Wayward wanderer

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I guess I’ll always be that guy. I refuse to pick a side and I will debate for the losing side , always for kicks. There is a conflict waged deep within me. It’s a one for control. While it would have been a lot more fun had the fight been similar to the one that Bruce Banner wages, but unfortunately, my struggle is the one that’s far more sober in comparison. It’s a fight to determine reality.

I am what I am today. It’s been a long road that got me here. For what it’s worth, I’m a storyteller at heart. I see life as how I’d read a novel. I get to pause moments, add drama to establish the seriousness to a moment, I get to emphasize milestones by retelling them as I see fit. I’m an author without boundaries. While words confined to the pages of a book make a lot of sensible sense, when you view the world around as words forming a plot, things get blurry and surreal.

The conflict rests behind simpler principles of defining the coincidences to daily living. Most part of my life, I’ve taken sides with rudimentary conclusions of reality. There are coincidences, nothing is connected, there i no ripple effect to life. In short, the butterfly effect was a good movie despite the lousy reviews. In all honesty, that choice, that life brought me no peace. It kept me frustrated and miserable.

Things changed in time. I had an alternate outlook towards life. What if life was a series of connected events. What if life and entire lifetimes( and I mean multiple lifetimes) could be explained by the simplest way of cause and effect. In short, no life is predestined. It’s just that the causes, the triggers and lynch pins that set events into motion and their consequences and effects were to span across multiple lives? While the idea still is viable under the purview of science, the point of multiple lives is still a question mark.  Which brings us back to the point that I was trying to make. I am a skeptic who believes. I am a believer who is skeptic. I challenge the status quo at all times. I’d rather wing it than accept blind, the words written by the greats.

Most people confuse that with arrogance. I think the anarchist and nonconformist in me help me fortify my faith. Everything that I choose to challenge, if they still continue to hold well, my faith in them becomes unshakable. I’m not swayed by  the swings of fortune. I don’t renounce my faith when I lose. I don’t thank my stars when I win. I win. I lose. It’s all me. Does sound vain. But is it vanity? I refuse to hold anything hostage to my failures except my choices. I think that puts god at peace. I don’t fancy blaming her anymore.

chakras

From a bloke who loved the movie The Matrix, to a bloke who felt massively fascinated by chakras, I’ve sure walked a few roads that were beyond my comprehension. The name is katz and I’m an anthropomorphic cat in many aspects of my life as well. I’m living that lie.  Curiosity got the better of me. I experimented and I experimented unrestrained. Untrained, untrainable, lost and with a zeal for discovery, I let myself loose upon the esoteric universe.

Coincidences have played a vital role. When one starts acknowledging the coincidences to life, that can of worms can not be sealed again. I quickly learnt the way my body swayed to the flux in energies. Heart beats faster during meditations, the more you find yourself travel in your mind, the longer the toll is left to be paid by your body. The chords that one forms on a daily basis in life, goes on to be both the strength and weakness that defines us. The advantage of staying a ronin  ( a student without a master) is that you get to experience it all. I made the rookie mistake of claiming that I ‘Understood’ things. I didn’t. In time, I learnt to slow myself a lot. In time, I tried to remove the mysticism away from the science of souls. In time I realized that everything I thought I knew, were not real and none of that mattered. Left with a satisfied curiosity, that’s all that I really cared about.

Chakra stones. Yes. Conincidences again. I picked them up in a store that I barged in to pick up a fancy quirky gift for my friend. I had picked a pouch of Chakra balancing stones. I didn’t intend to pursue anything spiritual that day. In fact, I didn’t know what to do with them when I picked them. I still don’t.

Things have been different ever since. Better or for worse, I don’t think I’m smart enough to judge that.

The first queston : Was it a case of placebo effect?

With certainty, I’d say no. It’s been a few months since I picked them. I resisted the temptation to write about them for this long. I choose to be a silent observer and record things in my mind instead of rushing to conclusions.

