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Friday, June 16, 2006

Hurting others is a thankless job

How many times have you felt tempted to hurt somebody? Or to hurt somebody back just as a sort of payback? I think at least once. In my case, hundreds.

There have been many times when I got golden opportunity to satiate this hunger. And again, there have been times when I utilized the opportunity. I hurt the person back with as much vitriol I could possibly spew. And then I took pleasure in my triumph.

Unfortunately, that feeling of triumph was as short-lived as we find the emotion of gratitude in some people. It just vanished before I could ever enjoy it to my heart’s content. Then came emotions like regret, repentance and self-disgust. My conscience was fighting back.

I felt how different it would have been had I taken a different stance. Suppose I could have waited for a while to see how permanent my anger was. Trust me, no anger is strong enough to take on patience. It just vanishes away when the person gathers enough balls to watch it, to just let it be.

There is nothing like when anger fades away. It leaves a feeling of peace and contentment. You also feel powerful. Powerful enough to rise above the temporary annoyance and vindictiveness. Powerful enough to do what you should do rather than what you feel tempted to do.

There is another benefit also. Oscar Wilde said, “Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them so much.” Wit (and truth) apart, there is no better way to make the person regret who has harmed you. It would surely surprise him when he won’t get the feedback he was so confidently expecting. Well, I’m talking about the people with some trace of conscience in them. For others, there is no rule. Discard them. They aren’t worth the time, yours or mine.

The worst part of hurting somebody is that most of the times we choose to hurt the people we like most. We take advantage of their vulnerability. Then we make an irreparable chink in our relation which could have been easily avoided with little bit of understanding. Seriously, hurting others doesn’t pay much. Sometimes it doesn’t pay at all. On the contrary, it makes us pay. And it doesn’t say thanks also.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Greatest Superstition of Our Times

There are two kinds of superstitions which have been haunting mankind since Adam ate that goddamn apple: harmless and harmful. Suppose we are leaving our home for office, and somebody sneezes. We stop and wait for a while because we think it’s a bad omen. No problem! Not much harm is done. Actually we end up having a couple of minutes to relax in these time-starved times. Now suppose we are going on a street, and a black cat crosses our path. Our love for the idiotic notion makes us stop again for the same reason. Again, it’s a harmless situation. So, there are more and more examples in which we stupidly flirt with our superstitions, but come out with no serious damage.

Then there are superstitions which are harmful, and that too to such extent that they complete rob us of our happiness. But we hardly care for them. We have so much faith in them that we rarely think that they are superstitions at all. On the contrary, we, the logic-minded human beings, treat them as gospel, as the golden rules which make the world run and as Brahma-vaakya (universal truth). One such popular superstition is the topic of discussion here which has contributed in the overall unhappiness of us more than anything else has ever done.

Yesterday, most of my colleagues at office had gathered around to do the favourite antidote of work stress: gossiping. We started off with the past experiences of every participant in his/her previous offices, and then sailed through the problems we were having at the workplace, the demonic attitude our boss had towards us and the places we were thinking of applying for. Then all of a sudden we moved towards an issue which is considered to be a little secretive and to be done in whispers: our salaries. The simple statistics of the digits everybody was getting on his paycheque brought forth a startling revelation I have always heard about but never believed.

The workaholic ‘go-getter’ guy who used to swear by the dictum ‘Work is worship, and money is its prasaad’ was living the most screwed-up life out there. His family life was as good as Gujrat after earthquake, and his mental condition indicated the urgent need of consulting a competent psychiatrist. He had a purse heavy enough to balance the load of the bills of the costliest restaurants in Delhi, but his digestive juices failed to cooperate even with the simplest dishes available in a roadside dhaba. He was the earliest to reach the office, and the latest to depart. In harsher words, he had no other life beyond the doormat of his office. But look at his tenacity; he was working harder and harder to increase the load in his bank account, ignoring the hardships taking their toll on his life as a whole.

