In the Middle of Nowhere

Unfortunately, unlike what the title suggests this aint a travel blog! I didn’t go to the tropical forests of Africa or got lost in the desert winds, I didn’t as much take any significant trip unless you count travelling in a local after 10 pm at night a big deal, but still somehow I have managed to transport my mind to the middle of nowhere.

We talk about child development, debate about different learning theories given by Western psychologists (since almost all the research takes place where people don’t have to think once of the hassels in travelling 12 kms in a crowded city, where day to day life is so well-settled and driven peacefully by useful appliances and material tools, as a result where manual labor is respected and dreaded less). We talk everyday about cognitive models for 2 hours, 6 days a week, 3 weeks in a sem. 36 hours of understanding a child’s mind and its learning processes. A lot of teaching-learning. 20 minutes of a train journey, sitting besides a tired helpless woman who is carrying two girls 1-3 yrs old in her arms, who had to hit the older child again and again in order to keep her near her, so that she doesn’t rush off in the crowd; the child howling with pain and emotion. Ofcourse, this lady could never even think of affording a double pram which could carry both her children, issues of child development would be a joke to her. A 30 hours tutored graduate sitting beside her also helpless as to what to do. She wants to reach out and take the child in her arms to comfort both the baby and the mother, but something from within stops her. She has never done something like this before. Its too much of a quarrel inside to be able to enact. Wishes she was also taught how to handle such tormenting situations.

(Ofcourse, I am not pointing out the already existing debate on practical and intellectual activity dualism. I am just wondering whether this dualism would ever get dissolved. I am probabaly just writing about the differences scenes from the wonderland Alice has found herself in, yet again.)

While sipping special expresso with creme and choco-chips on top in a sea facing 5 star with my friends from the other extreme spectrum of my world, I heard about a theory on growing economy and utilization of all resources in the world. How the capitalist society is moving towards that growth where potential of every human, every resource would be used to the maximum and that would be utopia? Because, common sensely, that would be the end of any inequality, any discrimination, any domination, all the evils in short, else the maximum potential won’t be reached. Hence all the talks of communists are the real evils right now.

Anu, why weren’t you in the lecture today? You weren’t there yesterday either. Lecture on Gendering Caste by Uma Chakroborty (UC). She give some nice new perspectives on looking at things. 

I had gone to the auditorium, I did hear 10 mins to that same activist tone, I felt the same urge to shut my ears from hearing any further and left the room. Lets take it to be an accepted fact that women are dominated by men, that they are in a pathetic situation, and that one way of undoing this injustice is by women going out of their homes. Just like what UC did perhaps. But then who would do the household chores? Who would take care of kids? Who else, ofcourse the maids from lower strata who are also in turn coming out of their houses, but unfortnately who can’t afford day care for their kids. They are fit for doing cooking, cleaning and all such labour work which the highly educated woman is too good for doing herself. The feminists all over the world support her.

So am I implying that the traditional model of division of labour was the best? My capitalist friends would say the debate is irrelevant. As long as a woman is being effecient, productive at home and man outside or vice-versa there is no problem. Doesn’t that sound a fair statement by all means? Probably that is how it was started thousands of years ago. But didn’t remain so, which means there is an inherent fault somewhere here. That is the problem with philosophising and implementing.

My other friends following Gandhian philosophy believe all the work should be shared. All drudgery has to be done by oneself. Hence, to do away with the division of labour at the individual day-to-day chores level. That is the way one can extract most out of oneself, and get most pleasure. The manual and mental work has to maintain a hormony. And this is the only way you don’t mistreat anyone. But it is a very difficult exercise. For instance, had I been a Gandhian, I couldn’t have managed to look around the middle of nowhere and rest my anxieties a bit by writing a blog, for I would have been busy cooking. Right now, I don’t care whether I have eaten or not. A very indisciplined life.

I hear activists shout all the time : The loads of money spent on so much technology, nuclear weapon is of what use when we can’t even solve problems of poverty? Similarly I wonder how attending 36 hrs lecture on child development would help me when I can’t even stop tears of a crying child of a stranger on the train?!

(Boss!! class bunk karne ke liye pehli baar maine itna bada argument banaya hoga! It was so much easier in IIT, when I was tagged insincere! Losing one’s reputation is the only way to freedom!)

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Mood Swings

I m posting a mail I sent to friend n family sometime back. I want to keep it in archive of my writings so that I don’t forget what I wrote one typical afternoon in office on the day when there was little work.

