Don’t hunch

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Spiderman happens to be one of my favourite movies. This is not a case of typical superhero worship, but because the ‘superhero” here is not really a “superhero”. He is more a product of the circumstances that surround him, albeit extraordinary ones. But before I digress, this blog is not about Spiderman per se, this is about a line from the movie that I like a lot.

Now there are many memorable lines in this movie. Who doesn’t remember “With great power comes great responsibility” or for that matter “the one thing they love more than a hero…is to see a hero fail, fall, die trying.”? But my personal favourite remains from a small scene where Mary Jane Watson is talking to Peter outside her house. She says “You are taller than you look.”. Peter replies “I hunch” and she simply says “Don’t”. This, to me, captures a very important life lesson – don’t hunch.

One of the most common mistakes that many of us do while going through life is to underestimate ourselves or to think that we don’t have it in us to overcome certain challenges/situations. I have been particularly guilty of this, especially in my younger days when I was more introverted than a hibernating frog. We always have something or the other which acts as a limiting factor for our aspirations. “I don’t know how I will manage to lose weight”, “I wish I had the confidence to ask that girl out”, “I wish I could stand up to that bully” are all situations many of us have gone through without bothering to stand up for ourselves. We don’t really push ourselves to take that step towards fulfilling our wishes or realizing certain dreams. We always console ourselves saying that these things are “easier said than done”. However, we forget that while these things are indeed “easier said than done”, they are also “worthier done than lost”. We get so trapped in the fear (or lethargy) of our (mostly) self-imagined limitations that we never really try and enjoy the sweet pain of breaking those chains.Β Yes, like any chains, the breaking of these need lots of effort, which can be (very) painful. Yet, I can safely say that none of us will really complain about the pain if we were to enjoy the fruits of freedom once we have broken them.

There can be many ways to break free of our self-imposed limitations. The level of effort required will vary from person to person, depending on their own unique qualities and their circumstances. One thing remains constant though – we cannot break free until we stop underestimating ourselves. It is so easy to tell ourselves that we cannot achieve what our heart wants, so much so that many prefer living with regret of not having tried than risking failure. When I was growing up, I never thought I had it in me to ask out a girl if I liked her. Today when I look back, I realise how silly I was to not take the chances that I had. Of course there was no guarantee that these would have blossomed into something more significant, but my not acting on them only ensured that they would never blossom further. The only reason this happened was because I believed deeply that I didn’t have what would make any girl like/love me. Hence I preferred to keep my mouth shut rather than open it and make a spectacle of myself. Today, I know I was quite wrong. The plain fact is that underestimating myself has cost me a lot in life in terms of missed opportunities and chances at glory. The day I realised this was the day I truly stopped saying “I cannot do this” to any situation/challenge. Till date, this remains the best decision I ever made.

There is no mathematical formula or even any well-tested procedure to stop underestimating yourself. However, I can say this from my own experience – the day you start saying “I deserve better” is the day you stop underestimating yourself. Of course, there still remains a lot be done to reach your goals, but you have already taken the biggest step of your journey. And trust me on this, no matter who you are or where life has placed you, you always deserve better if you are willing to work towards it.

There is a lot I can say about this, but I know I would sound like a broken record, so I will only say this (at the risk of sounding like a broken record) – don’t hunch. πŸ™‚

I hate work, and so should you

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Now that I have got your attention, please don’t panic or be surprised. I know the title of this post is quite unlike me, considering that many (if not most) of those who know me think of me as a workaholic. So let me get straight to the point.

I do love my job, quite a lot. It is just the “work” part of it that I don’t have a taste for. now this does not mean that I like to just sit on my butt and get paid for it, however rosy it may sound. For me, “work” is any needless effort or resources that you spend towards achieving any goal. If you are not doing something in the most optimum way possible, you are “working” towards it, and all those efforts that you are putting into it, are nothing but a waste. Stop right there and see if you could do those in a better manner. No matter how experienced or skilled we are, we can always do something better than how we are doing it presently. Just give it a shot, and you will be amazed by the results.

