Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Run Away

There is cacophony all around. The shed on the fourth floor of the apartments, built to shield from rain is rattling in the wind. The washing machine has a constant drone 'drrrrr.....drrrrr...drrrrr'. The TV next door blares with nonsensical melodrama, the keyboards 'tuck tuck tuck'. The cooker next door is whistling away. Someone is drilling a hole into the wall. Another is hitting the floor above. A vacuum cleaner's drone does not stop. A kid screams next door. It is too much to stand. I feel like shutting my ears and hearing 'nothing'.

There are days, when all I want to do is run away - away to a place where there is no human being in sight. A place which is quiet, peaceful and beautiful. Every time I think of a place like this, it is the forests, Manasarovar, Leh-Ladakh, the Thar, a vacant beach, or the Rann of Kutch that comes to mind.

At times when this 'Run Away' feeling comes, it is a strong urge to just scoot, to fly away. Leave everything behind and just walk - knowing not where you are headed and what lays in store.

I feel like shutting my ears when I hear the incessant honking of vehicles, the buzzing of a machine, the voice of other people, the noise of TV .... The only thing that sounds pleasant at these times is the buzz of the wind and the voices of birds. They soothe me and bring back my rhythm. So much power has nature, that we have forgotten to be in tune with it. In the process, we have lost it forever.

If only we could have a 'Shut Down' day - when we shut down every man made machine and just listen to the real sound, it will be music to the mind.

Or just 'Scream'. When you scream, scream so loud that you can't hear anything. You hear nothing !!!!

Thanks to the Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch for his picture 'The Scream' which shows exactly what I want to show but am incapable of.  

The 'I Know it All' Tribe

If you have come across one such specimen, you will understand what I mean. There are some who think that they know everything about everything. This, even when they don't know to differentiate black from white.

Along with this thinking comes a superiority complex, an attitude that they are the best in the world. That the Einstein's in the varying fields knew lesser than them. The disdain they have in their eyes for other's opinions is resentful. They care two hoots about hurting someone else's feelings for they are blinded by their own mirror image.

All I can do is pity them their ignorance, their immaturity. However, it is difficult to do that when you are standing in front of one such.


When a guy who gets 1000+ in the board exams out of 1200 fails miserably in his degree, what are you supposed to think ? That the teacher failed him in teaching the way he would be interested in learning, that he has lost interest in studying, that he finds playing more fun, that he has decided to fail, that he doesn't care.... What are you supposed to think ?

I fail to understand this and it hurts for either the person has lost interest or he has been put into a situation (by himself or others) into such a situation.

Retrieving oneself and going back is an arduous task. It can be done, if everyone walks their bit, but then who is ready to do that. The easy way is to point a finger and give up.

Freshly Ploughed Earth

A freshly ploughed field shows beauty, texture and strength of the earth.  Something alluring, magnetic, inviting and enduring.

A Pilgrimage

Guruvayur is famous - for Lord Sri Krishna resides there. If one goes early morning(3:00 a.m. - 3:20 a.m.) for Nirmalya Darshanam then one sees the Lord adorned with the flowers and garlands of the previous night. From then on, as the day progresses, one can see Him in various forms from childhood till adulthood.

Anyone who has gone there knows that for a 5 second darshan of the Lord, you have to wait for near an hour, sometimes three hours. The time spent in the queue is very interesting. All kinds of people, poor and rich stand in the same queue to have their 5 seconds with Him. Some chant, some are more concerned about when they will be able to leave, some about what they have to do once they are back home, some about sedentary things in life and others are concerned about how to overtake the person in front. Through all this most of us try to think of him and meditate maybe on how miniscule we are on earth and how our actions and reactions to people around better be good for the little time we have.

Through all this there was one couple who were discussing about watching 3D Titanic after leaving the temple. It sounded so ridiculous (to me atleast). Yes, Lord Krishna had eight wives(16000 odd were those who were kept in the harem of King Narakasura and asked for Krishna's protection. He granted their wish by declaring that they were his wives). Yes, we see Krishna as the divine lover. However, standing there in front of the temple, waiting for a darshan and wishing that they watch a movie. They might as well have watched the movie and then come in peace.

Or maybe Krishna was testing our capacity to keep our mind from going astray - from wandering away from him. 

Why a Countdown ?

Why a countdown ?

Life is to be lived. However, there is another side too. It is to be remembered. Not the person alone, but the events and the people around. For what are we, but an event(can I call myself that) made up of collaborating people, known and unknown. People does not always refer to human beings here. It refers to anything, living or non-living which makes us feel part of something big.

After nearly four decades, I think it is time I note down incidences, good and bad for the future. When I sit back sometime in the future on my rocking chair, hair all white, all I will have to look back on are incidences, crazy, funny and the serious. Maybe it will help me pass time then. But in the years it takes to reach there, I feel I might forget something in the run to make a life as we know it.

