Week 13 – of long walks

September 8, 2014 – September 14, 2014

Walking is also my favourite hobby. I shouldn’t call it my hobby. Walking is my attempt to feel whole world under my feet. It is crucial part of my quest for happiness. Sometimes, it is happiness. Sometimes, it is solitude. Sometimes, it is painful. Sometimes, it is tiresome. Sometimes, it is refreshing. Sometimes, it has no clear pursuit. Sometimes, it’s journey is not known. Mostly, it is unplanned. Walk is, therefore, very much like life. I am made up of five elements – Reading, Writing, Walking, Talking and Feeling. Upon my death, when my pyre is lit, my body will dissolve into these elements and these elements alone.

I walk to almost everywhere from almost anywhere. I am sure that I will walk to my pyre. If there is a hell or heaven, then, from the pyre, I will walk to hell. If there is a Supreme Soul that my soul has to embrace upon salvation or for salvation of my soul, my soul too will walk to its salvation. If there is nothing after death, I will walk to nowhere. I do wish that after I die, I get to walk in a few people’s subconscious, at least those whose hearts I may have touched, in their memories, in their talks, in their thoughts, in their writings, in their tears and in their laughters. However, too early in my life, I have come to know that no footprints are strong enough, more so of a person like me, a light-footed, short-statured, easily forgettable man. My footprints are easily removable, capable of being quickly run over by tides of life and time. I have now come to admire this quality of mine. Well, if you can’t change something inherent, admire it and come to terms with it.

This week went into a few long walks across the city. I felt like a God who could walk from anywhere to anywhere as and when he willed. My walk while coming back from office was unusually long. While going to office takes barely a 5-minutes walk, but this week, coming back from office took 30-45 minutes. Then, the walk to gym, later in the night, at around 10 PM, is short, but walk back from gym was usually longer, through the secluded streets in darkness of night, under artificial lights, at times under the light of moon, all the calories that I burn in gym, again start to throb, like a phoenix throbs from its ashes. Though my walks to gym weren’t as frequent due to a muscle injury.

This week’s longest walk was made of thousands of feet. It started from my home via tallest twin towers to a place that has a name that sounds like the name of a bird, and sometimes a chirp of a bird. I saw spectacles. Many of them. I also saw the ordinary. Much of them. I was again a spectator, gliding through earth, looking at skies, staring at tall buildings, wanting to find a point, where my feet ask me to stop and walk back towards home. Finally, it arrived! About 15 Kms from my home [as I checked later on Google Maps]. From there, the feeling of walk changed. It wanted to take another route. Through lanes not seen, and through roads not taken – while reaching there. I followed its wish, and discovered a place where they serve history. A museum. The building was majestic and imposing. Its towering facade represented the towering effects of history and my reaction to the facade was characteristic of the impressions history draws from a thinking being of a society. Walk is not meant to be held captive to such trivia as history. It must go on. I abandoned the museum and escaped its intellectual charm. After an hour or two of walk from museum, I discovered a place where they serve food. Good food. Please refrain from taking my word on food or a restaurant. You will never find me criticising food or a restaurant. The long walk ended at about 12 in the night.

I am sure that the streets and the roads, on which I so passionately walk, have no memory of mine. Why should they? Have they any reason?

Thank you, Week 13!

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Week 12 – In conversations, languages, work and Frankenstein

September 1, 2014 – September 7, 2014

Sometimes, it so happens that a week is completely vanished from memory, but there are also times, where a certain week though hasn’t deserted landscape of mind, but still you can’t really describe it. However, this time, I will put up a fight – of expression against in-expression and of language against ineffability. Language is strange being. It is a being. It has a structure. If nourished well, it has features of an ever growing body like that of an old redwood tree that continues to grow, or that of a banyan tree whose roots continue to explore the new avenues beneath the surface of mother earth. Out of the many languages of world, I can speak hardly a few. English, Punjabi and Hindi being my prime languages. I also know a smattering of Malay, Kashmiri, Bengali, Marathi and Kannada. At one time, I tried my hands at learning Italian. However, I discovered Italian hand gestures in mean time, and also the language’s too musical pronunciation didn’t suit my harsh, unsavoury and grating voice, therefore that pursuit was relaxed.

