The hashtags of life

Now that I sit back and reflect on the road of words, I see a distinct pattern. The more I found myself lost in words, I realized I had found a little more about myself. Writing brings me clarity. Writing to me is more than just a mere expression of thought. It is a way where I contemplate life and find ways to articulate those tiny nuances to daily living which I couldn't enjoy in real time. I am, hence I write. I write, hence I am.

Interestingly, I've had a relative success blogging in the public domain. Far away from the comforts of an assured 20 likes , blogging in the open internet was a challenge. It helped me relive the excitement of the early years of blogging. It reminded me of a time when I was still Katz and that word meant absolutely nothing to anybody. I kept the translation of thoughts into words consistent and in time the name found an acknowledgement. Blogging in the public domain helped me find that joy again. It wasn't until recently where I stumbled upon the significance of picking my categories and tags wisely. When I moved away from the default 'Uncategorized' to adding meaningful categories to my thoughts (now that's an oxymoron playing itself out) , it improved the stats to my posts. Folks with a shared interest paid a visit and the visitor's tally improved a bit.

I'm still no where around the aspirational phenomenal writer that I'd like to be someday, but I'm glad with waking up from oblivion. It's a start. It sure does suffice for now.

As I started this one, writing and life, I don't think I can separate the two. They coexist, they each reflect that attribute that defines what it means to write, or even to live. I started off as the persona Katz, I write today as Karthik and apart from the way my words are signed off, there is a far more serious change that I underwent that stays comfortably hidden behind the proverbial screen. I'm interested in exploring the territory of the humble hash tag today.

The way of the words, a hash tag serves a simpler purpose of engineering a nativity to a larger collective classification of interest. While the hash doesn't really dictate terms of what is written, it adds , it enriches , it helps deliver the words to an audience. Is that not how life also works? Haven't we all experienced that before? Only we do call it by different names.

Virtue by association. That's the phrase I'd use. By virtue of what or whom we associate ourselves to, we define what we are. Thoughts transpire into actions, company transpires thoughts and in effect, it's all a connected mesh and they all feed into the hash tags of our very own life.

Far away from the comforts of my home, exiled from the familiar faces, banished from the routines of norm, I realized the value of that virtue of association. We are the company that we keep. Our thoughts are a reflection of whom we speak to , and what our collective conscious thoughts are. Our reactions are defined by perceived and witnessed reactions of the flock that we are a part of. There is solace in numbers. There conformance in numbers. Which is why, keeping a stock of the identity and the nature of the participants of a flock is just as, if not , most important aspect of this collective existence.

I'd like to believe that I've stayed adaptable over the years. When the common mood was offence, I found myself as an aggressor. I played defence for a while. I also rejected nativity to thoughts that I couldn't associate myself with. I've been and I'd probably ever remain a rebel to things that I'm not convinced about. I've turned my back to social dogma and conservative living, I've turned my back to rebellion for the sake of being a rebel. I've turned my back to altruism for the image of it. In fact, I do what that I please and there does not go a day where I don't pay the price for the life of my choosing, or soak in the satisfied happiness to being that misfit. But that's me.

The point is, a hive mind alters the way of individual thought. While everybody enjoys the comforts of staying unique, there many among us who prefer the comforts it provides. The cost? Surrender of free-will, suspension of free thoughts, compliance dedicated to conformance rather than compliance that arises because of acceptable goals.

Life's many hashtags are but a reflection of that virtue of association. The story of our lives, now they are represented by these borrowed tags. The world views us by those tags. In fact, in time we start viewing ourselves as these tags. All of which made me wonder. If life was a blog, a story of sorts, why does it take us that immense effort to identify the tags rather than focusing all that effort into scripting the construct of the story itself. If tags are not as important as the content, why does the world stay influenced and seduced by the tag clouds rather than staying informed and awakened by the words of the content.

The simplest answer is convenience.

One plays to the strength. Yeah, that's probably how I'd wrap this up. Like life, like the words that go conjured , tags and content both define the nature of what gets scripted. End of the day, the thingy called happiness and satisfaction, they are relative commodities. It goes back to the larger question that looms around the horizon. Are we happy because we are capable of doing things, or are we happy because we get recognized by our capability of getting things done.

And so Maslow's obsolete pyramid speaks of things beyond acceptance. Actualization. The perfect imaginative utopia where we know what we are capable of, other's opinion seldom matters and we do things because we'd like to.

Hash tags of life, ladies and gentlemen. Hash tags of life.



Book review : Only time will tell. Jeffery Archer

And so Archer's words once again remind me that he's the best there is. It's all for a good reason. He brings his words to life effortlessly.

Cover Page of Only time will tell by Jeffery Archer

Oh I wish I had written the lines down when I had read them. I felt pumped with emotions, the restlessness of my body felt shredded and I wanted to get up , go out and accomplish something. I continued reading.

"There will come a day when you'd be dead and folks around would gather and speak of the one act of bravery that you once did. Or, you can do something with your life and don't let the laurels of the past dictate that eulogy in the making" – Sadly, these are not the words by the author. These are the words etched in my mind now. The actual ones would leave you with Goosebumps.