The noticeable difference :

I was a calmer bloke. The need to react slowed down. I felt like I didn’t care enough to take offence to most things. I didn’t feel that burning need to assert myself in any and ever given situation. I felt at peace with myself. Coincidences again. A lot of things worked in my favor. Fun thing about life, they were not the things that I was desperately wishing to be true. Life is not a Telemarketing ad. You don’t buy a deodorant and suddenly become god’s gift to women!

Still things were a good change.

The conundrum :

While placebo effect rests in the strength of one’s faith in pulling through, there is also a positive confirmation and reaffirmation that keeps one winning. So do I feel the change because my chakras feel balanced? or do i feel that change because I want to believe that there is a change and rest of it all is coincidence? The conflict between the skeptic and the believer rages on.

All said, I think, and I personally feel that call it what you may, there is some method to the collective madness that is Chakras. In the purest sense, Chakras are energy centers, and energy can be channelised. If you don’t bank on the universe’s special effects division, then you’d  be amused and surprised at the subtle differences in your behavior when the energies of your chakra behave or misbehave.

Across time, I’ve tinkered a lot with the flow of energy. I’m like a child with a magnifying glass , chasing ant hills and playing godzilla. I don’t know what is the price of all the curiosities, but hey, staying in fear and what’s the bloody point?

I don’t do anything special with my chakras balancing gemstones. I keep them in my pocket. When I feel a wave of negativity build up , I cleanse them in salt water and sunlight. Oh , you know when negativity builds up. Every single demon from your past, present and plausible future starts manifesting in your thoughts. Things that were buried away resurfaces, anger waits to explode, you itch to unleash the evil that you are capable of. Yeah, I’m going to say that you know when negativity builds up. Those are the days when I clean the stones and done deal.

A friend gifted me a book that was titled, does one really need a guru to progress the spiritual path. I’ve not read it yet. The time is not right for me to know it or understand it. As I float though the currents of the universe, without worries or care, I do enjoy the experiences that I’ve been lucky enough to pick. May the skeptic in me never rest. May the believer in me never cease to put up that fight. What are we , if not defined by our conflicts.

Karthik

The huntsman 

And just like that, out of nowhere, my dad gave me ‘Gyan’. It was minutes after I had woken up and I wasn’t in any mood or mentally sober to accept it with any grace. 


‘I’m not a kid dad. I’ll figure something up’, I snapped back.

And that’s that. The headache was mine and mine alone.


What came next was a flurry of pictures , expectations and dreams that went along with them. I was not entirely new to the routine. I knew what had to be done. The rules were rather simple. 

1. Always and Always take into account the realities of life. 
2. Too good to be true scenarios are always too good to be true!

I did what other sensible blokes do. I CALLED MY FRIENDS for their suggestions and opinion. Funny that. A full blown adult and I still do prefer the counsel of my friends .Talk about that perpetual fight for empowerment, decision making and wanting to be in control and yet the first thing we seem to do is ask a mate and kick start the ‘4 people 4 views’ protocol. I’m guessing the char log rule comes into effect when the odds are stacked against you.

Anyways, I thought it was better to voice out my strategy. I had simple reasons to go for it. It felt cool. Yeah, I’m a grown up and I do have a plan of action for life. It also meant that I could remind myself over what is it that I was expecting.

The first few photos that came , I generously shared with my friends. Now that I think about it, it does seem like some kind of a massive wrongful immoral breach of trust and what not! Big deal. I couldn’t care less. I bet others would do that too. Fortunately, I do have a very very flexible moral compass. 

Like all men, we started trolling the pictures at first. I was too busy having fun to even realize that petty pointlessness to them. Not my style, This is not how I’d want to see myself, There is something wrong here, I have a bad feeling about this!!! The phrases were plenty and the excuses abundant. Yeah, felt like I was beginning to discover that I had a serious commitment issue.

Not all of it was trollville. I did like a few. Life happened and rejection reached mach-25 speed ranges. What can I say, the whole deal felt frustrating at best. In time, I stopped sharing the pictures and I started restricting the opinions that I’d indulge. 

