To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

~My Photo Blog~

  ...Worth a Thousand Words

Monday, June 13, 2016
 

I bought this bookmark many years ago. I don’t know how many years now; I seem to have had it forever. I kept it in the jacket of an important file where I keep my investment papers and stuff, for no other reason than that it’s easily accessible there. I do not like it so much as a bookmark as for what happens to be written on it. Somehow the words have a very inspiring quality. It’s been long since I took it out and when I read it yesterday I felt the full force of the truth of the words. I guess the reason for that will have to wait a few months… but until then, here it is…



There are rules to luck, for

to the wise not all is accident.

Try, therefore, to help luck

along. Some are satisfied to

stand politely before the

portals of Fortune and to await

her bidding, but better

those who push forward,

and who employ their

enterprise, who on the wings

of their worth and valour

seek to embrace luck and gain

her favour.



Tuesday, March 01, 2016
 

I am not good at competitions. The things I do best are those that are done for their own sake. Or maybe I am just plain out of luck (there I go again!). Recently a friend chided me to not be my own worst enemy by repeating this thing about luck. Apparently the universe listens and all that stuff. I do say a lot of positive things that it seems to have trouble listening to :(
Well, here's a longish verse I had written some time ago when I took it into my head to enter into some random competition. I generally don't take such things into my head but I remember making an exception because it was some outfit based in Mangalore that was running the show. Well, I didn't win. I'm not surprised because I can't say it's my best output. Then again, maybe it was plain luck! ;)

 A Rat’s World

“We cannot kill the rat”

I said to my mother, who

Disturbed and distressed, by the

Constant interruptions and minor disappearances

Of food and what other things

Decided something must be done.

She first got a rat trap

And trapping one, released it somewhere afar off

Where it couldn’t intrude anymore

And despoil her peace of mind.

And then, it seemed there was more

Because the interruptions in her affairs did not cease

Pieces of bread were smuggled out

Just as brazenly as before.

And the rat trap came out again

But no rat in it

Maybe this one caught on to the trick

As a self-respecting modern rat in a modern world

Learning by dire example should.

My mother, now out of her wits’ end

Her shrine, the kitchen, thus invaded again

And molested daily, by a silly freak of nature

“I must get the rat”, she cried!

No, she did not wish to kill, but what choice is left, she asked

What could be done to divest of this devil?

So my mother mused, and I

Listening to her in this mood

Thought aloud, “We cannot kill this rat!”

It is a life, as life is ours

A soul it has, that breathes and moves

Surely it feels, as it hungers and thirsts

In all other bodily functions, it resembles us

What a burden on our conscience!

To snuff out this life—

Like a flame on a candle

A life dies with it, as one lives in it

No, mother, we cannot kill this rat

To which my mother, not unschooled in argument, returns

Yes, it is a life, but in the scale of evolution

What value does it have?

Everyday hundreds and thousands of us

Are killed in crashes, die hanging out of trains

Murdered brutally, die hungry or in pain

When human life is so cheap and easily sold,

What matters it, if a rat dies cold?

Thursday, December 31, 2015
 

So, I was watching Bigg Boss the other day. If you’re wondering what I was doing watching Bigg Boss, I admit I find it an interesting window into human nature. All these people who are just random faces to you at the beginning of the show, start acquiring a definite form and shape in terms of who they are, and you almost start predicting how each would act under certain circumstances. Being under the spotlight 24/7 means you can never be your natural self but I wonder how long one can keep up a pretence or a disguise? And if one can do it long enough, why do some of the characters appear so obviously obnoxious—I mean, wouldn’t they want to appear likeable and loveable? It never ceases to surprise me! I wonder if some people sorely lack the ability to discern what kind of an impression would be made by what sort of behaviour and since they don’t grasp it, they have no way of controlling it? Probably why the show format works at all because if everyone were capable of being on their best behaviour knowing they were being watched, there would be nothing interesting to watch? May also be that some people do not mind how they appear as long as they do appear… any publicity being good publicity! :)  

Well, coming back to my real point… this particular episode of Bigg Boss threw up a question I have been thinking about. One of the persons in the house commits an offence that could be deemed punishable at the discretion of the captain of the house. This person is a repeated offender and has shown no signs of improvement even though her negative attitude has been questioned many a times. The captain’s take on this situation is that whether he punishes the person (punishment being taking away an important personal belonging) or does not punish her, it is certain she will not change her behaviour. So why punish her, what would be the use? Indeed, anyone listening to this fine piece of logic may have been swayed by it. Another lady in the house, who I find to be of better mettle in some respects than the rest of the house mates, put forward an argument to this that I couldn’t but appreciate. Her point was: Going by the captain’s logic, suppose this person had shown a tendency to change for the better, suppose she was inclined to mend her ways, the captain would have punished her! So the irony of it was that someone who was amenable to change would be punished and someone who showed no remorse or desire to change would be allowed to go without punishment. Put like this, it does seem strange, but think about it… don’t we do the same thing, for example, when we give more and more responsibilities to a person because they are ‘responsible’ persons and less to those who don’t manage responsibilities well?  

