Life by the ‘Slippery’ Slope

Maybe it is to do with my phone being literally spammed with wedding invites. Or maybe it is to do with the status updates on social media. Or maybe it’s just about conversations in the group changing from ‘Happy Birthday X’ to ‘Happy Wedding Anniversary X&Y’. Irrespective of whatever it is…I guess that on a rather laidback Friday at work, these reasons compel me to revisit the ‘slippery’ slope that has probably seen more action than what we’d see in a Mission Impossible movie ( I love the series btw)

It was a curious little hummock of a place and somehow I believe that this slope was probably the conduit between the illicit and the legit in an institute where mistakes were permitted only on this slope. What about helmets?? I hear your indignant voices!!Well I am not talking really about helmets, I am talking about other protective gear whose absence could lead to bigger accidents in one’s life. Anyways moving on…let us talk of the ‘one to many’ platonic relationship that the slope shared with its inhabitants who waltzed in and out of the premises every 2 years…

For unsuspecting first years, the slope comes across a necessary evil which had to be surmounted for you to reach your classes on time. Well that’s what I thought back when I was in my first year…say for the first 1 month or so. For second years however, the slope was everything but evil…presenting a world of opportunities waiting to be seized. However having being taught that elders walk a path worth following, first years slowly began tapping into the potential of this awkwardly angled 45 degree slope.

It could start with the most harmless of indulgences in your project group. Atop the slope you crib about the amount of workload in the group projects. As you however begin your descent down the slope, with her by your side, you realize you have it in you to not just finish your share of work, but hers as well. Needless to say the grades latch themselves to you and seem to enjoy this steep descent that hinges on the magic figure of 4.4.

No pain no gain they said. Here you chose to say No rain no gain. For the rains here were as sudden as heartbreaks giving you no time to recuperate the fierce onslaught of the clouds. Hence it always helped when you were armed with an umbrella to save that damsel in distress who was caught unawares in the rains. By the time you open the umbrella and squint through the drops of rain to give her a charming smile, you hear the gentle rumble of motor on the road and as the engine revs up, you realize that while you were busy getting wet, you lost your sunshine to your senior who was better equipped to handle the wetness. Not a cause for worry…first years had to be ‘vetted’ to know what was expected of them a year down the lane.

Humor aside, the slope was privy to the most discreet of kisses and the most passionate of affairs whose futures were wrapped in fifty shades of grey refusing to opt for a black or white conclusion. From the late night strolls to the early morning ‘pickup and drop’ routines, in many ways relationships were synonymous to the slope. Representing a steady incline or a steep decline.  For some who wished for the best of both the worlds, they had both Hostel 1 and Hostel 3 serving their needs while the Computer Lab acted as a waiting room for these passengers who were in the transit of a ‘one to many’ relationship.

Yet I believe that however rave a party, however spiritual a visit to the temple, however strait the gates, it was at the slope that we forged things that really mattered. For all the drunken brawls at the pubs, he remembers nothing but that hug under the stars by the slope. For all the hours spent toiling at work, she remembers nothing but the steaming cup of coffee prepared by Gopi Anna waiting down the slope. Today the couple enters their third year of marital bliss. Yet their discreet kiss by the bushes on the slope undiscovered by their batch-mates remains special and serves as a reminder of how long they’ve come in life. For the star crossed lovers, the past shines between the two mirrors at either ends of the slope. One reflecting all the promises of eternal love while the other reflecting all the deeds that swerved right away from those promises. As far as friendships go, many a tie was forged here. Many a farewell bid, right under the stars leaving us all naked and exposed for the world to see the best and the worst of who we were.

