Questioning what I learnt

I continue here from my last post – Learnings from a son to his father

Since I wrote down what I learnt from my child, the same thought has been haunting me. What if I am wrong and misinterpreting? Are those 3 needs mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive? (Yes, I know that’s the inner consultant in me speaking). So I decided to question my understanding today. And this is what I did – Studied Maslow’s theory of human motivation (Quick recap of the hierarchy below)

  1. Physiological needs -Food, water, air, sleep, sex
  2. Safety needs – Physical, financials, health
  3. Love/Belonging – Friendship, intimacy, family
  4. Esteem – achievement, adequacy, confidence, freedom, reputation
  5. Self-actualization – To realize what a man can be, reach an ideal

While, Maslow’s theory seems to be true (read acceptable) for grown up individuals and it is the most popular theory to explain what we as humans need / want, it’s difficult to imagine any esteem or self-actualization needs for an infant. Those are higher order needs which seem to be developed out of experiences we have in life and thus are probably not fundamental needs. It’s worth investigating what the fundamental building blocks are and how they develop into such complex needs

My basic hypothesis is that the fundamental needs of human beings are to know (wonder), to be nurtured (care) and to seek peace.  All other needs develop over time as manifestations of these needs or as a combination of these needs.

My argument is as follows –

  1. Needs may not necessarily be an orderly hierarchy and might be a range of emotional needs simultaneously stemming out of the basic three needs like a tree. (Refer to the illustration below). From my newborn’s ability to express all the basic needs, I feel the three basic needs do not develop in any particular priority or order but are present right from infancy. Other needs develop from these based on life experiences.
  2. At the most basic level, Care involves enabling the person to survive and grow. Physiological needs are simply all the requirements arising out of the instincts of survival (and growth) under normal circumstances while Safety needs are survival requirements which arise out of the possibility of danger / adversity in the environment. Belonging to a community additionally helps in survival and growth through the benefit of cooperation.
  3. The second important root need is Peace or Harmony, within and outside. It arises out of our instinctive ability to envisage a future or create expectations of what ought to be. Whenever reality differs from our desired / envisaged thought, it is expressed to us either by self-realization or through feedback from others. Closer the reality is to our envisaged thought; we either are internally satisfied or externally approved. In both cases, we feel peaceful (It went as per plan, nothing went wrong, it’s exactly how it should be etc.). If reality is different (e.g. unknown people, unexpected sounds, not finding something at its place / at the right time etc.), it puts us at unease and disturbs the sense of harmony
  4. Finally, the curiosity to know about the unknown is another instinctive faculty that our species has developed. That seems to have given us the third important need – The need to know / Wonder. It involves both developing an understanding of the world and thus philosophical questions like “What is the universe” or understanding oneself or questions like “Why do I exist”

I am still curious if the classification can be completed in a mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive manner or if there are interactions within the needs which result in further complex needs. For example, if our Sense of peace is disturbed (say an unexpected noise), does it also necessarily trigger the sense of danger and activate the need of Safety at the same time. Is “Love” something that merely gives us a peaceful and harmonious feeling with another person or is it derived from needs like belonging and cooperation.

Finally, I submit that all my thoughts are just hypothesis and may be either a great truth or be completely off the mark. Only a detailed research can answer this. I only hope I could analyze my own learning and developed a reasonable theory 🙂

Illustration below:  (Not exhaustive)



Lessons from a son to his father


My boy turns 25 days today and I am already learning from him. I feel I can understand myself and the world much better through him. He is the purest form of humanity there is right now and that puts him in a great position as a teacher – Someone who doesn’t assume, doesn’t judge based on false experiences, sees the world exactly as it is, does not care about things he doesn’t need and has the simplest and most straightforward thoughts. His mind is a pure, unpainted canvas and I want to learn from every brush stroke that the world makes on it and his reaction to it.

I feel I should record what I have learnt, so that when he grows up, he can learn from my interpretations of his own teachings. I only hope that I do not misinterpret or miscommunicate. Specially now, when he cannot even speak out what he feels.

We often wonder what it is that we really want – Success? Riches? Love? The operative word is really. As we age, we think we want all of these. But at his stage, all what he wants is what I think are the purest needs and things that we all “really” want.

