Is Conversation Dead?

Wonder if I should start this post with a ‘is it just me, or does it happen to you as well?’ kind of bewildered question – but having read a few articles about this topic – made me wonder – if it’s just me who’s missing ‘conversations’ from his life – or are there more like me?

Those intellectualizing this, were lamenting the reduction of conversations to 140 characters and over skype ‘let’s go for lunch’ instead of enough face to face communication.

While I don’t feel a lot is lost by conversing on any of these modern tools.. what does feel strange is if I’d be put with any from 80% of of the 1000s of people I’m connected to on FB – we’d run out of conversation in a few minutes.

So in a lot of cases, I don’t have things to talk about.. and thinking of the people and time when i didn’t have to ‘think what to talk’ and when intermittent silences weren’t awkward.. I don’t talk to them often anymore!

Why is 95% of all that I talk to anyone lately – so completely transactional in nature? It’s rather seldom that I talk anything without a purpose in mind. Every call or meeting has to have an agenda. Even friends are called up for a reason, very seldom for generally catching up!

Oh, and after the transaction is over, there’d always be an enthused and polite ‘Let’s meet up sometime ya.- Sure!!’ when both of us know well, we don’t mean it.

There was a chapter in my high school hindi book – about conversations – the author wrote with passionate poetic romance about the beauty of conversations. Of course, I was too dumb to appreciate it then – but having gone through a phase when a conversation could last through the night and yet not end – I know what he was talking about. Be it over maggis in the canteen, or over a walk by the lake-side or over the phone or gtalk..

Should I even get into the variety of topics – from physics to religion, to psychology to philosophy, to faith and feminism, from relationships to politics…..

It amuses me to note the number of lines some of my gtalk chat archives have! And it’s not a great feeling that none of those are less than a year old! And it amuses me to think of the times when I used to struggle to pay my phone bills – and had bought a cheap call rate sim in collaboration with another talkative friend.

I have a rather small personal phone bill lately. I’d thought that I’d be dialing more people more often now that I spend a good amount of time in the car – on the way from home to office and back.. but after a few months of having thought so – it doesn’t seem like I’m in much better touch with people I’d have liked to be talking more. Radio, and my lost world of thoughts is what keeps me company.

The whole social media thing – wonder if it’s done more harm than good – in enabling me to keep in touch with people. Commenting on their pics does keep me abreast with what they did on their b’day and the last vacation – but well, haven’t heard someone animatedly narrate the whole series of events lately. One could say that life’s so busy these days – where’s the time – but I really don’t think time is the culprit here.

So maybe then, it’s to do with the lack of motivation, or pre-occupation with our own travails of life – that keeps us away from delving too much into someone else’s life…or spare enough moments for a fulfilling chat.

So well, here’s to all the people who’ve shared those maggis with me, or taken those lake side walks, or stayed up late nights talking over the phone and gtalk.. or the ones that have exchanged lengthy hearty mails with me…and those who’ve filled up pages after pages of ‘classes and conversations’ on the last bench.

I miss you. What else would justify staying back in office, all by myself on a Friday evening – to say all of this!

And well, this in no way to undervalue the people in my life right now – who do their bit to keep the conversationalist in me alive.

Guess a slice of life – is what my rant is likely to be about. Nothing profoundly intelligent or stimulating. Just some things that make me step back and take a hard look at how life’s shaping up!

Guess I’m just being resistant to change! Some changes just suck!

The Sunday that was…

Starts with a ride on the Mumbai local – standing at the gate – to soak in the amazing weather,  as I rode across the bridge to Vashi – offering a long view of the horizon.

Followed by – a drive on the expressway – up the hill in lonavala – long stares into the valley – a game of cards, a picnic lunch, hot pakode, mist in the face,  rain to soak, clouds to surround , chilly breeze, growing into a wind as you see, a hot bhutta, a phone call to tell someone they’re being missed, a text to lil, getting back into the car, for a slow drive down the hill coz you can’t see beyond 5 meters…. with open windows so you still feel the rain..

A descent from Heaven, amidst the clouds! Loads of curves- the view still blocked -a famous vada pao, an extra sweet coffee and a drive back to Vashi.

Followed by a drive on the palm beach road, a glimpse of a cute home and family and some sweet childhood pics, and next a short but lovely bike ride with the wind in my hair as the pillion, a quick spin on a sexy bike, a small walk, some small talk and a conversation amidst beautiful weather. Some growing up.

