Saturday, July 04, 2015

personal

i guess i keep my personal life out of this blog (although i'm not quite sure why - is philosophy more entertaining than juicy gossip from my life? think not!) but recently a lot of things have taken a backseat due to personal stuff that i wouldn't normally talk about.

so what is this big secret?

i'm in love.

again.

but this time, i'm convinced it's for the last time. the one.

and it's changed things.

finding the one you want to spend the rest of your life with is a very interesting experience.

it starts with downplaying it. for some time, you're not sure if it's for real, and it's quite easy to convince yourself that your mind is playing tricks on you (to be fair, my mind does play nasty tricks on me with alarming regularity).

then you see that it is for real. and it's overwhelming. you're like... is this really happening? yes it is really happening! you stop denying the symptoms. you think everything has changed. but the funny thing is that, nothing has actually changed much. most of it *is* in your head.

and then you share that realization. the honesty is a high.

words are said. promises are made. dreams are shared. everything is rose tinted and pretty.

and then, life hits. now that you've got the similarities out of the way, you start seeing the differences. some differences are awesome. some are nice. some are tolerable. others... the less said, the better.

the important thing at that point is to remind yourself that everything is still in your heads and your hands. and even though the promise to stay together, through thick and thin, better and worse still stands, there's a lot of leeway despite that promise. lots of things that can and will change. lots of things that were assumed, will need to be looked at, and worked out again. and maybe, again and again.

it's weird. it's one of those big things for me. it's another level of abstraction that's been willingly tacked onto my life structure. the willingness to throw away well planned, coherent philosophies, because they have evolved to the point where i now have to accept the influence of some contradictory ones.

and that's not the only thing.

i'm becoming like her. she's becoming like me. i find myself reacting to situations in unexpected ways. so does she (i'm not sure if it's conscious on her part - but given that it's subconscious on mine, i'm willing to bet that it's the same for her).

i realize that i'm not sure who i am any more. depending on my state of mind, existential crises that i thought i solved 15 years ago present themselves again. sometimes it's awesome. sometimes it's weird. sometimes it's scary. i wonder if this is how it's gonna be forever. are we gonna be two people together? or are we gonna merge into one person-couple? are the questions gonna get deeper? or will we figure out all the big things and start debating curtain colours?

in a way, my life has prepared me for this. prepared me through the realization that problems are proportional to abilities (or do we only tackle problems on a level that matches our abilities? seems like a self-referential question!). i wonder if we will somehow find a way to turn picking curtain colours into some sort of paradigm-changing debate, just because we've reached the point where we eat paradigm changes for breakfast.

and that's where i am. that's where we are. working towards the big day, when it's no longer just in our heads. wondering what will change, only because we're sure of the one thing that won't.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

5 paise

we were somewhere in Kashmir. somewhere near pakistan occupied Kashmir. we had to walk a short distance to a restaurant. only problem was, there was some sort of armed conflict happening on the way. the army guys assured us we would be safe, as long as we stayed under cover. we stood for a few minutes on one side of a parked car, while on the other side, soldiers opened fire at (presumably) terrorists we couldn't see. the firing stopped.

suddenly, we realized two men, dressed identically (pista coloured button down shirt and black trousers) had walked towards the car from the side the soldiers and firing was. when they had almost reached the car, two soldiers appeared, chasing them from behind, shouting something. they caught up with these two guys a few feet before they reached the car, spun them around, and shot both, point blank in the face.

as the rest of the soldiers took the bodies away, one of them approached us and said the situation is safe now, and we could come out from behind the car and walk freely.

while my friend stayed put, i walked in the direction the firing, a few minutes ago, was towards. it was a narrow lane between two buildings, partly blocked by a van, parked sideways, across the lane. when i walked around the van, i saw that it was just the shell of a van, and the interior was hollowed out and filled with what looked like explosives and flame throwers. I looked at the stuff, and was about to touch something when a soldier who was standing next to me stopped me.

