Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Coming home...

Staying away from family is a good experience; if only because those moments that you have to steal and hoard to be with them become so much more precious. 
I had lived with my family for almost my entire life till the time I left home to get some more education. And looking back, it was a very protected existence all along! Life is a lot simpler when you know you are going home every single day to people who love you, no matter what. You can have a crabby day and throw tantrums or have your sweetest day but at the end of it someone is waiting at home for you. In hindsight, it is a safe world and you are never on your own. Funnily enough, while I lived at home, I chafed against all the rules and terribly late nights, the parents doling out advice: "Do make an effort to be a little tidier. Your room might be pleasantly surprised to look a little better than as if it has just been through a mini-tornado" or the eternal "Hey you know what...the sun does rise in the East...just telling you coz you have probably never seen it any earlier than when it is plonk in the middle of the afternoon sky!!!" So I constantly cribbed and dreamed about "The day I shall be independent...staying on my own...a free bird..." 
So when I finally did move into a hostel...the first few days were bliss. While other people pined for home and actually had bouts of home-sickness, to me it seemed all like an adventure. Hanging out with friends and chatting away to glory into the wee hours, getting up as and when I desired (though classes in the morning kinda put an abrupt end to that dream), drinking umpteen cups of coffee, thriving in the piles and piles of mess in my short doing all that I always thought I wanted to! This was fun till the time I realised that there is only so much "freaking out" that I can get up to...beyond that life has to have atleast the slightest hint of a pattern. Home was never really a place with restrictions, but a place where my bid for freedom did not venture into the wild zone. Family has this unique ability to let you be just as you wish pretence, no masks...nobody cares if you have a rude day or a fat day (hahaha...those who know me shall definitely get this! :D :D) There is something so comforting about coming home again...being able to let your hair down and dropping all your "acts". It is weird but today it seems to me as if I have the most freedom when I am home. 
And home is not just the place I go back to but the people I love most in the world...people who complete me. I am truly blessed! 

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Shades of Grey...

Its weird, but growing up is not easy at all. Everything just gets more and more complicated as you grow up. And I don't say this because I meet so many more people as the years pass by, but because when I was young everything was just either black or white, good or bad...there were no in-betweens. And then suddenly one day, I encountered all these greys in between...and not of a single tone but of various hues...dark, light, lighter and so on. 
I remember, when I was younger I either liked a person or not; I was never confused over the issue. Now it is not so often that I meet a person I like completely. There is always something that I wish could be changed. I is supposed to be all mature and kind and be able to accept the faults and the charms...but it is difficult at times.
At times, you talk to and are friends with people that you are not a hundred percent sure you like. More often than not, this is because you are part of a larger circle of friends and it may lead to too many problems if individuals decided to be unfriendly within the group. So you adjust and pretend but all along you know you are not being true. Now the question is, is it better to go along with this pretence since it is not outright hurting anyone else or is it better to be honest and upfront about your attitude? Anyway, even if you are a fine actor and have managed to hide your semi-dislike (or the feeling of being uncomfortable), your actions or words may unknowingly give away your real feelings! And that is even worse, because the other person may be more hurt that way. It might be better to be straightforward and agree to be cordial but without the entire show about being "all good friends in the group"!!! 

This brings me to another point...the grey shades in everyday life. As a child I was always told that the truth is the ultimate and that lies were a big "no-no". And for a long time, all around me in my small world were truthful so there were no conflicts...but out here in the real world absolute truth is uncommon. Things are true from different perspectives...and all these perspectives hardly ever match up. So telling small little lies and "slightly" bending the truth are all accepted as part of an honest person's makeup. When do you make this distinction between being honest and being a cheat? I agree that living in an idealistic world will never take us anywhere in the realistic world's point of view...but surely we must be able to define a boundary between the truth and a lie. Or is this forever to be a dependent upon the people involved, the circumstances and the consequences? Can there ever be an absolute definition?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Paper Blues...

I had to present a paper at the department today and I ended up giving such a  dismal performance that I am almost glad...atleast I know that I shall never ever be any worse than this! It is not as if I had not understood the paper at all; the problem was communicating a new and complicated piece of data provided by someone else to an audience that had almost no related background. And to top this I was so nervous that my hands shook, my voice quivered and I was bumbling up the words as if I were a complete novice as regards the English language...I could not remember the right words and was berating myself for the same even while a part of my brain was trying to talk to the audience!
All in all, a bad way to give your first department presentation! Makes me feel like a mix of all kinds of fools!

