To Fail or Not to Fail

It’s only the 9th day of the month, and I can tell you now, it’s not at all easy writing everyday  It helps however, that a few fellow bloggers have encouraged me through their likes, shares, comments, and tweets. (Even when I know that some of the posts are not as good or complete as I’d like them to be)

When I think hard about it, it doesn’t really matter if I miss a day or two; this challenge has little significance in the scheme of things. It’s not related to money, work, or health. So, to fail in this challenge would mean little. But I intend to succeed. As I had written previously  we have to explore for ourselves the nature of our commitments. We have to define success on a standard that is acceptable to us – it may be the same as what is generally accepted, it may be higher or it may be lower. But it has to be ours. And failure – if it becomes ours, has to be measured by our standard.

There’s too much being made of failure. I recently tweeted:

While giving encouragement – the kind I receive on this blog – is important, when people close to you have embarked on an adventure, the encouragement has to be (for want of a better word) rational. There’s too much mollycoddling around failures. If you didn’t know better, you’d think it’s a good thing to fail.

We learn from our mistakes. Yes.

Failure is the first step to success. Yes

[Insert a similar over-positive-sounding idiom]. Yes

Isolation - 1

That’s all true, but there has to be some limit on failing. You cannot be failing all the while, thinking, “There, I’m that much closer to success.” If you do not learn why you have failed in the first place, it will take you farther from success. If I find myself failing over and over – I have to review the standard I set for myself, or the manner in which I have set out to achieve that standard, or both. There’s also too much talk about passion; passion that will see us through the difficult times.

To an extent. Yes.

Passion is an attitude, not a tool that will see me through. I will need to invest time, gain knowledge, and apply skill to what I do. There’s nothing romantic about failure.

Failure is not an option.

The Moron Lane

“Which lane is he driving in,” I asked, extremely frustrated.

“The Moron lane,” she said, quickly looking up from her phone, and as quickly going back to whatever she was doing.

I’ve said it many times before, but since my blog isn’t as popular, people hardly ever get to know what I say. Those white dashed or solid lines in between two lanes of a road aren’t a guideline for you to drive, they are there to divide two lanes – and you have to choose one of those lanes. The idea is to have those painted stripes either on your left or your right. And since, we drive on the right here, you are better off in the leftmost lane, till you get this right. (By the way, for what it is worth, dashed lines mean that you are allowed to overtake (from the right, i.e.) and solid lines means that you should wait till you see a dashed line, before overtaking)

I Walk the Line.jpg

When I thought hard about the Moron lane, I also imagined, we’d need Moron tunnels. Especially the Expressway. We have folks using hazard lights in well-lit tunnels and then changing lanes in the tunnel. I am sure, they actually switch the turn indicator. You see, the left/right indicators do not function as desired when you have hazard lights on. But then, there is no logic of using hazard lights in a tunnel – switching on the car lights, lights up the tail lamps. That’s enough information for me, driving behind you, to know that you are in the tunnel. If you have to use hazard lights – please do not change lanes in a tunnel at speeds greater than 80kmph.

Many rants have been suppressed; people driving diagonally across the three lanes as they speak on the mobile phone, stopping on the blind side of a curve to relieve themselves in a temporary waterfall, and on the city streets, puking red goo; cars in India should come factory-fitted with spittoons, rather than ashtrays.

But there is one sight I love on the expressway: the Bright Yellow Tata Nano doing 45kmph in the first lane.

Priceless.

Of Falling Skies

IMG_2660.jpg

If x happens (or doesn’t happen), the “sky won’t fall down.”

I’ve always thought that such expressions are useless. If the degree of the calamity that has befallen me is insignificant compared to the sky falling down, how am I to know, to what extent?

It’s an invalid reference because no one has seen the sky falling down. It is, after all, relative to the power of my imagination – which is also not a standard in any case. To make sense of this comparison, I have to imagine an impossible cataclysmic phenomenon to a significant magnitude and then allow my real calamity seem inconsequential – so that I feel better.

Not too helpful for people with shallow imagination skills.

And, too much work, if you ask me.

Leaving India and Leaving Indira

One of the things I like about blogging (and, generally speaking, the ability to post your thoughts for the world to read) is the power of expression it provides, which, a few years ago was limited by means and by reach. The entire scope of expression was limited to a specific audience. With the Internet and the tools to express, the scope is now global (limited, still, by those who have access to the Internet, but a significantly larger audience is available to you).

And while it is a good thing, it also means that you are opening your expression for criticism and debate from a much larger audience.

Recently, a post by Sumedh Mungee was featured in the NYT’s India Ink section: Why I Left India (Again) – his experiences on coming back to India from the US, and his reasons for going back (again). He has his own reasons and I leave it to you to read the post, if you haven’t already. Needless to say, the post has sparked various reactions from various corners of the world. If you have the patience, you will find the some of the 226 comments (at last count) amusing.

