Arrival : A journey of awakening.

arrival

 

I am but a victim of confirmation bias. The road I walk is the one of light. At it’s core, there rests delusion.

 

So there I was. With a million options to choose and yet I chose to watch this movie. A choice which went unfulfilled in its first go. I called it a night and slept off early to a slumber of comfortable emptiness. I had to wait a while longer to watch the movie. I’d love to thank whatever that conspired to help me watch this movie at my own comfortable pace. I’d probably have missed the points otherwise.

 

So let me get straight to it. Beyond the veil of aliens and hollywood paranoia of invasion from outer space, the movie Arrival could not have been any more further away from that spectral end. This is a movie about the inner universe. Deceptively simple, I’d add.

 

Lets get the movie split into Acts.

 

Act 1 : asato mā sadgamaya

From ignorance, lead me to truth.

 

The movie wastes no time in setting itself up to the first act. Act one is the vanquish of ignorance. We are soon introduced to ‘Things’ that do not belong to our plane of sight. Fair enough. The apparition makes itself visible. Our world loses it and we are forced to confront it. The simplest explanation of the first act is along the lines of Realization and hence the first step towards awakening.

 

Our status quo is challenged early on. We are left with the obviousness that we are no longer alone. We are no longer at a convenience to rest smug in ignorance. We are left with a choice to either pretend that everything remains to be the same,or make that choice to figure out what is what. Hence the journey into the truth begins.

 

The baby steps in the first act are, for lack of a better word, brilliant. It establishes a simple and yet a very powerful message that the path to discovery , and discovery of what is something we’d talk about a little later, begins with humble beginnings. Language is chosen as the medium of communication. Yes, that’s the first sucker punch. Science has one language and that language is math. Math proves to be insufficient to tally things up. We are forced to adopt something primal. Language comes into play. Before there was math, before there was science, there still existed a medium of communication. The movie expresses that as the language.

 

The species do not understand each other at first. The intent is not known and shared. The question that drove Neo to madness, the question that drives a lot of us to the brink of sanity is the same question that makes a subtle appearance in the movie . ‘What is your purpose on Earth? ‘

 

A question simple enough , but an answer that can be as complicated as one wants it to be. What is our purpose on Earth indeed 🙂

 

Act 2 : Tamasomā jyotir gamaya

From darkness, lead me to light.

Oh that is my favorite line. It’s a line that I’m itching to get tattooed on my body. I’m waiting for the right time, for the right inspiration to consume me. That ink is not far away.

Back to the movie, and yes, Act 2 is about shedding away the veil of darkness.

 

As the conversations run wild with the aliens, we are but showed images that juxtaposition with the leading lady’s life and specifically the one about her daughter. It took me a while to realize that the conversations with the alien are actually familiar territory. It’s not different from the conversations that I’ve indulged in, tried and failed in the past. As the movie runs deeper and deeper with the conversations, I draw parallels to the conversations that we have with our soul. Deep inside the inner universe of the mind and body, we do have our little conversations with our souls.

 

The medium of exchange , or what I’ve experienced so far, is that of language. In fact, they are not of words per say. In meditation, thoughts are the currency of language. It’s only with thoughts that one converses with the soul, or even the wider vaster universe. The exchange varies with different people. I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting many folks. My exchanges have been both visual and through thoughts.

Translation comes later on. Once we snap out of the state of meditative calm, the mind buries itself into translating the meanings of what it witnesses. Another beautiful scene in the movie explains that phenomenon. What is conveyed and what is presented as a written form, they both do not mean the same thing. It is soon established that what is presented in the written form, transcends the usual norms of written medium.

 

Our minds are hardwired to the ways of the body. We seek out simpler translation of whatever we experience. Not that it’s wrong, it just robs us of the many other things we choose to sacrifice in our eagerness to decipher the things we experience and witness.

Act 2 is that conversation with self. The more we are in touch with the inner universe, the closer we get to understanding what it conveys. Through practice, that communication becomes almost real time.

 

Act 3 : mrityormāamritam gamaya

 

From death, lead me to immortality.

 

Time is the eventual inevitable killer. Yup. No disputing that. Time erodes us all. In time, we are all reduced to dust. Time is the ultimate linear sentinel. Or so we might wonder. Immortality of the body is pointless. Immortality of the soul is but inevitable. The body dies and the soul proceeds with the journey. The point of reference in the movie here shifts from the body to the soul. The nature of the soul, the meaning of time as it sees is now explained. For the soul, the past , the present and the future hold no special meaning. They all harmoniously converge to a single point of reference.

Though I’ve never ever experienced that , but yeah, I’ve read a few books that talk about it. I’d like to presume that it’s true. The skeptic in me stays cautious. This theory of soul and the lack of a sense of time to it is also explained by Dr Weiss. One soul, many bodies! I recently did manage to read The Aleph by Paulo Coelho. Aleph is a book that talks about a quest for forgiveness. Remnants of karma and the lives spent in pursuit of redemption.

 

Act 3 talks about the past, present and the future which all feed into one another. Karma is not linear. The actions of the past can be redeemed in the present which alters the future. We are not prisoners of our own destiny. We are but slaves to our inertia of fear.

