Dear Useless Friends,

image

Tale 1:

Facebook suggested that I add her as a friend. Sent her a request. She accepted it. We now trade ‘Likes’.

She is my ‘Friend’.

Tale 2:

We lost touch after our college days. My son found her son on Facebook. Soon enough we were trading tales of our lives after college. Our sons were busy trading ‘Likes’.

We are ‘Friends’. Our sons will get there soon.

Tale 3:

I missed having friends like her. So I dug up all the photos I had with her. I made a collage and publicly told the world how much I miss her. I waited.

One hour later. I still had only ‘5’ likes and ‘1’ comment.

I made a better collage adding few more friends and tagged them too.

Tale 4:

I missed having friends like her. So I dug up all the photos I had with her. I made a collage and mailed it to her. I waited.

Two days later a bigger collage was delivered to my place. By her.

Tale 5:

The two of us sat across each other in the restaurant. After the customary ‘Check-in’ on Facebook, we realized that we had nothing to talk about. Our silence was compensated by the loud cheers and jeering of several old men in the adjoining table.

‘Uncivilized’ we said together and left. To a place that would add to the already existing silence between us.

Tale 6:

The four of us huddled around a table in the restaurant. After the customary inquiries about each other’s families, we indulged in friendly banter and recounted tales of the past. Our jeering was compensated by the silence between the two young individuals in the adjoining table.

‘Friends or strangers?” we wondered and left. To a place where such questions didn’t exist.

Tale 7:

A college romance brewed into a lifetime relationship. They were to be married in two months’ time. The best photographer was hired. Exotic locations were chosen.

Soon enough all their friends were requested to ‘SAVE THE DATE’ and treat this request as a personal one.

Tale 8:

A college romance brewed into a lifetime relationship. They were to be married in two months’ time. A driver was hired. A good car was chosen.

Soon enough all their friends were graced by their unexpected visit inviting them to be a part of their wedding. It was not explicitly mentioned. But they saved the date and treated the invitation as a personal one.

Tale 9:

Thousand friends and counting.

“How do you know him/her?”

“Ermm…”

The true friend who was inactive on Facebook sat silently disguised as an acquaintance.

Tale 10:

Ten friends.

“How do you know him/her?”

All the ten began wildly gesticulating to share their stories.

 

Ten tales with ten perspectives.

This could be your tale. This could be mine. However what it is, is a reality that we need to awaken to.

Yes. We need to re-evaluate our positions in people’s lives and vice versa. Are our relationships getting increasingly transactional in nature?  Do we remember the existence of people only when we ‘need’ something? Has socializing eclipsed the true meaning of ‘friendship’ and ‘meaningful’ relationships?

I can hear your indignant voices dismissing this post. Well if you are indignant then I assume you are as guilty as I am. Of letting technology do the talking while your ‘raw’ emotions still lay buried deep down. Leaving you in a quandary of using the choicest of words on social media to garner the attention of the majority of people who don’t even matter to you in your life as opposed to the ones who really might.

Your misgivings towards a person end up in you not ‘liking’ or ‘following’ the person’s post on social media. Rather than resolving the issue, you resort to something like this.

A ‘like’ or a ‘comment’ or even the ‘react’ option is FREE. Nobody is paying you for it. It is like the white crayon in your color box which no one cares to use. So stop assuming that it could bear a significance on the other person’s actions let alone their emotions.

There is a difference between ‘friendship’ and ‘good company’. Not to say that the latter couldn’t graduate to friendship. Yet do think if good company would necessarily translate to a good emotional connect. Regularity of meeting people trapped in the same quagmire like you isn’t going to give you any meaningful relationships.It is an escape from a common problem that you all suffer from and a problem that you all are going to return to.So much so that you might end up resenting the person if he/she fights their way out of the problem.

It is socializing. Which is fine if you know what that means. Just ask yourself if these are the people you would reach out to first, when you have a problem.

It is something that occupies your weekends. Yet something that would mean nothing to you when you wake up on a Monday morning.

All of this is under the guise of ‘networking’. It is a great con job. A wonderful act of deception and self-deception.  The guy who wishes you ‘Goodnight’ every night does so hoping that you don’t forget to text him the bus timings the next morning. The girl who added you on Facebook is on a ‘Liking’ spree only hoping that you would consider her for the upcoming role in your play.So on and so forth…

Our ‘networks’ have become so entangled now that we do not really know where our friends lie and where acquaintances lie. Much like where our ‘heart’ and ‘mind’ lie.

The world has become smaller. So have our hearts and even our brains.

Even if Facebook says I have 1411 friends.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!!

6075513438_cda5e4c1c8_b

Dear Harry,

I hope that this owl reaches you without being intercepted on the way. It has been more than ten years since I wrote to you. I am writing to not just wish you on your 36th birthday or to celebrate your presence in our lives again with ‘The Cursed Child’, I am writing to keep you appraised of how much things have changed ever since you left us after dropping off Albus Severus at King’s Cross.

When you were first introduced to us in ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’, I indulged in you and your adventures more out of boredom than anything else. At that point of time,I never realized that you had unwittingly lured me into a world of magic which I had always dismissed.

Slowly but steadily, I began delving more into your world.Before long I had finished reading your escapades until ‘The Goblet of Fire’.  At that age I probably had just two definitions of a character. It could be good-which was you. It could be bad-which was Lord Voldemort. The rest of the characters to me seemed like mere sidekicks as I was too naive to probably comprehend their relevance in the plot.

‘The Order of the Phoenix’  is a special book for me. For it marked the start of ‘Harry Potter Books as a Birthday Gift’ for me. Being lucky to be born in the same month as you and even luckier to not have been on the ‘Most Wanted’ list of Lord Voldemort, I was able to look forward to reading your books during my birthday over the consequent years.

