A face in the crowd

The more you run, the more things follow. The rule holds well to animals and the demons in the mind.

The Saturday was fun. With news of Ophelia , the hurricane, looming around the social feeds, the morning was pleasantly sunny. The plan was set in stone. We were to hit the Istore near Covent Garden to pick up a fixed Mac. That’s a funny tale all by itself. I treat my Mac like crap. I don’t guard it, I don’t pamper it. I don’t let it flaunt it’s worth. For its part, my Mac has not died on me yet. It was a different tale for this friend of mine. Kept her safe, like a Disney princess. She died the moment he tried to connect the DSLR memory stick in it.

Delicate little darling, that mac turned out to be.

The plan was set in stone. We were to meet by 9. Hit Central London and collect the laptop. I had made alternate plans to visit South bank and stay lost in the food festival that the place hosts every weekend. None of that materialized though. Mostly because the plan was set in stone.

The day did start lazy. I hadn’t slept well and I usually don’t sleep well on most Fridays. I woke up groggy. I decided to indulge an English breakfast. Toast, eggs, beans, grilled vegetables and a tall glass of Pineapple juice. The food came as ordered, Pineapple juice, not so much. Apples were served, pines took a hike. The heavy hearty meal rendered me near useless. I had to endure an hour’s commute and I didn’t have a book handy to keep me company. I slept through the train and woke up miserable when the train stopped at the station.

With the laptop collected, with musical instruments gawked at a shop next to the store, we made it a point to walk a while. A lousy raspberry crush drink thrashed in the process. The time had ticked, the hours loitered, it was the time to head back home. The train ride back wasn’t any spectacular either. I did my best to keep myself entertained by playing a game on the mobile. I still couldn’t buy a book to keep me occupied. The book would have to wait for a while.

That’s when I noticed a face in the crowd. It wasn’t the usual spot. I presumed her to be in her sixties. She looked blissfully in her fifties, but her wrinkles conveyed a different story. People are a part of the daily commute. One gets to observe many faces. Some are pleasant, some are beautiful, some people carry a certain creepy vibe to them. I’m happy with the role of an observer that I play in the city. I observe. I steal a few glances, I make jokes in my head at times and smile things off. Some times, I imagine macabre plots and wonder about the many secrets that the eyes hide. It’s usual for an observer to observe without intruding into the comfortable safety zone that surrounds us all. It’s almost like stealing a glance at the sun. You see and then you don’t.

She was different. She had the kindest eyes that I had ever seen. There was something so familiar about her that I couldn’t stick to my golden role as an observer. A glance became many glances. I even mustered the courage to offer a smile. A smile offered, a smile reciprocated. The realities of this life came into play and a few stops later, we parted ways as strangers that we were.

I couldn’t help but think about the untold stories that were running in my mind. Such comforting familiarity, such gravitating vibes, those tired eyes surrounded by a touch of kindness. Her old age was on display. She’d , from time to time, wear her glasses to keep track of the stations that passed us by. She’d gently place them back into the case and repeat and rinse the exercise a few times. I watched the first times and decided to slip into a deep slumber where I could indulge in a tale that spanned across lives, across lifetimes, across appearances and logistics that mandated the reality that we are a part of.

I see similar faces all the time. The people change , their ethnicity changes, the colours of their eyes and skin change, their hairdo comes in various tones and shapes, the familiarity remains the same. It’s like holding on to pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and realizing that a few pieces are extremely compatible irrespective of which puzzle I’m trying to assemble back together.

The more I tried to ignore the coincidences , the harder it kept coincidenting! That’s not even a word but I couldn’t think of a suitable alternate. I think that’s the deal with life. The more we run away from things , we put ourselves in a spot where we are forced to confront them. There is no escape. The only viable way is to endure and survive. I couldn’t help but delude myself into imagining the same set of folks that I keep bumping into. I couldn’t help but try to see if there was a cryptic secret in front of my eyes that was challenging me to solve them. I couldn’t resist the temptation of believing that there is more to life than the mundaneness of normal ,sober, existence.

When faces in the crowd aren’t a reflection of fading away into obscurity, but are a manifested haunting of a mind trying to piece back a fractured point in time, the world becomes a canvas of a surreal tale , waiting to be written. Who knew, that descent into madness would be so much fun.

