Sunday, June 8, 2014

Stillness In Motion

After the unrelenting heat of the past couple of months, I woke up today to the soothing sound of rain drops. Not actual rain drops, but the drops that lingered on the roof tops and leaves the night before and were slowly descending to the earth. It had rained the night before and the dull light from the frosted window showed a promise of more to come.

There were tasks lined up for the day and appointments to keep which seemed tiring till yesterday, but now they seem less tiring in this new setting. After some minor chores, I'm quick to get ready and leave for work. The streets seem deserted for a Monday morning. I feel like turning off the aircon and winding down the window but resist the urge, for the fear of water splashing inside. A few kilometres out and I'm on the road that joins the highway at the end. I can see the highway in the distance and clearly make out that it is raining a few hundred meters in front of me. I cannot tell if I'm moving towards the rain or the rain is moving towards me. It starts with small splashes here and there on the window, and soon the whole car, as if being devoured by the rain. Millions of droplets falling on every surface, some to rest, some to bounce off and some to replace the ones already there.

I turn on the indicator and the wiper as i enter the highway. I pick up speed through the less than usual traffic. I have to take the exit which is only a few kilometres away. As I stare ahead at the cars in front, spraying water behind them as they tread through the wet roads, heading towards a far away destination, I think of her. I wish the day was different. I wish i had woken up with her by my side and looked at the frosted glass together. I wish I was on this highway with her on my side, but not about to take the next exit.

I wish we had broken away from our routine, just brushed our teeth and left home, or even skip the brushing part. We enter the coastal highway and drive on along the sea. Windows lowered a bit, music in my ears, wind in my hair, her hand in mine, as we cruise through the different intensities of rain. We go farther away from where we are supposed to be, doing nothing that we are supposed to do. When we feel far enough, we stop for a sip of coffee from a road side shop, sitting on unbalanced chairs and looking at speeding cars through the steam coming from the cup. And then head further down, to find a deserted beach, where we lay on the sand and let our eyes drink from the ocean. The calm and at the same time restless surface, reflecting the dark clouds above, with no sign of the sun or the blue sky.We talk a lot but communicate a lot more. We lay there careless, not worrying about the sand in her hair, the time of the day, mistakes of the past or decisions of the future.

Maybe some other time, maybe after she comes back in town, maybe when there is less work, maybe if it rains on a sunday, but i want that day to come. Happy or sad or routine, everyday ends for a new one to begin, but I don't want that day to end, or i don't know how to end it. For now, I don't have to worry about it, because here comes my exit on the highway, my exit towards where i'm supposed to be. Or is it.....

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Invisible Glasses

My exceptionally tall friend was on the phone, giggling in embarrassment, "Dude, Modi just killed it man." He hated Narendra Modi, who was winning the elections with the greatest majority in the history of India that day.

"The thing on everyone's agenda today at office is to pass some sarcastic comments at me or within hearing distance from me. I didn't know so many people work here man." He was open and loud about his hatred for Modi and his preference for AAP. Although he expected Modi to win, the margin was just too much for him to bear.

The Godhra riots of 2002 is synonymous with Modi. Its the first thing that comes to mind when you hear his name, all around the world. My friend's hatred for Modi originates from this. Some time after the riots, one of his friend's father who was in the Gujarat police force at the time, had told him something to hint that Mr. Modi was indeed at fault. These words had formed such a strong picture of Modi for him that even though the person had not given any proof for his accusation, in my friend's mind that became the truth.

Casually browsing youtube, i chanced to come across this video of a TV interview of Narendra Modi just before the election. I was impressed by the way he spoke and presented himself. Although I'm aware of the riots, I haven't gone into the details and have not heard many people's opinion on the matter. So for me, it is just something I'm not sure about. Soon after the video was over, I glanced at the side pane and found some suggested videos and checked them too. A few videos in, I noticed that all the videos suggested to me were against the other parties contesting the elections and a few of them praising the BJP. I became a Modi supporter. A few hours of such browsing can completely change your opinion and preference on a subject, and this preference is not formed based on facts but on the representation of facts.