It was also an achievement for me as I delved into that mammoth of a book often priding myself that I was capable of reading ‘BIG’ books. The death of Sirius left me with a lump in my throat. But that lump was often assuaged by me re-reading the chapter that narrated Dumbledore’s Duel with Voldemort.

The sixth book is the closest book to my heart. For it was probably the first time that I realized that I had a favorite character in the series. I recall throwing the book on the floor and breaking down after Dumbledore’s death. My parents were dismayed by it and I guess probably thought that I was attacked by Dementors for my outward display of such profound grief. I haven’t shed a tear ever after that for any other book.

The final book that dealt with your much anticipated victory over Voldemort left me wanting for more. Snape’s sacrifice seemed too melodramatic for me to digest.Allegations over Dumbledore’s character and past seemed unwanted.There were too many deaths that I had almost given up on keeping a track of who was alive. The climax reminded me of many an Indian movie that I had grown up watching.

This was ten years ago.

Over the next ten years, as you led a happy life with your family, you know what happened with us?

We grew up Harry.

Over the last ten years, I have revisited these books at various times in various forms.And as we grew up, we began gaining new perspectives on characters.

I realized that over the years, Sirius seemed to be more of a relatable character than Lupin who was considered to be the ‘good boy’ among the marauders. Sirius seemed more achievable. Ron’s obsession with Hermione told us that it was okay to be in love with your best friend. I began accepting that Dumbledore could be a flawed genius and that I could still love him for what he was to the wizarding world and me. Snape’s sacrifice taught me that nothing in the world was ever black or white. Ron’s little jealousies over your unprecedented fame was something that I have been able to relate to over the years.For I too have my insecurities among my group of hugely talented friends. I wondered what was this inexplicable pull that Voldemort had towards Hogwarts. I realize that it comes from calling a place ‘your home’ away from your actual home for the first time. Something that I can relate to now after having recently graduated from my B-school.

So in essence, while you and me differ in the worlds that we live in, over the years I have begun to realize that your magical world is as human as mine or vice versa.

Let me halt here and let you enjoy the rest of your birthday in peace. I sit here like I did ten years back.Excited over the release of your next book. Waiting for some part of my childhood to be rekindled.This is probably the best gift I could give you on your 36th birthday. These are merely ‘words’.

But as Dumbledore said  : Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic,capable of inflicting both injury and remedying it“.

Waiting for your ‘words’ to rekindle the kids in us and the magic in our mundane ‘Muggle’ lives.

Warm Regards

Krishnakumar S

Muggles’ Process Consultant @AnITFirm

 

 

 

‘The Girl who Loved’

tumblr_m88f5zmp721rwfvjoo1_12801

That day began just like every other day in her life had. She had gotten used to the monotony of her life and her classes so much that she resented her very existence on this planet. She had deemed her very presence in this world as painful.

Until that day.

As she opened her mail, her heart skipped so many beats that she could have been dead for all you know. Yet she lived on as magic had found her even though she had begun convincing herself for long now that magic didn’t exist.

She felt as though an invisible force was dictating her actions. In exactly an hour from the moment she had received the mail, she was standing outside the gates of her surrogate home as though waiting for someone to sweep her off into the world that she had always dreamed of.

She had not bothered to bid farewell to her friends or give anyone the reason for her sudden departure. The more she thought about it, the more foolish she felt about the entire exercise. What if the whole thing was a hoax?

She stood there in silence waiting for something to happen. For something to reinforce her belief which had now begun to weaken.

Miles away. People who had received the same letter as she did were standing in the same way she was. All of them in anticipation.

Suddenly she felt a peculiar sensation near her navel. As though something was being strapped to her. The air around her seemed to compress her lungs as she struggled to breathe. She felt herself being bodily lifted.She shut her eyes terrified by the sudden turn of events.

And then it stopped. It stopped as suddenly as it had began.As she opened her eyes she found herself on an all familiar railway station. A station that had captivated her dreams for years now.

“Let me help you” said a kindly woman who ushered her into a platform which had previously been invisible to her eyes.

As she entered the platform, waiting for her was the gleaming red train. A train that brought back memories to her. A train that she associated every train with and every railway journey with.

She hastily boarded the train lest it leave without her. She saw others board the train along with her. Some of them seemed familiar with the entire exercise. Others had the same look of incredulity that she did. An expression that mingled fear and surprise.

She looked out of the window. Still wondering what she would do as she was yet to purchase the bare essentials to survive in this new world. It was then she saw him.Standing outside the train, he seemed to be whispering something to an young kid who by the looks of it was as new to this exercise as she was.

She froze. Half her mind wanted to jump out of the train and just talk to him once. The other half was still too scared that she couldn’t make it on time to the grand feast in the great hall if she missed the train.

” I wouldn’t jump off the train if I were you” said a snide voice.

” Let her jump off. It surely would create an uproar” said another voice.

” Well I wouldn’t want to miss the grand feast just to meet him. Besides she herself is in for a surprise soon” said the third voice.

It terrified her beyond her wildest nightmares to hear voices without fathoming their source. ” Who are you? What do you want?” she said keeping her voice as steady as possible.

No reply.

Before she could repeat her questions, she heard the shrill whistle of the engine. The train had begun moving. Students hastily boarded the various compartments.

She looked out of the window one last time to catch a glimpse of him. Her prying eyes met his olive green eyes. Both of them froze in the same instant. His look of surprise met her look of admiration. But there was no time to decode each other’s expressions as the train soon left the platform behind.

She could hear the sound of muffled laughter again from those voices. She decided to ignore them. Soon enough the doors of her compartment flew open.

He was accompanied by one other boy. They gave each other furtive glances before settling in.Clearly they were as uncomfortable as she was. It was as though they had intruded in on something private.

By now she was so used to being surprised that his presence in her compartment felt like just another anomaly in her new world.

“I was asked to give you this” he said as he handed an intricately wrapped package to her.

