Monday, July 23, 2007

It is when we have greater chance of being happy, that we are more unhappy

Read "Veronika decides to die", by Paulo Cohelo. Nice book. Didn't have as strong an impact on me as "Eleven minutes" did, but, nevertheless, manages to convey several meaningful thoughts through the story of a girl who attempts suicide and fails, but for whom, the awareness of death, creates an awareness of life and its importance, and who lives as she has lived never before - vibrant, alive, filled with a zest for life itself. The title of this post is one of the statements I read in the book. "The greater the chance or the scope we have for happiness, the more unhappy we are". True, majority of depression cases arise from boredom, people who have too much of leisure, too many luxuries, but lack a vocation, who lack a need or urge to live. It is the complacency which leads to dissent, to a constant irritation.

Everyone needs a cause to live for. And, most of us are raised to believe that altruism is the true way to be, and that it is sinful to be self indulgent and to live for yourself. So, we end up justifying our meaningless existence by saying - 'we lived for our parents, to fulfil their desires', or by saying 'we spent all our lives for our children, to give them all possible pleasures'. While both your elderly parents and your children might be your responsibilities, there is nothing stopping you from living life the way you want to. In spite of being bogged down by responsibilities, do something everyday that is solely for you . It might be a walk, reading a book before sleeping, pampering yourself at the parlour, or even few moments of quiet and solitude that are yours and yours alone. People now refer to this as a "daily dose of vitamin I" [For those of you who have access to yesterday's Times supplement 'Life", do read an article on pg 2, very well written!].

Anyway, returning to the main thread of the post, in the book, the author speaks of the "sane" and the "mad". Who are "mad"? Truly, it is people who dare to be a bit different from the set norms of the society. What is "normal" is something that is just 'acceptable to many'. Other than that, there is no real normality and abnormality.

He also says that the true test of spirituality - btw, spirituality is not philosophical mumbo-jumbo, or an old age pass time, as several of us visualise it. It is just a greater awareness of what we are and what we are doing. So, the true test of spirituality is the patience to wait for what we truly desire and what we deserve and, not to get disappointed by appearances when we actually get it.

The most meaningful and thought provoking statement was, something that I stated in the first paragraph, that it is only the awareness of Death that creates an awareness of this miracle called Life!

A really nice read, do grab that book if you haven't read it so far!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

'I'dentity crisis !

Why are we always in the search of an identity? Why this desire to define? . In the AOL basic course, one of the tasks is to define yourselves, in as many ways as you can. After going through all the rigmarole of - " I am ..'s daughter", "I am ...'s wife", "I am ..'s mother", "I am an IITian", "I am a science student" "I am an Indian" etc etc.. you are left with no more definitions. That, is your true self . I agree it is necessary to have all the above identites, but, it is necessary to lose them too. Not to be just what defines you. I am me. I am. that is my identity.

I got these two lovely poems - one taken from a friend's orkut profile, another I found on the web, which I have used for my own profile -

I’m the darkness in the light
I’m the leftness in the right
I’m the rightness in the wrong
I’m the shortness in the long
I’m the goodness in the bad
I’m the saneness in the mad
I’m the sadness in the joy
I’m the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I’m the ghost in the machine
I’m the genius in the gene
I’m the beauty in the beast
I’m the sunset in the east
I’m the ruby in the dust
I’m the trust in the mistrust
I’m the trojan horse in troy
I’m the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I’m the tigers empty cage
I’m the mysterys final page
I’m the strangers lonely glance
I’m the heros only chance
I’m the undiscovered land
I’m the single grain of sand
I’m the christmas morning toy
I’m the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I’m the world you’ll never see
I’m the slave you’ll never free
I’m the truth you’ll never know
I’m the place you’ll never go
I’m the sound you’ll never hear
I’m the course you’ll never steer
I’m the will you’ll not destroy
I’m the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I’m the half-truth in the lie
I’m the why not in the why
I’m the last roll of the die
I’m the old school in the tie
I’m the spirit in the sky
I’m the catcher in the rye
I’m the twinkle in her eye
I’m the jeff goldblum in the fly

This one, while defining, somehow removes all definitions. I loved it :)

This other one is in my profile :

I wonder
I hear
I see
I want
I pretend
I feel
I touch
I worry
I cry
I understand
I say
I dream

I am . I dont need any more identities.