Only time will tell , by Jeffery Archer is a tale that chronicles the life of one Mr Harry Clifton. The life of the lad, as seen through many eyes around him. Right from the depths of careless innocence to the moment of heart breaking courage, the story offers an alternate perspective to the phrase "When you want something with all your heart, the universe conspires". Of course, Harry is spared from the narrowed view of wants, the world around him rises to the occasion and delivers something so beautiful that you'd be left wondering about the many miracles that still remain hidden in plain sight around you.

The story includes one of the best repertoire of characters. Harry, his mum Maisie, his friends Giles and Deakins, the teachers around him and one character that stands out and pulls the weight of the entire saga, Mr Old Jack Tar. I loved him. I enjoyed his presence in the story. One man, trapped in his own misery, rises above it and enjoys a certain burdensome relationship with an ideology of what's right, what's the truth and what's moral. I was inspired by him, his arduous journey of staying true to himself. He is a breath of fresh air and the way he's written, reminds us why Archer is the best there is.

There is a secret that Harry is out to uncover. All his life, he was told that his dad had died in the war. The one war to end all wars. Harry knows otherwise. There are only three people who know the truth. What is that secret? Is it the kind of secret that can destroy lives? Does it eventually consume the world that is Harry's?

The book is set in a time just before the WW2 starts. I enjoyed watching the UK that was well before my time. The simpler times, the already metropolitan London, the way of lives and the quintessential English way of things. The story brings colours right in front of our eyes. War is on the horizon and it's coming alright. The book takes us the minds of the people as they brace, yet again, for a war to end all wars!

If you like Mr Archer's previous works, there is no reason why you might want to skip this. If you are new to the world of words of Archer, this is a good place to start.

I felt betrayed by the fact that this book is one of Seven more to come in the Clifton saga! It ends in a cliffhanger and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm not sure if I'd invest that much time into a series. Then again, I never know. I still would love to know how the story eventually ends.

Coming up next : The book thief.


Book review : Blood sisters

Cover page of the book Blood Sisters by Jane Corry

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry

Three sisters. One trapped in time, one trapped in her mind and one trapped in death. That neatly sums up the nice little tale of Blood sisters.

The book starts with Alison, who is an artist with a secret locked within her mind. Her life is pretty sober and one fine day, she spots an advert that asks for a art teacher who can help prisoners paint. Far away from a city where she's lived her isolated life, she makes to the four closed walls of an open prison. Her story goes into overdrive from there on.

Then there is Kitty. Survivor of a nasty accident that left her with a damaged mind. She's now a resident of a care home, confined to a wheelchair, a good right hand and a left that she cant ever move, she's trapped with the gifted curse of understanding what the world speaks but her's is a voice that makes no sense to the world around her. The accident leaves her with murky muddied memories that come and go. She remains unaware of the string of events that put her where she was.

Blood sisters is a journey of sorts. Two sisters who never really got along well when they were kids. The accident that changes their lives. Guilt that takes over Alison and obliviousness that plagues Kitty. The story is a constant cry for the love that both need, both are starved off and both are rendered useless to convey to each other because of circumstances. It beautifully captures the sibling rivalry and jealousy. Is it the case of love buried deep within the hearts? The story goes on an exploration to uncover that truth.

The book is made of three acts. One introduces to the present. Two takes us back to the past and three brings us back to the present. I enjoyed the first two acts. I found the third to be a bit boring. But that's just me, I reckon. The third act does have a saving grace. It did tease me with plots that hinted towards the battles of the mind. It was a short tease but I'd have loved , if the entire book was about a troubled mind. Again, that's still just me.

There aren't many layers to the book. I enjoyed the nostalgia of growing up with my two sisters. I'd pick petty fights, we'd hate each other a lot, we did love each other too. Today, we are all old enough to sit back and talk about the good old days. This book does that. It brings back fond memories of the first thread of bonds being formed.

I enjoyed the consequences of living with guilt. Alison is a classic example of someone who is trapped by her own guilt. Should she? Is it right? Is there a better way? Thankfully, the tale kept me engaged and I didn't bother psycho-analysing the possibilities beyond all comprehension. I enjoyed a stoic pleasure of watching her live through hell. It was a gentle reminder of a very simple truth that some times, we do the things that we do and we endure misery because we feel it's the right thing to do!!! Talk about misplaced priorities.

All in all, I'd say it was worth the time I invested into the book. I felt compelled to pull an all nighter to read through the last mile. I quite enjoyed the tale and when I reached the final full stop, I did feel good about the journey of their lives.

Do give it a shot, if all that you want is a casual read 🙂


The secret in her eyes

The nagging headache was back again. It came in sporadic bursts. The first few times, I tolerated them and dismissed them as a part and parcel of life. Work did come as a package and I assumed that the headache was something that I signed up for. The classic case of not having the time and the inclination to read through the fine print!

As they became a regular occurrence, my friends put the fear of the lord with thoughts about aneurism into my head. Happy , smiling and walking one minute and dropping dead another. The fear had sunk in. I rushed to the doctor for an opinion. The doctor had dismissed it as a harmless eventuality. Drink water, exercise , don't strain yourself a lot and you should be a-ok, he had adviced. That was a proper waste of £100 flushed down the drain in the name of professional consultation. My mom would tell me the same every bloody morning. As always, I'd carelessly ignore her pearls of sensible wisdom.