The deep suppressed questions started popping up. Is this what I am? Is this all that I’d ever make. When you face a rejection, when the things you like are beyond your reach, in short when your grapes are as sour as sour can be, the first immediate conclusion is that ‘There is something wrong with you’. I’m not an exception to the way of life. I started blaming myself for a while. I quickly got over that. I blamed my choices and lifestyle for a while. The huge barrage of what ifs , if onlys later, the misery that built up in my mind and heart wouldn’t relent. Big mistake! 

With all the gyan and so called near awakening of sorts, I realized that blaming myself was probably not the right way to go about it. I collected my thoughts and zoned-in on the expectations that I carried in my mind. My expectations were part peer pressure, part wanna be cool, part desires and dreams and whole lot of nonsense that anybody could refute as senseless and impractical. That’s precisely how expectations can ruin lives. I was living that destruction. 

So i did the smart thing. I lowered my expectations. Rejections still flew left right and center. As I lowered my expectations, my ability to spot blemishes and things not worth the damn while also spiked. All details , no matter how tiny, seem to get magnified. I guess by calling out that I had lowered my expectations also implicitly raised the bar that I subconsciously set. By this point, I had decided to cut my friends off from the decision making process. Peer pressure was building up and my friends started pestering me to settle down. 

All well wishing aside, I think I had started growing paranoid about how disinterested my friends had grown towards the whole exercise and they were just tired over it. All they wanted was to see an end to it. The friendly banter now evolved to serious discussions over choices. A lot of nit picking and strained friendship later, I started seeing the merit to start owning up decisions all by myself again. Nobody’s opinions mattered. It was my life and as long as I was happy, nothing else would have to matter. 

Ah ditch it , I cried out loud. And done deal. 




Oh yeah, we ain’t talking about brides here!!!! We are talking about renting houses in London. Wish I drew 6 figure salary each month!!!!! i still do draw 6 figures, just decimal places thrown into that mix. Makes an ocean of a bloody difference! 

Not that you thought this was about now was it? But eerily similar isn’t it 😛

Karthik

Tears in the rain

“Is this what you want of me? “ I screamed a silent question. The breeze howled, the lake slivered its destined path. Trees sluggishly swayed in the breeze. The question went unanswered. Just like that, the skies darkened and a cold rain hovered over my head. Overwhelmed with emotions and underwhelmed with my place in the world, I did the one thing that I could muster. I silently cried a gentle tear. The rain washed it away. 


Is this what you want of me, I asked with reverence this time around. I took a deep breath and exhaled it slow. The tears washed away, I stood facing the beauty of the land that was in front of me. That was the moment I had switched lanes from ‘What IF’ to ‘What is’. Everything around me was the way it was. I was the way I was. The struggle over ifs of life had come to a grinding halt. It was about the moment and the moment helped change something so rudimentary in me. The emotion vented, I felt reborn. 

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

“I just like the way it sounds man. I don’t know what is what. If it sounds nice, if I like it, that’s all there is to it” . The conversation was about a song and apparently I found myself as a social outcast amidst the fraternity of blokes who enjoyed listening to good music. I’m no expert and unfortunately I’m also not perceived as a novice. The status does not bother me. I tend to enjoy the best of any status that folks tag me to. 


I smiled the statement off and we continued the conversation and moved on to the whole new chapter of movie making and deconstructing scenes from many of Kamal Hassan’s movie. Yeah, time well spent. 

I think it was around 1999, or probably sometime in 2000, I had made a similar statement. I don’t remember the name of the bloke I was talking to. I told him I didn’t care enough about the technical prowess of the composer (Ar R most definitely) or the complexity of the song. It sounded nice and I was a fan nonetheless. 

15 or 16 odd years later, I’m on the other side of the table. Doing my best to not pass condescending judgement on other fellow audiophiles. Yeah, I’m not putting in a lot of effort there. I judge unceremoniously all the bloody time. And yes, ARR is not what he was, and I don’t give a hoot about his experiments on world music. If I don’t appreciate a song, there you go, I don’t appreciate the song. 

