I drink a beer at work. I don’t need to step out to smoke. And I don’t need to deal with collegues who are trying to suck up to the boss by putting me down. And I can chat on facebook without having to hide it. It’s pretty cool that way.
But this damn! boss, this stupid woman hasn’t given me a proper day off from work for the past 16 years. I can kill her, she works me like a dog, she buys me beer and think she can get away with it. But oh! how I hate her, when my friends take yearly vacations I can never go with them. Even if I want to take a day off, she reminds me of ‘responsibility’ , duty and work and then if I cry too much she say “Do what you want to, you don’t work you don’t get paid”. Yes I’ll never get fired from my job , but she can keep me without paying me. It’s as simple as that.
There should be a law banning homework. Seriously it’s like schools send work back to somehow torment and torture the parents further. It’s some sort of perverse pleasure they get. And this is after the poor parents are burdened with school fees that could fund a NASA project.
Now I don’t have kids of my own, but thanks to my niece and nephew I have not been able to escape every parent’s nightmare HOMEWORK.
When I reach home in the evening, what greets me is a battle field. School books strewn around, pencils everywhere, sleepy yawning dis-interested kids trying to listen to their mum ,( who is looking so distraught I am tempted to offer her rum). My sister-in-law informs me, that she has had a peg already how else is she supposed to survive this trauma. It’s like battered soldiers walking around, there is cannon ball smoke everywhere.
So I offer to help with my niece’s homework, but I realize it was a bad mistake.
1. Write 10 few things on communication and draw it. (How arbid is that, ten what things….that doesn’t make any sense.)
2. Print out a picture of Greek costumes….
3. Make a model of a train and submit it tomorrow.
4. Finish 4 pages in the Maths book.
In this day and age when the environment needs to be saved I cannot understand why people need print outs. Shouldn’t school be against wasting paper and electricity. What is the idea behind printing pictures kids can just see?
The printer is out of ink, Damn! I tell my niece she doesn’t need to submit this homework. Her eyes swell up with tears….’But Ma’am will scold me’
“But the earth needs to be saved tell Ma’am”
Her eyes melt me, I’ll just have save the earth later. But the fact is the printer is till out of ink. And it’s late to go to a shop and print it. I come up with a brilliant idea I ‘ll draw it for you. She looks at me horrified, I remind her I make comic books I can draw she finally agrees. So I start copying Greek costumes from the net. My niece tells me her favourite program is on TV now, she’ll go watch it while I draw.
“But you need to do Math”, I remind her.
“I cannot do it unless someone helps me”. I turn to see me sister-in-law struggle with my nephew and his HIndi homework. My brother hasn’t even returned from work.
“Ok go watch I’ll finish this and help you with Math later”. After 30 minutes of trying to draw costumes, we start working….no I start working on transport and communication.
“Read it from your text book” I order. My niece shows me the teachers note that says learn to look up facts from the net. This is what kids of this generation learn facts from the net. After a couple of years education will be restricted to just googling. My niece is just 8 she doesn’t know what to read and what to write..so I rush to help her while trying to cut a hard paper to make a train.
I mean is it school or craft class. While I multi-task cutting paper and figuring out facts about transport my niece springs off to drink water, then she is hungry so she needs to eat. I am still trying to gather facts and draw and cut paper. I realize its 9 already. The child is ready to sleep, but wait there is 4 pages of Math. But try making a sleeping child do Math. You might as well try to push a bison uphill, it might be simpler.
But homework is homework it has to be done. I sit with a pencil try and scrawl out answers in what should look like a child’s handwriting. Except I have no idea what fractions and common denominters are anymore. I mean come on I learnt this 5000 years back. How am I supposed to know all this now. It’s like trying to remember your past lives. I run around helplessly trying to go through 4 pages of Math. My little niece sleeps peacefully.
Finally around 11 everything is done, model train , Math pages, Greek costumes etc. I am proud of it all. I stand back to admire my work.
The following evening I come back home, rush straight to the kids room.
“What grade did you get for the model train”?
