Archive for the People Category

Relation Chips

Posted in Musings, People, Society on January 12, 2011 by samudranb

An understanding of human relationships continues to elude me.

I guess like my friend says, I should stop being surprised astounded at how humans are. They just are the way they are. There is no right or wrong to them, just like there is no right or wrong to a coin toss.

I am having a difficult time accepting this.

I thought I was immune to fluctuations in people’s behaviour, but apparently and obviously, I am not.

As I look back at the relationships I have seen in my life, I seem to have arrived at just a single constant – nobody behaves the way you feel is the ideal way they should.

Whether it is the girlfriend who cheats, the daughter who – on her father’s death- regrets not calling him more than once a month, the friend who lets you down on the verge of the big day, the parent who does not come to your first stage performance in spite of promises, the friends who break your trust, the husband who wants to go seek pleasure somewhere else, the boss who lies to you about you, the uncle who lies about how successful his business is, the politician who lies about his sources of income, the clerk who lies about the bribe he received, the witness who lies about the murder he did NOT see or the chowkidar who lies about how promptly he submitted the payment for your electricity bill, everybody behaves in a way that seems far from ideal, possibly even in their opinion.

But is it really their fault? Is it possible that what two people think is the ideal way to behave, given the same set of circumstances, be so divergent from each other as to actually effect shock in the one and surprise that it “effected shock” in the other?

“As a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery.”

– Wachowski Brothers in The Matrix

Did they hit the nail on the head? Do humans create pain and suffering in their lives willingly and knowingly? Does it satisfy some evolutionary calling that I am unaware of?

Have we moved from a “primitive”, “tribal” society based on intense interdependence encompassing huge families, tribes and a social framework more dependent on natural sources and resources and – more importantly – on each other, to a modern society without those “inconveniences”? Does modern society force us to go about life with chips on our shoulders? Do we, not having access and permission to the traditional dangers and excitements of hunting and killing for food and fun, resort to creating drama within the confines of our own puny social circles by means of bad decisions, self aggrandizing propagandas and false dichotomies? Are we constantly on the lookout for perceived attacks on our self, and for preemptive counter-measures?

Is this evolution?

Or devolution?

Nobody sees it coming – a short story

Posted in Experiments, Life. Or something like it., Literary, Love, People with tags on October 6, 2010 by samudranb

As I wait for the bus to Chennai, I cannot help but notice the noisy family bidding adieu to their relatives. I hate travelling by bus, especially if I had to compromise my sleep while doing it. ESPECIALLY if there were people like this family on board.

If looks could kill, I would have qualified as a mass-murderer. Killing more than 4 people, at one place, at one time without any political motivation was the definition of “mass murder” according to the 1st episode of Grey’s Anatomy, season 7 that I had watched a couple of hours ago. I count five. Yup, I definitely would have qualified.

Why were some people so inconsiderate? Didn’t they realize that others had jobs to do in the morning? That others needed their beauty sleep? That after a hard day’s work, all they wanted was some peace and quiet?

I silently curse them, and hope they would not be in the same bus as I am.

Of course that is not to be. As I settle into seat no. 10, beside the window on my right, I realize the full horror of my situation. The entire family is all around me. Seats 5, 6, 9, 13 and 14. FUCK.

Thankfully, they quiet down after they boarded the bus. They start whispering, in something quite different from Bengali and my own mother-tongue, Assamese, while at the same time being almost understandable. Must be Oriya, I think as I drift off into a fretful sleep.

As the bus pulls away, I wake up to quiet sobbing. The girl. The frigging 8 year old girl from that same family, who was sitting behind me. Whose mother beside her was trying to console her. “Dont cry! We will meet them all again next year no?” was what I could understand of it. Damn it! Not now!

In another life almost 20 years ago, I had been like that. Crying because summer vacation was over, and we were leaving our grandparents house. For some reason, I had felt I would never see them again. Although I had seen them many times since, that fear never really changed.

