Knowledge

February 8, 2014 § 1 Comment

In his sleep, he turned over and inadvertently cut the cord.

 

 

The knowledge sunk in, under its own weight and drowned.

 

 

The sea swelled a bit and touched his little toe.

 

 

He felt a tickle.

 

 

It was the end.

 

 

Maybe the beginning.

 

 

He was afloat, he lay, straight.

 

 

He opened his eyes.

 

 

He felt the world within.

 

 

And the terror grew.

 

 

He closed his eyes.

 

 

And the world rested.

 

 

A cord grew, through his navel, yearning for light.

 

 

He was dreaming again.

 

 

A flower bloomed.

 

 

Knowledge was reborn.

 

 

The more you know, the more you believe.

 

 

The more you believe, the more you are lost in it.

 

 

Someday you too shall dream, like the God.

Trusty old system

January 17, 2014 § 1 Comment

The problem with pulling up issues in a system in India is that you will be given examples of thousands of other things which are wrong. “That is the system.” You will be told, as if it is the vedas reduced to a mantra.

In a country where rapes are staple, and we pretty much don’t do anything about it, what do you expect to be done with regard to anything else?

Here’s the low down- the results are out again, and surprise, surprise, 3.15% of those who the exam have cleared. Is this really such a difficult exam? Maybe yes, maybe not. But what the majority of us feel is a frustration. Frustration that this system is like a lottery. Just because we are ‘students’ doesn’t mean we lack the instinct to know if what is needed has been done- especially when the papers are made of questions from earlier papers and the board has given out its answers.

Marking is subjective. Does it make sense to have a system where the bias of the corrector would affect the paper? We go through at school- where people with a prowess in a particular subject are marked down for ‘showing too much’, but in a professional exam? It isn’t about ‘showing too much’ here, rather where thousands of people write and evaluated by thousands of others, how do ensure consistence? This question stems from a larger issue, which might sound ugly on paper, hence left out.

Add to this a subject with outdated syllabus, (56 kbps internet connections, anyone?) and you are in hell. But looking beyond this- we are told time and again that results are manipulated to suit the demand and supply. Whatever that is. We are told horror stories, of how bad the evaluation is, by people who have made it to the other side. And you know what is annoying? Not the system, but people who refuse to do anything about it.

It is like screaming into the dark and the voices reply you are right; turn on the light and ask them, they shall say, you are wrong. No one will do anything about it, because this is our system. It ensures, I really don’t know what. We believe that people’s lives and careers are numbers, and who cares what happens?

Maybe this post is all wrong- maybe I am really not good enough for this course, like all my friends out there, who are at least as frustrated as me. But that’s another story. Stop giving me advice, I can, we can, deal with it. If you really want to help, do something about the system; if you care. We can very well see the albatross around out necks, we don’t need you to point it out, time and again.

This post is written in frustration. The only way I know to deal with things is to write about it. Don’t bother commenting on this with nine yards of advice- it amounts to nothing. I refuse to understand this is how things in this country work. It is wrong and I refuse to rationalize it. I am now sure even if I were to clear this exam, I wouldn’t feel a sense of achievement. At the same time, taking nothing away from those who have cleared these exams, now, in the past and in the future- a few might say you were lucky, and maybe you are- but you still had to give enough for that luck to come into play.

At the moment, all that remains is an utter sense of hopelessness. I will recover, because that is what I always do. I am glad to have friends who can help me through this, but again, another 7-8 months of my life would be left in a lurch. The exams require mental and physical strength, apart from a good few months of prep. and that is no fun. And there is nothing which says things are going to be fair next time.

It is okay to fail in something- no one ever succeeds in everything they undertake. But to know you were given a fair shot at things is more important to be able to move on.

Again, maybe I am all wrong about this. Probably, I am? After all, this is your favorite, trusty old system.

A city

December 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

A city is a beast made of dreams; built house by house, and then home by home, slowly laid, and then cramped into little matchbox rooms where the cement holds unabridged, the promises of a tomorrow. This creature of wonder, an ensemble, of people together, almost the same, yet ever so different when you look closely, is best understood when you walk it.