The thought did linger on for a while. I had other things to ponder about. Totally unrelated to the words blogged above, there was a moment in time yesterday when I was forced to ask myself a rather simple question. 

‘Whose dream was I living?’

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


“I don’t , for even a minute , think that life is one big GIST of all the things we’ve ever done.” The thought hit me this morning. The simple question ‘Tell me about yourself’, and we execute a well practised drone of a response. In short, we’d have managed to cram a wonderful summary of what we were till that point in time. 

That to me is pointless. 

If I ignore modesty for a second, through the years I’ve been a lot of things. I was an ace orator at a point in time. I was the golden boy. I rocked a lot of stages. I traded the mic for guitars and then rocked the stages as a musician. Then I was nothing. A big blank black slate of nothingness. Time wore on and I became a Professional. That became my identity. The job, the extra hours, the deadlines and timelines, status reports and delivery updates began defining what I had chosen to become. 

Blogging started and before I knew it , I had become a blogger. Music made a reappearance. And these days, I’m a pampered , pretentious , wannabe photographer as well. Back to the question, ‘Whose dreams am I really living? “


A few years ago, I refused to shoot any pictures. I liked soaking in the moment. I’d view as much as my eyes could see. I’d scribe the sights and sounds into my mind. I’d go on to express that experience as either words or a tune. It felt like the sensible thing to do. 

The last weekend, something snapped. Lost behind the question of whose dreams I got to live, overwhelmed by points in the time lived through, reminiscing with music, the mountains, the rainbows, all of it broke me down. I was struggling to figure out an identity. I felt choked and lost. 

‘Why don’t you publish a book?’. ‘Why dont you sell music?’, ‘You can’t shoot pics that certain way!’ 

Lost to questions on identity, on what I thought my life was, what my dreams were , I broke down and decided to find solace in the most beautiful heaven on earth that I’ve had the pleasure of being to. 

As I stood in the cold, numbed in mind , senses and thoughts, I popped that question towards the heaven. Is this what you want of me?’. Funny question if you asked me. I didn’t know what ‘This’ was, I didn’t know whom that question was directed towards, I knew there wouldn’t be an answer that I could actually hear. It still felt good asking. 


And rest as they say was an Cathartic miracle. 

So there I was. On a quest of many firsts. My first ever photographic tour, my first ever vacation in the UK, my first ever outdoor trek, my first ever hill climbs, gorge descent, walk in the savage marsh, getting my shoes nasty dirty, and yet I had almost made a choice to overlook all of them. Seemed pointless to hold myself hostage to things that were and things that were yet to be. It was a moment when I had my answer. 

The question didn’t matter any more. I was there and that was all there was to it. So whose dreams am I living? Couldn’t care less. I’ll check a few more stuffs of my list and power on.


This brings the blog to the close. Next time someone , anyone, pops that question, ‘Tell me about yourself’, Are we going to summarise the life that was, OR, have a happy smile and say, been there done that and looking forward to more surprises that life can manage to throw at me? 

That choice has always been with us. 


A few pics from the heaven 🙂 

Ridiculously Relevant 

‘But that’s not what the plan says!!! You can’t do this man’ , a bloke in my team protested. 



I woke up relaxed this morning. Warm cup of coffee in hand, I did feel a lot playful. 

‘Aren’t we all puppets in the Master’s hands. Our plans amount to nothing in front of his plans!’ 

Not that I believe that we are puppets and that all plans are predestined, but it did serve a very wonderful purpose of annoying the bloke. Given the situation, passing on a pointless gyan is as fruitful as a fish wanting to be a trucker. 

The plot got me thinking. What if I could do the same to many scenarios of daily business life? 

‘Setting expectations is very vital to business Karthik. We should aim to meet expectations at all times’ , the corporate order would flow. 

