Moreover charity, creativity begins at home!

parent children

It is often wondered that how are creative geniuses born. Or rather, are they born creative or they inculcate it with time? This makes it interesting for many of us to look into their backgrounds. How much of a difference did their childhood make to their lives? Did their home atmosphere or the public school system encourage them or demotivate them enough? These questions make for a compelling case on creativity.

Creativity isn’t necessarily about great, big ideas. That’s the first myth which we need to get rid of. It could also be about the smallest, ordinary things done differently. If you observe small children, the first glimpse of their creative side can be seen in the enthusiasm with which they walk, jump, play with toys or bat and ball. When such carefree attitude is married to it, that child becomes attuned to expressing themselves later in life much faster and think on their own without stress.

Little do they realize that preparations have already started at home to send them to the cauldron called school. Parents set their own roles in the belief that they are giving their children the ‘best education’ available for their sake. So the father goes out and puts himself under the pump to earn and run a house. While the mother sits back at home or in many cases, also work so that money is never an issue to run the family.

The irony is that the child as it is would begin to feel neglected as it grows older. The home atmosphere, especially with modern-day housing with nannies rather than grandparents being there, fosters a mundane sort of lifestyle rather than a learning environment. The child is burdened to mechanically finish his or her homework, go for tuitions or classes which don’t nurture their mind, play only for a small period of time, eat and sleep early.

All that parents can do is to give their children those material gifts which make them feel loved as well and they can be busy with in their absence. A double edged sword indeed! For creativity, human interaction in the early stages of life where positivity and fun is encouraged, matters the most.

It is because values are an integral part of this exercise. As children, our personality is shaped dramatically by the values we imbibe from our elders. Children from the previous generations used to hear stories from their grandmothers or grandfathers which were fables or even real life for that matter. These stick to the mind so easily because they were enjoyable to hear and something could be learnt from it. Gosh how lucky they were!

Those values goes on to form their destiny in adulthood and they become their best, successful selves at a much earlier age than expected. Honesty, effort, kind-heartedness, determination, humility are examples of those qualities that every true creative person must possess. It is not that they need to strive to get those to please people, it automatically reflects in their work and approach towards other aspects in life.

Instead of leading by example yet letting their children act naturally, parents can tend to put pressure on them in the belief that pushing them will make them excel in life. Comparisons, shoutings, material bribes, judging them by academic performances are major no-nos in the making of a happy, authentic person. If the child has a weakness, it has got to be dealt with patience and going into the root of the problem. We treat our pets with affection always, why not our children?

child creative

If a child is subjected to a result-oriented approach at home itself, outside home he is bound to become insecure, risk-averse, competitive and wanting to have his or her way all the time. Pressure can be dangerous at an early age, which explains so many crimes and inexplicable activities in schools. It is a rare parent that wants to make their child discover themselves and let them fail many times, as long as it helps their loved one determine what they wish to become and have fun while going through the ups and downs of life.

Another rarity is a person becoming more creative after adulthood. It can only occur with more freedom. Instead, our learning capacity tends to reduce with age, apart from the fact that we are burdened with more responsibilities. Paying the bills become a priority. To run a home, ironically!

Whichever career chosen, one cannot expect to have that satisfaction with money alone in even the most palatial of houses if they can’t or are scared to think differently just because of society, parents and so on.

Reinventing ourselves each day matters tremendously, while being our authentic selves at the same time. Appreciation of even the smallest of creative acts, irrespective of the reward it gives, can take children a long way. And that is the greatest gift we as adults, can give to our future generations.

 

 

 

Want to encourage creativity? Incentivize it!

As I observe, watch and imbibe the journey of nearly every ‘genuine’ creative person these days, I realize how difficult it is to walk this path. I use the word genuine since some people can have the illusion of being creative without realizing or just use it as a buzzword for their gain and to impress. You got to often pick one between wooing the world and being yourself, the mediocre and the outstanding, making a living to survive and actually living life to thrive and to top it all, riches and the quality of work.

During the Renaissance period, Italy produced some of the most incredibly creative people who are till date celebrated. It is said that the famous painter and sculptor, Michelangelo from the age of 6 to 10, learnt how to handle a hammer and chisel before actually reading and writing. Being unhappy with schooling, he took apprenticeships with unheard names such as Ghirlandaio and Bertoldo for most of his youth. Learning and excelling at the basics of his craft while getting commissions by one of Florence’s largest churches simultaneously after being recommended, it was only at the age of 24 when he produced his first masterpiece called Pieta.