What would perhaps be the foremost quality towards achieving a higher level of efficiency? If you ask me, the simple answer is “laziness”. Yes, contradictory as it sounds, you cannot be efficient if you are not lazy. Again, I have an offbeat definition of laziness. For me, laziness is the quality of refusing to put in more than the minimum amount of efforts required, and yet achieving the desired goal. I started off my IT career as a programmer, and I have always believed that the best of programmers are usually the lazy ones. By a lazy programmer, I mean someone who does not want to do the same job again and hence, puts in his best the first time itself that he does not have to really look back and wonder if he could have done it better. Secondly, if something can be automated, preferably to the extent of “Fill it, shut it, forget it”, a lazy programmer will always prefer to do it that way, thereby leaving himself free for higher pursuits.

What applies to programming, also applies to life. How many of us spend our lives doing things that could be done more efficiently, or even better done by someone else? Quite a lot, I can bet. What really prevents us from making this happen is a misplaced sense of identity. We identify ourselves with our work/job, whereas what we should be really focusing on its outcome, the difference that our being good at what we do makes to the world at large. Once we realise that, it also becomes apparent that if we get better at what we do, we are going to make a greater, better difference to the world. I would go a bit further and say that it is our duty to make sure that this happens. Simply put, the moment you start getting rid of what is unnecessarily taking up your time, you free yourself up for what you should be spending your time on. What this means in your job can vary wildly. For a programmer, this could mean writing error-free code (well, as error-free as possible) or automating routine tasks. For a writer, this could mean better organisation of his work routine, so that s/he can spend more time on creative pursuits and less on clerical stuff. The bottom line is really simple – more work DOES NOT mean more productivity. It simply means more wasted effort. I believe that what we achieve should last for a long time, but we should not spend a large amount of time doing it. We are not going to be around for ages, so why spend time doing something that won’t last beyond our lives?

This also gives rise to a thought – what is the higher purpose of life then? Well, that is a topic for another post. For now, I will only say this – HATE work, but love what you do. πŸ™‚

The other seat

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It was a typical New Year evening – relaxing lazily yet buzzing to bring in the new year with a bang. Like every year, I was sitting in the coffee shop at “our” favourite table. And just like the past couple of years, the seat in front of me was empty. This was now a routine for me – to bring in the new year just like we used to in the past. Though she was no longer a part of my life, the new year coffee was my connection to her, like the previous chapter of a book flowing into the next one. Sometimes the coffee shop guys used to play some of our songs, which lent that extra edge to the evening.

As I sat there, enjoying my “Devil’s Own”, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning around, I saw a tall, strapping guy looking down at me. “Can I take a seat?” he asked, pointing to the chair in front of me. Slightly irritated, I said “No..actually I’m expecting a friend to join me. So you can’t have it. I’m sorry”, hoping to be left alone. What he said next shook me up – “You know quite well that this seat is going to be unoccupied the entire evening. Don’t you?“. “No, it will be occupied in some time now”, I lied in a stern voice, expecting that this pesky fellow would get lost at least now. He appeared unperturbed.

Well, I know for a fact that it is going to stay vacant.
“And how exactly do you know that?”
Because I know the person you want to be sitting there. I am married to her.

Now this actually left me dumbstruck, and all I could do for the next few moments was just stare at him – a mix of surprise, anger and embarrassment flushing across my face rapidly. He appeared to be quite composed, and then, he pulled a chair from another table and sat in front of me. “Don’t worry…I am not going to occupy that seat. I know what it means to you.” As he sat there, I was still deciding how to react to what was happening. Should I be angry at him for taking away someone who meant the world to me, and then calmly coming back to rub salt in the wounds which never really healed? Should I just walk away and save myself some embarrassment? Would I be justified in giving him a piece of my mind? What the hell should I really do? While all this was going on in my mind, my lips could only say “How do you know me?”. “I have seen a pic of you guys…on her phone.”, he said.

“She still has our pics on her phone?”
She used to have. She deleted those after I happened to see them and fought with her.”
“I’m sorry you guys had a fight over the pics.”
You don’t have to be sorry, and the fight wasn’t about the pics. Actually, it wasn’t only about the pics.
“Hmm…I am actually surprised you recognized me.”, I attempted to change the topic.
Well…you don’t seem to be someone who is easily forgotten.
“I used to think so, too.”, I said as a Β hint of dejection trickled into my voice.

This was the first time I noticed a certain tremor in his voice. This was not the voice of an angry man, it sounded more like a hurt one.

