Ink and life

ZZZZZZZZZZZZRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR . That was the noise that quietened the noise in my head. Zzzzzzzzzzzr, then the noise was muffled a bit. And hello pain.

The story doesn’t really start with the numbing pain. In fact, it doesn’t even end on that painful note. The bags packed to Liverpool, I knew it was the right moment to get another tattoo. On an impulse, I had finalized on what I wanted to get. The same impulse got me an appointment. The dates were now set. The design was now set. To go or not to go with the plan, was the only question running in my head.

Getting a second tattoo did pose challenges of a different kind. Once one has experienced the needle, the nature of questions around tattoos does change. Does it hurt? , is a question no longer asked. Of course, it was going to hurt. It was always going to hurt. I knew that. The new batch of questions were around,

Do I really need this one?

Am I dumb enough to go through the process again?

Do I really really really want this one for all my life?

The first tattoo was a child of a lifetime of desire to get inked. I had invested a lot of time into thinking about symbols and formulating the wider deeper meaning of what it stood to represent. I knew that I’d do whatever it took to get that first tattoo. The second one was different. I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone. I didn’t need another tattoo to tell the world that I was demented enough for a tattoo. I hadn’t really invested a lot of time and thoughts into what I wanted. The fact that I wasn’t a 100% sure on what I wanted, also pushed me to have second thoughts about them.

Did I really need one? Yup. Was I dumb enough to go through the process again? Yup. Do I really really really want this for all my life? I guess so.

I guess so. That’s the whole point. There is so much life spent around those words. I GUESS SO. Choices that sit on the fence that separates decisions and doubts. I guess so is the easier road to take. We are almost there. Nearly confident that we are geared up for the unknowns that are ahead of us. There is a fear of that uncertainty. I guess so is a win win state to be in. It’s not the same as staying inert because of the paralysis of fear. It’s not the same as galloping bravely into the arms of the future. It’s a slow , cautious walk in a direction. Any direction.

I guessed that I could use another tattoo. The first thing that came to my mind was the full moon. I remember the many days I’ve spent admiring the ball of white. It wasn’t the white that I fancied. I liked the orange full moon. That was almost immediate. I had opted to ink a full moon that was a ball of Orange. With that in mind, there was a destination to look forward to.

The decision now made, I wanted to spend a little more time understanding the whys of my choice. Moon shares a deep association with spirituality. Spiritual aspirants draw on the moon’s grace in their journey. The colour also had a meaning. I wasn’t surprised by my choices in them. Red and Orange. They both deal with the first two chakras.

The skeptic , within me, calls this as Confirmation bias. I had made my choice and was looking for meanings to tag along. The believer in me laughs at the chain of coincidences. I had never imagined getting a moon, of all things, inked. Far away from dreams of getting skulls and bones, there I was shooting for the moon.

The inking began. I tried to zone out of the pain. The process lasted two hours and there is only so much that one can tune out off. I got chatty with my tattoo artist, Mr Auris. Then I got bored of sitting idle and still. I even braved looking at the needles playing poke -e -man with my skin. In time, I got used to the pain, I was starting to get excited about the final product.

The two hours of pain and dreams did give me the opportunity to think. Somewhere along the first 15 minute mark, I wanted to give up. I didn’t want to believe in the tattoo any more. I didn’t see a purpose. I didn’t see why I had opted to sit through pain. It was the lousiest moment of the entire bloody day. I channelled out the pain by thinking about the image of the moon that I was aiming for, It didn’t bring me peace. Take that Dramatic moments written in literature.

It did distract me away from the pain. The wave of pain subsided. It didn’t feel hurt that bad for a while. The pain kept coming in waves. I sat satisfied that I could sit through it without tears. I had started to enjoy the moment. I was getting a tattoo. I was getting one that had 9 colours in them. That’s two more than the average joe Rainbow!