Now, to the naked eye, Pieta is a visual delight and considered the work of a pure genius. Surely, that could be the case. But few would ever see the fact that Michelangelo not only had to put in years of effort in it, but also was backed by his family and his mentors, who were willing to emotionally and financially invest in him smartly while permitting him to find his own way of success. Without doubt, had he not earned commissions at churches and places where he could exhibit his work, no matter whether they were accepted by many or not, Michelangelo might have gone down as a sculptor who could never ‘reach his potential’, a phrase that is commonly used.

I was reading somewhere about how initiative will always trump incentives when it comes to a person having more longevity with the work they do. Sure, initiative or the love for work is an essential ingredient which brings out the best performances and the most original of thoughts. It makes you go beyond yourself while being within yourself.

However, the world can be an unforgiving place for a person who projects themselves solely as out of this world. What baffles me is that mediocrity has been commercialized to such an extent, that it is promoted only for the powerful to gain more power and the rich to get richer. This perhaps explains why common education systems are focussed on preparing students to work for someone else’s gains more than theirs, without ever using their own head to make their life decisions. You got to ‘fit in’ more than ‘stand out’, as they say.

Creative people often have this dilemma of some of their works being so outstanding in quality that they fail to get the reward they deserve for it from society and vice a versa. Often, they are left with no choice but to bow down to the world. For someone not experienced or financially rich, being discouraged is very understandable. With the world facing money problems more than ever now, surviving becomes paramount more than anything else. Society kills many dreams in more than one way.

Some fields are fortunate to see the rich pump in the money, that encourages creativity from the young and the old alike. For example, in India, the director-actor duo of Rajkumar Hirani and Aamir Khan would have possibly never made a 3 Idiots the way it turned out to be, if it wasn’t for the producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra willing to invest in that sort of a script and giving them the license to try out something unique.

In Hollywood, you can go one step further to say that writers are superstars, who are revered by directors, actors and the film fraternity overall. From a Stephen King to a Jeff Nathanson, it is the power of the story that matters first, the box office success being a mere by-product. These people are full-time into the profession, without having to look for other jobs or means to survive if they have the talent that can be nurtured and expressed.

But in many parts of the world, the sad reality is that the majority of the rich want to accumulate money for themselves or want their children to live the legacy that they dictate rather than their individual one. So where is the money left in the world?

Adding to that, time has become a greater resource than before. It is practical economics that takes precedence. A youngster would certainly not want to be a Michelangelo in their creative field if they are not made to learn and get rewarded well financially from an early age for their works by associating with the people who have the ability and desire both, to incentivize creativity.

As they say, great things take time. But in this material world, they take money as well. So if we have to live in the reality and balance creativity with it, it is high time that incentives are given to people in other fields as well to bring out their creative side. Competitiveness can co-exist, but only for someone to improve by getting inspired rather than being put down for it. This has to be a rule set, which must be followed like it was in the Renaissance period.

Working together rather than against each other is the only way the marriage of finance and creativity can happen, through which the world can become a better place through ideas that can sustain the individual as well. That is the way creativity can then hope to keep killing mediocrity from time to time through deserving people.

 

Mr. Anand Mahindra, it’s time we accept the reality of creativity in India

Apple’s much understated co-founder, Steve Wozniak suddenly found much fame in India by creating a stir last week. In an interview, he claimed that the Indian education system lacks creativity which makes a person’s success dependent on getting a job rather than thinking uniquely by and for themselves. For him, this is a major reason for India’s unemployment woes.

steve wozniak

On first reading, this is not something unheard of before. In our country, successful films like 3 Idiots have focussed on this issue so that something can be done to solve it. However, in a world where everyone thinks they have the freedom of expression, they take to social media to voice out their opinions.  A certain Mr. Anand Mahindra, the celebrated chairman of the Mahindra Group of companies, did the same albeit in response to Wozniak’s comments.

As much as he is highly respected and intellectual in the world of business, I dare say that his Tweet actually proved how correct Wozniak is.

‘I love it when such comments are made. Nothing like a sweeping stereotype to get our juices flowing & prove it wrong. Thanks Come back soon. We’ll make you sing a different tune…’

There is a difference between being patriotic and sensible; both may not go hand in hand always. Like with people, all countries have their imperfections. Admitting to them with grace is the first step to going about rectifying them. It shows humility and great understanding. While denying it, is a show of crass arrogance.

