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

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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

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

Foothills of solitude

solitude

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Karthik

Pinned Perspectives Polarises Providence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The third factor : The fault in our eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karthik

Eyes out : A rear window story

Rear window is a brilliant movie. It’s a fantastic tale of a broken leg, binoculars, rear window, deceit , murder. It’s a movie that screams of the advantage of an voyeuristic outlook to life. The movie made in 1954 did not have the foresight to imagine how it’s theme would go on to shape the world in the decades to come.

Lets take a deep breath and acknowledge the fact that we are an voyeurism obsessed society. With most notifications that I get , which usually are spying on the lives of others, I view them as an irritant rather than a fodder to my curious eyes. Linked and face book have always been excited in keeping me informed on whom my friends connect with. Goodreads does that and also keeps me posted on what my friends are reading and what their friends are reading as well.

As the wings of this social voyeurism spreads, the social media also wages a battle of privacy to bridge that gap. It is a cycle of sorts that results in stagnation. The social media thrives on reducing the degrees of separation between people. The relaxed privacy norms facilitates that random connection across people. This relaxed nature also leaves us exposed to insidious minds and sinister intents. A quick tweak of privacy to keep ourselves protected also results in a bottleneck of people that we find ourselves connected to. The net result is a mind numbing number of avenues where we get to connect with the same set of people that we are surrounded by.

While that stagnation doesn’t really matter to us much, after all we enjoy the company of our friends and why would we worry about having a lot more of them a lot more of the time all the time? Narrow vision , for starters. There is a reason why we connect with people. Either they think the same as us, or they are equally crazy. When there is a hive of like minded people, the existing biases get fortified. When we connect with crazy minds, there is too much crazy with little ventilation. That leads to saturation. So the obvious conclusion is that we are stuck with the same set of predictable opinions and thoughts, which get fed to us every single day.

How does this feed back into the voyeurism ?

Oh that’s rather simple.. We share and share unceremoniously. The hive does rob us of the simpler ability to realize the dependence or the risks of opening our minds to a world that is far away from being moderated. This leaves us with a weak outlook towards fencing our mind. With minds exposed, exposed to the same old same old every day, it feeds back into the stagnation that I spoke about. The closed claustrophobic circle , the daily feeds of tiny details of life , they all feed our hunger for voyeurism. We get exposed to the lives of others, we expose our lives.

Does such a lifestyle come with a price?

One word. Hollow. The lifestyle does leave us hollow. We are already leading a life as an advert to events that unfold around us. We advertise our lives for likes and amusement of our world. We crave the attention and there are times when that attention span means the most to us. Substitute this addiction to any other substance abuse and we’d probably be tagged as a junkie.

I’m in no way immune to the charm of such an hollow advertised life. In fact, I am all the more guilty of the charges levied on me. It’s fun to reflect the addiction and acknowledge the things that are at stake. What got me into such a thought process was a discussion on perspectives.

‘Dude, that’s the image you are portraying’ an observation was made.

I didn’t see a point in a rebuttal. The moment we are on display, we also lose control over what the world makes of us. The simple pleasures of a vicious cycle 😉

So what’s the verdict ? Does it make sense or does this leave me as the guy who cried wolf? I’ve stayed clear of depriviation that’s caused by a digital avatar of the self.

Karthik

Under the same sun

French, German, English, Indian( throw in a few languages there), African, European… the list goes longer and I’m limited by my ability to spot the subtle differences in ethnicity of the world. London , to me, is a wonderful city of sights , sounds, people and life. Commuting in the city is a big part of the life here. It is through such mundane , sober daily toils of a journey, where I’ve come to realize the simplicity of context of my existence. We are, more or less, same under the same sun.

The day started early. I had to find my way to a place where I’ve not travelled before. A friend had called in a favour and I felt obliged to help. This commute took me places. A walk, a bus ride, an over ground rail , an underground tube, a bright sun in the sky, a Friday to appreciate the little things of life, a cup of coffee in hand, a soul that felt rejuvenated from the experience.

I do like to view myself as an observer. I enjoy the state of feeling insignificant in a world filled with people. People who mind their own business, carry out their set of chores , connected and yet disconnected from the world around. This morning was special indeed. A little girl, probably around 4-5 years of age. Could be younger than that. She was a little talkative lady. Innocence had a voice. Beauty had a form. Angels had a face. It was all evident in the little one. She spoke her magic words, she smiled her lovely smile, her mother tried to wash her hands using a mild alcohol rub and the little one played along by not bothering to put up any resistance.