Ah well, this is turning into one of those "me and my diary" sessions! That's it, I make a resolution that this is the last time I put up a crib as a post. Just that having gotten this out of my head I suddenly feel so much lighter! Though, am sure it is utterly boring to read about people's lives and especially the low points in it...reading about someone's opinions is an altogether different matter :) 

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Memories are such funny things...the most unexpected ones suddenly pop up out of nowhere. You have completely forgotten some experience or a person and then for no apparent reason you recall everything and the memory is not even blurred...its crystal clear and if only you close your eyes you can see everything that happened in full technicolour. So how and where is memory stored and what makes some memories lie deeply buried? Its awesome, the kind of multi-channel and whacky storage system our brain uses!  

I read in the news the other day that people have found some way by which memories can be erased and this apparently will prove a boon for people who are haunted by bad memories and perennially depressed but would I ever be ready to give up even one of my memories? The grossest, most painful memory still holds a part of a past me and I don't think I would ever want to lose that part...would that not make me incomplete? Perhaps I find it easier to say this since I have not had any really terrifying memory...and most events when looked at as memories appear not as bad as they seemed when I was truly living through those moments. This has been an area that has fascinated story tellers and filmmakers. Two movies I have seen recently that deal with the loss of memory (willingly or by accident) are "Memento" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". I would not say that they have brilliant actors or directors but the stories are so off-beat and crazy that I just kept watching till the end. 

Some memories are beautiful and warm and comfortable and filled with the brightest light and sparkling laughter and a pure happiness while others are tinged with a little sorrow while others still are dark and dangerous and brimming with hatred, yet they are all so "individual" in nature since, what I remember of an experience that I shared with you shall forever be different from your remembrance of it. Its almost as if my memories too make me special.

Of Marriageable Age...

Out of the blue I suddenly discovered that I am supposedly at this "eminently marriageable" age!!! And if you wonder how I was so enlightened, it was because people (read relatives, neighbours, mere acquaintances) have now taken to walking up to my parents and wondering why they are not obsessed with marrying off their daughter and then suggesting so and so as being a suitable match! And I am almost offended by the very if I were some kind of baggage that needed to be packed off! 

It is generally assumed (especially in India) that any girl beyond the age of 21 must be married off as soon as is possible or for the more "modern" families, the girl may even be allowed to spare her parents the trouble and find them a son-in-law on her own. I always thought that my generation would be ready to live a little before "settling down" (sounds awfully like the kind of thing you do in the lab...let the sediments settle or precipitate stuff!!!)...get out of the narrow societal constraints that most people live within and explore the world a little...but at the rate my closest friends are getting hitched or "committed" as it is fashionably referred to, it looks like I am soon to be left as the lone crusader for the "i am independent and single and loving it" brigade!!! 

And to top all that, their accounts of experiences in the typical arranged marriage scenario have been more crazy than I could believe possible. Most guys have all kinds of (weird) criteria when looking for a bride and that too in today's so-called progressive times!!! A typical guy wants a qualified, educated girl for his wife but still expects her to give up all hopes of an independent career and life if the family and the husband so wish. It is still expected that it is the girl who will, but obviously, stay at home and look after the children and she should be a good cook and a dedicated homemaker. And as if all this is not enough, the girl just has to be gorgeous too. Get real people, why cannot these be shared responsibilities and what is so demeaning for a guy to come forward and be ready to say upfront that he shall be equally responsible. And what really shocks me is that even the supposedly educated people who truly believe they are "learned" and unorthodox will insist on matching horoscopes since they apparently  believe that the lovely twinkling stars in the sky can in some way decide whether two people are compatible or not! And astonishingly enough, in the impossibly long list of "requirements" (believe me an over crowded shopping market with a miles-long shopping list might perhaps seem a better place eventually), there is often no references as to whether the principles and ideals by which two people live match at all. I think its more important whether your choices in life shall ever be similar than whether your horoscopes match!!! 

