Thoughts & Reflections

Think beautiful, live beautiful.

Category: Life

Wonder Why !!

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  1. Wonder why do we discriminate against women when we are born from one ?
  2. Wonder why people get so close (physically) and yet remain so far (emotionally) ?
  3. Wonder why can’t I bath in rain, and yet have to shower everyday ?
  4. Wonder why do we not understand our parents unless we become one ?
  5. Wonder why was love “eternal” yet our relationship “ephemeral” ?
  6. Wonder why do we live in crowds and are yet so lonely ?
  7. Wonder why everything that is so healthy so tasteless ?
  8. Wonder why do we discriminate when everyone is a child of the God ?
  9. Wonder why do we miss our loved ones, only when they are gone ?
  10. Wonder why do we become strangers with ones we loved so dearly ?

The relationship-research similarity

Okay, so this is some set of observations that I have made over all these “lonely years” yearning for either of the two paths to lead to me to some kind of “success“. The rules of the game are similar.

In a relationship you start off by finding a soulmate, research is initiated by finding a research problemWhile the former involves meeting around a lot of girls, the former requires you to read up a lot of research articles (and I am pretty sure both are awfully complex). Once, you’ve met enough number of girls you figure out that they’ve already been hit upon by a large bunch of unloved dudes much better than you and you start giving up the fruitless venture. Oh, and then you read up papers and find yeah, a lot of those nasty researchers have been scarred by the same ideas.

 

The pickup line is kind of the whole birth-idea of the project, the idea that sells it and comes to bite you back later on. Neither any pickup line is ever a new one, and very rarely any successful idea is. You just need to find the right (sufficiently naive) audience (girl) to sell your idea to. That is what most of the smart dudes (researchers) are doing.

As you “progress” along comes the horrible struggle of surviving with the research problem and a girl (I imagine) is no less than that. There are peaks of happiness and continuous troughs of adjustments (read “utter-sorrows“). Eventually, you find the hidden issues with the problem and the relationship kind of goes haywire.

You then start talking to your friends (peers in the research community) and figure out, oh yes, even their relationships (ideas) are kind of screwed up as they swam into the sea. Then there are the parents, in-laws (the advising committee) to pacify, the girl to satisfy with her whims and fancies. Well the advisor would always believe either your problem or the path you took was wrong and parents (in India) are no different.

Eventually, you start running out of time for yourself. And start asking yourself is that what you really wanted. The dropout conundrum (breakup syndrome) is so common in the grad school that if you haven’t considered you have not faced the real music. There are thoughts of abandoning the research project since those other problems make you feel more simpler, up and until you try them. You start considering should I drop out (take a break) and then there are your married cousins, friends (all the graduated lot – I call them the rescuers) that advise you against it, not because that is going to make your life any happier, but because you have already screwed up big time and now there is no turning back. Getting a job at 30 is what it would be like getting a girl (in India) – and you realize the 22 year olds have already been there done that. So, a synthesized sense of satisfaction (or the perception of happiness) is what you start believing in and sail along the sea.

The social networking is parallel to your conferences/journal, where after a successful endeavor you “selectively” put forth what you managed to make a bunch of other losers even more unhappier and the likes/shares well those are more like the citations, no one really reads these papers yet one likes them so you read theirs too.

Eventually, the thesis is the marriage. Even if all your attempts fail your parents(read your advisor) pushes you off with the thesis and you are left wondering did I or didn’t I (of course, succeed)  ?

I would not really want to get into what a best paper would be similar to !!

(I guess I should get back hitting on ideas now :P)

 

Arranging lives

Over the past 9 months, something I have come to realize is that independence of thought and liberty in action is very critical for the development of the intellect of a human being. India, as a society, has a very hypocritical stance when we come to think of choosing our life partners. Our society supports a very different and yet weird concept of “arranging” relationships, a term so crude and meaningless.

When we think of choices that we make in our lives, it is hard for me as an individual to work on an idea that I detest for even a week  and yet we can imagine people living their lives together with no acquaintance. The repercussions of such an ideology is that we go through a social conditioning during our childhood that teaches us that those who indulge with people from the opposite sex are liable to become immoral. It may eventually lead to lack of confidence, awkwardness and sexual repression for certain individuals. Over a longer period time, a large section of the youth could become clueless as to what actually is moral and what is not. On the hindsight, what I have learned early in my childhood, seems pretty unnatural to me. The idea of having to arrange for something does not make sense, since emotions are there within, and there is a natural and innate self one cannot suppress, no matter how you ever define morality.

