Tamasha

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There is a long face in the crowd. But we must not look. He will learn.

He will stumble and scrape his knees. He's not understanding what purpose does he serve. But when he looks around he sees the crowd. He looks at every person and he knows what purpose they serve. So he learns.

But one day somebody walks along and remarks how he isn't what he's trying to be.

"No, shit," he says in reply and starts weeping. He knew this was a silly facade. He knew the cover is blown. He is exposed for what he is. But now he doesn't know how to operate.

What face does he pull? He wants to be angry, but that's not the right way. He wants to lie down and sleep, but then he'll be disqualified from the race. He wants to destroy things, but things are hard to replace.

He wants to stay in the mess, but it has become such a mess. He wants to walk away from the mess, but he had such a tough time getting in. He breaks down. He is not in control anymore.

The drama his life has become is a story. The story is not of love, but it is love that cuts through his life. There is no statement about his story that isn't followed by an opposite word. If one reads him again, they'll see how uncertain he is.

A still from Tamasha.
(Source)
This story is captured and labelled Tamasha. There are moments when you want to laugh with him, but, yet again another but, he also makes you push your knuckles in your mouth.

There is a complexity in the simple comedy he seems to be performing on screen. The audience is laughing, but somewhere inside they know what's happening.

The viewer is satisfied he spent his money well and he goes back to his life when the film ends. He wants to ignore what he has seen. He wants to forget. He has learned what he is supposed to years ago, and he doesn't want to unlearn.

Chandipur Beach

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This year's Diwali night I spent stranded in a village because two of my car's tyres had burst out. The most amazing part of this was when I was able to buy two new tyres two hours to midnight in that desolated land.

We were on our way back to Bhubaneswar from a beautiful beach called the Chandipur beach. The first tyre had burst in the morning, when I replaced it with the spare, and the second, unfortunately, gave way while returning late at night.

The Where.

Chandipur beach is near Balasore. There's an Integrated Test Range, DRDO near the beach where they test Prithvi, Agni and such missiles. 

If you're wondering, my route took me through Cuttack, Jajpur and Balasore starting from Bhubaneswar. 

The What.

This beach is a special little thing. The beach's water recedes for up to five-km and comes back in a cycle of twenty-four hours. When we reached there, it was the recession period. We didn't wait for the water to start filling up because it was already getting too late.

The soil is black and isn't messy at all! There are small puddles of water from when the water recedes and you can spot little snails trying to scale their personal ocean.

The beach is, again, as usually most of the shore in Odisha is, empty, save for twenty or so people who are trying to wrap their head around this thing.


The sunset is always beautiful at a beach. This was no exception.
The sun was lowering gently and reflecting in the innumerable small puddles of water. If you tried to face the sun, you'd be facing infinite smaller number of the orange suns winking at you from the waters.

The Journey.

I'll acknowledge this well beforehand. The journey is what made the travel so interesting. There were so many mishaps on the way, starting from the luggage that fell on my car's headlight from on top of a bus and ending with the second tyre bursting off enjoying the spirit of Diwali.

We met so many helpful people that I felt ashamed for ever doubting humanity as a whole. There was a point where a group of villagers were chasing us yelling, 'Patthar! Patthar!', pointing to the rear of the car. It was five minutes later that we realized they were pointing to the puncture that had developed in one of the rear tyres. Bless their souls.

My fellow travelers wanted to try out the fantastic sea-food available near the beach but we ran out of cash and the most-prominent ATM was out of order. So we cursed the idiotic facilities instead and promptly turned back to our home.

When the sky was being penetrated with all those beautiful rockets, and the smoke was choking it to death, we were on the road with two of my comrades sprawled asleep and the lone driver fervently praying for the life of the second distrustful tyre.

By the time we were back home, the day of Diwali had passed. We marveled at how the 16-hour long road-trip had only one hour of beach in it. The rest was the drive and occurrences that are too awesome to be typed on a public blog. 

My Name is Red

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Orhan Pamuk holds our hand in the one, and a candle in the other, when he takes you through the dark streets of Istanbul. You walk breathlessly, to be sure you don't disturb the scene while you're touring so casually.

He takes great pleasure in narrating the setting to you. If you close your eyes, you can still picture the entire scene in your mind, and that is exactly how his miniaturists are. Day in, day out, they draw. They make copies of the art created by the masters, hiding their signatures within the art itself. But when a secret project is commissioned, they find themselves at the end of the ropes.

One rare occasion where I have the hard copy of a book.
My Name is Red starts with the murdered recalling his murder. The story takes place in the Istanbul of 1500s where the artists are seeing a clash of ideas, where paintings which aren't involved in a book scare them without bounds. The new secret project is one such attempt at revolutionizing the styles of art itself.

The book tells the story through several voices. It's interesting how they make themselves heard. Somewhere it does get confusing when the chapters switch, but you catch on quickly. But the real gold is in the way the voices have been used. They are the bridges between events. They carry you over to several places in the story, advancing it with such expertise that you don't realize you've come so far.

