Saturday, December 24, 2005
Haven’t we all understood the importance of saying things with flowers, with diamonds, or as they say, “sealed with a kiss”…
There’s so much that can be understood from the eyes alone. Because they can lie, they can sing a song, they can create a whole picture but they can’t hide anything. Stories are told much more fluidly when it’s just the eyes that do the talking…
I couldn’t have probably said it anyways… it’s always so hard to come up with those words when you need them the most… and as I look back, Heaven knows that the right words forever failed me… and I am not denying that there were occasions when “someone” had understood this dilemma, but I can say with surety that these were the very occasions when words seemed to matter so much less than the importance we give to them…
Strangely enough, sometimes, it makes much more sense when nothing is said…
Sometimes, words just come in the way of all that you really want to tell…
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
At least in those times when there are no cranky children trying to hide under your berth; or a group of women talking animatedly about jewellery, utensils and of course, other women; or a bunch of schoolguys who (on one of their hourly supervisions of the entire train) have just spotted a good-looking girl some 5 coaches away, and are now scheming wildly on ways to grab her attention...
Assuming the absence of such distractions, there's a lot of soul-searching that people can generally undertake as the metal giant traverses across varying landscapes.
As the train passes through those primarily agricultural lands, all you see around is vegetation, of some kind or the other. And the shadows of the Sun criss-cross through those trees and shrubs in a way that reminds us of all those memories that do the same dance within our minds. Or the way in which the Sun hides itself behind a tree or a lamppost, and is back in a second. Feels so much like Hope, as it leaves us sometimes but then we grab it back immediately, knowing very well that it is perhaps Hope that sustains life on this planet; much like the Sun…
And as it passes in front of some houses that are built on either side of the tracks, a sense of sympathy emerges towards those who have to bear with this sound for so many times during the day.
Perhaps they are now in a stage that they ignore it; or perhaps they are not disturbed by it anymore as they are so used to it; or perhaps they do curse their situations for having placed them there; but in all cases, we do understand this about their predicament (and hence, vicariously, we can extend it to our own existence) – no matter what you do, sometimes you just have to learn to live with life…
Equally interesting are times when you see the sea of faces waiting at the gates (well, actually waiting on either side of the gates – the more adventurous ones being closer to the train). In that huge mass (and the train is generally slower as the station is approaching), you can see yourself in almost every stranger’s face – as they wait, some patiently (after all it’s a train, not a small bus); some annoyingly (why did the damn train had to have 50 coaches?); some optimistically (it’s just a train, it will pass); some pessimistically (why does a train have to be there everytime I cross this road?); some with awe and wonder (it’s surprising to witness the efficiency of Indian railways); some with boredom (Oh no, a train again?).
And the remaining with a mixture of emotions on their faces as they try to use this time to run through all the things that have been on their minds (prices of potatoes have risen again; how much amount should be spent on a brother’s daughter’s marriage next week; what’s the best way to lose weight?; what the best way to find the next meal?).
In the kaleidoscope of those strangers’ eyes, you can find shades of your own…
Trains can actually be closer to life than we perhaps realize…
Friday, December 16, 2005
... When you get a $200K job out of college?
... When you get a job your friends respect you for?
... When you get a job you respect yourself for?
... When you get to do what you always wanted to do?
... When you meet someone on the flight, and decide to be friends forever?
... When you look out the window and there’s a little morning mist around, and dew on the leaves?
... When you look in her eyes and realize that you don’t really need to say anything?
... When you meet a long-lost friend in a bookstore that you rarely visit?
... When you find an old photograph that you can’t stop smiling at, crying at, and shaking your head at; all at the same time?
... When you make stupid sounds and a baby stops crying?
... When you find God?
... When you find someone worth living for?
... When you find someone worth dying for?
... When all your prayers are answered?
... When you don’t need prayers anymore?
... When you can sing in the rain and not bother about who is looking?
... When you have climbed the Mount Everest?
... When you have climbed the small green hill and can watch the Sun go down?
... When you have found the meaning of life?
... When you have found life?
... When you find yourself?
... When you lose yourself?
Thursday, December 15, 2005
For this night, I have committed a crime.
