Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Gift

One of the phrases I hated most when I was growing up (STILL feels weird to say that, I'm still growing up!) was "rose-tinted glasses". Everyone at home thought that I had them on, all the time. Come down to earth, and throw away those glasses, they'd say. I lived in a dreamy haze, where everything was great, everything was fabulous. Yes, it's true- I didn't really understand things like pain, suffering, evil.

And then, just like they said, I took away those glasses. Shattered them for a brand new pair, one that gleamed of practicality, supposed good sense and clarity of thought. One that I thought I'd always wanted. One that I thought would get me through life better.

And now, I find that the rose-tinted ones are probably better.

How many times have we resented our lives for being incomplete? How many times have we wished we had certain things, trivial things. They may not seem trivial to us, but in the grand scheme of things? I know I look back on so many events in school and wonder why certain things mattered to me that much. How many times have we wanted something, only to have someone point out that we actually DO have a lot going for us? How many times, have we cribbed and detested things about our lives? Quite a few, atleast in my case.

Ironically, what opened my eyes was a visually challenged boy I met recently. I was his scribe for his exams, and at the end of it all, I don't know who needed more examination- him, or me. I basically got to go to his college, write exams there and in the process, I happened to see how every tiny little thing is different. Sure, it was remarkable, how he was coping, how he was succeeding, even. But to a great extent, I realized the sheer magnitude of the everyday gifts we have. Tiny, almost miniscule ones- from being able to cross the road, to knowing which direction to turn exactly when someone calls you. From being able to sit and study with friends, to playing lagori and round-robin table tennis. From being able to see how good someone's chicken steak looks, to seeing someone's outfit. From being able to comment on an ad or movie, to being able to drive. From being able to be completely and totally independent, to being able to see pictures of people you miss. From having the potential to do almost ANYTHING, to just as easily, helping others reach their potential.

We truly have it all. We can experience everything we want to, remember what we want to, believe what we want to. We've practically nothing standing in our way, unless you look at rocks on the way as walls. Yes, folks...most of us have no major setbacks, nothing pulling us apart, nothing freezing our senses. We, quite literally, have a license to live in every way we can. And still, most of us don't.

And this is how we should view the world, ideally. Through the rose tint, where everything is ours and we don't need anything more. If a visually challenged boy can finish a degree, use a laptop, catch a bus and do SO much more, why do I sit and complain about all the perfection that exists around me? I'm embarrassed about the entire section on this blog that has the tag "How can you not vent?". Because the question, really, is, How can you, possibly?

I'm sure I'll go back, at some point, to having issues with things, wishing, wanting, needing more, a lot more. It's called being human, and being flawed. But it helps once in a while to step back and see the enormous pile of gifts we have in comparison to so many others, I guess. It's like everyday is my birthday.
And I barely celebrate.

Here's to the happy tint, a good dose of being grateful, P.O.S.I.T.I.V.I.T.Y (sutta, are you smiling?), less cribbing ( a lot more people, are you smiling?) and to the gift. The gift that we all have, of opportunity. (Sound- :) ) And to people who think I'm getting too philosophical with the post- it will happen to you too someday!

In school, we had this assembly regularly with thoughts and speeches made by students, and surprisingly, in all my 14 years there, I remember only one saying from one speech- and it wasn't even my own (adt, you will remember this too).

The past is history,
The future's a mystery
and the present is a gift- that's why they call it the present.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Life Excuse

We've all heard it, in some form. "Life is short". This, dear readers, is the perfect excuse to do a lot of things, ranging from Bungee jumping and dating to doing a course in animation or bar-tending. Life is short. It's a perfectly valid excuse to really live it, and it goes beyond being an excuse- it becomes a reason. We should all walk on ice, flirt with danger, fight fire with fire atleast once in our lives. Just to know what it feels like, or why we shouldn't. Living is about the experience.

A website I happened to read about in last week's TIME magazine seems to have taken the Life Excuse a bit too far, in my opinion. I'm talking about the Ashley Madison Agency, that was established in 2001, with the sole purpose of allowing people to have and enjoy affairs the way they were meant to be- secret. "Life is short. Have an affair", they say. They seem to have some sort of guarantee on this- especially since the applications are loaded on phone browsers that leave no trace of anything. It is also supposedly the most successful site capitalizing on extra-marital affairs, according to the article in TIME magazine. Read it, here.

Presenting, Mr. Hypocrite of the month (and extendible to MUCH longer), CEO Noel Biderman. Here's an excerpt from TIME magazine - "Humans aren't meant to be monogamous," he says. So would this free-thinking CEO mind if his own wife used his site? "I would be devastated," he says.