Have you ever experienced such doppelgangers? Do you ever see the same people around you, irrespective of where you are in the world or whom you are looking at? Is it the case of comedy of errors and mistaken identities because people are people and most of them are the same!

Small world after all and thank god, the world ain’t so small

Karthik

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Book Review : My grandmother sends her regards and apologies

β€œThe mightiest power of death is not that it can make people die, but that it can make the people left behind want to stop living”

Cover page of My Grandmother sends her regards and apologies

Save yourself a little time. Order the book today. Ask your friends for a copy , if they already have one. Enjoy the ride. You’ll love this one. I really do wish that all tales were like this one. The reviews would be one liners.

And bought it already? Good . Excellent.

My grandmother sends her regards and apologies , by Fredrik Backman , is a wonderful heart warming tale. This is the same bloke who gave us A man called ove. This story is about Elsa, an almost an eight year old girl, her Grandmother and the fantastic land of almost awake. The land of fantasy has it’s knights in golden armour, a Wurse ( a massive beast) , a warrior, two princes who feud over a princess. A princess, A sea angel. There is mom , dad, George. Throw in a few neighbours and you have a fairy tale in the making.

Granny is granny and the world struggles to cope up with her. Granny was, when she was young, a very successful surgeon. She’d travel across the globe and help those who needed help. When Granny retires, she has a brand new job. She keeps herself busy by being Elsa’s superhero. Granny is full of life, she’s animated and a force of joy. She has a problem with the world around her. Dogmatic rules bore her, political correctness offends her, The whole deal of pampering in the name of safety and pointless fears disinterest her. Granny would rather break into a zoo to watch the animals sleep, get arrested for that and walk out of jail, than sit at home and imagine what it’d be like to see animals sleep in the zoo. That’s granny.

Elsa loves her granny. The two make a wonderful team.

Elsa is not the usual average seven year, well almost an eight year old kid. She’s way too smart for her age. She enjoys reading proper literature a lot. To her, proper literature constitutes of Comics , Harry Potter and most books that we’d never bother associating to a formal education system. Elsa is perceived as a bit of an odd ball and she always manages to attract the ire of bullies from her school. Elsa can hold up against anyone in an argument. When Elsa and her Granny team up, the outcome is usually hilarious.

Granny introduces Elsa to the land of almost awake. The land consists of six kingdoms. Granny and Elsa also have a secret language that they use to carry on discrete conversations. Things are good and things look promising to Elsa. Her world is all set to change with her mother looking to deliver her baby brother. Elsa calls him Halfie. She’s not sure if he’d be a boy or a girl. Half and half and so she calls him halfie All is well till Elsa accidentally discovers that her Granny’s time in this world is coming to a close.

One fine morning , Granny passes away and she leaves Elsa behind on a treasure hunt, in a quest to save the magical kingdoms. The fate of the land of almost awake rests on Elsa. And so her adventure begins.

I fell in love with this tale. The fantasy is vivid and wonderfully imaginative. As we find ourselves exploring the magical kingdoms , we also discover how the kingdoms are connected to this world. The tales are both real and fictitious at the same time. That makes it the perfect kind of a tale.

We embark upon the adventure with Elsa on her quest to keep the lands protected and safe. Each clue that Elsa receives, is a letter from her grandmother which is addressed to different people. The theme usually is the same. Grandma sends her regards and her apologies.

What does grandma apologise for? Is everything just a mere delusion of a senile lady? Does Elsa manage to uncover the clues and save the kingdoms? Is there a dragon in this tale?

The book is quite the adventure.

The book plays to its strengths; its characters. This is a book about people. This is a book about how people refuse to live their lives. It reminds us that while the dead remain dead, the living also cease to live. It talks about how people quietly succumb to the crushing blows to their heart and how they never bounce back. It talks about why we need that courage to live.

The book also explores the choices that we make in life. It talks about the things that we ignore, when we are in pursuit of glory. It talks about the effect that pursuit has on the people around us. It reminds us that all of us will find a day when we are done searching for things and when we take a good look at the things we’ve ignored and left behind in that search. Are we left with regrets and guilt? Are we left with the satisfaction of the search? Do we end up losing more than what we had bargained for? The book, in it’s own subtle way, leaves us with those questions.

Grab yourself a copy today. Enjoy the ride. You will love Elsa and her granny.

Karthik

Oh young Jung!

