Archive for ‘8. Thoughts’

July 28, 2010

Homage to Guru Dutt

Dear Vasant (GuruDutt for others),

I am sorry. Sorry for not being there. Not being there, when you needed me. Not me in particular. But it could have been anybody. So why was it not me!! That night after you had separated from your wife, Geeta and gone off to live in a separate flat at Peddar road. All by yourself! How badly you must have needed someone. How badly you must have sought respite from yourself. To take those pills. To take an overdose. Knowingly or in a fit. Conscious of its possible affects or just too possessed to get rid of your thoughts to care about anything. That night when you took them. Thet night when they took you. That night when it became your last night. How sorry I am. But what use is it, you ask. You are right. But what use was it. This taking pills, I say.
To tell you the truth, I was not there when you, well, died. Kinda. I could have been there, to be more truthful. In some other form. Some other body. Some other life. i dont know now. Like I dont know how crafty you really were when you were there. for all I know of you is through the lens of history. And it is a biased bitch, this history. Sometimes in favor, often otherwise. In your case, may be favorable. But then you knew that all along. Didnt you? Thats why you said in Pyaasa, “What kind of world is this where dead are worshipped and living ignored.” Is that why you died? Just because you didnt get enough recognition? Just for that? Whataty pity I would say if that is true. I am sure that wasnt the case. I would like to believe that. Just to let you know, you have become a very celebrated director post your untimely demise. They count you in Top 100 directors of all time. You would be delighted to know that “Kaagaz Ke Phool” has become a cult classic now. It flopped big time when it released. Didnt it. Must have hurt. Big time. For it was so close to your heart. As if you made it just for yourself. For that corner of yours which echoed with no one. You said something to that affect to your cameraman, V. K. Murthy, “This movie is not for the audience. It is for you and me.” You knew it already. Like everything else. I find it a tad too sentimental though. But forget me. Who am I? You hardly cared for the world. I am nothing in comparison.
But I liked you in Pyaasa. Not because I am a shayar of sort. I am but not of any sort. There was soemthing about it. Don’t know what. When you dont know what is good about something but you still like it, it means it is saying something beyond your comprehension. There was sentimentality here too, but just a tad bit okay. I liked you in Saheb Biwi aur Gulam too. Not quite. But just bit okay. I am too used to Shahrukh Khan to like your underplayed characters you see. Blame it on the nineties!

You were always trying to say something which no one quite understood. Nor did you. Or may be you did but were too embarrassed to say it. Somethings can not be said, they have to be understood. The moment you put them in words, they lose their meaning. They exist in that formless state. Like what they say, “maano to sona, na mano to mitti”. You said to Abrar Alvi once, “Dekho na, mujhe director banna tha, director ban gaya; actor bana tha, actor ban gaya; picture achche banane thay, achche banay. Paisa hai, sab kuch hai, par kuch bhi nahi raha.” He didnt get it. How could he. You also said “Life mein, yaar, kya hai? Do hi toh cheezen hai – kamyaabi aur failure. There is nothing in between.” They got this one. But not quite right. They said, you always wanted what someone else had. You always got excited about a new project and then would lose interest. They saw the symptoms. Not the cause. You did it because you were searching for something, which you looked for in every place. Everyone. And almost always felt disappointed. You were looking for that something which will get rid of that nagging feeling in you, of existential loneliness. Its not quite right word but there can not be a right word for this. For this is not expressable. Only understood. Partly. You wanted to have someone, something, the thought of which, the memory of which would stay with you, even if all else will lose you. Even when your own talents, your own will loses you. What will remain of you when all this that is fickle is gone. Nothing. You knew that so well. You said so in that movie of your “Kagaza Ke Phool”, which no one saw. No one likes a sad sentimental story. Just like no one quite liked that part of you. This sad sinking sentimentality. You yourself didnt like it. That is why I am sorry. I am sorry for not being there. May be, just may be I could have been around and understood it. And may be, may be you would still have been around if I was around. May be. Because one never knows about oneself. You may yourself have rejected my proposition of accepting your sad sentimentality. May be. May you rest in peace. Amen.