The genius behind the book, Pamuk, binds you to the book with each progressing chapter. You might not get anywhere story-wise, and yet you'll learn so much about the story itself. It's kind of brilliant how you'd read fifty pages and won't run out of breath.

And then there is a beautiful love story within the pages of the book. The book, which is an art in itself, talks about the legends from the past and discusses them so much that you recognize their repeated appearance throughout the book. Through this, the love story advances and puts you on the edge of the seat again. As if a murder mystery wasn't enough, you find two lovers wedded and yet so distant from each other.

I've been meaning to read this book since ages. The concept of hearing from a corpse the story of his death and from a coin the account of how many deaths it has caused had me hooked to this title. And finally reading it gave me the satisfaction that was due. For the first time, I've given way to this kind of reviewing. I usually do this on my Goodreads profile, but this book needed a description about the book, not about what it made me feel. That is a thought so complex, I can't put it down to words.

Please stay on to read more such experiences about the books I've read here. And let me know if there's something I can read and talk about.

Driving it Home

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The car is floating on the water. The wheels are moving faster than how much the driver is pressing them to. The rain is blinding everyone on the road and the traffic doesn't want to admit how slippery the road is.

What is the power that comes with the steering? There is responsibility more. And yet for some, it's an exhilarating experience. It's as calming as the first, deep inhalation of that smoke you've been yearning for since morning. When the hands grip the wheel, gears turn inside the driver and he knows he has instantly become more superior than he was before.

When he has the means to go anywhere he wants to, he does exactly that. He changes his life and starts counting places. He knows the city like the back of his hand. If he is running short of time, he'll take shortcuts that will baffle him more than anyone else. He knows the routes. He's becoming sharper.

He finds increasing confidence of people in him. Only a few years ago they'd step in gingerly, but now they don't even think about that issue. In fact, nobody pays attention to the fact that he's driving. Sometimes, he doesn't too. 

And, yet, when the car is gliding on the puddles of water, when she asks him to be careful when he returns alone, he remembers how that sudden warmth of the blanket feels when he's fallen asleep on the sofa and his mother covers him up at night. He remembers the afternoons where he'd bathe late by the veranda and the winter sun would dry his little frame when he was done. 

There is enough power in everything around him to jolt his head to attention and remind him how time moves. Every single detail has a secretive narration that can make him busy for hours. If he wants to make use of this fact, all he has to do is sit down and read it up like a book. Even the drops of water from the rain running off from the windshield have a story, care to listen?

Checkpoints ask you to stop, wait, look around, and then proceed with assurance. The ultimate goal is to remember the feeling, not the facts. They'll be the ones which will surface now and then, bobbling up beside the ferry, seeking attention, but so patiently.

Doubt

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In tasteless cold night,
The cover of stars in sight.
I wipe the moonlit dish,
Of the single neglected wish.

Again morning I wake,
With aplenty promises fake.
Today we'll cook things new,
Today I'll watch dreams a few.

Why is the distance sublime,
When it's still thin a line?
Failing when you're a dot,
Smiling with space naught.

Pale Shadows

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There's a secret that he keeps within. It is the strength derived from the secret that makes him go on. It isn't a facade that makes him smile as he lines up the groundnuts before his shop. He is genuinely happy for himself.

His lips are moving to nobody in particular. One might assume he's talking to himself but there's no talk either. He's laughing under his breath. His lips are quivering as breath escapes him in short bursts.

Why do we assume that a man wearing a muddy rag, squatting on the side of the road, spreading groundnuts on his towel, not more than five kilos of them, would be sad with the state of his life? I found it hard to look at him when I approached him from a distance as I sweated profusely under the hot sun.

It was only until I actually faced him that I noticed that his eyes were shining. And disturbingly, it perplexed me to no end. I walked on and turned back twice to see if something was amiss. But he was happy throughout the five minutes of my brief witness of him.

Admittedly, I've never been so happy with the way things are. Whichever way I look at myself, I am not satisfied. But that man took a hammer to the wall and brought it down. I'm facing a room full of mirrors that reflect different versions of me.

All of my reflections come from several points in time. They're waiting. Blinking in tandem. What does it take for me to realize what's worth being happy, they mean to ask. But I'm still stupefied, looking at that man on the road laughing at me.

Somewhere in the room of mirrors is the correct part of me that I would approve to be the fittest to be joyous for. But why do I need a room of mirrors at all? What is wrong with the present version of me? And why is that man still laughing!

The Convergence

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What are you dreaming about?

The incessant rain is telling her story tonight. Today it is not a new one. It recounts old anecdotes. One is where I was walking home from school jumping in every puddle, not caring that my books were soaking wet. My excuse for not hiring a transport was that I had no money. Of course only later did Mrs Boss at home reminded me that I could have paid the rickshaw after it had brought me home.

