Destiny, You are Mine

In terms of identity, what’s the most personal thing for you?

I’ll look for your answers in the comments; as for me, a fingerprint and a retina scan are as personal as it gets. One is in the US database, the other in the UK database.

*

A few years ago I was to apply for a US visa. Along with the form, I had to attach a few kilos worth of supporting documents. Notwithstanding the effort it caused, I carried a file of a few kilos worth of original documents to be photocopied to the local store who had a photocopier machine that was placed between an ice-cream freezer and a refrigerated counter of branded cola drinks.

“All of these need to be photocopied.”

“That’s a lot. Will take some time. Leave it here, I’ll send a boy to deliver when it’s all done.”

Bread, medical plaster, desiccated coconut, pulses, gram flour, soda, and such things was what he used to deliver at the beck of a phone call from us. He knew us well.

“I’d rather stay.”

“It might take a couple of hours. No need for you to stay. I’ll send it home as soon as it is done.”

“These are important papers. Certificates, testimonials, account statements — all originals. I dread to imagine losing any of the papers. This is my life!”

I will never forget his face.

“A paper here or there may get lost; your destiny — can never be taken away or be lost. Go home. I’ll have the originals and the photocopies sent.”

*

Privacy is personal. The act of revealing who we are is an extremely personal choice. When I read various articles scaring us about privacy (some intentional, some not) I often ask myself, if I have long crossed the line. Given my presence on the Internet, there’s enough to know about me as a person. Given the degree of how well you are connected with me, you may know or not know things.

Private

Is my attitude cavalier? Do I care less? No. I don’t voluntarily share personal information that I do not want to share. Privacy is (truly) violated when the inner recess of your self is exposed. Everything else is data and it is out there for some one to extract and expose. We just have to balance how and where we are seen.

No one can steal our destiny.

Negotiations & Conversations

“You aren’t a good negotiator, are you?”

“I guess, not.”

“Why the ‘guess’?”

“Your question is not open-ended, you don’t want to know what kind of negotiator I am, you seek that I agree with your impression that I am not a good negotiator or defend the accusation.”

“It’s not an objective question. You are free to agree or deny, and elaborate. This is a conversation.”

“I do not want to. I am not here to impress you. And this is not a conversation at all. A conversation doesn’t necessarily have a well-defined outcome. A negotiation does. And it is either-or.”

He smiled, said nothing.

“Cheers!”

He raised his glass, half-heartedly, I thought. He didn’t seem to like that the rules of the game belonged to me. But he attempted a play.

Light Experiments

“What kind of conversationalist, are you?”

“A good one.”

“That hardly explains it.”

“I am not the one who is to decide how good or bad a conversationalist I am. It’s for those to decide, who have a conversation with me. You, for example, you should tell me if I am good at it or not.”

His years of training became a hurdle, then and there. Most people do not want to know the nature of another. They want to explore how best they can bracket another. He is like this. She is against that. He doesn’t care. She makes a big deal of it. And such. We try to make things easy for us. We rarely exit our world to understand what’s out there, but we crowd our own, and try fit everyone, somewhere, in the limited understanding of ours.

“Let me ask this another way, what kind of negotiator are you?”

“The worst kind.”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t negotiate.”

“That’s often a loss.”

“Yes. Yet, each time I don’t compromise on my values, the value of my values increases ten-fold.”

“You’ll walk away?”

“Yes, why waste everybody’s time in trying to get to a place where neither is happy?”

“You are then, if you don’t mind the term, an extremist.”

“I don’t mind the term. Words are a cheap currency that we spend with gay abandon. The small differences between close cousins allow us to call a criminal an accused and an accused a criminal. And that is only because we are pressed for time. We don’t want to wait for the long and proper procedures of the court. We are keyword thinkers, we hardly pay attention to sentences and paragraphs. Forget context and intent.”

“That still doesn’t explain what kind of negotiator you are.”

I thanked him for the drink, got up and took my coat. As I buttoned up, collared up, and slashed my hands in the overcoat pocket, to ready myself to walk away towards what I called home, I thought of only one thing to say to him.

“Goodbye.”

 

The Long 400kms

It will be an unearthly time by the time we reach home. Two cars. The other car’s home is a couple of dozen kilometres less than where I have to reach. I have an offer of staying back. 24-odd kms means much less, when you are homeward bound.

It’s dark. Late evening is upon us. I am a little over 400 kms away from home. The road ahead is good. It’s a dual-carriageway. We later discover that this is only a half-truth. But that’s later. My present is very different.