I'd love to know what Ashley Madison users think of THAT! While Biderman is (supposedly) happily married, the rest of you lead wretched lives filled with lying, suspicion and (hopefully) guilt. I'm sure the thrills and frills of your affairs are oh-so-fabulous, and there's no discounting that. But, life is short, have an affair? Really? Then why are you married, Biderman, and why would you be devastated if your wife had an affair? Doesn't the same logic apply to her too?

No, because you're a pathetic, infinite curse-worthy hypocrite who wants to live the win-lose situation. Everyone else will lose, because, let's face it, either they'll caught some other way or the guilt and the lying will give them away. Electronic tracing isn't the only way to find out if someone's having an affair. There are a lot more signs- and getting caught isn't all that impossible. So while you sit back with your wife and relax in the knowledge that you live in security, you're acting like some sick pervert prophet who just wants to see society fall apart in front of you. If human beings aren't meant to be monogamous, as you claim, why are you an exception? I know they aren't, but human beings cannot be used as walking-talking-living toys for your ventures either. Clearly, that statement is something you learnt up from some footnote or book summary as an attempt to justify your lousy way of living.

There's a great example of a creep who is using other people's desire to make his own money. He doesn't care if you're life seems short, long, fun or dull. He wants to make his cold, hard cash, and people are falling prey to his pathetic lure. You want to have an affair, fine, it's your life, but don't let this waste of skin profit from that financially. How do you know he doesn't read your messages from his servers? How do you know he doesn't have a profile on his own web-site? If his services really do make an affair hard to trace, how do we know that both him AND his wife aren't cheating on each other? I hope all these are untrue, but you may never know. After reading this article, I really can't expect much better from people. Can you?

And yes, if only I was even marginally better at coding, Mr Biderman, I'd write applications to trace your servers and locate your profile and others' messages and MAKE SURE that those messages are sent directly to every spouse's inbox. Not because of the havoc it will cause those people, but because of the havoc it will cause YOU. I cannot bear to see you succeed in the trail of other people's desires that you encourage in the first place, while being the biggest hypocrite of all time. Atleast live the affair-filled life you're preaching; then I might have a pinch of regard for your honesty.

Really, I'd love to use my brains and my degree to bring you down.
Heck, maybe I will.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Get lucky

It was a nice, relaxed evening, and after we all had dinner, we went back to doing our own thing. I'm talking about my family, at home. I went back to my computer, so did almost everyone else. My folks started flipping channels on the good old TV, and this is practically a ritual. I would've done just about anything and gone to bed, except now my folks were calling me down with a great deal of excitement. Come, see, help, they said.

This particular channel had put up this picture of some headless celebrity wearing a snake-like diamond necklace, very choker-esque. I'd vaguely seen it somewhere before, and I guessed a bunch of names. All of us had vaguely seen it somewhere before. No prizes for guessing what the deal was- We had to guess the celebrity. But just getting through the line would mean you'd won 2500 Rupees, and guessing correctly- 50,000.

Yes, you read right. It is THAT much.

Now, we quickly moved from denial to confusion to excitement. I mean, come on! That's almost like distributing money! We even went beyond hazarding a few guesses, we googled it (GOD BLESS GOOGLE AND THE INTERNET) and found out who she was. There. Now, it was just a question of getting through.

You think we didn't know what a facade this was? We did. The channel happily aired footage of people calling, and guessing the worst guesses possible. We knew it was all fake, because our celeb is SO high profile that no one can miss her. No, really. A million phone calls, all of them guessing everyone but her, and in my country, she's one of the best known celebs around. There's NO WAY someone would miss her. So, this was a facade. A nice, big devilish money making scheme.

And the best part? Educated people like us who fully understand what a scheme the whole thing is STILL call anyway. Knowing that this is just a way for them to make millions of rupees while we try to get hold of 50,000. Knowing that all those calls on the screen were fake; we were never going to get through. Knowing that there wasn't a chance.

And yet, we did. Why? Because that's what we all want, deep down inside. We all want luck. It doesn't matter if it's packaged in a vial, a question, a lucky dip, a facade game show. We all want a strange yet delirious twist of fate to happily deposit riches and happiness into our laps, while we sit around and wait.

Wait, knowing that there isn't a chance. Wait, thinking that someone has to win. Wait, because we know someone who just happened to get lucky.
Wait, because we want to, too.