Then zip back to mama’s for another game of cards – with jeering and cheering on a high.. a lot of pulling,  a dinner of pizza.. and a glimpse of India crumbling against west indies in the match. A peaceful sleep.

5:45 AM – the local again, again a pretty morning, to bring me back, to home, to my desk, to work!

Despite such a weekend, i’m saved the monday blues by my kinda work, my kinda workplace, my desk and the view from here!

Wisdom Tooth Hurts…

It’s weird, I’d initiated this post last year and I dont’ remember the context! The title sure seems interesting enough for me to rethink and start a journey through my years of having gained wisdom and how I don’t like it so much!

These might sound like rants of the angst, but well, first hand learning!

People are weird – they don’t always say the truth, they dont’ always mean what they say, and they dont’ always say what’s on their mind.

Personally and professionally, this has been the most appalling thing I’ve come across. To believe in people, only to be let down and be disappointed.

Then I wonder if it’s too naive to continue to trust people, or should I become wise – once bitten, twice shy!

The quotes that are treated as lessons, aren’t just ‘quotes’, my favorite one, in this regard now, is ” Trust only those who stand to lose as much as you do, when things go wrong

I’ve wanted to stay the Anne Frank way, to continue to believe people are really good at heart and not judge them

The other thing, is the realization of the impossible – the rise of practicality, with a dash of cynicism.

Whenever I’ve been told about something can’t be done, I’ve been obsessed with walking around the whole thing, to find a logical, reasonable solution to show HOW it can be done.

To reach dead ends, hits you hard. To realize that the obstacles standing in front of you are too big to really cross over, move around and/or penetrate through.

The first time you accept something as impossible, or not worth the effort, the first time you let go of something is when the maturation process starts!

And then when you see expensive mistakes, that you can’t undo. Just like a hand of poker, where you see in the final round, after raising the stakes rather high, that you can’t possibly win. The moment you realize that, the wise thing to do, is to fold. It’s not easy. It takes wisdom! And to get this wisdom, you need to lose a few hands.

I wasn’t born a pro!

Tagore, surely didn’t mean this when he said, “Perpetual giving up is the only truth of life”

So what are the times YOU’ve turned wiser, with a bad experience?

The Joys of Sadism

Whoever thought that sadism was a vice perhaps didn’t comprehensively look at all of the many interesting aspects of it.

There might be a crude form which would find its ally in black humor where you laugh at someone’s misery. But I’m talking of a different kind of sadism here. The one that I would enjoy professing. I do have to give it up sometimes, for the fear of annoying someone important, or the fear of being misunderstood as a cold beast (which I sometimes am!)

For a start, would it be annoying if you’re all so excited about something and in the same excited state go to a close person, or call him up in order to tell him about what’s happened and he turns a cold shoulder, suddenly making you pull your hair and go mad at him because he’s not sharing your excitement. Wait a couple of moments.

I’m that friend and I’m enjoying every moment of this madness of yours. Of course, cutting the sadistic enjoyment short, I’d soon get back to you and ask what’s happened and be as cheered and excited about it as you. But next time you call me up and are exuberant about ‘You know WHAT?’ be prepared for my cold shoulder, lest you end up cursing me and deciding to not talk to me ever again.

The problem with sadism is, not everyone is able to appreciate it, and some people take offence or as a sign of distance in the relationship. So, tread cautiously for it’s not for the world and its cousin to be able to enjoy the pleasures of sadism.

Then, there’s something else too. That’s a positive thing, requires effort and is definitely going to reward you well, of course, if you enjoy your adversaries’ chagrin. There’d be situations when things will frustrate you, arguments will blow your head and people’s behavior would annoy you into potentially reacting rather violently. You really couldn’t care about the virtues of managing your anger at that moment and blow the top.

This precisely is what your adversaries wanted. While angry, its likely that you’ll end up behaving in the not-the-best of fashions, get emotionally charged up and utter something you might regret later or give them some reason to be able to complain about you or to get back at you. You might end up hurting some of your close ones and regret that later!

Now, for a while I haven’t had any real adversaries, so I thought I’d create one. So I personified ‘anger’ and created it as a virtual adversary for myself. Now, everytime, things go wrong or frustrate me and tend to get on my nerves, I just see this beast called ‘Anger’ standing around the corner and laughing at my misery and the fact that I’ll goof up bigtime by blowing my top. Then the supreme sadist in me takes control and the anger is lost.

This is no laughter therapy that would calm Dr. Asthana down after Munna’s antics but just simple theories of Sadism.

