Saturday, April 25, 2009

Amaze Me, Before You Teach Me

Have you seen Spirit, The Stallion Of Cimmaron? Its a nice animated movie about the life of a stallion who is born into the wild, taken into captivity, abused and mistreated, and who finally finds redemption. I can't explain what exactly it is about the stallion, but everytime I watch that movie (yes, its one of my favourites, and yes, I still love to watch animated movies), I find myself completely relating to its spirit, its attitude.

I admit I am a stubborn person. I am not really as smart or as intelligent as I like to think I am. But that doesn't stop me from not having much respect for The Establishment. I know my abilities, and I am fiercely protective about them. I respect myself, just as much as I respect someone else. I have never really given in to most of the pretenders who have come into my life, demanding my respect. No sir. That is one thing, you just can't demand from RD, and expect him to give in meekly. You have to command RD's respect. You have to earn RD's respect. I don't dish it around to anyone who just happens to be passing by. I think my respect for someone is precious. And so, I don't dole it out to people as alms for the poor of character. Absolutely NOT.

And my respect is one thing you totally need, before you can hope to teach me. I steadfastly revolt against people who have tried to get some stuff into my head, typically in a classroom setting, without first having me in awe of them. Ask some of the teachers at AG, or PESIT, or some of the trainers at my current day job. High Bozocity Quotient and Teaching RD, just don't gel too well.

And that's exactly what happened the other day, when I went in for a 3 day training session. It started off disastrously, and well, it went further downhill, from there on. The gentleman who had come over, knew less about the subject, than I did. He was definitely not competent enough to be training/teaching a bunch of people. Overall, he did nothing to put me in awe of him. Big mistake on his part.

I ploughed through two sessions, but then the devil got the better of me. I started disrupting the class with questions I knew he couldn't answer. Ofcourse, they were all valid questions. But I could have taken them up with him later. However, I didn't. I was in such an insane rage, for this total disrespect for my time, my abilities, that all I wanted to do then, was humiliate him. To let him know, that he can't get away with mediocrity. To send a message across to the Establishment, that they can't get away with shoving shit down our throats.

Ofcourse it didn't quite work out the way I wanted it to. What is worse than an incompetent man, is a nice and decent incompetent man. Before long, I was feeling so bad at having hurt someone who just couldn't hit back at me, that I couldn't carry on with the onslaught. But at the same time, letting him off the hook, meant that I had to sit through the rest of the sessions, and bear with him! A choice between the devil and the deep sea. Ended up sitting through the rest of the sessions, without any more interruptions.

But later, it got me thinking. This surely is a flaw in my attitude. A considerably damaging flaw, given the fact that most people are not flamboyant enough, to impress me with their knowledge/abilities. However, that also doesn't mean that they don't have anything that I couldn't learn from them. Moreover, at heart most folks are good and decent. Doesn't make me feel like a Superhero, being mean to them.

But at the same time, I hate rewarding mediocrity in any form. It is detrimental to human society in the long run. We should always aspire for perfection, even if we may not attain it. But aspire we must. We shouldn't settle for anything less. Else, it sets a trend and then, we start to compromise on things, where we shouldn't have had the need to, earlier.

I am still divided on this. Don't think I can change my attitude in a day or two. No, that aint happening. But I think this requires further retrospection. I only hope, that I have adequate courage and will, to act on whatever it is that I decide upon, after I have reached a conclusion.

To end this post, can't help but post a couple of lines, which I think I etched on my heart, mind and soul, the day I read them. Ayn Rand - Anthem.

What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it?
What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me?
What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and impotent, are my masters?
What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree, and to obey?

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Lazy, Nostalgic Saturday Morning

Am so totally in a mood to waste today. Eakdam se dont' feel like working! :( And there is loadz to do! However, what I do feel like doing today, is to keep singing along to the songs playing in my WinAmp now. When I looked through the playlist, I was amused. These are songs I haven't listened to, in a long, long while. Most are a throwback to my AG days. Times when MP3 was oh so cool and new. English music was just beginning to make its presence felt in my world. Life was peppered with abundant opportunities. A 166MHz computer with a 2.1GB hard disk, was equivalent to a Porsche Boxster to me. It couldn't get better than that. And probably, it never did.

