Thursday, 30 June 2011

On a Caution Song

Strolling away by the neighborhood park an evening, I noticed a little girl, about 7-years old, in a cute frilly frock, butterfly hair pins with a doll in her arms, carelessly pass by. The image remains itched in my memory not for her frock or the hair pins but for a little gesture she displayed - not aware to her innocent mind but a reminder to my grown up mind - The doll she held in her hands was not just held, it was cradled near her bosom and she was playfully trying to cradle and care for the doll.

This little playful gesture by that child displayed to my grown up cluttered mind, something that was overshadowed by the social upbringing my mind had undergone all these years. And the effect of that upbringing was that every time I step out, there is a caution song playing somewhere at the back of my mind – caution about if my shirt is the right length, if my top has the correct neck, if my walk isn’t provocating, etc. etc. etc.  The song is on from home-to-back-home and it just would not stop – do whatever I may. The caution tendency is inscribed so deep that I am sure girls my age nearly wish we were born for six packs, instead.

But that little child just displayed to me a truth nearly forgotten  – women amongst other things are born with the greatest gift – the gift to create and cradle life. But today, if I have to open a newspaper, switch on a news channel or surf an ePaper then a large portion of the reported news makes me feel that it is not a gift I carry but a bane. If not for the gift then I would be able to walk the roads free of that caution song.

A 6-year old is raped by a 13-year old neighbor, a 14-year old is sexually abused by her father who later sold her to more than 120 people, a 12-year old accompanied by her mother’s sister is presented to people ranging from politicians to business men, a 20-year old is gang raped by her brother and his friends, a 26-year old is gang raped in a office cab, a 51-year old tourist is molested to death by an auto driver…..The instances are numerous and probably endless too, with age definitely not a bar. And to think of it these are only the stories that see daylight, there would be equivalent or more numbers that are hidden in the dark alleys of momentary human lust. Makes me wonder if we have even slightly moved forward from the barbaric ages, otherwise what kind of a society treats its co-inhabitants with a brutality and immorality that even animals do not exhibit! I am sure a lot of us, from the so called fairer sex, wish we were born in pre-british India which even centuries back boasted of a society which celebrated its women, where even a sex worker held a social respect – atleast no one would be barbaric with her because she is born a woman. Wondering aren’t we socially like The curious case of Benjamin Button – ageing backwards!

As a parting thought all I can say is there could be tons of excuses for those atrocities against women from women’s dressing to men’s natural instincts but a rose plucked with force will only be rendered useless and no society can even aim to evolve progressively with half of its spirit is either shattered or on a ‘caution song’.            

Saturday, 25 June 2011

My Gut's Got Feelings!

Gut feeling, sixth sense, inner voice, soul mumblings.....countless descriptions for a voice that has no pointable source, no known provocation and a frequency that no 21st century audio receptor device can receive or record. These little voicing’s happen to all of us and place us quite at par with the neighbourhood baba or at best with the baba’s parrot atleast, thus making us iFortune readers (nothing to do with apple though.) I mean what else would you call fortune readers who have future predictions only about their future, their wants, their wishes etc. (yes that is being very self centred but can’t really help.)

I am a proud iFortune reader with a specialization - my gut’s got special feelings for cricket! Actually there is this little mental game I play especially during cricket matches that Team India or Chennai Super Kings play (I guess my gut’s got exclusive feelings for captain cool – MS Dhoni.) Ok well the mental game is – Watching Winner Win in (advance)! And there is always a ‘certain’ something associated with the prediction like - India will lose today’s match and my boss will be in a bad mood. So if one comes true then the other HAS to come true. And don’t you think that I just guess the winner, aivee. There is a whole ritual linked to it: Find a scheduled place - sit back (with a straight back ofcourse) – close eyes – isolate mind of all biased thoughts – seek answer. Tedious, but I always manage a clear answer. And to top it my gut has absolutely no idea about matches being tied or rain washed – there is always a clear winner. Being the cricket enthusiast that I am, I played this game religiously during World Cup 2011 and as the tournament neared its culmination my range extended to other teams matches as well.