Hence, this is a sort of diary, but not a diary. It is a recording of incidences in my life, my theories, my beliefs, my opinion which I will not analyze in the blog(I shall personally of course), but leave it for another day. That day I will look back on incidents and see if there is a connection to others. The diary will serve as a place where I store things I want to, some important, some not so.

I don't mind revealing the stories. I can only request that people not be judgmental for the incidences are happenings that I am a part of - knowingly and unknowingly. They are what shape my life and will shape it too. I am not perfect but I do aspire to and in the run up to that perfection, I must commit my share of mistakes. I will be I know, but can only hope that I learn from them and not repeat them too often atleast. For I am but a human being. Things very personal may not find a place here. So, I am my own censor too.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Season of Internals

It's the time of the year when students and staff negotiate a lot.  Students try convincing us one way and we, on our part get caught between the system and the students.  A time for internal assessments.  Many will say, what is there to negotiate.  'They will get what they deserve'.

I don't know how one feels when one's kid comes up and tells, 'Yes, I didn't try hard enough.  But just consider this time'.  Sometimes, I feel torn between looking at a student as an adult who should have realized what his actions will result in and listened when I have informed about the internal calculation in the beginning of the semester and looking at him as just a kid with all the quirks and playfulness only a kid can have.  No, I am not justifying his actions.  I am wondering about the thin line and how to balance between the two.

The system of internal calculation is good, given that information is provided in advance of the method followed for calculation.  Abroad, at 16, a kid learns to manage his/her own life.  They take responsibility and parents also give them that space.  In India, even at 25, a grown up is treated like a kid.  We still report to his parents that he is not coming properly to class, is playful and what not and parents expect the same.  In our culture, parents are still responsible for their kids which has its pros and cons given the different world we live in today.  So, I wonder if they learn what is taking responsibility for one's life and actions till they probably land on a job in a new place and having to manage their life.

Students who pass out and come back a year later are different.  They grow up.  The last instance was meeting one of Arun's friends son who was a student the first time I spoke to him and a year later had worked in an organization.  He had so much more confidence.  Of course he retained his boyishness but also had the look of responsibility and spoke with conviction which was not there earlier.  I didn't realize it at first.  I kept looking at him and wondering what was different from last time.  On the way home, it was Arun who told me, 'He has transformed from a boy to a man.  He is so much more confident, knows what he wants and where he wants to be'.  No, his parents are not those who take his decisions.  They are very level headed people who I think gave him his space when he was a student too.  Still, the transformation.

So, a boy/girl in college continues to be a kid who thinks he can ask his teachers for consideration just like he/she will ask parents.  The only way around is for both parents and teachers to help him grow up.  To help him understand that when he turns 18, it just does not mean he is an adult and hence has the licence to drive bikes and cars as well as vote, but also take responsibility for actions that affect his life.

Besides, the students I meet today are a different lot from kids at our time.  In my class also I had friends who had problems, financial and otherwise.  The number was ofcourse lesser.  Today, we find more of such cases.  In our time, most of our moms were homemakers and hence we had someone to fall back on.  Today, with cost of living so high, both parents have to work to make ends meet, unless ofcourse one is rich.  So, family time is less.  Also, students from rural backgrounds have issues of adjusting to the urban setup where language, way of life and loss of home becomes a huge factor along with the responsibility of somehow succeeding, meeting expectations and paying off loans.

Then ofcourse, there is this factor that kids today are so much more sensitive compared to our generation.  Given most of them  are a single child, they get pampered and most of their whims and fancies are met at home.  Also, peer pressure is so much more.  They don't understand terms like integrity and meeting one's goals with respect to the job.  However, they know their goals for fun and everything else.

We are a nation in transition, I believe.  And each of us are in the same state.  This generation has more pressure than us.  They are the ones technology has touched, who have been influenced by TV and fast life, who are expected to earn in lakhs from the day they pass out, unlike us who could take our own time to grow.

So, I wonder what to do especially when a student falters once despite doing well in all other aspects during a course.  Ofcourse, no marks for not trying - there is no two ways about that.  I have always believed that trying is important than actual results given that each of us are built differently.  My dad always said, 'Try - if it comes your way great.  If it doesn't, you atleast know it was not for want of you trying'.  And due to this, many a time, I give more value to the underdog who has tried hard than the student who has the talent and capability giving in an average output.  This gives rise to questions from students again and I tell them to go beyond average for they are more than average giving rise to the line 'Your are expecting too much from us'.  I tell them, 'I do. I expect you to rise high, to go beyond, to aim for the stars, to go where your dreams go and be happy, realize your potential.  For I know what you are capable off'.  Then I wonder, 'Am I adding to the pressures they already have in life ?'  It's so confusing sometimes and I wonder, I wonder a lot.

So, it is that time of the year when I have to take a decision where my heart says one thing and my brain the other.  And I try to follow my heart where I can.  Don't know if I am right but that is the way.