So to speak 

I’d probably describe myself as a façade that lingers between the purgatory of introversion and extroversion , unrivalled candour with an appetite for disguised honesty where context manipulates the moment. Articulate to the point of growing adjectives in a purple field of surreal imagination. I tend to observe passionately and when the opportunity presents itself , I’d participate to either influence a coercive thought or disrupt the collective bias , mostly for my own beguiled amusement. 
Or, I speak a lot, am moody at times and I’m quite a fun bloke to hang out with. 

Now where did all of that come from? I was thinking about the nature of communication and I guess there are broadly two classifications to sort them out. 
1. We communicate to be understood
2. We communicate to establish a status quo

While the former banks on the parties’ capacity to understand one another, the latter deals with building a personal brand. Everybody goes through multiple iterations of introducing oneself and if you keenly observe, how we choose to introduce ourselves, what we want the audience to perceive about us, is all a conscious choice and effort to fuel the masks that we wear. One could arguably also say that not wanting to have a mask is a mask by itself. That, I guess, is a simple contradiction that arises because what we are is always different from how we are perceived. There are those who are victims because of that disconnect and then there are those who coast through the skies because of the very same.
My mom was a bit worried about blatant persecution here in the UK. She had never steered our conversations towards the racism that is prevalent in this world. In fact, her choice of wanting to talk about racism got me in a state of surprise. I had never imagined that word featuring in her world. To her, everybody was the same.
A few lines of exchange later, the culprit was easily identified. NEWS and media. News channels had created a sense of panic and it was but obviously that my mom was worried about the current affairs of sorts.
The things that we hear, listen, watch and see, borrow and eventually propagate, they all are bound by the rules of intent. If you think about it, it’s the intent that sets the context to most information that gets passed around. Under the filter of intent, truth and lies are the same and are usually an object of convenience. 
As a species, as one spends a life learning and adapting to social morals and perceived framework of right and wrong, one does tend to ignore the intent and one skims along the peripheral logistics of truth and false. Intent is a simpler measure to assess information.
While the filtration mechanism is simpler, intent itself is a byproduct of personal bias. We express our intent in the way we perceive the world around us. There is no absolute true north in viewing other’s intent. Fortunately, on most days, true north is an redundant luxury. 
Classic examples of intent include any assessment of circumstances where the line of thought is to follow the money trail. Intent is money and the flow of it unravels the road it takes.
Skepticism is a wonderful ally to this method of information assimilation. Asking your whys, asking who benefits and how, what one stands to gain and what one stands to lose, the answers do take us a step closer to the big motivation behind any information exchange. 

A simple news channel, a worried mother, her son, a die hard skeptic, and a train of thoughts along intent. This connects us back to the first few lines of the blog.
How we introduce ourselves is a tell tale sign of the intent that we carry. Want to stay understood, we use the simplest of words that breed no ambiguity. Want to impress, the adjectives flow seamlessly.
So, how do you introduce yourself? What motivates your introduction. Are you eager to establish a common ground or do you fear exposure and possible ridicule and hence restrict the words that can help you break ice?

A simple introduction sure can be complicated by a thought process 🙂 
Karthik

Barking up the wrong tree

” You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy coffee” the sign read in my office’s canteen. I had a hearty laugh and moments later, I found myself chasing thoughts. I think money can buy happiness. You read me right. I don’t think money is the only source of happiness. That said, it sure facilitates the happiness quotient. 

I don’t have altruism running through my veins. I won’t even dare dispute that. Fortunately or unfortunately, meeting wonderful blokes like Sarba did leave a lasting impression. I didn’t go beyond my way to pretend an altruistic heart. When I could, I spared a bar of candy. When I could, I’d offer to buy food. When I could, I did. When I couldn’t, I didn’t mull around it. The stint came in phases and I’m glad it’s here to stay. There is a certain joy to helping those who are in need. There is a huge relief in suspending scepticism and believing that those who are in need are in need indeed. 

My tryst with altruism, which is insignificant at best, is actually a good example of ‘Yes, money can buy you happiness”. Substituting materialistic gratification instead of emotional ones is probably not the most healthiest ways to fill that gaping hole in our hearts. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just that when you have to buy things to feel happy, it’s no different from reaching out in addiction to satisfy that itching need to feel high. Unless one keeps fuelling that constant drive to buy, one ends up feeling unhappy. This is a good case of sustainability of the operating model in order to reach that said happiness.

While that is one side of the story, the fact that all of us make enough, make ample to spare a little to the society, is blatant proof that money can buy happiness. I think we mix content and satisfaction to happiness. Happiness is far too easier to acquire. That sense of feeling satisfied and content, now that takes a considerable effort. 
Money , that desire to make money , is not evil. There is nothing out there in the world which will convince me that the desire to make a buck is sinful in nature. I do worry about the ethics and legalities of making that buck. This is a forced filter of sorts. It’s forced because I care enough to enforce that into my moral principles. Money, by itself , does not translate to a guilty pleasure. 

All the altruism in the world, if you can suspend the politics and the agenda behind it, it serves the needy by fulfilling their essential needs. The needs could either be materials or it could be empathy. Yes, we do live in a world where we are but robbed of emotional satisfaction and staying emotionally satisfied has spawned a business of providing that gratification to the masses. Sounds complicated and perplexing? Not quite. Social media is aimed to keep the narcissist in us pampered. 