There is something so fascinating and mysterious about the way the people are. The sight beyond the sight, the game of cat and mouse played in the mind. The petty satisfaction derived from guessing what others are thinking and the joy of making ample correct guesses. That’s the game of poker. That’s also the game of entertaining psychology.

Most of us associate psychology to Psychos. And then the conservative ones think of shrinks, Psychologists, at the mere mention of the word. There is also the massive negative connotation. All things psychology point towards mental instability and the feared fracture of the mind. Most of us usually don’t realize that we all exhibit such analytical skills in judging and predetermining motives of others in our day to day lives. The step into office and we try to put ourselves into many shoes. We think like how we think others would think. Workplace and business is usually a brilliant and yet such a subtle game of picking psychology hues. It helps us understand things better. It helps us plan for things better.

Different people are different and our ability to adapt and know the right set of things to say to keep the folks happy, is a skill that differentiates the ‘Go doers’ and the coveted ‘Go Getters’. Business has a different name to it. It’s called a soft skill. A soft skill is a million square miles beyond just the ability to string a few sentences together in a different language. This people skill is the one that we tend to call ‘Leadership’ skills. The wonderful ability to influence, manipulate, steer, inspire a wider team in order to meet common objectives. The average day is littered with evidences of Psychology 1-0-1.

I have many vested interest into this area. I like talking to people. I love meeting new people. I enjoy imagining the life they’d have lived. I like writing fictitious tales of such characters, leading such lives. As a story teller, I enjoy the many nuances to how people are, how they interact with their world, how they react to given circumstances. I love framing tales around the rise and fall of heroes and villains to add that drama to my story.

This curiosity led me to the works of Carl Jung. While the authenticity and the validity of Jung’s works can be disputed, I’m fascinated by the fact that I have tools to model my characters and give them a personality. I remember writing a bit about Anima and Animus. The masculine and feminine side to us all. This time around, I found myself stumbling deeper into the rabbit hole called Archtypes.

Personality, as the word stands, is derived from Persona. It’s a bit funny because Persona is something that we use so that others can spot us, identify us, categorize us and subsequently either accept or reject us. Persona and by implication, a personality is a mask that we put on display to appease to the world around us. It’s a fad. It’s a fashion statement. It’s a lifestyle choice that’s put on a public display.

The self, and along other contexts(examples include self discovery, spirituality and arm chair philosophy) which is referred to as the soul, is the way we are to ourselves. The self , quite often , is very different from Persona and the personality.

Got a bit of a time. Google – > Jung Archtype personality test. I don’t remember the link, but yeah, I took one. I happen to be a Joker. That’s two levels of joker. I see myself as one and it’s my choice of persona. Apparently, the tests reveal how you see yourself and what show you put for the world to see. Yup. It’s pseudo-science official.

Before we step into the details of the Archtype, the term archtype itself is a definition of traits that are exhibited by most people. We have the Joker. There is the Wise old man, The wise old woman, the Lover, The Devil to name a few. Archtype itself is a part of the collective unconscious that most people are aware of but indifferent towards. Collective unconscious, the words do suggest that we acknowledge the archtypes without even realizing it.

To quote an example, anyone dressed in orange, peaceful enough face, long enough beard. We equate them to God-men/women. Associate honesty, truth and purity towards them. And bada boom, scandal a few months down the line. Archtypes do play a pivotal role in shaping up history. All leaders, who have managed to capture the attention and hearts of people, exhibit this trait. They are successful only because we put our faith in them. We do that, also because unconsciously, we feel compelled to form a favourable opinion.

So back to Joker. The Joker takes the life easy. Fun. Contemplative. Thinks a lot. Acts when necessary. Uses humour to win the day and doesn’t care about the heroes and villains of the tale. It’s the journey that fascinates the joker. Call it a confirmation bias, but yeah, I can lead myself to believe that I fit the bill.

Another interesting thing about such Archtypes is the existence of Shadow. Shadow is a darker influence. Every archtype has a corresponding shade of a shadow. The deeper the manifestation of such a shadow, the stark opposite becomes the Personality and identification of the self.

Friday, that today is, go on and indulge a little curiosity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearson-Marr_Archetype_Indicator_(PMAI) and google Jung and Archtypes to learn a bit more about yourself.

Just thinking about Archtypes and Shadows has made me restless enough to want to sit and breathe complicated characters to life. Sweet sweet pleasures of life πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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

Book review : The handmaid’s tale

For starters , I thought this was a fairly new book. Now I do realize that the tale was published in 1985. This adds more chills to the reading experience.

