Don’t you feel lonely at times?

After a long time, I come back to the keyboard – not for punching out code or laying out project schedules, but for speaking about what goes on in my mind. What brings me here is the title of this post. This was a question put to me by a friend, who asked me to ponder over it. And ponder, I did. What follows is the result of that pondering.

There is no easy answer to this. So I will start with a “one word answer” and then try to explain it further. If you find me jumping from one topic to another, please blame my rusty brain (or lack of it, if you so feel). 😀 Coming to the point, to answer this in one word – yes. I do feel lonely. Sometimes I feel lonely at times when one is expected to feel lonely, sometimes I feel so at times when one is not. I have not deeply observed when (and why) I feel lonely though, because it makes the blues even darker. Instead, I just lie back and let the feeling pass. Thankfully, I have been blessed with an unrelenting optimism that has helped me the clear out the blues soon enough.

Funnily, I feel more lonely in a crowd than when I am alone. And it is not just because of a “everyone has someone to be with, and I am all alone” feeling. There can be many reasons why this happens (and I admit I don’t know most of those). It is just that I feel it would have been great to not “feel” lonely. Contrary to what one might be thinking by now, my feeling lonely has got little to do with my being alone. Do I feel lonely because of the lack of a partner or because I don’t have enough to keep myself (read: my overactive brain) occupied? No. Sometimes, I do, but mostly, I don’t. Mostly, it is a feeling whose reason and origin are something I have not yet figured out fully. Someday, I hope to.

Also, I believe that no matter how many people you have in your life, you are bound to feel lonely at times. I have read articles saying how having more people in your life means increased chances of loneliness (the logic being that you form less number of deeper relations and more number of shallow ones). Though there is some relevance in  that statement, it is not completely true. I do believe though that having people (who really matter to you) around helps you feel less lonely. People also say that we usually feel more lonely as we grow older. I don’t think so. I feel less lonely today than I felt a decade ago, and the circumstances today are not vastly different than those back then.

I must also say that I have not yet fully figured out the solution to feeling lonely (since I have not figured out the origin first). It might be a person, it might be a purpose or a goal in life. It would be fun (or chaos) if it was both. 😀 Over the past couple of years, I have moved from the “seeking a person/companion” approach to fight loneliness to the “finding a purpose, and letting life take care of the person thing” approach. Will I ever be able to find the answer to this question that has puzzled me for long? I do not know yet, but I remain hopeful. Like always, I believe in hoping for the best (the eternal optimist that I am) and being prepared for the worst (something which life has taught me).

In summation, one thing is fairly clear. Whether I manage to not feel lonely or it keeps visiting me every now and then, it is going to be a fun ride on the roller coaster of the mind. And I know that the crests will be followed by the troughs. I will try to make sure that the crests make me more happy than than the troughs make me sad. That gives me another mind worm – about the reach to the final destination. But that will have to wait for another post.

P.S.: If your brain is topsy-turvy after reading this, I really do not blame you. It is not easy even for me to figure myself out. You stand little chance. 😛

Connections!

The seed of this post was sowed when a friend asked me to write something random on a piece of paper so that she could analyse my handwriting. The first couple of paragraphs are from what I wrote then. Now, whenever someone tells me to write about anything at random, the first thing that comes to my mind is what people call by various names like relationships, friendships etc. I prefer to call them “human connections” because that’s what they really are. Depending on the situation/setup in which these connections are formed, we formalise them using various names. In the end though, it is just one human connecting (or in some cases, not) to another.

Humans are incredibly complex creatures (yes, even those who look monotonous and boring on the surface) with innumerable facets to them. I believe that when two individuals connect, these facets resonate or conflict with each other. This leads to people getting attracted to (not necessarily in the romantic sense) or repelled by each other. What follows is a complex (and hence interesting) mix of emotions (consciously or subconsciously), which then lead to actions and reactions, sparks (or lack or them). Having grown up as an introvert and having spent the better part of my life in the background in any social gathering, I have always loved reading people like one would read books. Hence, seeing two people interact is like reading two books at the same time, with the story of one affecting, and quite possibly changing that of the other. For a people-reader, that is nothing less than watching a journey where the path changes as the travellers walk it. This makes it really fascinating. What makes it even more fascinating (and more intensely affecting) is when you are not just the observer, but also one of the travellers.