Moving on to the spirit of the day… here’s wishing everyone a Very Happy New Year! May this year fulfil all your most cherished wishes…

Saturday, October 24, 2015
 
Heard this quote by Mike Tyson, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face!”? In my case, it’s more like punched in the foot. Literally. One early morning on a weekend, I woke up to the sound of gushing water running out of an open tap and the next moment I was lying sprawled on the floor with my foot stuck in a chest of drawers, bleeding and swollen. 15 days later, here I am, still sprawled with feet up—except for the soft sofa underneath me. And yeah, so much for ‘plans’.

I have always had a deep dislike, almost bordering on paranoia, for hospitals. Luckily for me, I haven’t had much occasion to get over it. I have never been in one save for more than a few minutes, and that most often to visit other people, who knowing how I loved the ambience, were always too happy to get rid of me. But this time, I was in for a longish affair. I could have cried when I was told I would have to lie in one for all of 4 days if not more. And I dare say I did. Was there no way to get me cured at home? It was just a foot and it happened at HOME. I mean, that had to count for something? Apparently if I took a chance, I could run the risk of spending a lot more time in later. So you can tell I didn’t need more convincing. I was also told that if a foot like this had happened to be of a Diabetes patient, which I always fear I might be some day given the not-so-stellar family history, they might have considered chopping off the foot. (My expression exactly …!)

I’m not sure what sort of personality my blog projects of me—but I do tend to be a bit particular about particulars. And that being so, I can never be sure if this is just me being ‘particular’ or if a regular Mr. Not-So-Particular would find the same thing just as queer. As I lay in the hospital, numerous inefficiencies struck me. Take for example when I was asked to be wheeled into my room by the doctor because I shouldn’t be stressing my foot at all. The ‘Maushi’ as they called the elderly women who did some of these extra-curricular activities wheeled me into the elevator, got me off at floor 6, and then looked at me ruefully requesting if I could walk down a floor because the elevator apparently wasn’t working on that floor! I mean, so much for not stressing my foot! Or take the case of this nurse, whom I almost started dreading, who puts the drip thing on and does not tell me I should call for her when the liquid was emptied. Did I really have to tell people this was my ‘first time’ and I didn’t know how these weird things worked? Blood starts oozing and flowing out of the prick needle or whatever they call the contraption, which I happily don’t notice because I am busily working at my phone, and when she comes in and notices, almost barks at me for not alerting her!  “But you didn’t tell me to”, are words that don’t seem to register!

These and other instances start growing on me. It strikes me that the cost of a mistake at work here was so high I could die! They aren’t dealing in grammar and punctuation errors, mind you, a comma missing is not equal to an eye gone!  (Makes you really think about how insignificant these commas really are). These nurses looked too jolly to be trusted with bottles of drips. I’d probably look like the face of death handling one of these. What if they mistook a bottle of A and administered me B? And what effect would B have on my body? And is there a way to remove all the B from the body once it was all in? And what if I caught some malady I couldn’t get rid of for the rest of my life…? You can tell where this line of thinking was taking me? …no, maybe not.

I had stopped praying to let my foot heal soon. I was praying to let me get out of the clutches of this hospital, QUICKLY, before they messed up really bad, with nothing worse than a bad foot. I was hoping none of the mischances my brain kept playing in my head would occur and I would be out of here none the worse than when I came in, if you know what I mean :(

(As it happened, I did come out with a very sore wrist which was swollen because of the injections, apart from an on-it’s-way-to-be-healed-foot… it’s a lot better now though :))


Wednesday, October 07, 2015
 

In a ‘verse’y mood after a long time…

 
This weary mask

I carry with me every day

Laughing, smiling, joking, talking

Let it not fall

Even a little

The world will point out

And giggle

There’s no room for a real face

Real words, real tears

Lest they shatter

A carefully laid-out glassy world

With a pierce

Of a real scream

But still the glass keeps cracking

Little by little

As the gagged and trodden lose their masks

Horror of horrors

Their real faces reflecting

What masked ones try so hard to hide

 