This is an uncomfortable book to read. It’s not the case of a boring plot, under developed characters and a story plagued by near dead pacing. On the contrary, it’s the realism to the book that makes the reading experience a little heavy on the mind. On that grounds, this book is a bit hard to digest. As I started, I thought this was written in this decade, which could explain the way the plot was pictured. The fact that this book now stands the test of time and the context , more real today than it was decades ago, is a testament to the gloomy world this book introduces us to.

This is a simple tale of a dystopian , not so far away, future. The world has survived a few jolts. Societies have transformed and the new norm is an accepted way of life. It is a world where women , usually, don’t have a name. There are Aunts, Marthas, Wives, Handmaids and econowives. The plot doesn’t really spend a lot of time classifying the strata of men. There wasn’t much need anyways. And then there were also men.

On the onset of near annihilation, the society tries to reconstruct itself from the ashes. The fallout from the radiation, the chemicals and the toxic world itself, renders most men sterile. The society emulates a dictatorship of sorts. Senior government officials are ENTITLED to handmaids. I think you can guess where the tale is heading and what is the role of such handmaids in their dystopian society.

So the primary role of a handmaid is to facilitate progeny. In fact , the entire society is built around repopulation. Women who can’t are shipped off to the colonies. The ones who can, are Handmaids are deployed across families. Their sole purpose is to birth the next generation. The successful handmaids eventually retire when their clocks run their due course. The unsuccessful ones are shipped off to the colony. In a nutshell, the role of a woman in the society is valued through the filter of procreation.

Aunts are a sect of women who train , groom and condition the handmaids. Marthas are housekeepers and carry out their role in running the chores around the household. Econowives are the wives allotted to men who have insignificant roles in the machinery of the society. The society is policed through the army. Angels to be precise. These are the foot soldiers. Then there are eyes, who spy on the society and report on the miscreants who don’t comply to the religious cause of the society. There you go. That’s their world.

Feeling disgusted at it so far? Good. So was I. you don’t have to be a feminist to feel offended by the course that this society took. The fact that this society accepts this ridiculousness as a norm is disgusting. The fact that this society was let to be, is offensive. The fact that this society is a reality, now that’s a gentle revelation of sorts.

The reminder of the tale hinges around the fate of the titular Handmaid. What happens to her? Does she ever deliver a child into that world of hers? Does she eventually retire or does she get shipped to the colony? The book keeps you guessing and curious. It’s a page turner alright.

There are bucket loads of themes in this book. Ever noticed that in this write up, I had not bothered with names? The first theme is that of an Identity. A name is more than just a name. It is an identity. It is an announcement of self, it protects and preserves the self. What if you re robbed of a name. what if your name didn’t even matter?

This book is also an alarming reminder that you don’t have to be political, but politics will govern, impact and affect your life. Deny it with all your might, but it’s not going to go away. This book talks about the nature of politics.

Back to why 1985 was such a shocker. Patriot Act. The whole Demonetisation in India, The big politics of sentiments and fear. Fear leads to suspension of constitution and the very rights that protect the citizens of a nation. I’m not political. I’m an observer. I’ve observed ample instances of how sentiments affect the policies and how policies affect life. It’s almost a near inevitability. One fine day, there will be a disaster, people will be frightened and defenceless. The law of the land will do it’s best to protect us. The caring hand could easily turn our to be a talon gripping it’s prey. This book , very comfortably, predicted the way we would behave in the future. The whole big bang around WW2 , it’s not that hard to realize that history is meant to repeat itself and we as a species do tend to forget the lessons of the past.

Religion plays a central role in this book. A society that follows any religion and religious practices blindly, without understanding the whys of the things it does, will eventually follow things as a rote. It would police itself in that fashion. It will grow intolerant towards those who choose to not follow. This society is not very different. There are those who follow it with all their heart and disciplined conviction. A closer look at their motives does reveal self preservation and other conflicting interests.

This book is a wonderful example of a loveless, emotionless state of existence. Life as a protocol to be carried, compliance to comply to, life defined around purpose. While it does feel like the right thing to aspire to be, it also exposes the limitations of such fulfilling existence.

This book is a mirror to self, it is a mirror to the society.