October 4, 2008

The sweet, the successful and the rest

The world seems to be divided among two set of people. The Sweet and The Successful. Then there is the third kind, people who lie somewhere between the corridors of sweet and successful, better known as The Frustrated. You can distinguish devotees of the two corridors by the way they refer to the people of the third world (The Frustrated). “Ah, but what is wrong with you. Everything is just fine. I think you are worrying too much, just take it easy and rest all will happen” or “I told him early on that if he does not take the right decisions, this is where he will end up, I pretty much knew its gonna happen”.

Obviously, we are not here to talk about the third kind, who needs them. Even they don’t want themselves. Ah, the sweet ones. Everyone wants to have them around, after all they are the harmless ones who will be the last of the human race to judge you (Though their simple often naïve belief in goodness may make you feel guilty as somewhere deep down you know that it is not without reason that others are judging you the way they are doing). So, in a nut-shell, the world needs them. They make world appear a better and more easy place to be. Another advantage of them is that they want to keep good people around them and say all the nice things and mostly indulge in all the good things that text-books have been trying to cajole us into ever since we learned that very first tool of knowledge transfer – language.
Unfortunately, like all good things, even they are in shortage. Reasons are not confirmed but experts say it is because everyone wants to have them around but no one wants to become one. Remember Christ? Everyone loved him, everyone has him in the corner of their house. But how many will like to actually become one? Yeah, I know your answer to why everyone can’t be him. We are just human (And be assured even I think this is strong enough reason to go on the way we do).

Well, let us have a look into the other part of the world as well, The Successful. To their credit, had it not been for them, we would still have been living in the stone-age. All the progress, the plane, the train, the electricity, the gizmos, the internet, the home-deliveries (The most important one) is because of them. What do they thrive on? Verdict is not out yet but common belief is their most-preferred dish is “Ego”. Their’s to pander and other’s to conquer. They make sure that wherever they go, they fan other’s ego enough to turn it into a delicious dish someday to gorge upon. It’s an eco-system based on cooperative system. I sow, I grow and one of my community eats.

So, what are we saying? That we need more of the first kind but increasingly we are getting the second ones? Amm, may be in a way but not really. Lets study the normal life-cycle of the first kind. What happens to people who grow up being sweet. Where do they end-up. Well, a complete research on it will not only be time consuming but I have no intention to do so. So let us go to next best alternative and the most common technique employed when you don’t want to work hard enough and still want same results, go for secondary research. Pick other’s work, play with it, make a few changes here and there and you got your very own “inspired version”. No one can deny that its original in some sense after all one has to begin from somewhere so why not from the point others left. Anyway, lets get into movies. Ever wondered why all romantic movies are about sweet people. Why do they have these silly incidents which normally one doesn’t even bother about. Why do they try and give you a feel that your ordinary life could be extra-ordinary if you just choose to consider them as one. Anyway, point is most sweet people start their life that way, doing ordinary things and doing it well.
What happens next? Enter the little more evolved version of romantic comedies, the romantic tragedies. It is a movie about two sweet people who happened to meet and discover that their naïve beliefs have wide-spread support. That when they smile and hug, everyone around stops to clap and a few even shed a couple of tears for them. Anyway, these are tragedies so eventually life catches up with them and teaches who is boss. The unfortunate incidents happen (If its bollywood then mostly they discover that their parents are arch-enemies or that guy’s dad is car-driver of girl’s dad. If it is Hollywood then it is mostly to do with the guy who incidentally sleeps with the friend of the girl after a drunken stupor and yes, leave his pants to be discovered by the girl). Ending of the movie is also dependant on where it is coming from. Bollywood has mostly concluded that such people are doomed and must die though after around half an hour of fight sequences and around 50-100 car blow ups. Hollywood has a different take. These people smarten up and make difficult choices in life and move on. Basically essence is the same. Either kill the innocence (Hollywood) or the innocent (Bollywood).