Of course you can't listen to any of this, can you? You're on the same bed as me. You can only feel the moisture in the air and the decrease in the temperature brought about by the fan pushing colder and wetter air down towards you. Your eyes are closed and no sound can disturb you. What you see aids you, and that is exactly what haunts you tonight.

I can feel the twitches on my arm. I can feel the shaking. There is something disturbing you, threatening me that it'll wake you up. And I smile, because it gives me an excuse to wake you up first.

As much as I want to open my eyes and look in the mirror of yours, I realize I don't want to wake you up. You're almost beginning to groan in terror. And it scares me more than it scares you because I'm imagining the worst. But I decide that the best would be to leave you alone. I don't know why I do that, but I do just that.

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888
(Source)
The rain stops eventually. You throw me off as you stop shaking too. It's too humid, maybe, I think to myself. I roll over to my side. I have another story to tell to myself. I lay awake staring at the dull fan.

I close my eyes and try to shut out all the sounds in the hope that it'll give me some inkling of what it's like to be you. But it's futile. Try as hard as I might, I can never not hear. I find myself thinking about that for quite a while before I hear the song. While fiddling with my phone, I had tapped a song on to play. It was still playing.

I get up from the bed and turn down the fan. You're in deep slumber. You don't exist for the night. You're a voice in my head who's giggling as I try to boil pasta. There's something funny about me, you keep saying in my head. I keep making mental notes. Because when you're happy, the not-funny part of my head is oddly calm too.

To Pretend

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A bleak outcome greets,
For each major action.
Days drag themselves,
Without satisfaction.

The question burns at the tip,
Answer resolved to never show.
Life is what one makes of it,
What does one make of it, though?

Faces are painted with curiosity,
And fear.
Glad that the future changes,
And the answer doesn't appear.

Individuality is a lie,
Every one knows the end,
The road is scented, but,
For those who learn to pretend.

The Pot of Rose

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Hi Rose,

You must be so happy seeing me! I know. The feeling is mutual. Though, I have to admit, it was a little confusing spotting you so under my desk this morning.

See, when I came to work I was worrying about creating that new log page for the project I'm working on. I was planning that if I would finish this by lunch, I'd be able to check what the problem is with unsupported banks. The logs would certainly help there.

So with this in mind, and a reply I was framing to the client who wanted to know the final status, I rolled to my desk and sat down, realizing immediately that there was a bag under my desk that didn't belong. You were popping out of that bag. Proud to be showing off, and, most possibly, giggling to see me so baffled.

I picked up the bag, which turned out to be heavy, and decided to keep it somewhere else, for surely somebody from house-keeping made a mistake. But then it struck me. I had hints of a plan being executed. Is this what it meant?

I replaced the bag from where I had lifted it and looked at you. That was when I knew that I had just received you as a gift! That was when I'd smiled at you in return. In the next instant I had a thousand thoughts racing through my head about how I'll preserve you.

After a few moments of pondering in that direction I wanted to know how your carrier must have brought you here. He must have had a field day doing this! Anyway, I will know all the details soon enough. For now, let that be a mystery while I write this post for the person who gifted you me and me you.

My monitor's wallpaper is not of concern here.
I have decided that you'll stay with me in my balcony. There's no better place for you that'd give you enough space to breathe and grow. I'll make sure you're always watered before I leave for the day, and, I'll be damned, I'll have to read up on gardening now. We can't let you be ill. Ever.

By the way, it was only later, when I realized that your sender must have thought ahead and would have anticipated my confusion and my propensity to take quick decisions, I checked for a note around you. And I found a small flag with my name on it. It is ironic, considering the flags you raised in my head, one was waiting for me beside your stem.

Let's start a life together, dear rose. It'll be fun. I'll be waiting for more contact from you. Till then, live your day as a queen right beside me. Today is going to be fun!

The Ladder of Jobs

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Manu enters a factory as a junior supervisor. A billion years later he retires as the senior manager of the factory. He never had an MBA degree. Heck, he wasn't even a graduate! Seems like a fairytale? It isn't.

There is a change in mentality of this generation. This change is huge. This change changes a lot of things. The change, simply put, is, the view that our first job isn't our last job.

If I'm allowed to be a little offending, three decades ago things weren't as easy. If you get "placed" after your graduation, your life is settled. You get married within a week and find yourself juggling two babies within the next. There were two problems here if the graduate wants to change his job.
  1. He would need to refer to newspapers for a new one. That's his only exposure if he has no contacts. And as it looks, it is difficult.
  2. He has a family. He is a bread-earner. He can't switch jobs without real security and everything entailing it. And as this looks too, it is difficult.
This generation, instead, is all over the Internet. If a guy gets a degree in Mechanical Engineering, he finds a job in Infosys, quits it within a year and gets a job in Larsen and Turbo, quits it in a year and gets a new degree altogether. Though, as easy as it looks, I discussed how confusing it is in a previous post on the [M]ain [B]ada [A]admi degree

This generation has the facility to explore. Then why not seize it?
(source)
The basic need for a person to have a job is find the money to live a life they want to. Reading books, watching movies and exploring the world can only be done if we have a steady source of income.

