Friday, November 24, 2017

Quotable quotes

During my college days, we would find a quote on the board which we would see everyday before setting about on our floors. Soon we began to look out for it. It was interesting and a good way of setting about the day. So around 6-7 months ago, when I got a chance ( board),  I recalled those moments and started writing a quote a day, most weekdays. At first it was exciting and easy and a good conversation starter for a new person. It also was good to see people stop by and read them. Later it seemed tougher, you don't feel as equitable each day and not all quotes are appropriate everywhere. But slowly I realised it helped me the most. No matter what else was happening, I was bound to start the day with a positive or at least interesting thought and that definitely set a better tone for the day.

When you read quotes everyday, you do tend to develop some of your own reflections also. Here are some reflections of the past 6 months:

Only the graceful and open hearted deserve apologies.

Too much and too little time are both equally deadly.

In the age of texts, there lies a tiny tale within the original undeleted texts and the final ones that actually 'qualify'.

Many come in for chatter but the ones who mean to stand by you, stay for the silences

Just like on diving in the sea takes some time to get bearings, in the same way, after being wordless, it takes a while for words to come again.

Don't count the minutes, makes the minutes count ( ok this exists in the form of days but I find it more appropriate for minutes)

Life is about those stolen "just happy moments" that come in between those "so hectic moments"

Gathered leaves wear coats of endless colors, each one painted  by time (I think I wrote this but this written a long time ago so only 90% sure)

Some of the greatest memories have no photos, no status updates, just a satisfaction of a moment well lived.

Just like our technological devices, we also need rebooting at times. Sometimes it's ok to pause, reflect, smile and then restart.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This Childrens' Day, glad to be grown up!

Today is Childrens' Day and as different people recall their childhood and glorify those times, I seem to have a different perspective.  This time, right now is the best. There have been many forwards about single life being great and maybe it is so for many. To each his own. But this post is for those married people in their 30s leading normal, stable lives. This time is the best. You are married, maybe with a child or two, a stable job  or if lucky then career, you have a set of stolid friends and are more or less "settled". And that's actually great!  Lets rewind and see why.

Childhood is a time of dependece, unstability and uncertainity. You don't know who your friends are. You get bullied. You fear being  a laughing stock the most during this time. You don't know what you will do with your life. You are complete "dependant". This starts somewhere  in school.  For some this starts during middle school and for some, earlier. The phase before this fades with time and preserves fewer memories. Homework, marks, competition, discipline and peer pressure define a typical child or typical Indian child. Maybe some hobbies come to play at some point of time.  They come with their set of guilt of "not  studying". The child becomes a teenager. Their priorities change. Friendships, crushes and latest trends become more important. There begins the start of their push for independance. Teachers' and parents' opinions suddenly seems very remote. Friends matter though that may or may not help. This is also the time maximum hearts are broken. Sometimes even by so called friends. This is the most unpredictable age as interests and dreams start taking directions and many plans made earlier go haywire. An aspirant doctor may want to become an actor, a would be scientist may suddenly want to be a writer and so on. Sometimes there is a basis and sometimes it is just an exploration. But as they push boundaries, some may feel too bound and unable to explore which could be the start of a lifetime of regrets and blamegames. Others explore, push and thus starts the phase of uncertainities. College starts and suddenly the freedom  becomes variable.  You are in a transition  from childhood towards adulthood. Future becomes important. Relationships become serious, friendships more selective and careers more result oriented. You measure everything in terms of how it will affect your some remote future.  You also experience some "in between" pleasures. You also make great memories. But the rest of the time the future looms a ahead like a gray hazy cloud of smog.  As you approach forward, you realise, moving ahead paves the way and that's all there is, different paths for the rest of the life. Crisscrosses which never end but do decrease with time. As you make more decisions, you move away from the mesh and more towards a major direction with minor diversions. Of course, conditions apply !