When you switch from being an observer to being a traveller, or as in my case, being both, it becomes more fun, or troublesome, depending on how it goes. In either case, it does teach you a lot, no matter how it goes. All you really need to do is to keep your mind and heart open. Yes, you do also need to keep your eyes open, as I have learnt over the years. As I mentioned above, I was largely an introvert growing up, someone you can call a “late bloomer”. So ever since I “bloomed” (no innuendo intended), I have been compensating for both the lack of talking (much to the chagrin of those around me) and not having too many social contacts by wanting more people as a part of my life in various respects, as friends, colleagues or even just acquaintances. Out of these, friends are the ones I hold closest because of three reasons. Firstly, they are connections one generally makes consciously as a choice, as opposed to relatives where you have no choice or acquaintances whom you keep at a safe, socially acceptable distance. Secondly, when they happen without you knowing how, they are even more wonderful. Lastly, they are the ones whose actions affect you the most, whether it is making you happy, sad, crazy or plain frustrated (when they are being asses).

Due to this, maintaining my friendships became a big priority for me, and it still is. For this, I had to transform myself from the introvert that I was to an ambivert (I don’t think I have become an extrovert yet) that I am today. This has also helped me greatly, in the sense that I have become a lot less judgemental than I was a couple of decades ago, and a lot more accepting of people when they messed up or did something I didn’t like. This was also because I understood that no matter how good people are, they will invariably make mistakes, and should not be blacklisted because of them. Unfortunately, this also meant that some people in my life got to be more of a priority than they deserved (as I eventually learned). I knew that not everyone in your life can/should be a priority, especially when making them a priority meant compromising on your interests/self-respect. But yes, I did give some people the benefit of doubt (paraphrasing Casablanca – “Do it again Sam, for old times’ sake”), which they eventually exhausted. So, slowly and steadily, I have started keeping them out of sight (and hence, out of mind). The funny thing here is that I know that it’s the right thing to do. But with the kind of person I am, it’s not an easy thing to do. Especially when you have to do it because the connection you had with that person simply withered off because the other person did not invest much into it, or maybe even I didn’t do my part. In either case, it’s not a happy thing to happen for me. It does make me feel a bit sad.

But like most things in life, you live, you learn. Whatever happens, leaves you feeling sad, but eventually does turn out to be for the best. So, no regrets. Just because some connections died, I am not going to stop investing in new ones (except romantic ones – I’m not in the space for that right now, but talking about that needs a separate post altogether). There might be a dark, gloomy night once in a while, but I am going to make sure that I face the sun with a smile when the dawn arrives. 🙂

P.S.: This post was intended only to empty my mind and not to make any sense. Really. So, please don’t try to find it. If you do find any, it is your lucky day. Go buy a lottery ticket, or pick up the phone and dial the number that you have been wanting to but shying away from. 🙂

You!

You are amazing. I know that “amazing” is a terribly generic and totally inadequate word to describe someone so unique, so real. In all that they are, in all that they feel, and in (almost) all that they do. I know that you are feeling tempted now to jump up, stop me right here and say that I’m wrong, mistaken, too kind or even crazy. But hold on, and read on.

I’m not saying that you are perfect. The plain fact is that you never were perfect, and you never will be. Ever. THAT is what makes you, for the lack of a better word, absobloodylutely awesome. If you were perfect, you’d be just a piece of machinery rolling off an assembly line, one among millions, made to a design which someone thought everyone should conform to. You’d be no more than a gadget, going through a life cycle from creation to disposal, based on someone else’s will. But you are not that, you’re imperfect. You’re made up of as many flaws and imperfections as you are of many adornments. That’s what makes you so real, so true and so you. I could quote a popular web series here and say “Tu beer hai b*******”, but the fact is, you are not beer. You are not beer, which excites, fizzles full of joy and then blows off to settle into a lame lager with time. You’re more like wine, which starts off as a mash of grapes, immature and commonplace, but over the years, matures into a rich, soothing mix of textures and flavours.