That probably is a different tangent to explore. In line with what we are talking about, money can buy us happiness. In fact, both nothing and everything can help us reach that state of happiness. ALL IT USUSALLY TAKES IS AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT HAPPINESS MEANS TO US. The funny irony is that a lot of us can’t quantify and state with certainty on things that have to happen in order for us to stay happy. Happiness is a state function, it changes from time to time, it differs as our thoughts differ. It’s not a fixed destination. It’s a by product that makes an appearance each time we set out to brave the big world around us. 

Think about it. If one’s intent is firm around helping others, no matter how heavy that inflow of currency is, it would be used to serve people in the way one does best. If one’s intent is to substitute trinket for satisfaction, that loaded cupboard would still fall short of meeting all our expectations. 
Buy it, sell it, steal it, beg for it, as long as you find it and know to keep it sustained, happiness ain’t the holy grail of all treasures. It happens to be the most ignored , commonly occurring abundant state of the mind. If money can’t buy you happiness, you are probably shopping in all the wrong places! 

Karthik 

Busting a few myths on a given day

Daddy’s day behind us, numerous wishes or rather public display of conformance later, the day does signal a change in the way fatherhood has changed across decades. 
Movies have always resonated with the change in time and changes in the minds of a given society. I did have a jolly good laugh comparing this movie to real life in the recent past. Mouna Ragam, I’m not even going to attempt translating the title here. It’s one of Manirathnam’s master pieces. It talks about a girl’s push into arranged marriage and how that relationship of cactus blossoms. Of course, we are not going to talk about marriages for a while now. The movie also depicted the quintessential stereotyped relationship status quo between a father and his daughter. 
We find ourselves swaying away from the age old tradition of Man of the house, father being the bread winner of the family, The father figure who espouses authority and generally makes all the decisions. The counsel of the wife plays a role, but seldom pivotal to the central functioning of the family. The household is demarked to functionalities and the father figure holds the reigns to everything that spans outside the boundaries of the house and the mother is usually the queen of the way a household runs. 
That status quo was not bad. My sisters and dad had that relationship decades ago. There was a lot of give, if I can rake my memories right. Ours has never been the traditional power driven house of sorts. All of us did have a certain say in things. 
The father figure, the established bread winner, also was a stereotyped beast of financial burden. This meant time getting invested a lot more into work than having the time to spend with the family. That was the way families operated in the 80’s. Another starling myth was along the lines of parents in the western world weren’t as caring and as protective as the way Indian families operated. These assumptions still do run rampant in the current day and age. 
The sun was out and it meant only one thing. I loitered the streets on the given Sunday. The sights and sounds were impressive. The moments could melt one’s heart. Myths were waiting to be shattered .
There is a change among us. Of course, I can only speak about the people I’ve either personally known or have had the opportunity to watch and observe. I could note a change. Fatherhood has changed for the better. There is inclusivity in the overall decision making process. I’ve seen ample samples of dads being supportive of their kid’s ambitions and dreams. There is a considerable amount of effort , time and money invested into the big dreams of little children. Kids are relatively free to make their own lives rather than wait to fulfil the incomplete dreams of their parents. The way parents these days view careers and future prospects is slowly taking a little detour from the ancient one of dogma. 
I saw fathers discuss math problems with their tiny tots yesterday. Geographies aside, the care and love shown could be generalized to being the same in the common world. Fathers seem to have made changes to their priorities. Money is good, but family seems to be better to them. They do manage to balance the odds to juggle time between being a workhorse and an active participant of a family. The decisions probably are decentralised. Families are slowly moving away from Money being the locus to power and decision making. With women now more than capable of meeting the numbers even steven, the equation does change. 
It sure is a good sign. We have families that are working hard in restoring the spirit of what a family represents. We have both parents who now have the time and skills to contribute into their families in a holistic fashion. We as a society are rejecting the malice of the yester-era and doing our delta best in cleaning up the house, one day and one decision at a time. 
Yesterday, when I ran my thoughts towards this notable changes to the way families worked, It left me both excited and scared. There is excitement around the whole exercise of building a family and there is a lot of anxious fears in managing to getting all of them wrong. As the society slowly inches towards being open and communicative, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to slip into the dogma. 
So far , so good and yeah, it’s nice to acknowledge that we’ve come a long way from where we once started. 

Karthik 

A for arranged marriage!

huh-what

 

So I walk into a coffee shop and I know what I want. Cappuccino, no sugar on that. Somedays it’s topped with a shot of hazelnut and some days it’s hot chocolate with no cream on that. Everyday it’s a solid yes to a helping of chocolate icing. The biggest challenge to that endeavor is passing my name for the drink to be served. Most days, people don’t bother asking for the name. Easy peasy and done deal.

 

The thing about arranged marriage is that , unlike most people who are so sure that they know they are ready for a marriage and have undergone a PHD certification on What it all means to get married, I for one am pretty oblivious and clueless to the ways of knowing what it means to get ready for marriage. Most people I know have been married just once and oddly that makes them qualified subject matter experts on the topic. If it was recruitment for the works in my pipeline, that experience would not have got them an audition with me in the meeting room!