“What, is your teacher mad…6 only…. that was awesome…it was a 10/10 model”
“And Maths were your sums correct….
“No there were 3 mistakes”
“How is that possible, is your teacher crazy”
“And what about the Greek costumes thing”
“Yeah that my teacher liked, but she said next time I should just print it”
“WHAT!!!!! tell her we shouldn’t waste paper, we should not print stuff that is not needed…BLAH BLAH!!!!”
My niece looks at me and tells me “Calm down its okay it was just home work…
Oh !I have a lot of homework today as well, you need to help me please”.
It took me a long while but I finally managed to get a web comic in place. I realized a long time back the vast reach a web comic can have. And you don’t really have to be famous to have an audience. Of course there is a whole lot of discipline one needs because the one important thing about a web comic is you NEED to update it regularly. And this requires a lot of discipline especially since the only thing the only reward initially is the love/passion of making a comic and then creating/connecting with an audience.
FInally I got down to create a web comic, but I thought it should be a one shot kind of a comic with a scope for updating but not necessarily.
So here is the link
And of course it is free.
Swamiji had once said that he was always more interested in the greatness in little things of a person’s life. What he ate, what he wore, how he spoke to his subordinates. And perhaps this is the only way to try and get a glimpse of Swamiji’s life, and understand and feel even an iota of his greatness.
He was the monk who shook the world. He was an emperor without a crown. Where ever he went crowds gathered. But one can truly understand the depth of Swamiji through the little, almost insignificant moments of his life.
He had a wonderful sense of humour. His letters to his sisters where always bubbly, full of jokes. He was extremely witty. When Christians would ask him fif Hindu mother’s threw there baby girl’s to crocodiles, he replied saying “Yes, and now days all the babies are born to men”.
In another incident he was supposed to board a steamer. But he lost track of time as he was speaking to people who had come to meet him.
“Swamiji we will miss the boat”, he was reminded. To which he calmly retorted
“You people live in time, we live in eternity”
One day while in America he finished his food and then licked the plate clean. His hostess exclaimed in shock “Oh! Swami”.
“That’s the trouble with you people,” Swamiji said, “You want to make everything so nice and proper on the outside.”
In the memoirs of Mary.C.Funke she writes how Swamiji was a whirlwind of fun. And how he had a great capacity for merriment.
He would declare “Now I am going to cook for you”. He was a wonderful cook and loves to feed his “brithrin”. He was a great cook albeit a too spicy for all his Western disciples.
Swamiji will stand on the floor with a white napkin draped over his arm, a la the waiters on the dining cars, and will in tone in perfect imitation their call for dinner — “Last call fo’ the dining cah. Dinner served”. — Irresistibly funny! And then, at table, such gales of laughter over some quip or jest, for he unfailingly discovers. the little idiosyncrasies of each one — but never sarcasm or malice — just fun.
At other times, Swamiji would entertain a group of friends with jokes and stories, but he would suddenly grow serious in response to a need or a question, would discourse on some aspect of spiritual reality or spiritual practice. Mrs. Allan, for instance, told of the moonlit evening of Easter Sunday, when a small group gathered on the wide, wisteria? curtained porch. Swamiji sat on the railing, smoking his after-dinner pipe. The air was cool, and someone thought he should have a hat. ‘All right,’ he said. ‘Bring the red one.'(This is the hat with the flaps )
Swamiji loved ice cream, tabasco sauce, liked ciagers and coffee, kachuris, and sweetmeats. And he disliked guavas. He was enamoured by French cuisine. As a youngster he had even set up a cookery club called “The Greedy Club”.
He had a easy personality one that let him walk in to a Western friend’s kitchen and cook curry for the devotees, or even smoke a pipe and throw the ashes on the carpet. He was alert to everyone’s needs. He realized that Goodwin his secretary was living in a house full of vegetarians, even though he wasn’t one. He had the kindness to send him out with money to buy a meal at a restaurant.
