Parents- Our Outstanding Debts

He no longer breathes as freely as he used to before. She no longer feels fit enough to travel long distances for a vacation.

They don’t walk as fast as they used to, a few years back.

The coffee takes longer to be prepared. The vegetables take longer to be cut.

Their food intake is a product of various restrictions placed on them by age and by medical experts.

Suddenly, in the fast paced world, they seem to be laggards,hoping that someone like you or me take them as a pillion on a ride which they aren’t too accustomed to.

Yet, they have done all that they could in their capacities to ensure that you or me are equipped well enough to handle the pace of the current world without breaking a sweat.

For most of our lives ( and I am talking about folks of my age), we grow up with a sense of entitlement. Entitlement towards all our whims and fancies that we assume should be satisfied because we are children, and as parents, it is only natural that they give us all of that. We were chastised when needed, pampered when needed, but more often than not, most of our parents gave in to our demands, even at the cost of their happiness at times.

Yet, for all of us, as we grow, over the ages, we get acquainted with the reality around us. Slowly, we come to terms with the ways of the world. Ways, which may or may not concur with what was taught to you back at home. It is something that I would wish to say that at this point, that this current generation that we belong to, are on a threshold between the values and practices of the past and the wide open door of the future which disregards a lot of these as impractical for the ways of life today. With reality becoming increasing virtual, we are faced with this desire to be increasingly ‘accepted’ by peers. It is a pressing matter and more often than not, some of us tend to lose our sanity in this mad race.

But this isn’t a post about the ways of our generation because like one of my friends pointed out, each of us tend to have our own moral standards and we deem that right . The call for something which is universally accepted is looked upon as ‘dictatorship’ and suddenly we hear terms like ‘progressive society, space in relationships’ and words like that which seem to be ‘contextually’ right.

Thinking about which, makes me say this that these are the very terms we use when we go back to our parents while making our case. It is not a case where I am saying that our parents are always right because their judgements are often a result of their experiences which have been vastly different from the ones that we have today. Yet somewhere I believe that we find it easier to dismiss their opinions rather than ‘lose face’ in the front of our peers for having a different perspective about the point of conflict.

However, I think that all of us at some point of time come face to face with the ‘moment of truth’ regarding our parents and that often shapes the way we begin to look at them. For however bitter the truth is, it is not a very pleasant sight to see your parents age in front of you and struggle to deal with tasks which they once accomplished with ease. Age here isn’t just about physical deterioration, it is also about the mental deterioration. For the times that they have grown up or lived in have seen a different world as compared to the world of ‘temporal’ relationships that we are getting used to.

Yet, there is one fundamental thing. For all that we crib about or fume around on social media or otherwise to satisfy our ego or self-respect, the truth is that our parents have more of that in their little finger than we have in our entire lifetime. For irrespective of what we earn or what our designation at work might be, we will always continue to be their children and they have perhaps understood what ‘self-sufficiency’ is, much better than us.

Which is why they never ‘ask’. They do not hold all the sacrifices they’ve made over the years as a gun over your head and coerce you into their biding.

But,we…need to understand.

Life has now come a full circle and our parents are now akin to ‘children’. Children with strong egos and self-respect which makes it imperative that we tread paths cautiously. Ensuring that we ‘care’ enough for them without really making it sound like a favour or an extra burden.

I cannot speak for everyone at this point , yet I can say that ten years back, my mother used to sit up late into the night with me to ensure that I do not feel lonely while I studied. Ten years hence, even as I knock the doors of my home late in the night after work, she’s there,opening it for me with her dinner unfinished. To ensure that I do not feel lonely while I have my dinner. My father has never been outwardly expressive about his concern for me, maybe that is how fathers are. Yet I find him awake in the night long after he has gone to bed, only to ask me how my day at work was.

Last week, I happened to take my Mom on the Bangalore Metro. It was her first ever ride. She sat there next to me, gazing out of the window in awe. Having noticed a couple of people clicking selfies, she looked at me and asked me if we both could click one too. I clicked one and as we got off the train, she said ‘Thank You’.

Somehow that hit me hard. For all the years that she had toiled endlessly with her tuitions and household chores to ensure that we were never kept wanting, her satisfaction lay in a simple selfie clicked on a train and she was being so thankful for that. Yet here we are in the world, doing more than what is warranted for mere acquaintances who still complain that we could have done better.

Everyday as I leave home for work, I leave in the hope that God is watching over my parents much like the way they had hoped when I was away from them.

Our parents may not be perfect…but they’ve spent all their lives striving to ensure that we are ‘perfect’.

Asking for nothing…yet giving us more than what we desired.

 

 

 

Talking to your ‘Ex’- The T’Ex’Talk Series

It was a day like any other for the both of them. By now, they were used to their daily grind at work, slowly monotony had set in, and nothing could probably surprise them in their 9 to 5 routine job. It was a good life that they had built for themselves. A secure job, a hefty pay, good friends and happy families.

The day dawned as usual with him waiting for his bus. Being the first day of the week, he chose to go clean shaven to work. Dressed neatly in a formal shirt and a pair of trousers. As he stood at the bus stop, waiting for the bus, his phone beeped indicating the receipt of a message.

Route Number 73A diverted today due to Chief Minister’s Rally, please board the bus for route 73B” said the message. He checked the time, it was too late for him to board the other bus, with no other option, he chose to book an Ola-Share.

As he checked the name of the passenger with whom he was to share the cab, his heart gave a lurch. The long lost tingling sensation beneath his neck began. Half his mind wanted to cancel the cab, the other wanted to travel as he kept convincing himself that there could be a thousand women by the same name.

The cab arrived in ten minutes. Occupied by the driver and the woman who had haunted his dreams for the last four years now. He felt her eyes upon him as he boarded the cab. “OTP Sir?” demanded the driver. “2810” he said and slumped into the seat determinedly looking out of the window.

