Of skepticism and superstitions

If I had a black and a white outlook towards life, scepticism and superstition would align themselves at the polar ends of the spectrum. Fortunately, I enjoy the simple pleasures of dwelling in the land of grey. The fine line that separates my identity as a skeptic and my unshakable faith in superstition can very well be termed as hypocrisy. I’m happy with that label. And so I think I’m a hypocrite. I selectively debunk superstitions and selectively protect that belief with all my heart.

What started all of this ?

‘Bite your tongue’ , is a phrase one uses to flag a certain disapproval of things said. Nobody tells me that. My mom does tell me other things. Things like when you bite your lips , accidentally a few times in quick succession, it means there is someone who is venting out their anger and disgust for you eloquently.

I’ve had my tryst with my mom’s wisdom quite a number of times. The recent of the lot, it was a Saturday when I nearly ripped off my lip. It started abruptly and a week later, it ended as abruptly as it started. It was a week where I think I was being screamed at. Arguably, by virtue of being just myself, I think I feel a certain comfort in staying entitled that at time of the day, there is someone who has me living in their head. There is a guilty sinful pleasure there. I enjoy the fact that I’m worthy enough to occupy someone’s mind and inspire a degree of pristine hate and disgust in them. It’s a living!

This time around, I had my suspects. The timelines made sense. Coincidence was at it’s dramatic best. The week done, my lips are now safe. I don’t bite into them now. The phase of violence is now over.

I’m also a skeptic. I remember the first time I was made aware of that scepticism. It was in Liverpool, Peter and I were by the Mersey and we were talking about humanity. He believed, still believes in the goodness of the species. I didn’t back then. It was a stark realization of how bitter and resentful my experiences had made me. I had found it easier to distrust the goodness in us. I had found it easy to succumb to the simplicity of the impending doom that awaited us all.

That was me, being a skeptic. I also do enjoy the curiosity that drives me. I’m a cat on the wall when it comes to most belief systems. I rarely pick a side. When I do, I usually vet things by subjecting them to a test of time, a test of people, a test of context and circumstances. Once the faith stands tall post that scrutiny, I’m rather quick in adopting it. I usually never look back. It’s the curiosity and my reluctance to pick sides that has left me challenging the status quo.

I’m a bit superstitious. I still don’t bother trimming nails after sunset. I’d not visit a temple without showering. I’d not visit anybody’s house empty handed. I think the world is made of vibes and there are vibes that are positive and there those which I infer as being negative. The extent of my indulgence of superstitions stop there.

The other side of the tale, I’m skeptic about the eclipse or how one shouldn’t dine during the eclipse. I don’t mind dangling the key chain after dark. I have no qualms about having a conversation with my god. I’m not into dogmatic procedures that most would ardently adhere to. I enjoy my non-compliance. I love to annoy my mom.

I reckon the state of staying a skeptic or superstitious is very much a personal choice. It’s a life choice. It’s a life style. Like most similar choices, trouble brews when we try to force these opinions/faiths/belief systems onto others. For example, I am a bit old fashioned and yet I’m intolerant towards folks who expect a conservative outlook towards life. After quite a few many clashes of ideology, I am a bit jaded from voicing out opinions. Live and let live seems to be a wonderful means to a peaceful existence. Of course, not the world’s peace. Just mine and mine alone.

It is funny, the way we are. We find it easy to believe a heaven that is filled with angels, we find it easy to believe a hell that’s crowded with demons. Yet we find it hard to place trust on people who walk amongst us. By virtue, we find it easier to believe comfortable and convenient unknowns and yet choose to fear the ones that we are unsure about. Irony walks with us.

I don’t think I’m alone here. Many of us do share that enthusiasm for debunking myths. Many of us have our peeves for superstition. A lot of us are chained to our obsessive repetitive routines. So what do you believe in? What do you voice against?

Karthik

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Book review : memoirs of an imaginary friend

My name is Budo.

I have been alive for five years.

Five years is a very long time for someone like me to be alive.

Max gave me my name.

Max is the only human person who can see me.

Max’s parents call me an imaginary friend.

I love Max’s teacher, Mrs Gosk.

I do not like Max’s other teacher, Mrs Patterson.

I am not imaginary.

Coverpage of Memoirs of an imaginary friend

That’s what the preview of the book in Amazon read. On an impulse, I hit the click to buy button. The book came and along with it came a wonderful journey of words. Memoirs of an imaginary friend is a cute teddy bear with a bright pink heart that you hug tight to feel warm and fuzzy. It is a kind of a book that leaves you feeling warm, nice and happy. It’s a Disney movie that you watch by reading a book. I think this is by far the most ADORABLE thing that I’ve ever read.

