Monday, September 15, 2014

Not doing enough?

Sometimes we feel as if a current crisis could be resolved if we worked harder, thought harder and so on. We assume that we are not doing everything possible, everything in our power to fix the crisis. This can lead to severe mental stress, we feel guilty, weak and angry at ourselves for not doing enough, for not doing everything possible, for letting the crisis continue.

But this is a wrong way of thinking. We must acknowledge our limits, and we must acknowledge that sometimes even though we could have done more, we ultimately didn't and this happened for various reasons. It is not that there was a giant obstacle, but sometimes even trivial issues can be an obstacle to our functioning. The workers who are watching the patients afflicted with Ebola die in front of their eyes, unable to help, knowing that these people have no chance of survival - how terrible they must feel, how helpless, how angry, and yet they might think they could do more, perhaps they could organise protests to get the pharmaceutical giants to work harder on finding a cure, perhaps they could work harder on each patient to make them more comfortable, and so on.

This was an extreme example, but all of us have faced this problem, in issues both big and small, and we know in our hearts that the feeling of helplessness and remorse is no less strong simply because the issue at hand is small.

We can see the reason, but our heart rejects it, perhaps we need more maturity to accept that the world is chaotic, and out of the blue bad things happen which affect us severely. Things which we cannot control and cannot mitigate, but are forced to watch helplessly as it takes its course, all the while an inner voice chastises us for being weak, ineffective and passive. Is a reconciliation possible - I hope there is - but as of now, I do not see one.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The moment of despair

There are moments when I feel so trapped that destruction feels like the best option. There are no exits in those moments, no possibility of a window opening up, of a ray of sunshine coming through some long forgotten opening in some corner of the prison. Those times are dark, and I do not like the darkness. I look for an opening, fully sure that I will not be able to find one, and yet the realisation of that fact hits me so hard every time. It's a wash-dry-repeat cycle of despair. There are only two options you have when you find yourself in a prison like that – try to escape, or forget somehow that you are trapped.

Escape from this prison is impossible; in the many years I have been here I have not seen one opening that a mouse could crawl through. Making an opening for myself is a courageous thought, but the walls of this prison is invisible. So far, each time, I have chosen the second option, to forget where I am, to rip my mind away from the fact of my imprisonment to something else. When the walls are invisible, it can actually be done for a moment, until the inevitable stimuli that lies waiting brings me back to reality again, and the cycle continues.

There is a third option, and that is the most effective, most brutal one. There can be no prison without a prisoner, and even if the prison cannot be destroyed, the prisoner can be. I have not taken that step yet, I like to hold it as a trump card, to have, literally, the last laugh at the prison. But hope still calls to me, and I wait for something to tip the scales and break the cycle, one way or another.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Internet graveyards

I have always loved the internet, let's get that out of the way. For an introvert like me, having access to an entire world that is unlike anything humanity has seen so far, all from the comfort of my own home, was a godsend. I was never good at the usual stuff people use the net for, such as social networking or promoting whatever content they had.

Rather, I took an explorer's attitude towards the internet. Since the internet was man-made and the only ones using it were humans, it'd reflect human personality in the way it'd be shaped, with the important caveat that the internet afforded anonymity. We now know that the anonymity part is false, but, the sense of it is still there. There is a sense of liberation in letting something loose onto the World Wide Web from behind a pseudonym.

I have a lot to talk about if I get started on the internet, but what I want to talk about today is relevant to my attempted reboot of my blog, one that looks to be over before it started, which brings me to the title of my post.

Though the internet is a relatively new technology, its growth has been phenomenal. People from all across the globe have joined in, created their content, and as they have grown older, have abandoned what they created. These creations, websites, blogs, forums, now lie dormant on the web servers awaiting a final deletion, and one can often come across these things by accident.

I was browsing the blogs on my sidebar list today, and apart from one, which migrated to another blog, none of them are active. Some have been inactive for one year, some two, and some three. In case that doesn't seem so long, a year is a long time on the internet, where things move really, really fast.

It is a strange coincidence that these people, along with me, stopped blogging at pretty much the same time. It's like a period of life went by during which blogging was an ambition, and then poof, it was left behind.

If you bother to look, there are many other sites like these. Sites created when a particular activity was an obsession for people and then one fine day they decided that it didn't matter anymore. Sites for that one movie that we loved when we were 15, sites for that teen celebrity we adored, sites for the latest world shattering event in high school and so on.

