Moving too fast

The cost of moving too fast is that one misses the sights. One misses real conversations, one misses the moments that make life worth living. One misses people in their lives. No side is to blame. No one foresees things coming to such a pass. When Time takes over, one has little options but to just synchronise oneself with the pace with which Time wishes to go. It works well, so well, often like clockwork.

Routines, meetings, deadlines, deliveries, end of the day parties, end of the weekend parties, end of the month parties, beginning of the month parties, hung-over Sunday mornings that often begin at 11 am — oh, the sheer pace of it! Before long, the Sunday is gone and so is the scope for some quiet reflection, some stock taking. It does not matter, the brain reasons. It’s all fine till I am moving, it says in its defence! Keep calm and carry on! To where? To what end? No answers there, Sir!

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Keep calm, they say. And do what with that forced calm? Pretend that everything is okay? No answers here, either! Tough questions have a way of answering them. If it is too tough to answer, chances are there is no answer to it, it seems. And, there goes the feeble attempt at introspection down the big drain. You need no answer, workman! Just align yourself to the clock and keep moving. Keep moving and nobody gets hurt.

People we have left behind have an uncanny way of never leaving our sides, either in their presence or in their absence The only roots of our newly found existence, they are the ones who keep reminding us that there’s a home to return to, where sanity comes easy, where love is showered upon profusely. Such people speak, we listen. Distances fade out the impact of their words, but we listen, straining our ears to hold on to the last vibration of sound coming from their end. Their voices are the last hopes in our newly built lives which play out in rented homes, in cities that often remain strangers, in offices that refuse to become home.

listenWe listen. And, we weep, for sometimes the voices sound unfamiliar. Probably, because of the distortion caused by the vast distance in between. We listen. And, we smile, for sometimes the voices sound so familiar. Probably, because nothing has ever really changed. We listen. And, we live. Listening starts to assume greater importance than speaking. We listen intently for we cannot see each other any more. Blame it on the distance. We hang on to every word being spoken, for every word has meanings deeper than our shallow new lives.

We send love through cute heart smileys over platforms that they say the government is spying upon. We care a damn! We exchange pictures. We talk on the phone. We sometimes sing over it. We narrate our lives over phones. And, in doing all that, home seems not too far away. Really.

The story so far

There was a time I fought with the world. I fought everyday but I could not win.

I complained. I hated all.

The world seemed like an unequal place. I revolted against authority, and followed my heart. Half-hearted efforts yielded little. With my feet in two different boats, the journey was destined to be rocky.

Was I a rebel though? I think I was. A rebel without a cause, then? No! My cause was to prove to them that there existed a different kind of life. I needed to show them there was a life that was much, much better than just safely following the herd. I spoke to them. They were unconvinced. They said I spoke too much and delivered too little. They said I was a loser.

Then, one day, everything changed! I was destined to prove them wrong. I chose a life — no, a life was thrust upon me by my circumstances. Circumstances which at first had seemed hostile to me. I complained. I fought with an imaginary God. I cried.

I asked, “Why me, of all the people in the world?”

My imaginary God smiled and whispered, “Because you are special!”

Days changed into weeks, weeks into months. The curse turned to a boon. And I realised – I was happy. For the first friggin’ time in many many years, I was happy! By jove, that was the only thing that mattered. That happiness and that satisfaction was the only thing in the entire world that mattered to me.

Today, months later, I feel like I have created my own little island of “all that is right” in the vast ocean of “all that is not”.

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In this island of mine, there is no hatred, no grief, no sadness, no regrets. There’s only happiness and good old fashioned hard work. Like a karma yogi, I work. And the consequent satisfaction is the biggest reward.
The mockers and haters are very far from my island. I don’t need them anymore.

In this island, I am happy. That is the only thing that matters. This is my story so far.

Thank you for reading!

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Thank you for reading! A performer is nothing without an audience. A writer is nothing without a reader.

I had started writing under different circumstances altogether, hoping to just pursue it as a hobby, as some kind of a respite from the moronic  life of a Math Honors student.

But, circumstances have changed in the course of the last two years. For the better, too! Life has been kind, for not everyone gets a second shot at re-starting life, wiping out all previous mistakes and regrets. Not everyone has a job where one’s natural talents are put to use.