She was breathing hard. Trying to stay calm. It had been four years since they had met. A lot had transpired in that period and yet when the driver had said ‘OTP?’ she wanted to say “Yes, One Time Partner of mine”. Sigh! Her humor had stayed pathetic. All those digs that he had taken at her jokes! She hastily pulled the pocket mirror out of her handbag and checked her makeup.

The next few minutes passed in silence. Except for the occasional cursing of the driver under his breath, you could hear a pin drop in the ‘loud’ silence between them. In a Chetan Bhagat novel, the driver would have probably played a song that pulled at the heartstrings of the lead protagonists, but this was reality and a far classier one than what Chetan Bhagat had seen. So things had to be different.

Someone had to break the silence. Well only that it wasn’t going to be either of them. For at that opportune moment, his phone beeped. His mother had rescued him. After a good ten-fifteen minute conversation on what was packed for lunch, what was for snacks and a reminder that he was to check some new proposals on the matrimony sites, she hung up.

Save Me Again Someone” he prayed…

How is her Blood Pressure now? Is she fine?” she asked.

Still registering the voice which had posed the question, he took a minute to acknowledge it and finally turned to look at her.

He: She’s fine. She has always been. Thanks for asking, glad you remember!

She: How could I forget? After all wasn’t I the reason behind her blood pressure?

He: How is everyone at your place? How are you?

She: Everyone is good. Dad just retired. Mom still has about two years of service. Bro got married last year. I am good too. Surviving.

(A few minutes of silence again with neither one of them knowing how to proceed)

He: I am doing great. Never thought I’d end up doing this well for myself after having barely scraped through college with those grades.

She: I always knew you would do well. The real world doesn’t care about grades. I am happy for you.

He: Hmmm…

She: I know that didn’t stop me from pushing you to study back in college, after all I didn’t want you to make me your priority and forget the bigger things in life.

He: Is that why you’ve been running from me for four years now? Blocked my number, unfriended me on Facebook and a stint abroad as well? So was that part of making me realize that there are bigger things?

She: Let’s not get into what happened four years back. You know that whatever happened, happened for the best. Change is the only constant. Though I notice that you still don’t clip your nails.

He: Why evade a topic? Did I open it up? I know what the situation four years back was, so don’t just waltz into my life now and give me this ‘sorted’ advice about life, passion and crap.

She: You haven’t changed one bit!

And then she laughed, in reminiscence of all the times she had tried to reason with him in a similar fashion when they were together and how he had reacted in the exact same way. Yet her heart lurched in the uncomfortable truth of how bigger things had changed, leaving such tiny mannerisms unchanged as a violent memory of the past.

He: Nor have you. Laughing always at inappropriate moments. Insensitive as always!

But he smiled as he said this and for the briefest of moments their eyes met, one pair filled in pity and the other filled in yearning.

She: I am glad that I chose to travel by this cab today. It is really nice to meet you after this long!

He: I thought you were abroad. Never imagined to see you again in this life. At least not in a cab of all places!

They spent the next ten to fifteen minutes discussing their respective jobs, their career aspirations, the Indian politics and their favorite TV shows.

All the courtesies were now exhausted. The next few minutes passed in silence. The unavoidable question that he had been grappling with, had to be tackled. She had her share of questions, but given his volatile temper, she quite didn’t know how to put it forth to him without offending him.

He: Heard a couple of your classmates got married? Pretty early right?

She: Yeah. Not early. When it feels right, I think one must take the plunge.

There she was. Answering that question in her non-committal tone in her trademark diplomatic style.

He: I am going to take my time though. After all the future of someone else is also tied with mine. So I will have to wait.

He hoped that this sly hint would get her to reveal something.

She: A girl’s future doesn’t have to be tied with yours. As in, I am sure she would be independent. You’ve always liked strong women, haven’t you? Or has your taste changed?

He: I have. Strong women who go weak in the knees for me. That’s my resume.

She: Impressive. You must find an equal partner. Someone who appreciates the finer things in you.

“Sir your drop point is nearing” barked the driver.

He: Very well then, I must get going. It was great meeting you. Hopefully we get to meet more often.

She: I am happy we met today. All the best for your future.

As he got off the cab, he closed the door behind and watched the cab speed away into the distance. She turned back to look at him standing there, waiting, like he had always.

They were broken enough to walk away from each other. But twisted enough to turn back at each other, one last time.

She slipped the engagement ring back on to her finger. Not really able to come to terms with her feelings at that point of time. Though her eyes glistened with tears, she knew that whatever had happened…was for the best.

As for him, he logged into the matrimony site, still searching for her…and her gaily laughter. 

Life would ‘have’ to go on….keeping the protagonists of such stories wondering…if they missed the people…or the memories…long after fate had already concluded their stories.

Love Enough…To Let Go.

Emote: Portray Emotions in a theatrical manner

So the dictionary itself seems to find it convenient to add the word ‘theatrical’ to the meaning of the aforementioned word. Pretty much a dictionary that seems to be following the emotional range of a teaspoon that our generation seems to be embrace readily.

There was a time back in school when we read Shakespeare’s plays. We read. We felt. We wept. A wide range of emotions captivated our minds, making us dream of knights in shining armours and damsels in distress.  At a time when we were bereft of Whatsapp or Facebook, relationships seemed to thrive on actual conversations and emotions. We’ve had our share of crushes, our embarrassing trysts with adolescence which silently crept into our lives, a harmless curiosity that only titillated us making us question the sudden inexplicable changes.

The game of ‘FLAMES’ being played on the last page of our notebooks, often helping us decide whether a girl was a friend, an enemy or a lover. Yeah, we were kids back then. But somehow we ‘emoted’ better that time than we do now.

So What Happened? Did we grow up? Did we learn to hold our emotions in check?

Well whether we know the answers to all of that or not, I think at this stage it is perhaps more important to question ourselves on more than what we stand for. Not just in our lives. But even in the lives of others.

This is entirely my take on the whole issue and I am sure that a lot of your opinions might vary and perhaps seem contrasting to my view on this. But then again, these views are based on the sum total of a set of experiences that I have had over the last decade or so, which I honestly believe have been the formative years of my life.