Today no matter how slick our suits and how polished our shoes or how posh our workplaces might be, I think once in a while it pays to look back. Not because you are missing anything, but to understand that the present and the future we see were earned by climbing that ‘slippery’ slope. Chained by the otherwise strict rules, freedom was granted to us on this tricky conduit. Freedom to hate, love, be loved, be hated, hurt, be hurt…and the choices we made back then…lead us to the stories that we think of or write today. Maybe it is true for some of us, maybe it isn’t. It is the difference between what was real what was perceived. Between what was shared and what was experienced…

On some dark lonely nights crushed by bludgeons of fate…in a world that perhaps boasts of greater freedom than the one you enjoyed there…looking back probably would not make you love the world more, but you might hate it lesser….. Because some feelings are so intricately wrapped in the depths of your heart that…only solitude helps you find them again….

For life surely seems to be a more slippery slope than the one we traversed for two years…

 

 

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Voicing your Opinions- The Sad Reality

Sometime last week, in the transit between two jobs, with ample free time, I quite aimlessly scrolled through all my social media posts over the last 5 years. Yeah you read that right. I did it with no particular aim in mind, but a week later, I realize that the exercise opened up a list of answers to some of the questions which seemed to bother me as well as posed new questions worth contemplating on.

Most importantly, it gave me a cue on why I have found it so difficult to write anything over the last few months. Before delving into which, I would want to add a disclaimer that these views are strictly mine and that I do not intend to offend anyone in the process of voicing my thoughts in THIS particular post.

Six years back, a social networking site just seemed to be a conduit to some entertainment. Entertainment irrespective of the age. I recall competing for the number of ‘scraps’ that one amassed on Orkut. Facebook seemed to be like an intruder back then with most of us spending time on Orkut or hi5.  However one distinct thing that I noticed with my posts back then was the honesty and my seemingly naive disposition towards topics. You could probably call it my lack of maturity or whatever else…but let me just state at this point that this is not about my posts or my writing.

It is about what has changed between 2011 and 2017 and why I have to spend hours before actually penning something now as compared to 2011. The target audience has remained relatively the same. My vocabulary has probably seen an addition of 1000~1500 words ( I am referring to the GRE word list which I painstakingly committed to memory) back then.

So what has changed?

We have changed. As our social media presence increased, the space in our minds accordingly decreased. So what do I mean by space?

At this point, I would want to bring forth two important terms. Something which I call as the two A’s of an idea.

A1: Acceptance- a state of mind where you are completely at peace with a proposed idea or a line of thought. This is strictly binary. Either you are at peace. Or you go rogue.

A2: Accommodation- a state of mind where you do not really echo the thoughts of counterparts, yet your mind understands that it is natural for different opinions to exist.

With the confluence of different media for the flow of ideas, unfortunately we have begun to embrace Acceptance rather than Accommodation as a means to judge not just opinions but individuals as well.

Today, I had to bring in that disclaimer early in the article to ensure that I do not wake up to someone abusing me for having offended their sentiments. The word offence is an important entity in this whole context. For you would realize that like fluids, offence has no shape( in this case identity) and chooses to take the shape(identity) of the offended/victim as one would call it.

I admit that I am not really someone who follows politics. I do not know if I am left or I am right, all that I know is that I am straight. This is not about taking a stand or debating on whether Mr Modi is the best thing that has happened to the country or whether Rahul Gandhi is as big a buffoon as he projects himself to the world.

All that I know is that the moment I voice an opinion as an unbiased individual who is armed with nothing but the knowledge of the circumstances around him and the impact it has on him, I would be labeled as a Bhakt or a traitor. I would have people citing statistics and digging up gold from the past to just convince me that my ideology matches with their perception and not mine.

I was taught at home its good manners to open the door for women or give up seats in public transport for women. If I do it, I am either faced with arguments that say women of this age do not need all this, if I don’t do it I am faced with arguments that state how uncouth I am.  Heck, even good manners is a relative term now.

It’s quite scary. Honestly because you are being judged every minute of your life for what you are and what you decide to post on your social media feed. So from the perspective of a writer, I have found it necessary to have a sanity check before I decide to post anything. Honestly…the checklist is only getting longer.