A folly for which I will perhaps curse myself forever. They say it takes 20 years to build a reputation, and only 20 minutes to destroy it. I mean, I had everything going for me – a decent past, a decent school and perhaps a decent girl ahead... But out of desperation, I laid everything on the line tonight as I stooped so low into uncharted depths...
I found out tonight that it is this urge for sudden gratification that leads men to such transgressions. But I had never thought in my life that I would be one of them. A perfect gentleman, yes, that’s how I looked upon myself; and look what I’ve done... I’ve fallen... Gone so far away from my ideals, from all that my mother taught me, from all that people around me expected of me...
What will my (future) wife and kids think when they find out about this night? Will I be able to keep a straight face then? For years to come, I shall remember this – the night I read Sidney Sheldon...
I could have re-read “The Fury”, I could have re-read “An Equal Music”, I could have re-read “Memoirs of a Geisha”, I could have re-read... anything... But just because I had nothing new to read, I picked up a Sheldon novel? How shameful, how disgraceful? That’s all the patience I’ve got? That’s as far as my morals go?
I shall just pray that I am able to forgive the sins of this night by the time the first rays of dawn hit the ground...
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Infact, some of them just live to talk. Most women have this capability to talk on any topic under the Sun, and comfortably hold the conversation for a few hours. It must be a skill, I believe. I look at them with awe and wonder as I realize the amazing potential all of them possess.
Ten thousand words.
As per a study, that’s the average number of words an average woman speaks in an average day. As far as my understanding goes, I don’t think there’s anything remotely average about this whole thing. I sympathize with those who conducted the study, and unless it was a bunch of women, they would have committed suicide by the end they came out with this number.
They talk while eating.
They also talk while walking, while running, while brushing their teeth, while cooking, while putting on make-up, while... well, while just about doing anything. It’s these facts that make us realize that one of the many good uses of Sleep is to ensure that this species stops talking for a while. Though I am pretty sure there do exist women (nature never fails to impress, you see...) who have successfully overcome this obstacle, and are now peacefully wreaking havoc on those around them, chattering to their hearts’ content even in their sleep.
Three thousand words.
As per the same study, that’s the average number of words an average man speaks in an average day. Given the scientific fact that there is only so much air you can breathe in (and out), somebody had to compensate for the frantic consumption of this natural resource by one of the classes of human beings. The scapegoat (as always) was the other variety – The one that starts with “M” and ends in “N” with an “E” thrown in between as a consolation.
Ever noticed how a fish breathes?
That’s how most men look when they are in the company of women. The mouth opens (the race is definitely very brave as it keeps trying), only to be closed promptly, much like a fish’s gills at work. It is not surprising that most men turn to writing poetry (or writing blogs), as there is usually no bandwidth available on the other media.
Women have four speech-centres in their brain.
This is a conclusion drawn from another study conducted to explain this almost extra-terrestrial phenomenon. The result also helps to explain why there is nothing much else in that space between their ears. And it also indicates that it was perhaps God’s will that come what may, there’s one thing a woman will never fall short of – words.
Men, on the other hand, have been blessed with nothing less than one speech-centre (oh Mother Nature, how kind you are...), which (as explained above) is gradually atrophying on account of domination by the Four-Speech-Centre variety.
Talking helps you live longer.
There is a correlation (a rather strong one) between this statement and the new scientific reality that the average life-span of women is increasing and (by a similar logic) the life-span of men is falling.
I wonder if this is what Darwin meant by survival of the fittest? And I believe the Good Lord does realize His folly as He sits up there wondering what went wrong in the world He created. He gave women too much of everything (I have absolutely no problem with that), but somehow in the rush of things, forgot something so very essential...
Just the other day, I was going through the morning newspaper (so far, so usual...) when after a while I turned around to check the clock – One hour had passed, and I was still on the same page, and then I realized that I had been only staring at a single headline for all this while. There was nothing disturbing or anything remotely extraordinary about the headline, and frankly speaking, I hadn’t been thinking at all about that piece of text anyways...
My thoughts had just ran away somewhere, and the newspaper had transformed into some kind of a screen, complete with audio and video, as all kinds of images poured onto that screen and I just watched. In some images were incidents that had actually happened, in others were incidents that should have happened, and the rest of the images were just manifestations of a continuing confusion.
I hope there’s a way out of this. I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but I still want to find a way back to normalcy where the written words don’t keep metamorphosing into a thousand pictures...