” What is this?” she asked. Fully knowing the contents of the package.

” Our world has been awaiting you for quite a while. This is rightfully yours. My Dad asked me to hand it over to you ” he said.

The wand had intricate carvings that resembled clusters of elderberries. She could feel the core that reputedly had ingredients which only the finest of wizards and witches could control.

Engraved on the case of the wand were the following words:

From ‘The Boy Who Lived’ to ‘The Girl Who Loved ‘

“In the hope that this wand helps keep your belief in magic alive every time you feel that you have outgrown the age for magic. Your love for me contains more magic than all of the magic contained in the Wizarding world. It would be shame for me to lose it just because you feel you have grown up suddenly. This is the start of your story. You can choose to take it forward or let it wither and die like you had decided a few days back.Use it well.”

Harry Potter

She fought back her tears. Even as she extended her arms and said ” Thank you Albus Severus Potter. I am…..”

“Yes you are famous in our world as ‘The Girl Who Loved” he said with a mildly amused expression.

 

 

 

The Last Night @ TAPMI

6005339487_5ee919062b

I thought I was done writing all that I had to about it. I promised myself that this was turning into a really pandering habit which I had to stop. But like every other addict I too succumbed.

Why did I? A video of our Convocation found its way into my news feed on Facebook. A video that dragged me back to the memories of my last night at that place which I called ‘my home’ over the last two years.

I sat there along with four hundred others that evening. Wondering if this was the end of it. It didn’t quite sink in yet that at the end of that evening, we would be leaving that place as post-graduates. As I looked at the people around me, I saw my emotions and thoughts reflect in a lot of their faces.Different contortions. It was probably the last ever time that we would be sitting as per our roll call. A practice that we had dissented when we had begun this journey.

For some of us, the seating arrangements had been more than just finding friends. It inadvertently had led to some relationships, some memories and in some cases even a heartbreak. For we had studied in a place where people couldn’t skip classes.So that had gotten us used to the presence of these people around that it was quite unnerving that there would be some faces that you would never see after that evening.

The atmosphere was filled with a myriad of emotions. On one side the visible pride of parents. On the other the mixed emotions of four hundred youngsters who had no idea what life was about to throw their way starting the next day.

The degree found its way into my hands as I almost waltzed my way on to the stage.Completely blank. I had no idea where my feet were taking me. The entire exercise of going up the dais,collecting the degree and walking down almost seem mechanized.

After like a zillion photographs and zillion farewells, I made my way back to the comfort of the campus for one last night even as my parents wondered why I chose to stay back in the hostel that night rather than accompany them to the hotel.

“TAPMI” I said to the auto driver as I boarded the auto along with two other juniors of mine. There are certain moments in life wherein you suddenly realize that you would never get a chance to do or act in a certain way. For me it was when I boarded the auto for one last time to the campus. As I let my thoughts wander, I wondered what my juniors were thinking at that moment. Were they jealous? Were they sad? Or were they happy about their elevation in position to ‘seniors’ of the campus?

We made our way down the slope. They engaging in one or the other banter and me narrating incidents of the last two years to them. We promised to meet again in a while after refreshing ourselves. As I made my way towards the hostels, I saw people of my batch walking around the campus. A few couples walked hand in hand. It was one last night for them too. Was it the end of the road? Or was it the start of the actual journey? How tough would it have been for them (assuming they really had a thing going) ?

Half an hour later crowded around my friend and me were a couple of juniors. We sat on the stairs. Like we had been doing for over the last few weeks. There seemed to be an uncharacteristic silence in the air. Something that was loud enough for everyone to hear and acknowledge. We were waiting for another friend of ours to join us. Someone whose absence rendered the gathering incomplete.

He arrived a good one hour later.Without his degree. He had lost it sooner than he had received it.As serious as it was, it did render a comic element to the otherwise morose atmosphere that we were seated in. We debated over various possibilities on where and how he could have lost it.

Soon enough that topic faded into the background as we concluded that at the worst,he could request for a duplicate from the institute. As we then began mocking at our juniors for having to spend another year in this place,we realized that at the back of our minds we were merely hiding our true feelings about having to leave this place finally.

A good two-three hours later after a rather heavy farewell to the Night Canteen over one last cup of lemon tea, we made our way up the slope to escort one of our friends as we had done many a time in the past.  The journey up the slope had usually been to facilitate new topics to gossip about in the past.However that night it seemed different. For one, it was the first time we were accompanied by our juniors who didn’t know about this ritual that the three of us had indulged in.

We stood there after scaling the slope for one last time. Unsure.We didn’t quite know what to say to each other. Still talking in circles and avoiding the dreaded word ‘Bye’. Until one of the juniors said ” Don’t you guys want to give each other a hug or something?”.

A group hug followed. One of us still struggling for words. One other still hiding his emotions behind his satirical remarks. And me. Finally realizing that real life farewells were nowhere close to the reel life farewells that Shahrukh Khan had cheated us into believing.

The rest of the night still remains a blur to me as I remain fixated over that final moment where all of us confronted the reality. The three of us and the ever loyal and loving juniors who treated us far better than we deserved to be.

As I boarded the car the next morning, I did not look back at my room or the hostel. I signed on the register for one final time before I took a dive into a world of harsh realities and harsher responsibilities.

As I type this I am left wondering on how other people felt when they confronted their last day at the place. Did it mean so much to them as it means to me? What would their stories be? I would never know…I can only guess.

Life goes on. We promise to stay in touch. We move on with the other harsher realities of life. Yet in the most infinitesimal of moments, the smallest of things can take us back to the people and the place. It could be something as simple as a song on the radio. A rainy day in your city. A cup of lemon tea that you now drink in silence surrounded by your colleagues at work who have no idea why this tea means so much to you.

More than anything, such triggers take you back to a time and to a person. A person that you once were. 

