life

Monotone

Monochromatic photographs and movies are graceful and attractive but life if lived in only two colors won’t be an exciting one. The daily drudgery, repetitiveness, and monotony can bog anyone down. That’s why we take to avenues of entertainment, to movies that let us live lives that are not ours, listen to music and start believing in the world. Emily Dickinson, the great poetess said

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The riddles we can guess

We speedily despise-

Not anything is stale so long

As yesterday’s surprise!

The 4 stages of life

Carl Jung, Alfred Adler and Sigmund Freud are said to be fathers of modern psychology. Each of them have different perspective on multitude of things. Freud gives us civilizations and its discontents, interpretation of dreams, a rehash of oedipus complex while Adler proposed 14 day cure plan for anyone who is depressed and emphasized on the importance of social factors in one’s well being. Carl Jung carved out archetypes for human life. Jung broadly classified the stages into 4 which might not be music to the ears of William Shakespeare who wrote seven stages of life. The 4 stages are the mirror for us and let us answer the rhetoric of self identity and motivation.

Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.’   – Carl Gustav Jung

The Athlete – The stage of self obsession. Mirror is a constant companion here. Aesthetic points are valued in this stage and narcissism can be the pivot. We might know few people in our lives who haven’t been able to come out of this phase or wind their lives around it. Few keep abreast with other stages while keeping the athlete alive.

The Warrior – Let’s go out and conquer the world. The world is our Troy and we are the Achilles, hopefully without arrows through our ankles 🙂 . We become more responsible and the vanity of the athleticism starts to fade. Achievement and tip of the pyramid are the alluring and driving factors. Some of us would die within the warrior stage due to multitudinous gratification.

The Statement – Ok, we have achieved few things in life but they aren’t making us happy to a large extent. We need more gratification and self fulfillment. There should be something that should be passed on as a legacy. Giving becomes important in this stage. What material possessions and money used to do for you might not be true in this case but you won’t shun them either. Egotistical self starts taking a back seat and leaving the world in a better place than when you arrived can be a mantra here. Few of us would associate the statement phase with parenting and being a provider rather than sucking the marrow out of life alone.

The Spirit – We eventually realize that the former 4 stages don’t define us but they are crucial to reach the spiritual phase. We realize that we are more than the money, friends, body, country. We are spiritual beings and something else is also there in the pandora box of the unknown world to which our physical bodies might not transport us. We start observing ourselves from an entirely different angle and acquire a wholistic perspective towards life and death, spirit and body. As an exercise in meditation, one has to step out of his thoughts and observe what is happening in the mind, we do the same in this stage of life. We step out and observe our mind and our body. We are the observer of the events as opposed to the beings of what we observe.

Laozi, the writer of Tao Te Ching – written over 2500 years ago, said “can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things? Giving birth and nourishing, having without possessing, acting with no expectations, leading and not trying to control: this is the supreme virtue.”

 

 

 

Living alone and enjoying it

I have been living alone for a long time and I enjoy it. I am not a solitary reaper and socially recluse but I enjoy the silence and solitude that I find in my apartment except on few occasions. I am not glorifying my way of life but I know for the fact that not many are capable to survive the choice. The reasons can be manifold – codependency, family issue, money or simply not able to function without some other human being. The last one is quite prominent in many human beings. At top of my head I can list at least ten names among my friends who don’t want to live alone for the simple reason that they don’t want to do the chores and assume the responsibilities that either their mothers or their spouses have been assuming in their lives. Anyway, it’s their choice and who are we to judge?

I read a brief article in an airline magazine once( I didn’t have anything to read as I had forgotten my kindle, iPad and earphones at home) about living the life alone and will try to recapitulate the same points here.

Take care of yourself – Simply because no one else is going to do so.

No fear of missing out – Don’t worry if you weren’t invited to some party or your friend didn’t come to see you. Everyone is busy these days and everyone has a life to live.

Make acquaintances and host get together in your apartment – Don’t worry about size of apartment, a simple potluck, movie session or just coffee get together can be held in a club hole as well.