 

So mom has updated her runbook of questions she has for me everyday. Apart from the usual, did you eat, are you ok and are you sure that you are not falling sick, she’s added a few more questions to that list. Did you speak???? I still don’t have an appeasing answer to that question.

When it comes to an arranged marriage, there is a definite advantage in terms of the initial questions and conversations that would unravel in sweet time. For instance, Love marriage would have had it’s initial batch of questions around ‘Whats your favorite color pa’, ‘Pav baji ah, bhel puri ah? ‘. Lets not forget the past. Anyone and everyone who has had a crush, a fling, a stint at being a lover, would have endured and survived that question.

Advantage arranged marriage: Here , since the prospect is kinda pre approved, pre vetted, skimmed scanned and requisites assessed even before the first word of a ‘Hi’ exchanged, it also means that Pav baji ah bhel puri ah is no longer the determining factor of where that relationship is going to head. That being said, that question is definitely waiting in the pipeline to be asked. With arranged marriage, the sequencing order changes.

 

Come to think of it, I think there has to be a published list of questions that have to be asked, and expected. It might come in handy as a framework to kick start and sustain conversations and more importantly, it might help with the decision making process.

 

I mean questions like

 

  1. Do you snore ? how loud is your snoring? Have you ever had it checked? Can it be cured? Do I have to wear ear plugs to get a proper night’s sleep?  This makes sense in an arranged marriage. With loveu, trips tours or even office meetings presents the valuable opportunity to assess the decibel levels of snoring from a safe distance.
  2. How prone are you to embarrassing yourself in public? It’s a very relevant question. No married couple is going to stay indoors forever. People make funny noises (if you know what I mean), people spill things all the time, people have baritone voices which refuse to stay in the whisper zone , people pick noses, and i’ll leave that list to your imagination. I’m pretty sure that these annoying peeves are not going to get featured in the resume under the section ‘About myself’ in the matrimony portals. Tough luck gathering intel on these. The only way you’d find out is when you bare witness or put on a grand show!!!!!
  3. Are you a sadist, masochist, sociopath, psychopath and feel free to pull in any and all worst case hollywood thriller villain’s mental ailment here. Unless you ask, you wont know. All honesty aside, it takes a really SPECIAL special kinda person to go public and proud about it. Who knows, that question might prove to be a game changer!
  4. What are your dining habits ? Do you slurp, do you nakkify all your fingers in public after a meal? Do you use towels to dry your hands or is it always the jeans? Come to think of it, eating is going last a lifetime. One not only marries a partner, one also ends up marrying their habits. Habits tend to last a lifetime. No wonder people go on dates!!!!!

 

There are a million questions that are either waiting to be asked or stuck somewhere in the thought process. I had a little time to ponder today and quite honestly, I’m glad that I don’t have any serious questions running numbers in my head. I do feel that having questions is an indication of a preconceived plan of how that life after marriage is going to be. Those questions are probably our own way of confirming our bias or expressing our expectations and hence setting a bench mark for the other person to fit into. Not that it’s wrong, not that it’s any more pressure, I think it’s kinda pointless. Read all you want, once married, that is a goldmine of gyan only married folks experience and keep mum about it. Rest of us solo flying blokes can’t , very fortunately, quite experience yet.

 

For what it’s worth, I think questions on life choices, life styles and outlook are worth the ask. It would probably be a steeper and a dreadful co-learning curve if there are stark differences to life choices. Anways, what the bleep do I know. I’m winging it all one day at a time. I’m still short by one marriage to be a SME on marriage 😛

 

 

Karthik

 

 

 

