Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's my life

A student committed suicide at IISc on Monday. It's said that he could n't bear the pressures - of both family and academics. I felt both sorry for the guy, and, angry at him. Sorry that his life ended so prematurely, sorry that he was driven to such desperation that the only way out seemed to be to end it all. Angry 'coz he ended his life himself, that he took the 'easy' way out, did not fight back, did not value this gift given to us, called "life". I felt scared too. Coz, this guy was not those typical suicidal ones, or so people said. He was quite an extrovert, did n't fare too badly at acads, was not a social misfit. It was clearly a case of having taken the wrong decision when in stress, he had just buckled under the pressure. Pressure makes people behave in weird ways. I have seen too many examples of late. So, listening to all this, a thought suddenly crossed my mind - what if? what if one day, I were to face the same amount of pressure these guys did? So far, I have had a great life, acads were good, family never put more than the allowed amount of pressure, I have had a very strong friends circle, and, I have n't had very high goals and achieved those that I had. But, say, one day, I am lonely, feeling low, and, in a momentary fit of madness, decide to take the horrible path that these people did?? [Not that I can ever see myself doing it.. but no one can counter-guess the future...]

This thought scared me to the core. Just imaging myself in their situation - no, not the pressures, but the point where they decide to commit suicide - made me shudder. I love Life a lot, value my life tremendously. I have lots of dreams, hopes, desires waiting to be fulfilled. So, I decided never ever would I even think of such an act. So, I thought of taking some steps to ensure the same. I would first make a list of all the people who love me a lot , people who love me, not for my achievements or status, but for the person I am and for what I mean to them. They are the ones who ll be maximum affected by my death and I have no right to give these people so much of pain. Next on the list, would be all the people I love - while I loved them, I felt complete. These were the people who always brought a smile on my face, a spring to my step. With them around, I still had reasons to smile, reasons to live. Then, would be all my hopes, desires and dreams, all those things that I want to achieve in my life - from learning how to dance, to going on a Himalaya trek, till building that school I want to. Those dreams would give me a cause to live, and remind me of how happy I felt when I was so much in love with being Alive. Other than the list, I would also regularly keep in touch with my closest buddies. So that I would know where they would be in case I need to turn to them for support, and, also, they would know that if at all they need a helping hand, mine is stretched out towards them. Lastly, I would do at least one activity each day that makes me happy - might be a book, or some music or even watching the sunrise. The key to Life remains in being happy. No matter what. And I shall try to achieve that. This is a promise I am making to myself, I owe it to my parents who brought me up and made me who I am, I owe it to myself, to my aspirations, to my dreams, that I shouldn't depart prematurely.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep...

Monday, August 27, 2007

God helps those who help themselves...

The papers tell me that India is the second highest in the world, when it comes to terrorism related incidents, causalities and deaths; second only to Iraq. Well, should we congratulate ourselves for this 'distinguished honour' or berate ourselves about this sorry state of affairs!! How did the situation become this critical and why don't we retaliate are the first questions that come to our mind as we read this. Compare our subdued reactions with the aggressive ones of US after 9-11. Whether good or bad, both words and the actions (which were louder) kind of made it clear that the US was not taking any shit from others.

We have always believed in the principle of Ahimsa. We got our independence by the same method [or so the story goes]. But, are n't we carrying it a bit too far? There is a Jataka tale about the same. There was once a poisonous snake that lived in a hole in a field. It would bite anyone who ventured close to it, whether or not they tried to harm it. A Buddhist monk who was passing by spoke to the snake and advised it not to do so and told it to follow Ahimsa. The snake paid heed to his words and totally stopped biting anybody. Soon the people lost their fear of the snake. They hit at it with stones and sticks and harmed it whenever it came out. Slowly, the bruised and battered snake could no longer hunt, and started growing feebler by the day. At this time, the monk happened to pass by the same field. The monk was shocked to see the sorry condition of the snake. When he found out what was the cause for the snake's pitiable state, he told the snake that he had asked it not to attack anybody, but had never told it not to raise its hood to threaten its attackers, or even to retaliate in self defense. The snake now got the true picture of what "Ahimsa" meant. It meant, never to willingly attack or hurt another living being, but, it gave you full right to protect yourself, against other's attack. So applies to us. We now let the terrorists to walk over us. Corruption and constitution delay Justice, and, offenders walk free, free to terrorise again.

