IF

Wow. It’s been an intensive day. I think sisters are the best. I don’t talk a lot about my sister. We’ve had a wonderful bond over my 34 years of existence. The first 15, I spent that in holy pursuit of driving my sister nuts. As I grew older, as the things that we both could talk about broadened its horizon, I think my sis and I make a good team of conversationalists.

What she said today, does haunt me a little. It’s not the first time that I’ve heard what she said. Not a few weeks ago, another online friend told me just that.

‘I had no idea Karthik. I thought you were a happy carefree guy , enjoying a bachelor life in London. I thought you were burning money, recklessly spending and doing whatever that you pleased. I didn’t imagine there was this side to you’.

I’m not hiding away a dubious side. I’m a fun loving guy. I’m funny, on most days. That’s a bit contentious, some folks don’t think I’m funny. That’s alright. I’m a bit changed though. There was a time when all I could do was write fun little snippets. As I wrote more, the themes that I chose to write about became darker and the plots became grimmer. I’m like two separate people when it comes to writing. My comments and overall social interactions are light. The blogs that I write, I’ll call them dense, in an effort to sound humble.

That’s true. It’s almost like I swap personalities. I didn’t plan for any of this. It happens to be that way.

So a long conversation with my sister about my life, it was a side that I had never shown to my family ever before. Something in me snapped and I didn’t care enough to pretend anymore. Now that I’m back to being my pretending self, safe behind a mask, I think the conversation did leave my heart feeling a little light.

The big point of conversation was around my marital status. I don’t particularly despise my current status. I nether lament it nor rejoice it. It is what it is. I refused to marry for the sake of marrying. I chose to not put a tick on a compliance checklist and compromise on my expectations of a married life.

Long story short, call me fussy, call me unlucky in love, call me a bloke of sky high expectations, in fact call me whatever, when it comes to marriage, I will opt a yes if I really really feel like it.

I’m a bit tired of folks giving me that look. I’m tired of ‘marriage experts’ giving me gyan on what I should and shouldn’t expect. I’m tired of world expressing sympathies around my marital status. I’m so tired that I stopped trying to explain my take on the whole thing. I’ve grown so tired that I even refrain from spraying obscenities in this very paragraph.

Just because I’m tired, it doesn’t mean that the world stops trying. For good or for worse, I am thick skinned and I can deal with the world. Unfortunately, there is a kink in my armour. It’s called wonderful parents. It just bums me every day that there is nothing that I can do to alleviate their worries about my future.

I could look the other way around my preferences and settle down, just to appease my folks. That, to me, would be a dumb move. I can’t hold them responsible for my actions. I can’t hide behind their happiness. I refuse to hold them as a scapegoat to all my failures. That adds to my misery. I’m left with the naked truth that I can’t keep my folks happy because I’m too wound up in my head to find a suitable match.

Yeah big deal. It’s one thing to deal with the world, it’s a whole new challenge to try to want to keep others protected and safe and comfortable. They are my parents and unfortunately, my thoughts and their happiness usually are not on the same page.

Wish there was an easy way to resolve the battle of love. It would have been nice if they’d give up on me. It would have been easier if I had given up on myself and succumbed to my own fate. I refuse to give up on myself. My folks refuse to give up on me. Vicious cycle.

It’s funny the way our world works. It’s funny that compliance seems to be the way of life. It’s odd that my life has no meaning unless I meet the million expectations that the world has on me. For some reason, I am reminded of the poem IF.

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

The many ifs of life. If only I wasn’t me, none of this might matter to me. I take comforts in knowing that it isn’t true. I am what I am. I will be what I’d choose to be.

I’d find the strength to endure, not because I’m a hero in a world of damned souls. I’d find the strength to endure, not because I’m a chosen one and an example waiting to shine. I’d find the strength to endure, not because there is a sweet taste of victory at the end of it all.

I’d find the strength because if I don’t, nobody else is going to find it for me.

Special thanks to my sister and another sis in FB. Bhavana. Her blog caught my attention today. It speaks about the many battles that we wage. Mine, is just another battle in an ocean of battles.

Her words can be found here : Sa Ham

Karthik

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Things are what they are, and whatever will be, will be

” Things are what they are, and whatever will be, will be. “ Allan Karlsson from The hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared.

While this is not a review of the book, the spirit of that quote was ample enough to inspire me to wing a few thoughts about it. I, for one, am conflicted about the deal of ‘Going with the flow’. To me, that approach is a little too free fall for comfort. While I’m not obsessive or compulsive about making plans and sticking to every single line item, I do find it a bit odd to completely ignore even the faintest remotest idea of a plan. I find assurance in knowing that there is a plan. What the plan stands to cover is immaterial.