Last week, I started on a new journey in world of languages, on which I will attempt to learn the “Mother of Indo-European Tongue” – Sanskrit, through autodidacticism. I am not entirely new to Sanskrit. I have read it and appeared in examinations for Sanskrit until my secondary school days [Age 15]. However, like all others, in modern age, I too wasn’t insulated to the impractical methods of providing instructions on language. At 28, I am again taking up Sanskrit. I want to complete much of this journey in order to understand and appreciate Sanskrit literature from times of Rigveda to 21st century. Too ambitious? Yes. Can I do? Don’t know. Have I set “targets”? No. I want the learning phase to be of 2-3 years and under no pressure of learning soon and quickly. Rachnanuvad Kaumudi is the book that I am referring to, to begin with and lay foundation.

A few good hours of week were also spent in conversation with a friend. Well, we can talk for long, and on range of subjects, whatever comes to mind. A more major portion of the week went into reading Frankenstein. The story is strongly allegorical, at times losing allegory altogether to make us sympathise with the hero. Who is the hero of the story? I couldn’t find. The answer lies in grey cells. The story sits at odds with my now long standing absence of belief. On advice from a friend, I have decided to consider Frankenstein as my first attempt towards reviewing a book.

Work was quite fast paced. One invention took most of my time. It was touted as a solution to ALL energy problems of the world by an inventor. Initially, in my career, I used to be genuinely glad for anyone making such a claim for their invention(s). It was soon that I realised that ALL inventors make this claim for their inventions. To all parents, their children are embodiment of the divine itself. This is ironical because divine itself doesn’t exist. I am now well trained to face tall claims, be they of inventions or that of love. I want claims of both to reduce to praxis for me to genuinely appreciate them. This is not entirely impossible. In my career, a few seemingly simple inventions have won my heart and mind, and overwhelmed me with their simplicity of design and the magic they caste in solving a problem that no problem in world seem difficult. I wish love could be so- having simplicity of design and casting a magic that the world itself vanishes as a problem. I could explore this strange relationship more but I will leave it for some other day. I can draw many comic similarities between the two as well.

So long, Week 12!

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Week 11 – Lost

August 25, 2014 – August 31, 2014

The experience of time depends on one’s perception of how time passes between unfolding of subsequent events. This experience of time is invariably random and is subject to a number of parameters such as one’s moods or spirits, the task at hand, one’s general economic well being, one’s intellectual well being, one’s social well being etc. Last week, I discovered it depended on something else too. Something indefinite. Something I couldn’t gauge. My spirits were fairly high save for one evening. The tasks at hand were also challenging. My economic, intellectual and social well being neither improved nor plummeted in last week. However, somehow I felt the time to be passing really slowly. Almost at snail pace. At a pace, where I could see each frame of its movement. It felt like a slow motion effect was affected into my life last week.

Anyhow and somehow, it passed. Without any major event. Without any remarkable memory. The week was plain. Dull and lull. I can’t recall anything. I am putting all the efforts of my mind to recall something worthwhile from last week, but it seems a futile effort. Blank. The last week is blank in my memory. I started writing this entry on Monday and today is Thursday; and it is incomplete because between these two days I was wondering and made attempts to extract at least one memory that was recorded. However, futile! How can there be no memory of one full week? The week which just went by. Just. Okay, this Sunday, my host country observed its 58th Independence Day. That’s it.

Nothing remarkable. Nothing worthwhile. I don’t even remember what all I read in last week. I cannot recollect any major political event that occurred. Only one question that has remained from/regarding last week – Where was I during last week?

