Saturday, October 16, 2010

A letter in the present to the future

Tejaswee Rao died some days ago. She is the daughter of the woman known to some of us as the Indian Homemaker after fighting the painful dengue for quite some days. A bright soul, one of her last blog posts was a letter to her future daughter. It did make me think that yes, life is quite unpredictable. We never know that I like anyone else might one fine day just cease to be, whether it may be after a lengthy battle with an affliction, a swift death in some accident or just sleep never wake up in this world again. So like her, I write this letter to you my future love, knowing that maybe you’re somewhere out there reading this. We may not know each other now or maybe are acquaintances ready to get reacquainted as more significantly. Maybe we’re already in love and this is something that I think that you must read because I wrote it for you. This is a dream I had of you one night. I can still remember details of it vividly, except your face. Try as much I may, I still cannot recall how or who you liked like.

I can see a meadow materialize in front of me. There’s a mixture of fresh green and drying yellow grass around. You sit rested along the trunk of a tree with a wide canopy which stands near the centre of the meadow. As you sit in the shade of the tree, pillars of light cut through the leaves and graze the grass around, creating an aura of illustration. Your long hair dances with the currents of the gentle breeze quite like the blades of the grass around you. You’re lost from the world in the book that you’re reading barely noticing that I am walking towards you. You look hauntingly beautiful, drowned in your care free innocence while you’re smiling at something which you’ve read in the book. It’s a weird smile as if something has dawned upon you, making you realize something simple. It’s fitting though, maybe sometimes we’re meant to realize things and not know them. You put the book down momentarily and reach for a cigarette from your pocket. You light it up and let the first puff out quite like the long breaths you let out after inhaling the smells of the fresh flowers. I pause in my approach to just stand there and let the sight consume me when our eyes meet after you turn around to see me standing there. You lips spread in to a smile and you beckon me nodding gesture as I walk briskly and come sit next to you. You keep the book aside and stretch your legs in front of you. I just sit there and gaze in to your eyes for some time when you blow a long puff of smoke in my face. You can’t help but in to a spell of chirpy laughter as I lay down on the grass with my head on your thighs. It’s by default that I stretch out my hand to caress your naked legs while you ruffle my hair with one hand while continuing to smoke with the other. I observe the patterns your lips make as you remove the cigarette to blow some smoke away. “I can’t understand about the poison symbol, smoking doesn’t kill you but it sure does screw you up and increase the probability of death by a hundred folds. Yet people go on to leave the full stretch of their lives while some fight a lost battle with their cancer stricken half dead bodies” is what I speak as continue to gaze at your lips. You stop playing with my hair while I still continue caressing your legs, I observe that your bite your lower lip for some time and while you release that red lip from the between your teeth you smack me affectionately on the head and say “Idiot!”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Generation Gap

Nineteen years old today are different from nineteen years old twenty years ago. Twenty years is a long time, but things changed in many ways that people didn’t foresee or imagine to. The sudden advance of technology and globalization brought many changes to the industry but also closer to home. So contacting someone close doesn’t require one to wait in queue for half an hour and send one line messages, one simply has to flip out a tiny piece of plastic and circuits and chat their way to their heart’s content. While at the same time children find more time to spend with their mobiles and iPods than they want to spend with their close ones. Women took great time and effort in cooking food for the family, and now we see people just open cans, pour the contents in an oven and five minutes later you’ve got a meal for four.  The increase in the availability of such items of reduced requisite labor was however brought so soon, that the coming generation was adopted to it, while the original generation couldn’t catch up to it, which leads to different foundations of personalities for them
The interesting thing which is beginning to appear here is the change of dynamics in relationships. People born and brought up twenty years ago associated with people. Their priority was how their relationships were defined with people, which is the reason why they were more docile and submissive towards their parents, and teachers. It’s not that people don’t respect their elders in the times of today; it’s just that they’ve grown more vocal and wish to have their opinions heard so that they can be treated as equals. However the other­­ generation grew up conditioned as the “people” types wherein they followed the defined boundaries between generations which were never meant to be crossed.
On the other hand the current generation has grown associating with objects. It’s always been the things that they must have; goals that they must accomplish, putting their wants and needs ahead of the people around them. The said needs need not be physical or material such as the wants and carving for objects, but also transcend to being talked to as an individual, to be heard, to be followed. This is the reason why they cross the generation barrier and talk affront to the teachers and parents to get this done. Due to this difference of foundations there tends to be a feeling of disrespect from both sides at times. One believes that the new generation doesn’t trust their experience and respect and that they’ve strayed away by associating with said objects, while the other feels left out and disgruntled.
Hence to accomplish these wants they turn to people who will be able to provide for them: people of their own age. This is also the reason that it can be seen people tend to ‘hang out’ more with their own age groups than the time they spend with family. It’s more about going out with friends, taking a trip on the weekend and spending vacations goofing around each others’ house than may be take the traditional trip to their ancestral home. It’s more about how ‘cool and awesome’ their friends are, how much they want to be and how their parents and teachers are ‘not getting’ them.  
First there’s the rule, then there’s the exception to the rule, which is why it feels nice to observe exceptions to these relationships as well. Quite a few parents and teachers have started to understand this aspect of their children’s lives, and they choose not to drastically change them but to accept them for who they are and try to make some good out of it. Part of this understanding leads them to talk openly about issues, like the troubles they’re facing, their take on certain things. There are times when they are the best friends, having fun when nothing is there to do, a beacon of hope of in the vast sea of life, and a guiding moral compass should their own ever falter.  At the same time there’s a change coming in the new generation as dwell. Not only have they become more respectful of the experience and views of the older generations, they at time actively seek it for guidance. A sense of mutual respect and appeal is seen in many ways where the parents seek the advice of children when it comes to the choice of items like electronics, or maybe even the color of the walls.
So what we see here is a mutually symbiotic relationship, where in the generation which has people as the foundation of their core values now receives respect, and the generation which has objects as their core receives not just material objects but also psychological ones which doesn’t make them feel left out. Yes things are not as picture perfect as the way we see in tele vision series like The Brady Bunch, or may be as grand as the Sooraj Barjatia movies, where big families often come together come across vast differences in to one single unit. No, those are movies and series, and you get paid to act and say things in them. Real life has different issues, different stories, different scales of how this goes and how all the little things which we overcome to bring two generations together. How we appreciate that it’s not just camera cell phones, and laptops that matter but also the people who guide us in our lives and listen to us and when we need them the most. That it’s about building bridges and reaching out to people with different set of minds.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