Do you know why I am here today? It is not just to see you or see what kind of a person you are, but also because I know my wife doesn’t want me around at least today. Just as you are sitting here in the coffee shop, she has gone to some library.
“The Royal Library?”
Yes – that one.
“…”
I will not take much of your time. I just wanted to tell you that she is okay. And though she is with me, in her mind, she stills goes back to you at times.
“Does that really make any difference at all?”
As much as we both want it to not make a difference, you and I both know that it does – to all of us.“, said he, in a matter-of-fact tone.

For what seemed like a long time, none of us spoke anything. I kept staring at the Devil’s Own, while he kept his gaze on me. Finally when I couldn’t bear the silence any longer, I blurted out “Nice to meet you. I should get going now”.

She was right. You are very uncomfortable with silence, except hers.
“Yes, I am. Please try to make sure that she doesn’t have to remain silent for long – it suffocates her.”
I will try my best. For good or for bad, we are together now, and I will have to win her trust. I know I have to fight a difficult battle, which I may or may not win. I will try my best though.
“Thanks! I have to ask one more thing from you.”
Whats that?
“Tell her that you came here to see me, and I wasn’t here.”
But you are indeed here, and she knows that you will be here today.
“She has to think that I was not here, otherwise she will never be with you.”

“You are not a villain, but you don’t have to be a martyr either. Trust me, I can do a better job of it.”

As he walked away, in my heart, I knew that the next new year evening wasn’t going to be spent in this place.

Disclaimer: Though this post is written in first person, and is indeed inspired by incidents in my life, it is fictional. Thanks to my friends who called up and asked “Did this really happen?”. I will take it as a sign of your love for me (or more optimistically, an evidence of some writing skills on my part). πŸ˜‰

This a point meant

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This is how I used to pronounce “disappointment” in my head when I was in school. The reason I used to do this was because I had difficulty remembering how to pronounce (not spell though) long words. This technique proved quite successful for me. So, if you want to know who to blame for my usage of long words, you now know. Yes – that would still be me. πŸ˜€

Long words apart, little did I know that my fun game of using small words to remember long ones would reveal the real meaning of the longer word, especially in this case. Confused as to what am I trying to say? The dictionary defines disappointment as “sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations”. And that does seem pretty much to the point. After all, aren’t we all saddened (to differing extents) when things don’t go the way we want them to? No matter how detached we claim to be, it still pinches us when we want something and it is denied to us. But…but…there is a catch here. At least I have almost always found a catch. Yup, I’m a real-life Jonty Rhodes when it comes to finding catches. πŸ˜›

More often than not, I have found that disappointment is nothing but a challenge thrown at us. It says “Okay, so you wanted this? Anyone can get what they want and feel happy/proud. Let us see how you do when you don’t get what you want.” The challenge here is to realise that things won’t always go your way in the first go, and then either doggedly pursue your goal till you achieve it, or take a step back, smile to yourself and gracefully accept that things are not going to go your way. Perhaps better destinations await your journey, perhaps this is what you want but not need. Which path you finally walk down, will depend on you and your circumstances, but one thing remains common to both – disappointment is not always about life denying you what you deserve. Sometimes, it is simply making a point which you have missed in your hurry to end up where you want to be.

Now I agree that it is very easy to lecture someone about not getting affected by disappointment, and quite difficult to implement it yourself. Despite what I have wrote above, I do not always manage to handle disappointment well. It leaves me blue, even morose at times. The funny thing though (and I am fortunate for it to be like that) is that I’m simply unable to stay blue for long. Call it callousness or even simply not caring enough, it has worked well for me so far. What it has also thought me is this – disappointment is simply a stone thrown at you. Whether to bang your head against it, or to use it as a stepping stone to peace is totally in our hands. You can also use it to smash someone else’s head too, but in case you do that, I did not tell you to do so. πŸ˜€

How to overcome disappointment? Now that is something everyone needs to figure out for themselves. A combination of dogged optimism and positivity works well for me, but others might perceive it as unrealistic and impractical. What remains true through out though, is this – disappointment really does mean a point that life is trying to make. You would do well to pay attention to it.

This above all, to thine own self be true

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Disclaimer: If you expect this post to make sense, please stop reading right now. This is meant only as a random series of thoughts and nothing else.

