The age of innocence

There will always be a part of Chennai in my blood, no matter where in the world I get to be in. I’ll always be the bloke who loves the sun and whines about it too. I’ll always be the pampered spirit who cant sleep without an air conditioner or, at the very least, a fan. I ‘ll probably always be the guy who is mesmerised by a snow fall.

London has been kind and gracious. We had a bit of snow the whole day on the Sunday. Saturdays are the worst, and in the right light, they also are the best day in the week. Saturdays are usually quiet. I get to lose myself in making music. The days have come and the months have passed. Something that has refused to change is the way Saturday treats me. The day loitered, the evenings wandered, I do always manage to make it back to the confines of my room with a million unspoken thoughts and a sounds that give my emotions a voice.

This Saturday was no different to the usual practiced rote. Late to bed, early enough to the window, the Sunday greeted me with a glimpse of falling snow. And just like that , I was a kid who was staring blank into the blanket of white. And just like that, I was someone else in a strange land of gleeful excitement and innocence.

It’s beautiful the way nature inspires the best in us. All it took was a shower of snow to transform my mind. I was no longer myself with arms weighed down by thoughts. I was no longer a bloke who was trapped in mind , soul and time. I was no longer a mirage of what I had become. It felt nice to shed some skin and stare at pristine innocence.

Flake by flake, as the ice fell through the open heart of the sky, with each falling drop I could see the many timelines blur and transcend. The snow resembled the flow of time itself. With each free falling flake, it felt like time had reset itself and that it had unconditionally altered itself free from the bonds of experiences that it had subjected me to. With each falling flake, I found myself closer to the liberation of the imprisoned mind.

I was staring right into the age of innocence. An age where time was immaterial. An age where experiences amounted to nothing. An age where everything was new. An age free of definitions , meanings and insinuations. I was finally free to feel trapped in a moment. The sweet comforts of swapping one prison for another. Only this one offered a comfort that I had never known before. A prison without an yesterday, without a tomorrow. A prison where today wasn’t relevant either. All that mattered was the unconditional existence in the moment. A moment that constituted of just snow and a pair of eyes admiring them.

As the day raged on, the snow manifested itself in different ways. It started as a soft magical shower. It picked speed and expressed a fury of purification. The sky had painted the land white. Then black and the world of grey did not matter. All was white and pristine was an one-dimensional direction. I joined its vigour. I felt the clouds lighten within. I was caught in that moment. Mad, zealous for that purification. The time of reckoning was finally here. Unlike the devil’s scripture, it wasn’t a time for judgement. The whitened land offered no prejudice. There was white and that’s all there was to it. A redemption offered without asking. An atonement gained without a longing.

As the phase slowly vanished, I decided to step outside my prison. In mind and the body, I found myself under the vast open sky. High up , all the way to the heavens, snow had painted the world white. Right below my feet, the price of that white was being paid. The bewitching beauty of the innocent snow had left behind a swamp of dirt and grime. The sky and the land were locked in a conflict. As the sky redeemed itself, the land felt burdened with conscious. White above, black below and I was right between the two.

I smiled at the age of innocence. I had been naïve. The moment had passed and realities were now spotted. The seduction of the white no longer mattered. I was a bloke of the land. This land’s my home. All the whites looked dark in comparison to the compassion of the soiled earth. The sky’s preoccupation felt bullish. It had exerted its will. The land took it all. It offered me my moment of bliss. It offered me it’s truest colour. I loved the land for what it was. It could take it all and still offer a nurturing embrace. I finally understood its soiled skin. Beauty was the blemish. The beauty without par.

Karthik

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One day

‘As a child’ I started and paused for a second to see if she was paying proper attention. She was. Instinctively I smiled at her attention. I’ve always been a charismatic speaker. I’ve always been arrogant too. The lines had blurred a long while ago. I existed believing in the nonexistence of such a line.

This wasn’t a bad place to be in. The last few years of relentless pursuit of cases, the taste of victory, the parties and after parties, the ever growing stash of money in the bank, It definitely wasn’t a bad place to be in. On any other day, I’d have argued that this resort was the , or was to be treated as the eventual fruit of my labour. It hadn’t been an easy road. I had left behind many people and principles. I had grown accustomed to a solitary life. I grew into a life without strings attached. None of that mattered to me before. I don’t think it matters much now.

It hadn’t been an easy life though. I’ve always toiled hard. First, it was that struggle for being popular and noticed. I had neither at my disposal. Then it was the struggle to compete and get noted. There was a price to pay. I had exiled myself from the world in pursuit of that glory. Once I graduated, I didn’t have the need to turn back and take a stock of all my sacrifices. Only losers have the time to sit back and reflect on all the things they’ve lost. I wasn’t a loser. Not in my book. I was a winner. I went for the things I wanted. I fought for the things I wanted. I didn’t care about the moralities of the things that I wanted. If I wanted something, wrong was a word that ceased to exist. Everything was fair game. In fact, everything was a game to me. I kept winning and that’s all that mattered.

