Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bye-bye time- Once More!

I have never been good at handling adieus. Though I can never get weepy and clingy, inside me, my little heart would be doing a washing-machine spin, counting days down, letting the distance sink in, and then, finally, letting time take its course.

My first bye-bye was to Gautham who went away to Germany to study machines (like he doesn’t know enough already!) So Gautham is my trekking-cum-lets-check-this-new-restaurant-out buddy. He was working in Chennai for a year, and for one year, even though he was staying only like 40 odd minutes away, I hang my head in shame and say that I never did make much time for him. Some differences cropped up between us, and he kept rushing away to Coimbatore every now and then..Well, now we have a time difference of 5 odd hours, and now all the time that I had and did not use of makes me feel bad. Some things feel right when you experience them with an equally enthusiastic friend. Be it jumping into the sea, or falling flat on your face in snow, or digging into steaks and other God-knows-what-they-call-it dishes in restaurants that we would pick off the internet, or shopping in malls or feasting on home cooked food or discussing opinions and playing word games...Some things such as these, I miss, my friend. Not because I do not have other people to take me to such places. But because you in the frame made such experiences extraordinary! 

My second bye-bye was to Gaurav- who made the simple act of coming to office seem such fun! Incessant chatter- witty chatter I should add, and never ending laughter- is how I would describe things when this bundle of energy was around. Somehow, big issues would seem trivial and lambasting from managers would be laughed off over fruit juices and more fruit juices. Or over conversations under neon lights in our favourite hangout in Chennai. Somehow, he always knew what I wanted to hear whenever I was down in the dumps, and somehow, we never ran out of conversation topics. Sarcasm became an effective antidote for all the stupidity around us and somehow ideas would flow- and flow- though neither of us were disciplined enough to convert them into anything actionable. Gaurav, I am writing your farewell words to me- back for you- word for word- you know why- To take so much, yet give so little. To be understood so much, yet understand so little. To be inspired so much, yet inspire so little. That is what you gave me, my friend. I wish one day that I can stand at the top of the world and shout to God that I am blessed with your kind. You, my friend, is what the world deserves, the universe craves, and I prize! :)

My third bye-bye will be to my first best friend at work, Sameer, who might move, God willing, in some time. My fight-friend, the one person with whom I am entitled to be a kid (read un-friend, yell, scream, smile through tears, become friends again, laugh in a very un-womanly fashion, poke my nose into all his corrupt activities :D , blackmail and demand things and still know that he will be around, no matter what). Somehow when Sameer left to Pune, I had no hope of the friendship even continuing beyond the basic formalities that any relationship demands. Somehow, it stood the test of distance. Somehow, he always HAS been around to give me senior advice, to listen to me crib, to watch me grow up, to cry with me when I was grieving and to laugh with me when I was blissfully happy :) Thanks for always being the kite runner :)

I do know that next year, this time, things might-might not be the same. I do know that all our priorities might change-ARE changing- as we breathe, as the seconds tick by. I do know that nothing is certain, only change. But I also do know that these memories will always be around, to stay.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Faith- in what?

Indian history speaks about a famous mathematician and astrologer named Bhaskaracharya (1114-1185). He is often referred to as the greatest mathematician of medieval India. He is known for his treatises on Trigonometry, arithmetic, Algebra, mathematics of the planets, etc. Bhaskara's work on calculus, it is proven, predates Newton and Leibniz by half a millennium.

Now Bhaskara had a daughter named Lilavathi. As Bhaskara was a renowned astrologer, he studied Lilavathi’s horoscope himself and was aghast at finding out that she was destined to remain childless and unmarried- if she did marry, the marriage would not last. Hence, after a series of complex calculations, he came up with a time which countered this prediction- if the marriage was performed within the span of the calculated minutes, she would be blessed with a long and prosperous married life. So for the same, he made an elaborate sand clock, and told his daughter that she had to stand watch by it- when the sand reached a certain level, her beau had to tie the mangal sutra around her neck. The family waited and waited for the sand to reach the said level before dawn, but it never did. Indian marriages are usually conducted at day break, and when the sun rose, everybody knew something was wrong. On inspection it was found that a pearl from Lilavathi’s nose ring had fallen into the sand clock and had clogged the opening. The auspicious moment had passed..and Lilavathi remained unmarried all her life, devoting herself to mathematics and sciences.

Astrology, to those who follow it and practice it, is a science. Atleast in India. Any auspicious event is conducted taking into account the horoscopes of the parties involved. But the one occasion where astrology plays its most prominent and vital role is weddings. No Hindu wedding is conducted without proper analysis and matching of the horoscopes of the bride and the groom. Being in the middle of this drama, I was reading up on these. Here is what I found.

Any individual’s horoscope is drawn based on the day, date, place and time of his birth. The place and time play a vital role because the sun’s rays falling on the earth- after traversing and touching many planets- plays the most important role in shaping the person’s future. So the planetary positions at the time of your birth determine your birth star and your ruling planet, and when your ruling planet is ‘friends’ with the bigger planets (like, say, Saturn, for instance) that shape people’s destiny, you are in luck.