I did enjoy watching the movie and there are a few coincidences around the events of the movie when I watched it, the things discussed and the timing of them all. But those are for me to ponder and act. 🙂

 

Karthik

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The silent whisper

She sat amused with what she was observing. Sincere prayers, blossoming hopes and unshakeable conviction seemed to surround her. She was not in a place of worship to witness such a dedication to belief. The pace of the place was daunting to her. Everybody had some place where they had head. Everybody was needed pronto. The mad frenzied rush was a little too much for her to process.



She sat in silence and rested her tired body and eyes. The memories buried in the farthest corners of her mind were being ushered to the front line that very moment. 

He was a romantic. Every thing about him was a contradiction to an otherwise pragmatic world. The day was fresh in her memory now. They both were in a crowded bus in Chennai. Route 29C. The bus kicked off in Besant Nagar and it snaked its way across the span of the city. The bus was crowded as always. They both stood together. The uncomfortable squeeze that the crowd forced on them, helped them realize the blessing it was. Comforting closeness and a sense of togetherness felt cemented that moment. 

“Come closer”, he said. “I want to whisper something in your ear”. He grinned at his usual lunacy. The decrepit drone of chatter around had drowned his voice. He called out his request again, only a little louder .

She tilted her head towards him and loaned him her ear. 

She smiled wide and bright. She held his hand tight. It was the first time she had brushed aside her fear of the society and expressed her adoration of him by holding on to his hand. 


*****

Excuse me, a voice interrupted. Her head was leaned against the wall. She adjusted herself so that the gentleman could walk past her chair. 

She took a deep breath and sunk back into her chair again. 

*****

The day of their wedding was laugh riot. Friends and family had joined them with presents and their blessings. There was a casual tone in the air. It didn’t feel like a formal affair. South Indian weddings did have a nasty reputation of forcing dogmatic disciplined rituals to be carried out. He had once joked that marrying the south Indian way would serve as a permanent reminder that a divorce and a second marriage was not worth the hassle. It was the kind of deal where one endured hardship for a day which would forever stay etched in memory!


A priest was carrying out his work. The moment was there. Sacred rope in hand, he had reached out to her ear to whisper something to her. 

She smiled wide and bright. She adjusted herself to sit a little more closer to him. Her sister teased her straight away. It was in smiles and happy hearty laughs, the new couple had started their journey of a life together.

****

‘Amma’, (mom) a voice called out to her. 

Dhwani looked just as exhausted as her mother. They almost looked the same in every way imaginable. The lines of age differentiated the two. Watching Dhwani triggered a few more memories. 

She was resting in the hospital bed after the delivery. Feeble in the body but euphoric in spirit, there was an air of satisfied bliss shining on her face. He had walked in. He took her hand and softly kissed it. He leaned closer and she knew what was to come next. Only this time, his heart was not in pursuit of her ears to whisper a meek secret. ‘Not all my secrets are for you my love’ he said coyly. He pecked her forehead and went on to whisper his secret to his lovely angelic daughter. 

The little one seemed to understand. She stayed still while her dad whispered. She took a moment to let his words sink into her fresh tiny soul. She smiled to acknowledge that she understood what he had said. That bond between a father and his daughter had it’s strongest foundation laid that day. 

‘Amma’, Dhwani interrupted her mother’s chain of thoughts again. 

‘Yes’, she replied soft. Nothing seemed anymore real to her. Her memories were as real as the reality of where she was that moment. She seemed to be caught in a daze. The parallels of time had finally converged to her. The past and the present seemed to harmoniously coexist that day. 

‘You can talk to dad now’, Dhwani continued. He, and she stopped her sentence. 

*****

As he rested peacefully in his bed, he knew his journey was coming to an end of sorts. All the philosophers and seekers of truth whose thirst for wisdom had left them blind to a far simpler truth. Nothing mattered more than life. He had lived a wonderful life. He had no regrets to frown upon that day. He wasn’t worried about what was there beyond. He wasn’t pained by what he’d have to leave behind. Yes, she’d miss him as he would miss her. It wasn’t a sign of sadness seeping through his heart that was on the verge of giving up. It was a simple sign of how much they both would miss each other’s company. 

That was all the truth and wisdom that he had ever aspired for. 

His breathing felt strained. His eyes slowly giving up on light, he could see enough to stay aware of the fact that the woman who completed his soul was standing right beside him at that very moment. He felt blessed. She was there and that was all that really mattered. He tried to inch his body towards her. His body refused to budge. 

He took a deliberated breath, that was all that he could muster. 

It was her time to whisper. ‘You’ve told me this, all our life together. I’ll always love you forever. Even from my grave’, she paused. ‘Likewise love’ she said. ‘Keep your promise.’

It was his turn to smile wide and bright. 

Karthik

Inspired by woes of a FB friend. Apparently their gang had written notes and stuffed them in a box. Friends one day, strangers the other and memories that last a lifetime, should one indulge them. Realities of life, woes of the heart. And it made me wonder about the nature of promises and the elation of living by them 🙂

Twiddling Thumbs

It has always been a big wide world. How could it not be. With a name Thumbalina, my entire world was towering tall. I guess there is no changing the way of the world. I cried a bit for the longest while and then the inevitable happened. I got used to how things were. There wasn’t much that I could do about it anyways. 



Things then went from bad to worse. Misled by the promises of a talking toad, I followed his words like a blind fool. How could I not ? His kind words of strong assurances made me feel significant.I couldn’t help but get seduced by his golden flattery. His words were what I had yearned all my life. The sense of feeling valued and important. 

