Adolescents

Are pleasant to eyes, soft to ears with soft spot to speak soft mostly. The ways of the world haven’t trenched their path still, while the art of listening is their religion.

 Dealing with adolescents today, as your past  might have been better then, makes it easier to get along with those godly creatures than dealing with them as the composite experiences of adult-ness of today.

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Thank You For Being Late

In 2015 late in the month of November on a rather lazy afternoon, I sat wearing my loafers with starched white socks, kept especially for a day like this on a rickety wooden stool in an uncertain territory of rural Rajasthan. Ajmer district and its township were far cry from where I grew up in metropolitan Delhi, and as any Dilliwala feels as soon he steps out of Delhi, the stark reality of India and its overflowing Indian-ness could not have been more visible. I, waiting for my friends who were staying in a village not far from where I was to pick me up with awful restlessness. Meanwhile, a trolly of the kachori wala bhaiya and his spicy karhi gravy were testing my patience as its smell slyly entered my nostrils slowly ticking its weaknesses proding and asking my faculties to buy a plate and have it then and there. They did just as it asked, enslaved my taste buds arose, with pomp and glittery eyes, with impunity, buying not two, but three plates aggregating my bill to sum amount of Ninety rupees in a matter of a few 50 minutes swarming my mind off-balance. There went my pride. I felt cheated by this idea, that how a plate of food could rule me over denuding my claims of self-control. I rolled my eyes and smiled.

Chaotic, that’s how I remember the surrounding and vulgar and hot and exciting, with buzzing cars and creatively pushed up cart shops on an ancient almost non-existent pavement, selling mostly stuff that women could wear, from shiny plastic jewelry to hairband, rexine purses and handbags in all sizes and shapes, bangles for thin wrists and thick hands and necklace with plastic diamond. Meanwhile, my eyes fixated on the my wrist watch, drifting onto my palate, supported by a cut out local newspaper, onto local political beat headline, meandering then to the eateries around against my want which constantly grabbed my attention. With a shoulder bag in my hands  I felt like a traveler alienated among his people to come up with a story defining how he landed in an obscure country such as this and what did he really want. There was lines of cobblers who made and sold beautiful Rajasthani jooti , shoes that made you feel like a Raja, a leader who could stand on hard labor of others in less than Six Hundred Rupees and raise his ego tenfold in a sturdy contraption of a reality. Which I couldn’t buy on a tight budget, around while taxi men would ask me whether I wanted to go this village or some other, happy to escort and bargain a price leering impatiently at my tight-lipped face impatiently and agitated turning haughtily away. Villages, whose names I did not understand and I, embarrassed, would eventually refuse vocally in my  mind long after they were gone, and  then the women whose appealing ghagra and choli lined with shiny mirror work with friends wearing chiffon saree, with mesmerizing flowing green colors and purple-peacock shades and straddling red bindi on their temple forehead, knotted with precision at the lower back taught with uniformly divided plates, that could very well be defined as a work of promising professional at a boutique, made guilt slap my back and return from staring at them with a childlike curiosity to my yellow gravy and kachori now soft and mushy levitating  seemingly uneasy just like my head was turning in the truth of my surroundings.

Waiting for two hours brought life into me, and returned motivation of my breath, its ways unconventionally  harsh, discomforting to my impatience. My friends gratefully called me, although later than I had expected, that time was not running as they would have liked. Bullshit ! I said in my mind again and chose to endure swathe of hot air mixed with grisly dust entering my eyes with appalling swiftness.

They came eventually. As anything in life does with patience, sooner or later.

 I waited for over two hours as I wondered how my time was spent, my three friends arrived in a Bolero SUV from Kotri village, placed me besides them, vrooming to fulfil an appointment with an administrative representative in charge of villagers and their villages of an absurdly high population that any single office and his crew could practically handle or should be allowed to capably handle in a democracy. Block Development Office, lower than collectorate office of a district in India, was our destination. But all this did not space-up my brain then, and I could only tell my friends how happy I was that they did not come on time. Pause, reflection and thought needs space, it’s a continuum to switch people on like machines start working by pressing the green button. Thinking about and observing the boorish road, blue-yellow sky and children running around. It needs for some of us to be late. A lesson imparted in an unconventional time serendipitiously.

 

Note: The title for this content is inspired by the New York Times Columnist Thomas L. Friedman in his recently released book : ‘Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations’. You can read more about him and his work by visiting his website.

 

 

Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai (Such Is Life)

An average human lives to the age of 65 in India. But we’ll take that up later. And, I don’t believe in heaven and I don’t want to deny existence of god. 

There could be chances of some god but there is least possibility of a heaven. Do you really think god would be stupid enough to make another world as our post mortem ‘Holiday Inn’ for us, after giving a beautiful Earth ?!