And of the many reactions that have been the result of this post, I’d like to highlight one.

Why I Left Indira (Again)!

All the emotions that all the people have felt due to this post are all worth considering; this response by Amit – to my mind is the best, I have seen.

Enjoy!

Against Extreme Moderation

There are addictions that you enjoy and there are those that you don’t. There are helpful addictions and there are the harmful ones. Some would disagree – any addiction is harmful they would say – but that’s another story.

Mutterings that Matter have become thinner on the blog and fatter on Facebook, but let the record show that he used the dreaded A-word regarding Facebook. It reminded me of the addiction I used to have for this blog, and how I had escaped, once, to ensure that I remained addicted to blogging. Somewhere along the way, I got rehabilitated without wanting to, and now I blog in moderation.

Many messiahs moralise moderation.

But, like extremism even moderation should be exercised in moderation. (And I speak of extremism in its absolute sense, not with the contemporary attribute of politics, violence or terror) Else, it seems, our lives will permanently hover around the zero on the number line. I often toy with the theory that age has something to do with moderation. Age and second-hand exposure, actually.

As we grow old, most of us give birth to a tendency to be drawn towards the zero. It is a crowded place, and it offers some sense of safety and mob security and identity. When Nassim Nicholas Taleb said, “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary”, I think he was referring to the zero of the number line. They are comfort zones, spiritual, physical, and psychological.

Second-hand exposure, enhances our need for this safety. Contemporary society tends to share terrible and scary news faster than good news. With more means for sharing, we share plastic bottle warnings, gory pictures of dolphins being chopped, and conspiracy theories of how everyone is out to get you. Such information causes armchair-excitement – you tend to spread the information even more. To click a forward button is an effortless exercise.

Extremism (in my sense of the word) is exploratory. It is a first-hand exposure to the things that don’t drop in your inbox, never get pasted to your Facebook wall. To traverse the number line of life, left or right (again, in a non-political sense) is to be exposed to an experience. It is the power to sift through your inbox and know what is real and what is sensational.

It is an effort itself to even get to 3 or -4 on the number line, but if you do, it is amusing to watch the crowd at zero. You can sometimes see an image of yourself reflected in someone at zero and you will smile to yourself in a heady mix of amazement and amusement, that once, this was you. That mix, helps you get further away from zero.

So, +1 to me.

The Trouble of Having an iPhone

Don’t get me wrong.

I love my iPhone.

Over time – more than a year now – however, it has made me think a lot. Especially when I have had folks come and ask me “advice” on buying the iPhone. It usually isn’t that – they just want me to say, go ahead – it’s a wonderful decision. Don’t think! Buy it!

It’s a good device, an amazing gadget and really a fun companion to have with you. But it can get to you at times. A few instances where I wonder why I have this gadget:

  • There is an app (Pandora’s Box) that tells you what apps are available for free. (I have ever only paid for five apps, so I am not the one who contributes to the amazing statistics of app downloads from the iTunes Store). So you, usually, end up downloading apps that you use only for the first five minutes after you have downloaded them. Then they stay there – real-estate is apparently cheaper on an iPhone than in Mumbai – and when you see that app after six months – you have no idea what it does and why you downloaded it. You do waste a lot of time animatedly discussing how cool the app is.
  • When you have so many apps downloaded, and you realise that you don’t use 90% of them as frequently, there is a scramble to re-arrange apps. If you have an iPhone, you know how what I am talking about.
  • Most of the good apps aren’t available in India. In fact, the iTunes store for India is only one-third of the store. We can’t buy music and we can’t buy any video products. Even the sale of their OTA service is through the Singapore store. We are third in priority for Apple; we are a third world country. Nokia, however doesn’t think of us like that. Damn.
  • A friend of mine dropped his iPhone once. he had to buy another. Since then, I have become very careful about my iPhone. To the extent that my movements have become dainty. I wouldn’t think twice if I had to play football with my Blackberry, but couldn’t even dream dropping my iPhone on my desk from a height of 0.116 inches.
  • There are some amazing travel apps on the iPhone. None of them works when you are in Kumbharli Ghat. Heck, a state highway that connects Nanded to the NH4. Then, I love a compass. Any compass (That’s a safe gift to give me, if you were thinking). Now, I have to shell out the new bloated price for a 3GS if I want a built in compass. Gah!
  • I’d like to use Twitter on the iPhone. I have four different apps. Not a single one makes sense. While I have problems using Twitter anyway, the iPhone doesn’t help.
  • I can’t share photos very easily with folks who do not have an iPhone. So I have to go through a round about way of sharing photos. By that time the others have taken photos, shared it, uploaded it, had fun – I am still sending it by email and such. Bluetooth is so anti-social on an iPhone.

There’s more.

Sometimes I have fun re-arranging the apps. They make for some amazing “thoughts”. Not everybody understands it however.