And that wait, that want, that need is the basis for SO many industries. We feed it. We clothe it, we want it, we create that demand.
And in this world of ups and downs, there's truly only one thing that we want. Our recession-proof desire. Luck. You think this desire increases only when we're going through bad times? Wake up and smell the freshly minted money from all this, folks. No matter how hard we work, no matter how much we try NOT to depend on it, we do.

And in my books, that dependence is vindicated.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

In with the new

We all do a total 180, sometime or the another, on something. Going from a NO to a YES, going from why to why not, from aren't you out of your mind?!! you'd be crazy NOT to try this! I know I have. So, here we go..the things that were a total 180 degree pullout for me in the recent past..

  • Radiohead. Shocking as it is, there was a time, years and years ago, (when I was even more hopelessly immature) that I once actually laughed at OK Computer. Both the album name, and the songs in it. Needless to say, I was a stupid infant then, and thankfully, good sense has prevailed.
  • Sarees. I recently even bought TWO! Why, because, when the need arises, you have to buy them. I've actually started appreciating prints..spending time in a saree shop is less DEATH to me now.
  • Pink- The colour. I once hated, despised, loathed, even, pink, yes, just like you, silverstreak, and did a total 180 on this when I saw this dull pink bag in Gucci and..there was no turning back. The artist- Loved, all along.
  • Great indian Epics. At one point I thought- what could be more boring than reading the Mahabharat? Trust me, a lot. I've started reading some super condensed version (I shock my own self) and it is actually highly entertaining. Besides, most of your Indian friends will have names from there. No kidding. Mine do. Makes for some pretty 'interesting' trivia.
  • South Indian Food. From Yuck, to yummy in my tummy. My mom says I am finally growing up and accepting my identity like a normal human being, I attribute this to the HORRID food (other cuisines) i've eaten outside sometimes. It suddenly made me love south indian food. Go figure. I still don't dig Idlis, though.
  • Priyanka Chopra. Attributed to dostana, even though she wasn't much of an actress in it. I couldn't stand her before, and now I think that although she can't act, she fulfils the bollywood hype and expectation of looking amazing without looking like a fake painted doll, and i've never seen someone wear a saree with NO jewellery and still look stunning.
  • Rain. Yes, I hated rain once. Simply because, on my way home from school, it would end up being a long, cold walk. Now, I can't get enough of it.
  • Tea. I'm still in the I-love-coffee club, here, but Tea is GOOD. And I have stopped discounting that. Especially elaichi tea.
  • Strawberries. From weird to D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.
  • Dating. I used to have very different ideas on dating, which, for various reasons, I will not post here. I've changed, that's all you need to know. (Some people may remember the ridiculous.."If two people like each other...")
  • Editorials in newspapers. From Why are they here to Why did I miss out on years of reading them?
  • Peanuts. The comic. Yes, you probably are a die-hard Calvin and Hobbes fan too, but peanuts is really good. You should try it. If you already like it, why didn't you tell me sooner?!
  • Plays. I didn't like plays and theatre once. When I was young (read: stupid) I know. Ridiculous. Now, I'd happily watch a play every night of the week.
  • Weddings. Now, I love them. The really well done ones. With great food and lots of dancing and company, that is. Earlier, it was such a snoozefest.

Feel free to contribute, or let me know if you post something in parallel- Will link!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Emma- What?!

What, and wow! This isn't my feeble attempt at trying to be these girls- They do their job phenomenally well, so I'm not even going to try. For anyone who's yet to experience the awesomeness of GoFugYourself, you should- it is the BEST way to spend time, cheer up, gossip- and hell knows most girls love gossip. Make that ALL.
But I saw that picture and couldn't help myself. I HAD to post about this. I mean, just LOOK at her again, will you?! She looks fabulous! What an incredible example of great marketing, really, I mean, for one, she has such a different image compared to most of the party girls, a nice squeaky-clean image that makes her interesting simply because she isn't ALL over the place. She makes signature brands like burberry appeal to the young and the fabulous, heck, even normal everyday-on-the-road-people like me are aching, yes, ACHING to buy this bag now. It looks fab, she looks fab, her hair looks fab, she knows how to pose, she looks so wonderfully sophisticated and british, and man, has this kid grown up or what?!
Somebody please buy me this bag. Clue:- my birthday, coming up!
What do you all think? Love it, hate it, ignore it?