Throughout the few hours that I was there in that city, I realized that something had changed inside me. I became aware that I was not really asking God for anything as I stood there in front of the holy idols, holding my hands. Rather I was just standing thoughtless, strangely devoid of anything.
Maybe I have already asked for too much?
Maybe I had too many things to ask for?
Maybe I didn’t have anything to ask for?
Maybe I didn’t want to bother Him anymore?
Maybe I do understand that He knows more about me than I do?
Sunday, December 11, 2005
We all imagine our pretty princess, fairer than a fairy, more elegant than Elegance herself; or those knights in their shining proverbial armors, on white (or is it black?) horses, to sweep the dame off her feet. But problems begin when we hunt around for those tales in our own lives, hoping feverishly for that dream to come true, and maybe in the process of searching for what we want, we might ignore what we should have wanted...
For what use are the charms of the sweet princess if she refuses to lend a helping hand when her man needs one; and to what avail the valiant knight and his black (or is it white?) horse, if none of his powers can fathom even an inch of that ocean that his woman’s mind would be?
It is perhaps for this reason that it is generally believed that it’s not we who find love, but love that finds us... But that still doesn’t clarify whether (in those unfortunate cases) it is we who lose that love, or is it our love that deserts us?
Saturday, December 10, 2005
I have observed this strange tendency in my behavior lately – of trying to dilly-dally when a good book is about to end. It does sound ridiculous, but it’s almost like a relationship coming to an end, and you don’t want to let go...
There’s a feeling that once this ends, perhaps there will be left behind a void that I desperately want to avoid.
And I am not talking about the Ken Follets or Dan Browns here. It is authors like Naipaul, Rushdie, Paulo Coelho and Vikram Seth that I am talking about. Stories where there are no twists, no last-minute cop-and-thief chases, and no major mysteries to solve, except perhaps, trying to gain an insight into the greatest mystery of them all – life itself...So much like the curse of a sailor... Every attempt to move closer to the shore, to find the ending, to walk on the sand again, results only in that longing for the faithless sea again, and sometimes praying that the journey doesn't end, but of course, hoping that it does...
Here’s a masterpiece, to start with (has a lesson for perhaps everyone):
“...There was a great deal they did not understand about each other. They were not soulmates. Theirs was a companionship based on mutual confidence rather than confidences.
They believed in each other’s abilities, in each other’s character and in each other’s love. It may not have been a requited passionate romance, but it was a deep and abiding concern. Beset by life, isolated in the world, in each other they found a strong and sheltering harbor.
What is perfect? In a world with so much suffering, isolation and indifference, it is cause for gratitude if something is sufficiently good.”
And here’s another that reveals what a true sacrifice perhaps means (Shanti is Vikram’s uncle, one of the “lives” in the book; Henny is his wife, the other “life”):
“Shanti had told her he would give his life for her. In the end, Henny did something perhaps more difficult; she tried to live on, despite indignity and pain, for his sake”
Here’s a glimpse of the author’s understanding of the immortality of good friends:
“..if we live long, the living dwindle to a small proportion of those we know. I keep up a conversation of sorts with some of my dead friends. But often there is no response, and the result is an empty sorrow. I keep at it, though, so that they should not be forgotten, and –more importantly – that I should not be left completely without them”
We get a glimpse of the pain caused by the Holocaust through these lines:
“...God gives us no more to bear than we are capable of bearing. But in her case and that of her daughters, he appears to have exceeded his brief, as in the case of millions more.”
And towards the end, as the author gets particularly philosophical, he reminds us that everyone of us is special in our own way and reiterates the complex simplicity of our existence:
“...Behind every door on every ordinary street, in every hut in every ordinary village on this middling planet of a trivial star, such riches are to be found. The strange journeys we undertake on our earthly pilgrimage, the joy and suffering we taste or confer, the chance events that cleave us together or apart, what a complex trace they leave: so personal as to be almost incommunicable, so fugitive as to be almost irrecoverable...”
(End of Part – II)
The story moves mainly through documents and old letters that the author has gathered. It is through this (now almost non-existent) mode of communication that we witness the emotions that had to be so carefully inked, knowing full well that a postcard would take at least a week to reach its intended recipient. In this e-age, where relations change dramatically, in a matter of days, it is, for a change, interesting to look at life through pen and mere paper.