disappointed, i turned back to where my friend was waiting, and we walked forward, down a broad road, towards where the restaurant was. we passed someone who recognized my friend - apparently they were colleagues or something. barely a minute away, the street grew crowded, and we realized we were in the middle of a demonstration of some sort. people were out on the streets, shouting slogans, and the road had been blocked by a red double decker bus that had collided with a black-and-yellow taxi. luckily for us, the demonstration was happening on the street, while the sidewalk was empty, letting us pass easily.

someone walked up to me and told me that since my friend is pregnant, i should hold her, so that people know we're together and don't harm her. I found that weird, but agreed.

it was very awkward, holding my friend and walking, and we made very slow progress now. eventually, we reached the entrance of the restaurant, which had green carpeting. it was more like a passage on the side of a garden, with a glass wall on the side facing the garden, and a concrete wall on the other.

as we entered the lobby, the carpeting was now red, and the decor was very plush - it had that old worldly vibe. the waiters were wearing red jackets and turbans, and their outfits were very elaborate.

I told my friend that I can't hold her any more as walking like this was very awkward and my arms were aching badly. as i let go and looked at my hands, I noticed they looked completely different from mine - the fingers were oddly twisted at very strange angles, and my hands were quivering so badly I couldn't even grasp one with the other. my friend, alarmed, asked me if I'm fine. I told her my hands would recover soon, and there's nothing to worry about.

we climbed a couple of flights of the very broad stairway, and we were at the restaurant. the restaurant had just one big oval table (maybe enough to seat 15 - 20 people) and a bar at the side. the table was mostly occupied, it was a mix of people our age and others who were much older, and formally dressed.

my friend said she'd like a large old monk and coke, and i told her I'll get it from the bar.

I went to the bar and ordered two large old monks and coke. the bar was very different from any bar I had ever seen before - it was a low ornate table with a green velvet tabletop. the bartenders (there were two of them, dressed in the same livery as the rest of the staff) poured our drinks. meanwhile, I noticed there were books lying on the bar. I looked at them and realized these were books I wanted to read. the bartender told me I could keep them for myself. the books were quite large and heavy, and i realized i couldn't carry them with the two drinks. also, at that moment, I realized that my friend shouldn't be drinking, as she was pregnant. I reasoned that it was her decision to make, but i will remind her once I took our drinks back to the table.

meanwhile, I paid, and got some change back. strangely, the change was all in coins. most of the coins were 10 rupee coins, but there were a few 5 rupee coins as well. and when counting the change, I actually noticed one of them was a 25 rupee coin, which I picked up with surprise. I had trouble stuffing all the coins into the change pocket of my wallet, so i put a few into my shirt pocket. the last coin I picked up was a 5 paise coin, which I put into my wallet "for good luck".

and that's when i woke up.

and btw, I actually have a 5 paise coin in my wallet. I've been carrying it around for years, but i don't remember how I got it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

motivation

a conversation about the joys of life, some of those so called simple pleasures, got me thinking. i realized that i don't care about the afterlife anymore. heaven or hell seem irrelevant. but they weren't always irrelevant for me.

maybe karma, the afterlife, etc, are simply constructs designed to push us to look beyond hedonism. because, strangely enough, at some point, you realize this life is motivation enough... but you have to put yourself through a lot of wilful torture before you truly believe it.

it's hard to motivate someone to look beyond the hardships of life, the difficulties of doing "good", when pleasure is so accessible.

it's hard to see through what most people consider "pain" and "sorrow" without a light at the end of the tunnel, fake though it may be, to keep us going. but when you go through enough tunnels, you realize the light at the end is an unnecessary fixture. when you start looking around in the darkness, instead of focusing on the light, focusing on getting through, you start to savour the moment. savour the pain, if that's what you call it. because, to me, pain doesn't exist.