What does this leave me with?

Abstract posts, where I am left with no option but write like Kabir or Soordas or other prominent saints and leave the interpretation to others. It is a scary proposition because I am sure I would not understand these posts myself when I read it 5 years from now because the context would have surely changed.

This is not a writer’s block. Right from voicing opinions on a movie to a political party or cities or even my institute, I am forced to edit and re-edit words and often even my opinions in the sheer anticipation of the flak that I could possibly receive for saying something which is out of the ordinary.

I would term it as the collective failure of our generation for failing to accommodate views from others or losing sleep over others’ opinions or being so judgmental about so much that exists merely in the virtual space.  This is not about avoiding conflicts of opinions or ideologies , this is about not accepting that there could be an alternative line of thought.

To hell guys…honestly.

Stop getting so personal about public posts. Why do you care whether I like Modi or not? Why do you force me to voice my opinion when I clearly want to stay away from taking sides? Demonetization screwed a lot of us over. Standing in those long queues I gave a rat’s fart about whether I like Modi or Rahul better!Why should you have an issue if I tell you that the traffic in Bangalore sucks? Why are you questioning my loyalty to a city because I am an immigrant here? Tamil or Kannada? Why does this question have to be posed every time there is an issue over Cauvery? I offered to pay the bill on my first date. I was trying to be chivalrous, why are you giving me a lecture on feminism?

This is merely the tip of the iceberg.

As a generation if we cannot stomach the views of others or show enough skin to accommodate alternate ideologies, what good are we?…

We are crashing into that iceberg and sinking faster than the Titanic.

P.S:

Don’t make us compromise on our honesty when we write just because you want to see words that are in sync with your thought process. Live. And please let live. These are just words, don’t make it a crime to write now.

The last thing I want is linking my Aadhar Card to my blog’s address so that I do not say anything which is considered inappropriate by the vast majority here.

 

GetALifeMorons.sarahah.com

Hi There!!

Let’s put a name to me later. After all, I am sure you all are quite familiar with who I am. Let me refresh your memories a bit before we get to the finer details of our conversation.

Back in kindergarten, do you remember that kid whose box of chocolates you snatched away? I remember it just like it was yesterday. It was my birthday and I had a box full of chocolates to be distributed to the class. To hell with all the courtesies you said while shoving me to the ground even as you dashed away with my box of chocolates. As the wrappers of the chocolates filled the classroom,  I stood there plain defenseless in front of our already strict Miss Brigenza who didn’t waste a moment before planting a tight slap on my face for littering the classroom. Little did I know that it was just a prelude to what was to follow in life.

Ten years later as we ran the final lap of our 2.5km marathon, with me in the lead, I saw some of your encouraging smiles even if the applause seemed distant. Victory seemed too close and all of a sudden I tripped. Tripped over what I am sure was Joseph’s feet in a deliberate attempt at a last minute victory. In less than ten seconds, the entire race was over. What surprised me was not my loss, it was that you just needed someone to clap for, it didn’t really matter who it was. A few empathetic folks did enquire on how I managed to fall at such a crucial juncture…

Ten minutes later it didn’t matter. The whispers of ‘Sour Grapes’ filled the sports complex even as Joseph smirked at me and walked away to the cheers of the gathered crowd.

Two years later, we scribbled furiously against the ticking of the clock. It was that time of our lives where we were forced to believe that these exams would determine our success or failure in life. Examinations to what end? What purpose? We never asked…we just wrote.

Arts has no scope in today’s world. Medical seats are too costly.’ More out of instinct than desire, in what was a serious need to ‘fit’ in, I mumbled ‘Engineering’ to the career counselor who was conditioned to make me arrive at this decision after scaring me enough about the other fields.

Four years flew past amidst many burnt ICs in the engineering lab even as I understood my dyslexia towards programming languages. The fear of being wrong and judged for being wrong gnawed my insides.