Stay and leave

There are two questions we always subconsciously ask ourselves- Where do we really want to go, and would we have liked to get here differently? We never realise it, but it is always there, ubiquitous, soaked in every decision we ever make, every thing we contemplate. Some of us, like, me, even wonder how we got here. Worse, should we stay in the same place, on the same road? I know that between the ages of 16 and now, somewhere, somehow, I lost track of things. Sure, when I did high school, I vaguely chose this path, of science and engineering. But why? That, I can never answer. I should've realised back then that it wasn't my cup of tea, heck, it wasn't even my VIEW of the cup of tea. I should've realised that the very fact that I was struggling with it meant that I shouldn't do it. But no, oh no no no, somehow, in this weird mind of mine, I figured that I was just about learning how to swim- and once I finished, it would be easy.

Little did I understand that learning how to swim is a totally different thing from living in the 'swimming pool' i'd chosen for eighty percent of my time. Because right now, that's what I think I will be doing. I did a degree in a course that I assumed would interest me, but guess what- It didn't. On the contrary, it made me hate 'swimming' and anything associated with it. Now, I shudder at the very sight of the swimming pool, and more at the thought of me being in it all the time. Suddenly, swimming doesn't seem fun. Swimming suddenly equals chore.

Maybe it isn't my fault, I keep telling myself. Maybe I WASN'T supposed to know back then, what I would really want in life. Maybe I was supposed to make this mistake. Mistake number two- I've been spending SO much time staring at the 'swimming' pool in dismay, I've totally forgotten that the time frame of trying to do something else has crept up on me and is soon going to leave. And here I am, unable to comprehend, confused about where to begin, still clutching my wet, chlorine-infused swimming trunks.

Sometimes I want to stay, and sometimes I want to leave. There are perks of staying and leaving, both, but I cannot go the rest of my life knowing what it is like on the other side. I've 'stayed' here, all my life. I want to get out, go, see the world, read the OTHER chapters. Try the OTHER sports. Live anOTHER life.

I know I'm not alone. There are people who've made decisions, and left, and now think differently than they used to- like Radhika. There are people like silverstreak, who have a love-hate relationship with everything they've done. There's perplexed, who doesn't want to be perplexed about what she wants anymore. They are all fantastic people, and those links will take you to fantastic posts. It's both comforting and scary, the fact that I've company. Is it normal for so many of us to feel this way? Or is it scary that SO many of us don't know what we really want? I guess we, as humans, can never be satisfied, even if we actually do end up doing what we like. To make things worse, in India atleast, the education system expects you to sort of figure out what you want reasonably early in life. Too early, in my case.

I guess, in the end, I do love a LOT of why I've stayed, and maybe to love it more, I have to leave. Time will creep up on me, like it does for everyone, but I guess I will have to find the confidence and sheer guts to pull my own self out of my comfort zone. I've made a lot of friends along the way, in the swimming pool, and they were the reason I even survived there. But I can't rely on other people to get me through my choices every single time, can I?

I suppose it's time to get out, time to leaf through the pages of some other sport, time to get a life. I'd change a lot of things about how I got here, but I'm guessing that even if I did, I'd probably want the things I've now found along the way. I have to go out and atleast attempt to leave, to get a different life. It may be exactly what I wanted, or it may be what I totally didn't bargain for.

But I can't go the rest of my life without knowing which.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The end of an era

I have SO much to do right now. But Guess what?

I am now an engineer. Yeah, that's right. I'm yet another techie from India, I will also be working in a software-based job position, and yeah, I did B.E Information Science which is sort of like Computer Science in most ways. And yes, I know how cliche it all is.
But I DID IT!! I did something I don't even like all that much (Why, is a different post) and I did it well! You know how hard it is to do something you don't like? No? Well, do that. Throw yourself out of your comfort zone and happy zone and do something you DON'T want to do.
Then tell me how easy it is.

Anyway, so I did something I don't even like, and WELL!! Sure, there were setbacks and rollercoasters and tears and jumps and crazy moments and fear and loathing and happiness and in the end I did it! You're looking at ~R~, B.E!

I don't even care what anyone thinks. Maybe it's not a great achievement, like recording an album or writing a book. It isn't anything to be famous for. But it's four long hard painful and not-fun-ever-academically years of a degree that I now feel proud for getting, simply because it never figured in my dream list of things I'd like to do. It was never my dream to wonder about how I'd feel on this day. I never thought I'd even write a post on this, heck!
But I now know that if I can do something I don't even like well enough, after a setback, forcing that kind of commitment to study things I hate, then I can do anything.
And that, THAT, is powerful stuff, folks.