‘All expectations are but illusions designed to keep us distracted from the truth’ and I would reply in a zen-like peaceful state. 


‘Katz, could you step into this call. There seems to be an escalation that’s raking up a storm’ 

‘Go with the flow. What is intended will be inevitable. What is inevitable , no amount of intent could have deterred it from happening’ ., I’d say like the peaceful hippy that I’d pretend to be. 


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

Oh but all of it feels so inviting. i’d probably give them a shot just for kicks. Imagine the plight of the tormented souls who’d have to put up with the faux peaceful, faux enlightened words of face book forwards. 

There are times when we take things way too literally. I remember having long conversations about the subtle difference between reading lines and experiencing lines that we’d come across. Takes a pair of eyes, ability to read a language to read mere lines. There are days when we apply all the gyan that we come across and apply them to our daily lives. 

A direct lift and implement does have it’s benefits. It eases us from making decisions. We follow things and volunteer to place the blame on the instructions/commandments when things go wrong. We are free from accountability by following rote. Ask fewer questions, know fewer things and deniability is a byproduct. 

On the flip side, not understanding the context behind the asks, having a limited comprehension of the whys of the things stated, does definitely limit our ability in experiencing the potential behind such gyan. As with how KT in our industry works, a strong understanding of the fundamentals does really set us free in terms of options one could explore, approaches that one might take , the ability to stay informed and cut corners to save time and effort and in short, I could tag all of them as Working Smart. 

Interestingly, a quick parallel to real life reveals that we have far too many motivational messages, pep memes, inspirational blurbs flooding us 24/7. And yet we battle depression. That rests the case of the subtle difference between reading mere lines and knowing experiencing what they mean. 

I guess in the grand scheme of all things to come, ‘yechacha yecha cha.. gachacha gacha cha’ 🙂

Karthik

Eight hours

” And that’s that. “


It did take a while but it did bring the long letter to a dramatic close. And that was that. Exhausted from the emotional outburst into paper, I spared a final stare at the letter. I sighed a relief of sorts. With a sense of calmness returning with each drag of deep breaths, I managed to fold the letter crisp. I placed my Avengers coffee mug on top of it. Was a perfect moment. The mighty Thor’s Mjölnir was the perfect paper weight there ever was. 


My sentence written down, I had eight hours before I closed shop for all eternity. The struggles struggled, the challenges challenged, the odd odds endured, hopes hopelessly squashed and dreams dreamt away, I still managed a smile. How could I deny myself the last laugh. The battle and war lost, yet principles mandated that it was only fair for me to have the last laugh. Eight hours. I mulled over the day ahead. Things fell into a better perspective that moment. I no longer had to mope about an eternity ahead. The timelines well defined, the day split into hours, it felt a lot clearer. Goals and priorities were no longer blurred by the distractions of aspiration and fears of incompetence. Lady luck was no longer dragged into the daily equation of life. Strange liberation, I thought. 


The first big distraction was off the window in record time. Of course, I wouldn’t let myself squander precious time sitting behind a desk. I found it pointless to lose the invisibility of my existence to a spreadsheet. I left a message. I wouldn’t be there. That was that. It was a lot simpler drama to deal with. With a keen sense of purpose to loiter the streets, I hit out. The sun had come out to play and yeah, this was turning out to be a good day. A good day, all things considered. 


I had used the same road for years now. The same wide road, the same peak hour traffic that never thinned, the same people whose faces I had never bothered ever to memorise ever before. The same bench which went unoccupied. The usual kit of pigeons which were on a feeding frenzy. From time to time, I had managed to notice kids playing around the kit. Some times, some brave kid would run into that flock and the birds would take a sudden frantic flight. There was this one time , I remember seeing the happy glee on the kid’s face when the birds flew past him. I remember that I had paused a second to soak in his adventure, but I had a desk to reach, time to keep and continued my steps towards the workplace. 