2nd semi final match – Sri Lanka vs. England; after my tedious mental ritual the answer by baba gut was – England and my associated ‘certain’ prediction was India plays Finals at Wankhede and lifts the cup!   But bingo, Sri Lanka won and spot-on my gut, without any mental exercises, pops up with a declaration – World Cup Gone. The stupid voice pops up whenever it wants to but when I need an answer it makes me toil with those mental regimes. Well irrespective of what happened at the Wankhede, that night when India rejoiced globally, if I have to analyze the whole thing philosophically then, I think my gut feeling had all gone wary (probably my gut developed a constipation that ideally should have happened to MSD’s) and if I analyze it rationally I may have really wanted England to win as India had already nearly beaten them in the group match, so my team had a chance; and don’t know about Sachin but I personally am very terrified of ‘Maggi Man’ Malinga’s Yorkers, so I was dead sure that my team had no chances against him.

After this happened I have wondered numerous times, all those inner voices which I have always believed to be my gut feelings – are they truly coming from an unexplainable self power, predicting and guiding me on into future or are they my insecurities voicing themselves in the face of my scare about anything that matters to me. Just before I take the stage for a presentation, before I enter the boardroom to meet my Manager’s boss, before I look at the notice board displaying my exam results or even before I answer the first phone call from a crush – there is a voice – a voice which tells me: ok you are screwed! This will all go wrong now and I brace myself for the worst imaginable in those milliseconds I have before the action. Infact IF I can, then I actually turn back from whatever I was about to do because of that one voice – it is suddenly god’s own voice for me – a hotline straight from heaven.     

I am not saying that I do not have an ‘inner voice’ moment. It happens to the best and worst of us and as the name suggests it happens for a moment – a second or a millisecond – and the truth is, most of the times I fail to even notice it in the everyday chaos that we call life. So engrossed are we in our little career anxieties, performance nervousness, relationship stress and our continuous race against traffic and time that we are in no way, anywhere near to listening to anything except our insecurities, swaying confidence and the resultant pessimism banging loudly in our minds.

I wonder, we knowingly, unknowingly do so many things to keep a motivated mental equilibrium - read inspirational lines on Facebook and like them, re-tweet the same on Twitter, read quotes off our table quote book and wow about it, read ‘The speaking tree’ in The TOI with concentration enough to crack the window pane, go through books, blogs and what not. My understanding after going through all these things is – yes they do inspire us, motivate us and edge us forward in our journeys but momentarily while there is a calm, subtle voice around us – a voice which could prove to be our steady full time built-in motivation DVD because it is the sound of our true self – of not the physical mind laced with insecurities of the world that it has grown up in but of the inner mind which knows our truest potential but sadly we hardly even try to listen to it.

Those lines by someone else inspire us for a few moments or a maximum of an hour. All it takes is a scorn from a colleague or few disappointing words from the boss and the cloud of inspiration goes poof! And in that moment of low self esteem those lines which inspired us a while ago fail to inspire us yet again. But if we can hear that little voice from within then we will not need to go back to those lines at all because our inspiration, our truth is right in us, it is within and if befriended that voice is our best friend – a friend that is a true mirror – it will only show us that which is the truth, not what we seek.

To be constantly self inspired and positive we need to attain a state like what Shekhar Kapur, the oscar winning film maker recently tweeted, “Like a mother is alive to her child’s every breath, be alive to your inner voice.” And all being alive to that voice requires is an aware unattached mind. Right now most of us are like the proverbial musk deer who seeks the fragrance hidden in its musk glands all though its life; but what we need to evolve into is a germinating seed – one which knows that it is opening up a tender sapling from its own womb but still peels away from it with a self-belief that the sapling will determine and live its own destiny – so aware yet so unattached.

This journey from the possessive to the progressive will determine the decibel levels and our hearing capabilities of that inner voice and till that journey is undertaken, with an intention to succeed, the gut has no feelings, it is only the pessimist within.

Be Deaf to it, Break its Spirit!                     

Saturday, 18 June 2011

isee, ibeleive, iperceive – Not always in that order

A decade back, the year college life began for us, the year that marked a turn around for all of us 32 idiots-trying-to-be-cool undergraduates and the year that finally ended with lots of introductions-cum-ragging & a happening fresher’s party. A few months into the same year’s hostel life and a few of us gal gangers decided to do something, which we then (and now too) called – Plan chit. It was what today I will call ‘Spirit Speed Calling’. Oh Yes, Holy Spirits who still were on the waitlist of visa’s to heaven or hell were called upon to enter into a one-rupee coin and answer a few questions for us – full on KBC style without options! Today if you ask me why we did it – well the nearest sane explanation would be simply – just to see if spirits actually came.

