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

Sunday, October 23, 2016
I have got a lot boiling in my head right now and lest it pour over, I thought I should make a quick dish with it! ;) It’s been close to three weeks since I landed in the UK, Lancaster to be precise (read earlier blog for context :)), and there are times when I feel like in another life I had sort of prayed for or wished for to be a part of just such a setting… and I have somehow been transported there! There are moments when I am hit with a “Is this a dream?” Like yesterday in a class when we were discussing “philosophers” and “objectivity vs. subjectivity” and “world views” and “what is reality” and “how do we interpret reality” and “how does our philosophical view influence research”. It felt like suddenly it was okay to eat chocolates for breakfast or something ;)

What do I say about Lancaster itself? If you’re from Mumbai like me you might find it quiet and modest but if you are like me you would find it just the kind of place where you are in communion with yourself. There is plenty of nature and fresh air, of course, and there is a “city centre” where you can go off for shopping or eating or whatever else you want to do. But, the best part is, you don’t have to if you’re living in the humungous and gorgeous campus, like I am, at least this year. It is, what shall I say? made to feel like a haven for the intelligent, culture-loving university goer and by extension anyone who is those things (I hate sounding conceited but to say anything else would be inaccurate). Ever since I stepped into this campus, I feel surrounded by communication about learning spaces or study spaces, and actual spaces that are designed to make me feel comfortable to read and think in my own space! As if there aren’t dozens and more spaces for one to choose from within the campus, they also have a space in the city centre that you can go off to, to read or work on your research! It is a novel thing for me because back home in India I feel there isn’t enough emphasis on the concept of “space” and how the very availability or non-availability of “comfort space” could contribute or be detrimental to your output. And the icing on the cake is perhaps that study is not the only area where choices are galore… my first week here which was called “welcome week” for all arriving students, was actually nothing short of a carnival week! One could choose to go to live music sessions or society fairs (university students pitching to join their respective societies which ranged from the usual “music” to the rather quaint “Lego playing” to the bizarre even!) or ghost story readings in the library over cocoa and cookies (I went for that, no prizes for guessing!) or take a free bus ride for shopping to the city centre or a barbecue party or poster art exhibitions in the square…. Yes, Lancaster is rather quiet as my city-loving flat mate from Egypt insists (and that’s another delicious character of this place that you could hit at least 5-6 nationalities with a stone’s throw…more about that next!) but I disagree with her that “It is not alive”… to me life is at its most throbbing intensity when the mind is continuously stimulated by books and ideas and illuminating conversations and art!