 I have been a little sarcastic yes, but that's only because  I have heard umpteen stories about arranged marriage fiascos over the last few days and it has definitely decided for me that I shall think twice and then some more before I even venture down that path...So basically, this is an outburst on my part with the hope that single souls out there will think a little and attempt to be rational while choosing another person to share an entire lifetime with, especially in an arranged marriage scenario.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just a Smile :)

Today morning I woke up with the widest ever grin on my face. I don't remember what I was so happy about, perhaps a really beautiful dream, or perhaps I had been let in on the ultimate joke in life and I don't even know what it was now...but that hardly matters. What I remember overwhelmingly is the fact that I was so surprised by my own smile!!! As if a smile is really out of place...and now that I think back, I have never ever woken up in the morning feeling incredibly happy about just any and cribs, no whines. This is something that you supposedly get to do only when you are a child. I have almost forgotten this crazy happiness, just this joy at being alive; not the happiness for having gotten something or done something well. That you learn to appreciate as you grow up. But children have the ability to tap into some secret source of unending delight and they see no reason why you should not smile. Perhaps there is a lot to treasure in that innocence and untarnished view of the world...and one must cherish it if not try and emulate it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I wonder if you have ever felt this way, like you don't really know where life is taking you. I wish at times that there would be some guarantees...about work, family, future, present...whatever!!! There is so much uncertainty in everyday life...the unpredictable is fun, yes, but at times I wish I knew exactly what was to happen and when..the not knowing is bad. If the situation calls for action on my part, then its a different matter but when the matter is absolutely not influenced by anything I may wish, want or do...that's when it hurts the most. 
I absolutely hate not being a hundred percent in control of my life!!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Guitar Guy

I never thought I would be thankful for this..but the mess being closed for dinner today was indeed a blessing. I did not go out for dinner at a restaurant with an entire gang of friends as is the custom normally. Instead a friend and I went to this small canteen on campus where you get sandwiches and the most awesome coffee (by current campus standards!!!) and then another person turned up and we chatted about all kinds of things...from courses and classes, bosses and their tantrums, to movies, guys, music, books and so on.
So what's the big deal in all this huh? Well, the real point is that we heard this guy playing away on his guitar all by himself. He was perhaps rehearsing or just strumming melodies for himself. All I can say is it was a wonderful way to spend the evening...simply sitting there lost in the music created by a stranger all for himself...
Whoever he was, I hope he plays there often. I sure am going to drink a lot of coffee there in the next few days, hoping to hear him some more. Where else will I get to hear live guitar to my heart's content?? Especially when someone is not putting up a deliberate performance but is just making music!!! Ah! this is one of those unexplainable reasons why I love campus :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Friends and so on...

Have been interacting with so many old and new friends over the last year. One thing that has established itself as a glaring fact is that whatever our preconceived ideas about who or what our friends ought to be like, it never really never really choose your friends. All you do is learn to love them all...for their idiosyncrasies, pet peeves, special characteristics, gentleness, brashness, wit and humour and this list is endless. Its as if my universe exploded and an entirely different perspective was thrust upon me. So many different kinds of people, numerous backgrounds, unique quirks in each individual personality and yet all these fit together and become a special group of people with similar outlooks towards life , basically brought together with this amazing bond of friendship.
While on the topic of experiences new and old, another point just stands out. It is the "something" different that makes itself obvious when a person knows his or her own worth. Call it the arrogance of youth or maybe confidence in oneself. But it is marvelous when you see someone who refuses to believe in the possibility of failure. Perhaps it has something to do with utter disregard for authority. Why allow someone else to make rules for you? Why bear false modesty and make excuses for your talent? There is indeed something very attractive about a person who refuses to bow down or who has utmost confidence (mind you, not over-confidence) in his or her abilities. These people stand out in any gathering whether they plan to or not. Perhaps this is exactly what "personality" is all about...
All the people that I have met in my life seem to have atleast some effect on the decisions I take thereafter. It is as if your life is a constantly evolving sum of your experiences, your decisions and your ability to face the consequences of the same.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Life as I see it...

Shouldn’t life be a celebration of all the good stuff that happens around a person? We spend so much of our lives whining about small stuff, fretting about traffic jams, a program missed, a negative comment from an acquaintance and so on and so forth. It is amazing that every single day beautiful things happen and I don’t have the presence of mind to note them, cherish them and remember the joy. But if ever I do take the time to stop and look around, there is so much to see; nothing phenomenal or huge, just small details that I tend to miss normally. It might be a small, colourful, happy butterfly. It might be a beautifully shaped, fluffy, white cloud. Then again it might be the deep, unending blue of the afternoon sky, the fresh green of leaves, the glowing sky at sunset, the velvety sky at moon rise, the thousands of twinkling stars! And as if the beauty of nature is not enough, I encounter so much beauty in the people in my life. The unconditional acceptance from friends, the friendly gesture of an acquaintance, the pleasure of someone respecting my opinion, the unexpected smile from a complete stranger or the naughty grin on a child’s face! More often than not, these are perfectly uncontrollable expressions of the other person’s own sense of joy…perhaps that is what makes it even better…the fact that nothing is really expected in return, it is completely unconditional…leaving you free to respond in whatever way you desire.