And so I drank my water, I exercised a bit. I tried to relax through the days of challenges and mental pressures. It worked for a while and the headaches seemed to recede. Things came back with a vengeance this afternoon. I had breached the limits of my tolerance. I packed my bags and decided to head home and sleep things off. St Paul's station was a minute away from work. I made it to the tube. Tuesday afternoon was a little lean on the commuting. I wouldn't know any better. I had never bailed off at 13:00 ever. The compartment had twenty odd people. I boarded the train. As it started to move, I could feel the pulsating throb in my head. Slowly , a shooting pain was sweeping up to a crescendo.

"I wonder how she'd be doing now".

I looked around to see if anyone was trying to have a quick chat with me. No one. I was standing alone by the window. I scanned the vicinity to find the source of that voice. I failed in spotting anyone.

"I shouldn't have come to work today. I hope Emma doesn't have the flu"

I could understand what was being said, only couldn't understand who was saying it. I looked around frantically like a madman. Luck eluded me.

"Who the hell does he think he is!!!!!! I hope he burns in hell"

Far away from little Emma and her possible bout with the flu, this statement was way out of the ballpark. Anger and disgust oozed in it. I could feel the intensity behind that hatred.

I stumbled upon the answer. I realized that each time I made an eye contact with the fellow passengers, I could hear the things running in their heads. I wondered if they could listen to my thoughts! I assumed that they'd consider me a nut case and shake their heads disapprovingly. I decided to validate the thesis. I tried gazing into a few more eyes inconspicuously. It was funny, the way the city worked. One could make an eye contact for a second and nobody would make anything out of it. If one continued to keep staring, people would usually avoid confrontation and would shift their eyes elsewhere. The body language and the signals shared would be obvious. People would gracefully turn their backs to the prying eyes and that would usually be it.

"Damn, it's still a long way to Friday"

"It better be a negative. I don't think we are ready for this"

"Why is that weird bald man with his clumsy pony tail staring at everyone"

The last one made me panic a bit. I tried to slow things down. I felt assured of what was going on around me. I could hear thoughts by gazing into people's eyes.

The train stopped by Green Park. I saw her walk in. She walked past me, searched for a seat to occupy. For some reason, she decided against sitting and stood right beside me. We were facing each other. We were separated by generous inches but in thoughts, I knew I'd be a lot more closer to her.

"That was a rush"

I smiled at her as I did when my eyes met strangers. It was a social norm. She was no stranger to it. She smiled back. I was beginning to enjoy this game of thought- voyeurism. It felt oddly satisfying to know what others thought was a hidden secret.

"It's sad that it's over. But yeah, It's nice that I can start again"

It was a bit stranger that unlike the rest, hers wasn't a thought of concern or a conclusion to the events of the day. She was actually having a conversation in her head. I felt the excitement surge in me. The anxiety kindled the headache. I felt the throbbing in my head again. I shut my eyes tight and decide to mentally clench my mind to supress the pain. It seemed to work.

"I wonder if he'd bleed any different. I guess chubby folks have more blood in them or something. A soft precise cut here, the thin chrome blade slicing through the skin, I wonder if he'd feel the cold from the steel"

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She was contemplating a murder. The way her thoughts were structured, I couldn't help but assume that she was not a novice to the dark side. It so appeared that she had done that a lot of times and her curiosity were now part science and part amusement. I scanned the train to see if there were any other chubby folks in it besides me. For the first time, I felt exposed and unsafe. The angelic blue eyes , that soft tanned skin, her black curly hair no longer felt like belonged to the heavens. She was possibly HR from the department of Satan.

"Indian… I don't think I've ever played with an Indian before. I wonder what that'd be like"

I could sense my heart palpitating at this point. She was talking about me. In her mind, she was orchestrating my murder. I felt trapped and helpless. I couldn't cry out for help. Who'd believe me. Besides, thinking of murder and actually committing one were two separate things. I'd be a nut if I accused her of thoughts of violence. I'd be dead on her table, if she actually did what she was thinking about.

The pain had taken over by this point. I closed my eyes to supress it again. The pain shadowed everything else. All I could see, hear and feel was a blank black emptiness. Everything else had faded into it. I think I had blacked out. Ah damn it.

I opened my eyes with a strain. The bright white light strained my eyes and it was a challenge to focus on what I was seeing. Everything felt blurred. I saw her again. Same blue eyes, same black curly hair. She was looking down upon me. My heart raced. I couldn't figure out how I landed on her table of death. The serials and the movies had sensitized me to the ways of hidden psychotic killers. They all seemed to have their own operating table of murder. The posh ones sure did. She had one. There was a strange sense of adventure, knowing that I was going to be her victim number whatever, and there was a surge of adrenalin in hopes of the preservation of self.

"Easy there" she softly whispered.

I couldn't tell if it was her eyes reminding me that resistance was futile or if she had really spoken the words to pacify me.

I struggled to get up. My hands weren't tied but I was groggy. That made things difficult. This must have been her MO. Obviously she had sprayed something that had left me immobile. I couldn't understand how she managed to sneak me out from the train. Then again, beauty and brains, I didn't think it would have been hard for her to not accomplish most things that she had set her mind to achieve.

"Relax. Take it easy. Now what's your name"

What? Why was she asking me for my name. She was a sick sicko predator. She was toying with me. I tried to scream but I could barely hear my voice through the silent room. My throat felt dry.

Before I could say anything else, before I could get a pulse of my surroundings, all I saw was her readying the plunger of an injection. The she-wolf was now all set for the kill. I accepted defeat and decided to not struggle anymore. This was it. Everything blacked out again.

