Tag Archives: thought

Life is like a bus stop

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have come across some very useful gyaan (TERMINOLOGY: gyaan- knowledge/ advice (Hindi)) about life and the state of things as they are in the world and think it might be nice of me to dispense it to you guys.

I should like to give credit to my friend Gilgamesh who is the creator of this theory and also in this process am attempting to set him up with any women who read this (only because thats how he leans though I think guys should try too).

So the theory goes like this —

Most things in life are like a bus stop.

You wait at the bus stop for ages and forever, but there wouldn’t be any sign of the bus. But suddenly, after forever, 3-4 buses come together one after the other, and confuse you about which one to take. If you board a bus, can you get off before the final destination? How committed are you expected to be to the bus? Can other people board the bus? Will the bus get moody and break down on the way? What if the bus isn’t going where you want to go?  Would you do best to leave all the buses and take your own private vehicle even if that means cycling alone for miles?

Or do you take a chance?

Its in your hands, your mind, your heart. It is in you.

By the way, I love the guys who made this. Its zenpencils.com. They have a lot of other wonderful life adoring cartoon colour sketches about  several inspiring quotes

EXplore, Dream , Discover

 

Anyway, the point was that as Gilgamesh has profoundly pointed out, Life is like a bus stop. Whether you apply it to work, education, passions, love lives, oppportunities, or anything that might not even matter at all. Are you taking a chance?

Are you boarding a bus?

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February 20, 2013 · 6:06 pm

If a body catch a body in the rye…

If you’ve read the ‘I believe’ column on the left-side bar of my blog page, you would know that I love the Beatles. I am even listening to them right now because this post is remotely about them. If you don’t like the Beatles, I suggest you still stick around and read this post or another one like this or this one on Walter Kitty’s diary.

Ha! Now that I am done with the day’s bit of good deed and self-promotion, I shall get to the point.

So over the last two days I read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. You might say that I am reading it too late but I admit that I was a lousy English literature student.  For those of you who haven’t read it, here is a short synopsis.  The book is about Holden Caulfield, a 16 year old boy who is deeply disturbed by the phoniness he perceives in people around him. He is wary of almost everyone and is afraid to accept change.  The book is Holden’s own narrative in the form of a cynical chatter coupled with wry humour, that reminded me much of Woody Allen’s films. Perhaps it had something to do with the 1950’s New York slang, but the nervous tone and tangential streams that Holden’s mind goes in, are reminiscent of Woody Allen’s character in Annie Hall.  Holden talks about the time when he gets kicked out of his third Prep school and the ensuing weekend in New York. This is a bildungsroman novel (a “coming-of-age” novel), and the reader engages with this adolescent boy’s  personality and emotions through his thoughts and actions.

the catcher in the rye – JD Salinger

With the themes and motifs in The Catcher in the Rye, one understands that Holden perceives adulthood to be a world full of phonies and admires the innocence in his little sister Phoebe. He says that the best job for him to protect children from falling off the cliff while they are running around and playing in a rye field. He would be the catcher in the rye. The fall over the cliff is, for Holden, the plunge into adulthood, that he himself is unable to grapple with. He can’t fathom emotional and physical relationships, despises all kinds of pretense (though readers and even Holden realize that he himself is phony in some ways), is quite fickle-minded, unable to find a path and doesn’t even see any point in “finding a path” for the sake of a phony moronic herd of sheep called society. (Phony was among the top used words in the book. Don’t blame me bro.)

I suppose that for the inner-conflict that Salinger explores, a lot of readers might be able to relate to Holden’s character in The Catcher in the Rye. Written in 1951, this character is often called the original ‘angry young man’ and resonates a tension that bumps off into the reader too.  The compulsion to categorize people’s personalities as either black or white , does not allow Holden to perceive people as just being different hues of grey.

