Apocalypse now! fine, Redux too!

“The horror.. The horror” – Kurtz



The eve is upon us and another night of ghouls and ghosts to roam the streets free tonight. The world, or parts of it that celebrates the Halloween tonight, sees the night of the living dead tonight! 


All thoughts on horror, I did spend the better half of my weekend binging on horror movies both old and relatively new. Horror is a genre that I thoroughly enjoy. The genre mirrors the darkness that we are capable of. It is a simple enough genre that pushes the boundaries of affordable complexity to ensure that the audience is left gasping for air. Terror grips, or tries to with each tale that unfolds. 


Traditionally, most horror stories have religious undertones to them. The classic testament to horror is the epic eternal battle waged between the heaven and the hell. Hell sends its demons Onshore (yeah, all pun intended) and then forces of good deport them back. More like the border safety offices across different countries which keep a track of all things. Cometh the time, the good rises. It asserts itself and goes on to conquer the evil. 


Horror has deep ties to the human psychology. It plays to the primal fears that exert force over us. The stronger that hold, the fiercer that battle gets. The conflict between good and evil is a battle of the mind that has been plaguing our kind for ages now. 


The genre branched out. Good as in god VS evil as in the devil had run it’s course and the audience needed something more sinister. And so the genre started exploring the depths of the human mind. The evil that men are capable of, gave rise to the conflict between man and man. The good at heart, the morally righteous took their stand against the immoral. The sickness of the mind fought with the goodness of the heart. Fantastic that. As crimson littered the screen, the audience in time grew saturated to the make believe world that the visionaries of horror painted. 


And then medical horror found a place in the genre. No more video nasties, no more pea soup. No more gallons and gallons of blood getting pumped out. The new age of horror relied heavy upon medical accuracies of how fragile the human body is. Visceral, yeah, that’s the word I’d probably use to describe the genre. The horror of cold steel meeting flesh and skin. The creepy calm set up was just the perfect blend to send shivers upon anybody’s spine. The chaotic dystopic environments were replaced by the familiar calming walls of white that we’ve come to feel comforted in. 



And so as horror evolved, the audience evolved too. From goofy aliens to zombie-beavers, horror has seen it all. Horror as a genre has always reflected the buried intent worn by the society behind masks of decency and staying civilized. More often than not, it’s the horror genre that really does capture the descent of humans into a state of madness when the norms that hold the society civil start crumbling under chaos. 



This Halloween, I’m not scared of the monsters or beings that walk the night undead. Fangs don’t petrify me. Wolves may howl and I’m comforted by their presence that can not go unnoticed. It’s not what I see that scares me. It’s what I cant, has left me with thoughts. This Halloween, I have my thoughts around a much bigger evil that goes unchecked. This evil has risen it’s ugly head in the past. This is one evil, that will persist, endure and survive to raise it’s head time and over again. This is one evil, that refuses to stay purged (yaay, another horror movie reference)

I’m talking about ‘Insecurity’ . It plagues us. Insecurity can be tracked back to Kane, where a brother killed a brother. I can make the connection between how every dictator in the past has used and effortlessly translated insecurity to acts of horror. The world has seen itself burn because of this insecurity. It’s not the spirit of the horror past that I’m worried about.

The last few days, everything that I see on the social web is a petty comparison of why certain religious folks feel so insecure that they feel that need to call out that what they are doing is right, fair and their rudimentary RIGHT to do it. Insecurity again. It pushes us to see differences where they are none. It fuels the madness that most of us have managed to bury deep within our hearts. Insecurity does tend to offer the means to justify that. It validates that madness.

“The horror…. The horror” – Kurtz , Apocalypse now. 

Karthik

Unbore yourself 

Being a senior has a few perks. Like this time around, I had to chair the official Diwali celebrations planning committee in the account. A quick round up of faces both new and old, a team was formed. Yesterday’s conversation over a certain action got me thinking,


As custom mandates, we opted to buy chocolates to distribute. And then we do have a few events lined up and budget and global recession considered, we decided to throw in more chocolates as prizes for winning them events. One bloke suddenly snapped out from a slumber and made a valid point that we were throwing in far too many chocolates. He felt that would bore people and folks would not really care much.


The point made, it did alter our plans. That’s not the point though. I got thinking.


Growing up, Diwali has always been a festival of lights, sounds and exploding colors. It’s one festival where my mom would ensure that I’d wake up early, shower, have em sweets and wear new clothes ( yeah, lets reorder a little, new clothes and then sweets) . She’d kick me out to hit the streets and let me be. I’d lose myself to adventures of bursting crackers in many many imaginative and destructive ways. Good times. 