Walking a city is a learning. Each step is a surprise, even if you have lived there forever. That morning you wake up to see the slight haze hang over the complexes or the walk along a promenade near the sea, you discover  a crumbling building which you never knew existed or that there is an old man in your neighborhood who sits at the same spot everyday.

And then you learn a city is made of parts, an area has its own air of unique dirt and smoke, a road is full of wisdom and another full of vice, yet another lane is where you would find blinkered tourists buying their share of memorabilia. There are lakes where chirping birds saunter their days, away from the screaming horns; there are rivers filled with sewage, with kites circling over, even while crows scout from atop hoardings selling underwear, condoms or perfume.

There is food, in all shapes, tastes and hygiene. You could brave diseases or choose to obey what your mom thought you and eat from seemingly neat looking places with tampered mineral water bottles. As you walk, you can chew on that bit of fine bajji coated with oil reused and reused, or better still just watch a friend do it.

A city is an adolescent who woke up on a morn to find that she’s a teenager; a teenager who finds that she an adult. The old lady of the village, she would never be- forever left in the drive of one generation or another, spewing and spawning, breaching, growling and growing, in mind and spirit, guilty, then wont and then unaware of her past, left to dry like tanks and ponds, only to be covered by landfills, dirty roads and finally buildings of hopeless belief.

A city eats as much as it feeds. She takes away the best from those gamble all they have in hope to quench their purple dreams and feed them vanilla days of slow despondence, with taints of fading grey- uncertain virtues and decided vices, tears of ephemeral pain and fleeting joy.

A city is of the people; but not made by the people; rather by those cramped buses  which carry to work, the hoards in crumpled shirts and salwars, even as the gears groan tiredly in arthritic pain. As you walk into those districts of tall and taller buildings, as you push past the crowds of the shopping streets, haggling with fate itself(of others and yours), and walk into those stations which lead into the mofussil, you can feel a pulse, sometimes strong, sometimes not so loudly, but surely of a beast who is growing, stretching her arms, ready to embrace all those would dare, maybe even a little peck on the cheek, maybe even clandestine love like those behind her parks’ bushes.

A city is best understood walked- through her broad arteries or narrow bazaars leading to temples, mosques or churches. A city is best known in the eyes of those who push and shove each other out of the way, those who push through her breaches, in as much to redefine this bit of humanity as to define her, to decorate her and in the end to berate her as they stand cramped in locals or stuck in foreign air-conditioning.    

A city is a beast you grow to love, and then to hate, but in the end who will still love her. A city is your hope, as much as you are her’s, and as you walk past the shut door late at night, there is always a crow which shall cry in sleepless fright, for another day shall soon follow, to wallow, to screech, to grow, yet another day, mighty, with her own usurped grace.

 

Sachin and the 90’s kids

November 17, 2013 § 3 Comments

As Carlsen pulls another one out of the proverbial magic hat, a reporter throws a question to Vishwanathan Anand about Sachin. Frankly a very silly thing to do, when a fellow has just battled for  about 5 hours and lost it for seemingly a single error. But what it does bring to light though, is the story of a generation for whom a guy with a short stride forward and push through the covers did more than anyone else, a guy on whose shoulders they let the weight of their expectations rest, An atlas of sorts; and he held it.

The praises and the tears flow much like an overflowing river, perhaps to touch the feet of this cricketing god, or so it would seem. This country loves to worship, loves to throw it all in, to gamble its emotions and let the stars do their bidding. On a little man, for years, it gambled all that it could, and in some measures it was repaid. Personal hopes and unfulfilled dreams were left in a blissful abeyance, as he shooed away those miscreants who dared impose their presence on his bright side screen. As the little red cherry was wistfully driven away to the fence, at a Perth, at a Wacca or at a Lords, the fellow drove the placid to tears.

