Categories
philosophy

On God and Dad

Is not our ultimate purpose in life, to keep doing things which feel right to us? I think that if the only life that we have, is lived in any other way, it would only be regretted when life would be closing in and there would not be enough time to undo the not so right things that we did, or to do the right things that we never did.

Today was the sixth day of Durga-path. I do no derive any pleasure, satisfaction or feel any closer to God by reciting the Sanskrit shlokas. My dad does. He has been doing this pooja every year during Durga-pooja since a long long time and he has received Mata’s blessings not only for himself but for his family. It is his faith. It would have been great if I had the same faith. But I fail. There are few reasons why I have still been sitting with him daily for the pooja-recitals.

First, it’s easy to say ‘yes’ to dad. I don’t remember the last time I said, ‘no’ to him for anything. So when he asked me to join him, I just said ‘yes’.

Secondly, it’s not a big deal. It’s just one and a half hours of my day. I don’t lose anything by doing the pooja. I am on a vacation anyway.

So should I continue doing this ritual even when I don’t feel any spiritual connection between my act and God? Should I let dad live in the illusion that I believe in God in general and Goddess Durga in particular as much as he does?

It’s not that I don’t believe in God. It’s just that the way I define my God has nothing to do with worshipping stones. To me God is simply an unseen force that cris-crosses my life in His own way! Every mystery that the human mind has not yet solved is an act of God. Believing in God gives me strength because it makes me realize that I am not responsible for answering all the questions in life nor am I responsible for everything that happens in my life or others.

I don’t however feel the need to worship or recite shlokas or follow any customs to feel that strength. I don’t see any point in worshipping a stone, trying to please my God. Beyond accepting His existence, there is nothing more that I care about, as far as a God is concerned. I am only concerned about my karma.

Whatever I do should bring happiness or satisfaction or something good to my life either directly or indirectly through bringing happiness to other’s lives. When I do pooja, I probably bring some happiness to my dad. But isn’t this happiness a result of the belief that I have faith in Durga an her powers just like him, than a result of me sitting and doing pooja? If such is the case, then this happiness that I bring to him, is not based on truth. And hence, it doesn’t feel the right thing to do.

I wish it were easy to say it all, verbally, to dad. I wish he at least reads this post.

Categories
philosophy travel

Walking through, learning about

Written on 28 September 2008, Sunday

If one wants to reach Deoghar from Bhubaneswar, it is pointless to first take a flight to Kolkata and then a train from Kolkata to Deoghar. It is pointless at least when you have landed in Kolkata already at 10 in the morning but when your train for Deoghar shall depart not before 4 in the evening.

Yes. I had six hours to kill in Kolkata yesterday. This is one reason why I simply walked out of the airport. No taxi. No auto. No bus. Nothing. Just walk.

I kept walking in whichever direction I felt like; whichever direction my feet felt like – walking on the damp roads of cool but humid Kolkata – walking past piles of garbage and men and women working on those piles – segregating recyclable waste from the good-for-nothing waste. The shoulders took their own time to realize what I was upto and after a while they stopped complaining about the two – not so light – bags that they carried.

After about a little more than two hours of road roaming that included just a single ten-minutes pause (solely to avoid getting drenched when it started raining heavily), I suddenly realized that I had reached an interior region of a very isolated colony. Shoulders didn’t seem too happy. I could feel a sense of anguish even in the legs, in spite of the fact that they were used to running ten kilometers in one hour.

I spotted an auto. It was the only auto and more than that, the only public transport medium that could be seen in 360 degrees. And that auto was leaving. Before it could disappear, leaving me with my tired shoulders and legs in the middle of nowhere, I waved at it. It stopped.

I had no clue where I was. I had no clue where the auto was headed. And believe me, I liked it that way.

There already was a passenger inside. So this was a shared auto, I concluded. I sat inside. Another passenger joined and the auto started. No words spoken. After fifteen minutes of ride on bumpy roads, all the passengers left the auto at a market place. I stepped out too. At least, now I knew that I was in the middle of something. A market place.

It was 12:30 already and I had no idea how far Howrah station was. I could see few city buses running. Could one of them be going to Howrah? Wish I could read the Bengali letterings on the buses. A shopkeeper was of help. He made it clear that none of the buses would go to Howrah. 🙂

I refused to take a taxi even when I found some of them. A taxi wouldn’t be half as fun. There still was plenty of time left before I could come anywhere close to missing my train.