The conditions with the job are, it should be interesting and well-paying. Sometimes people also want a job that complements their degrees. But they never want a job that is the end of their search. Nobody comes out and says, "Hey, I need a job to become my last job."

What I'm getting at here is, a job doesn't make you. You make jobs. You can't point fingers at a position and say, "If I get this job, it'll make my career!" The truth is, you will make your career based on that job but if you're good at it, obviously. Otherwise all you'll have are bad memories.

Again, what I'm getting at here is, if you don't have a job, if you're not satisfied by a job, find something that solves the issue. It'll benefit both your employers too, by the way. The smallest of jobs can push you into a new industry, but the job won't push you up. You will have to do that yourself.

Udiapole Bus Stand

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Alternate title: Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum

The first thing I remember when I try to reach the city with my eyes closed is the sunrise at the bus station. There's a popular stall that serves poha, and a stall behind it that serves tea. Almost all of my entries in the city have found me standing on that roundabout facing this scene as the dark night is giving way to another morning.

Even if one gets to Udaipur by train, if one desires to reach the university named after Sir Padampat Singhania, one has to get to this bus station. 

There are a few mornings when I've reached there to find a cluster of dudes huddled together against the cramped ticket counter, rubbing their hands to try to feel a little more warm in the chilly winters, cursing things you wouldn't normally notice. The ticket counter only raises the shutter at 5:30 AM. Until then, we wait.

Chittaur.
There's a certain joy in finding yourself listening to everybody else and not butting in. 

If you're standing with a group of guys, starting from the cockroach trying to find its way to the nearest corner to the latest English movie that PVR didn't put up, they'd cuss at everything. The onlookers wouldn't even care for all the profanities for usually, at this time, nobody has a reason to smile anyway.

If you're standing with a group of girls, which happens like, so rarely, you'd be worried to death about the wax in your ears. They'd all be speaking but you wouldn't hear a thing. Sometimes they don't even speak. One raises her eyebrow, the other winks/nods and somebody bursts into giggles. And you want to put a gun to your head and ask them what just happened. But, good luck blackmailing them. They'd start giggling again.

As hungry as you are at the bus stand, believe me, everything inside you dies when you reach the hostel, unpack your bags and hop to the mess to eat something. It's just their superpower. They can shush the drums in your tummy without having you eat anything sometimes. That's why one never boards a bus in the morning with an empty stomach.

And talking about the bus ride to the university. It's so magical that it makes me want to sleep every time I board it at the end of a long outing in the city. The conductor sits by us and sings a lullaby replete with musical instruments being fiddled by the co-passengers. Before you know it, you find yourself turning your head to see if there's somebody else of your college. You catch their eye, nod at them and go to the deepest goddamned sleep ever because you know they're legally obliged to jerk you awake before getting off now.

The lullaby I was talking about?
There have been crazy times when the bus is so jam-packed that we've all jumped out of the windows. There's an honour in doing that. We show the crude villagers who's the boss of this ghetto. Turn the collars up, face the university and show them the walk. Only if they could see the look of helplessness on your face as you reach the guard room. You hand them your bags, get yourself frisked, see packets of maggi poisons being taken out from the depths of your luggage and watch as the buses pass by on the highway.

You are in the university. You're theirs now. At least that's what they think. You roll on the paved road to your hostel and promise yourself you'll never remember this day again. But you find yourself breaking the promise time and again.

I have realized I look back at the times and wonder if I lived it well enough. Then I read posts like The Boys' Toilet of the CR Block and Sanghamitra Bhatt is Still Pissed and I feel a little better. Yet I feel like I owe it to the city that picked me in my teens and taught me every kind of shit there is to know about the world. Hence, a (possibly) series of posts to honour that time only if anybody's interested. Otherwise, thanks for reading.

Kafka on the Shore

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What happens when you find a nonpareil riddle weaved into a book that's been passed down to you by somebody with gleam in their eyes? You read it, of course, without having a clue of what you've let yourself into!

I have no background to utter here. There's nothing that can prepare somebody for this book. In fact, the less you know when you step into the water, the more you'll enjoy the shore. If you're looking for Kafka, though, you'd want to look with another kind of glasses on.

I'd say there's a boy who runs away from home. And there's an old man who unwittingly finds his path crossing with the boy's. There's a girl trapped in time. And that's enough of hints. Anything else would spoil everything. 

Kafka on the Shore is downright elusive in its meaning. It would be an absolute insult to look outside for one too. Probably a third reading might bring you closer to the end, otherwise you're doomed.

Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore

I would absolutely love reading this book again. There's an experience written in the pages that leads us by arms. And quite ironically, once the gate is opened, it doesn't close. If you've found yourself falling in love with the "magic" in this book, the feeling will be eternal.