So we wanted to see a coin dance around to believe in ‘spirit power’ and our ‘Concentration Power’ too (after all the explanation of the spirit entering the coin was – it happened because of few minds concentrating on a single goal!!). Well exactly like some of us who neither believe in god nor ghosts, as we have not seen either. So precisely most of us want to see things to believe it. Well fair enough, after all we get marks when teachers see correct answers, we get jobs when recruiters see our degrees, we get promotions when boss sees results (in fact quantifiable results), even our judiciary functions on this whole seeing business. So it is a saw, see, seeing world we have built around us, over the centuries.  

But what about people; true we do exist in a materialistic and material world but we also simultaneously live in a world full of people moving in and out of our lives – people we meet at work, on the footpath, in the bus, inside the housing complex, in the vegetable market and hundreds of places we go thousands of times. So, how do we group them? As white, black and grey or rather as good, bad and in-between? And how exactly do we decide on the grouping – do we stand back and observe each person we meet before we mentally group them or do we just mentally group them, based on our prior experience of a similar conditioning, and then interact with them (of course based on our protocols for the group that they belong to.)

Well if you ask me I do the latter and always think I am bang on right about my groupings or rather till lately I thought so. Precisely till the day a few months back in office, where we all had this discussion during one of the numerous coffee breaks, about a certain executive who clocked in more hours in office than any of us did. So we all, as usual, had our own interpretations for his Hard working Nature. The interpretations ranged right from – him being a slow jack, to him finding office as the perfect place to reduce his tea & snacks bill, to him being such a bore that he cannot manage a single date, to all this action diverted to impress the boss, to him being a robot etc. etc. and etcetera.

Honestly till that moment I never sat back and thought the rightness of such an action – at that very moment eight minds were interpreting one action!! But a large group gives one the privilege of sitting back and going out of action for some time and reflecting.And I thought how ironical – eight interpretations of one man’s one action!! Which is the right one – are all right or is the right interpretation still not voiced. It was utterly confusing and that moment struck me with the magnitude of errors I may have committed, in all these years, by similar judgements about people – judgement of present people by past’s perceptions. It felt like living in my own box all these years – judging others or looking at others with my perspective, never really trying on their shoes. If what they do or say is similar to what I have seen or heard it was always comfortable but if I was unexposed to that line of thinking - the action was always weird and thinking illogical. I suddenly felt an empathy for the late Mr. M.F. Hussain - maybe he too was judged in other’s perspective, maybe he had a perception that was just a little different.

We believe what we see but in context to fellow humans we see what we perceive and hence believe what we perceive. Effectually there is no right or wrong to those perceptions – they are like business case studies - every identified problem does exist in the case but some more may also exist. I have concluded since that coffee discussion that for a peaceful co-existence (more on the mental level) with fellow humans, flexible perceptions and openness to differences is as important as fuel to flame – and here the fuel gets to decide whether the flame is a candlelight - efficient enough to give light, light another flame, beatify and mystify, etc or a forest fire - efficient enough only to destroy.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Beer Cheers & Whistles Fears - Dissymmetric Music

Saturday evening and I was on a bumpy ride to my ancestral home in the monsoon kissed rural Kerala. In a sudden twist of mood I had decided to travel by bus – Kerala State Transport’s big red & yellow boxes and guess what it was not a starting stop-to-last stop travel; I ended up changing 4 buses and none of them were boarded wrongly (inspite of my poor Malayalam reading skills.)

Well this is not about the bus changes, monsoon, bumpy roads or even my travel. This is about a scene. Yes, a scene that I was witness to on my last bus stop (from where I eventually took an auto, too bored to board another bus.) Coming back to the scene – the location was a cracked cement veranda, the characters were the locals and the director was…I guess the culture, practise whatever you call it.