So said the bard many years ago, and the words continue to hold true even today. However, the reason why these words popped up in my mind today is entirely different. I was talking to a friend of mine, and after some time, the conversation veered towards towards my (non-existent) love life. She asked me if I was seeing someone. I replied that I wasn’t, but I held hope that somewhere down the line, I will have someone in my life. While I did expect her to say something positive, what she said next did come as a surprise. “You have lit up many lives. God will definitely brighten up your path soon.” were her words. I am no stranger to compliments (call that boasting if you want) but that did set me thinking.

In all my life and interactions with people, I have evoked a variety of reactions among people. I have been called an angel at times, an asshole at others. There have been people who have started off with calling me an awesome guy, and ended up calling me an awful person to know. There have also been people who have gone the other way round (thankfully). Amid all this, what has remained constant is my amusement at how the same person can elicit such diametrically different reactions in the very same people over time. I do understand that I have changed over time – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Circumstances too have their say in how I behave, and consequently, what people think of me. But the change has been quite dramatic in some cases. There have been individuals with whom I hit off so well, that it seemed to be the beginning of a long friendshipΒ but some of these ended in them walking out of my life, supposedly pissed off at/by me, yet not bothering to tell me why. And there have been chance encounters which have blossomed into some of the most precious friendships I have ever experienced.

While the positive experiences warm my heart, and the not-so-good ones leave me dejected, I have slowly learnt not to take either of these too much to heart. There will always be people who will be fond of me, and there will be those who can’t stand the sight of me. But yet, at the centre of it all, I am very much the same person. And I am the only person whom I have around at all times – bright or blue. I may not be right always, but neither am I always at fault. All I really need to do is to be honest to myself and those around me, and I am sure life will work out the rest quite well. That is the only thing I aim for. So, whether you think of me as a great guy or as someone who grates on your nerves, understand that I am just being myself. If you have an issue with that, be honest about it, I promise that I will give it a thought. What I don’t promise is to change myself because you think I need to. That will happen only when I think I need to, because as uncle William said – “This above all, to thine own self be true”. πŸ™‚

The change I want to see

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“Be the change you want to see in the world”, said the man born on this very day 144 years ago. And though his has been a quite controversial life, with an equal number of devotees and detractors, what he said really hits the nail on the head. If we want something to change around us, we have to go ahead and make it happen. Nobody is going to do that for us while we indulge ourselves with armchair activism. However, before changing anything (in the world or ourselves), we ought to know first what is it that we want to change. This is exactly what I seek to do here today. And though there are many things that I would want to see changed, I am going to focus on the top three that matter most to me. Obviously, everyone will have their own top 3, and that is very welcome.

At the top of the list comes what I call “discrimination”. Now the reason I put that word in quotes is this – the dictionary defines it as unjust treatment offered to people on the basis of race/age/gender. I look at it as unfairly treating someone based on anything that does not/should not matter in the given context. It could be any of the above factors or it could be something else like that person not belonging to the same social/economic class as yours. Hence, my view of it covers reverse discrimination as well. I am equally unhappy whether the man in the car shoves away the man on the street or whether the man on the street aims a stone at the car, both operating on the simple premise that anyone who is not “one of us” is meant to be hated. I see so much of it around that I can’t describe it and not feel sad about it. To take a very simple example, in our country itself, we have this whole “classification system” based on factors like religion, caste, (and finer sub-divisions). This system is pretty elaborate, and takes so many things into account, like where you were born and brought up, what flavour of religion adorns your birth certificate, and so on. If you notice, all these criteria have something in common – these are something over which a person has little or no control at all. And yet, not only we merrily continue judging people on this basis, many of us also leave no stone unturned in propagating this system to the future generations. This discrimination is what I want to see going away. I want to see a world where we (well, at least most of us) will be wise and willing enough to value people for what they are and not judge them on the basis of where they hail from.

