Unwrapping, Not Unravelling

There’s an episode in ‘Sex and the City‘ where Carrie proudly declares to her posse of passionate femme fatales that she relieved herself at Big’s place. That revelation is met with a look of pure revulsion from Charlotte and shock from Miranda and Samantha followed by advice on how to, even remotely, never do anything so horrific at a guy’s place. So, basically never poop if you actually ever date someone is what one gets from this? Um, sorry but, I do like my Charmin time, folks and I’m definitely not going to let my relationship (when I’m in one, that is) get in the way of my bathroom reading time.

Nonetheless, this is something I’ve been noticing with girls and guys in this sea of dating, courting and everything chase-worthy, appropriately called twenty-something life. There is such a need to come off as absolutely perfect, something ethereal, positively radiating and shimmering – almost diamond-like when people here present oneself to each other, especially when it comes to dating. I understand that there is a need to put one’s best foot forward but, to parade oneself in a way that is projecting an image of sheer perfection and goodness seems a tad bit unrealistic, pretentious and frankly, off-putting (to me, at least). I get that an aura of good ol’ musky mystery and feminine coquettishness is attractive but at the same time, it is important to not get washed up by the stormy currents of dating etiquette, as this hopping about on one foot is politely referred to.

Moreover, it seems to me that participants in the dating game are equally baffled by the veneer of propriety and projected personality and are desperately trying to find out what’s really beneath the layers themselves. For instance, take the new dating app, Lulu – a way for girls to see if the guy they’re dating checks out. It’s a deeply antagonistic app, one based in so many pop culture, movie-esque and pretentious assumptions, it’s appalling to see women and men flocking to it. And, is completely one-sided, by the way – men have no option of contributing or countering their ratings/tags, etc. (I won’t go into just how anti-feminist the platform is, that is for a delicious new blog-post.) ‘Lulu’ is an example of how twisted the entire dating game has become. It’s not even fun anymore, these rules are flummoxing and retarded, to say the least. The current dating scenario is like a monster that’s just been fed everything it ever wanted and now just won’t tame the fuck down so everyone just keeps appeasing it.

Whether it’s deconstructing text messages with girlfriends or boyfriends or waiting three days before calling a girl you exchanged numbers with at a bar, there are unwritten, confusing and, ultimately just weirdly constricting  and intangible guidelines in this dating space. Take the case of HeTexted.com, a service where guys help girls decode guys’ texts. Some of the entries are just heartbreaking and absurd at the same time. The sheer number ‘Yahoo! Answers’ queries on the subject and the umpteen websites online are ridonkulous and bordering on pathetic!

Since I’ve grown up in a different country, it is funny to observe how ridiculously absurd this jungle of dating, romance and everything courtship in New York City really is. A city of eight million people, it is surprising to note that hardly a fraction is actually being real when trying to find the most real thing of all – a connection.

Moreover, it is absurd that, even when two people have found a connection, they’re still not really letting go of the facade that’s been created by them for the other person to make each other believe that they’re this, also that but, that really they’re just not all that stuff that they were kinda portraying themselves as all those other times. Huh? Girls wait before they actually even think of not caking on tons of make-up, changing six outfits and assiduously adjusting their hair-dos before meeting the guy they’re dating so that the guy finds them attractive enough.

On dates, there’s this constant and frankly speaking, hilarious guessing game of what to order and how much to eat. Oh, I’m a girl, I can’t make it known just yet, I enjoy Philly Cheese Steak and a triple sundae any day – gotta order the salad with light vinaigrette on the side and multigrain bread even though I’d rather choke on my bile than eat this hippy shmiff (new word coined!), really. What the heck is that all about? Just eat whatever the hell you want, lady plus, that hooch of yours needs wine, and lots of it – so order it. And, have some self-respect and split the bill or at least offer to pay once in a while, okay?

When you look at the guys, it’s a different ball game altogether. They’re pumping iron, working on their body to show off their pecs, abs, other rib-cage enhancer type things and what-have-yous so that they can some. Yuuuck. I mean, if you’re a fitness buff, I’m all for it but, working out to get the ladies is, umm… weird. And what’s with all these supposedly hip hair-dos? Excuse me, what is with the Macklemore-ish hair-do, the one with the shorn-off sides and mop-inspired residual foppy hair thing on top? They look ridiculous on ninety percent of the people I’ve seen them on. The movie, Don Jon, did a good job of exploring a bit of the body image and grooming styles of twenty-somethings nowadays. In fact, that movie was an eye-opener in so many ways – romance, sex, expectations, belief systems, the effects of media, pop culture, etc.