"Dude".. "Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude".. the word seemed to echo.

"Eat man. Been telling you that for bloody ages. You freaking passed out on the train. You caused the Central line severe delays. Folks from the hospital called. Thank god, you never did have your phone secured by passwords or finger prints. They reached out to the recent calls and gave me a call."

Where am I man? I could see the familiar face of my bud. That was assuring.

I learnt of the events of that afternoon. I had blacked out. In and out of consciousness, my mind had conjured up realities that weren't there. An hour later, I was good as new. I had dressed up and was ready to leave. I asked to meet the nurse who had helped me. I learnt her name was Emma. Apparently, it was her day off, she was battling the flu, but had decided to turn up for work nonetheless. I guessed she'd have cursed the doctors a bit. All of it was now making sense. Subconsciously, I had picked up conversations and my mind filled in the rest. I hugged her and thanked her for saving me. Ah well, happy endings and smiles ever after.

Two months later, the headaches had seized. It was a Friday and I had decided to leave work early. The same old tube, similar crowd in the mix.

Hi, came a familiar voice. It was Emma. We chat for a bit, giggled at silly jokes and decided to hit a coffee shop by Covent Garden.

She was nice. I was glad that fate had managed to bring us together. The last two months, we had kept in touch. Silly greets and whatsapp messages. I'd probably not say that there was something that was going on, but the chemistry was sure there.

We ordered mocha and decided to take it on the go. We sat by the market to soak in the sights of the evening.

Things felt good. Things felt in place and then I felt a shooting pain. Something had pricked me.

Emma smiled her angelic smile."I've always wondered what it'd be to play with an Indian" her soft soothing voice carried.

Ah crap!


A little more conversation

I did grow tired over the years. The fake façade of smiles, the mandatory life of parties, the jester for all occasions, the merry-maker of moments, as the titles kept piling up, I didn't bother living up to the expectations any further. Like everything else, it was a meek necessity to be noticed, a desire to be accepted that had kept me driven to being that way. Ironic. The bloke who brought to life to everything around, I found myself dead on the inside.

Life wasn't picture perfect dramatic as I hoped it would be. I did have a very happy childhood. I didn't have challenges worth calling out to brave, endure and survive. I wasn't cursed with any rare disorders. My ordeals were mundane. Maybe that's what it really was. My biggest foe was a sober mundane life. I didn't have the people I thought I wanted in life. I was left with rest of the world interacting with me, who wanted a moment with me, who felt special just by being at my side. I was the muse for the world to enjoy. I couldn't find that in anyone else. I wish I had known what it would mean to be here, at this very spot under the limelight. Eyes of the world on me and yet none that I could claim as mine and mine alone.

It did bear on me the mess that I'd be leaving behind. In fact, the thoughts of a world left behind had been a burden enough to keep me from accomplishing anything stupid. It was a battle destined to be lost anyways. I knew I was prolonging the inevitable. It was coming and I did my best from delaying it for as long as I could. None of this means anything to me anymore. Nobody understands and I don't care for the ears that want to listen. What would they know? A bunch of judgemental curious ears with nothing at stake over my life. Speaking to them would just about be the same. It wouldn't make a difference. It wouldn't change my world. It wouldn't usher magic into my life. It wouldn't plug that gaping hole of nothingness within me. Deep down, I think I deserve this all. Why would I have to suffer through all of this , if none of this was my fault?

YEAH. IF THATS HOW YOU'VE FELT,IF that's how you feel on many days, most days, IT SHOULD BE A WAKE UP CALL.

Another day in passing and another rocker, musician, celebrity who finds the light at the wrong end of a horribly wrong misplaced tunnel. A simple enough wiki later, that's 89 rockers who have taken their own life. Does suicide and depression only affect celebrities? In a way yes and in a way no. The more popular one is, and more alienated and distanced one feels, that source of light starts feeling comfortable. Depression affects us all. Thoughts of suicide are contemplated from time to time by many of us. To a lot of us, it's just a bad moment , bad thought and is just as easily dismissed as how it easy came into our radar of thoughts. ( – Wikied it a bit.

To some of us, that feeling of frustration, that feeling of helplessness, that spiralling down to the abyss is a reality. We feel trapped by it, unable to scream for help as the voices fall on deaf ears, unable to wiggle our way out of it because we don't know how. That feeling keeps building up and push eventually does come to shove. Shove it does. Alienation, isolation lead to frustration. Frustration and depression are neighbours. Depression opens door to really dumb avenues!

For what it's worth, I've been there a few times. I've felt restless. I thank my fortunes because a thick skin and a skull were part of my cope up mechanism. That has helped me shield away from most challenges of the average Joe of the real world. When your image and the perception of the world on you seldom matters, you are free to be yourself. It's a trait that has come very handy and pulled me away from the brink of twisted sanity to the insanity where I find comforts in dwelling. That's my story.

The true constant of the world is that everybody has demons to deal with. Nobody walks this plane with a dedicated helpline system. We ask for help, we keep asking, the kindness of the world fades away. We pretend to be happy and there are days when we really are happy. The magic is to eventually stop pretending someday. All of that starts with an intent to want to stay happy. Intent is everything. Intent is a choice made and choices do move more mountains than faith has ever done.