I am happy today, after a long time. The written word means a lot to me. This blog means a LOT to me._DSC0054


(I have been super busy for the last month, which explains the irregularity in posting. Also, not having an internet connection at the apartment where I am holed up for this month truly sucks! But, I will back be home pretty soon. Hope to start writing regularly again. Before I sign off, once again, thanks for the reading)

Valuable connections!

In a previous post titled “The years are numbered”, I wrote about how I was unhappy with the past five months in which I had only worked and not done a lot of things that I wanted to.

I have been trying to change that a lot. I have started music again. I have started exploring again. A creative project however couldn’t be started for the paucity of time.

But, one of the things I couldn’t change was not making new friends regularly.

However, much later, I realised that perhaps making friends will never be the way we know it to be.

I realise that people of my generation will probably only be able to make healthy friendships and connections through social media.

That is because of the way our lives are – busy and disjoint.

Where is the space and time for socialising?

At least, I am struggling to find it.

However, this is not to suggest that even when I do have the time, I would simply sit in front of the computer and chat with my virtual friend from Kalahari.Image

I don’t mean to say that.

What I mean is social media can be a good place to start with. You read a person’s posts, see what he shares, know about what causes he is associated with, and suddenly, there is this natural affinity for him.

You have him in your friend list, but you’ve never had a chat with him. You try and have a conversation and you find out more about this guy. You read his blog, and really connect with what he writes.

One day, as fate would have had it, you need to move to his city. You let him know you are coming. You plan to meet up for dinner at his place; he introduces his family to you. There are his friends present who soon become your friends too. He plays the guitar; you sing and have a lovely evening – better than most evenings spent at your place.

This really happened to me, and this is why I believe how we forge friendships and a relationship is fast changing.

Mostly, it is changing for the good.

Otherwise, how do you explain an elderly man letting a young man from foreign shores, who he knows only through social media, call him “grandpa”?

How would you otherwise explain the long Google hangout sessions that grandpa and grandson have, despite a faltering internet connection, different accents and what not?

How do they still manage to retain the charm of a real relationship?Image

They could be having the same conversations sitting around the fire, and nothing would be different. How could you explain the guilt that grandson feels when he does not write long emails to grandpa for quite some time?

I am at a loss.

Someone I know from the time of “Voices for Damini” campaign is now one of my most valued friends. She is lady of such charm, and dignity. Every day, I learn from her posts, her status updates, her blog posts. The causes she takes up, the twitter activism she does really starts to rub off on you, and you do not realise how and when she has become an inspiration for you.

A blog-friend from America promises she will visit India soon, visit me and chat for a long time.

A friend from Coimbatore travels to Hyderabad just to spend one a half day with someone who he knows only through his blog. Last I knew, they were planning another such trip.Image

Maybe it is fate. Maybe some people are destined to meet, and social media is just an enabler.Image

I do not like that school of thought looking down upon social media as a virtual life for nerds. We have to realise that behind social media, behind every post, every blog, every comment is a breathing, living individual, who is unique, and who wants to connect to you.

In all probability, that person too wants to reach out.

Social media just provides you the platform by rendering useless physical distances, and the rest is up to you.

How you make connections is up to you!  

To tame a beast.

She knew it from the outset that the beast was going to untameable.

She knew, and she prepared precisely for that – a wild, no-holds barred beast, and a subsequent no-rules slugfest.

And, she fought it out with the beast, getting down in the mud. But, its power was bursting out of its veins. It had fought a thousand battles like these, right in the corridors of power, from whence it had arrived. It fought like it had nothing else to do in life.

The beast’s technique was impeccable, and it looked like it was a master in its game. She had heard terrible things about the beast, and it doubled her dogged determination.

But, her strength and depth were found wanting. In reality, a scrawny girl like her had no chance in hell. And, she lost. . .

It hurt, it felt terrible, and she broke down.

“Please teach me how to fight. Show me the tricks of the trade, oh beast!”

Precisely at that moment, the beast’s heart melted.

That was a magical moment.

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A new side to the beast emerged – that of

a teacher, a soft-talker, a guide, and a repository of know-how on how to fight.

And the two bonded. They talked.

For the first time, they talked, keeping aside pre-conceived, ill-conceived notions.

They asked questions, and got to know each other.