Ten years back, the world didn’t have these many options. Choices were mostly black or white rather than this predominant areas of grey that seems to have engulfed our current lives. We either wanted something or we didn’t want something. We either loved or we hated.

But as the world moved ahead, we learnt that to survive we needed to compromise. A compromise here meant that you wouldn’t get a 100% of something but you would get a 70% of that. What happens to the remaining 30%? We’d look for it somewhere else, or in someone else. Well the world had to be fair as well. This often meant that you too weren’t someone else’s 100%. If lucky you would be their 70%, else you would stand at that 30% mark too.

So as this partition began, the games involving your emotions also began. Emotions that were fuelled by myths around you. Myths which proclaimed that it was wrong to emote.  Being emotional was a sign of weakness. The strong never show what they feel. Only girls cry. Guys who are aloof attract more attention than guys who are extremely clingy. So on and so forth.

As these myths filled your brain, you unconsciously began embracing some of them and altering your behavioural patterns to test them. With media like Facebook giving us options like ‘It’s complicated’ in relationships, things honestly did get complicated.

It was no longer a battle between ‘Wanting’ and ‘Not Wanting’. It was now a battle between ‘Wanting’ and ‘Wanting Enough’.  In the age of instant gratification, it was a fight between wanting something, yet not wanting it too much to avoid looking desperate in the eyes of fellow warriors. Because we were now conditioned to think that ‘chasing’ someone was an act of weakness. We needed to be ‘Studs’ on social media. Besides a wise man once said ‘Familiarity breeds Contempt’. So don’t emote. Stay aloof. Play the waiting game.

Yet curious are the ways of nature. As uncool and unrealistic as Romeo and Juliet sounded to us, or even Devdas did (Heck Dev D even managed to make Devdas look like an impractical fool), we sought permanence. A permanence that was eventually delivered to us through trysts of temporal relationships and afflictions.  That is to say, neither can survive while the other lives.

So where am I heading with this?

In life we meet a lot of people. Some of them stay. Some leave. Even without saying a goodbye. Their unfollowing you on social media was their way of saying the same. Some stay ONLY by following you on such platforms. So when all the exchange happens on such a virtual platform, does anyone get the 100% of you? Do you get the 100% of someone else? Can you define what is a ‘100%’ of someone?

Maybe you do, if you are really lucky. Otherwise you are out there. Being a 10% in someone’s life, a someone whom you have considered to be 60% in your life. Or vice versa. You are the guy she is going to turn to every time she has trouble at work, while she is the girl you are going to turn to every time you need to feel at ‘home’, or feel ‘wanted enough’. You would fit in to her 10% easily but she is never going to fill your 60% because she never knows. Or fearing that you might lose even that 10%, you never emoted enough. Enough to make her understand.

Leaving all that exists in a state of disarray. Asking would make you weak, a myth had proclaimed. Maybe it is the order of the world today. An order that believes that people are to be treated like a healthy product mix with each one serving a specific purpose,only to be discarded when the needs were fulfilled or remembered when the need arose again.

At the end of the day, we are nothing but mere chapters in someone else’s book of life. If lucky we would be a big one and an important one, else we would probably serve as just a prologue or an epilogue. Much the same way with those who occupy our books.

With time, we resign to facts and to reality. Chapters which had a comma for ages, now finally welcome the full stop. For our book of life had to be complete as well. As books inch towards completion, we find our emotions in the background setting the context. In our books as well as the ones of others.

Emotions that we had once dismissed as a sign of weakness. Emotions that now have faded into the background like a silhouette in a picture…important enough to complete the picture even if not add any artistic value like the foreground.

 

Though you love the rains you use an Umbrella

Though you love the Sun you seek the Shade

Though you love the Wind you wrap yourself in that Jacket

With such a history…why wouldn’t you be scared to be Loved or Love Someone Else?

The Beggar Outside the Temple

He didn’t know how long it had been since he took up that permanent seat outside the famed temple. Nor did he know how or why he got there. All that he knew was that the temple was his sole refuge for as long as he could remember.

“Do you believe in God?” I asked him. “Of Course I do, how else would you explain my existence and livelihood over the last sixty years outside his doors?” he said smiling mockingly at me. I had no answer to that and chose to smile back.

His hands were deeply scarred. Ghastly wounds were visible on his legs. All he had was a torn and faded Dhoti and a shawl which by the looks of it had been bitten through by many rats. As my eyes took in all this, he looked at me and said “Sixty years is a long time. Especially outside a single temple. These scars bear testimony to them”. “I don’t quite follow, what are you trying to say Sir?” I asked him with a quizzical expression on my face.

They told him that he was a toddler when he entered the temple premises. The man who left him there was never to be seen again. Pitying the abandoned toddler, the ones outside the temple seeking alms took him in. For a long time, he did nothing but sit on the lap of a woman he didn’t recognize as she spread her hands out, asking for alms from all those who visited the temple. Being the child that he was, he began imitating her and soon enough it caught the attention of all the visitors and a steady source of alms followed. The temple was generous enough with the food that it distributed to them, though more often than not, a scuffle would break out on who got the larger share. However he wasn’t denied anything as he was still a toddler and his survival was essential for their existence.

As years passed, he observed the changing natures of the people around him. Now that he had grown considerably, he no longer sat on her lap but next to her. Yet what surprised him was that he had to now fight for his food. Even if the meal consisted of a meagre banana, he had to be a part of the scuffle and win it to earn his meal. His ‘surrogate mother’ as he liked to call her no longer looked out for him. She had another toddler on her lap doing the honors. So that’s what it was he thought. He had served his purpose in her life and now they were equals. Equals in a practice where they had to compete for the greater share of alms.

It depressed him. Even disgusted him. But there was nothing he could do. The one time he had tried to sneak out of the temple for an alternative means of livelihood, he had been subjected to a terrible thrashing by the police who mistook him to be a miscreant in the regional riots that had made news all over the country. He was carried back to the temple premises on a stretcher of sorts. The thrashing would render him immobile. His body and his spirit, both lay broken.

