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Sunday, February 01st, 2009 | Author:

“Think cold.” That’s what I used to say to myself (in my mother’s voice) every time something went wrong. It probably wasn’t meant to be a motto, but it evolved into one… not just a motto, but a way of life, a philosophy. But I am getting ahead of myself. So, let me step back a few years to explain.

When I was a child, we lived in an area where not having electricity for six to ten hours a day was not unusual. In the heat of the Delhi summer, just when we were ready to get into bed, everything would go dark. And we would prepare for another night of having to sleep without even a fan. Whenever I complained about the heat, my mother would say (most unmoved by my plight), “Think cold.” That was her way of saying, “Yes, I know it’s hot. Yes, it’s miserable to sweat through the night. But there is nothing we can do about it. Complaining will only make it worse.” So, I would lie down and think of swimming in a pool or of drinking a cold glass of lemonade. And guess what. It actually stopped being hot.

For more than a decade, I believed in that. Every time something went wrong, I would say to myself “THINK COLD.” And that philosophy made things better for me. You could say I was in the “blue” phase. Little did I realize that I had come to accept several things as “that’s how it’s always been” or “I can’t do anything about it.”

It was only when I was a little older that I began questioning things. I think that was my “red” phase. There was disgust and anger for how things were run in the country, the stringent rules that society had laid down for people to live by, the discrimination that was lashed out based on money, gender and color as well as the people who were not in the “questioning” mode. The rebellious phase had me totally discontent, very different from the “blue” phase.

Then one fine day, a beautiful thing happened. I was in the driver’s seat and I felt the fire from the sun on my face. It came to dawn on me that when things go wrong, it’s not always another who is responsible for fixing them. I am responsible. I began to seek out problems and greeted them with passion. And then made choices about which of them I would attempt at fixing. Somewhere between contentment and discontent lies orange… the fire that drives us to make the world a better place. If something angers us deeply or if we feel passionately about something going wrong, that’s the cue. The problems and shortcomings are there for us to take responsibility for and help fix.

I have chosen the wounds I want to dream of healing and the problems I wish to try alleviate. And now, when I see something going wrong… I have the faith that someone, somewhere is rolling up his sleeves to fix it… someone, somewhere is painting his face orange.