I could perhaps write further on the glory of sadism, but later!


Trophies of the Mind!

From the top of the head, the first impression that a ‘mental trophy’ might give would be pretty vague I guess. That’s what it was to me at least, when I heard it for the first time on an adventure show on the TV, when a guy was talking about his experience at skydiving.

In his words, it’s not something you can take home with yourself and give to your mom, or describe to someone, the feeling that goes through your head while free falling is a mental trophy!

Coming to think of it, it’s fairly usual for perhaps all of us to look for these mental trophies. Adventure sport, a way to outfox your fears and get the adrenaline to gush through your veins has been for long a way to break the mental barriers.

A recent news item I came across on the web spoke of something more interesting. A IIT JEE coaching institute organized an entrance test that included the student’s baptism by fire, literally so. The students were made to walk through a bed of burning coal. Most would agree figuratively that preparing for IIT is no less than a firewalk (ok, to be honest, it really isn’t that bad) but literarily? It provoked intense reactions from a lot of the elite and educated, as it caused an instant recollection of the inhuman instance from our mythological tale Ramayana, when the purity personified, Seeta’s was made to walk through fire to prove her truthfulness.

A little research and I figured that this walk on burning coals, is used across the world as a motivation exercise by several reputed organizations. In the words of a firewalking student, ‘If I can do this, I can do anything, even crack JEE.’

Of course, walking on fire wouldn’t have given him the conceptual understanding of permutations and probabilities or the dynamics of rolling motion, but it perhaps did instill confidence in his own capabilities that would now help him outdo his expected performances. In a way, the young boy can now take anything in his stride, or at least attempt to do so.

The knowledge that a casual carefree walk on coal is scientifically harmless was quite a discovery and it reflected one more technically correct facet of the Indian superstitious test of truthfulness. The one who’s true at heart must walk fearless and confident and he’ll pass unharmed. The one who hesitates is the one who falters and thus is caught.

Sometimes an act of daring like a bungee jump or a skydive or a firewalk might give you a mental trophy, but beyond that it’s our own experiences in course of routine life that impact us in strong ways and the mind and the soul feel rewarded. It might be something like accomplishment of a psychological task, being able to calmly resolve a matter that might have led to bitterness, getting over your our own complacency and inculcating the disciplining habits that you’ve always wanted to, controlling your anger in that heated moment and getting over the situation, a word of acknowledgement from your boss, getting your recommendations incorporated, or being able to swiftly grow out of it and move on beyond a failed relationship or to stand by truth and be vindicated.

Eventually, the confidence in your ability to DO something, or in your capability to stop yourself from doing something, is nothing but a collection of these mental trophies- your past experiences where you did succeed and which strengthened your belief in yourself.

In a miniscule version of these trophies, we get kicks out of doing teenie weenie things around ourselves. Some of them might be notorious acts as pulling a colleague’s leg or pulling a prank on a bunch of friends or causing someone some minor embarrassment, having someone wait on you etc. But hey, there are positive ways too to get these kicks, like perhaps managing to put a baby to sleep, or to get a smile on the face of a street kid, or to help someone in need, or giving someone some little pleasures while just being a kind stranger!

Whatever my own mood or situation might be, these kicks are what keep me going.

Be it the trophies or the kicks, they could do wonders with your mood and your self concept if you treat them rightly. The best part is, they don’t cost a thing and you can’t buy them off a superstore shelf.

So figure out a trophy and till then, get yourself some kicks today, put a nasty remark about my ‘gyaan’ filled blog maybe J

I get a kick out of this!


An Ode to Melancholy

The title is inspired by a John Keats poem, the painting on the left is titled ‘Life’s toying with Me’ and this ode is basically inspired by a few friends who’ve been having tough time in life. Somehow, when one thing goes wrong, everything else has to fall apart too at the same time. Wonder if it’s incidental for these three people, or it’s actually the love stories, or the anguish contained in their failure that makes life a mess for so many of us.

Your work is monotonous and you hate it, all the more in this mood of yours. The social relations seem like a burden to carry on. Everything around seems pale, you don’t feel you have the energy to even attempt to look at the brighther side of things. There is a lot that you go through, in terms of the multitude of emotions, just about everyone of us has had his or her moments. Some might, for a moment, even contemplated taking the easy way out, just giving it all up. But that’s not the solution, there are people who care for you and for whom you care. and then life doesn’t come so cheap!

