Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pursuit of happiness

How do you measure happiness? What does it take for you to be happy? We all want to be happy, don’t we? But why is it that most of us are actually not happy at all, mostly frustrated or discontent in some way or the other? These questions have made me wonder for a long time. I have some analysis and some answers.

First question that you need to be asking yourself is, what is it that makes you happy? You may have different answers, like achieving some feat, winning a competition, being loved by someone, getting respect from others, being appreciated by others, getting a surprise, etc. Generally put, you like getting something good, whether it was what you wanted to get or something unexpected. Now to turn this question the other way – what is it that makes you unhappy? And the general answer, I think, would be to not get what you want. We all have wish-lists, or even ad-hoc desires, we also tend to build a lot of expectations from others and those others not having fulfilled the expectations they build also cause a lot of unhappiness.

What I think could be a fun experiment, is to try and bring in two paradigm shifts. One is to change the measure of our happiness, and second is to make a pain/hardship-list corresponding to the wish list.

As I have already discussed, the measure of happiness is usually with the subject being at the receiving end of something good. I see this as a very uncertain and illogical measure of happiness. Let’s face the reality; the only thing under anyone’s control is that person himself/herself. Everything outside of the self is independent and beyond control. Then why peg the measure of happiness on such conditions that are beyond control? I believe, being happy is just as much in self-control as being not lazy is. How about pegging happiness based on your own actions than that of others? How about measuring happiness in terms of giving rather than receiving? For me, happiness is making others happy. I wouldn’t say that I am happy because I got a prize (for example), but I’ll say that I am happy that I could make others happy by getting a prize. Why do you think dogs are loved so much? They’d make you happy, even if you don’t make them happy. And even if one were to think of a quid pro quo, I’d say happiness is initiating the bargain, to give first, even while being unsure of the possibility of getting back.

The same paradigm shift goes well for all the other measures of happiness. One of the biggest problem plaguing the Indian society is that people expect others to respect them without respecting others first. There is always a one-way respect channel that exists in the society based on hierarchies. People generally expect respect because they link it to status than to actions. Which is why we have the crimes against women (most of the rapes in central India happen to vindicate the loss of honor of men), the fucked up families living in hollow happiness, leaders of the country who polarize the population, and a quasi-state of nature; hypersensitive people taking offence at the drop of a hat, and a regressive society that would never move on and keep pace with the current time.

 It is as simple as commanding respect instead of expecting respect. If I don’t respect someone, then I don’t command respect towards that person but at the same time I shouldn’t expect any respect from that person. At the same time, if I am enraged and hurt that someone doesn’t respect me, then maybe I should introspect whether I have deserved respect by way of my actions or not. After all, what can I do other than to control my own actions?

Therefore, one simple change is to just peg your happiness to your own actions than to the actions of others. Any sort of love, respect, or care that is demanded, extorted or snatched can never give true happiness. For me at least, what gives true happiness and consequently, true sorrow, are my own actions; what I give to the world and to myself, not what the world gives to me. This way, I can manage to minimize my expectations, and yet be desirous of what I want, not from others, but from myself.

This leads me to the second thing, which can give unhappiness even if you think about happiness as giving – that is to not be able to achieve what you want. In fact, with the changed first paradigm, it would read as ‘to not be able to do all that it takes to get what you want’. This is a major source of unhappiness at times, because very often I would want myself to do a lot of things for my own happiness as well as others’ happiness, but end up quitting mid-way, or be unprepared to go through the journey. One of the worst situations I have been is to want to achieve, to be somebody, without deserving to be so. Here, I source the second paradigm shift to an article I had read on the internet.

We all want almost the same set of things, like money, a happy family, success in career, etc. But what we don’t realize is the substantive equality argument that exists in nature. To achieve the same thing, different people have to go through different levels of hardships. Although the law seeks to bring everyone on the same starting line, that is utopia. Caste based discrimination aside; every human being is different in the appetite for pain, determination, and priorities in life. What it takes to get to a certain place is what the focus ideally should be rather than the destination. When you go out to bat, if you keep saying that you want to score a century without the will to take on the bowlers of the opposing side, the nature of the pitch, a hostile crowd, sledging from the other team, and your own weaknesses, then you will end up being perpetually disappointed and under-confident.  Therefore, this paradigm shift requires me to make a pain/hardship-list, so that I positively say that I want to go through times of tension, uncertainty, take some hits, take a lot of shit, test my hope and determination against mighty cynicism, go through all my weaknesses to overcome them. After all, we don’t just get things in life, we need to deserve them, and for that, we need to go through a lot of bumpy rides. The question is, how much would you rather enjoy the experiences of a challenge than to sit at home, curled up, in the comfort of your safety and disappointments. Simply put, this is just the practical application of ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’.

With this I end this thought which had been really long due in my head. Yet another post with the hope to make the readers happy in a sustainable manner, and relieve the world of some hopeless losers.

Monday, November 11, 2013


It’s funny how Newton’s laws of motion apply so aptly in real life. Just to put them in perspective, the first law is that of inertia, that is, the tendency to maintain status quo and resist any force that changes the state of rest to motion, or vice-a-versa. The second law is that the force required to change the state of motion or rest, that is, to cross the threshold of inertia, is directly proportional to the mass. The third law is that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Before I begin with the analogy, it would only help the context if I define what I mean by life.The definition of life according to me is a journey in time and space. The state of motion or rest in a person’s life is the state of his/her being, that is, the state of mind and the daily routine, the progress in life or the lack of it. Now comes the application of the above principles to real life. We all have inertia; we prefer a particular state of being once we are comfortable in it. We don’t want it to change, and resist any kind of disturbance to such a state of being. Be it any type of living arrangement, any job, any stage of life (like growing up is a painful experience, when you realize the steady rate of exchange of freedoms with responsibilities), or any life style, once we are comfortable in it, we just don’t want it to go. This, according to me, is the application of the first law, that of inertia.

The second law is a little hard to understand. We won’t normally understand its application until we realize the force that constantly operates on us and affects our inertia. That force is time, in an all-encompassing sense, referring to destiny, physical time, and the ups and downs. In my opinion, time is a bigger force than any human being, or any country. Whenever there is a clash with time, time will always win. However, when there is no clash, it only means that we face consequences of our own actions. [Even a half volley or a full toss or a long hop needs to be put away to the boundary, otherwise, it is as good as a Yorker or an unplayable perfect bouncer!] And therefore, according to the second law (F=m*a), time is always a constant force to change our inertia of rest or motion.