Information data news and life

“You should have watched it man. How barbaric????” I remember talking about it when I was in Chennai. The ‘IT’ was a documentary about medi care and one of the blokes interviewed in that documentary was a carpenter. He had had an accident at work and had severed his palm. The doctors in the USA had given him a choice. He could choose which finger that he wanted to be surgically reattached. He couldn’t save his entire palm. Why? 
He couldn’t afford it and his insurance didn’t cover it. 
Ah, it’s all coming back to me now. I reckon it was a documentary by Michael Moore. Sicko, Yup, that was the name of the chilling documentary. 
Back then, all of it was information to me. It was shocking the way the world was. Money was the master and if you had it, you probably could enjoy a better life. The world was not poised to be a fair one offering equal and habitable chances to everyone. Inequality meant the difference between life and death. 
Information, data, news and life. They all intersect and converge everyday. When it happens to someone whom you’ve not met, don’t know, possibly couldn’t care less, it’s information. When things happen when you know something about the person, place or the event, it becomes data and news. When it happens to you, it goes to be a changer. It alters your perception of what is right, what is wrong, what is acceptable and what is not. 
I’m no nationalist and that doesn’t qualify me to be an anti-nationalist either. I don’t beat around the bush and hide behind identities to call out what could be fixed in my house, my land, my country. That puts me in a comfortable seat of sarcasm where I feel free to express unbiased condescending judgement of the world that I see. It does annoy me to find feeds in the social stream about ‘Why Indians don’t deserve better quality products’ and ‘This is xxx, they’ve done yyyy, be proud of em’. I couldn’t care less. 
The point is , my pride for my nation is none of anyone’s business and I don’t feel that burning need to express my loyalties that run deep red in my blood. That did sound super dramatic!!! 
Anyways, there is this friend of mine here in London. Super passionate bloke when it comes to India. He does love his motherland. What irks him the most is that blokes who’d have probably never stepped outside India’s soil, would talk wonders about the western world and rubbish the home turf. There were times when my friend felt compelled to shoot pictures of stagnant water here and send it back to the hate spewers to enlighten everyone about a simple fact that no land is perfect, unless it’s own citizen work hard towards keeping it clean and nice. 
A few weeks ago, I did manage to crack my tooth. A rift, straight down the middle. I’d have been much happier if the bloody thing fell apart, dislodged from the root and gum. Unfortunately, like baggage we carry in life, that tooth chose to linger on. I’m stuck with a partially broken tooth, and it hurts crazy when I try to bite into something using that tooth. I guess I’ve managed to live with it now. 
One evening , yesterday to be exact, I decided that I had had enough of living with nagging pain. I decided to check out the dental options to get the damn thing extracted and exiled. A quick google later, the average quoted estimates for the procedure left me in a state of disbelief. I can buy a second hand car instead of yanking out a tooth. 
Inflation and cost of living aside, it did make me wonder about the larger things that are worth fighting for. Right to life, right to lead a life with dignity, right to health, they all enrich a life of a given citizen. We fight over right for an identity, right to express opinion and the underlying life , without with neither expression nor freedom matter, usually goes unnoticed and unappreciated. I don’t blame London for what it is. It would be naïve of me to ignore the millions back at home who do not have access to health and health care. It seems to be a problem that plagues the world alike. It’s not contained to the first world or the third worlds. It’s a common malice of our one single world. 

All is not grim either. There are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many angels who walk among us. They are the techies, managers, students, vendors, average blokes who take time from their life and invest a little into helping others who are in need. Such kindness exists today. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that kind of care and kindness was a priority and part of an agenda and political manifesto? I know I sound like I woke up in wonderland to dancing unicorns, but everything is possible provided we believe in it, we are ready to sweat over it, we do something towards it rather than restrict ourselves to just thoughts .

For what it’s worth, I’ve made a choice to lookout to help folks who are in need. I did feel a little ashamed that while I could pocket the enormous bill, I still didn’t feel it was a worthy spend. That shame pushed me to wonder about the a lot of us who don’t have that luxury to make choices over where one gets to spend. It’s a start. I hope that’s what it is. 
I don’t think we need all the information, all the data, all the news in the world to be a human. Guess all it takes is a little heart. 
Karthik 

Loser

“Please god , please god, please god” I prayed decades ago. 17 years ago to be exact. The 12th standard results were out. I had to commute to school to get the grades. I was young, quite possibly dumb and definitely clueless about the way of life. I secretly made a pact with god for a sign. If I could spot a red car, then I guessed my grades would be good. If I spotted a black one, it would be a shaky start to a possible pointless future. I believed in the pact with all my heart.

 

That road to the school felt uncomfortably long that day. I couldn’t spot neither colors for a while. This felt unusual because red and black were and still are quite popular colors as far as cars go. I think I spotted a black one first. My heart sank. By then, I had renegotiated my terms with god. I had swapped black for yellow and red for white. Still nothing though. I spotted black and then consoled myself by placing my faith in the renegotiated contract. The results were inevitable. The numbers had already defined the course of my life. I had given up that day. I passed. A lot of shit happened and a course correction later, I think school and grades are behind me now.

 

That little boy did grow up a lot. I guess somethings seldom change. So there I was this evening, making another such treaty with god. Please play this song, I prayed. The ipod was on shuffle, I was on the treadmill. The next immediate song, I wished upon it to be the sign from god. The song came and so did a quick bout of renegotiation. The immediate next song became best of 5 songs. Best of 5 soon became ‘play my song before I give up running’. The prayers had changed fast. The battle was on. God versus the desires of the heart.

 

The song continued to evade me. I refused to give up. 5 minutes later the song changed and I silently prayed. Another 5 passed and another prayer made. God wasn’t interested in listening to my prayers this evening. There was another thing that was growing certain. I was competing with myself today. It was an endurance test of sorts. At any point in time, all I had to do was give up running, call it an evening and that would be it. It would be the defacto sign from the big G. I could give up, but I wouldn’t. I ran till I felt exhausted. The miles kept turning, the calories burnt kept piling up. That song never came. My determination stood strong and firm.

 

My mind wandered a lot in the hour that I ran. It took me from one memory to another. I felt gripped by all the emotions that I could muster. There was love, there was anger. There was resentment, there was stoic coldness. There was a lot of care and there was a profound disappointment. As the tracks kept changing, the prayer stayed strong. That song never did come.

Exhaustion started kicking in. It was for both the mind and the body. How could I give up now? It was a test of will. How could I give up knowing that I had to give up? It symbolized my acknowledgement and acceptance of the inevitable. I put up a futile fight against that inevitable. With each breath, I was proving a point and being a fool. There was no balance in that moment. There was no voice of reason. All that stood between me and my desire was song that never came and a prayer that I wouldn’t stop making.