I enjoyed reading it. If serious stuff holds your attention, go for it. It is after all a story of a handmaid. Her life’s story is worth the read.

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

In hot pursuit

I have a burning suspicion that the blog that will follow , might end up being a rant. I’ll take my chances. Unfortunately, you’d have to take yours too.

There are two things, make it three. There are three things that influenced the thought in my head.

1. The book called The hundred year old man….

2. Each time we try to question something that doesn’t make sense, the first immediate repercussion is that we are asked if we are perfect. Our credibility is put to the test. We often fail that yardstick.

3. The status quo that is flawed.

Like many things that require a proper chronology of events to make better sense, we shall also attempt to start at the beginning. Dating back to the Genesis, and I’m not kidding, well maybe not as far back as the genesis. There is a chapter in the bible about casting stones. The ask is rather simple, those who have not sinned, are free to cast the stone.

While I haven’t read The Book, and in all possibility, I might never any books on that league, the context is fairly simple. Judge others only after judging your own self. Point your eyes within, fingers towards you and blah di blah

That now covered. It’s not uncommon that each time there is a dispute, a disagreement of opinion and ideology, the instigator is often challenged on their credibility to pass that judgement. We are interested in digging the dirt that is the life of others. In fact, we look for sinless, guiltless, near infant like innocence in people to even accept their point of view. In a twisted sense of convenience, this does align to the first point as well. Be perfect yourself before you go yodelling about the imperfections in others.

Fair enough.

Now comes the kicker. I think that status quo is flawed. I have my reasons on that conclusion.

The simplest reason of them all is the fact that this is not a perfect world. Therefore , by implication, I’d never be perfect enough to start pointing the pointlessness of the views of the world around me. Since nobody is perfect and vetted off as whiter than white, it makes perfect sense for anyone to challenge anything.

It could be argued that a fool would be incapable of understanding the nuances of Calculus. That renders the debate moot. Yup, absolutely. That also warrants that there should be a criteria tagged to the participants to facilitate a level playing field. Education can be one. Money can be one. Common sense can be one. Common sense is a free commodity and rest cost money. Unfortunately, common sense loses every time.

Pragmatically speaking, the relative chance of arguments that spring from arguers who are equals , is quite slim. It’s never been an apples to apples comparison. That being the case, the expectation of perfection is a mirage that we tend to fixate on. It doesn’t really exist. The quickest example is around the recent days in Twitter where an actor challenged a said list of Politicians and the backlash was, who does the actor think he is?

The point of contention has never been around who incites doubts. The problem has always been how far one go to defend one’s stance. When you make a wrong choice, arguments fly sky high. It’s human to hide behind excuses and throw in tangent to distract everyone from things that make sense. We’ve seen it a lot of times.

When arguments get personal, it usually means that the arguing parties have run out of sensible things to debate about.

We are sitting on a misguided ideology that for us to question the things around us, we need to be perfect, we need to elevate ourselves that we can’t be questioned, we need to inspire and set a shining example that our views would not get thrashed. It’s a nice thing to aspire for. It just takes forever to reach that state.

When you try to cut noise and focus on what works and what doesn’t, it doesn’t take a chemical engineer to point out that your car wont move an inch because it’s out of gas.

There is a lesson in all of those words somewhere. Simple lessons like I happiness is something that’s not achieved if and only if I cross over a certain defined milestone. Happiness is the most easily available abundant commodity that we all refuse to take because we are so finicky about how we define happiness to be. We judge ourselves way too hard. We set impossible expectations and struggle to meet it.

All that said, there is a difference between fighting for what is right and WHO is right. When we are in hot pursuit of what is right for us, we usually don’t have the time to pamper the whos around it.

On that note, Enjoy a wonderful weekend.

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

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

Cover Page of the 100 year old man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next stop : The Handmaid’s tale.

Karthik

Kadhal Kasakudhaiyya – Love’s bitter

kka

Ilayaraja got it right a long long while ago. Live long enough and Love starts to turn sour. This is most definitely not a rant about how love hurts or why relationships turn sour. It’s a casual observation of how life facilitates all, in good time.

2000. That was a beautiful year. I was 18, I was in a band, it was the age of dreams and life was waiting to unfold. I also happened to be in love. Like most things stereotyped, my folks wouldn’t tolerate any nonsense. It was apparently my first serious venture into falling in love. Scandalous by the standards back then. I had found love in a girl who was a bit older than me. Mom and dad threw in the ‘Sort your life first’ card. As I sat down to sort my life, dad had asked me , in a not so subtle way, to find someone who was more age appropriate.