I've tried researching ways to read this book so that I could write them down here for others to follow. But I think, from personal experience, the best way is to try to stop at the end of every blow and figure out what could be the meaning of this. This book doesn't guide the reader to the end, even though it walks beside you as you figure it out. 

The book also tries to play the metaphor game. All my life I've always believed metaphors never prove anything. But I realized that it's restricted to debates and academia. If we're talking about a story, or literature, metaphor is the way to play with people's heads. Murakami uses this conjecture to its full potential. 

I hope my ramblings related to the book inspires people to read it. The book is simple in its language and structure. And on the surface, everything happens in the chronological order. The only problem is the meaning. As Murakami said it himself in a few interviews, the book is a giant riddle you have to solve yourself. He put all his energy in it to make it so.

Beware, though. If you love neat endings with no gaps remaining, please, please stay away. You've been warned.


Living the Lie

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He knew he died every night. He just had to figure out what made him so special that he knew. 

There were billion others living the same mundane life over and over again without a thought about what happened to them. Why was he chosen to be shown the truth about their sleep? More importantly, if he was chosen there must be a power that chose him. What was that power?

He got up from the bed and walked out to the mirror to look at himself. He was the same man every day except that he died each night and his consciousness was re-uploaded into him. Maybe, he mused to himself, we live only for a day. That's our lifespan. And this is how we extend it. 

But was he really the same person? If he died last night and his "consciousness" was shifted, he laughed to himself as he thought this, as if consciousness could be shifted, wouldn't his consciousness be shifted in a new body?

So is he really the same person or was he a woman yesterday? Could he really distinguish if he was sent to "live" in a different vessel? Wasn't the entire universe like a freakin' thought bubble where everybody was connected with some central power? What if the central power is messing with us? Was there any way of knowing?

Emil Nolde (1867-1956), Mask Still Life III, 1911
(source)
Surely he had all these memories of the man he was today. But those memories are so intangible. They seem so unreal! Did he really drop tea on himself a week ago? If he tried to, could he feel the warmth of the liquid on his lap again?

But that would explain the weird feeling of not being himself. Today was one of those days when he wasn't feeling quite right. Something was odd about this day. He just couldn't put his finger on the issue.

He started walking out to the backyard. He remembered the idea of that "hidden creature". If evolution had created all kinds of creatures, the one which can hunt the best, one which can run the best, one which can jump the best, and one which can think the best. Wouldn't there be a creature which can hide the best?

A creature that can hide the best would never be seen or found by anybody. They'd be so perfect at it that nobody has ever catalogued them. Is this daily death the same kind of cheat where it happens so naturally that nobody else but he suspects it? 

Wait, does that mean he was closer to God or something? He smiled to himself and turned to face his living room again. Something was indeed odd about this day, he thought to himself and walked inside the house again. Whatever was odd, the analysis had to wait. He was getting late for the stupid puppet show called life.


Left Behind

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With the taste of success
Madness and fear
Upon lonely nights
Whence roaming around

I'd found a friend
A partner I trust
Look in her heart
Inside I'll be found

No place she'd rather be
Than hand in hand
Travelling to the sea
With silence profound

Tonight she's broken
She can't go on
Try as hard as I may
She makes no sound

With a resolve to get her up
I'm walking away
But parked like an angel
Without me, my car-
She's left behind

Accept Defeat

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Note: If you're Hrithik Roshan, I'm sorry that I went against the title of the popular inspirational video you made. Please remember that I'm still a huge fan. This doesn't change anything between us.

Even the toughest control-freak has to come to terms with the fact that things stop working sometimes and refuse to move until they stop pushing and let go.

The act of letting go has travelled through centuries being handed down from generation to generation. In fact I can claim it's in our genes! Only yesterday I found a bull running along my car. I decently let go of the track and let the bull call the shots. And who doesn't remember being chased by a mad scavenger dog inspiring us to leave behind our school-bag, our shoes and our senses?

The follow-up question to the two stupid incidents is, what power do these mortals hold against us that they convince us to surrender before them? Their strength over our limp flailing limbs? Or the element of surprise they have over us?

I have the answer. We surrender because we know they know no bounds. They're ruthless and, most probably, crazed too. They're mad! We're not. We let go.

Why doesn't this apply to our fellow humans too, then? Because we know that guy we have a grudge against is restricted by his own understanding of moralities?

I think that we don't let it go mainly because we're the ones who are mad and crazed. We have trouble forgetting and forgiving. And that forms the root of all troubles.

The better memory we have, the worse we'll suffer.

Let's take a break here and accept that sometimes we have to see we're defeated. Ruining an excellent shot at repairing things we try to hold on. Sometimes, holding on is bad.

Accepting defeat doesn't make us a loser. It means we were wise enough to know where to stop and give the other a chance to look at things. That sets us apart from the bull and the dog. That makes us human.