When I was a kid, I had many great many promises. All of those promises started with the words, ‘One day’. ‘One day, I’d be rich that people would flog around me’. ‘One day, I’d be successful that the world would stay envious of me’. ‘One day, I’d be too busy having fun that I wouldn’t notice that people who went missing from my life’. ‘One day I would jump of a plane and float free in the sky’.

My promises were both innocent and tainted. I promised myself a better life. I promised myself tangible treats for all the sacrifices that I had once made. I didn’t have the time to pursue the silly promises though. There was one case after another, one alleged perpetrator after another whom I had to protect in a court of law. I walked in with the guilty and usually walked out with the innocent. That’s my life. Ever heard of the phrase ‘ Swimming with the sharks’. I am a ruthless shark myself.

‘As a child, I had made many promises darling. Most of them started with the words, One Day’ I continued. She shook her head in disbelief.

I had taken my first proper , sober vacation in years. It gave me a lot of time to think. All the memories of my world gravitated back to one person. I was sitting by the beach, soaking the warm rays of the sun. I typed away a lot of lines at first. I read them once. Dissatisfied with them all, I deleted a lot of lines and gave it another iteration of a review. The lines still felt wrong. I deleted a few more. Eventually I settled down with the ones that I was happy with.

‘It’s been a while. Hope this is still your mail id. It’d be nice to hear from you’. I pulled the email address from the contacts list. It was a name that I hadn’t reached out to in decades. I had nothing to lose. This was beyond the point of pride.

I waited a week for a reply. None came. I shrugged my shoulders and flung the phone across the bed. The vacation had come to a close. I had bags to pack. I left another email. This time , I had left my mobile number. I prayed a bit , remembered god for a bit and then hit the send button. Prayers, God and my recipient, none of them answered.

Over the last few weeks, I did have a lot of time on my hands. I hadn’t taken a case. Money wasn’t a problem. I needed the time out. A few more mails sent and no responses received. I had shared the non consequential bits and bob of my life. About work, about the thrills of winning a case, about the raging parties , about how I had turned out to be a maverick. Email by email, I had opened up myself to a mailbox that didn’t reply. In course of the mails, I had learnt a few things about myself too. I had turned hollow inside. I now wasn’t even a shade of my former self. I had swapped excess in lieu for a wholesome life that had been constantly denied. I had rejected the world with the same passion that the world had used to reject me. I had gotten even with the world. Getting even and living in peace weren’t the same things.

I then opted to stop the emails. The saga had run for a month. I started to feel foolish about the exercise. I reverted to my current self. I had nothing to lose and it did help to nurture the ‘hell don’t care’ attitude. The attitude had served me well for so long.

‘So’, she asked. ‘What does that have to do with anything. We’ve talked about this before. I think you are being a stubborn child now. You are doing this because you are afraid. You are running away from life, just like you’ve run away from everything that had mattered before. This is serious.’

She did have a point. She would have made sense to me if I was the kind of a person who had the right kind of smarts to listen to people and learn from them. I wasn’t that. I had made my choice. There wasn’t much that would sway me away from my choice. I can be very dense when I’m that way. Occupational hazard, I’d tell her that. Today, the charm wouldn’t work on her. She wasn’t there to sit transfixed by my charm. She was there because she meant business.

‘I don’t care. I don’t want to care. Can you stop bothering me please?’ and finally the holy grails of emails had arrived. I read through the lines and smirked arrogantly. Of course that wasn’t the intended meaning. There was anger. Yes. There was so much hate. Yes. There was also a mobile number , right under the body of the mail. I read between the lines.

‘The thing is, I’ve lived an entire life waiting for that one day.’ I said. ‘I have a choice now. Right here, Right now. I can either sit here and make another promise that starts with One day, or I can just call tomorrow as that fateful One day and start living things up. I pick the latter. I think tomorrow is a wonderful start’. I concluded and started outside the window. The skies , dark as ever, felt inviting.

‘This is insane’ she replied. ‘I wonder what the hell made you decide such a thing’

It wasn’t a hard choice to make. Of course I didn’t feel like telling her about it. I had reached out to the mobile number. Since my number wasn’t published, my call was picked and answered. Answered it was. It drove her completely nuts. Disbelief took over her. Then came anger. Then came wrath. Then came her slew of abuses. Ten years of resentment and contempt , articulated using the flimsiest of abuses. She had vented out the block of boulder that had been buried in her heart. I listened to it patiently.

‘SAY SOMETHING’ she finally screamed. It wasn’t bad. The call wasn’t cut off. I smiled and thanked my stars for that emotionally super charged welcome.