Mahindra’s reaction seems to be impulsive. If he has a look at his own background, it took him not one, but two degrees at Harvard University (ironically it is in Wozniak’s country!) to make him the successful businessman that he is today. If all was well with the Indian education system, why would he have had to go overseas to study?

anand mahindra

The same can be asked to those Indians who are CEOs in western companies. Sure, they may be considered successful by the society, but that wasn’t necessarily due to being creative in our motherland.

Besides, Mahindra had the fortune of inheriting an established business set up built by his father and uncle at a young age of 26, before he made it bigger. How many Indians have a similar, affluent lineage to use as a career launchpad? They fight for jobs and jostle for places in public transport alike left, right and centre whether in urban or rural areas, just to meet basic needs and support their families. Traditionally, a man’s identity in society has been based on their existence in the working class as much as woman’s has been on raising families and cooking in the kitchen. This constant struggle of taking care of the house drains people and cuts their lives shorter. Where can creativity exist then?

Look at the population, which exponentially grows by the day and yet we proudly claim that we are a nation of not just 1.2 billion people, but 1.2 billion minds! Really? It is hard to believe.  Amongst innovative companies, not many Indian ones come to mind in a flash. We still have a long way to go. Competitive and creative juices just cannot simply flow at the same time, Mr. Mahindra. Attachment to power and money makes one result-oriented, greedy and fearful of failure. This can also explain why we top the charts in power and wealth inequality too.

Being in the comfort zone is easy, isn’t it?

This is a problem which other nations face too. Yet when it comes to India, we are so proud of their traditions that we stop looking forward. Yes, there are creative people despite all these limitations. Exceptions of all sorts are there always. But let’s admit this is majorly due to the fact that they have a support system and certain resources that give them the freedom, time and space to think for themselves to make their lives much simpler and better. The education system has nothing to do with it one bit.

Learning about the exact date of Akbar’s reign in the Mughal Sultanate has helped me and many others in our general knowledge quotient, not in our day to day lives. And the latter matters more eventually. If people like Mr. Mahindra think otherwise, they are living in a fool’s world.

We look to ape the West conveniently. It is high time that we learn from them that it is OK to fail and irrespective of gender or background, you are firstly responsible for yourself than someone else. You don’t owe the world anything except bettering it with creativity or contributing to a cause which you are passionate about. Society’s thoughts are not everything and don’t make you. Thomas Edison, AR Rahman, Albert Einstein for example, have all been geniuses for some reason after all.

You make a creative person suffer and the world suffers. Unless we don’t accept this, Indians can never really be a happy lot in a constantly changing world. And an outsider like Steve Wozniak will continue to be proven right. So, instead of bashing and criticizing him, let’s rather take inspiration and encourage each other to make our own Apples (whether you are a fan of it or not) in different walks of life so that we and our future generations can live on the planet peacefully.

Raw Love. Raw Food!

The Vegan movement in Mumbai has gone up another notch. Internationally acclaimed chef, Isha Kinger has introduced an all-new Raw Vegan Menu for the month of love, February at the 212 All Good Restaurant at Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel.

And the best part is this menu having received such outstanding reviews that the fest has been extended to another week!

As people have gone gaga over it all over the social media, we couldn’t help but grab the opportunity to try it out, that too on a Monday afternoon! Excitedly, we entered and as soon as we saw the menu, what really stood for us were the theme-based names of the dishes.

As we completed a month of togetherness, our feelings resonated with the menu. So we couldn’t wait but call for You Complete Me, Be My Buttercup, Wearing Your Smile, From Head To-Ma-Toes and Grecian Honeymoon.

The taste of these dishes walked the talk perfectly.

Be My Buttercup was the first to arrive, a smoothie having a delectable taste of both bananas and chocolates. The banana content was slightly on the stronger side. However, the cacao nibs and the chocolate swirl were the highlights of it. We literally couldn’t stop licking the DARK chocolate sauce!

Up next was From Head To-Ma-Toes. From cheesy to spicy to crunchy to healthy, it had all you could ask for in a savoury dish.

We had high hopes from You Complete Me. The toppings indeed completed us, even as the crust couldn’t match its taste.

Grecian means beautiful and simple. Yet, the Grecian Honeymoon was too simplistic for our liking. The only ingredient which beautified the dish was fresh figs.

Wearing Your Smile did make us smile at the arrival. But it started to fade as and when we digged into the cheesecake. What this dish lacked was the balance of flavours, the taste of coconut dominating the most.

Having spent more than two hours, we can say that this place is on the slightly expensive side. But it is worth a try, for this place has made a strong attempt to break the myth of raw food being just about ‘fruits and vegetables’. This could well be the beginning of a new food trend in the city for the future.