So, what the hell. Is there no solution? The sweet ones can’t survive and the successful ones alone are not enough. So who will rule the world? The Frustrated? The ones who don’t know what they want? Who are at neither of the ends? Who are trying to strike a balance all the time and the balance is so slippery that they spend most of their energy in keeping it intact? Will they…can they?

Yes, very much yes. A strong yes. If you are frustrated then you are not alone. If you are frustrated then it means you haven’t given up hope. That you are still striving and be assured you will survive.

October 4, 2008

And Along came Buddha


Without intent, have been hearing, reading and viewing about Buddha quite often over past few days. An animation movie on Buddha was being shown on the television. News paper carried an article about Deepak Chopra’s biopic on Buddha. A friend talked about Buddha and his way of Nirvana. He talked about how he feels about life and the day-to-day occurrences related to it. He said he doesn’t enjoy them. He feels they are way too ordinary and common place to feel elated about. They do not in any way provide a meaning to life. And what doesn’t provide a meaning could not be an emotion worth living. Right? Well, I definitely couldn’t refute his point of view. But I couldn’t agree with him as well. Does an individual not perform the day to day activities once he has found meaning of life? What does he do all day? Are these seemingly little moments really so little and worthless? But then I want to live all of them for they are all there seem to be in life. Anyway, this is not about me, this is about Buddha.

Why did Buddha talk about what he did talk about? Why did Buddha say that life is a cycle of birth and death and is full of sorrows? Why did he say that to get out of it is Nirvana? What made him suggest the eight-fold way to lead life which can save us from sorrow. Why was he so horrified of sorrow, if I may say so? And why is it that we, the ordinary folk are so very comfortable with a world full of sorrow that we want to live in it and face each day with an optimism of a perfect tomorrow. Though each one of us knows that there is never going to be a perfect tomorrow. That such a day has never come for anyone, ever. And if it has ever come, it has never stayed for long.
So why? Why is Buddha so concerned about something which even a common individual feels so comfortable with?

Answer may lie in Buddha’s life. The man that he was and the experiences he went through. A man of riches, a man who knew no sorrow. All he witnessed was pleasure. All he savored was life. Sun rose to give him light and dusk happened to let him play in the moon-light. All this continued till one day. The one very day when he stepped out of his palace and saw the other side of the coin. The sun rose because it has to. It went down because it had to. For each drop of pleasure he had, there was a coinciding side of sorrow. For each fruit he savored, someone had labored. For each man that was born, someone had died. And suddenly he just saw two sides of life, . Life and death. Pleasure and sorrow. Dusk and dawn. Unlike others who see it in unison, he saw it in two distinct pieces. And it tormented him. How can I savor something which will not last? How can I live in a moment of happiness if I know the source of it will soon fade and eventually die? He had always lived believing in eternity of the life and all the pleasures it brought with it. Now that he could see the futility of it, the fragility of it, the transience of it, he couldn’t enjoy anything anymore. He probably traveled from place to place, people to people, hoping to find one such place, where the moment stays. Trying to find one such piece of life, which would not change. Looking for that truth which can not be questioned. Which can be his companion for life and beyond and which will never change. Till he could find such a thing, these was no peace, only torture. There was no life, only questions. A child was born, lets celebrate, people said. But why?, asked Buddha. For he is going to die someday. He will grow and go through pain and suffering. Why should we celebrate something which is full of horrors? The question, the doubt and cynicism became his life. His each and every moment was filled with this question which seemed unanswerable. The quest was quenched only when he found his own answers. His own set of principles, his own truth. When he accepted life as a cycle of birth and death, of pleasure and sorrow. When he accepted that there is no getting away from it till we are in it. And that moment he became Buddha. He became the consciousness which lives this truth. The spirit which believes in it, is shaped by it. His response to each moment of life, each question of his followers came from one pot, that life is full of sorrow and everything in it is cyclic.

