Sunday, December 17, 2006

Swami Vivekananda says:
Every work must go through these stages: ridicule, opposition and acceptance.

All my life I have been afraid of the first stage. Ridicule. The fear of failure has stopped me like none other. What will people say has been a decisive factor in the things I've done. I'm not proud of that. I wish I had the courage to do what I wanted to. Bold enough to go ahead with things that I think I must, and strong enough to face the flak.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What-should and what-not

Kind of rhetoric, but have you ever been faced with a dilemma of choosing one of two conflicting paths? It hadn't been this painfully evident till this time. This was a typical case of Mind vs Heart. What you want to do, versus what you should do. Keep in mind that should is a completely relative human perception based on the effect on your action on others, your conscience, and the [probable] future consequence of your action. There has never really been any credit to living in the moment. Then why is following the heart preached by people all over the world and through history? What should I have done? Does following my heart equate to succumbing to temptation in some way? If I do, is it really wrong? It is what I want to do for sure, but should I? Even the definition of what-should is blurry at this point. Who defined that for me?

Do you admire people who choose Mind over Heart? Does it reflect courage? Or is courage really "following your Heart"? But then, is it really that simple? Black or White? Maybe its the grey area in between that bothers the grey cells. But well, they are bothered. And I need a solution. Argh.

Thy crowning Glory!

Till age 12, it didn't really matter. Yes I think that was the time when my haircut started actually making a difference. Or maybe that was when I realised that people might have an opinion about the newly-styled hair.

Over the years (no, not that many),I have realised that going for a haircut is by far one of the most irrelevant and yet horrendously traumatising experiences of life. I refer to the Before, During and especially the After of the visit to a stylist. Of course, it can also, in freak cases, be an ego-trip if it comes out right. Probability: Trust me, very very low.

This is the nicest phase of the three.
Step 1: Getting yelled at by mom for having such unruly hair.
Step 2: Completely denying the possibility of such a thing.
Step 3: Looking in the mirror.
Step 4: "Hmmm.. Maybe she was right"
Step 5 : Book an appointment with a parlour who's not expensive but just expensive enough to give you a decent cut.
Step 6: Get up and go at the scheduled time. That's all you need to do, all you people with hair growing out of everywhere!

Step in. The one thing I can never understand, is that when a person gives you a great haircut one day, why can't he/she repeat the performance EVER again? It happened one day, when, for the first time in my life, everybody, i repeat, everybody, actually appreciated my new haircut. Sigh! I believe I was never to see such a day again. About 2-3 months later Stage Before happened, and I, in all innocence and faith, booked an appointment with the same lady. She'd forgotten all about me and my hair. I tried in vain to explain, and no surprise here, came out with a disaster, totally unlike the previous one.

Anyway, albeit with broken faith, I go to a stylist every couple of months, basically because I just have to get my hair cut. So well.. This reminds me, I once read a quote somewhere,
Your hairstylist is the only person in the world you should not say "Go ahead, surprise me!" to.
Well what can you do but place your life in her hands, and especially if you're anything like me, you have no clue what to do. So then I meekly ask her, "What do you think? What would suit my face shape" The responses can vary from "I don't know" to a lot of jargon that I can't even pretend I understand. So to avoid giving anymore of my confused-look-expression, I tell her to begin.

First she sprays your hair with water, which makes it lose all semblance with your hairstyle. Snip. There goes the first bunch of hair. Well from this stage onwards till the final blow-drying stage, you basically have no idea what it's going to turn out like. I'm usually desperately cringing into the mirror to make some form of the re-sized and re-shaped hair. But to no avail. You can ask her to cut it a little shorter, but that's all the input you can give, and even then the little shorter can get a tad too short.

When she's done cutting it, and you have that wet mop of hair on your head, from that time till she fetches the hair dryer and sets it up, I'm never quite sure what expression I should let out. I want to appreciate this work real bad, but I really don't even know yet what you've done. Once the blow-dryer starts working on your head, you're feeling a little better cos atleast it resembles a hairstyle. And then, you see it.

