Rest in Peace

Today I lost someone really close to my heart, someone whom I looked upto and had shared great memories with during my childhood. Though he was just another officer among the many in my Dad’s Unit, he was like a family member to us. As he is now gone, I wish to pay him a tribute by means of this letter. So here it goes:

Dearest Gautam Uncle,

I can’t tell you to how cheated I feel, for destiny has cheated me of your blessings and your company. When I heard the news today morning, I was misled into believing that you had just met with an accident and were hospitalized, leaving a shred of hope for me to pray for your recovery. What I wasn’t told was that you had left us the very minute of that accident, and had attained the heavenly abode . I don’t blame Dad for keeping the news from me, as I know he was just trying to protect me. He knew how closely knit we were as a family and that the news would break me. As a matter of fact, it actually did. Since morning, my laptop screen is stuck to your facebook page, which has messages from loved ones pouring in. I somehow didn’t have the courage to put in a few words myself, so I just stared on. I can’t think about what Aunty and your sweet little daughters must be going through, but I know this that your family is my family, so you shan’t worry.

It’s the part of being in the Army fraternity which makes you complacent towards death. It is like staring at death so often that you get quite bored of it after a point of time. But you fail to account for the fact, that when death actually strikes your loved ones, what would you do. I have never lost someone so close to me as you were. Hence, I am a little sad, a little heartbroken. It is hard digesting the fact that someone you knew so well, and met so often shall not be there for the remainder of your life. You will never hear their voice again, nor will you ever see them again. I flinch at the thought of what the ‘ Unit Get Togethers’ would look like without you quipping in , or how our family trips would be like without you being there.

You were always my favourite in the Unit and you were my go to guy for all the ‘masti’ in the boring Unit parties in Ranchi. As I grew up a little, and you grew older, you were still my favourite. When we were in Hyderabad, you were still as crazy as ever, inspite of becoming a proud father and having more responsibilities. I knew that my weekends would always involve chilling out at your place, and somehow that made me really look forward to them. For the voracious eaters we were, you were my source of all the different non-veg cuisines around in Hyderabad. From being driven around in your car to bouncing around at the Unit’s Basketball court with you, I have one to many memories with you which I can never forget. Now, I am 21 years old, still struck by the magnificence of the Colonel who was an ace at Golf, and could beat anyone down in a game on one-on-one at basketball. Words can’t describe to how terribly I will miss you, but then to what we have been taught by you and the likes of you, Soldiers and their families must learn to move on.

RIP Colonel Yogesh Kumar Gautam,

3rd Batallion the Bihar Regiment,

Indian Army

Died in Jammu & Kashmir

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Rolling them Models

As a kid, I had several role models, ranging from the most suave rock-stars to superheroes from the movies. In fact, a few of them were a creation of my imaginative mind, which always placed me in the shoes of men in capes. It was exciting to dwell in such fantasies and let my grey cells galore gallop away to the most incredible imagery one could possibly form, wherein every outcome of blithe transgressions were not only favourable, but were symbolic of my unique virtues (atleast as to my mind). Though, a seasoned vigilante in my dreams and a struggling student in reality, my thick glasses didn’t do me justice as much as they did to Clark Kent. I remained a mortal nobody with or without glasses.

Through the course of my childhood, as my ambitions changed, the posters on my bedroom walls fell victims. Even the shelves in my room were overwhelmed with different genre of books that placed themselves neatly over the slabs, aggregating to a picture of a clueless mind towards the end of my teens. Now, when many around me partake to the cubical life, I sit here, still clueless, admiring the beauty of the titles , which have now grown comfortable with each other. Each title is a part of me, and somewhere in my mind, it gleams in the deepest corners allowing me to be a generalist in my virtues and exhibit loads of other non-essential qualities.

As every role model has come and gone, I haven’t been  able to emotionally detach myself from all of them. In their most vulnerable times, I find myself weakened. I can’t count to how many times a final’s defeat or a serve that went wrong has brought me down to the floor ,when Roger Federer would be playing. Every time a soldier dies in the line of duty, showing exemplary courage and valor, I get distraught. I find strength from such characters, and to see them vulnerable is like seeing myself vulnerable, and this isn’t a feeling I cherish.

From the schools of Idealism, a contemporary note says  , ”

Believe in all bullshit for truth is none, skepticism is all around you, choose the best one.

Role models bring in their own set of ideals and virtues, and like a book, you need to read them to know them. If you find the right one, stick with them for they can really help you do things you didn’t think you were capable of. If not, then you are most welcome to share my bookshelf.

Raging across Delhi

She rides smooth and fast, bends and gleams;
she smells like mahogany inside and carries you away like a dream.
Had it not been for her, the waging summer would have melted me inside,and I would have shred in sun,
sweat through my palms I would, and cry in the dusty winds.