It was a warm fuzzy experience , watching her rub her hands and talk to her mum in a language of her own making. Words spoken. Words that conveyed sincere meanings. Words that needed no translation to transcend the human made boundaries of comprehension or bias. I found myself lost in the moment of sheer bliss. I stood watching the mother and daughter go about their business.

The mother spoke in cuddly cooish French. Ca – Va was all I could comprehend. Ca va , the child acknowledged.

I couldn’t help but reminisce over the nieces and nephews that I’ve had the pleasure of building conversations with. The words have always been similar, the enthusiasm has always been similar, the arguments have always been cute and pointless. There was a sense of familiarity to the whole episode. The angel in that one kid was the ever present angel that I got to see in all the kids that I’ve ever seen.

My undivided attention was soon divided. German this time around. Another mum, another infant. This one was a lot younger than the French little lady. Talkative too. I was surrounded by innocence. I felt relaxed in such a company. The writer in me, the deluded voice in my head , found this to be sigh from the universe that would stand to remind me to embrace the truth. We had the capacity to remain innocent. We all do have the capacity to resist that erosion of moral fibre. We have it in us to remain brave, grounded in principles, surrounded by goodness. Yeah, the writer in me wanted that, Desperately.

The months where I’ve lived in this wonderful city, I’ve seen many cultures. I’ve observed many good people who earn an honest day’s living. The kind of goodness that defies the world plagued by fear. The kind of goodness that reminds all of us the meaning of being human. Mind your business, help those who are in need to be helped, spread the joy through smiles. Face life as it comes. I’d very much like to believe in that version of life.

I’ve also seen violence. Interestingly, in stark comparison to events, it’s not the abundance of violence that overwhelms me. It’s the abundance of love, care and staying human that overshadows the sceptical world of my making. For every act of impolite rudeness, there are ten more that bestow kindness. For every act of deception, there are ten more that remind me the value of honesty. For every sin against the fabric of human, I see a hundred more that sing the gospel of how wonderful it is to be a human.

We are divided by borders, we are divided by beliefs and belief system. There are gods, there are big data data centres, there are folks who believe in either options as the one that would take us to sublime salvation. There is hate and there is love. These two are not engaged in an eternal conflict. Ironically, they both exist. They both are in place and they do leave us with the choice to rest our faith in either of them.

As far as the day is concerned, I feel happy knowing that we are born innocent, we are nurtured to the way we are. Which also implies that common sense dictates that , we as a species, are quite capable of staying human. Kids are a wonderful example of how one stays immune to the pollution that corrupts the fabric of staying a human. It would be childish to say that we can learn a lot from the kids. It would be unwise to discount the simpler truth that kids do lead a simpler , easier life. Not because they have nothing else to do, or strings that don’t mandate their motives. It’s because they have a simpler understanding of the world around. They do what they have to, they learn, adapt and are yet to see the world through filters of bias , fears, insecurities and prejudice.

I think it’s not a stretch to assume that there would come a day, where we’d feel saturated by pointlessness to ideologies of faith, text, cultures that don’t hold water given the context of life. I’d be more than happy should that happen in my lifetime. But it’s coming . It’s inevitable. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.

The innocence is proof enough that the future is safe. After all, aren’t we all the same under the same sun!

Karthik

In pursuit of closure

Must be a Murakami thing. The themes of closure always feature in all of his works. I reckon the process of hurting oneself, the building of walls to cope up, the loss of faith in the goodness of humanity and emotions specialize in fracturing the heart, the big wide gape ; that life on hold and all in the name of not finding Closure. That quite nicely and accurately sums up the turmoil that Murakami’s characters usually go through. The plots focus on complicating life and each character struggles with finding a closure.

Closure, or as Rachel from Friends called it, CA LOOOOW SURE, is the process of making peace with the dealt hand. There is a wiki page on the matter and it describes closure as an individual’s desire for a firm answer to a question and an aversion toward ambiguity. Psychologically and otherwise, since there is an established pursuit of an answer that pampers the ego, justifies the misery, it also reflects the journey one embarks upon in trying to arrive at the answer.

The funny irony to the tale is that as an outsider to the tales, we as readers do find it easier to think and understand the course that life has for the characters. The skills are there and it’s usually a question of reading and comprehending that read. The challenges exert a certain control over us when we move away from pages of fiction to pages of our own lives.