I guess I was both short in stature and mind when i trusted the wicked toad. I couldn’t see through his intent. His comforting words kept me oblivious to the nature of my world. Of course, why would anyone want to be good to me for no apparent reason. Now that I look back, it wasn’t all that hard to judge. The cynical world around me should have groomed me to receive all kindness through a biased filter of cynicism. 

His words , his sweetened words came at a price. He thought I’d make a wonderful bride for his son. I felt sick upon hearing that proposition. I found it both disgusting and revolting. I was small, yes, but I wasn’t hideous. I wasn’t an object to be claimed for anyone else. The cold dark night was my escape. Under the blanket of darkness, I broke free . Big courage from a small heart indeed. Ironically I felt good about the entire episode. I felt insulted by what had conspired and at the same time, I felt liberated by my choice to walk away and face the wild world. 

Rejection followed me everywhere. I was a curiosity wherever I went. The judging eyes of the world were amused by how small I was in this big wide world. I endured it as I had always endured it. I clung on to the one act of standing up for myself against the toad. That was all that I had. It was my greatest achievement. It was not a lot, but yeah, it was all that I apparently had. 

Kindness came again in the form of a mouse. Having grown wiser to the ways of the world, I treated his kindness with blind skepticism. My intuition proved itself right. The mouse wanted to play match maker. From a disgusting toad, I was now to be a bride for a disgusting mole. I cursed my fate once again. Little girl in a big bad world. I made a run for it nonetheless. Fortunately, I wasn’t a stranger to running away from my woes. I had been relatively successful at running so far. And so once again, under the cloak of a moonless night , I ran. 


I became a wanderer for a while. I lived by myself. I refused to meet the world. Days became weeks and weeks blurred to be months. And Finally I met him. The king of fairyland, a dashing man of valiant and wings. He was just about my height. He was the same as I. Our romance bloomed and once again, I mustered the courage to hope. 

All went well and then they didn’t. I needed wings to be with him. His world deemed me unworthy without a pair of shiny wings. He said he could make them for me. 

Something in me snapped. Wasn’t I good enough without my wings? Wasn’t I good enough for my height. Was I not me , being the way I was? Would inches to my height make me any different? Did the nature of me, the fabric of me vary with dimensions. Did I mean nothing to this world? People either wanted to accept me for what I was because it suited their wicked plans, or wanted me to be something else because what I was couldn’t meet their expectations. Why wouldn’t the world take me for what I was because it wanted to and not because it had a use for me!

I saw my tears through the droplet of dew on a leaf in front of me. 

Heart broken, I refused his wings. 

I was Thumbalina once again. Only a lot taller on the inside now. 

Thumbalina

It’s a fair game. 

It’s been a week and a week of contemplation it has been. The book done, dusted, kissed and cried over, I’m still lost in thoughts over the book. We are talking about the Aleph here! 



One of the themes explored in the book is along the lines of Forgiveness. A subject that’s tricky as hell and sometimes I do lock horns with it. 

Just so happens that I got a gist of a program that focuses on building a better self. The roots of the program dig deep into our ability to reconcile and power on. Reconciliation is the liberating act of accepting and move on. Acceptance usually comes from keeping the mind wide open, clearing out the veil of smoke of denial and disillusionment to face the mundane reality. With the demons peering into our eyes, slaying them becomes a tad bit easier. 

Wonderful choice of words which don’t mean much actually 🙂

There are fewer things other than forgiveness which have the power in them to set us free. The statement outlines my conflicted disposition on the matter. The four and a half hour ride from London to Sheffield was ample enough to keep the motor revving on an otherwise idle mind. 

Forgiveness, in the simplest sense, is the ability say ‘It’s ok’. Beyond just stating the words, it also implicitly hints at our ability to believe that ‘It’s all ok’. It signals an acceptance from the depths of our self that we are ok with things. It’s ok. The harder I try to explain this, grander will be my fall. Forgiveness, like most things in this world, is a very personal affair. It’s not the same emotion/sentiment across different people. 

That established and my caveat that my definition of forgiveness is as good as or as bad as what others would like to define and defend, we can agree to mutually conclude our differences with the phrase ‘Bite me’. 

The focus is not on what it means or stands to represent. I’d like to explore on the whos for the time being. Whose forgiveness is it that we seek?


Live a life that spans a few decades, I’m pretty confident that we’d have managed to offend different folks with varying magnitude of the things that can and most definitely will offend. My dilemma banks on the enormity of the list of people whom we’d have intentionally or unintentionally managed to offend. 

Whose forgiveness does really matter to us? 

It used to be tricky before. Now a days, I’m in the process of oversimplifying it beyond all norms of social acceptance. I offend you, and the options are quite simple

1. I apologise, you forgive. – > Means i either care or am forced to pretend to offend. therefore also means, either i need that forgiveness or really dont care if it comes or not. 

2. I offend and dont bother apologising – > Means I’m either caught unaware of my trespasses or dont care enough to set things right

3. I apologise and you dont forgive – > Means, in my book, I stand on a higher moral ground, but makes me a pompous condescending bloke if I state that. But on a serious note, it’s a sign of misery that the road of redemption leads us through

4. I offend, you dont care, and I apologise and you forgive – > Just signals that both of us have grown up now. The alternate scenario represents that one of us is yet to grow up. 

