Thursday, December 29, 2011

Strange combinations

A strange combination I see
Of glorious days of yore
And the rustic present
In magnificent ruins lost men lie
Staring at all those gawking around.
What thoughts they harbor I wonder.
With a life lived and gone by they lie
Just watching...

Are they satisfied? Were dreams fulfilled?
I know not.. Did the ruins inspire achievement?
I think not..
Those are more alive than the humans they shelter

I am stuck between two states in this lost city
Pride at a glorious past and a slight sorrow
At the many aimless lives it shelters
At the lazy ones trying to make an easy living
And at the million dreams which will just remain so

Shadow play

If shadows can see the future
I wonder what they'd predict
Afterall a shadow is but
A lightless reflection
Of the outline though not the essence

When most plans are mere outlines
Why can't the master outline give them a shpe?
I see shadows of us walking hand in hand
In a boulevard of broken dreams
Strangers we are now daring not to look
Even accidentally at each other
Whatever it was that was is again a shadow
Wish I sometimes do that some reality they'll mirror

Mere wishes that can't be
For separated paths don't merge
Except perhaps in shadows
The shadows which can't be my reality
But can always exist

The traveling circus

A traveling circus were part of
Going through life seeking one joy after another
Wearing multiple masks donning different roles
Performing to fellow actors when we please
Why the masks? Why this role now?
I pause to wonder and simply realize
That this reality I don't want to face
Far easier it is to continue in my role

My mind let's me rest not
And I begin this endless contemplation
Each act in my life I silently see
Not as a performer but as a mere spectator
I understand how it all leads to different traits
Of this particular role and different lines of this mask
I get the how but not the why
Ive watched just me ignoring the many million others
Who all have had roles to play and lines to recite
Stunned at the task I pause to ponder
And continue to think
Focusing on just that trait in an all new role

Monday, December 26, 2011

Enlightenment or something like it

Date : 24 Dec 2011
Time : 15.00 hours

For the past few weeks, I have been extremely philosophical about life. Wondering about the fairness of it all, thinking why I am the way I am and contemplating if I am the only person searching for answers that cannot be found. However, today, my belief that at the end of the day, all of us are just the same was confirmed. I looked at everyone in this place - the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the native and the foreigner. All of them are searching for something. I can see a question in all their faces. Here, where i dont have words spoiling thoughts, I can feel a deep human connect and a confimation that i am not alone. Here, I think we are in a seperate world. True, we have the pretense of silence around us. The supposedly righteous anger when someone cant adhere to the rules is explicit in the looks given to those daring to even part their lips. But, when i try to ignore this - all things superficial, I can see the invisible connect.

This need for peace and answers to the questions which at the end of the day are mere words disturbing and giving birth to varying forms to the underlying search - "What is the purpose of life/What do i need/how can i get what i need?" I think, we are all seeking the same answer to the differently worded single question. The jigsaw called life has it all hidden. The pieces are right here. We just have to figure out how to connect. And yes, something tells me that there is more than one right answer and that all different answers are the same.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

10 things i know to be true

I was listening to a TED lecture today (not my usual cup of tea, but a friend had forwarded a link). It was on spoken poetry. The speaker was talking about mentioning 10 things you know to be true. That set me thinking and here is the poem i wrote :

I know I am alive
I know that as of this instant, I am in love with the music in my life
I know that though not perfect, my life is beautiful in its own way
I know that most of the instances I cherish are the ones i have felt loved and cared for
I know that life with all its lessons, is not always a kind teacher

I know that as far as I can, I have tried to love, accept and grow
I know that life is going to throw some more curved balls my way
and I know for sure, that i will try to hit it for as long as I can
I know that no matter how many times I fall, I will try to get up
I know that when all my philosophy fails, a good cry will help

I know that i have to reflect a lot more to even begin to see


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Of ghosts and reflections

Thanks to my uncle, i got a chance to look at some of my really old photographs (or should i say photos of a really young me?). I have been thinking a lot after that (not that i think less otherwise).