However, for me, this very attribute of perceiving everything as a shade of grey, disallows me from having any definite unshakable belief in anything. My mind is my own devil’s advocate. My facebook political view says that I have a ‘socialist heart with a capitalist brain’. Do you see? It’s not as if I am sitter-on-the-fence all the time, but I do believe that everything must be analyzed on a case to case basis.

So if a guy like Holden who is a black-and-white sorta guy, can’t hold it together and neither can a grey-vision girl like me, then what the hell is going to work?! Oh darn, this book must have gotten me really depressed. Depressed, that was another favourite word in the book.

Hey but I was telling about the Beatles and this book , right? Thing is, Old John Lennon, was assassinated by one Mark David Chapman in 1980. Lennon was shot dead outside the building he was staying at. After shooting him, Chapman hung around waiting for the police to arrive. While waiting, he read a book. He had signed it from Holden Caulfield and wrote ‘This is my statement’. He carried this book to his court trials and also quoted from this for testimony. The book was The Catcher in the Rye.  Chapman repeatedly said that this book triggered and inspired him to kill John Lennon. One explanation (also the most likely)is that Chapman thought that if Lennon talked about love and peace, then how could he have millions. He thought Lennon to be a big time phony guy and decided that he had to die. In a later interview,  Chapman said that he killed Lennon “to acquire his fame”.  Lennon was a grey man, and Chapman couldn’t take that.  So another music died.

the day another music died.

The Catcher in the Rye has often been called a hate manifesto because of a few other assassins also fancying the book along with having a flair to kill famous people. But meh, I don’t think it was that at all. The ambiguous ending in the book allows the disenchanted whites, blacks and greys of the world to just suck it up and go ahead any way.  I liked some of the images he Salinger shines into our mind. It just made me glad that the book hasn’t been made into a movie yet. You know, sometimes you don’t want your imagination of something to be spoilt with a movie image.

Lastly, but NOT the least, I also learnt from the book about what fishes and ducks do when the lakes and ponds freeze during winter. Holden is always pondering over this in the book. The book doesn’t give the answer. But I ‘googled’ it. oh yea!

 

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Filed under Literature, novel, Stuff I like, Why?

people getting married

My grandparents are my favourite people in the world. They are also quite deaf and I suspect its my grandma’s habit of watching TV real loud that made him hard of hearing too. When they are around, conversations are funny and repeated four times. We all talk really loudly and the TV volume is further increased and so we all talk more loudly. Even if they want to talk about something secretly, they go to the other room and talk loud enough for us to hear. haha! I love them. Blindly and more than anyone.

Last year, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. It was on 2nd April, 1951 , a day after April Fool’s  Day ,(my grandfather often jokes about it) that they got married. So 60 years on, we arranged a great party and even had their friends from old times over. Watching them that night, and even now, it struck me that even after so many years of being together, they still have things to say to eachother. They even spend all their time together, so its not as if they are informing eachother about what they did that day. They look out for eachother and truly care. They still fight and crack jokes about eachother to us.  But I know, they would crack without eachother.

 

My grandparents’ wedding photograph, 1951

Their marriage was arranged by their parents and they hadn’t even met before they got married.  And this is how it turned out. On that one day, I felt may be marriages can work. But may be it was just them. May be they wouldn’t have separated even they hated the guts of eachother simply because of societal stigma.  One never knows.

My grandparents of Grandpa’s 80th birthday ceremony

Yet, I am somehow, never lay my hands around the idea of spending the rest of your life with one person. Though I understand the value of companionship, the idea of spending the rest of your life with one person, really scares me. You might say you are in love with him. But I wonder if it won’t fizzle out, won’t you begin to doubt, get bored, get scared or fall in love with someone else? I know that divorce is fairly common and accepted now. However, why would anyone enter a relationship, already anticipating an end and knowing that they have a way out of it?