Friday, July 20, 2007

La vie, avec les amis, c'est vraiment tres belle!

Truly, life with friends is beautiful! Went to Rashmi's home for lunch today, with Poonam. We had a great time. God, how I love that girl.. [ now, guys, please don't read meanings :P I mean platonic stuff :P] She's been friend, companion, counsellor, guide, co prankster and what not. In her, I found a best friend. We have had our differences - several of them! In the ways we think and act. But, it was as though, there were enough differences to attract us both to each other, but sufficient similarities to hold us together. When I went through some tough phases last year, she was my rock of Gibraltar, my source of support and solace! I am truly happy to have found a friend like you, Rash! :) Now she's leaving next week, to the US, for PhD. It hasn't still sunk in, I dont even want to think of how it might possibly affect our friendship. While the distance does create some separation, with some effort, the same bonding can be maintained. And, so I hope it shall be!

Anyway, [sniff sniff], now, if all of you are sufficiently touched by this heartfelt words, lets move on :D Had a great day today. Lots of gappe, khaana [Rash's basundi - urf - pudding :)] and of course, shopping! :D Rash and Poo have decided to gift me a tee with the words "Shopoholic" on my next birthday :D . Any occasion, I shop. Well, occasion can be something as simple as - "I have come out shopping after so long" :D And, it is sooth, folks, esp, you girls out there... Need a cure for the blues? Go shopping. Except for those rare occasions, where you shop for jeans and find out that you don't fit the old waist size, shopping is bound to cheer you up!! And, I speak from experience! Even a trinket bought off the local train, for 5 bucks, gives me a sense of satisfaction. If penniless, I don't even mind window shopping! So, given today's fruitful spree of buying three tees and two earrings, I am sure one happy person!

So, I wont be surprised if I end up serenading the trees on the way back to hostel from lab! :D So, ending this post on a cheerful note, here's something that made me laugh today. Got this image as a fwd in mail. It is a eye opener for all of you who firmly believe that "actions speak louder than words " :D

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What do I want from Life?

Life is transient, impermanent and dynamic. A mistake several of us tend to commit often, is to take it to be permanent and static. Thinking it to be so, we plan, plan and plan - for several years down the lane. And, by this, I don't mean Life insurance, or savings :). We plan our career, we program our personal lives, and we think we have taken all possibilities into consideration. But, as the Sunscreen Video so rightly said, "the real kind of troubles are those that would hit you without warning on a quiet Tuesday afternoon". It is such incidents which turn our whole life upside down, make all our plans go awry, and leave us high-and-dry, stripping us of the comfortable cocoon of the future we had seen for ourselves.

Being habituated to the task of making time-tables, we tend to do the same for our lives as well. Starting from things like "Oh, it's a week day, I am busy, lets do it in the week end" to things like "I have always wanted to go on this trek, but I cannot take so many days off from work now. Let me do it after few years, say, once I quit work". The same thing for friends, family and relationships as well. We get so caught up with our work and careers that we no longer have time to invest in relationships. That friend you always wanted to call, but somehow couldn't find time to; that sick neighbour you wanted to visit, but just couldn't; that cousin you wanted to go shopping with; that pal who was in the dumps whom you wanted to visit and be there for, but deadlines came up... the list always goes on. Since people at work will not "understand" , we end up compromising on these things, giving work the primary importance; and hoping and convincing ourselves, that after all, these people are our 'friends' and they would understand. But, what we tend to forget is that relationships are like plants. They need to be nurtured to grow into strong trees. When you don't water them continuously, they wither away. One day you look back, and they are gone! Sometimes to the point where they can not be salvaged.

