Thursday, July 27, 2006

What about the other little 'Princes'?

Anyone who is even slightly connected with the world, via any channels of communication would know of the heroic rescue of six year old 'Prince' from a pit. An episode which made thousands of people stick to their TV screens.. and praying to their respective gods!
The PMO issued a statement.. regarding the PM's blessings to 'prince'
Sonia Gandhi blessed him.
Wishes and prayers flowed from across the world.. (thanks to the outreach of media.. via TV and internet)
TV channels found a full time TRP gainer in this prince..
Zee news, in a sudden spur of philanthrophy, declared that they'd sponsor his entire education
some Sobha foundation chose its moment to rise to fame.. gave the child one lakh rupees
and lots of other things ensued!
I have nothing against this prince.. myself prayed for his safety.. but thinking of all the other 'princes' who miss out on this attention from the media.. or from anyone else.. i guess they would all be praying that they fall into a well.. coz otherwise.. their deaths.. due to malaria.... dengue.. malnutrition.. starvation have become too commonplace to draw any media attention or to win them as much as a two time meal.. let alone a life time scholarship!
Who do we expect.. will bring a change?
The Media.. by bringing more serious issues to light.. and growing beyond sensationalism?
The PM... leave him.. he's too busy listening to the thousand people he needs to obey!
Sonia Gandhi.. ? as if she doesn't know all of this already..
The kind donors.. asking them to consider donating to larger causes as well?
I hope all of those ghar ke chiraag.. jo bachpan mein hi bujh jaate hain... will find their own ways to draw attention.. and become saleable to the world.. and boost TRPs.. so they'll be on prime time national television.. and finally get their due!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Indian Youth!

Our course in behavioral sciences has a section on the Indian Youth! A class discussion was to follow a survey about the general mentality of the people out here. Some people volunteered to conduct a survey and anchor the discussion which was held today in class!

What was interesting about the entire exercise was that inspite of the overt differences, it turns out that we’re all in the same boat! Much as we feel lonely in this quest of seeking our own identity and identifying our desires and goals, just about everyone is on a similar voyage of his own. Just about everyone is confused about his value systems, about what he really wants to do in life, about where to draw a line when talking of ethics.. just about everything and just about everyone!

And what makes it all the more fascinating is that we’re actually being made to ask ourselves such questions, thanks to our first term course in behavioral sciences and more importantly, thanks to our professor who’s taking a keen interest in making us see sense in what we’re trying to pursue and whether we are making our choices by ourselves or are we allowing life to happen to us.

Yes, we as sons and daughters often get into becoming the agents to fulfilling the unfinished dreams and agendas of our parents. And in this process, at times, we end up forgetting what we really wanted to do. A lot of us complain about our parental pressure and expectations regarding our career and that they’ve pushed us into doing things that we probably didn’t really want to do ourselves. The tales of some cousin who’s doing well after going to an IIT and an IIM, which was possibly intended to inspire us, but ended up creating a latent sense of resentment within us! And we gave in to the alleged pressure and took a direction shown by our parents.

But then hey, to what extents are we going to keep on blaming our parents or someone else for whatever’s happening to us!

An interesting perspective that was shown today, suggested that we look within and ask ourselves if we’re playing the blame game by putting it onto our parents that they don’t let us take initiatives while we’re too scared of doing any experimenting ourselves. Well.. parents have had their share of control on our lives but has it always been so restrictive that we and our desires were necessarily suppressed? Or do we happily wallow in self pity by dumping the cause of all our unfulfilled desires on to our parents, or more generally to the society/system/people around us?

Someone said that a genuine want comes out of an earlier feeling of deprivation and most people here haven’t faced much of deprivation at least in the economic sense of it and hence, we do not feel very strongly about anything as such. Yeah, maybe the constraints on the previous generation were different and maybe they spent a major portion of their lives to ensure a financially secure future and to ensure us the basic comforts of life. However, the horizon has indeed broadened for us and having an economic security has essentially brought us in a position of looking beyond money.. and that’s probably why we have the time and the energy for asking the questions about what we’re seeking out of life!