A few hit and trials, a few setbacks, some success earlier or later in different aspects of life and you are here. You are settled.  You know whom you want to spend the rest of your life with. You are "home". You know what you want to do in the rest of your life. Another direction settled.  You live with your own little family. You are independent. You can be as slovenly or neat as you wish. As lazy or adventurous as you wish. You meet your little one. Suddenly you can explore a fresh childhood without the pains of actually experiencing it. Or maybe those pains of helplessness increase for parents later but not for the next 6-7 years probably! You have a set of stolid, trustable friends. People you can depend upon. You have more confidence. The world, in which you have your own niche is no longer scary. Ridicule is no longer as feared. You can revel in  your uniqueness and best of all, the little things are just that, little. They are no longer the end of the world. You are cushioned by stability in different aspects of life. Life has an entire spectrum to offer as you get ready to taste its diverse flavours.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Discovering Life: PG Express: It's worth the wait (Part 2)

This is it. The Convocation. The recognition of years of effort and all that is much more than effort. And suddenly student life is over forever. Or maybe that has just been formalized now but it got over much earlier. Between thesis submission and defense, a PhD scholar slowly weans away from student life, towards another world. That happened. After defense, one loses all fears of uncertainity so convocation remains a mere formality. And that's what it seemed like until the Vedic mantras started. It was just the rehersal. The person conducting it explained that they meant that the institute and teachers have done all they could and now it is upto the students to take this knowledge further. Next came the oath. And subsequently the goosebumps. And the memories. The memories include the pride of being able to gain  knowledge from such great minds,  to learn at such a great institute, of achieving more than expected. And all the good stuff. There is a lot. But there have been posts about it. This post is not about that.

Because somehow this time I remembered all the tough moments. The tears. The toil. The time before it all started....how unreachable it seemed, right from school...yes it was an early dream.  The victory of joining and then the fears. The time of struggle when one could just plod on with no clarity. More tears. The harsh questions. The determined answers. The constant feeling that "it WILL work out somehow". The sleepness nights. The weekendless months. It was tough. Tough in so many more ways than just academic. And finally there was also the time when I also finally wondered whys of doing it. It comes to everyone in some or the other phase. For me that started when it was nearly over. When the next steps became hazy.   When you know that you that are oriented for a specific field. Yes, field matters after so many years. When you  can't bear the experience and effort not being acknowledged.

Yes, soon it all worked out and the questions became long forgotten. Until these chants. Was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again if given a chance. Yes, of course.  But that doesn't change it WAS tough. What did it teach me? Confidence and persistance. There is nothing that can't be done. Somethings just take longer and some just need more effort. Just like after childbirth, one gains the courage to bear any kind of pain, with the reminder that it is minisculine compared to that,  same is the case with PhD. You gain the courage to take up any task and know that you can do it, because you have crossed  much bigger and stronger hurdles. And survived. 
You come out stronger.
And realise it's ok to cry a few tears of joy at that final moment.  They validate all those other tears.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Some places are just humane

Though there are many pending posts, this one deserves to be written today. It's been 6 months for me at the new work place now. 6 months of learning, fun, excitement and a sense of accomplishment. 6 months of new stuff which keeps happening. 6 months of flurry.  Some jobs are good, some are bad, some to be tolerated, some for timepass and some to be enjoyed. And then there are those rare ones which become a way of life. They directly or indirectly touch other aspects of your life. They change something internally. For me it was a sense of respect and a sense of humanness. You lose it in student life especially PhD. You are meant to do as instructed. But suddenly you realise that you are amongst the human race again...people who have personal lives and a sense of individuality and don't mind stating it and understand that you do too. With time you lose a sense of constant fear. It's like school for geeks (people who actually look forward to it!). Of course there are ups and downs, days of busyness and days of laziness, days when you are eager to go and days when you just wana go back to bed. But it's the right place when the work part is still fun.
It's the right place when you have smiles coming and going put.

How is it compared to other places for me? Well PhD has seen enough posts to it.  The other places, the work was good but they made me wonder if one can get too old for new friendships. Or too whatever after PhD. Yes, no lucid words for that state. They made me miss that one best friend terribly.  And I so longed for it...to have that one great friend to have tea and talks, to nag when sleepy, to just be with.  It was lonely and somehow having less work can make such situations harder...you end up watching the clock after a while.

  So it's always good to be in the thick of things. To be given responsibility and new opportunities. It makes you want to grow and learn and when learning is fun and appreciated, you don't mind a bit of extra effort. It's also good to be part of all the celebrations that keep happening: festival celebrations, writing competitions, dress up days and lots more. At one point my mom felt I dressed for occassions as much as my 4 year old!