I guess life is like that. It’s exactly how we choose to reflect and describe. We either make a choice , or sit around wishing that we could make one. We either enjoy the choice made, or lament it. We either write a wonderful tale of purpose and joy, or lament it and blame the many factors that were unlucky. Life is what we make of it. And an ink is what I make of it.

I have a moon on my shoulder. I guess that makes me a star 🙂 and I can live with that.

Oh, live a life doing stupid things, you are bound to learn a lot of lessons. Getting inked during winter, in Liverpool, not the smartest of ideas. It does make me stronger though! A big bar of hazelnut candy made the experience a lot sweeter. Everything feels better with a baby diaper rash ointment!!!!!

I now have my eyes on the next batch! Third time is the CHARM

My tattoo of a full moon

Karthik

Advertisements

Not on display!

Exciting times indeed. I could play Nostradamus and take a shot at predicting the near future. I see pain and satisfied smiles. Possibly a tinge of disappointment, however, the mood would be still the one of joy and smiles.

Almost an accurate prediction, if there could be one. With the bags almost packed, there was an imminent catch up that I wouldn’t even dream of missing. A quick hop on a train later, I’d be in the land of the Liver bird again. A city that I’ve come to love and that’s mostly because of the crazy bloke who resides there. Funny enough, all the memories of the city are tied to deep conversations, million laughs and a Tattoo. It’s almost time to add a little plural to that word. Tattoos, or at least that seems to be the plan.

For starters, I do not publically display my tattoo. I’ve got one that sits happy on my right shoulder. I could flaunt it, but I usually don’t. I’ve had a few questions being asked about the incognito status of that tattoo. It exists and to the world it doesn’t. That’s almost like I view things around. The world’s acknowledgement doesn’t deny an existence. There is a charm to that obliviousness.

What’s the point of sticking needles, shedding a little blood and enduring a prickly pain?

It’s a statement. To me, it’s a statement that I address to my self. My first tattoo was a semi-circle that contained a kanji that represented fire. I did weave a huge tale around it. The simplest explanation, it looked cool. The most complicated explanation, that’s the way I see life. The second one that’s cruising along my expectations is one of a harvest moon. A big ball of orange-red, decked with imperfections, riddled with lines of distortion. If the artist works a miracle, it has the potential to look beautiful.

What does it represent? It’s a bit too early in the day to stack thoughts to something that doesn’t exist today. Through the needles, I’ll figure something out.

Now that I’m pondering on the subject, the status of incognito, a display that’s denied, how does it affect us? In the cycle of all things considered, recognition plays a very vital role in ensuring satisfaction. We start off on our quest to get recognized and the subsequent desire is to get rewarded for that excellence. With recognition and rewards piling up, we saturate from it and move on to bigger things. We aim for actualisation. A state in which we contribute and still stay numb to the games of recognition and rewards. We are no longer burdened by who takes the credit, the insecurities that keep us on the top of our paranoia fuelled toes. We do, because we can. We help , because we can. We contribute because we can. It’s a fantastic state worth aspiring.

A lot of my personal passions are inclined towards the actualisation. Not necessarily in the purist sense. I do miss the recognition. I’m yet to get rewarded. I endure , I learn and I derive pleasure from the sheer act of contribution. When I don’t have sights on acknowledgement of my skills, there is no pressure. I can deliver at any pace that I see fit. The quality gates are strictly personal. I do set rather high , near impossible , quality standards. It’s fun to strive hard and fail miserably against self imposed yardsticks.

Similarly, a tattoo to me is a representation of a thought. It exists. It’s does not represent a contest that I have to contest in. It does not represent an output which is waiting to get judged and appreciated. It exists.

While getting inked is not everybody’s cup of tea with a fancy cake, I think what it stands to represent is a lesson that caters to most interests. It answers the question, ‘Why do we do the things that we do?’