Anyhow, getting back to the point of this post, even when in some sort-of stage of a relationship, girls and guys have this weird hide-and-go-seek thing going on. Supposedly, it’s like a game, a light banter, a playful teasing, a friendly chase… Frankly, it seems a bit random and really just not fun. Maybe it is for some of you but, I’m just finding this ridiculous running around exhausting, fiendishly dull and not amusing in any way. I understand that it’s enticing to have someone be interested enough to make the effort to figure you out – like you’re a delectable gift (cheesiness alert!), waiting to be unwrapped with care. But, the current scenario just seems like everyone’s unravelling even without trying just from the sheer demand to keep it classy, mysterious, exciting and whatever else is the in-thing nowadays.

Here’s my beef, though. If you liked someone, why would you wait two to ten days in the first place to go talk to her/him? What is this hazy time-frame boundary and time-bound communication manual everyone’s following without really following what’s being asked to be done? Even more facetious is the fact that why would you not be yourself around somebody you’re genuinely excited and interested to know more about? What the hell is going around here? What the fuck is this mystery angle all about, when there’s no more enticing a mystery than being inherently yourself because aren’t people by virtue of just being themselves wonderfully intense, beautiful, fragile, wholesome goodness-filled individuals? OR AM I LIVING IN SOME FANTASY WORLD AND NEED TO GET MY HEAD CHECKED UP? No, right! Isn’t being real and just chilled out and honest to oneself and thus, to others the way to be?

Here’s what I think. If you don’t want to do it, just don’t. And, if you want to, well go after it, won’t you? Honestly, it’s better than all this running, chasing, faking, anticipating, whatever-ness. Seriously, let’s just be frank about it – he likes her, she likes him, they get together and take it from there, period. Whatever happens, happens. What’s so much of all this pretension about, anyway? Just get off your high horse, m’kay? Everyone has insecurities and they’re still likeable. And, no one even cares so much about yours, they’re much too involved in dealing with their own schmut (Really fond of the ‘sch’ sound right now, oops!), really.

Please, just go for it if you think it’s worth it. Definitely, don’t run around hiding and seeking, waiting and strategizing because that’s some sort of unspoken rule, because there is no such thing.The only time it’s okay to stave off is when you don’t feel ready, like really not there yet. Or when you think you could offer them something better or could try to make yourself better and then go at it. Otherwise, why wait?  I can’t think of another coherent reason to, really. Life’s short, go for it in the truest sense. That actually does make sense – to me, at least.

Why I Love Dives

 

1. $3-$5 for a pint!!

2. Almost always 50+ years old. Love, LOVE the ambiance – the old wood, the worn-out leather seats, the regulars, the friendly bartenders.

3. The li’l notes patrons pin on the walls, carve into the maturing wood, hide somewhere in one of the corners of the walls.

4. JUKEBOX. YES, PLEASE.

5. Conversation with… everyone possible.

 

As the Fan Creaks Me to Sleep

Sometimes I lie awake at night — well, I’m sorta border-insomniac so most nights I lie awake at night — and just ponder over stuff as the gentle hum of the air conditioner soothes my ears.

At times, I think about all the things I’ve gone through, all the weirdness that is my life and the way(s) I handled or manhandled the situation(s). Y’know, little ‘Notes to Self’ for the future, so to say.

At other times, I think about society – just people, in general. It’s funny how selfish the world can be  and yet, most fight anything anti-social tooth and nail to fit in. It’s astonishing how many people leave good sense and go along with herd mentality. It appears that the want to be appreciated by the masses swallows the desire to be internally fulfilled.

And, most are unaware of this cyclical battle between the Spirit and the Ego. Lives are recycled, souls reincarnated, aimlessly wandering, devoid of thought processes, ignorant of their reality. The world seems like a whorl of directionless souls. Even being mis-directioned would be a step towards the correct flow, a foothold to veer the black hole of nothingness into the Light.

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Still, there is a glimmer of hope. The outliers who look at themselves. The ones who really see their potential and go for their goals, sans everything, sans anything. There are the few who just have an idea, a goal or a fetish, even – all consuming desire or a willingness to do what they set out to, to complete the opportunity they possess. These are the people who bring the Light, bring life, bring everything a little bit more into line.

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Whatever I may be thinking, I always aim to look ahead as I drift off to the land of dreams (Some of my dreams are quite disconcerting, by the way).

So, let’s look ahead – we have a life to live.

Virtue, Thy Name is Undervalued

Everyone everywhere complains about disintegrating society, the erosion of culture, customs and religion and the gaps between youth and everyone else. However, as pertinent as one finds the aforementioned issues, there seem to be deeper problems one needs to look at. Most of us have witnessed people cutting queues, seen a ‘hit and run’, vehicles speeding and not following traffic signals, the list is endless. Heck, most of us have indulged in one or more of the same!

