The Oars  

Paddling through the sea of thoughts

Can you write on rock?

He wants to write about a lot of things. A real lot of them. Not that he is the master of all that he wants to write about. But just that he wants to do it. Why so many? He wants to write down all his thoughts. What a ridiculous thought! The human mind is constantly in activity it is the most used (or abused). It generates thousands of thoughts every day and at any given moment there are scores of them running across. If this is so for a normal person what about a confused soul? How foolish is his intention, how futile will be his attempt!

Let him just peek into that one corner where he remembers the subhashitam (good words) of Bharthrihari (hope the spelling is correct, or else O great man, please excuse) which says, that good people write down the bad that others do to them on water while they carve the good done to them on a stone. Good people seem to try to immediately forget the bad done to them, while they remember for ever the good. This has two important points in it. One is the forgiveness and the other is gratitude. Most often in our lives, we may have to apply both of them to the same person or set of people at different occasions. The people around us or shall we say “friends” do a lot of favor to us. But there are instances when they hurt us too. What is it that we want to carry forward? Are we broad enough that when some good was done to us, we carve on the rock and when we are hurt we consciously try to forget it and move forward? This world is very generous. Generous in the sense that it always has offers of buy one get one free. It is a world of dualities. You get a dependable friend you also have to bear with his/her idiosyncrasies. You get an understanding spouse you also have to attend to his/her psychological and emotional needs. What matters finally is we should be able to answer the question to our own selves, am I magnanimous enough to include, accept, forget the unpleasent and remember the good always? After all, who would want to hurt you intentionally?

  posted by 3rd Person @ 6:47 AM                   

Wednesday, April 30, 2003  

For the past few days, there has been a continuous and irritatingly prolonged argument in his company’s electronic bulletin board about Bangalore. Many say Bangalore is a halli (meaning village in Kannada). Others say it is an accusation and try to reason out why they feel Banglore is a cosmopolitan city. First thing he doesn’t understand is why calling something a village is offending at all. Why should people feel that calling something rural or country side is derogatory? He can remember his friends mocking him because his house was located a little too far from the city (in the country side, they say) and how he was asked questions like, do you dial STD code to call Bangalore? Or do you get the latest newspaper or the previous day’s? All kidding apart, today, the discussion is about whether Bangalore itself is a big village. It doesn’t end there. There are smart guys who complain about the traffic. Some about the deteriorating climatic condition, some about not enough amusement in Bangalore and some others about no places to “hang around”. One even said there were no “fast food” joints where he can “lie back” and enjoy. Sounds oxymoronic, huh? Another said the main problem is that there’s no “McDonalds” in Bangalore and the whole country can be divided in to two parts: those who have visited “McDonalds” and those who haven’t. By now it is evident that all those who had complaints were those who came in from other parts of the country, from other metros etc, to work in Bangalore. But at large, the topic is relevant to every citizen.

While many of the points were either silly or childish those which caught his attention were those about the unruly traffic, pollution, auto rickshaws and their drivers, traffic police, Kannada sign boards and lack of English or Hindi on them, etc etc. While reading these, one story struck his mind.
Once, a woman was judged to have committed adultery and the punishment was that she had to be stoned to death. All the people around were very enthused about doing this, when Jesus walks in and says, “Let the first stone be pelted by the one here who hasn’t sinned so far and then others may follow suit”. There wasn’t anyone who could come forward and throw the first stone. More important point than throwing stones itself in the story is that all those guys had conscience. Other wise, who would care to respect the words by who so ever, be it Jesus or any other (wo)man.

The relevance of this story in this context is about how easily we can complain, accuse and deride. It is simple but at the same time extremely difficult to think in the lines of “if something is not good, what is my role in it”. (S)he alone is justified to accuse, who hails from such a city/town in India where there is no unruly traffic. No corrupt traffic police. No pollution, or at least a stringent pollution control and more than these, (s)he who has actively contributed towards that. If Bangalore is smoky, dusty, hotter, unruly, whatever it is today, what is the harm that each one of us have done to it till now and what is the good that each of us are trying to do to it, now that all of us living in it?

While there are a lot of things that the administration authorities could have done, there is a lot more that each citizen has to do. The problem with Bangalore, he feels is not that it has become worse, but that it has not improved / geared up. There is a difference, if you observe closely. When this city was growing, when many majors were setting up shops here, the administration was sleeping. As far as his knowledge goes, there was a CM who was more interested in having the Miss World pageant conducted in Bangalore than having the infrastructure improved for the days to come. He feels that was the critical period for Bangalore, when the investment was increasing and more and more population was migrating in to Bangalore and it was precisely then that bad governance was prevailing.

