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

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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 🙂

Oh it’s complicated 

“Morning Katzy” , her sweet soothing voice woke me up in the morning. 

Ah the comforts of life, I wondered as I woke up. 
“You seem to be in a good mood. Let me pull out that song, I know it always puts a smile on your face” the angel continued. I do love my Sonos. Wireless music entertainment system. Integrated music that spans across the entire house. Inch by inch, the solution covers it all. Right from the shower , all the way to the door where I would exit the house. 

Coz.all of me…. the song played on in the background. 

“So this is how it’s going to be” , another one cribbed. I knew where she was coming from. I had been ignoring her for a while now. Siri was the old girl of the house. Alexa was the new hot young blood in town. Alexa fit right in. She seemed to know a lot more about me than what I felt I knew about myself. Right from my music preferences to my mood swings, she kept a neat track of it all. 

Siri, the yester gal, felt a jealous indeed. She was no longer the object of my conversations. She was no longer my muse. I wouldn´t spend time with her. Over time, she had grown sentient enough to realize that she no longer was the heart stopper. She had a rival to deal with. 
“Don’t be like that. You are still my number one girl” I tried to cajole her . Without success.
“Well if you say so.” she replied wryly. 
“Anyways”, she continued. “It’s a bright blue day today. Remember to charge me up. I’ll need about 20 minutes. If we are going to take the motorcycle to work today, I’ll keep the play list updated ”
“Thanks love” I smiled. 
She was right. It was a bright day of blue indeed. Siri was better behaved on the way to work. She did manage to restrict the ads that were flowing in, she kept traffic updates to a bare minimum. She silenced a few calls while I was riding the bike. She was sweat enough to leave a message to my friends who had called. She ignored replying back to the numbers that I had not stored. She liked it that she got to spend a little more time assisting me. I guess she felt better being of assistance rather than live a life on a perpetual standby mode. 

I soon reached desk. Things were as messy as I had left them the previous Friday. “Do I have any calls now? Any scheduled meetings?” 
A second later Siri confirmed that I had none. ” No calls till 12, Katzy” 

Ahem…. another voice interrupted. 
“You are missing out the notes from his memo. Katzy, you’d have to call Sue. This is about the surprise party that you have planned for next week. Yellow flowers won’t shower from the sky you know!!!!
Cortana was sarcastic as hell. My life was probably a joke to all of them lovely ladies. Alexa, Siri and Cortana. AI and sarcasm, a match made in digital heaven!!!!
“Don’t forget the tables” another voice echoed through the hall. 
I wont, I promise. I called out. Women!!!!! Digital and Real…. why is it always so complicated!!!! 
***********
Imagined Siri, Cortana and Alexa networking and talking to each other. Wonder how that digital augmented and connected reality would look like. And as always, my imagination ran wild ! ! ! ! ! ! 

Karthik

A prophecy of tears

Of course I care. How couldn’t I? I’m connected. As much as I feel confined by the chains that we all call connection, a connected world, this connected universe, I’d reckon it’s magic lies in brining happiness and peace. This ain’t it. I don’t see that somedays. I feel bound by it. It constricts me. I’m not free. Why? I ask myself. Isn’t a sense of awareness , a state of declared awakening not sufficient to feel liberated? Unfortunately, the irony of the moment beckons. It is very much that sense of awareness, that conscious observation of wicked tongues of words without reason that keeps me chained. I could pretend to not care and force myself to an exiled liberation. I’m not there either. I feel compelled to care and so I endure judgement and persecution that not so surprisingly is also a figment of my imagination. Does anyone care enough about me to pry into my life? I wouldn’t know and I wouldn’t dare ignore that possibility. It all boils down to the fact that consciously, I’ve made that choice to care.

Obscurity is a means to convey what the heart wants and is a means to escape from social persecution. Obscurity is a madman’s euphoric bliss. It means everything and in a way, it amounts to nothing. I shall brave defying that obscurity. I shall show spine and courage in calling out the demon that has plagued me for the longest. The demon that had brought me the gift of sight. Along with it came misery, wrapped in an inconspicuous package. How could I know the price of the gift back then? How can I continue to remain oblivious to the toll it takes on my sanity and my heart? I ache for that liberation. I shall have it tonight.