This is not to say that you have it all sorted out or are sailing through life. To use a cricketing analogy, life has dealt you a googly at times, a yorker at others and a sharp, nose-bleeding bouncer at yet others. You have been tricked, fallen down and hit by what you have faced. What matters though is that you have managed to go through all that, waited to catch your breath, wipe the sweat off your brow and the blood off your lips. And you have stood up back again to face the next ball that life throws at you. You’re still figuring out life in many areas, but I have no doubt you will do it some day. Maybe not immediately, maybe not at the pace you want, but you definitely will.

I know you wonder if you could have done better in the life that has passed you by. To be honest, you could have lived it differently, but then, you wouldn’t be you. You’re not a piece of coal which was born to burn away in a furnace, turn to ashes and blow away with the wind. You were meant to be subjected to immense pressure and heat and come out as a diamond. An uncut one, yes. A rough one, yes. But a diamond, an invaluable one nevertheless. Life is making you into a diamond and will continue to do so. Cut yourself into the shape that you want, the one you know you deserve. It will hurt, but it will also dazzle those who have taken you to be just another stone. Let them see the power of you! 🙂

An old return. A new beginning.

Returning to writing after a long time has a charm, as well as a risk of its own. On one hand, the longing to get back to the realm of words tugs at your soul. On the other, you tend to remember why you had stopped coming there and grow wistful. Be it sheer laziness to hit the keyboard for reasons other than bread and butter, or the fear of your words exposing the secrets you have painstakingly kept hidden from the world, it is always a tricky business – maintaining the balance between the urge to tell and the desire to remain silent. Add to this the typical philosophical or “year in review” mode I usually find myself around this time of the year and there can either be drama or disaster – nothing in between. That said, I hope my return here today will be a fruitful one.

One of the hazards of writing after a long time is to decide what to write about and what to leave unmentioned. Typically, I would write about the year gone by or something that impacted me deeply, or even the hottest topic of the day (whatever that happens to be). This time, however, I have chosen to write about how the year gone by changed me (for good or for bad) and what I would like to see myself as in 2016. It is quite possible that this post will contain too much of “I, Me, Myself”. Please bear with me (or glide away in cyberspace, if you choose to) 🙂

2015 was a year where “The more things change, the more they remain the same” proved to be true, sometimes in a good sense, sometimes in a not so great one. While the career went (and is still going) great guns, a lot still remains to be achieved. The hunger to prove myself is strong as ever, and the fire of happy dissatisfaction which has always been my propelling force, still burns bright. I travelled to a new country (for work), met new people, saw places that I had always wanted to see, and all this totally on my own, without any company. For someone, who is more comfortable in company than in solitude, this was an interesting occurrence. While health was largely okay, there was a slight scare which was taken care of. Love/companionship was an area where life continued to tease (and taunt). While it was indeed disappointing to end the year with a single status, that is something I have learnt to take in my stride.

For all that it gave (and pushed on) to me, 2015 did manage to change me. I grew a lot quieter (I know that will come as a relief to some :D), more introspective and less likely to use my tongue before I used my brains. From being someone who used to be (mostly) emotion-driven, I learnt to hide them when needed. While internally, I am still as much of a little child as I was a year ago, I learnt to put up a more “grown up” (read: unemotional) face when faced with an unfavourable situation. What also changed was that I learnt to better read people before forming an opinion about them or trusting them. I am still not perfect, but I am much better and hopefully, this will stand me in good stead in the times to come. Last but not the least, I realised I still had the ability to make people smile, even when I wasn’t exactly smiling myself. That was something I thought I had lost along the way.