It’s not a ferrari , but I love in nonetheless. It keeps me away from the fuming monoxide in the air and the dusty clouds of smoke. But the appreciation comes as a passenger than as the one at helm, for one of the agonizing parts about driving in Delhi is its traffic. It’s been five years since I took to steering on the empty roads, shuttling between the driveway and the garage, but the roads of Delhi are still a distant dream. I remember my initial days here, when my heart would  pound at the sight of traffic, drubbing faster as each car would inch closer.I would close my eyes and wish for the cars to move away,  but I am happy I was never the one driving.

Much to the happiness of Aristotle, Delhites are known to share a similar interest in volume analysis as him. Every trucker, biker and car driver that you find of the roads, though defies the laws Physics as and when it pleases him, has astute regard for the principles of Volume. Unsaid rules of the road mandate that every nook and crany available on the road is to be filled, for an inch left is an opportunity forgone. Delhites also firmly believe that the walkways are basically extensions of the roads and should be driven on, and empty roads are an anathema that need to be bloodied out of existence. Here to walk over the Zebra crossing is like finding death in its crudest form.

As the great F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton once said, ” F1 is easy, Delhi roads are not”, Delhi’s traffic is a tryst with patience for most and a thing of passion for a few. Maybe down the line, philosophy and mythology shall find a place for traffic, fashioning it as penance for all that has been done wrong, encouraging those who tread the slow signal lines to absolve for a lifetime of misdeeds. Maybe a congruence of such thoughts shall never meet, but if it does, our Road Ragers and the trigger friendly driver might find God in their struggle through the red light. A little empathy can go a long way, can save a few bullets and certainly save the ones who dread to walk over the crossing.

Dedicated to the Delhi Traffic, which teaches you that there isn’t a shortcut to anything in life, and bottlenecks are a b****h.

Ladder Games

Ladder of success, a treacherous path for lovers and professionals alike, has been a figment of literature as well as prelude to great many management books. While Romeo and the Students of Bihar Board had it literally, the rest of us see it as a novel idea which is so intangible and blissful, that to envisage the reality(oxymoron) of it ensnares our lives like a whiff of crushed ‘ganja’ ensnares a pothead.

Ever since I was a kid, I heard this line on and off, “To climb the ladders of success isn’t everyone’s doing, for it requires hardwork and persistence”. Unfortunately no one seems to know where can one really find this ladder, climb it and be done with the damn expression. I am as uncertain about my future as a Bushmen(from the Gods Must Be Crazy fame) running around in the middle of the Kalahari in search of water. Lest I give into the temptation of joining the rat race, I find it hard to decide what I am meant to do. Today I was reading an article titled “How do I handle it When People trash me” by James Altucher. As the title suggests,James had some issues and he was just passing on the wisdom learnt of not letting fools drag you down to competition at what they do best. In the article, he just mentioned that in the darkness of the negativity shrouded by misguided people, you might lose track of your ladder of success. That is only if you were on it in the first place. So, do you see of all that goes the idea of being on the ladder of success. You need to find it first, climb it later. If you are lucky, there wouldn’t really be people to pull you back and hopefully none to push you down. So goes the expression,’let go of people who drag you down’, for falling off that ladder isn’t an idea to cherish.

Shunt on the Timeline

So, where do we start?

Ideally I would go about narrating to how important it is for anyone to conserve the momentum on the speedy highway called Life, but there are moments when losing control actually paves way for something much better. As is said, it is only when you brave the seas and lose sight of the shore, do you find something new. But bravery isn’t everybody’s forte. For few people it comes through intrinsic factor, while others require external stimulus to push them beyond the limits. I call it ” The Shunt”.

The shunt doesn’t involve a smooth transition into anything new. It is like a situation wherein a ‘looney toons ‘ character is pushed against the wall so much, that the imprint of his face starts building up on the other, followed by him breaking through the wall. Here, there were no metaphors or action jargon of pushing back hard and fight your way out. Usually such implication come by when you are either too complacent or just lazy, and have lost the will to do anything to change your life in any possible way. Being a vegetable isn’t something to relish or enjoy, because at the end you know you are fat, and you are better sliced and fried.

The shunt does wonders, it helps you break through walls unintentionally as well as get fried, if not just sliced. So, if you are sitting somewhere and wondering what to do with life, remember, either you go out there and fuck things up for yourself and learn something in the process, or let life fuck you first and then walk funny for the rest of your life.

Faces

From a peachy face of a new born to a radiating one of a teenager, one thing that readily distinguishes us from the other 8.7 million species inhabiting this planet is our face. The unique features bestowed to every individual are a biological marvel. It’s even more amazing to how certain features are carried on within generations of family, thus personalizing our physical existence in synonymic characteristics. The subtlety of human life has been governed by idealism of these characteristics, sometimes to fashion and sometimes to sheer enticement.