(Note the flow of thoughts, its pretty interesting how one thing is linked to the next)

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yaar seriously kaam kerne ka mann bhi nahi ker raha! dunno why..
its like main kuch cheezon mein fight marr sakti hun, bt dnt feel upto it.. so am ditching it..

you know what i really want? i want to go home, get a hot water bottle, and some dry fruits.. and water all beside my bed.. and pick up Ghosh’s In Antique Land, and just read it.. seriously.. with sunlight coming from the window on the other side of the bed.. actualy hopefully not in my room in my house kyonki vahan sunlight kam aati hai.. bt some other house whr there is loads of sunlight.. and a tree close to my window.. seriously kya sexy scene hoga..

hmmmm

:|

aur merko ek mast blog likhne ka mann ker raha hai.. aaram se baith ker.. using a keyboard which works!

and i want to have a fundoo discussion on some issue with people.. and i want to be able to go somewhere and work hands on something.. and i just dont want to see any more excel sheets, or electricity water bills, or putty window, or people wearing nice shirts n suits.. and i just don’t want to be in an enclosed area.. i want to be in an open area.. under sunlight.. and hence not in south but north india..

aur merko grassland pe fundoo bhaagne ka mann ker raha hai.. like we used to run downhill from sameer hill towards vihaar lake – at full speed! fir us lake mein ek mast dubki lagane ka mann ker raha hai.. i have never ever swum in a lake/pond.. i have only swum in ocean or river.. which doesnt count coz the water is not static there.. so you can’t swim much… unless ofcourse you are a swimming champ!
after that i want to go to a local nearby school and play with kids there.. with someone like himanshu around like we used to in prayas.. and NOT TEACH them anything! just play.. and in that small town people can do anything they want.. ofcourse the human conflicts will never disappear completely ever, but as Chomsky puts it, there would be no animal conflicts there at least..

everything’s a mirage.. right..?

itna kuch likh rahi hun, isse pata chalta hai kitni veli hun main abhi.. you know i m listening to “where’s the party tonight” track from some new movie. and not once do i wish for going to dance floor.. not that i don’t like dance floors – in fact i love dancing of any kind… bt rt now, i just don’t feel a thing abt that kind of dance.. i want to learn the traditional folk dance of the town which i m talking abt… seriously seriously i do!!! :( i want to dance in open lands admist hills and flowers n trees and not in a closed smoke filled room… just for once..

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This thread of dreams was broken when I went back to the pivot table on the excel sheet and sas migration_trans.sas& window. And oh how I wish I could have continued dreaming, coz it reminded me of things I have forgotten myself! about myself.. And well, just dreaming also brought some peace in the otherwise restless mind.. And for a few moments I was taken away from robotic people and dull suffocating enviornment.

I guess my manager should read all this and load me with burdens of work!

Musings on a Saturday night when you are 23 yrs old. ;)

For those who have heard abt MBIT score, I fall in the INTP category. Which means – Introvert Intutive Thinker Perceiver. For most of my concerns, the letter T suffices. I have been told over n over again to think less! :) But s/he was right when they said, “old habits die hard”.

Love and Happiness.

The two most ill-used, misunderstood, interlinked, misleading words. I have often wonder what is it that core thing that drives us? Ofcourse, the tradition psychological answer would list a couple of driving factors – hunger, thirst, sex (a typical Baron answer). Perhaps so, but I am not very convinced by this too simplistic answer. Lets go a little deeper.

We all have heard about cultural differences and how they shape the society. For example, the USA is an individualistic society, whereas Japan is a collective society. Probably, the driving forces in the former would be achievement (n-ach), while in later, need for affiliation would drive people more. This is what books say. But I wonder, how is a new born baby trained to fall under any of the two categories. How does he develop, say, the need for achievement and not so much for afiliation? Hence what was the driving force to begin with which helped/pushed him to develop other needs (read forces) as per his training in the early years? Somehow, I always felt the one thing every single creature always need (without it being defined for it) is love. Therefore, it was probably the need to be loved that led him to the path that would have got him love which made him what he is right now. A loner. Or a conformist. (For those who pick on minute details, a loner could be a confirmist too!)

So, the next line of thought would be, what is love? A friend wisely answered that love can’t be defined. Because everyone has his/her own definition of it. Binding it in words would be a failed attempt. Agreed completely. But I have to atleast understand how the need for love is created. And then comes the factor of happiness. It seems the need for happiness creates the need for love. Because the common understanding is that if you are loved you are generally happy. And it is quite easy to see why we all want to be happy. Physiological reasons. When we are sad, we don’t feel like eating. You feel dull, don’t feel like doing anything either etc etc. Opposite happens when you are happy and gay. So probably something to do with hormones etc release which affect your body.

