Category Archives: Personal

A few more thoughts on the thoughtless state

Vipassana. Of all the types of meditation that I’ve known (And tried my hand at sporadically – like once in 2-3 years or so ūüė¶ ), Vipassana was the only practice that showed some immediate results. There is of course a logical explanation for that. I had no escape from it. I had no other option. Here was I, removed from the urban hullabaloo, at a secluded place somewhere in a village with all my tools of communicating – cell phone, paper, pen etc surrendered at the reception of the resort where this course took place. In addition, I wasnt supposed to talk to anyone AND all that happened for the duration of the course – 10 days, no less, was meditation. From 4. am… till 8 pm. The only windows of communication – daily 2 minute feedback session with the instructor in the afternoon and the series of video lectures every evening at 8 pm – where we were oriented on the philosophy of Vipassana. Of course the video lectures were one way communication – but still they began to matter because quiet and silence can be intimidating!

I was all gung-ho¬†about observing all the rules. Namely, observe silence – try to avoid even¬†meeting eyes with anyone –¬†practise meditation as per the instructions – for as many hours as¬†asked of us and even practise¬†homework given to us. I had a roomie and it helped that even she shared my enthusiasm. For 10 days, both of us observed these rules perfectly, even while sharing¬†a room, we did not look eye to eye and were thankful about it :). ¬†I had gone there,¬†simply because I knew it was supposed to be a difficult course – like a penance and I wanted to test it for myself. Besides, I was curious. Now I’d be hard pressed to explain why. In fact¬†perhaps, having experienced it once, it suddenly seems like a difficult thing to do again.¬†Since back then, I had no idea,¬†no pre conceived notions, I nursed a bravado….though the experience was all worth the ordeal I must say.

Though based on Buddhist philosophy, several of its tenets are similar to what we Hindus too believe – especially Karma theory and re-birth. A spirit – ‘aatma’-¬†is eternal – a witness to time. It has been subject to various acts, feelings, emotions, experiences over various births and a sort of debris¬† – of unfulfilled wishes, long-held¬†emotions – positive and negative piles up over the pureness that is aatma.So the inner voice communicates to one’s mind in this birth only through the filters of various ‘sanskars’ or the positive or negative attachments / impressions / trash that has accumulated over lifespans¬† – and so it may not always be pure. That our actions and thoughts in the present life are mostly guided by these sanskars¬†of past lives. Vipassana is the technique to slowly remove the debris and uncover the purity. As you slowly grow into the technique, you begin to experience sensory level various positive and negative vibes. Sometimes you shiver – out of fear, the other times, you shiver – out of pleasure. There are certain very prevalent sensations – you learn to associate them with a feeling. The object of Vipassana is to not only unearth, but also avoid further accumulation of trash. The only way there can be further trash is when mind is not in equilibrium – the non-zero state. Any external stimuli – an event, a person, an object, a place¬†will result in a ‘thought’ – which may be positive or negative – which is actually aatma’s response to that stimulus – but once through Vipassana, one learns to differentiate non-equilibrium state from the equilibrium state at sensory level, one can attempt to restore the balance as soon as possible and thus¬†restrict¬†the impact of that particular stimulus . In other words, if ‘fear’ is the major emotion that I have accumulated over my life spans, Vipassana teaches me to slowly reduce it and also differentiate it at sensory level from other emotion, say ‘anger’. If a meditator practises Vipassana regularly, over the time, he/she may actually recognize when the fear is subtly creeping into the mind, before it manifests itself in a reaction like¬†say anxiety or any other reaction, hold on to that moment and try to prevent that emotion from affecting the spirit any further. Another tenet was to live in ‘Now’, ‘present’ and not dwell either on past or future… that way you can control the amount of unnecessary thoughts.

Hard to explain it is…. but most of the people did experience a plethora of sensations… positive AND negative. The ultimate goal of Vipassana is eventually to become fully detached – to LIVE in a zero state. The seclusion and silence were necessary rules to avoid any external stimuli – so was absence of things like TV, phones, pen, paper, reading materials etc. We were not allowed to practise anything from our religions.