The combinations are lot more than what I thought would be when I opted to try calling out the combinations. I’m going to be a lazy blogger and leave us with the comment, so you see where we are going with this , right? 😉 


The underlying constant , yes there seems to be just one, seems to be around the lines of my ability to accept forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gesture that is presented. It may or may not reset the course of history, but in all cases does ensure that the future is safe. Yup, throw in a little conditions apply and say that unless one stops making the same set of mistakes time and over again, that forgiveness is just a word and loses shine real fast .


Back to the dynamics of forgiveness. It seems to be our ability to accept it and acknowledge it. So why indeed would we shift the onus of forgiveness to someone else. Regardless of an offence being taken , if we make an effort to acknowledge our folly and contribution towards that offence, decency mandates that we’d do our best to not repeat the crime. 


The simplicity of forgiveness is a neglected , grossly underestimated and is immensely obvious. If we cant bring to forgive ourselves for our trespasses, waiting on others to forgive us is an excuse to place our life on hold. Been there, done that plenty and finally growing wiser (of sorts) .


So yeah, it’s a selfish deed. A deed that one must endure in order to get better at being oneself. When that smoke screen clears, we are left with the only choice that actually does make a difference. Have we forgiven ourselves ? and as Metallica sang, ‘Nothing else matters’ 

Karthik 

Book Review : Aleph

” Is it possible to deviate from the path of God has made? Yes, but it’s always a mistake. Is it possible to avoid pain? Yes, but you’ll never learn anything. Is it possible to know something without ever having experienced it? Yes, but it will never truly be part of you.” – Aleph

The last time I read Paulo Coelho, I hated his work. I scoffed at it. I strongly believed that the book was ridiculous at best. A ranting of a master of words who weaved a story too hard to believe, is what I felt. In the decade that followed later, I realized the magic to the words that I had once read.

The setting of an ignorant novice me reading the Alchemist is pretty much a plot that can help me explain his words in the book Aleph. In the most simplest of terms, the book Aleph is about a journey of life. I’ll let you decide the number of lives that your faith and your belief system will permit you to consider. If there is just one life, this book talks about a journey that we all undergo at different points in our own existence.

Much like how I first rejected the Alchemist, the words had not changed in the years that followed after my read. It was only I who had changed. There was no constant at play. Time flew past me, I gained life by experiences, my beliefs changed gradually. From a skeptic, I went on to become a wanderer with a curious and an open mind. Aleph is a book that talks about similar journey of the self.

It is hard to review a book on spirituality or philosophy. I remember the day I picked this book in London. The bloke at the store said aren’t you too young to lose yourself to spirituality. I smiled , aren’t we all young enough as it is, i asked. We both shared a laugh.

The book touches upon the simplest of facts that we tend to complicate beyond all recognition. It talks a great deal about experience.

“Is it possible to know something without ever having experienced it? Yes, but it will never truly be part of you.”

My biggest take from this book is along that line of experience. All of us experience various things of varying degrees in the miles that we cover in life. What we experience is just as irrelevant as what we desire to experience. What we do with such an experience, goes on to define the quality of our life, it mandates the state of bliss that one can stand to enjoy.

The simple act of falling down, getting up, crying a little, wiping away our tears and heading out for the next big adventure was something we were extremely proficient at doing when we were kids. In fact, the pain we experienced as a kid was very much real. With a limited knowledge and awareness of the world, with limited fears and limited unknown, even the tiny setback of falling down was supposed to be a huge hurdle. We did overcome that. We did that in style. We did that we cause we wanted to.

The more we grew up, the lesser we remain ourselves. That fight in us gets replaced by a lot of other things. Aleph is a book that serves to remind us that nothing else matters more than what we stand to do today. Our actions of today have the power to redeem us from the sins of yesterday and sow the seeds for the things to come tomorrow.

Oh btw, it was long after I picked the book did I realize that this book was not an fictional account of a spiritual journey! Damn!

Read it at your own peril. Belief is a rare commodity these days. We choose to believe in the goodness of vile folks dressed as sheep and yet struggle to believe that we are but a part of a vast machinery called the universe. If your eyes wont let you digest the spiritual nature of the book, no biggie, read it as a fictional tale of science and teleportation device. The heart of Aleph is not it’s vast spiritual abundance, it’s a simple tale of learning to live your own life.

Karthik

A mid winter night’s mare

Bub – bub. 


The constant drone of cars cruising along the highway had grown assuring to my ears. It was a curious annoyance at first. I’ve gotten used to the near constant hum now. With the window flung open, the sporadic howl of the wind aside, the regularly irregular hum of tyres speeding by the asphalt was comforting. I live alone and the that sound keeps me company , when the city calls it a night and slumbers. 

Bub -bub.


Sleep is a ritual on most days. Surfing the youtube for funnies to the point of saturation. I’d seek comforts in the pages of the book that I’m currently reading. Somewhere down the line, with my eyes tired and mind numb from constant thinking, I’d usually fold the edge of the page and carelessly toss the book away from my bed. 

With the lights out, rays of red would sneak in from the tail of cars zooming past the highway which my window overlooks. Flashes of red, yellow and the occasional blue of sirened ambulances would form a soft lullaby light show of sorts.

Bub – bub.

One of the things that I had initially found unnerving was the fact that an empty house does make sounds. Pipes expanding and contracting because of the cold, wooden floors creaking all by themselves, the radiator gurgling sounds each time the thermostat kicks in. These are the sounds that follow no specific pattern. An empty house is no match for a mind with an hyper active imagination. 