An iPhone Grab

But this should suffice for now. But, don’t get me wrong, I love that thing. And don’t ask me why!

PS: Cross-posted on Selaphor

The Portal

Window

Sometimes all you need is a point from where you can look out. When what’s in is disturbing, depressing and dissonant to your beliefs and values, all you need is a place from where you can look out.

For one, it allows you to ignore the dark of inside. And for another, it allows you to see all that is possible — whether in reality or in imagination.

And though you can’t do it forever — because you cannot escape and you will eventually have to do an about-turn and see inside — it allows you to go quiet inside and consider the possibility of forgiving it, rather than fighting it.

Six Schizophrenic Speculations

Secrets, like anything else, must have a philosophy. So must, their lesser cousins – gossip. What makes them go around (or not). One conversation about secrets and their governing psychology isn’t enough to understand them.

~

For every heart that found happiness because someone followed it, there are thirty-two who followed their heart and wished they had not. The environment we live in was built for the agile mind, not for the pure heart.

~

I have come to enjoy threats — uttered or otherwise. They are amusing. if you do the Neo thing and fly into the threat and shatter them from inside into badly formed green-grey graphic plates flying in space, you see the insecurity that envelopes the threat-maker.

~

Our rebellious nature is a slave of the unproved conspiracy theory that the world is out to get you. We need the cocktail of Rand and Nietzsche to arm us to put down Freud.

~

There is only one way to know your best friends. They will come home or call you at the right time. Your one post may go without anyone understanding it: but one call, at the instant you click “publish” is worth the post.

~

You never have a sixth speculation available when you have already decided that the title of the post will be Six Schizophrenic Speculations, for alliteration sake. You just have to fill it up — to make sense. In any case, the last one is the one that you can never express, only experience.

~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Foomla, Grozba and Fajotla

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to living or dead people, whether in the real world or the fictional world, is purely coincidental. This includes people in purgatory and the illiterate. Even after this, you find a coincidence, I admire your imagination, and would advise you to write disclaimed fiction.

Foomla, Grozba and Fajotla got around to a conversation yesterday. One round of coffee was over; the caffeine too decided to join the conversation, eagerly — as a catalyst rather than as a participant.

“Oh, I don’t want to talk of that,” Foomla cried, “If that’s the conversation, I am out of here.”

“Between us, is there anything else we can talk about?” asked Grozba.

Foomla became animated, “It’s done to death, this conversation about stiff hands. It doesn’t often mean anything and makes me more depressed talking about it. Screw those therapists who want everything out in the open, as a cure for stiff hands.”

“Oh, I have got used to not using my hands for a long time now, it doesn’t quite bother me. I don’t even seem to notice my own stiff hands, leave alone yours.” Fajotla added, changing the altitude of the conversation.

It continued for a while, the conversation, but a conversation of bits of nothings, the caffeine giving up somewhere along the way.

In their heads, all three pondered their stiff hands and the wares that they had built in the past. Random images flicked rapidly through their minds, of wares created, appreciated and criticised. Three artists, once sought after, were now creating commodity or nothing at all.

Stiff hands, as you may have gathered, don’t quite allow art to happen. Ironically, the non-conversation about stiff hands, ended up being therapy.

An Evening Pushed Too Far

Multiple Lines

In an instant — I travel the world. All I have to do is close my eyes. Three major land bodies — that’s all there is right?

Watching the plains of an English shire, I wonder about my position in the world.

Am I a relative variable of a complex cosmic equation?

Was the wonderful evening I just experienced a product of my experience, my imagination, an equation being balanced or a divine conspiracy?

My reason denies it all.

It walks me through the events of the day and points to me, the evening conclusion.

Did the utterance of truth, off my lips, cause a butterfly effect? Were those words meant to be silenced forever; never to be uttered? Did I commit blasphemy against an unprotected truth? The only time love becomes an argument is when love becomes a question. When its existence is questioned. A doubt. To be clarified. When the reason for its existence is questioned. When it is asked of. When it is rationalised.

My existence and raison d’être doesn’t change.

I question yours.
So that I can test mine.
Make mine stronger.
And you can validate Yours.
I can refine mine.
You can do the same

You hate me, perhaps, for that. Love, in a sense, is, the contradiction of being. Caused by the unsolved question of purpose of love. Love is only the encompassing container word for emotions of acceptance, ownership and likeness. That is why love is different for you and me. We think the container is love. We never see inside. Containers are the same everywhere.

Love is nothing — by itself. You deny? Define love.

And levels of acceptance and likeness change with time. We ignore that. We look at containers and confuse ourselves with the wrong questions. Permanence has its heels dug strong, only in philosophy. Not in technique, method, assurances or skill. Your sense of sensuous (of the senses; not the sexual connotation) love is as worthless as the decaying body of the three-year-old corpse of the mongrel on the street.

What you cannot formulate, you cannot touch. Hands are not the only device that you can touch with. There are six senses that you can touch with.