One of the sadder repercussions is that it seems like very few societies actually purport the idea of “arranging” a lifelong relationship. The simplest explanation I can think of is that of liberty and naturalness. It is during the later half of the 20s you start thinking of what is next and it is not a very good (I would say unnatural) state to be in when you are looking into nothingness. As a being, one of the worst states, to be in is that of cluelessness. For once it is good to having tried and failed, however, when the ideas ingrained in yourself are self contradictory and unnatural there is bound to be that sense of hopelessness.

I believe, there are certain ideologies, that are wasteful and are propagated out of fear without any sense of understanding of a being’s individual rights and privileges. It might be the bane that generations carry due to a lack of flexibility and pure senselessness. For an act that can affect one’s happiness so much, deprivation instead of encouragement is callous, to say the least on the part of one’s upbringing.

 

Of Rationality, Conscience and Temperament

Rationality, or the art of acting and understanding according to one’s conceptions of rational (reasonable) arguments is one of the foremost qualities of a virtuous life. Conscience, is the guiding principle, the jury, so as to say, within each one of us that lays the foundation of our rationality. Temperament, defines the innate tendencies (that may either facilitate or hinder) of a human being to act in accordance to his character.

This essay explores the interrelationships between the three guiding principles that act as the basis of our actions. Rationality is assumed to be an absolute, irresolute and unchanging conception guided by unbiased reasons. These reasons are assumed to be independent of time, space or being on whom the concept acts. Temperament is the other extreme of rationality; being the emotional self of any being that asserts its intrinsic and individualistic influence and affect one’s actions. Conscience is an individual quality too; however, it is assumed to be true to one’s nature and heavily affected by one’s character and conceptions that change slowly over time and is a more generalized notion. The conscientious self is aware, awakened, capable of comprehending one’s moral responsibilities, one’s rational concepts and at the same time one’s temperamental flaws. It is essentially the seat of one’s judgement posterior to actions and judgements taken by the self.

Every action that one takes has a primal causal element to it. The categorization of the causes of an action is thus guided by any of the following three views:

  1. The rational view
  2. The conscientious view
  3. The temperamental view

The hypothesis that this essay purports is that for an individual to be able to lead a virtuous and peaceful life, rationality has to be the most essential component that pushes oneself into acting.

The rational view and the temperamental view, in general, tend to be the a priori forces acting as basis of most of our actions. The conscience, tends to mold our conceptions of the results of our actions besides at times being the cause themselves.

Temperament, by essence is temporal extremely dependent on one’s conceptions of the present. Our understanding of the world around us is essentially ephemeral. We harbor myriad biases, misunderstandings. Our inferences are based on generalizations that may be not rest solely on true facts. We tend to be inward looking and are therefore guided more by the ideas that favor our own self. Temperaments tend to be outlived by preposterous results of our own actions triggered by such biased ideas.

Rationality is solidified by reasons and understanding associated with any stimulus. Any troublesome situation has a rational response associated to it. When devoid of any rational view, one should adhere to a moral viewpoint. It would ensure that one’s actions have support of one’s long held conceptions, thereby not being temporal. Thought processes that are built up over a larger period of one’s life tend to be more structured and have better results.

The conscientious view, being all aware, tends to be correct and morally correct. Posterior to our actions, when emotions drain out and understanding seeps in, this view takes note of our actions. Conscience tends to be place that infuses satisfaction or sorrow into the results of our own actions. Thus, the underlying guide to our own satisfaction in life is this conscience which is independent of our emotions in the long run.