It WAS madness for first 3 days. I couldn’t¬†sleep. I believed then that silence would be capable of killing anyone. I was scared. Thousands of thoughts were¬†floating in my mind, though there wasnt anyone to talk to. At nights I lay awake and wondered how I had made it throught all these years with these many number of thoughts all running parallely…I¬†had never realised it before.¬†Just¬†like when entire city’s lights go off, suddenly, sky seems to be filled with thousands of stars… though not all my thoughts were that beautiful or even remotely¬†entertaining… silence got scarier at times. Not talking to anyone was an¬†unachievable feat for the talkative goose that yours truly can be….

¬†I was repenting the over enthusiastic and uninformed decision that I’d made to take the course. On the 3 rd afternoon, I told my instructor that I hadn’t¬†slept for more than 48 hours. She said it was okay, since I was just breathing¬† – it was all fresh air and in the midst of nature.My body probably did not need the rest and that is why I hadn’t¬†slept. Post lunch, they initiated us into Vipassana (diksha) – when we¬†were finally taught the technique. That is when I felt this was going to work. It was a smooth sailing thereafter. The thoughts slowly reduced. Occassionally I’d drift in and out of thoughtless state. Though I never stayed there for long.

Chanting of mantras, concentrating on a colour, a deity, tratak etc are all ways of stilling mind. Because one busies him/herself in this act, they reach closer to zero state Рneither living in past /nor in future, devoid of any emotions. It requires great patience and I admire all those who have maintained patience and continued to practise. Unfortunately, it took me a tragedy to be reminded of the fact that I can make my own living better Рthat I already know how.

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Zero state of being

Truth! What is the truth of life? Karma theory? perhaps. But the demise of a close relative this week has reminded me once again of a far greater and immediate truth. That we are pawns in the greater scheme of things. All hopes,dreams, ambitions, plans – everything, even the relations – father, mother, siblings, children, spouse, feelings – joy, love, hatred, jealousy, anger, ego – everything seems so meaningless, paltry, tiny, petty in the face of the fact that we don’t have control over our lives. At the end of the day – rather at the end of one’s life or quite often, even while living it, one is alone in essence. All the riches, all the pleasures, the relations, the affection – all of it loses relevance the moment you cease to exist. Sure, you’ll leave behind a legacy, heirs, riches etc – but you’d have gone through agony, frustrations, struggles to achieve it and only to conclude that it suddenly doesn’t matter anymore….So what do we plan for then? what do we dream for? why do we nurse an ambition? what is the purpose of all this?
That a man may propose lots, but the God may dispose without mercy. A minute one may plan to experience the greatest pleasure of life and the next moment he may not exist anymore…

I remember the teachings of Vipassana course that I took almost 5 years back,out of sheer curiosity. 10 days full of rigorous meditation – in a secluded place, right from 4 am in the morning till 8 pm at night. I followed it to the T. For 10 days, I did not speak with anyone, except with my instructor, once in a day! What an experience it was….at the end of it, I was convinced that the teachings WOULD work, should a person practise the type of meditation regularly. Well, the goal of Vipassana was to reach and remain in zero state of mind.

Zero state of being! what would it be? the experience of a moment extended through the practice of life time! A state of mind with no negatives….and likewise, no positives either! a phase of time with no fears, sorrows, anger and likewise no laughter, hopes or love… a vacuum perhaps?? devoid of ‘feelings’? That is why timeless state of being! Feelings are always with reference to some event in time – past-present-future – and one’s reaction to it! So zero state of being must be timeless experience.I cannot say that I havent experienced it. During the course of Vipassana, I had smallish glimpses now and then, into the world of quiet. But the moment I was out of that cocoon of seclusion and into the madness of day-to-day life, I unlearned most of the technique as I did not practise it much. Now I’d need some help to remember how to even begin.

I remember and still believe its teachings though, having experienced their effect firsthand during the 10 day course.One of which is practising zero state of being.Detachment.Letting go of hatred, anger, fear, negativity – likewise, letting go of attachments, love, affection, positivity – because emotions and feelings – positive and negative are the causes of deepest sorrows. I have always believed that the deepest sorrow must be following the greatest experience of pleasure.Because it will be similar to hitting bottom after you’ve sprung to the greatest height. That to experience pleasures, one must make oneself vulnerable even to deepest sorrows.

As a being who wishes from time to time to experience it all, I tell myself that pleasure and pain would be part of life.But the losses experienced lead me to realise time and again that the cost of pleasure, planning, ambitions, ego etc would be measured in pain, sorrow, hatred…that I must submit, surrender to the greater force and try – not to get attached – to any thing – place – person – emotion – thought. Positively or negatively. Life is a zero sum game.Though it cannot be explained in a single lifetime. The Karma prevails…..