 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
 

It’s strange how, sometimes, try as you may, you cannot put into words what you’re feeling or going through. I feel that now. And yet, when I recalled these words from If by Rudyard Kipling, they seemed to trace the shape of my thoughts, albeit with an infinitely surer and steadier hand…

If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

There is a general belief in the wisdom of the majority or the mighty. One accepts without question the logic of ‘they know better’—as kids, your parents or teachers know better. As you grow older, the authority figures change but there is always someone who ‘knows better’, and whose guidance you need to follow without question. While I wouldn’t advocate replacing absolute docility with absolute arrogance, how about crediting yourself with some sense and thinking for yourself for a change? A lot of ills in the world would disappear if people weren’t lazy enough to accept everything ‘they who know better’ have said, and tried to judge things for themselves. Maybe we would all be a lot more conscious of our actions because we would then be directly responsible for their consequences—not just the ones who presumably should have ‘known better’.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
 

Just back from a one week bliss-filled holiday to Goa. To the sweat and grind and glamour of the city.  

It seems to me that we’re so used to an over-active, hyper-charged life that when we are faced with a day with no agenda and no artificial means of losing time, we sort of draw a blank… sitting at the beach watching the waves flap backward and forward, I was conscious of myself thinking about n number of things that didn’t need my immediate attention. Sometimes I would flip out my phone and take pictures, sometimes check random emails, basically twitch and turn mentally as well as physically as if being still was something very new to me and I couldn’t quite adjust myself to it. I wanted so much to just relax, just “feel” at rest, but the pressure to feel relaxed seemed to be making it even more difficult... creating a goal where the idea was to have none… 

It’s funny how just absorbing nature makes you see things in a completely different perspective. In the one week, we saw different people come and go at the beach. And it made me think how we all come and go in this short existence on earth. How some of us enjoy our brief stay, play in the water, make our castles in the sand, and then leave. Some have a much longer time to spend, sit at the side-lines or jog along outpacing the other strollers. Some take huge risks and may get lost in the waves prematurely or may be cautious and still get blown away by the wrath of the sea. The one truth is that one day we must go. Funny how we know this truth so well, and yet how easy it is to forget in our regular life where little things assume significance, and how watching the big never-ending sea, it hits you.

The question that I left with… what is the best way to spend your time at the beach before it’s time to go?
 
 

Friday, July 10, 2015
 

Was reading this intriguing article on how the English language is losing all simplicity and sense, by George Orwell. (What would he say to the use of English in today’s times, I wonder!)

Here’s an excerpt that particularly arrested my attention, though I have to admit that it was less due to the English language lesson there and more owing to the substance.

Excerpt---

Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Here it is in modern English:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

---

I have often wondered about “chance” or “fate”, and spent many blog posts brooding about it (my readers(!) would testify to it ;) ). I was struck by this reference from the Bible because I believed that most of the tangible or intangible “rewards” one aspires for today, and in the context of allocation of which one usually dwells on “fate”, so to speak, have all been manufactured in the recent centuries. Now, it seems to me that even though the needs and aspirations in olden times were far more basic or simple, be it bread or be it winning the war, they were still distributed in a way that demanded calling out “fate”.

Strangely, another recent article that made me think around this subject was from the World Economic Forum, titled, Is it possible to measure inequality of opportunity? It brings up an “academic” perspective. The point it makes is, that there is a difference between “inequality of opportunity” and “inequality of outcomes”. While aiming for equality of opportunity is a good thing, akin to “levelling the playing field”, trying to create an equality of outcomes is undesirable, almost defeating the whole purpose. Inequality of opportunity has to do with things not in our control or our “circumstances” but the latter has to do with our own “effort”, and who would argue against the fact that we should be rewarded for differing levels of effort? But, wait a minute! Here is where it gets interesting. Are our “outcomes” in life simply based on different levels of effort, assuming an equality of opportunity? What about “luck”, which is the word used in this article, or indeed “chance” or “fate”? For example, what about innate talent and would we call that a part of what goes into “effort”? But if we do not, do we risk giving the not-so-talented a leg up and encouraging mediocrity? …

Well, I guess the main point is that, “circumstances” and “effort” are quite interconnected, and while one does not want to discount the relationship between effort and outcome, one must bear in mind that there is more to outcomes than pure effort, and that “more” may be called “luck” or “fate” or “circumstances” or whatever you will. “Equality of opportunity” may not guarantee an “equality of outcomes”, after all.

