Category Archives: Life

The Day I Die

The day I die

Be it with a Bang

Or more likely, a whimper

I ask only this

Don’t mourn that I am gone

Be happy that I was.

 

The day I die

Take for the needy

My eyes, my kidneys

My heart and lungs

Take all you can

I won’t need them anymore.

 

The day I die

Use all the money left

It won’t be much

For every cent saved

Means I worked more

Than I ever needed.

 

The day I die

Gather all my cronies

Keep a picture of me

And drink to the good times

And times that were bad

When we were together.

 

The day I die

Laugh and be merry

Celebrate a life

That was complete in every way

The tears that might be shed

Be bittersweet, not sad.

 

The day I die

Bury what’s left

Plant a tree

Fertilized by me

So what’s left behind

Can flourish and give hope.

 

The day I die

And you plant the tree

Put it on a hill

With a view of the sky

That’s where we are from

And where we will reach.

 

The day I die

As I cease to be

Don’t feed lies to kids

About better places

About angels and Gods

Tell them instead, about eternity.

 

The day I die

Waste not a prayer

Or a breath on sorrow

All I ask, all I need

Look at my tree

And remember me.

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Here’s To The Underdogs

What is it about us that makes some of us root for the underdog? We love to see a good upset. Your heart jumps when a team like Bangladesh upsets Australia or when Ireland pull one over Pakistan in cricket. Or when Wigan Athletic pulls off an unlikely victory over Manchester United.

But why sport? Even a story of a lone man winning a hard court battle against a mega corporation makes you smile. It is because deep down, we see ourselves as that lone man. Like that small team or that lone ranger – doomed to fail 9 times out of 10, if not 99 times out of a 100, you live in the hope of that one elusive win, for that day your heart soars high above. Nothing can stop you.

It is what being human is about. Always on the verge of being crushed, you fight back and throw off the world and claim your place under the sun. Here’s to the underdogs. They remind us daily that life is worth fighting for.

 

 

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Mr. Nobody

How many people do you see in a day? Not meet, just see. If you are in a city like Mumbai, that number will be well in the thousands. Let’s narrow down to the people you interact with. A few hundred?

You get up, shower and get dressed for work. As you exit your apartment complex, you might smile at your security guard. Most probably you ignore him. He sounds like a migrant from India’s north. He is supposed to stay up all night but it’s unlikely. He might earn around 3000 Rs. a month. That’s hardly enough to survive in Mumbai and send a decent amount of money back home to his wife. So he works a second job. In fact, his job as a security guard might be his second job. He might be toiling away in a factory by day and is too exhausted to guard anyone by night. Which is why he tends to catch a snooze. For those of you who return late at night to see him wrapped in a blanket snoring away, consider the fact that he might not wish to sleep, his body just gives up on him. He does try some times. Do you know his name?

You wait at your bus-stop and catch the bus to the train station. The conductor snarls at you as you hand him a 100 rupee note for a five rupee ticket. He has been up and standing since perhaps four in the morning. He lives in the stunningly decrepit BEST quarters with leaky walls and a shockingly inadequate water supply. He hasn’t had time to bathe and looks like it. You wrinkle your nose in quiet disgust and move away. He supports a his wife and two children who go to school. Have you cared to think about his life at all? What do they call him at home?

You stop for a quick bite at the train station. The proprietor of the tea stall smacks the little boy on his head as he drops a glass to the floor. “That’s five rupees out of your salary you sister-fucker!” he shouts and the tearful child sweeps up the shards. He has no time to wipe the tears as he has to serve you your tea. He hates his master with a passion but will die to defend him because the master is all he knows. The master is all he has. He gives him food, however meager and pays him better than the other children he shares a cigarette with at night. 3 rupees more per day make a difference. It’s an extra meal a day for his little sister who is not old enough to work yet. You know him as “Chottu”. But what did his mother name him?

Your day does not really begin before you read the news. The man who sells the papers works with remarkable precision – making several transactions in an impossibly short span of time and never makes a mistake. The five rupee coin you toss over his pile of newspapers is pounced on and your change thrown back just as derisively along with the tabloid. He sells far less papers than he once used to. His young daughter is starting school and she has started in an expensive school thanks to zoning laws. He doesn’t know it, but one day she will refuse to let him attend a recital at school because she will be too embarrassed by his demeanor among her peers. You scan the change to see if anything was withheld and he glares at you as you are blocking his next customer. You stare back and withdraw without caring who he is. He is someone who appears to be serving you. He needs no name.