Fog Lights

A very young co-traveller is in my car, i.e. younger than me. I am driving. There’s three of us, I soon realise: the two of us, and the generation gap. The third passenger shows up every time a song plays from my playlist. We exit the city streets and are on the highway.

Man on the Moon, by R.E.M. plays.

“Do you know this song?” I ask.

“No.”

I let a minute pass by.

“Do you like it?”

She says yes, but I am suspicious.

“If you have any songs on your phone that you’d like to play, feel free to plug your phone into the AUX.”

While I offer her that, and because I have arranged my playlists, Losing My Religion starts playing.

I feel I should tell her something about the song. I do not.

She says she is happy with what’s playing. I wonder what she is thinking. Perhaps, allowing my kind of music to play will allow me to focus on driving. 400kms in the night is not a small thing. I smile. Smart kid. I say to myself.

“You don’t speak much, do you?” I ask.

“No.”

Wilson Pickett is describing the Land of a 1000 Dances. We’ve spent the last five days together, looking at broken buildings of yore. Alane, by Wayfinder is playing. I recall that in most conversation through the ruins, she has amply demonstrated her presence, yet, hardly participated. Claudette, by Roy Orbison. I offer again; she is free to play her music. Ella Fitzerald says Oh Lady Be Good. She refuses; say’s she’d like to hear what I have on my playlist.

“You had your chance.”

I hand her the iPod. “Skip what you don’t like.”

She owns the iPod instantly; doesn’t speak much, but the quietest, longest conversations I have ever had, is the one that I cannot forget.

Somewhere within the 400kms she feels compelled to make conversation. We play a diminutive version of 20 questions. It keeps me alert; and I think she feels good. She now skips songs on the iPod with ease. It’s a playlist I have curated. I wince every time she skips a song.

Once in a while, she says, “I like this song.”

That gives me the opportunity to tell her more about the song.

I do not know where 400kms went by. We come to the point where the road forks. We say our good-byes. She gets into the other car. I am homeward bound alone, for the next 80 kms.

I smile every time a song she skipped, starts playing.

Salaam-e-Ishq: #Anthem 10

It’s a love song. A salute to love. At the least.

But we haven’t cared much. The boys know it is a love song. Yet we haven’t cared much. We sing it for the joy it brings us. There’s of course a story of “we”. A friend and I love this song. We have been in in Karaoke bars. We have been in non-karaoke bars. We have been at his place. We have been at my place. We have been in posh places. Irrespective of the places we have been, we have sung this song. With as much emotion that was possible. Our wives and girlfriends have been suitably embarrassed, and we have sung this song with all the passion we could gather. No more. Perhaps, for good measure, but I miss it.

Like my first anthem, which I will only ever sing with that one friend of mine, this is a song that I will sing with this other friend of mine. That’s the only the back story of the song. The song by itself? That’s another story.

Your choice, if you will poison me or cure me; how you seek love, I leave it to you. Favour. Favour.

This is the magnum opus of the #Anthem Challenge. And I reserved this song for this count. It is the greatest love song ever, and it is just a coincidence that it gets posted on this day. I did not plan it that way. No one day can be the descriptor of love. Because if that were true, then what are we for the rest of the year?

Being in love is a full-time business. You may have more than a day when the celebrations come to the fore, but if we are to wait for those days to celebrate love, we aren’t, already.

I am posting a video of the anthem with English subtitles. I can assure you, they do not do justice to the emotional array in this song. Like so many love songs that you know. Same difference makes so much more meaning in this context. There’s a way to be in love.

I often feel, people miss the point.

*

Enjoy the Video.

The End of Things

First, I thought I’d title this post, “The End of Good Things.” But I wasn’t going to write only about the end of good things, I was also going to write about the end of bad things. So, things made more sense. The thought occurred to me because I now have only one post due in the Anthem challenge that I have taken up. And there has been so much music playing in my head since the last #Anthem post, I am in a state of utter confusion. So many songs play in my head, stringing an additional sarcastic note, “Oh, so I don’t make the cut, do I?”

A part of me wants to make sure that the last post has to be the greatest Anthem. A magnum opus of sorts. And I do have a song in mind. I know, I will think of another song after I post #Anthem 10, and that undeniable sense of aarghness will set in.

Who Erased my Lines?

That’s what prompted “The End of Good Things.”