Life is worth living. Problems are like those pesky colds or headaches. One does not put up with them by doing nothing about them. One does not endure a suffering. Life's million problems are meant to be tackled, sorted, overcome and faced all over again. Do what it takes because that's what we are here to do anyways.

There are only a few things that really do offend me. Giving up on life offends me the most. Excuses are only excuses which serve the purpose of justifying the misery that we hold on to. Break that chain. Wow, a grim thought for a Friday. Then again, a better jump start to the weekend. Life is a carnival of many lights and colours, only if we let it be that way.

Say yes to life. Always.


Misguided , lost but not lost

“So are you still meditating?” my dad casually asked out of the blue.

I found the question both repulsive and felt a little invasion of my own private space. ‘Nope. I don’t have the time’ I replied. It was the truth. As abruptly as my journey began, It seemingly had also ended. It was not a quest for the realisation of the self that had pushed me along that road. It.. It was what it was. It wasn’t anymore and I had rightly so predicted a few times that I would be a shameless quitter. I had given up. In mind, in thoughts. Traces of curiosity did linger on. I couldn’t explain why it stayed behind. I know I didn’t pretend this adoption. I knew I didn’t force my exit. I knew my fate rested in things beyond my control. Cat on the wall I guess.

I must have been a soothsayer in one of my births. It’s just a feeling. During the best of my spiritual days, I had seen a light made from the energies of my chakra. I assumed it was me, my essence, the real me that transcended the body. It had spoken without words. Through thoughts, it had conveyed that things would be left unreconciled. It had hinted that this body might not see the liberation of the soul. I don’t know what the sentence means. I know there is some truth to it , somewhere. Not hidden. Just beyond my comprehension.

I hit the gym this evening. I came back home. Thoughts beyond my control, I felt that rush of harboring thoughts that I din’t want to hold on to. I took to the sound of a negative energy cleanse. On a whim, I closed my eyes to reach out to an old friend whom I had given up on. The universe.

Gone are the days when I’d meditate and find comforts in the warmth of a golden yellow light. The source that I could never see. A source  that , before now, I had never actually thought existed. I would be surrounded in that light and I felt special and comfortable. Gone are the days. I feel like an unwanted bastard child of the universe now. I had walked away from it’s love and grace. Shamelessly I still knock it’s door. If only the universe would speak to me, I wonder if it would be too honest to point out the treachery that I had instigated against it. I doubt that.

I tried to call for the universe to spare me it’s light and peace. It obliged. I decided to ground myself this evening. It’s been so long. I figured I could use a cleanse. Unlike the days of my prime, I decided to stretch my bond to the very end of the earth. All the way to the other side. I’d usually stop by the core. I felt I was way too tainted to stop at the core. The bond went all the way to the other side. The bond as wide as the earth itself. It was time to neutralise the doubts and misery that rested as blackness in me.

It wasn’t swift. It wasn’t easy. Root, cleared. Sacral cleared. I still saw black but I felt the clogs unclogging within me. I reached to my solar plexus. I saw a shimmer of light. I went higher to my heart. I felt the tears in my eyes. Hurt within, fractured by my own misery, I knew the heart charka had put up a brave front for the longest of time. It felt at peace finally. The tears had cleaned and mended the cracks in the heart. I feel blessed that there wasn’t any anger that I felt. I acknowledged the pain. I let it heal. It tried to heal. I don’t know if I’m healed yet. It would probably be way too easy and I’d be way to lucky if I call myself healed. I’m a work in progress. I guess that’s the same with the heart.

I felt the light once again. Throat, cleaned as I moved the energies back to the earth. Third eye. It had never failed me ever. I could see a future. It had always brought me misery. I could see it all thought. I refused to blame my third eye for it today. It was a gift, it was a luxury that I had squandered away. I felt thankful for all it had done. I didn’t want to call it my curse today.

Before I could reach my crown, the dark blackness started lifting off. I saw what I had never seen before. The soft pulsating fire. I could always spot the soul. I’m told it’s the blue core surrounded by black and blue hue. I failed spotting my soul today. All I could see was the pulsating fire. It grew and kept growing. What started as a soft gentle yellow red heartbeat of a fire, now grew stronger. Yellow vanished and I saw red. Soft gentle red. My mind thought of it as love. Loveless, I couldn’t explain it. I decided to neither understand it nor seek an explanation. It was what it was. I’d very much like to leave it there.

I reached the crown. Cleaned and flushed of blackness within me. I severed the bond with the earth. Thanked it for graciously helping me neutralize myself. I tried to raise a wall of white light of protection. It’s something that I’ve done a lot of times in the past. Only today, there was no white. I felt engulfed in the flame. I felt safe and protected and yet couldn’t quite fathom what it all meant.

With that I saw black. I knew it wasn’t the darkness in me anymore. This black was not intimidating. This black was not made of fears and doubts. It was a void of nothingness. It felt like outer space.

And that’s that. 22 minutes later, I felt at peace. I recognized that my body had not jerked back. It had not refused or thrown challenges at me during the minutes that had passed. Thoughts had not strayed, fears had not manifested. For what it is, Thank you universe.

I made a promise to help wherever I could. I intend to honour that word.


Book review : The one, John Marrs

Oh it's been ages since I wrote a book review. Here is my take on this fun breezy tale that left me with a few things to ponder about.

This is a not so simple, not so straight forward tale of five people who subscribe to a service to find their ideal soul mate/ Match. In the world defined by the book, a science has identified information locked away within a person's DNA that can be used to match them with their perfect partner. The service is monetized and the phenomenon changes the way the world sees itself.