The first few weeks, I found it hard to get accustomed to the sounds. With each noise’s crescendo, I’d violently yank myself away from a state of light sleep. This was definitely a classic tell tale sign of lousy sleeping! 

Bub – bub

Fortunately, I did have a cure for that. GYM. The evening at the gym always meant that I’d sleep through the ambient noises like a happy blissful baby. Sunday evening was no different. I had spent the noon burning off calories and building confidence and esteem. I head home, conjured a lunch, survived after having it. I lazed around the rest of the day trying not to fall asleep. The plan was set in stone. It was a good gig. It had all the makings of a peaceful night of sleep.

Tat-Tat-tat………Tat- tat…..


bub-bub-bub-bub

I woke up from an early daze with a jolt. Instinctively I checked the time. It was 12:30 AM. I knew I wasn’t popular enough for folks to be crashing into my isolated house on any given day, 12:30 was ridiculous!!! Nobody I knew would take the pain of staying up that late, walk through a cold rain, climb up 7 floors and knock a rhythm on my door!!!! I immediately dismissed the sound as a trick that my exhausted mind played. It was not real, I assured myself and tried to get back to sleep.

bub-bub-bub-bub

I tried to silence the ticker by taking in deep breaths and decided to force a little peace on my disturbed mind. Things settled down in a short span of time.


Tat-Tat-tat………Tat- tat…..


bubbubbubbubbubbubbubbub.. My eyes opened wide. Nope, I wasn’t imagining the knocking on the door now. I knew there was a knock. I paused my breathing, sharpened my ears to follow the sounds. Dead silence. The cars had stopped cruising. The radiator no longer groaned. The wooden floor had made it’s peace with the cold. The humming deafening sound of silence was around me.

The ceiling clicked and I got jumpy. I checked the time again. For some reason, I found it sensible and felt safer by knowing what the time was. It was 1 AM. The knocking had apparently stopped. The distant buzz of a car reverberated through the open window. The radiator yawned from it’s slumber. The thermostat kicked in to announce that the room had grown cold indeed. 

bubbubbubbubbubbubbubbub


My mind was not my best of friends in the moment of need. My thoughts first took me to a possible Demonic Possession. Why? Coz I had tried fiddling around with astral projection a while ago before I gave up and called it a night. It was odd. Hollywood had taught me that the unholy time was half past three. I took comforts in knowing that the spooks would not be early to the party. They did have a keen sense of punctuality. 

With extreme insanity thrust out of the immediate thought-sphere, I started to focus on realities behind horror. I do live in a strained neighborhood .It could be a bloke, a drunk or a junkie knocking random doors for mischief. Yeah, this appealed to me better than evil demons from the pits of hell!!! Oh God, what the hell was i even thinking moments ago!!!!!

I was jumpy, vigil and excessively alert. I throttled my breathing to ensure that my ears could pick up even the slightest of sounds. Big mistake. In a world of silence of the night, everything was a sinister orchestra at play. The night was the grand stage and I was it’s only audience. 

My heart continued to pound recklessly.

I struggled to form sensible flow of thoughts. I soon realized that I was in a vulnerable spot. While the house does boast a comfy private terrace of sorts, It also meant that someone could sneak in through the glass sliding window that would welcome just about anyone into my living room. The house did not have locks except the one that guarded the door. I realized in horror that once the sentry was breached, I had just about nothing to lock and stay guarded. 

The hate , in the form of documentaries, that I had watched, the fears of the evil of men’s heart, the imagination that dwells in the darkest of places, and the near drowsy state of my mind and the body, all of it meant that I was living in a horror movie of my own making. 

I collected my thoughts and picked up myself to check the living room. Yeah, I did feel a little intimidated to turn the lights on. I was scared of turning them on only to realize that there was a stranger in the house. A house sans curtains = stunning view of the streets below. The dim lights of the city, the tail of reds , ambers and greens ushered a sense of mesmerizing surreal twilight.

The light was sufficient enough to see that there were no intruders around. 


The heart went form bubbubbub to a stead stream of bubs. Ah crap, ‘You are going to think yourself to your death, Karthik’ , I told myself.

The horror had been both fake and real. I had made it real to me. I reached out for a glass of cold milk and watched a peaceful city slumber. The horror was now over. 

Karthik

Seeds of Hate

“In a land where everybody wants to be right, soon enough, there wont be anybody LEFT”


 

As the world shrinks, as we stand to reap the benefits of globalization, there is something so fundamental, something so simple that all of us had made a choice to overlook it. As the lands shrink, more and more folks are coming face to face with each other. As one big tribe of humans, we are now competing for a space, an identity in this new promised land of global opportunities. The lines that were once drawn clear by continental drifts, boundaries of nations are currently blurred and we find ourselves amidst a revolution of sorts where all of us are a part of new boundaries that is being drawn in violence and hate.

 

 

I’m definitely no expert in social dynamics or the psychology of the mass. I am but an observer , who is defined by the rules and norms that I feel are acceptable and are the ones that I choose to abide by. Using these are my biased filters, I’d like to observe and narrate rather than cite and judge.

