Saturday, July 23, 2011

Crazy Future Plans

                 I have always been excited and anxious about what I would do, in say, 30 years from now. Even if I didn’t follow the “work hard, retire early” bandwagon, I am sure I would have slowed down by the time am 50. But now I wonder if there is a point in planning for then. Cuz, what would I do?

                What is the point in going on a holiday to peaceful European countries or “the land of Dreams” if I could die while admiring some view/monument? Or in going to a scenic island if I could drown from a Tsunami or just an incoming tide? Better to stay clear of Holidays.

                 I could die due to hijacks gone awry, blasts, mid-air collisions or just plain aeroplane malfunctions. So to increase my chances of living, I am going to avoid air travel. And to avoid being held for ransom by Somali pirates or being abducted by the Sri Lankan Navy, am putting all my cruise dreams on hold. No air travel, not Ocean travel, so India it is.

                 Further, I don’t really care for being blasted off my feet. So no to Mumbai, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Hyderabad or South Indian restaurants in Shillong. Same goes with being kidnapped and hacked to pieces. So no to Orissa, Jharkhand, northern Andhra, anywhere with Maoists really. 

                Assuming Chennai stays the way it is, let’s say am just going to stay there. If I go to a temple, I could die in a stampede or in some religious fanaticism efforts gone wrong (or right, depending on how you look at it). If I go to a movie, moral police will object to 50 year females watching movies – surely that would lead to adverse effects on the culture of our country. Shopping? I could die just looking at the price tags. Eating out? Don’t get me started on genetically modified veggies.

                Hanging out with friends and relatives? Well, with construction what it is today, in all probability, I would have a piece of the ceiling on my head. Not a nice way to die at all! But wait! Even that would be merciful, after all, reaching there would mean I wasn’t run over by heavy vehicles on the way.

                Hey! I could stay at home. Seeing how cautious I am, my house would be a safe haven. But then, stress or lifestyle related diseases not withstanding, what planning is required to stay at home? :O

                But you know what? I am going to look at the positive side of things. Finally, I will have no pressure to live up to what I wanted years before, no anxiety and absolutely no schedule to keep up! The Future will have arrived! This is the best plan EVER!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The story of how Gurgaon came second

Am currently at Gurgaon and the public transport here consists of over-crowded share autos where the rule of the game is to elbow and stay inside or get elbowed and thrown out. But I’ve heard life threatening situations make for great insights into life and that is how I ended up ruminating about the different places I’ve lived in, trying to rank them for want of a better thing to do.

Chennai, the city of my birth and then most of my life too, is according to me simply the best city in the world! Never mind that the places I’ve been to would cover only 10 pin codes even if stretched or that I haven’t exactly lived in Chennai since the age of 17, there just isn’t any place that’s better. Other cities are always free to compete for second place…

                First off, Thanjavur, where I spent 4 years supposedly training to be an engineer… but wait ! That doesn’t count cuz I never even went into the town except to the Big Temple once a year. The inside of a University Academy’s campus doesn’t count as Thanjavur……..

                Then maybe Kolkata? But no… it was Calcutta back then and most of my memories are to do with my home or school or a park and a palace… Even when I went back after years, I saw it as a tourist destination, not as a city. 

                Ok then, does Mysore count? Sadly, no… same case of campus life, Infy campus being the only difference. The other side of Mysore I saw was inside Big Bazaar and assorted retailers… there is nothing that would have made it Mysore specific, the brands were global, people spoke English and it could easily have been any other Indian city.

                Bengaluru perhaps? But no, I have never lived there for extended periods of time, just too many weekends…. 

                So then, second place goes to Shillong? The silent and laid back city, my second home currently, where I can safely say that the person walking next to me on the road gets 10 hours quality sleep a day? The beautiful place nested among hills where for the first time I needed a heater? Sadly, no… Basically, though the roads have ups and downs that make for enjoyable walks, they lack the buzz that makes a city a city.

                OMG ! So what am I left with? Just dusty HOT Gurgaon? The town soooo filled with malls and cars and roads that there’s more steel and plastic than living beings? Where there are more buildings and then some more buildings followed by yet another set of buildings, just in case the population decided to exceed the number of houses? Where buildings are centrally air conditioned and cost crores and get sold just as fast as samosas do at a chat shop? And where crimes are so common that it is like living in the middle of a masala movie? That can’t be! I felt the place had no soul, people can’t possibly feel a sense of belonging with this town!

                But 5 minutes into this decision, I for no apparent reason, started noticing things. Like the beautiful kohl-lined eyes of a fellow passenger, the only things visible on her dupatta covered face, bright and animated, awaiting her destination. The wild clumps of Bougainvillea growing profusely on most gates and walls. The way the city unfurled like a flower, phase after phase, each containing its own set of lovingly constructed villas. The sprawling golf course, when you pass which you get a mild spray of mist from the sprinklers. And then I remembered. The tenacious sunlight which makes the day extend till 7:30 PM. The energy and purpose of each person as they stride towards the metro station or auto stand. The anxiety to get to work on time and yet their pleasant rapport with the auto driver. The gentle breeze carrying the faint promise of future rains. The pleasant aroma of new clothes in the few seconds that mall doors open.  Happiness that can fill a jar brought by a cup of cold coffee. (You get the drift :)) And all this, among numerous Hindis… the Haryanvi’s, the Delhiite’s, the Punjabi’s and then softly, the Tamilian’s… Truly a city experience! And the decision was reached !