You hear the announcement over the loudspeakers. Your regular train has been moved to another platform – an infrequent occurrence but enough to warrant simultaneous curses from ten thousand voices. You fight the crowd that is doing exactly the same thing that you are doing and try to egg the mass of people in front of you to ascend the foot overbridge quickly.  The crowd moves just as a crowd can, slowly. Once you make your way up the stairs, there is more room. You clutch your newspaper and satchel and jog to platform five dodging the people as best as you can.

The train is about to depart but as you reach it and extend your hand towards the door, four unknown hands grab you an pull you into the crowded compartment. You are inside. Your shirt is a little sweaty from the heat and the crowd. You look around you at three hundred nameless people sweating just as you are. Each hand is clutching a newspaper just as yours is. Nothing can be heard above the din of the train as it leaves the station. Everyone looks just as harassed, everyone, just as angry as you. What is your name, Mr. Nobody?

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Once We Were Kids

I was around three years old when I first ran away from home. It was less of a need to get away from the drudgery of life as a kid and more of a desire to go to my favourite Besant Nagar beach in Chennai. I walked out of the gate as my somewhat irresponsible cousins were busy doing what other 10 year olds do and walked the 100 yards or to the beach.

I happily played around in the sand for the better part of 15 minutes before I was spotted by an elderly gentleman who obviously knew a runaway when he saw one. He was gracious enough to accompany me on my way back as I guided him in the general direction of my home through trial and error. We might have been at it all evening were it not for my parents who spotted me as they were headed towards us. The gentleman smiled, let me run towards my mother who, understandably enough, was bawling her eyes out. He then proceeded to thoroughly admonish my parents who were admittedly irresponsible that evening.

When I reflect on this incident, after all initial thoughts of being abducted and forced into begging or becoming a child soldier for the LTTE have passed, what I am fascinated with is the curiosity that I displayed as a kid. It is very disconcerting to see a child who is not trusting and curious about what the world has to offer because that’s how they are.

When we are children, we just have to know. If it moves, we have to see it, if it makes a sound, we have to touch it, if it shines, we have to feel it. And boy are we trustful.  Because kids don’t know the meaning of getting hurt, the concept never registers without experience. And the best thing is, kids don’t care. They don’t care about what people think. They eat dirt, pee where they want, eat when they want, cry when they feel like it and no force on the earth can make them sad or happy till they want to be.

When we grow up, what we lose the most is our lack of trust. Because the world starts to let us down with increasing frequency, our expectations drop and we can never stop thinking about the ulterior motives a person might have when they offer to do something for us.

Then goes the curiosity. We stop getting interested in the world around us. We begin to get caught up in our little webs of  comfort and stop paying attention to things and experiences that may be very rewarding because it starts to get inconvenient to diverge from the routines we create.

We have truly grown up when we start paying attention to what people think about our actions. We become conscious about being judged and we try to conform to what our peers and society consider acceptable. We hate to stand out, we want to be anonymous, we crave mediocrity because we hate the spotlight. When the time comes and we realize that we want to be different, it is usually too late. We have already become automatons used to working in a certain way.

We develop closed mindsets and we have a narrow focus. Efforts are made to merely ensure that each day passes by without incident. This is where being a kid is so much better. Children have open minds and their lives are much richer and the experiences much more delightful because they want to process everything that is thrown their way. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could at least make one change in our life which would bring us closer to our days of glory? Of lazing in the sunshine not because we finally get to, but because we want to.

As they say, growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional. Don’t let the kid in you ever die.

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If Only…..

Life is strange. The most meticulous of plans sometimes come apart or a poorly thought out tactic sometimes works wonders. One has to account for the vagaries of random chance. And after a particularly disappointing outcome, we often think, “If only”…

“If only I had studied a little more”, thinks the boy who failed a test. “If only I had spoken more confidently”, feels the person who has been rejected after an interview. Life is filled with us asking such hypothetical questions. But the most important lesson to learn is, shit happens. Not everything you wanted comes to you. If it did, life would be so boring. To experience the joy of victory, it is critical that we first face the agony of defeat.

You will get hurt in life. You will be loved by some, more than you can ever imagine and some will hate you for what you did to them. There will be those who will never forget you and those who will never forgive you. Life is about learning how to be happy and make others happy as best as you can and somewhere, you will fall short. You will achieve many things which you thought impossible, yet you will utterly fail at some of the simplest tasks put to you.