 

Security in numbers :

This is one of the oldest traits of any culture. Birds of a feather flock together, blokes of a tribe stand together , fight together and help survive as one. It talks about unity. Unfortunately, that umbrella of unity has a very limited coverage. We are bifurcated by language, the gods that we choose to pray to, the money that we make and the status that we delude ourselves with. There is a sense of immense togetherness within a confined boundary. Science calls this ‘Cohesiveness’. The affinity of like matters to form bonds and share an ability to remain as one. Hence cohesive.

 

 

The security in numbers is a reflection of the status one shares in a given society, community and even land to a great extent. Entropy mandates that the majority does not give a damn hoot about this cohesiveness. Majority does not even see the need for this security. It’s assumed to be omnipresent and is usually taken for granted.

 

As we form newer tribes in an overcrowded section of the given society, natural fears and consequences of perceived competition and natural instincts of insecurities help the cause of security in numbers. This explains the grouping that is existent in any given ecosystem.

 

 

Them:

Whenever there is an us, there is always a them. Even within the smallest confines of what I call an office space, I’ve seen a lot of sentiments around us versus them. They are the gate keepers, they are the policy makers, they are the blokes who judge us and decide upon our fates(also read as performance evaluations) and in most cases, THEY really dont get the real picture. They have their favorites and they are partial. The mentality of us versus them exists because for various factors , us and them are not able to coexist.

 

When this is the case in a controlled ecosystem that is governed by organizational policies and where business is supposed to be the first and primary objective, when we walk outside beyond the walls of an office space, real life does not enforce such objects down our throats. Real life is about living. Live, let live, be happy, spread happiness. And once you mock the statement with a sarcastic ‘Yeah right’ smile, you see where I’m getting to.

 

Real life should have been about life. It’s not. It’s about survival. It’s now about one’s ability to thrive in a given ecosystem. It’s also about us versus them all over again. We take comforts in demonizing them for all our misgivings. There are times when this is not just a case of transference of blame. There are ample realities where ‘They’ do force limitations upon us. Oppression and Suppression are a way of life. Those in power, those with money, those with influence do tend to exercise the might it provides.

 

Insecurity :

 

The motto has never been that of coexistence. How could it be? Coexistence is subjected to context and convenience. As long as someone benefits from the current as-is, there is coexistence. With any given as-is, there is an organic growth, there is an organic expansion. As one develops and grows, one’s needs and wants change. Hence the claim to a bigger chunk of a pie , hence conflict of interest. The status quo of coexistence is therefore challenged.

 

Insecurity plays a vital role in fueling mistrust across the table. The us versus them solidifies. Greater cohesiveness. Grander the outburst.

 

While the above stated govern the basics of how our minds work, there is a larger man made, man influenced factor at play here. It’s called conditioning. Conditioning is an ability of adaptability. We condition ourselves to adapt better to the changes in the ecosystem where we are trying to thrive. We make due with what we have, we make an effort to coexist. We grow as much as we can. When we hit blockers, we struggle with them till we find a solution that benefits us. While all of this sounds euphoric in words, in reality these do have drastic consequences.

 

The condition comes into play. The first lesson that I ever learnt in a professional context was that of a ‘Dog that is cornered’. A dog that feels cornered and feels it’s now currently stuck in a hostile environment will bark and bite. It will do whatever it takes to fight back. It does all of it because it does feel threatened. It’s primal survival instincts kick in.

 

As professionals, we are expected to assess and judge to see if we are really in a hostile environment. We should either equip ourselves with the right skills to avoid getting into tight corners, or brave the consequences of our actions to not be in that corner.

 

A lesson that was good to read, nice to believe in but I found it tremendously hard to live by. Like or not, sometimes we are in a hostile environment whose nature and purpose is not there to nurture us and facilitate our growth. Go figure!!!!!

 

Realities, same shit. We are not always in a nurturing environment.

 

The underlying difficulty is the fact that if something bugs us, we cant always pack bags and walk away form it. Confrontation is apparently the only viable option.

 

 

While I’ve narrated what I’ve observed, I think staying politically correct is the lousiest way to keep the demons appeased. The contributing factors are as complex as complex can be and they are that way because we try to appease.

 

Call a spade a spade, take a stance and things might be a little easier. This , of course, sounds euphoric on words, realities , we are yet to see.

 

Karthik

 

The winding road. 

I’ve been here for a while alright. Everything now is the same to me. The blossoms, the winter, the summer, the pour of the rain, none of them have ever changed. Like a clockwork, I see them come and go. At this point, there aint a sense of happiness or comforts of a satisfaction in me. I am. And that’s all there is to it. 


I do ponder a lot. My thoughts take me to places both colourful and dark. Yeah, I still remember the little ones from the day I first met them. We didn’t bother with names. Under my watchful unobtrusive eyes. The kid was in his red shirt and denim jeans. She was dressed in a bright yellow with patterns of flowers etched in them. 

I saw the warmth of the universe in them. Love’s first innocent kiss. Love’s first promises of an eternity together. Words were promises and promises were dreams being built on hopes. It was a sight to behold. The skies were bright and blue. The yellow sun blushed a little red. I guess I was not alone with the kids that moment. The entire universe had made an effort to pause and witness the magic unfold. 


That was decades ago. The kids had grown and they’d come by me from time to time. I enjoyed the time spent by them. With age, their promises had changed. Their dreams had evolved. They had ambitions and spoke of them. 


