Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Up the hill and going down...

I will be touching the big 4-oh next year and I will have officially entered the age when all boys and girls are considered "grown-ups". It will be a milestone for me and I am not sure if I'll be celebrating the occasion with any pomp. Ideally, I should sit down and reflect on my life and see how I have fared so far in the eternal scheme of things, whether or not, I have accomplished all that I set out to do, if I have achieved anything tangible or intangible that I can look upon as my legacy to the world, and, most importantly, have I made any difference to the people around me. Or will my death (whenever it comes) be just a mere bleep on their radar?

There is still time to figure out the answers to these questions and I am sure I'll have ample time to set things right if they are not. And if my time is cut short and I leave the world much earlier, I'll have just all this that I have done so far as my contribution to this world. It will be my gift and my legacy, as it were.

Now this leaves me with the tantalising question about regrets... have I lived to my full potential and, if not, am I sorry that my life is incomplete because of it?

In one word, no.

In my opinion, regrets are futile exercises. They waste so much time and energy as we battle thoughts and ideas in our heads and, needlessly, bang our heads against walls ... and for all that, we get nothing in return except for more regrets.

I see my life not as a series of failures (although there are quite a few non-accomplishments to my credit) but a fulfilment of what I could be at this point of time. I see those non-accomplishments not as a blot on my life but as necessary pruning to make me the man I am now. Those regrets, those non-accomplishments, that unfulfiled potential is what makes me "me". It has shaped my character, matured me, helped me to grow, made me sensitive... in other words, it has been an indispensible component of my growing up.

However, this is how I am and how I look at my life so far. But the problem is with other people who have their own expectations about our life.

There are those who think I behave way too young for my age and feel I should be more responsible. What they really mean by that is that I should get married and raise a family of my own and learn the pitfalls of domestic life. It makes it hard for them to digest that marriage ought to be a partnership between two compatible entities and not something to add to your resume. Then, there are those who just dont like my ideas and 'youthful' (even if I may so) ideas. I am not sure if they are threatened by it or what but I am tired by their constant non-response and passive discouragement. Their pathetic pretence in enthusiasm is so sad because it follows very closely with their enthusiastic indifference.

Now this point brings me back again to the big 4-oh.

One of the clearest signs of growing up and being up the hill and going down is, precisely, when we meet people like these. I dont say that these people age us quickly but they act as mirrors, of sorts. They show us where the world is plodding on and where we are placed... and they elicit a response, are we going to give in to them and lose our integrity? Or are we going to continue living and making life miserable for these people?

The answer to the second question will involve rocking the boat a little and charting our own individual path. And that, in many ways, will determine our legacy to this world.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Growing up, growing or getting mature... ?

It is strange what the end of the year does to some of us. Suddenly we see another year pass us by and we usher in another 12 months of, hopefully, momentous events that will shape and alter our lives. As children, a year was a milestone and a important component of a process that made us "big" and "grown-up". And as adults, we don't see the prospect of being "big" or "older" with much enthusiasm but see it as another glaring reminder of our own mortality and of goals not yet accomplished.

Every year, we grow up and get older but ... are we matured by this process?

Technically, we should be but there are so many factors that conspire against us. Bills to pay, families to rear, business plans to be met, purchases to be made, hunting for bargains to maintain the bottomline so on and so forth. But all these "things" only add up to actions that we are supposed to do anyway. There is no running away from these responsibilities because doing so would be the first sign of fundamental immaturity.

It is rather tricky but it is something we must do. We need to find time to pursue our passions and tap into our childhood fascination of becoming a 'grown-up' while still juggling our responsibilities. And how do we do that? No easy answers because each of us have to find our own unique path to get back to the wonderland of childhood hopes. But whatever path we choose, it is necessary that we undertake the journey because doing so will make the process of growing old not a burden but as an exciting adventure.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Post-christmas blues

Christmas has come and gone. It is Boxing Day today and it will be another full year before we get back to the christmassy madness. Every year, it is a ritual that doesn't seem to change and the only thing that does is that every year we get a little older than what we were before. And this brings me to the point where the 'blues' comes in.