Memoirs of an imaginary friend , Matthew Dicks is a fantastic fantasy-adventure of Budo. Budo is an imaginary person. He is very much real as he is not. Max, an autistic child , imagines Budo and Budo has now been around for five years. Given the world of imaginary friends, five years is almost a near impossible lifetime for an imagination to stay alive.

Budo understands the world that Max tends to skip at times. Budo never sleeps and has a curiosity of a child. At five, Budo is torn between the world of adults and children. He’s too mature to be a child and a product of a child’s imagination to be an adult. Budo’s view of the world is often perceived as an outlook of a child.

The story picks speed as we soon realize that Max is a special child with special needs. Max and Budo’s conversations are a bliss to read. There is innocence sprayed all over the book in vulgarly copious amounts. Nuances and mannerisms of an autistic child are beautifully portrayed in the book. We , as readers, soon associate ourselves to Max’s strengths and limitations. We cheer him for the things he does. We feel bad for the things he does differently. Max’s challenges become our challenges.

While innocence does remain cemented throughout the journey of this tale, it’s Budo’s curiosity, his self awareness of being an imaginary being , and his questions on life and death; the difference between existence and fading away into oblivion that offsets the childlike tone of the book. Thankfully , Budo does not go Gung-Ho and spew philosophy. He has simple needs, simple wants and it’s that pursuit of needs and wants that drives the themes of existence and purpose of life in this book.

Budo would ‘Die’ if Max stopped believing in him. As boys grow older , they do grow out of the ‘having an imaginary friend’ phase. Max’s direction towards a better , fuller, normal life also means Budo ceases to exist. It’s this conflict that is so wonderfully nurtured through the book.

One fine day, Max goes missing from school and it’s up to Budo to embark upon a fantastic adventure in finding Max and saving the day. A challenge which would have been easier had Budo been a real bloke! The rest of the book is all about this excellent , heart warming adventure. The pace is perfect, it gives us beautiful moments to pause and absorb the adventure. The story doesn’t feel rushed.

I couldn’t help but draw some connections out of the plot. I imagined Max as the transient point in time. Max was a summation of the past, the present and the future. I imagined Budo to be the self. Budo’s status quo changes with how Max grows in time. Aren’t we like that. The best days of our lives, always tend to be in the past. We coast through the present, we exist. The unknowns of the future probes fear into our hearts and we do tend to worry about our existence.

“It’s very strange to be an imaginary friend. You can’t be suffocated and you can’t get sick and you can’t fall and break your head and you can’t catch pneumonia. The only thing that can kill you is a person not believing in you.” Budo

I refused to let myself wander away in thoughts. I enjoyed the story narrated. Far away from the land of murders, crimes, deaths, contemplations about life, this felt like a breath of rejuvenating fresh air to read.

Make time for Budo. Give his story a shot. You wont regret it.

Next stop, A man called Ove.

Karthik

The magnificent seven

And no, this is not a tale of the wonderful movie that rides by that name. Unlike the flick, this is not a tale of heroes, cowboys , the wild west and a battle of good over evil. Maybe a little struggle is left lingering in there somewhere.

MARRIAGES ARE MADE IN HEAVEN AND DECISIONS ARE MADE ON EARTH ☺️

The magnificent seven is the tsunami of lessons that I managed to acquire in a very short limited span of seven days. In a nutshell, I’d probably say that all it took was a week to rearrange the plans that have been in the works for nearly a quarter now. All it took was a week to offset all the plans for the future. A week, that attracted an investment of mind, thoughts and time.

One of the better lessons that I acquired was the way of Failing with dignity and grace.

Now that I think about it, historically, it has been very convenient to have a selfish , centred outlook towards most of my failures. It was easier to accept that I could never manage to do anything wrong and things fell out of place because of the inefficiencies that are abundant around the world. This time around, acknowledging the failure was a helpful endeavour. It was a reflection of what I was, what my limitations were and what I could and couldn’t deal with.

It was a rather cheap lesson , and I use the word cautiously because the price I might have ended up paying might have been way too high, in understanding that one needn’t be wrong to fail. Sometimes even two rights make a wrong. All in all, I learnt to appreciate that a failure was not a reflection of all my limitations running a parade. I It felt nice to not delegate the blame. It felt nice to accept the failure and attribute that to my own way of viewing the world. The world wasn’t at fault and I didn’t care if I was at fault either. That did seem to help me sleep a little peaceful.

Expectations versus Intuition <<<

ver the last few years, I've been constantly reminded by the world to lower my expectations on life. I do find that funny because , a : not a lot understand what my expectations are and b : a lot pass their bias and their outlook towards life and assume that they are all interchangeable across different people. The wider lesson around this was to learn to isolate the things that bothered me and things that didn't. Fun exercise it was.