Someday we all would return in the most unforeseen of circumstances. That day I hope we have the pleasure of meeting ‘ourselves’ again.

Till then Adios.

 

 

 

 

Why Do We Write?- An Artist’s Tale

franz-kafka-quotes-sayings-non-writing-writer-insanity-NxmdT1-quote

Part 1: Dream Chasing

He read out the last few lines of the poem to a thunderous applause from the audience. As he bowed to them and made his way down the dais, he saw a number of fellow artists approach him. “You saw that didn’t you? This is what you are cut out for. Stop fooling yourself that you need the other mundane job that you are doing now” they remarked. He just gave them a sardonic smile and walked away.

The roads seemed strangely deserted that night as he made his way through the streets towards his alternate life. The clock struck 9pm. In an hour from now, he would need to talk to his clients from the U.S about how the latest IT offering from his firm could impact their business. Not that he hated his job. He was thankful for the security that the job provided. The fat cheque at the end of every month almost made all his misgivings vanish. Yet he often wondered, what if he had chosen the path that the rest of them in the hall had? Would a life like that ever be possible?

In a few minutes time he would need to make his customary nightly telephonic call to his parents. They needed his assurance that he was still doing well in his job. They needed to know that their son was working for a respectable firm which entailed talking to clients from other countries. They needn’t know that their son was a ‘hopeful’ artist in the city’s elite community of arts. It wouldn’t matter. For his hobby did not benefit them. “We are happy that you can churn out these pieces. However a job is what keeps your future secure. This kind of artistic success doesn’t come to everyone. It needs luck. We cannot afford to stand by and watch you gamble your life away” they said.

Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months and months into years. The burden of his dual identities soon began gnawing at his insides again. He had done reasonably well in his career providing enough for his family. His association with the community of arts had gone a long way in ensuring that publishers were now vying to publish his works. He had politely refused the offer citing random reasons about wanting to be inconspicuous and what not.

The days usually were spent in one or the other activity that kept him on his toes. The nights troubled him. He would wake up with many a distant memory of some trauma or slight that had plagued his life. Incidents that had made him turn to writing for solace. There was a certain inherent sadness that would stand out subtly in all his writings. It was usually masked with some satirical remark or a self-deprecating statement that would hide the sadness from its readers. Dreams had turned into nightmares.

Part 2: Living the Dream

So it was after much deliberation that he finally decided to take the blind leap of faith. He quit his job. He walked towards the committee of arts with his head now held high. “I am here. It took me a while to get here, but here I am finally. I am willing to let my work be published” he said to his fellow artists and publishers.

That night and for many nights from then, he slept peacefully. He slept in the knowledge that he was finally doing what he loved. But life wasn’t ready for him. Not yet.

As he woke up to the new peace in his life, he also woke up to a new reality. A reality that had been called an illusion by many others. He had made it this far finally. But he had begun to face a new problem. His writings suddenly looked mundane. The forceful impact of the pain that he had once undergone no longer reflected in his words.

The words seemed empty. The emotions behind them seemed shallow. With a shock, he realized that he was not able to write like before. The new found peace in his life had stunted his ability to churn out feelings through words. Adding to his woes were the publishers who refused to accept things as he had written and insisted that he change them to suit the current sensibilities of the audience. He couldn’t help notice the silent smirks of his colleagues. For the first time in his life he was scared.

He was scared because the world that he lived in had a different plan for him. They wanted him to fail. It was evident. Deep down he knew that he was good. He was convinced of his self-worth. Yet he knew that the demons he had fought as he had penned articles in the past were no match to the demons he faced now. It was almost as if the world wanted to drag him down. What was perhaps most disconcerting was the fact that he realized that it was his pain and dissatisfaction in his earlier job that had made him look at things and people in a different way. He had lost that ability now. He realized that he could never write based on someone’s diction irrespective of what the public perception was.

Shame faced, he returned to his old organization seeking a job. They agreed to hire him back. But the contempt and disdain in their demeanor was unmistakable. He felt like he was treading a path full of nails. His insides squirmed with guilt as he met his parents whose accusatory looks made him feel doubly worse about the entire incident. Suddenly…the pain returned.

As the pain returned, the words that had left him also returned. He began writing like there was no tomorrow. He knew that this was his life. This was not masochism. Yet it was the pain that was driving his thoughts towards what he knew would be his best work. It was a dedication.

Part 3: Immortality

The audience in the grand hall sat rapt with the attention as the voice rang out loud and echoed against their ears and hearts:

A Song of Ice and Fire this is..

One half imprisoned by the coldness that you possess..

The other half burning fiercely to sting anyone who dares demean me in excess…

I cry because I know nothing of your vile ways of life…

I smile because you know nothing about my strife….

For you considered yourself holy enough to impose your rules on me…

While I considered myself above such mandates which are meant for mere mules..not me…

Prey you did on the naivety of dreamers like us…

Pray I will that you burn fiercely in the flame of the same dreams without a fuss…

Conniving were your attempts to force me out of my dual identities…

Helplessly I did succumb to these attempts which were full of obscenities…

As I now rest in peace beyond your reach…

Pray pay attention to what I intend to teach…

Are my double identities a crime?

At a time when your double standards are at their prime…

Pain is what I chose…

Over the meaningless societal success that I shall readily lose…

Pain and Pleasure shall both adorn my pyre..

For this is a Song of Ice and Fire…

 

“This was his last work. I now know why he always kept writing” concluded the elderly voice of his father, even as the crowd involuntarily stood up in their newfound respect towards a spark that had burned its brightest before being extinguished.

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘3 Messengers’ & ‘We’

macbeth3

Long long ago, there existed a prosperous kingdom. A kingdom like no other. It was ruled by a wise king named Samaj. His subjects were happy under his rule. Samaj was a just and fair ruler who had engraved his name in the hearts of his subjects. The growth of the kingdom under him was meteoric and people were never left wanting for anything.