Come placements and there lined up a host of firms to test if we were employable. Between being politically correct and fleetingly servile, I managed to convince that I was employable.

Would the world be convinced now of my worth now that I have a job I wondered?

2011:

It was the year when our generation had finally caught up with the social media bug. A bug called Facebook. A bug that would soon determine how we perceive people,relationships and life overall. We had finally mastered the art of making things look better than they actually were…

Within a matter of few months, it became apparent that a job was the means to carving an identity, but not necessarily the identity in itself. Reason?

Several family gatherings. Many parties. Different Venues. The same people. ‘My son is in the US now for his Masters in Computer Science’. ‘My daughter is leaving next year for her Masters to Singapore’. ‘Indian firms do not pay enough. One degree is nowhere sufficient in today’s world’.

Grating my ears, these voices followed me everywhere. Add a healthy dose of heartbreaks and rejections, a mundane job, almost invisible pay cheques and prying eyes that made me appear guilty, guilty of not being good enough for the world around…a perfect recipe for an Identity Crisis.

Somehow after all this, I really wondered if anything at all I do would be enough. Would it serve as enough validation for who I was or was I already judged even before I was given a chance?

I worked hard. In silence. I didn’t want to die out. Not just yet.

2017:

Finally the year I was looking forward to. All the years of torture spent over endless lines of code were going to be finally worth it. As the second week of August 2017 dawned, I finally decided to show the world what I had created.

The usually indifferent world was surprisingly kind to me. They lapped up my app like there was no tomorrow. Suddenly my Facebook wall was filled with users of my app. It was heartening I thought. Some reward to my patience. As I signed up for the app like any other user, I waited. I waited for the messages to flow in.

It never came. I floated my address through E-mails and WhatsApp. I thought the use of the word ‘Constructive Feedback’ would get people to finally talk to me. The wait was long and bore no fruit. As I obsessed over this unexpected reaction, I realized that I had given the world just another tool to make me feel all the more ‘Insignificant’. Could you believe that? People didn’t even want to send me a ‘Hate’ message anonymously !

Wait…I just thought of something….

2 days later:

In their interaction with the media, the police have confirmed that the death of a techie who is rumored to be behind the new social media frenzy was a suicide which was a result of long standing depression. The deceased seemed to have sent messages to himself in a last attempt to feel wanted and validated enough by a world which probably didn’t care enough. However a last message from the victim is being made available to the press for a release:

If you think I have done a good job, say it to my face. If I have erred, be man enough to tell me that I ought to do better. If you think I looked pretty in a photo, call me and tell me. Please do not ‘react’ with those heart shaped traitors. Do not assume that a ‘like’ or a ‘comment’ is enough emotional satisfaction. We all are humans and we need to stay together for each other. I kept thinking that the ones around me had it all figured and perhaps they too thought the same while looking at me.

Maybe we all live life in this facade assuming that the ones around us are probably having a better time than us or that their trials are easier surmountable than ours. Nope! That is not so.

We all are messed up in our own little ways in life. Your love for anonymity in my app made me realize that we are all sailors in the same sea of mundane existence, often confusing popularity and respect with an insatiable need to feel ‘wanted’ or ‘validated’ enough by strangers who have no bearing to our lives and journeys. Some of us are already lacking self-esteem owing to various experiences in the formative years of our lives. Do you want an app to reinforce that?Asking for love or acceptance is not a crime. Not yet at least. An app is no judge of who you are or what you can be or much of a difference you can make to the ones around you. Make a life better than the one I created for myself and respect yourself enough to understand that you do not need validation of anonymous folks to feel better. Kill those demons now, else be assured….Winter will definitely come for you.’

Yours Sincerely

‘You’

(Aren’t we the same Amigos? Meet you on the other side soon!)

P.S:
Remove the Haha from Sarahaha. You all deserve better.

 

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.