Disagreements were still there, though. But, they found a better way to find common ground. They drew their lines, and defined their comfort zones.

None breached the others’ personal zone, and ther

e were no fights, at least up to the time of writing this piece.

Pre-conceived notions can be deceptive. Rumours can be misleading, and hearsay is a trap for fools.

No matter how terrible a beast is, there is always a way to tame it.  

The trick is to find that way.

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The years are numbered…

The greatest and most lasting life’s lessons are those that you learn all by yourself.

Nobody can teach you those lessons.

You can’t borrow from other people’s experiences; you can’t learn things through their trials and tribulations.

My experiences have taught me it is almost next to impossible to get a head-start in this race called life. No, there is no way you can do that.

Primarily, because life is not a race, at least not of the kind as popularly perceived.

There are no competitors; there are no trophies, no famous felicitations.

It is not even a competition with your own self. At least, that is not the way things stand for me.

I hate that hurried pace that some like to call a busy, useful life. I despise it vehemently.

I quit that race a few months back. I quit that life, that particular thought process, that kind of company. I quit everything.

I started afresh, with as few regrets as humanly possible.

My new life seized me by the lapels, and had me in a trance for like five months. I threw myself into work with single-minded devotion.

Few months after that, the most valued word in my life became “Sunday”.

Living from weekend to weekend is tough. It breaks your body, but it breaks your soul the most.  It took me five whole months to realise that with the approach I had adopted, I was headed towards a dead end.

Suddenly, it started to feel like a race all over again, except that my only competitor now was “time”.hourglass

And, it dawned on me – that brilliant answer I was looking for all this while.

“Who do we race against?”

“We race against time.”

You are given a lifetime of 70-80 years on an average. You go out there and try to make the best of it. You try to accomplish the most you can in this time period.

You try to die with as few regrets as possible.

In these five months, I just worked. Now, work can give immense satisfaction, and self worth. But, what it cannot do is give you brand new experiences every day.

That is what life is all about – gaining new experiences. The kind of experiences people want to gather is obviously a function of taste and inclination.

But, invariably, life is all about gaining experiences.

Here I was spending five months of my life just working.

I missed out on writing and reading.

I missed out on embarking on a new creative project.

I missed out on learning and creating music.

I missed out on making up for all these years of not travelling.

I missed out on making new friends.  

I missed out on biking.

I missed out on spending time with loved ones.

I missed out on living well.

It is time that I lived, for the years are numbered and flash by pretty fast. . .

Images: Google Images

I’m good enough!

Have you ever realized what power these four words wield – “I am good enough”?

Try saying them to the mirror in front of you every once in a while. It feels empowering, and we all deserve that power; we all deserve that confidence.

For the most part of our lives, we are taught that we are not good enough, and that we need to buck up. We are taught to be like him, or her. Judgments are passed about your abilities, without any consideration for our feelings. The bar is often set too high, and unfairly so.

Then one fine day, we end up finding that one thing we love doing best. Luckier ones end up actually doing that thing that excites them.

Then, the rest can be described as “Pure Magic”.

There is no better joy on this planet than finding one’s feet. That feeling can be felt, or maybe even imagined, but it cannot be described. At least, my humble words fail to do so.

Imagine waking up every morning feeling positive about the work you are going to do during the day. Imagine being pre-occupied with thoughts about how to improve the quality of your work. No, imagine being possessed with improving the quality of your work.

That is the most beautiful feeling that can ever grace our lives.

Ever felt that satisfaction of looking at yourself in the mirror before going to bed after a day of good, old-fashioned hard work. You’re tired and weary eyed, probably goddamn sleepy too, but your soul sings.

You look at your reflection – eyeball to eyeball, and break into a smile and think, “I’m good enough.”

All your detractors were wrong, and there’s nothing like the guilty pleasure of quietly proving them wrong.

Yes, I’m good enough, and I always was! Life is beautiful! 

Believe!

Put yourself through the grind, doesn’t matter what it costs, doesn’t matter what it gives. Nothing has been promised, and it will never be. You do your own digging with your own hands. You’ve got to dig till the dirt in your nails starts to hurt. No tools for you, Sir.

You’ve got nothing to break your fall. So, you must fly well. Fly through dark clouds of despair; fly through sunny skies of promise. But, pray, don’t let fair or rough weather decide your spirits, for these are but illusions of the mind.

