Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Death.

Such a taboo. Something we never talk about, if it can be helped. Euphemism for the holy silence. 

I suppose no one is actually afraid of death. Just that no one wants to be there when it happens. 

And why not. Change is always .. disturbing. Even good change.

With the growing emphasis on The Individual, the pressure to leave a mark, be someone, do something is here to stay. And to leave without accomplishing any of that – terribly lowering, isn’t it?

And then the grief. Not the one that’s mired in anger and fear. But the one that comes after. The deep grief of abandonment. Of the loss of hope. Not just of what one wanted but what can never be. Ever. 

Religion – and accompanying rituals. Cultural platitudes. The dogma of what is correct and what isn’t. Discourses on the soul. Of journeys beyond. They all gloss over the fact that grief is a terribly private affair. That death leaves an emptiness unless we anticipate it. And sometimes, even then.

Grief – not pretty. Not the wailing or the endless streams of tears. But the blackness of empty eyes. The hollowness of being. Yes – that is intensely personal. It is easier to shed tears than to face the void. And so, when unshed tears are encountered, it is unnatural. Unfeeling. Just not done to not show grief in the woefully inadequate language that society understands.

Death. Talk about it. Think about it. And if you have the courage, look it in the eye. That will leave your loved ones less bereft.

Writer’s Gone Off the Block

I have nothing to say.

Apart from the fact that I have nothing to say.

The din of opinions aired, the chaos of ruffled feathers….. the air is rife with the wish to be heard and noticed.

We are angry – too many things anger us. But we are not angry enough to act.

We are indignant – too many things cause us offense. But we are not rattled enough  to fight back.

There is no time to stand and stare… frighteningly, there is very little left to stare at.

There are cameras and photographs, monologues and group meets – time is poured into publicizing its expenditure.

We want The Perfect One – to mate, to work, to befriend, to employ. We refuse imperfection because it is unfashionable.

And yet – we wear different attitudes and manners as a badge. A close-kept brother (?) hood of – what?

People lose their way when marbles are lost…

When It Made Sense…

Epiphanies would be far commoner than they are if only we recognized them as such.

An epiphany in itself, one might say.

No amount of Jonathan Livingston Seagull or The Secret  can actually switch “on” the proverbial Light inside our heads until we’re ready to open our eyes. Life has been kind enough to let one encounter a Guardian Angel or two along its intriguing – if not always easy – meanderings. Such serendipitous meetings have given one a sense of … well… common  sense.

To those of us who ponder over the whys  and the hows,  maybe we need to accept a basic truth. We analyse ourselves more than we should and we analyse the world less than we must. Every thought, word and deed is mulled over in great detail – using up too much mind-space. This leaves far less time and energy for the really important nuggets where all we need are single word answers to vital issues – such as is it worth it? or does this person make me happy 80% of the time?  Instead of focusing on these, we spend endless hours wondering about why communication is non-existent or how to deal with mood swings. So maybe we need to shift focus on what to analyse and what to merely discard as background noise.

Added to this, is our innate need to throw the cross of responsibility onto an Undefined Power. Perhaps not in so many words (or a well-etched idea) of a god but some Parameter that will somehow predetermine the outcome. We tell ourselves that we need to be “sure” by applying certain rules/ideas/concepts to the situation; that our ‘faith’ in the situation should somehow be ‘justified’ by a predictable set of outcomes. Let’s get real – Life is unpredictable. So why would it make sense to try and predict how it will turn out? Make a decision for Now. Be happy Now. Be healthy Now. Tomorrow will be much better if we go to bed happier tonight. It’s quite simple, really, isn’t it?

And then is the Big “E” –  Emotion. One has long wondered why they exist if some of them are such a taboo! The very fact that human beings emote – to wit – connotes that they are – even if for some unfathomable reason! – supposed to. Then should not emotion be unconditional?   Whether a positive or a negative one. In our bid to protect ourselves for the Future (again that fear of the Unknown!), our survival instinct tells us to love only if we are loved back and morality, vice-versa, tell us to hurt only in self-defence. If the defining factor that sets up apart from Nature’s whimsical instincts is rational thought, then our emotions too, should lead an independent life. Love because you choose to – give because you wish to – and hurt because you need to. Life has a strange way of giving back in equal measure – love will come back (as does pain!).