The last few months, I had revisited my expectations, or so to speak. If I were honest to myself, I'd probably say that I pretended to lower my expectations. That's still 50% of the story. it's also true that I had volunteered myself to adapt to the changes and deal with them as they came. I think the whole deal about expectations is the ability or inability to compensate for things that are either there or not.

Amidst all of this , there is that glaring intuition. For someone as opinionated and as delusional as me, it's hard to ignore such intuitions and gut feelings. I did the best I could to suppress them and dismiss them as 'pseudo intellectual noise'. The term pseudo intellectual is a fancy one. It pampers my ego by proclaiming that I'm an intellectual and at the same time by addressing it as pseudo, I do let myself believe that I'm not as smart as I'd like to be.

Intuition eventually caught up. Push came to shove and I grabbed on to my instincts rather than peripheral intelligence. I still don't know if I had managed to do something right or wrong. I do know that I neither regret nor have doubts on how I finally chose to conclude.

The lesson was simple enough. Intuition is both a blessing and curse. Knowing when to pamper it and when to dismiss it might be the answer to the holy balance of things. The wider lesson was that sense of owning a choice. A choice without regrets and doubts. I like such choices. Such choices deny me of hostages to hide behind. Such choices are a reflection of a clarity of thought. Being right or wrong is irrelevant to such choices.

Fears and insecurities <<<

he immediate consequence of any failure is the blaring conclusion that we remain, forever denied, to all endeavours in the future. I wasn't immune to that fear. In fact , by making that choice to fail, I had ushered myself to that tricky spot of a land of limitless impossibilities. The window of thought that lingers on our mind, constantly fuelling that fear of impossibilities is a very crucial zone. Buy into it and you are denied of the comforts of making choices without regrets or doubts. Coast out of it really quick and you risk missing out on understanding the magnitude of the situation.

This was the hardest phase in the week. It took me three sleepless nights to reach a consensus.

A little faith, a little courage, a little understanding of the extent of the failure , a little consolation of that willingness to live with that failure , these are the quintessential steps in escaping this purgatory of fears.

Choices and opinions <<<

his is more of a personal take rather than a generalized observation. I usually make my choice and then float around for opinions. People usually float around for opinions before they arrive at a decision. I had both, friend sand circumstances, that contributed towards that cause. The big war between choices and opinions is usually fought as a team. It requires a clearer understanding of your own indecisiveness and also a certain trust in your friends to help you make that right choice.

I remain allergic and averse to indecisiveness. I feel comfortable at failing rather than failing to commit to a decision. It's a contradiction. The time I've spent in this city, I've always remained indecisive about what to eat, what to buy, where to go and mostly because I really don't care enough to make a decision. My decisions here don't matter. None of it means anything to me. I go with the flow of whims and spontaneity.

The difference between choices and opinions was an interesting lesson to acquire. It helped me see why I couldn't stomach my choices. It made me see the pointlessness to all my justifications and also see why my justifications remained so special to me. Opinions were not for me to own and choices were not for others to make. This resulted in a shorter time for grovel.

All in all, the seven days had been one of the hardest weeks to endure. As I brace myself to live out to the consequences of my actions, I do feel lighter at the fact that I could understand myself a little better. The hardest thing in the world is to sell yourself an idea. The hardest thing in the world is for you to believe in what you do, believe in your choices, believe in your own ability to cope up. Marketing the idea to the world is a smoke screen which aims to distract you from owning your actions.

All that on one hand, I still have a mouse in the house that keeps me awake and jumpy. I'm still mulling over my choices in dealing with that little invader!!!!!

Karthik

Silent screams

Your silence unsettles me.

 

Image credit : Google!

That statement is both a declaration and a confession. Silence leaves me nervous and fidgety. It kindles and stirs the insecurities in me. It breaks me down, leaves me defenceless and vulnerable. I’d be lying if I attempt to downplay the effect that your silence has on me. It puts me on a destructive path and always I find myself spiralling down into a misery.

A simple thing like silence, and I defeat the simplicity by forcing my mind to interpret that in myriad ways. How I react to your silence is a testament to how much I feel broken and shattered. It sure is funny, the way I react to silence. I can sit beside you and enjoy the silence blissfully and yet when you are out of sight, that silence consumes me.

I feel lucky. I’ve clocked mileage on the road called call. It’s helped me tag many faces to the statement, ‘your silence unsettles me’. There have been quite a few ‘Your’. There have been quite a lot of memories to those faces. I also realize the awkward truth to that realization. I feel it would be pointless to debate the existence of the many faces that have donned the role of instigating that dreadful silence. Curtailing the journey to just one person would have kept me away from being what I am today. The contradiction is ironic. Do I celebrate the diversity that my life is? Is it also not a long history of cracks that show the extent of how much broken I feel on the inside?