However stories are never meant to be happy and the inevitable had to follow. The existing prosperity and happiness of the kingdom irked its neighbors who hatched a plot to bring the kingdom down and humiliate Samaj.

After weeks of deliberation, the kingdoms finally decided that they would begin their ghastly act with the help of three people.  The balance of scales in the kingdom had to be disturbed. To accomplish this, the three people who were chosen had to be unassuming and at no point of time did the conspirators want any clue tracing back to them.

So the three individuals chosen were trained suitably so that each of them performed a different act based on their competencies. The three men were given just what was enough for them to carry out their respective acts. The mastermind behind this plan knew that with time, they would suitably leverage their skills to do the necessary damage.

At this point in the story, it is necessary for us to name these three villains. For convenience let us name them as El,Cee and Ess. They stepped into the kingdom as messengers from the north and acquainted themselves with Samaj and his subjects.

Act 1:

Samaj had two wives. He favored both of them equally. To his wives and his subjects, Samaj had always appeared as a balanced and impartial individual.

El then made his appearance at the court. He introduced himself and sought a private audience with the king. After the customary discussions, El began indulging in  idle talks with the king. They spoke about the sun, the moon and the stars. The usually reticent king found to his own consternation that the conversation provoked opinions from him, about everything under the sun. El seemed to deal with only black or white and hence opinions too were restricted to either a ‘like’ or a ‘dislike’.

The queens put up a splendid dance show in honor of the guest. As their performance came to an end, El asked the king a seemingly innocuous question ” Who danced better your Majesty? “. The king who was inebriated looked at El and pointed his finger at his first wife. A collective gasp ensued from the onlooking crowd.The king having realized his folly quickly pointed another finger at his second wife.This however only aggravated matters. Acting as though nothing had happened,El asked the king  “Is your mind ever at peace?”. The king replied ” Yes, the chanting of the Vedas by the Brahmans give me peace.”

El smiled at the king.It was time for him to leave. As he made his way out of the palace, he could swear that he heard hushed whispers about the king suddenly being an opinionated monarch.

Act 2:

The next guest was Cee. Unlike El, Cee seemed to possess a greater flair for detailed discussions. He did not believe that everything had to be black or white. He believed in conversations. He believed in words. It did not matter if the words made sense or not. All that Cee believed was irrespective of opinions, one had to use words to make his or her presence felt in the world. Opinions right or wrong needed to be backed up with words. People would listen, he insisted.

The king who had irked his wives now chose to use words to repair the damage. ” Both my wives danced really well. Women who dance that well are befitting of a king like me. That is why they are my queens.” declared the king amidst his courtiers.

Before bidding farewell, Cee made it a point to talk to some of the king’s subjects on what they thought of the king. He coerced even the silent ones into giving an opinion by telling them the necessity of participating in such discussions . “Today our king said that anyone who dances as well as his wives can be his queens. Earlier in the day, he also attributed the peace in the state to the Vedic chants of the Brahmans. ”

Cee smiled knowingly and set off.

Act 3:

The final act was orchestrated by the third messenger Ess. He did not seek an audience with the king. Instead he made his way around the kingdom testing the validity of the claims that he had heard from Cee. The subjects were greeted with two questions.

  1. The king claims that anyone who can dance as well as his wives will be his queens.Is it true?
  2.  The king claims that the Brahmans are the peacekeeping force in the kingdom. What does your army do then?

Pretty soon, these questions became the talk of the town. A doubt had been converted into a fact. People began believing that the king had promised good dancers a chance to join his queens. The royal army was enraged that the king had slighted them.

A huge crowd comprising of hopeful dancers and frustrated soldiers made its way towards the palace of the king seeking justice. The visibly flustered king tried hard to explain what he really meant. But it went in vain as a civil war ensued.

King Samaj had been overthrown by his own subjects.

Meanwhile, the three messengers returned to their kingdom to be rewarded handsomely by their king.

The historian’s notes read as follows:

‘El represents the ‘Like’ on social media that is supposedly a determinant of a person’s opinion. Highly hypocritical and often misconstrues emotions behind actions. Likes are first steps towards ‘acceptance’ and the need to have an ‘opinion’.

‘Cee represents the ‘Comments’ on social media which test a person’s vocabulary rather than the sense behind the usage of the same. Deemed as a necessity to stamp one’s presence and authority in discussions, there is no right place or time to use it as long as one is well versed in the language’

‘Ess represents the ‘Shares’ on social media that bear tidings of news both good and bad. Often used in mass uprisings. Judgement of the same is considered foolhardy as the number of people ‘sharing’ the news is a determinant of the validity of a statement.

‘Samaj’ of course refers to our society which has chosen these messengers to dictate our everyday life.

P.S:

This is a particularly long post and views the current scheme of things as something detrimental to both individuals and the society. There surely are alternate opinions to the same which the author chooses to ignore. For the fourth messenger called ‘React’ though born, is yet to manifest himself powerfully in the author.

 

 

 

 

Bidding Farewell to A ‘Teacher’

teachers

24 hours.

That was all he had. In 24 hours, his reign would end. He had known this was coming for quite a while. Yet nothing had prepared him for confronting the flurry of emotions that ran wild in him or the images of the last few years which had begun haunting his dreams ever since he had announced his decision to quit the institute.

He spent the evening prior to his last day at a dinner that the board had organized in his honor. His soon to be ‘former’ colleagues said many a word in his praise. He had known some of them for more than a decade.

Words. Maybe an occasion of this kind demanded that only kind words be spoken.  People delved into memories of their times with him. It meant so much. Yet it meant so little. For he was someone who had treaded the path lesser taken even if it meant earning hatred and ill will. He had noticed the decrease in deference ever since he had made this grand announcement of his. And yet in this honorary dinner, he noticed the solemn silence that one would associate with respect. A silence akin to the ones at a funeral. He dismissed these mundane thoughts and instead concentrated on how he could make his last day at the institute count.