Gifting ideas anyone?

I want a Kaleidoscope!

¬†I was telling my friend M on Sunday, when I met her over coffee. She and I were discussing probable birthday gifts – for our upcoming birthdays. She wants an ‘unusual’ gift. I don’t know what unusual is supposed to be. Knowing her, I know she devours books, loves handbags, likes cotton garments, handmade artefacts¬† – any item with colours blue / violet/purple generally attracts her attention etc. Unusual for her would be anything apart from all these. That day, she bought nice jars for tea and coffee – She’s getting married soon and those jars are cute. She would have bought them for her mother probably even if she¬†wasn’t¬†getting married… but crockery etc is not my forte.There cannot be ‘unusual’ crockery…Jewellery, Music CDs etc would be very common place…I’m still thinking…

While I was still at it, I thought about this other friend, whose last day at work was last week, Friday. She wanted a jig-saw puzzle, a world map! Now that IS sort of unusual. We left work somewhat early,to look for it. Of course we didn’t find it, but ended buying some books and lots of stationery. It must be mentioned that I had never been to ‘Staples’ before and did not know that such a wonderland existed. I’m a stationery freak and was too happy to be in company of other 2 stationery freaks – who understood exactly,the joy I felt when I noticed scores of fresh reams of paper of various types, notebooks of amazing quality and covers, pens, clips, u-pins, binders, files, coasters, sketch pens, coloured pens, colours, hand-made gift wrapping papers, hand-made paper bags, various fancy sharpeners, erasers, notepads, calculators etc. My friends and I wished to undergo some time warp so that we could go back to school just to be able to use all these fancy items. The best thing about all this was the discovery that there existed some like-minded souls ready to go down the rabbit hole of stationery wonderland!! Though the store still did not stock Kaleidoscopes.

Everytime, I’ve gone to a stationery shop since last several years, I’ve kept looking for a Kaleidoscope. Probably toy shop is a better place to find it, and frankly speaking, God knows how many times I’ve tried it. The last time I went there was to buy a toy telescope for my nephew this May. I must have bought it in 10 mins flat and spent the rest of the 20 mins requesting shopkeeper to really search for a kaleidoscope if it is available…¬† it should be somewhere in the back of his store-room etc… No, it wasnt there. As a child I never owned a Kaleidoscope. I wanted it as a kid and wasnt given since it involved mirror glass etc. Growing up, I used to be fascinated by it – one of my cousins had it and whenever I used to visit their place, I’d sit for hours peeping into it…¬†looking at those pretty patterns. I was never adult enough to admit that the childish fantasy within me had never left. I never admitted it even to myself for a long time. A school friend,N, who shares her birthday with me, actually bought a Barbie-Doll house with her first salary – that was her childhood wish, to own a doll house. We called her crazy – what was she going to do with it – what a waste of space in the space starved Mumbai….Though now whenever I am reminded of Kaleidoscope, I end up empathising with her.In a weird manner, time and again I am reminded that concepts of ‘childish’ and ‘mature’ are too relative and perhaps¬† temporal.

Anyways, so while I need to ¬†look up for an unusual gift for my friend within a month, I expect her to do all the research over next 3 months and buy me a good Kaleidoscope ūüôā

A rose by any other name…

Lily? Jasmine?? or Frangipani???

‘Sankashti!’

I vaguely heard someone saying that. I was seated in a CST bound train, reading ‘Eat, pray, love’ and fortunately the novel had finally arrived to an interesting part. ‘Sankashti’!!… the moment I heard this, I snapped up and looked at the woman saying it, wondering whether it was ‘Sankashti’ that day. To the uninitiated, this is one of the common fasts observed amongst the Maharashtrians. ¬†It is observed every month on the 4th day of the waning fortnight and is observed to receive the blessings of Lord Ganesha. I started observing it from class 10 – since I believed it was necessary in order to score well. I didnt¬†study as much and scored okay in class 10, but the practice of fasting has continued.While ¬†I’m not a devout hindu,¬† I have faith in Lord Ganesha.(fasting has got nothing to do with being a devout hindu, but that is a topic for another post I suppose). I have continued to fast month after month, year after year hoping that one day the Lord will pity me and grant some sense. ūüôā

Well, coming back to the¬†story, I thought that it could be Sankashti¬†and that I might have missed to fast. Mentally, I berated myself for not only not observing the fast, but actually eating a hearty breakfast that day, which I normally end up skipping. Then I realised that if it was Sankasthi¬†that day, everyone in my family had missed it – we all of us fast on Sankashti. That was unusal, because my mother would never miss it! So I looked at the woman once more. She was still on the phone talking to someone. I concluded that she must have spoken about some past / upcoming Sankashti. I was just about to go back to my reading when I overheard, ‘Sankashti!’ and I turned to look at her once more. She was saying ‘Sankashti, what a brat you are, always getting into mischief’… and I was floored!