On the contrary, the man getting the least salary was having a life which could make the director of my agency- the guy I just talked about in the preceding paragraph- dead jealous. That peon had a good family life, a good stomach that allowed him to enjoy even the most ordinary food in the best possible way, a sense of humour that made people make beeline to him, and some free time to do the things he really enjoyed doing. One of them was listening to Radio Mirchi.

So, the revelation was, money doesn’t make us happy. Money is like a joke, we love playing on ourselves, which gives a great buildup but fails to deliver a good punchline. It’s a superstition we have more faith in than a priest has in his stone deity. We hardly find a living example where this superstition has kept its promise. Still, keeping our all logic aside, we invest the best and most of our time in running after it, amusing ourselves with the thought that it can compensate for everything we are losing at the cost of it. Little wonder, many of us feel so empty, so unhappy despite the flashy clutter we have earned paying too much of a price.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lizard the Guru

Serendipity seems to have an undying relationship with life. The best and the worst things invade us in the least expected moments, making us shocked, pleasantly and unpleasantly.

Let me tell you something about such an ordinary incident which left an imprint on my mind extraordinarily. I had just returned from my college after a deadly series of classes which had the potential of the making the most hardened insomniac go dead sleep. It was a summer noon, and I was taking rest in my room, curled up in my bed, trying to sleep. But the ability to nod off was light years away from me as I had finished most of my sleep in the last bench of my class, the best place to protect oneself from government’s unfriendly education policy.

After some exercise in tossing and turning, I became static, and my wandering eyes locked on a small, brown lizard taking rest on the front wall. It was so passive that I felt it had fallen asleep. I got jealous of him. Hell, he can nod off standing on a vertical wall, and here’s me, unable to catch 40 winks even on a four inches high mattress. Then my eyes shot off for another creature, an insect sitting on the other wall, nearly two meters away from its enemy. A passing thought came to me: the lizard is planning to have that insect for his lunch. No way, I thought. The lizard can never catch the insect. It’s so far. Besides, the insect can fly at the smallest sign of danger which his predator can’t. Well, after a while that small, unassuming reptile proved me dead wrong.

It was so clearly visible to me. The lizard had his eyes Fevicoled on the victim. Slowly, making sure the poor chap got no hint, he took a few steps in a slightly off direction where his meal was carelessly sitting. Then he took rest for a couple of minutes. Again when he made sure that his morsel was lost in his own thoughts, he inched forward, step by step. Gosh! I was even more tense than the reptile might have been, anticipating each and every second that the insect might fly off.

What I saw afterwards was a classic case of patience and cool. The lizard kept coming near to him in the same way. He took more than twenty minutes to complete the 80% of the journey. Even the slightest carelessness on his part might have snatched the food away from his mouth. The remaining 20% of distance was like walking on a thread. Chances of the insect getting warned were at the optimum, and the lizard was resting for around 4-5 minutes before taking the next step each time. Now he was quite near to his dish, but I felt he still needed 6-7 steps to take the first bite. Then what I saw was so different from what I had been seeing so far. That lazy, patient and passive lizard jumped (it looked more like a flight) and had its toothless mouth wrapped around the poor insect in a fraction of second without even letting him know what hit him.

I don’t want to go into the details of how he ate, chewed and swallowed his delicious win. But he taught me a few things I’d have hardly learnt anywhere else. First, have patience and you can have anything. Second, keep your calm but let your mind work like hell. Third, you need to be more careful when nearer to the goal. Fourth, use your capability according to the need of moment whether it’s waiting like a corpse or moving forward like lightening.

And, last but the most important, you can learn things from anything and anybody. Keep your eyes open. This world is a great school, and even the most insignificant incident may turn out to be the most significant lesson of your life. Just like it happened in the lizard’s case. Amen!

A Balloon to Prick

I remember an amusing incident. I was a child then, and had gone to my Grandma’s home for my cousin’s marriage. It was a big ceremony, and hundreds of people from the other villages had also come. But there was one guy who was stealing my attention. With a twirling moustache on his upper lip and a gun in his hand, he was loudly chatting with others of his flock. Meantime he also laughed with intolerably high decibel level flailing his gun-wallah haath.