I can’t undo what that’s already been done. The wiser option is to assess and acknowledge my life for what it is. It’s that acknowledgement that eventually led to this catharsis. Your silence unsettles me. Your silence breaks me down. Your silence reminds me of how insignificant I feel and how I struggle to overcome my demons and pretend to smile. Your silence rips through my masks and it exposes the crippled child that I feel that I am.

The present and the future get shaped every day. While I’d pretend that I put a brave new face and meet the challenges with an open mind, an open heart and work towards a better today and tomorrow. The reality is that while I pretend a new start, I’m also battling the demons from the past. It’s a daily existence of a struggle with the past, a struggle with the fears that shape the tomorrows, a struggle to find courage to dream that one day everything will fall in the right place at the right time.

The story of what I am today cannot be told without understanding the story of how I got here. My surrender to your silence is a cumulative result of my battles with silences across time. The way I react to your silence is a eulogy to the many dreams that I’ve buried in time. Like how the world manages to get bad things move to worse by trying hard to fix it, I’ve only managed to align myself to this way of the world. My efforts of dire desperation to make my world a happy place is also one of the reasons why I could never get things fixed.

I’d like to believe that redemption is a commodity that never arrives too late. I no longer blame the ‘yours’ of my world. I no longer hold the world accountable for all its silences. I no longer yearn to burn the world to atone my sins. I wish I could say that I understand and wish I could say that it’s all ok.

It’s not. I don’t understand. It’s not because I refuse to. It’s because I don’t know how to. There might come a day where I find myself in a place where I can understand your silence. Today’s not that day. Your silence represents something else to me. It introduces me to my demons whom I’ve managed to ignore. My demons aren’t gone. They’ve not been slain. They have been shoved away beyond my line of sight. Out of sight, out of mind is how I manage to coast around the day.

With another day, another chapter in life, another silence to deal with, I did what I’ve always done. I tried to deal with it in a way I saw fit. This chapter, has been a little different than the others I’ve carried out. I learnt the distance that I can cover by having an open mind. I learnt the value of my gut instincts. I learnt how instincts conflict with an open mind. I’d like to believe that now I understand the virtue of the two vices; Instincts versus and an Open mind.

I am what I am. I refuse to change that. I am what I can be. I acknowledge the degree to which I let myself adapt. I accept what I’d always be. I’ll probably always be a little nervous around your silence. I’m learning to tell the difference between what you mean by your silence and what I think you intend to convey.

Karthik

Macbeth : A curious peek into the ides of march

The mere mention of Macbeth brings out fond memories of the humour around ‘ Out damned spot’. The tragedy , till date, has transcended the boundaries of time, those of culture , has broken barriers of language. In fact, the context of the tale still holds well. I must admit that I’ve not dared reading the works. I’ve not watched the play. I settled for the second best. Vishal B’s Maqbool. It’s a take on the story and is set in the backdrop of crime family.

It’s not the tale that got me thinking. I got distracted by the sub plot that fuels the pace of the narration. The three witches got my attention. The three witches, or as I remember them, the sisters of fate are central to the plot. They prophesize the fall of Duncan and also the rise and fall of MacB. While their existence in a tale sure does authenticate the existence of a supernatural, it was not the surreal that caught my attention. There was something simpler and far sinister at play that got me wondering.

If one were to hypothesize the validity of the supernatural, accepting the existence of such powers also does acknowledge the fact that premonitions are a way of life and observed norm. If one were to dispute such an existence, it also throws the prophecy off the window. To sum that up, prophecies are either real or delusions.

With a level playing field set around the context of the supernatural, let’s now take a closer look at the man of the hour, Mr Macbeth. He bears audience to three predictions. The first of the lot occurs and this fuels him to contemplate the murder of the king. He eventually becomes a king himself. The predictions turning real, he also accepts his inevitable fall that he awaits. He does try to mitigate that and we are left with logistics and word play to usher a little misdirection to keep the plot rolling.

Is this all a little too much fantasy to trivialise and rubbish?

A wonderful argument is that Macbeth ‘did’ and acted on an impulse. His deed resulted in a murder and that resulted in him being a king. Prophecies are words and it’s the actions that determine the course of things to come. Without the act of murder, the fates would have remained the same.

Another peek into the event is the source of inspiration from which MacB drew courage. He put his faith into words, a kind of faith that helped him overcome his apprehensions and gave him a purpose to pursue. Would he have killed if not for the words of fate? Would he have killed even if the sisters didn’t mention his fate to be? Guess this swings along the case of to be or not to be.