SANKASHTI¬†was the name of the child this woman was talking to!!! It’s a¬†Sanskrit word which I worked out would be sandhi¬†of 2 words – ‘San+Kashta’ – ‘San’->>’Sam’ meaning together (in this context – ‘WITH’) and ‘Kashta’ meaning ‘Hardships’. A fast is obviously penance¬† and hence the meaning ‘with hardships’. Then I began pitying the child whose name was ‘Sankashti’. Maybe she was born after several troubled hours her mother spent in the labour room etc. But still ‘Sankashti’ was such a vindictiveness on her mother’s part, if there really was such a thought process behind the name. But then I thought there wouldn’t¬†have been. Not many people care to dwell on the fact that most of the Indian names have sanskrit¬†origin, much less their meaning. Lately, there has been some sort of trend of naming babies with some archaic Sanskrit words from scriptures. Internationally, if they can name kids randomly (Read: Brooklyn, Apple, Ireland etc) why cant¬†we follow the madness? Of course its everyone’s choice to name (And call) their kids whatever they want. So infact, there could be some people complimenting Sankashti’s parents on such a cool choice of name.

Personally, I tend to associate an image with every person I know, and this has sometimes posed problems for me.¬†The image is¬†mostly influenced by the peson’s¬†name.¬†An Indian name mostly has a meaning – so if it is ‘Anjali’¬†– it is a specific hand posture using which one normally offers a gift to the¬†God. Contrary to the popular opinion, it’s not¬†an offering to the¬†God¬†. It literally means¬†‘palmful’¬†and usually you use this gesture to offer any gift to God etc. Now though I don’t picture a palm in my mind every time I come across an ‘Anjali’,¬†I mostly have problem processing such¬†names. And there are many I know who seem to have such visual names.¬†If they(my friends)¬†read this post, all I have to say is this : FORGIVE ME! YOU WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS.

Well it’s not¬†like I always picture the meaning first, but it stayed in the back of my mind that ‘Kinchit’ means ‘small in quantity’/’Little'(quantity) etc when I got introduced to one of my MBA classmates. I found it funny, but not many agreed, because it is apparently a common Gujarati name and my college was full of Guju¬†bhais. ¬†I remember one of our professors basing her whole session on some one liners like ‘Come on Kinchit, I’ll give you a clean chit if you answer this etc’… then there were numeous¬†‘Ketans’ (house), ‘Parthivs’ (made of mud) that I kept on running into. Then there’s fair share of abstract names too – ¬†a ‘Vanchana’ (worry) that I know, ‘Rachana’ (Arrangement/ creation¬†– it doesnt¬†say good arrangement or bad). A guy’s name was ‘Apekshit’ – (expected) and his youger¬†brother was ‘Akalpit’ (‘beyond imagination’ and sometimes can also be used as ‘Unplanned’) –¬† thereby making their parents’ family planning details totally public… ūüôā . One of my own nieces in the extended family is named ‘Sakshi’ (a witness)…. and the list goes on…

I believe that your name somehow becomes a part of you, your personality. So Akalpit¬†may for all reasons grow into an unpredictable young man. But on the other hand, it wasnt Vanchana’s¬†fault that she was given such a name. It necessarily does not mean that she has to live up to it. Fortunately, my parents did not name either myself or my brother in such a manner that our friends would have teased us. But I’d have surely¬†felt resentful¬†if I was called¬† ‘Akriti’ (diagram), Nupur¬†(anklet¬†– though a very pretty sounding name), Sulabha (‘easily available’), Anumati (consent), Apeksha (expectation), Pratiksha (the wait), Heena (Mehendi)¬†etc

Once in October…

Pic taken from Nokia phone with 2 MP camera. So actual scenery was much better than what's been captured

¬†If anyone asked me whether I ever felt the presence of God, I’d say it¬†was this moment!