Up next is respect. No, I don’t want to change its meaning, or ascribe any additional meaning to it. All I want happening is to see more of it. Respect for ourselves (instead of the pride that we more frequently carry), respect for others and their being, will definitely make this world a lot easier to live in. When someone is sitting in a vehicle and a kid taps on their window, begging for alms, all I want for that person is to politely decline instead of going ballistic on them or even shooing them away like they don’t even exist. No, I don’t want you offering cash or food (unless they look famished) to them (the reasons behind these will make for a separate post), I just want you to treat them with the respect that anyone (or anything) around you deserves. Just because you are privileged enough to have a safe roof on your heads and a vehicle under your bottom, it doesn’t give you the right to treat someone less privileged like dirt. The same principle applies when we deal with people around us. Many a times, we feel that we are the only ones facing (or overcoming) difficulties in life, and by that token, are entitled to a feeling of superiority. Well, let me break it to you – you are not. Every single person on the face of this earth was given a unique set of issues that they have to deal with, struggles that they have to undergo, and challenges that they have to overcome. To make that possible, they were also given their own unique set of abilities, strengths and circumstances. Just because their abilities and achievements are somehow “inferior” to yours by some yardstick, it doesn’t give you the right to look down at them. You don’t necessarily have to be kind, just be respectful.

Last, but not least, comes love. Certainly not of the “ishq waala love” kind that we have all but commercialized around us today. The love that I speak of, and seek, is love for the life that we have been blessed with. The love that helps us to see this world and the people in it in a kinder light, not constrained by what we have been conditioned to see. This is the love that makes the above-mentioned two changes possible, and without which we have no hope of carrying out those changes. This is something much more fundamental to our existence, and doesn’t need cards to express itself, or relationships to prosper. It is quite simple really – Β we have had enough of hatred and prejudice, and it has not done us any good. Now is the time to give love a chance.

I just realised that I am sounding much like Mr. Gandhi here, and I hope you haven’t dropped off to sleep. If you are awake yet, perhaps the first thing that you are going to say is that all this sounds very good in theory, but is not so easy to practice. Well, from personal experience, I can say that I have been practising this for some years now. I haven’t been perfect, and have faltered at times, but I have kept myself on the path. That will call for another post though. For now, all I will say is – if you want something around you to change, don’t wait for someone else to do it. Just do it yourself.

P.S: The last sentence above was not sponsored by Nike. πŸ™‚

3 reasons for happiness

“3 reasons why you cannot be sad” was the topic I was originally given for this post. Then I thought to myself, why not put a positive spin on it? And thus, I arrived at the headline above. So, instead of telling you about 3 reasons why I cannot be/stay sad, I will be telling you about 3 reasons why I find happiness even in seemingly non-happy situations. πŸ™‚ And yes, I am going to try and keep it short (as if I can really do that).

First and foremost, I love to be happy. I know you will say – who doesn’t? Well, I have seen enough people around who take pride in possessing the ability to carry a morose expression on their faces round the clock. Such individuals are “chalta phirta” black holes, which suck up all your energy and good spirits. I know how it sucks to be around such people. I also know that I trouble people enough, and don’t want to add to it. πŸ˜‰ Black holes apart, I love to sport a smile, and not just on my lips. When I am happy, it shows in my eyes. And just like a tuning fork takes to another and resonates, a smile in the eyes also finds its companion soon. At the end of the day, it ends up making everyone’s day a better experience. Please feel free to try this out for a couple of days in case you have any doubts.

Secondly, I stay happy because it is necessary to be happy. Yes, you read that right. It is necessary to stay happy. Happiness is a conscious choice at most of the times. Though I have plenty of happy moments throughout my day, I will be the first one to agree that it is not a natural state of mind for most of us (including me). We humans are naturally programmed to be restless. Happiness requires calm, which we don’t possess out-of-the-box. It is more of an acquired skill than an inborn talent. The necessity for happiness is quite simple. A happy, unstressed mind is going to take you much farther in life than a grumbling, cribbing one will. While some amount of stormy weather is good for creativity, execution needs a strong anchor in the deep sea.

Last (and definitely not the least) comes the biggest reason of them all – I am simply not programmed to stay sad/blue for long. Call it a genetic defect if you want to – but if I stay sad beyond a certain time, I actually and up feeling sick of myself and tend to return to at least a neutral state, if not a happy one. The amount and duration of sadness will depend on the situation that caused the grief, but I will definitely return to my natural peaceful state, no matter what. Throw anything at me – it will bog me down, make me cry, go crazy for some time, but give me some time and there I will be – back to being myself again, smiling, ready to take the next bouquet/brickbat. People who have known me for long will know what I am talking about. Agreed that it does make me look nonchalant or even careless most of the time, but I have observed that it works better for me than making a long face and making a Devdas out of myself. And if the grief is really overwhelming, you can always “fake it till you make it”. πŸ™‚

So, I guess I did manage to keep it pretty short. Not bad at all. πŸ˜€ Till next time, all I will say is – Β stay happy!! πŸ™‚

Kuch khaas hai, hum sabhi mein…

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So, after days of no updates, here is the second update in a single day. Thank (or blame) Ganpati Bappa for that. It is the visarjan half-day (coupled with work-from-home) that helps me do this. πŸ™‚ Just like one of my earlier posts, the idea for this one too comes from Meenu.

