Friday, 29 January 2010

On starting over

Sometimes, when he looked back on the days he spent worrying, crying, stressing and fighting to make something out of his life, he is filled with awe at the innocence and courage he seems to have then possessed.

Now, when something untoward happens to him, before anything, the fear kicks in.

I suppose, the older you get, the more you learn about limits. The sky is no longer the limit. You start calculating risks. You start worrying about returns. You tell yourself, there are things that are no longer feasible because now, I am not 20 anymore.

For that was the secret behind the bravado of course.

When you first hit college, you are still starry eyed, with the determination and self-confidence only a teen can possess. You trust the universe to show you the way. You believe everything happens for a reason, and that reason is always good.

At 21, with no money, no degree and no job, when birthdays meant cheap Chinese lunches, and one had to save pocket money to buy a CD, he was more bullish on life than he had ever been. It was a heady feeling to believe he was meant for great things and he just couldn't possibly fail.

Now, he sometimes struggles to find faith. In himself, in others, in things - past, present and future. He feels afraid to try. He feel afraid to be angry. He doesn't stop to question what he is doing and why - whether it is merely designed to please others, or he is doing it for his own self.

And the funny thing is, technically, he is already way ahead of where he imagined he would get in his 20s. Although he still considers it a virtue to not take himself too seriously, he *seriously* wonders where the fun and the dreams and the hopes And how he let himself go so - dull? And practical? And set limits to everything?

He wandered around aimlessly for a while this evening. Walked the same road he has walked a million times before in his life. That road leads to a certain idol, with little shops and counters strewn around, where the same old flower-seller asks him with a smile "Dada bhalo achen toh?"

She was smiling at him, widely, mocking and consoling at the same time, when he reached Her. He stood there, wondering why he had been so reluctant - at some point on the brief walk, he had been dragging his feet as if he were being forced to confront something he'd rather not.

Reaching there, some of the pieces of the puzzle fell in place. He found himself muttering in a one-sided conversation.

That night, he hunted around in his old memories, for fragments of dreams once dreamt. Perhaps it was time to accept some of the things he couldn't control were not meant to be controlled at all. He hadn't meant to become what he was now - that was for sure. The pettyness, the worries, the conforming, the racing ahead ticking items off some crazy list - that was not really how he liked being.

It was time to accept he was still naive, and retreat to dream some impossible dreams again.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The virtues of giving up

Sometimes, one has to give up. It's far easier to keep trying. At least you convince yourself you can still control the situation. However, giving up has it's advantages too.

You feel peaceful. You don't fear failure. You realise things far more clearly than you thought yourself capable of.

I realised, like respect, things like love, affection and understanding cannot be demanded. Sometimes, if you are really lucky, you will get some of these exactly when you need them. Sometimes, as I am sure everyone has felt at some point in their lives, you may cry and complain all you want, but not a thing will budge.

That's when you need to step back, relax and surrender. The situation may not be ideal, but you know for certain, one way or the other, this too shall pass.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The more things change, not much really does

I have come to realise, in general, my talents do not extend to matters of emotion and sentiment. I am woefully inadequate in handling almost any situation where I could be misunderstood.

This is quite serious.

I worry now, about things I say, things I don't say, expressions I have and when my face is blank. I also realise, I hate hurting people and I hate getting hurt. In equal amounts. Since one of the two is always bound to happen, given the kind of weird, mad world we all inhabit nowadays, I end up either feeling apologetic or unhappy.

The other observation I have made concerns how everything comes full circle. Inspite of all the changes, twists and turns, ultimately, I seem to end up in the same spots time and again. And I feel exactly the same way I did earlier. Sometimes, there are subtle reminders of how quickly things around me are changing. Friends are having babies, my students don't have a clue about the old Doordarshan programmes I suddenly mention, I enter a new decade this year.

Yet, there has been absolutely no real transition. I am exactly where I was five years before this moment, the only changes are purely in terms of education and professional qualifications. That apart, the worries are the same, the mood swings are the same, I just don't get the same responses from people, because obviously, I don't look the same.

I wonder when the internal transition will take place for some definitive change to finally kick in!

Monday, 18 January 2010

People I meet and subsequently befriend are always the same - thoughtful, deep, mostly happy and always nice. They are also pretty talented in some way or the other and are either super achievers already or, are clearly destined to get there. Unfortunately my work and occasionally my social life, brings me face to face with some typical all brat all attitude and zero substance young adults, who fill me with bemused scepticism. Somehow, they seem to think, with a supercilious, condescending and cold manner, they can command more respect and attention than they could by actually achieving something worthwhile.