Every poet needs his pain. If I had to stay politically correct then I’d rephrase that as, It is through pain, one can express art of the highest emotional quality. Expressionism becomes a means to channelize that pain and give it colors and give it a meaningful life. I’m no exception to that pain. In fact, I’ve come to accept that I’ve had a lion’s share of that pain and in return, I feel that curse that has blessed me with the gift of music and words. I feel lucky for the fact that I have avenues to vent out the woes of an heart in crimson tears.

Very little things have surprised me most of my life. When it came to the matters of the heart, there have been absolutely no  bloody surprises there. I’ve had the gift of sight. I could always manage to prophesize the end. I’ve always seen that road of void and loneliness. It has never been the separation that has left me miserable. I had trouble accepting it and moving on. In retrospect , and strangely, as a note to self, I find myself reminding me that I have never gone wrong in seeing how things would run their course and conclude.

Am I special? Am I gifted with a sensory perception that defines the natural order of things? Actually nope. I’m observant and deep down, I’ve always stayed abreast of my insecurities. I’ve had fears. Fears would go on to manifest into thoughts and thoughts conspire actions and actions , yes they orchestrate the realities of things to be.

Having made the same mistakes , quite a few many times,  I spared a thought in understanding how I had always managed to find myself in the spot where I see the end and I see tears and misery down my road. I think our choices are cyclic to a great extent. We have our preferences, we know our hearts , we realize what that we desire. The big game changer in the play happens to be choices that we’d often refuse to make.

Only this time around, I enabled myself to make different choices. The pain is still there. The misery is still there but I’ve not reduced myself to roubles this time around. The beauty of awareness kicks in. I started off on that prophetic vision of impending fracture. My fears took control. I cried wolf for the longest. The many words of many a hearts were soothing to my ears, but they couldn’t console a heart that had a firm conviction in what it believed.

As the courses ran, the fears came true. Only this time the choices branched out. Do I see myself as the fool who saw a dystopic heart? Do I view myself  over what it really was? Expendable lives. The fault in the stars and the faults in our faith, against all confirmation bias, it was time to recover.

I do feel cheated.  There is nothing out there that robs me of my heart and thoughts and integrity. There is always something within me, that keeps reminding me of my worth. The meek vile voice reminds me where I should stand. It sees very little of me. I was a slave to it’s gentle voice. I defy it these days. It’s a battle that’s hard. I question my worth every now and then. I find answers in my sweat. I find comforts in my words and music. I don’t have much, but that’s all that I have.

As I said, I do feel cheated. Not because I waged  losing war. It’s in me to feel cheated, it’s I who let myself be the desolate one. I’ve never forgiven myself for choosing to be fragile. It’s a tricky spot. Do I grow a stone for a heart, stay immune to cracks ? Do I endure the fracture and wage more wars that I deem are going to fail? Am I more human by distancing myself from human emotions? Am I weak because I let myself walk into failures?

It has always been a life worth doing shit. You do a little, you get burnt, you gain memories of smiles and tears. You put on a mask of bravery, repeat the process again. How could I complain about the scars left behind? Each scar has morphed into many tales that melts my heart, that helps me cry rivers, that helps me breathe life into characters and lets me play god who ordains their fate. My sound of music is also the screams of my scars. How could I complain about them? What am I, If I don’t even have them?

Do I manage a last laugh on account of having seen it all, or do I hide behind tears because they are but only true now? As I mull over questions galore, It’s probably time for new sights to be seen, new futures to foresee and new choices to make.

K

Strangers on a train

“Is that even real???????? You are kidding me aren’t you” …
“Nope. It’s just as I told ya” , I replied

The city had dense grey clouds. The damp roads only meant that it had been raining. I stopped by the usual shop to pick a cup of coffee and since there was an early meeting, I dashed towards the station. On a day like today, It was a blessing of sorts when the train , that was nearly empty, arrived on time. I took my seat and quickly made a mental note of things that I had to discuss over the call. 