So, what did not change? The undying (and stubborn) optimism still remains. That is something I hope never changes. The ability to forgive easily still remains (though I do wish I had the ability to forget as well). The easy smile is still there, though the laughter doesn’t burst like before. The desire to do the best in everything that I undertake hasn’t dimmed, and neither has the happiness when I see my loved ones happy. 🙂 I can still wax eloquent (or philosophical as needed) for hours at end when I am in the mood. Oh, and the “quality” of my PJs still remains intact. Whether that is good news or not, depends on how much of them you are subjected to. 😀

All in all, 2015 did give me a lot (while taking away a bit) and I will be grateful to life for yet another worthy year. Looking at the way things are lined up for 2016, I am hoping for it to be a milestone year (in many aspects). Hopefully, I will be much more regular here to document it. Till then, here is to forever optimism and never say die. 2K16, here I come! 🙂

 

Of moments and waves

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It was an unusual monsoon evening in the city of dreams. Not for today, the evening’s moisture-laden winds or the unruly chaos of people crowding the shore. Instead, what blew across the sands was a slightly dry, yet cool and strong breeze. The sea of humanity had somehow taken a backseat to the “real” sea. The only thing that remained unchanged was the molten orange of the setting sun, melancholic yet fulfilled, inching towards its home somewhere on the horizon. “This does not feel like the seashore I know. This seems…different.”, he spoke to himself as he let the waves brush against his trousers. It was some time before he realised that he had forgotten to take off his shoes and had effectively, messed them up. “Let it be, I needed a new pair anyway, good riddance!” was how he consoled himself.

After he had made a couple of rounds from one end of the beach to another, the shoes started growing heavier in his hands. Putting them on was out of the question as it would mean feet polished to a sore red by the sand. Reminding himself to wear floaters the next time, he decided to make a final detour to his favourite end of the beach. It was the end where the sun used to shine the brightest in the day, and the mellowest in the evening. The longer stay of the sunshine did mean extra crowds, but today that was not the case, and he felt happy about it. On a day where he needed some “me time”, this was a more than welcome occurrence.

As he slowed down for the final lap, some distance away from him, he noticed her sitting alone on the sands. She sat a bit away from the waves, far enough to keep her dry, yet close enough to feel their splash. He would have dismissed her as yet another sea-lover or lost soul if something had not caught his attention. Her eyes had something bewitchingly different about them. In his lifetime, he had seen (and gazed into) a fair share of eyes – some of them deep and inviting, some others cunning and shifty, and yet others lively and innocent. Hers were something else altogether, though he could not really tell what it was about them that had him hooked. To get a closer look, he sat a few feet away and gazed at her, pretending all the while to look around the beach. Her eyes not only reflected the liquid brightness of the setting sun, but also seemed to shine with an intensity usually found in someone who had their entire life planned and were raring to go get it. At the same time, they had a certain far away, lost quality which mellowed the intensity and made her look more inviting than intimidating. “Awesome sunset today, no? I just love it.” – he spoke out loudly to no one in particular, hoping that she will hear it and respond. She noticed, but didn’t say anything, but simply smiled at him and nodded in approval.

“I have not seen you much around here. Do you come here regularly?” – he tried to keep the conversation going. “No, I do come here regularly. You have noticed me for the first time though, haven’t you?”, she said with a slight smile. “Umm…yes. I wonder how I missed out all this while?” was all he could muster.
“Oh, it happens. We do not notice something until the time is really right. Anyway, you enjoy the sunset, I have to go.” Saying so, she stood up and turned away.
“What if I don’t want you to go?” – he blurted out without knowing how or where those words came from. The moment he said that, he wished time had an Undo option. Unfortunately, it did not, and all he could do was look at her and see how she reacted.

“Do you really want me to stay?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Sure?”
“Yes”

It felt like a entire age had passed by while they looked at each other – he in anticipation, she in what seemed to be trepidation.

“Okay! Chalo…”, saying so, she stretched out her hand.