The third law applies most interestingly. We tend towards making things still, towards establishing a routine, to familiarize ourselves with the time while it keeps moving us. However, when time leaves us still, we are even more troubled by it, to be in a rut. This way, we both like as well as dislike certainty, and consequently, both dislike as well as like uncertainty. Thus, our affinity towards certainty does follow the third law, that is, when time gives us uncertainty, we seek certainty and calm, and when time gives us certainty, and keeps us still, we seek to bring our life in motion, towards uncertainty – a perfectly equal and opposite reaction.

When it comes to our approach towards time, I see two possible extreme states of mind. One extreme is where everything needs to be so perfectly prepared as if a person jumps ahead in time to see and live everything before he/she actually lives the present. There is a lot of insecurity and paranoia, and a strong aversion to any unexpected situation in this approach. The other extreme is to jump in unaware wherever life takes you. This approach requires a taste for adventure, very low desires, capacity to sustain beatings, and a great deal of improvisation.

Of course, we can’t even stop doing everything and be at the mercy of time, because this constant overpowering force of time is also not predictable, certain, or constant. It keeps changing its magnitude and direction. If you persistently try for whatever you want, maybe when time favours it, you’ll get it. That is when we need real conviction, belief, and patience, to not give up or doubt ourselves when time doesn't favour us.Thus, there are two lessons to be learnt from the uncertainty of time –a) there is no point being on either of the two extremes mentioned above, and b) that only a balance between the two extremes (that is, to keep trying to control our life and yet have low desires, and a great deal of improvisation) can help us deal with our tormentor, time.

One thing that time is constant and certain about, is the reduction it causes to our lives, with each day, each hour, each second of time that we spend, we lose it only to never get it back. As long as we value it in our thoughts and actions, and not waste it on reading stupid blog posts like this, we are not losing out on life. By the way, the fact of existence and life of a person and the constant struggle for survival is itself an equal and opposite reaction to the ultimate goal of time. It is always up to a person to end his/her life, yet we labour on with it,with all the baggage of emotions and responsibilities as if life is some uncontrollable trip that cant be stopped. Since we choose to not end it, much rather enjoy it than regret it.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Step up, son!

The word 'rigor mortis' has kept haunting me ever since my JC interview. Hardly ever in life have I faced a situation where in a crucial position, I have been totally blank. I had never heard of this before, and it took me a while to even get what it sounds like, especially coming from an interviewing Supreme Court judge. I didn't know back then at the time of the interview, that not having heard about a term like this would hurt me like a bitch later to find out that I didn't end up getting a clerkship. But then again, I thought, if there are people judging others not on the basis of whatever they've done till now in life, not counting in the possibility that a person may 'know' things later in life as long as the person can go one up against the same judge on pure logic, but deciding someone's career based on him knowing/not knowing what 'rigor mortis' means, what's the point of working with such judges! Thus, I reconciled myself, in the comfort of my illusionary ego and the company of those other fellow human beings, including a senior advocate, who wouldn't know what rigor mortis means, or whether a criminal court can appoint a receiver or not, but only till I met a certain college senior, who was like, "What?! How can you not know what rigor mortis means?". And it wasn't sarcasm. An honest expression of surprise at the lack of my worth in not knowing what 'rigor mortis' means! And this happened with more seniors whom I know and cared to tell my story to. It made me realize, that it's all too easy to rubbish something or someone off and pretend to be in an illusion of supremacy, but there shouldn't be any excuses for any sort of failure. Agreed that bad performances happen in interviews, and a person cannot possibly know everything that exists. But, one can at least prevent himself/herself from shutting out possibilities of growth by being honest, and without ego. Oh my god! I think I just had a humbling experience!

Still remain a non-clerk though, watching others, one from every college, go past, only wishing if I had a bad CLAT score 5 years back, and was in any other college, where I could have cried foul about the 'NLU bias', and gotten a preference over others like the present me in this. I need another humbling experience soon. Opportunity cost is slowly setting its teeth on my rotting yet tender sweet cake of happiness, I can't let it have the cake and eat it too. Who can save me right now? Oh wait, I see parents, girlfriend, family, extending a life-saving jacket to me, diving in the freezing ocean herself to swim up to me to give it, going through more pain than me. I have to swim somehow to stop that, I need to get to the boat myself, I need to swim. How do I learn, I am all alone. I either learn it myself, or wait to see people I care about suffer in order to comfort me. I need my passion to keep me alive. What is it? I see a lush green field, a rectangular turf pitch, I see myself facing fast ruthless, killer bouncers from Curtley Ambrose in Perth, and I know what I need to do. I just need to make sure I don't get out. I can't think of hitting sixes when the ball is new and I am facing chin music. I know I need to just concentrate, play my best game, and just hang on there, be on the pitch, batting. I can only score if I am patient and diligent, when I pace my innings. I want to hit a 300 on the first day itself, but I need to know that I am batting on WACA, facing the scariest of bowlers, not on a flat track facing Sreesanth with an old ball. A boundary hit right now will be as good as a 50 otherwise, and even if it takes 50 balls to open my account, by the time the day finishes, I'd be close to a 100, with eyes so well set that they see a football, and feet gliding around, hitting the old ball coming on the bat well. In the end, the greatest of innings are all played in challenging conditions, not on flat tracks.

If given a choice, 99% batsmen would want to bat on flat tracks without any grass, typically in the sub-continent. But then, globally, hardly any player has received as much respect and adoration as Rahul Dravid, because I am sure, he'll choose the grassiest, and bounciest, and fastest of tracks, or even a 5th day pitch in India playing spin. There is always a choice, but would you hit sixes like Chris Gayle at Chinnaswamy against Mitchell Marsh's timid bowling and get bored in a couple of matches, or rather face the chin music at Perth just to enjoy the process of survival and then come on top of it. I guess, the courts are enchanting me again. I don't care about the money right now at least. I'm just too hungry to slog at work, can't wait to get an appearance, can't wait to argue before those same judges, can't wait to feel the pressure and nervousness, can't wait to manage in very limited means, can't wait to save up, use up, solve problems, make others happy, and be an advocate!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Don't judge!

The title refers to one really lame-ass attempt made by one of my friends to crack one of my-type jokes, on me [for the really lameness thirsty curious lot of you, the joke was a question, 'what can I never tell my dad']

Anyway, this post marks a rather unplanned return for me into blogging after a gazillion ideas to write a post which could never materialize due to various reasons which all can be grouped under the simple head 'mea culpa'.