Is it good? Maybe if I push this strand in, it'll be okay. Is it good or what? Let me look at her face. She's smiling... maybe its turned out fine. Ugh..maybe she's laughing at me. Well its done. Can't do anything about it. Pay and leave. Pay and leave! Quick. Before anyone else at the parlour gets to comment on your hairstyle.

The first stage of reactions is at home. Two categories here again. Comments, or no comments. Family has always been kind enough not to give unkind comments. So, you deduce their opinion based on that factor. If they say Hey, nice, it's probably nice. If they say it doesn't look very different, it means you've spent a lot of cash for nothing. If they look like you've gotten them in a quandary about what to say about it, its pretty bad.

Then you go to the mirror. Re-inspect. Re-evaluate. Mourn. Rejoice. Worry about what people will say when they see you next.
Sample comment: "Don't worry beta, it'll grow back soon." So well, if you can see where I'm going, people can be pretty darn mean!

Next day at school/college/work: If its a drastic change, then you are greeted with wide eyes at first. There are all sorts of people in this world. You can never know this better than when you've had a drastic change in style. The ones who'll look you through as if nothing has happened. I wonder if these people actually notice nothing, or pretend not to so that they don't have to say anything about it. Then the ones who will look at you, brighten eyes, ask "You've cut your hair?!" You reply sheepishly "Yeah.." expecting bricks or bouquets, and then well, they look away and say absolutely nothing in comment. This is definitely the worst reaction. I mean, come on, say Something! Then again, the set of people, who go, "What have you DONE to your hair? Whats wrong with you?? It was fine the way it was!" Sigh.. Atleast they said something. Dismiss them as people who don't adapt too well to change. Then the set of people who (god bless them) will oppose the earlier sect and stand by you, saying this is what suits you. And then you smile and thank the universe for the existence of these people in your life. But wait, does this mean the previous style was...... Sniff. You see what I'm getting at? There's no respite. There really isn't.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Life and a How-To

The one good thing about a bad experience is that you're sure you can handle a lot more in life. Congratulations, you're now officially a stronger person to take on the world and all its unpredictabilities. If you can only take away the bitterness from the experience. And keep your ego aside. If only.

I wonder sometimes if it is worth getting sad over anything at all. Does anything matter in the long run? You get sad, you get over it, you move on. And you're back to square one. Did anything beneficial happen in the interim period of melancholy? Um.. Let me see, your heart was under pressure, you probably were depressing company for your near and dear, got them depressed as well, and gained.. well.. zilch (barring some weight that overeating triggered by your feelings caused.)

But of course, this is far from easy. This kind of an atitude requires some sort of emotional detachment which means one of two things. Either you never get emotionally attached to anything, or you learn to detach on demand. Obviously, the first option is out of question because being human is almost synonymous with having emotions. And if you don't, you're not going to have much of a life anyway! Detach on demand is well, really beyond my scope, but I believe it can be attempted by a lot of ways in combination: looking at the bigger picture, putting the problem in the most optimum perspective, keeping yourself busy, countering it with new ways to make you feel better about life, and in some cases, fighting back with a smile on your face!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Auto Rickshaw Etiquette

"Bhaiyya, Lingarajpuram?"

Unfortunately, this above line has become part and parcel of my daily life. I cannot go into the depths of misfortune. I could try, but it would barely be conveyed by a few hundred words. Every day after work I attempt to go back home in this very Indian contraption. With very little success.

For the record, auto rickshaw drivers are bound by law to take a person anywhere they wish to without question. Can you hear me sighing, loudly?

Every evening, in my find-a-rickshaw adventure, I wave my hands frantically at every three-wheeled thing I see on the road. Some are occupied by humans, some are occupied by.. um.. things. The rest are vacant. Of these, some don't look at the side of the road for waving hands and drive on looking straight ahead. Talk about focus.
Are they just ignoring me? Is it me? What is wrong with me? Why don't they stop? Sniff..