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In praise of procrastination

If I were to summarise all the content of this essay, I would go to Sanskrit, and take inspiration from the famous “Karmanaye Vadhikaraste” verse of Sri Bhagvad Gita and then I would refer you all to following:

                                Karma-taalnaaye vadhikaraste, maa samay-seemaayasch kadachna;
                                maa samay-seemaay phla heturbhuh, maa te sangostv akarmani\

Emails upon emails keep piling on. From bill reminders to that of an old friend asking for an advice to that of alerts from my banks to those newsletters on latest in law, biotechnology and business to book recommendations from contacts on goodreads. I prefer them either deleted, replied or marked read, but thanks to the gene of procrastination in my genome that expresses certain undefined lazy proteins in my ‘phenome’ that I let the pile increase until it weighs heavy. Heavy on my conscience. Yes, conscience! How would you know? Have you procrastinated ever? If not, then try to practise this subtle art of laziness. It gives ample time at hand to do “nothing”, but cracks down heavily on conscience from time to time, just to let the artist move on to “newer” procrastinations. There is no fun in procrastinating matters you have procrastinated beyond a limit. Procrastination is, therefore, prolonged as habit by procrastination itself, through self-regulation mechanisms a la genetic regulations in a cell, usually by cracking whip on conscience. You need new procrastinations to keep this art alive throughout your life.

Why did I call this blatant act of defiance to the mighty Time as a subtle art?  I did so because in my endeavour to disregard timelines/deadlines, I have engaged in the defiance with characteristic creative skill of an artist. Why attend the tasks now when you can attend them later? I don’t procrastinate because I lack skills to attend to matters or complete the tasks. Au contraire, I procrastinate because I know, and know it very well that I can perfectly deliver in nick of time. Be it any task or work or mission. I do not understand why people complete tasks before time. There is no fun in doing so. It is so mundane. It is so routine. No experience gained, no sweat lost, and no heart trembling with excitement. Then, why do we work if we cannot maintain this equilibrium of loss and gain amidst trembling heart? At times, I have come to associate non-procrastination with mediocrity, especially when output is same as mine.

Procrastination doesn’t lie on fringes of modern work culture. People practise it all the time, from people in small start-up that procrastinate pitching to a VC in eternal hope to clinch one client before going to VC to people in a large multi-billion dollar multinational corporation that procrastinate till the date of product release. However, I must warn you. I must warn you that procrastination is not for faint-hearted, and it therefore, must be practised only by those who are genius, competent and know how to put things perfectly as required when the time is nigh. If you are none of these or are unable to click in the eleventh hour or you falter under an assumed [rather imagined] pressure of working in eleventh hour, procrastination is not for you. PLEASE, refrain from it. You bring bad name to us all ‘genius procrastinators’. I am being as serious as a snail here. It is because of mediocre people taking on the mantle of procrastination that managements and clients complain about it and seek “solutions”, and provide incentives to finish task on time. No incentive on earth will make me not procrastinate because I am not your regular procrastinator. To quote Yudhishthira from Mahabharata,” I procrastinate because I must”.

To the non-procrastinators, the less said the better. I would file my words particularly against those non-procrastinators who add nothing special or more than what we have to add, to a report or to a work or to a task assigned to them or a programme written by them – why do you exist? Why do you people work? Despite your undeterred fidelity towards Time, why are there more mistakes in your work than mine? Why?

Procrastination, in my view, is not pushing deadlines further. No. That would be professional harakiri and contrary to professionalism. Healthy and genius procrastination strives within deadlines and feeds on professionalism. You don’t push deadlines further, in any case, not more than day or two. You push the critical mass of your work/task towards the deadlines. In short, you sit pretty and do ‘nothing’ until the eleventh hour cometh. Now this “nothing” defines the quality of procrastinator and separates a regular from a genius. To sit idly is not the way of utilising your bliss period of procrastination. One must utilise it to enhance their learnings in the areas and subject matters that your profession has so brilliantly deprived you from indulging in. The non-procrastinators think that we, the procrastinators, ‘waste’ our time. No, Sir or Madam, we simply don’t ! To sit idly or sleep is a waste of time.  We, the intellectual procrastinators, have higher tastes and needs, and use this time to indulge with ourselves. To read books, newspapers, enjoying exotic sea food in a remote place, to watch that periodic drama, or to employ our labours in a football match nearby, or to watch a nice film or TV series is not waste of time, it is indulging in one own self, away from the mundanities of work and clients.