Now when you are getting married, one looks for 10 matchings between your horoscope and your probable-partner’s:
  • Dinam- Ensures the husband and wife experience a healthy life with all comforts
  • Ganam- Ensures a compatible sex life
  • Yoni- Ensures mutual love between the couple
  • Rasi- For continuation of lineage/children
  • Rasiatipathy- Ensures similarity in thought processes
  • Rajju- For longetivity of married life (life of the partners)
  • Vedha- Wards off affliction- ensures a healthy married life
  • Vasya- For attraction between the couples
  • Mhendhram- Wellbeing of children-birth of intelligent, healthy kids
  • Sthree Dheergam- Ensures that the husband can keep the wife happy
Somehow, each of these, I see, takes a dig at common problems that couples face today. Anyway, they say that 8 out of these 10 will suffice to make a good marriage.

The irony is, some marriages fail despite matching horoscopes. The answer to this is that the birth time might not have been recorded accurately. The birth time, I gather from our astrologer, is the time at which the baby cries its first cry.

Irony number 2 is what my friend Jen knocked into my head. Nobody other than us Hindus look at horoscopes. And it is not like the rest of the world is having a bad time out there!

Ah. Maybe ignorance IS bliss. How does one get into a marriage knowing it would not work?

Maybe getting into a marriage, with the mindset of ensuring it works out fine-with both parties making it work-is what is important.

Maybe it is ok to hand over the reins to fate and sit back and watch the show unfold.

All the answers ARE probably there- but maybe, just maybe, we better put our faith in God, rather than men.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Staying Foolish

So post Goa, yours truly has been very very restless indeed.

The ‘Oh what the hell am I doing here’ phase came back with a vengeance, oh how I so hate this phase!

So on a whim, I applied to some totally out-of-the-box  jobs- that I would so LOVE to do (which, once my mother heard of it, made her rush to the temple to pray for my sanity). To give you an idea- story telling/amateur theatre/script writing- these are the ones that are in the safe, sane side of the spectrum. So I did apply, I did get through a couple of them (much to my surprise), and eventually when we sat down to discuss the pay- I could visualize my dreams blasting into smithereens.

I will approach a different track now. People say, look at the IT industry, look what it has done to India today. I say- yes look what it has done. It has propelled the economy, it has given all of us such pocket-filling jobs, it has lifted the middle class up high and given the aam admi an identity. We have gained so much, what have we lost?

We, probably, have lost ourselves, in the process.

I do not speak for those in the industry who know and love what they do. There are quite a few such people, who are looked upto and given the respect that experts need to be given. My darling brother is one who would fall into this category. He is the ‘I am born to code, I love programming’ kind of soul, and yes, he gets joy from tapping away day in and day out, so whatever I write further excludes people like him.

It, on the contrary, includes a vast majority of us are sitting there clueless about what we are there for. We are nameless, faceless entities, easily replaceable ‘resources’. We drag ourselves to work every morning, wait for weekends, and month’s end we look at the bank balance and tell ourselves, it’s okay, it’s not so bad- it might-in some way-be worth it. And then slowly, we start existing, rather than living.

Most of the wary ones, within the first year, know what is happening and immediately cultivate a hobby. They have a parallel track running by. Photography, travel, writing and social work are the most common among these. The sensible ones switch as soon as they know this is taking a toll. The less risk prone ones (like me) stay on. Soon enough, you have loans to clear. Upgrade the mobile phone, upgrade the car..just a small one BHK won’t hurt would it? It’s for security! Oh, Marriage loan, vehicle loan..home loan. Now you are in a very, very tangled web. So then on, it is a race. Switch, see who gives you more money, switch again, see who send you onsite- switch again. And before you know it- you are pushing 40 and you don’t know where the good years went!

Thankfully, I have no such exorbitant obligations. Still I saw a wall the day this smart, young entrepreneur-CEO told me, ‘Sit down Gitanjali, we need to discuss more!’. Maybe because I just got used to the money here. Maybe because I know that my wanderlust is going to get a beating if I took the plunge now. Or that I will not be able to spend as much on simple nothings as I do now. Still I know, it is going to be now or never. Now the difference will not pinch as hard as it will after a year. And, deep down- I would be happy and purposeful. Still. It is a leap of faith. And I am scared.

I was reading Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers. He poses a question where he asks you what you might choose given an option: a $100,000 a year job as a toll booth operator- where you are required to do nothing but hand out tickets for 12 hours a day; or a $75,000 a year job where you work as an architect, and your job would involve designing complex structures and figures. Hands down, everybody chooses the Architect’s job. Why? Because, he says, this factor called job satisfaction stems from 3 criteria: A direct relationship between effort and reward, autonomy and a feeling of significant contribution towards the job in hand. You pay me for the work I do, you let me be the judge and give me a free reign to do it in my own way, and you give me a job that is fairly significant (even if it isn’t- make me feel that it is an important job!) then, I will be a satisfied employee.

We Indians- we are brought up to put security in front of satisfaction.  We need to put society in front of any outrageous-follow-the-heart decision. We better blend in rather than stand out. We are conditioned to stay hungry, and stay foolish. Sigh.