Match your DNA helps millions find their perfect match. There rests a statistic that 92% of the matched profile find their spark. It's a mathematical quantification of 'Love at first sight'. The story opens with five people, Christopher, Ellie, Jade , Mandy and Neil at moment in time when they are about to open their inbox to the mail that would go on to change their lives forever.

Without getting into the plot, the drama rests in the way their lives unfold. There are interesting themes outlined in this book that I was absolutely fascinated by.

1. Surrender of Freewill
2. Shades of Love
3. Emotional Dynamics

Surrender of freewill : I love this angle to the book. Maybe it didn't really exist but I couldn't help but ponder over the parallels that volunteer us towards that suspension of choice, that relegation of ownership, our comforts in living with denial. Science and scientists agree on the way the DNA can be used to find that perfect match. There is no disputing that. The world soon adapts to this change. Firm faith in scientific backing, the world is now split into a newer breed of discrimination. The people who have been matched and the ones who haven't. The social divide has repercussions on the psychological and emotional quality of life.

Blind faith challenges the natural status quo of living a life as opposed to waiting on a predestination where one is reduced to a mere witness to a life. Interestingly, the chase , that search , the pursuit of romance is sacrificed and preapproved matches replaces the fun and thrills of discovering romance.

Shades of love : While the book is centred on love, I couldn't help by see the multiple shades to it. It's unconditional. Yes. It has the power to bring the best in us. Love facilitates that change in all of us. Yes. So far, boring as hell depiction of love. Things get interesting from here on. Love as a means to manipulate emotions in others. It's quite the tool that engages in deception to achieve intended means. And finally throw in a bit of a vengeance that piggy backs on love to set things right.

Emotional dynamics : If you had sight of your destiny, would you brave defying it? What would drive you to take your chances against set facts, agreed faith systems, accepted norms? This book introduces the characters to a point where they are left with that choice to make.

I liked the individual story lines of each of the five central characters. Their lives did make an engaging read. The plot of 'what happens if' maintains momentum throughout the book. As each character gets closer to their DNA match, secrets come out from their hiding.

Oh by the way, there is a serial killer in the loose in the plot too.

I quite liked the book. I found the narration to be simple and effective. It almost felt like the author's first ever venture into writing but I guess that's the style the narrator adopted. The story does engage, it does make us think, it keeps us guessing for most parts. There are simple twists and gap fillers that slow down the pace towards the end, but that's alright. It doesn't feel drastically offensive.

It made me rethink the way I saw Love. Love , despite all the odds stacked against it, was always a mind over everything else matter. I'll let you be the judge and jury over that statement.


I’m working on it

The rumbling sound of the bus was comforting and soothing in a way. With thirty hours to kill, a thousand kilometres to tread, time facilitated a wonderful opportunity for two people to catch up on a life that they had shared together for decades. He was dressed in brown and black, pretty oldmanish by the current fashion trends. His shoes were neatly polished. He was a creature of habit. She was dressed the way most grandmothers were dressed. Thick woollen sweater , a shade of pink to it.

The bus powered on. The milestones kept passing by. The enthusiasm that had once gripped the bus , gradually fizzed away. The toll of the long strenuous journey ahead was already visible. The sound of the bus, the rhythmic sweep of distinct snores and a few hushed conversations added to the silence of the moment.

'So what's it going to be now?' he whispered softly to her ear.

His voice was drowned by the ambience. He tried again, only a little more louder this time. She hadn't replied but the subtle change in her hue from her warm blush conveyed a different story. It was not the first time she had faced that question. It was not the first time that he had asked her that question. It was definitely not the last time that the question would be asked.

There was a time when they were both young. New to the world of being an adult. New to the ways of shared responsibilities. Novice to a life , planning to be lived as one. Their conversations were new. Curious questions were exchanged that spanned across colors of choices and preferences galore. It wasn't the age where lifestyle , outlook to life and life's billion choices were exhaustively discussed. Theirs was a simple conversation of discovering each other. The run up to the big event was short. Shorter timeline did catalyse quicker decisions.

'So, what's it going to be now?' he popped his question with a blush.

She looked deep into his eyes and smiled. 'I don't know. I'm working on it' she said.

The date set, the festive in progress , amidst the chaos there was a moment that was theirs alone. The opportune young lad ,with a heart brimming with excitement and dreams of a new beginning, sneaked in his question in a whisper. Hers was a reply reciprocated in whispered secrecy. I'm working on it, she hushed softly.

The tide of time came rushing in. The young ones were not so young any more. The pressures of life had started to sink in. There were smiles. There were fights and verbal duels. Tempers flared from time to time. Love's warmth managed to keep them cosy despite the challenges. From time to time the question would be asked. Time and again, her consistent reply never shook away from it's resolve. They were two , aligned to each other, accommodating each other, enduring each other when the days were hard.

Life bloomed and with it another life bloomed too. The daily challenges of soiled diapers and screams from a little soul kept the two occupied. Time , for once, had refused to slow down. It sped up instead. The twenty five years that followed , passed them by like a blur. The youngling had grown into a dashing handsome man. It was the time for him to kick start a story of his own. The tide of time appeared to remain constant through the iterations witnessed by different eyes. He was a reflection of his parents. He brought the foundations of a happy home to the table. He went on to live a happily ever after tale of sorts. Unperturbed by the oddities of luck and challenges. He endured where he ought to, he enjoyed where he could.