My friend does not know the real facts about the riot, the other person had merely presented some facts in such a way to impose his opinion on my friend. This happens all the time. To a point where, people get away with mixing a bit of lies in the presentation. For instance, in an election rally or an interview like the one I watched, politicians constantly give out some figures and infer that they are better than the opposition. But at the end of the interview does anyone go back and check if the figures are right? Or if the figures actually represent what the person inferred? The facts do not remain in your mind. What remains is an impression.

And it is rightly said that the first impression is the best impression. Because once you form a good impression about a party, you believe everything they say and claim that the opposition is lying. Once you form an opinion that a person is stupid or dumb, everything he says or does seems to resonate with your opinion, when in reality you do pretty much the same stuff yourself. The best part is that we never realise that our thoughts and opinions are being controlled. Makes me wonder if i really did chance upon that interview or was led there without my knowledge.

All these election campaigns, product advertisements, gossips, movies etc, influence our minds to such a great extent. We make so many decisions in our life not based on the truth but based on what we are told is true. You will always think your detergent brand is the best even though you haven't tried them all. Why should you test your theory, when actors in lab coats constantly come on television and tell you that they have done that? The other day, I saw this surf excel ad telling me that it has vibrating molecules which remove dirt. And initially the ad for Tang said that it has real fruit, and now it says it has the taste of real fruit. Don't get me started on the names they give to things they put in fairness creams.

So next time you feel hatred or love or any strong feeling towards a person, try to stop yourself and force your mind to feel the opposite. Give the bad guy the benefit of doubt. Assume that he may indeed be good and you're just not able to see it.

I have tried it and failed.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Illusion

She side-steps some dog poop as she begins her early morning jog of three laps around her home measuring a kilometre each. She would like to listen to some songs but because of the inconvenience of the wires and risk of accidents, she opts to sing them instead in her head. Its the peak of summer and she starts to sweat by the first turn. As she cuts left at the corner with the temple, she hears some strange animal cries similar to that of a crow. But as she approaches the overflowing garbage bin she spots the source which is a tiny little kitten in the middle of the road.

Her heart goes out to the poor thing, so small and fragile, probably shouting out to it's mother. The way it just about manages to keep one feet in front of the other and move in one particular direction, indicating that its just born.

She keeps running, hoping it's mother comes to her soon. Between the vehicles passing by and the crows flying above, such a small kitten in the middle of the road, shouting out like that, has no chance of survival. For a brief moment she considers taking it home if it survives till she completes her first lap, but then decides against it considering the number of stray cats already loitering around her house, specially the kitchen. As she turns around the temple with the dual coloured walls again, she finds the kitten at the same place, still shouting. She keeps running.

A couple of turns and a few hundred meters after the garbage bin, she begins to hear similar cries. This time from behind her and gaining on her. As if the kitten is chasing her. Before she could look back, the cries go past her, originating from a bike driven by a middle aged man and his daughter seated at the back. They are taking the kitten home. The kitten's fate had turned, just like that. From an almost zero chance of survival to a comfortable nine lives.

On her third round, she finds the place around the garbage bin empty and silent. Her mind lingers on the events that took place. Realising that the kitten would never know that its caretakers had saved it from inevitable death.

Again, a couple of turns and a few hundred meters ahead, at almost the same spot that the bike had overtaken her, she again hears some cries. This time its dogs, two of them following a third and dangling from the mouth of this dog was the kitten that had just been rescued. The kitten hung lifeless, held by its head. The dogs ran past her. She kept running.

She feels sad for the cat. The fact that the cat was almost rescued makes her feel worse. She had expected the kitten to die when it was crying near the rubbish bin, but not now. It was supposed to live. More than what happened, it is what she expected to happen that troubles her. Something good should always be followed by something better. Everything we get is forgotten or taken for granted. Not only do we expect to get something better, we are not prepared to lose something that we got before.

The kitten had never realised that it was in fatal danger in the first place and that it had been saved by that girl on the bike, who convinced her father to take it home. It had neither memory of the past nor expectations from the future. Everything in its life, including life itself, was temporary.