When he visited in the home of Margaret Noble in Northern Ireland, he went walking one day with her young brother. “My boy,” he said, “it is my religion which has deprived your family of your beef. Come on, let us go to this café and buy you a steak!” In London people would remark on how relaxed and natural he was, just before giving a powerful and mesmerizing lecture; yet the same man would come back from his periodic retreats in such a lofty mood one would not dare approach him.
He could be stern and unapproachable and the most tender and gentle soul at the same time. Once he had reprimanded Mahapurush Maharaj(Swami Shivananda). Mahapurush Maharaj was so upset that he wept. Minutes later Swamiji was upset by his own behavior. He wept for having reprimanded his guru bhai. And then prepared a hookah and sent to Mahapurush Maharaj’s through a disciple room as sign of repentment.
Miss Waldo a disciple and a distant cousin of Ralph Emerson was upset one day because Swamiji had scolded her. She complained and told him that it was unfair that he always scolded her sometimes even for no fault of hers. Swamiji told her that the only reason he scolded her so much was because she was no stranger and was dear to him. And he could only scold her because she was so dear to him. Since that day she never had a problem with Swamiji scolding her.
He once threatened to expel a boy who had dared to deliver a letter in person to a house where women renunciates were living. Yet he had an easy forgiveness, and could declare on another day that asceticism was savagery and fiendish, and spoke of the “torture of religion.”
He had a beautiful melodious voice. His frame was majestic. In Miss Waldo’s memoirs she gives an account when Swamiji fascinated by a mirror stood in front and stared at it. He stood before it and gazed at it intently. In between he walked up and down lost in thought. Miss Waldo watched anxiously “Now the bubble is going to burst, he is full of vanity”, she thought. Suddenly he turned to her and said Ellen “It is the strangest thing, I cannot remember how I look. I look and look at myself in the glass, but the moment I ‘ turn away I forget completely what I look like.”
Mrs. Hansbrough mentioned that Swamiji would come to the breakfast table with his hair tousled. Although he was very careful about his dress when he went out, while at home he was careless about his appearance. He would jokingly remark: “Why should I be careful of my dress at home? I don’t want to get married!” When she was questioned about Swamiji’s hair, Mrs. Hansbrough replied that his black hair was long and wavy. “And as one can see from photographs taken of him at this period, it was fairly long. This was not by chance, but was, rather, a concession to popular demand. ‘His hair was beautifully wavy,’ Mrs. Hansbrough recalled. ‘In fact, it was so beautiful and it set off his features so well that we would not let him cut it. Swamiji himself,’ she continued, ‘did not object. He was wholly devoid of self-consciousness.’
In another account on a hot summer day Miss Stumm and others asked Swamiji to show how he wound his turban–a demonstration he had given perhaps countless times in the West for fascinated children and grownups alike. Miss Stumm tried to draw Swamiji. A charming sequel to this account is that Swamiji himself took drawing lessons from Miss Stumm. She recalled:
At an appointed hour he came, promptly, bringing to me, with a curious little air of submission, a huge red apple, which he laid in my hands, bowing gravely. I asked him the significance of this gift, and he said, “in token that the lessons may be fruitful”–and such a pupil as he proved to be! Once only did I have to tell him anything; his memory and concentration were marvelous, and his drawings strangely perfect and intelligent for a beginner. By the time he had taken his fourth lesson, he felt quite equal to a portrait; so . . . Turiyananda posed, like any bronze image, and was drawn capitally–all in the study of Mr. Leggett, with its divan for our seat, and its fine light to aid us.
He had a knack for picking up new languages. He had great musical ability, and could sing beautifully and knew how to play a number of instruments.
To be able to touch even one inch of the depth that is Swamiji, is perhaps impossible. For in him resided the entire universe. He once said he could hardly sleep at night because he could see the Mother and so many forms, animals, the universe and all of them painted in bliss. And he could never contain that happiness and would start dancing. When he reached out to the world with his words “My brother’s and sister’s of America”, those words came from this vast endless depth of love that he was. And that’s why those words had the power to shake not just a nation or the world, but generations after.
I am big fan of Tagore’s. He is probbaly the only poet,author who can give the reader a taste of eternity. Problem is can we understand and know how to experience that eternity.