I am reminded of this movie, Indiana Jones and the last crusade. Indie is on a boat, fighting for survival. The bloke asks him the purpose of his quest. ‘Are you doing this for his glory(God) or for yours?’ It’s such a profound quote that gets tossed around in a swashbuckling flick.

And so the anticipation game begins. It’s going to be a long week of hopes and dreams. The crescendo , in the third act, would probably be played in tears and blood. It’s probably going to be worth it. Or, in the humble words of Homer Simpson- the wise, ‘DOH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

Karthik

Oddities of Oddities

Sometimes, what They say is true. Not all the time. And most definitely not everything that goes said. The first oddity is that sometimes, things do pan out right. One such specimen of the things that go said is ‘ An idle mind is a devil’s playground’. Indeed.

Science is at odds with beliefs and the existence of a devil is , but of course, questionable at best. There are devils. Stay assured of that. Just as how inevitable the existence of a devil is, an idle mind is right there too. An idle mind is inevitable. Resistance to that idea is futile. The mind eventually, and definitely, does catch up. So back to what they say; It is during this burst of blankness of a mind, where we find our greatest foe.

And just like that, one morning , I learnt something new. I knew what connected Cancer, Alzheimers, Jeff Dahmer, Ted Bundy, MK Gandhi , to name a few personalities. Add a touch of hues across the color spectrum, throw in a bit of archaic Jungian archtypes and the degrees of separation across all the entities were starting to blur. The connection, what was it? , you ask me. It was me. It could have been you. It could be anybody.

The trouble with looking for something in a haystack is that you eventually end up finding something lying dormant there. The idle mind, the random disconnected searches, the indulgence in silly tests to kill time and boredom, and I realized I could be anything and anyone. The digital crawl was eventful in being pointless. It had served its purpose though. The time spent wisely had fuelled the bored mind. The mind is such a fascinating device. It , to me , is almost the most perfect pattern mining tool there ever is. A mind seldom requires a robust rational to dole out sequence of patterns. To it, everything makes sense. To it, nothing makes sense. The lavish knowledge that the mind imparts , relies heavily on the gravity of the moment. The point in time is all what the mind is about.

The longer I let my mind wander aimlessly, the longer I realized the lack of direction in my thoughts. It reflected the lack of direction, I thought , I expressed in my life. Odds stacked, odds imagined, challenges loaded, I got into a biased mode of introspection. The land grew dark and gloomy, the mind descended into grimness. I had reached a point where I felt I was lost to any sight of purpose. The thoughts had hit a saturation point.

Not all is grim in this tale. This is a transient state that most of us loiter into. And then the fantastic happened. Half heartedly, I decided to unwind by hitting the gym. The bed had looked comfortable, the heater hymned a recognizable hum. I was wise to the trap that rested ahead. I knew I wouldn’t sleep, in the shape my mind was in. Hitting the gym was the sensible thing to it.

And so it started. The endurance test of sorts. For both the mind and the body. I decided to not vary out my workout pattern that evening. One cardio machine. One velocity. One activity. The only catch was that I’d burn for as long as I could. I would burn for as long as my grit and determination would let me to. Burn I did.

The first few minutes were horrible. The body expressed a dignified reluctance to defy its inertia. The mind branched wild. Still , was a word that I was a billion miles far away from. As the clock ticked forward, as I started to zone out and tune into the repetition induced state of trance, as my breathing fluctuated between its sudden spike to a practiced rhythm, I knew I had reached the gates of my land of bliss.

This state is called many things by many people. It’s a state where consciousness slips into the unconscious. Unconsciousness takes precedence. As I moved towards the auto pilot mode of the workout, I no longer had to deliberate on thoughts. In fact , it was the other way around. Thoughts first deliberated for that space in my head. Thoughts would struggle to gain a recognition from me. As the state prolonged, the thoughts cleared off. In time, there was nothing else to ponder about. In time, there was nothing.

The songs buzzing in my ear phones, my eyes closed to a lost melody that was heard but not listened to, the emptiness in my head started feeling comfortable. The songs changed, the sweat poured, the body tired, it was time to head back home.