The story isn’t really about cricket, or golf for that matter, or curling. The story is about how a boy who as grew into a man came to define a generation. How a name could turn penury into a few seconds of ecstatic bliss. It doesn’t matter, how he did it, rather what he did for those who pledged their hours to wristy cuts leaves an emotional footprint to be fossilized for a couple of centuries, at least. He might have stood against wall, he might ridden plaintively in quiet determination through those years when games were supposedly thrown away at a price, but that night he flicked away an Akram at Sharjah or the day he swept away a Warne at MCC was enough for the nation to taste its heart, sweaty, greasy, but still hopeful.

This is the story of a boy who caught the tails of television, of live telecast and the clever commentary of a certain Bhogle. With him they could let their dreams seem bigger than they were, feel a bit more whimsical about life in general, even while at the other end a Dravid slowly worked a boring reality of sorts, grinding the willow, adding flying bits of the leather to a grassy top. This is the story of a man of not merely stats, but of the unstated. A man whose dash across the 22, seemed to solve more problems than yatras did.

This is the story of the generation(s) who were ready to give their hearts and years, who coveted happiness and instead found joy unbound in those fleeting moments. None shall be able to the same- because with the little master of unbroken dreams retires that fleeting love affair. Talent, ability and achievements are elements, yes, but more than that, to sate belief through darkness and to sally hope through foggy yearnings is a task of a different order.

None shall be the same, because that generation has now grown up. The romance has already been written and now shall be allowed to while away till it acquires that particularly lovely tint that old books do. The generation gambles no more, but sullies in thought of days ahead. Maybe it would find a hero, but she shall be of a different sort. The story it wants to write is no more romantic, but of bravery, boldness and unflinching strength. That is how it wants to be seen, and for that it will hunt far and wide, peering deep into its own musty soul.

As the masala moves along, this story ends with a national award, which till date has been reserved for life time achievers, the rulers and their friends. In a sense, the script has been worked wonderful, with shades of the 90’s even. In this, shall the generation recount its tryst with star-dust, with the same gusto reserved for certain stars, a la Rajanikanth.

While not a fan of the game or the player, leaving aside records, contributions, controversies, what strikes me as an observer, is the emotional impact Sachin Tendulkar had on a whole generation which grew up watching him in their little screens. 

Something a bit personal

October 28, 2013 § 6 Comments

At 22, I believe that my head has acquired a certain stability it didn’t possess earlier. As in, my head doesn’t run off into its own set of issues. It doesn’t feel that angst any more. Maybe that tough phase earlier in the year has made it grasp aspects of reality better.

On one side I feel I can do whatever I set out to do. The whole world seems out there and yet this comes with the taming rider that there are things which you have to do which you might not like to do. But then, you are of the inspired lot, who believes in setting out and doing things, a better commitment to yield to than the other.

On the other side is that last bit of 20,21 uncertainty- the prospects of a many years ahead seem scary and the moment seems to linger in abeyance, especially with the impending exams. The effort to put my head down and prepare for these exams has needed quite a resolve, but then you realize that there is nothing you can do about feeling let down. And no matter of introspection or thought out reasoning helps change what happened, rather a perspective, one coated with positivity is need to counter the intuitive rebel, that need to break out or worse that little kid who cries over stolen candy.

My friend’s death has affected me in very strange ways, it has in a way made me resolve to be stronger and yet it has left me questioning my own resolve to get through those long dark days.

At a certain level I have tried to become ruthless, ruthless in not allowing self-pity get in the way any more. There was a period where I had set out on a mad dash to do certain things, mostly to prove to whoever, I don’t know what. And in a way Bookrack let me feel that I could do that and though it no more is, it gave me the confidence that I am a capable person.

June 16- September 16 was probably the toughest time in my life- because I suddenly had to face emotions which stemmed from events which affected my physical world. I surprised myself by coming out of it stronger, and most importantly stabler than ever. The Hampi trip helped me greatly, this poem was written inspired by that wonderful place.  I have stopped tweeting for over two months now, another change which has (surprisingly) helped me find more clarity in where I stand.

