Dec 18, 2008

Before optimism

Having known people of different shades between suicidal to exuberant, and I am increasingly convinced that that people's attitudes on life is a product, more of an innate state of being, than of circumstances that surround them. The following dialogue from the movie Before Sunset still stands clear in my memory (obviously I still had to go back to the film to transcribe the lines).

Ethan Hawke (Jesse): I don't think anybody does [change]... I mean people don't want to admit it, but its like, we have these innate set points... you know like nothing much that happens to us changes our disposition.

Julie Delpy (Celine): Really? You believe that...

Jesse: I read this study where they followed people who'd won the lottery, and people who had become paraplegic... so, you'd think that one extreme is going to make you euphoric, and the other suicidal... but the study shows that after about six months... right as soon as people got used to their new situation, they were more or less the same.

Celine: The same !?

Jesse: Well... yeah. Like if they were an optimistic jovial person, they're now an optimistic jovial person in a wheelchair. If they are petty miserable assholes, they're now a petty miserable asshole with a new cadilac, a house and a boat.

Celine: So, now I'll be forever depressed no matter what great things happen in my life?

Jesse: Definitely (with a smirk)

I guess if I put on my preachy hat, I'd have to say that general happiness, and contentment is something that can only be achieved through within oneself. No amount of materials (consumerism, counseling and anti-depressants will qualify) can bring about real happiness in a human being, for the fact that they are finite and will eventually end (and will follow the pattern set in the dialogue above).

From what I understand of it, the single most important ingredient to happiness is acceptance. Acceptance is an umbrella for a variety of sentiments, which would include 'I don't give a shit', 'Its okay.', 'Who cares!', 'Its all part of life...', and many more.

As a complement to acceptance comes in handy the existential idea of choice and consequence. Wherever one has a choice, it can be exercised to change the circumstances. An when one does not have a choice, one can accept the circumstances in order to eliminate any possible conflicts arising from them.

Again, all this pseudo philosophical mumbo jumbo is a lot harder in practice than in real life as I have found. But, to speak from experience, it does enhance the quality of being, and hence, the quality of life.

Nov 24, 2008

Global Imbalance - An imminent Dollar Crisis

CA M.R. Venkatesh gives a lecture on globalization, and how the current dynamics of economics has led to the crisis we're facing today. He explains the current situation and how it came about in a very lucid manner.

It is a hour-long lecture, but is definitely worth a watch.

Nov 23, 2008

The Story of India

The Story of India is one of the most brilliant documentaries I have seen on India. Michael Wood, the narrator takes us through a journey of India from the pre-historic times of the Indus Valley civilization to India in its modern day.

Thanks to kashsoldier on YouTube, we have this documentary for all to watch online. For viewing ease, all the videos are listed below.

The Story of India - World's Oldest Civilization

Part 1 of 35 :: Beginnings

Part 2 of 35 :: Beginnings

Part 3 of 35 :: Beginnings

Part 4 of 35 :: Beginnings

Part 5 of 35 :: Power of Ideas

Part 6 of 35 :: Power of Ideas

Part 7 of 35 :: Power of Ideas

Part 8 of 35 :: Power of Ideas

Part 9 of 35 :: Power of Ideas

Part 10 of 35 :: Power of Ideas

Part 11 of 35 :: Spice Routes and Silk Roads

Part 12 of 35 :: Spice Routes and Silk Roads

Part 13 of 35 :: Spice Routes and Silk Roads

Part 14 of 35 :: Spice Routes and Silk Roads

Part 15 of 35 :: Spice Routes and Silk Roads

Part 16 of 35 :: Spice Routes and Silk Roads

Part 17 of 35 :: Ages of Gold

Part 18 of 35 :: Ages of Gold

Part 19 of 35 :: Ages of Gold

Part 20 of 35 :: Ages of Gold

Part 21 of 35 :: Ages of Gold

Part 22 of 35 :: Ages of Gold

Part 23 of 35 :: Ages of Gold

Part 24 of 35 :: The Meeting of Two Oceans

Part 25 of 35 :: The Meeting of Two Oceans

Part 26 of 35 :: The Meeting of Two Oceans

Part 27 of 35 :: The Meeting of Two Oceans

Part 28 of 35 :: The Meeting of Two Oceans

Part 29 of 35 :: The Meeting of Two Oceans

Part 30 of 35 :: Freedom and Liberation

Part 31 of 35 :: Freedom and Liberation

Part 32 of 35 :: Freedom and Liberation

Part 33 of 35 :: Freedom and Liberation

Part 34 of 35 :: Freedom and Liberation

Part 35 of 35 :: Freedom and Liberation

Sep 29, 2008

From me to You...

