2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 840 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Everything exists only in language (or yet another drunken soliloquy)

Consider this sentence

“The crow was flying and it fell down”

There is no past unless you talk about it. Again only exists in language. So what you actually have is…. Or what is actually happening is….

“Crow flying” for some time then “Crow on the ground” for some time. So discarding the past that doesn’t exist right now. You get…

“Crow on ground”.

The word ” ground” is a relative term. Can be decoded to “not sky and not in water”.

All these spaces exist, but they are only different in language. So drop that. We get

” Crow is”.

Crow is again a differentiated part of everything. Again only exists in language.

So what is the undifferentiated part of everything. Why “Everything” of course.

Another name for “everything” is our shared reality called “Life”.

So in truth the only real thing that’s happening is “Life”.

“Life is”

Everything you add to this is your story, or their story or someone else’s story. The only Truth in life is “Life is”.

To those out there that will think this is a game of fill in the blanks. Its Not ! I do not mean that Life is what you say it is… Which is true in a way, but that’s for another session.

The truth is

” LIFE IS.” It just IS ! Nothing else is going on !

If you can’t stop yourself from thinking beyond this, consider, you are controlled by language.

A trip to the doctors

I read somewhere, that a good way to improve your writing is to describe the mundane things that happen to you. I would need your help here. Yes the person sitting in the chair you are sitting in, some feedback would be nice. If you look down, some text boxes, yes anonymous is fine, paint it red (in a manner of speaking, of course).

Dad has not been walking too well. He prefers one leg to the other. We don’t know why, because he can’t tell us. He has dementia and although he goes at it with immense emotion, we can’t understand a word he says, that doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm though !

After sending appropriate mails to all those dependent on me, my boss (I wish) and my team (pause to control my mirth) and my fan-following (ahem, a little too far), I went to pick up dad and his nurse. In typical style, dad came round to the drivers seat, smiled at me and then looked suspiciously at the back door which was held open by the nurse. Then he started grumbling in the new language he has created for himself. At least it sounded like grumbling. He didn’t stop until I dropped him at the hospital, as I went to park the car.

Fortis has a nice spiral ramp to the parking area. Its a nice tight spiral and opens out to the roof on the top floor. Its usually full at this time, so I zipped to the top, hoping and praying that there would be place to park. As luck would have it the roof was empty. I had the pick of the parking spots. Should I take the corner spot for easy exit, or maybe the spot nearest to the lift. I was drooling over my choices when the parking attendant pushed me into a spot with the pillar just outside the drivers door. I had to exit the other side after climbing over the gear stick. Oh the ignominy of it all. I sulked all the way to the lift, looking lustfully at the closest parking spot as the lift doors closed.

My spirits rose again as I caught sight of dad with the nurse. He hadn’t stopped grumbling, though he could manage a smile when he saw me.

Things have changed in Fortis, they are building up. As a result we have to get to the hospital through the Air Conditioning/heating station, below the hospital. There are these huge storage cylinders, easily 12feet tall and a couple of feet in diameter, connected by pipes to our right. The steps we walk on run along one wall. The place is so large I can’t see the far wall, and its really murky in there. I can just imagine Gandalf fighting his way out after killing Balrog of morgoth.

The opd is full. The omnipresent lady with pram and two bawling infants is there. One of them is crying as usual while the other is playing truant. Dad takes all the chaos well and continues grumbling, possibly about all the new sources of annoyance now available. The old man quarreling with the receptionist is there too. Feels like some bizarre hospital patient’s reunion.

I am told to take a token from the machine on the wall. It has 2 buttons. One red, the other green. I suddenly realize that I am Neo. I get to choose. My reverie is abruptly stopped by the lady behind me coughing. Peasants, they will never know, I tell myself.

I choose the green pill, I mean button. Forty. That is the number that has been chosen randomly, especially for me. Wow, this number has been waiting in this machine just for me. My decisions in life have culminated in this number. I love it, then I wish it was 2 more. Damn you Douglas Adams.

Finally we see the doctor. Dad is a bit hesitant at first but ends up doing the flag march for the doctor, sans the salute of course. We are told to take x-rays.

Dad won’t sit still so we hold him in place. He fights it tooth and nail, so we stand there when the xray gun is fired. We step out to see a sign asking helpers to demand a protective apron. “Next time” I promise myself. Then in one of those moments that can only happen with dad around, he looks at both the nurse and I and gives us his profuse thanks. I guess all is in the well if the end is in the well.

Back to the doctor to show the reports. Barge in under orders of the receptionist. All is well. He is fine, nothing to worry. Phew.

The greener grass

My apartment is blessed to be surrounded by nature. Infact if you cross the road from our main gate, you would enter into the Bannerghatta National Park area. On the other side, the view from my living room balcony, there are 2 empty plots of a few acres each. Left empty for so long, the plots are covered with greenery and there’s also a small lake forming in the rockier part of the fields.

There are a few coconut trees, but the rest is covered in bushes and shrubs. The local farmers leave their cows in the field for grazing, and the shrubs have grown so tall and unruly that you can only see the heads of the cows nibbling the lush green foliage, while the rest of their body is hidden in the undergrowth.

When it rains the wet foliage glistens and the various green hues compete for attention. In between the leaves and grass a few yellow and white flowers make an appearance. They stand alone mostly or at most in twos, dancing in the wind, and their dancing partners, the bees, buzz around them like suitors at a ball.