The cultural diversity is another interesting aspect of life here. I live with people from Ghana, London, Egypt, Bahrain. I was part of a group activity in class today where my group mates were from Russia, Greece, UK, China. I was part of another group activity yesterday with folks from Pakistan and Iran. See what I mean? Crossing with so many cultures adds new horizons to one’s thinking, and to me being in a cultural hot-pot is stimulating too. Add to that trying to learn the ways of the host culture. Back in India, we are used to things being “done” for us be it the cook who comes home to cook, or the maid who does sweeping and swabbing or the communal cleaner who takes away trash. I was of course completely prepared to do my own cooking, which in a way I enjoy too if it doesn’t get in the way of other priorities, but what surprised me was that here flat mates need to carry all the trash to the bins around the campus, appropriately divided for recycling—at first it jolted me a bit because I had never “personally” bothered so much with the entire journey of the trash in my house, but come to think of it, after the event, I felt a certain satisfaction. I felt like the whole recycling theory made so much sense when I actually practised it. And on the subject of sustainability, another thing that took some time for me to wrap my head around, was how “paper” is made to seem as a precious as real money. One gets a certain “amount of credit” in one’s university card and one can print off any machine on the campus, be it the library or in any building whatsoever, by simply swiping one’s card. But whenever you print something, the appropriate amount for that quantity of print (say 5 pennies for a page) gets deducted from your credit. You could of course personally “top up” your card with money if you exhaust the amount you’re allocated… but I noticed that the very act of seeing the money vanish from my card after printing or knowing that the credit would get reduced made me so much more conscious of my printing habits! I am, unfortunately, someone who loves to read on paper and maybe so used to it with so many years of habituated reading off paper, that I just cannot read as effectively on the screen nor can I make as effective notes as I tend to make on the sides of the paper copy. So I guess I will be printing more than most… but the good part is… not as much as I would have earlier. I think this also made me realise what embedding sustainability into business practice meant. I could be conscious of how paper reduction helps the environment but if the systems also embed that thinking or institutionalise it in some way, it could probably have a deeper effect? And yes, thinking of another cultural thing and how can it not be about food! Back home, formal lunches tended to be multi-course affairs; here, they tend to be light sandwiches, chips, and queerly “whole fruits”! I am used to seeing chopped fruits on the dessert stalls but seeing whole fruits like bananas, apples, pears, oranges in a bowl together was quite new to me. I haven’t ventured to take a go at the fruits yet being a bit diffident about exposing my way of monstrous munching, but again I think I like the idea of whole fruits. You don’t end up wasting as much fruit I guess. I also notice not feeling quite so heavy and drowsy after lunchtime so those “wakeup” tactics aren’t quite necessary. Oh, another thing (I mean to finish this para but new things keep popping into the head), the arrangement of tables and chairs in each class aren’t what I am used to seeing in India in a typical class setting, that is, straight lines or long semi circles (unless things have changed). Here, usually, a class includes no more than 20 people and you have say 4-5 circular or rectangular tables with 4-5 chairs around each in a class, almost like a restaurant or wedding reception seating in India. The arrangement is not just a design feature though; it actually follows the teaching principle of getting groups to work amongst themselves. Personally, I am not a fan of group work so guess the Indian method worked for me ;) but the fact is I find myself participating a lot more.
And talking about England, weather can be last but not in the slightest the least! I was under the impression we were well into winter when I arrived here and almost laughed that it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. A 10 degree didn’t feel so cold and most of the time one is indoors one way or the other. I am a bit worried about the circular that we received yesterday about the change of time on October 30 and associated winter related injunctions. “Keep yourself warm by having a warm shower or hot drink before going to bed”, it said in the end. Not trying to sound grim, are we? :(
I’ll keep bombarding this space as I go along because I am told I need to keep practising my writing every day even if I am writing rubbish ;) And who else but you, dear reader, could I impose upon? :) 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A friend was telling me the other day that we are at a crossroad every instant, having to make one or the other decision. I don’t know about that but I certainly believe I am at an important crossroad at this point in time. I have made the decision and this step in a certain direction is going to permanently alter the course of my life—for the better or for the worse, only time will tell, and you dear quiet reader, shall know! :)

Goodbyes are always rather unpleasant to me, and am going to be saying a goodbye to a lot of things this week—when I bid farewell to an employer of almost 12 years. It’s been anything but an easy decision because it means leaving the comfort, familiarity, stability, state of being in control, wholesomeness of knowing your tomorrow will be very much like your today, and more of what I value so much. That my employer also happens to be like a loving and caring and warm parent has only added to the feeling of leaving the homely cocoon and going out there in the cold.

I am nervous, anxious, excited, afraid, apprehensive, jubilant, all at the same time. I never thought I would muster the courage to take this rather presumptuous step by my standards and I never thought lady luck would favour me if I did, but I think having taken it, I am sort of redefining who I am. I am redefining my journey from this point on. I don’t know if it will lead me to a better destination than what the current familiar course would have, but I do know that I would never have had the opportunity to meet who I will become if I had stayed the same course.

So… without further ado… let me share that I am applying a break on my rather well-established career path and shifting gears to pursue a doctorate at a university in the UK. I am also shifting my track to a different area of specialisation that while I haven’t formally studied or worked in so far, has always been on my mental radar. It has also been a running theme on my blog ever since I started writing it… or probably ever since I started writing at all… the right and wrong, the good or bad, to do or not to do, the to be or not to be… in short, ethics :)

I hope to have a lot more to draw on and write as I live in a sea of ideas and arguments… let’s see… now that I am to set sail, I guess I am discovering the mariner in me! ;)


The Road Not Taken  
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        
Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same,        
And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back.        
I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.        

~ Robert Frost 

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.


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 ;)


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.