We break away from banality and find the courage to tell ourselves that we have to pause and think what it'll take to come back. That's our motto, we keep moving forward with fuel breaks! Because in the end, we always want to get back on track and start running again.


The End
(source)

Without Fear

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I am not ashamed to admit that I'm afraid of death. It suffocates me when I encounter it around me. Even a bird dangling from the jaws of a jubilant dog depresses me, let alone the knowledge of people dying in my family.

The issue with my fear is that I can't ever win it. In the fight between me and death I will always have to bow down. But, to me, it is a matter of how I will surrender rather than when. If I am being taken, I want to be at peace with it. I want to be in control. That is how I'll be satisfied and not die with a painful heartache.

The troubling part of this fear is that it grows with time. I constantly feel like I'm not happy. There are so many faces smiling at me and yet this feeling gnaws at me. I always keep pondering over how I can make sure I leave something substantial behind me. Even if it touches one life, I feel I'll have fulfilled my purpose.

Today is the year I'm turning twenty-three. This is also the year that I read a book about a man who was happy when he kissed the rope that was going to hang him to death when he was only twenty-three. And all the time I was reading it I had this question burning in my head, 'How could he do it?'

It'll be safe to record here that I found the answer to this question even before I finished reading the book. I found it in the ideas expressed by him. He was clear and honest about what he wanted to do and he knew his death would be a milestone. Obviously he underestimated the importance of it because here's a guy of his age writing about him eighty-four years after his final plan kicked off!

Bhagat Singh, the name that would sent a small shiver down your spine once you read the book cover to cover, was a revolutionary with one ambition. It wasn't freeing India from the tyranny of the British. That was only a small idea contained in his larger vision. He wanted to make India independent. He suspected that even though the British left the country in peace, it still wouldn't be able to keep both its feet on the ground.

He had an incessant hunger for knowledge. It is astounding how much he read even when he was in the middle of a hunger strike holed up in a prison. What kind of man gains an upper-hand over such distressing conditions and find time to read, think and write down their ideas when there's hopelessness around them? That in the age when the youth in today's India is struggling to take another examination that will get them a mind-numbing degree.

It felt gratifying when I learned that Bhagat Singh was an atheist. Imagine the courage it takes to believe that your death, which is only a few months away, will be the end of you. Religion provides relief with the belief that your soul lives on even after your physical body ceases to exist. This is the cake for revolutionaries who are afraid of death. But what cake did our hero have? How could he do it?

Perhaps this is the greatest of mystery that binds me to his story. How could he be so certain that his death will be the best thing to happen to his cause? And when he found a way to be sure, how did he bring himself around to actually do it?

The gift I received on this Martyrs' Day!
Without Fear tells the story of the green mile- Bhagat Singh's walk from the freedom to bomb assemblies to to the gallows that silence him. Throughout the book there is a eerie silence. I read it with my teeth grinding against each other. I could feel my rage surging through me. And I kept asking myself time to time, 'Could I have done this?'

I think it became easier for him once he made peace with his priorities. Though, it would be insulting to try to understand him, I would really like to believe that he was one of us. Someone who wanted something so bad that he could end his life to achieve it. He'd like to burn it in the face of the humanity that would survive him and show them how it's done. He'd really, really love having the last word.

But, again, this assessment could be wrong because he transcends hate, love or anger. He is a revolutionary and he couldn't spare such feelings. That would dumb him down to a terrorist who is driven by vengeance and not logic.

It is an educational exercise to study this man. If you read his thoughts penned down himself, you'd start wondering if you really like Gandhi's idea of non-violence. The strength in his belief makes you doubt if there is a right side to the never-ending debate of violence versus non-violence. That is the power of logic. It makes you pick sides ensuring that you never turn. It brings out your true self and spells it out for you.

I think if it's highly recommended in our society to read the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, it must be equally vital to read a book on any of the revolutionaries. That is the true way to find your freedom.

Coming back to me, I think I'll read more about what Bhagat Singh has written, instead of reading about him. I want to find how I will ever find something that'll make me smile as I go down. That is the true way to find my liberation. 

The Mountain Man

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Dashrath derived his name from the confused king in the epic tale described in Ramayana but, put simply, he was the village lunatic. The name was conferred to him not in vain. For all he did every day was collect his decrepit tools and hammer at his favorite rocky mountains.

Be it a sunny day or cold foggy mornings, one would find him doing the same thing over and over again. Some benevolent souls brought him some food to consume out of pity. He would relish the break and get back on his meaningless task of breaking the mountain rocks.

As years passed by the villagers realized that his act was doing something to the tough face of the mountain. The expanse of the hills were reducing. Rumors flew that the lunatic had a wild idea that he wants to raze them all! This elicited more laughter, but some resolute men started believing when they saw little progress.