Choices, and I smile at them today. Choices are an outcome of a determined will. The degree of determination, the grit to a conviction are both an outcome of a choice made, fears mitigated and risks weighed. Which brings the role of the sisters to a possible placebo effect.

We are all a Macbeth in many ways. We hesitate to act on days. We yearn for that word of future to assure us that our actions would yield results. We place the free will of our choices to words of fate. The contradiction is astounding. An assurance of fate warrants an action that goes ahead to alter that fate. In that respect, fate is a derivative of action.

I could argue that words have the power to change too. Words that inspire courage, which alters destinies. Words that fuel a crippling fear that renders us inactive. When that’s the case, words still do alter destinies. Such fear to such words results in us staying in a state of inertia and never quite reaching the pinnacle of our destiny.

It was this conundrum that kept me intrigued about the tragedy. Maybe it does take a little water to wash away the bloodiest of sins. More quite so when one realises that the magnitude of a sin is not measured through actions, but by thoughts that traps us in guilt.

Karthik

Book review : His bloody project

Cover page of His bloody project

His bloody project , G M B.

I picked this book because , 1. The cover page looked awesome. 2. It was heavily discounted. 3. I wasn’t thinking much when I picked the book.

In a short span a few months, I had comfortably moved away from comforts of reading murders and the satisfaction of accompanying a sharp mind in deciphering the twisted mind of a heinous bloke. While this was the genre that got me into reading, I had found myself moving towards other philosophies of life. I had this book for nearly six months before I eventually got to it.

I was impressed with the book. Yup, it makes for a well constructed , gripping narrative.

This is a story of a boy , Roderick Macrae. His not so simple life leads to a not so simple situation. Roddy is charged with manslaughter of not one but three people. The story is not a cat and a mouse chase of who-dun-it. With the dirty deed done cheap, the story kicks off with Roddy’s confession of the murders. Soaked in mind, Roddy goes on to getting himself imprisoned.

Now that was a twist in the tale that got me intrigued about the book. While in prison, Roddy is encouraged to write a memoir of the things that eventually transpired in the act of cold blooded murders.

The book is split into three sections. Roddy’s memoir of things that led to the murder. Roddy’s present in the prison. The retelling of the trail that decided upon his fate. I found the trial to be extremely engaging. Cheap thrills. The court room drama was both efficient and thrilling. I particularly enjoyed the sequence that the book follows. The memoir and Roddy’s time in the present are beautifully unravelled. With each page turned, one finds oneself closer to the nature of Roddy’s life.

There are brilliant questions that the book leaves us, the audience, with.

‘If an insane bloke proclaims to be insane, is the bloke really insane?’.

‘What justifies a murder?’ .

The book also explores the environment that nurtures a mind which readies itself to carry out the crime.

Are we born a murderer or do we grow into that role?

I did enjoy reaching my own conclusions about Roddy. I am intrigued by my not so ‘black and white’ outlook towards moralities of life. I’ll let you experience the narrative and form your own opinion about the curious case of Mr Roddy.

The horror that humans are capable of chilled me to the bone. Now that I think about it, it doesn’t take a lot for something within us to snap and embrace the animal in us. The book explores the simple clarity of a damaged mind’s conclusion that eventually does lead to a murder. Murders rather.

Maybe this book is not for everyone, then again, the whole act of murder is contained within a chapter. I guess in that sense, this can be picked without too much fuss.

I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed the thoughts it left me with. The greatness of a book is not measured by the words used to describe it, its measured by the amount of thoughts it leaves , once that story is read. In that respect, this book manages to achieve just that.

Karthik

Foothills of solitude

solitude

 

I couldn’t go on this way. I felt unable to think or act. I struggled to reconcile a choice. A choice that I’ve been putting of for months now. I let my true self down. I defeated my instincts and pretended to go against the grain. In the name of keeping low expectations, I knew I had wandered away from things that kept me complete.

 

In my hour of struggle, I tried to calm myself down. It is a little strange that I didn’t perceive it as an act of desperation. It felt like the thing to do. I closed my eyes and decided to give myself a shot. I feel lost. I feel like an imposter. Have I pretended for far too long? I can’t wake myself up and decide to call all of this my world of make believe. I can’t turn the clock back and opt to ‘unbelieve’ the things I’ve accepted into my belief system. In that regard, I feel like an imposter. An imposter who started to fit into a role and was left behind filling into that role even after the last of the curtains fell down.

 

I decided to calm myself down and closed my eyes. Of the blue, I tagged states of emotions to ground with the earth. My fears , symbolized by my root. My desires, by my sacral. My expectations , by my solar plexus. My wishes, by my heart. My ego, by my throat. My dreams , by my third eye. Finally this self, by my crown. One by one, I tried to move the energies to the ground. The trace of light falling on my closed eyes seemed to fade away. I felt engulfed in darkness.