Given the nature of the book and that it’s a fantastic fabulous work of fiction, I do acknowledge that in the realms of fiction, everything is possible. Real life poses certain challenges that a fictional life doesn’t have to deal with. With revered humility, I acknowledge that real life does have a capacity to throw a few curve balls that we are usually not well prepared to resolve. It’s that grasp of reality often pushes us to succumb to the flow of things and let things take their own course. In an act of part desperation and part faith, we let ourselves be willed by the way of the universe.

All of that sounds fine and dandy and that’s precisely why I can’t stomach that isolation of accountability towards life.

Given the context of the book, given the context of the movie ‘Forrest Gump’, given the context of life’s many adventures and experiences that we gather, there is a simple, subtle fact that stays hidden and yet possesses the magical charm to alter the course of one’s destiny. The underlying, undermined secret is one’s capacity to adjust and adapt to the changing course of things and steer ahead.

Yup. That’s the key. The ability to adapt to changes of varying magnitude. That ability doesn’t fall from the sky. It’s a reflection of skills possessed, strengths played to, limitations mitigated and a certain degree of faith on oneself. Give these, going with the flow does make a lot of sense. When we are better placed to deal with open challenges, the other limiting factor is in the form of how we choose to restrict ourselves because of our biases. Having an open mind helps. It’s a sign of being ready to deal with the unknowns. By unrestricting the things that we can do, we do end up doing a lot more than we initially thought we could.

That conquest of fear is wonderfully explored in the quote. ‘Things are what they are, and whatever will be, will be’

Contrary to popular belief, going with the flow is not synonymous with not being ready to take on life’s many curve balls. It means having an outlook to take those curve balls and whack em up plenty. I’d like to believe that it is this spirit to life that enriches by giving us the varied experiences that go on to construct the story of our lives.

Go with the flow. It’s a bit different than drifting away helplessly.

Karthik

The white knight

The morning felt the same. Well almost. The bright Holland Orange coloured T-Shirt that I picked for the gym did wonders. It was quite a workout. I head back home and slept away like a baby. The morning new and not so bright, the coffee new and not so sweet, it was a morning like most mornings have been.

Well almost.

I saw her. The beauty in white. For a few years now, three to be exact, I’ve been thinking about her. A white color Kawasaki Ninja motorbike.

White Ninja Motorbike

She zoomed past me today. I gawked at it for as long as I could and found myself narrating the desire to own a sports bike for a change. I’ve never really fancied a sports bike. I’ve always enjoyed metal. At one point in time , I did own a bullet bike. That was the best years of my life. I had to sell her off. That being said, a sports bike was something that my heart had never really longed for. That soon changed.

A few years ago, my friend picked up the usual Green one. I remember hopping showrooms with him. He had fallen in love with the green bike and I had rested my eyes over the white one. White motorcycle and black leather. I enjoyed imagining myself own that. I don’t think I’ve ever been a speed demon, but I could see myself indulge in a bit of a road rage. I did like that very much back then.

All the memories of wanting to buy a bike came rushing back in , this morning. I wanted a bike, I had picked up a comfy car instead. It’s not the same. The two things mean very different things. Being a biker is a choice of a life that has a sense of adventure to it. Really comfortable plush leather seats of my car is a choice that I enjoyed the road, the music the moon through the moon roof. My lifestyle had hit a fork on the road. I guess I had already made my choice.

And so, my friend asked me if I had plans of heading home and buying that motorcycle. Sure, It made sense. I’ve always yapped about a life without regrets. I’ve always believed in doing things that I wanted to do, without offending my brain with reason and logic. I knew what my response was going to be. It had not changed in years now.

Naah, It’s probably a midlife crisis thing. I won’t end up buying it.

And in silence I contemplated the joys of riding the bike.

The term midlife crisis wouldn’t die away without putting up a fight. My curiosity had gotten the better of me and I felt absolutely compelled to read a little more about it. My take on the matter was rather primitive. I thought when folks got bored of their lives, bada bing, we have someone who is cruising through a midlife crisis. To me it felt like a lifetime spent without a sense of excitement and adventure and hence that push to do something drastic to jumpstart that said life.

A wiki gyan later, I’m at extreme loss of words.