I asked one of my friends what she would love to become, keeping aside all considerations but the kind of work, and she said, "I'd love to be a judge". My reply was simple, "tell me something that you already are not". Tis' true. We all are judges, not judges of law, but judges of each other. For a long time I used to hate the fact that people judge, and I really used to judge those who judge others! I had somehow judged the activity of judging as inherently negative, something anti-liberal, that'll make people conscious. Well, that was how I judged the activity of judging and the extremely judgmental people. Going by the number of times I have used the word 'judge', it is no rocket science for me to conclude that judging is inevitable. It is a part of 'human nature', something that people cannot stop, they can only mould it in a certain way; just like food and dieting.

However, judging others, and even oneself, is still considered a bad thing. I remember reading some cheesy lines on the internet on some totally unconnected instagrammed or photoshopped picture, which I used to find true and deep at some point of time. One of them said "don't judge others when you don't know the battles they are fighting". I read this and immediately thought 'how true'. But then, come to think of it, everyone's fighting some battle or the other in life, and if some dude ends up being an asshole, or some girl decides to be just crazy, their battles are definitely not an excuse for troubling others, specially when others can fight their battles without being a pain.

Similarly, I read some article on some never-heard-of-before-foreign-website, which tried bringing out the fact that how horrible a thing it is to judge yourself. While I agree that opportunity cost is the single most disturbing thing that can take over people's happiness and sanity, I also believe that not-judging oneself for the fear of being taken over by your opportunity costs can often end up in you being in a fool's paradise. So, it is clear that judging oneself and others is not only natural and inevitable, but also quite necessary. Why, then should it still be considered bad, and have those side effects of making judgmental people be judged as judgmental, and make people feel bad about being judged?

I feel the answer lies in the huge baggage of judgments coupled with sweeping generalizations that these judgments carry. "He's so irresponsible!", "Oh! He's worse that pigeon shit." "Oh! you are so untrustworthy" "Oh! She is such a rich bitch!", etc. All these tend to indicate an entire person with one characteristic so as to indicate others how to be with him/her. But at the same time, they all are judgments, not evaluations. Now I said above, that the act of judging is inevitable and necessary, but not the act of passing judgments. There is a huge difference. When you judge someone, you analyse, you evaluate, so what you should have at the end of it is a result, maybe something similar to a balance sheet, where you look at a person's attributes objectively. A judgment is a decision made on such an evaluation. That is a highly subjective thing. So, what blots this wonderful, intellectually superior activity of judging in humans as a bad thing is its confusion with the act of passing a judgment. Here's a cliche that I would not mock at "judge the acts, not the person". Now this, is very true. You may pass a decision on a particular act, like, "You shaved off the dog's hair to match his owner's haircut. That is a very inconsiderate act. However, you are not inconsiderate. You are just a person who..." (well, let me come to the bit about analysing persons!)

Having clarified the difference, I will now propose my tried and tested tools of judging a person, which can be passed off as 'objective', and will in 99.99% cases not affect the person being judged in a way passing a judgment would, and at the same time, will enable the person judging to get the relevant info about the person. (I would have written a long long long never ending post about how amazing this 'technique' of mine is without telling what it is and then at the end, tell you to buy it by selling your kidneys, but I preferred to go the Telebrands way). This is about identifying where a person is in certain scales. These scales are about certain attributes that tell about a person more than their acts. In all these scales, there are two extremes (obviously), and my assumption is that the sum total of the attribute on both the extremes is constant at all the points on the scale.

The first scale is between talks and actions. The amount a person can talk and act is constant. So if he/she talks about doing things more, chances of doing the same are a little less. Similarly, if someone stays quiet about things, he/she'll (actually only he) will be up to doing more things that you'd know. The middle point on the scale will be the equilibrium between the two. Similarly, the second scale is about attitude/outlooks: positive/optimistic and negative/pessimist. Although these depend a lot on the specific state of mind, everyone has a natural tendency to respond to things in a particular way - sporty or complaining; happy or sad; angry or chill; repenting the opportunity costs or looking forward. A person at the equilibrium, would be aware of both the ends and be balanced. Autonomy/Dependence form the third attribute. The extreme end of autonomy would imply someone who only listens to himself and everything else falls on a deaf ear, while dependence extreme would render a person thoroughly confused and scared when alone, and they'd do whatever others tell them to do, without much problem. The fourth attribute is rigidity and flexibility/adjustability. This one's self explanatory I believe. And the last one is the scale of Justice in the Jesus sense. 'Do unto others what you would want/expect others to do unto you'. How much does a person believe in this, is the sixth scale.

The above, I feel, are parts of a person's nature, which can place them on different scales in different points to give an evaluation about them. The primary purpose of such an evaluation, I believe, is to know how to exist peacefully with others. Just like you can't expect a blind person to walk to you in a path strange to him/her without any assistance, you can't expect any person who is naturally inclined towards pessimism to take a defeat being sporty. We often tend to not consider these evaluations while branding others as 'crazy' or 'psycho'. It's as wrong and insensitive as judging a person who is on a wheelchair as a bad or undesirable person because he/she needs a wheelchair to move. Maybe, undesirable to some as a personal choice, but it still remains an objective fact. That is what I have tried to sum up above.

And just to make it cool, let me throw in a hash tag here #just-another-attempt-to-harmonize-people

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

unnecessary gyaan

Written long back.. just found it lying somewhere in the hard drive. Long article, read at your own risk.

I have been unhappy, virtually lifeless and restlessly disappointed over quite some time now, a few years so to say. Whatever happiness has been mostly temporary. And yet, what I seek is not happiness but the cure for unhappiness. I keep feeling that we as a generation, as people, as a nation, are losing ourselves. More than anything else, we are losing certain values which we shouldn’t, and losing them with pride. What values do I speak of? I speak of tolerance, respect, understanding, genuineness, depth, substance, selflessness, gratitude and constructive freedom (I say constructive because absolute freedom would mean freedom from these values and from conscience, which I don’t intend to support).

We lack sensitivity; we are not being good human beings. Why has a ‘good human being’ become an oasis in the desert of today’s society? What do I mean when I say ‘good’? I am writing this post well aware of the fact that the judgment of good and bad is not universally the same, and also, being a liberal person myself, I have believed it to be nothing short of an irony to ask others to tread a certain path, to dictate terms or hold strictly defined views of being liberal. But today I feel that inaction of liberty gives way for fundamentalism (the words being merely symbolic of the entire spectrum that I am talking about) to penetrate to the roots of people. An idea of being tolerant towards others can only materialize if people become tolerant by their own volition, and that is not possible till there is even a small group of people that can take undue advantage of the others being tolerant, to further their selfish goals. That is the problem with being on the side of freedom, tolerance, selflessness and respect. It is very easy to leave them all, especially after seeing others live happily leaving it. ‘It is better to make than to break’ used to be the order of the day before, not now anymore. And that is why, I feel it is imminent for each and every one of us to revisit ourselves and further the path of righteousness.