This takes me to the thought of life and especially death. In the past three years a lot of superstars, people whose work I admire in Bollywood Film Industry have been dying one after another. Theatre actor and big screen personality Om Puri recently, to Rajesh Khanna and my favorite Shammi Kapoor. All passed away within last five years. And as I see, these people embraced death in good circumstances. Om Puri died happily with no debt or court case pending excepting a few past tussles at family turf. Rajesh Khanna had his family around, his ex-lover and son-in-law to take care of him, and love from multiple generations of audience, and then Shammi Kapoor who finished his last movie filmed opposite with his grandson, also died with no debt as far as public knows. In actuality he died, in a five star hospital bed. That’s a big thing and worth noting in India. Dying peacefully in cosiness of a bed is the best and least one could expect in Indian 1.2 Billion population. If you got it, be grateful.

There is a lesson to take from death. Death altogether is an event which comes like many other things in life only once, and of course we all know it and live with this knowledge. But less talked about is, what it also offers to teach us, from experiences of other people, that of death pointing merrily its incumbent role in ensembling fickle nature of life. One day you are here and then bam ! All’s that left is dust and bones. All the war, strides and strifes, emotions and diseases, the good food, bad experiences, the high of sex, the lows of breakups, seeing the world, or ignoring it completely, all gone. From standing for something, to waiting for nothing, the sip of coffee and tea to Kadhai Paneer and Chicken Tangri and those evening conversations and Mrs. Bhalla ki gossip and Chachi ki sabzi and Father’s  expectations and Bhaiya ko rakhi, with no memory, it never happened. Memory is the only warehouse offering a narrow lane into our past. Death makes its absolutist character appear in stark contrast.

Diwali ka dia to Holi ki bhaang, January ki sardi to autumn of August. Marriage and education, poetry and fiscal knowledge, movies in theatre, the intended goodness of others and the privilege we get. All have a common end, with our mutually assured death. You are going one second less each minute towards it. And we can do nothing about it… (Talk about controlling your life now).

If it makes many people cringe and recoil in disgust together allowing a feeling of revolt, it is almost rightly so. For some sections, the feeling of not controlling factors of living in day to day life and eventually finding meaninglessness in futile actions can be overwhelmingly discouraging. Meanwhile others may like the knowledge of what’s ultimately in store in the end that infuses energy in making their journey a wholesome experience. For me the thought that this happens is, in contrast,  a very hilarious as human is only species who lives with the knowledge of death. And this leads me from thinking to actually talking about it. All because I want to try to see it from a different perspective. This will be differing in terms of views how I see life as a whole gradually from the way it was presented to me.

 It also settles my ego that my life is actually just a ‘Trust’ named in my name, framed in my body, by some one else, but for something way beyond me. Humans live with this idea that life is all about us since we can think and smell and use our limbs to make or destroy, and outsmart every other being.(try outsmarting death;).  I didn’t have a choice to be born or not. I was born by accidental few active sperms among billions of active ones. You have a higher probability of determining successful outcomes in IAS exams of India than which sperm will hit or miss an egg.

 And on similar note neither do I have a choice when I die. This is not such a morbid topic but juxtaposes naked fact in light of existence of one inert fear, lingering beneath diaphragm of bodies, that of an incoming end. 

Unlike sex education in schools, fight against discrimination globally, this unfortunately, despite its normality, does happen everywhere, and talking about fear of death has not got its fair share and is not a common place agenda in conversations. 


Since we might not see to live 65th year our lives; oh why ? You are gobbling Junk Food and Colas and Oily food and harmful waves of cell phones, with eyes hooked to expose its delicate nerves and muscles, nosedived  for hourse onto screens that move and shine with unnaturally high light.. Add to this fair contribution of pollution in your city (I live in Delhi’s gaschamber) and chemicals we use; from soap to moisturisers, vaseline to plastic products, the shampoo bottle and hand sanitizers and sunscreens to carcinogenic agent rich lipstick and antibiotic addiction and the list goes on. The bad body posture, lack of exercise, not meeting people aka social interaction, falling trees, crumbling relationships, feasting crows on your building’s waste dustbins and, fasting poor moms who care about us due to all above reasons. (This is worth thinking amongst many)

This age is giving us more reasons to think about death. Are we ignoring these questions ? Or, dissolving more into materials to fly away with problems with an evening box of donuts facing Narcos.

Think of it like this, some of us reading this post might not live to see centenary celebrations of the Indian Republic in 2047.(Exceptions are there)

It also indicates that if you have lived to complete 25th year of life today, the next phase of life can be perhaps be highly daunting. And being dismissive about it ? May just be a wrong option. ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may’.Pick up your survival tools this second. Because. Clock is ticking.

*Tick*Tock*Tick*Tock*

Images

1. There is a chair in your home.

2.There is a broken chair around.

3. There is a broken chair with three legs.

4. There is a red chair with three legs in your home with another chair of four legs.

One by One imagine all four scenarios in your head. Possibly you already have, while reading, with a distinct picture forming at the back of your head. Or perhaps a faint idea of it with a chair attributing a dimension or height and color. 

This is because a chair is a commonplace object. From toilet seat to bus stops to offices and cars. Our brain has been watching and absorbing their existence day and night since we landed on earth.