The near expert view of the term centres around

1. Work

2. Relationships

3. Wards

4. Growing old

5. The big anxiety about death.

All of those, some of those, often result in various forms of regret and resentment over the life lived. I didn’t expect that view. I still can’t put my head around it. It’s usually not the case where one wakes up on a fine Monday morning and realizes the gaps which are now as wide as they can be. A midlife crisis can’t be something that would/could come as a surprise. To me , I think it’s an inevitable eventuality. One would have to choose to ignore the problems, discount the visible symptoms and live in denial for the longest while till things get a little too overwhelming to ignore any further.

The contention seems to be around how one views oneself. Inequality is a great level playing field. Everybody has something that they don’t have. Comparing ourselves with all our limitations with others doesn’t really sound like a great plan!

From day dreaming about riding a white motor cycle to running rampant with questions on why we doubt ourselves and undermine ourselves, I need some coffee to jump start the day.

While the bike might not be the one for an immediate grab, the Orange shirt was good enough to keep me jumping with excitement. I think that’s what dealing with crisis is all about. It’s not a massive battle once we reach a certain age. It’s the daily struggle to want to have a life, of wanting to have a career, of wanting to make relationships work, of feeling better about ourselves, of a commitment to stay in shape and fit.

Everything in that list of 5 is inevitable. Nobody can give it the slip. We are bound to collide with it at some point or the other.

Karthik

All hail the ‘move on’

Everybody who is anybody is absolutely besotted with the phrase ‘move on’. Moving on, by definition, is the simple process of purging oneself off all the things that prevents the said person from moving on. Conveyed that way, it does seem a little silly. Why would the process of moving on face a challenge? Why would one choose to hold on to things that would keep one anchored to the same place, to the same point in time, to a state without a present and a possible stale future?

Moving on also is a process which inspires the best realist in most of our friends. It’s usually a mind over matter thingy. The woes are in the mind. The pain is not real. It usually takes a simple push to regain and reclaim life. These are but the standard templates of dealing with the not so unique problem statement.

Reading is both a vice and a virtue. Reading enlightens one’s mind. Books do tend to have that effect on me. It must be a touch of a misplaced confirmation bias which gravitates me towards certain books. I don’t think I can quite explain it any better than that. I was tempted to state the ‘destined to read these’ and celebrate the fact that nothing is a mere coincidence to an initiated mind. That would surely kindle my delusion. The easier, depreciative   alternative was to blame it all on a confirmation bias.

Okie dokie, the story so far  : Struggle to move on, books and their impact on life. How did the two manage to exist in the same sentence?

Once again, I’d take use the stick called confirmation bias instead of quoting coincidence.

Before we get there, there is something that would set a better context around the stream of my thoughts. All big bang and planning later, I bailed out the marriage plans. My reason was not that farfetched, given my capacity to dwell extremely wild around surreal tangents. We didn’t talk much and I almost could see a lifeless life together.  I had lowered my expectation and embraced an open mind approach to the whole thing. Push came to shove, I had exhausted all my reasons for all of that to really work out. A few sleepless nights later I had made my decision.

So that setting the context, the book called A man called Ove made it to my reading list. It felt like a future of sorts. Ove’s life, the initial descriptions of it, struck a chord. It was the same life , void of all colors , enthusiasm and a will to live that had gripped me when I turned the other way to the marriage. It felt as if someone had meticulously read my thoughts, read my fears for the future, pulled a list of all the things that unsettled me and wrote a fantastic story around it. The book struck a chord indeed.

The book also played a few more strings around my emotions. Given the premise of the book, the titular character, Ove, had trouble carrying on with his life without his better half. For good and worse, he had managed to marry someone who had completed him. When it was her time to depart, and when he still had time to endure and survive in the mortal plane, it was not a life that was going on. It was an existence alright. An existence devoid of any life, color, enthusiasm and spirit. Ove’s expression of how much his wife completed him was a stark realization of how much incomplete that I see myself as.

Moving on, the whole act of it, is an endeavour to replace the ones that were in our lives with new people to compensate that loss. When we can’t find people to substitute the ones that we miss, we try to fill it with activities. It’s not an uncommon or an unpopular reasoning. The ones who have lost something extremely precious have always been the ones to give a lot more back to their own community and their own society. The best of altruism does have its roots in a grave personal loss. It’s a scary thought. The best in us, the most charitable in us, if all it takes is an irreconcilable loss to be that, it’s a scary world indeed.

Another way to view it would be the whole act of pretending to invest all that energy into something better, something that generates a smile. None of that undermines the loss that one has to come to terms with.