The only issue is, we don’t stay in binary states.

The above theory fails if you are unhappy even when you have all the love in the world, or if you are happy without being loved(by others). And we know both these instances occur in our lives more often that not.

(Is this post incomplete? I thought I would write more but I realised what I have written so far covers almost all the points. BTW, for better understanding, being loved here also means being admired, appreciated, and respected.)

The Metamorphosis

 “Suppose all that you have always valued in your life was shown to be an illusion. What if your precious beliefs, maxims, platitudes, and traditions were inverted and distorted beyond recognition? You suddenly realize that what is good is bad; what is beauty is foul; what is virtue, vice. What if all your points of reference were to shift: North becomes South; black becomes white; deviant becomes saint; saint becomes deviant. Suppose that this transformation – a metamorphosis of perception – were to come to you and you alone. Suddenly you awake, and in utter solitude you discover that your values have reversed along with you: you are a roach!” (http://www.vr.net/~herzogbr/kafka/).Your world is abruptly and totally changed! This is Gregor portrayed in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.

I have often wondered what it would be like if all this ever happens to me. If not exactly something as weird/horrible as being changed into an insect, what if all the base on which all my faith lies is suddenly removed – what if I am proved wrong about something I have believed always without doubting once. It is this fear which prevents me in forming any firm opinions/judgements about people/instances/world affairs/good-bad-n-ugly things! But being a rational human being, I have to have some opinions in order to live, the basic requirement of survival is being able to differentiate between good/bad. Even the tiniest of insects (without any brains) are also able to distinguish between things which are harmful to them. Infact it is easier for them, atleast so it seems, they only have to live a physical existence – without a trace of mental/spiritual element in it – and so their world is binary in nature. What hurts is bad, what nourishes is good. Rest all is ignored or kept away from.

We, humans, are also brought up in a similar fashion. And if we stick to out faith-base, we would live a peaceful un-complex life as insects. But no, we have our problems. We question. Then we think. We interact. We change. And we keep doing all this in a circular fashion. And then a point comes when we wonder if we are only moving round & round in the circle just like new Delhi-ites in the CP outer circle. The climax is reached when you know you can’t even verify the right/wrong since the absolute doesn’t exist.

Take for instance a simple example from the lives around any 23-27 yrs old earning-living-their-own-lives (ELTOL) kind of people. Almost all of them drink (liquor ofcourse!). Almost/atleast once a week. Quite a substantial amount. They drink when they meet old friends, they drink while getting de-stressed on Friday night, they drink so as to be able to dance on Saturday night, they drink so as to be able to speak up things they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. If they don’t drink, something’s amiss in life. If nothing else, there are not many other enjoyable activities to get indulged into either. None of them would accept, but each know there is a level of dependency on liquor. The question here would be: SO? What’s wrong in drinking? What’s wrong in depending on something very little harmful as long as you are not addicted? How does it matter if we live upto 80 or not neways? And didn’t a newspaper said once that 1-2-3 peg(s) a week keeps the doctor away?! Hic! I would further question, what’s wrong even if you are addicted? When the question is about right/wrong, who can say what’s wrong with being a drunkard when it makes one happy? Why do look scornfully at those cycle/auto-rickshaw drivers (or any other low class men) who drink away the little income they make during the day? We blame them for not sending their children to good school, for not saving enough for decent living, whereas we ourselves crib about the mindless meaningless job we did in comfy chairs sipping CCD coffee 5 days a week over the booze on the relaxing weekend. Why do we scorn those uncivilised homo sapiens who waste their lives over marijuina/other drugs? Most of these ELTOL believed 10 years back that drinking was harmful. Most of these ELTOL after 10-15 years would tell their children that drinking is harmful. But right now, they are in the other cycle. Which says, drinking is not to be shy-ed away from.

Not that I mean to say that people change completely many a times during their lifetimes. Infact I firmly believe that the real you remains the same. What this real you is, I can’t define appropriately right away. But it definitely doesn’t include what values have been incorporated in you, or what right/wrong has been defined for you/by you. Instead it is very much what The Metamorphosis tries to bring out. What makes you guilty even after you have boldly ridiculed all the virtues held by the world, when you have lost your reputation in the eyes of everyone around you. How quickly all of us accept the new surroundings, and the new self. If or not we are able to we fit ourselves in the fight for survival. And how we forget the past which remains as “My Pictures” folder on your hard disk, sometimes to be looked at. How the circumstances changed you, and how the change in you changes everyone around you. Because they all are also, only trying to fit in.