Last October, one late afternoon, suddenly sky went¬†dark, cool winds began to blow, trees began swaying. It started¬†thundering. I love the smell of wet soil…and green grass. So when
first few drops of rain fell, i just HAD to go for a jog. I did too. I¬†live close to a creek, where there are marshes and tall grass and I thought of going there. Thursday afternoon,and it was pretty deserted.¬†Weather really went wild with heavy downpour, lightning , the wind was¬†blowing, making eerie noise and grass swaying. It got darker and darker…Somehow, I felt it was all beautiful and divine! The forces of nature, untamed and pure. I was jogging¬†along, totally drenched and exhilarated. Soon the sun came out and a¬†rainbow popped up. I took this picture then. It always reminds me the¬†extreme joy i felt when i was alone and with nature…

Those Good Old Days – Videogames

I came across this post on ‘freshly pressed’ about the old¬†video games which promptly reminded me of hours and hours that I’d spent with my brother in front of TV getting insanely competitive about scores, during many summer vacations, while in school. I guess, playing video games is kind of ‘occupational hazard’ for every girl who has a brother, and since we grew up in the eighties and nineties, our introduction to gaming happened through those early gaming consoles (what do you call them??) of companies like Sega which needed to be connected to TV. Of course when we graduated to computer games, the kind of games that we played changed to NFS, Quake, SIM City etc – but then somehow, I lost my interest in the gaming. It suddenly¬†wasn’t¬†fun¬†any more, maybe,because the games¬†weren’t¬†silly concepts of a joker trying to cross hurdles in a circus or a Pacman eating away those dot or bricks falling randomly. It got more serious, violent, more tech-savy etc. Music wasnt simple and melodious anymore, it was all rock and heavy metal!

Modern form of gaming is all hi-tech and I don’t think I’d even understand anything of it. Yeah, the latest gaming buzz for the non-gamers would of course be games like Mafia Wars and Farmville, but those never enticed me. Nevertheless that post reminded me of my good times with gaming, just like ‘bhoole bisre geet’, this is my own list of games – I found them online as well, now in flash format. This order is totally random.

  • Super Mario Bros
  • Contra
  • Circus
  • Tetris II
  • Karateka
  • Tennis
  • Kung Fu
  • Pac-Man
  • Elevator Action
  • Sonic
  • Duck Tales
  • Little Mermaid
  • Donkey Kong
  • Milk and Nuts
  • Popeye
  • Dr Mario
  • Bomber Man
  • Burger¬†Time
  • Galaxian

Mangoes and other Konkani Fare

We bought this season’s first batch of Mangoes today! Its already mid May and only a person hailing from Konkan would probably understand the lamentful undertone of this statement. Infact, not just a Konkani, any other person who has tasted our most valued contribution to the gastronomic (and ecological) world – ¬†Alphonso Mangoes¬†would find this situation pitiable.

The mango season begins from late March onwards and ends by Mid-June. March is too early to buy since the first lot is always very costly. Usually prices correct by mid-April and the quality and quantity of the fruit too improves over this period. By the beginning of June, Mangoes get cheaper, but the quality too deteriorates.¬†When I was growing up, we’d buy chests and chests of mangoes during summer vacation. My cousins would usually visit us during the period and then we’d have this daily mango-time in the morning. I remember my grandmother rationing mangoes in order to ensure that we didnt overeat (which caused heat-boils). She’d also make sure, we each had a glass of milk after we ate mango every morning. The mangoes then would be large in size and have red-pink-orange tint and smell heavenly. They became more and more popular over the years, and¬†nowadays, such fruit as I described is only of export quality (hence not available for us sinful locals). Nevertheless, prices of ordinary alphonso mangoes too have¬†sky-rocketed. At one point I remember my mother bargaining for a chest of mangoes (containing ~ 50 mangoes) for Rs. 350. Today we bought a mere¬†dozen¬†of mangoes for more than Rs. 1000. Gone are the days of chests after chests of mangoes which would be consumed as fruit, pulp, jam, milkshake, ice-cream over the period of summer vacation. Neither do we have that many mangoes in the market (they get exported) nor do we have lot of money to buy..