That was decades ago. The day, I must admit, is not the same to me anymore. The cool factor has dialled back a lot. I stopped bursting crackers when I was in high school. The few times my nephews and niece wanted to explore the wonders of decibels and flames, I was there to ensure they were safe. Yeah, the day of celebration has never been the same.

For a while, the obligated excitement was around buying new clothes. I think two years ago I had blogged about how I could finally fit Retail!!! I think it was by then where I lost interest in buying new clothes. The irony. Finally capable, but just not interested anymore. 

I had a flood of thoughts hit me last evening. I kept wondering about how jaded things have become indeed. New clothes at a time where we are free to buy new clothes every month should we want to. New sweets, and yes, everyday is a New Sweet day. The celebrations have become a routine to me and I couldn’t help but realize how they had all tallied up to a nice little ritual of a routine.


I made a decision last evening to unbore myself. Everyday we do read about daily heroes and heroines doing something kind. Passing goodwill and sunshine. Spreading joy and the message of love. Hell , even the advertisements these days do have an altruistic touch to them. I decided to celebrate by helping an unknown, unfamiliar face smile. 

Yeah, I’d rather spend my money on smiles that really mean something rather than parading myself in front of cameras to be a status tag on someone’s page. I have my plans. I convinced my parents to play along. They don’t approve my choice, but I know deep down they are smiling about my choice in a good way. 




That just me. I neither ask, nor dictate that everybody feel the same jaded with everything around as I feel. But here is a thought. This celebration of lights, can we do , even something so little as a 1 rupee chocolate to a strange kid. Let’s see if genuine smiles have the power to make our hearts feel the warmth that the spirit of season always intended. Lets really put things to the test. Does one have to be born special and make money in billions to spread a little sunshine? 

This is me, throwing a Lakshmi-vedi (fire cracker) challenge at you. This festival of lights and smiles, lets see if we can add more smiles to the occasion.


Go ahead, unbore your life 🙂

Karthik

Blame on! 

The title is a play on a catch phrase used by Johnny from the fantastic four. Flame on, and it sets the hero ablaze. Wonderful times and three movies so far and studios have managed to kill the joy from a super hero movie.




Blame on is a simpler thought process. I think it was a Friday. I had grown tired of listening to Ludovico. Part blasphemy and part mobile phone running near empty. I couldn’t listen to the songs so I managed to tune to the Radio. A pointless discussion about how school are in the business of churning out scoring machines rather than minds soaking in an education. 


The rat race starts really early. Having been a spectator watching 2 nephews and a niece grow, I’m led to believe that numbers are almost everything! And then there is the American IVY league dream. A world of opportunities, a life of greatness to achieve. I don’t think it’s fair enough to blame anybody about the way things have taken shape. Kids will be kids and parents will be parents. It’s a race where neither wants to step up or step down.


Yes, I do keep both the kids and parents accountable here. Most of my friends from school are in the USA. It was a big deal when we were growing up. School, ace it and land into a ‘Good College’. Ace it and score well over the GREs and GMATs and life in the USA was almost a predetermined course for many of us. I was both stupid and lacked such an ambition. I did feel left out from the herd. I had eyes set on something a little more locally accessible. The guitar shop which sold guitars wroth dreaming about. 


The amount of peer pressure is humungous. When I was a student, the pressure was near negligible and mostly because my parents did not really push me hard to pursue the American dream. It was around the time when my nephew had to pick a college for his undergrad, I felt the pressure that was eating into his head. It does hit a kid hard when all it’s friend are at some place and the kid alone sits in a different zone. A very long walk and a long discussion with a few of my friends and my nephew later, the kid finally eased up and stopped being extremely hard on himself. Things did eventually pan out. He got what his heart desired.!


Kids will be kids. Theirs is a reality that makes a little sense to us grown ups. How can we blame them for wanting what their friends want? Haven’t we all been through a similar phase in our career as well? Each time I hear “I want to be in a technical role. Be a developer”, an extended conversation usually leads to 4 four roommates and one bloke who is not a developer. This does not just plague the new blood among us. This peer comparison plagues all of us alike.

That bloke makes more money than I do, his org is better. The perks that she gets is awesome. Dude, what a working environment they have. Yes, I’ve found myself at the centre of many such conversations. We do like what our neighbours have. Sometimes, we don’t get what our neighbours have. We as adults face the same demons as kids these days face. And what do we do about it? Push them kids harder!