I read in the news today that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are splitting after 5 years of marriage. Can you beleive it, after he clowned around so much on Oprah. I don’t care about them at all but didn’t they have time earlier to figure out that they don’t get along? Arnold Schwarzernegger and his wife split up after 25 years of marriage because of some illegitimate child he fathered many years back. I know I can in no capacity understand her situation, but I suppose I could forgive some mistake like that. Especially if I have discovered that for 25 years  this person has kept me happy and we can be in the same room, without shattering plates or having the silence shatter us.

Marriage is something I haven’t understood even with the countless movies, famous couples or even with my own family and parents. I don’t know why its necessary to put that tag on your relationship just because society is comfortable with it and thinks it appropriate for you to want it. Even live-in relationships can have everything a marriage has. and have equal chances of failing, ofcourse. Why does an acknowledgement by a governments civil laws or by a religion, make a relationship sacred or more important? I am sure the breaking of any other relationship should be just as painful and important or unimportant.

In India, parents think its their duty to get their children married by the mid-twenties and pay for it too. The whole event or the not timely occurrence of it is a stigma and becomes an over-riding question in the lives of the parents, grandparents, uncles,aunts, neighbours and colleagues. It becomes everyone’s business really.

As my understanding of it stands now, love usually fizzles out. and after that its just habit and fear of the lack of this person, or of loneliness that keeps one going. Marriage usually adds other wheels like children and property to this.  I am not really sure of all these things about relationships are marriages.  But I sure of one thing- that I am afraid to find out the truth.

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Filed under Issues, Love and all, My favourite people, Thoughts/ Ideas, Why?, World

My Himalayan Story 2012

I was in the Himalayas this summer. Trekking upto almost 13000 feet, we crossed the Saurkundi pass in the Kullu valley through an expedition organised by the Youth Hostel Association of India. From reporting at the base camp to touching the base camp again after the trek it was 11 days in all.  As we climbed and went to each campsite, nature in all its splendour was revealed to us.

The thing about the Himalayas is that never ceases to amaze you. I have been to the Himalayas before while trekking on another valley, and yet, this time again , I was moved beyond words to see snow-peaked mountains. It’s incredible to see these shimmering white all around, except perhaps a few mountains far across that have black clouds hovering above and are shrouded in fog, and you know that it’s snowing there. The fresh sweet water, the wind whispering tales of where its been, green blades of grass uncrumpled, the kiss of the first few snow drops –  everything resides within me.

The wind is young, the wind is alive.

This time, we were the 15th group to leave from the Saurkundi base-camp at Babeli and were hence called SK15. Quite funnily, my younger brother was chosen the group leader and after two days of acclimatization, we set out for the top.  I have been on such treks before, but what was extraordinary was that 25 deaf-and-dumb students from a school in Bhavnagar(Gujarat) were trekking with us along with their teachers for guidance. Spending many days with them, they taught us not just the sign-language, but many more lessons. They were always so excited to learn and really see what was around them. They accepted their handicap as a part of something god-given and never were they upset about it. I remember, once I was talking to one of them in sign language and telling him that I love to dance. I asked him what he liked, drawing?singing? To that, he indicated, ‘yes, singin. But I can’t really sing because I have no voice.’ Thats when I realized. I had become so engrossed in conversing that I had forgotten his disability. A glass shattered within me as I realized that even our hobbies have so much to do with our senses which we so often take so much for granted. They could not hear music. I was distressed. I apologized to him and he just replied saying that god had made him that way. I also realized that its stupid that I was surprised at these children being able to trek. Ofcourse they could. They had their limbs, but more than that, they had the will. It was me who was disabled in the mind, to think that this was a great challenge for them. They had conquered much more, a long time back.

I suppose some disabilities are apparent, and others are not. In some way, we all are disabled. Or “differently-abled”, as its called in the parlance of our times.

Wes once told me something very remarkable. He pointed out how they laughed so uninhibited and with so much truth, when infact, they couldn’t even hear themselves or each other. Its been more than a month since this, and I haven’t gotten over what he said.