Friday, June 19, 2015
 
I sometimes wonder if over-conscientiousness can be one’s downfall especially in today’s world where conscience itself is not easy to come by? It happens all the time. Take the simplest example. You reach a venue 10 minutes early to avoid making someone wait up for you. That person turns up half an hour late. Who loses? You don’t entertain other customers because you have committed the property or product to one but that person opts for a different product. Who loses? This happened to me a few days back when a person went all incommunicado after clearly closing the deal in a property I was looking to put on rent! Even when another party evinced interest, I chose to honour my commitment than deal with my conscience for an extra thousand. But who lost? With my good-old-fashioned values, I am now looking for a tenant when the one who didn’t bother with all this stuff is probably having a cosy time in a home with an even lesser rent to pay!


I have been wondering what this means and whether this requires a change in my thinking or attitude. Should I tell myself that the world doesn’t care anymore and clearly even the universe doesn’t because instead of punishing, it seems to be rewarding these value-shirkers?  Imagine the time I would gain by making people wait around for me and turning that time to good use—instead of waiting for THEM? Imagine how many disappointments I would avoid because I would only be ruthlessly thinking about myself and what would benefit me most? Nobody could one-up me because I would be one-upping everybody else? See? … Well, looks like I don’t see. I don’t know whether the universe does punish or does not, whether I will find another tenant soon enough or not, whether this is the way to be or not … but the fact is I am far more happier losing some money because I lost a tenant than I would have been if I had gone back on my word and earned a little more. I could let other people down… but I don't live with other people... I live with myself and how do I let myself down? 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
 

Some people make you feel like you’ve known them all along… or you wouldn’t mind knowing them a little more… sort of have them around in your life in some way. I had that feeling today. It’s a rare feeling for me because mostly I am someone who is focused on the subject than the person. And I am rather bad at acting on these impulses because, you know, what if they don’t like me back. I am okay losing a potential friend but I’d rather not lose my dignity ;)

Anyway…

Here’s one On Friendship by one of my favourite poets…
 

Friendship on earth we may as easily find
As he the North-west passage that is blind;
It’s not unlike th’ imaginary stone,
That tatter’d chemists long have doted on.
Sophisticate affection’s not the best,
The world affords few friends will bide the test;
They’ll make a glorious show a little space,
But tarnish in the rain, like copper lace;
Or, melted in affliction, in one day
They’ll smoke and stink and vapour quite away.
We miss the true materials, choosing friends;
On virtue we project not, but our ends.
So by desert, while we embrace too many,
We courted are like ——, not loved by any.
Good deeds ill placed, which we on most men heap,
Are seeds of that ingratitude we reap;
For he that is so sweet, that none denies,
Is made of honey for the nimble flies.
Choose one or two companions for thy life
But be as true, as thou wouldst have thy wife.
Though he lives joyless, that enjoys no friend,
He, that has many, pays for ’t in the end.
 
John Donne



Monday, March 23, 2015
 

Hello there, world! ;)

Here’s a question: If you were a lovely singer, and you were looking to win a singing competition, would it make sense to you if people said it’s not enough to be a good singer, you should learn to dance well and show your moves to the audience, because that’s what audiences love, that’s what sells, that’s what looks good on TV, and that’s a winner? Would you learn dancing because you wanted to win desperately? If not, why? And if not, would people be right to say you were rather stubborn and close-minded? Well, I was in one such situation and I did not learn dancing, not least because I have two left feet ;) Of course, I did not win the competition, and of course, I wasn’t very hopeful either.

There is no logic to the idea that you should be judged for something that is not really the measure of the thing you were actually supposed to be judged for. I also do not get this whole thing about ‘being visible’ or ‘selling yourself’ because at least in my book, you try very hard to sell something that does not have a salient property of its own. When a thing has properties of its own, someone or at least someone who is in the position of a ‘judge’, should be able to separate the grain from the jaggery. If I know my diamonds, I will pay the price for them—I don’t need them to be shown to me in fancy wrapping paper. And if I do, I am not fit to appraise diamonds, and what’s more, I will lose them.