The author does describe, in detail, contemporary events, such as the political scenario in India, the second world war, British politics, anti-Semitism, Nazism and of course Auschwitz. The events at this last-mentioned horrendous location are covered in a very poignant way, wherein the author delves into the gruesome, painful and gory details of what happened to the victims of the Holocaust, with particular reference to a close relative of one of the “lives” being covered. The author maintains a context throughout, somewhat akin to what we see in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.
(End of Part - I)
You are almost at the shore, one more step and perhaps the waves will appear threatening, rather than welcoming. And as you were running, it always felt that the distances were gradually reducing, but what has changed in all this while is Change itself. Still at the crossroads, and once again perplexed about where it all will end up. Moments when you feel that even if you could go back, and change those years, you would perhaps still be standing here, wary of the things you missed out upon, and sorry for what you did...
I remember somebody mentioning this strangeness of life – as soon as you think you’ve sorted it all out, it fools you again...
Someday I will ask Life all these questions, and hope it answers me then. Till then, perhaps I have to live with the understanding that being tricked by it is all part of the game?
Thursday, December 08, 2005
And starts to climb towards the light...”
There are friends who still ask why am I so obsessed with Rock music, and why don’t I try other genres of music. And this is the answer that I give them:
I started with the usual pop influences, and grew up thinking that Michael Jackson was actually cool, and that there was indeed something interesting about Madonna. I fed myself (or rather, was fed) on a diet of pop till my eighth or ninth grade when perhaps out of those first crushes (there were 26 guys and 20 girls in my high-school class – needless to say, everyone waited eagerly for the Biology classes, but that’s a different topic altogether), or perhaps out of my increasing appreciation for softer rhythms and somewhat meaningful lyrics, I actually started collecting Hindi film music. I would use to sit at a friend’s place for a few hours, listening to the latest numbers, and then recording the particularly mellow and lyrically sensible ones.
This mix of Hindi/English pop continued till almost the second year of my Engineering, when a friend introduced me to Pink Floyd. Their first album that I listened to, was “The Wall” and after the first hearing (and the scene is still as vivid in my memory as ever), I shut the door of my room, sat down with the lyrics and listened to the epic again, non-stop. When I opened the door after a couple of hours, I was a changed person. It was as if curtains had been pulled away, and somebody had washed the dust from the air, and my search for the perfect music was over right then and there.
With their detailed description of the strangeness of a human life – “Don’t be surprised when a crack in the ice appears under your feet...” (from “The Thin Ice”, album: “The Wall”), and with just the right mix of guitars, keyboards and percussion, the connection with Floyd was immediate. Further explorations of this band’s music opened my eyes wider to all that I had been missing till then – “You run, you run to catch up with the Sun, but it’s sinking; Racing around, to come up behind you again” (from “Time”, album: “Dark Side of the Moon”).
And then, as they say, one thing led to another and before I knew, I was deep into bands like Rush, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, and the list goes on... I had started reading up on Rock, the origins, the sub-genres, the techniques, the out-of-the-world ensemble of audio and video, and then came a stage when those 20-minute songs (with 15 minutes of music and 5 minutes of vocals) started making perfect sense. Of course, by this time I had thrown all the Whigfield and Spice Girls tapes out of the door.
And that’s where I am now, at peace when I am with the Gods, knowing that the truth is not really that far, but somewhere near, and that help is always, literally, just a song away...
“And I’ll climb the hill in my own way; Just wait a while for the right day...”
Note: The beginning quote of this post is from “Echoes” (album: “Meddle”), and the ending quote is from “Fearless” (album: “Meddle”)
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
There are times when we look for reasons to fall in love. And then, we look for reasons to fall out of it. The only thing I’ve figured out is that if it needs a reason, then it’s not love. Or not love at least the kind we generally imagine it to be (though as a quirk of fate, this love of our imagination remains imaginary throughout...). If you could find a reason for your love, chances are pretty high that one day, you will end up finding reasons to break it all up.
Love doesn’t need adjectives or qualifiers. Note that throughout this post, I’ve never referred to “true love” or “pure love” or even the almost clichéd, “unconditional love”.