This is where parents come into the equation. Another round of comparison, another round of “This is the one and only way out”, and another round of “Don’t you realize how much crucial all of this is” later, we do come face to face with the question that the radio seemed to talk about.

Can we even ask that question these days? What’s the purpose of education? Is education here to enlighten us, or is it here to give us a golden ticket for a shot at something significant and larger than life?

We have the rest of our lives to figure things out. Why take chances? Asking the same questions in life, it is rather comfortable when we also are in possession of such golden tickets!!!! asking questions is not everything in life either 🙂 


So, Blame on… take comforts in pointing out the hypocrisy at play. Yes, the world around us is drenched in hypocrisy and somewhere down that road, we are bone dry under the umbrella of ambitions that keeps us safe, dry and driven 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂


Karthik

NUMBER ONE GAL

“I’m not blind you know”, she held my hand and gently whispered sweetly into my ears. “I have eyes and I see how you both see each other” .



I smiled a happy smile. “Awwww, look at you. Aren’t we a little jealous”, I teased her. 



Yeah, she was right. I knew that. For the longest, we both were together. Together we were one and I’d like to believe we both stood together against the world. We walked everywhere holding hands. We ate together. We coasted through days together. My shoulders were there for her pain. Her embrace comforted the pain in me. I’d like to believe that we were meant to be. All things considered. 



One day, all of that changed. I couldn’t help but reach out to Rosalyn. She was young a beautiful. I did shamelessly find excuses to spend time with her. This of course in a sweet and a nice way, annoyed my other friend. I could see that in her eyes. She felt my love divide. She’d never tell me about it. No, that was not her style. C, as how I called her, would never openly admit that she was no longer the apple of my eyes. She held herself in grace and would never openly express her ire. She played along and she did play it good. 



The way she conducted herself, I’d usually sit and grin my sly way. It was a pleasure to remain reassured of what we meant to each other. Yeah, we were one. 



Rudy did approve of C. He always said it was not what the world would accept. He was at least decent enough to not ignore her and pretend as if her existence meant nothing. C had endured a hard life. She had lost her love to a nasty car accident. It changed her. It changed her from the inside. She had grown cold to the world from then on. She could no longer feel the warmth in her heart. She no longer saw the love in the world around her. Left with scars , both on the inside and out, she found acceptance hard. 


She and I got together well. We were always meant to be. She helped me restore my world. I helped her rebuild hers. We were alone, in a world that we had rejected. 


Rosalyn was special to me. C ever remained sceptical to her. One day, C would tell me often, ‘she’s gonna pack her bags and leave you standing all alone and broken’ . I’d usually smile it off and give her a gentle hug to make her feel special again. ‘You, you are my number 1 gal sweetheart’ I’d tell her to comfort her. I meant that too. C was my number 1 gal. Period. 

Late one evening, C and I couldn’t sleep. The ruckus had made it hard for us to remain asleep. We both loitered in the hallway only to see Rosalyn being dragged away in a panicked emergency. The lights were turned on and the operation room was rushed and readied. 

C and I stood there waiting and watching for an assurance that Rosalyn was going to be ok. We were asked by our nurses to get back to the room. Of course, we’d ignore their kind words. They were a sweet bunch, but they couldn’t keep us separated from Rosalyn. 

I stood frozen in pain once again. It felt like the past was flashing again in front of my eyes. I didn’t have the courage to see yet another thirteen year old girl find the passage to heaven in front of my eyes. C knew the feeling all too well. Hers, was a similar loss too. We both were lives who had outlived a loved young one. ours was a broken heart beating on without a purpose. 

‘She’s going to be fine, H’, C whispered. ‘She’s your number 1 gal , you know that right. Nothing’s ever going to happen to her while we are there for her, praying, and wishing her ever bit of a life that we can offer’. C’s tears quivered her gentle whisper. We both held our hands tight. 


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

‘Where is Mister Hobbes’, Rosalyn asked a few weeks later. ‘ He was always nice to me. He was the one man who made me smile a lot. He made it a point to cheer me up each time I hit the Chemo room, she added. It was funny, he always carried a doll. He used to call her Cally .’

‘Oh, Mr Hobbes’ , Dr Rudy frowned. 