Another shopkeeper was of slightly greater help. Bus no. 211 would take me to XYZ from where I could take a ferry for Howrah, he told. The ferry ride was supposed to be a ten minutes thing and everything sounded fun. After all, I had never boarded a ferry in Kolkata before.

The only problem was that it was difficult to guess what XYZ meant. Names of places when delivered in thick Bengali accent are too difficult to comprehend even for someone like me who has grown up in a neighboring state. So I was in this bus no. 211 soon, but without any clue where exactly the bus was going. XYZ! Besides telling the name, which I couldn’t pronounce for nuts, the shopkeeper had been kind enough to also let me know that XYZ was supposed to be the last stop. That’s exactly what I told the conductor when he asked me where I wanted to go to. Last stop. 🙂

This was a first timer in a public bus in Kolkata. The bus interiors were all wooden, almost like that of the trams that run in the city. I forgot that I had a camera in my phone then, or else I would have clicked some pictures.

An old Bengali man entered the bus at one of the stops. I don’t remember the last time I ever left my seat for anyone as long as I was not seating in some ladies-only or handicap-only seat. Yesterday, I said to myself: if you can’t even be of help to this old man who is standing right in front of you, how can you help anyone else? How can you start doing what you think you are meant to do in this life?

As I stood up, letting the oldie sit, it felt so much better even when I was all tired. The meaning of life is changing, and for good.

Time was ticking by but the last stop, wherever it was, whatever it was, didn’t seem to be arriving. I started to get impatient. Traffic was all messed up and slow on the roads with water clogging and all that. Shit! What if there was no last stop and the bus ran in a loop? But then I had a ticket for the last stop, right? Oh no, what if the conductor hadn’t heard me properly? Did he mistake my ‘last stop’ for some ‘ABC’ stop and gave me a ticket? Did that mean, I had already passed by the stop where I was supposed to get off and catch my ferry? Oh my, oh my!

I rushed to the conductor and told him that I wanted to go to Howrah and that he should tell me where to get off. The moment I asked this, he told me that I could get off then and there and take any bus for Howrah. I looked outside. The bus was passing through downtown Kolkata. There were millions of other buses running outside. Some of them must indeed be headed towards Howrah. But what about the ferry? He told me that from the last stop if I walked for two, three Kms, I could catch the ferry. Ah! So something like a last stop did exist! I decided to remain seated.

After leaving 211 at its last stop, I finally took another ‘bus’ for Howrah station instead of trying too hard to find the place from where the ferries left. At about 3:30 PM, I was sitting on my seat in Mithila Express. This is when I met the best dressed beggar that I had ever seen in my life.

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The Last Stop, Kolkata

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Howrah Railway Station, Platform no. 8

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She must have been about 40 years old. She was slim for her age and had a typical Bengali face. She wore a very clean and good looking black sari. She could speak fluent Bangla, broken English and an equally broken Hindi. For the first three minutes of her speech, that was an English-hindi-bangala mix, I could not make out what was it all about. Finally it was clear. She wanted money. She told me that she was collecting money so that she could treat her dad who was supposed to be an ex-railway employee and now suffering from TB. I meet such people all the time and almost always at railway stations, outside restaurants etc. In Chennai, the typical way such conmen, usually a troika of a dad a mom and a kid, would start off would be with an opening sentence like this: ‘bhai saab, kyaa aap Hindi samajh sakte hain?‘. Try saying yes and you will be asked to help the family with monitory support because either they lost all their stuff while coming from Jaipur to Chennai. If not the Jaipur Chennai tragedy then some other nice story aimed at triggering your sympathy button. There are two types of beggars – the honest ones and the cheaters. These conmen belong to the second type. That lady who came to me to tell her story as I was seated inside my compartment, belonged to the second type. Worse than an honest beggar. And it was the first time I was seeing a beggar trying to tap the 2 tier AC segment. This was the classiest act of begging I had seen.