What you can’t touch can never be yours.

This is beyond you. This is beyond me. This is beyond discussion. This is beyond conclusion.

———————–

Other similar Schizophrenia bouts happened here

The Compliant Rebels

I am on one of the last few trains that will take me home to the west of London. Normally, this train would be fairly empty, but given that it is Saturday, you would expect the last of pub-crawlers and bar-hoppers making their way home, so I expect a few more people than a weekday.

Not to be.

There is a huge defiant crowd on the platforms and in the train, and they are loud. They are singing happy celebrating songs, so I think that a football match has been recently won somewhere nearby. I didn’t think there was, but not being an avid football fan, I wouldn’t really know. I have seen that before. There is something different today, however. Very obvious. Every person on the train is carrying a can of beer, or a glass of golden spirit. There are fancy dresses and happy faces almost concealing anger.

Bottle Top

I had a wonderful evening today, relaxed and stretched out, without any agenda determining the speed or direction of my walk. Later, after a couple of tranquil and thoughtful pints, my mate jocularly suggests taking a beer can for the longish tube journey from the East to the West. I agree, I should, for it is the last day today when you can legally drink on the local transport, but then I have never had a drink in public transport ever, so we let the joke die its natural death, rather than be reborn as reality.

I see them, from between a tangle of arms and legs through angled armpits and knees, there are those that grip the aluminium cylinder, very tight. They stand quietly leaning near the door, no songs of celebration and such. You would think that someone was almost about to snatch it from them. Which is true, in a way, fourteen minutes later.

It is 11:46pm. Starting June 1, 2008, drinking alcohol or carrying open alcohol bottles will be banned.

In a crescendo the cheering and speech from every beer-can-wielding person grows shrill. The belligerence pierces my in-ear Bose ear-phones. It is a loud and hollow sound, empty of substance and unworthy of the rebellious icons on their beer-drenched t-shirts and tank-tops.

A rebel would start this act fourteen minutes later. To rebel against a law, before it is in force, doesn’t come across as a rebellion, really. I will not be on the tube tomorrow, so I will not know if any true rebels remain — for whom this is so important an issue that they will have a similar party tomorrow. But I doubt it. If the purpose was just fun and frolic, well then I sure hope everyone enjoyed it. If it was just about sending a message, I am sure they got it. Thank you very much, the ban is in force 14 minutes later.

All over the world, there is a gradual acceptance of everything that is imposed on us. There are no rebellions anymore, romantic or otherwise. There is cataract-like compliance — slow opaqueness to reason a blurring of reality that spreads a dull sameness all over.

Score: Authority: 1; Rebels: Nil

Sad, now, that we rebel within the confines of law.

A Sacrificial Post

Good things come out of sacrifice. Toil. Perspiration and hard work. What use; an easy life, what use; lack of struggle. In fact they even insist that a good artist is born only out of pain. Only those that have seen pain, experienced it — become good artists.

Endure, you must, else there is no glory.

Then someone finds out — there is nobody to fight against; nothing to fight against. No one disagrees, nothing is a hindrance. What we are doing is right and everything seems to be in order.

“This is your mind playing games; this is the invisible enemy!”, they cry! Your mind is your own enemy. You have to bring the enemy to the fore. You have to fight. For nothing is gained in an easy life. Doctrine.

So we fight. We toil, we believe we are fighting something, what it is, we may see if and when we kill it; overcome it. We make things difficult and pat each other for every difficult step we take, recognising the hard work we do, against ourselves, the invisible enemy.

We sacrifice.

I sacrificed too. Sixteen drafts before I wrote this one. Sixteen posts of possible expression were converted to a state of nothingness by this cruel index finger of mine that clicked the “yes” without as much a second thought.

This was a difficult post. And I am getting there.

Yet Another Bout of Schizophrenia

I willed the bus to go faster.

I wasn’t in a hurry, the couple, standing in the space for the buggies and the wheelchair, really needed to be elsewhere. Eventually, they got down. I was happy. For them and for me. I wouldn’t need to count tile-flakes on the bus floor, avoiding eye-contact.

I was reminded of “Duncan”, by Paul Simon:

Couple in the next room
bound to win a prize:
they’ve been going at it all night long!
Well, I’m tryin’ to get some sleep
but these motel walls are cheap:
Lincoln Duncan is my name,
and here’s my song, here’s my song.

Full Song

It was an interesting day, I had had. One thing led to another and all that we were led to, was proof of life; tomorrow was worth all the troubles of today.

One exciting and animated conversation was aborted when we arrived at Victoria. People must have been watching me, my mate was probably relieved at seeing the doors open (for me) at Victoria. Thirty-six free newspapers lay on the floor on the connecting tube on my way home. News isn’t the purpose anymore – when most people don’t pay for news. The problem with free, is the problem of choice – the lack of it. Paper is environmentally friendly, waste it as you please. Waste anything that’s bio-degradable.