A week away from the exams, there is a bitter-sweet taste which lingers. The way I see people has also changed, a shift in perspective which seems broader than ever, but at the same time which points out rather sharply the skewed world we live in. There is a needed effort to look beyond and accept the landscape as it is, not merely as itself but as a sum of histories, of individual and of people to reconcile the place I stand at. While that might sound rather vague, what it does mean is to not feel dejected but instead to keep your head.

That fear of becoming a character out of an Auster novel abets itself with this sort of self imprisonment I have imposed on myself(exam prep) but accepting distances makes you feel a sense of security and lets the planes of imagination guide you through.

It has been quite a while(years, in fact) since I wrote something this personal on a blog. But there was this sudden urge to write. What’s important is to hold on and to enjoy the ride, I guess.

Thank yourself

October 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

Take a moment and thank yourself, because you are alive and here. Some say life is a gift, precious, gifted by someone or something; others choose to believe that you are a product of billions, zillions of years; whatever you choose to believe, you are here and alive, that is what matters.

You might feel you haven’t done much about it, but then remember you wake up each day, look at yourself in the mirror and decide to give it another go. You are built to survive, but being built isn’t enough, you got to do it- and you do, each and everyday.

You have dreams, aspirations, ambitions and yet a constant fear holds you- photographs from seemingly far of places which drive home that life is fragile and this lottery ticket might be one that has expired, lost to the conditions in fine print, much too small for you to decipher. But still, you go ahead and build plans, days, future, what not and decide to drag the weight, do that extra kilometer, just so that goal which seems so far away today, would be your tomorrow.

A journey is worth more than the actual goal, stories are strung word by word and not a cat’s scribble of your first day. Get up, get out  and do whatever you think you should and remember to have fun, be happy, remember to laugh at the funny posters along the way, enjoy a good joke and to be in awe of random sunsets.

Thank yourself, for whatever happens, you can do what you want to do, as long as you believe in yourself. Life may seem long and dark, and the only way to get through this is to not give into that comfortable depression, that wonderful soft pillow which takes in all those tears. You got to get up and take another step forward and another and another, and move the curtains away, let the sunlight hit you and the deep blue of the sky tell you that there is more than you ever will understand, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw up your hands in despair and give up but go out and know that nothing can stop you except yourself. Don’t be afraid, and believe in yourself for you have come this far, scratched and bruised maybe, but stronger than you ever were.

Freedom

July 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

There’s nothing like the comfort of the keyboard. The rhythmic sound of keys being struck to produce words, sentences, stories, poems. So today is Monday the 29th of 2013, slowly drawing to a close, IST.

Sometimes you wish life had defining moments, and then there are times when you just want to live it, just like that.

If you read, if you write, your sanity is defined by the impossible things you believe in to be possible. It is all there is- a different world, different stories, different lives, all coming true as if they were your own. Maybe staying true to reality isn’t the right thing after all.

Life is best when there is nothing for you to worry about, just a moment to live, to feel, to let go, to stand on top of a hill and shout your heart out and then listen to the silence of the world and know that the words spoken are tucked away from sight and cannot possibly reach you here.

How does it matter who you are, or what you be, if all you had was a moment? You know, independent of time, of people, of places and origins, just midstream, idling along,  moving ever so lightly, un-dammed, let go off, free as the breeze, soft as the skin that the drizzle falls upon?

But all that is a moment, and an epic is nothing but one composed of many such. Like One Hundred Years Of Solitude, like eternal-ephemeral love. Jokes are wonderous to hide behind, sarcasm acts as a twinkle in the winking eye, just a sign, just a hint of what really is, what ought to be.

The freedom from inevitability, of fate, predetermined course, does that exist? What comfort is there in knowing things are happening like the way they ought to? Isn’t it better to just move on, another step forward and another into the future, as if the past was a subscript long ignored and forgotten, to be seen by those far away who cannot make out the language?

Is courage facing your worst fears or the willingness to look beyond, to see the sunset and know that there is a dawn around the corner, till there won’t be any? And that no one sets out these things, at least no one you know.

