Category Archives: Experiences

Escaping reality and being empathic

 

It is about 2-3 weeks my mid semester exams are over, now everything is going on calmly, with no extraneous pressures. But the week of mid semester exams was quite an enervating week, we had exam every other day, but it had moments which shone some light on some really important facts.

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Every person in this world wants a better reality than the one that they possess!

It was the day before my penultimate exam. I had just awoken from a nap, and just began studying the notes. But somehow nothing was getting inside my head. I was scared, so I called my friend and asked him if it would be OK if I come over his room and we could study together. He agreed, and I was happy by it. In about 15 minutes, I was at his room in his hostel. We started studying the notes together and it began quite fruitfully. Our conversation as we revised took a different turn. They turned from me asking my friend doubts to us talking and comparing room sizes and roommates. I was surprised to know that we faced similar problems. As hours went by, I got acquitted with his room, surroundings and hostel in general. My mind unconsciously compared my room to his, it started finding shortcomings and problems with my room. I grew familiar with his surrounding, and after spending about 7 hours in his room, my mind started accepting his room as my own. Suddenly, my mind fronded at the fact that I HAD to return to my room again. My mind started finding comfort in someone else’s surrounding, somehow it found comfort in the idea of escaping the reality I faced. I was happy to tell him that I could exchange his room for mine, if it was fine for him. Moreover, I knew that he too liked my room, and would be more than happy to exchange. But now my mind shrieked, “BEING EMPATHETIC IS FINE, BUT ESCAPING REALITY ISN’T”.

After about 1 week after my exam got over, I went home. This time I went home after about 2.5 months. I was excited at the same time really happy to taste home food after a long time. After coming back, I cycled, played my piano, and watched a couple of movies. The night before my flight back to Delhi, I couldn’t sleep, I was restless. I couldn’t believe my senses that I had to go back, and the whole week had gone in a blink. My mind comforted in the idea of staying at home, it found happiness in escaping reality than facing it.

Coming back to the university was difficult, I was feeling homesick and tired. As the week started, I again began the routine of cycling to classes, and back. My university cycle was not as awesome as my home cycle. There was a periodic sound coming from around the pedals of the cycle. The air pressure in my tyres was low. Out of the blue, I thought my home cycle. It never had any problems, it rode smoothly. But this cycle well it was officious. I had an epiphany, I faced a similar situation during exams. I was NOT accepting reality, I was trying to escape it. I was balancing pros and cons, and making comparisons.

Somehow the world that I know of lacks empathy. The people of this world are increasingly narcissistic, and are completely imperturbable to another person’s lifestyle. But there is an irony here. We are ready to trade and exchange for a better life, we are ready to escape a harsh reality for a reality which is much more comfortable and better. We are ready to wear somebody else’s shoes if they are grander, shinier and comfortable than our own. The concept of empathy and escaping reality are facets of the same coin. We are not emphatic, but we are ready to accept a better reality than our own. This particular aspect makes our life difficult, we are not comfortable in our own skin. Due to this, we don’t experience and feel things the way we should. Only when we accept the things that we face, only then can we really enjoy the life that we have.

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The Fall

A few days ago, I had gone out for a vacation, that’s why there was no post for a couple of days. But this short vacation that I went on, was quite inspirational and insightful.

The place that I visited in my vacation was a hill station in Gujarat, India. It is about 1000 meters from the sea level. Like any other hill station, it has lush greenery and a mountainous landscape. There were many tourist points, and the one that instigated me to think, was the Table land. It is plateau on top of hill, where you can do a number of things- that are quite missing in an urban life, like riding a horse, etc. This plateau is surrounded by declines and ascends of land, which appear like folds on a crumpled bed sheet. The day I visited this amazing landscape, I was quite ebullient and excited. With that rabid enthusiasm running through my veils, I tried to climb a dangerous high point on this ironically flat land. My mom and dad watched me from a distance; they were keenly observing me with a particular shrewdness a parent watches. And at that point, I SLIPPED; luckily I was able to hold on to the safety railings. By seeing me almost fall down from a steep point, my parents were furious, but there is where the insightful moment lies.