That’s because love is all-powerful all by itself. You see, the process of love is very different from the process of choosing ice creams. There’s no scope for having different flavors, say vanilla or chocolate or strawberry. Give your love the respect it deserves, and rest assured, it will respect you back.
Matter of fact, love is so much like a joke. If it’s a good one, you keep on smiling everytime you remember it. If it was a bad one, you wonder what was the need for that joke anyways. And in some cases, you just look back and think whether it was really a joke that you were told? (Upon extending the metaphor, the last statement enquires whether what you felt was really love?)
(to be continued...)
Monday, December 05, 2005
Well, zillions of men have tried to figure out what a woman wants, and zillions (well, give or take a few...) have consequently failed. Can't live with them, can't leave them either, can't love them, can't hate them either, can't trust them, and can't wait to be fooled by them either..!! They do certainly add a lot of color to this planet, and frankly speaking, this wide world would be quite a useless place without them.
- They are occasionally fickle?
- They keep a careful count of the flowers and the diamonds and generally ignore the small favors we do for them to make their life easier?
- They sometimes believe that they can be in "love" with more than one man, and that none of them is capable of finding it out?
- They live with the satisfaction that they can hide everything behind a nice smile (or a few tears), and we will never be able to read their eyes?
Inspite of all their idiosyncracies, we can't really forget that only a woman can look as cute and sweet as ever even if she just got out of bed. While men generally look worse than warted toads in their check or striped pyjamas, it does take a woman to look gorgeous even in her night-dress.
What I have really learnt from this place (and this should be true for a lot of people), is in terms of intangible benefits. The ability to screw your system so much so that you actually feel hungry enough at 3 o clock in the night, is something that most of us would not normally learn anywhere else. The strength to go on with a 3-hour-sleep routine for days on end is what I will certainly thank this place for (and will simultaneously pray that the need to use this skill doesn't present itself very often...)
Working as a senior coordinator for the Forum for Industrial Interaction, and organizing VISTA was by far the best learning experience from IIMB that I can think of. This was one task which exposed me to an amazing variety of people in our entire batch (some so good you wish they were in every team you worked with, and then some so strange that they just leave you wondering in disbelief...), pushed me to the edge in terms of taking last minute decisions, taught me what a fire-fighter actually goes through as he tries to save a baby on the top-floor of a burning mansion, and finally gave me the satisfaction that the baby was adjudged as being in perfect shape and health at the end of it all...:).
And similar were the summer placements for our first-years. The "art" of tracking, is an art indeed. Yes, the notepad and the walkie are certainly cool and sexy, but what really was important was that "growing beyond yourself" feeling. When candidates look up to you to "schedule" them at a proper time, or ask you intermittently for results, or what their chances are, you do realize that you are not just carrying out a process, but that you are dealing with the expectations and emotions of a lot of people. You have to be mechanical, because each company has it's own timelimits and process constraints, but you also have to become much more than an ordinary human, to understand and appreciate the pain of others when you yourself have probably not slept for 3 days, have eaten only in fits and starts, with your mind still focussed on finding the next set of people, and you certainly did not have a chance to sit down for a significant number of hours. What it entails? To work around the process, so that you can give some time to those who have been sitting through one GD after the other (or at least give them time to dry those tears that not everyone can see...), to let them know that they are in no way, the "left-out" lot (yes, this system sucks as far as this aspect of it is concerned), and most importantly, to be there as a guide and a friend when half of their "friends" can't find time off from their partying.
Will continue with more of my learnings in a later post...
What am I most concerned about is the underlying idea of a relationship having to "go" somewhere, that desire to find a logical conclusion to whatever the present state of affairs (pun intended) is.
So why should a relationship lead to something? Why can't we just look upon it as a cup of nice, hot coffee where every sip is as cherishable (and hence, perishable) as the sound of finally putting the cup down, and the moment when you turn your head just a little to the right and say, "Nice coffee, now who's paying?". Why is it that we (more often than not) fail to savor the joy of the journey, instead of worrying about the destination? Agreed, the "conclusion" has it's own relevance, but most of the times we do kill an otherwise beautiful connection by being anxious more about the end than just realizing that nothing anyway lasts forever, even a cup of coffee...
And so this time I will do it differently. It won't be a daily record. But rather, a collection of notes that I generally write to myself. Lessons, observations, feelings and the like. Let's see how it goes...