The next morning:

He had stopped believing in god since long. Yet as he woke up on that day, he couldn’t help feel grateful to the Almighty for having given him a chance to indulge in a profession of this sort.

As his car made its way out of his garage and headed towards the institute for one last time, he finally acknowledged his feelings. He had always dismissed memories and nostalgia as a pointless indulgence.But today, he needed those memories to comfort him as the present seemed too unkind to comfort him.

He closed his eyes.

The parents wailed to him. Their daughter had left the institute over a weekend to visit them, but had not turned up at their home.She was missing ever since. All kind of wild speculations were made. Speculations that belittled the girl, her parents, the institute and him.He was helpless and his words could hardly comfort the parents.   

He recalled the time when he had spent hours preparing for his first class. Hours spent over papers and journals to make the class as lively and interactive as possible. And yet as he walked into the class, there were a meager ten students in the class while the remaining had conveniently chosen to skip his class.

He was seated in the driver’s seat awaiting the green signal. The crunch of tires on gravel was audible. He turned around to see two of his students on their bike zooming away into eternity. An eternity called death. ‘Extensive Skull Damage’ said the reports.

His car had rammed into the wall. He was bleeding profusely.Yet he had a class to teach in a few minutes time. Wiping the blood off his face, he went on to teach as though nothing had happened. One student yawned pointedly. Yet another fiddled with his mobile. 

There seemed to be a manifold increase in such incidents. With every passing day, he became increasingly demented. He took it upon himself and blamed himself for these mishaps. He had cared for them. He was a teacher. Their failings were his failings. With no option, he had to switch careers. For now in addition to teaching, he needed to act.

He needed to mask all that he genuinely felt for those entrusted to him. He didn’t need the love anymore. Their safety was paramount. What followed were a series of rules. Rules that ensured that the students were united in their hatred for him and the system. It was a sacrifice that he made. A sacrifice that he would never feature in their good books. More than once, he had felt the urge to closely monitor and mentor some of them as though they were his own kith and kin, and yet he had to satisfy himself with his loneliness and the greater good behind this entire act. More often than not this effort manifested itself in unintentional aloofness or rudeness that students now began to associate with him. Something that had zero tolerance for the failings of ordinary mortals.

His last day at office was a low profile one. A few papers were to be signed confirming the next head of the institute. The mood in the institute seemed to be a festive one. Half his mind knew that his departure was the reason behind this revelry. Yet another half hoped that the celebrations were for some other reason….

For someone who had never been a forerunner at a popularity contest, he strangely felt the need to be acknowledged and recognized that day. It would probably justify all his trials and tribulations over the years in making the place what it was. He wished he could drag some of those students and tell them what their lives and future meant to him. He wished he could explain the rationale behind all his actions…but it wouldn’t matter anymore. Not when they were more consumed in their hatred for him and their need to vindicate him.

 

As his car swerved out of the campus gate for one last time, he looked back  one last time at the establishment searching for the fruits of his penance.

Some students hurried towards the academic block so as to be on time for their classes. Some others carefully adjusted their helmets before setting out on another adventure.   The guards carefully verified claims for a night outside the campus.                                             Visible or invisible….the culture that he had set in would live on even if he was no longer a part of it.

Somewhere above the Almighty said…’You did your part well’.

Being a teacher was truly a thankless job…

 

P.S: This post may contain fiction and non-fiction in equal measures. I  however hope that the percentage of non-fiction is significantly higher. For we are mere mortals…being a teacher is not everyone’s cup of tea. Standing afar and commenting perhaps is….teaching surely isn’t.

 

The 4Ps of ‘Going Back to Work’

Small-4-Ps1

P for Possessions:

The Nike bag that he had flaunted back in college now had to be emptied. Emptied so that it’s contents could be meticulously transferred to a new bag. A bag which was supposedly more ‘professional’ than the one he possessed. Basically a bag which almost every second person now possessed.

His suitcase which had always carried a generous number of T-Shirts and Jeans now carried a set of formal clothes. Clothes that were supposed to make him look every bit the ‘professional’ that he was to become. Black shoes, black leather belt, new hankies and new socks. At the bottom of the suitcase lay a lone pair of Jeans and a few collared T-shirts. The ‘professionals’ were allowed to wear casuals once a week apparently.

P for People:

There was a time in the last two years when he thought that first impressions didn’t last. The people around him weren’t quick to judge anyone. Over the course of the two years, he had unwittingly made friends of foes and foes of friends.One bonded with another over many a long conversation that ran late into the night or over a particularly difficult assignment. There was always time to make up. Time to heal relationships and time to ask for forgiveness.

‘First impressions matter’ said the trainer to them on their second day of work. People did not have the time here to wait for anyone to see the light or to mentor them.  So one had to ensure that he/she had the right impression from the start. Be it the way you hold the cup of tea or the way you drink it, everything would be noticed. Conversations ran late into the night. Over a cup of a tea. But with some stranger abroad. A stranger whom they had termed as a  ‘client’. There would be no time to apologize. There would be no time to explain yourself.

P for Pages:

A stack of notebooks lay piled on upon another. The ‘pages’ of the notebooks filled with many a musing of the heart. Scrawled at the bottom of every page lay his signature. A signature that did not just signify his name, but a signature that clearly signified that this act was his to perpetrate and that none would imitate him. The notebooks were to be buried deep into his closet where nobody would ever see it and ‘judge’ him. Pages that carried memories of many acts that were defined by a P called ‘Passion’.

