I used to admire people who seemed to have a concrete goal in life. But then, I now realize the futility of specific goals in the longterm.
I take decisions only after thorough deliberation, hell lot of thought. And then promptly forget the reasoning that went into any decision. And when the going gets not-so-good, I wonder over and over again just WHY I took a specific decision, and doubt my sanity, my sensibility, my existence…and wonder if I should switch gears or what.
In the past, I have been too lazy to switch gears, and that has served me well; my initial reasoning was good, it turned out. Now however, I am at a crossroad or so it seems… and I’m not that lazy, and I even think I ‘know better’ now.
Time, if utilized well, can change the game… but there’s really no saying.
The grass is always greener on the other side, and the best perspective seems to be got by sitting on the fence.
Oh, well, I’m probably just plain lazy that I want the easier way out. I never sink a well until my hair’s on fire.
I’m sure the day will come when I’ll look at this post and laugh. I sure hope it comes soon enough.
I’m darned if I know why the heck you did yourself in. Really. I pride myself on being resilient, just because I’m from NITK. You being from IITM I’m sure you’re much more resilient to pressure and disappointments. Balls to non-elitism and all that, the college you’re from matters, we all know that. Your really can’t have come so fucking far without either of those, I’m sure.
So what was that beyond all the usual humdrum that hurt you so bad? It really bothers me. I am not willing to believe all the tripe people talk about ‘You never know what is wrong with people’ and endless speculation on whether you had a good relationship with your parents (or not), and your mental stability… you struck me as being beyond all this, however little I knew of you. You aren’t an impulsive guy, as we see from the way you even planned your death. Man, how did you, how could you go through all that with a calm demeanor? Most others would ask ‘Did he not think of his parents before he did this?’. You don’t strike me as the type who wouldn’t. Which is why your death distresses me all the more. What provoked you beyond all this da?
Though I’ve known you only for the past six-seven months off and on, and in mostly pun-filled conversations, I feel shattered by your death. It’s probably because I’m so used to seeing you on any damn online community I frequent, some of the blogs I read regularly… you were always there! Right from the first community I joined in Orkut in 2005, I’ve been seeing your blue-with-white-’I Was Here!’ profile pic everywhere I’ve been online. Hindu crossie, Punning, Blackadder, every damn place I frequented. I fucking cringe now whenever someone or the other tries to read extra meaning into the ‘I was here!”.
And then when all that ceased, Paronomasia. I can’t tell you how much I like that googlegroup I created. It wasn’t just another thing to me. It was solace in my boring professional life… A year and a half back, I used to be racked with tension all the time, and just reading you people posting back and forth brightened my whole day. I am so not exaggerating here, swear to god. And you were one of the highest contributors. While the quality of your puns amazed me, I just felt ‘oh, he’s just like me!’, which I never did really feel about anyone else who posted there. I’m not playing up the whole online thing, I really am not! I had no idea how much of my life I spent online that I’d feel so bad you were gone.
And then I got my UCI admit. No one I mailed off the univ website ever responded, and no one I knew had any friend there who responded. And then I remembered that while cybersnooping you, I had come across the fact that you were at UCI. I’m really really thankful for all your advice, it really helped. And that you weren’t unnerved by my snooping.
I suppose no one knows better than you what it means to have the whole damn world not understand the jokes you make. For various reasons I won’t go into, I place great weight on my sense of humour, and it really pains me if I’m among people who just don’t get it. I feel desolate if I’m stuck in such a place, and can’t wait to move on to the next place I’m meant to go to. Such a place was UCI, for the most part. I come straight from a group of people who’ve gotten used to my sense of humour, to people who can’t comprehend it, and ask “Why do you have to make a smart-ass comment in every second sentence?”. I do that because it comes naturally to me. I don’t try, I don’t fucking try one bit. When anyone says “There’s no chicken in chicken sandwich”, my reflex is to say “You won’t find mysore in mysore pak”, no two ways about that, and when people burst into giggles for that like they’ve never heard anything like that before, I feel very sad about myself, I’m not kidding. And so I was so darned glad you were there. Solace it was, talking to you, about some synagogue we suspected was named spamalot, making chinglish puns, and your telling me the correct way to pronounce paronomasia. It was all light on the outside, and mostly interrupted by my various deadlines, but you have no idea how much that meant to me. I am at my best not a very social person, more of a loner, and it is these little-little things I find happiness in, in discovering that someone else around you has the same line of thought as you do. I live my whole life thinking there’s something slightly different about me – don’t we all – and when I meet someone who’s much the same, only more hardworking and more brilliant and more fun, it’s natural that I begin to look up to you.