A fellow blogger and I have had arguments about translations. Which reminded me, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Mahalaxmi Iyer’s song, “Bol Na Halke Halke” is in-translatable. Yet there was this question of how I would tell you the experience of that moment.

YouTube video to the rescue.

I wouldn’t dare translate it in English. Watch it.

If you don’t know the language, just think of the moon, its light, how you would steal it; light threads on a beautiful night, of being shy, in your lover’s arms, speaking softly, kissing softly. Trading all night with the currency of dreams, how two-three words took ages to be uttered, their simplicity not withstanding. Perhaps, asking her why I took so long to say the most simplest of the phrases – I love you. She saying, I always knew.

But, suffice it, for now, that even a tomb is a possible sign of love. A signature. The final expression of a love that has been and will remain forever. I have seen many benches in parks in the UK that I have treated with respect. So small in structure, so heavy in expression.

So, while, “Bol Na Halke Halke” (Say it, softly, softly) rings in my ears, I pick on of the thirty-six newspapers on the floor. The newspaper is an instant flashing view of the world around me. Personally, I have been too disappointed with newspapers to give them any credit. Yet, out of habit, I pick this one newspaper that survives on advertisements – and sells for nought.

The world in your two hands for nought.

“Britney must survive on GBP 745 a week”
“LA gangs come to London”

Then an advertisement at the bottom of the newspaper: “YOU could be the next Mayor of London!”

I am immune. Another fellow blogger wonders why I never comment on her posts. She writes about things that are socially relevant – to you and me. To the world that we live in. She makes sense. Perhaps she may understand, now. 2 billion pounds is the amount that, “Churches, mosques, synagogues and other faith communities” contribute to the economy. (We are talking only UK here)

I am 22 pages past, “The God Delusion.” I have to stop. The book questions my ‘acquired beliefs” and those that I held as true.

Just below the above excerpt, a model admits she is “addicted to cheeseburgers – and that’s the real reason she quit Los Angeles to return home.”

Why does Britney have to survive on $1500 a week? Father now controls her spending, but they did allow her to have a credit card, “so she can have her freedom and make choices about how to enjoy her life.” Right. She earns the money, you get to control it. And only because her behaviour is unacceptable. When you buy your next CD – you know who is getting the money. Be aware, small changes around us. Like Britney? Pay her father. She doesn’t deserve it, the immoral calf. A moral code. Your moral code. Her father’s moral code. The social code.

It is 31 degrees C in Goa, India. The heat is on. Scarlett Keeling’s murder. They covered it, we covered, they were negligent, we screwed up, they screwed up, let’s have intellectual fog in 31 degrees. Fog. Any fog is nice.

Control

Parents

Blame

Shift

Responsibility. Rather assignment of responsibility. What is responsibility? Who is?

Brian Paddick promises not to have high rises in London. Ken promises more. Ken promises cycles for free (first 30mins only) in London. Green. Whatever happened to the phrase – paint the town red. We will soon see a different colour. Let’s borrow two bikes for 30 mins. Let’s paint the town green. Cities yearning to be a village.

I am now a believer. I wasn’t, before. I believe: global warming is a serious problem. It is a problem of extreme magnitude. The amount of attention we give to this problem obscures the real problems. Poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, disparity, urban crowding, cultural misunderstanding, and such. Global warming affects us all. It blinds us to the real problems that truly affect us all.

Budget is due – the highlight – it is a green budget. “Despite fears that voters are losing interest in eco-friendly issues, he [Alistair Darling] will target high-street chains such as John Lewis in the greenest ever budget.” Oh, and of course, “Above-inflation rises on cigarettes and alcohol.”

Statistics.

The new open-source toy that we discovered. Open and indifferent to abuse. “3m – the amount of plastic waste (in tonnes) generated annually in the UK.”

But enough about the newspaper. Your newspaper doesn’t look any different. And you know so, yet we fight about issues.

The mood is discordant. The music in my ears, “Bol Na Halke Halke” (now on repeat) is incongruent with the world I live in. I see movies like “Love, Actually” and the next morning I step into a different world. I have been to Heathrow more times than I have ever taken a flight. (here is some trivia for you – I have never been received at Heathrow) I have my own scenes of people meeting their loved ones (think: last scene of Love, Actually) and that has been far better than the ‘voice-overed’ scenes of the film as true as they may be. Yet, the constant “will destroy your unattended luggage; don’t smoke here; report suspicious items” announcements are as real as the tears of the grandmother seeing her grandchild for the first time. Believe me, 99% of people I receive at the airport turn up 45 minutes later than they are supposed to. I get to see many scenes. So many scenes of people meeting people as they cross boundaries.

We know all is real. All is important. Why this dissonance? How do we survive this simultaneous irony? Did we miss something? Something important?

In an effort to set the world right, we are living in a world that is terribly going wrong.