True freedom, maybe is living beyond purpose, beyond intent and just being. To see beyond the cycle of causation and the perforated  blankets of relationships, to stare at yourself at night in a mirror and know that the stars are out there, because they are.

It is easier to listen to the songs of love and believe than to look at reality. It is easier to lie, to yourself, to the world and sprinkle it with wisdom cleverly made in the shower to ensure there are no clogged drains. It is easier to never admit than to fight for what you think you really want, because maybe to lose what you already have is worse than to have more.

Is it wise to have nothing then? Where there is no hope, where it looks ridiculous even to the most fantastic of the poets, is that the moment when that thing, possibly the human spirit or just the drunk you, rises up to give it a go? Is that the freedom we really seek?

How not to begin your day

July 11, 2013 § 1 Comment

Don’t think. Tie the stupid watch but don’t look at the time, don’t think. Walk forward, one step at a time, walk forward, one more step at a time, slowly, slower, slowly.

Don’t see, don’t think. Stare blankly and freak the person out. Look deep into the eyes and then quickly go blank. And when they freak out, pretend to look at the watch, but don’t look at the time. Repeat that till the person walks away or runs away. If that seems to take forever, hell just walk past them, waving at infinity. That’s a perfectly good way to begin a day.

Not that it would make anyone feel happy, but there.

Existential crisis

July 7, 2013 § 3 Comments

8 am, Saturday morning is probably the best time to have an existential crisis, mostly because who gets up at 8 am on a Sunday?  8 am works because, a lot of humanity is already up and running and in a country like India with 6-day work weeks, someone has to ensure the cows are fed, the eggs collected, the elephants washed and a couple random people hacked to death.

Anyway,

One can always dial students of philosophy, and they will tell you that some random guy in Italy or China or England said something about existential crisis. There is that cool guy who lived in a bucket or sack or something, and that other cool guy who is quoted in a lot movies. You can ask your mom, and she’ll tell you to help with the laundry. But what’s really obvious is that though this has been a state of mind, a burning issue which has possessed people since people became people, there isn’t a way out really.

I’m no fancy scientist to propose it is all in our genes. While I can easily google and find a million, trillion, Larry knows how many articles on this, it doesn’t help. However well written, funny an article is, it cannot make me less lonely. It cannot stop me from feeling that there is no point to life.

There are some who say, too much luxury and time does this to you. I am not too sure that is how it works. Education, time and luxury, make you realize what it is- they help you separate this from thousands of other things which go through you. You probably aren’t going to wake up, mistake this loneliness for something else and choose to invade a country or break a mirror. But you are going to wake up knowing how many hours are left till you go back to sleep and you hope that they day will be filled by nice things so that you can forget about it all for a while.

Will being mindless help? Will not thinking too much help? I do not know, because I haven’t tried that. How does one freeze your brain and not think? After all, I was thought to think and critically at that from a very early age.

Is this being too indulgent? Maybe. But is something wrong with indulgence? How does luxury abate one from the general throes of existence? If anything, it magnifies things. It makes you wake up on a hundred-hundred and fifty year old bed on a cool morning and makes you wonder why you still feel lonely. It makes you think about people, and makes you think about them more, and you do not want to get out of bed and face the world.

There is nothing wrong with people in my life. In fact, if anything I should call myself luck to have many nice friends. But then who do you call when you really need to talk to someone? That’s when you realize that being hyper connected is bad. We have all learnt to ignore calls, messages etc. because we can’t really stand this level of connectivity. The phone ringing at midnight no more means just that someone might need your help, it could also be your friend to talk about some football match. And we might do it once, or twice, but it hits you- you start to wonder about friends and relationships and realize how alone you are, really. Can I blame them? That wouldn’t be fair. After all I’m guilty of the same, such are the ways of our time.