It was two stations later where he boarded the train. The coach was still empty. The skies had already opened up and the warm smell of rain filled the train. He took a good around the coach and decided to sit beside me. He was pleasantly dressed. Black trousers, ironed sky blue shirt, brown shoes that were polished to a neat little shine, yup he did look sharp in them. 
“Are you from India” he broke ice. We got talking and soon enough we reached a point where he felt comfortable to ask about how the institution of arranged marriages worked. 
“Boy meets girl, photos actually. Then whatsapp, then Skype, then families beat around the bush for a while, bada bing song and dance and you tie the knot.” 

We both laughed. I guess men would always be men. The idiosyncrasies of love marriages and marriages ended as a loveless union of two folks did make an amusing conversation. I checked the phone for the time and the train had transitioned from staying over the ground to hitting the tunnels under. The mobile reception instantly went dead. One does get used to this. I placed my phone in my pockets and eagerly jumped right back into the conversation with this engaging stranger. 
We spoke of differences in life, ambitions, dreams and the outlook towards everything around for a while. We did exchange the good bits of the worlds that were apart. We soon ventured into the whining lands of how our worlds still had a long way in growing up. Conversation was an easy one. It felt a lot more easier because of his face. Angel like innocence reflected in his shining light brown eyes. There was a certain glow to it. Through our conversations, I could see his eyes play. They were shifty. His face screamed of peace. He had a very soft demeanour about him. Every tiny movement was executed in a soft gentle seamless motion. 
There was something very unsettling about how there was nothing felt unsettling about him. So his name was a Mark Edwords something. Worked as a bloke who specialized in custom mannequins. I presumed it was something to do with crash dummies or something in the fashion industry. The point is, there was nothing out of the blue about him. 
I rested my scepticism and decided to ignore the healthy overabundant sense of mistrust that I usually harboured in my heart. The only thing a little odd about him was his over protective attitude towards his bag. If I had to fathom a guess, I thought he was more than capable of robbing a bank and making an exit by the train. My eyes would find themselves training to his bag from time to time. 

He picked the cues and carried his bag and let it softly drop again. The bag didn’t crash with a loud thud. There was nothing heavy in it. No bricks of cash, no stolen goods. I finally shed all inhibitions about Mark. It helped me enjoy the conversations better. 
We then spoke about the ever so prevalent hate which led to a conversation about love. There was a momentary awkward pause and he finally concluded by saying that love was meant to last forever and that he felt blessed that his was meant to be that. I instinctively put my hand over my head and called out touch wood. 

Mark carelessly kicked his bag a few times from then on. I could sense a tinge of restlessness in him. His face still looked serene, his eyes still shifty.
“That’s my stop ” he suddenly called out. Strangers on a train, friends but not really friends. We didn’t feel the need to exchange numbers or make a deliberate effort to remain friends. I shook his hand and wished him a great day ahead. He smiled and waved and exit through the doors. 

A few stops later, I alighted the train and took the crowded escalator towards the street. I left the station and decided to walk to work. A few seconds my phone buzzed. Whatsappnotifs, and News app had a notif too. News’ notif was a new, I didn’t remember downloading that app. I decided to open it and see what it had to offer. 
My heart froze in gripping fear.
Mark’s face was all over the news. The bloke who had murdered his girlfriend, the previous evening, in cold blood, beheaded her and was reported absconding. The coppers had published his picture to keep the rest of us safe!!!!!!! 

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

Inspired by this bloke that I met this morning in the train. Same shifty eyes, a gentle face that put angels to shame. There was something so unsettling about him, bad lousy vibes and I couldn’t help but wonder about the dark secrets that rested comfortable behind his soft soothing shifty eyes! 

Karthik

And all good things…

Must come to a close, or so the title would have gone to read. I couldn’t bring myself to complete that sentence. I guess it’s one of those many idiosyncrasies to life that I find myself surrounded by. I’m barely materialistic and in fact, the one good redeeming quality of mine that I’m actually proud of is that I’m barely materialistic at all. I don’t yearn for things. I save a few bucks, buy what I want to and the minute it’s in my possession, I treat it like garbage. That’s always been me. I don’t find myself swayed by the glitter of things. 

That said, my dad’s phone call changed left me a little stirred. It was uncharacteristic of him to call me during the working day. Dad usually would wait for me to reach out. Today, there was a persistence in his calls. I cut the line the first time. It also usually meant that I was in a meeting and I’d return the call soon enough. Today, the hint was missed. There were pressing matters at stake, I presumed. I eventually relented and called home. 