The wheels turned ahead and life bloomed once again. Grey hairs greeted fresh black patch of hair. They shared a satisfied smile when they met their granddaughter. Paradise had found itself on earth.

Life almost lived in full, well almost, the old in body, young at heart couple decided to pursue the dreams that had dared having when they started their life together , all those many years ago. They booked their bus to Leh. A thirty three hour ride on the road. A journey of thousand kilometres was in front of them. The two sat in their designated seat. She rested her head on his shoulder, like the way she had always rested. He pat gently on her head, like the way he had always patted. He'd gently stroke her greyed hair. The color had changed over the years. The gesture had remained the same.

The bus slowly clocked the miles. With nothing else to do, the opportune lad, who was young at heart, decided to give his question another shot. Quite a few years had passed and he had almost forgotten that question of his. That day seemed to be a day like any other. It felt like a good day to pop the question again. He knew that answer that would come. It made no difference to him any more. It was a question, a question meant to be asked. The question had lost it's relevance decades ago.

'So..' he asked

'Ah haan' she acknowledged.

'So.. What's it going to be now? Do you love me?. For all the years we've been together, of all the things we've survived, of all the time that gone past us, not once have you told me that you loved me'.

She sat in comforted silence. She had seen her fair share of ugly challenges over the years. This question, that statement , by no means was a challenge that would break a sweat in her. Nonetheless, it was just about the right time to respond to that, she thought.

'The thing is…' she started slowly. ' Till the point we met, everyone that I had loved dearly, had either died or left. I didn't know why. Deep down , I felt I was cursed. There wasn't much that I could do about it. And then my grandparents introduced us. I had a jinx to battle. I lacked both the strength and courage to test that theory. A while later, I knew I couldn't bear losing you. I still can't. You are the best thing that's ever happened to me. So… ' she paused.

'So…', he curiously asked.

'Does it matter now. For what it's worth, I don't know. I'm working on it'.


PS: Reading does wonders to the writing process. I'm so glad that I'm back to good old reading 🙂

All about the one 

The one. The quest for 'The One' is as elusive as it can be. There is a keen sense of contradiction to that quest. Set the aspirational bar way too high and that quest never ends and set the bar too low and find yourself in compromiseville. I'm not sure if a compromise is a bad thing anymore. The one, also happens to be the title of the book that I'm currently reading. Far away from supernatural, cosmic or otherwise, this seems to be a book draped in Hollywood-Science and runs wild with the premise that it offers. The One , by John Marrs

For a moment, if one were to skip the parts that concern the logistics and rational behind soul mates and assume that science did have the key to solve that puzzle, what would one do? I've not finished reading the book yet so I really don't know how that story unfolds. The premise did inspire a few thoughts along the lines of soul mates and the world's seamless fixation towards 'The One'. 

Given the context of the book, all it took was a swab sample of the DNA to find the perfect match, soul mate ie, using the unlocked secrets revealed by the DNA. There is a firm that offers this premium service. It would probably be a tinder of sorts which is backed by data mining algorithms that are driven by the DNA of the participants. Interesting enough. To draw parallels between real life and fiction, there are a few influencing factors that one must consider.

The social mix : 

Without science, without a space for a personal life, the whole bandwagon of finding 'The One' is pretty much a derivative of chance and luck. Think about it, the lesser folks one knows, that data set of people one can associate to being 'The One' also runs a little dry. Fewer people in the social circle results in limitation of choices and hence the imbalance in supply and demand leads to viable compromise and done deal. Most of the romance in real life is a lift and shift of this model. We have high school sweethearts, and then college sweethearts and finally romance at workplace. Skip all these convergent points of melting hearts and boom, we are no longer spoilt for choices. 

Ask and thou shalt receive : 
One of the pivotal factor called out in the book was the validation and affirmation that science could provide in zooming in on 'The One'. Ask, wait and thou shalt receive happens to be the working model described. With the science of DNA playing the match maker, this leaves the participants with fewer doubts to question or reason with the final conclusion. Odd enough, real life is not very different from the idiosyncrasy noted in the book. The foundation block of many a relationships are forged by reasons that defy logic and rational thinking. We like and hence we like. We don't and therefore we don't. During the formative phase of a relationship, should we subject it to a barrage of doubts and twenty questions; it would be a miracle if the said relationship survives! The underlying simplicity comes to the rescue. Forging relationships is a tedious task , considering the odds usually stacked high up against it. 

What's in a phrase anyway :
'The One', a soul mate, a perfect match, while the plot of the book exploits the emotional draught that is experienced by the characters, real life , at times, is also not very different. There are good marriages and there are just marriages. There are compromises that nurture the relationship and there are deceits that keep whatever is left of a relationship alive. There is warmth and there are those stoic cold numbness to it. Bottom line, most of us are insecure of a life lived in solitude. Most of us are subjected to social pressures to 'settle down'. There is a profound fear of dying alone. We fear that loneliness that prevails. 
Given the time, given the context, 'The One' is a phrase that stands to get diluted. We downgrade it from the holy pedestal it occupies. We subject the phrase to realities and practicalities of life. 

