Nature makes the man

I have always wondered why people live in places with harsh climate – why struggle every day as if it’s a battle to be won? Having been in Sweden for a while now, has brought some perspective into that thought.

For most people, their place of birth is their home – the place where they feel most comfortable, experience a sense of freedom and a confidence of security. I miss this. How long before I can feel the same way here? I don’t know. If this is my feeling after choosing to be here, I cannot begin to imagine the plight of people who are forced to leave behind their war-torn homelands and start anew seeking asylum.

I truly believe that immigrants forced to leave their countries would happily return if social and economic safety is guaranteed, but that’s another discussion for another post.

Speaking of harsh climates, Sweden isn’t the toughest to live in. The winter was bearable – coming from an Indian, this is remarkable. However, my wife and my parents would vehemently disagree. The spring is beautiful and has brought everyone out of their homes.

Irrespective of the weather, Swedes generally have an active lifestyle. Soccer, ice hockey and skiing are the top favorites. There are people jogging at all times of the day, come rain or snow.

As a person who had never experienced temperatures below ~10°C, I couldn’t have imagined the effort that goes into keeping the roads and tracks working during the winter. Trains are still functioning, nevertheless with some delays and cancelations. I had taken a lot of things for granted.

With lesser population, manual labor is expensive the concept of DIY – do it yourself  – is the norm. People assemble their own furniture, fix almost everything themselves – from kitchens to roofs – and building an entire house isn’t a far-fetched idea. I feel like I’m inadequately equipped to be here.

I feel nature keeps people on their toes, challenging them every season to adapt and live many lives, plan better and be self-sufficient.

As a side note, I am yet to find a place which isn’t accessible by a differently-abled person. Every place has a ramp, elevator; busses are equipped with designated spots for wheelchairs. It’s so nice to know how disability doesn’t have to make a person lose access to the same life as everyone else. This is such a contrast from how pathetic things are in India. 😦

P.S.: A roller coaster ride had an elevator for persons on wheelchair! 🙂

Hej Sverige från Indien!

So, it’s been a while since my family and I moved to Sweden after weeks of planning and packing. We were more worried about finding Indian spices and ingredients for our daily food than anything else.

Our first weeks in the country we were surprised by how much of history Sweden was able retain over centuries. Old, yet strong buildings, cobblestone streets and picturesque bridges made up the ‘Gamla Stan’ – the old town, connected to the the more modern areas by a well-planned transit system – buses, trams, trains, subway and ferries.

There is so much to admire about this country and its culture and I wish to dedicate a section of the blog to it.

Before I go, I have to say, one would wonder, that people who have lived here for all their lives, seeing at least 50 winters come and go, they would be used to it, but no. Nobody likes the winter and ever since I landed here, everyone said – “Winter is coming!” with all the seriousness of a Game of Thrones character. 

You know nothing, Jon Snow. But you’re right about this. 😛

P.S.: The photo is the Drottingholm Palace in Stockholm. 

Photo by Jonathan Hoxmark on Unsplash

The perfection block!

I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s blog and been watching a few videos of him talking and I admire his way with words and how simple he makes everything seem.

One of the things that struck me was the idea of how the “writer’s block” isn’t actually a feeling that stops you from writing anything, but it is the one that stops you from writing something imperfect.

Elizabeth Gilbert shares her views on how after she wrote the international bestseller – Eat Pray Love – she was immensely bothered by her own success. She describes that the success of her book overshadowed her drive to write the next one – because she feared the next one wouldn’t be as good.

Seth calls the writer’s block a myth. He says that a person does not simply stop writing, his fear of writing something substandard overrides his will to write – ‘Oh, what if it isn’t good enough?’ – this is similar to what Elizabeth felt. Seth says, ‘show me 50,000 words of bad writing, then I can probably agree that you have a writer’s block’. He suggests: ‘Consider the alternative to writer’s block: the drip. A post, day after day, week after week, 400 times a year, 4000 times a decade. When you commit to writing regularly, the stakes for each thing you write go down’. And he has been doing this for several years now.

So the next time you are having a writer’s block, a coder’s block or a painter’s block, ask yourself this – the probability of success is higher when you do something than when you don’t, isn’t it? 🙂

Ah, the great outdoors!

“Ah, the great outdoors” is a dialog that a Dryad (character in Warcraft III) says when the character is trained and ready to be controlled. It is perhaps one phrase out of the thousands I’ve heard from spending innumerable hours playing the game that I remember often.

As a self-proclaimed ambivert, my weekend plan is a constant mental conflict of whether I stay indoors reading, binge watching yet another TV series or head out and explore some new place.

Having moved to Sweden (Hej Sverige! 👋) recently for work, I find myself traveling about 90 minutes in the morning and another 90 minutes in the evening to and from my office. This has given me a window of time to catch up on some reading (Thanks sis for the Kindle!) and writing (this).

Also sitting at the window of my train seat, the countryside of Sweden at sunset in Fall is mesmerizing. Open fields, orange sky being gobbled up by the grayness of the impending nightfall and an abundance of nature is what you get to see. The houses that dot the fields frequently, look eerily similar to the houses that a child might draw – simple and lovely.

As this view made me nostalgic about India and its beauty, I began to realize that I was, by some glorious design of the universe, destined to be here and like the Dryad I just want to shout out to the nature that surrounds me – “Ah, the great outdoors!”

If

“If you can..”, it begins and lines out an entire persona of an individual who has conquered life. A life that death feels sad when taking away – such is the life I desire. Here’s the poem by Rudyard Kipling –

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look to good, or talk to wise:

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up again with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings;
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none to much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And which is more-you’ll be a Man, my son!