Is there a fundamental issue with the circumstances? In the setting of a realtively small city(given my humble origins), if someone says that he’s studying psychology at DU.. (even at the best college) or if he’s studying engineering at IIT Bombay - you might need to think if they be taken differently or in the same manner. But for me, in spite of all my respect for the teaching quality at the DU and other good colleges, I’m going to have to admit that it will not be the same! It doesn’t need too much of thinking then to see that this is where the problem of lack of choices with academics starts. We simply do not hold other streams of education on the same pedestal that we’ve placed engineering and a subsequent management course.

Probably this is what someone meant when they talked about the cheap philosophy of demand and supply that seems to be governing education in India. The best paid jobs come to these people and so the expected economic benefit after an engineering has more than its share of influence on the decisions of young people when they’re choosing their careers. To an extent, the previous generation had faced crises with their financials and subsequently, their need for a financially secure future has rubbed on to us as well! They expect us to do what they think is in our best interests, and you really can’t blame them if their choices are guided by the potential finacial security that a career path is providing.

And there’s nothing wrong with pursuing money either, the question only is that are we doing it out of our conscious choice or are we being made to do it for someone else! What is the cost? The stakes are still considered very high when someone is to leave a cushy job to become an entrepreneur! It’s mighty difficult to leave something in hand for something that’s not even concrete yet. And we start of talking about the opportunity costs that make any such decision virtually impossible to make. There are people who have defied this rule but somehow, in our culture, the value of pursuing your own dreams and the possible subsequent satisfaction has never been monetized and hence the odds are always stacked against your pursuit of your passion because it might not be considered economically viable!

We don’t need to see anything wrong with our inherent desire to want more of everything, including material wealth on the one side and the relationships/satisfaction and other intangibles on the other side. The problem only arises because we only have 24 hours in a day and only one life to live! Its this allocation of the scarcest resource called the moments of our life that require us to study the trade offs and choices that we’re making.

After all, everyone of us finally wants to look back from the deathbed and see a life well lived!

Yes.. it takes courage… you need to ask yourself the difficult questions about whether you’re allowing yourself to go with the flow and not against it because you simply want to have the easy way in life.. and in this process you also find reasons and excuses to justify it to the world.. and often to yourself.. that it’s your circumstances in terms of parents or society or whatever that are requiring you to behave in a particular manner and you can’t seem to be able to break the mould and do what you really want!

The question still boils down to asking ourselves if we know what we really want in life! If you’re clear on that, and the desire is strong enough.. nothing is capable of holding you back..!’s upto you!

More Later!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Living a Dream... the genesis...

It's been on my mind.. for a lot of time... to pen down my thoughts as a young man facing the dilemma that's life... from the time i was at IIT.. I wanted to write a book about the existential angst that faces the young boy and girl of today.. the immense amount of choices.. the apparent conflicts.. the loss of age old principles... the desire and yet the incapability to get away from the rat race.. to do what you want to do in life.. to LIVE A DREAM..

Procrastination.. which is second nature to most of us.. has been with me as well.. but it had to start somewhere.. and somehow.. and I happened to find this sheet of paper on which I'd penned down my own angst sitting on the last bench of a lecture at IIT... some years back.. thought it might be an appropriate thing to start with.

Questioning oneself and Providence.. isn't this where it starts??

Here we go!

I know I’m looking for something but I can’t find it. The reason for that is the fact that I’m not very clear about what I really want. I’m more than willing to go overboard and outta my way to pursue my passion but what’s my passion?

Nothing seems to amuse me. The disconcerting monotony seems to be taking a toll on my energy and enthusiasm. I’m seeking an answer to the most fundamental question-Why do I live? So is this a phase of depression looming over me? Or am I heading towards the anhedonic school of stoicism? I like to call myself a workaholic and a lazy lump at the same time and have actually proved both of these. I want to do something that keeps me so busy that I have no time to think about myself and about the depressing monotony of life, be always short of sleep so I don’t lie on the best without rather heavy eyelids and a wrecked body.

Is it that my passion is right before me and I can’t identify it or should I hope to embark upon something someday which would take away my anhedonia. In the same pursuit, I’ve started so many things, but never really went too far with any of them.