So now these sites lie abandoned. They don't rust or break down like physical structures. They still look as fresh as the day they were created, but a quick browse through them reveals their age, the content that is not relevant anymore, the issues that have had their day bare testimony to the passion that was.

There are also hastily built sites that were quickly abandoned, a spur of the moment decision that was never followed up on. These are awkward things, lying haphazardly around the web, not knowing what they're supposed to do.

There is also consolation and the occasional wisdom to be gleaned from these sites. We realise that the problems that we face currently were also faced by countless others, and that gives a comforting perspective. Seeing the sites people made over trivial stuff makes us less embarrassed about stuff we liked that now seem silly.

I suppose talking about websites like this enforces the point that I really, really love the internet. I'll see if there are active blogs around that are going the path and maybe the reboot will be possible.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A possible reboot

It's been two years since my last post. I don't know why I write this after so long a time, but like a lot of writing, it has to do with me trying to put into words what is only a vague mess of thoughts and emotions in my head.

Things haven't changed a lot outwardly since I last wrote here, which is disconcerting, but there have been internal changes.

Outwardly, I'm in a state of suspension, as it were. I've graduated college, and I don't have a job. For some people, this is a period of free time when they work for the good of society, or travel, read, write, or perform some other activity their heart's desire.

I, however, have no bearing on my mind, and hence have no idea what it is I should do. My mental health has improved significantly since college, when I was daily plagued with depressing thoughts. While I am more stable now, the plagues have not entirely stopped. Infact, I am experiencing one right now, which, I now realise, is why I write this.

These spells are poisonous, if kept in the mind and left to roam; while they do leave after a while, they come back later with more ammunition. Better to put them into some tangible form, such as language, and let them loose. That is what I plan to do from now on. It has a name, I believe : journal therapy.

I doubt if anyone will read them, but that's not the point. These are more for my benefit rather than my hypothetical readers. If anyone does happen to come across this, I hope they shall trigger some thoughts in your mind as well, and you will be kind enough to let them loose in the combox. Hearing other thoughts also leads to freedom from one's own.

Here's to, what I hope, is a new beginning. 


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Is constant disillusionment a good thing?

A friend told me something that got me thinking. 

“Involvement with anything requires the creation of an illusion around that thing”

Put simply, if you get involved in anything, you will need to ascribe excess meanings to that thing which it does not possess. So, you are ultimately creating an illusion. 

The word illusion has some negative connotations, but that fit in with the worldview my friend possesses. He likes to keep a constant state of disillusionment with regard to all things. Not surprisingly, this can make him seem like both an idealist and a cynic depending on whether he is advocating an idea or rejecting it. 

I got to thinking about it, and it seemed true. No matter what we get involved with, be it politics, activism, work, sports or relationships, we keep adding meaning to those things. Continued unchecked, this could lead to us being blind about some unsavoury factors of the object in question, and thus, when we become cognisant of these factors, it can be a painful experience.

Think of a relationship that broke up because one party was in denial about the other party’s obsessive need for validation. Or when an activist realises that his superiors have duped him and were just looking for power. It seems better to constantly disillusion yourself to avoid any pitfalls.  

However, over the last few weeks, I’ve realised that this position isn’t as tenable as it appears on the surface. For one thing, the constant disillusionment has the risk of itself becoming an obsession. Being unable to partake in any illusion, the person might be forced to withdraw from any activity that requires an amount of commitment. There is also a sense of depression and apathy in this position which seems like floating on the sea without an anchor. 

I also feel that partaking in illusions is something that is unique to mankind, and something that we must experience, for better or worse. We must be able to know the joy of rushing headlong into something, risks and fears be damned. That fearless certainty and joy of dedication to an illusion is an experience that I feel is necessary. 

But what about the risk of fanaticism towards the illusion? 

I feel it is better to heed the words of French social theorist, Michel Foucault,
“My point is not that everything is bad, but that everything is dangerous, which is not exactly the same as bad.  If everything is dangerous, then we always have something to do.”

This view seems close to or the same as the previous view, except the part where Foucault says “we always have something to do”

This makes the stand an active one by default. We must challenge every assumption we have made, consider no truth sacred, but also remember to be active, to not stop our work, whatever it may be for. If we see an activity worth doing, we must do it. The key point is that we must not let the activity go unquestioned, but questioning an activity must not mean that we refuse to participate in it altogether. 