But then, it is not just about Buddha. It is about each one of us. We look at life with our own consciousness. It may not be so very much defined though. It may just be an unsaid, not-so-well-understood set of experiences, beliefs and motivations. But then it is, whether we know about it or not. We all are our own living Buddhas. Our Buddha may not be so evolved though. And who am I or anyone else to say who is evolved. Buddha, the evolved one, could very well be the most under-developed. He didn’t understand one basic fact of life, that it is transient. But then he was evolved because he knew his own version of truth. He was Buddha because not only he knew it, he lived with it. He was Buddha because his each moment was infused with his consciousness, which was so clear, lucid and consistent.

October 4, 2008

Thought – It is all about layers


Thought is a good thing, probably best of the things. And like all good things, it should not be done in excess. Why do we need it in the first place? We need it because it can help us understand the world outside us. There is an old saying, “there is a God in all of us”. And there is a modern saying, we all have a conscious within us with which we react, respond and live. They mean the same thing. They mean that somewhere within us, there is an unknown who uses the known part of ours as per its whims and fancy. What is known is our physical state, the things around us, the people, the place. What is not is why we like some of them over others? Why people have different preferences and priorities. The question mark of why?
This is where thought emerges again. To solve this why, to capture this unknown and give it a shape. We use this dangerous tool called though to understand, grasp, slot and finally define, what can not be. The unknown within us is truly a God in itself. Just like God can not be defined or understood. We can only understand its manifestations. We can only grasp its few sides and say that this is what it seems to be. And just like, centuries of though have failed to put God in a box, a lifetime can never be sufficient to put down the part of it which lives in each one of us.

Okay, understood that thought can be dangerous thing and it may not be too suited to understand the Buddha in us. But what the hell is your point?
Yeah, I agree. I lost the point. Wait and just hang on. Let me go back to why I felt it is a piece which needs to be written.
Well, of late I have been experimenting with many a predictors, fortune-tellers and face-readers. I have been a bunch of them, from road-side, Rs 10 worth, to those who claim to have studied it in detail and were actually quite good at it.
While we normally end with the analysis of self, so many of analysis made me analyze my reactions to analysis itself. Why is it that whenever someone tells these things, you want to believe it. How much truth is there in it really? Are we really defined by those statements that they had made. You have been an underdog. You have faced quite a bit of criticism. You think too much. You are very emotional. Everything is alright other than your thought process. So much and so forth.

First thing I realized that all these things are just the manifestations of the living being within us. Outcome of the reaction of the living within us to the dead outside us. People with similar living within, find similar manifestations. Same very people find themselves falling apart as the living within changes.

Second thing I realized was that getting caught in them is a dangerous thing. It may be good to be aware of them to may be understand the events. It may help you to simplify your reactions and bring them to normal. With time it may paint a picture which is more easy to accept and move on with. But doing anything more with them is really not worth it.

Third thing I realized was that people use their brain, by which I mean logical brain for essentially two purposes. One is to find ways to do what they want to do. Second is to find a reason to not do what they find themselves incapable of doing. We can add one more use of it, to find an acceptable reason for what they have to do anyway (With or without a choice).

Most motivators talk with the first objective, to find ways to do what you want to do. Pacifiers work on the second part. The healers act as mediators for the third, to find an acceptable reason for what they have to do.

Let me take the three cases in a bit of detail because that is of direct relevance to us in day-to-day life. The first case belongs to scenario when objective is clear. I want this, help me reach there. In these cases one seeks information, insights, experience without having to go through it. Why make a mistake when someone else had done and learned from it. This probably is most constructive use of thought. How do I buy a house? What is a good time for it? Which is a better company to work for? Which one pays more? Etc etc.

Second one is a bit interesting. Sometimes life makes choices available, which we desire but are not capable of taking it up. This is a strange situation to be in. There is no need to pick up the choice and that is what we want. But the reasoning behind it, is not something we are comfortable with. Typical situations? I would have become an entrepreneur but it does not make sense for me. But for you, I controlled myself.

The third one is the reason most analyzers exist. Sometimes in life we have no real choice. All we have is a choice of reason. To each his own. Everyone wants a reason which is in accordance with their line of thought about themselves. And they keep searching for one, till they get it.