PS: Earlier bouts occurred here

When Tools Take Over

MacBooking

It’s like losing the pleasure of capturing an image to lenses, filters, tripods and the mathematics of exposure and shutter speed. When technique takes over the act.

I have been writing and deleting drafts of all things bloggable because I am yet to find the best combination of all blogging tools. I am yet to get used to the new keyboard (slightly wary of punching the keys too hard on the new cute thing and therefore missing out a few letters in the process, using too much of a delete key and missing a separate backspace key)

And the words that shape the thought of everything I see and feel as bloggable are hurting too, they aren’t flowing easily. This time however, the treachery doesn’t belong to the words. It’s the tools.

A craftsman is only as good as his ability to use his tools. Else, all he is, is a person with ideas.

Which isn’t that all that bad, really.

Update:
It’s not always that you know exactly what you want to write, sometimes friends help out. They are thinking the same things, similar things. I know how it ends, I am not sure how it starts.

Crumpled Collar

I don’t quite believe in reincarnation. The continuous cycle of birth and death till we are released from it by virtue of good deeds. I’ll admit however that the idea is fascinating. I have seen enough of television and read and heard ‘true’ stories to seriously consider the possibility of its existence. There are even these bloggy things that quiz you and tell you who you were in your previous life – those of course are the more fatuous kinds, yet I amuse myself once in a while of what it could have been in that life, which I don’t have memory of. And yet…

I somehow have this recurrent moving visual of this person, once upon a time, who was sentenced to death, who I often see walking up to the gallows to be hung by rough braided hemp. It is a long walk to the gallows and there is obviously something serious about the crime that he has committed. The people stand at the sides and watch him; there is obvious hate in their eyes. Yet not a word is spoken, not a curse uttered. I see this man very clearly – there is no shame or guilt on his face – he is unrepentant. His open chest carries the reminders of beatings in deep and dark dungeons; the bleeding cuts sharp at the edges and open in the middle. He stands tall on his weary feet. Warm beads of sweat attempt to liquefy the dried clots on his forehead. There is something very adamant about the small smile on his face. It is not a smirk. The onlookers hardly bother him; neither do the heavy chains that his legs are dragging ahead of the small dust clouds that they create. On his hands, hang the rest of the heavy metal links that seem featherweight, due to the manner of the slight swagger that he has. Yet ever so often those hands move up to his neck, shifting and spacing out the metal collar on his neck, he sticks a couple of fingers under the collar – a passage for air. The collar seems to be the only thing that bothers him, irritates and hurts him. Not the silent curses from the people standing, not the periodic cane from his tormentors, not the final noose that is a few yards in front of him. The collar hurts him. It is sharp and roughly cut, mercilessly nailed onto bent wood. Made in haste, almost, eager to bind the dead man walking. It cuts at the skin on his neck, makes it red and burns. The way his hands go at the collar, he seems to have only one dying wish – before the noose tightens one last time – he wants to breathe easy. I see him walk slowly towards his executioner. The only other obvious movement, other than his slow rhythmic walk towards the gallows, is his hand wanting to tear at the collar, destroy it with his bare hands. The collar it seems is the enemy that won’t let him die in peace. The scene somehow repeats in an infinite loop till it fades away into a blank white sheet.

I have seen this scene so many times that my skepticism about reincarnation fades a shade, every time this scene plays itself. Every morning; it comes to me every morning when I start my day. It is as crisp as a freshly ironed shirt, when I iron it, i.e. I know who I see. I know this person. I know him in this life.

He is the man who irons my shirts, here in Mumbai.

I have gone to the extent of offering him more money per shirt, if only he would bring my “ironed” shirts, without mangled collars. I have threatened to shift my dwindling loyalty to the competing laundry-man, if he continues to crumple the most hardened collar I have ever bought. I even pleaded with him, and demonstrated, how difficult it is to wear a tie with a crumpled collar – all to no avail.

I have to iron the collars of my shirts before I wear them, or I have to ditch the tie.

The scene plays in my head every morning, I see him walking towards the gallows, scratching at his collar, wanting to destroy it. I have seen him in this life. He is still at it.

Some More Italics

A bowl full of coins sits stoically on the desk where I deposit the cumulative inconsequential remnants of the day. A few more pennies and lesser pounds were added today. It has begun to overflow – all that change. Yet I am bankrupt and powerless to implement change. The silence with which I let it all go is a personal banshee that wails louder than the screams that demanded change. I once had a desktop wallpaper that was powerful than e=mc2. It said: c=k; in red and black. Change is constant.

I don’t design wallpapers anymore. I just change them.

The claws of the new-age paradox bite into my flesh – in a tight grip. There is always confusion whether attack is the best form of defence or the other way round. No one really knows. Too much talk of privacy and anonymity on the Internet. I feel afraid. I feel vulnerable. How many times have you accepted the EULA assuming that it is the usual blah-blah? Exposure is the best form of attacking privacy issues. Make their work easier. I am me; simplify their databases. Multiple identities is a psychological syndrome.