The fact of the matter is that today virtues are largely forgotten, even mocked by most. Here are a couple of fast disappearing mannerisms, soon to become characteristics of the days of yore that are rarely practiced, seldom valued but, largely (and incorrectly) projected by most in society :-

Being Polite: Rarely do people bother to thank servers, cleaners and housekeepers. Scantly does one see a lady get up and offer her seat in a crowded public transport vehicle to a frail old man. Hardly do you see a young man let an old lady go ahead of him in a bank queue because he’s in a hurry to get his cheque cleared and go clubbing to celebrate his payday. Politeness is hugely undervalued, rarely encouraged and the polite are seldom respected and given the same treatment. More often than not, most polite folk are taken advantage of, mocked for being gracious and often considered easy targets for bullying.

The Polite, Kind and Humble Tree Shades the Weary Traveler

Kindness: A grossly under-rated virtue, kindness seems to be on it’s way to oblivion. Very few people are able to identify kindness, let alone appreciate or practice it. Most students think the ones who offer to carry something heavy for a professor must be doing it to butter them up. (The sad part is, most of them are.)

Gratitude: Few people are grateful (fewer can spell it right), more and more people are accustomed to privileges and think it is their right nay, their birthright, to have access to amenities like food (pizzas and such stuff), education (private colleges with dubious accreditation), transport (customized Hummers) and relaxation time (vacations to places which are ‘Facebook album’-worthy). However, a handful actually thank their parents, God, teachers or anyone with heart for giving them the opportunities they have. Perfunctory acts of gratitude such as the annual New Year card, Thank You note or hug are found aplenty but, real gratitude is hard to find today and, sadly is going the dodo-way. In fact, instead of feeling gratitude, most people feel obliged to help someone who has aided them in something at some point in life. Some don’t feel that either.

Humility: ‘If you have it, flaunt it’ seems to be the mantra today. One-upmanship rears it’s ugly head in even the simplest of things and keeping up with the Joneses is a matter of principle in most societies. Everyone is trying to make it obvious that s/he travels first class, dines at the best places with the creme-de-la-creme of society and has more visa stamps than s/he cares to count. Name dropping, brand-toting and showing-off are the current norms. Also, sometimes one wonders if people are trying to show themselves in better light or put each other down.

Knowledge and Learning Take a Backseat to Achievement and Winning

Knowledge: Perhaps the saddest case of all, knowledge or learning is an extremely undervalued virtue today. Schools train to achieve rather than learn, parents coax the bewildered student to get into a top institute as opposed to following her/his field of passion and peers deem a dedicated classmate as a nerd and bully her/him to no end. Most students score well but, application-wise they’re somewhere near zero. Rote learning rules the roost today. The majority of school and college goers have no idea what they’re studying, why they’re studying what they’re studying but, they’re all running to outdo the other.

Wisdom: Not many care about what the wise woman/man has to say but, show them a cunning woman/man and look at them run to get her/his counsel. Sadly, wisdom is considered as outdated as the IBM PC. Experience and learning leading to wisdom resulting in holistic development is fast being replaced with acquiring and manipulating leading to profit, corruption, cunning and exploitation for singular gain.

Wisdom Looks On as Youth Barely Notices

It is time to take a good look at the mirror and see where we, as a global society are headed and give virtues the emphasis they deserve in our lives. A strong society is made of more than high-flying corporate honchos. A virtuous woman/man is truly the only thing that has ever saved society in times of dire consequences.

A world with those who hold scant value for values will be of little value. It’s time for society to pull up it’s socks and look at leading holistic, meaningful and fulfilling lives as opposed to comfortable yet, empty existances.

The Lost Art of Holding a Conversation

Being a conversationalist, I enjoy a discussion on just about any topic. I find having conversations about anything and everything under the Sun not only triggers thought and results in exchange of information but, it also gives one food for thought to introspect and look at things in more than one way. I find talking things out not only to be therapeutic but, also enlightening.

Sadly, nowadays people value conversation less than cheap cologne, debating is misconstrued as arguing, discussions transform into gossip sessions and dialogues often become monologues. I find there is an increasing gap between those who are actually open to exchanging ideas and finding solutions and those who just want to shove their opinions down one’s throat. Isn’t the whole point of a conversation taking away something indelibly constructive, something that helps us piece the larger puzzle called life or am I missing something?

Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought, and not, as many of those who worry most about their shortcomings believe, an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory. – Emily Post

Often, when a group of girls start talking, it seems kinder to throw myself out of an adjacent window than endure the hateful gossip and bitching that ensues. Guys are not far behind, in fact guys can be nastier than girls when it comes to gossiping! Cattiness, thy name is gossip!

Another sad fact is with the advent of Social networking Sites, organic conversation has taken quite a hit. Facebook chatting and Skype never really seem the same and often when one meets a pal or actually talks to them on the phone after a long, long time, conversation is muted and awkward.