I head back home feeling better, happier and thoughtless. Nothing mattered. I didn’t have the inclination to strain my thoughts towards the idleness that had invaded me all day. There was a sense of joy of staying alive and of existence. There was a joy of being me. There was a joy of not feeling the lull of the burdens that my head conjured.

And just like that, oddities met with oddities. This was an exchange of sorts. The challenges of the mind foiled by introducing challenges to the body. Most of us do the opposite, we calm the mind to foil the body in distress. Most days, it’s all the game of mind over matter and matter over the mind. When we play it, nothing else matters.

A simple thing like a workout has the capacity to reset our daily life. A good workout is just one of the many many ways of achieving this exchange of oddities. Hobbies serve that purpose. Altruism serves that purpose. In fact, anything can serve that purpose if one manages to substitute an unquantifiable commodity with a finite quantified challenge.

The simple pleasures of foxing the self 🙂

Karthik

The charms of simplicity

It’s almost a weekly affair now. Most Fridays, I make it a point to hit the screen at BFI Imax. I enjoy watching movies on the biggest screen there is. While the experience of watching movies on the screen has been consistently the same, the experience of the movie itself , I’ve felt a change.

Like most of us, I’d head into the movie hall after catching a glimpse of the hype generated in the social webs. The movie does what it does. The expectations either get met or get decimated. Within the first five minutes of walking out of the movie hall, I’d have left a comment on Facebook. Oh yeah, the ritual also starts with checking into the movie hall. Brownie points made of love and pointlessness.

Carrying the routine over an iterative number of 10, I started realizing that the whole exercise of reviewing the movie was in fact detrimental to the movie watching experience. It’s perfectly alright to watch a movie, review it at lengths, infer a billion things from it, share the opinion and get pulled into a heated debate over rubbishing it or justifying the greatness that was on display.

I started to realize that by wanting to make a point, I had ended up missing a point. While a movie, or any other activity or source of distraction that we indulge in, is meant to distract us from the daily routine of life. The 3 hours invested, the book read, the art painted, the music composed, they are a source of escape from the clutches of a routine. Their primary priority is to reset our minds. Leave us feeling fresher by helping us break the cycle of an auto pilot routine.

I then applied a different filter to the viewing experience. Was I entertained? Yes or a No. And that was a sufficient yardstick of a measure to me.

We live in the age of instantaneous mastery of a subject. It usually takes an active internet account, a few wiki pages, a few minutes of quality web crawling to arrive at a certain degree of competence to form an opinion on any given subject. Over the last month, I reckon I’ve invested hours into the process of modelling clay, digital art work rendering, the capabilities of gaming engines like Unreal to have a pulse of what is possible to recreate over a digital medium. While it does make me a theoretical amateur on the subject, I’m also conscious of the fact that I still have zero skills and experience in actually getting any art rendered.

The same goes to other passions that I indulge in. The degree of my participation and my opinions vary based on the time I’ve invested into each of my consuming hobbies.

Goes back to the fundamental question. Why do we do the things we do? Do we do things, because we can and we have the means to do? Do we do things, because we love to reach a state of absolute perfection that garners adoration and admiration of audiences scattered across the globe? Do we do things, because we don’t have anything else to do? I really do wish that I had a hobby when I was a kid. Other kids collected stamps. I had a door, and I’d collect all the stickers that came free with a bar of chocolate. I’d religiously paste them on that door. That was that. My folks could no longer confidently call out the original colour of the door. The world did not have a glimpse of the stickered door.

There was a simple joy of peeling off stickers of He-man, Bat-Man, Gi Joes, Archies and just about anything that would come my way, and sticking them on the fabled door. I even had a sticker of Nag-Raaj there, in all his green glory. I miss that simplicity. I did that because I enjoyed doing it. No other soul in the planet was aware of the brightest satisfied smile that I on my face.