saputara Chaitanya's photos 174Zenith Point on the table land

As I tightly held onto the guard rails, almost coming too close dangerous to the point that I almost went tumbling down from the zenith point, my dad looked at me, and gave me an uneasy smile, and he said,” A man in his life has to answer 2 principal questions- one is what is his role in this world? And what is his fate rather he should have the ability to recognize and acknowledge his fate. And you young man, are not properly answering these 2 questions and delving into completely unknown territories!” Well my dad was quite implicit in what he said, his underlining message was quite clear- Be careful, but he unknowingly triggered in my mind a series of thoughts about this mysterious concept- fate and its recognition in your life. These 2 questions are the main basis on which the heavy metal legends Iron Maiden compose their melodies rather a more appropriate word would be anthems. These songs are enigmatic, and get me thinking each time I listen to them. Similarly, what my dad said was a general truth. These 2 questions have to be answered by each and every person born on this planet. But the thing that really got me thinking was predetermination of fate and rigidity of the future. The general truths posit that fate and future is rigid, stubborn, and unchangeable. These 2 things cannot be altered or changed.

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A memorable quote from Terminator 2

At this point, I beg to differ. I don’t think this is the case after all. Our actions have consequences, and as we progress in this ’brave new world’, our choices determine the path of our fate. This reminds me of my personal favorite and world-renowned Sci-Fi movie series- Terminator. The theme of this series deals with the inevitability of the future, and how the characters- Sarah Connor, John Connor, Terminator try to alter this inevitability. It also deals with the dilemma one faces when one has to take responsibility of his/her fate. In this world, we too go about in a similar way, we struggle with fate, with our future not consciously but our choices underline this aspect. This reminds me of another saying-

“What goes around, comes around”

This truth is also based on the fact that the future and our fate are changeable, and that our actions we take in this world are consequential.

I guess in our life, we struggle with these 2 choices- one is where we have to accept what fate has to offer to us, and the other is where we have to make our own fate.

I was surprised that this unfortunate fall would turn out to be so philosophical and insightful.

In the Air

Flight, a place where all your inner fears about manners come to life. Moreover, it is at this place where you become self-conscious about your body language, the way you speak to the flight attendants and not to forget the fear whether you are eating properly or you are eating like a boor . I have traveled by flight,  a number of times. One thing I can say with assurance is that each experience is different. Moreover it depends on who you are sitting besides. But, there is one thing in all this, each experience teaches you a different lesson in life. Even if it is for a limited period, you peek into somebody else’s life for a while, you get to know what kind of life they are living. Whether they are sad or happy or tensed or just tired, you observe that in no time. This experience taught me empathy, it highlighted the fact that, we live more or less similar life, the only difference is the phase we are in. The similarity between all of us is that even though we lead different lives, we face a similar set of problems interchangeably.

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Sunset from one of my flight rides!

In one trip, I was sitting besides teenage boy. We bonded on a game I was playing and eventually started talking. Innocently he asked me,”In which grade are you in?“. In my mind, I had a small laugh, and told him I was in Masters Program. He was thrilled and surprised. And like any other gamers, we asked each other for game recommendation for android, realizing this he instinctively asked me which PC games do I play.

I said, “Well I’m quite old and I don’t play any computer games.

To which he said, “Well my mom warned me that I could play computer games for only 1 more year after that my access to computer would be delimited for 3 years or so“.

After hearing this I  was intrigued, so I asked him in which standard he was in, he told me he was in 9th grade. As he replied, his expression frowned, I understood what he felt, I too felt the same way when I was in 9th standard, my games were also shut down for 3 subsequent years. This just vindicated a notion I held dearly, everybody faces the same set of problems at one point of time or the other, and that everyone lives in more or less the same way. Thinking about all this, my flight time was up, an announcement from the flight deck said that the flight would land in 15 minutes. My thoughts rather my thought process which was relaxed for the entire time changed, now I felt a little tense, the reason for this being my routine would restart again. It is weird as much we want to run away from a routine, we too want order in our life. The flight landed, I went to the belt where my checked in luggage would be arriving, I again saw that boy, I smiled and told him to study well and wished him luck for his coming years. Hearing this, his face was a mixture of anxiety and fear, but he smiled, I immediately recognized that he must be hearing this from a lot of people. I too felt the same way when I was his age, I realized I was old now. I was not in the same phase,I was in a different phase of life. Yet I had experienced that phase too, after all everyone is relatively different but on a larger scale we are all the same.IMG_20160318_172043 Continue reading In the Air

Path and Wisdom

Cycling is one of my many hobbies, which I pursue passionately. In a week, my cycling workout is around 70 kilometers. It has being 5 years since I took cycling as a serious activity than just a means of exercise. At home, I have several that complete my workout, while back at my university, I have another set of routes, which satisfies my hunger for a ride. One thing that I admit in all this is that it is quite a repetitive activity, and it can bore you, but there is another aspect to it.