The concept she came up with was quite simple – think of yourself as a model and decide which product/brand would you endorse and why. Now, while the concept might be simple, deciding the product/brand was not so easy, simply because I am not a brand fanatic as such. For me, the utility of any product is what matters more than the name it bears. Of course, some names are a more reliable guarantor of quality than others, but then, that’s about it. Having said that, it didn’t take me much time to arrive at what I would endorse if I had the chance to. If, like me, you have been a teenager in the 90s, you will surely have a look at the title of this post and instantly know what I am talking about. Yes, its something that we all grew up with – our beloved Cadbury. πŸ™‚

Unlike kids today who have a plethora of options when it comes to stuffing their mouths with various cocoa byproducts (we HAVE TO thank MMS and PVN Rao for opening up imports), kids (and kids at heart) in the 90s grew up on a staple diet of Cadburys. While we all had our personal favourites, I can safely bet that Eclairs, 5-Star, Dairy Milk and Gems were always around, not to forget the daily morning cup of Bournvita (yes, I drink Bournvita even today, no matter what you think of me). In their own way, I would say each of these was special to every one of us. As for me, I wasn’t too much into 5-Star or Eclairs (sticky ones are a no-no for me), but I was absolutely crazy for Gems and the Dairy Milk bars. Sweet memories of these go a long way back into time. Yes, you can call me an oldie if you want. I would be too lost in the rich, creamy taste to even notice. πŸ˜€

But then, are memories made up of only taste? Definitely not, when you have grown up with such wonderful chocolates around, factors other than taste are bound to mark their presence. The Friday evenings, when mom would get me a Dairy Milk, is something I used to look forward to as eagerly as the declaration of final exam results, which would mean a large packet full of chocolates getting delivered to yours truly. The BIG smile that would light up my ex’s face when I took a Bournville out of my bag is something to be seen to be believed. Similarly, the 100W bulb waala expression on someone’s (you know who you are :D) face when I mention “blue waali Gems” is unparalleled. This is the stuff that cherished memories are made of, and Cadbury has been a Β big part of these.

I could go on and on about the Cadbury magic, but I will have to stop it here. There is a Bournville in the fridge calling me, and I think I have definitely earned it. πŸ˜€

Abey shaadi kab kar raha hai??

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Whenever someone wishes me on my birthday, the first question to pop up is “So, how old are you?”. When I answer that one, it is usually with a figure that isΒ on the (supposedly) wrong side of 30. As if on cue, what gets thrown at me next is the what is the title of this post. πŸ˜€ The verbiage may differ, but the essence remains the same.Β 

Now, there are two things fundamentally wrong with this entire situation. First being that people actually need to ask me my age, even if it is only to assure themselves that I don’t behave according to my age. Isn’t it a known fact already that my behaviour rarely matches my age? πŸ˜› Secondly, and more importantly, the automatic assumption that the date on the birth certificate should somehow put a dependency on the date on the marriage certificate is a particularly hilarious one. Yes, you read that right. It is hilarious, neither irritating nor infuriating. After years of enduring it, it comes across as plainly comic. If you think this is going to be another anti-arranged-marriage rant, let me assure you that it is not. πŸ™‚

You see, despite my unmarried status, I have nothing against the concept of marriage. What I find quizzical is the almost fanatical insistence on getting married by a certain age, and the accompanying justifications for that. These cover the entire gamut from the emotional (mummy ka kuch to khayaal karo) to the mathematical (30 ke aaspaas shaadi karega to 56-57 tak bachha kamaane lag jaayega..,phir tu aaram se retire ho sakta hai) and everything in between. While they have their share of sense, they all miss out on the most crucial aspect – marriage is not an end in itself (regardless of married people telling you “yaar, shaadi ke baad toh sab khatm!!“), it is simply a means to something more valuable, more cherished than fulfilling your “obligations”. What is that? Well, that is a subject for another post. Today, I am stuck on marriage-compulsion-bashing, so let me be. πŸ˜€

