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Ronnie on summer holidays and work-life balance

My childhood occurred before the summer camp era and it was a time when parents worried about how much time their kids spent outdoors unlike now, when they are concerned about how much they spend indoors. When the summer holidays were coming to a close, a sense of melancholy set in. No more endless games of cricket and mangoes after lunch. Writer Mike Royko eulogized the last day of summer holidays in this fashion:

“When I was a kid, the worst of all days was the last day of summer vacation, and we were in the schoolyard playing softball, and the sun was down and it was getting dark. But I didn’t want it to get dark. I didn’t want the game to end. It was too good, too much fun. I wanted it to stay light forever, so we could keep on playing forever, so the game would go on and on. That’s how I feel now. C’mon, c’mon. Let’s play one more inning. One more at bat. One more pitch. Just one? Stick around, guys. We can’t break up this team. It’s too much fun. But the sun always went down. And now it’s almost dark again.”

But why talk of summer holidays? For I think it’s one of the best examples of enforcing a balance. Of course you don’t see it when you're a kid but my heart tells me that most adults in the world will cry tears of joy if their workplaces were to announce summer holidays. In that sense, kids and adults aren't as different as they are made out to be. Somehow we seem to think adulthood is a place where we are supposed to be able to fight all our battles, never really resting, always keeping up with the Joneses. Balance takes the form of who took the more exotic vacation, who bought the bigger car and who booked the bigger home. Some misconstrue balance to be the one in their banks. This balance, however big, will make you feel the most empty when everything else falls apart, when the kids don’t turn out right, friends don’t know you anymore, a significant other leaves you, and all that remains of the day are regrets etched in stone. 

If all you are concerned with is the view from top without paying attention to the building you’re climbing, you might just end up like a fireman reaching the 50th floor – only to realize the fire is in the next building. Sometimes we become our work, forgetting to comprehend that it is just a part of us, however much we enjoy it. Work becomes our worship, our escape, our succor and ultimately, our wrecking. It becomes the crutch, the weapon we use to push people away, rip someone’s heart apart, avoid a heart-to-heart conversation or just take a walk in the park.

We don’t pay attention to the people that matter, fretting instead about a back stabbing co-worker, a terrible boss and the coffee machine that never works. Our days are consumed in creating battles, fighting those battles and then drinking our frustrations away in the bar where the loud music drowns out even our inner voice. Accomplishment is treated like a rugby game where all that matters is reaching the other end by headbutting other people. You know what happens to many of those players? They suffer brain damage, much like many of us, only it appears in different forms. 

It’s easy to treat life as a baseball game – where we just touch all the bases thinking we've done our bit. In a world where privacy is as hard to find as that elusive needle in a haystack, we’re trying to be everything to everyone, being available all the time, never shutting off, until one day we just collapse in a heap and find ourselves making an appointment with the psychiatrist.

For those who didn't know, God supposedly took a day off and this supposed God even created the world. Given the fact that we spend so much of our waking hours in a job, better to expend our energies in finding something fulfilling rather than surrender to a 9-5 kind of death, only to die of a heart attack on the desk. This sentence I read in Wired Magazine made an important point– “If you’re going to fail at building something, fail at building the fucking iPad. Don’t fail at building children.”

Work gives our lives a purpose, an identity in society, something to aspire to and if we play our cards right, something that will outlive us, inspiring those that come after us. It fills our time, gets us out of our homes. Finding joy in work doesn't mean working ourselves thin on a job we hate, it means finding a job we love that it seems less like work. It means continuously trying to create work that matters, work you will look back at and cause you to comment 'that was worth it.' 

I have a very simple definition of happiness – a good night’s sleep. It’s a kind of sleep where you wake up rested and don’t bang the alarm clock when it awakes. Happiness is when you can look your loved ones in the eye and say you had a bad day for you know they’ll understand. It’s when you stay up all night because you love what you’re doing, don’t mind sacrificing the weekend and actually have to fake Monday morning blues. 

Work life balance isn't a mathematical formula. It’s more like a  do-it yourself exercise that you learn as you go.

When the balance sheet of your life is written, you will realize that a life well lived cannot be slotted into a profit and loss account. Just don’t get to the end of your life to figure that out.