It’s hard for me , especially me, to imagine a world without a share. I often wonder , what it would be like to write and not publish. I do think about the satisfaction of making music and not putting them in sound cloud. There is also a soft satisfaction and contradictorily a longing desire to find an audience, each time I have something to share. I’d like to believe that nobody pays any attention to the content that I create. Certainly the statistics of the portal analytics corroborate that theory. I create content and share them anyways.

I guess man is a social animal and I’m more animal than other animals. There is a sense of accomplishment to it. Rest of the supply chain is something that I don’t mull over. I create what I feel like creating. People consume what they feel like consuming. As long as these two transactions don’t influence each other, I’d like to believe that things would be good.

On that note, What’s your take on simple experiences? When was the last time you enjoyed things without a care for a click or a share. When was the last time where your personal triumph was just your own personal triumph?

Karthik

Heart of ice

I walked up to the window to catch a view of the morning sky. Predictably, all I saw was a thick blanket of fog looming around the horizon. I paused, I hesitated for a second and then decided to open the window up. I breathed in the fresh-enough cold air.

My phone rested face first on the bed. I flipped it to check for the time. 6:30. I had beat the alarm by thirty minutes today. I resumed my attention towards the world that was, outside my glazed window. The pile of tiles that made a roof, right below my window, were frosted today. The night would have been cold. The ice was inevitable. It would be here now. The winter had finally arrived. I felt happy. I’ve always identified myself as a winter person. I like the cold. I’d love to believe that I’m immune to the frosty charms of the winter. I choose my layers carefully. It’s usually my T-shirt and my ragged cardigan. Turquoise or probably teal. I was never good at naming the colours. Things are usually red, blue, yellow, black , white or pink. I stereotype most of the other colours into these groups.

I spent a few minutes staring at the thin sheet of ice that covered the roof. There was a play of light. The sun was bright on my left. The building cast a shadow across the right side of the roof. Ice continued to persist in the shadows. Everywhere the sun touched, Ice had died away meeting it’s melting demise. The view kept my morbid mind engaged. Like most mornings, surrounded by the fresh-enough air, I called home. Dad was his usual self. All to eager to walk me through his day. It was a routine now. He’d quickly recite the things he had for breakfast, was planning to have to lunch. It was too early to chalk out the plans for the dinner.

He’d then ask me about what I had for breakfast. I’d remind him that my day had just started. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I skipped the silly meal on most days. I’ll brush, pick up a coffee and a sandwich by the shop near the station, dad. I’d religiously lie to him everyday. Today was no different. The practiced lie was delivered effortlessly. Glad that I had my morning planned, my dad handed over the phone to my mom.

‘Do you remember…’ my mom went on to introduce something. Someone. Apparently, in one of my years, I had spent probably an hour with this relative of mine. My mom alleged that I had a super good time , playing silly games, with the uncle. ‘Don’t you remember?’, my mom paused to pick a response.

With enormous, vulgar amounts of shoulder shrugged indifference, I said I couldn’t quite place the fella. My response wasn’t new. The honesty wasn’t new. My mother’s acceptance of my obliviousness to the ties of the blood , wasn’t new either. ‘That’s ok’ she effortlessly dismissed my apathy. ‘He is no more’ she declared.

Something something about something something, she continued for a while. I had lost interest and attention. I continued to steer my eyes towards the ice. My mom had finally concluded saying that she’d be off to pass her condolences.

‘Cool’ I replied. I was a victim of a routine too. ‘Have fun mom. Have a safe ride to the place. Come back safe’ I said. If my mom was cool enough, she’d have hash tagged that conversation with FacePalm. My mom ain’t cool. She handed the phone back to my dad without a tinge of an after thought. That was that.