The smile had disappeared from him face a few weeks ago. Rosalyn condition had worsened. She needed immediate care. To make matters worse, Mister Hobbes refused to leave her side. Life had always been extremely hard on his poor soul. He had lost his wife and his daughter to a nasty road accident. The only thing that made it out of that nasty crash was a doll that his daughter carried. Torn, sullied, but Hobbes carried it everywhere with him. He saw his wife in that doll. They would have secret conversations. Strangely, it was his only source of comfort in this house of oncology. We all knew that his was not the kind that garnered miracles from god and see him walk out a healthy man. He was happy that he’d reunite with his family soon. We tried to talk him out of carrying the doll, but we gave up. I felt bad to separate his only source of happiness away from him.


When they admitted Rosalyn, it was a pleasant change for Hobbes. I guess he saw his daughter in her. He’d always do his best to watch out for her. They both spent a lot of time together. It was very sweet of him.


That fateful night, Hobbes refused to go back to his room. He stood watching Rosalyn through the door. His weak body couldn’t cope up. God was cruel and kind that day. Took a wonderful soul back into her arms and left us with another wonderful soul. 

‘Mr Hobbes’, Dr Rudy continued. ‘His daughter came looking for him. They both left together. He wanted to say goodbye and introduce his daughter to you, but you were sick and asleep. He walked into your room and kissed you on your forehead and left you with a silent goodbye. I believe he left Cally for you. Let me go bring her to you. Be right back darling. ‘


Rosalyn smiled. 



Karthik

Thank You.

eyes

 

There she was. Lying on the bed and oblivious of the world around her. I stood close and watched her. She looked so beautiful and peaceful. She rested still. Silence surrounded us. The humming of the machines gently faded away to the overpowering silence that was in the room. It was a twist of fate that cast us into that room of white. I stood watching her.

 

‘It’s time to leave’, a voice reminded me. I turned back to glance at him.

‘May I have a few minutes with my wife please’, I begged. He nodded his head. I turned towards my sleeping beauty again.

 

It broke my heart to hear the mechanical sound of her deep breaths. I couldn’t come to terms with what rested on the bed in front of my eyes. The gentle beauty, the grace that she was had vanished. Yet there she was. There I was. I couldn’t take the crushing pain any longer. I couldn’t bear watching her so still, so lifeless. Sadness had gripped me. I struggled to find comforts in tears only to be denied of them. My eyes dry and heart weeping blood, all I could do was watch her from inches away.

 

Our life together was flashing in my mind. I could see the time we both stood laughing over burnt food in the kitchen. It was the first dinner in our new home. It was the best tasting burnt food ever. We both laughed our way to a peaceful sleep that night.

 

I remembered our anniversary in darkness. The city had blacked out and we had never bothered with candles. We sat that day in the dark holding our hands together. Her head comfortably resting on my shoulder, we gazed at the beautiful night sky. The moon and the stars had never looked as spectacular as they did that night. I remember resting my head on her head as we spoke about a million pointless things that night.

 

It ripped me from the inside to watch her inanimate. I couldn’t bear the heaviness that was on my chest anymore. I approached her bed in order to brush her hair gently. I wanted to kiss her forehead and pray for her to be alright again. I wanted to hold her hand and assure her that everything was going to be alright.

 

I instinctively turned back to check with the bloke if I was allowed that physical contact which I now desperately longed. He shook his head. He didn’t approve of it.

 

I pulled my hand away from her forehead. So close, and yet so far. I kissed my finger and gently directed it towards the direction of her forehead. I wondered about the lousiest of luck that I was now enduring. I could never hear her beautiful voice again. I could never see that animated lively smile again. I couldn’t feel the softness of her touch. I could never again feel comforted by her presence.

‘I think we should leave now’, his voice interrupted my thoughts.

 

I didn’t bother moving my eyes away from her. I stepped back still looking at her. I was trying to soak in all the tiny million nuances to what she was. I was busy etching everything about her in my memory. After a few steps backwards, I found myself standing beside the bloke.

 

‘So , you are an angel right?’, I asked him without looking at him.

 

‘Yup’, he confirmed.

 

‘Is she…’, I hesitated. I couldn’t find the courage to complete my words. Whatever bit of courage that was still left in me had given up. ‘Is she going to join us shortly?’ I struggled to complete my question. My voice quivered in pain.

 

He took a few moments to answer. Maybe he knew and didn’t want to answer. Maybe he wasn’t supposed to answer such questions. His silence left me restless.

 

‘She’s gonna be fine. It’s going to take her a long while to get back together with you.’ , he finally answered.