 

This felt contrastingly different. I usually associate dark to the energies and when I try to ground them, I remind myself that I’m refilling myself with light. This time around, the tables were turned. This felt comfortable. This felt right. With the distractions and clutter moving away, the illusion of light seemed to dissipate.

 

Protected in a bubble of white light, I felt secure again. It showed. It felt safe. The thoughts , now called out, there was finally a distinct lack of noise within. It was in this silence where I first observed the pulse of the body. It was disharmonious. It felt like the different parts of the body were vibrating in their own distinct course. It felt like a concert where none of the instruments were in tune or followed a rhythm. I decided to focus on my breathing in hopes of finding a balance.

 

Om Namah, I’d breath in and hold. Shiva ya, I’d breathe out. I didn’t keep track of the changes. I felt an order restored. There felt a balance. The vibrations were now in tune. To what? That I do not know.

 

As I focused on my breathing, in and out, I felt as a fetus; all alone in a vast span. I could arrive at the mistake of calling it as a fetus , all alone in a vast land. While I could perceive it as a desert, I was also sure that it wasn’t one. It was neither barren, nor it felt lush. I couldn’t identify it as a land, or a place. Vast span.

 

I felt the minuscule nature of the fetus that I was when compared to the vastness. I neither felt insignificant nor intimidated by the smallness. It was a moment of acknowledgement. Acknowledgement of what? That I do not know.

 

The feeling remained unshakeable. I opened my eyes after a while. Staying curious, I lingered to see if there was a meaning to it all. I couldn’t articulate the thoughts right into google. I didn’t know what to find. I didn’t know what I was looking for. I stumbled upon a gist on Vipassana. The name, not a coincidence. It was only last week where a colleague of mine spoke to me about it. It spoke of solitude. Not of the body, but of the mind.

 

If there is a sense to my delusion, maybe it’s about the right time to start trying to understand the nature of that solitude. It’s not about being alone or lonely. The solitary mind is at ease, because it’s unaffected – a line from the article.

 

Maybe I got to learn something. Maybe I got lucky. Maybe there is always ample time for all the lessons waiting to be learnt.

 

Karthik

Pinned Perspectives Polarises Providence

The word on the streets is that the title is a convoluted alliteration at play. Guilty as charged. I did invest a little time and effort into it so that it feeds into the theme of the words that would follow.

There are a few factors to consider before the blog starts to make sense. I’d love to revel under the implicit illusion that my posts don’t have to necessarily make sense, however, throwing in a word of caution is a sneaky attempt at a weak shot of redemption. The disclaimer claimed, lets skidaddle to the factors that I had called out.

The first on the list is the Netflix movie ‘Death note’ . The anime was a million times better a packaged product that met it’s audience with philosophies of what is right and wrong, by what extent the means justifies an end. While I personally felt cheated by the Netflix movie, I sat satisfied by reflecting on the themes of the anime.

First factor : The personal moral compass versus The Society’s moral compass.

The second on the list is the book that I’m reading. It’s titled, ‘ His bloody project’. It’s a memoir of a murderer. I’m still reading the book so I’ll not jump to conclusions about it. The introduction establishes the simple fact that perpetrator takes ownership of his actions, of cold blooded murder, while the society around feels perplexed by the honesty and determination with which the murder takes responsibility of the crime.

The second factor : The interpretation of what is right and what is wrong.

The third on the list is along the lines of perception bias. It’s the ability expressed by individuals where they stay blind to the realities perceived by the world, because they are satisfied with the realities of their own making. This renders the individuals defenceless against forming an objective perception about the world around. People are wicked to us, because we see them that way. People are special to us, be cause we see them that way. If , at all, there was a place for an absolute true north for a Truth, people would be scattered across the spectrum of wicked and special. Our worlds change , when we learn to change how we view the world.

The third factor : The fault in our eyes.

The three things which intertwined in my head, I also happened to mull my thoughts over the very first framework of a law. When I say the very first, I mean the very first according to the tribunals of Hollywood. The Ten Commandments could take the precedence of being the first ever written record of a framework of law by which people felt compelled to lead their lives in obedient compliance.

While the status of the ten commandments is irrelevant to the cause, feel free to swap any written framework to mark as a point of reference. As long as we have a fixed , documented point of reference, the context of the blog continues to hold well. In fact, strike that, as long as there is a fixed point of reference, documented or verbally expressed, the context of the blog continues to hold well.