It had been many years however, since the last time I had had that same feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I am jolted out of my flashback by the sudden joyous squeals emanating from the seat behind me. Surprised, I peep behind, over my seat. Only to see everybody looking out the window. I follow their line of sight, and see the entire bye-bye paltan outside the window. 6 people, from 6 to 60 years old, stuffed inside an old but well maintained, dark brown Maruti 800. Driving alongside the Volvo, waving enthusiastically at the windows in-front and behind me.

Amazing how some people have all the time in the world, I think as I close my eyes again.

Dont cry! Dont cry didi!” What the heck! Again? Wondering who was crying now, I listen more closely. Nobody on the bus. Puzzling. So then? Looking out of the window, the mystery was solved. Half of the junta in the car had tears rolling down their faces. The “Dont cry”s were being spoken by the little girl behind me, as a plea to her relatives in the car. “Tell Mani di to not cry! Tell Ruma di not to cry!” she spoke through the glass, almost in a chant.

Listen, you stupid girl“, I wanted to tell her. “There is no point trying to speak to them through the thick glass! They cant hear you! Since the light inside the Volvo is out, as it should be in a bus full of people trying to sleep, they cant even see your pretty little face. So even if they were expert lip-readers, which they are not judging by their ignorant, homely, contented faces, they still wouldn’t be able to understand what you were saying. So why don’t put your head down, and get some sleep, and more importantly, let others sleep?!

I wanted to. Really. But another memory from another life stopped me. From a time when I had literally shouted the entire bus down, because my father had gone to get a bottle of water, and the bus had moved 5 meters from its original position. I remember thinking that wherever he was, if I shouted loudly enough, he could hear me.

I open my eyes, unable to sleep now. Restless, I look out of the window again. It has been almost 15 minutes since the bus started, but the car is still there. The people, still waving. Still enthusiastically. Still with tears on their faces. And the girl behind me still loudly whisper-pleading with God to not make Mani di and Ruma di cry.

We are almost out of the city limits now. I wonder how long these people are going to drive alongside the bus. It is late. I can see the drowsy eyes of the little boy in the car. It is a school night. They must be turning back soon.

Sure enough, I see an upsurge in the waving. They signal the bus people that they are going to turn back now. Everybody in the car tries to get a last glimpse of the family in the bus, so that each is plastered across the tiny windows of the Maruti. The middle-aged fellow driving the car leans over across the passenger seat, just to be able to wave a final time.

He never sees the truck.

Billionaires of Moments

Posted in Life. Or something like it., People with tags , , , , on July 9, 2010 by samudranb

All of us are fascinated with the lists that Forbes comes up with. Newspapers splash it across the front pages. TV channels run exclusive interviews based on it. It is the topic of many a water-cooler conversation at the work place.

When it comes to money, we are not born equal. Some of us own private islands and jets, whereas some could barely afford two square meals every day. Yet, most of us dream about reaching those dizzying heights of affluence. Or at least daydream about it.

But have we ever stopped to wonder about what those fabulously rich people will take with them to their graves?

What does anybody take to their graves, really?

This was the premise for the talk given by Lakshmi Pratury , which for me was the most important take-away from TEDxBLR.

She spoke about how we all are fascinated by “billionaires”. And how we define them.

We define billionaires in terms of their financial assets, or “billionaires of dollars”. But given that there are so many inequalities of opportunities, it does not do justice to the rest of the humans to give this group an exclusive status. We need to have a fairer definition of “rich people”. A definition which gives everybody an equal opportunity to be called a “billionaire”.

And all that is required for us to arrive at that new definition is to change one word – from “dollars” to “moments”.

Life is not the number of breaths that you take, but the number of moments that take your breath away.

At the end of a life, what he or she takes away from it all are those unforgettable moments.

What if we all decided to be greedy about collecting these moments, instead of money? Wouldn’t our lives be richer, fuller and more satisfying in that case?

Could we collect a billion such moments? Is it possible?

Turns out, it is quite a task to be a billionaire of moments. If each and every second, of each and every hour, of each and every day, of each and every year of your life were a moment worth remembering, even in that case it would take you 31+ years to be a billionaire of moments.

Which is why Lakshmi suggested a system to collect these “points”.