Almost every time you have refused to buy what these conmen tell you, don’t you think about a what if case? What if one of them was indeed genuine? I think about that too. To make myself feel better, I, almost always convince myself that the chances of somebody genuine asking for ‘even 10 bucks’ with such self-confidence and in such a balanced tone are too low to worry about. These good actors should give theater a shot, if they indeed want to make money by pretending to be what they aren’t.

Today is a Sunday and it has been raining here in Deoghar since morning. Today is day one of my vacation. And I am already missing my work.

Categories
philosophy

Connect AC and people suffering from floods

People are still suffering with floods and all that. In Orissa. In Bihar. I still haven’t switched on the AC, ever since I decided I didn’t want to use it. And as some of my readers have pointed out (by comments to that painfully long post about my life and all that), my not using AC, in no ‘fucking’ way, helps any of those out there who face fresh problems every day, fighting with life.

Most of us have this habit of defending ourselves. We do that especially when we are talking / discussing with friends. With friends, we are always aware that at some level, one is not superior to the other. Arguments. Disagreements. It’s such a routine part of life. But how many times, instead of defending, have we immediately replied back saying something like: ‘Yes, I think you are absolutely right. I think I was wrong’. Do you remember the last time you said something like that when your friend said ‘Dude, you are wrong’. Do you remember when was the last time you didn’t feel like defending yourself?

This is for those who don’t see a connection between my deciding to stop using AC and people suffering with floods (especially the poor junta out there): Yes I think you guys are absolutely right. I think I was wrong.

There might be no connection. But the fact remains that I don’t feel like getting used to a lifestyle that’s not necessary. This is all switching off the AC means to me. Trying to resist the temptaion to let my life style change. My parents don’t have AC at home. We never had. The only car that we have had is a Maruti Omni. I have never got myself any suit to wear so far. Let me just come to the point. Today, I find myself at that stage in my life, where I ‘can’ let money change my life-style. Tomorrow I might get used to it. Day after I will get so comfortable in my life-style, like thousands of others, who are living in AC houses and driving costly cars, that I might end up shutting my eyes from the real world. Just like everyone else.

Today, I see myself in a position, where I need to decide. Do I want more things for myself, get used to them, get bored with them, then wish for better things, an even higher lifestyle…

OR..

Do I want to stop making ‘my’ life any better than what it already is (its so much better off than millions of others who suffer and who die out of hunger, isn’t it?) and do something about those who didn’t get as much in life as I did. A little bit. My bit?

That night when I decided I didn’t need the AC, I knew I had made my decision.

Categories
philosophy

A long summary of my short life

The mind right now is full of thoughts and ideas and expressions. My mind. In fact there are so many things running at the same time, along with the desire to jot them all (and that too – systematically), that I wonder how successful I’ll I be in doing the same.

It’s 11:30 Pm. I was lying on the bed about an hour ago, trying to sleep. I could not. So I sit right now, with a hot mug of black-coffee, trying to take things out from inside me to put them all here, on this blog. It could be shit. Of course. But, it’s important for me. This blogshit is one place where once I have written everything the I way I really have thought about them, I have, at the end of it, helped myself in knowing me better. And so dear readers, I write.

Let me accept something. Now that I am making money, I am pretty sure that I never wanted to make loads and loads of money. I don’t dream of buying a car, then a costlier car, and then the costliest car. I don’t dream of having my own house, then a bungalow, and then an entire island! After all these years of existence, I know all these dreams and desires are indeed achievable. After all these years of existence, I also know that all these dreams and desires are so worthless and more than that, endless. In the only life that I have, I have no intentions to work just to earn money so that I and those dependent on me are able to buy this and buy that and so that I can say to myself that I have achieved a lot in this life. Something is so not genuine about this achievement.

I grew up in a middle class family. When I was young, my dad made me mug lines such as “I want to be an IAS officer” so that this could be ‘my’ answer to anyone, a friend or a relative of dad, who asked the young Amrit: ‘Beta, what is your aim in life?’. This was a time when I didn’t even have a clue as to who the hell was an IAS officer!

As I grew up, the only deliverable that mattered in house was ‘topping the class’. No one forced me, but I pretty much knew what really mattered to everyone. No one cared if you won prizes in dramatics or painting!

I actually did top a couple of times in school. Even when I was not topping, I used to be in the close range of toppers (the 2nd 3rd ranker types). I never really questioned too many things. As long as I didn’t have to study any extra, than most of my friends, I really didn’t mind doing well academically.