How did I become the person I am from who i was? I see a lot of options open for that little girl in the picture. Why did she choose the path she did and become who she is now? I really dont know where i fit in the bigger picture but the more i think about it, the more wonderful life seems to be. Imagine the millions of people making the choices they make at the specific times and all that joining together to form the world we know the way we know it. I wonder what influences the decisions to drive the outcomes we see in life. I would like to peg it to a bigger power who likes to create an environment to simulate multiple scenarios and see how he can play around with each. :)

From where I stand, i can just look at a few excel sheets and simulate scenarios. When i make so many assumptions there, i wonder which of his pays of. Or because he has no present, past or future, it could be that he needn't make any assumptions - or so I would like to think. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rewards

They claim that you always get your due. The karmic theory states that, a lot of organizations say that and few individuals do too. However, i wonder - how do you know what is it that you are being rewarded for? In some cases, this is a straightforward answer. Say, a running race or a cricket match. Even there, you can of course blame your circumstances if you fail in a place you thought you would succeed due to situations beyond your control. In life, most things are not so straightforward. Why do i fall sick just because the person sitting next to me in office had a cold? What is it that i am being rewarded/punished for? Why did i get a chance to go to a brilliant college like BITS when there are a lot of people as smart as me who cannot even go to school? What is that i am being rewarded for? The more i think of these things, the more crazy and unpredictable life seems to be. I can hear a lot of you saying, "dont think so much".

But if i want to get the bigger picture, i ought to at least try. Then again, the risk here is this - how do i know which are the situations i ought to fight for my reward and which are those i ought to let rest? Where am i being a hapless victim who cannot help her situation and where am i being the dumb witness who is not even trying?  This again leads me to another question - does it make a difference? Will things change because i fight? For those of you who are telling me the age old independence struggle example, I think you have lost the point here. I am trying to figure out whether life is like a struggle where we fight to find the ultimate truth or if life is like meditation where you just let it be and peacefully observe things to figure out what it is all about. In a way, i can think of the latter option only because i dont have to struggle for food or shelter. So struggle i think is a part of it. But if we are constantly fighting, how much can we remember about what it is that we are fighting for? If i do a simple ROI calculation, how does life change because of the struggle as opposed to the case of what it could have been without it? Is it even worth a comparison? What is it that i am comparing it against?

A few minutes of quiet contemplation just throws up a lot of questions i am not sure i want to answer now. I think ill just set aside a day for contemplation and think.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sadly understood

There are some human traits I really wish i did not understand :

1. Sometimes, people are angry not because we do things but because we have the capacity to do them. Why all this jealousy, I wonder
2. A lot of people follow the supposedly simple strategy of divide and rule. Dont they understand that the more the number of loose bricks, the sooner it will fall on their head?
3. Everyday the sun rises (at least it has till now), every second someone dies somewhere, every damn thing is transient. Still we are convinced that our small issues are worth all the heart ache and spend hours thinking and moaning. Why?
4. All the what might have been, how it should have been and how it should be conversations - where do they lead if we do not act upon them? Why do we engage in so much useless conversation without acting upon things?
5. All of us are busy putting on one act or another at least once a day. If all the world is just a stage, who are we acting for? Other actors? Cant we stop this drama sometime?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A passing thought

I am going to crap big time so, you can skip this and go to the poem below and i will not mind in the slightest. For the rest, read on.

I think i flicked it from face book - but still it is apt enough now to get the center stage in my blog.

"More often than not, the what could have been is more painful to think about than what is."

Talk about wishful thinking. I was looking at some old photographs and rereading some thoughts in my diary and i realized that i have evolved a lot as a person and of course, like anyone who constantly grows up, said quite a lot of goodbyes. I wonder now if things would have been different if i had not evolved. I am quite sure and I am quite glad for the changes I see and acknowledge. I send a prayer of thanks to my awesome Maker, who has been there for me all through. Thank you dear god.

A lot of you might not understand this post. For a change, i am not too bothered about the audience, but just want to record this thought before it disappears.

Why

Why the constant running?
To which destination?
Why this pursuit -
of all things transient?
What aint transient?

When we dont last forever,
how can things we create?
Everything comes - with an expiry date
Some in minutes, some in months
and some, mere centuries

Now all i know
is the fact that all things end.

Find - I cannot
with my limited human brain
the things i ought to seek.
So i continue running
behind what i see
and simply forget the searching
I ought to really do.

The bright star

I watch a star in a cloudy sky
The shining twinkle, the playful winks
Enthralled i sit and observe
its easy movements in a deep dark world

Where is it headed?
What drives it - I wonder
The scientific me, silenced
by a magnificent power
much more real than experiments

I slumber - unaware of the passing time
I awaken in the dead of the night
when the clouds clear
and stars disappear.

Hidden by the moon's splendor,
forgotten it lies right in the center
sometimes, even the stars seem to vanish altogether

What am I, a mere mortal
fighting for?
To top the list in a google search?