If you share a moment with someone which makes the other person happy, then the number of moments that s/he collected in his lifetime, counts towards your total too.

Simple? Hell yes!

Effective? You bet!

I am on my way to become a billionaire. Are you? 🙂

Cinderella of India

Posted in India, People, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by samudranb

X: Dude! Did you know about the Manipur blockade?!

Me: Of course! It has been going on for 67 odd days now.

X: Yea? I just found out about it! And to think I prided myself on being up-to-date on world affairs!

Me: Yea, the media has just caught on.

X: Damn man… and here I was more worried about the Gaza blockade!

How does one react, when people are more aware of what is happening in other countries, than they are of what is happening in their own?

How does one react, when people ask if one’s state is a district of West Bengal?

How does one react, when people do not know whether the place where one comes from is a part of India or not?

How does one react, when the history teacher says the reason there is no mention of Assamese or other North Eastern states’ history in the syllabus, is because they are “not important”?

It’s not just the ordinary people who seem to have forgotten that there are indeed some states east of Kolkata. The administration too.

For the last many decades, while the rest of the country has progressed on to the new economy, NE states still languish in the old economy. While the rest of the country argues over 3G, NE states still await broadband (which is of course, only 256 kbps). While the rest of the country goes gaga over the latest Hrithik / Shah Rukh movie, Manipur goes gaga over the latest Korean movie, because Bollywood movies are “banned” there. While the students from the rest of the country fight to get into one of the best Medical schools across the length and breadth of the country, those from the 7 NE states fight to get into the 6 medical colleges available to them.

Why is the rest of the nation so apathetic to the NE? Is it simply because of the cultural differences? Shouldn’t the differences be highlighted, and celebrated, the way we do with J&K, Rajasthan, or any of the other states? Why is the North East consistently given a step-motherly treatment from the centre?

Is national integration even on the agenda for the central government? Should India even be one country? Does it even make sense?

Or should we wait till midnight to find out?

“Hell yeah!” or “Hell why not!”

Posted in About me, Life. Or something like it., People with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2010 by samudranb

I recently came across these 2 life mantras- “Hell yeah!” and “Hell why not!” Although both seem to be contradictory, they can actually be quite complementary!

HELL YEAH, in short, is this – If you are not “HELL YEAH!” about something, then say NO.

It asks you to do what you love. Work on projects you believe in. Be passionate about everything you do – and don’t commit to anything you aren’t prepared to fully throw yourself into.

When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!”

HELL WHY NOT, in short, is this – Even if you have something better to do, if its not life-altering, just say “Yes” to EVERYTHING!!

It asks you to experiment. To go to that unknown restaurant, and try that unknown dish. To go to that new band’s concert. To GET A LIFE!!! You never know what might lead from it.

(This mantra was also there in “Yes Man“. Good movie. I liked it 🙂 )

For me, a combination of both over the last few months has indeed made my life interesting.

What about you?