 

Somewhere down the line , I soon realized that I couldn’t beat the odds. The song refused to get played and I kept refusing to stop. One of the two would have to give in sooner than later. I secretly hoped and wished with all my heart that the song would play. It never did.

 

It was the workout that helped me see the pointlessness to my misery. I had placed my bets on a losing biased game. The odds were in favor of the house and I kept feeding the table money. Misery, the longer I fought for what I sought, the longer I stayed miserable. The mind was at war with the heart. Reason , logic hand in hand against the flawed heart’s meek voice. It was a nasty war.

Through sweat and determination, I finally decided to call it quits. I knew I had lost. I accepted being a loser. I felt happy that I gave it all. I fought for as long as I could. Somethings are not meant to be. I walked out of the gym feeling strangely enlightened. I didn’t feel sad that I had lost, I felt happy that I didn’t give up easy. There are days when life reduces us to be losers. We can either give in quietly, or put up a brave fight.

 

I came face to face with faith this evening. Faith is tested by reducing us to shambles. It is at the very brink of rejection of that faith is where one gets to make that choice. Do I hate god today? Do I give up on every thread of faith that I’ve accumulated in the past? Do I walk out because things didn’t pan my way? Do I accept and surrender, not out of free will but out of that sense of defeat?

 

I choose to embrace my faith. Yes I’ve lost. But I still am as clueless as I was that many years ago. I couldn’t see what I would become back then, I still don’t know what I would be tomorrow.  I’m taking a leap of faith. The sign signaled from the skies up above, I cut my loses and do what I’ve come to do best. Live to fight another day.

 

Yeah, whatever!!! Fuck it.

Into the light.

“You seem to be lost young man. Do you need help? ” the old lady with a sweet voice offered. 

I nervously smiled and accepted her offer for help. After much deliberated discussion, she insisted that I pick daffodils. It was a wonderful relaxing Friday, yes that’s what it was and apparently love was in the air. Surprises too. For two long years, I had been avoiding the only question that was waiting to be asked. I kept putting it off. I was unsure for a while. The uncertainty stopped making sense one day. Under the guise of a dinner with friends, I knew the moment would catch her off guard. It was going to be fun. I knew I’d be screamed at for a while. I could almost see her face blush. The moment would take a while to sink in and time would pause for a brief few seconds. It would all come back rushing. She’d say yes. She had always wanted to say yes to the question. It’s just that the question had never presented itself. All of that was going to change. 

I planned for the evening for over a week now. I orchestrated a petty little fight to keep her off the trail. It worked well. It worked amazingly well. If there was something that I was extremely competent at, it was at keeping her annoyed. Our fights were usual. We’d quibble over something silly. Her pride and mine, would ensure that neither came forward to apologize. On most days, the anger would simmer down. I’d make a sarcastic apology, she’d eventually relent and always keep a neat score of the many million times I’d have wronged her. It was a game of sorts. She was winning it of course. She always won. I felt happy that I had someone to annoy and someone to apologize to, in due time. 

The week was special. I had bugged her and poked my nose into her work. That ticked her off. Needless to say, it worked brilliantly. I was immediately sentenced to a silent treatment. Perfect. It was exactly the roadmap that I had planned. I instigated a truce by bugging our friends to invite her to the dinner. She wouldn’t say no to that. She could try, but our friendly would eventually win. Win they did. The Friday arrived sooner than I had anticipated. Butterflies the size of tyrannosaurus rex were running in my stomach. There was a comfortable nervousness to me. The entire day, I had felt restless. While I could put some faith in us and assume that she was going to say yes. There was a voice of doubt that kept me in fear. There was no telling. I had to endure the day to get to my moment of truth.
I left office early that evening. The dinner was still a few more hours to go. We had booked a table in the Shard. She did love watching the city from a towering height. She liked the way the sun would softly set over the busy city. She loved the way it felt to stand beside the clouds. I had managed to secure a table by the window. I had ample time to kill so I decided to walk to the place instead of taking the tube. I found the walk to be refreshing to the mind. 

The city had come to life that evening. It was Friday after all. The pubs were busy. Everybody had their own favourite watering hole to hang out with their friends. The conversations were abundant and the city felt pampered playing a host to it’s habitants. I spotted a flower shop on the way. I’ve always fancied picking up flowers but I never really had the time or forced a priority to stop and pick them. Today was going to be special. Today was a brand new start and I promised myself that I’d always see to it that ours was a house which always had fresh flowers arranged in the house. I suspected that she might enjoy that. We’d anyways give it a try. I figured that all the new enthusiasm would die one day and we’d , together, make sense of routines and find a way to keep a fresh pair of eyes in how we’d view our world together. 
Flowers were a new thing. It felt more overwhelming that I had imagined. Cue in the owner. She was a kind lady, full of love and motherly warmth. She held on to my hand , as she’d have held on to her son’s arm, while she helped me make a choice. I told her about the occasion and her smile widened. She asked to see a picture and I didn’t find anything odd with that request. Enthusiastically, I unlocked my phone and my gallery had a zillion pictures of us. One look was all it took for the old lady to point me towards daffodils. Bright and yellow, it’s just like her. You should buy these for her. I insist, she said. 