Barren but not forgotten

I watch the breeze as a leaf flutters
I watch it float far away - unhindered
I remember the forest that stood right here
This place so barren and now lifeless
I remember the autumn aeons ago
when the shower of leaves greeted me each day
Knew I not then, that a harmless seasonality it was not
I wonder if a different me,
would have reacted then
Wonder all I can, I know the time is past
In my land of memories, all i have now
for a fertile past is a dying present and a dead future.

New bonds form, new landscapes emerge
but sometimes I think and reflect on what could have been
A small voice tells me that doing so
I discredit the present and lower its glory
but a stronger voice claims that giving the past
its own due is an unavoidable tribute
I bow down to it, and continue living.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What inspires

What is it that inspires us and brings out the best? Is it work well done, which in itself is a reward? Or is it reward for the work well done? Or is it a combination of the two?

By work, i dont want to limit my thoughts or the world in general to what we do to earn a living, but to what we do to live a life. Somethings done around the house, some lives inspired, some lives changed, i think all this in a way counts as work. Today, i am seriously thinking about what inspires me and trying to capture that one thing.

Maybe, i should just let it be. I am thinking if it makes sense to give up the pure joy of admiring the various colors in a rainbow and watching a golden god go down to the heavens and attribute it all to dispersion, rotations and revolutions and lose the sense of wonder i have for life at times. I guess i can call it laziness and escape. :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Siddhartha - Herman Hesse

At times in life, a book makes you contemplate on life and what exactly is it that we are trying to do here. A book written by a troubled author for troubled people, did strike the right chord with me.

The book begins with Siddhartha, a brahmin boy in his father's house. He is a very good student and brings joy and hope to everyone around him. However, he feels that he is not getting all that he wants from the books and the sacrifices he does. Something does seem to be missing in his life and in an attempt to reach enlightenment, he chooses the way of the samanas. The samanas are wandering monks who possess only a loin cloth and spend their team fasting, praying and searching for enlightenment. His friend Govinda comes along with him and in the first part of the book, you watch their journey and also wonder why is it that two individuals are ready to voluntarily suffer. 

Towards the end of the first part, they come across Gotama Buddha. Though Siddhartha acknowledges that he is the best teacher that he has had, he still feels that enlightenment has to be experienced and it cannot be taught. He parts ways from Govinda and tries to carve his own path to reach his goals.

This is when Siddhartha realizes that by denying the senses, he will not be able to attain enlightenment as he has to know what it is that life is about. He starts experiencing the sensual world and slowly becomes its slave. How and if he attains what he seeks forms the rest of the plot. A very interesting book that opened up a lot of questions for me and got me thinking about life and everything about it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The curious incident of the dog at night time - Mark Haddon

The plot follows Christopher John Francis Boone who investigates the murder of his neighbour's pet dog. He is initially suspected of it as he is the person who finds the dead dog. He takes it upon himself to solve the mystery. Each page is well written and the suspense is maintained. The characters are well fleshed and you cant help falling in love with Christopher and his rat. You watch spell bound as the kid searches for the murderer, learns the many things in life that he never thought he would have to and actually to a certain extent do what we call growing up in the process. I really liked the character of the father and the easy sacrifices he made for his son. Also, he was no saint and had his faults which like his sacrifices were explained in a matter of fact manner by Christopher. 

You never want to discriminate Christopher because he is a special kid in the book. You are happy for him when he loves his school, you laugh at his system of using car colours to determine how a day would be, you fear for him when he decides to run away all alone to London and you are joyful when he gets what he wants. You cant help feeling a kind of camaraderie with him. That set me thinking about how different fact is from fiction. 

There are certain brilliant scenes in the book like where Christopher decides to go detecting and go speak to strangers in the road though he is scared of them. His interactions are funny and remind you about the human side of those we brand different and ignore. A very good read which should not be missed. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The final goodbye

If at the very end, all thats left is hardly a handful,
how is it that the desires are as big as the universe itself?
Why do we strive? Why all the struggle? Why all the dreams?
I wonder as i watch you taken away.
I walk back into the house with a heavy heart
and a lot of broken memories come flowing back

The moments spent in a game or two,
the hours spent just being near each other
Things too precious to be forgotten
Then I do realise that made you
and what was left of you, was not just the handful
but the hearts full of your memories
created simply by the dreams, desires and struggles.