Work life balance stuff

1. Nigel Marsh: Work life balance

2. Clay Christensen: How will you measure your life

3. Stephen Covey: First Things First  

                            What Ronnie did



Author: Shehan Karunatilaka 

A fictional account of a search for a supremely talented Sri Lankan spinner, Pradeep Matthew, debutant Shehan Karunatilaka 's irreverent style of writing takes a humorous dig on the sate of Sri Lankan cricket. The story is narrated through the eyes of WG Karunasena, an alcoholic sportswriter who is estranged from his only son and is unable to comprehend life without the bottle. WG embarks on his final mission when the doctor gives him a few months to live owing to his excessive drinking. The quest to find Pradeep Matthew, an ambidextrous genius spinner who mysteriously fell off the radar, forms the crux of the story. The book lays bare the face of Sri Lankan cricket, albeit in a humorous manner. Read if you like cricket. Read if you like humor. Read if you are looking for a good read. 

Ronnie's rating: 4.5/5 

Return to India 

Author: Shobha Narayan 

When I was growing up, the trend was to flee India and return only for vacations to give the kids a crash course in Indian culture. Now when I'm grown up, the trend is to bring the kids back and never return. Shobha Narayan writes about the latter. After spending a considerable amount of time in America, Shobha and her family decide to return to their homeland. The trials and tribulations of this adventure are recounted in this book in a light hearted manner.  

Ronnie's rating: 4.5/5 

The Post American world 

Author: Fareed Zakaria 

Fareed Zakaria got himself into bit of a fix recently when he was suspended for plagiarism.Which is why his name might ring a bell. The Post-American World delves into how the world order is changing with the rise of the Asian giants India and China. The book also reiterates why America is still a superpower even when its supremacy is being questioned. While Zakaria writes in about critical issues, nowhere does the material seem academic or hard to understand. 

Ronnie's rating: 3/5 


Deliver us from evil (documentary) 

While there was much furor and anticipation on the election of a new pope, Deliver 

us from Evil is an oscar nominated documentary that focuses on what the church hasn't yet taken a binding stance on - clergy sexual abuse. The documentary tracks the controversial life of pedophile priest Oliver 'O Grady who was protected by the church in spite of irrefutable accusations. The documentary also shows the disposition of influential Bishop Roger Mahoney who protected 'O Grady from prosecution. Oliver 'O Grady was finally deported to England. In 2010, he was found to posess child pornograpy, a crime for which he is currently serving out a sentence of 3 years. Though everyone knows of the sexual abuse scandals and the church's patchy way of dealing with them, the film shows how no serious effort has been made to thwart this menace. 

Ronnie's rating: 4/5 

English Vinglish 

A heartwarming story of a typical housewife, Shashi, whose role and position is taken for granted by her family. Her lack of proficiency in english is a matter of ridicule for her husband and daughter. A chance trip to New York to attend her niece's wedding remedies all of this. An embarrassing incident in a coffee shop that occurs partly because of her inability to communicate effectively in english causes her to sign up for an english speaking class in a university. The class comprises of a bunch of people from different countries and backgrounds. The movie revolves around how Shashi slowly gains confidence in her own abilities as her proficiency in the language improves and comes out of the cocoon that society has put her in. Movies like this always put a smile on my face as you watch them and go 'yeah, that can happen to anyone.' 

Ronnie's rating: 4.5/5 


Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom

An off-beat tamil flick that became a sleeper hit. For starters, that film is two and a half hours long and doesn't have a single song. The title suggests what the plot is about. It revolves around a group of 4 friends, one of who is to be married the next day. The friends head out for a game of cricket and the groom to be be suffers a fall. This results in him losing his memory. The friends don't want to risk telling his family what has happened and hope he recovers his memory before his marriage. Their efforts in trying to help him regain his memory make a for a laugh riot worth every minute. You may not lose your memory but at least you'll lose your worries for those two-and-a-half hours. 


Thrift shop - Macklemore 

10000 fists  - Disturbed 

Suit and Tie - Justin Timberlake feat.Jay Z 

Thuli Thuliyai - Shankar Tucker feat Vandana 

 Tremble for my beloved - Collective soul 

23 - Jimmy eat world 

California Stars - Billy Braggs and Wilco 

Dream girl - Dave Matthews band 

TM Krishna and Sudha Ragunathan - Bhaja Govindam 

There is a light that never goes out - 500 days of summer OST 

To know who or what is Ronnie:


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