Guns attracted me always, thanks to Mithunda’s movies I used to watch with the concentration of a seasoned yogi. So I was watching his gun without blinking my eyes even once. But there was one thing which was bothering me. The barrel of the gun was not as broad as the guns of dacoits in Sholay had. So, it shook my faith in the genuineness of the machine.

Innocently, I went to the guy, slapped his back, and asked, “Bhaiya! Aapki yeh bandook asli hai kya?” (Brother! Is your gun genuine?) There was a dead silence for one or two seconds in the flock. The moustache-guy was hurt, and growled at me sarcastically, “Nahi! Chiriya maarne waali hai.” (No, it’s for shooting birds.) There was pain in his eyes, and embarrassment on his face.

I didn’t understand why he reacted like that. Now I do. The poor guy might have invested thousands in purchasing the gun, and had brought it to show off among his friends. And here was me, a small kid, challenging the gun and shaking the roots of his confidence.

This incident hasn’t happened just once in my life. It keeps repeating in different hues and shapes. Somebody says something against somebody, and the second somebody feels greatly offended. His confidence gets shattered in a blink. His calmness fades away in a nanosecond.

'The Da Vinci Code' comes, and the faith of many Christians gets a major jolt. Cartoonists in some faraway country draw a picture of Mohammed, and the self-proclaimed guardians of Islam get uneasy. Some artist paints the Hindu goddesses nude, the Hindus start destroying things to vent their anger.

Crazy, no!

Seems like our faith in our religion, in our ideas and in ourselves is too delicate to handle even a little challenge or doubt from somebody no matter how insignificant he is. Just like that gunman who felt at a loss because of the query of a kid. Pumping our ego-balloons with others’ approval seems to be a bad idea, but we keep doing it till some needle comes up to give a micrometer-deep prick.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Why Mondays are Mourn-days

Adam and Eve had eaten the apple. They succumbed to the temptation. They sinned. God decided to punish them. He gave them one minor and one major punishment. The minor one was dictated to them, and is described in Bible. The major one was given silently, and went unpublished. But it hardly mellowed down its harshness.

So, you know, God made Mondays. Not one, two, ten or hundred. Countless, so that no week ever goes without them. Not even a single week. So ungodly!

When after enjoying one or two days of the heavenly weekends, we start getting used to them, something happens. Something which falls upon like Indra’s Vajra. Yeah! The reminder that Monday is knocking at your door. An alarm clock or (for some) a calender!

Then begins the agony after the ecstasy. And it feels more painful because it comes just after the ecstasy. It embitters each memory we had so fondly built in the last two days. It destroys everything. Ruthlessly.

Then we start dragging our feet, one by one, towards office, the ultimate concentration camp. (Hey, Hitler didn’t think of this. Why?) But there is one solace. Every night has an end; every week has a weekend.

From Chulha to Microwave Oven

A week ago, I asked my mother something. To understand the question, I need to give a little bit of background. My father is a bureaucrat, and he used to get transferred into remote towns and villages as a part of his job. With him we, the family members, also had to move on every two or three years. And those were difficult days.

There were places where electricity failed to spark even once in a whole long month. Mind it, I’m talking about summers. Then we had small quarters provided by government, which looked more like ruins from Harappa. To cook, we had coal-fuelled chulhas taking half an hour to get ready to boil one cup of water. To commute, there was a shattered, aging Rajdoot motorcycle who used to scream like Ravana from the old Ramayana serial, whenever my father used to kick-start it. For entertainment, we had an old television which always failed to show our favourite serials on Sundays. I’m not blaming him; after all he also needed something like current to get into action. Just imagine, only one TV channel (no need to tell it was Doordarshan), and we couldn’t watch even that.

Things have changed a bit now. We have now a decently-built house in a moderately posh colony at Patna. Power is regular, sometimes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our kitchen boasts of a modern Microwave Oven which, they say, uses the same technology in cooking food the nuclear bombs had used in Pokharan. That old Rajdoot retired long ago, and has been placed by a car which has something called air-conditioner too. Now we have a colour TV, equipped with remote control, 100 channels and God-knows-what 23 ultramodern technologies. And yeah, I’m not talking about DVD player, video games and the other entertainment-mongers at my home.