She packed a handful. The billing now done, she walked with me as I exited her shop. All the best for the evening, she cheered. You both must pay our shop a visit. Promise me that please.

I nodded a yes. A quick embrace later, I bid her farewell. Destiny was waiting!!!!

It was then I saw a flash of light and a boom followed shortly. A short moment of fear over things that I couldn’t comprehend. It all happened way too fast. All I could remember was that quick flash of white light and that piercing noise. There was peace after. 

“So, that’s it? ” I asked. 
Of course, I didn’t get a response. 
“Why me? What did I do wrong? Did I intent a harm or instigate anything evil? Why? Is this karma? ”
Still no answer.
The anger, the disappointment, the regret, all of it flooded my heart all at once. I couldn’t contain them within me any more.
“Answer me” I bellowed in fuming rage. 

“There is no reason to it. Just happened. I know it must hurt to realize that there is no fair justification to what transpired. It must feel really bad to uncover the truth that the way things work, are not based on individual’s course of life. In fact , it’s the other way around, Individuals are affected by the nature of things that transpire. lives continue, lives cut short, promises are made, dreams are broken. These are consequences of things that transpire around us. ” 

“You will be remembered. There will be tears for a while. There will be smiles one day. Someday, you will be a cherished memory. Someday you will be remembered and tears might follow from time to time. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is”
I had tears flowing through my eyes. I never could fathom that beyond life there could be tears. I didn’t what I was now, was I a spirit, or was I what I thought was a soul. None of that mattered anymore. It wasn’t the same anymore. I wiped my tears and turned back to steal a final glance. I saw myself scattered across the pavement. The daffodils on the pavement were yellow and red. 

Ah crap! 

Karthik

Of lions and lambs

“Such arrogance”… An observation would be made and instantaneously be shared. I’m not new to that effect on people. I let the world make what it fancies to make of me. I’ve always stood grounded in realities and limitations of what I can both be and achieve. 
It’s not so surprising that when you stay assured of what you are, there is so little place for insecurities to plague you. Over time, I happily questioned the status quo of what I had become. Not that I detested the eventuality, for once, I could see a better approach to being myself. And so began the conflict for control. 
” So, you’ve finally become the illusion that you created!!!! Life comes full circle” – Shix..
There is immense power to the nature of the company that you keep. I, for one, truly do feel that I’ve been blessed plenty times over. The company that I’ve kept, has always been a strength and a force that has given my delusions wings and also has kept me grounded to my limitations. 
The conversation this morning was a funny one. It was about modesty, something that I always pretend to have and on most days, that faux facade fails miserably. Today’s thought was along the lines of modestly and the way it made me think.
I have a strong suspicion that most of us assume modesty to be a means of self control, a control that is exercised to underplay one’s prowess in order to blend in and fit in. There are skills that we possess, the fine line between having skills and showboating them waltzes into modesty’s humble territory.
Recently, I had to furnish my profile summary to a certain big shot high ranking customer. With renewed faith in modesty, I managed to give life to modest words and I had carefully retired the showmanship that had always defined me. I liked the profile. It was, mundane, sober and yeah, something that the normal Joe and Joan could feel comfortable writing. 
My pride was deflated at a moment’s notice. The review came in swift. I see karthik here. Where is Katz. This doesn’t sound like you Katz, the comments flowed.
Okie dokie. This had now become a battle for survival. Like all normal blokes, I quickly decided to murder my principles and embrace the illusions of marketing. 
The kat was out of the bag. It felt happy to hear that the customer loved it. Reputation salvaged, reputation soaring the skies, principles buried with bones.
The whole exercise made me wonder. What am I? The arm chair philosopher in me questioned. I didn’t have to lie for a job. The only difference that I could note was the way in which I chose to describe the things I’ve accomplished. The things I wanted to taste. In a nutshell, the confidence levels spiked from a 10 on a 10 to 100000000 on a 10. 
What I believed to be the opposite of modesty wasn’t what I had managed to become. Staying humble to me is a firm faith and a firmer understanding of one’s abilities, one’s limitations and knowing what one can do and can’t. 
Arrogance comes from the belief that it’s only I who is capable of getting things done. There is an ocean of space between the islands of modesty, confidence and arrogance. I guess I’m a directionless wanderer in those uncharted waters.
Katz lives another day, Karthik struggles for recognition, and I, I get to learn a thing or two about balancing the forces within my head.
So what’s your take on modesty? Is it all black and white? The modest ones never showboat and hence, noisy wheels get replaced quicker. Or is it the case of if you won’t blow your own trumpet, nobody will know you have a trumpet in your hand. 
The wider question is that does others impression matter at all? If so, what’s the harm in meeting that expectation??? 
Karthik

Vanilla and Raspberry 


I paused and stood staring at it for a while. It did look lovely. I could have it. I’ve been working out hard and deep down, that tiny voice from my heart screamed for me to give into temptation. It even bribed me with facts about how strict I’ve been with my diet for quite a long while now.