Tangled up in my masks,
It is myself I seek,
To comprehend the convoluted,
It is a little simplicity I seek,
To contain the aggravation within,
It is a little peace I seek,
To survive this unempathizing world,
It is a little disconnection I seek,
To break the monotony of solitude,
It is a little love I seek,
To pour out the miseries untold,
It is a tear-drop I seek,
To share myself with You,
It is Your warm embrace I seek,
To give meaning to my existence,
It is only You I seek.

Sep 10, 2008

Touching the humanity within

Chris Albani gives a touching speech at TED Talks on the humanity we share with each other. He cites stories from his life and his experiences of the rites of the Igbo tribe in Southern Nigeria.

Jun 14, 2008

A will that fell...

Drifting away,
On and indifferent plane,
Seeking to connect,
A perusal in vain.

Life flashes,
In a glorified darkness,
A helpless spectator,
Complies in numbness.

Deafening noise,
Yet the absence of sound,
The desire to desire,
Cannot be found.

Idealism lost,
Surrendered to reality,
A will that fell,
To the veneration of vanity.

Apr 2, 2008

When we were made of earth...

I can still recount those days when we used to be made of water and earth. We were kids of seven and five. While being the older one, I used to get to boss my little brother around. He is, by far, the best support I have ever known.

Those languid Sundays, when the breeze was too lethargic to move around the neatly swept lawn, we would get to work with our cast-iron soil scoop and the blunt sickle. The far right corner, just beside the Tulis plant where my grandmother use to light the evening lamp, was our favorite excavation spot.

Digging a pond was not enough to fulfill our fancy; the goal used to be to dig a one which would be wider and deeper than the one dug before. I would be lying if I claim that the thorough beating we used to get for creating a muddy mess did not deter us. But once the iron hit the earth, and the cool water drawn from the cranky deep tube well mixed with the fine mud of the lawn, the fear of the punishment was almost instantly forgotten.

In Berhampore, the early afternoon just after lunch, was the quietest and most peaceful time of the day. It was when the housewives took their little naps, shops remained closed, the only papers that fluttered in the public offices were the pages of the local newspaper, in between sips of hot tea from small scratched glasses. Over a period of time, we had discovered this safe window to carry out our mischievous entertainment activities.

As brothers, we were relatively fair (in spite of the fact that I had added advantages of bossing around) in our conduct. While one of us dug, the other was fetching water from the tube well, the art of working which I give ourselves credit for till this day. Because of the sinking water levels, the pipes had been deepened by a solid forty meters the year before. For some reason, it came as a blessing in disguise. When we would raise the handlebar, and hang from it, much like hanging from a tree branch. Our weight would slowly pull the lever down, drawing a mug-full of water with it by the time our folded feet touched the ground.

Over a couple of hours, we would excavate rocks, pieces of broken mud-pots, random roots, and sometimes, when we are really lucky, earthworms. All the earthworms we ever found got a special, or more precisely, an honorary ritualistic treatment. They were instantly split in half, and then the halves into halves again, and so on, till it could not be divided any further. I know it sounds rather brutal in retrospect, but I assure you, at that time and state of mind, it was the most entertaining thing in the world to watch the earthworm trying to run for its life and curl and shimmer as it was split.

Drawing water never stopped, because every time we would fill up our little pond, in a matter of minutes, much of the water would be soaked up the earth below. Since we did not want our paper boats to hit rock bottom, we had no choice but to keep replenishing.

Obviously by this time, we would be relatively covered in clay till our elbows and knees. When boredom would start lurking around the corners of the garden that oversaw the lawn, we would begin our the attempts to make the excavation interesting – mudslinging. I mean literally. By the time mom would intervene and tear us apart, no part of our body, even the ear canals would have been spared. My mom, furiously burning bright red, would start the cleaning up with two tight slaps across our cheeks. We would take it jovially; after all, we had been preparing for it for the from the minute we added the water to the loose mud!

The maid would be instructed to immediately set two pans of water on the stove for heating (we were weak kids then, relatively susceptible to cold). Many tumblers of water would be cranked out the deep tube well, mixed with the boiling water from the pan to the temperature that would just about make us shiver in the orange evening sunset. Ton always went first. He was the easier one to manage – no frills. He didn’t move, run away, throw water back on mom, or dive back into the puddle while being bathed. I, on the contrary, had to be under the constant curfew of my mother’s right hand.

Sitting in the breezy fourteenth floor balcony of a posh Singapore condominium, l almost feel disconnected from the not so distant past. I wonder if in us, we will be able to preserve the bond we share with the earth, which is fading fast, everyday…

Jan 1, 2008

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