 

Tears trickled from my eyes. Finally. In that moment, all my pain vanished. I finally found comforts in my tears.

Thank you’, I said as I peered into his eyes. ‘I think I’m ready to go now’.

 

Karthik

Sixteen and dead, well almost dead! 

“Do you remember that one time man?????”, my friend started off in a very enthusiastic tone. The setup was pretty surreal. There we were. On the stage. I was wielding my trusty old beaten six string of a wannabe fender. It was a knockoff of a knockoff. It was the unholy child of a Yamaha and a Fender Stratocaster. It was one of the cheapest guitar that I had ever bought. It was the guitar that which I enjoyed playing the most. True to form, it had built character as I was busy building mine. I was a proud owner at that point in time. 



The stage was set, IIT madras. The audio output was pretty shabby. We paused our song halfway through. We refused to play any further. We refused to step out of the stage. For a while, we held that stage hostage to our temper tantrums. We were the bad punks and we took ourselves extremely seriously.We were forced to exit the stage, but that day we had managed to achieve a dream. We got scouted by a talent hunter. We stood at the cusp of getting recognized and our music stood to get represented. 


We walked away from it over a dogmatic illusion of principles

Given what I’ve learnt over the years, given the wasted shot at glory, given the direction that life took us from that day on, I’d still not change a thing.


Sixteen years later, yesterday, a few of our band members caught up. We had our very first guitarist with us. I was a drummer back then. As we cruised that road of nostalgia, I couldn’t help but wonder how far I’ve drifted away from what used to be me. For starters, I had traded off pints in exchange for Orange juice. I got trolled over the choice! I’m used to it now. Fruit juices nonetheless. Music serves the reminder of the kicks that went missing. 


Somewhere along the road, I had given up being a speed demon. I had given up being reckless. I had given up a lot of rage that built a persona of a frontman with a devil don’t care attitude. None of it was fake when it lasted. I was all of that with all my heart. I believed in that cause. I believed in what I represented. Yesterday, I believe I smiled at the kid who was a clueless visionary of sorts! 


These days, I’m told that I’m soft spoken a lot of times. I had never realized that. All the years of screaming my lungs out made things hard to accept that I was no longer vociferous and challenged to the ways of mellow decibel levels. It came as a surprise to me. Somewhere down the line, I think I graciously accepted what I had become. 

From trigger happy and on a perpetual short fuse to a bloke who chooses to think a few steps ahead before acting, I sure sat amused at what I had become. I must admit, I now aspire to compose orchestral melodies rather than riffs that would send the head-bangers to their head banging heaven. 

The evening was not just about me. I saw a responsible dad in my oldest friend. I saw a caring husband in my other bud. Our adolescence started on a note to make it loud , bad and against a world that we couldn’t accept. Today we were men, accustomed to the ways of the world of our making. We smiled and passed condescending judgement on how it’s way too easy for young budding musicians today. They start their garage band with the best set of gig (instruments) that daddy’s money can buy. They are masters of their learnt lessons. They play to near perfection and some(read as many) follow the way of established structures to make their sounds seem commercial and pleasing to the ears. 


Strangely that did bother us a little. I think its because we are jealous of their talent. We were never as good as the new kids are today. We know that. Yes, it does hurt at times. 


We soon grew up to be the men that we were. Of politics and careers, our conversations drifted towards the realities of our days. Yeah, to each their own and we all do fight our diverse battles everyday. We are all in pursuit of bills to pay, houses to buy, lands to explore and a life to lead. Perfect and we execute our role to that perfection. 


Along the line, the realization dawned. We were all sitting on money with a little time to spare to indulge in dreams that once kept us away from comforts of sleep and sanity. We had all made our choice. We had all accepted our fate. It was only during these few hours of playing catch up, did we realize that we once had dreams.

Not all was bad and grim. I did sign the evening off with a very happy heart. I took pride in the fact that I’m still connected to music. Not the way the 18 year old Karthik would have approved. It’s all the same to me now. Blissful music that stirs the emotions and helps me connect with myself in that road of self discovery. We are what we choose to be and that thought , that belief, found an assurance last evening. 

Am I alive today to the eyes of that 18 year old kid that I was? Was that kid living it all , the mind of a 33 year old wonders today? I guess we both just lived our lives the way we saw it fit. We still continue to live that life of doing what we please. We still don’t find that heart to live on excuses. If something’s changed, I guess it’s along the lines of what we aspire now and how we view ourselves today.