Quite expectantly, the citizens who called him fools decided to help him out. They were doubtful inside but the determination of the lunatic, even if brought on by madness, gave them strength. The mountains were after all a huge inconvenience because they stood between Wazirganj and Atri. Their presence made the commute fifty-kilometer long as travelers had to pick a path that looped around them.

One fine morning, after twenty-two years of Dashrath's hard work, the 100-ft high mountains found a one-kilometer long read tearing through them. The feat caught attention and the government was shamed into helping developing the road. Dashrath was given a reward of five-acres of land that he donated for creation of a new hospital.

His image of the lunatic was further cleared when reporters learned that Dashrath had lost his wife to an accident in 1959. She could have lived if she'd have received medical attention in time, but Dashrath couldn't get her to the other village in time. It was because of the mountains that he couldn't help her live. And, grieving the loss, that was the point when he launched his personal crusade against them.

From 1960 to 1982, Dashrath Manjhi worked selflessly for the welfare of people who mocked his efforts. In 2007 he died of cancer in AIIMS. The hospital he dreamed of will be given his name. So will be the road he aspired to build.

What we must wonder is do we have the capacity to love somebody so much that losing them would literally make us break down mountains? What would an uneducated man who was tied to his life-partner through an arranged marriage know about love and society?

Being in anguish for all those years probably put him in a space that we can't understand. Maybe he was a truly emancipated aspirant in a land of jokers where currently one political party that wants to bring about a revolution constantly ends up disappointing the people who support it.

The man who moved a mountain.
(source)
Anyway, please do read about Dashrath Manjhi more here. I hope his story makes a dent, if his dent in the mountain isn't enough. And if you liked my effort in bringing him up, please share along.

In closing, I'd like to add that there's a movie about the mountain man in the pipes. It's on hold currently. But what's amazing is that his role will be played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. If that's not cheery, what is!

Cakes Don't Lie

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There was a moment today when I was discussing cakes with somebody. Probably halfway during the conversation it got to me. My mouth has this weird thing called saliva, and it's its weapon.

I'd once come across a question that went: What's the point in eating that cake if I'm going to forget the taste later? 

Risk toh Spider-man bhi leta hai?
(Source)
There is no point except that you wanted to relish the taste when you were eating it. It created that enigmatic flavor in your mouth that you really loved. It heightened the pleasure of the beautiful day you were having and it made you feel better.

When you were eating that cake, you forgot about other kinds of food and you loved that cake. The cake helps you experience something new and crazy.

Probably that is the meaning of life.

The Eye of the Dragon

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Just when I need the most concentration in the task at hand, I force myself up from my ass and pace around. That isn't a good release, is it?

When you hit a wall, you're supposed to find ways of going through. Break it, climb it or start digging, but don't turn your back on it and hope it'll go away. Never works. It stays there. It mocks you and laughs at you and you can feel its eyes on your neck.

The best way to deal with a problem is by finding ways to solve it. The best way to find ways is to force yourself to look into the eye of the dragon and not pee yourself scared. When you succumb to fear, everything ends. It knows it's strong.

When I looked up eye of the dragon, I got the universe in it!
(source)

Instead, what I must do is sit. Sit and look at it. Figure out how I can break this thing to bits. Stare into the eye and tell yourself that bit by bit you have to take this beast down. But, baby steps.

First, remember how awesome you are in the face of wrath. Feel energetic and fight the urge to flee. Make sure your ass stays grounded. Do not look away.

Second, try to understand the extent of the problem. Try to gauge how much effort it'll take to solve this thing. That must calm your nerves.

Third, and the final step, solve the shit and relax.

Main Bada Aadmi

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There are two types of engineers in India. One type is currently jobless and the other type is getting a My Break to Ascension degree. This is a satire (slash advice) to both the types.

FIRST TYPE
Alright, let's dissect the first type.

I have a job. You have a job. The rest of the engineers envy us. We know we still have no job. Do you seriously think I work? Get this, I'm writing this blog post from my office.

Disclaimer: If anybody from Mindfire is reading this, I've completed all my goals for today. This is my style of wasting the time everybody else spends hanging in the table-tennis room or admiring the CCD's coffee machines.

Now, my appeal to the first type is, please, find a job. If you ever feel like you're not getting enough work, find a job that gives you enough work. That is the best way to ascension.

SECOND TYPE
Alright, let's dissect the second type.

I want to prepare for CAT. You want to prepare for CAT. I am getting job-experience that creates an awesome fart around me. When IIMs smell this fart, they fall for the guy at once. Where's your fart?

Get this. Today is 16th Jan 2015. Your next CAT is October 2015. Your college starts in August 2016. Your college ends in 2018. You get stable in your job (via MBA) in 2019.

Now you have a loan of 15 lacs or something on your head. Your starting salary is "something". Don't you think that if you convert to the first kind of engineers, try to get a job that gives you work, you'll get more than the "something" by 2019? You'd have a fart of four years around you, right? That has to account for a deep charisma!

