Progress ?

I installed Facebook messenger about 2 days ago. I can abashedly say that I was lured into it. One minute I was checking my notifications then I was downloading the app and I was all setup.

And wow. It was so beautiful, the little heads with such detailing sitting at the edge of your screen, moveable anywhere. Wow ! I was impressed. The default ring tone the table bell perfect.

After messaging a few must-message people (wife etc) I went back to Facebook. Back to the posts and posts about the Nepal quake.

Every day the death toll is rising. People putting their life on hold to help. Stories of heroism and sacrifice peppered with a few tales of selfishness. After all we are human. Peoples accounts of narrow escapes and morbid descriptions of the devastation right at my finger tips.

Awesome ! BUT wait a minute. Didn’t anyone know in advance? Most places know they are on a fault line ? Seismology is a thing rt ? People study it rt ? Shouldn’t someone have raised the red flag. What were those buildings made of ? Doesn’t Japan have seismic proof (multi-storeyed??) Buildings ? Why wasn’t that technology shared ?

Then I had a sinking feeling that the person who could have solved this problem maybe spending his life making smartphone apps ! Then I looked at myself, I spend my life pushing ones and zeroes around the internet.

Depressed, I logged off Facebook and went back to the work that pays me. I realized that money has so warped our incentives that survival of the species has taken the back seat. Its no longer the survival of the fittest. Its survival of the one who collects more Money. Your genes might allow you to live past 150 ! But it means jack sh#t if your parents don’t have the money for basic healthcare 🙂

If our little fantasy about money suddenly ends and its back to the farm for sustenance, I am not sure if the ability to make more money will translate into ability to thrive there.

Then I went back to work anyway. I mean humanity doesn’t pay me !

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Going away

Bags are all packed, they are ready to go. Its not a sudden decision or a crisis to handle. Its a discussed, planned trip.

Tickets were booked much in advance after a number of discussions (arguments), delays and hoping. We have had a month to internalize this. Its a reality before it happens.

Its the morning of the travel day. My car packed up the day before. Through a series of events I am without a vehicle to office. We argue whether I should go to office at all. For some weird reasons I decide I Must go. She relents. I set off to work by public transport.

Thank god I fixed my phone. Reach work at 2 pm. Finish some work for an hour. They leave at 4. It will take 1 hr to reach home. I finally prise myself away from the screen at 3.20pm. I am wondering, no phone call yet ?

On a normal day, If I said I will reach by 6pm I get a call at 4.30 to make sure I leave. Today nothing.

Leaving everything incomplete I pick up my bike left at the office and scramble home. I reach 4.10pm. She is upset. “You don’t care that I am leaving”. I take the silent route.

My daughter is leaving as well. “Papa you come with me in airplane?” She asks. “No baby” I say thinking on my feet “But I will drop you to airport”.
“No papa you must come to airplane” she says in tears. These tears are worse than crocodiles.

The taxi is late. “I told you I would drop you” I say referring to a previously lost argument. “With no AC” she replies angrily.

Finally 4.30 pm our cab arrives. We sit. “Where’s your suitcase” my daughter asks. I begin to explain again that I won’t be coming , I tread carefully to avoid those crocodiles. Realizing the futility of words I pull out my phone and show her “Peppa pig” videos on YouTube. Danger averted.

As the journey continues my wife’s mood gets better, we talk again. Reached the airport hugs and kisses. They check in and leave.

I sit at the cafe, waiting to make sure they get through security OK or maybe its with the hope that they don’t. This is not how its supposed to be, I think to myself.

I am supposed to be excited about my new found week long freedom. I should be planning all the stuff I would do now they are not around to eat my time. But no, here I am wondering what to do, if anything at all.

Its when they leave that you realize how much of your internal system they take up. As much as they are obstacles to things you want to do, they are the motivation to do anything at all. As much as they are part of your constraints, they are the source of creativity as well. Life without them that you fantasized is actually unfathomable. It can’t exist in your present system. When it happens life just stops and nothing makes sense.

I look back at the events of the day and I see both of our internal systems trying to stop this journey. She not calling, me coming to office for an hour, not securing a cab, me hoping the flight didn’t take off. Even in the presence of our fantasized freedom, our internal systems didn’t want this trip to happen.

Maybe this is what it means to be 2 half’s of a whole.

The struggle to get to nothing

If I were to put a title to the past few months, the title of this piece would be it.

There are so many conversations out there in the world and one finds oneself either accepting them or rejecting them. This makes you this kind of person or some other kind of person in the eyes of the world. This branding is going on and people do it subconsciously. They drift, socially, towards people with similar thoughts and beliefs and distance themselves from those with other thoughts and beliefs. So much strife and I believe its all on account of language.

The fundamental issue I feel is lack of understanding of language. We use it every day externally, and internally it just goes on and on and on. Yet because we don’t understand language we end up being used by it.

because we don’t understand language we end up being used by it. 

Take the word terrorist, on one side it conjures up a picture of willful wrong-doing and condemn-able behaviour and on the other it conjures up a picture of sacrifice and martyrdom. Which one appeals to you depends on the memories and thoughts it conjures up.

It is this conjuring that is the problem. People have no control over it.

Consider the noun “Respect“. Why is it a noun? It doesn’t describe any physical thing.  It has no colour, no shape, no physical reality. (Try disrepecting a stone). But because we dont understand language we give it a reality.

If he says, this, this ,this we are respected, if he does that, that and the other we are disrespected. If disrespected we must protect our honour. How do we do that? We kill slaughter, shout abuse so on and so forth. Its like in that book “The curious incident of the dog in the night time” . The protagonist who is autistic, has a bad day (filled with low emotions and anxiety) if he sees more cars of a particular colour than another. Most people who read this book love it for its palpable description of autism, but what I liked about the book is its a description of the way each of our brains work.

We give reality to a bunch of sounds vibrated in a particular sequence. We give it enough reality to first feel sad and depressed and worst case get violent about it.

Language is a tool to describe things. Thats what its supposed to be used for! We need to stop being controlled by the description we give things.

All that said, its still tough to do though. I know that there are many areas where I still react to things that only exist in language. Getting to nothing certainly is not easy but for sure it makes life make a bit more sense.