Moving on to body language during conversation; People hardly maintain eye contact, fiddle around and seldom display any interest if the conversation doesn’t involve gossip or dirty little secrets or confessions. Not only does this make the other person feel like they’re not being taken seriously, it also makes one doubt the interest factor and the validity of the discussion!

Also, why do folk keep talking about useless stuff like movies or music? I don’t think discussing movies and what-not is insipid but, it’d be great to discuss something worthwhile once in a blue moon! Why don’t people like discussing things like society, politics, philosophy or art? And, every time one initiates a slightly serious topic, either the topic is changed or turns into a mud slinging fest. For instance, try talking about politics and the ‘Obamacare‘ bashing begins.

At the end of the day, sometimes I just want to have a meaningful conversation about something meaningful – a heartfelt one-on-one about something not related to Taylor Swift’s newest song about her newest ex-boyfriend.

What about you? Take the poll!

In Case of Confusion, Read Between the Lines

Right. So, lately you’ve begun to notice that things and/or folk around you are a teeny bit weird. It could be something as minuscule as things taking longer than usual, something as significant as distinct coolness from someone you know or maybe someone’s taking unnecessary interest in what you’re doing. Something is off. You’re confused and uncomfortable. You can’t quite figure it out but, your mind’s all over the place trying to figure out where the loose end, if any, is!

Now, while a lot of times the fault lies with you and the cause is usually an errant action you took in the past, sometimes, just sometimes, it isn’t the case. There are a million ways to figure out your own mistake – introspection and retrospection being the most noble and effective of the lot. However, I’m not going to talk (write?) about that aspect here. That’s a whole other blog-post, it’ll come soon!

I’m talking about the times when it’s really not your fault that things are weird but, you think it is. And therein lies the problem – and the solution. You spend hours and days pondering over what’s wrong, analyzing every little thing, replaying events in your head on loop to figure out what went wrong, discussing every detail with your extremely bored (and irate) parents and peers on a daily basis and yet you seem to be going around in circles! You even go on to ask anonymous questions on ‘Yahoo! Answers‘ and Google the same and actually go through 90% of the search results! You’re restless, unhappy and you’re really unsure about what in ruddy Hell is goin’ on! I’mma stop you here, my friend. And really tell you why you’re so damned confused.

See, the basic problem here is that you’ve gotten some weirdass notion in your head and you’re just not letting it go. It could be something as dumb as thinking someone’s mad at you because you forgot their birthday or something as allegedly important as believing that everybody’s out to get you because you’re so good at what you do/ so beautiful everyone’s jealous/ so brilliant that people want to pull you down/ such a sinner that God *Cough!* *Godmen* *Cough* are punishing you (Really? Let me make one thing crystal clear here. God is always there with everyone. And She/He always encourages and helps you. Also, Godmen are shifty 99% of the time, don’t even go there).

Whether your notion is true or not is futile. But, to tell you honestly, it’s as true as God’s own word is here but, only in your head and it’s as true as unicorns and leprechauns are in the physical world. Succinctly paraphrasing the previous sentence – Bitch, get your head out of you ass! Don’t let it get to you! Don’t let it get you down and out!

To put it simply – your weird notion is a parasite feeding on your energy and killing you softly in the process. Just let it go. Even if your stupid idea makes perfect sense right now. Even if your gut is telling you that the shit you’re thinking is practical and consistent with reality. Even if your analysis fits in your mind. Because, it doesn’t in real life. You’re not doing anything catastrophically wrong. You’re not sending out weird vibes. You’re not unlikable. You’re not facing nine seasons in Hell. And, don’t bolster yourself by saying, “It feels like it.” or “It feels right.” Um, NO. You only feel what you want to feel, ‘kay. If you want to change things (And, I really think it’s high time you did), you’re going to have to start thinking positively and you’ll start feeling positive about things.

The main point is, you’re just obsessing about something being wrong. And, if you obsess about something for too long, it starts to show. It is only then that all of the above actually start happening. And, then you go, “See! I was right! My life IS fucked up!” What the hell? First you derail things yourself, then you say, “It was going to happen, I knew it all along!” I mean, if you knew it, why didn’t you stop it? If you’re so damn clairvoyant, wise and mature, why didn’t you do something – anything – about it? And, why do you think now’s too late? Where’s the sense in whining about things, people and situations incessantly? Where’s the sense in resigning yourself to whatever spiral you’re in? Where’s the sense in suffering yourself, making the people around you sick, blaming others and playing the victim?

Don’t sit there and take it. Just take control of your life and do whatever it takes to get it back on track – the track you want your life on. Do it now. Start this instant. It’s gonna be hard but, it’s worth it. More power to you!