Another thing I have n't been able to stomach is the utter religiousness or should I say religious follies that are rampant. The Prime minister has knee pain, and a maha yajna is created to appease the Gods to relieve him of it. The beginning of a new year - a super smashing Havan is conducted to ensure that the coming year is peaceful and prosperous. The rains are delayed, crops fail, people are dying - and, the Rain god and his cronies are treated to a ghee-rich feast, so, that satisfied, they ll 'shower' us with their blessings. Eclipse, floods, drought, earthquake, tsunami - the cure for all disasters - Appease the concerned deities!! The absurdity of this approach never fails to amuse me.No, I m not an aethist, Yes, I do go to temples etc; but, isn't there a saying that goes - "God helps those who help themselves" ?? The current situation is like that of a student, who spends all his time praying, rather than preparing for his upcoming exam, with the blind faith that God will protect him. In my opinion, God is not external to us, not a puppeteer who pulls the strings and enjoys the play unfolding below. He is a force within us, a source of confidence when we are unsure of ourselves, a pillar of strength when we are feeling weak, a place of solace when we need comforting. He surely would not want us to waste millions of rupees on building Him temples of gold and giving Him precious offerings. Rather, if that money were used for the development of the needy, I guess He would be appeased more. It is said in the Gita - "Karmanyevaadhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadachana" . The Lord has decreed that we should work, do the best we can in any situation, and, then, He shall see that we get the success we deserve. Instead, we lean on to Him, like parasites, hoping that with no inputs from us, He shall do all that is to be done. Well, great expectations :)

It is time the Nation rose as one, time we forgot all our internal quarrels - of caste, religion and regionalism, and remembered that we are all, deep down, Indians. And, as Shahrukh Khan says in Chak De, "Pehle apne desh ke liye khelo, phir apne team ke liye, aur phir bhi kuch jaan bachi, toh khud ke liye khelo" . When will "India rising" become a reality, rather than an election slogan!!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Terminator returns...

Terror attacks in Hyderabad... Bombs placed at the Lumbini Gardens, at the Laserium and at Koti, at a popular chat shop. 42 killed, several injured. What is being done about it? I guess nothing. Terror attacks have become such a daily event that it doesn't shake up people much. I had written about this earlier as well. But, come to think of it, what can the public do in such situations? It is the Intelligence people who have to investigate and find the perpetrators of crime [Hopefully, earlier than 13 yrs, this time around..] but what can we do as the public? The outrage felt [may be short-lived, yet..] is expressed in the worst possible way - as happened yesterday, at the Gokul Chats, where the public, enraged as the police took more than half an hour to arrive at the site of blasts, burnt a bus, and yelled anti-police slogans. Seriously, what can we do as the citizens of this nation, in a situation like this? Any ideas?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Coming back to Life

"You make me more happy than I have ever been in my life and if you give me a chance, I would like to give you the same kind of happiness. Monica, will you marry me?" As Chandler spoke these words, all the spectators on the sets gave a collective sigh, and so did she. As she switched off her computer she thought that how ever realistic she tried to train herself to be, at heart she was still the hopeless romantic that she had always been. But now, her eyes had opened. She understood that such romance was only in fiction - be it novels, TV or movies. Real life was about practicality. Whenever anyone told her that they had found the "special someone", she wondered how long it would be before they gave up Love under the pretext of "being practical". At times, she wondered whether she had got the definition of Love wrong, else why would it mean so different to others from what it meant to her. For her, Love was sacred, something to be cherished and treasured, never hurt nor rejected. So, rather than change her view about Love, she had given up trying to look for it, or for people who understood it like her. True Love was found only in fiction, 'cause, everyone dreamed of it, but, only some found it, and, few actually went ahead and nurtured it. So, while in Rome, do as Romans do - be "practical" - that was her Mantra, of late.

She was driving back home. She was in a good mood - her day had gone well, work was giving good results, she had had fun with her friends, managed to leave early for home and the next day was a holiday! As she drove through the market, she noticed an unusual hustle-bustle and remembered that the next day was a festival of Goddess Lakshmi. The air was fragrant with the scent of flowers - the lovely sevanthige [chrysanthemum], mallige [jasmine], sampige [champaka], rose and the lotus, the flower of Lakshmi devi. Fruit vendors proudly displayed their ware - bananas, apples, guavas, pomegranates, and even, the last mangoes. Prices were higher than usual, as normally happens on festival eves. People moved about, like swarms of bees. Like the Drone following the queen bee, middle aged men, with pot bellies and graying wisps of hair, carrying banana plants, meekly and silently followed their diminutive wives who bravely haggled over the prices with the vendors. She grinned looking at this. The entire air was one of festivity and joy. Even the drivers seemed unmindful of the excessive crowd today - was the honking truly less, or was she too distracted to pay heed to it, she wondered. As she looked about her, she saw ahead of her, three camels, serenely making their way through the traffic. The cars around were calmly moving alongside the camels, as though it was a matter of routine to have four legged towering beasts among four wheeled screeching machines :D "It happens only in India", she thought, as she chuckled to herself.
She had always loved melas and festivities. And, today she felt young again, a child in a fair, looking at wondrous things in awe, and marvelling at stuff that the 'grown-ups' find commonplace.

It started to rain. She felt the drizzle hit her and she turned her face to it, feeling the water drip over her. A nameless joy filled her, filling her being with happiness. She was in Love - in Love with Life - and, finally she had found her lifelong love...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Oh what fun it is to ride......