A trip to the mango vendor is not for the limited purpose of buying mangos, but also to purchase the entire year’s stock of, other goodies from Konkan. Some of these items are available locally throughout the year, but the taste, the flavour, the aroma never reaches to the authentic Konkan level. Again, I suppose this is something which not many people (except those from Konkan of course) will get. The mango vendors are usually some plantation owners from Konkan who set up temporary stalls during the mango season. So all that they sell is fresh and original ‘made in Konkan’ stuff. If I sing songs of Kuleeth¬†Peeth (flour) – to a larger part of the world including North India that would sound odd since it is actually a cattle feed – but in Konkan, we use the Kuleeth flour to make Kuleeth Pithla (which is a heavenly concoction of only Kuleeth flour, chillies, oil, garlic and Kokam skin, can be made in less than 10 minutes, has creamy consistency and must be eaten with cooked rice), Pickles/amboshis (of innumerable varieties), other seasoning food such as mirgunda, chikawadya, papads, metkut (kind of powder made of rice and some lentils and spices and tastes amazing when mixed with curd/ghee/or even plain), goda masala, amsul (dried Kokam skin), Kokam agal (extract of Kokam fruit which is used to make our famed Sol kadhi – which is a made with mere coconut milk, Kokam agal, cummin seeds, chillies, coriander and a pinch of sugar and tastes amazing). Then you have Amba/Fanas poli (sun-dried pulps of Mango and Jackfruit), Kaju gar (Cashews) and cashew fruit jam / jelly, supari (Areca nut), numerous sharbet mixes (mango, gooseberry, kokam) etc. With my limited knowledge of my community, I am aware of only these popular items sold here in Mumbai. Given the vast cultural diversity within Konkan region itself, I wonder how much I might be missing out on….though I hope to discover most of it someday…

‘The one with all the laughter and fun’

An episode with all the laughter and fun and hysteria and gossip and flashbacks and hilarity!!¬†Friends! arent friends like episodes?? well, if they really are, then I’d have preferred a daily soap – so that the good times¬†continue into eternity ūüôā

I have always thought about this (not as a blogpost ūüôā of course)¬† – what friendship means, especially since the contexts have changed, times have changed, lifestyles have changed. How do you become friends with anybody… there are many reasons – ‘habit friend/s’ as in people who you end up hanging out with due to reasons such as being neighbours / classmates etc, ‘aspirational value friends ‘ as in people whose personalities / qualities ¬†hold a sort of attraction and you feel they are cool, you want to be like them and you might hang out with them, many other reasons perhaps, but the one I value a lot is connection.

For example, ¬†when I recall my childhood, can conclude that as a child, my only friends were the neighbouring kids/ classmates sitting next to me/my cousins¬†because those people were ‘given’ in my life. Everyone begins with such friends. They are ‘habit’ friends – they have different nature than yours, you might realise that (though not as articulately as that¬†– you will just not like them and pick fights with them) but you still play with them. All of the friends of my childhood were as such ‘habit’ friends, and I dont have a particular memory about any of them. I remember random things like a classmate sitting next to me in class 1 broke all my crayons, a boy had once run away from school – he was my friend¬† – and I think they never found him etc… I mean, those were totally non-descript years. atleast in my life ūüôā anyways, this is digression from the topic at hand….

Coming back to what I want to say : In my adult life – I take that back. I’d say, ever since I began to really understand that world did not feel the same way as I did , I met only a handful people outside of my family who I thought ‘got me’ – spoke the exact language I spoke. I really admire people who can instantly¬†connect¬†with anybody and everybody, but deep down, I am skeptical. I believe such connections are not as cheap and easy. Nevertheless, I have been privy to the absolute joy that is afforded by having such friends, such connections and I can totally testify to the fact that age, financial status, education etc need not be a common ground to make such a friendship. One such friend is now 51!! She and I dont share many things in common, we are mostly not in touch with each other, but when we meet, we can chat for hours and hours, pick up from where we left it like 2/3/5/7 months ago!! And I cannot explain it. Her concerns, opinions etc are entirely different from mine, given her age and yet, when I speak to her, I do feel we are equals – that she understands me perfectly. Perhaps it is her nature – unlike other people of her age she doesnt release a barrage of advices and can laugh at my jokes. Whatever it is, I’m grateful, I met her.

For most of the people, the best years of life are college years, when many people do experience such a connection with several people at a time and that is really an amazing feeling. Thereafter the work begins and colleagues are supposed to be your competitors and habit – friends. It is very rare to make friends for real within formal and official conditions though I am fortunate enough to make a handful of them and it is something that sometimes I cannot believe myself….