Now that I look back, my folks have been scandalized and rather open minded about most aspects of my life. They were opposed to all things love, like most folks. I wouldn’t really blame them. I would have been worried or spoilt epic had they not had their apprehensions. The initial disruption aside, they would eventually give up and put up with my choices. They are sweet.

So fast forward to a few more years. Only this time, I had managed to fall in love with someone younger. My parent’s did muster a shining smile. A happy check against their compliance. They were even more pleased to figure out that she was more or less the same , when it came to religion. The subtle difference between horizontal lines and vertical lines didn’t bother them too much. They were happy as long as lines were there.

Fast forward a few more years. After a few years of bummed outlook towards love and world around, after growing tired of not shaving and needless to say , the incessant itching that accompanies the endeavor of growing beards, I sobered up and realized that I was done searching for love. The transition was near cinematic bliss. With my interest on love fading away, I had also managed to delegate the head hunting (aka bride searching) to my folks.

It was a fun era. From opposition on moral, ethical, logical and social norms, Love started to appear like a better prospect to my folks and my wider relatives. My extended family had always maintained that I was a gem of a bloke and would not dare tying a knot over a story of love. With ample time, the conversations did prompt towards , ‘why don’t you fall in love Karthik’. My folks , for quite a while now, have maintained a similar stance. We are ok, as long as you bring home a girl!

It’s funny , the way the cycle of time has inspired a better outlook in my folks. Call is anxiety or sheer desperation to get rid of me, my folks have evolved to accept anyone into my life. The irony has been ridiculously funny. The folks are in for it and I find myself rather bored of the adventure.

Falling in love is not magic. It’s a byproduct of People, Place and Time. Force a subset sample of people into a routine and sooner than later, you’d find yourself a relationship blooming. When the conditions are right, bada boom, you have a story. That’s usually the long and short of any tale of a boy meets girl. The factors , themselves pose a challenge when the parameters are challenging. There is that simple window of time when the factors align. You skip the window, People , place and time are rendered useless.

I think one of the fair advantages of a progressive timeline is the fact that most people are not afraid to fall into relationships, fall out of them and wise up and kick start the iteration all over again. For starters, it challenges the status quo defined by people and place. It inspires folks to improve upon their sample sets and expand upon the choices.

I recently had the opportunity to challenge the status quo myself. I did manage to find someone interesting. The odds were stacked sky high. I had , in fact, checked a lot of items to were engineered to send shivers down the parent’s spine. I had breached their expectations in most ways possible. It would have been fun had the stint continued. It didn’t! My folks din’t approve of me wanting to settle down with a divorcee. Her folks thought that I was way too goofy to be taken seriously. It was good fun to see how the society crumbled.

While nothing significantly lost and nothing significantly gained, I did extend my thoughts around the Love thingy. Love is magical and beautiful when it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. It leaves lives fractured, it leaves a big shoddy mess that is not easy to clean. It leaves us with doubts about self and questions over esteem and worth. The first time I was in love, I was both innocent and naive to realize the extent of what Love can do to a person’s life. A few decades later, I’m quite happy to have survived it’s warmth and the coldness that it leaves you with.

All said and done, I’m a bit jaded when it comes to love. There is this aversion to repetitive routines of practiced courtship , that is almost a mandatory phase when it comes to arranged marriage. The same questions on what does thou like, what color does thou liketh, what do you do… and so on and so forth. I can almost imagine the day in the life of an HR. You get to meet far too many people, ask them the same round of questions and then quickly opt to decide if you want to spend the rest of your life with them.

I do sound like a grumpy old git now! I think there is a certain charm to the innocence of love. It’s not that I’m an advocate of one life and one love. Clearly , that’s not the road that I’ve taken. It’s just that, it’s not the same adventure if you embark upon it for a few times. The roads aren’t new, the dragons aren’t a surprise, heck in fact the feeling itself seems to be manufactured rather than something natural.

What the bleep would I know? The world is loaded with people who are interesting and it’s a life of limitless possibilities, only if you let it be. On that happy note, Kadhal indeed kasakudhu aiyya. Sometimes the best one can do is run wild with an open heart. πŸ™‚

Karthik