Congratulations to everyone who graduated from VTU today, particularly Silverstreak, Perplexed, Akaash, and everyone else I've forgotten to mention in the blogosphere and pat yourselves on the back, you all, for it has been one unbelievable ride.

Picture Courtesy It didn't tell me about the copyright clearly, and I'm sorry if this is copyright infringement. It is a great picture, though.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sweet tweet

So..I love twitter. Unlike a whole bunch of twitter fans, I didn't really take much to it in the beginning. What was the point, I thought. You have a status message on Facebook, you have e-mail. You have SO many blogs, so many social networking sites. Why yet another one that allows you to say something, in, heck, only so many characters?

Well, it all boils down to simplicity. And that's something I know I crave. Facebook changes, all the time. There are now SO many applications (don't get me wrong, I love them). But sometimes, it sort of takes away from the need to say certain things, get certain answers, be in a certain place. That's something you'll get only on twitter. It's simple. It's smart. It's lightning fast. It's the easiest way to quickly and continuously say something. If we were all on twitter, we wouldn't really need anything else to actually keep up with each other's lives on a daily basis. It's as simple as that.

What was extra amazing was that one of my tweets were "What GMAT books do I buy? Help." And by the next day, The Princeton Review was following me on twitter! Ditto for this company I'm going to be working for soon, they're following me on twitter too! It's a nice, simple, elegant interface.

Facebook and twitter have now both become about different things, in my opinion. Facebook is great for people who have time on their hands, but twitter is effective for those who can't be bothered with who won how Texas Hold 'em or who thinks you're the most dateable on your friends list. We need these things to keep in touch with people and know what they're upto, and somewhere down the line, other applications have lost focussed sight of that. Twitter hasn't, yet. Which is why you should use it if you still don't, and why I hope it stays that way.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Not-so-candid camera

It's been a while since I last posted, hasn't it? Anyway, for those of you who have been reading, the angst has given way to a whole load of Blah. College is over, I am now a graduate and a lot of things are changing, and changing real fast. But this post is not about that. I've decided to hurl myself right back in the swirl of things by telling you a little something about my most recent vacation.

Now, a vacation is synonymous with photographs. If you don't believe me, just head on over to facebook and see what I mean. Pictures of road trips, weekend getaways, hell, even a midnight car ride to the airport. They're all there. Everyone wants to capture important, not-so-important, valid, drunk, happy, funny, gorgeous, embarrassing moments and everyone almost always does.

I just went to Kabini, which is this incredible place in Karnataka right at the edge of Nagarhole, or what is also known as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park. So this place is basically well known for wildlife, and a host of resorts have opened up around the river, which is a nice well-fed tributary of the Kaveri. We stayed at Jungle Lodges, in a nice cute little cottage right on the river bank. It was all very charming and calming and I spent a good deal of time chilling on the super-wide hammock and climbing the nice big net across many trees.

We took a lot of pictures, but there were a few amazing moments in particular where I was far too busy enjoying the moment to even fish out my camera. Now, I'm a huge fan of the environment, wildlife, forests, nature, and all that, so I tend to fade out and sort of drink in the surroundings in this very sleepy, happy way. However, these memories are stuck in my head, so I doubt I'll need pictures, really.

*Scene 1*
A jeep was slowly inching its way up to a small herd of elephants around the watering hole in the forest. The herd consisted of five wild Asian elephants, all happy with their flapping ears (now the happy is entirely my assumption). They didn't seem too bothered by the jeep at first, but, man being man, he just HAS to push it. I suppose the people in the jeep got rather excited and the jeep went quite close to the herd. There was this absolutely ADORABLE baby elephant there, too.
Too close.
The uncle (presumably) suddenly charged after the jeep, practically pushing it away. This was sort of unexpected for everyone, and we could only watch from our jeep as the elephant actually chased the jeep the hell out of there. Talk about adaptation. It was way cool, really, to watch an elephant do that. Go, elephant!
Would've been neat to have a video of that, though.

*Scene 2*
Two elephants and a baby elephant go swimming. The baby can barely keep its head above water, but it manages to, as elephants are supposedly born swimmers. Then they all come out of the water, baby in between. It truly is a sight, a baby elephant butt in between two elephant butts, all walking in unison.

*Scene 3*
Tiger, the beast of the forest, pacing across the bank of the watering hole.
Silence, everywhere, and not another creature in sight.

Wildlife is about experience. There's no point just reading about it, or watching documentaries about it. Those are nice, sure. But experiencing it first hand is something else.

What photographs did you wish you'd taken? (doesn't have to be about wildlife!)

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