Spread a little sunshine

A wise bloke once told me to keep my charities secret and stupidity published. I concur. It makes sense, on most days. Call it CSR, call it a charity drive, call it what ever you may, I choose to call it a satisfaction of spreading smiles.

I don’t think I have a bone that’s dedicated to an Altruistic cause. I don’t spend time wondering about it. I pick dates and make choices. It started with my mom’s birthday. One morning I decided to help a cause to celebrate that day. It felt good. Actually, it didn’t feel any different from normal mundane existence between Monday to Sunday. I did it nonetheless. Then I’ve been doing it for a few years now.

Then I decided to spread smiles around for my birthday. I figured that the world has had enough crying over spilt milk. 34 years of existence later, there is very little that the world can do to alter that outcome. I’m here. One way or the other. So I added that date to the cause of spreading smiles. Then added Diwali to the list. Odd enough, I don’t do anything special for my dad’s birthday. I get him a watch. Then I get him a pen. Then I get him a lame T-shirt and he pretends that he enjoys getting them 🙂

It all dawned on me this morning. I had set up a meeting and was later told that I had set one up on the Diwali day. The day of lights and I had intended to turn it off for poor blokes. I apologized for my ignorance of the date. I also realized that it was the time to pass a few smiles across again.

So the wise bloke did tell me to not flaunt my good deeds. I still respect that. This is more of a challenge. I remember running one last year too. I challenge you to put a smile on a stranger’s life. Go ahead, brighten up the world around you. I’d like the sense of playing a teeny tiny insignificant superhero. It doesn’t enrich my life with purpose. It doesn’t make me feel great about myself. It doesn’t magically transform my life.

It does offer me a sense of satisfaction. The satisfaction that I could help someone forget about the bum chances and lousy cards that their life might have dealt them with. Cheating the sourness that life can provide, even it only lasts a minute, is a good victory that I’m proud of.

I don’t believe in appealing. I don’t like to appeal to the sensibilities in people. It’s not my place to promote or advice. I challenge you. That’s in line to my way of life.

A brand new day, a wonderful colourful festival of lights and laughter. I challenge you to add more decibels to that laughter.

On that note, Spread a little sunshine, darling. It’s the world’s way of telling you that you are capable of spreading that sunshine.

Karthik

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The many worlds

There is nothing like waking up early on a Sunday morning and loitering the streets for a hot cup of coffee to offset a cold morning.

The Sunday was packed with surprises. The morning mist looming over the head, the lazy land that refused to open shops early on, police cordoning a few sections across the street, detectives running around in a frantic sense of timed urgency, and I couldn’t shake off the feeling of ‘What am I doing with life, on a given Sunday’. I shrugged my shoulders and knew a Greggs by the high street would be open. I found my way to the shop, picked up a piping hot cup of coffee. Took a careful sip, expressed an immediate regret for having my coffee in the shop. I generously thrashed the cup and decided to head back home defeated.

Before I could walk back home, I was curious as curious could be. I approached the PC and asked him what the fuss was about. Stiff upper lip and I’m afraid I cant tell you what it’s all about sir later , I made it back home. While I didn’t let the event do a number in my mind, I let the day sink in and had managed to entertain a few thoughts.

The Saturday was fun. I managed to catch a show of the Blade Runner. Nice flick, a lot of thoughts on humanity and what it means to be human, a well deserved , much needed slip into sleep, I woke up from the movie quite refreshed. The thoughts on the central themes of the movie were still stirring in my mind somewhere. It fuelled the muse , that the Sunday was.

We share a common world. One to be exact. Our view of this world, it changes with time. This view changes across different people. Each of us, we paint a transient picture of the world which changes as we change in time. There are days when we see the world green. It’s filled with optimism and hope. There are days when we succumb to our challenges, we see a gloomy world. Another factor is time itself. Our view of the world was very different when we were kids. We had fewer things to fear, lesser things to worry about, ignorance was a wonderful way of life. As we grew older, our intelligence shaped up our world.

it’s a big battle that we wage everyday. To wake up to realities around us, to muster that courage to nurture our timid faith, to time and again bestow hope and endure it’s many distinguished crushes, and still believe that there is a beautiful world around us, is a battle indeed. It, at times, is a huge ask to call for every ounce of courage to want to believe in the goodness of the world around.