It was a cloudy evening when the skies cried her tears. Ambitions wanted to usher him to the big city. While his heart stayed anchored to the small town, his hopes gravitated towards the big city. She was a choice, a choice that shattered their little hearts. In tears they walked apart. I didn’t see him any more. It would be decades before I’d see him again.

She would come to me from time to time. She was lost in thoughts and lost to a world of her own for the most part. I watched her cry. I watched in silence. I wanted to comfort her and tell her that everything would be ok. I chose not to. There were things that we had to figure out on our own. I chose to remain a silent witness to her solitude. 

As months passed, as the seasons changed gears, she was no exception to the change too. Her tears had dried up. Her purpose of being with me had also changed. I was a cherished memory to her now. I was now her companion in moments of peaceful bliss. I liked that change in her. The season had been good to us. Gentle breeze would grace us. I felt a similar warmth that I had once felt before. 


I saw her as a woman now. Grown in time, beautiful with time. I saw a sense of purpose to her, her ambitions soared high too. She’d visit me once in a while and grade papers. I watched her giggle at the silliness of the imagination conjured by younger vibrant minds. From time to time, I’d join her moments of smiles. 

One day she came visiting and this time she wasn’t all by herself . I saw another man. A handsome one at that too. They were in love, oh that I could definitely tell. I saw that smile in her, a smile that had evaded her for quite a long while. Things were back for her , I guessed. I had guessed right after all. I saw the couple regularly thereafter. They both seemed happily lost in each other’s company. 

A few months later, I saw their first born. A few years later, I saw their younger daughter too. They did make a wonderful blessed family. I’ve always remained a part of their family. In fact, just yesterday, I saw the elder sister have the same love in her eyes, exactly the same way her mother had those many decades ago.


I saw him again. He came visiting with his wife and kid. As fate would have it, I saw his kid again. Even he had the same love his dad did have all those years ago when we first met. Small world huh. 


While this story travelled miles and drew a circle of life of sorts, I’ve seen far too many stories that have had lousy ends. People have marked their journey’s end by me. I’ve seen despair. I’ve seen the worst that pessimism brings. I’ve also seen moments of euphoric bliss in people. 


I guess for a tree, I’ve had a reasonable life. Never been threatened by the sharp edge of an axe. The road where I stand rooted, I see it as the journey of life itself. Different people come along that road, at different times their stories make sense. Beyond the discrete points of time, if I saw it as one long continuous journey, the meaning stands to change. 


Aint that the case with all of us. Moments make up our life. But when we see it as a whole, aint it a journey after all. Same souls , reincarnated to follow similar iterations only to break the chain by learning something new, unlearning something old. I’m that winding road. We are that winding road. 

Karthik

Home. Sweet home. 

“Happy birthday princess”…..



What a day it was! The house decorated in festoons and colours. Strips of purple and white looms covered every inch of the vast dining hall. Serial LED lights adorned the house and it was a glittering spectacle to watch. The colours formed mesmerising patterns at regular intervals of time. Fat swollen balloons of white and red stayed pasted all over the house. What a day it was indeed! 


The evening brought the animated house to life. Guests poured in hordes. Little girls were all dressed as Disney princesses. Their long gowns of satin blue , pink, and yellow swept the carpeted floor. The boys came in dressed as pirates and super heroes. All of their little faces remained painted in vivid colours. A superman there had his moments of petty fights with a spiderman there. Little boy Batman was a ladies man for his age. He spent his evening crashing into the tea parties that the princesses hosted. Merry was the atmosphere. Merry it stood to be.

The delight of the evening, the lady of the hour, the little girl whose day was as special as it would ever get, was stunningly beautiful. Her innocence adorned her purple princess dress. Purple was after all her most favourite colour. The purple theme was to appease her insatiable love for that shade. The early hours of the evening, the little one greeted all the faces familiar as they wished her a wonderful day and handed her wrapped gifts. 

***********************

Her mind reached out to her house of colours. There is no place like home, she voiced in her mind. It gave her a sense of comfort and it was her place of peace of sorts. There is no place like home, she muttered. 

The still calmness in her face represented the detached calmness in her mind. 

***********************

The evening was a smashing hit. The kids had played their silly games. Sugar was served and it was served in vulgar amounts. Kids on a sugar high kept running frantically. The parents had a tough time keeping the house in order. The fights became frequent, wails of tears kept popping now and then. The parents were equipped to handle the situation. Birthday parties did have that effect on them kids and parents had grown wiser too. 

The distracted evening also saw the rise of a sinister plan that loomed around the horizon. As the dusk cleared, it ushered a night of cold winds that viciously howled. 

“Look at the moon. It’s beautiful” the faux selenophile lied. The age of innocence , the age of curiosity , the starless night and the omniscient dark set the stage. The creatures of the night were out to prey. All the creatures of the night were out to prey.

The image of the vividly vibrant decorated house occupied the little mind. Nothing made sense and her mind whisked her away to her happy place, which would now forever be her very own personal dungeon. Her mind kept her protected there. There is no place like home, she secretly muttered.

The wolves had howled. The young mind tunnelled back to the sky of night and moon and it’s entourage of stars. There would be other times when her mind would whisk her away to that point in time, to that decorated home, to that wonderful moment of all things purple and festive.

************************

“It took me decades”, she confessed to a room of young girls.She was no longer a little princess. 45 , with a soul as young as young could be, everything about her screamed of life of zeal. “There is no place like home, the fairy tales go. I was the princess of my kingdom. A kingdom that saw the monsters before it saw it’s finest prince charming. It has taken me decades to accept that birthday of mine. Everything had changed ever since. Nothing remained as innocent as I once thought they would forever be.