There was a point in time when my entire life ahead was one big plan made from dreams which were turning into subtle realities. I was a musician back then, check, same cocky outlook to life , check, I had a job that paid reasonably well, (that hasn’t change even today), and it was the time to upgrade from a uber cool Bullet thunderbird to a car. 
The conversation that refuses to die despite the fact that promises made had died a long time ago and memories buried along with them dead promises. Don’t buy a black car Karthik. It’s going to be ours. Black is just a bad sign!!!! 
Now that I reflect, I did enjoy that metallic Azure Grey better. 

I remember the first time I had my hands on her. Maruti Swift, abs and stuff. I didn’t know to drive a car. My first ride, I had my folks seated in the back seat, I kept stalling the car to immobile glory. I had a friend drive me over to GP road, and the car was officially inducted into the hall of musical fame that evening. Everything stock was ripped out, we had new audio systems replacing the stock ones. The car now rocked. Yeah, the satisfied excitement of listening to all your favourite songs in your own car. 
Rio had sung, Dream on.. and the car has always stayed true to that spirit of dreaming on and keeping all dreams alive. 
Speaking of dreams, I know I’m sounding like a deluded bloke when I personify a car but I am a deluded bloke and it’s all the more the right reason for me to treat her as a friend who has always been there. The car has seen the best of me and has endured the worst of me. I tasted my break up on the driver’s seat. It was a horrible evening. A small argument spiralled into a massive epic apocalyptic fight. I remember screaming out in sheer damned frustration. The whole car shook from my vociferous sound’s whiplash of sorts. Moments later I knew , deep down, that things were over. Acceptance came years later. 

It’s not about the unpleasantness that has always remained as stains from tears on the steering wheel’s leather casing. That car has had millions and millions of moments of happiness and laughter echoed within it’s closed doors. Road trips, races down the highway, speeding through recklessly and the gradual turning to a slow coach, that car has seen all the shades of my own personality. It’s been my escape when I couldn’t deal with my anger, It’s been a shoulder when I needed the road and the unwinding sky to cry, it’s been my own studio where I’ve mixed my compositions to judge how the EQs were balanced, it’s been my friend to let my spirit soar free. Behind it’s inanimate wheel, I’ve conjured plenty of words to breathe life into the many characters that I’ve written and subsequently killed off in massive emotional blaze of glory. 
As much as I’ve loved it, I still did have the heart to buy a new car, a bigger one. I went on to make more memories in the new one too. She also has seen her fair share of tears and smiles. I guess that is a testament to life. Life goes on. One always can , WILL, Should go on to make newer memories. There will always be newer things to cry over and smile and cherish. 
Change is the way of life. It’s upon such changes do we make the time to reflect the wonderful ride that we’d have enjoyed so far. She came into my life, a brand new thing of beaut, and while the world sees her as an old girl, of rust and rot, she’d always be my girl, the beautiful one with full of life and zeal. I’ll miss you old girl.
I cant shake away the drama to the moment. We part ways when we aren’t around each other….. 
And that’s that 🙂

The benchmark 

Things seldom change drastically. Things usually happen and their occurrences also happen to be in cycles. I bet it was sometime around 1998, my first biggest failure in life till then. The math exam had gone horribly wrong. I went from being an above the average bloke to the mayor of damnation town of fails-ville. The number is still fresh in my memory. I had scored 18 out of a whopping 50 in math. 

Till that point, I had never set aside the time to sit down and seriously study. I never bunked my classes and whatever I could assimilate in the class was usually good enough to pass all exams in moderately decent colours. The shock got to me. It felt weird to flunk an exam. It was a cycle test of sorts, the numbers really didn’t matter but they did help us figure out where we stood. 

Then again, unlike most sensible folks, I didn’t vouch to make changes to life, make that time to sit down and seriously focus on my studies. To hell with that. I decided to live with that disappointment and not so surprisingly , it barely took me any time to get over it. The fear had slowly seeped into my heart. I’ve struggled with math ever since. 

There are nights when I still have nightmares about repeating school through classes 11 and 12 all over again. The first time that nightmare kicked in, the next morning I rushed to my dad to see my engineering degree again. I wanted the assurance of it being legit and the comforts of knowing , beyond all reasonable fearful doubts, that I had indeed cleared all my exams. 