Marilyn, Marilyn

Ten reasons I adore Marilyn Monroe:-

1. She owned it. She really did.

2. She was proud of her curves. She flaunted her sexuality. Her sensuality was never cheap.

3. She was as graceful as the Princess of Morocco but, she wore her grace with ease and never let it overshadow her desires.

4. She threw caution to the winds on her quest for happiness.

5. She understood life. She was a go-getter. She believed.

6. She never gave up.

7. She was a smart brunette, smart enough to pull off being ‘blonde’.

8. She was much more than a pretty face. Her wit was biting. Her thoughts, deep.

9. She looked divine. Even when her heart wept from inside. Even when her soul crushed her spirit. Because she was beautiful from within. Despite heartache, despite heartbreak.

10. She died so young yet, she lived a million lives that someone who lived a thousand years may not have dreamt of in their wildest dreams.

My top three Marilyn Monroe quotes:-

“We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

‘Til next time, then!

What’s on Your Mind

Hey guys!
A friend (AM) and I were discussing myriad stuff and we started talking about why some people think so much and others, well, don’t bother too much with things, in general. Of course, the context we discussed ‘thinking’ in was more regarding worrisome pondering but as I was returning home, I thought about ‘people and thought’ in general. How many of us sit and think about the thoughts and ideas lurking in the crevices of our minds?
I was surprised to find that there was not one article online on ‘What most people think about’ or ‘What occupies most peoples’ minds’ (I tried several different keywords – nada! OMFG!! GOOGLE DON’T HASZ ALL *LE ANSWERS*!) Yes, I know, it’s commonly agreed upon that most people think about sex most of the time but, I’m going to let that slide for obvious reasons.

We spend at least eighteen hours a day using our minds. It’s a powerful tool, ain’t it!? We crunch data, generate or process ideas and memorize everything from formulae to grocery lists in our minds daily. We use our mind’s analytic ability to solve complex Integral Calculus problems, we use the mind’s eye to visualize scenarios, we use our mind to get us out of tricky situations, we even use our mind to remember that juicy tidbit of gossip about the girl at work who wears short, tight skirts without stockings – besharmi ki haddh ho gayi (The limits of shamelessness have been reached)!

But, this is where most people stop contemplating. At a superficial level which holds no true purpose. Rote tasks engulf us to such an extent that we hardly take out time to enrich our minds with introspection and extrospection although, a few of us do indulge in occasional retrospection.

My scant observations regarding society lead me to conclude that the few who do occasionally introspect and extrospect rarely do so with the intention or objective of finding ‘oneself’ or a solution to an issue. This mulling generally pertains to trivial issues such as:-

Introspection, WTF? :-

Female: Do these bangles make my hands look chubby? I wish I were thinner! That Binno from three doors down has lost so much weight! I wonder how she did it? And, whatte bitch she is, na! I asked her so many times (Madam would’ve asked Binno once – cattily.) and she just gave some excuse and ran off! Hmph! Must be bulimic… humein kya (I don’t care)!

Male: I wish I had more money. I wish I had more money. I  wish I had more money. I wish I had more money. *Random female passes by* Hey, she looks hot!

Extrospection, WTF? :-

Female: Just look at those two, making out in McDonald’s! *Gasp* Aajkal toh sabhi log videshi chezon se influence ho rahein hain (Nowadays, most people are influenced by western culture).

Male: How did he become so rich? Zaroor ‘black’ ka paisa hoga (How did he become so rich. This is definitely ‘Black money’).

Most people today “think” rarely and when they do, they stop pushing themselves to speculate beyond nugatory nuances. Our ‘idle mind-time’ (New term coined!) is exhausted thinking about other people or around material possessions.
Most of our free time is spent in gossiping, revisiting grudges, envying the neighbor(s) and judging everyone from here to the Moon. In social gatherings corruption, crime and economy may be discussed with frivolity over flutes of Moët and hors d’oeuvres. But, that’s pretty much where most people’s thought process and any semblance of meaningful discussion on such topics shrivels up and dies. By dinner time, most let out a sigh of disdain and go, “What to do? *pout*” and start discussing something inane like Brangelina, Saifeena, Geneitalia (Genelia and Riteish, for the uninitiated) and the like.

Which brings me back to introspection because, you really can’t extrospect without introspection. Not many people really sit and think about themselves. I mean, really, really think about themselves in all their goodness and wretchedness. Not many people willingly look at themselves holistically, spiritually and detachedly. Few sit and ascertain their spiritual SWOT analysis. These exercises are painful but, necessary. Yes, they involve looking a oneself sans rose-tinted glasses and accepting some very hard, cold facts about oneself.

For instance, I happen to be a ‘Class I Asshole’. I had to figure it out the hard way (When is it ever easy, anyway? – It’s worth it, yes.) but, I think it’s really helped me in more ways than one. Such pursuits bring clarity and makes one cognizant of oneself. Introspection of the purest kind makes one a better, more secure person.