Have more than one hobby – Keep trying different things and trust me you will have a story to tell eventually.

Treat yourself with respect – Just because you live alone doesn’t mean you have to live an ascetic life. If you like to binge watch int’l cinema while dressed in a french cuff shirt and  lying on your sofa then do it.

Take interest – Learn how to brew perfect coffee, try different drinks and keep an eye for what could be your favorite cocktail, learn about wines, go to museums. Pay attention to detail to a degree that you should be able to order coffee by saying both small cafe latte with whole milk and a small cafe latte with double shot of espresso, whole milk, decaf, caramel, extra foam without whipped cream to go please ( The example can be extrapolated to anything, it just shows how much attention to details you put. Also, few people might think you that you are just an obnoxious, pretentious a**)

Eat well – Again, living alone doesn’t mean you have to graze on a hot dog from the nearest bodega or live on french fries. Our body is the only thing that is truly ours, take care of it.

 

 

Um ourives des palavras

A Goldsmith of Words

For past few weeks I have been living the life of a sloth. I haven’t cooked in two weeks and have been surviving on breads and take outs from arbitrary places. I have been binge watching movies, documentaries, TV series on Netflix, writing whatever is coming to my mind in my diaries and doing arbitrary stuff. Today,I stumbled upon a movie called- Night train to Lisbon and I am glad I decided to watch it. It was worth the $10 I pay every month as subscription fee to Netflix.

The movie was based on a novel and it mentioned Amadeu de Almeida Prado. The protagonist during the Portuguese revolution who wrote  the book  Um ourives des palavras (Portuguese for “A Goldsmith of Words”). I am not sure whether I will be able to get my hands on the book as its out of production but I learned a great deal from the movie’s subject itself.

It dealt with something intriguing. Is it possible that the best way to make sure of yourself was to know and understand someone else? One whose life had been completely different and had had a completely different logic than your own? How did this curiosity for another life bean in first place?

This must be a book that talks to you and forces you for silent introspection.

Few wonderful quotes from the book

“Is it a wish to stand once again at that point in life and be able to take a completely different direction to the one that has made us who we are?”

“Isn’t it a question of self image, the determining idea one has made for oneself of what one has to have accomplished and experienced ,so that one can approve the life one has lived?”

“When dictatorship is a fact, revolution is a duty”

The Book of Disquiet

“Fields are greener in their description than in their actual greenness”

For a long time … I haven’t recorded any impressions; I don’t think, therefore I don’t exist. I’ve forgotten who I am. I’m unable to write because I’m unable to be. Through an oblique slumber, I’ve been someone else. To realize I don’t remember myself means that I’ve woken up.

Fernando Pessoa

Bob Dylan ??

Today I spent my evening in Greenwich Village, an area in downtown Manhattan that used to be haven for the musicians in the yesteryears. I go to Bleecker street often but today I was scouring for few signs- the signs of presence of the activism of 1960s. Greenwich village was famous for its musicians and political activism,its cafes, live music performances. Unfortunately, gaslight cafe couldn’t stand the test of the time. Cafe wha is not the same as it used to be but its still there.I have this (bad) habit of reading about things and places on internet and such unnecessary researches hog my time.

I knew that cafe wha is associated with many famous names but that list on internet was overshadowed by Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix wasn’t mentioned a lot for he passed away young but Dylan like a Victoria Secret’s advertisement was overwhelmingly everywhere.

60s wasn’t the era only of free love but also of the social and political activism. The term generation gap was coined in those years for there was a lot of difference between the thought process of the youths and their parent’s who had seen the perils of the world war. It didn’t mean that the youths had myopic visions or were in complete disillusionment. Greenwich village in NY was the incubation center of the revolutionary ideas that governed the political and economic facade during those years and those ideas found their ways resonating in the songs that those multi talented artists wrote. Each of the artist was presenting his/her thoughts in the form a song be it on civil rights, Vietnam war, crony capitalism, nepotism or sycophancy.The idealist generation of 60s purported to reject the materialism and bolstered movements that forced Nixon to step down.Not only music but food also was affected as many people turned towards non violence and vegan-ism.