Maybe my loneliness stems from my disbelief in God and all that almighty stuff. I used to be a believer as a kid, mostly because every one around me was, but the reasons for my disbelief also stem from exactly the people. There was no point of reconciliation and frankly preaching one thing and doing another doesn’t inspire confidence. Maybe they were wrong to not instill fear in me, just ‘love’ or whatever but it gave me a chance to think otherwise. While it is convenient for me to hold complex views on the whole god thing, I know deep within that I probably can never believe in him or her or it or whatever.

In a world of believers that hurts, especially when you are confronted time and again with religion and its hullabaloo. There are only so many times you want to confront and fight. But when it comes up again and again it hurts, because your sense of belonging and identity start to shake- you aren’t sure if you want to fight again and again but most importantly as an individual you are made to look into the mirror again and again, questioning your life, your existence and what it means. And constantly having to define and redefine your boundaries and your need to live in a collective world gets you. You need the people and you can’t handle them at the same time.

Should you give up yourself and go on? But when one is expected to employee ones senses and use it to judge, how do you do that? Maybe I am self-centered, but then this is about me and my world, not your world and me.

If you are reading this and cannot understand what I’m saying, well you aren’t alone. There are plenty out there who are of a similar view.  Maybe you all are right. But I miss my teens, a time when I wouldn’t listen to you. When I still could not wake up and remain in bed. But there is a need to belong, to feel part of something bigger, even though I hate it, because there is always hope that people can help you out of it. There is that fear of course, of getting too close and being hurt, but some how you do it.

Should I be rational and look at it from a different PoV, should I try to correlate, understand? Well can you do that with what you believe in? Would you be able to throw out your views and hold another person’s and see the world? You can’t, can you?

If I sound bitter, well I’m not really.There is no point. It is better to smile and try to be funny or mad or something which helps you interact and get by in the world. It is about masquerading yourself as just another person, to blur your identity and be part of the world. It is about not thinking about war, violence, rape, theft and how your best friend might tell you he has a dinner to go to and can’t take you to the hospital.

I don’t want pity or sympathy or even empathy. But I do not know what I want instead. There are people out there who are nice, who are wonderful and I love meeting them. But I’m afraid to get close, to be a part of their lives, because I’m not sure what that entails.

So is 8am, Saturday the perfect time to have an identity crisis? Maybe.

In fact that level of rationalism is probably one of the reasons to make life an even bigger drudgery.

Staring at the ceiling

May 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

If I was one of those wild willed, feet running, ye-ywah-ywapadido sort of guy, I might be hungover right now. But as it stands, the fish named Fish, is surely having a better time of it. Calling a fish, a Fish is odd eh? But then, I’m sure nobody called the first fish, Bob, Marley, Dylan, Wolmer or for that matter Kartick.

The first fish, was surely a boring little thing, which did not have a name given it to by humans. And the reason why it didn’t have a fancy human name was,  there were no humans around to do so.  And for that matter, there wasn’t a he-who-must-not-be-named around as well. When the sun rose, there was light. When the big fish ate the smaller fish, when the smaller fish had already eaten the remains of another big fish, courtesy a bigger fish being a messy eater like a toddler, the cycle of life wasn’t manufactured by men with fat bellies and set to tunes. It was just generally how things happened, or at least must have happened.

One cannot be sure, you see. How do you know what actually happened? Through books, through others, through google? Or did someone post a Facebook meme about it?  If you had been there and done that, the proof of the event is the headache that follows. If you hadn’t been there, the proof of the volcano are those beautiful jaw dropping sunsets. But apart from such silly logical links that can be harried and wedded into a neat little, on the rocks, waves crashing long exposure, there isn’t much to tell something actually happened.

There’s plenty of scope to exploit this. A suggestive nod about how a truck might bump into you, or the fact that XYZ slept with ZYX, and ABC was very upset because ABC was something of XYZ and HIJ was something  to ZYX, gets us. If I had added names, you would read on, curiously, for hints, anything to tell you more about the morals which were summarily quartered and pickled after being left out to dry in the sun for a few days. But not using names, gives you nothing of it, because you don’t have a point of reference, something to link you to the plot. A clever story teller uses a few common names, if they want to be snappy or sets of characters who have something similar to you or people you know and then goes on to throw them on a bear skinned or tiger skinned carpet, and generally engaging in very interesting hanky-panky.