It might seem that I have gone totally cynical, ranting and complaining about everything. I have not. I would have gone cynical if I had made peace with, and digested, all that is troubling me. The ability to reason or justify, which takes us a little higher in terms of civilization, also is the biggest curse to us. I am sure many more others would feel troubled by the things which affect me, but they prefer to find comfort and solace in justifying them, reasoning out how there is no point being troubled by them, and thus, effectively accepting them. We all study and debate and critically appreciate our constitution for the value it gives to individual freedoms, we read about the importance of freedom for personal development of citizens and of nations, but why don’t we get affected when a bunch of people (claimed to be sponsored by the underworld) remote control the State to ensure that Salman Rushdie does not come to India, otherwise he’d be killed, and prevent his virtual presence with a threat of violence. Why do we keep quiet when an honest work in history illustrating the possibility of multiplicity of interpretations of such a text as the Ramayan, is forced to be removed from university syllabus just based on fear from a handful of fundamentalists who might not even know the actual sanctity or the values from their version of Ramayan? Despite all measures, why have the religious and social minorities not moved up the social ladder or the socio-economic ‘standard of life’ ladder after 63 years of the Constitution’s existence? Because if they cease to be minority and all sections of society merge into a common pool, there can’t be a vote bank! Yet we as citizens affected by all this don’t do anything about it.

How many of us can actually stop cribbing about the most insignificant of things in life and feel the pain and misery of millions of people around us? It is not uncommon to see wasted people sitting or lying down on the road with a devastated look on their face. I still can’t forget or forgive myself when I rolled up the window on a poor old woman begging on the road. She looked like she didn’t deserve that treatment at all. She was an old woman and deserved to be cared for. The amount of people unemployed and devoid of opportunities goes beyond my comprehension. A peanut seller on the footpath in Patny sets up his stall on a fine Saturday morning; gives a packet to his kid who happily sits next to him and eats. Imagine living off just by selling peanuts! He has a family to maintain, to provide food to, and can he even imagine affording to send his kid to a school? Meanwhile some college students, excited on a Saturday buy peanuts, shout and bargain and frown and ask for more peanuts at a lesser price; the same students who’d never have even asked for a discount at the showrooms of different brands of which they were wearing clothes and shoes. How can we be so blind to all this? How can we find comfort in ignorance just because we can’t face the truth? But a good man will at the most do his share and give others happiness, he can’t beat these college kids, politicians, corrupt officials and businessmen up and thrust sensitivity in their heads. And that is another big problem we have, to have adopted the wrong means.

We don’t realize that to achieve an end in its true sense, there is always a certain way in which it needs to be achieved. The means are as important as the end. That the end may be decided by the heart, but the means should always be decided by the mind. Look at the anti-graft campaign led by Anna Hazare. The goal of fighting corruption, which hardly anyone could oppose, was made a mockery of by the campaign. People were not being made to change themselves internally, but the anger and frustration of people against corruption was being used to fight only the corrupt public officials with literal force. How long could it have its effect? Can you even possibly end corruption by threatening people at gun point? Look at the Naxal movement. Ignorance and marginalization of certain backward areas by the governments incited the movement. Socio-economic development of backward areas is again a goal which no one can say no to. But they gave up beliefs in democracy and elections, took up arms, and justified violence by the oppressed while criticizing violence of the oppressor. The government could in the first place not understand the problem as violence was resorted to directly, and even if it did understand it, it had the violence to counter in the first place, so development plans became secondary. Even now, the attitude of governments towards such areas is always biased because of the means of naxals which did not go down well with the concept of civilization. And what do we do as citizens? Not give a damn.

It might seem ridiculous now that I have been harping on the fact that we don’t do anything about injustices and miseries in this world without mentioning what is it that we can even do about it? The answer is to change ourselves for the better. To define a value system that sustains diversity and includes everyone’s welfare; to be genuine rather than look for a cover. To not desert our ideals which lie in the foundation of our existence. I can easily wrap this up by saying that sometimes it is better to not consider ideal and practical as two different adjectives, but I know that will make this post half of its worth because we will again go wrong in our means to change ourselves. The option of Mr.Hazare to tie people to a pole and beat them up till they agree to change might not be effective in the long run after all.

One way is to sensitize ourselves, try and understand the plight of others. I can travel in a bus in the city without any music or company just by momentarily living the life of the people I see, to know how they feel. But that again, can only be partly effective, as we love ourselves so much that it is difficult to really leave oneself entirely even for a moment to experience others. Still, if things start concerning someone, making them uneasy, half the work is done. Worst is the case when there is neither any attention/sensitivity nor any feeling of remorse for our actions. So if one is troubled and wants to do something, what is it that can be done? This question has perplexed me for most of my adult life. To even begin introspection, we need to understand that we are slaves of our pre-conceived notions. Judgment, hatred, insecurity, and everything else in the ejusdem generis, is what we need to rid ourselves of first and then make ourselves contributories of justice. It does not mean being totally selfless like a hermit, it only means that we should not be at the other end of the spectrum by being totally selfish either.

We gain education in different disciplines so that we are well rounded, informed persons. But why don’t the
concepts of freedom, mutual respect and tolerance found in our constitution, international law and various other sources ever affect our life? It is because it is very difficult to be in a situation and not think whether I am being affected by it or not. A person will never do anything as long as it does not affect him/her. I have made the same point in a previous post as well, but I still feel there needs to be a specified way for one to even feel affected, even though he/she is not actually being affected, in order to shape his/her value system accordingly.

And for this, I resort to a drug that is so bitter that it takes anyone’s patience away, but is probably the only thing that can control a human for the betterment of society. This drug is uncertainty/ignorance, not of others but of oneself. Just as the ability to justify, being a symbol of mental growth can be a major factor for cessation of spiritual growth, like a double edged sword, even uncertainty, while taking away one’s peace of mind can also ensure that such decisions are taken by humans that benefit all. This is nothing but the theory of justice given by John Rawls. His theory is based on the concept of social contract, i.e. an agreement in which all the people of society arrive at certain rules and agree to abide by them for their collective sustenance and development. To put it simply, he talks about entering into a social contract behind the veil of ignorance i.e. at the time of deciding the rules of society, the laws or the value system which people should agree to, if everyone entering into such a social contract is behind a veil of ignorance, has no idea what he/she will be like when they exist, rich or poor, whichever caste, whichever race, in power or without power, etc., then whatever rules on which people agree will be just and fair for all. Why? Because everyone will be facing an equal amount of risk with an equal probability.