Here comes the kicker. While the framework is a simple set of do it and don’t do what Homer Simpson wont do, the fact that it’s written down is also a reason that the very words are subjected to interpretation. If someone heard it, translated it, scribed it, it also presents the opportunity for erros in translation because we are tuned to hear what we’d like to hear, see what we’d like to see and express what we feel like expressing. The framework, is subjected to context. Given the context of how life was, at some point in time, the framework made sense. The ten commandments does not talk about thou shall not steal thy neighbour’s broadband password.

So comes the real question. The very fact that we have lawyers, whose only job is to interpret the law; twist it turn it to meet a purpose; translate a law to meet the current context ; and reduce the arbitration of the law to a simple debate of words to appeal to a jury, now that’s far away from law being fair and just and absolute. In short, no man is guilty of a crime, just guilty of hiring an incompetent lawyer (derived from Shawshank Redemption)

What is right, what is right by me, what is right by the society and hoping that there is no conflict of interest between what serves me and serves the community, right and wrong is a mere product of convenience. Right and wrong , they both become a product of context and do not synonymize with an absolute truth. Which brings me to the point of such an ‘Absolute truth’. Is there such a thing. There are facts, there are interpretation of the facts. Truth does not feature under the purview of facts. Either the facts hold well, or they don’t.

With Friday around the corner, I couldn’t help but wonder about the pinned perspectives that polarises our providence. We pamper the illusion of fair and unfairness that surrounds us. I couldn’t help but feel amused about my context in the whole wide world. I’m a devil to many, an angel to some , a pain to all, but aren’t all of those perceptions to deal with? In fact the whole point of I AM, is a perception of the self that is governed by conditioning, knowledge and ability to call out contextual adjectives to strengthen a narrative.

On that note, What kind of a reality is really real anyways? Go Figure. The easiest way around such questions is to ‘Go with the flow’ or as I call it, ‘Ride happy along the ignorance train’.

Karthik

Book Review : Atonement

Coverpage of the Book : Atonement

Atonement by Ian McEwan

There is something so familiar in this book that struck a chord. It’s a tale of an affair with words, the world of imagination , the choices made and consequences eventually atoned for.

This is a story of Ms Briony Tallis. She’s a bored little teenager who dreams big of being a writer one day. A summer that changes her life and the lives of people around her. The story is set amidst the boredom of this girl, her way of coping up with the boredom by imagining a world of drama and thematic challenges. With her brother Leon returning back home from university, it presents her with a wonderful opportunity of hosting a play to entertain the guests.

Briony’s world is her home, her sister Cecillia , Robbie; who is the son of the housekeeper who helps around the Tallis household, Lola and the twins who are her aunt’s kids and are guests in the house. Briony engages Lola and the twins to take part in her play. Briony has a change of heart and decides to call off the play.

She also happens to witness the raw and crude strained love that Cecillia and Robbie share. Her age of ignorance and naïve innocence, her lack of understanding of young blossoming love, her pampered outlook towards life, all of this results in her bearing witness to Robbie assaulting Lola. Briony’s testament , her dedicated unwavering conviction to her testimony seals Robbie’s fate.

The story then branches out to its next two acts. Set in the backdrop of Dunkirk, Robbie is now a man, a solider who has one and only reason that drives him to survive the war and return home to his one true love Cecillia. Robbie , of course, is innocent of the crime that he was charged with, finds it hard to forgive Briony but also wants Cec to unite with her family and sister again. The incident had fractured the family and the lives of its people. Forgiveness becomes a commodity that is not easily exchanged.

Act three revolves around Briony’s penance. In time, she realizes the magnitude of her childish act. Now fully aware of the consequences of her actions, the striking difference between words of fiction and words that are stated in the real world, Briony is plagued with the knowledge that her thirst for fiction and drama in life had resulted in fractured lives. Briony decides to face the consequences of bearing the truth.

Atonement is a book that bored me to hell. The pace was slower than a dead horse trying to drag itself from point a to b. While the premise was promising, the execution lacked drama and was far away from it’s potential. Briony’s atonement was barely a crescendo. It fizzed away and drowned in distracted narration , much like a sound of triangle getting lost in a blaring orchestra. By the time one reaches the end, we don’t feel Briony’s burden, we don’t share her guilt, we remain unaffected by the choices of the characters.

I’m glad that this was the last of the 5 that I picked up. Another day, another book read, another lessons learnt and a few ones skipped. I wish I felt inspired to explore the themes that the book covered. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with it to bother that effort.

If you have the time to kill, if someone gifted you this book and you feel compelled to not cheat, not sneak up the plot in Wiki, then have fun reading the book.

Karthik

A story of tales.

Dear Diary

I guess , after these many decades, I finally do understand the subtle difference that’s love. Live long enough with an open mind, I bet one stands to grow wise.