A Few Moments from the Life of a “Would-be” Graduate Student

The incessant worrying about getting an admission into a graduate program somewhere…please! The actual applications and then the unending series of written entrance exams (does anybody ever prepare…ha! If only!). Horrible thoughts about the questions you attempted to solve and all the rest that you did not even bother to read. Waiting (the nail-biting phenomenon begins) for an interview call. Finally a letter does arrive...what does it say??? Most are rejections cloaked in words meant to imply the schools deepest sorrow at being unable to find a place for you…come on guys, get real…why can you not just state the plain truth??!!! A few schools do deign to let you know that they might like to consider you for an interview (blessed wonders), asking you to present yourself at the interview venue on so and so a date. So you leave for the interview all geared up and bottling in your tensions, fears and stress. The D-day dawns (Ah! An alliteration). You get all dressed up, neat and tidy but the stress still makes you look like you are over 40 and have been deprived of sleep for your entire life. The wait for your name to be called begins; you wonder why you were ever eager to face the (execution!) panel. The nail-biting continues. People go in and come out of the interview room at an alarming rate. Some lucky souls still have the remains of a smile on their faces even after the ordeal. You wait…knowing your turn will come, it is inevitable. In you go, smile at the panelists, and hope they ask you the simplest question, one that you can answer real quick; but no such luck! You get lost (in the question itself, so why bother to hang around?) and confused and plain fluttered, stammering, making the silliest of mistakes and generally goofing up. Your opinion about yourself sinks to the deepest abyss ever. And then you discover that wonders never cease, they have actually selected you. There still is hope for life!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

At times you need to ignore what the world tells you, and what you have grown up believing as right. You need to just go out and do exactly what your heart desires. There is pleasure indeed in the madness, the freedom and in the impulse of the moment. You are just restricting yourself because your beliefs have stopped being your own and are now simply the conditioned responses that are expected of you. That precise mad moment might just bring you the very freedom you were longing for. The fact that you can shock someone with one tiny unexpected action brings such joy that you may very well give up living up to other people's expectations and start doing every single thing that you ever wished to do. A little selfishness is not such a bad thing if it makes you a happier person, capable of a lot more creativity and if it imbues you with the confidence that nothing is ever really impossible, it is simply a matter of believing enough and not being bogged down by other people’s doubts.

She was lonely. It was a strange feeling, considering the fact that she had just returned from a marvellous evening spent with her closest friends. Perhaps it was simply the blackness of the night, the gentle breeze or the silvery silhouettes of the trees shimmering in the moonlight. Perhaps something in the cool night breeze brought along this tremendous loneliness and incompleteness, a feeling that there must be much more to life than the mundane business of just living each day as it comes along. Life perhaps deserved a little madness, some wildness and definitely a lot more passion.
For quite some time she had felt that her life was too safe; nice, but well, just a plain, regular old life, where everybody always did exactly what they were supposed to in an orderly fashion. Nothing adventurous or extraordinary ever seemed to happen in her life. There had always been this dream of the exquisite, yet unattainable and nameless future. But she usually managed to shake such melancholy feelings away; they were disturbing to her peace of mind, her routine. They made her long for things unknown, leaving her dissatisfied. But today, after the gaiety and the mindless rush of yet another evening spent pursuing meaningless pleasure, she knew she could no longer ignore the call of the wild.
She had to get out of this rut that life had become. She needed to meet other people, people who might help her put meaning back in her life, show her that there was much more to life than earning one’s living and being satisfied with one’s fate. She needed to accept challenges and take risks. Dissatisfaction was an essential, longing for the unattainable was inevitable. They had to be the constants henceforth. She must find something, someone that might complete her…perhaps a mission, perhaps just someone for whom she could make life better, or who made life better for her. This might help her stop being lonely in the midst of crowds, or then again it might not; if you stopped longing for something more, something better, something different, you might just as well stop living.