There will be total uncertainty. And if I am uncertain as to which caste I may belong to, or whether under the current social fabric, if I may belong to a lower caste, I will obviously want the belief in caste-based inequality to not exist, or the belief to not be unfavourable to any caste. And if everyone is in the same position as me, everyone would want the same. Similarly, for everything, if everyone has an equal chance of being at the receiving end of the causes of any kind of injustice, everyone would agree to do away with injustice as much as possible. We don’t need to assume the most ideal world, but we just need to imagine us being at the receiving end, and we will be mobilized. Hence, as much as I hate uncertainty in life, I wish everyone could be uncertain about his/her wealth, social status, feeling of possessiveness, love, hatred, judgment, etc. and I hope the values of tolerance, respect, patience and strength are never lost in the ‘changing times and changing generations’ in which we belong and the ones to come.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Rudyad Kipling's poem titled "If", one of my all time favourites.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reminiscent of the morning assembly in school

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high

Where knowledge is free

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

By narrow domestic walls

Where words come out from the depth of truth

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

Where the mind is led forward by thee

Into ever-widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

- Rabindranath Tagore

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Musical Much

Listening to some of my all time favourite songs. Genre is rock. Songs are quite long. The ones dealing with this post are just four in number. Echoes (Pink Floyd), Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin), Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd) and Russia on Ice (Porcupine Tree). The setting is in an APSRTC Bus, sitting on the stairs of the rear door, in the middle of night (8:30 PM), in the middle of a Highway, on the way to college. The feeling is inexplicable, the desire, eternal.

At this juncture of life, these songs somehow seem to relate to my life and aspirations. I notice a common design in all these songs. They start slow and heavy, not outrightly musical from the beginning but promising enough to lure the listener into eagerly continue listening. This beginning which shows a potentially legendary song is followed by either a gradual addition of music (like in stairway to heaven) or by a rhythmic lull (as in echoes) which carries on to a point where enjoyment turns into a little impatience and one can sense something epic happening around the corner. Seems like there is constant music that you are laboring through with patience to develop a base for something magical. 

There comes a nadir almost ending the musical lull described above, where one feels that enough has been stocked and its time to pull up your socks and dive in the ocean to play David and Goliath with the tides. Thus starts something that will give you an adrenaline rush. The epic solo of Jimmy Page; the magic created by Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason; and the overpowering tune of Steve Wilson; symbolize grandeur, indulgence, grace, style and rhythm. The ease with which these stretches of music create a huge momentum of their own (ex - russia on ice) one feels like mountains are moving. The last 5 minutes of echoes are like these sixes hit off flicks and chips by a batsman who can see the ball like a football, timing the connect of leather to the sweet spot of his willow - perfection, ease and flare galore! The solo in stairway to heaven feels like sprinting over to the top of a mountain as it reaches its crescendo, maybe, symbolizing the run up the stairway to heaven; and finally, comfortably numb has a feeling of greatness (like a boss!) and of looking back at the achievements and the journey tread thus far in life and feeling happy about the things one has done till eyes water and hair raises, as the cool shameerpet breeze runs through my hair and I drop down at my destination.

To be honest, life seems to be in the musical lull right now, one may want to sense drama around the corner. Maybe the nadir is approaching and I need to pull up my socks to reach the crescendo. Don't know if I can really fit into the feeling that I get from these songs, but, I believe that life is best described by Robert Plant's introduction to Stairway to Heaven in the 1977 concert in Seattle (and in many more live performances) - "This is a song of hope."

Friday, May 27, 2011

We live in a State of Nature.

Probably the state of nature that Locke, along with other contractarian thinkers, had conceived is not a matter of pure theory and has practical relevance. According to Locke, in a state of nature, man is brutish, isolated and only exists. The purpose of life is only to survive unlike the concept of life in Right to life (Article 21, Indian Constitution). So basically, every man cares about only himself and that too only to the extent of survival and there no concept as peaceful co-existence. This is how Locke describes the state of nature, the default mode from which humans proceed towards civilization by entering into a social contract, surrendering certain freedoms to the entity called state in return of certain securities such as from violence, etc. in the form of a police.

Anyway, coming back to the state of nature, I had the above realization coming from Nagpur to Raipur in a train, in a compartment with 5 adults and 3 kids in the age group of 4-5 years. So this is the cast for this scene – 1 jolly good south-indian grandpa (surprisingly), 1 typical south-indian grandma, 1 gult couple [gult mom and gult dad], 1 gult kid, 1 huge and scary Punjabi mom, 2 punjabi kids [older kid, younger kid].
I enter this overcrowded compartment with the only birth, that too the middle one, and see that the gult couple and the Punjabi mom and grandpa are not there. The three kids and the grandmom are there. The younger kid is hyper active, hyper angry and threatens everyone that his mom will come and beat him/her up. He is blocking the door of the compartment and not letting anyone enter or go out. The typical grandmom is helplessly telling that kid to not do so, but the kid ‘ain’t gonna stop’ because he is pnjabbee. This gult kid who was playing with the older kid goes to the younger kid and tells him to not do so. So this younger kid, who is almost the same age as the gult kid, first beats the hell out of him and then twists and chokes his throat with his forearm till the gult kid starts flowing rivers down his eyes. Meanwhile, typical southie grandmom, blabbers something in (I’m assuming) telugu, and again with the helpless expression on her face tells the younger kid to stop. Now enters a police guy who sits in the lower birth next to us and is made this ultimate threat for the kids by the grandmom. ‘If you do this, police uncle will take you away’ and the police guy calmly tells the younger kid that he’ll take him in a sack if he doesn’t behave well, to which the younger kid replies that his mom will beat the hell out of him. Meanwhile, the older kid seems embarrassed by the younger kid and starts beating him up with an empty plastic bottle, while exclaiming that this is the Punjabi way to correct him.
And at this juncture, the Punjabi mom enters, a huge giant truck-like figure with a juggernaut-like attitude and demeanor in the overcrowded entry door. That was when I realized how real the younger kid’s threats were. She came with ice-creams which she shoved down her kids’ throats to shut them up. The gult kid starts crying even more vigorously once she comes in. After the madrasi grandmom complained to her about her notorious kid, she slapped her younger kid, then shoved more ice-cream down his throat to stop him from crying and gave an ice cream to the gult kid with a smile. Later the grandpa came and the gult kid complained to him about the antiques of the younger kid to which the grandpa replies that the gult kid himself would have been at some wrong to have been strangulated by the younger Punjabi kid. Then came the gult couple with idlis and vada paos and everyone started eating. The gult kid seemed mannered enough to offer his food to everyone around, for which he was praised by everyone as a ‘good boy’, but the younger pnjabbee kid was still threatening him and this gult kid with the safety of so many matured adults around kept teasing the younger kid, knowing that the younger kid cannot beat him up there.