But then, bad things also end. We tend to think that they never do, but they do. It’s just that we shower so much attention and importance to bad things, we inadvertently prolong them that the seem permanent. (We should practice tactical ignorance.) But they do end, because, if bad things didn’t end, you wouldn’t have good things. And we know for sure, that all good things come to an end. And the very fact that good things exist, which we know, because they come to an end, means that bad things also exist and come to an end. While I am unable to put my finger on it, some sort of double-proof is going on here. To what purpose, I am not sure. What I am sure of, is that I have amply demonstrated that both good and bad things exist, and both come to an end.

They are not necessarily linear, successive, or predictable. They can co-exist. They’ll come in sharp bursts or stay long, like uninvited guests.

The Anthem Challenge was a good thing for me. And it will end, when I post the 10th Anthem. I have a feeling, however, that I may not allow this good thing to end. And while Paul asked for only 10 Anthems, he never said we have to stop at that. So that’s what I going to do, I am not going to allow a good thing to end.

So, while bad things may come and go, I’ll keep a good thing going, for as long as I can.

Heartbreaks Are Personal

Of all the things in the world, heart-breaks are one of the most personal things. At the same time, heart-breaks transcend every boundary that humans have created. They cut across boundaries that are political, physical, geographical, racial, cultural, and often, those that relate to time. So, for me, they are exclusive and same at the same time.

3286- Blades in the Sun

So, when someone talks of a heartbreak, I know exactly what the person is going through and I have no idea what the person is going through. What do you say to the heartbroken person? Nothing really. All you can do is smile and be with the person. Given the culture that caused your persona, you may behave differently. But essentially, you do not leave a heartbroken person alone. I think, that’s the global common. Seems simple enough, yet, we have a tendency to analyse it all.

I have, sadly so, attended many events around death. And the worst statements of support are when people compare the degree of death to another. You know what I am talking of: died of disease? Here’s a (potentially worse) story of someone we know; died in an accident? Here’s a (potentially worse) story of someone we know, and so on. Perhaps we tend to bring in degrees of suffering to alleviate the suffering of those that will have to live on. The intentions may be in the right place. But a death is a death. A heartbreak is a heartbreak. There are no degrees.

Yet, love (or the loss of it), is nothing like death. Love is like life. Infinite Capacity. And there is no scale for measuring how much you have loved. And for good reason. In the times that we live, when everything is about facts, stats, proofs, documents and such, love remains the one experience available to us that we don’t have to explain. Especially, about how much we were loved back.

Love is not measured by reciprocity; if at all, it is measured by intensity.

Love isn’t. It just is.

हम ने देखी है उन आखों की महकती खुशबू
हाथ से छूके इसे रिश्तो का इल्जाम ना दो
सिर्फ एहसास है ये रूह से महसूस करो
प्यार को प्यार ही रहने दो कोई नाम ना दो

Since I’ve treaded in a thorny terrain, I’ll walk through it (i.e. the translation) and I call on my friends to help me correct this, if I have made mistakes. And to interpret it differently.

I’ve seen the pervading fragrance of those eyes,
Hands away; contaminate it not with trivial accusations of relationships
Feel it through your soul, the way it is meant to be
Let love be, stay away from name-calling.

Love stories and poems become popular. Popularity, however, is no method to gauge intensity, either. That a million (or more) people in this world at this instant are feeling the same, is no reason for you to feel solace. Love may be unrequited. And it means less, for when you have been in absolute love, it is only a measure of how much you have loved, not a measure of how much you have lost.

And a million words from me or anyone else will not (and should not) mean anything. A heartbreak is a heartbreak. It is yours. It is personal. Your friends can be around, but only you can mend your heart. And forgive the friend who asks you to forget. You will feel what you have to feel. And take time to feel what you feel. Your life however is richer because of the love in your heart.

As time passes by, you will know your life is better because you loved; it’s not poorer because it wasn’t reciprocated.

Awards & Such

Dear Joe,

It has been a while since I have stopped responding to and accepting blog-awards. It is always nice to be nominated, feels good. Thank you for the nomination. Truly! Since one of the things about this awards is that we get to know the blogger well, here are a few posts that may give you an insight of your nominee. A few tags I completed a long while ago, here, here, here, and here. There’s of course much more, but that may need sifting through 900-odd posts. This isn’t me being arrogant; contrary, in fact. Perhaps you may feel the same, after you have blogged for over a decade. Perhaps, this helps all new visitors to this blog.

Street Deco
Thank you, once again.

Oh, BTW, the weirdest food I ever ate was crocodile.