The curse of rationality lies in the observation that it is hard to practice. As beings, we are born with an essential desire to be impulsive, guided by the moment rather than an understanding evolved over a larger period of time. Our rational self requires time and effort to develop into a self sustaining being within. At times, it requires extreme patience and belief in oneself to follow the path of reason. As erroneous beings the probability that one would forgo the rational path will always be finite. Emotions tend to be powerful and tend to decline as we grow old giving way to the rational self. Conscience, on the other hand, matures through understanding, learning, experience itself. Conscience is ever present within us, yet takes a large time to awaken from the slumber it resides in. Quite often, we tend to jump to action, skipping the more patient path of rationality. The jump infuses a sense of energy within leaving us with emotions running higher. There are areas where being passionate definitely help and reasons tend to fail. In such circumstances, conscience could be the guide yet the source of strength has to be passion and not reason. Barring, such situations that require an extreme level of outdoing oneself, normal life tends to be better guided by reason and logic.

Demons within

There are numerous lessons that life teaches us from time to time. One of the best ones that it teaches us over and over again, yet we fail to realize it is to be positive in life.

Our mind is a home for both the constructive and the destructive self. The destructive self will keep telling you that there are thousand people in this world better than you at your task. The constructive self acknowledges to it and motivates you to keep working on your abilities to beat those thousands of people out there.

The demons in our lives that prevent us from appreciating our lives are within us. It is those ideas that we prevent us from going beyond the boundaries of potentials that we create for ourselves. It is that voice that is currently asking me not to write this answer and coaxing me to give up working and go and rest.

What separates the winners from others is the realization of delusions that the ghosts within us create. Those huge sets of problems that we create for ourselves whenever we set out to achieve our goals are works of the negative power within. The trouble is when we set out we have energy to fight those demons. The start is always positive. Yet, as the path gets long, the road gets bumpy, you lose energy. Part of your energy goes in fighting the demons. Every failure, every small incorrect move and your mind keeps feeding those devils with doubts. The negative forces thrive on mistakes we commit. Sooner, than later one gives up, depressed and dejected and the kingdom of the devil becomes ever so mightier.

You try again and those devils feed you with earlier memories of your defeat. You keep wondering why you could not do it the last time and there in you lose valuable energy. These devils have blood running on their mouths and like leeches they suck on your own energy. They relish the hopelessness of the mind and strengthen their hold on your emotions. Sadness, pain and horror of failure are their magical wands that perpetuate their strength.

You build a mountains of doubts ever so slowly and every time you go out achieving that task, those devils rise within and stop you out.

There is a very simple concept to out performing your own self. Those who successfully endeavor to overcome those negative side of one’s inner self.

The only remedy and the simplest one is to keep feeding these devils the potions of positiveness. Every time you go out and try to stretch your boundaries have the magic wands with you. These include faith, hope, happiness, belief, optimism, patience, persistence, and an understanding of reality. Listen to the angels within. They might not be loud yet their words are worth in gold. Comprehend the world around you. There are rules to getting successful on things. Failures are staircase and success comprises of every extra step you took from your last attempt. The boundaries that we define around us are not for real. These are illusions created by the scary side of our mind telling us not to look beyond. Ignore those advice and look beyond for there might be easier paths leading to your destination. Each successful step builds up strength of the optimist within.

Ever tried running a very simple marathon ?? Give it a try. You would realize those inner demons amplify their voices as you keep getting weaker and tiresome. The marathon is always run within your mind. The track is just the abstraction a depiction of how well performing against your own doubts.

Light, by the end of the journey

By the end of the journey, flashes is a light,
Guiding us, through pain, fears and fright.
As vagabonds, we move on, searching a goal,
And yet that light is end to your flawless soul.

Memories

Certain experiences have a deep effect on your perspective. Sometimes, you meet someone so different in their personality and yet they have an innate sense of oneness with you. Fate, sometimes conspires against your wishes and yet at others times is the solitary recluse of those lost. Such unexplained rendezvous, inexplicable serendipitous experience of two diverse lives touching each other and then blurring out is beautifully mysterious. Sometimes I wonder, perhaps, it is such experiences that propel our lives and infuse courage within our hearts.

Emotions, within, are intricately complex expressions of our souls. Only a few people in your life would ever be able to touch the very depths of your self. Some years later when you sit down and think of all those people that have touched your lives in some special way, I believe, there would be very few. There are innumerable acquaintances, a group of friends, a few of them very close to your heart, a set of your family; yet a very minuscule percentage of  people that are worthy of witnessing your own life.