And finally – this almost singularly human need to define ourselves in context of another being/ idea/ object, constantly restricts us on who we can be. We tend to tie up our happiness and well-being to one thing – be it a person, a set of ideas or a lifestyle. Again – Life is an amalgam of each of these and then some more. True – that only one may give us one particular kind of pleasure but is that single-dimensional pleasure enough of a reward to justify the price? Life has much, much more on offer. Judgements cost nothing and yet – are such a heavy debt to pay off. Where as experiences may cost a bit but in the long run, don’t incur Emotional & Mental Involvement – a.k.a. EMI. Let’s leave the conclusion-making for afters and enjoy the situation for what it is.

Maybe all we need, after all, is some Light…

Of Dreams

Being a lawyer today carries certain unwritten text around it – if one is even half-way capable of stringing a sentence in grammatically correct English, one is expected to be making so much per annum. Sub-text involves owning a car, some form of an artificially intelligent telecom device, a fruit-featuring computer and regular illustrated updates of holidays and/or revelry-making.

Is life only about getting to the next milestone?

Why is the constant rush to achieve and accquire called the “rat race”? As far as one is aware, rats are not known to race in the natural state of affairs.

Or is it – very quietly but very much in reality – the realisation of the Great American Dream by India – albeit half a century later?

Look around you – the symptoms are all there.

Suburbia? Check.

Mortgaged Apartments/Houses (American for Home-Loan)? Check.

EMIs for everything including the kitchen-sink? Check.

Ill-brought up children with dysfunctional upbringing in two-income working parents’ homes? Check.

Prolific “fast” food that is over-priced and ill-tasting? Check.

Mushrooming malls and ugly, mass-produced matrial goods that just shouldn’t exist? Check.

Why do we do this to ourselves? It seems, if we can’t get the Oh-so-coveted Green Card, we merely bring the accompaniments to our doorstep.

Ill-cut skirts and too-short shirts replace well-tailored salwar kameezes.  It’s un-cool for working women to “enjoy cooking” – a cook is a must – and the regular griping on the lack of culinary skills of said cook follows. Entertaining at home is a chore – let’s just catch up over an unrecognisable-in-Italy Italian meal at a chain restaurant. Schools teach and young adults still graduate without the faintest clue of when the Second World War ended.

This *may* read like a rant – but it isn’t. It’s a thought – said aloud.

Is it a stage of natural Darwin-like evolution on a country-wide level? Is it merely the lesser following the greater in a tried-and-seems successful method? Or an unconscious collective practising of a mentality that is inherent to oour culture?  Or is it a deep-rooted inferiority complex where if the gora sahib  has it, then it must be worth having? So politically incorrect in the times where “racial studies” connote mildly enlightened perceptions!

Think about – on the next break off the wheel.

Notions of Infancy

Does India, as a culture, allow its Indians to grow up?

Think about it.

Twenty-five year olds stay at home with the ‘rents if employed in the same city. Laundry and food, gratis. To even suggest moving out into a single pad would be considered a heniuos crime-against-the-hands-that-changed-your-diapers. Even if such a move would actually ease the daily tension of living that is inevitable in closely inhabited areas.

In more households than not, it is unheard of to even shut the door of a bedroom – especially if it is to accquire some “quiet time alone”. Such a concept goes against the grain of Collective Indian Living – and no, one does not refer to the rural lifestyle. In modern, today-India, an average family of four, having a son and a daughter, where both partents hold at least post-graduate degrees, a two-bedroom life-space would be considered more than adequate. After all, why can a brother and sister not share the same room?!

Are we as a culture, really so smug as to deny human beings the fundamental right to personal space and privacy? What is this “liberty”, “freedom” and “independence” that the Constitution guarantees if each one of the members of the adult, middle-class Indians is denied the right to being an adult by his or her own family? Where is this liberty if something as fundamental as choosing one’s life partner is not to be one’s right but an imperial order handed down by the Powers-That-Be of every Family? Where is that freedom when all one can “choose” to be is an engineer or a doctor? Where is that liberty if a mere evening out to have a drink with friends is constantly monitored with phone calls and text messages of “Beta, we are awaiting dinner for you. Have made your favourite rasam.” Why are Indians so sold on the ugliness of emotional blackmail and its accompanying power play?