On the other hand, extrospection is equally important. We need to be in-tune with the world around us. Not superficially, though. One needs to look at an issue analytically as well as empathetically and think of the root causes, the undercurrents, visualize, rationalize, find solutions, implement them (Yes, thought sets the wheel in motion for actual physical execution).

For instance, one may think that such-and-such person is a hardcore snotty bitch and her only concern in life is to look good and put others down. But, is it really? So, this such-and-such lady is hoity-toity, to say the least. She obviously has a trust fund and enjoys her baubles and she definitely is sarcastic and aloof to 99% of the people she meets. Most people will end their line of thought about such-and-such here and start thinking about what a mean person she is, how curdled society is, how bad and unwelcome they felt after or while talking to such-and-such.

Why don’t we think what’s really happening over here with the stuck-up girl in question? Maybe she’s insecure and putting others down is her way of dealing with it (This doesn’t validate her behavior, we’re merely attempting to understand what’s going on.). Perhaps her family is going through a rough patch and she prefers to be aloof? Maybe something is gnawing at her, maybe she’s not happy about something at work, what if she just got dumped, could it be possible that she’s really stressed out about the future and doesn’t know how to deal with all these emotions?

How many of us empathize with and extrospect about a random such-and-such person? Most would say, “Why should I?” The answer is, to understand. To figure it out. To find a solution. To help. To heal. This is how we help each other and grow ourselves in the process. This is how we build a better world. All the brouhaha about positive thinking and Rhonda Byrne’s 35 editions of ‘The Secret’ render useless if cracks in our minds such as these are not sealed. There are a million issues out there to be tackled and we need every single mind to get to work if we want some positive energy in this world.
People don’t think much, they seldom postulate and sparingly grasp what is really happening around them. They’ve have come to a halt at a comfortable junction in their own minds where they are snug in the gray area regarding most matters. Most are insufficiently bothered and sufficiently unfazed at the same time. This tiresome limbo is sickening to say the least. Why is everyone settling? Can’t you see we are stagnating?
It is essential for one to comprehend the chaos within and elsewhere. It is a fundamental that we must all grasp. A lot rides on what goes on in the 1.5 kg mass in our Craniums. I am unsure whether people fathom the sheer energy here, there and everywhere. I mean, seriously – there’s cosmic energy humming and vibrations all around us just swathing our bodies, minds and souls in gossamer-light pulses, binding us to each other and to everything everywhere! This is the stuff that matters! These are the invisible threads of the Universe – all around us, for us, with us, within each one of us!

Why the fuck don’t you think about the good stuff? Maybe you do but, you rarely make an attempt to even think of setting things right? Or do you think of setting things right but, don’t do it, anyway? Do you not want to?

Could that be it?

I wouldn’t know, I can’t think for you.

Only you can do that.

Mass-Produced Mentality

I was reading a piece on Dhirubhai Ambani recently. His flight to glory and prosperity is commendable and his attitude was (and is) as well. The Late Ambani Sr. was a keen observer of human society and an assiduous student of human psychology in practical life. I was particularly struck by one of his observations on ‘broadening one’s mind’.

“Suppose you and I go to the Taj to have drinks,” he [Dhirubhai Ambani] explained once.  “One bloody drink costs sixty-five rupees.  But all the same we have a few drinks and come out as if nothing has happened.  If a person from my village comes to know that I have spent five hundred rupees on just a few drinks, he’ll be shocked.  He’ll say this fellow has gone mad, saala company ka diwala nikaal deyga.  What I am trying to say is that I have developed a broadness of mind which my friends in the village cannot think of having.”‘ – ‘Business Maharajas‘, Dr. Gita Piramal.

This observation makes sense. However, I think narrow-mindedness is not limited to villagers. Prejudice, narrow-mindedness and conformity are rife in society, particularly Indian society. I have always wondered why most people are so petty and close-minded about the smallest of issues. I think it is safe to say that most people today are guided blindly through life by the dogmas prevalent in society. A fervent desire nay, need to ‘fit in’, be ‘normal’ and do the ‘right’ thing makes people bow down and accept things as dictated by societal norms. This didactic system leading to sartorial compliance sickens me. Even in metropolitan and cosmopolitan cities, societal narrow-mindedness far exceeds personal freedom. The judgmental approach opted by most in modern day society not only limits personal freedom but, hinders societal progress as well!

Parents often encourage their children to go in for Science or Commerce related fields as opposed to the Arts. Why is that? You may say, professional degrees offer stability in one’s career. However, actors and singers also make good money. Your rebuttal may be that that sort of income is limited to the fortunate few. Most people in such industries have a hand-to-mouth lifestyle. I’d like to point out that it is only a few M.B.A.s and Ph.D.s who can actually afford jets and yachts. Most ‘professional degree‘ holders are struggling today with Rs. 3.12 lpa packages and 18 hour long work days. The probability of a person prospering hardly alters depending on the degree s/he holds.