Admittedly, years of facing the same question over and over again has enabled me to freely exercise my creativity in coming up with responses. One of them is that I am pained by the uncontrolled population growth in India and am determined to not add to it. Never mind that being a serial killer is an easier way to do that. If I am feeling really honest, I can always say that not getting married is my way of ensuring that at least one woman (the one whom I would’ve got married to) ends up being happy rather than getting hitched and making sure that at least one woman (the one whom I would get married to) has to face a lifetime of headache. A lifetime of headache for her also has some implications for me, but since this post is meant for a family audience, I will skip over that part. πŸ˜› I can say one thing for sure, though. You ask me the same question 5 times in a row, I can come up with 5 different, complete explanations of why I am still ticking the “Single” box on the form after having inhabited Planet Earth for nearly 12,500 days now. Sixth time onward is when the hilarity starts. I then simply let loose my imagination. One of my uncles always asks me when I am getting married. In another 2 years, I keep telling him. One day he said to me, you have been saying the same thing to me for the past 8 years. Of course, I replied – have you ever seen a better example of a man sticking to his word? πŸ˜€

Now that still leaves us with the basic question – Sam,Β shaadi kab karega? To that, I have a very simple answer – ice cream khaani hai to bolo, icecream ki khaatir meri shaadi mat karwaao. πŸ˜€

Sa Re Ga Ma…

No, I am not going to talk about the TV show here. Neither am I going to wax eloquent about how music is food for the soul (which it indeed is) or the catch-all solution to forget all of our problems at least temporarily (which again it indeed is). Instead, I am going to talk about what I feel when I listen to music or sing a song. I am NOT going to write about what others think when they listen to me singing, because I want this blog to be as free of violent thoughts/actions as possible. πŸ˜›

Those who know me well, know that I generally tend to listen to mostly Hindi songs from 1940s to 1970s. I do get called an oldie goldie for that, but that is how it is. These are songs I grew up listening to, absorbing not just the tunes, or even the voices, but also the meaning of their words. These songs have really spoiled me, in the sense that even today when I happen to catch a song playing somewhere, the first thing that I notice are the lyrics, then the voices, and at the end, the tunes/instrumentals. Call me old-fashioned or even finicky, but that is how my mind reacts to a song. πŸ™‚

As far the lyrics go, they deserve an entire post of their own and I wouldn’t like to shoe-horn it into this one. Hence, I am going to focus more on the vocals part here. For some of us, these can be what make or break a song. However, for me, even though are very important, it is not about how good a job the singer has done. It is about how much of “soul” s/he has put into it. Recorded sound quality is something which can be drastically altered/improved these days with autotune, but the passion, the subtle nuances/feelings the singer imparts to the song can never be provided by a piece of code. Sometimes, even the most accomplished singer or someone more fluent with the language can come up with a less than exciting performance while someone with a relatively less melodious voice can come up with a 24 carat rendition of the same song. At the risk of courting a controversy, I will point you to the Lata Mangeshkar and Bhupen Hazarika versions of “Dil hoom hoom kare” from Rudaali. Again, this is strictly my personal opinion, and you need not agree.

Now that you know what I think of the vocals in a song, it shouldn’t really come to you as a surprise if I say that the emotions put in by a singer are what I like more in a song than the technical aspects of voice modulation, ability to hit the high notes etc. Of course, these are important when you are a professional singer, but if you are not, I will be perfectly happy if I can sense what goes on in your mind when I hear you sing. πŸ™‚ As an added advantage, this also liberates me from judging myself up to a certain standard when I sing a song. I know I am not a singer by any stretch of imagination, and will never be. But as long as I am singing it with all my honesty and the one for whom I am singing it appreciates the same, I will be a happy fellow.

This post has meandered quite a bit, just like my attempts at singing, and I will gladly take the blame for that. Like I have said many times before (and will probably say many more times), it is never about the melody in the song, it is always about the song behind the melody. πŸ™‚

P.S: This does mean that those unfortunate enough to be at the receiving end of my vocal acrobatics will continue to remain so. No escape for you guys!! πŸ˜€