I bow down to you and hope that wherever you are, you are at peace..
I just want to tell you, that even in the final good bye, you taught me a lesson so true -
that no matter how many years pass,
at least some of your deeds will live on
long after the wind has blown the remains away

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Solitaire Mystery - Jostein Gaarder

Yet another brilliant philosophical book from Jostein Gaarder. The plot follows the journey of Hans and his father as they try to bring back Hans' mother Anita who is caught in the world of fashion back home. She left them 8 years ago and has not been heard of since. They decide to drive down from Norway to Greece as they know that she is a model there from a magazine a relative chances upon in Greece.

When they set out on their journey, they are directed by a dwarf to follow a route which is more of a detour than the promised short cut. The dwarf also gives him a magnifying glass. They rest in the Swiss village called Dorf where Hans meets the local baker who gives him 4 sticky buns and makes him promise to eat the last one alone.The last big one contains a book that Hans is able to read with the help of the magnifying glass. From this point on,the story follows the two plots simultaneously.

The best part is, both are equally interesting and well written. Whether it is about the bakers in the sticky bun book or it is about the father and sun searching for Anita, you see how the strangest things in life seem to make the most sense. A very good read on which i would like to not elaborate any further simply because the book is too much of a treat to be missed.

Monday, December 05, 2011

1984 - George Orwell

An epic about a dystopian totalitarian society. Knowing that it was but an imaginary epic, why did i get so scared?Why was it so believable and relevant so many decades after it was written? Maybe it is simply because imagination is inspired by reality? This imagination was much more real than the reality shown to us by the media. To the uninitiated, the plot of the book happens in the futuristic (compared to when it was written) 1984 where Oceania, where England used to stand, is ruled by a totalitarian Government. There are two kinds of people, the party workers and the proles (or normal people). The party workers are again organized in two groups - the inner party (who make all the decisions) and the outer party( who do all the work). Each party worker has a device installed in his house which tracks every movement of his and what he speaks as well.This is closely monitored by the thought police. Winston, an employee in the Ministry of Truth starts keeping a diary, which in itself is an offense punishable by death. You watch him struggle initially to put his thoughts on paper and then you are mesmerized by the thoughts that he comes up with.

As though breaking one rule is not enough, (well, there are no rules because there is no law!), he has the guts to fall in love with a beautiful young girl from the Ministry of fiction. The government doesnt approve of any emotion and marriage is simply a means to procreate, which is again nothing but a duty one must perform for the party. Winston, who has already been married is surprised by the depth of his emotions for the bold Julia whom he initially hates and later falls madly in love with. When you look at the multiple arrangements of convenience a lot of people call marriage, it is not a strange thought to marry only for the purpose of reproducing.

Winston constantly questions why the party is trying to control the masses. Like he puts it in his diary, "I can understand the how, i cant understand the why". The various ministries, Ministry of Truth, Love, Plenty and Fiction spread numerous beautiful messages and constantly brain wash the masses. The Ministry of Truth for eg, goes back and corrects the news paper articles and books which are no  longer relevant. For eg, when a few inner party workers are denounced, any positive mention about them in the old papers is removed and they are belittled. If the Big Brother (oh i forgot about him, he is the overlord) has made a prediction about grain production etc, which was not close to what happened, then it is corrected. The Ministry of Fiction creates works of fiction which again detail about how great the party is and how they founded aeroplanes. They discredit anything that happened during the industrial revolution and praise the party. When i think about the many politicians and their propaganda, i dont find this so difficult to believe. There is a ration for everything. What you eat, what you watch, everything is controlled. Life follows a strict time table which you cannot escape from even if you want to. THere is a lot of negative thought spread about the past and the capitalists who made people starve and lead horrible lives. Winston once wonders, "If things are so good now, then why does my body rebel? Ideally it should not". He somehow seems to be the only person to think about this.

Another scary piece in the book was the way they try to control your thoughts by inventing an all new language. There would only be a few words in the same. Once you dont even know what to think, how can you think thoughts which they dont want you to? Once your language is restricted, you do not have anything to think in. The country is constantly in war with Eastasia or Eurasia and anytime it is changed all the papers are changed to ensure that the enemy has not changed and people buy that nonsense very easily. Nobody bothers with a memory or try to think for themselves. Through this and also by portraying the way sex is made into a taboo, (so that you can use your energy to support the party) the author reminds us how easy it is to steal an identity for at the end of the day your thoughts are your identity.

The book set me thinking and also secretly hoping that the human spirit is not so easy to break as Orwell imagined it would be. If it is, then god save the word.  We dont have groups of people united and with a leader smart enough to pull of this imaginary world. That way our lack of unity has made sure we have not lost everything we have yet. I think...

P.S This review has not done any justice to the book. I need to do a paper on it and even then i dont think it would :)