It is a truth universally acknowledged (I like to quote Jane Austen now and then ūüôā ) that the good times last only for short while… Life is changing too fast – jobs/ education/ marriage¬†makes it rather impossible for the ‘connection’ to last over two different countries/ cities etc. And that’s why I said friends are like episodes nowadays. So one can only hope to make many more such connections in their lifetime and of course hope that the old connections are not given up that easily….

Life’s Ephemeral…

Life’s ephemeral- they say,
Blink and you’d be gone,
So you better had lived to glory
Before your senses wan

Well life is short – I do agree
And the ‘glory’ may differ
The happiness for every heart
will never be the same I infer

How I would lead this transient life
If I had only my will to ask
I’d sing, I’d laugh, I’d cry and frown
My thoughts and musings I’d never mask

Well, I would see much of this world,
the people,the places, the greens
The oceans blue, the valleys deep
skies with starry sheen

and I’d want to face my demons
For the truth’s what I want to live
I’d own up my faults, seek forgiveness
Others’ faults, I’d try to forgive

There would be some I’d call to chat,
Some, I would love to meet
To all acknowledged and unacknowledged before
I’d bid my final greet

For I never want to regret,
things undone, words never spelt
sights unseen, sounds unheard
and senses never felt

So I’d do all things that I wanted to do
and say what I always wanted to say
For I may never have another chance
to end the things as I may

 

ETA: Made some additions of articles and commas here and there ….

Facebooked

I am a Facebook fan. But every time I log in on Facebook, I get convinced more and more that FACEBOOK IS A STUPID IDIOT (also known as ‘WTF is Farmville’). ūüôā

These days, I feel more and more insecure about how social interactions are getting entirely influenced by Facebook and other sundry social networking sites. Maybe, I’m getting old. But the following are some of the dilemmas that I Face in my Facebook-life and I’m guessing some others might be facing them too :

Disclaimer : Before I begin with this, I wish to state that I dont hate people. Sure, I am not really outgoing etc, rather a shyish person but I DO want to be friendly in general.

So here goes:

Notification: Random Stranger (Male/Female) has added you on FB. His/her description (a.k.a ‘About Me’): ‘I have a great sense of humour’

My thoughts: Dear Random Stranger, you it seems have a great sense of humour. Wow! must be really funny to add unknown people! Wonder if I should try that myself. Maybe you think its a big joke to add people and then go about snooping into their lives. Or, you’re a thief and are checking for status messages like ‘Going outta town for a weekend’ etc to plan a dacoity or something. Or you are a loser who’s self esteem is directly proportional to the number of friends on Facebook.

Sarcasm apart, I CANNOT fathom for the life of me WHY people would want to add stangers on Facebook.¬†At least¬†I am not a teen looking for making ‘frands’ with random guys and my profile pic on FB is usually quite latest giving enough idea to a stanger that I am not a teenager. Still, every once in a while when I receive requests from people (men/women/boys/girls) aged 15 – 60, I feel insulted (esp requests from ‘boys’ part. Dear bacchas, I am your didi. Please respect ūüėČ ). Though intelligence does not exactly ooze out of my face, I’m sure I dont look like a dumb. Let me not get into why unknown women/girls might be interested in friendship with me. Maybe they have Tupperware agency and want to sell.

Notification: A colleague as added you as a friend

My thoughts: So, this colleague is interested in being friends with me. Well, thats surprising, because we rarely exchange words face to face. Let me recall…. I think 2 months back, we spoke once about a client. Not a word thereafter. Nope. S/he just throws cursory smiles at me and Still thinks that they should know what the hell I was up to this weekend. They must really think that I lead 2 lives. One in office full of boredom and the other, which is far more interesting that I hide behind my disinterested facade at work…so a virtual me must be better than the real me! Hmm… dont they have anything interesting to do apart from that? like spending their own weekend in worthwhile pursuits? Besides, you CANNOT freely bitch about work/boss/colleagues etc on your own wall. You are scared that by mistake some colleague might have been left out from ‘Limited access’.