And life is so fucking short Mahesh. I so wish I’d gotten to know you better. I’d gotten so used to your always being wherever I went, in the background, that I cannot even begin to comprehend that you are finally gone. What is it like, Mahesh? What happens when you die, when you disappear off the face of the earth? Do you just leave? Does asphyxiation hurt? Why the heck did you pick asphyxiation? How did you bring yourself to do it?
I’ll say all the usual things… you will be missed, rest in peace… but the fact remains that you’re not coming back, and that’s unnerved me, especially since you are so fucking young. For the first time in my life I’ve felt that a death was too close to me for comfort – it’s always been people not my age, and when they were, I never did know them personally. And suicide, da. From someone who I consider ‘just like me, only more hardworking, brilliant, smart, fun, better in all possible ways’…. you can imagine how unnerving it is.
I’m not romanticizing your death, and suicide never is and never will be a solution, but I can’t judge you and say outright that you were a fool to do what you did either. I’m fine I assert and this is not the end of my sense of humour or anything, but everytime I come across wordplay, I’ll remember you.
Pun-pannra-ponnu (as you once called me and had me wonder HOW I didn’t think of that before).
Author’s Note: I’m perfectly fine. I’m not emotionally disturbed. Please don’t get worried. I’m out of my ‘bad’ phase for more than a year now, and this is more like ‘Lessons learnt and not to be forgotten’, than some emotional rant. If it helps, this was written in cold blood, not in an emotionally charged state.
I’m not an expert in Astrology. Or even an intermediate, for that matter.
But I do know that when Saturn turns out your ruling planet, you have nothing but seven and a half years of pure hell. Or rather, Mr. Murphy has a field day for that period of time. Everything that can go wrong does. You can never seem to say the right things to people – everyone seems to have morphed into your prospective mother-in-law, and takes offense at every word you utter – your boss, your friends, your in-laws, your parents… everyone. You cannot seem to remember any damn thing you study. There’s always something failing with your work – either business conditions are tanking badly, or things inevitably go wrong in spite of your taking the best care. Your children are disappointing you. Your better half falls short. Or your wedding is being postponed to seemingly never. You never have any peace of mind. You lose faith in life, God, everything you believed in.
But it isn’t bad luck. Saturn is the planet denoting hard work and effort. Saturn is just teaching you, during his reign, to learn to appreciate the power of hard and meticulous work. Which you will definitely not learn with Guru-bhala. Or with Mercury or Venus presiding over you, when you suddenly seem to get lucky with business dealings and the opposite sex. Or you shoplift like crazy and never seem to get caught once. Attractive people are suddenly laughing at your lamest jokes. Heck, with a life like that, would you even want to try being good at anything?
So when Saturn rules, you slog. You learn to have faith in nothing but your own hard work. You learn to double-check, triple-check, double-double-check everything you do. You become more careful. You sharpen you skills. You try your best to be the best there is. You put in your hardest efforts into everything you do. You learn not to give up in the face of failure. You get so used to failure that after the first few times you actually become immune to it.
You take pride in your achievements, because you know they are all of your own doing. You begin to respect yourself. And others who see you put in your best efforts begin to respect you too…. no more ‘Oh, she got lucky’ nonsense.