Anyways, making a list of the songs that I am listening to now. Maybe you can go oh, I'd like to listen to that too! ;)

A-Ha - Take On Me
A-Ha - Crying In The Rain
Cat Stevens - Wild World
Chumbawumba - Tub Thumping
Del Amitri - Roll To Me
Eagle Eye Cherry - Save Tonight
Enigma - Return To Innocence
Enigma - Gravity Of Love
Fear Factory - Cars
Glen Campbell - Rhinestone Cowboy
Lighthouse Family - Aint No Sunshine When She's Gone (cover)
Lyte Funky Ones - Girl On TV
Real McCoy - Come And Get Your Love
Roxette - How Do You Do
Roxette - Sleeping In My Car
Roxette - The Look
Sasha - I Feel Lonely
Seal - Kiss From A Rose
Stevie Wonder - I Just Called To Say I Love You
Stevie Wonder - Part Time Lover
Take That - Back For Good
The Wonders - That Thing You Do
Tom Jones - You Sexy Thing
Toploader - Dancing In The Moonlight

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Hope You Dance

The other day, on my way back from another depressing day at my day job, this song started playing on the radio. The music wasn't extraordinary, nor was the voice of the singer. But what grabbed me, were the lyrics. By the time the song was over, I was back to my usual hopelessly optimistic and loving it, self!

I think when am breathing my last, if I can honestly look back at my life and say with conviction that I lived my life by this song, I'd die a happy man. And on that optimistic and cheerful note, let me end this short post, right here.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Suckers For Acceptance

If you've travelled by 3 tier (class???) in trains, as much as I have over the last couple of years, or commuted on the streets of Bombay (and NO, I will not call it Mumbai), you are probably not affected by the eunuchs, the third gender any more. You have been desensitized to them, just like the handicapped children, the blind beggar, or the man lost in the big city needing some money to get back home. But while travelling by train the last time round, I couldn't help thinking about them. And that is how, this post, came into being.

A very typical scenario, involving a group of eunuchs in a train, goes something like this : You are sleeping/dozing unaware. Suddenly you are awakened by a loud clap. You open your eyes in haste, and see a garishly dressed (wo)man, standing in front of you, speaking in horribly lilting tones with an unmistakable male undertone, asking you for money! Here, one of the three scenario's unfolds : You either quietly pay up and be done with it. You try and ignore them for a while till they either try to kiss you or touch your body in a way which would have been seductive, if it weren't downright revolting, and you hurriedly part with some money to end the harassment. And sometimes, though rarely, you just manage to wriggle your way out, without having to pay.

I fall in the last category.

I have never paid any money to them, in all these years of travelling 3 tier (And no, I haven't been to Bombay). And yet, my solution doesn't involve any rudeness, cheap threats, or snide mean comments on their sexuality (or lack thereof). Its just a small, sweetly told lie, smeared with a generous helping of manipulative psychology.

I look at them (direct eye contact is preferable), screw up my face to feign helplessness (or rather, what I think helplessness looks like), fold my hands, and utter something in the line of "Amma, student hain" (with extra emphasis on the first word). And believe you me, it has worked each and every time, for the last 8 odd years. There were few, who did ask a second time, but when I repeated the same line, with all the more emphasis on the Amma bit, they just quietly let me be.

It was incredible, as a psychological test case. Here you have a bunch of people who are unmoved by pretty much any insult that you can throw at them, actually reacting to something as simple as this! It was manipulative on my part, Yes. But nothing that they couldn't handle. Nothing that their collective frustration of being social outcasts for centuries, couldn't easily have overwhelmed. And so, the more I thought about it, the deeper I wanted to get into its mechanics. What exactly was it, that prompted such a reaction from them? Which part of their psyche, was this touching so deep.