Though faces have served what they essentially are meant for, the human mind has created jargon to see faces from a different facet. Faces have long been regarded as a measure of one’s inherent values and quality, a yardstick for defining beauty and genuineness. Though one can only imagine to how such demarcation prevailed within the society, facial characteristics went onto rule and serve the people in different ways. We have been conditioned over a period of time, to judge one’s inner values by how they look. Usually, the benevolent characteristics bend towards the one which the mind finds pleasing. The one’s with not such sharp features are adjudged as negative and guile, abhorred in general.

Anyways, moving away from the negativity to the personal touch that the faces offer. Faces are like the barcode to life, wherein you are known first by your face and then by how you are. Faces capture our lives and our age. When we were born, we were cuddly odd shaped creatures with tiny minuscule features outlining our faces, but as we grew up, we distinguished ourselves further. Can you imagine the relevance of pictures without faces? I guess not. In fact, should you take pictures of exotic places which don’t feature you, you will realise that such pictures lose their relevance over a period of time and are ultimately deleted off. Imagine how Mark Zuckerberg would have survived had it not been for our faces. What would he have called the Facebook then?  One of the main things that he leverages through his multi-billion dollar company is how we look. What would have happened to the idea of ‘selfies’ had we all been a bunch of identical humanoids, barely distinguished by our girth, height and how long our ear lobes reach out. Life wouldn’t have been so much fun. In the movie, (Spoiler Alert) Oblivion, Tom Cruise finds out that the earth has been divided into sectors, each manned by its own Tom Cruise. The only thing restraining one Cruise from meeting the other one is a plot by alien to disguise each other’s zone as Nuclear Radiation Zone. Imagine his disappointment when he finds the other Tom Cruise, who too has an equally ravishing female accomplice and gizmos to go with. He is cheated of his uniqueness and individuality.

In a world with similar faces, the concept of love and devotion, reverence and unity would have been lost. We would all be the same, probably bearing tags with numbers. All males with the same faces would go about trying to entice females bearing the same face. No amount dressing up and fancy talk would facilitate chances of getting action in the night.  There wouldn’t exist a romantic notion of love at first sight, but maybe chances of love with unique numbers. Girls wouldn’t be curious to know how they would look in ‘that dress’ when they see their friends wearing it, and guys wouldn’t really be obsessing about the best friend’s girlfriend. The good thing would be that the concept of racism would be browbeaten into anonymity, with no major feature to draw comparison to, Obama would have been just another President, and Leonardo Di Caprio would have gagged Matthew McConaughey on the Oscar night to take the Oscar instead, so to feel how it really is to have one. In fact Mona Lisa would have been an ordinary women who struggled to smile while being painted. Life would have been just funny, if not better.

Dilemma Called Life

There are some glory days and moments of epiphany, when your life transcribes itself into something trivial yet empowering, that you feel enlightened. Sitting on the ledge across the park that day, I had that feeling. So, I asked the random stranger beside me a question just to work along that idea.

“Do you see the pillar, Sir?” I asked

“Yes” He replied in a quivering manner, clearly startled by my question.

Encouraged by his monosyllabic reply, I further added
” Well, then imagine a line between me and the pillar. Now, think of it as the line of life and the pillar being the goal. The goal here is death, and the journey to it is life, as you live it. If you were me, how would you go about such a journey to reach that pillar?”

“I guess I would walk towards the pillar, with resilience and fortitude bearing in mind the ultimate destination of life. ” came his reply.

I felt that he drew the question to be along the lines of his own commitment in life, and thus, hardwork to achieve success became the undertone of his reply.This is a standard answer, I thought . I am sure he didn’t really want to appear too candid with a stranger. Anyways, I perched him more, and drew him onto the undertones of my life.

“Well, Sir, are you telling me that you would walk straight to that goal with your conscious belief telling you of its presence right at the end. Don’t you think, it gives the phrase ‘ staring at death’ a different connotation. How would you enjoy life, if ‘death’ influences your path? How would you live your life, if your goal instills a sense of fear than motivation. ”

” I think overcoming that fear is what makes people successful and that is how the ultimate goal is achieved. ” he replied.

“Well, I like your view, but I don’t see death as a goal, it is just a destination. This destination is an inevitable one, something that is conceivable by the mind, but is accepted without protest as a natural process. Fearing it would be like fearing success. Success comes through arduous incessant efforts in life and is meant to be celebrated. Same is the case with death, the only difference is that we don’t remain to celebrate our life, we just celebrate it in spirit with our loved ones” I spurt out with an enthusiastic smile.