Karthik

The tenacity of the tentative trifle 

That’s a lot of T’s in the title. I started the day thinking about the word Tenacious. By definition, the word stands to represent the ability to hold on to something. Mostly an ideology. I couldn’t help by talk about tenacity of all things trifle. 


Data sourced from WIKI, cases in India reported in 2014. And missed a detail. That’s number of suicide cases reported. 


Causes No of reported Deaths Reasons *
Other Family problems 28,602 Relationships
Illness 23,746 Health
Other prolonged illness 15,419 Health
Insanity/Mental illness 7,104 Health
Marriage Related Issues 6,773 Relationships
Love affairs 4,168 Relationships
Drug abuse/addiction 3,647 Choices
Others 2,607
Failure in Examination 2,403 Fear
Bankruptcy or indebtedness 2,308 Money
Dowry Related Issues 2,261 Relationships
Unemployment 2,207 Money
Poverty 1,699 Money
Non Settlement of Marriage 1,096 Relationships
Property dispute 1,067 Money
Death of dear person 981 Relationships
Cancer 582 Health
Fall in social reputation 490 Fear
Extra Marital affairs 476 Relationships
Suspected/Illicit relation 458 Relationships
Paralysis 408 Health
Divorce 333 Relationships
Impotency/Infertility 332 Relationships
AIDS/STD 233 Health
Ideological causes/Hero worshipping 56



Now , the reasons are the reasons that I tagged to the causes. I’ve classified them into deaths because of relationships and related woes. Then comes health. Money and fear/social status. Some I just left blank because I didn’t know what the hell folks were thinking when they decided to die for that cause. We should probably cap them under HUH!!!!!!!!


So Health takes the cake. 43% of reported suicides were health related. 41% were relations and relationships related. Rest, ya, a few scattered across. 


Hence comes the title into place. Tenacity of the tentative trifle! Why would one choose to end life. Why would one choose to succumb to a challenge? How could one brave to make that final plunge into the big D. The intent of the blog is to remind us , or just myself about how pointless the decision seems to be when we look at the numbers. Their stories are not immortalized. Their intents did not set an example. Their intents go buried with their remains. All that is carried forward is a mind that wonders about the pointlessness to such misery.


While the classification seemed to be simple enough, I am still privy to the fact that there are many factors that influence each category. Relations/relationships, is a broad span. Under which, the causes might be domestic abuse, dowry, failed relationships, opposing families. Each can be tagged under a different emotion which would have been the penultimate emotion that might have plagued the poorly departed. 

But the underlying point remains the same. Isn’t life worth living? Isn’t our life worth something? Don’t we deserve that shot at life. Don’t we deserve to conquer that challenge and brave on. Is living as a loser so much hard than dying as a coward who just refused to stand up for their own precious life? 

Tenacity is a wonderful word. I just feel that feeling tenacious over things that are trifle is pointless. There is so much to life to hold on to. Even the bad days and especially the bad days. Bad days are a good opportunity to call a friend, share a few tears, have a few laughs before we close that day. Giving up is not going to solve anything. 

I think even death deserves the respect it commands. There is no point degrading it by embracing it for things we glorify beyond what it deserves.


So much talk about the big death. This blog is not about death. This blog is not about giving yup. this blog is not about failure. This is not about success either. This is about a very humble thing called ‘Thoughts’

We are our thoughts. It’s good to realize the value behind such thoughts. It’s good to respect the power that thoughts exert over us. I think it is prudent and wonderful to know that a lot of people have given up their lives because they were stuck on a thought, instead of letting them go and starting over with new thoughts. Brave new thoughts.


And so a wonderful person told me recently“Its a new day, new hope, new smiles and always will be the time to talk about new topics” – Vibha 
and that beautifully captures the essence of existing and having a shot at the 4 lettered word called Life. 

Say yes to life. All you ever need to do is say that yes everyday 🙂

Karthik

DIGITAL DYSTOPIA 

I am immensely fascinated by trends in human behaviour. Most of us are predictable. Spend ample time observing the people around, have enough samples and it does become quite easy to see how people react.



There are two references to my chain of thoughts . Minority report , the movie and this anime called PsychoPass. The two share a central theme of predictive policing and are great examples of IOT-ICT union on steroids. I got a little curious about Smart Cities and a little read later, the thoughts just got deeper. 