Of those that do see my airborne hands, some are gracious enough to stop. Oh I must correct myself. He slows down, and in that slow motion he turns his head towards me. That is my cue to quickly spurt out the desired destination.
"Bhaiyya, Lingarajpuram?", I ask in all innocence. More often than not, he barely requires thought for this one. He slowly turns his look back to the road, and drives on without saying a word. Could you atleast grunt out your unwillingness to take me home? Some are audacious enough to raise the gear and move on even faster, but even then, they will not say a word. Not one.

Lets move on to the category that's willing to atleast give Lingarajpuram a thought. I'd like to mention here that Lingarajpuram isn't that far away from civilisation. Its about 7 kms away from MG road. Not near, but not far enough to warrant such reactions. These people slow down, the expressions on their faces get distorted, and that distortion tells me there is hope.

"Hunnred rupees lagega" [..prefixed with a madam in rare cases]
"Won ann haff lagega"

Exact fare = Rs 55
Fare that inevitably shows up on the rigged autos of the city = Rs 65 - 75
Won ann haff = Rs 65 * 1.5 = Rs 97.50
Hunnred rupees = Rs 100
While the clear winner is Mr.Exact Fare, that almost always never happens. Mr.Rigged Fare is the guy who's ready to give you a ride home, only because he also lives in around the same area. Again, someone ready to go by his meter, however rigged, at 8 in the night, is as rare as a snowman in Bangalore. Which leaves us to a choice between Monsieur Won Ann Haff and Mister Hunnred. Tough call.

Well, having made my choice, let me tell you about the next hurdle in the journey, or rather at the end of the journey. The Fight. But of course. (Rigged fare)x1.5 was not exactly what I bargained for, right? So I calculate Exact Fare, multiply one and a half times, and propose to him that I must pay exactly that much.

ME: "Bhaiyya, kya bhaiyya, main har din office se aati hun, itna hi aata hai.. Yeh aapka kaisa meter hai?"
[What is this, I come everyday from office, it comes to only this much. What kind of a meter do you have?"]

HIM: "Nahi madam, kya karein, route lamba padta hai"
[No madam, what can I do, the route is long]
Yeah, the route gets longer by the day.

"Madam, yeh itna door hai, waapas akela jaana padta hai"
[This place is so far, I have to go back all the way without any customers]
Oh, and this justifies your tampering with the meter? Seems like raising the fare to 7 8.5 rupees a kilometer and charging me one and a half times the amount wasn't enough now was it, dude???

But today. Today was different. Today I walked two kms to the prepaid stand. To be fair I did ask about 50 autos my special question. But then I gave up. Walked till there, where a policeman (bless him) caught hold of an auto and made him take me home.

Result? No multiplications and additions to the meter amount. Fare: Forty one rupees.

I won. Today I won, all ye khakhi-adorned deciders of my fate each night.
Ah, but just as well. In spite of all the intricacies involved, you've
(a) Brought me home safe each night, and
(b) Given me something to write about.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Unrequited love

Wikipedia describes unrequited love as the love that is not reciprocated, even though reciprocation is deeply desired. This can lead to feelings such as depression, anxiety, and mood swings such as swift changes between depression and euphoria.

There must hardly be anyone in this world that hasn’t fallen prey to this most innocent yet heartbreaking phenomenon. There are no frills. You fall for someone; they don’t love you back, the same way. There’s no escape. There’s no magic pill. In the rarest of cases, you can try your best to win their love. But even that tiny little ray of hope is blocked out when the object of your love begins to love someone else. The only thing that you can, and must do, is move on. But it is painful.

Someone has even said, ‘True love is the unrequited kind’ - a truly brilliant adage that must go to the Quotable Quotes next month. There is nothing as glorified in the mind as the love you had which was not reciprocated. In the free reign of one’s own thoughts and imagination, the love becomes the one love that did not get its due, the one love that you were meant to have, the one love that would be The One, and that you must now be left to live a life of loneliness, now that you don’t have it.