The good procrastinator is able to wield his/her brush naturally and perfectly on the canvass of otherwise mundane job, at the eleventh hour, and fill it with colours of brilliance. The brilliance that has been honed by indulging in high culture and high learning. I also procrastinate cleaning my room. In that period, I indulge in sipping green tea and reading books. The clothes upon clothes and books upon books and bedsheets upon bedsheets keep piling on, until I am surrounded by a fort-like structure made up of these ensembles. Then I get up, before it gets ‘too dirty’ or when I have a gut feeling that if the room isn’t cleaned and the doomsday is just around, I might die in a badly kept room. In order to prevent myself from dying in unkempt surroundings, I get up and clean my room and flat.

Procrastination must not be loathed, however procrastination by a lesser human must be sabotaged and criticised at any cost. Those who are incapable or are unskilled must not expose themselves to perils of procrastination, since it will be too risky a proposition for them. If you are not of a calm and tranquil disposition,procrastination is not for you. I would once again request you to refrain from indulging in this pursuit, because it will get too hot for you to handle. Your constitution is not meant to push limits, the critical mass of work and deadlines. Procrastination is for absolute geniuses, who are composed in their own being and use the time, thus stolen from the routine of work and life, for intellectual or delightful pursuits. I attribute my knowledge on literature, poetry, essays, politics, philosophy, sports, law and humans to procrastination. If not for procrastination, I would make a boring cog in a giant wheel of mundanity.  Long live the procrastination!

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Week 10 – Of One year!

August 18, 2014 – August 24, 2014

The 21st day of August, which happened to fall in Week 10, marked one year of my living in this country. Living and working. Living, working and reading. Living, working, reading and walking. My enthusiasm hasn’t waned, and my spirits are higher than before, and I have learnt so much in last one year that I cannot recompensate it with all the learnings of all the previous years of existence.

The country has been kind to me. I have been trying to assimilate well in its culture by learning its language and acquiring taste for its delicacies, which represent curious marriage of Chinese, Indian and Malay culinary art. There have been various phases, through which I went, throughout the year. Some phases lasted for months, while some were so demanding that even though they lasted for a day, I still recall them. I recall that evening when I discovered a truth that forever set me apart from my one half. The evening is unforgettable and it would take more than a lifetime to extirpate it from landscape of my memories. The heart sank much lower than its normal that day and mind went into a frenzy. The perfect condition for building up of cyclone that later wreaked havoc within my body.

In the one year, I inculcated a curious habit or character in myself. The character that doesn’t know future or sees future at all, that is not interested in future at all.  The character that is concerned about NOW and HERE. It doesn’t want to know what lies beyond the horizon. Earlier, I was of a constitution which made me “decide” my next few years or at least a trajectory. However, a silent revolution happened within the mind and the soul, the futuristic constitution was replaced with a pragmatic, realistic and real-ambitious constitution that restricts my glance beyond the horizon, while making me enjoy, harness, utilise and cover the huge field lying before the horizon and that lies right in front of me. The new constitution serves the need of my current life and current circumstances. I am trying to make this field greener. This field is more fertile, certain and pregnant with opportunities. I have, in all probability, left the pursuit of what lies beyond my glance, for now I am running to make hay from every mile of the field that appears before me. The new constitution demands that I attach no fruits to my actions, however my actions are not all “intentionalist”. They lie somewhere determined by both intentions who originate them and the consequences, into which they may evolve in immediate future. The phrase “long-term planning”, in my dictionary, now refers to the planning of utilising what I have in hand to pursue what I have in heart. Earlier, it was about gaining something in future to evolve a greater future.

The one year opened me to new possibilities, to explore the untested, unexamined and the unconquered. It permanently ended a longing. It permanently ended a heart throbbing. It permanently ended a part of me before ensuing creation of a new more confident self of mine. It ended the part that felt. It ended the part that would form opinions, judgments and biases. It permanently ended the part that was wilfully ignorant. It ended the part that was racist, prejudiced and exclusivist. It ended the part that thought love and relationships as matters that keep us going. I realised that the man keeps going – no matter what – and those who stop, look back or try to gather attention of those who moved on – are fools. It made me objective, detached and much more open to challenges – of different opinions, different cultures, different tastes, different pursuits, and different meanings and interpretations. I, now, do not seek to coalesce with “like-minded individuals”.

Cheers to many more such years!

The week went by in such thoughts. Reflecting and thinking, thinking and reflecting, of course, in nice company of some inventions, some books and some beer!

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