The call now over, I pondered over the ice. The silly icicle had managed to capture my imagination. I hit the hot shower wondering about a prince , who had a heart of ice. I mulled over a plot that would talk about the juxtaposition of the coldness of ice, the lack of warmth in his heart, the prince’s inability to emote and the irony that it was emotions that had driven the prince to adopt that cold heart. Warmth and sensitivity that led to apathy and indifference. The prince , in my mind, would be a victim of circumstances.

By the time I walked out towards the station, the burning desire to pen a tale of fiction had withered away. I was bored of the melodrama. I was bored of forced tragedies that build character. The fascination that I had about the ice, was not the same that I had about the fictional tale. Something had changed. There was a loss in that translation of the state of mind and the state of the tale that mind was cooking. There was something amiss. I couldn’t fathom what.

I let the thought soak in my mind and went about the usual ritual of commuting to work. A serial killer was terrorizing through the pages of the novel. A skilled, broken, detective was in hot pursuit. The game of cat and mouse kept me entertained. I let the other thought slip by.

Ice, Cold, in fact the winter, all of these are associated to emotional coldness and unforgiving apathy in our outlook. A heart of ice is a symbolic representation of amorality, or even a complete lack of empathy. It maybe true. I’m throwing a maybe, mostly because there are only a handful of examples around people with hearts of this kind of an ice.

There is another property to ice. Ice is rock solid. It chips, but doesn’t break easy. It’s a naturally occurring state that solidifies water and hence that curtailed flow. Now that is a state, most of us are accustomed to. Right through the flow of many emotions, we solidify and freeze. That curtails the way we react , or express a reaction to the flow of emotions. Ice, a heart of ice, is an emotional response to a nature of being overwhelmed by it. It becomes a defence mechanism to brace oneself for a future collision. Ice protects and the price we pay for it is through building dams and hampering the natural flow of states of the heart and the mind.

I couldn’t help but think about the kid that I was; where I’d vex my mom because I just wouldn’t cry when watching tragedies in movies. I couldn’t help but think about the person that I am now today. My heart broke and ached when I read the books that I read. Grief stricken, emotionally overwhelmed and I couldn’t bear the crushing force of a tragedy.

All that on one hand and I expressed no sympathies for the uncle who no longer walks our plane. A river, one side and an iceberg the other. I think we are like that. Tell you what, I’ll restructure that . I am like that. I either host a wild rapid, that I call my state of emotions, or I can be as cold as ice. People either exist to me or they simply don’t. There is no middle ground. Either I care, or I just don’t.

Somewhere along those lines of thought, I did think about the tale of a prince who had a heart of ice. Awaiting judgement, enduring prejudice and secretly holding on to the greatest story that will never be told.

Winter mornings!!!!!!!!!!!! So what stories are the seasons holding for you? What do you tag to each of the season?

Karthik

A shoe that bites

Perspectives and perspectives.

It is fun to contemplate on life. That statement also warrants that through the course of a busy day, I still do efficiently manage to sneak a little time to let my wild mind loose. A mind that thinks is a mind that wanders is also the one that can head directions. I’m quite happy and excited to talk about my shoes today. To be fair, a tale about my shoes is not the most obtuse thing that I’ve ever managed to pen down.

Where do I start? How about at the beginning? Living in a house that doesn’t have a kitchen does have its advantages. No council tax what so ever! Done. That was the shortest list , if there ever was one. A house without a kitchen has a long list of disadvantages. Can’t cook. Can’t clean vessels. Can’t make coffee, actually can, just can’t clean the mug after each use. I stopped making coffee at home. I realized that I don’t cook and since I don’t cook at home, I don’t have to run errands in pursuit of keep the refrigerator filled. Since I don’t shop, I felt it was pointless to walk all the way to the closest ASDA ( a big store) to pick a pint of milk. And long story short, I managed to eat out last night with my friends.