However if I ask you to imagine a complex structure like ‘Penrose Staircase’  a noticeable possibility about imagining its existence with details easily, would be difficult. Not only because we don’t have it at home and haven’t used it daily but the fact it is a computer generated idea that is difficult to conceive, and precedes another fact that it is only a few decades old makes a remarkable difference from a mundane object such as a chair.

Forgetting the idea of a chair would ask you to live away from it for a lifetime from now on and even then it will pose a gigantic challenge. 

Connecting it by analogy to normal subjects and comfortable situations in life. 

If thinking about Penrose Staircase is difficult, it is because it is a new concept. And like every new concept living with it and absorbing its contents hasn’t happened yet.

We know the idea of chair but not complex mathematical equations say Calculus and generally maths scares people. Not because it’s difficult but the culture developed over centuries around its relevance in daily life leading to lesser stress institutionally over learning its nuances.( Remember there is no Noble Prize for Maths. )

We know the idea behind Space Rocket but creating one and travelling altogether for a trip realises different proportions.(Elon Musk is an exception)

Feminism is a few decade old movement and expecting people to not wear it on their sleeves with elan in a single day, itself would be difficult. It seems like an intellectual pursuit of a certain category of people. But it is not.(It is a life altering phenomena)

Same goes with new things like promoting cleanliness, recycle of products, checking global warming, eliminating racism, countering internet addiction, leaving junk foods, religious plurality and accomodating dissent and the list goes on.

Our prejudices and dogmas Or Images, stay with our consciousness as long as images of familiar beliefs exist, together with parallely existing unacknowledged ideas which one, differ from ours and piqued by non-interest to receive them and two, creates a new or revolting image. 

And inception of any new idea is difficult and a formidable task. Changing or its better counterpart accomodation, of multiple images, a little less challenging. 

A chair and Penrose staircase are obviously different. Aren’t also an arm and a foot ?

At the the end of this post your image of my ideas may evoke a different image because we have been absorbing different carictures of realities in our brains. 

What we do we become. And it may be the only thing worth unlearning to start with clean slate to understand each other better.

Freedom from Normal

One of the freedom fighters during American Revolution, also a founding father of America, Thomas Jefferson owned African slaves. Black Africans tilled his lands to grow cotton on his farm.

This was normal. 

It was normal for a founding father to fight for Independence, to declare for white people in America of 18th century absolute freedom under banner of Liberty Equality Fraternity.

Normal, was slaves building The White House during tenure of John Adams, Second President of United States.

But after 50 years came Abraham Lincoln who would abolish Slavery and who chose to differ from normal.

He would go on to gather a bunch of Congressman and pass an Act of Law that would change the course of history of America forever in the following centuries and further make him an idol of black, brown, white and all those other oppressed people around the world who have been enslaved in one form or the other. From anti-colonial movements to feminist revolutions, most have engendered his ethos and call for freedom. 

Because he chose to differ from normal. And understood the harm it would cause to generations incoming.

………..

Normal, is everyday business. Normal hides in simple acts, most frivolous initiatives that people do and don’t do.And in most places it can be ignored.

The sun rising everyday, night falling at eve is normal and these things one can’t change..But in real life, at simple places, the boring places or the ignored ones and even within the obvious states happening with us, especially with us we can bring a change. 

Do you notice the normal usually ? And, take time to think about it ..Or unbeknownst having embraced it …now it is standing between you and your life changing forever …

 

Living With Hope

Imagine you are a person with nobody.

No parents, no family, no fortune and no education or job. 

No friends, no teacher, no support system.

Let’s make a list of what you are left with and believe it there is a lot, only if you begin.

Let’s look at reasons what can work for you in 21st century more than any other time in history of mankind.

You have computers, and cheap phones, and people with compassion, and people with knowledge who care, and people who care without knowledge, and people who are bad, or good, and people who give chances, or people who make you learn when they don’t, and people with power, those who know how to use it for good and maybe even willing to teach. 

The question now becomes is how much can you offer to them and put on the table. 

You have computers, and free books, cheap books, thin books in language you want, and newspapers and dumpyards full of magazines for free distribution. You live in 21st century’s Third World Socialist Country  that offers opportinities with empathy in over twenty five states pervaded with a billion plus population and remarkable cyclical poverty, where people are resilient and driven. One of these states must have something for you. You defintely have more chances among a billion and it is a good chance. 

Your tribe that is your country is a lot better today if seen retrospectively.Open yourself to the community. See what they see and feel what they feel.

Pick up a pen and write down with hope of what, only you, are capable of doing alone and gather similar people who think same.

Figuring out, hypothesising and doing what you are capable of is difficult as that means you take up authority for yourself with responsibility. 

But, paying attention to your vulnerable mind yields answers. 

If failure is not an option, well neither was success. 

Being More Tribal

Tribalism has less to do with taking something away from someone and more about sharing what you have already.

Even when you have nothing to share, you can lend honesty without extending support to others. Which by its virtue in itself is self-sustainable piece in understanding human truth.

Having knowledge that you can give away something without loosing a lot surrounds our evolutionary tribal instincts of self-preservation.

And in times of rising exclusionary trends around the world, being more tribal can expand the scope of our instincts by sharing to build connections that can permeate walls of differences.