There isn’t anything easier than getting more than 90% in a school board exam. I realize that I say so based on my intelligence level. I believe that this so called thing called ‘intelligence’ exists in different amounts in each one of us. I am specifically talking about the kind of intelligence you need to grasp information presented in text-books and apply them to answer questions, either theoretical or numerical. It was easy for me to be among the toppers till my Xth because my intelligence level must have been higher than the average students. It had nothing to do with any extra effort from my side.

I met a lot of people who had a higher intelligence level than me when I went to DAV for my plus two. It was away from Patna, the town where I had grown up and spent  my life so far. DAV was in Ranchi. There were some students there who had a much much higher intelligence level than me. In DAV, it was impossible to be among toppers with the same effort that I had put in to studies so far.

I tried to work hard for a couple of months but gave up soon. This was not my way of living life. When I had not spent my time studying any more than what I had felt like, up till then, what motive did I have to change? I didn’t change. In fact, I deteriorated academically. I stopped attending classes, started missing exams and for the first time in my life, failed in a subject. Maths. My eleventh class final exam.

I made sure that no one at home comes to know about this. Fake report-cards were prepared and false confidence exhibited all the time. I wrote a make-up and was promoted to 12th. In class 12, I didn’t write a single exam except may be English. Finally it was time to write the board exams. I knew I could mug and get something like 60%. My school let me sit for XIIth board eve when I had missed to write all exams that year. After I having written the first two papers, I asked myself: why am I doing this? Why am I trying to pass? Do I want to be a 12th pass? If yes, is this the best I can do?

That definitely wasn’t the best I could do. I took a decision to quit the remaining papers. When the board results came, I was declared failed. I was a tenth pass in May 1999 when the Xth board results had come. I was still a Xth pass in May 2001 when the XIIth board results came.

I returned home. I realized all my dad’s colleagues and friends knew what I had done. I realized how embarrassed I must have made dad. When a guy who gets 91.5% in Xth, stays away for home for 2 years and comes back with zero achievement, questions are bound to pop up. What went wrong? Did he start smoking or drinking? Had he got the question paper leaked in 10th? Thankfully, my dad did not ask me many things. I think he assumed that I didn’t like being away from home and therefore didn’t study. I think my dad could never have thought of any other reason anyway. The only thing that I kept telling him wast: look dad, had I written my board exams, I would have got something like 60% and I don’t think I wanted to do that.

It was a stupid reason because everyone knew that XIIth board marks didn’t matter anyway. Engineering was the thing ‘planned’ for me and almost all good colleges had their entrance exams. I accet that it was an impractical decision from my side but it did teach me few things: 1. It is okay if you don’t do what you don’t feel like doing; the world is not going to come to an end; and 2. your family is your biggest strength because they love you genuinely and see themselves in you.

I studied for an year. Class XII books.  I realized that the subjects were not as tough as I had always believed them to be. Suddenly there was no school. Suddenly there was no company of those super intelligent classmates. Suddenly I didn’t have to top a class or compete. I just had to study so that I could write my and clear my board exams proudly. I studied. Not all day and all night, but just enough to get something over 90% in XIIth when I wrote it finally in March 2002.

In May 2002, I finally was a XIIth pass  with 90 point something percentage. In May 2002, once again, I didn’t have any great purpose in life. I had these temptations to study English in some good college in Delhi but I never told about these temptaions to anyone. Engineering was the only thing everyone talked about. I surrendered. Meekly.

I had sat for JEE that year but had failed to clear it mostly because I never really was aiming at the exam. Even after one year of time spent at home, I still had no clue about so many chapters from the XIth class syllabus (never needed to read them because board exam didn’t need me to).

Finally it was decided that I go join one of the best engineering colleges in Mumbai because at that time, the Universities there used to accept students based on XIIth percentage. A day before my train would depart, dad asked me if I thought I could make it to IIT. How could I say NO to him? I got my ticket canceled, spent another year in home, completing those class XI portions, and studied only enough to get into an IIT. I had no motive whatsoever to get the best rank in this world. In May 2003, I had an AIR of 2684.