So, in a nutshell, we are richer than we were years ago, and we are tolerably rich by the Indian standards. Now I come to the main point. I asked my mother if she was happier now than she was years ago.

Her answer was- No. Just imagine, despite such a splurge in fortunes the happiness quotient remained the same. Then I asked her if she would like to go back to the older conditions. After all, the changes hadn’t made her any happier. Again her answer was- No. Losing the newly-gained things was going to make her unhappy, but on the contrary, they were not making her happier too.

When I see around, I find more or less the same case with others also. New things give us a high for some time, then they become like chewing-gum, tasteless no matter how much we chew it. But we also don’t want to spit it out. Blame it on the mechanical habit we developed in the last half an hour.

These new things can be anything- house, job, girl/boyfriend, car etc. Everything claims to make us permanently happy, but falls short. Really short. It just makes us used to it.

In Basu Bhattacharya-directed movie 'Aastha', Om Puri says, “Kaarkhaanon me humaari jaruraton ka saman nahi, humaari jaruratein banti hain.” (Factories manufacture our necessities rather than the objects of our necessity.) And we have no other way but to succumb to the necessities manufactured by the growth-maniac industries and advertised by the sale-obsessed agencies. Despite having no happiness-growth at all.

Every Friday is Good Friday

I wonder if any day of the week gets as much love as Friday does. Friday isn’t just an ordinary, run-of-the mill day. It’s different, it’s unique. It’s the promise of a two days long paradise.

In childhood, this honour was zealously enjoyed by Saturday. From the day Monday, we used to wait for it minute by minute, day by day. Those times, we used to have half day on Saturday in schools. By the time clock’s both hands embraced each other vertically, our enthusiasm touched the highest peak. After all, it was not the bell of school that rang, but the bell of freedom that poured honey into our ears.


Things haven’t changed much. Bars of schools have been replaced by those of the offices. Wardens have transformed from teachers to bosses. Home-works have got sachcha waaris in assignments, deadlines and projects. But what hasn’t changed is the happiness which comes rushing to us when we come to know that our trauma has been suspended for two days.

But, how come we enjoy and love Friday more than we actually do Saturday and Sunday? After all, Friday itself is not a holiday. The answer lies in a famous Hindi dictum, “Prakriya hi lakshya-sukh hai.” (In process lies the pleasure of goal.) We don’t enjoy the thing itself as much as the promise of it. We love chasing things, and crave for the excitement of the moment when they are about to fall into our lap.

No wonder Friday would keep getting the love and adulation of everybody who feels life is bigger than work. Till the day when a new work philosophy comes up which makes weekends of three days. Then we would love Thursday more.

Capote vis-à-vis Rang De Basanti

There seems to be a striking similarity between the reel life story of Capote, the Academy Award winner movie, and the real life story behind Rang De Basanti, a movie which hardly needs introduction to Indians. Let me tell you what.

In case you haven’t seen Capote, you’d need a brief introduction to the story. It’s about a writer, Truman Capote, who goes on writing a novel “In Cold Blood” based on a pointless murder of a family in a tiny nowhere town in Kansas. To gather material for his seminal book, he pretends to establish a deep relationship with the young criminal and befriends him. Slowly he sheds all personal ethics, and manipulates his subject to squeeze the story out of him. As soon as he gets the story, he dumps the murderer and leaves him helpless till the day he is hanged. Well, then we see Capote celebrating the success of his novel in the lofty circles of New York, committing a parallel crime in the eyes of many.

Well, let’s come to Rang De Basanti now, a film which has added new hues of patriotism in the hoi-polloi of India. As everybody knows, its story is about a few young hedonist people who take revenge of the accidental murder of their pilot friend. They kill the defence minister who is accused of purchasing substandard parts of fighter planes, which later on lead to the death of the promising pilot. The plot of this movie is partly inspired from the life of Abhijit Gadgil, an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot who died in a MiG aircraft on September 17, 2001.