Failure becomes your friend. You learn to pick up the pieces and move on quickly. You learn to analyze why you failed, what you could have done to avoid failing. After the initial bouts of escapism, you are able to look your failure in the eye.
And so when Jupiter moves in, or Venus does, you’re sharp enough to make the most of it. You play like you have nothing to lose. You have no more inhibitions because you are so used to playing to survive that higher fears don’t come to your mind at all. You are edgy, bold, sharp, swift, hungry AND lucky. So when things fall into place, you are able to make the best of the situation because you are used to making the most of worse.
Saturn teaches you to be thankful. You never take anything for granted anymore. Not people, not circumstances, not favours, not being able to slip into bed with nothing on your mind and sleep peacefully. And, you are able to be happy because it’s a different situation from being as unhappy as you were before. “Thank god things are better” is what runs in your mind, and keeps you happy.
You have a minimal amount of discontent you tend to have at all given times, be it the best of times or the worst of times. When everything’s going well, where do you put that discontent? That’s how you get spoilt brats who’ve never felt pain or hurt. That’s how you get petty high-class ladies’ circle politics. Without Saturn, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have peace of mind when the going is good.
Thanks to Saturn, you learn to be compassionate. Winners are less likely to be empathetic. When you’ve failed a few times, it’s easier for you to believe failure can happen to the best of us at times. You are more understanding of others, more sympathetic, and able to give better advice than those who haven’t seen a day of failure in their lives.
And Murphy’s law is not some preachy thing to say ‘Life is totally screwed-up’ or some such pessimistic thing. It is something that is used in design to make products and processes that are robust and not as prone to failure as they would be without acknowledgment that failure is possible. Murphy’s Law is not about the worst, but about planning for the worst.
Once again, this is not a treatise on astrology or astronomy. It’s more of a piece on how to deal with bad times, and the Saturn analogy seemed to be the best way to explain what I felt. I might not even be technically right about the whole thing, for all I know.
This is not an attempt at being preachy, or to defend astrology. There are various arguments for and against astrology and I don’t see the point of forcing my point of view on anyone else. This seems the most appropriate analogy to tell people it’s okay to fail, sometimes things go wrong, but this too shall pass. And then things will go right, but that too shall pass. It’s about how we make the most of our bad times, and how those ‘bad’ times are necessary to make us appreciate the good times all the more.
And occasionally, it’s easier to blame your failure on bad timing, or the stars, to numb the pain while you pick up the pieces and move on, and then are able to look back at your mistakes more clearly as you are over the escapism.
I have been through a few such periods in my life. I suppose everyone has been through multiple such periods in their lives. And in retrospect, I find I cannot blame my circumstances in the past at all, because they have made me what I am, and I am happy and satisfied to be what I am now; I have few regrets, if any.
And this piece is just to remind me when I’m going through a bad phase, that it is not the end of the world, and that this too shall pass, and any bad time can only serve to make me stronger. And, as my mother keeps saying, “High Hills Grow Less; That which is lightly got is little valued”. I put this on my blog because when I’m down and nearly out, I tend to look at past times, including past blogposts, hoping to reclaim a past self which was more optimistic.
And if this logic helps you in some way, I’m gladder for it.
I had a very bad day. Very bad.
I might possibly have ruined my life. No, not in the inappropriate-boyfriend-physical-relations-single-teenaged-mother way. No, actually I haven’t ruined my life. My stupidity might have made me do the best thing I could have done ever. But at the moment, my stupidity looms large in front of my face, and it will be a while before I say yeah, okay, everything turns out for the best. And kindly do not do a ‘what happened?’ routine in the comments section. Stress on ‘Kindly’.
Anyway, after the aforementioned life-ruining act of mine, I tried to make myself feel better by cooking a nice elaborate meal for myself. It turned out good. I didn’t feel much better.
So well, there’s one thing that never fails to get me up. Water. Of the swimming-pool sort.