‘I’m dying Sonia. Could be a year. Could be less. cold be more. But there is no escaping it. I can either stay here in the rehab centre while they try to prolong my life, or I can spend a bit of my time seeing you, spending a few moments and making a few memories before I conk. So the choice is yours. You are the only world outside these walls that matter to me. Either you agree to meet me, or You don’t hear from me after this’

Life wasn’t how I planned it to be. Of course, Sonia couldn’t care less if I lived or died. She refused to meet. I didn’t feel like sitting in a room and spend the time waiting for my death. I made a nice little list of the things that I wanted to do, people with whom I wanted to make a few amends. If I were to die, I’d die on my own terms.

I guess I’m arrogant that way. Or brave. I don’t know. That line had been blurred a long while ago.

‘I want to die on my own terms Doctor‘ I told her and hugged her.

‘Fine. It’s your life after all’ she said and stormed off the room. I looked at my packed bags and the empty room. It felt weird. It felt both right and wrong. I felt the pangs of anxiety grip me. In a nutshell, I finally felt alive.

#Fiction

Karthik

Book review : The travelling cat chronicles

The cat chronicles , Hiro Arikawa

Coverpage of The travelling cat chronicles

I was almost done reading The marble collector. As an insurance, I had opted to pick up a few books to keep me engaged on my train to Liverpool and back. The station is the worst place to pick a book. They usually sell books that are popular and are in demand. I’d like to believe that I’ve grown warm to reading books that are deviant from Pop Culture. Classics and Vintage are more of my thing.

I stumbled upon this book, assumed that it was a different book. I’m happy that I had picked this one. The travelling cat chronicles is a story that would leave you feeling both sad and hopeful about the future. It is the kind of a tale that would leave you with a sadness that forms a grey cloud over your heart. It will warm your heart, bring those happy smiles of tears, it would leave you feeling bad that the story is done and the book would now sit somewhere in your expensive wooden shelf. Pick it up. Enjoy the wonderful journey. Skip the review. Thank me later. God bless.

For those who need a little more persuasion, the story begins with a stray cat. A cat without a name and one that speaks. The stray finds his way to a silver van. The van happens to be his shelter of sorts. The smart cat with a sharp tongue enjoys his vagabond life. He lives a life without strings. He is the master and lord of his own destiny and boy, the cat can hold his own on a fight. It is by the silver van, where our feline hero meets a human. Unlike the rest, this human seems to be kind. He leaves food for the cat and tries to pat the cat. Apparently cats, like smart kids, are privy to strangers. They do not encourage strangers to get cozy with them. However, the cat is grateful about the food and lets the human brush him. The cat , still not domesticated, goes about its business. No strings attached.

One fine day, the cat meets with an accident that leaves him with a busted leg. In desperation, the feline hero drags himself to the silver van. He reckons that the kind human could help him. The kind human, Satoru, does end up helping the cat. He takes the cat in, nurses it back to health. The two get along well. The cat discovers that Satoru is a cat lover. Satoru names the cat as Nana. Nana considers this as a funny , weird name for a male cat. Nana also acknowledges that Satoru is very perceptive for a human. They both seem to understand each other perfectly well.

Nana, now back on his feet, is now ready to part his ways with Satoru. Satoru does feel bad about parting away with Nana, but doesn’t stop him from being free again. Nana opts to stay back with Satoru. And with that, our journey begins.

After a passage of a certain duration of time, Satoru is in search for a different home for Nana. He reaches out to his friends from the past and hopes that they can adopt Nana. And so Satoru and Nana being their adventure on the road to meet people, places and enjoy the world’s vibrant best. Each of the friend wants to adopt Nana but circumstances prevent them from keeping him home. The journey on the road brings us closer to Japan and the chemistry that Satoru and Nana share.

Why does Satoru wants to give away Nana? It does seem a bit odd because Satoru loves Nana. Why does Nana make it near impossible for Satoru’s friends to adopt him? Nana is a free spirit and yet decides to stay with Satoru. Why does Satoru make that trip to meet all of his friends? What secrets are they all holding?

You’ve got to read the book to see where all things lead.

This is a beautiful story of life. It exemplifies the nature of relationships in our lives. It talks about solitude and how it erodes us from within. It talks about the warmth that companionship provides. It’s a story of friendship. Every inch along the way, we see the beautiful blossoms of friendship bloom. The characters are beautifully drawn in this tale. Satoru’s outlook towards life and the world will win you over. Nana’s personality will entertain you and you’d fall in love with him. Satoru’s past is revealed through the eyes of his friend. Each character adds to the depth of the tale and each character enriches the reading experience. Nothing is wasted in this book. Even the back drop of Mount Fuji plays it’s wonderful part in this tale.