What's more amusing is, they actually do. The air they exude is such and the confidence so overpowering, that the general aura leaves most unsuspecting people reeling in their wake. They get instant attention from the shopkeepers (while I get curtly asked to chuck my plastic container in the bin myself). They float around with like-minded associates, where I imagine conversation is devoid of eye contact since everyone is uniformly gazing into space at the tip of upturned noses. Most acquaintances are ignored, and if they do deign to interact, conversation is usually at its superficial best.

This creates a form of artificial importance they revel in. Some aspiring susceptibles lust after the glory this "in-crowd" seems to possess and the imaginary benefits of an exciting social life, in glamorous dos with pretty people. However, most of my talentless bratty favourites enjoy competing amongst similar equally talentless and bratty individuals. This sums up the core of their thoughts and actions, indeed, what presumably occupies most of their waking hours.

Jumping into the future, I feel reasonably certain that this will morph nicely and naturally into a love for all things bright and blingy, with a rich spouse or inheritance rushing to the rescue. This is probably not even a new phenomenon since good old Austen made it her business to mock the manner of the manor-born.

The strong reactions these individuals spark in me, do not stem from class differences or the matter of wealth and education. I just feel put off by the tendency to snub. It works wonders, there is no denying that. But, I find it so completely unnecessary! The people who are comfortable in their own skin, never seem to need to be anything but polite and friendly. The ones who are really ambitious and driven, rarely seem to have time to even bother putting on airs. I suppose there really is no wonder then, why it just so happens, that the more the conceit and chilliness, the more hollow and flimsy the being actually turns out to be.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Temporarily Numb

The cold in Kolkata has frozen me to the core. I sleep twisted in blankets, and wear bright socks to keep my toes warm. Gone are the days of proper baths every morning and night - a quick shower and lingering over the hair dryer is what happens now.

The cold seems to have seeped into me as well. Sometimes, one is terribly afraid. And sometimes, I make a joke out of everything I care about.
The worst moments are those though, where I absolutely do not want to do anything productive at all. It is not because I am scared to try. Neither is it because I am caught in a vicious cycle of futile planning and failed implementation. In fact, I don't really know why this happens to me from time to time. I could just be sitting wrapped up in shawls and suddenly, all deadlines will vanish and all worry will cease. I will realise with complete clarity that this is my life. There are no timetables I need to abide by anymore, there is no one I fear disappointing and there is no one whose opinions could affect. In a way, I have absolutely nothing to lose.

These are the worst, because when these happen, I don't know what to do with myself anymore. There is a blankness that makes me feel, I have too many years ahead of me to live, without fear, anxiety or worries to conquer. That there is nothing to lose, may also mean I don't have anything to hold on to anymore. Or that I am already fatalistic about the good things in my life right now, and true, we will all end in ashes someday, but there must be some purpose to life before it all melts away.

Then, my own petty purposes seem very mundane and I feel ashamed of not having any noble targets that I could dedicate my life to. With utmost honesty, there is very little I need in life. I sometimes want several things, and sometimes, I realise I don't really want much. It's all very confusing. I wish I could find a way to figure out what the emptiness could be replaced with and worked towards. Or maybe it is because since I have always been rushing towards some target or the other, the sudden lack of purpose leaves me with absolutely nothing to look forward to.

I'm sure when I've been disappointed in life, I have never thought, I was lucky in a way to feel the disappointment. Otherwise, I would not have felt the highs either. And right now, I guess, I am irked because I feel neither.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

What only a wtf moment can bring about

I never enjoy being unhappy. This is the year however, when on a very personal level, I am to leave a whole decade behind. So some records need to be straightened.

I know myself a bit now, I know I still react to most things instinctively; that left to my own devices, I will often surpass my own expectations; that now I think not so much with my heart, but sometimes genuinely think too; but that with all the thinking behind me, I would still behave in very reckless and foolhardy ways most of the time.

Those that I labelled mistakes, were actually lessons learnt. Although I still adapt and butt my head against immovable walls, often both at the same time, sometimes I surprise myself by getting up and moving on. Often when I least expect it.

Most of all, I love me. I realise, given all the fuck-ups, weirdness, insanity, hysteria, laughter, joy and vindication, I would not change one tiny thing about who I am and what I have been. Because, summing it all up, I am actually a pretty decent person. And that makes it quite nice being me.