The weavers were quite popular in the era for they brought the folklore and music not only to the big apple but also on the int’l podium. Thanks to McCarthyism that weavers were blacklisted under HUAC (House Un-American Activities) ,Pete Seeger asked correctly “what the hell is an American activity, what is the definition” when he was also booked under HUAC and his name appeared in the red channel magazine floated by oppressive forces. That was the era of the change Seeger, Woody Guthrie,Harry Chapin, Dylan, Tom Paxton etc were few names.Everyone was famous for his own type of work.

I have nothing against Bob Dylan; When I listened to “A hard rain’s A-gonna fall” for the first time after more than 50 years it surfaced, I was en-rapt and enthralled. He definitely is talented but somehow I feel that he not only knew how to write resonating songs but also how to sell them. He was able to create an image and kept it afloat. He did join the artists of protest music but with the banishment of many under HUAC, he definitely got an advantage.None of his songs are for Vietnam war but I am not sure why and how people have linked the two. He didn’t go to the famous Selma march in which everyone was chanting the Dylan’s hymn “The times are A- changing”. He did say in one of the award ceremony which he attended in an inebriated state that he no longer wants to write songs on people and doesn’t wishes to be spokesperson. He choose his next genre of rock and roll and remain stuck to it.He started “playing it safe”. And I personally have started believing that when the competition is tough then one has to play safe to soar and be relevant. I won’t say that he was an opportunist who grabbed the hot selling cake of folk music to open his own shop but he wasn’t exactly the same revolutionary that media propagates him to be. He was from the main land Minnesota and came to NY to test his destiny and he succeeded splendidly. The American dream – from rags to riches came true and many benefited from the same directly or indirectly.

I don’t have any topic sentence for this blog ! – Wait it is “To pay or not to pay” .

Once upon a time there was a boy and there was a girl.

Nah !

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It’s so cliched way to start a story.

So, let’s chose another way.

I met her in the flight from London to New York and we started talking. It was my first visit to NY and I asked her about where to find apartments, library facilities etc. She seemed a helpful person and was quite nice to talk to. We exchanged email Ids and resumed our cyber communication after I got settled. We decided to go for drinks at P J Carneys on 7th avenue near Carnegie hall.We talked a lot about job, movies, life etc . We did have few similarities for both of us liked cats, friends(TV show), Manhattan and we did order same drink. It was a short and sweet meeting. We decided to meet again after few days and so did we. Again, same place, same time. We talked and after an hour or so we decided to call it a night. Now, at this point something happened which still baffles me. The bartender gave us the bills and I decided to pay for both of us. It wasn’t anything major – only $30 . There is no harm in showing a little chivalry.

But I think this act of mine lead things south and she never responded back to my emails, texts again.

I have given it a thought few times and the plausible reason is , she was a strong independent woman who took the payment of drinks offensive. But in my defense I would say ” In India, whenever we go out for food or drinks then one person pays generally and others pay at some other occasion”. And if the amount is high then we split it into appropriate parts. But what I didn’t know that it can be taken offensively. I have talked about this “to pay or not to pay” dilemma with many of my friends and most of them had the thought that its fine thing to do.

Nevertheless, let’s get back to the story. After few more months I was transferred to Chiberia(Chicago) and I spent one year there. This year in February, my team asked me to operate from New York office again. It was tough to find an apartment here and finding a decent studio is an uphill task here esp. in winter when its snowing all the time. I made walking records on my pedometer everyday. Eventually, I found a decent studio on upper east side.

Days,weeks,months passed by in the play called life when I saw her again near cafe Jax on 84th street. I went to her and said Hi ! She was stunning than ever.After talking for a while I asked whether she would like to go for lunch sometimes. Answer was affirmative.

Later that week I met her for lunch; we ordered food.I noticed that she had a book in her hand and there wasn’t any cover on it. I started talking about books and the best places in Manhattan for books and other book bars.