pleasure and pain are both just labels for feelings. just like various flavours complement each other to complete a meal, pleasure and pain exist only to produce some sort of contrast. they layer themselves upon our existence, but once we realize the role they play, they cease to feel like a burden.

like it or not, the pursuit of pleasure is as much of a burden as the evasion of pain. but we need neither, once we realize what we have built these mental constructs for.

life is beautiful.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

life

death is always an uncomfortable topic, and even more so if you're discussing it with someone you love. but it's something I feel we all need to come to terms with, well before our hour is actually upon us. preparing for death when it doesn't seem imminent should be no less unpleasant than writing a will, or buying life insurance. and it is definitely far more important than those things, as material things like possessions and money can be done without; on the other hand, losing your loved one's life's purpose in your sorrow on their death, is an irrevocable loss.

i do not fear death. i fear dying before my work on earth is done. I fear dying before teaching the ones I love, and even the ones whose existence I do not know of, how to live.

as much as I would be sad to have my loved ones live years feeling my absence, i would be infinitely sadder if they spent even a moment feeling there was something I could have done, that they can't do even if they wanted to, or tried their best to. if they felt unhappy because i wasn't there, because they don't feel my presence inside themselves. if they felt they needed to hear my voice or feel my hug when they felt weak or afraid, because I have not made them strong enough.

still, i realize I would betray everything I stand for, if I lived in that fear. and so, I spend every moment of my life working towards alleviating that fear. it is the sole direction of my life. it guides me in everything I do. everything I want. everything I wish for.

immortality doesn't mean never dying. it means living after death. just as we live in the physical universe we have been given, our spiritual universe is also given to us, to hand over when our stewardship is over. and hence, we are all immortal. our physical life is merely our preparation for it.

we can't choose why we die. we can't choose how we die. but we can choose why we live. we can choose how we live. and more importantly, what we leave behind after our life is not our remains, but our creation. it is what we are. and it determines what we will be.

why do you live?

Friday, April 03, 2015

solo

as a biker, unlike a lot of bikers I know, I have no problem with pillions. they're fun, a good pillion doesn't quite change the riding experience (as long as the bike is powerful enough, which mine is), and if you're riding to a vacation, your pillion hopefully enriches that part of the experience too. 

but there's something about riding alone.

maybe it's a symptom of what's wrong with my life. if i'm not surrounded by people, i'm busy interacting with people. it takes a major effort to go offline for a few hours, and i get restless quickly.

but not when i'm riding.

i rode to goa yesterday. alone. I did it against all odds and challenges, because I really needed it. it's been over a year since I did a ride to goa without a pillion, and it's been a year and a half since I did one without company. just me and my bike.

and i was reminded so completely of what I've missed.

to begin with, I rode 7 hours, 425 km, without a break. my previous record was 5 hours, 300 km. but it wasn't about setting records (although, I must admit, the potential bragging rights did push me a bit). i ignored hunger and the urge to pee for 4 hours, before I stopped. and even after that first break, i had my eyes set on besting my previous timing of 10 and a half hours to enter goa (which i did, albeit by just 15 minutes). but it was actually about mind over matter.

when you have company, it's different. i can't push my pillion or co-rider. he or she won't push me. we stay in our collective comfort zone, even if it's not in our individual comfort zone. and as I say, nothing was ever achieved by being comfortable.

and then, there's this thing about being alone on a deserted highway at night. ironically, i had watched nh10 on wednesday, literally a few hours before I set off, but that didn't change the experience at all. there's something about seeing just blackness in my rearview, just trees and the tarmac in my headlight. deciding which curve I'm gonna brake for and which I'm gonna bounce through. singing at the top of my voice, talking aloud to myself. praying, not to reach safely, but to be as self-driven though my life as I am through each bend of each ghat. 

i'm happy I did this ride. i'm lucky to have people who let me, even though they weren't quite willing to begin with. and i'm happy to have rediscovered my solitude.

the stage is set for bigger and better things. I wonder what's next.