A few years later, he would know what death was. As his ‘surrogate mother’ collapsed one afternoon, he realized that she would no longer comfort him nor compete with him. Her body was cleared off and the temple premises were cleaned to avoid any malefaction arising due to her untimely death. For all the competition and all the reasons that she had spurned him, her alms lay under the sack on which she used to sit. Only to be fought over by all of them later. Incapable of any of those heroics any more, he watched silently. Even as the ‘value’ of a human life was being divided among all those chose to contest for it.

Food and shelter were the least of his worries he revealed. The temple and its devotees provided enough to keep him alive if not more. More often than not, there seemed to be one or the other occasion which warranted a mass feeding resulting in his stomach getting its fill.

As I listened to him, I couldn’t help myself from asking him “You have been outside this temple for so long, didn’t you ever get a chance to go inside?”

“I did. But it made no difference to me” he said disinterestedly.

“Maybe you lack faith?” I said in an attempt to convince him and myself of my belief in god.

Listening to which, he burst into peals of laughter.

Not knowing what to do or how to respond, I stood up suddenly and walked into the temple premises trying hard to decipher the reason behind that mirthless laughter.

A good forty five minutes later, as I made my way out of the temple, I took out my wallet to give this curious gentleman some money.

“Did you finish your rounds Sir?” he asked. Still with the same mocking expression.

“What are you talking about?” I replied now irritated with his demeanor.

“You didn’t understand what I meant when I said that going inside the temple made no difference to me. While staying outside the doors of the temple for years, I was surrounded by people deemed ‘lesser fortunate’ by the likes of you begging for alms. Yet the one time I did walk into the temple premises, I realized how many more people were ‘lesser fortunate’ judging by their deepest pleas to the God who sits there. We do it outside the premises, you do it inside the premises. Which is why I asked you if you finished your rounds of begging for alms Sir” he said with the same smile.

Too embarrassed by the reality of what he had just expounded, I stood there with my hands now firmly back into my pocket clutching my wallet tightly. In a quandary wondering what kind of alms would this man ever accept? With a half-baked attempt to smile at him, I began walking away, careful not to turn back.

“Don’t clutch on to that wallet too hard Sir, it didn’t do any good to my ‘Surrogate Mother’ ”  he had remarked.

His parting words still ring in my ears every time I visit a temple to plead with the Almighty for something or offer alms to anyone we deem ‘Lesser Fortunate’.

As for him, I am sure he sits there and expounds such parables to all who cared to listen.

‘Dear LiMe’

Dear LiMe,

Subject: The ‘Art’ of a Good Farewell

So for the last few weeks or so, my timeline’s been flooded with the ‘number of days left’ and ‘people who matter’ posts. Something similar to what we did last year, though I am sensing a greater ‘sigh’ of relief from your batch (for obvious reasons).

Having said that, I thought I’d probably spend some time composing this letter to you folks here at LiMe. The last time I wrote a love letter to her ( LiMe) was when I was given a writing task as a part of my selection process for the committee.  The reason I am writing quite bravely now is to do with the fact that she’s been the only lady who’s accepted my proposal.

So technically I was supposed to be your senior, however factually I was just a few months elder to you folks in LiMe(having joined only at the end of first year), so for practical purposes let’s just say this is a letter from one of your batch mates.

Farewells can be really hard. Harder when you know that there are going to be some aspects of life which you would never get to see again. One of those aspects that I would want to touch upon here is the liberty that you guys had to ‘create’ things through the committee.

To a sizeable portion of your batch, my batch, our seniors or even the general world out there, a ‘committee’ could seem to be something very mundane. In fact once you are out here in the corporate world, you’d wonder how insignificant it looks in the face of bigger issues. Issues that seem to be more pressing…and perhaps even depressing.

Yet for most of it, if you were to look back at it, joining a group like this was an act of volition. An act which I would want to deem as a selfish one, for a committee of this sort was a conduit to your ‘freedom of expression’ (for once freedom and TAPMI go hand in hand in this case). A conduit which I believe all of you chose for your own selfish reasons.

Some of us have been snubbed for being introverts. Some of us for being crazy. Some of us for having indulged in poetry and prose while the world marched on with Science and Maths. Yet I believe that the sum total of all those experiences culminated into what we did with this curious little committee that we call ‘LiMe’.

In a year from now, I daresay that some of you might be faced with nights like the one today where you’d probably want to reminisce on the best aspects of your life over the past two years. It doesn’t have to necessarily involve the committee; it could be some people, some moments or events that stand out in your fondest memories (however few they might be).

Taking a cue from PM Manmohan Singh, I am saying this ‘ In the long run, we are all just going to be memories’. This is a fact. It might dawn on you sooner or later. So when faced with this, I’d say we’ve got to try and do all that we can to be a happy memory.

Which brings me to an aspect that we call ‘committee work’ but truth be told, it’s just each of us doing what we enjoy the most.  Some of us have showcased the institute in different light, some of us have converted words of guests into ‘TED’like speeches while reporting them, some of us have captured memories through photographs- photographs which bear true testimony to the fact that a picture is worth a 1000 words.

So what’s the big deal??

The big deal is…we never die. For having being given the gift of creation, our work chooses to stay on for ages from now. Fancy this, a guest who is on the verge of retirement is being asked to interact with the student fraternity. Years later, when he sits on the cosy armchair next to the fire reminiscing about his last address to the students, what we transcribed during that address serves as a soothing balm to an aged mind(also the accompanying photograph making him look more handsome than he actually is).

While I believe, I might have ‘just’ pushed the limits with the above depiction, all that I am trying to say in reality is that at this juncture of bidding farewell to a lot of things, think about these moments which have given you more pride and satisfaction than a 8 point GPA or a high paying job. I’m not demeaning them as useless achievements, yet all that I am saying is do not belittle the work that you have done as a team over the two years here.

Creativity is a gift. To say that we are solely gifted would be a blunder. Yet to say that we dapple in those arts which are widely considered creative (writing,photography,branding) is more palatable according to me.