This journey gets weirder as you tread the path to your destination. You would meet people you cannot let go; friends you do not want to part with but you realize that moving on is the best path. It is intriguing to realize that some people come into your life, with no rhyme or reason, and depart ever so abruptly and yet leave a sweet little dream still clinging in your heads through those solitary nights. Those memories, memoirs you shared are what remains left of them. You wonder, in a disappointing anguish, why can things never be permanent and detest this ever eluding transitions in life. There are really no answers. There is just an acceptance and understanding of the rules of this game called life. Some things are just meant to be.

In a few years down the line, one day you would be happily wondering what lies ahead, and may be some of those memories might spring up in your mind, from the buried realms of the subconscious mind; realizations of what could have been and how life could have been so different than that it is today. Could you have done something different, or may be chosen a different, to realize a different destiny. These memories, probably, are just a way to remind you of all the beautiful moments, with those beautiful people you ever had, bringing a sense of gratitude towards fate itself. You might just wish them happiness and love, for you would always know that you have moved ahead of that phase of togetherness. You might wonder whether those people ever think of you, of those memories, whether those moments do flood their hearts bringing in tears to their eyes, do they ever sit down lonely reminding themselves of choices made mutually that now define your lives.

Sometimes, the mystery never stops to amuse me. The idea that moving on, forgetting everything, is the best way to live a life seems implausible, and yet is very practical. I guess, there are certain things that come so close to your hearts that forgetting those experiences is never an option. One learns to live by those memories and acceptances of this love’s fate is the most peaceful way to keep moving ahead.

Lost childhood – II

Society evolves in a diverse and a complex manner. Over time it gets segregated into a number of layers. The structure, in most parts, is highly unstable and puts immense pressure on those that live within the lowest layers here. Somewhere down the line the uppermost layers could extend their hands to those below and pick them up. This could lead to a lot more strength and conformity within the social outlook of a nation grappling with so many open problems. There are domains within various systems where in you would find it hard to figure out problems. That is a positive and an optimistic condition. While there are areas where one needs to have a glancing look and issues glare back at you. It is a sad and a depressing problem, not because there exist so many difficulties, but due to the fact that there are so few even worried about considering these problems let alone solving them for ever.

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A five hour visit to a railway station can introduce you to the widespread gaps in the Indian socio-economic ecosystem. Sanitation, cleanliness, bloating population count, sub par ticketing system, insufficient policemen, etc. etc. are just a few impressions of the depressing lives that the moderate earning class of our society live in. A walk through the scenes and you would start understanding the difficult tasks that the  administration has to deal with. There is a old lady in a dilapidated condition with mosquitoes all over her body she has befriended now, a beggar with limbs almost worthless, people lying all around in filth and squalor we could hardly imagine to even see, children lying around in hope their helpless parents might get them something to play with, a child using a bottle as a ball to play with, a mother breast-feeding her little kid out their in the open, mothers rag-picking with their kids all around, etc. etc. These conditions can bring any considerate person to tears within.

Life, they say is not fair at all. This is an understanding we have developed over our lives. Yet, as humans we could some how try and balance out to make the system a bit more fair. A lot of systems have evolved to build an egalitarian society. Any society could prosper if the individuals believe in equanimity in availability of resources and opportunities. There is a lot one could actually do and even very little efforts lead to positive results. Take for example, whenever you see a child begging, query him about whether he goes to a school. If he does not, one could tell him about the fact that he has rights to free education and he could get food and amenities to play. Even this simple act, would put this idea within his subconscious mind. Do not shush him like a dog (for there is a dying self confidence within these children) and even pay him anything, for that might make them even for reliable on the heinous act of begging. This can be a very small little step one could do, which could actually be a lot more better rather than scorning at them.

Time for these kids seems to have come to a standstill, life is a fog filled with sadness, and yet nature seems to have bestowed them with a wonderful ability – the ability to smile even when life is so screwed. Try shaking hands with them, make them laugh and you would have done a kind act for your day :).

Ibadat

Khush nasib hai wo jinhe yu aasani se mil jaati hai mohabaat,
Unse pocho zara jinke dilo main aaj bhi chupi hai sachi ibadat.

Translation in English :
Those who find their true love easily are lucky beings,
Look at those who are still carrying their prayers in their hearts.

Kabhi woh dard us mehbooba ki yaad dilata tha,
Aaj woh mehbooba ki yaad hi dard de jaaati hai hai.