That’s the point when Capote happens to Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra,the director of RDB. He approached Kavita Gadgil, the mother of the pilot, for the story and promised many things before he squeezed the story out of her. Many people had met Kavita to make films on the story, but she agreed only to Mehra because of some of his ‘genuine’ intentions. She was hoping that she could probably organise a charity show for her trust "Abhijit Safety Foundation Trust", and Mehra promised the free screening of the movie for this purpose. But as soon as the movie was out, not only her name was conveniently erased from the credits, Mehra also failed to mention her contribution and help. She was not only kept totally unaware of the making of the movie, but tickets for the preview also were not sent to her. (Please go through a story titled “Brave Heart”, based on her interview, published in Society, March 2006.)

Just look around piercingly, and you’d find Capotes and Mehras are not that small in number. Sometimes you’d feel these ivory tower intellectuals, known for finer sensibilities and greater thinking, just behave like hardcore businessmen when it comes to their profession. Worse part is that they also get the title of social engineers-cum-revolutionaries after raking in millions.

Shouldn’t we be more careful about choosing whom we applause? Maybe people with genuine intentions are more deserving than those with artistic expressions. In this case, I’m sure Kavita Gadgil should deserve the credit first.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Onesome sex: The Last Refuge of Singles

Our society has a remarkable history of condemning things which are genuinely worth doing. One such thing is the point of discussion here.

More than 95% have done it at some or other point of time. Some love it so much that they see it as a bright option even though better ones are available to them. Such is the charm it has.

It’s free, hardly needs any expertise, and gives one of the best pleasures ever discovered by Homo Sapience. And, the best thing is it can be done anywhere (although suggested to be done in the absence of prying eyes), anytime and many times a day (well, it depends upon your ability).

You don’t need to depend on anybody. You don’t need to persuade anybody. You don’t need to impress anybody. It’s some sort of self-employment where you are the employer and the employee both. What you need to do is to have some trust in your hand. As they say in Hindi, "Apna haath….. jagannath.” Well, you may also take some help of your imaginative faculty. A good exercise to improve creative visualization too, huh! (I wonder why Emerson forgot to put it into his essay ‘Self Reliance’.)

Nowadays, as the capability to sleep is fast becoming extinct, this activity can also work as the best tranquilizer. With no side effects- that’s the beauty of it. No pill-popping, no maa ki lori- just a little bit of hand-work, you see!

So, what’s it? You might have guessed it by now. Married or unmarried, there is one thing which binds both these worlds. One thread which connects the memories of the first and the exploits of the second. But these are the singles who value it most. After all, they need it most.

When Envying is not an Enviable Choice

When in school there were a few hobbies I always had obsession for: studying everything which was not in the confines of the school syllabus, acting in school dramas, distorting teachers’ faces through my caricatures and getting their reluctant appreciation for that, talking about everything under the sky with my buddies, and, most importantly, burning my thick blood fretting over the height which simply refused to cross the benchmark of five four. The worry and loathe for my vertical length got gruesome as I was also blessed with an ordinary face. There had to be an end to this sulking, and I decided to do something concrete. I took shelter into history and contemporary, and searched for the names of people who had similar height, but stood taller, in a wider sense: : Kahlil Gibran, Michael Angelo, Socrates, Napoleon, N. Narayanmurthy, Sachin Tendulkar etc.

The effort didn’t go in vain, and ended up giving a feel of security, false and effervescent. Now I started applying my creative imagination in breeding other sources of jealousy and insecurity. And I didn’t have to try hard. Everybody I met was better than me in at least one sense. There were people who could sing better, could speak better, were smarter than me, fetched more marks or could do a thousand other things just to steal my sleep away.

But I felt these were just symptoms rather than the root cause. Deep inside, I actually wanted to better than everybody at everything. A very stupid and purely impossible thing to try for. But it was so ingrained in my psyche that I couldn’t help comparing myself with everybody I came across, everywhere.