As they walked along the beach, hand in hand, the waves brushing his feet felt cooler, the orange along the horizon, warmer.

Nice folks end last?

Or as is more popularly said, “Nice guys end last”. Do they really? And if they do, does being nice should no longer be a good thing? These are some of the questions that came to my mind while having a conversation with a friend this morning. I do not have all the answers, hence I will put forth what I think. You are most welcome to say what you feel.

First and foremost, I do not believe that “nice guys end last”. I don’t think being nice is a way to fail in life, or end up second to the not so nice ones. I think of this as a myth propagated by those who want to hide their own failures beyond the “I am a nice person, the world is evil, how am I supposed to succeed?” cloak. What they really mean to say is “I may be a nice guy, but I am also lazy and do not want to take the efforts required to succeed. I am also ashamed of admitting that I am lazy, so let me just take a well-known phrase and use it to cover up for my inability”. I honestly believe, have seen from others, and have myself noticed that nice guys can indeed succeed if they push themselves hard (and smart) enough towards their goal. Success depends more on what you do to achieve something and less on how you are as a person. The presence/absence of niceness in a person does not automatically determine his/her success or failure.

So will nice folks always succeed? Definitely not. There will be many situations in which the nice person won’t win. Some of them would surely be because of the fact that s/he did not take the easy/unethical way to win (because they were nice). But not all of the failures stem from that. Some of them are simply because they did not push themselves to the extent needed. And in this respect, the nice guys are at just as much fault as the others. Just because you are nice/good/god’s gift to humanity, it doesn’t mean that life is going to put whatever you want in your lap just like that. Like all others, you are going to have to go out and earn what you think you deserve. In fact, if you are not going to go the easy way, it is almost certain that you will have to work much harder/smarter than those who don’t mind cutting corners. This sucks, but it is the price you must pay for walking the right path. So there.

So, all said and done, being a nice guy doesn’t seem to be a very smart thing to do in today’s world. You are needed to put in more of yourself to get back from life what others will get in lieu of much less. You may be liked by others, but not necessarily taken seriously or even respected. And if you goof up and lose, you cannot even fall back on the “I am nice” plank. So, chuck being nice and adopt a favourite vice, right? As this is everyone’s individual choice, I will only speak for myself. I choose to say NO to this. Counter-intuitive as it may sounds, I have a couple of simple reasons to do so. One, I have always believed in paying a fair price for whatever I want. If I have to pay extra in terms of time, efforts or patience to reach where I want to, to hold in my hands something that I want to, I will do it – without a single moment of hesitation. This will of course lead to me getting some things bit later than others. It may also mean that I may have to lose out on something. That is the price I pay for sticking to my beliefs, which I have no hesitation paying. The second, and the more important reason, is even more simple (for me). “Do no evil, no matter how high the payoff seems” is something that I have always followed. If I have to use the current terminology, it goes against my moral fabric. 🙂

To sum it all up, nice guys do not end last if they put in what is needed to triumph. If you need an example, just look at two nice guys who has been my inspiration (among many others) when it comes to work ethic, approach towards life and making the best of what you have got. They have been the quintessential nice guys, and hugely successful ones. People always compare one against the other and fight over it, but to me, you have to learn from both to achieve something in your life. I am sure you have heard about them as well – they go by the initials of SRT and RSD. 🙂

Love – Ephemeral and Eternal

Disclaimer: I am returning to this place after a really long time. So pardon me if I seem rusty. 🙂

The title of this post looks like one of the best oxymorons ever (“honest politician” would probably take the top spot). How can something be both ephemeral (lasting for a very short time) AND eternal (lasting forever)? That too, something as universal yet largely misunderstood as love? Allow me to put forth what makes me say this.

Love IS ephemeral. I am sure that the cynical would agree. Love IS eternal. I am sure the romantics would agree while the cynical (and perhaps the heartbroken) would hotly debate it. What if I say that both are correct? No, I am not trying to be diplomatic or taking the middle path. What I am saying is that both are indeed right, with a small but vital difference. The love that is ephemeral is not the love that is eternal. These are totally different animals altogether.