Most families are so mind-numbingly conformed that they hardly look at the educational and career prospects awaiting their children. Either the kids are pushed into pursuing the family-run business or hounded to choose ‘stable’ professional career tracks. India churns out 3.5 lac engineers every year (data includes engineering diploma holders). Most are frustrated and refer to themselves as ‘farjee’ or ‘ghanta’ engineers and slave in low-to-mid level jobs. The ingenious few find a way to nurture their talents and at least pursue them at some level.

Those who are successful are almost always the ones who go after what they are passionate about, period. For instance, Ms. Kiran Majumdar-Shaw, founder and CEO of Biocon is neither an engineer from IIT-*Insert city-appropriate alphabet* nor does she hold an M.B.A. from Yale. She is, however, deeply passionate about brewing. This, plus the fact that her parents encouraged her to enter into a male dominated bastion without crumbling to social norms gave Majumdar-Shaw the conviction to pursue her dreams.

Which brings me to my second point: societal norm – based prejudice and bias.

Boys are encouraged to explore, experiment and are given the chance to make decisions early in life. This inculcates a sense of confidence in them and they learn to gauge the risks involved in a situations through trial and error. Also, a lot of pressure is put on boys to excel in academics.

For girls, the societal laws and bylaws leave little or no room to breathe in. They are constantly pushed to learn how to cook, clean and groom. Even if they are bright and studious, it is preferable that girls opt out of professional degree courses and pursue degrees such as ‘Home Science’, ‘Nutrition’, ‘Fashion Designing‘, etcetera. They are conditioned to be religious and servile. They are hardly given a chance to explore the world or make their own decisions sublty, making them co-dependent. Girls are mostly kept indoors after dark, they have strict codes regarding attire and are discouraged from having too many male friends. I don’t endorse becoming a ‘hoochie mama’ but, if equality means having the freedom to go drinking with male buddies in tiny clothes (as long as one behaves responsibly), so be it.

Looking deeper, I realize that narrow-mindedness of this kind shows how insecure and untrustworthy people have become. It’s as if they don’t trust their own good sense and their loved ones’ choices! I remember when I was an Undergrad student, a girl’s dad stormed into a pub, slapped her in front of everyone and dragged her out by the ear reprimanding her lifestyle, behavior and – here’s the crucial bit – her disregard for what others would thinks. May I point out that the girl I mention was dancing with classmates (all girls) and was respectably dressed. My point is that her dad actually humiliated her in front of a crowd, not because she was in bad company or was indulging in substance abuse but, because he wanted himself and his family to look good by projecting a socially apt lifestyle. He didn’t want anyone to point a finger at him or become the laughing stock of society. Here’s a helpful hint uncle: Expecting people to respect you by becoming subservient to society prototypes is the mark of a coward and a fool. People effortlessly raise a finger toward the coward for they know s/he will not react and well, a fool is always laughed at.

Keeping up with the Jones’ takes up half of people’s time and keeping a toe in line occupies the rest. This juggling act results in self-doubt, half-baked opinions and an unfulfilled life. Alas, no one sits and contemplates the source of their misery. People divert their depressed selves from their sad boxed-in lives with gizmos and feel-good contraptions. They start becoming mean and petty. They indulge in gossip and spreading rumors. They revel in the misery of others while priding their own ‘spotless’ image in society. People start comparing. They compare everything and everyone in every fucking way, first by societal norms and then by their own personal yardstick – which is obviously the model belief system that everyone ought to follow as they are model citizens, righteous and pious as they come.

For instance, when I was in Grad school, I clearly remember this one incident when we had ordered pizza for dinner after our exams and I had ordered my favorite, Pepperoni pizza. In India pork, beef, venison – basically any meat other than chicken or lamb is frowned upon. As I ordered, the server authoritatively said, “It’s Pork, Ma’am” challenging me to order it once I knew what type of ‘predicament’ I was getting into – he apparently thought I didn’t know much about meat. Of course, Indore is a small town and a High School educated young chap can be forgiven for his lack of judgment at times (especially ‘coz I set him right with my famous narrow-eyed glare – patent pending – after that). Since I went to a respectable Grad School and my friends pride themselves on being forward and modern, no one jumped on me accusing me of being a ragamuffin or anything of that sort. But, one girl excitedly gesticulated, nudged and exclaimed to the others as I placed my order, “Look! Look! Yeh pig ka meat hai!” I saw the glee on her face as the others grimaced; As though she (and the others) was the embodiment of prudence and culture whereas I was some sort of barbaric monstrosity who ate flesh off swine and calf alike. In my defense, I consider meat as well, meat. I eat whatever I find appealing gastronomically. I don’t expect others to find my tastes palatable. Neither do I coax them to ape me or adhere to my beliefs. But, the incident made me realize how little a difference a ‘top’ Grad School education had made on such socially conformed people!