But now I feel otherwise. Maybe I just doubt the validity of the rationale behind this habit, as ubiquitous among people as air inside a balloon. Since the day Baba Adam was born, we have been relentlessly taught to strive for becoming better than others, at any cost. And if we fail to do this, which is very inevitable, we must at least go and live in a deep sulk. This age-old teaching given by nearly everybody around us has taught us the fine art of envying others if they are better in one or more respects.

Raising my doubt, I ask if it would really help provided we become better than others. Would it help us having a happier and more meaningful life if we become the person we envy? I try to put myself in the shoes of the person I feel jealous of. And I see no reason why I should become happier and more satisfied. After all, that person may have his own problems, and may have been sulking over somebody who is even better than him in some or other way. This vicious circle has no end.

So, what’s the use of putting so much time and effort into doing something so stupid, futile and meaningless. By the way, who the hell cares whether we are better or worse than anybody else? Everybody is at least one million times more concerned with his own problems and insecurities. We are living in our own imaginary world where we are the centers of earth, and we all seem to be just too much concerned about us, only us.

I have sometimes tried to divert my attention to better things. I’ve preferred to enjoy myself by doing things I really like. Surprisingly, in those moments I totally forget to think whether I’m doing better or worse than anybody else. If I want to improve myself I benchmark myself with only myself. It helps, really. I become better day by day without bearing the burns of comparison and jealousy.

So, why envy? A little logic and understanding makes us see the entire futility in it. Then follow contentment, peace and maturity. And the realization that envying is not that enviable a choice to make.

When You Flirt with Your Lips Closed

Has it ever happened to you? You become attracted to somebody, preferably, of opposite sex, and she (he, in case you are a girl) also starts taking interest in you. You never know when it all started, but now you cannot ignore the powerful presence of her in your life, in your thoughts and maybe in your dreams also, if the case is very serious.

You always manage to give a secret glance at her whenever she is around. And, fortunately, you find that she also is watching you with ample interest. Then she starts behaving as if she was actually lost in her own thoughts. Or, she might also decide to pretend as if she was looking at somebody or something else.

If you ignore her for a while, she becomes restless and starts trying to make you feel her presence. There are many ways to do so. She might begin with talking to her friend loudly, or making fun of somebody in a voice audible to you no matter you are sitting twenty five meters far from her. In the canteen, she might ask you whether there is salt on your table even though it might be relaxing on her own table or somewhere under her reach. If nothing else works, then she will pass nearby you ignoring the other one dozen shorter cuts available to her.

Well, things might turn other way round also. If you become overly interested or desperate then she starts acting hard to get. Then she would hardly take care of your presence. She won’t come to canteen for her dinner at the same time when you come. In a nutshell, she would become totally ignorant about whether you exist in this world or not.

The case is serious, and you need to do something urgently. And, the best thing to do is to do nothing. Just forget everything about her. Make your mind fully understand that she has ceased to exist. Do what she is doing to you. Be completely indifferent. If you do it sincerely, then again you would become able to snatch your power back to you.

The most interesting thing about all this is that not even a single word has been spoken so far. Everything is happening in gestures and through body language which keeps building the sexual chemistry. This silence is the spice of the whole game. You have to silently observe her moves and then react, again tight-lipped. Well, there is a time when the silence must be broken and you would need to take the help of words to proceed further, and begin a good friendship (and romance, in some cases).

I Decided to Die

This story is about my death. The death I experienced with my senses alive. The death I decided to embrace myself.

I came to know about this meditation from ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’- that famous best-seller, self-help book (although it used to be practiced by Buddhists, and was known as Marananusati). The method is very simple. You just lie down, and start imagining that you are dead, and are lying on pyres. You are on the verge of being burnt, and there are people surrounding you. They are the same people you have loved all over your life- your father, mother, brother, sister, friends, lover and others. Then you start thinking about the worth and meaning of your life.