The ephemeral love is one that you see all around in our films/books (well, most of them actually). It is the kind that blossoms in your heart when hormones are having a ball in your brain. It is the kind that most marketing companies leverage to find their way into your wallet, while claiming to help you find a way into someone’s heart. No, it is not just the immature, raw feeling which we have so banally commercialised that it seems mechanical. It is also the fresh breeze which allows us to feel so attached to a person that for a moment, all that matters in the universe is that “the one”. It is also the same feeling which makes us look at someone and say “Damn! This is the one I want to grow old with and never feel old for a moment.” Why am I calling it ephemeral? Simply because it just does not last for long. It changes with time and circumstances – sometimes for the better, sometimes not. So, if love is indeed ephemeral, how can it be eternal? My take on this is rather simple. Love, the noun, is ephemeral. Love, the verb, is eternal. Confused? Read on.

To me, love is not just a feeling you have for a person. It is not just the bells (or the whole damn orchestra if you will) that go off in your mind when you think of someone. It is not the desire to make someone a part of your life. It is indeed all that, but it is much more too. It is also a commitment that you make to yourself and more importantly, to that person. A commitment that you will stick with them through tough times, through unpleasant situations. A commitment that you will walk with them as happily in the deserts as in the gardens. A commitment that you will not just get wet in the rains with them, but also weather the storms together. That you will not just “fall in love” with them, but you will do all that it takes to “be in love” with them, right to the end. It is THIS love that is eternal – the verb, the commitment.

Does this mean that the ephemeral one is a bad thing to have and the eternal one will always something that you can count on? The simple answer is a big NO. The transient one is oh-so-beautiful simply because it is like a wave. No matter how sad we feel when a wave breaks after hitting the shore, we always smile because we know the next one is going to follow soon. It teaches us to truly live in the moment. The eternal love is not something that all of us are blessed with. It takes a big piece of good fortune to have that. But it does not take fortune to be the one showering that love on someone. It simply takes honesty (to self and the other), patience and understanding.

I have written a lot here, but I am sure I have not said all that I wanted to. Like I said, I am a bit rusty and will return soon with a follow-up on this. Till then, see you! 🙂

Geet gaata hoon main…

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Bhaag jaate hai log…” would be an appropriate continuation of the title when it comes to me. 😛 That is how enthusiastic (read: bad voice coupled with strong desire to sing) I am when it comes to singing. Jokes apart, breaking out into song (even if it is just humming) is something that I frequently do – more so when I am travelling and listening to music. Singing along becomes almost involuntary reflex at times like these. 🙂

However, what I am writing about today is not the singing that I do for myself, but the one that I do for others. More accurately, the songs that I sing for people whom I adore/like/love/cherish. These are the people who I know will not run away when I demonstrate my vocal talent (even if they want to). 😀 These people (and hence, the songs) are special to me. They are close to my heart and every single one of them means something to me. I am now going to talk about one such song. No, I won’t name the person. Once this post is published, that person will know. 🙂

You might think that I will be talking about a song that has a romantic memory associated with it. In that case, your guess is wrong. The song that comes immediately to my mind is one that I sing for a person (let us call the person “JG”) who is close to my heart. I have only known JG for less than 2 years now, but it already feels like forever. Oh..the song…yes…the song is “Aa chal ke tujhe main leke chalu” from the movie “Door Gagan ki Chaanv Mein”. You can listen to the song here, while I speak about why this song is special to me.

To me, this song speaks not just of love, but also of hope, optimism and above all, the kind of bond that can only exist between two souls who truly understand each other. The bond need not carry a label, for all that matters is how strong it is. The lyrics describe a world where everything is ideal and beautiful, much like John Lennon’s “Imagine”. If anyone ever sung this song for someone, you immediately know that they are wishing the best possible world for that someone, free from all the worries and troubles that this world subjects them to. A utopia of sorts, where one can just be themselves and not have to worry about getting scarred by reality. As one would imagine, this also implies a desire to protect one’s loved ones from anything that affects them negatively.