Yeah, it was the most horrible failure of my life back in the day. The funny irony to life is that once we declare something as ‘THE MOST’ crushing failure of life, it does end up setting a benchmark of sorts. From failed exams to squandered relationships, from staying stranded to being financially broke a given month, the failures have been many and at different points in time, for different failures, I’ve had the audacity to call them as the single most crushing failure of my life, SO FAR. 

Remember when I started my blog suggesting that events occur in cycles, I meant that. The nature of failures have been relatively the same. The initial panic has always been the same. That feeling of immediate helplessness, that taste of doom, the mind going blank, the paralysis of fear, well , none of them have ever changed. The only thing that has changed is my realization that things happen, sometimes we fail, some more than the rest, but failure is inevitable. The only thing that has changed in me is the realization that the failure might not be the biggest failure of my life forever! It probably would not get inducted into the hall of shame of all the failures that have challenged me over time. 

Things seldom change. The one thing that has a capacity to change is the way we choose to react to that failure. Our choices make that difference. Our choices define what we are and what our life is all about. So, how come the blog about exams and failures. Just so happened that I saw a flood of posts on my facebook wall about exams and results and safe guarding kids against thoughts of suicide. 

It is a serious problem that I wouldn’t dare joke about. I’m probably the luckiest bloke in the planet. My folks did take all my failures with a pinch of salt and have never imposed a thought that I’ve lost a life because of my mistakes. They’ve always stood by me, telling me that I could do better , if only I put my mind to it. That has always been my strength. The assurance that no matter how messy things get because of my actions, my parents would probably remind me to do a better job next time around. They’d never remind me that I goofed it all up because I’ve been useless and worthless. 
It’s not that parents would wake up any given day and decide to use cold cruel words to taunt their kids. The expectations that parents carry in their hearts, the dreams that they carry in their eyes, it would be rather dim to assume that kids are unaware of them. kids pick cues faster than us adults. They have an affinity to sense the context, sense the gravity of the situation. They do lack the maturity to understand repercussions or the longevity of such consequences. It takes us , adults, a lifetime to realize that nothing lasts forever and especially our failures. How could we expect such awareness from kids? 

Anyways, exams and results time. Hope your kids have fared well. Laddus are in order. In case they fail, chillax. They’d go on to write the story of their lives in the way they see fit. If one can’t even fail, then what else can one be capable of? 

Karthik 

Unscrupulously unique 

Mothers are efficient and absolutely excellent task masters. They have a flair of inflicting the right amount of guilt trip in order to entrap us into doing something that we wouldn’t bother volunteering for. Mine has never been an exception to the game. I remember the million times where my mom had played the “there are soooooooooo many kids who aren’t fortunate enough to secure a single meal, Karthik” card. 

I’ve never been a fussy eater and that being said, I’ve never really shied away from wasting food either. My mom’s conditioning did leave a lasting impression for the longest time in my life. I used to feel extremely guilty over wasting food. In time, thanks to the miracles of unlearning, I got over the guilt. I guess one can say that I’d feel ridiculously guilty now if I didn’t manage to waste any food. 

While the blog shares borders with cards that mothers use, the focus is on the hypocrisy of selective comparison which often goes both unnoticed and unpunished. This is the day and age of leaving our own unique foot print across the face of the earth. We are unique in our own ways. We feel insulted when we are stereotyped. We’d rather fancy being the ugly duckling than having a common identity as a flock of white geese. Yeah, maybe that’s a stretch. We’d rather be a gander of goose than stand apart as an ugly duck! 

So the hypocrisy mandates that one stays away from comparing one’s gifts, abilities and special talent with others around the same neighbourhood. So no more Mr Gutpa’s kid is better at math or little miss Shalu being the brightest kid on the block. Fair enough. There is then the opposite side of the spectrum. Do not lament your own shortcoming because there are blokes out there for whom even your annoying challenge is distant dream. There are millions who endure and survive on lot less than what we have in our inventory of life. 