The code ran for pages together. The ‘Request for Proposal’ ran into a hundred pages by itself. There were ‘policy’ documents too. ‘Pages’ that were meant to mean the same to everyone who read them. Unlike the ‘pages’ that awakened a new beast in every new person who read them. The pages of the document were to be perused by everyone and would be judged to either be befitting or not. His signature lay along with the signatures of so many others. A signature whose absence would not be hard to miss.

P for Professional:

A giant building awaited their entry. They entered at the same time. They left at the same time. They behaved like they were wired together. Theirs was a world within itself. A world that snubbed out any mutinous thoughts or any thoughts of being ‘different’. A world that resided in the slides of ‘PowerPoint’. Thoughts that were defined, refined and concentrated around another P called the big fat ‘PayCheck’.

Identical possessions..

Identical People..

People called ‘Professionals’..

Identical Pages of a giant book…

A book called ‘Welcome to Planet Corporate’…

 

Somewhere else another book lay unfinished…..

Waiting for the ‘Professional’ to return to wield his pen..

And eloquently spin many a yarn…..

That kept everyone enthralled…..

 

Dedicated to many a graduate (should I say ‘professional’?) who has lost himself/herself and abandoned many a passionate dream in this fast paced ‘Corporate World’.

The ‘TamBrahm’ Code

303802_2544915221466_1290470300_n

 

‘Madrasi’

‘Dark-skinned’

‘Lungi-clad’ & 

‘Conservative Pricks’

Yeah so this is pretty much how most of the people describe us. Not that we care. Most of it is true. But there is a lot more to a ‘Madrasi’ than what meets the eye. I am not someone who is really a ‘Tamil’ or a ‘Brahmin’ fanatic. But then lets just say that this post is a guide for some of you on how to unravel these ‘unique’ humans and perhaps help you understand them better.

  • Let’s start with the name. Okay so you know that the guy you loved all your life had his name as ‘Ashwin Sadasivam’. But as you sit on the dais during your wedding, the priest cites your name along with the a name that sounds like ‘Neelakanta Sharma’.Before you start doubting the true identity of your partner, let me clarify that. We are also given a name that usually honors our forefathers. A name used in lieu of our social name for most religious purposes. So please hold your horses.
  • Irrespective of whether you are a Tambrahm guy or gal, you would have at least one picture of yours where you would be decked up as ‘Lord Krishna’. You only wish you had so many gals to choose from like the Lord when you actually grow to be of marriageable age.
  • Academics are an integral part of every Tambrahm family. You might be the class topper. But if your score in your 10th standard was lower than Padma Akka’s daughter’s ( some cousin of yours who finished her 10th ten years ago), you would be scorned at by  the rest of the family.
  • Most Tambrahm girls are trained in either music or dance. In the event of an arranged marriage, the groom( say a foreign mapillai) sets his eyes on the gal for the first time in a music concert or a dance recital. What follows is then hot bajjis and kesari at the girl’s place where you are expected to say ‘Yes’ to the girl. Your parents give you two options however :1) Either you say OK. 2) Else your parents say OK on your behalf.
  • When you confess to your parents that you are in love, they do not bother to ask you if it is a guy or a gal. The first question is ” Brahmin or not?”. If you say ‘Yes’, then the next question is ‘ Vadama,Brahacharinam,Vatheema or Ashtasastram? ‘. So basically that is how important the Brahmin lineage is. Even gender takes a backseat here.
  • CBSE School>Decent Engineering College>MS>Settle in U.S.A : This is pretty much the life-map of a TamBrahm boy. A boy who doesn’t fulfill the above criteria is going to find it a little tough in the matrimonial market.( I am already sweating that I am lacking on the MS and Settling in the U.S bit)
  • If your first day at work falls on a Monday and your bus is to pick you up at 8.00 AM, you will have to leave home before 7.30 AM. This is because 7.30-9.00 Am is the infamous Rahu Kaalam. Anything done during this period will surely be doomed. So irrespective of how great you are at your IT or Marketing skills,Rahu Kaalam has the ability to render it useless.
  • Every TamBrahm household will have atleast one ‘Seenu‘ mama and one ‘Pattu‘ maami.
  • Nothing can beat the refreshing taste of filter ‘kaapi‘ served at Tambrahm households. Be careful to not let your lips touch the glass when you drink the coffee. Especially if you are a potential groom or a potential bride. For the ‘Seenu’ mama or the ‘Pattu’ maami of that household is waiting for you to make this crucial mistake.
  • Navaratri is the best time for TamBrahm matches. As you visit households to see the display of dolls, more often than not, the girl of the household is asked to sing. Irrespective of how good or bad the song is, the next question your mother asks the girl’s parents is ” How old is your daughter? Have you started looking for potential grooms?” So if you are a guy, remember to clap really hard in case you like the girl. If you are a girl who is not interested in the wedding, please sound cacophonous.
  • TamBrahm girls do need to know how to sing ‘Gowri Kalyanam‘ at any cost. For this song is the ‘Song in demand’ at every family gathering.
  • No religious function is complete without a ‘Sumangali Prarthanai‘( A Ritual to invoke the blessings of the Almighty for Married Women).
  • Haircut days: Only Sunday,Monday,Wednesday and Thursday(not always) are considered days worthy enough for a barber to cut your hair. Once you return home from the salon, you are considered an untouchable( by both animate and inanimate things) till you have your bath.
  • As a lady, you do not just return from a TamBrahm household without a blouse bit. Often your gifts at weddings depends on whether you were given the customary blouse bit and the silver ornate vermilion box prior to the wedding.
  • ‘Avani Attam’ is the one day in the year when you change your sacred thread and wake up extra early to finish the mandatory chanting of the Gayatri mantra. This is the one day when you truly feel the ‘Brahm’ blood running through your veins.
  • Food: You are expected to know these combinations well.  So prepare accordingly if you are a guy or a girl.
  1.   More Kozhambu+Paruppu Usili+Jeera Rasam
  2. Paruppu Thuvayal+ Milagu Kozhambu
  3. Ven Pongal + Chidambaram Gotsu
  4. Adai+Aviyal
  • You do not just go to bed. You need the ‘Vibhuti‘ (sacred ash) on your forehead before you sleep.This would keep demons at bay, even in your dreams.