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This is my current ride- R Bike from Schnell! 🙂

15 days ago, I was home. Back home, I used to complete my cycling workout in morning when the traffic is low and roads are empty. I had completed 3/4th of the path, and 1/4th remained. As you might have heard, cycling is an activity best carried out in a group. But even if you’re in a group you are by and large alone. It is an individual activity regardless of the fact you do it alone or in a group. That morning as I waited for the traffic light to turn green, I suddenly realized how alone I was, even though vehicles and bikes surrounded me. I was my own responsibility on the road, nobody was instructing me, following me. A chill ran down my spine, and I took more time to complete the remaining 1/4th path than I did to complete the 3/4th path. As I was down to only 2 kilometers from my home, my conscience suddenly made me realize that you can’t be too careful, you HAVE to be strong and you NEED TO concentrate on the road than on your mind. Reaching home, I had this moment of epiphany, that persistence and perseverance are 2 important aspects of cycling. You can’t get lost in your thoughts, and you can’t get discouraged by the miles you have to cover to reach your destination.Screenshot_20160228-154141-2

Cycling taught me persistence and perseverance

Another morning as I was cycling on a different route, I see other cyclists going from the opposite side of the road, some acknowledge me as a fellow cyclist, others are lost in their mind, OR ARE THEY? Are they lost in their world or are they like me too busy on the path? I suddenly realize cycling is not just pedaling up and down, but rather it is more enigmatic than that. It is about staying put on the path, you have chosen and completing it with determination and focus. Once you start doubting your path, the path will slow you down, it will make you less adventurous and more cautious, it will affect you on a psychological level. You will start considering the path a burden and become less curious and interested.

Back in the university, when I went on a short cycling trip with a group essentially I was all alone. Every guy of the group was alone, but on the path, we were all together. The path meant different things for us, but we were unified on the idea of conquering the path. The destination didn’t mean much, but the journey taught me many things.

The Play of Change

It was lazy summer Monday, as I looked at my cycle, it reminded me that its tires had less air pressure in them. I went into my balcony to fetch my air pump, and went straight towards my cycle tires. Well as we all know this, filling up air into cycle tires, is not a piece of cake, and it is quite a ‘tiresome’ process. So as to reduce my physical misery, I plugged into my Ipod, and pressed the shuffle button on it.

Coincidentally, the first song which was played on my Ipod was my favorite song – Californication by the funk rock band Red Hot Chilli pepper. It is quite a relaxing listen, and while listening to this song, I was filling up air in my tires. The lyrics of the song went on as follows –

“Psychic spies from China try to steal your mind’s elation

Little girls from Sweden dream of silver screen quotations”

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The lyrics of this particular song are quite spectacular in its own ways!

This song transported me into a new dimension. It was quite unusual phenomenon, despite the song being catchy, it didn’t distract me from the primary task at hand, rather  it made me concentrate more on it. As I was filling up air, the bright sun rays which were falling on my cycle suddenly dimmed, as if somebody came up from behind  me and drew the curtains. Initially I thought someone came up from behind me to prank me, but to my surprise there was no there, only I was there with my pump and cycle. I ignored this phenomenon, and continued filling up air, and again suddenly there was light on me, bright sun rays again fell on me. This particular activity went on for a while, as all these interesting things kept happening, in my headphone Californication played on. For all the people who haven’t heard this song, this song basically talks about how things go about in California, rather how California is actually Hollywood and vice versa. But I like to interpret it as a song about change. How seemingly random happenings in our world, have small but certain influence on our ways and perception of things around us. The bright and dim foreplay of the sun and clouds in nature, made me think about whether somebody was standing behind me. All I’m trying to say is that we are victim of changes occurring in this brave world. These changes may not always be pertaining to us, they may be occurring on a larger scale of things such as nature, but  they do have an influence on us. In short, we can consider change to be happening/ incident in our everyday life, whose casualty is us. The causality can be a positive thing for some of us, on the other hand others may not cope up well with it. The positive or negative causality of change depends upon us, and our perception of change. As I’m lost in my thoughts, suddenly my mind is distracted in the right direction towards my headphone, which still played the same song.

The lyrics now says –

” The sun may rise in the east, at least it settles in the final location”.

At that moment, I realize that the “Sun” is the change, and East and final location(West) are our perception of change.