The many years we spent waiting, the payoff had finally come. It wasn’t much of a payoff as it was the satisfaction of seeing our kid again. I belong to the old world where a man doesn’t emote. I’m used to the code of a stiff upper lip. I appeared normal. I felt elated within. My excitement was contained and it took a tremendous effort to keep the blazing fireworks under wraps.

She was as much of the old world as I was. Her happiness was on a constant display. Life had found her again. It breathed energy into her old bones. Her movements quickened, her pace picked speed, she was no longer an old grand ma of sixty. She appeared to be thirty again. She managed to make a list of things to buy, things to cook, places to visit, people to meet. As the day approached, her spirited frenzy enthusiastically escalated. Mother’s pride , that’s exactly what it was. It was on abundant display.

‘So tell me again.. when is his flight? What time will he be out? When do we finally get to see him?’ she’d ask me from time to time. She knew the details by heart by now. The information didn’t matter to her anymore. It was the sheer joy of hearing the news that brought a smile to her face. The weeks leading up to the day, I guess I’d have answered her sequence of questions, which never changed their order, a few hundred times. I played along. It was nice to see her happy and alive again. It felt good. I didn’t mind the questions.

Now that I take a moment to reflect, I think I’ve had a reasonably decent middle class life. Born into a family of four, I had the luxury of pursuing my education. I didn’t have to worry about shouldering responsibilities. I found myself a job and there was nothing special about it. I was happy staying employed. The time had come for me to take the next step. Ironically enough, it was a step that was taken on my behalf. That’s what it was. I didn’t complain. I didn’t know if there was an option to even complain. It was just the way things were. It wasn’t a bad marriage. She was a quiet girl. She has always been quiet.

There were times when her enthusiasm for life trumped the moment. Her childlike conviction to a cause was a sight to cherish and behold. I did my best to bring that side of her out as much as I could. Her moments of sublime bliss was a challenge worth spending a lifetime to work towards. Unlike the new brave world that expresses itself out on every given minute, ours was a world with few words and fewer expressions. We worked on a simple routine of care and questions. With money tight, surprises were few and scattered away. It’s been a life no different than the usual norm.

In time, we soon had a common dream. An American dream to be precise. We skimmed through our needs, we skipped on pointless comforting luxuries, we saved ample enough for that ticket. Our son did the rest. He studied when he had to. Poor kid, he barely complained. He had inherited his mother’s smile. when the time came, we bid our goodbyes in the airport amidst hugs and tears.

With our dreams now vacant, going back to the life we had felt different. The boulders of responsibilities had waned thin. We were again thrust into a world that was constituted by only the two of us. We found a routine. She took it upon herself to feed stray dogs, tend to birds that nested around our house. She had things to do. I enjoyed watching her go about her life. It was almost like the old days. I was happy watching her childlike conviction to her causes.

We had not seen our child in two decades now. He was no longer the little kid that we sent away to the land of dreams. Work, life, promises to keep and commitments to meet, the time had flowed forward without much dissent. She cried when our kid announced his marriage. She didn’t mind the merger of cultures, she missed being there , watching them make a new start. She cried when our grand daughter made it to this world. It wasn’t the birth of a girl child that bothered her, she missed being there, watching the new one. In time, her tears had dried up. She didn’t cry any more. The kindness and care that were within here were reciprocated by the society that surrounded us. We weren’t the grumpy old couple. Kids enjoyed our hospitality. animals found shelter in our old aged home.

The call brought a change in us.

All of this was new. All of this was exciting. The day had arrived. A son met his mother. A mother met her son. A hug that took decades in the making. All the love in the world that had the power in them to stop time.

Well, that’s the story if you asked my wife.

My son started off the usual way. He couldn’t understand the economic divide that kept me from being a provider that he wanted me to be. I tried. I had failed. My son vowed to change his fate. He’d never allow his kids to undergo the same fate. The ferocity in his determination was a testament to a man who had made up his mind to change his destiny. The last of the hurdle were the tickets to his land of dreams.

He had distanced himself from his former world. He wanted nothing to do with it. He was now a part of a new world. A world that he fought hard to keep away from the one he had left behind. He had orchestrated his own life. I was happy, as long as he was happy. I didn’t have a say in what transpired. I didn’t want to have one either.

The day had come, he had arrived. Just him. He saw his old frail parents. As he hugged his mother, he shot his glance towards me.

‘Appa, hope you’ve considered my offer to sell that house and move to a care home.’

One story. Two tales. I finally understand the difference between a mother and a father today.

Cool.

Karthik

Inspired by watching this old couple stand an hour in the tube station. I hope they had a better story of life.