One  has (or since I have conveniently chosen to act like the all knowing whatsitsname here, you have)  no clue what’s happening or what happened or what will happen. In the world of finance, they call this uncertainty, which in the world of Noddy would just mean make way for Noddy because he’s bringing in Big Ears, to solve the whole hungama. The only reason you do know something is because there was a boy named something who told you that bad bad word, which all the adults used, but wouldn’t appreciate you using it.

Those words, that little knowledge of a few sounds strung together, puts a link to the whole adult world. The fact that you need to be an adult, makes it more special, because you do want to be an adult. Not a teenager, not a big kid, but an adult.

Why not all those big fat books, which we read to become doctors and scientists, why is it that they don’t tell us as much as that wonderful four letter word?  The only reason you remember how the heart functions is not because you had large beautiful diagrams but because someone explained it to you as a process. The only reason you remember mythology is because your grandpa told you those stories with a personalized narrative. It doesn’t matter if you believed in it or not, it was special, something told specially to you.

There are times when one reads, where we are lost for a voice, a point of reference. Take a moment and imagine a HUGE ocean, an endless ocean. Can you see your brain scanning for a reference point? Or do you see it throwing known imagines of an endless ocean acquired through films or NatGeo in there?

Well, let’s try that again; there was a fish, in a vast endless ocean. What do you see now? In a vast endless ocean, there was a fish. Did you zoom into our friendly fish with a single horn, on which a rope can be thrown? Now all you have is a vast endless ocean, where does the fish steer you? Not to the super market or Mcdonald’s for a burger, it steers you to safety, we are told. And safety is the lack of bodily harm and not a bowl of fries and a big glass of your favorite soft drink. No one thinks about the mental agony of having to watch water, water everywhere(unless you are held up by an Ancient Mariner.) Just think about how you felt the first time you heard the story of Matsya or Noah.

Not much of a connect is there, right? Because you never knew a vast endless ocean and neither did you know the variously bodily harms that the fish steered the world in a big boat away from. To you, safety was something else and not as generally defined by the world. You just didn’t get it. So over a period of time, you find your way through, are told various things and slowly being the wild-eyed super clever race we are, you get to know a lot of things.

Think of the tiniest thing you know. Now cut that into half. Cut that into half. Cut that into half, as well. You couldn’t do that right? Anyway, moving on, send those two things running around a tunnel of about 27 kms or so in diameter and then BANG! What did you see?

Not much? Now if I showed you a video of the big bang and how Earth and its life, miraculously was just there created by he-who-should-not-be-named, and then if I were to tell you that that happened after these two tinier than the tiniest of tiniest things crashed, whether you got it or not, you will construct an image out of it. A lovely movie, moving slowly, showing the tiniest things spinning, curling, like a baseball pitch or a cricket ball or a marble and then, bang! And suddenly, your brain zooms out and the whole big bang is there. And a second later, you on Earth with no more dodos. What if I someone told you the entire thing took a few billion years and there probably isn’t that he-who-should-not-be-named? It seems possible if you lived in a city where a pile of rubbish is removed after He-who-must-not-be-named-knows-how-long. What if I told you it happened in a matter of two thousand years?

Still possible, because you are in a world Buggati Veyrons and Little Boys. Who the hell is right?

Your accountant tells you to invest in a house or in certain funds or do such and such a thing and you do it. Your doctor tells you to take a few pills for something and you do. Your lawyer tells you to bring cash, you do it. The reason why you trust these people is because there is a basis, an understanding, a point of reference, created by a very complicated process. No one chooses a professional without a reference, if we can help it and when we haven’t chosen them, we don’t trust them entirely. The problem is that though every lawyer knows the law and has read the same thing, each one presupposes and has a very different understanding. The successful ones not only have the recipe, they also instinctively know when to add what.