The asks from a smart city can be summed by the following sentence. I had this sourced from Baba Wiki


” [The goal of a Smart City is to ] improvequality of life by using urban informatics and technology to improve the efficiency of services and meet residents’ needs. ICT allows city officials to interact directly with the community and the city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city, how the city is evolving, and how to enable a better quality of life. Through the use of sensors integrated with real-time monitoring systems,data are collected from citizens and devices – then processed and analysed “


Urban informatics, monitor what is happening in the city, see how it evolves , enable a better quality of life. Data is collected processed and analysed. 


And true to character, my summation sounds exactly like a digital paranoid bloke. I’m not against technology. I don’t mind enjoying the perks it offers. I do love the behaviour trends and lets take a look at the smart way of life from a psychology point of view. 


The integrated social media way of life has left a lot of us emotionally insecure and dependent. We are no longer free to exercise honesty of thoughts and opinions in the free world of the web. We have eyes prying our words, our check ins, our digital trail of a life lived offline. In the name of staying in touch and that constant being together, we’ve also gotten rid of boundaries across people and our own individual space to be what we want to be.


The way around, alternate avatar. It’s been decades and I still have one email address and one profile and one digital avatar. I don’t believe in diversifying my online presence. Truth be told, there are days I still cant write the things I really want to write. I know it would offend quite a lot of people who are connected digitally to me. 

Which brings the next leg of the conversation. As we grow more and more accustomed to digital, our communication skills in real life is also taking a beating. A lot of us are not comfortable at confronting things that oppose our point of view. We are argumentative, yes we are. We crawl and spew url after url to make that point. Digital aggression is usually a tell tale sign of offline frustrations that we struggle to cope up with.

Back to the smart cities. The more we integrate ourselves to the wider grid of a data repository, the more conscious we start to grow around the fact that everything about us gets tracked, stored, monitored , processed and analysed. It has both advantages and disadvantages. 

The nature of what we do also organically evolves with time. Today, the big challenge is to enable and facilitate that move. Once the infrastructure is at place, the software is handy, the tracking is active, have we paused and wondered out loud about the potential possibilities of having access to such vast amounts of personal information?

Contrary to popular belief, Personal opinion is also categorized as personal and sensitive data. 

Case in example : Post the 9/11, this bloke was busted in the Gym by FBI because his gym neighbour thought this friend had ‘Radical’ ideas . We are talking about a day and age where information was limited, connectivity was limited, opinions were shared lesser. 


Historically, each time mankind has tried to do something impressive to ‘Make the quality of life better’, mankind has also learnt to capitalize on the advancements made and add a perverted twist to it. 

It scares me that just reading 100 blogs written by a person, one can frame a strong opinion about a bloke. The knomeets reveals the truth to our opinion about the person vs what they are in real life. Imagine knowing a million things about people on the things that they do on a day to day basis.

Once you have ample samples, prediction is just a little curious temptation away.


Karthik

Have you smiled today? 

Of course, this was not what I wanted to write about today. I’ve been sitting on a thought and decided against it. Then again, the question does , in parts, contribute towards that thought process. 



The question is rather simple . “Have you smiled today? “ 


The mileage in life, the way my brain is hardwired to think and the daily struggle I wage in order to beat that reflex thought process, it’s a battle worth fighting over. There are days when I win. There are days when I’m left to learn a new lesson.


While harmless, the question does throw a lot of questions which require a little thinking. Then again, if you aren’t are twisted as I am, these thoughts would have probably never hit you ever before. I have my reasons and those I really don’t fancy writing about. Let’s just call it the broken work in progress cycle of learning and unlearning 🙂

The cynic in me wonders about the nature of intent when I’m posted that question. Why would people really care if I did smile today indeed. A quick RCA later, and a prolonged conversation , most of the times does lead to the fact that I was standing on the verge of either meeting someone’s expectations or waiting to be offloaded a big pile of headache that I had to inherit. The general question has always been, do people really care selflessly about other people? 

While the obvious answer is a staggering YES, the finer question is, am I surrounded by such people. And I don’t have an answer for that on most days. It’s always a game of waiting and watching . Plots usually take time to unravel themselves. 


Once I’m done fighting against the natural cynic in me, I am left in awe and gratitude. There is a wonderful magic to being asked that question everyday. It does sound mundane, it does sound like a boring routine of sorts. It does also help us remind ourselves to shed a few worries by smiling through the day. And so, I ask you again, Have you smiled today ?