In my opinion, more than anything else, it is christmas that provides a definitive yardstick for our own assessment of, whether or not, we've actually grown up.

Depending upon the kind of childhood we had -- whether it was happy or traumatic, we wish for a better Christmas for a number of reasons. We want to connect to the innocence and gleeful past or we would like to enjoy THAT innocence which we never experienced. Both ways, christmas represents an idea of happiness, a feeling of family-spirit and a desire for a closer interaction with the rest of humanity.

And in a way, it is good that people feel this way about christmas because in their efforts to grab a morsel of happiness they make an extra effort to be amiable and kind and pleasant. And that, in turn, spreads a spirit of cheerfulness and giving all around.

But I find it highly ironical that though all of us make all these preparations to have an enjoyable and fun-filled christmas, the Christ child was born in a dirty manger quite unfit for royalty. So what does that mean? And how should we respond?

I suppose, the first step would be to remember the lonely, the desperate, the depressed, the marginalised, the tearful people amongst our community. And who might they be? You'd be surprised to know that they could, very well, be the ones you see every day wearing a broad smile all the time.

Does that remind you of your neighbour or office mate? If so, there is something you can do about it and while you do... a Merry Christmas and a meaningful new year to you all.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Individual point of view

Sometimes I think that most of the wild life experts have got it all wrong.

I feel they are barking up the wrong tree when they complain that the elephant, the tiger, the cheetah and the panda are in serious danger of extinction. I'm not worried about them. I'm sure they'll find a way to survive and outlive all of us. Now dont get me wrong. I am a passionate supporter of any conservation efforts designed to protect the flora and fauna around us.

But my focus is something else.

I feel that much more vulnerable than these animals is something a lot closer to home. I am talking about an 'individual' point of view. It has to be one of the rarest of qualities if one ever has the privilege of finding it -- among the people we meet, that is. And is something that can so easily disappear even after locating it.

Now I don't understand why this should be the case because everywhere you go people talk about 'independence', 'autonomy', 'self-respect' and all other forms of action that require personal initiative. It is considered to be a mark of independence that a person can choose Coke over Pepsi or Burger King over McDonalds. Or for that matter, some people consider it to be a matter of pride that they are able to choose an Armani suit over a Saville Row and make a personal preference over Givenchy, Cartier, YSL, Pierre Cardin and other olfactory monsters.

Alright. I have nothing against people having a choice over these matters and to 'each his own', is how I'd put it. But tell me... is this all there is to life? Is this why we were created in the first place? Are we the highest life form because we are able to differentiate between brands and are able to evaluate them?

I feel we are created as individuals and are born with certain individual characteristics that define us and shape the way we live, act, behave and interact with others. This individuality is not just about the shape of our nose or our facial features but it is also about possessing an individual mind that thinks and reacts and, yes, even opposes.

But the world is marching on a different drum. There is a constant clamour for homogenity and in the process anyone who dares to be themselves and adopt an individual stance is considered an oddball. hence, people shy away from being themselves because they do not like or want to be ostracised. The need to belong becomes stronger than the primal need to be oneself.

What's the solution?

Break away from the mould and break free... or stay if you really want to be there. The choice is yours.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Bad blogger

I am only a few days old in blogland and have already discovered short-cuts. This is not a good sign and suggestive of worse things to come. Blogs are meant to be fresh insights culled from the cauldron of daily life. They are meant to tell you, the readers, what I am going through at this point in time. But I go ahead and upload a poem that I had written a long time ago. A very simple solution to a nagging issue of filling up space or so it seems.

Now I do like the idea of disciplining oneself and ensuring that I do write something, at least, once a day. And the thought of writing something personal is a lot better than writing something out of a brief. But therein lies the crunch.