Thought of the Day

“Work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be seperated without destroying the joy of work and the bliss of leisure.”

Ofcourse the fact remains, only in the highly complex society such as ours, we have a need for two different words namely work and leisure, to categorize different activities! I would love to do away with them entirely!

dauda duada bhaga bhaga sa…

Recall Kamal Hassan in Chachi char sau bees running through the day, changing clothes, changing appearances at the strikes of clock, singing dancing, playing, working, managing so many things at the same time. I am sure, he wouldn’t have got time to write blogs, even if he wanted to…. even if he wanted to write desperately! I was so disappointed that I am unable to keep up with blogging that one day – which had to be a Friday – the day when I, unfailingly, get into a nbd state (nbd = nervous breakdown) I left office at 5 pm (arnd 4-5 hrs before than usual timings) and used my first excuse – that my brother had an accident! People remarked that I used a trump card way too early in time! :) Well… I guess they were wrong… coz now I have net access at home! And here I am – writing again!

Its not so much of dependence on ‘wordpress’ as it is about the change in lifestyle. Life is in, what I like to call in, a fast forward mode. Remember those instances in campus, when we used to crib, “kya karein yaar… kuch interesting karne ka mann ker raha hai… etc etc..” Well, instances like these are no longer a part of my life, there are no pauses between two songs, no gaps at the end of the sentences. You are always doing something! Writing SAS codes, generating numbers, making some sense out of numbers on the excel sheets – wondering if you can sell that sense to others, talking to friends, talking to others, talking in corporate english, talking in insti lingo (trying to use all the words as much as possible), reading about crap in the newspapers, reading about that imaginery world in a fiction, cooking a healthy breakfast to survive an unhealthy lifestyle, cooking a savory at the end of the day to enliven yourself, riding a bike and singing “o humdum suniyo re… ” imagining yourself in place of vivek oberoi, watching a play/movie/documentary as a part of intellectual youth crowd of the city, dancing, singing and making merry with the friends on a friday night….

The only time I am sitting still is the time in the morning when I am in an auto on my way to office. The only time when my mind is as blank as it could be in the fast forward mode. When I can look and see a world which is not like mine. When I find an outlet in an otherwise restricted life and can see other creatures like myself – yet so very different. I see a life which doesn’t thrive on winamp, on inox, drama centres, english novels, intellectual talks, crib about managers, complaints about heirarchial workplaces, dreams about weekends, plans to visit the world… plans to reach out the world! Which world we plan of visiting I don’t know. Which world we try to understand in books, I fail to grasp.

There is an entirely different world which I stare at from the inside of the auto. When I look at metre and wonder whether it is going to cost 35/- or 40/- today. When I realise the man standing next to auto on the crossing would earn as much as the metre shows in the entire day. A begger comes to me with an unbelieveable pathetic story of how he/she has been robbed and has no money to get back to Bombay (?!), and even though knowing about beggary business, I don’t feel bad about giving her the money. If her business is about lying, my business is not too honorable either! And probably her need of money is more than mine! I feel a little less guilty by being made a fool by her. After all, we all are in the two Circles of Life. One, in which, all the animals bow to the new born king of the jungle, including the earthworms who clean up the system. And the other in which the people at the bottom of the pyramid cleans up the civilized system – by reusing the stuff being thrown or discarded away by the top layer. This is the world I get to look at sometimes when I am not too busy enjoying life, making most out of it, trying to be happy and mast.. and chill out in otherwise stressful demanding job life! :) When I am not too busy visiting beautiful places outside the city. Washing clean my sins under waterfalls, climbing mountains and hoping to get lost in the jungle of the leeches… smiling away too often, talking way too much… just so that I enjoy and chill in life….!

At the right angles

Walking down the street, with the air in my hair, trees singing dancing on the sides, a church standing tall, a fruitwala slicing up the watermelon, I smile to myself. As I overlook the traffic on the road, as I mute the noise around me – the honking vehicles, the cacophony of jerking buses, as I ignore the people as they cross each other, everyone in a hurry to reach their office. Remember the typical New York scene in any English movie? If I ever dreamt of being a career-oriented woman who takes pride in wearing formal shirt-trousers-high heels-talking in highly fluent English in that typical corporate world accent, standing shoulder to shoulder with a man – oh how successful I would have felt! 