The journey seems to be the same. It’s always been the same. The lifecycle of such a process can possibly be outlined as

1. Acknowledgement

2. Awareness of the current self

3. Introspection and RCA

4. Awareness of the changing self

5. Acceptance

6. Acknowledgement

From a theoretical stand point, the lifecycle is both symmetric and cyclic. As with the tales, the absolute starting point is around the awakening of the fact that there is unpleasant unhappiness to deal with. Beyond denial, once the characters acknowledge the state of misery, the journey towards that holy grail answer becomes the sequential next step.

As one strolls around that road , one starts to view oneself through a pristine mirror that is free from the biases of denial and fears. The character learns to call a spade a spade rather than adopting a disillusioned view of what things are. As the characters start viewing their real self, they start spotting the trends that shaped the course of their life. It helps draw a neat RCA of all the whys of their decisions. It also serves to remind the reasons to all the reasoning made.

In Murakami’s world, this phase is the most crucial phase which alters the future of the given character. It’s a phase that shows the strength and courage of the characters who embark upon such journeys. The introspection offers a lucid vivid realization which is almost cathartic in nature. That view usually is free from clutches of how we wanted things to be, distanced from a future that we wanted to exist. This phase divorces the character from the past and the future, leaving the character free to alter the present.

Quite interestingly, closure comes in two parts. The easy bit and the harder bit. The easy bit, yup hear me out, is the one where we find the answers from folks we are connected with. The harder bit is the one where we accept the answers and make that choice to deal with it. I am a little intrigued by the fact that we lead ourselves to believe that we’d find comforts in knowing the thought process and justification of the thoughts that reside in people’s mind. In fact, that’s the beauty to a Murakami’s book. The long journey , the mental distress, the tsunami of emotions and end of the day, the justification from the people connected to the character does not really have a lasting effect on them.

For what it’s worth, wanting people to call out their thoughts; wanting them to explain their decision to us, is an elaborate excuse of delaying and delegating the choices that we struggle to make. It’s inevitable. When push comes to shove, we are left to make sense of everything that refused to make sense to us when our journey began. The beautiful irony to this truth is the fact that unless we embark upon that tumultuous journey, unless we walk alone along that road of uncomfortable thorns, we’d never find ourselves reaching the conclusion that all the misery was just in our mind.

The payoff , to the reader , is beautiful when the characters come full circle and left at a point where there are choices waiting to be made.

It’s no wonder that I love Murakami’s works. Just like happiness, the pursuit of closure happens in our mind. A million steps and a distance later, one wakes up to the blaring reality that one really didn’t have to walk the distance. Could have been done at the comforts of the chair at home.

Guess there is one question begging to be asked. Is Murakami’s world of words very different from ours?

Karthik

Book review : Norwegian Wood

Cover Page of Norwegian Wood, Murakami

Norwegian wood by Haruki Murakami.

It is an infinitely difficult tale for me to review. It’s not because the tale is beyond a justifiable review, it’s solely because I am blinded by the emotions that I’d bring to the table when I talk about this book. I shall do my best to alienate myself from the book while I attempt to review this Masterpiece.

Norwegian wood, a song by The Beatles, also happens to be the song that the leading lady of the tale likes. Naoko. Toru Watanabe is the narrator and this story revolves around his life, how it intersects with Naoko , Reiko and Midori. The book is a testament to the predictability of how unpredictable our reasoning becomes when we face challenges that test our emotional stability. In short, Love, is the most predictable means to call out how we become unpredictable because of it.

N.W is a simple tale of love. Toru, his best friend Kizuki and K’s girlfriend Naoko are a trio. The story takes place when Toru is aged 17. Kizuki kills himself which leaves a void in Naoko and Toru’s lives. It’s a void that is beyond repair. It leaves a gaping hole in their lives. Toru and Naoko move to Tokyo, each pursuing their education. Toru and Naoko seem to find solace between themselves and Naoko , one fine day, exiles herself from Toru’s life. Toru feels the icy talons of isolation once again.

He later comes to know that Naoko , who is suffering from depression, has checked herself into an institution. Naoko reaches out to him through letters. Toru makes it a point to visit her and that’s when they meet Reiko. Reiko is Naoko’s roomie and she’s also a victim of a breakdown. There is a new trio that is formed.