As the day aged, the sun came out to play. The temptation to enjoy a walk was too hard to resist. As I walked , directionless and aimless, I couldn’t help but notice this little kid. He held his dad’s finger securely and they both seemed to be engaged in a rather long conversation about the future and the pleasant surprises that it held for them. Cops in the morning, innocence in the evening, events seemed to balance themselves out perfectly. While Hollywood reaps the benefits of making a movie that throws far too many questions on humanity, while a lot of us manage to have an open mind and embark on a journey of self discovery, while a lot many of us are happy to coast through the day, run the rat race, earn that money through the week and spend a little on life over the weekend, the inevitable is hidden in plain sight.

It is inevitable that we share our world with people. We share this world with peers, with blokes both old and young. We inherit this world from the folks who have endured similar battles. We would hand this world over to kids who would , in turn when their time comes, fight similar battles and ask similar questions. For what it is worth, this world of ours is actually a lot of worlds. It’s an amalgamation of all our thoughts and views. It often will be what we want it to be.

All of this brings us to a sinister thought. If the world exists as a product of our minds and eyes, how much real is really real?

Karthik

Of Newton, apples and sin

With all my heart, I do detest Newton and his contribution to physics. Not that I don’t believe in science or that Newton’s contribution conflicts with my personal belief system, it’s just that I had trouble passing the exams. The fact that I did manage to pass physics (High school and Uni) is a testament to the fact that there is something which is all powerful and is capable of manifesting miracles. It was a miracle that I managed to pass.

The minute we think about Newton, I think about apples. There are folks who might associate the three laws.

1.A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2.A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3.A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws

Oh, wrong bloke. Yeah, so when it comes to Newton, my mind goes to Apples. When my mind goes to the apples, fortunately, I’m not materialistic enough to associate that with IPhone or all the vulgarly expensive products that are offered by the company. I think about sins instead. Newton -> Apples -> Sins.

Sin is a wonderful example of context. Have a value system and a put your faith and beliefs into it. Break the cardinal rules and you are a sinner. You are left with remorse, regret and a bucket load of guilt. It’s funny how my mind wanders. Speaking of sins, I remember the first time I did it. I guess I was 18 or 19. Unlike what the world says, one doesn’t always remember the first time in all it’s vivid glory. I felt plagued by fear and guilt. It was against my system of beliefs.

As I tried to cope up with the act, coast through the day, I couldn’t rub off the feeling of dirt clinging on to my soul. It just happened and I thought it shouldn’t be a big deal. It was. Paranoia gripped me. It felt as if I was exposed to the world and that everybody knew what I had done. 18-19, being that, that age, that sense of adventure, that spirit of defying norms, once the fear settled, once that restless anxiety died down, over the next few years, I had found myself doing it a lot more times.

It was fun while it lasted. It’s funny that with repetition, fear and guilt dissipates. You no longer feel burdened by it. It remains your little secret and you stay assured that the ears of the world are unaware of your life’s actions and choices. All was well , till I started growing some sense. A new fear. Fear of science. I had reasons to believe that God would stand to punish me for my deeds. While it had nothing to do with religious and spiritual journeys(and I had neither back then), I just had a bad feeling about things to come. I knew karma would catch up and I’d be super sick and ailment would give away my secrets. The fear of public persecution had gripped me again.

I came to my sense. Decided to clean up my act. For a while, things were good again. I felt good again. Such peace was never meant to last. Last, they didn’t.

And so from time to time, I’d do it. The sense of paranoia now under control, I’d do it for kicks, sometimes out of compulsion. Some times, it was just the way it was.

The secrets were safe, buried within my smug smile. And as years packed on, I knew I dint have anything to feel ashamed about. At 34, it’s a life choice and it’s what I want my life to be.