The stranger seemed perturbed, probably by the tone of my voice or just because his idea of a Sunday morning walk didn’t feature him being badgered by collegiate curiosity . Anyways, he chose to stay seated which was a promising thing. So, I continued.

” I meant to take this symbolism to prove another point as well. I see that pillar, so do you, but I wouldn’t just walk towards the pillar. In fact, like a slow cycling race, I would twist and twirl by legs around, run in a zig zag manner, to make it to the pillar. This is not because I mean to delay my achieving that goal , but because there is so much to life than death. My dashing through the park over the lush green grass, ducking down under a Frisbee and plunging my head into the sprinkler’s spray is a symbol of the journey that I mean to undertake in life. I wish to enjoy life as I go on than stay sad about the lost opportunities and relations.”

” So how is this slow cycling race going on for you, not in ideation but in reality?” He asked.

” Honestly, It’s been fine. I have come to believe that if not inherently,one should force himself to an optimistic outlook. Maybe it might not work initially, but over a period of time, when this optimism stays in your head all the time, it starts affecting the way you operate. Yous instinctive thoughts are more positive, and you attract positivity. So, basically it all amounts to more zig-zag sprints in life, without much concern for what lies ahead.”

With that we ended our conversation. After exchanging goodbyes, we got up and walked in different directions. I had been pressing an idea, not to him but to myself for I am a believer and thus, like to reinforce certain ideas by discussing it out more often than would please random strangers at parks.

Complacency in being competent

Like the wayfarer who stretches out to a journey of fulfillment, my inclination while in college wasn’t to the static environment within the classrooms, but to the liveliness that seemed to befall the environs outside of it.Thus, my presence was rather limited in the classrooms, as I spent more time wandering about. Passing through college like it hardly mattered, for I was a firm believer that it was the experience in life that mattered much more in life than sticking around a bunch of books, so I tried a lot of different things. It had dividends, but not worth living for. I was getting by, scarping through rather, not gliding by, which I would have wanted. From school to college, my life had seen a transformation wherein the priorities of life had changed drastically and I wasn’t the person I once had been. The ace student in me had been taken over by the nasty frivolous casual wacko who escaped things in the pretext of “not my passion , not my thing”.

It’s a curse to dwell in complacency and call it perfection. The mind fools us and affects our understanding of the reality as it allows us to dwell in complacency. I know this, since at a point of time in life, I allowed myself to be dragged in such banality, that to revert back to normality was not a choice but a necessity. While the ideals of experience that I believed in were not momentary surge of blithe disregard for strenuous efforts , I felt that this had to be complimented with commitment in every sphere of life. This learning wasn’t overnight, neither were the results. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When you kick around with life, life kicks you back. Some people understand this in theory and swearing to their mortal existence don’t play around with the wishes of fate, while few like me sometimes choose to expand horizons out of a sense of daredevilry and play with life.

I remember after having scored wonderfully in school and having made it to the best college in India, I was on the moon. That seemed to be the highlight of my life and everything seemed too sublime. I suddenly found myself as the center of attraction, being the topic of discussion and an adviser to all. Then came college which was pretty cool. But then, while everyone saw this as just the beginning of the rat race, and were all geared up, I was standing by the side watching people smack each other through it. As people tried different things, I chose not to do different things, and let that be the difference between me and the rest. That was a rather skewed logic, since the first year me was pretty foolish. So, I screwed up my academics. From 90s to 60s was the graph that I was drawing, and worst of all, I played it cool. I do have to accept, a part of me told me, that this is the level you get to be at and no where beyond. Back in those days I would get intimidated by one and all, and believe that I didn’t have what it takes to be the best of the best. So without being in the middle, I evaded the stress involved in competing with the crowd.

Somewhere down the line, It took on small event to trigger a response, a feeling which made me question things. A personal tragedy changed my perspective in life. I can’t say what it was, but it made me feel again, and feel that I mattered just like the rest and I deserved better. The crowd that I refrained myself from getting engaged with was no more a point of concern. In fact, they weren’t even the point of congruity in my life anymore. What other did with their lives wasn’t my business, hence how well they did wasn’t my concern either. I let them be, and focused on myself. I remember setting up a list of things that I had been missing out on, and set of a bucket list of personal goals to be attained. It didn’t matter if they were to be accomplished just then, or in a few months or a few years, as long as I tried. So, then I set out participating in things,attending lectures and finally getting to know my classmates.My academics improved, my confidence and personality improved, so did my health. The world wasn’t conniving to make my life a miserable hell after all, and my willingness to try was reinforcing that belief. I did well eventually, but the journey is still on. Everyday is spent in constant amazement as I stop less and do much more, keeping myself busy and relishing the fact that we should take on life to move ahead,since side stepping and watching the game just doesn’t make the cut.