As entertaining as this whole account of events might have been, it is a brilliant depiction of what I started this post with – the state of nature. If you look at the kids, they are a pure and true of certain human instincts which get eclipsed in civilization, or the social contract. The kids don’t know about any social contract in terms of state, but they know about the social contract in terms of a safety/security of parents being around. Consider this situation, the kids are what they were in the beginning – without any parent around and with the presence of only the old helpless grandma. The so-called ‘good boy’ gult kid was getting rodded by the younger Punjabi kid. He was helpless, crying, and almost being choked to death. He was depending on his parents; he couldn’t do anything without them. This Punjabi kid, on the other hand, did have a safety net in terms of his road-roller mom, but was still taking charge himself, beating the daylights out of the gult kid.
On a larger picture, the gult kid was definitely what everyone should be and the Punjabi kid definitely what nobody should be. The social contract where one gives up his choice and freedom to do whatever one wants in order to respect the right of others to not be beaten up and be protected from violence was imbibed in him by his parents. The pnjabbee kid did not give a rat’s ass about the gult kid. And this is exactly where the problem of being good arises. The ‘good behavior’ in terms of mutual respect and peace, in terms of unselfish and caring behavior, quite like the utopia contemplated by communists, is truly possible and advisable when it is consensual. The moment a person deviates from this, he gets the better out of others. If you look at this definition of ‘good nature’ in the context of state of nature and not in the context of a social contract, you will be amazed to know how the definition of a desirable/advisable behavior completely reverses. To think about oneself is what the norm becomes. For instance, there is one free birth, and there are three people without confirmed tickets who want it, there are four possibilities – 1) anyone gets the birth and excludes the other two; 2) any two decide that it is better that two share a birth instead of three and therefore, exercise their influence to get the birth and exclude the other; 3) all three share that one birth and; 4) no one gets the birth. If all three have a ‘good nature’, then they will peacefully share the birth. If one of them wants the entire birth and the other two are ‘good and generous’ persons, then the one who wants the entire birth gets it. If all three want the birth with the exclusion of other two, then there is a head on collision, yes, a state of nature!

These kids had safety nets to fall back upon. But as people grow up, they become independent. They become the safety nets for others. The obligation increases. It is not only ‘each man for himself’ but it becomes ‘each man for himself and his dependants’. So the chances of a person giving up certain things for others also reduces because even though he may not mind giving up but he may mind his dependants giving up because of his altruist attitude. And as I had already explained how even if there is one person who is not caring much about others, the ones who are caring are the ones who suffer, which is wrong and unjust. Thus, people bring back the state of nature.

However, one balancing line that I have observed very commonly is that people will be ‘good’ by nature i.e. helping, selfless, etc. and if they encounter anyone who is unreasonable to them, then they will deal with that person differently. However, there is a certain irony in this in the form of an inconsistency. Also, it takes a similar logical structure as the ‘harm principle’ expounded by J.S. Mill. The harm principle states that you are at liberty to do whatever you want to as long as it does not harm anyone. Here, the balancing approach that I spoke of would be that you should be as caring, selfless and good to others as possible, as long as it does not harm your self-interest. Effectively, self interest is the first priority. However, the threshold of self interest beyond which being good to others is not desirable is different for different people which makes this approach not only redundant but morally dangerous because a person can be as selfish as possible but still cover it up under this approach, claiming a different threshold.

Hence, even as adults, the gult kid would be unsure as to whether he should be prepared to fight that younger kid back when he went to stop him from blocking others. The gult kid then, despite considering the younger kid to be at a fault, will not go to stop him, trying to avoid any consequences of messing with the angry and powerful younger kid. The powerful thus prevails over the good. Religion tells us that god is in being good and hence the power. But religion also tells us that god helps those who help themselves. Confusing, eh? The very structure of society is such that if one does not care about others, others face a threat from him. Therefore, the only consideration that might keep people to being ‘good’ is that they face a threat too if people are not considerate about others, that a bully can also be at the receiving end. For this, it becomes indispensable for the definition of a ‘good behavior’ to be not restricted to only caring for others but also to include ‘strength’ and the ‘capability to deal with any other behavior in an apt and effective way’. Thus, the ability to discriminate between good and bad gains significance in an advisable behavior.

However, my assumption so far, of a clear ‘good-bad’ dichotomy is not always true and the exercise of a counter force with the justification of it being for good assumes a high risk and potential for further disturbances, but that is a topic to deal with another day and rests heavily with what should be considered ‘good’ with the widest acceptance. The conclusion of this piece, therefore, is that along with being sweet, caring and sharing with others, the gult couple should also have ensured that their kid never cried but dealt with the younger kid himself.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Your Best Friend is Franky Fear

Your best friend is Franky Fear. A fighter’s best friend is his fear; one shouldn’t be ashamed of it. It keeps you fighting till the end for survival. It is like this fire inside which you need to control; when controlled it provides heat, keeps you going; but the moment it starts controlling you, it burns you down to ashes.
-          Sylvestor Stallon (as Rocky Balboa) in Rocky V

Every force in this world is just like the fire within. It is like a double edged sword which can be as good as bad. Then why do we have rigid notions about different forms of forces being right and wrong, good and bad, advisable and non-advisable? Why do we have people fighting over clash of ideologies, over clash of egos, clash of interests, trying to prove that ‘I am right, you are wrong’? Every clash in this world is based on different notions of right and wrong, but is there actually a force which is inherently right or inherently wrong?  As quoted above, fear, which is considered as a sign of cowardice, is also the driving force. Likewise, ambition is bad when used as a justification for trampling people over and violating fiduciary duties, but it is good for personal growth and development. A person being selfish may be not be one of the most caring people but if that person attaches you to himself/herself, the same selfishness becomes safety/security. And to speak in a generalized way, knowledge/intelligence is good generally but is bad if used for undesirable ends like terrorism or for settling personal vendetta; being peaceful is good as you don’t get involved in fights but it makes the person boring and lethargic.