‘NOT BRUSHING MY TEETH’, was a the lynchpin that shattered belief system, challenged the status quo, instigated fears that were both rational and irrational. It felt so wrong. The feeling of ‘it felt so wrong’ comes from social conditioning and it is factored by how we grow, what our family and society expects of us. The first time was a knocker. The guilt, the fears.

Most fears, most sense of guilt, I think they can be traced back to how we choose to judge ourselves. We are so addicted and dogmatic about our belief systems, a lot of which we inherited and some of which we decided to on board, that breaking away from it renders us psychologically paralysed.

While I’ve aged, I’ve become more sensible, I make it a point to brush MOST mornings. There are days when I wake up a little late, gargle a mouth wash and promise to get home and do it. There are days when I just don’t care. As long as I don’t smell, and the world doesn’t uncomfortably move away in my presence, I’m ok by it.

Apples and sins. Same deal. The more open we let our minds be, we’d be surprised by our evolved view of what sins are. Narrowed minds are usually the most tortured ones.

For what it’s worth, brush everyday. It’s nice to not torment your neighbours!

Karthik

The thing about a fool and his money

And just like that, I was reminded of the words about how a fool and his money can never remain sweethearts forever. While I’m tempted to agree with it, I’m also a bit apprehensive about the statement.

We lead a consumerist life these days. A million things on sale, a billion discounts to choose from, a zillion portals and avenues to buy things. Buying is just a part of the equation. Then comes the social integration. A picture of the things bought, a few likes from people whom we’ve never met and might probably never meet ever, a few jibes from close friends, a few folks left feeling jealous and a few eyes that pass condescending judgement on how pointless the buy was. That’s what passes as the normal average day these days.

GAS. It’s not what you think it is. And yes, the suffering remains to be the same. GAS was a term that a photographer friend of mine introduced me to. GAS stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome. GAS is a process of rapid acceleration in buying things in order to fuel a nascent hobby. Example, I have a smart phone. I have a bundle that lets me go online. I have an instagram account. I shoot a few photos, I gather a few likes and instantly I decide to buy a camera, a few lenses, a few filters, a tripod stand, an image monitor, an image processing software, a better laptop that has the juice to process images, a better camera because the one I bought was a rather basic one. A few more lenses , one for macro, one for wide angle, one telephoto for those nature trails that I’ve never really been on.

Take a deep breath. That’s GAS. Gear acquisition syndrome. We are used to it.

The wide audience that the world is through the internet, we feel compelled to put on the best show that we ever can. Most hobbies are easy to pick. The learning curve is short, the gratification is immediate and we often tend to not invest time into understanding the clockwork of how our passion ticks.

For a long time, I’ve always had a few guitars, an expensive floor processor, a few amps. I’m addicted to music instruments. I’ve been a rocker since 2000. The first month, I was armed with a notebook to pen down lyrics. Two months down the line, I had bought a drum kit. Six months down the line, I was a guitarist. In the process, I had managed to survive as a drummer and a guitarist. A lot many years later, my room is now void of instruments. I had the drums thrown away. I lost my guitar to a burglar who opted to steal my guitar rather than the laptops that were lying around. Well almost empty. I have two keyboards and I use both of them almost everyday.

That’s GAS.

There is a fine line that separates passion and compulsive shopping. There are times when I struggle to classify myself. Am I a compulsive buyer. Well, Yes. Am I passionate about music. Absolutely. I don’t regret the buys. I enjoy them whenever I can. I invest a lot of time into studying the theory of music production. I still don’t know to play the bloody instrument. I don’t know how to play them chords. I follow my heart when it comes to music and that’s good enough for me. It will take me a while to make a bit of money from my music but that day is coming.

Coming back to fool and his money. I was in a bit of a discussion about kindle and books. I do have two kindles. I don’t use them. I buy books and I read plenty. I am quite pleased at this bookworm phase of my life. The thing about being a fool is, if you enjoy your status as fool, why would it matter? It’s one of those things that I can’t quite comprehend. I save my money for as long as I can. I find something worth buying, I blow it off. The iteration kicks in.