What does it say about the culture as a whole? That we are so insecure about living for ourselves that we will eschew every opportunity to be responsible. Schooling? Someone else’s responsibility. Choice of Profession? Fikar not, Appa will choose. Marriage? Oh don’t worry! GrandFather and Great-Grand-Uncle-Thrice-Removed have long ago come to an understanding. Where to live? Here only – why do you want to waste “apni zameen”? Which car to buy? – Arrey! Whichever is the biggest, after all, family has to be able to travel together, no? When to have kids? – Shaadi ke baad do saal ruk liye – now you must have your first child. How many kids to have? – Eklauti santaan achchi nahi – hum do humare do. Ek ladka aur ek ladki.

So on and so forth.

It’s interesting to note how we, Indians, are not expected to take any decisions for ourselves. As children, young adults, grown-up members of society. It’s always someone else’s responsibility to make our choices for us. In fact, one could go further and say even the degeneration of old-age and the following decline into the Final Oblivion is for someone else to sort out. Why else would you have children if not to be your “budhape ka sahara”? Self-reliance is a blasphemous notion and independence the germ of all that is evil.

In a society that is now adapting to its Audis and INR 5 crore apartments, it’s disappointingly disturbing to see that these are still, at the end of the day, property of the Hindu (Un)Divided Family.

Ten Symptoms Of Adulthood

10. You side step a puddle instead of splashing through it in glee.

9. You don’t slllurrrppp the dregs of chocolate milk shake in the cafe.

8. You don’t presume the cherries on all the desserts across the table are there for your picking.

7. You don’t “clap your hands” when you’re happy and you know it.

6. The nurse at the doctor’s clinic gives you the Nasty Eye if you pick a sweety off the bowl.

5. It takes more than a mug of hot cocoa to make you feel fuzzy and warm and it’s usually alcoholic.

4. Pocket money refers to the money in your pocket – literally – and not what you filch off mum in the five second breakfast before dashing off to school.

3. Boys are not “yuck” and vice-versa.

2. You don’t strip off offending pieces of clothing when you’re too hot or it’s floppy and in-the-way of whatever you’re doing.

1. Eating a lollipop attracts more attention than it should.

Wanted: One Conversation Partner

Due to global warming (and the sudden drop in obesity in Tonga), the following position is vacant. Interested candidates may forward their resumes, along with expected returns and previous positions held, to the author.

Position: Conversation Partner

Skills required: An ability to listen without a glazed look in the eyes. Talking is not a required skill.

Qualifications: Must know the history of England as published by Sellars and Yeatman. Should be aware of the Rising Yen. Is aware of the fact that Tom and Jerry is possibly one of the greatest inventions of mankind. Will help if possesses an ability to laugh at M*A*S*H* reruns. Must never tire of random ideas being the topic of the day. Should agree that Shakespeare is overrated.In fact, should agree that pretty much all “classic” literature is overrated. With the exception of the Greeks. And Wordsworth. Should know the origin of the Divide-and-Rule policy (no – the Raj is not the correct answer). Must never ever inititate a discussion on Really Bad Indian Authors And Unfortunately Winners Of Awards. An ability to sit through hours of silence is a pre-requistie. Must not interrupt meaningful viewings of Soppy Movies that induce late-night discussions on relationships. Or the lack of them. Must never question the purcahse of books, even when there is clearly no space left to put them in. Must never reprimand said owner of books for wild tantrums when books are found to have been dog-eared, upended or (gasp!) written on, by others. In fact, must never reprimand. Period. Should cherish the oldest copy of Wren and Martin’s for its sheer beauty. Must find Nabokov to be an Exceptionally Repulsive Mind. Should want to watch “Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy”. Should not want to watch trash cinema. Must know who Ertha Kitt was. Must find it incredibly sweet to name a child Pica Farhad. And smile at that. Must discuss the weather.

All of the above are man-dat-ory. If you don’t get the pun in that, don’t bother to apply.