On the other hand, on the people front, no, I didn't get that single best friend here either.  In fact being in an all guys group reduced that possibility right at the onset. But I got the next best thing. I got to speak to a whole bunch of people on a variety of topics. In others places there were generally two versions of groups....either the news or the food/homefront gossip....both felt like misfits. Here when you don't have that one person, you talk a lot many, you hear a lot. And yes a great many of those discussions would involve bikes, beards and gyms but they can also be amusing. You get to meet readers, writers, artists. You get to discuss technology, philosophy, books, movies and family....just maybe all with different sets of people or maybe all in one.  You get freshly inspired. You meet parents, single people and those in transitions. You meet the females in unlikely places...or most likely places! And you know you fit in when there are  those who care enough to ask you when all is not great and also those to go and tell when something exciting happens. And you realise that noone is  too old for friendships though the degree and type changes. Many times there is no time to talk or even pause at all but those are also good days knowing that you got something good done. Or sometimes even knowing that you are not going to be swordpointed if you do get stuck/stressed/sick. Sometimes that's all you need. To be able to remain human. Maybe that's what they mean by live and let live.  And maybe that's what  sustains one in a particular place. Flying is great but it's a whole lot easier when you know that the ground is safe.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dislongingness

Sometimes festivals and celebrations become too peopled. They are fun but can lead to a loss of equilibrium. Or maybe years of seclusion make it so. PhD changes a person such that you keep longing for it to be over but once it is, it also leads to withdrawl symptoms. You tend to miss the the quietness of lab. That one place that you can anytime go back to. That one work that is all yours for what seems like forever.  And though, it torments you in different ways throughout the years, when all goes wrong in the world, it is like a refuge where you can rush to. Of course being surrounded by natural beauty makes it even more inviting and more solitude inducing. 

This is about that state of 'dislongingness' (using the poetic license as no other word describes the feeling as well) that one experiences after years of solitude and aloneness. It comes out at odd times like an unruly toddler and you know not what to do about it.

Dislongingness

Where do you go when you want to run away?
When there is no longer any single refuge
When the heart feels a dislongingness
A disenchentment from the world in general
And longs for not quiet time but solitude
Away from peopled loneliness towards aloneness

Is there a way I wonder
To achieve equilibrium
A perpetual calmness

We all have our good and our bad moments
Our loud and our quiet moments
Our alone and our peopled moments
Our pensive and reflective moments

We smile through the good
Wince and move on through the bad
But then come the moments of loud silence
Moments of peopled loneliness
Which disturb our inner peace
The inner child wants to run away
But with you remains trapped within masks of social obligations and pleasantaries
The inner child seeks familiarity
But finds familiar strangers
Smiling outworldly, ignoring blindly the silent pleas

This time lets give that inner child a chance to be free
Lets run away with it and all inhibitions forgo
Lets follow it and see where it leads
We may find a once lost refuge from long ago

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Tragically Tiny Tales@Diwali

This is the second part of #TTT. These are some Tragically Tiny Tales of Diwali. The TTT was expecting some sweet tales of Diwali but what came out from here was a different perspective of the festival of lights....the light within a person....when it lights up and when it dies out. So here they are!

#TTT1: This Diwali also they couldn't travel. As they lit crackers and celebrated, far away the light from her eyes faded and her wait ended.

#TTT2: This Diwali she had no crackers. No sweets. Just two twinkling eyes which erased the pain of that Diwali that had wiped her world.

#TTT3: This Diwali she got a unique gift. Her eyes saw light for the first time as his once kind act paid out once the light died out from his.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hats off to all #metoos

A wave of #metoos are there on social media. All women were in some way or the other sexually harassed or assaulted put the status as metoo signifying that "yes, it happened to me too" so that the world can wake up and see how many women get downtrodden everyday.

Such exemplary courage these women have to change their status to #metoo. Because this metoo doesn't signify  rape but any form of sexual assault or harrasement. This includes the supposedly minor things that get hidden under like lewd remarks, horrible stares, the bad touches and the physical discomfort in crowded transports which almost every woman faces. Most of them ignore these as minor ailments thinking that it's not big. Big being rape. But noone has the right to assault anyone at any level. Or make them feel unsafe or uncomfortable. So back to these women. When they post #metoo, they open up and the world doesn't know how badly their dignity was battered, just that it was. Each will assume the worst and that itself is enough to pull one down a little. A person may only have been the victim to a bad touch in the bus but the world may think they were raped. And the world may forever treat them differently. And that is why I say they have courage.

Not everyone has that courage and that's ok too. "The victims don't owe anyone their story" as someone very rightly shared. 

Lots of men are sharing their status as #wetoo , #iapologise to signify that it hurts that so many people close to them have been suffering because of uncultured people of their gender. Well why am I writing this? What is my story? For now,  I am just an observer who wants to appreciate this movement. Does that make me a coward? Who says a woman can't be just an observer?