“It looks yummy, don’t it? ” the lady behind the counter said. ” Tell you what honey, you have those puppy eyes in you now. Have one, it’s on the house ”
I smiled and politely declined the offer. “I really do want to , but I promised my wife that I’d get into better shape. Sorry, I’m going to have to pass on that”
She understood where I was coming from. The marital bliss and conviction to holding promises true, all of it felt like pages from a campy cheesy adolescent novel of romance. Promises signify very different things when we read about them in fiction and when we make them in real life. A promise takes precedence in novels. It trumps everything else. A promise in real life is plagued by challenges. It usually gets extremely inconvenient to honour a promise. Today, it wasn’t going to be that day. 
With renewed pride of upholding a promise made, I sipped my sugarless coffee and walked to my work. The Friday was as colourful as far as Fridays were concerned. The general merry smiles were spread across an otherwise sober work floor. It was a day of plans and mental relaxation. The mind worked on a peaceful state on any given Friday. I stopped by the desks of a few friends from work. We exchanged a few laughs and the day had finally begun. 

“What plans for the evening dude?” the small window that popped , read. The younger ones at work were a fun bunch. They were always looking for reasons to get drunk silly and have a gala good time every weekend. I had joined them a few times in the past. It did feel good to be a part of that youthful enthusiasm. It did leave me feeling energetic and pumped. 

“Have a date tonight night man. Can’t make it” , I replied.

It wasn’t really a date of sorts. A bunch of us got together and we’d talk our way to boredom. It did help. It helped Eddie overcome his alcoholism. There were days where I wished I was one too. It seemed to be an easy walk in the part to combat alcoholism. Eddie had put up a brave fight. It was his second consecutive year of being sober. Eddie and I joined the group around the same time. We both were wrecked in our own ways. As a matter of fact, we both had our wives to thank for that enrolment. We both wanted to go through the program for our loved ones. 

The day wrapped up without a hitch. It was unusual for a Friday. Things always had a capacity to go wrong on a Friday and fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with any surprises that evening. I made my usual roundup on the floor. Wished my friends a weekend of fun. Made plans for a pub hop with the recent hires. They were the fun blokes of the team. Rachel was busy typing away her last set of mails. I had made it a point to not bug her the entire day. Sunday was my anniversary and I wanted to invite Rachel to a dinner. 
She saw me approaching and hastened her typing pace. “And done”, she declared. 
She remembered my anniversary. She gripped me with a gentle embrace. “How are you doing?” she enquired. 
“Not bad at all” I sheepishly replied. I narrated the incident over the cake and she burst into a laughter. 
“Someone offered you a free cake and said you had puppy eyes!!!!!!!. You are shameless you know!!!!” she teased. 
I was conscious of the time. I quickly invited her to the dinner and bid my goodbyes. 

It was a short commute to the meeting hall. I knew I’d be late. I hailed a cab and hoped that it wouldn’t end up way too late. I pulled out my phone and texted Rachel. Thanks, couldn’t have gotten this far without you. 
“Awwww, we have a soft cuddley teddy bear here”, she had replied. 

I smiled at her reply and stared into the city’s evening. 
I reached the hall late enough. I had missed Eddie’s talk. Our host watched me walk in and introduced me to the gathered folks. It was my turn to talk that evening. 

I cleared my throat as I stood right in front of the microphone.
“Hi”, I announced. I went on to narrate the cake incident. It was received well. People laughed. The mood was light enough. 
I live with guilt, I continued after a huge pause. 
Three years ago, My wife and I met with an accident. It was my fault that our car crashed. I got to walk again and she…. I paused. She’s probably up there, watching over me. My life soon turned out to be a mess. I couldn’t deal with the guilt of being cursed with a life. My life deteriorated. I had sunk low, really low. 
Fortunately I had people to help me. My friend from work, Rachel, she beat some sense into me by slapping me hard. Damn strong woman , she turned out to be. She dragged me here two years ago. It’s been a difficult recovery. I’ve vented the scars of my heart , all my pains here in this very hall a few times. I’ve broken down a few times here. I’ve witnessed misery and pain in all of us here. You all helped me in giving me the courage to live. I stand here today, grateful and thankful. It’s going to be our anniversary day after. Wish she was here, I’d be busy shopping with her instead of making dumb speeches. 
But that’s life I guess. For the ones who have been here with us long enough, they already do know what I’m about to say. For the ones who are new to our group, LIFE IS MEANT TO BE LIVED. Don’t sentence yourself to a living death by killing yourself from the inside every single day. Do something while you are still alive. You owe that to the people you love, you owe that to yourself. 

I took a deep breath and walked off the stage. I sat next to Eddie. 
“How’s the wife?”, I asked him with a smile. 
“Everything is alright. We are expecting. I’m soon going to be a father….” He smiled with pride. Life, I thought amused. Always had a way about it.

Inspired by a cake that I almost bought!!! Wish I had eaten that cake instead of writing this blog!

Karthik 

Heroes never fall

“Someday you’ll understand”, he said. I stood and I watched him say it. I wasn’t overcome with emotions. I mustered a smile and waved my goodbye with a cold heart. That was it.
*******************************************

“Papa, how do I put this on” Radha asked me. Radhey, her passport read. I couldn’t bring myself to call her that. I thought it was dorky. Then again, like all married men, I only had so much choice over such matters. I’d always make it a point to call her Radha.
She was my little angel. She was five and I was already the proudest dad on this planet. She was dressed in blue with polka white dots. She looked like a doll. She had her mother’s looks. I’m glad she had her mother’s looks. I’m also grateful that she also inherited her mother’s brains. I got to pick her name. I was very happy with the way genetics played their part. She had the best genes running through her. She had her mother’s angel like looks, her smart brains and my sliver tongue of sarcasm.