Only two choices remain, live in fear or live.

I told you earlier, I don’t have a TV for six months now. The happiest time of my life – Antonio Vivaldi speaks to me – Louis Armstrong does his gig for me – Jim Morrison tells me of his wishful pub-hopping in Alabama. I bought two newspapers today. The “they” say that work is the ultimate stress, killer disease; they talk of work-life balance. But they know that “they” cause the most stress. I read a few headlines from two newspapers today. It is almost a fool-proof medicine for ensuring you are the statistic that they talk about, with the stress that they cause. I randomly strung the headlines together; they made a good stressful story, a random selection:

Worried ministers move to tackle rise in gang violence. Bank signals new mortgage rise. England to drop three Ashes heroes. BBC chair admits crisis in public trust. The great white lie of the summer.

Is it the world or is it the words? (That’s just the front page, I have been accused of long posts – won’t bother you with the inside stories) Newspapers, I often believe have pharmaceutical money as sponsors. Ignore me; conspiracy theory is just a hobby. In fact, taking the theory ahead, I believe there is only pharmaceutical money in this world. Oh! Don’t get me wrong, Disprin has always worked for me. Don’t see this if you get easily offended with bad language. It’s Chris Rock, what can I say!

Only what you know, can kill you.

I thought of having a page on comment policy. The immediate thought was – so that people know that their first comments would be moderated. See, this is the nice thing about WordPress, the system recognises your friends once they have been introduced. But then, I thought it was pompous of me, to have a comment policy and all. One of my better posts, didn’t get a single comment. Whom am I kidding? Definition: RSS reader: where you go one weekend and perform a “mark as read” operation. Ask me, when I have more that 500 unread feeds, I do that. My reader does that with ease. I can even automate it. Some items, however are treated with utmost respect.

k=c, some constants are the constantly changing constants. It becomes a recursive formula now. 

No, I am not doing any creative food today. Just a supermarket pizza that will get heated in the oven. Right. Thirty-odd years of life and I do have problems with the left and right. Living in the UK has made it even more difficult. You don’t always walk right nor do you always walk left. There are good reasons, but you either walk on the right or walk on the left. Changes with the place. On an escalator you stand on right and walk on the left. Trust your eyes – not intuition – see the signs.

Chelsea tractors don’t contribute to carbon emissions and global warming thingy as much as bad map-reading does. And over-confidence. And male-ego.

Life: it’s sights, its words, each emotion, each meeting and every conversation gets sucked in the hole. The whirlpool of thoughts runs at hi-speed. It spins relentlessly. It doesn’t slow down. 

Oh, and it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest

Shaping a Thought

I condemned a recent draft to eternal damnation.

It is easy to write impulsively – what we often call spontaneous writing. It often makes for good reading. But it has its limitations. Like a flight with failed engines it lands with a thud, a lump of battered metal, yet tangible as can be. It isn’t a smooth flight, with a smooth landing on the tarmac, its perspective complete and intact. If we linger in and around the thought for a bit, we could give it a much broader sense. Not a general sense, a broader sense. A wider PoV

For a long time I have been intrigued by Plato’s definition of shape. Before you read further, it may be worthwhile to think about it for a while.

What is shape?

Writes, The Imugi:

And like everything else, definition implies borders.

Now I have dwelled on this line and the paragraph that it heralds, for quite a while. Recent events and thoughts around them have probably helped shape meaning. The worst definition we can ever create – is for thinking. That definition is often called process. It is not, yet we use it as such. Beyond a wide channel of a guideline, a process isn’t anything more. And it never can be the definition of a thought. Of all things that can never take shape – it is thought and the ability to think. I have, over some time now, come to hate the phrase – thought process. It reeks of the rotting death of creativity and intelligence.

Here is the entire paragraph that has knotted the neurons to numbness since this post about the Philosophy of Blogging was written:

And like everything else, definition implies borders. As it becomes more clear just what this blog is, it also becomes more clear as to what it is not. It’s like Zhuangzi’s story about the musician: before any song is played, before any strings are touched, there’s a strange kind of perfection. It is the perfection of potential; any number of songs are present in potentia. Once you begin to play, however, that changes. One possibility from the infinite possibilities is selected; it is actualized. And once it is, the possibility of the others vanishes. There are borders now, and with borders there is differentiation. The musician is playing this tune, and not that one. Whereas before all of them blended together in the silence which contains the potential for all kinds of sound.

Shape is the limit of a solid, says Plato. I like to think of it more as, shape is the limit of form. (PDF of the entire dialogue: Plato’s Meno)

Is there, then, an entity that we could call a “well-formed thought”? I do not think so, what is well formed is the action, which is a derivative of that thought. The original thought itself is formless, shapeless and therefore limitless. A process imposes restrictions on further flight to a thought – crashes it down to the ground in a lump of often half-cooked tangible action. Like the tune that was played as against the one that wasn’t, we have a thought that was prematurely brought to life and made into default lumpy action rather than a relevant well-shaped one.