Am I living a life someone would be proud to look back at? What is the thing I’m doing that I’ll be remembered for? Or even I’d have some sense of accomplishment for? From where do I derive a sense of satisfactionand contentment which would give me enough energy and enthusiasm to go on.

I may or may not like, but the show must go on.. so why not play a role in the show and make it a worthwhile attempt!

And then I’m reminded of Alice… the one in wonderland……

'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'

'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.

'I don't much care where --' said Alice.

'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.'

'--so long as I get somewhere,' Alice added as an explanation.

~ Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Now, I don't know where it's going to head..but usually I'm pretty much capable of philosophising to no end.. about the 'one life' and why you need to 'live it to the full'.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wham! and REALITY hits you!

Life strikes you in the most stark of ways. As usual on 11th july evening.. I doze off while reading some course material.. wake up.. head for dinner and the TV says that seven bomb blasts have ripped apart the western line railways in Bombay. As it is you’re on a high sensitivity and not entirely conscious right after you wake up and I’m struck with this piece of news which strikes me from different directions and I’m left with some question marks facing me..

No.. I’m not cursing the terrorists who did it.. nor am I questioning why they did it! In my attempt to keep my faith in the goodness of a normal human, I’ve convinced myself that when a terrorist does a dastardly act of this magnitude, he’s not doing it out of cruelty, he’s doing it out of a supreme conviction that it is a sacrifice which would serve a greater cause. Terrorists aren’t brutal per se, but they’re brainwashed into believing that this is the only way to reach a goal that’s quite dear to them! Rehan Qadri, or Aamir Khan in Fanaa, was in a similar disposition wasn’t he!

Anyway, NO, this wasn’t the question that faced me.. the question had to do with the impermanence of life.. about the fact that you have absolutely no control as to when you’ll be done with your role on this planet and be embraced by the supreme self (at least that’s how they humor kids who ask about their dead parents). I was struck with the helplessness of an individual against death, which might catch up with him anytime.. anywhere. Among the dead were diamond merchants, probably returning happy after a good day’s trade, there were fathers, mothers, children……….. with a lot of hopes.. dreams..with a lot of expectations from life.. with a lot of life inside them..

and what did it take to just destroy and totally devastate all of it?

Mumbai returned back to normalcy, so did I… guess the high frequency of such shocks has really improved our shock absorbing capacities… 200 dead.. over 700 injured.. and it doesn’t cause us to writhe in our seats anymore! But some lives are impacted… forever! For someone who has been a close witness to the blasts and the consequences.. the images will haunt him for a lot of time to come! Here’s a friend… who’s asking all the innocent questions… having been a rather close witness herself!

angel : u thr?
Wanderer: hi…
Wanderer: how’s you?
angel : hey..
angel : ma bst frndz dad xpired in da blast
angel : had been wit hm da whle day..
angel : ystrdy
Wanderer: Oh...
Wanderer: shit!
Wanderer: sad yaar!!
angel : searchin his body
Wanderer: gosh
angel : yaar..i ws da only person who met his father dat day..
angel : n had 2 identify da body
angel : coz only i knew his clothes
Wanderer: my god
angel : actlly da body had no face so we had 2 jst rely
Wanderer: as in.. the head was gone?
angel : on da clthes n his watch
Wanderer: on the clothes..
Wanderer: man... that can be so painful
angel : n since only i knw
angel : wot he ws wearin..i had 2 identify his body 4rm seventy
angel : odd bodies
Wanderer: that takes a lot of strength yaar .. to go around in the middle of so many bodies
angel : it ws da most painful moment of my life
Wanderer: r u ok?
angel : no..
angel : not yet..
angel : cant get ova it
angel : i met him yaar
angel : jst hrs b4