Well, getting back to the trek. We lived in tents at each camp and got simple yet nourishing food that will give us the stamina and strength to climb. It’s always fun at these treks. There are so many different people around, there is time to socialize and yet be alone and contemplate. Everything from politics to stupid toilet habits are discussed, and a new intimacy is found. This is a comfortable one, where there is not much hope of meeting again, though there are promises. This is an intimacy , that you think might soon fizzle out with distance,and so there is also an uninhibited-ness about the bonds formed. I met a lot of fabulous people here. Aparna, Minhaj and Wes, being the closest. Ofcourse, I found out once again, that my brother is a superb guy. At one of the lunch stops, a guy came along with the local attire and jewellery that women in the Kullu valley wear. He rented it to me for Rs 20 while I clicked pictures with it on. I even held a kid (baby goat) while I posed and learnt some steps from the local folk dance from him. 🙂

In one of the camps, Dora Thatch, I witnessed a sight we only see in paintings. Up away a little above, the hill we were on was silhouetted against a deep navy blue sky. In it, was a single large planet, the shining Venus. I had never seen her so large. On the hill, we saw silhouettes of ponies grazing and bounding around.  I saw this, and such beautiful sights that I don’t have the right words to describe.

I hope my brain and my memory, can forever recollect these sights and images and people in the exact shape and shade. I don’t want to forget the details. I don’t want to forget the water’s taste. Most of all, I don’t want to forget that freedom. I don’t want to lose it.

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Filed under Journeys and travels, La vie, Love and all, My favourite people, Stuff I like, Thoughts/ Ideas, World

Breaking the ghetto

As I mentioned earlier, I am visiting my parents in Kuwait this summer. But honestly, it’s quite easy to forget that sometimes over here. Now, we reside in a part of Kuwait where mostly Indians and Pakistanis live. When we step out of the house, people on the streets, parks and malls looks exactly like the people back in India and it does not really feel like we are in a “foreign” country. The local shopkeepers and street-end grocers speak Tamil and Malayalam(south Indian languages) and you can be sure that anyone in the area will respond to your Hindi. Before we go ahead, I must emphasize to those who don’t know already, that Arabs (West-Asian origin)look quite different from Indians (South-Asian origin) in terms of facial features and physical built. Now let’s get to the point.

Why does an Indian or South Asian ghetto even exist here in the first place??! Why do people like to flock with others of a common or even a similar origin irrespective of whether they like the fellow clansmen or not?  This scenario is not just limited to Kuwait, every city has such spaces that can be said to be an area specifically populated by people of a specific races, countries, religions, regions, languages, ages.   All my parents’ friends here are Indians and as far as I can perceive , belonging to certain privileged castes(as such a problem exists in India), class and I suppose also largely vegetarian like my family. I remember meeting a particular Aunty who always always criticizes Kuwaitis whenever she speaks. She talks about how “they” waste food in restaurants, splurge money, ill treat maids, buy too much stuff at the mall etc. But how can a certain people be just generically criticized of a behaviour that I am sure exists even outside of them and I am definitely sure exists also in the people this Aunty will call her own brethren. She probably hasn’t really spoken to a Kuwaiti beyond an “excuse me” and not interacted with them at all. Don’t such preconceived notions definitely stop her and us all from actually ever really getting to know anybody who is born different from us.

Its really strange that what people consider “community” changes in different places and often depends on how far they are from a place they consider their “home” or the place they belong to. For instance, back in University, the Tamilians, Bengalis, Assamese, etc made what they call cultural associations so that others of similar origin and language can gather and mingle, celebrate festivals, eat, date , etc. Delhi also has a Bengali ghetto called Chitaranjan Park and Okhla has actual territories that are divided as Hindu and Muslim where people belonging to the other religion don’t even enter. 😐  Yes, so grave is the situation in the capital of India.

