Vintage 1958.

“We do not ‘come into’ into this world. we come out of it; as the ocean ‘waves,’ the universe ‘peoples’,” said Alan Watts.

I was “peopled” by the universe precisely 62 years ago.

Today is my birthday. 

I was born on a Saturday, 18 January 1958, at 10:30 P.M. When I turned five, my father took me to Gopalaswamy Shishuvihara for my primary school admission. The school gave me a written test and told me to go and sit in the fourth-grade classroom. When the seventh standard district level examination came along, I was a year younger than the eligible age. My father figured that I was wise enough, if not old enough, to become a matriculate and testified that I was born in May 1957. Therefore, my father made me a year older legally than my actual, biological age. 

I am the youngest of the nine children that my parents procreated and the last of their seven sons. I call myself Mohan, but I was actually named Rama Mohana, as per Hindu astrology. I was born under the birth star Poorvashada Nakshatra and had to have a name starting with the sound ‘Ra.’ My mother, Sita, worshipped the Hindu god, Lord Rama and true to her name she delivered nine healthy children for my father. Those were the days when children ‘happened’ and were not planned. Goddess Sita’s silent power of sacrifice pales in front of my mother Sita’s.

My mother told me on several occasions that I was very frail as a baby. She thought I might not make it into this world. As an infant, just a few months’ old, I had diphtheria and typhoid and was very weak. My mother had no breast milk left for me since my earlier siblings had polished off the last drop of my mother’s entire mammalian supply chain. So, I was being tossed around into the laps of women with milk, including maidservants and relatives willing to feed me. Hence, even as an infant, I was an innocent, nipple-sucking Casanova as per God’s own wish.

Three scores and two years later in this miracle called my life, I now consider myself as a wise sexagenarian youth entitled to the privilege of sharing the most important lessons I have learnt in my life;

1) Always speak your mind. Be brave and express your true feelings and thoughts. Ignore snide remarks. You will grow because of this.

2) Think about your inner expectations, not societal expectations. If you do not have inner expectations, then develop an inner compass.

3) Forge your own path. Don’t look at road maps of others when you follow your passion. Create a new way.

4) Don’t let failure destroy your self-esteem. A failure is an event, not a person. Absorb failure, judgments and criticism.

5) Cut out toxic people from your life. There are people in the world that aren’t good for you. It’s hard to cut them out, especially when you feel like you are being cruel. You’re not being selfish, you’re being logical.

6) Never aspire to get into any select group, social class or any coterie no matter how elite or intellectual, that does not allow others to join them.

7) Be trustworthy. Keep your commitments.

8) Insert a little solitude into your schedule. Start with ten minutes and increase to half an hour in absolute silence. Solitude nurtures creativity. It helps you get to know yourself and builds inner strength.

9) Exercise at least three times a week for half an hour. Take care of your body.

10) Read. You have to prioritize and schedule at least half an hour a day for reading a book.

11) Be generous, both with your resources and Knowledge. Give even when there are no external rewards, such as recognition or tax benefits.We all know people who always hold something back, whether it’s Knowledge or resources. They act as if they’re afraid you’ll outshine them. 

12) Don’t chase money. Chase progress.

Make a difference.

Good Luck.

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