As we owe something to our family and friends, we also owe ourselves something - that is the realisation of our dreams. I have always wanted to do trekking - esp, a himalaya trek, learn swimming, dancing, improve my singing, and above all, travel. Travel - not as sight seeing , but go to places, stay there for few days, get a feel of that place, meet people, also wanted to learn more about seances- at least witness one for myself, go to village fairs - esp, the ones around my granny's place, go on a biking holiday, so on and on. Most of these will be enjoyable only while I have the stamina - that is, in my youth. So, I was just wondering what I wanted to do in life? A career of research - academia - may well mean I might have to give up some, if not many, of the above. I am not sure whether science interests me so much to spend a major part of my life away in a lab, working for it. So, I have decided keep an open mind. I would nowget into a PhD. Then, decide what next based on what would really interest me at that point. I would not even be averse to giving up science completely and settle for some salaried job at an industry, or even maybe teaching, if I find that it is what would give me happiness, or atleast, leave me enough time to fulfill the dreams that I had and find happiness through that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cluttered Mind

Recently while I was talking to Ram, he mentioned that I have started thinking negatively, looking at the dark side more often than ever. This was the second time he had made such a statement, so, it got me thinking as to whether I was truly becoming negative in my thoughts. Well, I feel that while I am not "negative' per se, I have become more serious of late. I don't sit around moping or anything, I still do smile, am talkative, can enjoy PJs and crack them too, but, in general, the effervescence has gone down. I don't know if it is "growing up" or it is because of my current state of mind, due to all the things that have been happening in my life of late.

Nowadays, I feel I am carrying around emotional baggage. Both consciously and subconsciously. At times, there is a continuous drone within my head. Arbit thoughts, images, dialogues running through it. I find myself wishing for some quiet, some deep sleep. At times, wish for telling it all out - if it were like before, I might have gone and eaten Rash's head. But, I am trying to tell myself, that no one would be there all the time, and that my peace of mind should come from within, not sucked out of anyone else. More so, because most of the thoughts are random, not constructed, formless and cannot be voiced. I wish I can go to Prati's home now. She would understand. She always does. But, I have to learn not to depend on her all the times. I wonder why this sudden turmoil, why this nameless confusion, why the desire to be comforted, to have someone hold me and tell me things will be fine, why this urge to cry at times - but the inability to do so. What is it that brought about this - is it Ajja's illness and death - the major change that has happened in my life recently?

True, Ajja's death has affected me - more than I ever thought it would, and more than I thought it did back then -though it might not be the sole reason for the unrest in my mind. Since the day Ajja fell, I have been the practical person at home. Thinking only in the present - just the question "What is to be done next?" Did not ponder over the past, like Amma, wishing, 'if only we could go back and prevent his fall'. Tried not to worry about the future, like Annu. Just the present. Took care of Ajja, spoke to doctors, tried to prepare for GRE, did all that I could do at that time. Tried not to feel too much, shielded myself against pain - 'cause pain would lead to misery, and being miserable was the last thing I wanted. Sadly, the shielding was far too good. I couldn't cry that night when Ajja died. Amma cried, Akka cried, even Bhavaji cried. Dad was silent, in his thoughts. I made hot coffee for everyone, made them drink it, told them they needed something warm to drink. Couldn't cry even the next day, as they took the body away. As they took my Ajja's body away. Held Amma as she cried. Consoled her. But couldn't cry. Friends and family members came to me, trying to console - but how could they console someone who wasnt greiving , who wasn't crying. I ended up assuring everyone that I was fine, that Ajja's death was a relief for him, from the pain he was having. But I couldn't cry. At times, I wished someone would help me cry. But all of us are trained to console, always telling others not to grieve, not to help someone do just that.

Later, I immersed myself in GRE prep. I had my exam coming up soon, and this was no time to sit and indulge in grief. Pushed all thoughts out of my mind. But now, with the exam all done, the thoughts are rushing back and I find myself helpless - unable to stop their infiltration. I find myself thinking of Ajja - more so of his last few days, during which he was unable to even voice what he was going through. I wish I could go back, hold his hand, tell him not to fear, tell him the suffering would soon pass. I felt this especially strongly one day when I was having stomach ache due to some indigestion. I remembered how bad his stomach had bloated on the last day. He was silently suffering it all. I ached at that thought but still, I couldn't cry and vent all that emotion. At times, I wish I could be a kid again, and lie down on the sofa, curled up against Ajja's belly, as he read out stories to me, hold his hand and go walking to the temple, eat with him the chocos that both of us so loved, go with him to the bank and hear him proudly introduce me to the people there, go back to those Janmastami days and sing along with him all the bhajans that he had taught me - listen to his melodious voice, atleast, pick up the phone and hear his voice on the other end , saying "Hello Chetana".