While all of this happens, Toru meets Midori and finds her to be full of life, a quality that he misses both in his life and that in Naoko. She represents everything that Toru misses. Toru is in love with Naoko. Naoko is imprisoned by her depression. She’s a broken version of what she can be. She’s unable to reciprocate that love. Her solitude leaves Toru in a state of solitude. Midori start to fall for Toru and he feels the conflict.

So far the plot of the book does point towards the simple fact that love can get as complicated as one wants it to be. It’s not the mere words of love that this book represents. It is a hurricane of emotions that each of the character expresses. The volatile nature of emotions, the impact of such emotions on our lives, the way our lives affect the lives of folks around us, and this book absolutely , precisely rams the hammer down the perfect nail.

As the protagonist suffers the misery of helplessness of his love, we feel his pain. We feel the pain and misery that keeps Naoko trapped. Her inability to jolt herself off her depression, the toll and strain that has on the love, the residual sadness and guilt of Kizuki’s death, a world of walls keep the lovers apart. Toru’s love for Naoko keeps him disconnected from Midori. Midori’s solitude finds comforts in Toru.

It’s not hard to imagine the way love flourishes through pain and sadness. Each character is trapped , waiting and longing for that special attention. Each character denies that special attention to someone that desperately seeks from them. We are left with human nature in its rawest unblemished form.

What happens to the love? Whose love finally endures the test of time? Whose battle with depression, loneliness finally sees the light of dawn? The story goes on to conclude in the most fashionable way that readers of Murakami are now used to.

I loved this book. This book struck a chord and I couldn’t keep myself away from living the characters in my head. The book expresses a lot of themes.

We find it hard to accept but the under appreciated truth to many of us is the fact that we put our happiness in someone else’s hands. The tale is a testament to that fact. There is the side of love that the book ventures into. Love, while is empowering, it also has the capacity to render us helpless. There is frustrated helplessness plastered across the walls of this tale. Then comes the big elephant in the room, Depression. What I loved the most about the book is that it portrayed a picture of Love in the time of a depression. I guess it’s hard in real life as it’s conveyed in the book.

The book also explores the fact that people are drawn to certain people. Toru is broken inside, he finds himself gravitating towards Naoko, Midori and Reiko, and all of them are broken too. Like attracts like, I’d presume. There is a certain nativity in such pain. We draw and reach out to similar folks.

This book is most definitely not about giving up on life. The broken lives of Toru and Naoko represent the baggage of the past. Midori represents the present. Reiko represents the way future unfolds. It’s a convoluted thought that connects the characters to the linearity of time. But that’s how I see it. Toru and Naoko are anchored to the past and hence neither is able to move on. Midori on the other hand, represents life. She’s the one character that makes choices in the right time. It’s just a matter of time for her to realize if her choices were right or wrong. Reiko represents the future. She is both an outcome of the past, and also changes with changes to the choices that are made in the present.

For what it’s worth, somewhere , some time in the future, I’ll read this again. I love this book!

Karthik

Journey of a million miles

It was odd. These days, everything is odd. I couldn't start where the absurdity began. I couldn't put a finger on the frenzy that it all was. If I may, I'd skip the oddities and craziness of the world around and restrict myself to the nature throwing me a curve ball. The land covered in white of the snow, the biting cold, the defeated sun and it's near sterile rays, I couldn't quite fathom the heat that seemed to be emitting from somewhere beyond my eyes. It didn't make sense. On that cold day, it wasn't the cold that made me comfortable. The heat felt unbearably torturing.

The queue was long. It was going to be a long wait ahead. I gently smiled at the irony to the moment. Nothing felt rushed. A gentle subtle and a near final reminder that nothing was meant to be rushed in life. The thoughts amused me. All things aside, I found myself smiling like a silly man. The smile was a rare commodity. The grave grim air around us couldn't tolerate the conspicuous smile. Eyes cast on me. I knew the eyes. I knew. I had no comfort or justification to reciprocate those glances. I let them be. I had built a wall around my mind to phase them out of my peripheral attention. I denied the world around an acknowledgement.

It wasn't long before I had to sacrifice my decision to disown the world around me. I couldn't. He wouldn't let me be. A little boy of possibly eight. His eyes looked bored. He looked a bit tired but then again, so was everybody else. The wonders and magic of a confused winter morning. He had an air of curiosity about him, that little boy. While I could stereotype the gazes that I was attracting from everyone else, his, his was different. His eyes neither passed a judgement nor represented the cold sadness. He was just himself. He viewed the world through his curious little eyes. Everything fascinated him. Everything was new to him. Everything excited him. Everything.