And there is nothing as amusing as these very same thoughts when you fall in love with another person. Which always happens. Well, almost. That is unless you are deluded enough to believe that there’s no one else in the world that fits the bill. Which you almost always are, immediately after realisation of unreciprocated affection :)

The question now is why. Why does this happen? I’ve always believed there is a reason for everything that happens. Not as in destiny. But more as in what happens now does have a meaningful impact on the future. And therefore one day we will have meaningful answers for the unexplainable that is happening now. Must we all go through this process so we value the love we do find one day? So we treasure what we have, because we know what it is like not to have it? Maybe. But it is painful. Maybe its nature’s way of avoiding potentially disastrous relationships. But that’s really not fair, is it? There’s heartbreak involved anyway! So what should happen? Maybe we should all be born stamped to love one person who is again born stamped to love just you. :) That is indeed utopia. Or maybe not. Nature has its mysterious ways of working out just right in the very end. If you wait till then, that is ;) …

Friday, July 07, 2006

Death - cleaned, commercialised and served hot!

I went to The Corner House the other day, the ice cream parlour that is a temple to many. I looked at the menu on display on the wall.

Death by Chocolate, it said.

What thought did that bring to my mind? Calories? Not being able to finish off the gigantic amount? But death? No. Fair enough.

I order a Chocolate Mousse with ice cream. I'm in the company of friends. Life goes on. And then I get a phone call. Somebody died. Not someone I'm close to, but someone I know, and the son of someone I know a little better. This was the 3rd call of death in a week, 2 of them people I knew reasonably well. Well, life does go on. I polish of the remains of my mousse and get up to leave. Then I see it again.

Death by chocolate.

Is it really alright to forget the real meaning of the word and use it so loosely? People joke about death all the time - from sudden realisation of impending doom ("I am so dead") to a friendly threat ("I'm going to kill you if anything goes wrong"). Death certainly has lost its meaning and gained a 'flavour' if I can say that. Little children are killing each other every five minutes with their toy guns. Video games are a league above. Gory, gruesome deaths are not uncommon.

Maybe it is a good thing. Joking about something helps lighten the burden that it brings. But yet, no matter how loosely you use the word, when death stares you in the face, its meaning becomes painfully clear.

I don't know why I wrote about this. Apologies to anyone if it depressed them. But it was something that lingered in the mind.

Friday, June 30, 2006


For the last four years of my college life, I've had to spend a LOT of time just commuting to and fro, and I've always complained about the long tiring bus journeys. But here's a secret, they were actually a strange sort of time-out. From people, from studying, from work.

I began with actually carrying text books to study so I could make full use of my time. Wow. I've come a long way since then! Then came the music. But i wasn't too keen on, well,
(a) Handling the earphones and the mess involved.
(b) Hiding the discman in my bag so as to keep it away from evil eyes..
(c) ..while at the same time trying to set the perfect track playing.
So, as you can see, it became quite tiresome. Quite contrary to the purpose it was brought in for.

Then i graduated to carrying the fun books - you know, fiction, nonfiction, but fun! But I soon discovered that the rocking motion of any bus induces quick sleep in a person. So i gave in. I, proud bus traveller, slept. And was i Bowled Over! Even a five minute dozing off would make me feel like i've slept like an hour. I would feel refreshed. At times I'd wake up just wondering where i was. Of course there's a whole lot of danger involved here. Let me elaborate.
(I need to change my numbering scheme)
(i) In a bus, there are always theives. You must always be alert. And being asleep is quite the opposite of that condition.
(ii) You can miss your stop, and wake up completely unaware of where you are. To avoid this, you can [1] not sleep, [2] estimate approximate time of arrival and set an alarm, or [3] befriend the conductor, who will then dutifully awaken you from your snooze vacation!

And then, there's the pure joy of simply sitting there and looking out the window. Watching all kinds of people go about their daily work, families, people taking a break, tears on unknown faces, and smiles.. You can never get bored.

As a result, you can see that one could easily favour this form of transport as opposed to driving oneself, if not for the fact that you have absolutely no control over timings. But oh I'll miss it. Or maybe not.