It takes me to this wonderful point in time. I was in London. Lost in thoughts about the bills to pay and banks serving me an overdraft. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a bloke pulled up in front of me. I thought he wanted money from me. A quick quid is what I assumed. I was too polite to refuse, and I didn’t want to offend him by offering a buck. 

Excuse me, I pardoned myself. 

He smiled and pointed his finger towards a board that he was wearing around the neck. I bent a little to read the board. A shabby handwriting had left behind a lovely message.

“HAVE YOU SMILED TODAY”

I read it and smiled. The bloke left me with a hug. He vanished as abruptly as he had appeared a brief few moments ago. He had left me standing and smiling. 


Speaking of dreams and what if dreams may come true, I am living out a dream of sorts. Yeah, I am privy to it. Contrary to popular thoughts, the dream is a nightmare at times when the moments sublimate. I’m left with thoughts and opinions of the world around me. I meet a lot of expectations, I fall short on a lot of expectations, I am a lousy example, I am pretty much almost right. I represent something that a lot desire, I stand to personify a lot that people resent. I’m all of that and I’m none of that. 

I’m more of a figment of the imagination of the world around me. Each views me through the filters of bias that their minds conjure. Lost somewhere in that illusion of what I am , I do find the rarity of the question extremely satisfying. And so , off the blue, outta no where, that question pops up.

Are you ok? All good? Have you smiled today?


“It’s the weak who need a reminder. The strong only need an assurance from time to time” – Katz


The simplicity that is life, complicated by thoughts left through years of learning the dark side of the moon and an affinity to resist that unlearning. That sums up the circus we’ve all come to call as Life. 


Karthik 

A brief measure of time

Time is a fantastic commodity. Time heals, it waits for none and in time everything makes sense. Yeah, indeed. All the thinking about time, made me think a little more about it. 



Lets talk about 2 years , for example. 2 years was the time that I had to wait before I finally watched the movie Interstellar. I was probably the only one in the hall who had not watched it or read about it. In fact, I was the only one on the edge of my seat, much the amusement of movie goers around me!!!!

Fine, I’ll give you that. The example about the movie was a petty one indeed. Who really cares about a movie right? 


Cool, lets up the Ante then. What about 18 years? It was the time that it took for me to finally pick a guitar and learn one to play? 

Then again, music is a passion/obsession of sorts. So I’ll let the guitar episode go. But what about 33 years? The time it took me to finally start playing the piano? It wasn’t the case of passion here. I’ve always hated the instrument. I felt it was too ‘not so rock n roll’ of an instrument to really pursue any interest. 

But then you are right. Music is music and I’d have probably done that anyways.

So what about 31 years? The long wait of 31 before I decided to hit the gym and put my life back on track? Yeah, it was a selfish drive indeed. I grew too selfish and narcissistic about that endeavour! 

That also means we can discount the 32 years mark, which was the milestone of my first ever 10K run! 32 also marks the first of my 50K cycling .. we can discount that all on the grounds of selfish outlook towards wanting to stay fit.

So, 30 years? That’s the wait I had to endure before I realized my love for words. That’s an even three decades of sitting clueless before I decided to do something about them words. 


The measure of time is an endless reality of sorts. There are many a wonderful tales that justify the reasons why we refuse to do certain things. There usually is just one reason to doing them. that reason sings along the tune of ‘Did it coz I wanted to do it! ‘


I’m going to be fairly candid here. While I waited, it wasn’t the same as endurance. I had broken down a lot of times. Many times I gave up. I lost interest. I opted to succumb to whatever state of the mind that I found myself in. I hadn’t planned for any of the things that I eventually did pick up in life. I’ve still not planned the list of things that I still might end up picking up later down this road of life. 

It’s not easy. I’ve had so many reasons to give up. I’ve had folks reminding me to give up. I’ve had folks telling me that it’s rather silly to try something new after decades of existence. But that’s all there was ever to it. Opinions from folks who had not done things themselves! 

And so when I met my  set of wonderful friends I’ve made across the years, none of them have offered me a gyaan which they’ve not extensively practiced. Paying attention to doers, hearing them out, paying a little attention to what they have to say, makes the effort worth the while. 


As the movie interstellar reminded me, Time is just a thing, just like everything else in life is. Just another thing!

It’s never too late to do the things that you’ve always wanted to do. And so the age old argument comes with the justification, just because one can jump from the roof, should we do it? 

Why not? If you have the right safety harness, it’s called Bungee Jumping! And I want to do that too someday 🙂

Karthik