                So that’s how Gurgaon came second, after starting last :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Virtues and vices

Disclaimer : This is not meant to be a sermon nor is it a summary of my virtues (if any) and vices (of the many)

                I have always HATED grey. Things were black and white once – between the ages of 2 and 16. I knew what was right; I knew what was wrong for sure. All I had to do was imagine my mom’s reaction to an action and that’s it. Crystal clear. However, as I left home for college, the colours started blurring.

                Now apart from right and wrong, there were concepts like right/wrong for me; right/wrong for others; right but not practical; wrong but needed for survival etc. These shades surfaced sometime around my second semester and it was poetic justice when I got not the best grade for an ethics paper we had then – yeah, that paper had nothing to do with my (or anyone’s) idea of ethics, yeah, the marks were based on a roll of a dice (at least I hope so – that would mean there was some logic) and yeah, none of my confused thoughts had let to any unethical behaviour. But still. Poetic justice.

                You see, these confusions fundamentally altered the kind of person I had been until then. For example, earlier it was 

“Lying is bad. I should never lie. I will always speak the truth.”

Now it was more of 

“Lying is fine if it is for the greater good. The emphasis on truth by all religions and gurus is to ensure that Man stays civilized and to reduce fights. Lying is fine if I ensure that no one gets hurt by it. But lying is also cowardice and means I care about that person’s opinion of me. And that is showing weakness. If I have the guts to do something wrong, then I should also have the guts to admit it. I should be able to tell others that I never lie. But lying is fine for others, I’ll just have to be vigilant, it’s ok to have friends who are chronic liars. So basically lying is fine, but it’s not for me.”

                The end result was still that I didn’t lie (almost never). But somehow, the emphasis shifted from telling the truth to not lying. And that caused many more confusions and dilemmas, I was miserable and it affected my health, but I refused to see why – I was no longer a child but instead of growing up with poise and responsibility (yeah, right), I lost my path briefly (if nearly 3 years is brief). 

                It was my grandmother who finally brought me back. The grandmother who I meet 6 times every year (on an average). The grandmother who deserves an MBA if not a doctorate for having managed the balancing act, not on a wall, but on a 15-sided solid figure. The grandmother who says “Enakkenna theriyum ? Naan enna padicchavala ?”*.

(* What do I know, am I well educated ? )

                Late afternoon’s the time of day that reminds me of her - when the heat reduces and the room turns dark gradually, like the stupor after a heavy lunch, like a descending shade, casting a protective cover over our precious conversations. Then the sun suddenly remembers it has half its journey left and renews its effort with an instant burst of energy. Only this time, instead of heat, it is light – the whole room gets bathed in a golden light (inexplicably, her words have this effect too, of lighting a huge bulb in my brain) and she lies on the bed peacefully, her hair and face illuminated, blissfully unaware of how much she is affecting me. 

                She’s literally worked all her whole life for others, with no tangible benefits as such. And what astounds me is that she would do it all over again because to her, it’s just her way of showering love. When I argued that she was being exploited, she just said “They are my kids and my grandkids. When you do something for yourself or what is yours, how is that exploitation? I am in fact being very self-centred.” I am yet to find a counter argument to that.

                Coming back to truth, it is she who cleared things for me. She was talking in a different context – the relevance of rituals and traditions. She said “You can’t question everything in life. These have been passed on to us as our heritage for a reason. One just has to lead one’s life with certain values which should be held sacred and as a result, are not to be tampered with. Just like how one isn’t supposed to be lie or be violent.”

                She actually held truth as inviolate as non-violence or her religious beliefs. Which is when it hit me hard… And the world was back to black and white. And other colours too, but not grey!

                So yeah, am back on track, have been so for some time now ( people have asked me if I know a word called diplomacy, but it’s fun being brutally honest at times :) ). And I still HATE grey.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It’s going to get personal…!

               After much of analysis, I have finally figured out why my blog remains one of the least updated in the whole of CyberWorld. You see, abstract topics are all fine to ponder and maybe even talk about. But writing’s a different thing altogether.

                For one, once the topic is thought about, thinking about it all over again to write it down is such a bore. And then there is the usual problem of fingers being much slower than thoughts – either half the interesting stuff gets missed or when I read  what I’ve written, it seems very very different from what I intended to write. 

                Anyway, the point is that I have decided to leave abstract stuff to modern “artists” and get personal instead :) I mean, writing about oneself should be easier right? And highly satisfying… ego wise I mean. 

                Some days before my previous term’s exams, when people were busy trying to squeeze in more dp (coll. Lingo for desperate participation) points, I was busy jotting down stuff to do at home, during the winter break. And one of it was to update my blog at least weekly. This week I realized it could be a New Year thing too… (Resolution is such a heavy word!) So ippo ore kallula rendu maanga ( one stone => two mangoes ) – am already getting personal, am I not ? :) And it’s helping fill the page too :)

                So people who know me in real life, beware ! (Conscience: “As if people who don’t know you will even stumble across these pages…”) Not that you might be subject to my sharp wit or satire (though am not ruling that out) – you will instead be subject to the same crap about my life once in person and once online… (Evil grin) 

                These ramblings apart, wishing you and your family a very happy new year and a great one ahead :) Adios!