End of the day, ‘authenticity’ matters. If I get everything and lose that, I have nothing. That competition is not worth it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
 

Special week for me what with the birthday and all that :) A year older and am not feeling any the wiser… though I do feel less prettier :( Maybe it’s a mind thing or a real thing, but you keep wishing you looked like what you looked like 5 years ago and every 5 years you realise you didn’t look so bad 5 years earlier. OK, I have not spent that many decades on this planet as this thought process might suggest, but am sensing this would be the case going by my experience so far :( Appearances are not a topic I usually voice my thoughts about, but well… why not? I guess with all the ‘showing-off’ craze and ‘selfie’ menace, one might end up evaluating ones mugshot a lot more closely and frequently than I think it’s worth.

I have thought about starting a new trend for myself on my birthday. I am a ‘sucker for gifts’, as the yuppie brigade would put it, and one of the highlights of my day is anticipating what my family would be gifting me (well, they are the most consistent gifters and they dare not be inconsistent ;) ). This time, I thought to myself, why not give myself a gift too to show how much I love myself? I usually don’t quote out of movies (looks like I am treading into lot of unknown ground in this post ;) ), but there’s this line in the movie Jab We Met where Kareena Kapoor says “Mein apni favourite hoon”—I quite liked it. I mean, who can love you, pamper you, comfort you, understand you, and be there for you more than you? So it stands to reason that on your birthday, this most special person in your life, which is you, should give you a most special gift :) I would think the process of buying a gift from myself to myself on my birthday should tighten this bond further, give expression to all these feelings, and make me love myself more, if that’s possible! ;)
 

Friday, January 02, 2015
 
Was reading The Fall by Albert Camus yesterday. I wouldn’t recommend it as healthy reading on the first of the year. While I couldn’t relate with many of the monologues—I guess I am too rooted a person even though I have my flights of fancy—here is an extract that caught my attention. It may sound morbid but think of it.

“Men are never convinced of your reasons, of your sincerity, of the seriousness of your sufferings, except by your death. So long as you are alive, your case is doubtful; you have a right only to their skepticism. So if there were the least certainty that one could enjoy the show, it would be worth proving to them what they are unwilling to believe and thus amazing them. But you kill yourself and what does it matter whether or not they believe you? You are not there to see their amazement and their contrition (fleeting at best), to witness, according to every man’s dream, your own funeral. In order to cease being a doubtful case, one has to cease being, that’s all.”

Don’t we sometimes feel that the best way to punish people who do not appreciate you enough or value you enough would be to completely disappear from their lives? But then, like Camus says, what would be the fun if we couldn’t watch their reaction. And worse still, what if, they simply forgot you. Which is more likely than it may seem. Everything and everyone is eminently forgettable and replaceable. Sample this.

“Besides, isn’t it better thus? We’d suffer too much from their indifference. “You’ll pay for this!” a daughter said to her father who had prevented her from marrying a too well groomed suitor. And she killed herself. But the father paid for nothing. He loved fly-casting. Three Sundays later he went back to the river—to forget, as he said. He was right; he forgot. To tell the truth, the contrary would have been surprising. You think you are dying to punish your wife and actually you are freeing her.”

Hmm… well. I won’t say I am as pessimistic about the human capacity for emotion or affection. But the general mass of humans probably forget soon enough. I remember hearing this story about this character who lost his wife and kids in a tragic fire that took many lives. This chap also did what he could to save as many as he could but unluckily couldn’t save his own. Apparently, he married his childhood sweetheart just a year later. My friends who related the story to me didn’t find anything odd about this. The wife and kids are gone now; doesn’t he have a right to life and happiness? What would I have—that he mope around his whole life because he lost whom he loved? What’s so wrong about beginning afresh and all that. Forgive me if I sound a little harsh, but I couldn’t but question this fellow’s sentiments for his wife while she was alive. I mean, if he could forget her in a flash and what is a year but a flash? Well, I don’t know.

Another anecdote in the book really amused me.

“One day while I was eating lobster at a sidewalk restaurant and a beggar bothered me, I called the proprietor to drive him away and loudly approved the words of that administrator of justice: “You are embarrassing people,” he said. “Just put yourself in the place of these ladies and gents, after all!”

See? It’s amusing in such a provoking way! Living in India, any scene with beggars is easy to imagine. One almost sees them and one doesn’t. One almost ceases to think of them as unfortunate ‘humans’. One almost blames them for being a nuisance on a good day… this exchange made me think about it. 

