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.

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What’s Happening to Us All?

I see all these women hurrying along footpaths, their pastel sarees bunched up just enough to expose their Paragon chappals and Metro sandals, one eye in front as they search their sensible sienna handbags to whip out their cell phones and call up someone or the other.

I look around and spot a sea of middle aged, salt-and-pepper haired men on the parallel road, primly dressed in collared, half-sleeved striped blue-and-white or just plain blue shirts ending at sensibly bargained Rs. 95 pleather belts holding up their charcoal grey trousers. They look left, then right and then left again… at least a few do, as they cross the road at different intervals dodging the odd autorickshaw threateningly honking and return the glares of rotund, curly-haired, mustachioed men on pistachio green Bajaj scooters.

I turn away and glance inside a share auto; two men – probably in their thirties, sit and make small talk on big issues. The one near the window has a leaky pen in his shirt pocket, the off-white cloth stains as he speaks, the royal blue ink seeps into the coarse cotton threads, deeply; three twenty-something college-going girls sit opposite them – wide-eyed, fresh-faced women, eagerly discussing something appropriately scandalous about a batch-mate – perhaps her boyfriend sexts her during class, perhaps she does. Their hurried whispers escape through their hand-cupped mouths as their guilty, sweeping glances search the auto for a knowing look or an admonishment. Hoping no one overhears or understands their wanton gossip, loaded acronyms are gleefully passed on among the trio; childish, mean giggles ensue.

The driver in front looks ahead, unimpressed by the snaking line of metal-on-rubber boxes of which he’s a fragment; he sighs as another long day comes to an end. He looks over at the sidewalk, smoothens his wiry hair, or what’s left of it and leches at buxom and lithe women alike as they pass by the share auto.

Barely halting to notice the Lord Hanuman sticker on it’s bumper, the ladies walk as they tuck their frazzled hair behind imitation jewel adorned ears as the loosely strung jasmine flowers twisted around their untwisting hairknots hang on limply, they do notice the mundu-clad, beady-eyed driver and the two thirty-something men who’re ogling at them with equally dispassionate boredom now that something more interesting than today’s share market small talk has caught their fancy. They look ahead, their nostrils slightly flared and, silently busy themselves in searching for something, anything in their sensible sienna handbags; they walk on.

The light turns green; we move on, too.

Things Girls Need to Do Differently

Take More Risks – Girls are generally prone to play it safe when it comes to their own needs, perhaps because they have been taught to argue sparingly and maintain a comely attitude. In addition, since they’re conditioned to think with restrictions and indirectly made to feel inferior, self doubt lingers in most girls‘ minds.

Doubting and belittling your goals so that you don’t come across as demanding, aggressive or impulsive is idiotic. It is even more idiotic to think not taking a risk and being a good person are the same thing. It’s important to look at the Reward-to-Risk ratio when one is contemplating doing something but, not doing anything is just plain cowardly.

Stick to Your Guns: From the time they prancing around in their pretty pink pinafores picking pansies and periwinkles to braid into their pretty blonde braids, girls are chided for ‘unpleasant’ behavior like making noise or being unkempt. Once an adolescent, parents have earlier curfews for them and tend to keep a stricter eye on the teenage girl. In most cases, girls tend to stick to the rules and pride themselves on being prim and proper or ‘good girls’.

But, in the workplace or in major decisions in life, these very parent-controlled limits tend to puncture holes in girls’ confidence and their analytic ability thus, making it hard for them to persist once they’ve decided on something. Girls need to believe in themselves a little more and learn to care a little less about things that are minuscule in the larger picture. Today, it is stupid to expect a girl to be a doormat. Also, please don’t be afraid of being disliked if it’s in lieu of something you’re passionate about and which will bring obvious value to your life. Sometimes, you gotta hold on.

Avoid Being the Damsel in Distress: There’s no Prince Charming on a ‘Tide’ white steed coming to rescue you. There’s no need to behave like a delicate darling and run to someone when anything remotely challenging comes your way. It’s cheap, parasitic and irritating, to say the least. Get a hold of yourself, be your own damn savior.

Life’s like Twitter: Som…

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Life’s Like Twitter: Some you follow, some follow you. Sometimes 140 characters don’t do you justice, at other times, 140 is all you need.
There’re RTs, Favorites and Twitpics to spice things up, hashtags to bring one voice to the world. But, whatever you do, the trick is… never care about the number of your followers, never bother with your RTs or Favorites, ‘cuz that’ll bring you down, my friend, that’ll bring you down.

Life’s Like That!

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.