  1. He wants to know – His first expression which I saw was that of “Wonder”. He must be scared, uncomfortable, shocked and completely overwhelmed by the entire world appearing before him all of a sudden after delivery. But his dominant expression was neither fear, nor discomfort, nor surprise. He simply stared around, and I believe, “wondering” what was happening. That says a lot about us as a species. Both the reason for our survival and the purpose of our existence is the ability of our mind to wonder about everything that is and even that which is not. Only if I could see what he was wondering and imagining.
  2. He wants to be cared for– You can already see how he reacts when his mother is close to him. That is the most familiar feeling for him and he knows he is in an environment of safety and “Care”. I don’t think he really understands complex aspects of Love like nurturing, giving back, trusting, respecting etc. But I do realize that he is happy and peaceful when he is being cared for. I see him smile when I caress him or pat him gently to comfort him. So more than any related complex emotions, I think he simply wants to be cared for.
  3. He understands unease and needs peace – Whether the reason is hunger or cold or sudden noises or being held the wrong way, he has already developed the sense of unease and disturbance from his usual state of “Peace”. This is probably wired in genetically to provide him with a way to monitor his surroundings and preempt discomfort and danger. He may not be able to express it through words, but you can see him raising his eyebrow when he is irritated or turning towards his feeding position when he is hungry. What causes him to lose peace is another mystery though.

If those are the things that we really want, then I feel those are also the things that we ought to practice as well. And so, I take away these three lessons from him and hope to do these three things right for the rest of my life.

In the next post, I go on to question and refine my observations –

Questioning what I learnt

A blind man’s dream


Justice is what a blind man dreams

Not what is, but what seems

Paid for, in false approval

Held firm, to placate the moral

Writ out, to defend the ego

And passed on, before we go

Looking down, we are so tall,

That, others look a bit too small

We strive to prove that we are strong

That “I” am right, and all else wrong

I choose to quit, withdraw my screams

As justice is what a blind man dreams



My scars, they mark their ugly faces

And chequer my stars, my luck, and my graces

On my face’s dark and mucky creases

They wreck me apart and break me to pieces

Each one, a rock weathered with time

But none, would talk or tell me who I am

Each one cut deep like a tether around me

And let weep, since that time they found me

And bound me, to wince, to a piquing sentence

Forbid me remorse or seeking repentance

But worse was when the grinding did stop

As finding myself is my only hope

I fight but I fear being lonely and friendless

With scars to remind me only what’s endless

Wounds of words, said, unsaid

Those wounds may heal but scars won’t fade

Hide and Seek


There are noises in the courtyard of yore

As I count to ten, pausing at will

Listening to catch a flutter or more

Of Mam’s sari – moving or staying still

Of Baba, tiptoeing in from behind

Or Deedee shouting a sharp “Boo”!

Family – was all I needed to find

I realize now, in life too

They didn’t notice me sneaking a peek

Recollecting those scampering days

Even before I had begun to seek

Before we grew up and parted ways

But they did notice when I came back

And searched the closet, and under the bed

That I looked in the loft and behind the rack

For long lost games and tales unsaid

That I smelled the fresh linen in the hall

And wondered how my room still felt

Like every tile on every wall

Has a fraction of my life beheld

The incense sticks, the clankering pots

The stock of sweets hid from me

All come alive as I search my thoughts

And play hide and seek with history

When times grow up and leave me lonely

I pay a visit to my childhood again

And I wish I could seek my family, only

By closing my eyes and counting to ten


As my country celebrates freedom, I realized that freedom, to me, is not just being a citizen of a sovereign nation, but the right and ability to make My choices. It comes with the responsibility of making the Right choices. To understand Freedom and lead a free life, hence, I must, first, understand Choice.

Choice! You Godsent devil,

You come, as plaguing power

A bowman of moral questions

You strike, at my weakest hour

Choice! A tyrant that you are

You mock, the corpses of free will

Of empires that once were

Of establishments that are still

Choice! You gardener of doubt

You pave my way to the cure

Then blindfold me at the leap

And ask me, “Are you sure?”

Choice! The father of destiny

You preach and beg me to reason

And yet when you watch me falter

You cry out – You are free, Son!

The storm I embraced

110712084936--Bristol Shakespeare Festival review The TempestShe held my hand and pulled me through
I, the steadiest ship on the shore
She shook off my firmly anchored fear
And magically cut the waters clear
Pressed her ear to hear me sway
As bit by bit, I faded away
Then she spun in a graceful sudden dance
And carried me away in rising romance
And I, the steadiest ship on the shores
Looked right in her eye, in shaken remorse
Of the agonizing wait, of drunken denial
That her hands will touch mine, no more while
Howling my name and colouring the wind
She clung on to me, the love-struck fiend!
With restless passion she ebbed and rose
Holding my head to her heart up close
I held her back and grabbed her hair
But melted and sank in her lustful stare
I struggled to breathe, to resist her charms
And surrendered in her loving arms
That stormy night of endless autumn
When she kissed my lips to make us one
I, the steadiest ship on the shore
That stormy night, remained no more