life

Paris to Berlin

I lingered over the thought for quite a while to decide how to form my words in most succinct manner. Meanwhile I prepared a small batch of potato chips, I am sure Van Gogh must be pleased.

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The oily treat didn’t satiate my desire and my mind started digressing and one thing that I have realized again and again is I don’t mind sitting in the front row of a movie theater, to me it is natural to do so even if the neck pains. What matters is I receive the images first than anyone else and I don’t see anyone else’s head.

I looked at the map that I had used and traced all the places I have been to by moving my finger. The crumpled, wrinkled, dog eared map of Berlin.

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Much has been written about Paris and Berlin and when one arrives in Berlin from Paris at night, one wonders is it really the capital of strongest economy of Europe? Paris is ostentatious with its art Deco and art Nouveau. It has been stereotyped as the most romantic and literary city on Earth, but is it? A Parisian has the same problems as a New Yorker has or a Berliner. So where is the difference?

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Meanwhile still caught up in my thoughts I started watching The Dreamers and joined Theo, Isabelle, and Matthew in the bathtub.

From my eyes Berlin is bare, tattered, and bruised. It’s history has been told so many times that there is no room for pretension. The city has no shroud, no cloak, or any shame in showing it’s true being. It has nothing to hide and nothing to lose. It is finding itself like a teenager slowly stepping into adulthood. It is an organism that is transforming by the day and the night, taking shapes to siphon all the ideas, cultures it can. It is a tumbleweed that continues to fly from one place to other transforming itself and those who come in its contact.

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Walking back to my humble abode in Kreuzberg from Anhalter Bahnhof with a pilsner in my hand, I had the epiphany of freedom that I hadn’t experienced in years, reprieved from masquerades.

Radikal Aus Tradition : Berlin ist radikal, die einzige Tradition, die diese Stadt akzeptiert, ist die Traditionslosigkeit. ( Berlin is radical, the only tradition this city will accept is that it doesn’t have any tradition)

 

 

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Tumbleweed

When you find yourself in unknown parts of the world, trying to finish some work assignment or a presentation while nibbling on your croissant and listening to some white noise to gain concentration,

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always try to find some time for yourself, to gather your thoughts, to introspect and retrospect, to write your thoughts down to crystallize the concoctions of your brain over a cup of coffee and to listen to some music to enjoy those stolen moments,

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because it is important to find your own story at the end. The story of our life to break us free from ourselves and from the tangible and intangible object, so even if our body can’t walk through walls and obstructions but our imagination and soul can.

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The meaning of it all

The first step in problem solving is to acknowledge that there is one. When one acknowledges one’s ignorance, when the seed of doubt and uncertainty is allowed to flourish and nourish, then we are on the path towards progress. If one believes his knowledge is thorough and complete then there isn’t a room for improvement but the nature has taught us persistently that there is enough since time immemorial.

The eternal question has troubled the human mind. Thousands of philosophers, scientists, poets, religious bodies have tried to fathom the meaning of life. The general consensus is that great human potential would be untapped once we know what our actions are directed at and what goal we are aiming at.

If I were candid I would admit I don’t know a great deal but when I take the knowledge from the ancient civilizations, the knowledge that exists in our minds and our great libraries and books I would forthrightly say – we still haven’t found the answer to the eternal question despite the fact we have taken every piece of knowledge that ever existed or is existing. When we admit that we still haven’t answered the question than we have left the door open for the possibilities. That there can be an answer out there in open lurking behind something.

Admitting the ignorance isn’t a new idea, it is the idea from the age of reason. It is the idea of democracy. It is the idea that one plus one greater than two (not mathematically). It lays the foundation for a system that can be an incubator for the new ideas. The old practices, thoughts can and should be weeded out if they are no longer relevant. It gives rise to a more flexible system based on inclusion and exclusion of ideas on the basis of their relevance. It creates a system that lets us leave the door to an unknown ajar while solving a problem, howsoever trivial or esoteric it might be.

 

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