The book plays to the vast expectation that it's characters carry for the spot of 'The One'. Time is all I need to see how that story goes. Is there 'The one' for the characters? Is there a price to pay? Does the one live up to expectations? or will it all be the case of too good to be true and a fool's errand for a false gold. 
Life has been a different beast altogether. Iterations and lessons after, I'm still at the right enough mix of clueless and ignorance to make a sensible judgement. 
So what's your take on the notion of 'The One'. Is it just about a person or is it a framework that defines the character and traits that one expects from a person? 
Once I'm done with the book, I shall follow this blog with a review of the book and tell you how that story went 😉

And all of me…

“I still remember what you once told me Jiju” I spoke over the phone. 

It’s funny how times change and how we change along with the changing times. The city’s been the same. London. The duration has been the same, so far. I don’t remain to be the same. I’ve been wondering about the nature of evolution. Peter, a wise and thoughtful friend, once told me that we seldom notice change as it’s happening. I think I’d extend that statement and say, if you could never spot the subtle changes in you and around you, you probably are missing the point. 

The last time I was in this city, I was different. I was an aimless blogger of sorts with a massive appetite for writing. I’m not that today. While I’m addicted to words even today, I think twice before I hit that post button. There is a parallel thought that runs in my mind each time I’m set to post. What good is this going to serve, I ask myself. It’s not a wonder that I’ve stopped writing wild imaginative fiction. I guess it was a beautiful phase of my writing and sadly I’m outgrowing it each day.

The last time I was in the city, I was self destructive. I was focussed on running and it was my only source of comfort. I hadn’t subscribed to the services in a gym. This time around, I’m enrolled. I work out as often as I can. I’m comfortable taking a break. I’ve been sick for a week now and it’s been a week since I hit the holy land. I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t bother me. I still cant shake off the guilt of not hitting the gym.

It’s both deeply satisfying and a total time hog that I’ve let a few tasks eat up my time. I’ve traded in Anime time and exchanged it for music. I’ve traded off reading time and bartered it for writing. And then I hit a brick wall, void of any creativity and went crawling to the world of epic fail funny videos in Youtube. There are always lingering traces of what I’d want to accomplish with both words and tunes. They are a constant nag. My inability to articulate insults my very existence. Frustration sweeps in from time to time and there is nothing much I can do to ease myself into a state of peace. I acknowledge the things that I want to do and still cant and carry on. 
Balance is a word that comes to my mind as I type the construct of the blog. It’s not that hard to stay influenced, hooked to a feeling and embrace a narrowed tunnel vision of the world around. It’s convenient, is what it is. Balance. I think the mysticism from the elusive nature of happiness and peace is now used to describe balance. Balance, to me, seems to be that elusive commodity. The more I want to stay in balance, the harder I find myself falling towards the dark side. Balance!!! 
I think it’s rather a futile effort to assess where we stand by viewing ourselves through the eyes of the yesteryears. I had to wage a fierce battle with the me in 2014 and the current version of me. Life was much simpler in 2014. I had fewer channels to express thought. I didn’t have hobbies that consumed time. I didn’t expose myself to a world of competition. I was very content with where I was and what I could accomplish. Things are not that very different today as well. I’m still oblivious to the world of competition, yet a little cautious about putting in that little effort to make better music. I’m still content with where I am and what I accomplish, yet hungry enough to realize that I still have a few milestones to cover. I am in need for more time and yet distinctly aware of the fact that I don’t quite manage my time effectively to ration it to feed all my interests. After much deliberated thought, I came to the conclusion that the comparison of the self across two distinct points in time was not an apples to apples comparison. There are huge differences in priorities. 

In the broader sense, much of the misery that we inherit is from the fact that the present is no match for the expectations that were set in the past. That could either be a reflection of lousy planning or could hint towards skills waiting to get acquired. End of the day, that mismatch in expectation does exist and it only exists because we chose to let it be. If you think about it, anything that we wanted yesterday and don’t have today, that gap results because we gave up. There are plenty of excuses to hide behind and the mirror is privy to the unspoken realities that our eyes shy away from seeing. 

At 34, it’s fun to reminisce about the things I heard when I was in my mid twenties. Nearly a decade ago, one of the conversations that I had with my brother -in-law was around the fact that I didn’t have the time for family. I had work and then I had friends. I had music and then I had movies to go watch. My Jiju and I decided to walk along the beach and he let me in on the biggest white elephant in the room. We always have the time for everything that we want to do. We only lack the conviction to do it. We do not prioritize them appropriately. A decade later, he and I got into a conversation this noon and the whole point of priorities came up all over again. 
I started the conversation with I don’t have the time, I got busy. I paused and laughed and I said I still remember what you once told me. We always had the time to do the things we wanted to do. We just lacked the will to prioritize them. A decade later and still holds well. 

As much as I see the world around me change, I’m also starting to acknowledge the changes that I’m a part of too. My priorities are shifting. The things I deemed super important and extremely critical have had a down grade. The things I never thought I’d ever do are moving up the priority scale. All of it makes me wonder if I’ve learnt to recognize All of me? While I’d have really wanted the answer to that question to be an assertive yes, fortunately, I’m still a stranger to myself. It’s fun to figure out an aspect of me that I didn’t have the time for before. 

All of me. Yes. That’s worth the effort to understand , recognize and acknowledge. Which brings us to the question… do you know all of you? are you aware of yourself? How much of you is only viewed through the eyes of the world rather than yours alone?