Life. This book is about life. It outlines the misery that we trap in our hearts. It talks about redemption that liberates us. The book calls out the quality of life that we choose to live. Why aren’t we happy? Why are we holding on to pain and the past. Why aren’t we free to be ourselves? What’s stopping us? What do we need to offset that inertia? The book manages answering all the questions without trying to sound preachy and without letting the answers overwhelm the beautiful story.

This book is a beautiful must read. I do feel sad that the tale is now over and the book will rest in a shelf somewhere.

Karthik

Ink and life

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

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

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

Do I really need this one?

Am I dumb enough to go through the process again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My tattoo of a full moon

Karthik

Book Review : The trouble with goats and sheep

“You only really need two people to believe in the same thing, to feel as though you just might belong.”

The trouble with goats and sheep , Joanna Cannon.

Coverpage of The trouble with goats and sheep

Sometimes the whole wide world is a small place. There is no vast expanse. There are no far away horizons. The trouble with goats and sheep is a tale of such a small world. 12 to be precise. This is a tale of 12 houses in an avenue. The avenue comes alive because of its inhabitants. The people are fantastically portrayed.

One very hot June in 1976, Mrs Margaret Creasy goes missing. This jolts the residents of the avenue. They are a very tight close knit community. The disappearance disrupts their lives. Mrs Creasy was the heart of the avenue. She spoke to all , without any reservations. Everybody felt warm and nice in her company. Her disappearance leaves a gaping hole in the lives of the 12 families.

Gracie, a ten year old, and her friend Tilly , an almost a ten year old, take it upon themselves to solve the case of the disappearance of Mrs Creasy. The girls do miss her. The embark upon a quest to find her. Their journey takes them to a very interesting junction. If only they could find God , everybody would be protected and all will be better again. By implication, finding god , they feel that they’d manage to bring Mrs Creasy back into their lives again.

And so the kids start their investigation.

The kids go about the neighbourhood asking the adults if they believed in God and if they had seen one. Each character has a representation of god and the diverse answers that the kids get, leave them convinced that god doesn’t really reside in their avenue. God wouldn’t, and there is a reason for that. While kids struggle to uncover the mystery, the adults are holding on to a terrible sinister secret. The adults are nervous about Mrs Creasy’s vanishing act because it had attracted the police’s attention. The adults do worry about what the police might discover.

Hidden away within the confines of the avenue that houses 12 families, One cold winter in 1967 , the residents make that decision to burn down the house with the door #11. Why ? Mr Walter Bishop. Mr Bishop is perceived as creepy , wicked, and a pervert. The families bank on collective evidences to justify their justice. They pick a night ,when Mr Bishop and his mum are away, to burn the house down. The logic behind the act was that without the house, there wouldn’t be a Mr Bishop in their neighbourhood.

The plan goes well. The house does burn down and it is made to appear like an accident. Unfortunately, Mr Bishop and his mum get caught in the blaze. The mum falls victim to the incident. This does bear down a bit on the collective conscious of the residents.

The narrative swings between that winter in 1967 and the current summer in 1976. As the girls prod about Mrs Creasy, we get to uncover the series of events that led to that fateful night. Rest of the tale is about the fate of Mrs Creasy. Is she dead? Was she murdered? Did she leave because she figured out that the residents had killed Bishop’s mom? The community starts to crumble under it’s own weight of guilt and prejudice.

The book is about the collective conscious. This book beautifully captures the dynamics of families living together as a closed community. Each character brings a bag of prejudice and bias to the table. Each character is flawed and broken. Each character tries to fit in, and find that sense of belonging to the wider community.

The conflict between conformance and fitting in with staying unique and true to character is portrayed through the eyes of the two little heroes, Gracie and Tilly. The girls are a social outcast in their school. They do not fit in. They get bullied. Gracie looks up to another kid, Lisa, and tries to ape her to gain acceptance. Gracie is prepared to do what it takes to fit in.

Tilly on the other hand, has an overprotective mom who smothers her all the time. Tilly wants to be free, she wants her dad, who is separated from her mom, to acknowledge her and accept her. Tilly feels that being Gracie’s friend is all the acceptance that she needs in the world. The contrasting nature of the girls serves as the perfect juxtaposition to the community and Mr Bishop , who the community unanimously detests.

The biggest theme explored in the book is about conformance to society and the nature of the society to tolerate people who are different. Under the pressure of wanting to fit in, many of us do the things that we do. We gang up and pick on people who are different. While , as individuals, we do not express strong views; under the safety of numbers, we do tend to promote the ravaging beast that we hold dormant within.

I loved this book. The characters are sculpted to near perfection in the book. It holds a mirror to us as a society. It makes us think.

Give this a shot.

Karthik

Not on display!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karthik

Oddities of Oddities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The simple pleasures of foxing the self 🙂

Karthik

The charms of simplicity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karthik

Heart of ice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karthik

A shoe that bites

Perspectives and perspectives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shoes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karthik