Eating out is fun. Eating late is fun. It offsets the sage-like routine that I have charted for my life here. The day yesterday was a challenge. Breakfast skipped, a bowl of salad, which I tossed away half way through , for lunch; and that led to the eventual realization that I was way out of steam to have a meaningful workout at the gym. Since no gym, I had a bit of a time to kill and since I had nearly run the entire day on empty, I lobbied my friends to have dinner outside. Dinner outside always, and I mean always ensures a bucket load of laughs, a graceful helping of calories and usually means the state of late to bed.

The time I spend is predictable and fortunately I happen to be a bloke who enjoys predictability. There are certain things that I do where a routine does not bore me. Making music is one such activity. A good workout at the gym transpires to a fresher mind and a fresher body. Through the day’s hassles, a workout resets my mind. The hour of focus helps me unlock my mind to its possible potential. It is in this state of the mind where I’m the closest to my musical inspiration. Emotions translate to notes. Notes fuel back to the emotions. It’s those 45 minutes of sublime bliss where I lose myself in myself.

A night of laughs does not inspire that karmic bliss. And hence the problem statement. Ever heard the phrase, an idle mind is a devil’s circus. I overdose on that sentiment. A long night of thoughts keep me distanced from the comforts of a amnesiac sleep. There are those days when thoughts manifest through dreams. The fact that I remember such dreams is also a testament to the quality of the sleep. But not everything is grim. Since dreams are a manifestation of thought, it does offer me a pristine view of even the most muddiest , distracted , distorted version of a thought.

The next morning does start with the Sun and a beautiful puzzle, that is the dream, waiting to get analysed and dissected through more applied thought! I like such mornings.

A shoe that bites does play a tiny , insignificant role in all of this. Let me explain why I’m quite happy and excited to talk about the shoe that bites.

The cycle of thoughts, dreams, and even more thoughts are here to stay. There are days when I do take a stock of things that irk me, that worry me, that inspire me and those that have a capacity to destroy me. Some times, such days are abundant. These are the days that pose a threat and a challenge to the outlook that I’ve engineered towards life. The things outlined above are not unique to me. The way I cope up with such days, is also not unique. Yet there is a subtle difference , that I call as the over all general outlook towards life.

A lot of us coast through the million challenges of life. We play our life despite the stacked odds. Some exhibit a profound pessimism that gets expressed as the way they view life. Some bank on an unshakeable faith that one day things are meant to get better. How we view ourselves, the world around us, has a direct bearing on how we see the challenges of our lives and how we deal with them.

Shoes.

I wear a pair of shoes and the left shoe bites. It is a near constant annoyance. Some days I manage to tolerate it. Some days, I promise myself to change them immediately. Almost every day, there is a sense of rejuvenated happiness each time I take the damn shoe off.

And yup. That’s why I’m excited to talk about that shoe. The day coming to a near close, an hour of commute later, I’d be home. I’d be free to cast the demon shoe off. I’d be liberated from the nagging pain. I’ll be free again to pursue that saint-like , disciplined, well almost disciplined, conformance to a routine to commute, sweat and that leap into the magic of sounds notes and emotions.

The short of it, happiness is only a shoe away.

So why am I happy about it? What brings excitement to the table? Why would anyone bother holding on to a pair of shoes that bite?

Through the day, I could have focused on thinking about the million things that inspire a frown on my face. I could have written about the million things that break my spirit. Somehow, I found it interesting to talk about the one thing that guarantees me happiness. I’m excited to talk about that distillation that helps me remove the noise of daily existence and that which brings me closer to smiles. That is something worth being excited about. I don’t think I’ll ever find happiness, if I refuse to acknowledge the things that make me feel happy. That’s worth being excited about.

Of all the wisdom of the world, all the literature on the adventures in pursuit of happiness. Some times, all it takes is the pointless insight of knowing which shoe to remove.

Karthik

Emancipation, Expectations and Exceptions

There is nothing as good as a little alliteration to jump start the day. The festival of lights and sound now done and dusted, the many celebratory meals gorged and regretted, a few walls of writers block rammed , the day popped in a bright ray of sunlight of thought. There is a taste of freedom when we brave the odds to dream different. There is an excitement to defying the natural order of things. There are expectations to live up to and expectations waiting to fulfil our desire for a rewrite of a said destiny.