Have you experienced GAS? Do you enjoy the happiness and peace that consumerism offers? Do you feel guilty about the shopping spree? pssst, are you a fool and do you find yourself parting away your money a lot 😉

Last but not the least, does your toothpaste have SALT ??????

Karthik

Book review : The hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared

Cover Page of the 100 year old man

The hundred year old man who climbed of the window and disappeared, Jonas Jonasson.

Where oh where do I begin. A hundred year old man, Spanish civil war, America’s Atomic bomb, Stalin singing a song, Mao Tse-Tung’s communist ambitions, Kim Il Jong’s legacy in the making, A few presidents, a hot dog seller, an Elephant, a cop on a mission , an Einstein, a prosecutor who wished he had not been born. That’s one convoluted sentence that has way too many characters who converge and fuel madness to this fantastic tale of a warm , hilarious adventure.

Lets take a moment to let all of that sink in.

Phew.. Feeling better? okie dokie. Let us begin.

The hundred year.. is a story of Allan Karlsson. On his hundredth birthday, he decides to climb out of this room in an old age care home. That sets of a wonderful adventure that consumes you with every page that’s turned. Allan is a very ordinary bloke who has had an extraordinary life. There are absolutely two things that Allan does exceptionally well. One, he always manages to have an open mind. Two, he’s good at blowing things up.

An open mind and an uncanny ability to blow things up, these are the two things that fill Allan’s life with a million memories. As the tale continues in the present, we are introduced to roads that he had travelled in the past.

So Allan sneaks out of the old age home, he manages to steal a suitcase that is loaded with money. A mafia-ique gang is after him. A gang that goes by the name ‘ Never Again’. Allan’s escape from the house is now also a escape from the gang. The police get involved. Initially they are called in to find Allan and as the events unfold, the police now suspect Allan of murder. A 100 year old man on a killing spree!

Allan’s life is an adventure. Straight through the Spanish revolution, to America’s hunger for creating the A-Bomb, to Stalin’s desire to make a nuke for the motherland, North Korea’s war for identity, Allan finds himself participating in all these milestones that have shaped up the world. The history is something that will leave you in a sense of awe. The circumstances would leave you laughing.

Besides the adventure, this is a beautiful tale of friendship. Allan bumps into Julius, a bloke with a reputation for being a petty thief. The two become friends and they bump into Benny. Benny’s a hotdog vendor who has almost been a lot of things. The trio meet Gunnila. Gunnila’s the lady of the tale. Gunnila loves sonya. Sonya is her pet elephant.

The bonds of friendship are forged through honesty. As the tale ascends into mad hilarity, you’d grow warm reading the way their friendship evolves. The tale is also a tale of a cat and mouse chase. The inspector, Mr Aronsson , is absolutely relentless in his quest to find Allan.

The book is a light hearted read but it does nurture deeper themes within it. Each of the character , that you’d come to enjoy in time, is plagued by loneliness and solitude. The characters grab the opportunity to connect and take that leap of faith in forming ties with each other. I’d like to see them as a reflection of ourselves. We , most of us, are alienated with the world. We exist in a crowd. While a lot of us have shown that courage to take that leap of faith and invite people into our lives, there are a lot of us who are fenced up. We wait.

The book’s central theme is that of blind optimism. Allan doesn’t really worry a lot about the past or the future. He keeps an open mind and goes with the flow. Life hands him lemons, bananas, vodka, sausages and a lot many other things. He makes a good use of them and powers on. Allan is neither too ambitious nor does express a defeatist view of life. He is one of the grandest examples of living in the present. In a weird sense, he represents a zen-like peace. He remains unperturbed by most things.

The book does take a dig at two of the most influential factors that have shaped up our world. Religion and Politics. Allan doesn’t care for either. He’s not judgemental about them. His point of view offers a neutral stance on how silly that both religion and politics can be.

The book is a happily ever after waiting to happen. It’s a casual, funny breezy read. The plot might seem a bit outlandish at times, but that’s precisely the point. Strap your seatbelts, hang on tight and enjoy the fun ride that is The hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared.

Next stop : The Handmaid’s tale.

Karthik

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

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