I guess I’m stranded in that land called moving on. I pour my mind into the words that I write. I vent my emotions into the music that I make. I smile, I shoot pictures and delude myself into thinking about how expressive I can get as a hobbyist photographer. The underlying truth is, none of it means much to me. I do appreciate a few likes. Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice to have a few people indulge into my works and encourage me by liking the works. It’s the case of a whole world of likes versus the one like that I could never get.

That’s been my constant struggle. I’m not happy with the entire world. I’m a lot happier in viewing that one person as my entire world. I’ve been through quite a few iterations of swapping my one person – world view. People have come and people have gone. The world has liked me and indulged me and has at times opted to not bother.

It’s this idea, it’s this sentiment, and it’s this trait in me that a lot have trouble comprehending. It contradicts the notion of moving on. Moving on, in effect, is an ability to look beyond just one person and give the world a chance. To me, it’s the same as looking past my entire universe and giving something else a shot.

It’s not easy. I pretend. So far, I’ve been pretending so well. There is no other way around it. Its a daily struggle to remind myself that only I can set myself free. I guess that a classic conflict with self. A part of me keeps me imprisoned and a part of me wants liberation.

A man called Ove. A man called Katz. The thing called life. I can muster a smile and hope it would be a sunny day tomorrow.

Change is inevitable and resistance is futile. It’s only a matter of time before I don’t have to pretend some more.☺️

Karthik

Book review : a man called ove

“Maybe to her destiny was “something”; that was none of his business. But to him, destiny was “someone.”

Coverpage of A man caled Ove

A man called Ove, by Fredrik Backman.

I picked this book because a friend recommended it. To be perfectly honest, it was a spur of the moment decision to quench my curiosity about the book. I dived into its pages without a shimmer of expectation. When I was done with the book, something within me had snapped, there was something that I could spot as odd in the way I lived. With eyes wet with tears, my heart warm with satisfied overwhelmed emotions, it was time to move on to a different book. I did my best to savour the memories of the book and it was precisely because of that pleasure, I delayed writing about it. Words once read, words once written would probably move on to become words once cherished.

Back to the tale, Ove. Ove is an old geezer whom you’d probably dislike. He is a stickler for rules. He incessantly keeps reminding the world around that they don’t follow the dogma that rules are. He’s not much for small talk. It’s hard to enjoy a pleasant conversation with him. Ove is perceived as old, grumpy and chip of the block from a generation that’s been comfortably forgotten. That’s Ove. He’s unapologetic about what you’d think about him. He doesn’t really care. It probably wouldn’t be Ove if he did!

That’s Ove. That would probably be your first reaction to Ove.

The book is a tale of the life of the man who goes by the name Ove. As we get a glimpse of his present, we are also introduced to his past. The story of what he is now feels almost incomplete without seeing the story of what he was before. As we catch up on his past, we also find ourselves getting very eager about his present and the course of his future.

Hidden away in the tale is one of the most romantic relationship that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Far away from clichés of roses are red, violets are blue, I got a letters of love and you need a stick of glue, there is a beautiful story of romance that blossoms and grows warmer and warmer till it occupies every inch of your heart and soaks you with its warmth. Ove and his wife Sonja. Theirs is a very romantic relationship which is very far away from dramatic and cinematic romance. Theirs is a world of sweet nothings, a wonderful intersection of two people’s very distinct life that come together and form a pleasant harmony. We , as readers, witness a cute love that they both share. Theirs is a kind of love that span through health and sickness. It spans across life and death. It’s a kind of a love that refuses to die away despite death at it’s doors.

Ove does have a secret. He knows how to solve all his woes and wants to put an end to his misery. Only, it’s not his time yet. It’s just about the right time for Ove to be thrust into a world of people around him. His world is all set to explode. Cue in the people around Ove.

The secondary characters are phenomenal. They are vivid and colourful and blend blissfully into the life of Ove. Parvaneh, a pregnant Iranian lady , her daughters, the Lanky one, Ove and Rune’s big conflicts, you’d fall in love with everyone in Ove’s world.

There are wonderful themes that are explored in the book. It offers us a glance into questions like, What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean when people say that lives are meant to be colourful?

“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had”

Ove’s story is a gentle reminder that sometimes our lives are meaningless without our special people in it. It calls out the similarities between existing for existence sake and living void of colors and emotions. It is through Ove, we get to assess our own hues about life. Ove’s story is also a wonderful example of going with the flow and letting life take it’s own course.

We are a product of what we choose to be and the people we let into our lives.

Would I recommend his book? ABSOLUTELY. Go ahead and grab yourself a copy today. You wont regret it.

Next stop :The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

Karthik

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

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