It may seem that I ask that all thoughts continue their flight of fancy without ever requiring them to culminate into action. Not so. The thought’s flight gives it perspective – and a better chance at well-shaped action, rather than an amorphous one dictated by the relatively narrow channel that a process defines. A few border crossings do not violate a process, yet they allow a better chance at deliberate and directed action.

A process is only useful if its purpose is known. A thought, every time it is weighed with apprehension, weakens its wings and limits its flight.

Empty Post

Because I saw the stats go to 19,999.

Because I like that number better than 20,000.

Because it isn’t right to leave a Friday the 13th post on the top for a long time.

Because it seems to be living a misfit’s curse.

Because a misfit is it’s own doing.

Because not everything can be said.

Because of time – its abundance, rarity and transient nature.

Because of geography and it’s cruel character.

Because of the mystery of unknown roads ahead.

Because of decisions kept as drafts, unpublished.

Because it doesn’t matter.

But it does.

Blogging Being

IMG_5101 - Version 2

I like to believe in coincidences. That way it is easier to deal with happenstance than dissect and analyse the ‘bigger scheme‘ of things that we aren’t privy to.

A couple of days ago I found great food for thought (as much as I was tempted to say food for blog, I shall let the cliché survive) on Lorelle’s recent Blog Challenge post. Just the thought sounded yummy and I said so. But I had no idea what definition I would give. I had shied away from it some time ago, when I had asked the same question to a few bloggers. Blogging means a whole lot of things to me and at the time I put my comment on her post, all those meanings were happily rioting against the floodgates that barricade my otherwise unruly thoughts.

Coincide the above with: The day after I did AFJ’s tag, I thought I would give the ‘answer‘ to the tag. But no, it wasn’t meant to be. I ended up running from here to nowhere via everywhere including WordPress WordPress Support. (The fine folks I always talk about). The problem was quickly resolved. Now, the response post wasn’t critical. At all. It could have been posted even after this post – it wouldn’t have mattered. But just the thought of not being able to post on my blog…!
Blogging doesn’t define me (and thankfully so; given the fifteen-odd blogs that I presumably “write”, I would be easily diagnosed with multiple - (and somewhat split) personality syndrome). I do, however, define blogging, and yet the definition is elusive. I talk of the kind of definition that we have all grown accustomed to.

x is y with z features.

A few of you who have been long-standing victims of my obsession with words, meanings and contexts will know my dilemma. What meaning do you ascribe to something like blogging? It is always easier, I believe, to derive meaning of multiple contexts, and blogging lends itself just fine to multiple contexts.

Blogging is spaces. It is about the spaces that we inhabit, in the world or the worlds that we create for ourselves. We believe we know our space, we are protective about it, often possessive about it. A blog becomes just that and a bit more. It allows for a meandering exploration along those in-between white spaces in between our worlds; those that we don’t often notice and hardly care for. When we are in the white space, when we see from that vantage, we see a lot of colour. There is a vigorous sense of being alive.

Blogging is fear. It is about two types of fear. One that we are able to overcome, often through anonymous blogging, a way for expressing that the otherwise imposed social rules of engagement do not allow us to. This is not floccinaucinihilipilification. Some of the best bloggers are anonymous and it doesn’t change a thing about the beauty and insight in their writing. At the same time, blogging causes fear. Well, fear is too strong a word, but after a while the material attachment to the post-count, comments, stats and therefore the readers, brings a tense sense of holding on. The blog becomes as human as we are. It has flesh and blood – and it has feelings. The cycle continues.

Blogging is judgement. Of every word that dims a few pixels on your screen. Of every post that was born of a thought that refused to disintegrate and crumble at the feet of your neurons; that insisted on being born. Of every reader who reads your post and says something, or doesn’t. Of the blog round the corner that often times does a tad better than my blog. Of the blog round the corner that often times does a tad worse than my blog. In these hallowed halls, where you become the judge and the accused in half-duplex, all is seen through a discerning eye. All is sliced up and spiced up, and given a permanent place, assigned a value.

Blogging, however, is mostly expression. An otherwise delinquent thought becomes a well-behaved angel and sits smartly in a post. And a million such, together create that wonderful experience that is not the author; the blog is seldom the author – it is the author’s projection of colourful thoughts like a festive London Eye on a moonless night, spinning at its own happy whim and in its own blissful frenzy.

And yet I haven’t done any justice to what blogging means to me. The most important context of it all; the most elusive: a blog’s cajoling nature that urges you to articulate more and articulate better (which has yet to work perfectly for me, what with the high level of abstraction that my discrete words adorn).

Ever had a dream, when you felt that you were in a deep dark abyss, falling and rising at the same time, lit up at both ends? Then you know what I mean.