This brings me to my conclusion: We must question our assumptions and activities, but not reduce ourselves to questioning machines. Instead of apathy, we must be ready for active involvement in the world.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A breath of cold air

Have you ever smelled cold air?

It is an unique smell, a beautiful smell, one that carries you away from yourself, one that you insist on filling your lungs with, and mourns the fact that you can't hold onto.

It belongs to the mountains, and it is to the mountains you must go to truly know it.

Travellers, do you understand which smell I'm talking about?

The one that isn't of flowers, or trees or the grass beneath your feet. It can't be sought out and found. It will reveal itself to you, when you're ready for it.

Travellers, do you remember that smell I'm talking about?

The one that sneaks up on you when you least expect it.

The one that, when you've just woken up, comes in with the first cold breeze through the open window.

The one that is distinguishable among the thick smells of the tea you hold in your hand and the clay ovens in the local houses, whose smoke rises among the hills in thinner and thinner wisps as morning arrives.

The one that, if you're really lucky, you'll smell a whiff of it in a passing gust of wind, exactly at noon.

The one that catches you as unguarded as when the evening, which suddenly throws a blanket over the mountains, rushing the darkness in as the sun retires for the night.

The one that you smell at night, when you've finished your dinner, and you stand by the dhaaba at the edge of the road by the cliff, and wonder why the food back in the city never tastes this good, and the city beneath you twinkles, tiny lights in a darkness darker than the night sky, which glows above you with the light of uncountable stars.

You can get a small taste of it even in the city, but it is rare, and precious, and your soul calls out for the mountains when you smell it.

Travellers, surely you know this smell I'm talking about. If you do not, keep on journeying, it is waiting for you.

And if you recognise it, and you grow restless for the mountains yet again, come, let us travel together.

And if we do not meet, find another companion, for such travels are always better with a true companion; or travel alone, but travel you must; and when you catch that elusive aroma again, know that we are with you.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fiction: The Cardboard box

                                                 The Cardboard Box

There are moments in a person’s life when one feels as if their entire life is worth only a handful of things. Mr. Singh was living that moment. Sitting on a bench in the railway station, he was staring at the cardboard box he held in his hands. And he felt that his entire life was contained in that one box. His worth, value, talent, education, in fact all the things that made him the person he was seemed to be cramped into that one little box. And his life was untidy at the moment, if the organization of the box was anything to go by.

The contents of this box were nothing special; a few papers, pens, pencils, a photo frame and a few other items filled up its depths. These trivial objects however were of great interest at thee present moment. , for Mr. Singh had been fired from his job half an hour ago, and this box contained items from his now bare office desk.

We must pity poor Mr. Singh, jobless and sitting alone at the railway station. But why was he at the railway station of all places? This was something he didn't know himself. Mr. Singh clearly remembered the moment when he received the order of termination and he knew that he was in a railway station, but how and why he got there was a mystery. And that was the question Mr. Singh was trying to answer himself. It is good to keep the mind busy.

It was 6:15 when there was an announcement. An express train would pass through the station, and passengers were to keep a safe distance. Mr. Singh was suddenly stuck by this announcement. An idea emerged: suicide. What if he had come here to kill himself? It was possible; losing his job was a great shock. Perhaps his inner mind had decided that death was the best solution to his predicament. That was why he had arrived here with such grogginess. Mr. Singh blinked as he tried to follow his reasoning. Would he be wise to kill himself? He had a wife and child at home. Getting a new job, at his age was difficult under present circumstances. His savings were marginal and his precious little savings wouldn't last long. Even borrowing wouldn't work. How would he pay the money back? The more he though about his situation, the more hopeless it seemed, and he began to convince himself that death was the best option.

Heartless? Leaving the family behind? Perhaps. But Mr. Singh had never been blessed with a happy married life; the priest’s mantras during the ceremony had never taken their effect.

He knew that his wife was attracted to other men, and he knew of one whom she fancied particularly. Death would liberate her to remarry with her person of desire. The child? She was still young, and would gradually adjust to the change.

Mr. Singh was now convinced of his reasoning. Setting the box aside, he looked at the lines. Shiny, black iron that stretched on for miles. Soon the train would arrive; one jump and it would be over. Mr. Singh got up and walked to the edge of the station. He could see the train’s headlight at a distance. He stepped back a few paces, and then braced himself.