Today I paused by the bench. I decided to sit there for a while and do nothing else. Ten minutes later, I had mustered enough courage to run towards the birds and rattle their party a little. It had taken me ten minutes to debate and conclude over the madness of my action. I had nothing to lose, I argued in my head. I did have nothing to lose anymore. 

I stealthy walked to the birds and deafening coos of their many conversations left me mesmerised. There seemed to be a melody and a rhythm to it. The birds took note of me and decided to not indulge an intruder anymore. Their soft feathers brushed against my arms. I stood right in the middle. A little jealous that I was denied a flight. Boy it felt good. 



I continued to walk further down the road. There was this park that I had always walked by. I had never managed to set the time aside to enjoy the park though. Time was all that I had today. I entered the park and sat comfortable on spring’s new grass. It felt odd. The free simple joys and I had remained a stranger to them all for the longest while possible. I rested my head down and peered into the blue sky. Clouds were scattered across an otherwise clear blue sky. The funny shapes they took. I counted the number of clouds for a while. I soon got bored of the activity. I continued to stare deep into the sky. 


“Oh excuse me”, a voice interrupted my productive timeout. 

I saw a lady standing with her lil daughter. 

“Do you mind watching over her for a few minutes please ? , she went on to explain her sudden urgent chore. None of it made any sense to me. Yanked away from a blissful daze, my mind did find it a little hard to concentrate and focus on her words. 

“Ok, sure. No problem”, I replied. It was more of a reflex reaction as opposed to comprehending the asks. 

“Thank you so much. God bless you darling” she said and scurried off. 

The little one in polka black and pink sat next to me. 

I stared blankly at her for a second. There wasn’t anything interesting that I could think of to kick start a conversation. This felt embarrassing. I didn’t even know what to talk to a child. Then again, it wasn’t as embarrassing as not knowing what to talk with others . Thankfully, the little one broke the ice. 

“What do you do Mister” the curious one asked. 

I went on to explain that I was a content writer for this publishing agency. The simplest explanation of my work was that I’d rewrite the sentences from the tales that authors would spin and make those sentences look good. 

The excited awe in her eyes was satisfying. She appeared to be running a thought in her vibrant mind. 

“Can you tell me a story then?” she asked sweetly. 

I smiled and nodded an affirmative. I had always wanted to be a story teller myself. I don’t know why I didn’t bother pursuing that ambition. I was an inch away from writing sentences for others to writing sentences for my own story. Yet, I had never dared venture into that territory. 

“Once upon a time , darling….” I started.

She eagerly and excitedly listened to my take of a prince , his love- the princess, the witched witch of the land, the misunderstood dragon, the enchanted forest that was cursed by the witch, the werewolf which wanted to avenge the prince, but later realized that the witch was the one responsible for his misery.

“and so they all lived happily ever after” , I concluded. 


The little one seemed to be happy. The timing was perfect. Her mother had also returned. Before the little one parted, she said she loved my story. 


The rest of the day was nice too. I met the homeless bloke who always sat by this shop. All the while, I did carry loose change but my heart had been too stingy to part with a few coins. I guess my heart felt generous today. I left him with a few coins. We spoke about the winter that was to come. He told me about how cursed his life had been. Wrong choices, wrong habits, wrong addictions and life itself reduced to a wrong turn. I felt sorry for him. I didn’t have the words to console him. I made a quite note to self that If i could, I should try to help him out. 


I returned home exhausted from the day out. I had an appointment to keep. The time was set and I knew what I had to do. 

Goodbye cruel world, i silently muttered. 


I tore off the letter that I had so painstakingly penned that morning. Good bye cruel world indeed. I knew I couldn’t sit and do nothing about it anymore. I wanted to change myself and the world around me. I couldn’t let the world be cruel anymore. 

I had indeed died that day. Resurrected new, a new pair of eyes, a new mind of many new thoughts, a heart wanting to do more, a fight wanting a fight. I dialled a familiar number. 

‘Dude, do you know a rehab? the one that helps the homeless”, a new conversation started. And so, a new life had begun. 

And that’s that. 


Karthik