Ten minutes later, I found myself at the Rec Center pool, doing breadths. There weren’t many others near where I was. There were two gossipy undergrads, a quiet-looking girl who did only Butterfly, a couple whose strokes were all in perfect synchronization, and this guy whose sheer height increased his swimming speed.
Turns out, my bad day had affected the way I swim as well. For the first time in what seems like years, I was swallowing mouthfuls of water, tired easily, got water into my ears each time I turned to take a breath during freestyle, and got water splashing on my face with each backstroke. Give yourself a break, I told myself.
Soon the Butterfly girl left, and I took the pull-buoy she was using… I really needed to get back to not splashing while I did a backstroke. Just then, this efficient-looking fiftyish lady dove in. ‘Are you using this lane?’ she asked me. Er… lane? What lane? I had been swimming all over the place. On an ordinary day, I’d've grinned and said something but today I just nodded. She took the lane next to mine, muttered something about people who swim out of lane. God, I hadn’t met any old lady like her since I entered this country… most I’d met were these old dears who needed help crossing the street, but steadfastly refused when you offered to take help. Either that, or they giggled and talked. Maybe about psychology, maybe about the current state of the economy, or maybe my ‘ethnic-looking earrings’. But never was one curt.
I was still examining the pull-buoy and contemplating distractedly, when this lady took off. One lap. Then another. Then another. No pauses, unlike me. I wanted to see if I could match her speed. I took off at about the same time she did, and didn’t float for a while like I normally did to see how far my lungs would take me, crawled in short, efficient strokes, and came up every fourth stroke for a breath. I reached at the same time she did, fully spent. While I tried to get water out of my ears, she had already somersaulted underwater and turned the other way. My, I used to be able to do that! I tried, and only ended up with more water in my ears.
I watched her swim away, in swift, smooth strokes. She had seemed pretty sharp and efficient and seemed like she ‘meant business’, but her swimming was anything but. She swam with the smoothness of a dolphin, her kicking didn’t cause any splashing, nor did her crawl. She came up for breath oh so regularly, unlike me, who surfaced only when I felt out of oxygen.
I wanted to ask her for tips, but ohmigod, she swam without a pause. I would have been all admiration, if it hadn’t been for her curt tone when she spoke to me. I vaguely thought of her as one of those old women so bursting with energy that no one in her house survived beyond age thirty, because she stole all their youth and vigour. And so much need for efficiency that no one really wanted to.
I concentrated on getting my backstroke right for the next half an hour, and paid scarce attention to her, except to notice her stop once or twice.
And then two laps of backstroke without splashing. Yay.
And then there she was, starting on her backstroke, when I was beginning freestyle. Let’s race, granny. I gave her a few seconds’ headstart and then I took after her. This time I got there first. She turned, switching to freestyle again, and I struggled hard to keep up with her. She seemed to slack a little in the middle and I surged ahead, but just as we were getting near the edge, I was losing energy, and she came at full speed. And she wasn’t even trying, like me. I just about made it. Because I tried.
And then she paused.
“Come here often?” I asked. ‘Actually, I’ve been very ill lately. I stopped swimming for a month. I’m recuperating now”, she said. “Ohh, feeling better now, I hope?”, I asked.
“Yeah…. though, I seem to have lost my stamina, and my swimming is much slower now. Much slower”.
Your impression of people are mercurial.
It depends on the how you met, when you met, your mental state, their mental state. It depends on events that took place subsequently, how each event went, who were present there how influential they are to you and to the people around you. Then there is how close you are to each of them, and how that changes with time. There is also how often you meet, what kind of interactions you have. You can also bring your own mental makeup into the picture.
Now mix all these together, in no particular order, and in no particular quantity. Then you may get the reason for the particular impression. You may also get the impression that there is no reason at all. You could also trace the impression change with time, or any other aforementioned variable.
Impressions. They are not state functions.
I put in a lot of my life and soul into this blog. That is no secret.