The point being that every force in this world has potential to create as well as to destroy; it all depends upon how it is used. A combination of these forces and the method of their usage on an abstract level constitute the character of a person. Therefore, no person is inherently good or bad (except Vasanthi) but is considered to be so based on how a person shapes the forces constituting his or her character. Therefore, suppose if a person is actually being an ass and pissing someone off by being bitchy and/or malicious and/or slimy/spineless, then the person who is at the receiving end of this can use the forces in a positive manner by not bitching or being malicious in return. Otherwise, if both the parties become malicious towards each other, then, even if one of them is justified in bitching, it will render the same status of bitchiness or malign to such an otherwise innocent party as well. For it is not the status of a person that fixes his/her role/character but the character/role of a person that fixes his/her status (Following from what Millett J. pointed out in Bristol and West Building Society v Mothew [1998] Ch. 1, that a person is “not subject to fiduciary obligations because he is a fiduciary; it is because he is subject to them that he is a fiduciary”)

Very often, I feel that basic things in life are neglected and forgotten. Let’s say, the teachings which one gets as a child which form the basis of one’s character and conscience, are hardly followed once a person grows up, while such simplest of teachings contain the deepest and profoundest of philosophies. I still remember this one story which I had in Hindi Literature course in my class 6 or 7 (don’t remember the class exactly). That story was about a mirror maze where any person or animal standing in the middle would see his own multiple reflections in every direction. Now it basically shows different stray dogs accidentally entering that place. First enters a dog who gets scared by seeing so many reflections, gets insecure, and starts barking in retaliation even though there was no threat to him. What he sees is multiple images of dogs of different shapes and sizes barking at him in a strong sense of insecurity and shooing him away just like he did to the mirror. Ultimately, the dog leaves the maze. Then enters a dog that is in a very aggressive mood, and the moment he sees an image in the mirror, he starts barking violently and starts charging towards it. The image also comes equally close charging at him with an equal furor and ultimately both collide, the dog falls down. Like a loser that dog runs away from that place in anger. Then entered the third dog that enters the maze happily, observes multiple images, happily starts playing with them, and enjoys his time without getting insecure by the presence of other images but by using the same force of multiple images to his advantage and enjoyment, after which he leaves the place.

This clearly illustrates that the same thing which reflected hatred or insecurity for two dogs reflected play and cheer for another. The difference lied in the default attitude of the third dog and the usage of force for proper ends in a proper way. The mirror maze is nothing but the world at large, a symbolization of the law of karma rather, and the time spent in the middle is our life. Ultimately we all have to go away from the centre of the maze but we should consider how we go away and how did we spend the time at the centre. For a dog which saw a growling and frowning image and retaliated with a frown himself, the entire time went in frowning which was justified for him. However, for a dog which sees a frowning image and overlooking or letting go of the reasons to frown, chooses to smiles at it, ultimately sees a smiling image only. Sometimes the glass of the mirror in the maze might be thick enough to refract and hence, distort the image, but the third dog takes that as a matter of play and continues enjoying his time.

However, even this story is based on an assumption that playing and being happy would amount to a proper usage of force instead of frowning and attacking. That might not be the case always. A person might say that she/he enjoys making things complicated, bitching about others or to disrespect and humiliate others. Basically, it might be in the nature of a person to fight with others. Here again, I am reminded of those childhood teachings where I was told that there is no prosperity where there is no peace or where there is a lot of fighting. If we observe it practically, we are often left amazed at the veracity of this simple conclusion. I was told in my early years of life that I should not disrespect anyone. Now even if I find ample reasons for disrespecting certain people (which is inevitable in a place like this), there is no license for me to start disrespecting people. What reasons can probably go on to justify disrespect? If I was told as a child that there is God in everyone, how does that get negated when I grow up unless I myself ignore the God within me?

Whatever reasons and justifications we might find for ill-will for a certain people; we can never deny the observations based on our personal experiences that there is actually less or no prosperity where there are too many fights and the other way round. Driven by self interest, this just blocks the idea of fighting in the first place. The reason for this is the most uncontestable reason, that of choice. Observing the rock logic – water logic dichotomy, it can be safely deduced that in respective contexts, both the arguments i.e. to fight or to not fight, can be justified with enough reasons and therefore, based upon the choice of context depends the notion of correct or logical. Therefore, if a person chooses the context of karma and prosperity, then it is only logical to ensure peace even if it requires one to compromise on ego or self importance. After all, for the attainment of ultimate goal, a prioritization or evaluation of acts has to be done in accordance with the context. If the context, however, has the ultimate aim of self satisfaction of ego and self consciousness at a superficial level so as to place self importance and the artificial sense of victory in prevailing over others, then logic within such context will not consider fighting or lack of prosperity any bad.

Therefore, the use of every force depends on our choice.  Whether we want to make or to break also depends on our choice. Our choice is that of a contextual structure or a value system which is influenced by the simple things taught to a person as a child. Where we actually go wrong is in being inconsiderate to such a treasure of philosophies, in being spineless in the true sense by giving up our beliefs and getting inclined towards the easier alternative. The main purpose of teaching us as kids is to build a character-base and if we do not take that into account, then it is a waste. If all of us would have still remembered and respected the teachings given to us in childhood, then we would not have had the hatred, the irritation, the Ill-will and the irretrievable breakdowns of friendships among us; the sense of insecurity and self interest can be discharged even through those means which are consistent with our basic learning. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

what's my blog name?

This post is, again, keeping in consonance with the name of my blog. In times of sheer boredom, a lot of thoughts make me wonder. This time it is the suddenness, inevitability and convenience of death and the volatility and superficiality of life. Everything around us is temporary, everything. From all the material creations 'owned and possessed' to all the abstract memories and emotions attached to such creations.. from people you love to people you hate to people you are indifferent to.. everything, everyone is temporary. I know everyone knows this.. but everyone forgets this. If not everyone, at least I many a times forget that life is just 'a journey in time.'

Such thoughts take me in stoicism where every notion of good and bad vanishes, there is no love no hatred, no desire no satisfaction, no identification no differentiation no inequality, no success no failure, no relaxation no worries, no pride no embarrassment, no conformity no deviance, no fame no despair, no happiness no sorrow.

All that concerns us, all that we think needs to be changed and all that we desire seems to have no relevance and seems like a lost cause in light of such a temporary nature of life. A journey in time does not depend on what you travel in and what path you travel in because it's not the distance but the time which is limited. So how ever the journey is, it ends for everyone and everyone is restored to the default position once the journey is over. So what do we stand for? All our principles, all our actions in life, all the people 'close' to us, all our desires, all our emotions, everything that is included in the definition of 'human nature'.. all these all of a sudden seem to be mere shallow and empty concepts. My basic point here being the one about the sheer abstractness which surrounds the entire Universe. No logic is rock logic, it is just water logic without any specification.