Both comparisons do make a little sense , given the context of wanting to stay satisfied with what we have, playing the cards we were dealt with, living the moment of real and present rather than living through an inflated bubble of what ifs and wish I had that. Perfect so far and the question begs to be asked. So WHAT

Yes there are a lot of folks unfortunate with luck and material promises. So what? One can sympathise, one can offer a helping hand, one can also do what one can in order to make the world a better place for the rest of us. That’s acceptable and sure is an honourable gesture of sorts.

What doesn’t gel well with me is that assurance that we are in a better state than those who’ve not been lucky enough. While the statement can be sugar coated beyond all recognition and end up as a forced moto for settling down with unsatisfying mediocrity. 

The point in case is that when we are unhappy with things around us, either we try to change the world around us to keep ourselves satisfied, or we change ourselves to keep ourselves satisfied. At no point in time does our decision to make peace with ourselves rest on the fragile fate of the world around us. If I were to abstain from any moment of celebration because that very instant there could be a bloke in distress, I’d have managed to lead a life of being cold to any and all expression of emotions. That to me, sounds like a raw deal. 

A quiet banter kick started the thoughts. The usual forwards about the million forms of positivity around and the relentless comeback of a quicker whine about how Mondays were later, the eventual Gyan followed up. 

It does make me wonder at times. I see the world as different forms of people. 
Some give, because they didn’t receive. Some give because it buys them a ticket to heaven (allegedly) , some give because it makes them feel better about themselves and some give because they don’t know how to not give at all. Is it even fair to judge the motives? 
The age where the unscrupulously unique soar high in the skies of delusions, is it even wise to question that status quo? 

Karthik

And words transpire 

And you are one big “Frau” , a smirk rebuttal suddenly left me lost. The word I had intended to use was fraud. It’s a word that is as common as far as words go. A moment later, the lightness in mood, the spirited Friday in the mind, the rhythmic flow of thoughts , they all were instantly disrupted. 
Words do have that effect on us sometimes. Importantly, it’s the people’s usage that leaves behind a lasting impression. The very thought, or almost at the end of the very thought of the word was sufficient enough to surge through memories, scan through the moments, sort through the million faces and voices that I’ve heard so far, and yet the result that the mind is capable of returning is both a miracle at work and a curse in hiding. 

The past versus present, the what ifs versus the what’s real and the big real versus delusions in the mind, while they all make a wonderful argument to dissect, explore and lose ourselves into, pragmatically, there is no one blanket cover to the battle that we get to wage over conflicts of this ideology. The underlying truth is that information, education and all avenues of knowledge can help us pretend faster than the time we’d have to spend in order to internalise the learning we acquire. 
Having paused myself from completing the word, I did manage a silly grin. I reckon I did like the word, I enjoyed the context it was used. In a twisted sense of things, I think anybody who indulges in a little creative expression can be tagged as a fraudster to a certain degree. Expression of art, expression by itself is a representation of how one perceives the world around. It’s a glimpse through the viewer’s eyes. One gets to see the world through bias and filters and yet it’s a view that captures our imagination and that attraction gravitates the onlookers towards the work of art. 
Art in itself is a retelling of what one feels is real. So from words to art, how did we branch out so far? The connection rests with the word Fraud. The trip to Scotland and spending long hours with a photographer friend of mine, our discussion soon branched out towards how I decided to process my images. I brought out a vibrant and yet surreal world through my frames. It was how I wanted to express my thoughts. All photos, screaming of colors and yet void of humans and their emotions. A world so beautiful and yet so barren. 
My friend took the opposite direction. He decided to show the frame as how it was. He preferred his frames to look as close to the real thing. It was his way of saying ‘Yeah, I was there. I remember the moment’ . We were both deceiving the world in our own way. The entire exercise of playing photographer made me realize the role of an illusionist that we all get to play. We lead a plot and everybody connected to us plays along in that scripted play. 
Back to fraud. With the word now repeated quite a few times, the thought now diluted with more thoughts and tangents beyond the memories that were made, aren’t we all living under the spell of words that transpire? 
Some words inspire, some insult us. Some bring out the best in us and some words push us to the brink of evil where we stay stoic and cold. An innocent inconspicuous word and yet packed to the rafters with thoughts and after thoughts. Yeah , even that word is a fraudster of sorts. How could it not be 🙂 

Fraud