Lessons Learnt – 2009

Posted in About me, India, Lessons, Life. Or something like it., People, Society on December 21, 2009 by samudranb
  • Bali is beautiful. Thailand is incredible. And the people of both these places know more about “Indian culture” than most Indians.
  • Voting in a general election is pretty useless. But you should still do it.
  • Employment is over-rated. Quitting a job is no big deal. Just be sure to have enough money to last you a while without any inflows. And keep an eye on the credit card expenses.
  • It is possible to have an expensive DSLR, and be made to feel like an idiot by a 18 year old kid with a Point n Shoot.
  • Shutter block is BAD.
  • It is possible to mail the President of your company and expect (and get) a reply. It is possible to tweet Pritish Nandy, Chetan Bhagat, Gul Panag, Imran Khan and Barkha Dutt and expect (and get) a reply. It is possible to tweet Mallika Sherawat and Priyanka Chopra, and expect (and  get) promotional merchandise from their latest movie.
  • It is possible to find your ideal job, and go for it. It is however not in your hands whether you will get the job or not. Just give it your best shot.
  • It is OK to delay BIG plans. It is NOT OK to give up on them.
  • Dress code for a wine tasting festival – collared t-shirt, khakis, as ridiculous a hat as you can find and a nose angled at 15 degrees higher than usual. Strict NO-NOs – formals of any kind. (Suits? Die you pretender! ) Also, it helps if you can keep a straight face and use adjectives like “herbaceous” / “comfortable” / “smoky” / “high notes” / “oaky” to describe a wine (never mind if you dont have any clue about what they mean).
  • I prefer white wines to reds. Chardonnays to Chenin Blancs. And Reveilo reserves to Chateau Indages or Chantillis.
  • I prefer wheat beer to dark lager to premium lager to apple cider (The last one should actually be called “apple shudder”).
  • Never EVER trust directions given by a woman. 15 minutes later, you will end up at the place where you got an indignant “Of course!!” as reply to your “Are you sure this is the right way?”.
  • God invented porn. Just like everything else in this world.
  • Dating is fun. Not dating is fun too.
  • People who do not value your time, are not worth it.
  • Most people are more interesting than they seem.
  • Always ride your bike at 20% lower than the speed that seems safe.
  • No protective gear is ever not worth the money.
  • There are way too many India’s in India. And there are way too many TVS service centres in South India. And not enough in the rest of the country.
  • The Indian government is doing an OK job. I only wish they would do it faster.
  • Having patience is the most difficult thing to do.

Update:

  • Use sunscreen.
Wine tasting dress code - ©Chaitanya

Would you exchange 2 cappuccinos for peace?

Posted in India, People, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , on December 13, 2009 by samudranb
Priyanka Borpujari, friend and freelance journalist, has been working closely with the issue of violence in Chhattisgarh. She is headed to Dantewada district in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh on December 20, 2009. A place which has become a living hell — tribals from 644 villages have been thrown out, some villages have been burnt over 10 times, women raped, murders rampant daily, and where the perpetrators of this might be the state police, through the alibi of Salwa Judum. Why the hell is she going there?

She is also trying to raise funds to take to Dantewada, for the Satyagraha, at which 50,000 tribals from Dantewada alone are expected to congregate. All she wants from you is a minimum of Rs 100 — the cost of 2 cappuccinos with a friend at barista — which will take care of one adivasi person’s one day’s food and lodging in Dantewada during the Satyagraha. The donations need to be made in cash, and I can collect the same in Pune, on behalf of Priyanka. You will be furnished with a receipt once she is back from Dantewada. The donation would be made to Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, about which you will find in her blog. You can always get in touch with her directly (her contact details are at the end).

You might be tempted to think that this does not concern you. That this is not really your responsibility and hence, you would wonder about the need to respond. But in truth, the idea of civilization, culture and country means that problems, responsibilities, benefits and accountability is shared. Sooner or later, for better or for worse, everyone is affected. And responsible.

Especially if the problem is large-scale and involves millions of people as it does in this case. There’s a war for justice going on in the tribal hinterland of India. The people may be denied justice once, twice, thrice… maybe even 10 times. But everyone has a tipping point. There comes a time when those who are denied justice rise up against oppression and then everyone comes in the line of fire, you and me included. Millions of Adivasi people have been denied justice guaranteed by the constitution. This is an attempt to give them that, so that they don’t feel cheated by the country and the government that is supposed to protect them. It is everyone’s collective responsibility to ensure that they get it, so that they do not lend an ear to those that are telling them to take up guns to get what they deserve.

Your sacrifice of two coffees (Rs. 100 or more), goes a long way in ensuring this. Let’s, for a change, do something real. Lighting candles at the Gateway of India is a start, but in this case wont it be better to save that money on candles and instead give it in the pursuit of justice and fight against violence? Can peace prevail without justice? You decide.

I do not subscribe to many of her political views, nor do I share her opinion of the administration at the centre and big corporations. But I do agree with her that injustice has indeed been done, and that more needs to be done to bring those issues to light, and resolve them peacefully, for everybody’s benefit.

And yes, I am donating.

Priyanka can be reached at 9820741992 or aa.priyanka@gmail.com. Please read Priyanka’s blogpost to know more. She would be more than willing to take your queries and doubts, and reply to them.