Keep the Spark Alive – By Chetan Bhagat

Following is the Inaugural Speech for the new batch at the Symbiosis BBA program, Pune 23rd June, 2008

By Chetan Bhagat.

Good Morning everyone and thank you for giving me this chance to speak to you. This day is about you. You, who have come to this college, leaving the comfort of your homes (or in some cases discomfort), to become something in your life. I am sure you are excited. There are few days in human life when one is truly elated.  The first day in college is one of them.  When you were getting ready today, you felt a tingling in your stomach. What would the auditorium be like, what would the teachers be like, who are my new classmates – there is so much to be curious about. I call this excitement, the spark within you that makes you feel truly alive today. Today I am going to talk about keeping the spark shining. Or to put it another way, how to be happy most, if not all the time.

Where do these sparks start? I think we are born with them. My 3-year old twin boys have a million sparks. A little Spiderman toy can make them jump on the bed. They get thrills from creaky swings in the park. A story from daddy gets them excited. They do a daily countdown for birthday party – several months in advance – just for the day they will cut their own birthday cake.

I see students like you, and I still see some sparks. But when I see older people, the spark is difficult to find. That means as we age, the spark fades. People whose spark has faded too much are dull, dejected, aimless and bitter. Remember Kareena in the first half of Jab We Met vs the second half? That is what happens when the spark is lost.   So how to save the spark?

Imagine the spark to be a lamp’s flame. The first aspect is nurturing – to give your spark the fuel, continuously. The second is to guard against storms.

To nurture, always have goals. It is human nature to strive, improve and achieve full potential. In fact, that is success. It is what is possible for you. It isn’t any external measure – a certain cost to company pay package, a particular car or house.

Most of us are from middle class families. To us, having material landmarks is success and rightly so. When you have grown up where money constraints force everyday choices, financial freedom is a big achievement. But it isn’t the purpose of life. If that was the case, Mr. Ambani would not show up for work. Shah Rukh Khan would stay at home and not dance anymore. Steve Jobs won’t be working hard to make a better iPhone, as he sold Pixar for billions of dollars already. Why do they do it? What makes them come to work everyday? They do it because it makes them happy. They do it because it makes them feel alive. Just getting better from current levels feels good. If you study hard, you can improve your rank. If you make an effort to interact with people, you will do better in interviews. If you practice, your cricket will get better. You may also know that you cannot become Tendulkar, yet. But you can get to the next level. Striving for that next level is important.

Nature designed with a random set of genes and circumstances in which we were born. To be happy, we have to accept it and make the most of nature’s design. Are you? Goals will help you do that.

I must add, don’t just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life. I use the word balanced before successful. Balanced means ensuring your health, relationships, mental peace are all in good order.

There is no point of getting a promotion on the day of your breakup. There is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts. Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions.

You must have read some quotes – Life is a tough race, it is a marathon or whatever. No, from what I have seen so far, life is one of those races in nursery school, where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth. If the marble falls, there is no point coming first. Same with life, where health and relationships are the marble. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve the success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive, will start to die.

One last thing about nurturing the spark – don’t take life seriously. One of my yoga teachers used to make students laugh during classes. One student asked him if these jokes would take away something from the yoga practice. The teacher said – don’t be serious, be sincere. This quote has defined my work ever since. Whether its my writing, my job, my relationships or any of my goals. I get thousands of opinions on my writing everyday. There is heaps of praise, there is intense criticism. If I take it all seriously, how will I write? Or rather, how will I live? Life is not to be taken seriously, as we are really temporary here. We are like a pre-paid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years. And 50 years is just 2,500 weekends. Do we really need to get so worked up? It’s ok, bunk a few classes, goof up a few interviews, fall in love. We are people, not programmed devices.

I’ve told you three things – reasonable goals, balance and not taking it too seriously that will nurture the spark. However, there are four storms in life that will threaten to completely put out the flame. These must be guarded against. These are disappointment, frustration, unfairness and loneliness of purpose.

Disappointment will come when your effort does not give you the expected return. If things don’t go as planned or if you face failure. Failure is extremely difficult to handle, but those that do come out stronger. What did this failure teach me? is the question you will need to ask. You will feel miserable. You will want to quit, like I wanted to when nine publishers rejected my first book. Some IITians kill themselves over low grades – how silly is that? But that is how much failure can hurt you. But it’s life. If challenges could always be overcome, they would cease to be a challenge. And remember – if you are failing at something, that means you are at your limit or potential. And that’s where you want to be.

Disappointment’s cousin is  frustration, the second storm.  Have you ever been frustrated? It happens when things are stuck. This is especially relevant in India. From traffic jams to getting that job you deserve, sometimes things take so long that you don’t know if you chose the right goal. After books, I set the goal of writing for Bollywood, as I thought they needed writers. I am called extremely lucky, but it took me five years to get close to  a release. Frustration saps excitement, and turns your initial energy into something negative, making you a bitter person. How did I deal with it? A realistic assessment of the time involved – movies take a long time to make even though they are watched quickly, seeking a certain enjoyment in the process rather than the end result – at least I was learning how to write scripts, having a side plan – I had my third book to write and even something as simple as pleasurable distractions in your life  – friends, food, travel can help you overcome it. Remember, nothing is to be taken seriously. Frustration is a sign somewhere, you took it too seriously.