Sometimes a cowherd chooses the shade of one of the coconut trees to take a nap. Using his white head cloth to cover his eyes, he lies down resting his head on the palms of his hands. Then he is gone, away from the cares of the world. Maybe he dreams of his home in the village, or the village girl with the coy smile who has stolen his heart. Maybe he dreams of some drunken revelry past, Ganesha festival madness maybe. Whatever it maybe, I doubt he dreams of financial freedom and an apartment overlooking a field, I think sarcastically, as I look on in envy enjoying his nap vicariously.

Musings on a drive to ooty

Not with standing an eventful night of hacking at my latest fad, hadoop, which ended at about 2Am, I woke up at about 630am to welcome a glorious Ganesh Chathurthi. The plan ? To drive 300 km to ooty !

Maybe its a vaasana from a previous life, or the result of tastes I developed in this lifetime, I am not sure, but you’ll find me happiest in the drivers seat with an open road before me and a full tank behind. That this came to pass is even more miraculous when you consider that as a child I was plagued with motion sickness. Infact I still remember throwing up repeatedly when as a child I was relegated to the passengers seat as we ascended (and descended) the same 36 pins I planned to attack today !

Driving has always meant freedom for me. A long drive is a promise of hours and hours of freedom. The moment you are in the drivers seat you are disconnected from the internet, your phone and the only electronic device you have access to is your GPS. After a few kilometres you no longer need to actively focus. You are in the “Zone”. You’re focus is at a level where it’s almost automatic as long as you keep your energy levels up. This is the point where, for me, I am at my creative best. Ideas, solutions, random thoughts, blog themes they all start surfacing.

We took the exit from nice road towards kanakapura. Immediately you feel the pace of life slow down. Lush greenery interspersed with a few small towns forgotten by time. Somewhere near Kanakapura we had to take a diversion into a small town. It had only two big buildings, the post office and what looked like the municipality head quarters. While the former looked a bit modern with the postal shade of red and the ems speed post sign over the front door. The latter seemed like from another era with wooden pillars in front surrounding dusty steps which led to a raised porch, behind which was the the only entrance to the building. The whole building was covered in pale yellow whitewash. On either side of the steps stood lawyers with their black coats and holding bright red binders in their hands. This building, the mud road, the surrounding small shops, the lawyers, the kids playing cricket on one side of the road and the busy housewives carrying groceries from their morning shopping, all looked like they were straight from a R.K.Narayanan book. Infact I half expected to see Swami run out onto the road rolling a tyre with his stick. I was literally taken to another era.

I must say something about the sky. When I drive, apart from the greenery outside, I always notice the sky. Today the sky was simply breathtaking. Bright sky blue with thick clouds arranged in layers like independent battalions. The clouds were absolutely still with bright white fluffy tops and thick cottony bottom halfs. A few had a dark grey line at the very bottom, promising rain in the near future. They conveyed the feeling of power. You are powerful when everyone waits for what you provide, while for you its a natural process of creation.

The hair pins were a bit of a challenge, constantly shifting between 1st and 2nd gear, but we made good time reaching our hotel in about 7hrs. As we entered the gate of the hotel we were left speechless by the view of the valley below. Lush greenery all around and trees that reach for the sky. Time to relax.

It is not important to win but it is important to fight.

We humans are at our best when we are fighting for something. Our greatest achievements are usually against insurmountable odds. Our greatest creations occur out of a deep desire to see something take shape, no matter, how fiercely the status quo repels it.

Or so it seems. Would the Michael Angelo on the roof of the Sistine chapel be as breathtaking if it was on the ground. Would a free India have been such an achievement if the British quietly left after the first world war?

It seems to me, our definition of “great work” is heavily biased by the struggle that precedes the achievement. Thus the malayalam refrain when judging common place work “any policeman could have done it”. Does that mean, doing a great thing is always a struggle during the fact, but is awesome post that. This logic pushes one, who wishes to achieve, to try harder, burn the midnight oil etc etc… With dubious results.

I think we need to rethink our definition of “Great achievement ” and the path to get there. Results should be judged on their own account. Take, for example, we are often told by our parents to work hard and climb the corporate ladder (“ravi uncles son has become manager”), but what is the achievement ? Is it breathtaking? Can you sit and watch the payslip for hours lying on your back ? Does it bring tears to your eyes like when you read that famous classic?

Separating the struggle from the result frees us a little bit to be creative about how to get there. Maybe just focus on the final product ? Is the world going to stand back breathless ?

TL;DR – Michael Angelo created “The Last Judgement” because he wanted to. The result is a master piece because it looks awesome and breath-taking. This is the truth. Anything else you add to this is an unproven story.

Your life’s work

This might be unsettling for some, (it was for me), but, You are doing your Life’s work right now.

Yes the 9 to 5, the daily grind. Its your life’s work. When you are older and look back you won’t even remember the things you did, unless they are extraordinary. Yet that will be your life’s work.

Doesn’t it, then, make sense to put your life into your life’s work? To rethink what you do, if what you are doing is not what you would ideally be doing?

This is not a question you answer off the cuff on a bad day or a good day. Its a question of your worth to the world. You are a gift to this world, are you being the gift ? Are you utilizing your unique talents for the benefit of the world ? Or are you somehow surviving ? And its not about work, its about everything we do. Are we really being excellent in our daily lives ? Just being excellent betters the world by example.

There’s an amazing revolution happening in the world. People are leaving the straight and narrow to start their own ventures. Ventures with the aim to make the world better in all its aspects, while making money for posterity. We need to bring this drive to all aspects of life. You don’t need to be an entrepreneur but be the CEO of your life !