If asked to describe in one word, I would say, Bangalore is a curvilinear city! The roads are not rectilinear, there are no corners, no crossings, there are only roads meeting each other! There are no right angles in the city. Perfect for people with no or little direction sense. There are no parallel roads here, and it is so well un-planned that I am sure there aren’t any concentric circles either. I take pride in saying that I have seen most of city by the end of my first two weeks. Thanks to the ever-refreshing exercise of house hunting. There are no zebra crossings in the city where there must be maximum pedestrians. But, undoubtedly, Bangalore is a beautiful city, with a fundoo lake and reasonable greenery. Had I been a Bangalor-ite I would have hated to see my city falling apart coz of the IT bloom, little infrastructure and lack of any planning. But then there is a lot more to Bangalore than I have been able to explore so far! So I am not complaining.

The fruity girl. That’s what I am called in the office. I bring fruits in lunch. Sitting on desk the entire day doesn’t do much good to my appetite, so I have switched to healthy food in the daytime. It took me two weeks to get used to the routine of sitting in one chair the entire day. But I m very much there now. I have stayed up late in the office today to write this blog.

Sab Ganda hai Per Dhanda Hai Yeh!

Who wrote this song? Main us aadmi ke paer choona chahati hun! J Awesome man!

 

 

What else? Writing all this draws me to the fact that my life is so constrained these days. Office, cardamom tea (with an awful stink), maggi tomato soup, ironed clothes- matching shoes which hurt my soles and feet, talking in Hinglish more than I would like to, one-room home, TV, video channels, Zee Café, long long STD calls to my friends….

Ok ok, it isn’t so bad actually. Or well, it won’t stay so bad. Also, my average sleeping time is 8-9 hours these days!!! So I should say, it won’t stay so good either ;)  As soon as I get a place, I am getting enrolled in dance classes – ballroom to start with, I am eating good home food, I going out on weekends, and I m meeting more interesting people – activity partners.

Got to take a steep right turn ASAP!

 

 

 

Dil Chahta Hai..Kabhi na Beete CHamkile Din..

Due to the unavailability of spare time and spare comp, I am unable to write all that I would have loved to. I have started and left 3-4 blogs in middle in past few days! :( Just one week left here, and a lot is to be done in these last few days. These last few days… well, I have heard this phrase so many times in past 3-4 months, that officially they should not have any effect on me any longer. “The last” never seem to really come. After leaving a place, I get back there, after leaving friends I find myself around them once again! As if the Time (remember “Main samay hoon…” from Mahabharata? :P) was saying, it isn’t time yet!

Well, everything happens for a reason, and happens for good. My most recent enlightenment. And it isn’t all theory or resulting from grandma-like strong faith, it is a tried and tested result! Everything does happen for some good. It is just a question of perspective. These 2 months have taught me a lot, and helped me a lot. I made great friends (after a long gap in life), I had fundoo times – of which I am very thankful, since I didnt want to leave campus on a sad note, I roamed about the places, learnt new things, and most importantly came out of my negative brooding state. Not that everything is happening how I would like it to be in life, there is a lot which I would like to change. But that is not the point or an issue either! If you ask me, I would like to be in God’s place (as for atheists, who don’t believe in God, I would like someone to first prove God’s existence and then be the God!) But then that’s never gonna happen, right? So would I spend the rest of my life not wishing for things which are never going to happen, or for crying for such things? No, none of the two. What life would be if one can’t wish for impossible to happen? The imagination will be destroyed forever. What life would be if one just crys for the moon? An insane one. So, the idea isn’t to crib and yet keep wishing/dreaming. My latest resolution (which I made yesterday, after watching “Naam Ada Likhna ..” video yet again and while talking to a cousin who had just been to Kashmir [:(])was to spend atleast a month in Kashmir!(this goes in a whisper: hopefully on honeymoon :P how boring it would be to be alone in such a romantic place, no? :D)

So my dear friends and dearer foes, let me end this post here (as I gotta do lot of things, remember?) with a quote I once wrote on my collage: 

My candle burns at both the ends, it may not last the night.

But ah my friends and oh my foes, it gives such a beautiful light!  

For those who would like to read something more sensible, check out Rashmi’s latest blog. A pretty good article on the hardships faced by people who are bold enough (or unlucky enough!!!) not to go into traditional engg, med, CA, law careers! More on this later…