“Then i looked at my hands in the flickering candlelight”
The prompt for today suggested i pick up the nearest book, open page 82 and make a post based on the 3rd line from the page. So i took this one from Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami.
I’m not a fiction buff. But most of my favorites from the genre have been written by Murakami. His tone centers around loneliness, great music and the 60s. The writing style has always had me glued on. Today when i read the line on top, i wondered if it could mean something in a different context. The only thing i can think of is to look through the darker uncertain times with sheer Pollyanna optimism. In the book the character is confused about visions pretty similar to the way we build notions and let them guide us. So let that flickering candle not dampen a moment’s enthusiasm. Believe. That’s what i really took away.
It’s Lohri, the punjabi harvest festival that signifies the start of a new year. While i had been meaning to plug back in to the blog at the start of this calendar year, its simply been harder to do than just think off. Procrastination has got the better half of me, unfortunately.
So when i stumbled on this post mentioning image search, it seemed like a good time to begin again. I googled for inspiration – something that i have been looking for lately. This one seemed to fit the bill. May be all that’s required is a fresh perspective with a focused approach to get back in action. Here’s to the new year!
A short trip. Some memoirs or souvenirs. I took this picture which serves as a keepsake for me.
To remind me of the calm in this moment. And that whatever it may be, it shall all be good.
“He’s not going to make the cut” / “She’s obviously never heard of class” / “This entire thing is doomed for failure”. Quite often we come across people who are resorting to a quick judgement about people or situations. The way we have been brought up, our society has kind of baked this system in to us. From early school days, parents will be cautious about the friends you make. “Company maketh a man”. Or so they say.
As we grow older, we tend to draw out of our experiences and begin to stereotype people. Notions are widespread about the community one belongs to / experience they bring. Then you have qualitative ones. The kind of people you feel uncomfortable around for no good reason. “I have a bad feeling about this”. Many a times situations prompt the same response.
It’s quite natural for us to jump to conclusions. Some highly opinionated individuals take it upon as their birth right to have an insight on just about everything. Makes me think about how much can one know to really have a point of view about nearly everything. But, what i wonder most is that when people are drawing these judgements and passing them off unaware people, why does it mostly have to be negative? You could also come up with a real positive one. I think one needs to think ahead of themselves, in the larger perspective to really think on those lines. Just to think about it, if all of us were to just spend one entire day appreciating each other, wouldn’t the world seem like a much happier place? To me, it would sure would. Even with the judgement bit thrown in.
I’ve always wondered how much of what we think we see is hidden. Ditto for the kind of situations we try to understand. I’m sure many a times, we think we have understood the crux of the problem. Only to discover there were more strings attached. To me, anything that’s hidden works wonders to spark my curiosity on the subject. Maybe that’s why i kept reading up on Astrophysics and quantum mechanics from middle school. While people around me were reading comics or Sidney Sheldon novels, i was deep diving in physics. My interests kept changing all along. But it was the unexplored that had me intrigued.
There are a lot of aspects that are hidden from our daily frame of things. I once read that our subconscious mind keeps eliminating thoughts to help us focus better on what’s important. Typically these thoughts manifest themselves in to dreams. In case these are unpleasant we then embark on a journey to understand the hidden messages. All of this makes me wonder how much of control we really have over stuff in our lives. While you may choose to know as much as you can, take additional degrees or courses, work in different sectors / roles and take on as much as you can within your family, there will still be things that are hidden. I don’t know what could be good given the circumstances. Maybe sometimes, we should just let it go and believe what’s not obvious is for our best interests.
Glancing at my debit card, i began to take notice of my photo on the card. The photo was taken nearly 6 years back. A volley of thoughts began to run through my head. One of the most prominent one being that if i were to go back in time, what would i tell myself. What would be the advise i have in store? Would i look back and change anything? There would be a lot, i could try to do better. Maybe prudence would have helped me at some stages.
But then, i reckoned that no matter what i had in mind, life would have taken its own course anyways. We go about planning, scheduling and over-thinking simple things in life. Only to make them more complicated. Maybe the key is to focus on the journey. We get so clouded by our own set of aspirations that we focus on the destination instead.
Change is always in store. Just when you think that you’re in a comfortable zone, there you’re going to get a jolt. Overtime, we are mended and bent over by consistent bickering like stones that turn to pebbles along the course of a river. But, the important part is that its always going to be for the good. As Andy Warhol said:
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
The daily prompt got me reminiscing about home. In the past few years, i have shifted cities. Have traveled to all the four metros at different part of India. But when i probe my earliest memories about home, my mind races to the villa my family stayed at in Doha. I was born and brought up there. That makes it nearly 17 significant years of my life. Although i don’t really like looking back, but there were a few good things about it.