Most of us are so inundated with brief-oriented write-ups that we can write about just anything -- as long as the brief is specifid. Of course, briefs are rarely specific but I shall not go into that now. It's just the way the corporate world has shaped our writing process -- dehumanising, depersonalising, de-individualising our "selves".

Hence, writing from the heart and writing what we feel strong about comes rather hard or not at all. This is because we are trained not to feel just the way people in some totalitarian countries are trained not to think. It's the same thing, really. It's the marching band telling us to foxtrot from one's 'self' to something warm and cordial called a sense of belonging. In this land, individuality and individual expression are considered an affront to the general well-being because it upsets the homogeneity.

Now what does this have to do with my not writing a blog?

Well, everything. I was wondering why I felt so hesitant about opening up in a platform like this and realised that it had nothing to do with any inhibitions. It all boiled down to a lack of training in writing from the heart. It's not that I havent written from the heart before and I have but it's not often that I do so and when I have it has always been out of a conviction of sorts. There were times when I wanted to say something and I said it. What about those times when I want to talk about things that matter and there is no overlying motivation guiding me? I flounder in those circumstances and take a long detour generalising, pontificating and pondering... in other words, a bit like today's blog.

But I'll try and make amends. I'll be more regular in blogland and write about things and issues and things that really bug me or even fascinate me. But if you see a lot of poetry, then you will know what's happening...

By the way, in case you are wondering what's teh big deal about poetry... I used to be a prolific poetry writer at one stage but when I started working and prose entered my life... poetry took a back step. I do have a huge collection gathering dust and I find it very convenient sometimes.

Anyway, that's my stuff for today and I'll try and be more regular.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Cafe Serendipity

unbelievable aesthetics glanced at me
across the murmuring tables, she seemed
cinnamon to my latte lips
with a hint of sugar that her companion
could not recognise; tumbling dow jones
defined his frame of mind and her silence
a pertinent question that hung in their air
like the in-house jazz tunes
no one else but the lonesome
bother to listen.

like ocean deep her eyes looked, blue
as the crying thought that often wails
like a saxophone and watery translucent
like a thought yearning to express; as if to say
life really needs to be more decaf sometimes,
an idea so alien in this place where we sat
like formless steam that disappears from quenching mugs
into the nether world of casual glances
and the paradise of what-ifs

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

First steps

This is my first ever blog. I am a newbie as far as blogland is concerned. I could, very well, wear a look of naive ignorance to assert my newcomer status in this fascinating blog world. But I'll try and avoid that route because it won't be the right thing to do, I suppose. There is something about human nature that abhors any display of ignorance. It must be the 'survival of the fittest' struggle that Darwin talked about. Or maybe it's just another fresh faced attempt to avoid a red face. Just a digression here, but don't you think it's always great to quote a 'renowned' thinker just to cover one's mis-steps?

But whatever be the motivation, here I am in this blogland and now that I am here I have to make the best of what I have.

It's not that I am new to the concept. I have heard of it so many times and I have read so many blogs. But I just didnt have the heart to set up my own blog. I wanted to and dreamed of so many things that I could include in my blog. But I didnt do any of those. I just postponed for reasons that are more to do with laziness, a busy life, a need to rest, whatever. None of these reasons sound highly promising and neither do they suggest makings of a great writer.

Now this raises a very important question about what makes a great/ good writer? Is it the constant clicking of keyboards and churning of words and ideas? Is it the round-the-clock generation of fresh ideas? Or is it something else altogether...?

I feel any writing has to come from life and from experiences (either vicarious or real) because it would only bring spontaneity to the writing process and a deliberate freshness that would make it real. I do believe that a struggle and an effort is required in developing the 'craft' but when one is passionate about it, the process does not and should not seem like an 'effort'. it would be a joy and a delight to find the right words and phrases to create that great sentence.

Now what does this have to do with my blog?

Well, everything. I intend to use this blog space to express some of my ideas, opinions, pet resentments and pet passions... and I will also share some of my views on writing and ideating. At least, that's the plan. I might just end up talking about cooking or travelling, you never know. But time and blogspace will tell.