Unfairness – this is hardest to deal with, but unfortunately that is how our country works. People with connections, rich dads, beautiful faces, pedigree find it easier to make it – not just in Bollywood, but everywhere. And sometimes it is just plain luck. There are so few opportunities in India, so many stars need to be aligned for you to make it happen. Merit and hard work is not always linked to achievement in the short term, but the long term correlation is high, and ultimately things do work out. But realize, there will be some people luckier than you. In fact, to have an opportunity to go to college and understand this speech in English means you are pretty damn lucky by Indian standards. Let’s be grateful for what we have and get the strength to accept what we don’t. I have so much love from my readers that other writers cannot even imagine it. However, I don’t get literary praise. It’s ok. I don’t look like Aishwarya Rai, but I have two boys who I think are more beautiful than her. It’s OK. Don’t let unfairness kill your spark.

Finally, the last point that can kill your spark is isolation. As you grow older you will realize you are unique. When you are little, all kids want Ice cream and Spiderman. As you grow older to college, you still are a lot like your friends. But ten years later and you realize you are unique. What you want, what you believe in, what makes you feel, may be different from even the people closest to you. This can create conflict as your goals may not match with others. . And you may drop some of them. Basketball captains in college invariably stop playing basketball by the time they have their second child. They give up something that meant so much to them. They do it for their family. But in doing that, the spark dies. Never, ever make that compromise. Love yourself first, and then others.

There you go. I’ve told you the four thunderstorms – disappointment, frustration, unfairness and isolation. You cannot avoid them, as like the monsoon they will come into your life at regular intervals. You just need to keep the raincoat handy to not let the spark die.

I welcome you again to the most wonderful  years of your life. If someone gave me the choice to go back in time, I will surely choose college. But I also hope that ten years later as well, your eyes will shine the same way as they do today. That you will Keep the Spark alive, not only through college, but through the next 2,500 weekends. And I hope not just you, but my whole country will keep that spark alive, as we really need it now more than any moment in history. And there is something cool about saying – I come from the land of a billion sparks.

Thank You!


Funny Resignation Letters Part 3

Director of Corruptive Affairs

The Office of Non-Compliance

Re: Resignation Letter

Dear Director,

As per our legal contract, it is in my duty to present to you a letter of resignation.

While working for the Office of Non-Compliance Association, I realized being punctual, never absent, well groomed, easy going, and just being a proficient employee holds no importance to you. I know this because in my first month, it was very evident when you called me in your office and recommend I wear “makeup” because I’m a woman. Well anyway, everyone in the office knows you secretly wear “makeup” among other things yourself. I hope for your sake your equally pretentious superficial wife doesn’t find out.

Also, I can honestly say I’m ecstatic about leaving this company. Watching you bounce and parade around the office pretending to know what you were doing was more nauseating than my stomach could bear. I have never worked anywhere before that made me check my mail everyday hoping for jury duty, or waking up every morning in hopes of finding pink eye or chicken pox in the mirror. Furthermore, we all know this company will be sold to new CEO’s this year. You will in fact be out of a job very shortly. Not only because of your political ties, but mainly because of your inadequacy and idiotic incompetence. Especially when you go in front of the monthly committee to answer simple questions you don’t seem to have the intellectual capacity to comprehend much less respond with.

I really pity you as a Director. You should have been paying more attention to your work statistics, weekly reports and your unethical staff. Instead you were busy instigating corruption in your office, as well as focusing on why I don’t want to wear makeup. Now, l really don’t expect you to give me a perverse recommendation when my future job inquiries call you. Also, don’t even make attempts on framing me up on any of your illegal on goings in the office out of spite. Just in case, I will have my attorney call you periodically to test you on your already failed integrity. Keep in mind it’s illegal if you do any of the above or threaten bodily harm. If you slip up, I can press charges or civilly sue you. However, being you won’t have any financial assets by then, due to that investigation that’s being held against you. You may resort to using that same “make-up” theory while you’re sitting in prison.


The best worker you would have ever had.

Funny Resignation Letters Part 2

Here is teh second dose!! 😉


Ralph N. Barbara

Office Coercion Administrator IV

The Office of Non-Compliance


Re:  Resignation Letter



Dear Ralph N. Barbara,


I am sure you are wondering why I’m addressing this resignation  letter to you, being you are not management nor my supervisor. Truth be told, I am extremely confident this letter will get expedited to management through your part. You have done such an astounding job on reporting everything else to them in the past, this too will be automatic.


I would like to think you are also in shock and disturbed that I’m leaving this company. No more will there be a push over like me to complete your work assignments when you’re on 3 hour lunches, brown nosing, surfing the internet and maliciously stirring up chaos among everyone in the office. Also, when  you come in late to work with your self inflicted personal problems, I will no longer be here for you to verbally abuse. You will have to find other means to feel superior about your worthless being. You will also have to find someone else to publicly humiliate, spread vicious rumors on,  elbow in the hallway, make up names for, lie on, and steal credit from on a daily basis.