Monday, December 22, 2014
 

The season is here
When the heart is freer
And everyone who’s dear
Wishes you were near…

Hmm… seriously, I don’t know what it is about this season. You just feel like hugging everybody and looking forward to something, anything. And this time, it’s extra special for me. A little baby has literally arrived in our house in the form of a fetching niece. I am an aunt for the first time in my life and I’d say this is the first time I am looking forward to being called ‘aunty’ or ‘maushy’ as they say in the Konkani language.

I am not a baby person in general. I don’t enjoy being around the little ones because more than them, it’s you who are expected to conform to some sort of a baby personality and it, well, doesn’t come naturally to me. I have said it on this blog before, maybe a long while back, and I haven’t changed a whit. I can become an old lady with old folks—listen attentively, smile and nod, offer a murmur of profundity to match theirs, and before long, they’d eat out of my hand. But put me among the babies and I’ll know not what to do. I’ll squirm uncomfortably, pull their cheek embarrassedly, and wonder when I could exit the scene without seeming like an outsider to the baby cult. I won’t say I have become a convert now, but I am certainly devoted ;) To watch a little ball of life spring out of nowhere right in front of your eyes… well… I wasn’t prepared for that moment. And that moment made me look at life in 360 degrees so to speak. The whole cycle thing.

Looks like I have digressed. So here’s wishing a very Happy Christmas and blessed New Year to me and to you. May this year lead to many happy stories and beautiful memories J 
 
 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
 
OK. I am in the mood for an argument. Actually, I am always in the mood for arguments and since not many like to engage in the sport with me, I argue with myself. I happened to be a bit under the weather one of these days—as the great Wodehouse would say, if not actually disgruntled, far from being gruntled. It may seem like an odd kind of thing to do during these times—sort of like drinking cold water when you’re suffering from a cough—but I like to read up some good old philosophical ‘stuff’ when I am not exactly feeling jolly. It cures whatever little jolliness is left in me but when you know you’re in great company, you don’t mind so much.

Well, so this time I thought I’ll chew on a bit of existentialism—‘existence precedes essence’ being a central tenet. In short, your life has the meaning that you choose to give it. You are the architect of your life. You have complete freedom to act but you are completely responsible for the consequences of your actions. This freedom can be exhilarating but also frightening, for example, when you’re standing on the edge of a cliff, you fear falling off, but you know that nothing and no one stops you from jumping off. Which creates anxiety because of the realisation that ‘you are on your own’ and you are free to make choices concerning ‘you’—choices whose ultimate responsibility no one else can shoulder but you.

This brings me to my argument. I cannot say I relate with existential philosophy. Not because I am uncomfortable about the fact that I might throw myself off a cliff in an unguarded moment and there will be no God to save me (though that’s there). But because, when one says you’re completely free to choose, are you? When one says I can define my own life with my actions, can I? and when one says I undertake a certain action with the knowledge of the responsibility it entails, do I always (I may not have full knowledge)? Yes, I am free to “act” one way or the other but am I “freely choosing” those actions—is my life a series of actions and consequences of those actions, or is it a series of actions and reactions and actions that are further modified by the nature of those reactions and how those continuous actions and reactions define my ability to respond to situations or the manner in which I respond to situations. For example, a woman whose marriage is arranged for her, how free is her choice given that she did not “choose to be born in that traditional society”? What about the context in which I am placed—my actions are not independent of context surely? If I was born in a palace with a golden spoon in my mouth or born in a poor man’s house, wouldn’t my “essence” in some way be predetermined even before I was born or “existed”? And wouldn’t it have not some but a lot of weight on how my “essence” is shaped finally? That is about birth but what about “what happens to you along the way”. What if you, say, lose a parent early in life—you cannot have “chosen” to lose the parent and yet this loss may have a bearing on most of the seemingly “free decisions” you will be making through life. Can you be said to be “responsible” for those decisions that were in some way “predetermined” by the event that happened in your life—and not by yourself.

You know where I am going with this. But, no, I am not discounting freedom and responsibility; in fact, I think one must be extremely conscious of both otherwise you run the risk of bobbing around the ocean of life unmindful of where it takes you and maybe drag other people along the way in an irresponsible manner, because, hey!, someone up there is taking us wherever he chooses to. I very much believe in acting consciously and responsibly. What I am saying is that no matter how conscious I am or responsible I am, I cannot necessarily take my life to the destination I want to take it to or shape its “essence”. I can steer it as best I can through bad weather and veer it along with whatever knowledge I have, but, my best efforts and decisions may not be equal to what gets thrown my way. There is something in nature that has to allow me to navigate my course… and if it doesn’t, I won’t.