From having interacted with a lot of you on the ‘Converts Page’ to ‘LiMe’ to ‘this day in history’…life’s come a long way. At this junction, just spend that infinitesimal second and ask yourself why you chose to be part of something like this(This is even as I break into an involuntary smile thinking about what you guys said during your interviews)

That would answer your question on whether this is the ‘ Beginning of the End’ and if farewells are really farewells, or if this is yet another chance for LiMe to help create fond memories so that a year later, one of you could sit in front of his/her laptop and type a similar love letter to her…much the same way that I am doing tonight.

Adios

Specter

Keywords: LiMe, WorDict,aMuse,Lemon Tea,Hootsuite, ‘For the Love of LiMe’,Gramaphone,Alt-t,Cine Nights,Inceptum  

 

 

 

 

The ‘Eligible’ but ‘Single’ Conundrum:

With Valentine’s Day around the corner giving people all the more a reason to be depressed than they already have, I thought I could add to their woes with another post of mine which perhaps aims to address the rather unique conundrum of singletons at this stage of life…

Before the advent of WhatsApp and Facebook, a lot of relationships and budding romances hinged on the magical number of ’150’. If I have my facts right, most of the service providers provided 150 free messages to best express one’s love. Not to mention their extra rates on special days such as ‘Valentine’s Day’ forcing people to finally call each other….

It was a time when the entire ‘facade’ (assuming that people at home didn’t know) had to be hush-hush. After all you didn’t want your ‘single mode’ of communication to be discovered by anyone back at home.

Six years hence, a lot has changed…

While the core that people want to term as ‘true love’ might remain the same, the expression surely has changed. We’ve grown up and we’ve perhaps discovered better ways to express our love and hate. From ‘liking’ posts to blatantly ‘ignoring’ them or using the dreaded trio of words and emoticons ( ‘K, Hmmm, 🙂 )….love has come a long way from being emotional to suddenly being digital.

So when Narendra Modi spoke about Digital India and the need to empower everyone on the digital platforms, I am sure he meant a lot more than what was broadly outlined. For going by the number of ‘eligible’ but ‘single’ people out there…the fact remains that they haven’t been touched by the ‘digital’ bug as yet.

Yet somewhere there is a deeper conundrum than just fancy WhatsApp and Facebook messages. For one, my Facebook Timeline is filled ‘Save the Date’ requests and ‘Together Forever’ posts. Well it’s kind of ironic that a ‘Single’ guy who couldn’t save his own date is being asked to ‘Save the Date’ for his friend’s wedding. Add to that, a series of comments on the post which say ’You guys look awesome together. A match made in heaven…blah blah’ well that list is never-ending.

The truth however depends on the nature of the union. An arranged marriage makes you question how your friend managed to say ‘yes’ or how the girl managed to say yes to him? A love marriage however gets you all philosophical and nostalgic about your friend’s puppy love and how long it had taken for this union to blossom as opposed to your woeful single existence.

Either way you save the date. For free food. For a chance to catch up with old similar ‘single’ friends and well scout for other opportunities at the wedding.

A singleton’s relationship with such occasions is essentially a ‘love-hate’ one. Either you are going to be loving the prospects of finding someone there, or well you are going to hate being subjected to the dreaded question…’ So are you getting married next?’… I mean how do you answer such a question??

It is here that we introduce other characters into the plot. They would technically be called ‘supporting actors’ in a movie but well here in life, they do little but support the hero’s pursuit. Firstly we have astrologers who are willing to write on a stamp paper that there is no chance of finding a prospect within the next two years. Your incompetence and reason for being single is being validated by the planets themselves.

You then have your friends. Friends who have finally embraced marital bliss and mouth words of wisdom about the expectations during the entire process. ‘Machan, post-graduation is a must da. You have a Visa? What about a flat? Invest in one now machi, I was asked all this da, start at the earliest….’…well you listen to all of this with bated breath and mentally create a checklist.

With half of us not figuring out how to utilize our MBA at work, I still wonder how it would play a role in our married lives. Visa…well the last I checked I didn’t need one while roaming South India…because frankly I haven’t thought of anything beyond that!!!

When the messages on your WhatsApp group change from expletives to ‘My kid is not well so I can’t come today’…you realize that it is high time you come to terms with reality. As you look at yourself in the mirror you consciously comb your hair to hide those silver lines which have begun to show and take a deep breath to hide that paunch of yours.

Meanwhile back at work…as that pretty girl sits across the table and asks you…’ Why don’t you say yes to me?’…you look at her and sheepishly say ‘Well I thought if I waited for some more time, I’d get someone prettier than you’

Whack!! That slap from her explains a lot about the conundrum doesn’t it?

However there is a silver lining to all of this. Beyond all this, there is some solace to be found that you no longer need to be conscious while checking out prospects. Having your full family already doing that for you at weddings and social gatherings, you just have to pretend…that you never saw the girl at all…and pretend to be surprised when you are asked for an opinion…

With your Mom proving to be more adept at marketing than you in spite of your PGDM in Marketing…you realize that this stage of life needs to be celebrated. Celebrated for the reason that you are ‘needed’ but not ‘wanted’.

A stage called ‘Eligible but Single’!

A stage akin to the appraisal at office where you know you deserve that promotion…but well you are being sidelined.

Cheers and Good luck for the 14th !!

Why did Specter Surmise?

A lot has changed from Dec 31st 2015 to Dec 31st 2016.

While the last New Year was celebrated amidst 600 others in the greens of my B-school, this New Year has been a family affair after a quiet dinner with friends. To say 2016 was a year of contradictions with the scales of fame and fortune tilting on either side of the balance is merely touching the tip of the iceberg.

Twelve months have passed by. A lot has transpired. Some lessons forgotten. Some lessons learnt. Some lessons reinforced. Old people made way for new ones. Adulation was replaced by isolation. Well you get the flow don’t you?

Ideally this was supposed to be my last post for 2016, looks like it might be my first post of 2017.