And at this point, I would like to clarify that I may ponder upon all this and feel infinitely engaged in thoughts but i do not think all these suggest that one should not do anything at all because it is just one life one gets to live. All that I feel with such thoughts is that there is nothing conclusive and nothing can restrict the possibility of life except the limitation on time duration of one's life span. So the question remains that this sole determining factor is controlled by whom. And on this very point every time I talk to anyone or read up myself on anything related to atheism and the justification for it, rather criticism of theism provided by the political extreme left, it seems very impressive. All the concepts of religion being an opium of the masses and a tool to justify and perpetuate the dominant class' ideology seem very true. No doubt that a lot of what is called evil happens due to the present day concept of religion. But to use such reasons heavily grounded in superficiality and 'the present' to propose that no supernatural all-controlling entity exists is like saying that 'because i've never experience death till now so i don't believe in the concept of death. How can I accept that anyone other than me would decide when my life ends? And just because death generates fear in people, it is bad and therefore one should believe that death does not happen.' This strong perpetual evidence of control over the happenings and world order always puts me in this position where i cannot discard the existence of such an entity.

I guess I should end this useless stream of random thoughts which faintly make sense to me as an abstract cynical philosophical criticism to the general notion of life. I think I need some cricket now.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The days

A bunch of 80-odd students gather, all potentially brilliant with sharp acumen, high ambitions and a sense of achievement and pride of having made it to one of the ‘premier law schools in the country’. A huge diversity of places of residence and belonging, a considerable diversity in schooling and previous lifestyles, an enormous diversity in priorities and the notions of fun and some diversity in age, experience and exposure – all kept together with the same imposed routine and in the same place, making the current diversity zero and reducing the diversity in the notions of fun considerably.

These young students (with some diversity even in innocence) meet, become friends, some ready to judge each other, some ready to let time take its course and some confirmed loners right from the very beginning. But overall, almost everyone is fascinated to see and meet new people and make new friends which everyone knows will stay together for 5 years and hopefully even after that. Unaware of the coming law school life, these freshers enjoy their present to the fullest and with innocence.

Among the diversity (I’d prefer to use this word instead of ‘inequality’ which according to me carries a negative connotation) of people, the ones at a relative lack of advantage (reason being regarded to the previous place, lack of exposure and a difference in lifestyle and notions of fun) like me start socialising with the small step of neighbourhood. And thus, among the gradually growing competition and ambition and crossing through the ragging sessions as time passed in the first semester, a small group of people on the top floor of subconsciously became close friends and this incident is as abstract and symbolic to not be restricted only to the group on the top floor but I guess, to be applicable to the entire batch in some way or the other.

Moving ahead with abstractness, the conditions in the first semester of emotional and practical difficulties are in some way compensated by the relaxed (as it appears now) academic demands. And just as carpe diem ruled, one fine morning, proximate to the end of the first semester, in the legendary room no. 312 of boys hostel 3, a plan is made for the upcoming vacations. The best use of tension free, stress free time of life when there is no dearth of time to devote on everyone and hardly any occupation of mind in relation to human-relations is made by a vacation with friends to the beaches of east coast in Puri and Chilika Lake.

And these vacations turned out to be precious memories. When most of us in the noble pursuit of work and fulfilment of ambitions were busy interning more than the library, the five of us (one out of the six couldn’t come from Dubai) took a week off from everything that could’ve occupied us then and gathered at Cuttack. From there, in a car we had set up our base in Puri from where we roamed around the whole of Puri, Chilika Lake and Konark. Those nights of poker with bubble gums and jellies and fifa on psp, the road trips with complicated academic comments about the praise of the ‘blend of civilisation and natural wild’, the elaborate photography sessions, the conning of marus (only one to be precise and respectful to the rest of the community) with ‘black pearls’, every night after-dinner tea and the gazing of waves on the beach, the attempted time-capsule in the form of a live Neanderthal, the ultra adventure of a fisherman-boat ride on the violent but relatively calm Bay of Bengal and the common part in all – the tension free relaxed life with the zeal life with nothing to bother.

The picture above is one of my favourites. On a closer look, the letter ‘N’ on the sand is clearly visible and top half of the letter ‘A’. This was the excitement we had about NALSAR, not just because of professional reasons but because of the happiness about finding friends and the excitement of a life ahead which started this way in the college. Yes, we all owe it to nalsar for bringing us together is what someone among us had said while writing it on the sand.

Recently while talking to one of my friends who couldn’t believe how time passed and we were about to complete two years here, I held that if we look back, it does feel like we have been here now for some time, it does feel that two years have passed. I’ve seen a lot of changes – changes in my person, in the structure of human relations, in the attitude of most of us, in the shifting focus from social hyperactivity to academic concerns and devotion. So much has happened in our lives in these two years and I don’t restrict so much of happenings to academic achievements only. And it many a times appears that the diversity has been reduced to a great extent. The diversity in innocence, in lifestyles, in notions of fun and other things mentioned above. I haven’t been able to stay in the same routine as in the first semester (for my own good) but a gradual shift to the other extreme is what I have been sensing in myself.

With increased work load, which might not be a load if enjoyed but becomes a load when considered with the fact that you can’t spend time with those whom you like to spend it with, is the biggest change that happened with time. I am not saying that there should be no desire to work, on the contrary, this change in the amount of work is mostly voluntary. But it seems like a crossroad when you realize how important and desirable it is to work and at the same time you need to manage time with close ones. And once into a commitment, it is inevitable and undesirable to come out of it and hence, the only solution is to ‘manage’ time. However, with the diversity in the working pattern of people, which is brought about by this place contrary to being subverted by it, makes it almost impossible to successfully manage time. One time you might be free but others busy and other times when others are free, you are busy and no one can manage times depending on others’ schedules. This leads to a person becoming a loner with work as the only confirmed company and if friends encourage and cooperate with the workload voluntarily undertaken, this puzzle can still be solved rather much enjoyably. However, if too close, the feeling of irritation at my non-availability takes over the prudent faculty of cooperation and encouragement. Then despite the goodwill, it appears that your working style or choice is detrimental for your social relations and hence, you should cut down on the work or change the way you work. But work is the main reason why parents spend so much money to educate us in such institutions and therefore, putting it in the backseat attracts a huge amount of guilt.

Gradually with time here, life becomes tougher and whenever you feel like you’ve settled yourself down in this place, you are reminded of how planting your ass in this place and working is a boring activity and shouldn’t be perpetuated. It often makes one feel like running away forever from everything as everything has so many problems. Right now, I do miss those tension free relaxed days of freedom, of spontaneity and impulsiveness and of purity of fun and the purposelessness of enjoyment – ‘the days: 27-11-08 to 02-12-08’. The sphere of human relations often becomes so complicated that sometimes, it makes me wonder whether getting too close to anyone is good for anyone. But that’s a separate talk altogether and hence, something to wonder some other day.