They live with it, with lost hope but still hoping to see light at the end of the tunnel.. and eventually they do see it. Some, do give up in between, just because they couldn’t bear it any longer. The gloom had set in too deeply for them to be able to survive it.

Some show it, some hide it behind a smile.

Some people, as they come out of it, would be afraid of facing anything similar in future and shut themselves up from any encounter to the whole set of experiences. They lose faith in the goodness of life, become cynical or supremely skeptical. They spend their lifetimes managing their vulnerabilities and trying to run away.

There’s another set, the one that emerges stronger from this melancholy, with their spirits intact and in fact grown stronger. They learn their lessons in their own hard ways. But now that they’ve learnt it, they emerge confident of being able to handle similar things, and perhaps bigger ones if they’re to challenge them in future.

Here’s an ode to Melancholy, that’s what makes life complete! A roller coaster wouldn’t be fun enough if it all it had were highs!

Its for you to enjoy the fall, having full faith that you’ll rise again.



Being Conscious…

The first definition of Consciousness says its the state of being conscious; awareness of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.

Extending it beyond your own existence, it’s about the awareness of the impact of your existence, and it’s this consciousness that causes you to do more than just existing and start living. Given that we’ve been blessed with this discerning power, how good a use do we make of it depends on whether we make our choices mechanically – the way the world’s been doing it or are we aware and alive in every moment. The consciousness could be felt in every single moment of your existence, from things as tiny as closing your tap when brushing your teeth to serving yourself only enough food that you can eat!

Now, a typical contrast to consciousness would be the state of unconsciousness. That’s not just something that doctors do to you before a surgery or something that happens when someone bangs your head hard. Look around, you might just find too many souls walking around unconscious and oblivious… going about their business mechanically, sometimes applying their heads, mostly just letting things be.

On a different line of thought, doctors make you unconscious so it doesn’t pain. Lessons in sociology taught us about the blasé attitude of a modern day urban individual because there are too many painful things happening everywhere and one is better off being ignorant rather than being pained by every unfortunate incident. Now, hypersensitivity to issues beyond your control might disturb your life balance and cause disorders but should that drive us to the other extreme, to become absolutely insensitive? One is a state of being comfortably numb and the other one of ostriches, who turn their head away from anything that’s unpleasant and bask in their illusions of a beautiful world. And then of course there’s a third category, the ones who actually make the mess, sometimes not realizing the impact of their own actions.

Not to say that the world is not beautiful, it just might feel much more so if you want to feel it that way.. and possibly play your role in making it that way. Orkut requests its uses to keep it beautiful by refraining from creating identities or groups derogatory to a community or nation. Unfortunately there’s no such host or owner of the world, who could possibly try to request us humans to keep life beautiful! There’s no ‘Do Not Litter’ board and it’s not so much of an act of malice as the series of unconscious acts by normal individuals that has brought the world to what it is today.

Going deeper into it, that’s what we do when we’re unconscious! We litter around ourselves, ignorant of the consequence of our own actions. And it’s not just the wrapper of the candy that you just ate that counts here, but also the numerous deeds of immorality that you littered your life and the world with. Yes, that includes all of your unethical maneuvers that you thought were necessary to get you this far. Here comes conscience, the one that sees you doing what you do when you think no one is looking.

Perhaps you didn’t realize that what you did just for fun- lifting that pair of goggles from that roadside shop, passing answer scripts in that small quiz, or the other casual things that everyone seems to be doing- cooking up taxi fares for reimbursements, inflating bills and getting cuts, maybe there’s nothing wrong with any of these, but maybe there is! Most importantly, these serve as the starting points of many more and bigger things to come.

I and the world would exonerate you, but can you forgive yourself? Yes, maybe no one will ever even find out. But the theory of karma and several others have emphasized that your actions shall come back to haunt you some day in your own life. You will slip yourself someday on the banana peel you threw. That might just come as a moral conflict or a guilt induced breakdown and a strong desire to want to go back and undo your own misdeeds. Unfortunately the life doesn’t offer a reverse gear or even as much as an eraser.

So though you might like to think that you can get away with giving shit to people, listening to your inner voice is not so much about what you do to the world but what you do to yourself. It’s for you to decide what price you’re willing to pay for success. Just incidentally, if every person took care of his own doings, the world would become so much better a place.

They say only two kinds of people can stay perpetually happy in the long run- the ones who listen to their conscience, and the ones who don’t have a conscience. Either ways, you are a rational individual and don’t need anyone to preach you. You KNOW what’s right for you! I only insist that you make a Conscious choice and not let life happen to you.