Don’t run this race; this is just a trap. Don’t trust these numbers, they inevitably lie. Learn. Learn to slow down. Learn when to slow down. Learn how to slow down.

The beauty of this game is in how it has most of the people fooled all of the time. Inflated egos, drooped shoulders, happy faces, sad faces – Oh! The variety of emotions this game manages to conjure up in the lives of its hapless players.

But, nevertheless, put yourself through the grind. Don’t be lazy. Don’t let inaction be your forte. If you’ve got to spend your time here, you might as well spend it trying to build something beautiful, you know, just so that the time passes fast.

At times, when this stuff feels too unreal, try to instil some belief. Believe! A man has to believe in something, lest he plans on becoming an ascetic. Even an ascetic believes. He believes in the way of his life, and hopes for some kind of deliverance in the afterlife.

So, no matter what happens, believe!

Believe, and put yourself through the grind.

The man who had five days to live.

We first met him on a Wednesday. All of us were very eager to figure him out. But the first meet didn’t give out much about him, except for the fact he had a firm handshake, and that when he spoke, he did so at length.

Next morning, we reached office on time, only to find him waiting for us. The editor had arrived, and he was there before time. I was impressed, and intimidated at the same time. The standards were set really high.

How much can one know about someone in just five days? Not much, certainly. I am no exception. I do not claim to have discovered a great deal about Paul. I do not even remember all of the things he said to us in the few meetings he had with us.

What I do remember is the bits and pieces of my interactions with him that I claim to be ‘personal’. Even when one is in a group, more often than not, one manages to squeeze in some ‘personal’ interactions.

When all of us got our business cards, I simply couldn’t contain my happiness. Paul was sitting right next to me. I held up the bundle of cards in front of him, and said, “It’s my first job”, trying very hard to suppress a grin.

“Oh! Is it? Make sure that you keep a copy of it with you”, he said.

In that moment, I believe I could connect to Paul. I believe he could sense how happy I was.

I remember the brief ten minutes on Saturday, when Paul showed me the photographs he had taken. The photographs were of sunsets and sunrises in Diu, the home he had left to be with us.

I remember the “economy of words” lesson that he taught us. I remember the dinner we had with Paul. I remember that he asked me to order fish, since he thought that a Bengali guy mustn’t be deprived of fish for long periods of time.

Little did he know that I was not a great fan of fish – a fact contrary to my Bengali origin. He assumed that I was one. Even we assumed that we would get to see him again on Tuesday. He left us early on Saturday evening. Little did we know that it was the last goodbye.

We make assumptions because they give us a sense of security. But it seems that destiny always has different plans in store.

Destiny had a bike accident in store for Paul.

No, I don’t know much about Paul. Five days is too short for knowing someone well.

Life is short. At times, it is even shorter than what we would imagine. The trick is to make every day count. That’s my biggest learning from Paul; a lesson I would like to remember for a long time – MAKE EVERYDAY COUNT.

RIP Paul Joseph Menezes.

On role-models. . .

Have you observed that as we grow older (and wiser?), we stop having role-models or heroes altogether?

We don’t really want to ‘be’ like somebody anymore. Of course, there are exceptions.
But, generally speaking, we stop having these role-models.

Why? And, is it a good thing?

My theory is that as we spend more time on Earth, the darker sides of our heroes reveal themselves to us. The flaws. The shortcomings. The fall from grace. We come to understand that nobody really is perfect. And heroes are not really heroes.

And with age, there also comes a different tendency – the willingness to accept ourselves, just as we are – to still love ourselves, despite the perceived inadequacies.

Maybe, our standards for perfection gradually lower, with age and wisdom.

Or, maybe we start having different standards altogether???

In any case, more often than not, we do end up loving ourselves more. We end up stopping mentally punishing ourselves for not matching up to someone else’s standards.
We are no longer apologetic about ‘being’ us.

To my mind, that is a fantastic achievement.

I believe this is what children should be taught from the very beginning.
To love themselves, to not bother about matching up to everyone in everything, to be not embarrassed of themselves.

They should be told that no one really is perfect. And that, perfection is an illusion.
They should be told that comparing themselves to anyone else is an insult to their Creator.

Maybe, that way, we could save many a young talent from being nipped in the bud.

What do you think?