Well, I did it for the first time when I was doing my graduation. It was a summer noon, and I had nothing else to do. So, I decided to do it. I switched off all lights, lied down and started thinking that I’m dead. For five minutes nothing happened. I was deliberately trying to imagine things which (I hope) were still decades away from me. Then something happened. The imagination started getting alive, and began taking over me. I could really feel as if I was dead. Then I saw people around me. I can’t tell you how I felt that time. I saw my shattered father, fainted ma, weeping brother, unconscious sister, depressed friends (every intimate friend I had had since my nursery days) and other relatives deeply in shock. Then I started weeping. I don’t think I have ever wept like that, before or after.

So, after the rona-dhona for nearly 15 minutes, I began coming back to normal. That moment was so peaceful. I felt like some burden has just got off my body, and I had become immensely light. In that moment of deep peace, I started introspection and evaluation of the life I had lived till date.

There were surprising revelations waiting for me. I started thinking about the joyful moments I had. Surprisingly, the simplest moments were coincidentally also the most ecstatic ones- like having heart to heart talk with my friends, going down the hill to take bath (my school was on a beautiful hill), eating bhoonja at hostel, enjoying pakoda with my family members, reading some absorbing book, drawing cartoons and, sometimes, just sitting and thinking. There was something common in all of them. I didn’t have to slog hard to get these moments. They were free, easily available, simple and just hilarious. Maybe I didn’t pay attention to them while I was having them. I was actually busy paying attention to those boring textbooks to get higher marks in exams to ‘prove myself to others’. But this act of ‘proving myself’ didn’t show its head when I was experiencing the final moment. Probably because it didn’t matter that much in the real sense of term. At least not as much as I thought.

Life is strange. The best things of life pop up at the most unexpected moments, and not because of meticulous planning and hard work, but because of serendipity. We go after silly ambitions hoping that they would give us the satisfaction and pleasure we are looking for. Then we go after money making the whole life lose its balance only to find out later that it was not worth it. Still we don’t try to face the facts and go on living as we’ve been doing since Big Bang.

But there is a solution. Maybe sometimes we should take some time out of the hectic schedule to think, discover what really matters. We should rethink about the priorities we haven’t chosen but have been hypnotized by others to choose. Or, we should just decide to die, at least once. Trust me, it works.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Difficulty has attraction. But, quality...?

Ever went crazy for a girl (or a boy, in case you are a girl) just because she was playing hard? Or went from shop to shop looking for a pair of shoes since they belonged to some hi-fi, obscure firang brand? Or listened to a brand-savvy girl preaching about the qualities of her t-shirt just because it was cho-dippicult to get it in India?

You must have. And probably you might yourself have dozens of other stories about people getting mad after something just because it was not easily available to everybody, or better to say available to them. Or you might also have instances from your own life when you tried hard to get something just because it was too hard to get.

In hindsight, you would perhaps find that the things you were so crazy after didn’t have anything amazing in them. Maybe they didn’t have any quality at all. The girl you were running after was actually a brainless, lipstick-maniac bimbo who had greater fascination for losers. (Girls, please don’t get offended. Boys with similar qualities are not less in number.) The shoes you felt so good about did make you feel bad after being in touch with your heels. The t-shirt you were proud of getting after searching in 37 shops divorced its colour in the first meet with Surf Excel.

So, why were you mad after them? Despite being a quality-conscious person who thinks a lot about pros and cons of things before making a choice. Despite being a person who presses a do-rupiya-ka-nimbu five times to see if it’s worth the money. Despite being a person who swears by the dictum, ‘One penny saved is one penny earned, and ditto about time’.

And then you went on wasting tens of priceless nights’ sleep and dozens of soles of shoes to go after something without thinking whether it really deserved that much of effort. Sounds crazy?

But it has some logic. I was reading something about Edmund Hillary who stepped on Everest for the first time. Then I read about one million hardships and risks he had to go through to get there. But was it worth it? What would have he found in a lifeless, minus-36-degree-temperature place where he had nothing to lose except his life?

The answer lies somewhere else. Inside him. It’s the satisfaction of achieving something tough. It’s the happiness of doing something which needed the maximum of his guts, abilities and the best of his optimism. That’s what made him spend years and years of life to reach to a place which is as attractive as the mid of Sahara.