But boss, you should see an India v/s Pakistan cricket match. The most recent of these stand=offs was the ICC World Cup 2011 Final match and it was just crazy how the Indians rooted for the Indian team and rejoiced when Pakistan lost. I suppose the situation is the same on the other side of the border as well. The tension between the countries remains and is quite bitter and aggressive especially when there are unfortunate acts of violence in either country. As for me, I am of a delicate heart when it comes to this, and wanted Pakistan to win that cricket match simply because they needed the victory.

I emphasized the tension between India and Pakistan because I have seen that Indians and Pakistanis bond with each other when they are in Kuwait. The other day we went to an amusement park here and met another family who looked “very Indian” and on speaking we got to know they are Pakistanis and we hung out for sometime and there was not an ounce of bitterness. I suppose that for a lot of people , meeting someone from anywhere near where they are can kindle a sense of brotherhood. I wonder why a brown skin among a sea of white faces should make someone feel at home. (Ofcourse, the same could be different or the exact opposite perhaps for say, Indian who is born and/or brought up in America.)

Guys, so please, just ‘unghetto’. It could make a world of difference. It is actually going to make for a safe interdependent neighbourhood because that is how we could begin to deal with trust issues that have enslaved our minds and bound us from new experiences.

May be I have no right to say all this because I haven’t lived in another country for very long periods, but so far, I have noticed that for me “people are just people”. hah, that’s a line from Regina Spektor’s song, Ghost of Corporate Future. She also says “the world is everlasting, its coming and its going.” So I want to make the most of this world while I come and go and know that I could, without any preconceived paradigms, experience all the people and things that make the world as wonderful as it is. I hope that when it comes to it, I don’t run to some Indian ghetto in whichever part of the world I live in and mix it up bitches!

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what I am doing nowadays

I have been on vacation since the second week of May and ofcourse I have been on vacation from this blog forever now. Anyway, the holidays have been great and eventful enough to have gotten me thinking about a lot of things about myself and the world.

Right after I handed in my last term paper in JNU, I had my sweet little brother come to Delhi and together we went on a great Himalayan trek. I met some brilliant people, saw some of the most beautiful sights I have laid my eyes on and had experiences that I hope my memory can bring back to me in its exactitude till the very end. I shall write about that sometime, hopefully.

So after the trek we came to Bombay together and spent a week here with mom.Little Bro had to report back to college by the last day of May so he left and mom and I went to Kuwait.

So here I am, in an air-conditioned room in the middle of a desert country with a lot of time on my hands and still not really doing much with it. Its really hot out (obviously desert terrain in summer) during the day and it gets just about bearable at night, so its not like you can chill outdoors over here. Through the newspaper classifieds I applied for the position of assistant editor of a magazine here so I was employed in a week after I came here. oh and boy, let me tell you that the currency here is awesome so I am going to feel quite rich when I convert this to Indian rupees, especially now that the rupee is falling. 😉 

kacchingg!

Unfortunately or fortunately, the people who write for this magazine are not so great at English and write like they never heard of grammar. Its only a monthly magazine so I am marginally busy for a week or ten days at the most after which I get to chill for 20 days. What an say, suits me real well, eh!

I have been getting back to running in the evenings to make sure that all the mayonnaise I eat here doesn’t stay put inside me. But I am sure some of it will decide to reside within, always does.

Anyway, since I don’t run with music or with any company, my mind wanders about a LOT. Many developments have taken place around me, at home and in the world, so I end up thinking about my future, imagine alternate universes where I am Greek, about being a superstar marathoner, and a ballerina , living in Europe and being existential, being a blip, then being a galaxy-like important person and what-not.

I have been trying to watch one movie a day for the past one week and have come to the conclusion that Woody Allen and Edward Norton, both, make me go bonkers. I feel all woolly and rain-like and imagine cobble-stone streets in the rain, downed in yellow light, with gentle string music floating up to the fairy lights in the trees, and a thorough realization in every breath that this is now and that is all we know. 

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