IS THERE A CONCLUSION?
Think hard about why you really want a break to ascension. Is MBA the only way to earn more money? I know a guy who acquired a B. Tech. degree from the Sakalchand Institute of Technology (Never heard of it? That's the plan!), moved to Bangalore and landed a job fetching him 9.5 LPA. The most amazing thing is, he had no fart around him.

So, what is the point of that MBA after all?

Does the degree guarantee reversal of roles?
(Source)
If you don't care about farts. But love smelling them, love creating them, then become an entrepreneur. Create something of value. Let the whole world smell incredible!

Why do you think working for somebody's brainchild from ten to six is your plan? Why don't you make a brainchild and work towards that? Believe me, the four years you'd spend farting around can do wonders to something that you create on your own. Four years is a lot of time for a lot of trial and errors, don't you think?

In the end, your net worth could exceed the "something" you'd achieve being any of the two types discussed above. The best part about being of this out-of-the-type type is, you neither need a job, nor an MBA degree. You need you and your brain. And of course a lot of complicated things that this post can't discuss. We need to make this idea seem beautiful.

THIS IS A STUPID POST!
Wait, what?

Oh, sorry! I missed mentioning that the post only appeals to engineers. I apologize for wasting your time, dear doctors. Please get back to rocking it. We're proud of what you do. We cannot stress that enough.

The Other Side of Silence

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I vividly remember the night when, for the first time, I saw somebody take their last breaths.

I was cycling back to home with a brick of ice-cream for my family waiting back at home when I saw a boy only four years older than me shivering on the road, surrounded by a gathering crowd, lying in a pool of blood. I stood transfixed until all movements ceased. I didn't tell anybody about it.

It has been seven years to that night. I've seen a few more deaths. All of them involuntarily. But none chilled me as that one. And yet, I don't speak about it. And that is why I relate so much with Ms Butalia's book describing the stories of partition. When she laments that people are even reluctant to talk about it, I nod along in tandem. Because I know when I can be so tight-lipped about that single incident, there is no comparison with those who've seen mass murders.

The fact instantly likeable about The Other Side of Silence is its honest brutality. It adheres to a tone of frankness that ropes the reader in. You know she's directly talking to you as she explains why she chose this kind of presentation for her stories. And when she narrates the tales, you can hear the rasp whispers of her interviewees.

If you're an Indian, it's almost impossible for you to not recognize the voices. They've always been around us. We just never took the pains to find out what stories they hide. And that is what makes all the difference.

(source)
When I started reading Silence, I was going through a rough period myself. And I believed that I will find inspiration in the stories I'm about to read. And while they weren't soothing, they took my mind off from the trivialities of life and put them exactly where Ms Butalia needed them. It's so easy for her to do that. Her writing doesn't seem forceful. It almost feels like she's writing as it's coming to her.

To accept my shortcomings, I am only a novice when it comes to studying history. I've never been able to know where to start. But now I don't think there's any turning back. I feel like I've been hiding all the time in the silly hope that what I don't know, wouldn't affect me. But now I am empowered with a knowledge that will lead me deeper in the search of a solution that could have prevented all that has happened.

Like me, many interviewees in her book were kids when they saw death. But unlike me, their experience was far more drastic. It is inconceivable that a father would go to the lengths of killing all the females in the family to save them from the trauma that lay ahead. It is more so difficult to discern what effect that must have had on the sons that watched him do it.

In the narration, it's visible that they are leading a simple life now. But it can't be that easy. Of course the events must have had an impact that changed them. I now wonder if my parents would have been brought up differently if their parents hadn't witnessed the horror. This affects all of the new generation growing along with me.  And this line of reasoning is what justifies Ms Butalia's strong resolution to help the women of our country.

As she peels away the layers obscuring the reasons of the unnatural murders in 'Honour', it was a natural choice for them back then. But, the scares come when I contemplate what I would have done if I were in that desperate father's place. Isn't that Ms Butalia's plan all along? Generating a wide-spread awareness about these issues by provoking readers to think about it with a mind broader than that of the leaders back then.

It is terrible the way religion created such a sharp divide amongst people who didn't feel it until the wall was exploited. It's hard to imagine that nobody would have realized the scale of disturbance, which is too light a word, it would cause, especially for the women involved. Except, of course, the innocent victims who had no idea about the bigger picture. Their thoughts began and ended with survival and only after that was achieved they spared some thoughts to what had happened of their country.

Ms Butalia has let me glance into a snippet she has captured of that time. I can dwell in it whenever I may, pick out any period that I want to and relive it again. It's not just the stories that matter. Designing a grand memory through those collection that anybody can access as if they were travelling back in time, that is the real art in her research. And probably that is why this has become a benchmark for me to judge all such books that I will read in the future.

I am glad to have been recommended the book. It is books like these that remind us what reading is about. And it is experiences like these that put us back on the curve of seeking knowledge that can change our lives.