But sometimes that feeling of achievement is not the right compensation for what we get afterwards. Especially if you end up getting a spouse who makes you realize hell is here, a pair of shoes which pinch your feet, or a t-shirt which subtracts some value from your looks.

It’s in our nature. We value those things more which are arduous to get than the things which are worthy to get. Little wonder, we end up having substandard things and people in our life despite our best efforts. And then we don’t understand what went wrong. Maybe next time when we really feel the emotional urgency to try for something, we should just sit down, take a deep breath and think: Well, that thing is difficult, but has it some quality also?

Pornography: A Conspiracy Against Sex

Ever went to Delhi’s Palika Bajaar? If not, let me tell you it’s a place known for everything from clothes to crooks (they can sell you something for 500 bucks which could have been overpriced even at 100). But that’s not what makes it attractive to everybody. People like me- and they are in huge majority- go there to explore the gigantic collections of pirated CDs and DVDs.

When you go to such a shop, they will literally grab you and show what they have to offer. Then somebody among them would give you a sly smile, and ask sympathetically, “Sir! Aap to abhi jawaan hain?Us type ki films chahiye? Humaare paas sab hai- XX, XXX, XXXX. Aap bol ke to dekho.”

I always used to behave like a shareef-type-bachcha and refused with an innocent smile. But then one day I decided to take the bull by the horn. I purchased a DVD specially recommended by the shop-keeper who had claimed having seen it pachaason-baar.

But when I went home and saw it, what I found was completely nauseating and revolting. Just imagine people pumping each other with their mega-apparatus as if they were imitating the dogs outside the window. I used to put more emotions into the irritating P.T. I had to do every morning in my school than they were putting into the favourite sport of the planet. And the detachment on their face? It would have shamed even the most ascetic and enlightened sear of the Himalayas.

Heck, I couldn’t continue even for 15 minutes. And that includes the time taken in changing the movie clips, attending a phone call and closing eyes with disgust thrice. Then I thought about the people who claim to have an inborn addiction for such stuff and can keep on watching them for dozens of hours at a stretch. They must be superhuman beings, I felt.

People say such kind of films and literature are spreading perversion and overactive sex culture in society. I’d like to bow my head in disagreement. I’d say these are the best anti-sex stuff I’ve ever seen in life. Watching that movie made me abhor sex more than any saffron-wrapped, ‘celibate’ morning saint on AASTHA channel would have ever done. I really felt sex is sin. And doing it over and over again with multiple partners is a punishment for the sin rather than the sin itself.

I don’t know what you feel about the topic. But there are people I’ve talked to and they nod their head in agreement when I shoot my views. Pornography is not that pro-sex. Or is it?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Blessings of a Bad Boss


They say everything has a purpose in life. Well, so has having a bad boss. Sounds difficult to digest, but true.

Working under a bad-tempered, sadist and character-detective (one who is always looking for faults in you) boss teaches you many things which you can hardly learn otherwise.

First, you start questioning things which have been crammed into your mind since you fluttered your eyes for the first time on the earth. I belong to a religious and God-loving (/fearing) family, and the only thing I found inevitable in my life apart from the exams was- existence of God. But I questioned my belief once I got in terms with the tin-pot dictator of my office. Now I’m more careful about choosing my beliefs. A great leap towards rationality.

Second, you develop stamina, the emotional one. After your initial struggle to correct things, you start looking for a better option. Correcting yourself. Correcting your own attitude. Because you know that your effort to correct your boss is like a rabbit going inside a river to teach the crocodile manners. So you start working on your emotions, your proactivity and your immunity to what goes around. Whatever. You become strong, and start feeling that after this episode you can take on whatever life throws at you.

Third, death of the deadline. Yeah! You’d understand this term if you have had to work late nights for days at a stretch only to come to know that the deadline given to you with such an oh-so-serious gesture actually never existed in the first place. So, why was it given? Maybe the boss felt that you were not given enough work, and he needed to see that your talents were not rusting because of those glimpses of leisure.

Well, it’s just the beginning. This life is an ongoing learning lesson, and having such a unique boss is an important milestone. Learn to respect it, and you would get ahead better.