I feel extremely guilty leaving you holding the bag, especially after I’ve written numerous unreciprocated letters to management about your heinous office deeds. So now, I would like to thank you for encouraging me on making this desperate life altering decision. I’m now leaving my 65k annual job with this company to becoming a parking lot attendant where you can’t find me. Thanks to you I have gained a tremendous array of newly found skills that I can now claim under my professional belt. For example, my new expertise consist of cooping with my recently diagnosed depression disorder, stomach ulcers, nightmares, blood curling migraines and my diminished relationship with family and friends.


But remember Ralph N. Barbara, things might not be so bad now that I’m gone. The next individual you appoint to take my place might be quite proficient with eliminating you of your life’s misery for all eternity.  I really wish this for you, Ralph N. Barbara.




Your office victim…

Funny Resignation Letters Part 1

Looking at the hits at the Resignation Letters Section, starting this post, I am starting a special series on some funny farewell and resignation letters that i found on the net.  Enjoy !! 🙂

Ms. C. Crooke

Staff Incompetence Manager

The Office of Non-Compliance


Re:  Resignation Letter



Dear Ms. Crooke,


Let me first start by saying, I have always admired how your professional demeanor in the office ironically correlates with your surname.  Being said, I would have given you 2 weeks resignation notice.  However,  I have watched you over the years immediately terminate employees after they give you their dutiful 2 weeks resignation notice. Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to present this resignation letter to you effective immediately.


You have always said I should be more proactive and take more initiative, so I’m sure you won’t mind me taking this initiative and beating you to the punch. How I see it, I’m saving you the trouble of thinking up of some devious accusation to terminate my employment and tarnishing my good name in this unethical  corporate world.  Now, I don’t expect you to care about my well being because you don’t even care about your own children or your husband. That’s why you spend most of  your time in your office after hours pretending to do the company’s work.


By the way, I just know after you read the first paragraph, your little evil micro-managing calculating brain had already thought up of a devious plan to spite me with.  Keep in mind, I don’t need you at this point for a letter of recommendation.  Your secretary, who is seeing your husband behind your back has already taken care of that for me.  You should have paid more attention to all the documents your secretary made you sign in the past week. Your husband filed for divorce weeks ago unknown to you and your secretary made you sign your divorce papers. She also made you sign over all your rights to your house, children, money and other assets. Well, I bid you farewell and I hope you found this letter as amusing as everyone else in the office did.




…On to a better tomorrow


Cc: The entire office staff.

Swearing At Work

It has been brought to management’s attention that some individuals throughout the company have been using foul language during the course

of normal conversation with their co-workers.

Due to complaints received from some employees who may be easily offended, this type of language will no longer be tolerated.

We do however, realize the critical importance of being able to accurately express your feelings when communicating with co-workers. Therefore, a list of 18 New and Innovative phrases have been provided so that proper exchange of ideas and information can continue in an effective manner.

I think you could use more training.
You don’t know what the f___ you’re doing.

She’s an aggressive go-getter.
She’s a ball-busting b__ch.

Perhaps I can work late.
And when the f___ do you expect me to do this?

I’m certain that isn’t feasible.
No f___ing way.

You’ve got to be sh__ing me!

Perhaps you should check with…
Tell someone who gives a sh__.

I wasn’t involved in the project.
It’s not my f____ing problem.

That’s interesting.
What the f___?

I’m not sure this can be implemented.
This sh__ won’t work.

I’ll try to schedule that.

Read the rest of this entry »

Special High Intensity Training (S.H.I.T)

In order to assure the highest levels of quality work and productivity from
employees, it will be our policy to keep all employees well trained through
our program of SPECIAL HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING (S.H.I.T.). We are trying
to give employees more S.H.I.T. than anyone else.
If you feel that you do not receive your share of S.H.I.T. on the job,
please see your manager. You will be immediately placed at the top of the
S.H.I.T. list, and our managers are especially skilled at seeing that you
get all the S.H.I.T. you can handle.

Employees who don’t take their S.H.I.T. will be placed in DEPARTMENTAL
Those who fail to take
D.E.E.P.S.H.I.T. seriously will have to go to EMPLOYEE ATTITUDE TRAINING

Since our managers took S.H.I.T. before they were promoted, they don’t
have to do S.H.I.T. anymore, and are all full of S.H.I.T. already.
If you are full of S.H.I.T., you may be interested in job training others.
We can add your name to our BASIC UNDERSTANDING LECTURE LIST

Those who are full of B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T. will get the S.H.I.T. jobs, and can
apply for promotion to DIRECTOR OF INTENSITY PROGRAMMING (D.I.P.S.H.I.T.).

If you have further questions, please direct them to our HEAD OF TRAINING,

Thank you,

(B.I.G. S.H.I.T.)

Six Phases of a Project

Mentioned below are 6 stages in a project life cycle.. How True!!

1) Enthusiasm

2) Disillusionment

3) Panic

4) Search for the guilty

5) Punishment of the innocent

6) Praise and honours for non-participants