The day he got operated, he was groggy with all the sedatives he had been given. I went into the ICU to meet him. I can still see him now, face brightening up as he saw me, and telling the hosptial staff "This is my youngest grand daughter and I love her the most" . I , too, loved you Ajja, though I never told you often enough, you were the best grandfather anyone could have ever had. I miss you.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

God Helps...

Haven't we all, at one point or the other, blamed God? Prayed, but not got what we wanted, ended up saying "Why Me??" Remembered only those desires that weren't fulfilled but never paused to think of all that we got without even having asked for? This pithy image I got in a forwarded email sums it all up... As the mail read, don't lose the bigger picture!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Molecular Surgery

Read about this is the paper recently. A team of researchers snipped off a hydrogen atom from a methylaminocarbene molecule, using a STM [Scanning Tunneling Microscope] and even reversed the process, and reattached it. Isn't it absolutely wow!! Now we are moving into nano surgery ! :) The implications are that this reversible nature can be employed in molecular electronics - like a molecular switch, which can alternate between conduction and insulation. [Because changing the bonding within an atom changes its electrical contact with the metal surface on which it is coated]. I guess, we can even extrapolate it to implications in synthesis .. maybe bonding of two atoms which cannot be bonded by regular chemical synthetic methods [or for which methods haven't been designed so far.] Anyway, this is one of the real cool things I read about recently, topped only by the iPhone :D

To which recent scientific achievement would you attribute a "wow" factor?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Hypocrites Oath

Harshita, the house nurse that we had engaged for Ajja, was telling me that she is going to be married soon. But the guy's side has asked for a dowry of 1 lakh rupees and 15g gold. She related this in a calm manner, without any feelings of animosity towards that guy and his family who have, thus, encumbered them. She said that she was working so that she could earn some money and help her widowed mother in adjusting the dowry amount. I was flabbergasted!! Here was this guy who was getting this beautiful, smart, witty, vivacious girl as his wife, and on top of that, he was asking for money!! And, wasn't she offended by that? I, personally, feel that it is so very humiliating for a girl, that a guy has to be bribed with dowry so that he accepts her as his wife. I mean, he is getting a lovely life partner, is n't that good enough? He is able-bodied and working, so, can't he earn enough!! But, well, whom to complain to? I told her, that taking dowry is punishable under law, why don't you tell him that? But she says, that in her community, it is but common to give / take dowry. And, whom all will they send to jail!!

I then thought... what about the "so-called-educated-urbane" people? Of course, they don't ask for "dowry" per se. They just ask politely "Chelliyeke kitle bhangara ghaltachi?" [how much gold/ jewelry will you put on the girl at the time of the marriage? ] Some even blatantly list the items they expect. Other times, it is unsaid, but implied and , always, done. Also, it is a status question that the marriage should be grand, and, always, people compare one marriage with the other - the grandness of the hall, the variety of items in the banquet, the richness of the clothes - and, of course, the jewelry!! Among Kannadigas, they also have a corner designated in the hall, where the girl's family proudly exhibits all the silver articles, and gifts that they are giving to the guy's side.

These hypocrites are the ones who have kept the system alive. They condemn it in public, but, practise it secretly. When will people really think out of the box, get rid of the avarice and, frankly, respect the girl they are welcoming into their family as a person and realise that she is just as important as the guy, and, if they are taking money with her, the girl's family who are sending away their beloved daughter, have twice the right to ask them for reimbursement?? Will the scenes where a girl says she will not marry a guy who takes dowry remain restricted to soaps and movies, or is it going to be a mass movement in the nation? It is only if that happens, that better sense might prevail .