Wanderer: i was kinda struck.. when i saw the news.. about the impermanence of life!
Wanderer: as in.. not thinking about the virute or vice of the terrorists..
Wanderer: but about how helpless we really are!
Wanderer: it'll take you some time
Wanderer: and when you've come face to face with such a thing, it'll shakes u up totally
angel : how can u dey do dat..
angel : how cn 1 live wit da
angel : fact dat u hve killd more dan 200 pple
Wanderer: look dear..... for the ones who have done it.. it's probably a cause of celebration.. the success for their cause
angel : i neva eva
angel : wnt 2 da hospitalz..
angel : coz im really scared of blood
angel : n i neva i ma life xpectd..
angel : i'll hve 2 do dis..
angel : n dat 2 4 uncle yaaar..
angel : he was a goodman
Wanderer: surely he was!
angel : true...neva eva did nethng wrng
angel : he ws da GM of railwys
Wanderer: the bomb doesn't distinguish yaar... between good and bad ppl ..and neither does death
angel : n still such a simple person
angel : but y him?
angel : no yar
angel : he didnt deserve it
Wanderer: the other 199 ppl must've been good ppl as well yaar.. no one deserved to die in a bomb blast of this kind, no human deserves that!

angel : yaar ma frnd is so childish
angel : yaar
angel : i hv seen pple in piecs

Wanderer: its tough coming to terms with reality when it stares you in the face!
angel : ..pple cryin..
angel : lost hope yaar.
angel : totally
angel : no yaar.
angel : its not fair

Wanderer: and it's really cruel!
Wanderer: look dear..
angel : ya?
Wanderer: take care yaar...
Wanderer: you'll take time to get over it
Wanderer: but be strong
Wanderer: and anytime you feel like talking i'm always there!

angel : ya..
Wanderer: maybe we can try talking it out
Wanderer: so you can get over it
Wanderer: because eventually you have to learn to live with it!

Wanderer: and so does he.. your friend
angel : humm..
angel : ya he is quiet okk, he did not c nethng
angel : it was best 4 him

Wanderer: oh... but he's lost his father my dear!
angel : ha..
Wanderer: the shock is bad enough!
Wanderer: those images will haunt you for a lot of time to come
Wanderer: coz things like this shake you from inside
Wanderer: but you still have to go on!
angel : i cund sleep ystrdy
angel : it ws horrifyin
Wanderer: so take care.. and be strong!
angel : thnks
angel : u tc 2
angel : sorry 2 vent out all this
Wanderer: it's ok
Wanderer: what are friends for!
angel : ya..
Wanderer: and if you feel like talking again...
Wanderer: don't hesitate
angel : atlst datz da only thng u cn live 4!
Wanderer: life goes on my dear.. it doesn't stop!
angel : ya..still whr is hope wen u need it
angel : whr is god?
Wanderer: it's within you
Wanderer: He's within you
Wanderer: there really isn't anything you can look at.. to get strenght
Wanderer: you gotta look at yourself and within
Wanderer: to come to terms with reality
Wanderer: and still go on in life!
Wanderer: don't lose hope
angel : im shattered
Wanderer: and don't let the ppl around you lose hope
angel : ya..
angel : i wll b fine

I’d been wanting to talk on the phone.. without knowing what I’m gonna say.. but I did call.. probably only to listen…. Listen to the goriness of the entire thing.. about the lists of injured and photos of the dead that you have to explore and search in.. constantly hoping that you don’t find the body among the dead but the name in the list of injured.. about pieces of bodies being brought together to become somewhat identifiable.. about bodies needing to be identified by the clothes.. the head being gone.. about a wrist watch that was stuck at 6:30, the time of the blast.. about the shattering feeling and the denial when you do locate the picture of body marked with number 8 on its chest and identify it as the body of your loved one……

And she questioned if human life didn’t have any value.. how could someone do that… and told about the worst part -her having interacted with him on the same morning.. and the difficult to accept fact that he was no more! About his unusual kindness and ashirwaad for her further studies.. about the GM of railways.. who gave his life to the railways and died in the rail as well!
Knowing that no consolations would work at this time… wasn’t much I could do.. she tried to divert.. by asking about me.. again.. I didn’t have much to say.. and then the phone conked….. so I checked online again…

Wanderer: u there?
angel : ya,,
angel : but mi goin..
Wanderer: couldn't hear you on the phone
Wanderer: ok
Wanderer: take care
Wanderer: and anytime you wanna talk
angel : i thnk da cll gt dicnnctd
Wanderer: gimme a call.. or see me here
Wanderer: yeah
angel : ya
Wanderer: take care
angel : ya
angel : tata
what do i say about my state of mind after this?
ignorance is bliss.. probably rightly so...
still puzzled with the nature of life!