This is the music video of this great song! 🙂

😀 🙂

An open letter

Hey! It has being a long time, since we met each other. There are a number of things to be discussed during each other’s time of absence. Despite the time we spent together, having a good time, and understanding each other, I’m sure we would have done this one particular thing – judging. Yes, judging, it is an activity done by each and every human being on our planet Earth, judging a person by his actions, emotions to a particular set of circumstances. You will see that I have used “particular set of circumstances”, because you can’t expect each and every situation to happen in a short time frame, during which you have known me. By that particular set of circumstances, you would have definitely formed an opinion about me, you might have associated certain words with me, but in this letter I’m not here to see and understand what you think about me, I’m here to assert the fact that I will be what  I will be.

You might have met me, during hard times or angry times or happy times, and I’m sure you will have an opinion about me, words associated with my personality. But, you would have never undertaken an important activity- showing empathy- which is all about walking in somebody else’s shoes. You might have told me what is wrong about my ways and personality, and you even went above the fence about suggesting some solutions to this problem of “personality”. Despite doing this activity which is full of negativity, I would forgive you because you are a human being who judges a book by its cover mostly, considers yourself as an ideal human being, and also are a bit of hypocrite about being non-judgmental. I will forgive you, i will forgive you and be greater and better man, because the problem lies in you. But there is still time to change this bad lifestyle, only when you accept that seeing a cover of a book is just not enough, it doesn’t really tell you what’s inside. Well a note to my under-confident friend, don’t be afraid, and don’t be under-confident about your ways and about who you are, because you are perfect in your own ways. I think you shouldn’t ask anyone this question, “Is there something wrong with me?”, because this answer would always be yes, yes because you are unique, yes because there will be always some shortcomings, yes because there is no such thing as an ideal human being. But I’m sure, there is one thing – relativity regarding personality – people might be more like you, or less like you, it doesn’t make you a lesser human being, it makes you who you are. The ultimate goal in our life should be to be better versions of ourselves and not somebody else’s self.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Your unique human being

🙂

A Broken Stringed man

This article, well it is the sequel to the article-“a man with no strings attached”, and if you are reading this article I would recommend you reading the previous article, otherwise you will miss the crisp of it. The link is :A man with No strings attached

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 This is something that I feel time and time again! An amazing quote!!

 I have being changing my homes and cities ever since i was born, I don’t have the constant group of friends, rather I have a variable group of friends. I’m losing out on the feeling of belongingness. To be honest with you, I never did talk about how I’m constantly leaving behind a group of good friends as I’m changing cities. This ritual of leaving behind people has always annoyed it. Wherever I feel like I have this sense of belonging to a place, it is unfortunately the time to change  cities. This is how I’m losing my set of people. When I meet my old pals, they seem have moved on from me, I feel like I have missed a lot of things in between. I feel that I lost a good friendships in these lost years. In the previous piece, I might have talked about how people like me nomads have this ability to adapt to new surrounding, but we too have a regret and sometimes we feel insecure that we might not belong anywhere. We might remain as nomads, always forgotten and lost. This feeling is the thing that I regret the most.

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                   This is one powerful quote, from an equally powerful and hard-hitting movie!

By now, you must have figured out why this article is titled broken stringed man. This man is like a puppet, who is controlled by different masters at each time, but in the process this puppet loses on originality, it loses on the attributes that makes him unique. Life of nomad may seem to be an interesting lifestyle for a person who doesn’t move much, you get to meet a lot of people, have a lot of friends, the drawback is that you lose stability of a friendship. This makes me reassure to the fact that we always crave for things that we don’t possess, and we aren’t happy with what we have, but I guess that is the challenge in living your life, you never now how things will change.

All that matters is humanity

It was a fine day, the music player of my phone was playing all my favorite songs, as the player played a hit after a hit it came to a song by the band metallica- wherever i may roam. It reminded me of a particular incidence in a place away from home. 1 year ago during my summer vacation I had being to a place about 500 or 600 km from  home to a place where I had my internship. During that period I had a first hand experience with dealing with roommates. My first roommate was also a summer intern, but his stint ended a week earlier than mine. When my old roommate left, a new one came well he was not a summer intern, but it had come for a small course of 2 weeks here. This roommate was quite intriguing, he didn’t understand English he only spoke a language I was completely unfamiliar with, well he did understand English but only to a limited extent. The conversation we had were only in few broken English words and hand actions to tell necessary things. When you don’t understand the language the other person speaks, you become elusive and alert you try to judge that person and view him or her in a particular way. That’s what happened to me. When the time came for me to leave the place, it so happened that my roommate would also leave a day after I would leave. As it was my first ever stay away from home, my parents were coming to the place where I was, to pick me up and in that particular area there weren’t any good hotels to stay. I was trying tirelessly to make a place to stay for my parents in the same place where I was staying, as the room I which I was staying had 3 beds, and only 2 beds were occupied at that particular time.