July 2003. IIT story began. For five years I was going to spend time inside a beautiful campus, cut off from  the real life of pain and sufferings. I was purposeless again. Then I fell in love, trying to give some purpose to my life. After having failed to convince her to be mine, and during one of those depressed phases of my life, I remember myself sitting atop my hostel tunkey at 3 in the morning, contemplating suicide. I had spent 4 years in IIT. I didn’t have any purpose to live. I didn’t know why I needed to make money or take up a job or do anything at all? For who? For my parents?

I have no clue how things would have changed had I jumped off the building then. Parents would have suffered. They would have never understood why I killed myself. The girl, whose departure from my life, and whose indifference to what I was going through then, would have cursed herself for no fault of hers. But after a few years things would have been forgotten.

Let me go back to that day. I was there on the tunkey top. Walking on the edges. Should I jump? Should I not? Who am I living for? And then the answer was very clear. I could live a little longer and give to my parents a little more than what I had given them. What had I given them anyway? The pride of being parents to a child who went to IIT? This certainly wasn’t enough.

I lived. Couple of girls came to my life after her. I even ended up ‘almost’ sleeping with one of them. Then I passed out from IIT. Then I got a job. Now my parents were the pride parents of a perfect child, an IITian doing a prestigious job and drawing good salary.

Do I need this  perfect life? For how long do I need  to keep doing things that have been dreamed by my parents?

The more I think, the more I realize that there are no end to dreams, either those of my parents or of human beings in general. There is no upper limit. And so, it doesn’t really matter when you stop dreaming for more. It doesn’t really matter when I stop making more dreams (seen by my parents) come true: getting a good wife, having a great family and on and on.

I have only one life. For twenty five years I have lived it the ideal way. Today I make more money than I need to spend. But the only reason I get up every day and work till I am tired is not because if I don’t do that, I wont’ make money. It’s all because I like doing what I do. It’s because I learn something or the other: about how governments function, how bureaucrats function, how the corporate world functions, how private players behave, what people dream about.

I plan to keep working till I keep learning new things, irrespective of what I earn. But this is not ALL, that my life can be about. There has to be more purpose than this. I know this for sure. I am not going to marry someone for the purpose of having a kid and raising a family and then working hard for the rest of my life to give all the comfort possible to my family and then start dreaming about lives of my children. Unlike my dad, I don’t dream of having my own airplane and flying my family in it.

Bihar is suffering from flood. Yesterday there was news that it has started flooding even in Orissa. There were blasts in Delhi few days ago; terrorists are playing games. Can I do nothing? I gave off 2k to PM’s fund for Bihar Flood Relief. Is that enough? Is charity enough?

Is there no better way of living the only life that I have? Is there no better way of using my knowledge, my education, than what I am doing currently?

I might not have answers to these questions. But I am looking for them. To begin with, I shut down my AC today. It feels wrong to be breathing in 18-20 degrees when people in this very state are trying to save their houses from flood. Luxury is not for meant for me. It just doesn’t excite me anymore.

Categories
philosophy

Fear

I think I have been holding on too much with myself. I don’t talk about my problems. I don’t speak much. I keep the philosophies that come to me, with myself. Why? Why am I afraid of sharing crappy things that come to my mind with everyone? Why is there this urge to not let the real me out in public? I am just one man. There are millions of men, and women on this planet.  Then why is my image so important to me? Or anyone else?

I hate this mystery around me. I hate to hide things, not that I am great at hiding anyway.

Could it be because I have grown up in a system where words are spoken in such a way that they don’t hurt anyone? And when they do, that should be intentional?

Could it be because I have grown up in a society where we have been made to believe that certain feelings are grave sins (having the desire to have incest sex, having the desire to kill your children, so on and so forth)?

You might not like to accept it dear reader, but each one of you, just like me, lives your life in fear. Your fear helps you suppress you true desires; fear of how others will look at you. Sometimes certain desires are so fucking suppressed that you don’t even know that they exist. You feel them very slightly at times, but then you tell it to yourself: it can’t be real. You live in the fear that accepting anything that’s unacceptable even by your own standards is the most stupid thing you would do. Accepting to door ki baat hai, you don’t even genuinely believe about the existence of so many things inside you.

The real you does not exist. Neither inside you, nor inside others. Enjoy living in this artificial world. Enjoy living in fear.