No, I am not singing "jingle bells" :D What I am talking about is the "joy ride" that I take daily, from my home to IISc. The daily 12 km drive from the past 3 weeks has given me enlightening insights into the way the road traffic in Bangalore operates.

To begin with, you have the utter disregard for traffic rules what-so-ever. Well, you do know that rules are made for fools, and, our dear Bangalorean drivers are anything but that, right? Chaos is the only thing that rules :D The traffic signals are living examples of this reign of chaos. All of us have learnt in school - Red - Stop; Yellow- get ready; Green -move. With the advent of the time display at signals, people have changed this boring routine of red-yellow-green. The new rule is - if the signal shows anything less than 40 - don't switch engine off, idle it; display shows 10 - get ready; display shows less than 5 - move , and move it fast, baby!! What about the coloured lights?? Nah!! Those are for the colour blindness check! This is the digital age, honey, follow the digital time display!

The two wheeler riders here follow the Modified Tilak principle - "Lane switching is my birthright and I shall have it! " In all kinds of traffic - fast moving, slow moving and not moving, you can see the bikes moving sinuously, in and out of the masses of cars, buses, vans and what not. The auto walas face an identity crisis, being neither a two wheeler nor a four wheeler. So, they make most of both worlds, by having a "Bah! Two wheelers!" attitude like a car driver, and a "I can switch lanes" attitude of a two wheeler! And, as a result, they try to ape the bikers and block the traffic, and when chided (not gently) by the crowd for doing so, their marvellous attitude doesn't help matters and you have fights!

Then, you have all the honking. Well, if there is one thing to be said about the drivers here.. they sure are horny! Well, now don't get me wrong.. I mean, they believe in sounding the horn as often as they can! :D Whenever there is a jam, you have an orchestra there. It is said when Beethoven gave a concert of his famous Midnight Symphony, he was stone deaf. Well, the same can be hoped for anyone who tries to conduct this Midday Cacophony as well :) At signals, a picosecond delay in moving ahead can drive the person behind you nuts, and, you would be treated to his version of KennyG. After pondering over why people continue to honk at cars ahead of them, when they see that the jam is stretching for atleast a mile , I have now come to the conclusion that the Bangalorean Driver is actually very intelligent. Most of them being engineers, they decide to put to use the knowledge of resonance that they possess. You all must have done the resonance column expt, where we learn that if the resonance frequencies of two things match, sounding one would make the other vibrate as well. That is exactly what the public here is trying to do. When struck in a jam, continually honk, at different pitches and in different tempos, so, if by chance you hit the resonant frequency of the cars ahead of you, you can make them all vibrate and, hence, move!! Now, is n't that brilliant !!

As the icing on the cake, we have the ridges and furrows.. oops, I mean, the speed breakers and the pot holes. The pot holes in the road - or rather, the road amidst the potholes - ensures a complete bone rattling, muscle jerking ride, which gives you accupressure better than all the spas put together! And, finally the speed breakers - wow! What a marvel of construction! I have my own reasons to believe that these are the beta versions of ISRO's newly developed launching devices. They are built so as to send the pillion rider of your bike in the perfect projectile motion so as to put him into orbit around the planet earth. So, we need not move our geostationary satellites to Kota for the launch. Just put them on a bike, behind the driver and send them on one of the roads in Malleshwaram. If the first speed breaker doesn't do the job, the second one surely will !!

So, with such lovely people and things to keep you occupied while driving, surely, you would sing "oh what fun it is to ride....... in Namma Bengalooru! "

Monday, August 6, 2007

You just can't beat them....

There some things that people say that always put me off, and, trust me, they inevitably do this. For example -

1. You are just 22!! I thought you were older [Wow! You have eyes that see mental maturity! I have those too, and, believe me, you look no older than a new born babe!]

2. You are not getting any younger, you know.. [Darn it! The age-reversing potion must have stopped working!]

3. You have gained weight! [Yippeeee.. I achieved my goal of being unique and different from these aneroxic bimbos!]

4. Most girls of your age - even your friends - are getting married.. [Cool! That eliminates competition! Now all those handsome hunks will be left for me]

5. You are South Indian? You dont look so [Well, I have to try hard and disguise my identity.. those evil space aliens are on the look out for me, you see..]

6. You have green eyes! Do they glow in the dark? [You bet!! That's why I never switch on the headlights of my vehicle- helps in fuel conservation..]

7. Oh! so you've returned from Mumbai? [Nopes, my physical self is still there, this is just my astral body paying a visit..]

8. Your hair's thinning [Yeah, I am on this special diet that helps me lose weight from one extremity to another.. I just started from the top]

Have to go to a function today. I am sure I ll be subjected to a few of the above. I shall grin and bear it, muttering, "Forgive them Lord, they know not how dumb they are.... ]