What started as a seemingly harmless indulgence with tiny tales back in college eventually transformed into posts. More posts. Blogs.A half baked attempt at a novel. Quite a bit. These twelve months have led to the creation of tonnes of materials. Published and unpublished. Some of them which were received well. Some which were slammed. So with so much of content filling half your timelines over the last one year,one might probably wonder…Why does Specter surmise so much?

Well that is not a question I am going to answer tonight. What I however will say is that twelve months back I never knew that someday I would be dappling in the fine art of writing or even think that my posts would be this well-received. Is this a post about self-glorification? No…wait for it…

Time is a curious thing. Often it brings you in touch with things you never sought. Yet again it hoodwinks you and snatches that very thing which you now dearly cherish. Which was what 2016 was all about.

Adulation has the distinct quality of isolation. You are isolated because people see something in you which they do not see in others. The problem with this is that the subject of adulation needs to understand when to ‘stop’ being so accessible ,else this very isolation could turn into inclusion. What’s wrong with that?

What’s wrong with that is the fact that you are now Haley’s Comet which doesn’t keep its fans waiting for 75 years.You appear every year. Slowly you are just another comet. Which is why it is important to understand that familiarity breeds contempt.

Which is what 2016 showed me.The fact that I’d no longer score brownie points and would be merely treated with a politeness that one associates with societal obligations was something I had to wrap my head around. The cycle is simple.

Curiosity>Acquaintance>Adulation>Familiarity>Inclusion>Contempt

The truth is I’d probably never write or express my feelings ever again as much as I have in this last year. It probably helped me forge an identity. An identity which was as transient as the character an actor plays on stage. The same identity which I question at the end of this year. The question being…Am I staying relevant?

When the year began, all I wanted to do was to get ahead in this race. An imaginary race which I had begun running. A race toward adulation. A race towards those imaginary flash bulbs and phony praises. I ran. Sometimes carrying people with me. Sometimes throwing them down. But I never stopped running…

I felt the cloud of victory loom over me. Yet I never felt it drench me. It seemed like a light drizzle. A drizzle that satisfied my ‘need’ and not my ‘want’. What I wanted was permanence. But clouds seldom stay in a single place…they moved on. Leaving me with nothing but the comprehension that the race was imaginary.

Which is why as the year ends, I neither look left. Nor right. I no longer muse over the ‘why’ behind people’s actions. I no longer lose my sleep over who is returning my love or giving me the importance ‘I’ believed I deserved in their life. I no longer profess ‘self-discovery’ or ‘finding your passion’ anymore. More so because I realise that ‘self-discovery’ is a continuous process and not something which starts and ends overnight.Maybe this is why I believe I am more self-assured now than I was when I began this year.

The strings for all of this is pulled by Time…because Time realises that the definition of things change over time and the importance one associates with the thing gradually waxes or wanes. That applies to people as well.

With these words, I choose to end what I started out one year back. Perhaps for the first time ever I can go to bed in peace that I wrote what I felt like without worrying about the burden of acceptance. So when I say this is my final post..I say it in the complete knowledge that I am done and dusted.

I’d like to thank 2016 for this lesson…a lesson that I’d probably apply to the other aspects of my life…that with ‘Time’….even special can turn into normal and it is perhaps crucial not to overestimate our importance in the greater scheme of things.

Adios 2016.Welcome 2017.

Specter Is Done Surmising.

 

 

 

Dear SRK-Who are You?

Dear SRK,

Who are you?

For the last twenty five years, I have kept asking myself this question. Who is this person who is able to effortlessly make my mother smile? She doesn’t know Hindi but she knows you. She doesn’t understand the lyrics but she sings your songs. What is this irresistible charm of yours which has captured the hearts of so many others like her?

As a kid, I just knew you as the ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ actor. I envied your hairstyle then and I still do. Countless visits to the salon did no good to my hair though. I have been lucky to be part of the generation which not only grew up watching your songs on National television, but slowly graduated to watching them trend on YouTube,Facebook and other media. Thereby giving us the illusion that you are more accessible now than you were a decade back.

Tracing your journey across the years is in a way like trying to trace our growth and evolution as individuals. Through you, we’ve been able to understand ourselves better, but we are still unable to decipher the paradox that you are.

Common Man or Superstar? Actor or Star? Hero or Villain? Jehangir Khan or Kabir Khan?

Your journey to stardom has been the topic of discussion in countless articles,interviews and books. However to me, the lyrics of two songs perfectly summarize them. The common man in Yes Boss singing ‘Bas itna sa khwab hai’ and the Baadshah in ‘Baadshah’ singing ‘ Main Baadshahon ka Baadshah’. One talks about a dream, while the other talks about the perks of ‘owning the entire world’ after achieving that dream.

Right so. So as we sit glued to the screens, we wonder. You have transgressed from a common man to a superstar. We have however only moved from Cathode ray-televisions to LCD-televisions. What has remained consistent is the content that we watch. Your movies.

Seen from outside, your life is synchronous with our ambitions of a lavish lifestyle of power, fame and love. Yet when we watch your interviews, your references to family, kids, upbringing, struggles and success seem to be as grounded and as real as our lives. This puts us in the quandary of deciding on what we need to aspire for and if your true success has been in becoming a global icon or still being a family man after all this stardom.

Box office hits. Critically acclaimed movies. Plenty of both in your closet. Not that we are complaining, because as an actor you would probably be approaching both the categories with the same dedication. Just that as audience, when asked about which movie of yours we like, we are unable to zero in on movie and say this was his best! For every movie of yours has touched us in one or the other way.

The vulnerability of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, the surrealism of Don, the hard hitting reality of Swades, the mystical virtual world of Ra.One, the mustache in Paheli, the beard in Chak De,the sophistication in Dil Se, the buffoonery in Happy New Year, well…the list is endless. One minute you are making love to the heroine, the next minute you are throwing her off the building.

I believe as a fan, your movies are also a bundle of contradictions and dichotomous like the very person that you are.One minute you talk about being the greatest actor in the world. The next moment you talk about waiting for your best act to come. You are always surrounded by people yet there is this unmistakable air of loneliness surrounding you. You capture many of our own inherent fears and insecurities perfectly. Maybe this why your stardom has been unrivaled and palatable for the last twenty five years. For you are relatable.

