Saturday, December 30, 2006
Brushed, made myself a cup of coffee, gave parents a wake up call so they wouldn't miss the flight home, and then decided to blog... after a stroll on the terrace, enjoying the early morning fog.
Since I prefer to write my posts in one go, generally I finish all my other browsing before opening the blogger page. Today, while I was checking my yahoo mail, my gmail, orkut and what not, (thanks to IE7 this is easier to do now without cluttering ur desktop ... though this feature has been around in other browsers that I have been too lazy to install).. I remembered an old poem that I really loved as a kid. Reproduced here, hopefully without any copyright violations (hopefully not as it is already available at a million sites all over the web):
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death - by W.B. Yeats
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
The number of views on this poem were numerous, not surprisingly. I was a little disappointed to find that most people are so tied up with the trivia though ... that this poem was written on the death of Major Robert Gregory.
The reason it had touched me then, and moves me even today is because of the passion in the poem. Unlike some reviews I read, I don't think this is so much a poem about pessimism as it is about passion. It is about choosing to do what you want to do, choosing it over all else, no matter what the consequence, and reaching the very zenith in the field of your choosing.
I realize that my view of the poem is just another view, taken from my point of reference and is neither any better nor any worse than the other views that I read and failed to concur with. As a writer, (if I may take the liberty of calling myself one) I realize that my writings do often get triggered by incidents around me. However, the writing is never really as much about the incident as it is about my interpretation of it. This poem may have been triggered by the death of someone he knew, but I fail to believe that Yeats was just trying to represent the martyred major.
When I decided to blog this morning, it wasn't meant to be about poetry. It was to be about something different. It was to be about finding one's center ... and how, finding your center is not really a one time activity. We are often led to believe that one fine day enlightenment hits you like a bolt from the blue .. and there you have it ... provided you have slogged for it :)
Perhaps self realization does hit you that way, the thing that isn't so obvious generally is that just like a bolt of lightning, it doesn't really stay with you. It hits you and it goes. And, there is no knowing whether it will ever hit you again.
Attaining self realization is not so easy as maintaining that state of self realization. If one were to withdraw from society and live as a hermit, perhaps it would be easier. However, while trying to live a normal life with its idiosyncracies and everyday glitches, it is quite easy to lose your center ... and having lost it, finding it again is as tough as the first time ... perhaps more so, since having been there done that, you get frustrated more easily when you find that it is still as elusive as it ever was. Imagine going from tree to tree in the hope of another lightning strike!
I don't know whether all this makes much sense ... it does to me though ... and to steal some words again (for someone has expressed it better than I can) "You teach best what you most need to learn" -Richard Bach (Illusions)
No disrespect intended, but I just realized it probably sounds better the way I render it : "You teach best what you need to learn most".
Monday, December 25, 2006
Parents left today. They are still around in fact. I came back home once they went past security, and they were to call once they boarded ... and they haven't yet ... (mom called just as I typed in that last ellipse ... they are boarding)... came back home, and decided to blog before I get back to my work ... which has been interrupted so often of late because of various personal problems ...
Living alone is a habit. And, like all habits, once broken, it takes time to get back to it. Coming home to an empty house, cooking for yourself ... I am not really cribbing. I love the solitude... I love the time it gives me to think ... uninterrupted ... it is because of these long periods of solitude perhaps that I am so comfortable with myself. Many of my friends tend to call on me regularly whenever they are alone because their family is out of town .. and many of them ask how I manage ... I don't manage. I thrive.
Getting back to the other side of the tale, it is difficult to let parents leave. Life has almost come full circle. I still remember the days when dad would take me out to get my shopping done before leaving for the hostel, and how we would sit together and figure out a budget and dad would give me enough money to last a while ... he lived in Arunachal for most of his life ... and the postal services were notoriously inconsistent, so I never knew when I'd be receiving my next draft ...
Now, I generally take them to a mall, get them what they need, and somethings that they aren't quite that certain about but I feel they need, and then I figure out the budget with them, and give dad the cash he wants, the tickets, the hotel reservations, checking and double checking, ensuring his cell phone is topped up, that they have all the contact numbers, that my friends will be there in case they need some help ... all the while, giving them the respect and sense of independence that they always allowed me ...
So there... alone again ... this time though, it probably wont mean that the number of posts will increase for I have tonnes of work to catch up on .... for now, let me enjoy the chill in the air ... and the sound of the ceiling fan (which I refuse to switch off despite the current weather) ...
I'd have watched TV .... But watching TV isn't half as much fun when you don't have to convince someone why the program that you intend to watch is any better than the program that they want to watch :)
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Tried writing songs for a while, while I was in college. We were hardly a band ... just spent many lazy evenings on the terrace singing whatever songs we liked and strumming the guitar ... summer of 69 used to be a favourite with everyone I remember.
Today, in the middle of an otherwise busy day, suddenly a couple of lines came to me and I thought I'd jot them down ... see whether I still have the art ...
I love country music ... and this is meant for the Kris Kristofferson kinda singer!
Disclaimer: Please don't take the lyrics to be my personal status in life ;-)
I don't pretend to be a singer
I don't pretend to be a star
I am just a battered old stranger
In my run-down old car
And there are times when I slow down
And there are people who think they touch
But all they ever feel is ...
Maybe it is just I that don't feel so much
As I drag on a cigarette
I wonder 'bout the past
For my dreams now lie in ashes
All hopes stubbed out in the dust
Saturday, December 16, 2006
The phone rang ... and now my uncle is dead.