There are many emotions and feelings that drive us human beings. Some for the better, some for the worse. Amongst them is guilt. This is the feeling you get when you feel yourself responsible or are made to feel responsible for unfortunate turn of events. There may be many reasons for one to feel this. May be someone failed to achieve a personal goal, may be they didn’t get good grades, may be they let someone down. The causes and effects of guilt can be many. I’ll tell you about mine. Or at least try to.

Given my own set of talents and skills with some above average I don’t have a great academic record. My parents, teachers and some friends have always cited this and tried to make me feel about this. I guess the lowest point was when I flunked two subjects in the second year of my college. Sure Mom was mad, it was the talk of the day in the staff, friends were taken back, and even I was sullen for two days. Not guilty mind you. Academics never interested me that much. Sure I know most of the things that are taught and made to be learned. That’s the whole point of going to school and college. But somehow I never got interested in exams. I mean I know that if I didn’t prepare well for the exams, I was bound to not excel it. I just did enough to get through fine. This was echoed by a former principal who called mom to the office and said that I was only studying MINIMUM during the exams to pass. When mom told me of it, I think I sported a big grin. During the time I failed in college and went all sullen it was not out of guilt. I was thinking that I could get so miserable that I didn’t clear two subjects that I didn’t particularly like. And the fact that I’d have to do it all again, which effectively laid waste to six months worth of time that had to be devoted to a subject. So I got down to it, and cleared all my subjects within time having taken them as extra exam only subjects. Maybe it has to do with the fact that all my preparations for it, which were a known conscious decision.

Or another thing happens with the times I talk with some of the ‘elder’ people, be it in our outside of my family relations. Some people don’t like how forthcoming I can get at times. I have told teachers to their face when I believe that they’re wrong. When discussions get interesting and I get to say my say, I am told that I should treat them with respect and should feel guilty for my words. I cannot get how the only criteria for respect should be age. And why should I feel guilty about not following it. Their standards not mine.

Many times shame and guilt are along the same lines. When I was young, innocent and gullible and teachers used to ask me don’t you have any shame, I was in a dilemma. You see I didn’t know the meaning of the word shame. So when I said yes, they tried to invoke the feeling of shame and guilt in me which I couldn’t feel as much as I tried. So in turn when I said no, oh there was a whole lot of trouble. Somehow that feeling has remained stuck to me ever since.

When it comes to work it’s a different thing. Some time ago we had an internal calibration and preparation audit for an audit that was supposed to take place sometime around late December. So when our auditors came for it and we went to different workstations to get audited, some results and observations showed lack of preparedness. I was directly responsible for some. I had multiple things to get done and prioritized accordingly. Sure it turned out to be wrong, and that I had to hear something for it, I am not against that. I had to make some choices, I made the wrong ones. I can live with that. My immediate boss was also along with me as an auditee that time. SO the auditors then said that it was understandable that there was lack of preparedness as I am new and would have issues managing the shift operations and the preparedness and they slowly turned some things on him. That really got to me. That’s where the guilt began creeping in. I mean I screwed up, so why should I be excused for the reason that I am new. I am new so what, that does not make me any less accountable for my work. And then that some things ended up on my boss. Why should others be blamed or held for my work? If my work is to be reflected on, then it should be me. My boss has shown great trust in me by taking forward steps in guiding me to the ways of the work and lets me take responsibilities head on when I want to. And after all that if my lack of work should somehow make him to look bad, then I feel guilty.

My work should be a reflection of me. My bads should not necessarily reflect on my boss. Saying that would reduce my own accountability. I may be new at work but that does not excuse me for not getting work done on time. I may give my best at times but if it doesn’t get the work done, that I have not given enough. And if I have not given enough I have not succeeded. And should the shadow of my failure be cast upon someone else, I’ll feel guilty.

The beautiful thing about guilt is that try as much as you may as long as the said person doesn’t feel a gut wrenching remorse about his or her inadequacies from the inside you cannot make them feel guilty. There’s whole big factor of the said person’s own standards.