So this was a small peek into the ‘TamBrahm’ world . There is a lot more to us than just ‘Lungis’ and ‘Conservative Pricks’. So the next time you meet one of us, I surely hope that you take the effort to find out both our names(social & the one we inherited from our forefathers). Who knows, we could reciprocate the same with a steaming cup of ‘Filter Kaapi’.

Till then…Adios ‘Abhishtoos‘( The TamBrahm term for ‘Senseless Idiots’).

The ‘Death’ of Relationships

death-title-image_tcm7-187855

So there is this person in your life. Someone who in the current scheme of things seems to be insignificant to you. Someone who you don’t really have to invest in. Physically or emotionally. Someone who for all practical purposes could be a termed a ‘stranger’.

The person might have meant a thousand things to you many years ago. Say maybe when the both of you traveled together by the same bus or when you were probably classmates.  You worked together on assignments, you played together at the local basketball club. Your social media profile boasts of a picture with the person and a tagline that says “Friends Forever” or maybe another philosophical line that emphasizes how important the picture and the person is(was) to you.

Yet as fate often conspires, the both of you walk towards your respective destinies. There are vows made with fancy words that talk of immortal friendship and what not. To your credit, the both of you do try and stay in touch initially. The ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ on each other’s social media activity bears enough testimony to this. There are the customary calls made for every birthday and anniversary. In fact if lucky, the both of you accidentally even bump into each other at a cinema or a restaurant.

Slowly the monotony of life sets in. You get busy living and so does the person. Responsibilities increase. Both at work and at home. Suddenly there seems to be no time for any of this old friendly banter. You hope that the person understands your predicament and vice-versa. The customary calls made on birthdays and anniversaries are now reduced to mere wishes on the person’s social media profile with a shallow apology about either having misplaced the person’s contact number or not having enough time to call. However the apology is sandwiched delicately between the wishes and the promise of a rendezvous pretty soon.

Life goes on. New friends now replace old ones. It is not as though the past has been disrespected, it is just that there is too much going on at present for you to enjoy the melancholy of the days of the past or revive memories that would probably make you shed a tear or two. You ignore the gentle tugs of your heartstrings.

And then again, one fine day you meet that person at the restaurant or the cinema. Both of you have changed beyond measure. There is a polite acknowledgement of each other’s presence. A warm handshake and a general enquiry about each other’s well-being. For the briefest of nano-seconds the both of you let your memories go back to the days when you had the luxury of being yourselves in each other’s presence. It was your heart speaking to you. But the mind immediately intervenes and says ‘We were kids back then’.The silence is uncomfortable. You invite the person home more as a formality than anything else and bid farewell.

You log on to your social media profile and share one of those innumerable posts that keep lurking around to be shared by people. Posts which convert even the silliest of phrases into deep-rooted philosophy. The post you share talks about inevitable change. You smile at yourself and unconsciously link the post to your encounter with that person. A person who once meant the world  to you, but is now a mere acquaintance.

Out of sight. Out of mind. Truer words have never been spoken. Pretty soon the person fades into a hazy memory. Some person with whom I shared my bench with. That is how you perceive him/her. By now you do not even feel the need to ‘like’ or ‘comment’ on the person’s activities on social media. Given the gamut of options that the site offers, you now change the person’s status to an ‘acquaintance’. Ironic right? Relationships are being defined by mere buttons.

Time flies. You are too busy engaging your present audience for you to indulge with people of your past. They do not seem to be serving any purpose in your life currently. You in fact proudly claim ‘ I am a changed person. I wonder if people of my past would like the ‘new’ me.’

And then fate strikes.

You wake up to the news of that person’s sad demise. An unfortunate accident as reported by the papers. For a minute your mind refuses to think. Refuses to accept it. You are numb with shock.

And suddenly your memories associated with the person seem clearer than ever.It is as though nothing had ever changed between the both of you. A small voice inside your heart chastises you saying ‘ You could have made the effort to stay in touch.’

Would it have prevented the untimely death? Who knows? We can only speculate..

You then rush to the person’s social media profile. The one link that existed,long after many other bonds were severed. You scroll through all the condolences that people have already expressed on the person’s profile.

Time to compose a flowery farewell. A farewell that people would ‘like’ and perhaps ‘share’. Even a farewell to a friend who is now no more, needs words that strike the hearts of strangers who would be reading it. You shy away from genuinely expressing your anguish and instead resort to this farce . Your friend died only once. But with this action of yours, irony died a thousand deaths.

Done. You think you have done enough.

You go to bed and decide that you would now count the ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ on this ‘flowery condolence’ the next day.

Are you sure that you will wake up tomorrow? Is tomorrow granted to you? It was your friend today. It could be you tomorrow. You might even die a lonely death.Or a gruesome one.

Death doesn’t do any of us the courtesy of knocking. Your condolences might be a farce. Your relationships might be a farce. But death isn’t.

The farce on your social media profile would go on, long after you have died. No flowery condolence irrespective of how many ever ‘shares’ or ‘likes’ is going to get you back on earth.

So live. Do not make relationships around you a mere formality. None of us are getting out of this place alive..so do the most to ensure that your stay etches firmly on to the minds of everyone surrounding you.

For then…you would be immortal. Death only ends lives,not relationships or memories.

P.S:

This post of mine is dedicated to a classmate from college who died an untimely death yesterday in an accident. No post is ever going to bring him back. He may not be able to read this. I only hope and pray that he enters a far more genuine world than the one that he left behind. He was a gifted writer. His work will live on long after he has physically left all of us for a ‘better’ place. R.I.P bro!