In many ways, I think your act in ‘Dear Zindagi’ reflects the kind of person you really are in life. It was an act which taught a lot of us to get in touch with our imperfections as individuals and still be happy about life.Kudos to Gauri Shinde for this master stroke in casting you as a therapist in this absolute gem of a movie. Anyone who has seen you over the last twenty five years would readily admit that you aren’t perfect. But those infinitesimal imperfections in your personality reinforce our belief that you do not need to be perfect to be great or to be loved. Which gives us hope and panache.

I know that ten years from now, my questions on who you are and why you do what you do would still remain unanswered. Maybe it is meant to be that way. All that I know is, irrespective of how many years pass, my mother is still going to smile watching you on screen the same way she does now.

I would be at peace maybe then in abandoning my quest for your identity. For a half-open door is always more enticing than an open door. These small peeks into your personality every now and then would satiate me and keep me thinking of plausible explanations for understanding the phenomenon that you are.

Let the mystery deepen. For in trying to find you, we might end up finding ourselves….

Yours Sincerely

A Fan.

Donald Trump- The First Day at the Oval Office

Date: January 20th 2017

The White House waited in silence. Waited for its 45th president. Donald Trump.

The walls echoed with the Chief Justice reciting the presidential oath which was to be repeated by the new president.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States…“. However the rest of his words were drowned by a series of expletives from the new President. The gathered crowd gasped in disbelief. The Chief Justice looked mildly curious and gave the President an enquiring look.

“What? I was told that this was a swearing in ceremony. Am I going to be ridiculed for swearing in a ‘swearing in’ ceremony now?” thundered President Trump. The Chief Justice gave the crowd a condescending look and continued reciting the oath with particular emphasis on ‘ So help me god’.

President Trump heaved  a sigh of relief. These formalities always irritated him. He had to now indulge in pleasantry with that ‘nasty woman’ who he had struggled to throw off his back over the last eighteen months.

“All the best President Trump” said her voice at the other end of the telephone.

“Thank you, well fought Mam” he said distractedly. ” We will be following the news closely ” she said with a hint of contempt. ” You nasty woman, you better watch the news so that you can get your affairs in order before I come after you. You and your smug faced husband…” he screamed. ” I merely hinted at following your term at the office Donald”she said, a little taken aback by the sudden outburst. ” I will make America great again by obliterating the likes of you. You better watch your E-Mails.” he said and hung up. This was trouble he thought.

Sure enough. In a few minutes Twitter was abuzz with tweets about how disrespectful the new president had been with his competitor who had merely wished to congratulate him. ” I didn’t say anything of that sort.I was merely suggesting that she get her affairs in order now that the elections are finally over” he blatantly tweeted. Life was a lot like the objective tests administered to him in his high school. He would keep marking the wrong answers until he was left with nothing but the right answer. He could keep rescinding his comments until he sounded politically correct.

His reverie of thoughts was however disturbed as his predecessor at the Oval Office Barrack Obama called him next. ” Hope you are having a great day mate. I just called to tell you that whatever be your past, you have the power to obliterate it with the vision for America’s future. Don’t let the past weigh you down” he said cheerily. ” I wish I could say the same for you Barrack. I am going to prove that you and your partner in crime Hillary founded the ISIS to shake the very foundation of America. As a symbolic gesture of this my first step is to shove your Obamacare down the drain. You think America needs this? You think this is your Africa where we have naked black kids running around the country? ” he replied disdainfully.

No answer. Obama had hung up on him. Strange for a man who was so voluble.

As he gathered his thoughts, his phone beeped with requests for a date from all those beautiful models who were now dying to throw themselves at him. His body gave an involuntary twitch and his hands fidgeted restlessly in his pockets. Old habits die hard.

The rest of his team were looking at him intently.Some directions. Some advise. Well that was going to be tough. ” Catch them young” he said still fantasising about those beautiful nymphs. “Sorry Sir? We didn’t get that” said his team looking quite clueless. ” I meant talent. Talent is what makes America great. Recognise talent at an early age” he said looking visibly flustered. He didn’t realise he was thinking out aloud.

Vice-president Mike Pence offered some solace as he steered the topic towards lunch.However lunch wasn’t going to be peaceful as well. As the chef served them the ‘burritos’, the President gave him one nasty look. ” When I meant a wall, it was a wall to not just stop people, it was also to stop nonsense like this. This is my two-pence on this Pence. No Mexicans. No burritos. Let’ s leave” he said sardonically and walked out.

A surprise awaited him however back in office. President Putin had sent him a delicately wrapped basket whose contents were yet to be revealed. The President ripped apart the wrapping. Ripping the wrapping reminded him of many an escapade of the past where he had ripped apart the clothes of countless women.

Lying docilely in the basket were tiny pussy-cats. As if on cue, the telephone in the office shrilly rang. ” Hope you liked my gift Donald. Heard you really liked to grab them and kiss them.Now that you are a star, they might not even object. A great start to our relationship” he said. Muttering under his breath, he hastily thanked the Russian President and hung up. Symbolic gifts.

Day one was a lot tougher than he thought. ” Sir, our foreign policy. We need to make a start somewhere. People need to know” interjected Mike Pence. ” Yeah. Ban those Muslims. Tell the Chinese that they better be ready to pay what I demand for their imports.As far as Israel is concerned let me make a deal for peace. Rip that Iranian nuclear deal. Anything else? he said. ” Do we make statements this blatant? Would you like to re-frame them?” quipped Pence nervously.

” As a President let me make my intent clear to the people first.They knew what they were getting into when they voted for me. Grammar and vocabulary will eventually follow. I still have no clue why I need 5 whole years to make decisions.” he said as he marched out of the Oval office.

End of Day 1 at the office. He had survived. The butchery would eventually begin.

God save America.