English is inadequate as a language at times. It fails to capture our social and family structures. Though "uncle" sounds suspiciously like a friendly neighbor, I am talking about a blood relation today - the second oldest of my Father's brothers.
Have tried to continue for the last few minutes ....
May he rest in peace.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
It does not matter how many times or how often you are betrayed ... it never gets any easier to take. As Shakespeare had Mark Antony quote ... it remains the unkindest cut of all.
And so Caesar fell ... but I don't suppose he had much options then.
What makes man so different from most other animals is the ability to put that space between a stimuli and the corresponding reaction. So what do you do when you are betrayed? Do you fall? or do you stand? You sit perhaps ... from the shock and the pain ... just because you do not want to do anything rash ... to try and fully comprehend the magnanimity of the situation... incongruous ...
What do you do?
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I woke up feeling a lot like Neo ... with that vague feeling that something isnt really right with the world ... something is missing or wrong ... The night before, the news had mostly been about violent incidents in various parts of the country .. and something I just cannot figure out is why.
At a time when we as a race are more technically advanced then we have ever been (at least with regard to documented history), when we have the power, perhaps for the first time to actually have some control over our lives ... At a time when man need not fear any animal or natural event that is short of a catastrophe, all of a sudden, the biggest enemy of man is man himself. I cannot walk out on the road without looking over my shoulder because I could get killed for my caste, my religion, my race, my nationality, my political beliefs ... it is so terrible and so sad.
When we have gone to the moon and found that there is no lady on it ... neither a rabbit, and when we finally realize that god isn't out there ... but in here, how can we still fight over religion? It is like going back to the dark ages ... crusades and stuff ... before you know there'll be dragon slayers.
I guess every generation has its share of pessimists and believers in doomsday scenarios ... and though I try not to be one, I see very little hope for us as a race. What makes our times the saddest is perhaps because for the first time, man has the power to look beyond the known horizons ... even at the stars ... but all we are doing is de-generating into a medieval society.
Not sure how to make this post more coherent because there are a million facets to it .. and none of them very nice. From the spread of terrorism to the spread of anti-terrorism ... the creation of the virtual leviathan - the corporation - and how money is all that matters suddenly at all levels ... and how technology can be used to know everything about you ... the big brother syndrome ... being caged in the name of freedom ... being monitored 24/7 .... no higher purpose to life ... fast cars ... faster cars ... big houses ... bigger houses ... politics ... value education ... morals ...
Each bloody thing in that list is a topic on its own ... and though I got carried away and wrote a lot more than I thought I would, I realize that it is just incomprehensible babble .. much like my thoughts were in that half awake state ...
But we need to do something. We have to do something.
How can we make this a better place for the future generations?
How can we make sure that the future generations are better than us?
How? How? How?
Despite humans being .... well ... humans!
Saturday, December 02, 2006
9 times out of ten I tried to kiss you
And I even tried just 9 times again
But for every 9 times that I miss you
Baby I'll get you on number 10
... something like that ... corny... not sure that I remember the lyrics correctly and am too lazy to check them out. The reason that this song happened to be on my mind was because I'd just tried to log on to the office network about 9 times ... and i decided I'd leave the 10th attempt for later.
Then, as I logged on to blogger, I realized that this was to be my 50th post. A mile stone of sorts if you care for that sort of stuff ... I don't particularly ... but then, I had screamed on my 32nd ... so why not on the 50th. Actually, it brought to the forefront a thought that I have been having on and off ... whether I'd like to pass my blog on to someone down the line ... whether it makes sense to do so ... the thought was, half a century later (though I doubt I have that many years left in me), if I was still writing here, it would perhaps be time to look for an heir .. heiress perhaps :)
Otherwise, a typical saturday here. Trying hard to catch up on sleep that I have missed during the week, staying a few extra hours with parents since they will soon be heading home again.
December ... winter ... I try not to think about it. Clear blue skies, sunny days, but with a chill in the air.
As a kid, winter was a time of mixed emotions. Generally, our school would get over on the 1st of December or thereabouts, at 11:30 in the morning, after the last exam of the final term, for a full 3 months. The school didn't reopen till after holi in March generally. So, there was the happiness associated with not having to go to school for all of 3 months ... and not having to study ... but it also meant not seeing or hearing from your friends for that much time. Somehow, that was a little bothersome ... in a poignant sort of way. I never was certain, and am not, even today, if the nip in the air was the only thing that made the last day of school feel the way it did.
On the other hand, for me, almost every year, it also meant that I would be travelling to wherever dad happened to be living at the time ... so I would come back home to a house that was being prepared for a 3 month lock down ... throw all the stuff that can rot ... cover anything that can get dusty ... close the windows ... pack your bags ... sometimes dad would be there to take us, and sometimes we would travel alone .. as in my mom, brother and myself.
I miss that yearly pilgrimage. I miss those 3 months of carefree fun, when I could play as much as I wanted, and read as much as I could lay my hands on (yes I was a bookworm ... anything and everything in the library would get devoured) ... I miss that opportunity to rediscover one self, to rejuvenate ... and to simply live.
Life was a lot less complicated then. We did not know that anything could hurt more than a scraped knee. We did not know any pain more than a game lost. Not for ourselves, nor for those around us.
Pain isolates people. When you are in pain, all the empathy and sympathy just help you realize just how alone you are in your pain. And so much so, that even if a pain revisits ... as in even if you are pained by a similar set of circumstances, having known the pain does not help you come any closer to alleviating it.
So then, here is to pain, and our understanding of it .. and a little cliched perhaps, but to our childhood, and to innocence lost :)