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This is one lesson I learned by my stay away from home!

One day when I was talking  to my parents on my phone, and I was pretty disappointed that they had to stay someplace far away from my place, my roommate somehow got a hint of my conversation and concern of my parents on the phone. After my call ended in a bit of disappointment, he asked me what was the problem?, in my broken English and hand symbols I told him that my parent were coming and they had no place to stay. After seeing the empty bed lying in front of me and my empty and disappointed face, In the same manner of sign language and broken English, he told me that he would move to another room in the same place, so that my parents could stay in this same room. Hearing this, I told him that it was fine and that told him to not worry about it. I told him that doing this it would be inconvenient for him. But he insisted, he told me they are your parents and they needed a place to stay, they can stay here I will find another place to stay. Hearing this I felt a bit obliged and I told him not to do this. Somehow afterwards everything went well my parents got a place to stay the night, since the next morning we were leaving for home, my roommate stayed in the same room, I moved for the night to the place where my parents were staying. But this incidence taught me one thing, just because you don’t understand the language the other person is speaking in and even if you communicate in a somewhat weird manner we should not have a prejudice against that person. We have to understand that we are all humans and regardless of what the other person speaks in we all understand our human ways. Everybody knows that when we are with our parent all that we want is convenience for them. That room mate of mine was ready to move out of the room so that my parents could stay there, even if  that meant bringing inconvenience to him despite the fact that I knew him for only one week. I feel bad that I judged him too early but it taught me and told me the meaning of the saying.
It is important to be a human, than to be just a human being. 🙂

A Mug of Responsibility

As I went about the sink to wash my plate after dinner, in front of me, stood my milk mug- waiting to be washed. I had been keeping that mug for washing every day for the last 5 years. But today, some force took hold of me, and I took the mug instinctively and washed it in an instant. These are the final days of my home stay, and in a couple of days I would leave home for higher education. The first lesson to be an adult is to be responsible for ones own actions.

An Incomplete Intact C(h)ord

As we sat on the dinner table laughing ourselves to the jokes told by my dad, in the midst of all the jokes and witty comebacks, he hit an emotional chord in me, he said, “When I see you (me) and your ways, I see a past of me lingering with me, and what you see in me, is future standing in front of you”. What he said made me think about both of us, our ways, habits, peculiarities, etc. as everybody knows, we are nothing but a reflection of our parents, at the same time we see in our parents our future selves. As it goes in everybody’s’ family, me and my dad disagree on many things, and have polar opposite views on preferences of food, habits, we are similar in many ways than I can imagine.

My dad is an accomplished teacher, professor, scientist; he too has his shortcomings, while on the other hand I too have my own set of weaknesses. These shortcomings of both of us are the same, rather I should say similar. My dad being a professor has overcome his shortcomings in time, but on the other hand I’m still haunted by my demons. My demons are my shyness, my inability to explain myself properly and clearly to others, and my hyper negative habit of criticizing myself too often. As the whole story goes my dad too accepted these problems when he was a guy like me, and won over these problems overtime, but it signifies and vindicates one important thing- we are our reflection of our parents and things we inherit from them not just good traits, but their demons as well. The same way with my mom, I have successfully inherited her ability to be a writer (she is a freelance writer and professor), at the same time I too have inherited her demon- her I-completely-trust-you attitude which is a setback in this 21st century.

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A sweet childhood photograph of me and my dad which I hold close to my heart, a past and future reflection indeed!

Another thing I noticed along this way is that we always live in our past or our future, the reason behind this is quite clear now, we never really come face-to-face with our present self, we either are told by our parents that we are their past reflection or we are told that they are the reflection of our future. Against all this cliché, this goes, we are meant to live the present as it is a gift presented to us, but on the contrary we find ourselves thinking about the past or the future. We are either regretting or worrying despite. What we see in our parents and what they see in us(youngsters), is just the universe’s way of telling us that we are incomplete in our own ways, and mending ourselves is a difficult task all-in-all. Being incomplete is how this universe is telling us to live our life presently. In short this universe is a visionary, he is giving us a chance to exorcise our demons, and be a fuller versions of our better self, which lies somewhere in the middle awaiting to be discovered.