I’d like to point out the symbolism inherent in the aforementioned incident. People in the West eat meat of all kinds all the time. I’m not suggesting Indians emulate Westerners. I’m merely stating the fact that the bias that exists towards a non-issue such as meat in India stems from no logical reasoning. People don’t eat beef here as the cow is considered sacred. Pork is considered ‘dirty’ by Moslems, hence it is frowned upon as well.  By the way, Moslems eat beef and it is acceptable. You ask anyone why and pat comes the answer, “Yeh mussalmaan log aise hi hotey hain. Gande log hain yeh.” (Moslems are like that, they’re dirty people.) But, if a Hindu eats pork – which is actually not sacred or condemned in Hinduism, idiots not unlike this former batch-mate of mine are quick to label her/him uncultured. Why? Is there something more potent than religious or social sacrilege attached to this simple act of consuming pork or beef? If no, is it clinically proven that pork or beef makes one deranged, impotent or is it cancerous that it is ‘shunned meat’?

As far as religious compliance goes, there’s a lot to say. However, keeping with the theme of the post, I’d only like to state that religion and culture are two entirely different practices. They may appear to intersect at points but, they do not. In fact, the only reason the seem to do so is because religion is portrayed through culture. A simple analogy would be religion:culture::food:spoon. (If you didn’t get that, I suggest you go screw yourself.)

My point is that how many people bother to separate the two? Very few. Most are just spoon-fed (See what I did there?!) values and social convention. India, as a society, discourages people to probe – figuratively and literally, question and challenge orthodox beliefs. These manifest, brew and become tendencies. Religion, cultural practices and belief and Indians’ pride of tradition and legacy have pushed Indian society into a quagmire infested with prejudice, shortsightedness and intolerance. These mindless beliefs are contorted by the cunning to fleece the common man as well! Vote-bank politics is a classic example to illustrate this ugly truth prevalent in India.

Another more close-to-home example would be the ‘modern babes’ and ‘cool dudes’ spilling over every sidewalk in metros. You can hardly walk two feet without bumping into ‘Ed Hardy’ clad assholes playing ‘Angry Birds’ on their ‘iPhone – version 4.943’. These young guns look uber chic and sophisticated. Up until they open their mouths. I don’t mean they spout ‘Rapidex English’. (In all fairness, some of these mall-hoppers could benefit from such resources.) I imply that their outlook has not changed much. They may have started donning fancy labels but, that is where the transformation ends. When it comes to having a modern outlook, these people are still attempting to swim over from Quadrant IV (Refer: Co-ordinate Geometry). In fact, the only only reason most of ‘Gen X’ looks and behaves a certain way is in response to media induced pseudo-westernization. And because everyone around them dresses and speaks the same way. Since the neighbors have an LCD-TV, Mr. ABC must have one. Since 70% of the teenage girls in the neighborhood wear thirty-five different types of cosmetic products, so must you. Because society is trying to get a face-lift, overweight aunties are too.

Sheep. That is what people have become. To such people, I say: Fuck you, assholes for you know nothing on your own and have nothing of your own, you merely judge others on the basis of what society has fed you. You neither know what you think because, here’s the thing – you don’t think. You merely follow.

Rant aside, the more pressing issue here is how this sort of conformity makes one devoid of new ideas. Innovation is lost in the wake of generalization of thought and a guide-lined thought process is mere intonation of societal belief. I think what is really happening due to social conditioning is that restrictions are resulting in cookie-cutter ideas that are neither challenging nor revolutionary. They are merely repackaged socially approved doctrines. Spontaneity is being lost with every social canon which, by the way, is outdated today. Of what use is the knowledge we have acquired? Confucius said, “Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.” Similarly, education without application and following sans questioning the path is a futile and harmful exercise!

Moreover, restrictions due to ‘societal fundamentalism’, as I like to call it (Yes, I’m coining my own term again), result in stagnation or protest. Our parents have already taken the route of stagnation and it has not yielded well. Now, the youth is brimming with aspiration and is starting to rebel. It is time society reworked its rules and updated them to suit today’s youth’s needs. And I don’t mean superficial transformations where girls are allowed to wear short tees because Mrs. Mehra, Mrs. Taneja and Mrs. Fuckity-Fuck allow their daughters to do so. I mean real, institutional framework related metamorphosis which is built along the lines of equality and individual freedom of choice.  Because, at the end of the freakin’ day, I deserve to breathe. And, so do you.