I asked her what was she reading and was she liking it.

She opened her book, took out a small leaflet type book and slid it across the table towards me and while she was doing so she said to me “we all should have strong relation with Jesus Christ and should commit our lives in his service”

That was the eureka moment for me, the moment of truth that it wasn’t a date, It was her attempt to “save me”.  🙂 🙂

Scandinavia Trip – How it Started

Norwegian

I was absent from the blogging world for quite a while but this brief trip of mine to Europe has given me a good reason to return and punch the keys of my keyboard.

I was literally frustrated; The big apple is great but if your mind ain’t in the right zone then nothing is. Things were seeming static and the monotony of mundane life was eating me like rust on a boat. Few days ago a friend of mine gave me a visa invitation to Schengen area. I applied for the visa but I wasn’t very sure whether I would be taking the trip. I gathered all the required documents ,bought a travel insurance for some arbitrary period that costed me only $6,went to website of KLM to get a trip itinerary and then went to embassy of Denmark to get my visa. I think I received an email from the VFS office that my passport is ready for collection in 3 day period only. Next day, I went to collect my passport and saw that I was issued a 2 month’s visa. Till then I had no plan to go there and my focus was on few other aspects of life.

8th July’2015 Monday, 7:45 pm I am sitting in my office and trying to work on some problem. After few unsuccessful attempts I got up to take a stroll in the office itself. I looked down from high rise office building in midtown Manhattan, it was the usual sight. People running for one reason or the other. Man ! I need a break otherwise I will go mad, I thought. I packed my bag and left the office. One train ride away from home I stationed myself at Budapest cafe on 2nd avenue that has free wi fi. Why do I need wi fi ? Because few days ago I changed my phone plan and took the most simple one which is akin to pay as you go. It was a step towards detoxification and also the result of the thought that why to remain connected all the time when no one even calls/text. I surfed the web till it was closing time which is 10 pm with the thought of getting away for few days. I dragged myself to my apartment and changed to world’s most comfortable outfit aka shorts and t shirts.

The friend of mine had been calling me for a visit for a long time now but I always chickened out for Copenhagen never appealed me. But today I was in rebellious mood and frantically searching for airline tickets. Kayak, expedia, priceline and even makemytrip.com were searched for. Most of them were expensive for me; I can have a return trip to India in that amount. Slowly my concentration started giving way to other distractions and I closed the flap of my computer and cooked fried rice and ate it with potbelly peppers, drank a lot of water and went to bed. Next morning 7 am I had an office call(those who work with teams in multiple geography will understand it) I woke myself up with great difficulty and attended the call in which I was a mute listener. I would digress a little bit here, waking up in the morning is a pain and I have never understood what supernatural powers are responsible for waking people up from their beds. I am a light sleeper and didn’t have much problem in the past but now its like a ‘task’ to me. I have tried many alarms but nothing works. Someone suggested to try the Math alarm but the questions are too easy and I was able to solve them with eyes half open. Even the bar code scanner for the toothpaste didn’t work. It shows that where there is a will there is a way 😀

Anyway, the feeling of helplessness returned when the call finished. After morning ablutions, I ate my cereal and started for office.On my way to subway, I stopped at Budapest cafe ,looked at it for few seconds and resumed my journey to 86th street and Lexington avenue to catch 4 or 5 to midtown. After walking 100 meter I turned around and went to the cafe, looked at the menu and ordered an authentic Strudel. I placed myself on one of the table, removed my coat and opened up my laptop. 3 clicks later I was at Kayak.com which redirected me to eDreams.com; I found that Norwegian has the cheapest flight to western Europe at a cost that it won’t provide any food, any blanket or pillow but it was a direct flight of only 8.5 hours. I took out my credit card and after few clicks I received a mail stating ” Booking confirmation Norwegian Air Shuttle: 7*****”  and that’s how it all started. I was going to explore Scandinavia although brief visit it would be but I was happy that I took a decision.