The train let out a horn and with it Mr. Singh had a worrying thought. What if he failed in his attempt? Trains often slow down while crossing stations and the drivers were on high alert. What if the driver saw him and slowed down, leading to only injuries? He couldn’t afford to pay hospital bills now. It would make things worse. No, he decided that he needed a more sure way, one that would guarantee death.

He stood thoughtfully and watched the train go by He didn’t note its speed. His reverie was broken by the sight of a man standing on the road adjacent to the station. He had a sign that said “Best Rat poison”.
Poison. This was a sure method. Death would be painful but certain. All he needed to do was to consume it in a secluded spot and his body would not be discovered for days.
Mr. Singh began making his way towards the man. He was nearly there and about to take out his wallet when a new complication arose. What if the poison was ineffective? His body might manage to flush out the toxins and he would have wasted ten good rupees. And what if someone found him and took him to the hospital? No, it was the same dilemma again.
Mr. Singh began going through other alternatives in his mind. Gun? Rope? Fire?
Fire. He could use a smoke now. Mr. Singh reached inside his pocket and found his cigarettes there, but he was shocked to see that his expensive lighter, a gift from a friend, was missing. He began frantically checking his pockets as sweat formed on his brow.
Where could he have put it?  Where? Of course! Mr. Singh slapped his forehead in exasperation. The box. He had left it inside the box. Mr. Singh began sweating as he realized that he had left the box at the station. He looked quickly to where he previously was, but he couldn’t spot it in the darkness.

Mr. Singh rushed over the fence, over the tracks and onto the station. His box was untouched. He quickly checked if everything was in order; it was. Heaving a sigh of relief he picked it up. He lit up his cigarette and walked homewards, single mindedly wondering what the wife would be cooking today.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

The cultural rise of Germany

With the 2008 financial crisis still making its effects felt around the developed world, and interesting shift has taken place in the image the various countries present to the world. The US, which was once held as an infallible economic giant, is now reeling from one crisis to another, its citizens poorer while it continues wars abroad.

The UK is in a similar situation, with steep rises in education costs triggering protests and then further austerity measures triggering riots which overwhelmed the police for a while. However, an interesting point is the sudden spotlight on Germany, which has emerged as the economic superpower in Europe, taking major steps in bailing out other countries facing bankruptcy. Also, there has been another shift, one with no apparent economic relation, which is a cultural shift. France, which was once considered he hub of all arts and the patron of liberal ideals, has been overshadowed by Germany. With its support for the Libya campaign, its recent austerity measures and its controversial move to ban the burqa in public has marred its once idyllic image. It is now being seen as a blind supporter of the US and slowly sinking into Islamophobia. Germany, on the other hand, with its policy of controlled immigration has managed to balance its priorities. Even though two men were recently caught planning to build explosives, the authorities were quick not to blame Islam, a view backed by the the major newspapers from all sides.

In fact its balancing act, protecting its industries, universal health care and recent liberal stances on immigration along with enough security to thwart extremist elements while not falling prey to giving overarching powers of breaching privacy to law enforcement has made it “country with most positive influence in 2011” - based on a global opinion poll by BBC . It has no troops in Iraq and less than 5000 in Afghanisthan. Germany's approach is a fine example of a balancing act that the rest of the world can learn from.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Women today and the youth...

I'm not really one to write about the latest issues and all. I mostly keep my opinions to myself. However, I have been meaning to write about this for a long time and I guess its worth an entry.
It relates to the status of women in our society. Yes, a lot has been said about it,I know. So whats the use of my opinions, well, I guess since I'm allowed to have opinions, I might as well share some of them.

First of all, I'd like to state that I'm no feminist.I simply believe in making things as equal and possible and hoping for the best, and trying to fix stuff in a clean way when they don't turn out for the best. Also, I assume you believe that the position of women needs to be improved in our society. That said...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Cliff : 55 Fiction

Ok, this is another 55 fiction I wrote. This one was hurried, so its lame. Tell me what you think

The wind blew her hair back as she stood on the edgeof the cliff. Her hand held the piece of paper tightly, enough to make her skin pale. Looking down at the raging sea below, a single tear fell out of her eye. As she stepped off, she wondered who would hit the sea first.