“Like this sweetheart”, I patiently showed her how to buckle her seat belts. Vaishnavi gave me a cold stare. “You are spoiling her”, she dubbed silently. “I know”, I smiled at her and acknowledged . I kissed my daughter on her forehead when I was done buckling her up. My wife was not very enthusiastic about my promise to get our child a chocolate cake for lunch. Few perks of travelling the business class. We were all spoiled by the choices. Ours was simple. Chocolate truffle cake for lunch 🙂

The British airways flight took off in time from heathrow. Chennai was not far away now. As the blinkers indicating that the seat belts should continue to remain fastened flashed, I slowly drifted away into a comfortable slumber.
**************************
It was probably a decade ago when I left Chennai, my home, for London. I still remember my last moments in that city. Dad and I had gotten into a fight the previous week. He was not enthusiastic about me moving out. He kept nagging me over details. I knew he’d miss me. He was at his annoying best. He was excellent at finding bugs in my plans. He kept pointing out the things that were stupid in my plans. He kept stating that I’d fail and would come home running. I had had enough. We fought long hard and nasty. 
Push came to shove, when it was the time for me to board the flight and leave home, I hugged my mom and said I’d miss her plenty. I spared my dad a glance. I didn’t bother shaking his hand. We stood apart. It felt like we had been separated by a massive iceberg. We both stood with cold hearts. I didn’t hug him. I didn’t tell him that I’d miss him or that I ever loved him. I waved my bye from that safe distance and didn’t bother turning back. Before I could leave, dad said, “Someday you will understand”

London was daunting at first. I met Vaishnavi a few months later. We fell in love, we got married and two years later, complications in the maternity ward meant that I had to worry over Vaish and my new born daughter. It hurt my soul to watch the two lady loves of my life under a ventilator. I’d distribute my distraught time staring at both of them from a distance. The little one was the first to breathe life. I was too scared to even hold her. I was worried about Vaish. I could not bear the thought of raising my daughter all alone. She was a slice of my life and yet, I was such an unfortunate dad that I could not bring myself to rejoice her arrival. Two weeks later Vaish’s condition stabled. It was only after that, my ordeal was complete. I finally managed that smile.

The recoveries took time. I put my job on hold and spent time with my family. I took care of them both. I ran the house, I got the supplies. I had no free time left to indulge myself in any distraction. My world had shrunk. My challenges were plenty. I didn’t have the time to sit back and worry about what was to come. I took each day for what it was. It was that love for my wife and child that kept me pushing hard. I nearly burned myself to ashes. I still powered on.

Through the time, I couldn’t help but think a lot about my dad. I remember being told that my dad had undergone a similar ordeal. Only he didn’t have the comforts of medical care that I had in London. Dad did not have the flexibility of putting his career on hold. Money was tight and he was forced to distribute his time between work and his family. Very much like me, he was left all alone to take on the challenges of his life.

The more I thought about my dad, the more I understood his nature of love. My dad was never around to play with me. He was busy making a buck and paying off bills. We were never rich. Yet, I always had all the toys that my heart desired. We weren’t even rich enough to pack me off to London. I know my dad had mortgaged his house, the house that he built with blood and sweat to settle me comfortable. I paid the loan back in full, I was not even close to clearing off the debt of the love my dad bestowed upon me. Money was too insignificant a commodity to balance that debt off.

It was through the hardest time of my life I realized the intent of my father’s tough love. He did not have my failure as his key interest. He wanted me to succeed. He saw the gaps in my plans which I could not because I was blinded by ambition and arrogance of an education that my dad provided. Wish I was too smart to realize that. I wasn’t.

I named my daughter Radhey. A small tribute to the man who gave his best to one thing he loved the most, me. My dad. Retired CPWD Engineer, Mr RadheyKrisnan. I had used words to reconcile with my dad. It was time for me to head back home and bring them here. Not because I had a debt to clear, or I owed him everything in my life. Because I wanted my Radhey to understand what unrivaled love meant.
She will soon.

*****************************
The captain spoke again. Ladies and gentlemen.. he went on his scripted words. 

I turned to Radhey and asked “Sweet heart, where are we going”

She smiled her wonderful warm smile. “To meet Tathaa and paati daddy”, she said . I held her hand. 

Today, I understood what it all meant.
Heroes never fall.

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

Sometimes i feel that fatherhood is very underrated. I grew up in a society where dads worked and moms slapped the kids plenty to help them grow fine. I cant but imagine the pressures that my dad went through in making ends meet, being a fantastic provider and still struggling to balance time between work and home. When we talk about childhood, motherhood always takes the cake. The world talks about a mother’s love. No denying it. Fathers are the sorry blokes who never got to sit with us and watch us take those first steps. Lets give em dads a break. Lets give the dads of tomorrow a lesson to remember. There is no implicit love. Make it explicit. Make the time 🙂