My conclusion is, that it is the Need for Acceptance, that is at the root of this. What could have started out as a craving for social parity, now degenerated by the constant battering from a rigid society, to something as basic as a desire for mere acceptance. And this is not just restricted to the members of the third sex. I believe that this need for acceptance, is a basic need in all human beings. Though, it might be predominantly acute in any group which is a social minority. From the Rock'n'Roll wannabe who indulges in various forms of excesses to conform to an image to gain acceptance in his peer group, to the socially retarded geek who makes awkward attempts at conversation with the girl sitting beside him, and everyone else in between (which includes most of us, mere mortals). We all crave for attention from others. We all like to be a part of a group. An unexplainable urge to be cocooned in the comfort of the knowledge that there are people who accept us, just as we are. After all, at the end of the day we are all suckers for acceptance, aint we?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Embracing The Past, And Loving The Future

It isn't easy to just wake up one day, and do something that you have been evading for the better part of the last 8 odd years. The inertia holds you back, if for no other reason, but just because. And if you are an RD, well, you also have to get over the innumerable self doubts, that you have cultivated, in all those hours spent alone, introspecting. And so, it wasn't easy for me to agree meeting up with Chini, when she suddenly called up Sunday morning, to let me know she was in town!

I have spent a lot of time evading my past, to put it lightly. For no apparent reason. I find excuses not to meet people, I was once great friends with. I deliberately forget to return calls from folks I once spent hours talking over the phone with. And in some extreme cases, I quite avoid passing by neighbourhoods, I once spent a majority of my evenings in. Yeah, yeah. I am your typical slime ball, scum bag, in person!

But there was something about Chini (or was it Mary??? [;)] ). There was always, something about Chini. She was comfortable to be around with, disarming warm smile, and an interesting thought process. I should know. After all, I spent countless afternoons, balancing math on one hand, and her and Ranga's idea of Lets Have Some Fun With The Geek, on the other.

And so, I decided to make an exception to the rule, and meet up with her. Though I spent the entire travelling time, from my home to the mall, thinking of all the things that could go wrong. The awkward unpleasant silences after pretty much having exhausted asking about all the common friends and acquaintances. The foot in the mouth moment while making small talk. The uncomfortable questions about what I am doing with my life. And these were the good scenarios! No wonder, it was with mild misgivings, that I entered Crosswords, looking for my old friend.

But the moment I met her, it was almost as if I had stepped into another world. Just two good, old friends, meeting up after ages. There we were, sitting at a Barista, talkng, laughing, joking, grossing each other out, and doing everything possible to be generally obnoxious to people around us. And surprisingly, I was Loving It! It was almost as if I was back in school! Below Mr. D's house, on hot, sweaty summer afternoons, sitting on a wooden charpoi, chatting away to glory without a care in the world, trying hard to be funny, grateful for everytime I could get Chi to laugh. I was back in my elements. I was back to being the good, old vintage me.

The next couple of hours were delightful. I realized that although she has changed quite a bit in these last couple of years, the changes were not bothering me at all. We could still chat for hours, laugh over silly jokes, and have a good time. None of the good things had changed.

Chini's train was delayed by a couple of hours. And as worrisome as she is, we ended up spending 3 odd hours at the station. And this was when, I got to know a new Chi. We were done talking about all the people we knew, back at AG. All the news had been traded. We were eerily close to the point I dread, when meeting old friends. The so what else, part. When all the conversation has dried up, and you are down to uncomfortable small talk.

But instead, we just found so many different things to talk about. In between a million cups of chai, with the setting sun and the transient ambiance of a partially busy railway station, I discovered a new person in her. I discovered a woman with dreams and aspirations. A girl with anxieties and insecurities about her future, much like my own. But above all, I rediscovered a friend. Sitting there on the platform, comfortably yapping away, happy at being a center of lethargy, bang in the middle of all the usual hustle and bustle, I wanted time to pause a while, so I could catch a breather, and soak it all in. Soak it all in, long enough, deep enough.

As I waved Chi goodbye and was walking back to the parking lot, I realized that all my insecurities, my self doubts, had miraculously resurfaced. No sooner had I turned around, I was wondering if she was more relieved than sorry, at finally getting rid of me. If I had been entertaining enough. Or worse, if I had failed to do anything that is expected of a friend. I guess, some things just don't change that much after all. However, I also found myself humming a couple of lines of a Boyzone song.

An old friend called the other day
And wasn't quite sure what to say
Didn't seem to know me anymore
And I said
Don't treat me like I'm someone new
I'm still the same one you used to talk to
But all I need from you friend
Is good conversation
Is good conversation
To put my mind at ease