What sets apart your  uncle who cracks jokes and  Douglas Adams is that Adams knew how to set out a point of reference and take it from there. To me, Adams is funnier than Wodehouse, because the idea of a street smart butler with common sense to go in tow is not as exciting as Bebblebrox or rats running the show. We all have our own little Babel fish, translating the world into whatever goes into our tiny heads. There is no need for a complex alien language, there is no need for detailed settings;  you will believe it, if something happens to something you already know.

Harry was a boy living under the cupboard and he receives a letter. Moon face lived close to the clouds. Above the clouds was topsy-turvy land. In each case, there was no need for you to know where the devil was the wall or who was Jon Snow. You jump into a world through the cupboard and you are a king.

Chick lit sells. Pulp fiction sells. They rake in more money and are more widely read than literary fiction or poetry. Literary fiction tend to be filled with details, emotions, what not, this and that, and not simple people who worry if XYZ is sleeping with ZYX. It doesn’t take much of an effort to relate to that sort of thing. You might not have a vocabulary as fancy and varied as Milton. But you do know, what’s the internet, what’s a television, what’s a watch and such everyday objects. Chick lit can be good too. If you are into that sort of thing. Like how mathematics is fun, if you knew the language.

Right, so we have established that the way you think and what you know is completely different from what Marvin the paranoid android knows and that married couples start looking like each other. If you have read the entire post till now, you know where this is going- two paras from now, a guy with a funny mustache shall  meet a man carrying a stick, who will tell him to peace out. A man with a big beard shall tell a boy with a stick in his hand about how he can kill the world’s biggest problem by uttering a few silly words.

Or should it go like that? Should every toast be buttered and jammed and for that matter be toasted?

A guy named James jumped high and slammed the ball into the basket and did not protect his son from the evil guy. A certain Maria did not run around borders teaching  music to kids, rather she whacked the ball with a big grunt and what followed was an applause, accolades and  titles, not a song of farewell.

When we can reconcile those facts, why is that we cannot put together a world of big bird and people or say, theists and atheists? To me, sitting in a city that is boiling hot, cold reason seems such a nice idea, while for the native speakers of this language, cold is everything that is wrong. Ice came to this city through ships from the U.S.  While that’s a fact which is not of any use to most people, (unless you are a history student or an avid quizzer) there are other things which do matter. As time moves on, we forget the history, the origin of all that. Partly because that isn’t real and/or relevant to you.

The stars were always there. And we know much more now than we did when that ray of light started, all those light years ago. In fact we didn’t exist when that light ray started from the quasars. But to someone who doesn’t know about quasars or hasn’t learnt about light years and space and milkyway, the sky is still fascinating in a different way. The narrative that follows from there is unique which is worth hearing as well. Like listening to music in a language you do not understand.

It is quite tempting to fall into traditional metaphors and say life is a mumbo-jumbo and say life’s all about cutting off your thumb for your teacher. But to pull out a certain sample from this great big melange and use it to summarize fiction and reality, culture and what not, is a coping mechanism. While that is fine in itself and much needed to get through drinking tea out of paper cups while staring at computer screens, there is a point where a conscious thought should be one where things just flow without a judgement. Maybe like how Murakami puts a moon next to the one that is already there. Maybe like how everything that’s happening over so many eras is just a Brahma day; but the need for concrete and taming, never allows it.

(Un)Fortunately we don’t live in Neverland and we act based on our needs and will. The complex webs we spin ourselves into is furious enough to keep us on your heels for many life times to come(if that’s what you prefer; more Monday mornings, anyone?) We try to wrap and to an extent do wrap a couple of rounds of the sticky stuff around everything that comes into our world. Every now and then some oil spills and a light shines through it, making our jaws drop, but most often than not, the sunrise just happened, and the concrete doesn’t breathe but just holds all those lives within.

Maybe it would be worth breaking the shackles of our conditioned world and staring right at all that which we ever refused to stare at. That way, the ceiling might move away leaving a whole wide world to stare at, a whole UNIVERSE.  

 

And As Shelley says,

“look upon ye mighty and despair.”

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