It is easy to dismiss this song as idealistic (unrealistic, even) but one cannot deny that it invariably brings a smile to your face when you hear it. It is this child-like joy and hope that we need to see us through the day and make life a tad bit easier to bear. And if it can help us smile again and look forward to the next day with renewed hope, why not? 🙂 Last but not the least, Kishore Kumar has taken this song to an entirely different level (as only he could have) without any vocal acrobatics. This is something that just takes you over and leaves you smiling – plain and simple. 🙂

I will keep writing about many such songs. For now though, I will leave you with my most favourite lines from this song: 🙂

Suraj ki pehli kiran se, aasha ka savera jaage,
Chandaa ki kiran se dhul kar, ghanghor andheraa bhaage,
Kabhi dhoop khile, kabhi chhaanv mile, lambi si dagar naa khale,
Jahan gam bhi na ho, aansu bhi na ho, bas pyaar hi pyaar pale..

Of religion/caste and other oddities

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Now the title of this post might surprise or even enrage some of you. But for those who have known me for a while, it won’t really come as a surprise. This topic is not something I usually write about, even though I do talk about it a lot. I will try to put in the written form what I usually express in the spoken one. So, here goes…

To start off with, I am not a believer (in the religious sense) at all. All my life, I have swayed between atheist and agnostic, with a preference for the latter, but have never felt convinced enough to be a believer. I acknowledge that there are many phenomena which science today is unable to explain or even fathom. However, I also believe that some day, we will have a reasonable explanation for those. After all, even half a century ago, who would’ve even thought that things like modern medicine, instantaneous communication or the internet would be a reality? We are a young species compared to rest of the universe around us. We have come along some way, and there is a long way to go. To cover the distance, I am putting my money on science, not religion.

So am I discounting religion entirely or calling it useless? The answer to that would be no. To me, religion is simply a way of life, a set of practices that one adopts/adapts as they see fit. In that sense, it is simply a choice one makes (or has to make, in most cases). I do not see it as a set of instructions from an all-powerful entity, to which we must conform or risk being punished in the after-life (again a religious concept). I am Hindu on paper, but I eagerly look forward to Christmas for the yummy cake and goodies (oh how I wish I could look forward to it for the mistletoe :P) and Eid for the delicacies (too many to list). Yes, I do look forward to Diwali and Dussehra as well for the very same reason. 🙂 What I find irritating about religion is that today it is used more as a tool to discriminate rather than accommodate. Just because someone worships a different God (or doesn’t worship one) that is no reason to view them in a lesser light. Like I always say, the scriptures say that God created man in his image, but I feel that man created God in his imagination. What makes me feel so is the use to which religion is being put today. I am all for diversity and freedom in what one chooses to believe, where one chooses to invest his faith if they want to, but I cannot accept it if someone markets (yes – that is what it feels like at times) their choice as the only one that matters.

If religion is something I do not subscribe to, the caste system is something I absolutely detest. Whenever someone asks me my caste, I answer with a straight face – “I don’t believe in the caste system”. If they still persist, they get a look that says “Dude, are you high or something?”. Making an opinion about someone based on which family they were born strikes me as pathetic. Using that criteria to judge them or grant or deny them something is, to put it plainly, criminal. Unfortunately, I see too much of this happening around me. Many a times, we instantly tend to pre-judge someone based on where they hail from or what last name they carry. Logic and sense can always take a ride for all we care. Being a Brahmin makes one no more superior or worthy than being from a “lower caste” (take your pick – we have too many of them, it seems). Yet, this is one criteria we subconsciously or even consciously seem to apply in our daily life. Even there, I have seen “selective filtering”. We can have friends from any caste/religion, but heaven forbid if someone from the family chooses someone from a different caste as their life partner. The younger generation shows some signs of breaking these shackles, but we have a real long way to go, especially in this country.