Now this place had enough people for the audience poll of KBC dwiteya or even triteya and I nearly dismissed the gathering as a political meeting except for one confusion - everyone stood facing in the same direction and there seemed to be a formation of some sort – a bunched zigzagging structure. That got me really interested and I wanted to locate the starting point of this thing and counted head to head to realize – It was a line – a scattered, twisting turning line and it ended, no I guess started, at a shop. A wooden shuttered shady looking shop. Again with my minimum mallu reading skills I read – Charayam – Liquor!!  

Thunder bolts (mental ones, ofcourse) hit me.
Blot I: 5 ‘o’ clock on a Saturday evening and I find 40 odd people lined up peacefully and patiently to buy alcohol!        

Bolt II: While searching for the start of that line, my eyes must have scanned over atleast 4 faces, which were hardly old enough to even have some facial hair!

A vague thought crossed my mind in that very moment - our government is busy rising the legal drinking age so that the youth of this country do not have legal access to spirit till age 25. But in a country where 14 year olds or even lesser ones have access to it when the age limit is 18 for beer and 21 for spirits, will the change in that number change anything at all?

The law makers forget that the very same age limit, of 18 years, has been defined in the law books of the government itself as ‘Major’ - an age when citizens can be trusted – with voting in the political future of the country (voting eligibility), with the security of the nation (armed forces employment eligibility), with financial decisions (self bank account eligibility), with marriage & children (marriage eligibility) and with even heavy weight four wheelers on the most crowded of the roads (driving license eligibility.) The law people are of the opnion that the same people who can handle democracy, guns, trucks, money, families etc legally cannot handle spirit legally. Do they have a plan in place if 18+ junta chooses to handle sprit, illegally?

My 76-year-old grandmother says young minds are like springs – the more you press them down, the higher they pop up. Wish atleast some amongst the lawmakers had such clarity and understanding of what they are dealing with. They forget that Adam too was young when he bit into that forbidden fruit up in heaven and he ate it because he was asked not to do so. Forbid the young & they will go after it – Alcohol, porn, affairs, premarital sex – you name it; convince them - things stand way much better. So if the government can trust the young with all the responsibilities of life at 18, please do not insult them with laws that question their maturity.   

Mr. Lawmaker please think, and think logically, that in a country where rules are made to be broken and where government officials specially are gold medallists in breaking those rules what makes you believe that the generation that has grown up looking upon you will not break those rules! After all young minds learn by seeing – so to start with – atleast a few of you can stop breaking the existing rules before making new ones and focus on better governance based on better education and better living conditions rather then deciding for citizens who are already empowered by law and mind to decide. Drinking citizens or teetotaler citizens - the country needs growth and that will happen when we start focusing on progression issues than on money minting issues.   

So Mr. Lawmaker basically ‘First Think, Then ink (the laws).’

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Image Blottings & Baba

Back in school our ultra sophisticated physics teacher taught all 52 of us, bored Vth standard geeks, that images are an eventual effect of a little twist dance that light does and she had a complex sounding term for it too - reflection.

Talking about image, now 17 odd years later the realization is - the light created image be dammed! THE image that will make life livable or not-so-livable is what the Salmaan, Samosa & Sachin loving junta of the Indian Republic have about you; else-

Why is Anna’s fast an inspiring one and Baba’s a conspiring one!

When the Gandhian took to fasting against corruption, he was whole-heartedly hailed nationwide & beyond (after all potatoes & Indians are found all over the world.) We forwarded mails, put picture badges on our Facebook profiles, tweeted and retweeted like never before. The whole of India stood together like it was Cricket World Cup Finals! Then jumps Baba on the wagon – same agenda, same eStyle – but the result was far from the frenzy of world cup. It was like the IPL group matches – fizzed out support. No forwards or badges only video updates on his antics, thoughts & of course his financial status. And as on today his profile status stands – been there, blown that.     

We on the by-lanes of this apparent ‘second war of independence’ witness a simple fact - same goals not only require conviction, direction & all that everybody lectures you sick with while in 12th standard but also in-line image. Social images are a result of light emitted off actions as translated by the junta and the cache is ‘as translated by’ because the heeled Catwalk sandals you gift your girlfriend can ascertain a lovely evening but she may also ask - am that short!!! 

Image is what companies spend millions on and Image is what differentiates a scary eagle from a sweet pigeon!! And Image Manager is what Baba needs.