Categories
philosophy

On dreams

The stupid thing about dreams is that they are good only as long as they still are dreams. Once you get, in real, what you always wished to get hold of (that girl, that car, that degree, that bank-balance, that recognition), the magic is lost; gone.

Sometimes I think there is no greater joy than striving for something, for someone. There is no greater joy than dreaming.

Suddenly I feel like marrying someone so that every time I return home (which by the way hasn’t been finalized yet: the home I mean, not the marriage), I have that one woman to open the door (assuming she returned from work before me), who I can smile at, bang, talk to and listen to, feeling good about everything at the same time. And I already know that the idea of imagining a life like that is way superior to reality itself (if and whenever it happens). Reality gets boring after a while. Dreams don’t.

Happy dreaming everyone.

Categories
humor philosophy

Ramprakas

Ramprakas had finally found out how he was supposed to live his life. It had taken him more than six months to finally find that Himalayan Sadhu who would have answers to all his problems. After all the pain that he took, all the searching that he undertook, here he was, talking to the Saadhu himself. The bearded monk was the epitome of wisdom as Ramprakas saw it. He had been talking to Saadhu maharaj since last three hours and he was totally satisfied. All the effort that he put in climbing the tough terrains and walking throuh the chilly Himalayan breeze, he felt was worth it. The doubts about life had been cleared and it was time to bid adieu to the monk, thank him and decend the mountain. The young engineering graduate who had run away from his home months ago was ready to return.

He had walked away not more than a few yards, when he heard the Saadhu calling him. He went back to the epitome of wisdom and asked, ‘What made you call me back hey mahagyaani? Is there anything more I should know about my life that you forgot to tell?’

The monk smiled, his teeth shining from behind the gray beard, shining as brightly as the snow that adorned all the surrounding tops. His hands reached for a small bottle lying inside a cloth bag next to him. Saadhu maharaj opened the bottle and took a sip. He then placed back the cap and handed over the bottle to Ramprakas.

‘This is the himalayan madira. Next time you want gyaan on life, don’t come all the way to Himalaya. Gulp down this madira, and in case it gets over, Havards 5000 will be even better. Happy journey. Hick.’

Categories
Adult audio humor philosophy

Takleef the pain

I was listening to a hindi song from a movie called Pyaar to hona hi tha. Kajol asks Ajay Devgan a question as the song begins.

I thought I had the perfect answer for her question. I answered her on behalf of her hubby. [audio:http://vatsap.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/ajnabi-mujko-etna-bata_shitoon_remix.mp3]

Categories
philosophy

Awake till you sleep again

You get up every day and then you are awake till you sleep again. Is it?

What you do when you are awake, could be for yourself, could be for others, or if you know how to strike a balance, could be both for yourself and others at the same time.

I am bad at striking this balance. Pretty bad. I sometimes wonder why? Is it because it’s very easy to figure out what others want while it is so difficult to realize what I want?

What do you want? Why are you awake? Go sleep.

Categories
philosophy

How long should a life be?

100 is a fancy number. Human beings are supposed to live for hundred years.

Let us assume that the current average life expectency for the entire world population is X. X’s value must have been much less during the early years of civilization and as human beings learnt to fight against diseases and illnesses, its value must have gone up, and I guess it still is going up, although rather slowly. So a function of X vs. time should ideally be an increasing function.

Statistics supports this argument. Current value of global life expectency is 67 years while it is estimated at just 30 years two centuries ago[1]. What can be concluded from such a trend is that, in general, human beings have been putting in their best effort to push up the value of X. In general, every human being wants to live as long as he/she can. 100 is the emprically established standard target. But is such a personal desire, really desirable from the point of view of society as a whole? Does the society benefit if more and more people strive to living longer?

A rich person will usually have a higher life expectency. So will a rich country. In other words there should be a positive correlation between a country’s GDP per capita and life expectency. This relationship can be exploited to state that, society does benefit, if on an average, people live longer. But frankly speaking, it’s increasing wealth that leads to longer life. It is quite possible to be rich even with a lower life expectency.

I think it is time we stop thinking beyond 100 and figure out, how long we really need to live. Is it possible to make the world more productive by changing the trend of X externally? If I were to play God and decide how long a human being should live, what number would I pick?

References

1. James C. Riley, Rising Life Expectancy: A Global History. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001 (link)