I know this is looking like one bog rant so far, but that is how I really feel. If I am wrong somewhere, please correct me. I am all open to bouquets and brickbats. As long as I have made you pause and think, I have fulfilled my purpose. There is more I can put here, but that will have to wait for another time. Till then, adios! 🙂

Pearls of “Wisdom”

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Before reading further, please look at the title of this post again. The word “wisdom” is enclosed in quotes, which means that whatever follows may not be wisdom according to you. You may partially or totally disagree with it, which is perfectly fine. This is a list of things I have learnt from life (or in some cases, life has taught me). If reading and following even one of these help you get out of a mess (or to not get into it) then the purpose of writing this has been fulfilled. If not, I don’t mind being at the receiving end of brickbats. 🙂

  1. Do not discriminate. It really couldn’t be put more simply. Just because someone is different from you in some aspect, it does not mean that you get the right to look down at them, or even consider them an aberration. It is about time that we moved away from using parameters like birth, religion, economic status etc. to decide what we should think of someone. This will only lead us to judge them (unfairly so, in many cases) which brings me to the next point.
  2. Do not judge. I know how tempting it is to put labels on people and be done with it. After all, it saves us mental effort and time which is needed to really know them. But then, pause for a moment and consider this – we wouldn’t like anyone to form an opinion about us based on what they think and not what we actually are. So why the hell should we do the same to others? Agreed that we may not have the time and energy to know someone before forming an opinion about them, but I feel it is perfectly okay to NOT have an opinion about something than to hastily form an opinion and stick to it. Try it sometime, it will do more good than harm to you, as well as those around you.
  3. Love. Yes – just a single word, which should tell you that I mean to use it as a verb than as a noun. Fall in love, fall out of love if circumstances force you to, but never run away from love. The more you run away from it, the more you are denying yourself a chance to feel “alive”. And yes, this does not include only romantic love, but platonic love as well. And while we are at it, loving someone does not only mean the desire to be with them, it also means the readiness to do whatever it takes to be with them.
  4. Invest your emotions. Anyone can invest money and/or time into something, it takes courage to invest your emotions into something or someone. Because them, you are rendering yourself vulnerable. No matter what anyone tells you, vulnerability is the greatest indicator of strength, because to me it shows that you are not afraid of exposing your innermost core to the vagaries of the world.
  5. Disinvest your emotions. This is exactly contrary to what I said above, and equally important. Just like monetary investments, emotional investments can go kaput many a times. Know when to stop investing, cut your losses, and move away. People may choose to leave you despite whatever you do to hold them back. In such cases, don’t hold them back, hold the door for them to leave, and make sure you close it tight.
  6. Believe in second chances. At times, someone whom you have shut out of your life may come back, and you may be tempted to have them back. To be honest, there are no dos and don’ts here. It is okay to give them a second chance to put right what they wronged the first time round. Go with what your instincts tell you. However, if they screw you up yet again, there shouldn’t be a third chance.
  7. Cherish those who matter. Even if someone is not a part of your life in the way you want them to be (read: if you have been “friend-zoned” or if the love of your life is the better part of someone else’s life) they still are the same person whom you loved. That they couldn’t play your desired role in your life, doesn’t mean they have no role in your life at all. Loving them was a choice you made, and if it was based on the condition that they be with you, it wasn’t really love at all. Be there for them (if and) when they need you. Of course, make sure that you are at peace with the situation first, or else you will only end up making a mess of yourself.
  8. Listen to advice, consider it, and then, throw it away. Just because anyone (that includes me) gives you advice, doesn’t mean that you are obliged to follow it. Whatever I say comes from my own beliefs and experiences, and you do not have to take it verbatim. Understand what someone is trying to say when they tell you something. See if you agree with it and then act accordingly. No one walks your path, and you don’t have to follow their map.

I realised that some of these points could be posts in themselves, but for now, I will stop here. This is enough food for thought for now. Till next time, adios! 🙂