I also put in a lot of personal content into this blog. They have in the past led to OMGWTF sort of situations with people who knew me who I didn’t know. My kidhood/teenage/adultLife experiences, some of them with a liberal amount of exaggeration, some of them rather embarrassing, are all chronicled here.
And hence it is very important that I control the content of this blog.
Which is totally, totally impossible these days.
Because the losers at Bangalore Mirror keep lifting my content left, right and center. And publish my work in that infernal rag of theirs.
They of course mention the URL of this page as a safeguard against plagiarism accusations.
But. They violate the Creative Commons License my blog is under. Because it requires that my consent be taken before my content is used for commercial purposes. Newspaper, even of the Mirror variety, qualifies as commercial.
I also try to make sure my blog entries are grammatically correct, and have no spelling mistakes whatever, and I put in my best effort to not misuse case. The Mirror, in spite of having people dedicated to this task, somehow manage to screw the grammar, punctuation and spellings up. Heck, they can’t even do a proper CtrlC-CtrlV.
And I’m always respectful here. I don’t use abusive words at people. I even refer to Chetan Bhagat as Mr. Bhagat. In the Mirror however, it becomes a rude ‘Bhagat’.
I have previously taken offence at this sort of rude lifting of my content without my permission and even mailed an editor there. I got back an assurance that this won’t happen again:
Our editor Mr Sreenivas has drawn my attention to your objections to our publishing your blog entry which we carried in our newspaper on Oct 15. I appreciate the points you raised, regarding what is appropriate for a blog and what is appropriate for a newspaper. I must confess the fine distinction you made escaped us while choosing your blog entry, which we thought was witty and interesting. We wrongly assumed that what is already in the public domain of a blog is suited for the public domain of a newspaper; you correctly point out that a blogger may put it out in a blog precisely because he/she knows that not everyone related to him or her will read it. As for not seeking your permission, this lapse happened on our part because we assumed that Balanarayan had obtained your permission previously, and that would apply in general to what we chose to carry. We were wrong about that. I wish we had sought your permission first. We apologise for the the distress it has caused to you, and will ensure that we will henceforth seek your permission if we feel a particular entry is suitable for our column.
The Balanarayan mentioned here is chuchap, who took my permission once before publishing my post a year or two ago in the Mirror (And who is currently not employed with Bangalore Mirror). And they say they assumed that I had given permission to lift my blog for posterity. Going by that token, shouldn’t they have stopped lifting my content when I expressed my displeasure at their doing so? They didn’t. They went on and flicked my Facebook post. Something I totally totally don’t want in a newspaper. And certainly not in the Mirror for godsake.
And what stops these losers from ASKING? I have an About page, a contact form, and a comments section. Isn’t that sufficient for someone who wants to get in touch with me from getting in touch with me? How hard is it to write a comment, for godsake?
Initially when I started blogging, I didn’t much care about others lifting my content. Any publicity was good publicity, wasn’t it? But that was when I gave the printed word more respect than I do now. Now I don’t really much care about publicity, unless it’s getting me some work in machine learning. I don’t anymore have any writerly dreams to the extent I used to, because more important and exciting things grab my attention now. I do dream of taking a year off and writing that novel I’ve always wanted to put down to paper, but it’s not the most important ambition in my life at the moment. The only places I would work hard to get published in are places like this. I’m sorry, but my life has become infinitely more sadder that I don’t care about being published in a daily rag anymore.
Plus, I want more control over my content online. I can remove a post if someone says they’d rather not like it up on the Internet, and if I agree about it. I don’t want my words being under some third party’s control. Call me paranoid, but that’s how it is.
And heck, why am I even justifying myself. This is my blog. Rispect Mah Authoritah. Hang yourself before you even think of lifting my content.
PS: In other news, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in Mexicali in Mexico was felt in Southerns California. I thought I was merely feeling dizzy due to an excellent lunch, when my roommate yelled out that it was an earthquake and we moved out of the house. It was pretty mild. We’re all safe. Though, Disneyland stopped its rides for a while.