A change in Outlook after TAPMI

 

Disclaimer: The following post is a culmination of a series of unpublished thoughts that have occurred to me randomly over the last few months. At no point of time am I projecting this to be a collection of wistful memories or drawing your imagination to a boy who types this post with red eyes as he is still unable to get over the fact that he is done with his MBA and terribly misses his college.

So when I said change in Outlook, I meant there is a big change in the kind of mails that we receive now on our MS Outlook. Mails must lead to actions. Actions will have consequences.  The degree is what ultimately makes the difference.

Now when I say degree, I am not talking about the PGDM degree because once you enter the corporate world, your degree is immaterial. The degree I’m referring to is the degree of severity of a consequence pertaining to a particular action. Okay I am veering off-course.  Moving on!

 

  • A mail with the subject ‘Examination Rules’ was a reminder to all of us that our mid/end term examinations were around the corner. So we had to decide if we wanted to study now or not. In the corporate world, a mail with the subject ‘Timesheet Defaulters’ is a reminder to fill those timesheets with numbers that justify our bloated salaries/egos. Decide if you want your full month’s salary or settle for a loss of pay.

 

  • A mail with the subject ‘ Timetable for the Month XXXX’ was a sneak peek into the horrors of the next month. Particular focus was on days which had just one or no classes even as plans were made for outings. These plans were in full knowledge that such days were ideal days for Guest Lectures and Conclaves and these plans were merely verbal fetish. In the corporate world, mails with the subject “Tasks for the Week” start as Monday morning motivators (when we feel nothing is impossible) to transforming into a mid-week crisis on a Wednesday. By Friday we know that the tasks are surely insurmountable as we make plans towards a rave party on a Friday/Saturday night.

 

  • A mail with the subject ‘ Registration for Term X on xx-xx-xxxx from 9.00 am to 12.00 pm’ usually arrived during the term break ( even a one day off is considered a term break). This mail usually arrived when I used to board the bus back to Manipal leading me to fantasize an unhealthy interest bordering on obsession with the new course-packs and textbooks. The reality however used to be in the form of a sore shoulder after a long walk to the hostel.Such days really added to the’burdens’ that we were already carrying. In the corporate world, mails which contain the word ‘Registration’ are clearly filtered and deleted. For more often than not, these are registrations to webinars and seminars and contests and what not. What’s the worse that would happen if you don’t register? The organization would do it automatically for you after repeated reminders.

 

  • A mail with the subject ‘Moodle’ was essentially an implied warning to you that you would any way not fare well in the mid-term or the end-term examination, so these twenty minute ‘quickies’ would give you, your best shot at a decent grade. Your success in a ‘Moodle’ was based on your ‘position’ in the lab. Now by position I am referring to where you are seated during the moodle and not how you are seated in the lab at 3.00 AM in the night. In the corporate world, these mails generally arrived in the form of Requests for a Meeting with your supervisor to discuss your performance. What was there to discuss when you knew that the Bell Curve originated with you right there at the bottom?

 

  • A mail with the subject ‘Research Seminar’ was probably the only mail which we could afford to ignore in TAPMI. For the ‘Research and Publication Committee’ did not hold us students accountable for any efforts towards faculty’s research efforts. If anything, we could only be guilty of sabotaging their efforts, not assisting them in it. In the corporate world, the mails we ignore are the ones which carry the subject as ‘Application downtime due to maintenance’. Truth be told, we wouldn’t even know unless someone told us specifically because there are so many applications on the portal, most of which are not even in use by us.

 

  • The months of February, July, August and September fill your inbox with the biggest scam that we as students indulged in. A scam that we call as ‘surveys’. I scratch your back, you scratch my back. You fill my survey, I fill yours. At times these operating principles were given an exception when the mail was from an unusually pretty girl in your batch. In addition to filling the survey with more diligence than filling the answers in your moodle, you would add a personal reply to the survey request (Filled the survey, let me know if you need anything else ). In the corporate world, such mails arrive in the form of ‘Refer your friends-Exciting Opportunities Await’. As you look at the listing of such jobs in the firm you wonder if these postings are in the same firm that you are working for. At times you reply to these mails shamelessly asking if these requirements could be met internally as well (no harm in trying right?).

 

  • All through the year, you are a recipient to ‘Birthday Mailers’ in TAPMI. Sometimes you know the person, sometimes you don’t. But all that is irrelevant in the face of free cake and a chance to perhaps ‘feed’ that person the same cake. Now ‘feeding’ is extremely subjective. For the nature of the crowd determined if you would feed the person with the cake or feed the cake with the person.   In the corporate world, birthday mailers do not contain rhymes. Your birthday is highlighted as a solemn event in the mail, so much so that you expect people in the surrounding cubicles to observe 2 minutes for silence for your birthday (Okay I’m being a little harsh here, but well there is no revelry here).False promises for a treat are made akin to the false promises of a promotion.

 

  • There is one mail that you dread though in TAPMI. A mail which reads as ‘Night Canteen will remain closed’ from the ‘Welfare Committee’. For the night was dark and full of secrets, but without the night canteen, there really wasn’t enough motivation to be out there on the slope. In the corporate world there is a similar mail that you dread. A mail which says ‘Our Offices will be Open on Saturday and Sunday’. Associates with critical deliverables are required to clock in the mandatory hours. Oppressed.Suppressed. Depressed.

 

  • Last but not the least, a good portion of your mailbox contained a lot of mails with the subject ‘MIP/Final Placements‘. Yeah you are right. These very mails kick started your journey into the current job/position that you hold in your current firm. You remember how jealous you felt when you saw that your dream firm was visiting the campus after you got placed?  In the corporate world, such mails with job offers that make you feel jealous are generally from various job portals. They aren’t directed to your official mail for obvious reasons.  Yet all you do is apply on the link they send and wait patiently. Your only consolation being that blazers and ties aren’t compulsory any more. Your absence no longer needs to be condoned. You would never know even if you were rejected.

 

So this is a peek into a world where our ‘Outlook’ has changed post our MBA. The essence I believe is still the same. Perhaps only the presentation has changed.

Oh Yeah..and the Money!