In case of colleagues, it gets a bit dicier. You CANNOT reject/ignore their friend request. So you dilly-dally for a while wondering what to do. Though you might not be gregarious, you dont wont to come across as anti-social. Meanwhile, whenever you run into them in the pantry / at the printer, you smile and run away before they can reply. Then eventually you accept their request giving them limited access.Once this colleague added me. She had spoken to me literally only 3-4 times in entire span of 12-13 odd months I’d known her. The moment I accepted her request, it seems she was online and could read my status message and promptly commented. Meanwhile, I was parallely busy restricting her access. So it was around same time, that I gave her limited access and she realised it, since suddenly my updates would’ve vanished from her page. So now, she’s my friend on FB who KNOWS that I dont want to be friendly with her. She and I acknowledge each other in random corridors with a nod and have not spoken since.

Notification: A random classmate from your play-school group / a person who lives in your locality has added you

My thoughts: I dont know what is going on these days. This play – school buddy was probably your best friend at the age of … 3! S/he went on to different city and moved on with their life and has not spoken to you since last decade¬†at least. What can they mean by sending friends request? Its not like you’d really catch-up on decadeful of news with that play-school buddy or discuss how ineffective the latest corporator is with that guy from 5 buildings away. You never talk and sometimes dont even acknowledge them. What is this? I mean I fail to understand.

Notification: Your mother/father/brother/cousin/Manumama/Didi/Auntie/ member of your extended family has added you

My thoughts: Now here’s a major dilemma. While ‘Facebook’ has complicated our lives, ‘Limited Access’ has more so. Family need not know what lukkagiri you are generally up to. You cant post status messages beginning with ‘WTF’ indicating a general protest against whatever on your own wall unless you give them limited access. Sometimes they realise that you’ve given them limited access. And while that random colleague had enough self respect to refrain from asking, family never has ego. So this second cousin didi will walk up to me at a random wedding (we usually meet and speak at random weddings) and say,

Her:(Smiles) I’ve added you on FB.

Me: (OMG, I KNOW.) Really? well, I’ve not checked FB since long (Smile, Smile)

This younger cousin that I adore and is active on FB with no controlled access: (Walks up suddenly) I loved your pics from last week on FB. Chennai is it? Nice.

Me: (Looks to left, right, up etc) : I think mother is looking for me!!! (Evening, I go home, accept request meekly and give her semi-limited access including access to my Chennai pics. I.am.Fattoo! period!!)

Horrible isnt it? I’m sure many are sailing in same boat. Its not like I am anti-social or unfriendly. But my concept of ‘friendship’ is not limited to ‘people I know/have been introduced to’. It means a lot to me. I usually dont use FB as a networking tool. Which one of my friends pointed out. Yes, FB is probably a great networking tool. Useful to add your MBA batchmates because you never know when you might need to check on that job opening where s/he is working. But linkedin was created exactly for such purposes. Nowadays, FB has become like a tool to judge people. What kind of friends have you got, what you did last weekend, where did you take your latest holiday etc. is promptly available for others to see and form an opinion about you. They dont even know you. Many of them were your good friends in school/college. But have never bothered to say hi even once in a while on your wall even after you accepted their request. There ARE some people who havent sent me any message except the cursory ‘Happy Birthday’ every year on my wall. One of my friends recently undertook a FB cleaning spree where she deleted such friends. One of these days, I feel I should do the same.

Life is much more than your online time. Its your laughs, your sorrows, your anger, your feelings, your opinions (other than what can be publicly canvassed over twitter and FB). And I feel, mired in the online life, most of us are losing touch with our own emotions- leaves us with little real understanding of others’ emotions. Having said this, I love FB for several reasons. Mostly, it DOES let me express myself through pictures, status messages and such things, which I want to share with my real friends, who will find these things interesting in real sense.Who accept me the way I am and not judge me by my status messages. But it has also created a dilemma of having to keep appearances. In good old days, no one came to know what you really thought of them. These days, clever people must be managing it well, but I feel, its less difficult.

 

ETA: I must say, having read myself, the above bit sounds kinda hypocritical. There ARE some people who I knew cursorily before and whom I am now great friends with, after we connected on FB. In fact FB brought me closer to some of my extended family as well – but of course the effort was mutual. We made efforts to connect offline as well. So I am not likely to delete my FB account the way my friend Rekhs has, but in this era, when greater and greater part of life has begun moving online, as more and more feelings, egos, aspirations etc get linked to FB account, I am going to make attempt to connect with people in real rather than sending them bouquets/chocolates/drinks virtually….