Translation in English:

There was a time, when my pain reminded me of my love,
Now those memories of love bring me pain.

Lost childhoods – I

This is the story of Shubham alias Rahul, born to a poor family near Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. He is 18 years old, works selling gutka[1], pan-masala[2] on the railway station of Lucknow. He completed his education up to 9th standard and then left his school and chose this way of life. He is dilapidated young boy, lives alone in the nearby areas of the railway station. He is independent, directionless and yet goes about living his life confidently on the same railway stations we detest. He works 6-8 hours on the stations in scorching heat (temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius / 104 degrees Fahrenheit ), moving on to trains to sell his products, working tirelessly fighting off his misery. He fears the police, calls them foul words, curses and hates them. Being involved in illegal activity (selling of such products requires licences), he sometimes gets caught by the police officers. They take away the masala, hold him captive, beat him up and then release him. On the station his friends are wary of the police and keep a watch of them. “Saab ji, woh toh kutte hain, roti daalo paltu ban jaate hain (Sir, these police officers are dogs literally, what they want is their share.)“.

Lets look at his earnings. He buys a packet for about Rs 1.6 and sells each packet for Rs 3.33. He is able to sell almost 600 packets a day. That makes his total revenue of about Rs 7.3 Lakhs. His income comes about to be about 3 to 3.5 Lakhs (approximately, taking into account days he does not work and other factors). This is good to see someone earning so much independently, or is it ?? When asked about what he does with that much of money, he replied in a nonchalantly that he saves a little and spends a lot in gambling. His salary is almost double the salary of a bank clerk (~ starting salary of Rs 13K per month) in India.

There is wonderful work that an NGO (named Ehsaas) is doing to relocate lost children, providing them shelter and vocational training. Rahul’s stroy has yet another back story. He ran away sometime ago from his family was caught by this NGO and stayed there for a period of 2-2.5 months. He was sent back to his home. However, due to some fallout he came back to this station and adopted this hellish pathway.

Today, he wants to leave this work because he is uncomfortable working in such a shameful profession. He is reluctant to meet his relatives for fear of his parents’ reputation being maligned. He wants to give up this life of having to constantly be on the run away from the police officers. He wants a better future.

A number of problems emerge from this story:

  1. For once, the level of school education is far from ideal. Having studied up to class 9th, this child should have understood that selling pan-masala is not the best thing to do. Their was an organization to help him out, he could have been more mature and taken a more respectable career. The impact of poor quality education is dangerous. In one of the conversations this boy says, “Woh hamare padosi the, padhe bahut koi kaam na mila unko. Main toh bhaag aya school se. (Their was a neighbor, who although being well educated could not get educated and so I left the school). ”  Our education policies, though ensure nishulk sarva shiksha (free education for all), yet a look at these kids and you know that merely teaching is not enough, education needs to make them aware such that they move away from vices.
  2. Secondly, there is a bigger problem we have at our hand. The problem is of an alternative vocation to selling masala packets. The issue is plain and simple. The vocation that our NGO provides is that of making paper bags. An estimated earning of a person there would be not more than Rs 50, besides they get free food, shelter, medical and sport facilities etc. Yet, one can never compare it with the money they can earn on railway stations. The difference in the amount of money they earn, eventually pulls them to selling masala on the railway stations. The lack of stable vocations is an impediment to the restoration of the childhood of these innocent kids.

    I wonder how many such Rahuls, have been sent down this line, how many actually understand the gravity of the profession they have chosen, what future they would be moving on to (of cheating, adultery, even burglary, mafias etc. etc.), who is going to educate them about their rights, what ways are there to pull them off this path etc. etc.  I guess, life is wonderful as long as we remain, in our cocoon of comfort, in our world of self-created minuscule problems, which get amplified by the fear-devil within. Once you step out, there are real heroes striving selflessly to change the lives of these young boys and girls, and that makes me sad because we never hear of them.

References:-
1. Gutka or Gutkha is a preparation of crushed areca nut(also called betel nut), tobaccocatechuparaffinslaked lime and sweet or savory flavorings.
2. Pan masala is made of Betel leaf filled with a mixture of chopped or coarsely ground areca nuts and other spices.

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