We stayed in a diverse neighborhood with very few indian families around us. While that made us feel isolated from our culture, there was a certain richness in the diversity too. The locality was also a quite one. Quiet enough to hear my own heartbeat at night. Being an early riser always glued to my books, it was the perfect environment to read diligently. I think by class 10, i had read up on astrophysics, quantum mechanics and the Bhagvad Gita in the peaceful mornings. The place was well connected to various important centers but quite far from my school. Life in Doha was quite slow as compared to the hustle and bustle of Mumbai. Festivals or occasions would come and pass us by quietly as people hardly celebrated unless it was in a cultural center of some sort. Here in Mumbai, i miss the calm but find order in the chaos. As i look outside my window and soak in the sounds and chants, i feel there is much more to see and explore as i move on.
Here is a view from my window.
This little fortune cookie sparked some hope in me as we were winding up a lazy lunch last week. Smooth seas, well don’t we all want to sail away and feel the breeze in our face? But then again, how long can we bask in our comfort zone i ask. It’s always good to get used to an idea or a notion but rarely do we appreciate a change in perspective. As we grow older, our ideas get set in stone. We rationalize by telling ourselves that these are the principles we want to live by.
We build a cocoon to make life peaceful and keep any distractions at bay. However in doing so, we keep hoping that nothing bad comes our way. Hope. A powerful word. Isn’t hoping for nothing bad to happen an indirect way of our subconscious telling us that you didn’t do enough or need to do more. On the contrary by hoping for the best, aren’t we tricking ourselves to make believe in things that are probably not possible in the first place? Maybe all we need is to be flexible to go with the flow and roll with the punches. Living, then wouldn’t seem so tough at all.
For this i would tend to side with Friedrich Nietzsche who said, “Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man”.
Calm. The feeling we eternally seek. Hold on, one sec. Breathe, slow down. Countless moments revolve around everyone through the day. Yet we find it so hard to center down on ourselves to feel that we’re in control. We constantly want to feel in control, in the know and able to deal with uncertainty. I feel its always better to look for specific times through the day when you’re most likely to loose grip. Counter that time with something that helps.
It could be doodling on your notepad or listening to music. Something as simple as a walk to soak in the sunshine. After all situations really play out on the way you respond rather than react. As this week winds up (been slightly sick through this one) i found my moment of calm in the early morning drizzle today. Looking outside the window, i caught a brilliant glimpse of the sky and that’s captured in the photo above. All in all, as eventful as the weekend will promise to be the mantra is to keep calm & bask in the gentle winter vibe around. Literally.
I think this track by Aphex Twin will go well with it.
Libraries offer a quite abode of peace for the wandering mind. I’ve always been drawn to the narrow alleys, seething in the smell of old books. It offers a certain kind of solace. Like the world may have changed over years gone by, but those words are still there to offer comfort.
I’ve always been an avid reader. The kind who would light up a torch under the blanket when the lights are turned out to continue reading. Don’t quiet remember what or who got me in to it, but reading has been one of my favorite things to do. The comfort of slipping away in a book is like having a conversation with the author or the characters one to one. Maybe that’s why movies made out of popular books don’t feel as good as the book you read. There is of course a limit to what movie makers may replicate.
When i was younger i drooled over classics. Talk about Jane Eyer, Dickens and the works. Fairy tale me not, i never found them worthy of my reading time. But as i grew older, my interest moved in to reading pure sciences. Being where i was brought up, there weren’t too many of those to read (this was the late 90’s & online bookstores hadn’t caught up). So i’d plead to my father to bring some over from his business trips to New York. Hail Borders (now Barnes & Noble) , the book store at the World Trade Center that eventually got destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. I still have the books from there. The interest then moved to philosophy, so i bought a bunch of books on the subject and read up all i could on how it came to be. I even dabbled in psychology for bit and tried reading Freud. I must say tried. By the time i got to my B-school, i was absolutely fascinated with the world of finance. I mean we were reeling under the 2008 financial crisis & i really wanted to know what’s a bubble. Off i went on a reading spree like a finance nerd. Though i didn’t major in it, i learnt a lot from the books i read.
As of now, i read just about anything i can get my hands on. But if i have to choose, then technology / biographies / behavioral psychology are the genres that appeal to me the most. Having something to read offers me a certainty, that i can slip in to without bothering anyone. The takeaway is always huge & i think books tell you a lot more about facts than what you will read in a 100 articles online. So take up a good read & slip away in to bliss. It will be a rewarding experience.
PS: The photo above is a view of the enormous library at Calcutta Club. It’s got 3 floors & one could just get lost in the good collection of books they have.
In the meanwhile i leave you with the 10 best songs on Libraries/Librarians.