'Hallo' I gently waved my hand to engage a conversation with him. He was standing with his dad a few places ahead. I must have caught him off his guard. Part embarrassed, part flustered, he quickly turned around and gripped his father's hand tight. I was amused by his innocent juvenile reaction. Kids will be kids and I quite enjoyed his little panic. The boy didn't give up. Not yet. He took his moment, gathered his courage and turned back. He meekly waved his hand and said nothing. The boy's action did stir his dad's inertia. He turned back and smiled. There was a certain relief on his face. He quickly turned his face again to look straight.

The little boy stood watching the place for a while. Outwitted by his boredom, he decided to embark on a tiny adventure. He walked towards me.

'Do I know you?' his gentle soft voice pierced through the cold silence.

'Ja', I promptly replied. You see, I started, we are but friends from a long long time ago. You and I have always been friends. You grew bored, just like how you are bored now, and that explains why you are little today. I have never been bored. I've always played my games, been a silly explorer. That's why I'm old now. Just as old as your dad.

The boy wasn't sure on how he had to comprehend what he had heard. His curiosity had gotten the better of him. He asked me a lot of questions. How? what? When? Are you lying? He'd ask me from time to time.

And so began the long tale of two friends who first met when the earth itself was young. This was the time after the apple incident. This was the time after the floods. The lands had been painted green, and that's where we had met first. He was a tiger, I was a lion. We had roamed carelessly in the jungle. We had played in the meadows, given hunters the slip, we had hunted together for the longest of while. One stormy night, we had walked our separate roads.

'I was a tiger?' he asked me in excitement.

'Ja', 'See that explains why you are always excited and brave. Just like the tiger you once were' I explained .

That had made sense to him.

As the story progressed, he and I had been friends in the wild. Eagle and a hawk. We had been trees too. We finally became men. Ah yes, that was a fun age. French one time, ancient heretic Indian once. We had met so many times and there were times when we weren't friends any more. The thought that we weren't friends seemed to sadden him a bit.

'Oh don't be sad' I tried to comfort him. See, we are friends now. That's how it is. We always spot each other.

That seemed to cheer the little rascal a bit. We went on to talk about his school, his friends. The queue had moved further quite significantly.

'Ok bye' he enthusiastically shrieked. I bid him a silent farewell. It was odd indeed. An odd day to make a new friend. An odd day to die. My journey from Berlin to Auschwitz was not as foreboding as I thought it would be. It was a day to remember. The kind of day that was hot for a given winter morning. The kind of day when two very old friends got to meet each other. I wanted the silly tale to be true. I wished there was some truth to it. It was after all the last day under the sun for both of us. The sadness in the eyes of the world managed to find mine too.

************

'Mummy' I kept pestering my mother. I was too little to know what depressing meant, but I was old enough to feel it crushing my enthusiasm. The hall was depressingly boring. I fidgeted restlessly. My mother wouldn't bother pacifying me. Glued to her fancy rectangle box of sorts, she kept staring into it irritably. It was not the day where I could manage to draw her attention gravitate towards me. Defeated, I gave up without a fight. I looked around to see the place. Old people, coughing people sick people were around. This was not the way I had intended to spend the day. I fancied a walk in the park instead. The kind of park where there were gulls to feed, pigeons to shoo. This was boring.

As I grazed my eyes across the room, I couldn't help but stare at this old man. He looked like a proper grandfather. The grey, the way his face was, full of folks. I think it's called rinkle or something. Rinkles scare mummy. I've heard her talk about it. He looked old.

'Hello little princess' he called out softly.

Mummy shot her eyes away from the box thing and directed it towards the grandfather. 'Agatha, don't bother the nice gentleman there' she blurted a noncommittal warning. She was happy to get rid of me , she was happy to have me bother someone else. I walked towards the old man.

'Do I know you?' I asked him curiously.

'Oh, but we are friends, from a long long time ago, little one' he replied in excitement.

Karthik

Tale inspired by this little girl, with an angel face who waved a familiar hi. We didn't speak, it was a very short hi. She smiled as her car picked up speed and left me standing and wondering if She and I were friends from a long long time ago. What can I say, Life inspires Life.