Some things which were once unacceptable to you will become an essential part of your identity. And you will lose people. You will move on and forget some of your best friends. But you will make others. You will forget the passions you once had but you will find newer ones. You will learn to love and you will learn to hate. You will realize that you were not as great as you once thought you were and you will be reminded time and again that you are mortal. Your idols will fall from their lofty pedestals and you will look up to people you once held in contempt. Because you will change. You will change because you will keep saying “If only…..”. And it’s part of being human.

As Achilles says, “The Gods envy us. They envy us because we are mortal and every moment might be our last. Everything is more wonderful because we are doomed.” Learn from your regrets and live free of the guilt. Life is not about constantly asking yourself, “If only…”. It’s about the moments where you don’t have to ask that question.

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Does Drinking Enhance Creativity?

Christopher Hitchens, in his own words, usually used to have enough alcohol in his system to stun the average mule. He claimed that it enhanced his creativity. Not quite being in his league, I often wonder if this claim is correct.

I will attempt to put this to test by slowly consuming alcohol till the time I become incoherent.

Considering the fact that I am also with friends, today I shall just be posting random thoughts.

–  The good kind of whiskey never gives you a headache in the morning. Vodka always does.

– When it comes to public transport in India, women have it bad.

– I am not used to eating chicken. Humanity survived because humans learned how to hunt. But now, we can choose not to eat meat and still survive. Eat what you will. I will not judge you.

– The number of fucks given is inversely proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed. 

– Captain Ahab epitomizes obsession. Is such an obsession good our bad? Moby Dick still remains one of the greatest novels ever written.

– A salute to everyone who wants to be an IAS Officer. It’s a thankless job but I thank you.

– The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a bad novel. The movie is worse.

– It was in an Ajay Devgan movie where he tells Manisha Koirala that
Marriage is where you get society’s permission to live together. I agree.

– The best whiskey I have had is Johnnie Walker Black Label.

– Apartments are expensive. But money is nothing. Relationships are everything.

-But are achievements more important than relationships?

-If you don’t appreciate Black Friday, I don’t have words to express my disappointment in you.

– Love your parents. Nobody but them will love you unconditionally.

– If you see a eunuch, pay her. They cant make a living like the rest of us because society is prejudiced against them.

– I love hearing strangers speaking in Marathi. It reminds me of home.

– Nostalgia is a combination of the words Nostos which means a return home and Alogos, which means pain. Latin or Greek, I am confused.

– That’s all for the night.

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Life, The Cosmos And Everything

“How much would you pay for the Universe?”, was the question asked by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. What is the universe worth? There is a curious school of thought which makes some regard themselves as above and beyond the world. They seem to look at the Cosmos with a strange detachment – as if they can divine it without discovering anything about themselves.

But we are part of the Cosmos. Inextricably so. To know the Cosmos is to know ourselves.

There are some who would rather not think of such things. Some who question those whose business it is to question. “Why do you want to know?”, they ask. Some want to give up even before they begin. Should we let sleeping dogs lie?

Yet, our curiosity has long been the hallmark of our species. We want to know. Is there any evolutionary advantage to this? Perhaps. I will leave that to the biologists. But what is certain is that this curiosity has served us well over the millenia.

There are some traits which we have not been able to shake off. We tend to group ourselves within clusters without realizing that we are connected to everyone else. Before we are black or white or brown; before we are Indians, Americans or Chinese; before we are Hindus, Muslims and Christians, we are human. We are the descendants of a tribe of bushmen who migrated from Africa more than 50000 years ago. Will we ever appreciate that?

Going back even further, we are connected to every living thing on this planet. From the humblest bacterium to the most gigantic mammal, we share the essential building blocks of life. We are nothing but combinations of chemicals which, for an unknown reason, gained consciousness and populated the planet in an explosion of life. Will we look at a chimpanzee and realize that our DNA differs by around 2%; that we share a common ancestor?

And finally, the most poetic fact about the Cosmos. We are connected to literally everything we see. Every bit of matter is made of atoms, atoms that were spewed from the explosions of entire stars billions of years in the past. When you die, your body disintegrates and the atoms that make you, go back to the Cosmos. Parts of you will end up as other people, parts of you as a rock, you will end up in the ocean, in trees, in grass, in the air and a part of you will reach the stars. When you consider this, you realize how small minded you are when you worry about the little things. And you realize how absurd it is to fear death or to imagine a heaven where you spend an eternity in boredom.

The Cosmos made you, you are part of it. It is all that is within and without. Enjoy your moment under the sun and live your life free because really, there is nothing to fear. The Cosmos will take care of you.

 

 

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