I felt drowned in fears first. Guilt came in next. I felt ashamed of myself. I felt dirty for the longest time. A kind of stained patch over my soul that refused to vanish no matter how many times I tried to clean it up.

It took me a while to accept the monsters of my world and accept the monstrosity that I was a part of. But that was that. I learnt to live beyond it. I found the courage to exact justice more than vengeance. My numbed patience and years of helplessness helped me build my case in determined secrecy. I finally put the beast in the cage. His days are over. I still visit him in his prison from time to time. I do like to remind him that we are not weak, we are not afraid and yes, we refuse to stay a victim forever.

Take your safety seriously. Reach out, call out. Your safety is just as precious as the air that you breathe. It does not take courage to stay a mute victim. It takes helplessness to stay that way. You girls have the courage in you, just like i did too. It’s a beautiful world out here. A world of princes, princesses and vile creatures. Spot em early on and you’d be fine .”


The class sat in silence. A few of them blushing , a few caught off guard and clueless over the brazen reality that was spoken off. A fire raged inside the beating ticker of a silent girl. Her moment of courage had finally arrived. She raised her hand to pop a question.
************

A dark tale indeed. Inspired by the movie Split. Dont really know why I wrote this. Felt like words worth sharing. 


Karthik

Emperor’s new boots 

The age old tale of vanity which finally leads to a public humiliation of sorts. While the story ends there, the consequences might have been drastically different and beyond the realms of what Disney would want to put on display. A realistic possibility like ‘Off with the boy’s head’. One simply does not mock a king and get away with it. 


The show of power, the might that power provides, they do make a nice blog but I am not in the mood for something that grim especially on a Monday morning. 

I’d like to take a moment to talk about the emperor’s new boots! Not his clothes, not his Gucci (Gucky, as Rachel says it sweet), not his Versace. And the realization dawn upon me that Italian brands are a challenge to pronounce right! It takes me back to a time when I thought BVLGARI was pronounced BA-VULGAR- EEEEE. I did manage to brave that call upon unsuspecting nice blokes in the perfume shop. I learnt my lesson that day. The good blokes at the perfume shop did learn a lesson too!!!!! They were underpaid and under prepared to take on challenges of this magnitude.

The emperor’s new boots. And so the bloke got himself a new pair of shoes. It wasn’t his usual ones. It sure wasn’t his favourite ones either. He wanted to try something new and he did end up tying up the laces of his new pair. The shoes were not the average ones. They were magical shoes. Blessed by the land of magic, the shoes had the power in them to transform the wearer to lands of lush and magic. 

The shoes took the emperor to a market place first. Far away from the oblivious comforts of his palace , the emperor finally had his moment of tryst with the common folks. He saw their usual days. The hard work, the toil under the sun. In their dedicated machine like compliance to a routine of life, the emperor saw something that he had never seen before. He saw his people’s dreams in their eyes. Each of them were struggling and enduring the day in order to build a future of comfort. Their hard work paved the way for a sense of security for the rainy days ahead. 

The emperor had never witnessed that side of life ever before. How could he? He wondered. He was used to the comforts of the palace. Everything that he ever wanted was either annexed or provided. He was still a stranger to a life being denied of needs and wants of things both petty and significant. 

The shoes were working their magic on the novice king. They teleported him to a playground next. A park of green grass and children merrily jumping and playing adorned the place. This was the ground where castles of dreams were being erected every moment. Kids, they were the purest and the bravest form of the spirit of man, the king pondered. The magnificent dreams conjured by simple minds was a sight to behold. Theirs was a dream without fears and had no sense of the coldness that realities usher later in life. 

The king realized the nature of the world that moment. He stood perplexed at how time could force folks to abandon their hopes and dreams and embrace despair. He wondered about the nature of the human spirit. It takes a wild imaginative flight during the formative years. They gradually mellow down and stabilize through early adulthood. By the time we become the men and women of this world, we are but left with traces and shadows of the brilliance these hopes and dreams once were. 

The king felt bad that all his powers, all his magnanimity, all his pride put together couldn’t assure that his people would never go robbed of their dreams ever again. He felt the pain of the world that rested outside the walls of his perfect palace. He realized that his palace was a prison of deception that kept him chained away from the simple pleasures of victory and defeat of struggles waged each day. His people were far richer than him , when it came to life. While they experienced life for what it was, being a king, he had managed to alienate himself from such a simple life. 

The shoes transported him back to the palace. The king stood staring at his reflection in the mirror. 

A smile nurtured in his face. The sun was back in the kingdom once again. He went on to spend the rest of his life in pursuit of making dreams come true for everyone in his kingdom. 


Yeah, emperor’s new boots indeed.

While the tale is one that of fantasy, it has its roots grounded in reality of the world that we inherit. I wore a new hat. A hat of a photographer. My shoes took me to roads that i saw new. I couldn’t help but stay amused at our reluctance to see the world through a different pair of eyes. What do we need to acquire that sight? What does it take to shake that inertia off our eyes? Why do we strain ourselves when we make peace with viewing the world around through blurred eyes? All it takes is a gentle wash to see a brand new world around us.

Yeah, emperor’s new boots indeed. 

Karthik