The sweet rush to making dreams come true, the tryst with the first roadblock, that will to overcome challenges through grit and determination, the usual fork in the road; that goes by altering names of success and failure, with these the lifecycle of a dream comes to a near close. Things usually start off as an itch waiting to be scratched, the itch to achieve goes on to consume our thoughts and dictate our actions. The nature of exception is to force challenges our way. The rest of the story deals with how one manages the odds. The eulogy to the dream completes the narration.

The big question that bakes my noodle is ‘What should I expect when I harbour expectations?’. The question, itself, shares boundaries with pragmatic reality, philosophies of armchair and wisdom, the general outlook towards the way of life. Sometimes, I do feel that the entire world is brainwashed, and that certain values are ingrained into our belief system. For starters, the wise blokes have always maintained an accord of not having any expectations. Do your thing, let karma do the rest. It’s better to have lowest expectation to avoid heart attacks in the future. Shoot for the moon, to at least reach the stars. You get the gist.

I wont deny the merits to the wise words. In my personal opinion, I think they are risk-averse and have a shade of pessimism to them. It doesn’t take a lot to under promise and under deliver. In fact, that seems to be the accepted , untold status quo. Set lower benchmarks and almost meet them. Now that I say it that way, it does feel underwhelming. But ain’t that not the usual case?

The way we sell our dreams and ideas, also is influenced by what we can bring to the table. Some call it skill, some call it panache, and I usually tag them as confidence. It’s this confidence, that most of the world associates to arrogance. I can’t help it. I can’t change the views of the hundred people that my world is made of. There is a method to that confidence and that arrogance. I tend to understand my limitations and play to my strengths. What I can do, I promote and what I can’t, I articulate the limitations. This keeps me closer to selling what I can deliver and not overshooting it or undermining it.

Knowledge plays a vital role here. It’s the knowledge of capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. There is also a better word for this. It goes by the name ‘ Awareness’. Self awareness to be exact.

So back to the question at hand. What should one expect when one harbours expectations?

I have a few note books and a I’m always found without a pen. Just by virtue of availability of resources, It’s almost certain that I set my eyes on being a published and possibly a celebrated author. I have a few musical instruments, I know to record stuff. It’s almost certain that I start viewing myself as a music producer. It’s not wrong to expect such greatness. I don’t usually let the world tell me otherwise. That being said, between where I currently stand and where I’d want to see myself stand, there are things that I must accomplish to bridge that gap.

This brings us to the question. What should I expect, when I have set really high expectations for my passion?

A dream can be dissected into the following attributes

1. The ideology of a dream

2. The things needed to make it a reality

3. The things that one currently has, that can bring momentum to the cause

4. The things one goes to acquire to bridge the gap

5. Delivery and eventual acceptance.

While the list above talks about the bare essentials on how to translate ideas to quantitative deliverables, there is also an underpinned factor that measures the magnitude of success to making such dreams come true. It usually rests within the confines of the answer to the question

‘Whose seal of approval does our dreams and actions need in order for us to accept our success or failure in the matter?’

The irony is sarcastic. While a dream, a goal, a passion , is all too very personal commodity, we still bank on the world to acknowledge , accept and approve our work. We wait on the world to certify the nature of our dream. That approval also has a quantitative means of getting measured. It’s measured through monetary returns. Fame and popularity are usually qualitative attributes.

Most of it ties back to the questions that I’ve always asked myself. What makes me a writer? What makes me a musician? What makes me a fitness enthusiast? Is it sufficient that I accept those traits in me, or does it take the people around me to certify the verbs that I do? Answering that usually answers the question on expectations.

Are we a product of the world’s perception of us or are we what we are forced/choose to be?

Karthik

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

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