Anyway, it is typical to us Indians to accuse the government for everything and anything. Let him not prove his Indian-ness now. All done is done, what can happen now? Let him not get in to the act of advising governments or municipal corporations or BDA. It is about what each of us can do.
How many or us care to have our vehicles serviced regularly so we don’t go around choking the city? How many of us care to stick to the traffic rules so we don’t give the traffic police a chance to ask for a bribe? And in the case of breaking a rule and getting caught by a cop, how many of us dare to pay the right penalty and demand for a challan instead of giving 50% as bribe and getting away? How many of us stop the auto rickshaw driver we are traveling in and take another because he has jumped a red light? Most of us don’t have time to think about all this. We are too busy for all these. But ironically, we have all the time on earth to complain whenever we can. Isn't this funny? He would rather say, we are too lazy for all this. If you have to be right to yourself, it requires guts. You have to be daring. And we are all cowards not to go out and do what is right, but sit back in cozy offices, and homes and crib, complain, accuse and disparage.

When he writes this, he doesn’t have any solution for all this with him. But what he certainly has is the hope. The hope that prompted the great poet, Ravindranath tagore to pen down the following.

Where the mind is without fear and the head held high

Where knowledge is free

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

By narrow domestic walls

Where words come out from the depth of truth

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

Into the dreary desert of sand and dead habit

Where the mind is led forward by thee

Into ever-widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

-Rabindranath Tagore

  posted by 3rd Person @ 12:50 AM                   

Tuesday, April 29, 2003  

Life is an experiment and the world is the laboratory. For some, it is a research lab and for some it is a college lab. This because, some try to discover while others just try to prove what has been postulated by elders. In the college, when the experiment results in an expected outcome, the student is satisfied. But in the numerous experiments that he performs as a part of his life, most of the times, he overlooks the outcome. Simply put, most of the times many of us are too busy to notice what’s happening around, either due to us, or to us. In the other few occasions when he can take out time to realize, he can obtain the same feeling of satisfaction, in a bigger magnitude. After all, in the experiment of life, there is no lab-instructor or any body else watching you. It is your own self that is watching. And what ever experiment you do and what ever outcome you realize, it is just because of yourself and in most cases nothing but your own self (though there can be cases when we can use circumstances as excuse). When you do all by yourself, for yourself, voluntarily, what you get out of it is very fulfilling.

Every thought is propelled by its predecessor. What is that which prompted this thought in him? He suddenly realized today the importance of what many have been stressing for ages. The fact that everything is with in you and it is your mood that makes the perceptions change. He was reading this line in a book yesterday. This world is like a big room with many mirrors. You look at them and smile you get a thousand smiles back. You scorn at them, you will get the same in return. And today, as he thought while riding his bike to office, he could experience how things change when one opens up one’s mind. He could see how silly and heavy certain perceptions are and just by rationalizing how good and light one can feel. Today, he proved to himself the age old truth “correct yourself first and all else will be corrected”.

  posted by 3rd Person @ 1:28 AM                   

Monday, April 28, 2003  

“Friends” There isn’t much in the world to substitute them. It is a strange feeling if one has to think in these lines. But why in the world would anyone want to? Well, it’s a simple guess. Everyone has to keep moving in life and his friends have found their counterparts to move with. It is precisely the reason why he is there with his other friends having a spring morning stroll on the beach road, Kakinada. A port town in AP. One of his friends is getting married next day. What’s more, one married two days ago and another one is due to in the next few months.

Spring is no better than summer in coastal AP, yet the distance had to be walked. The unfortunate fish caught in the nets and laid to dry nearby isn’t giving out any pleasant smell. Yet it had to be borne. Sun was growing hotter every moment, yet He had to be ignored. It was getting late for the other trips they had planned, yet the time had to be spent. For each of them, it was a much relished break. The outcome? Oh now, all of us have become so "seasoned to deliver” that we look for an outcome for everything we do, even for pleasant things like morning stroll. The humankind beyond doubt has forgotten doing things just for the sake of them and enjoying all the way through. They are eager for some outcome for everything and tense while working for it. Don’t we all know people who plan vacations to “achieve” something and end up being exhausted at the end of the trip? Don’t we know of people who go on a vacation and so tire themselves out that they long for coming back home? Haven’t all of us forgotten the art of sitting back and enjoying our existence? This group was no different and there was an outcome of that stroll. It was decided that he has to blog. And that it can be called ‘the oars’. The oars that can help him paddle through the sea of thoughts. The oars have to be cut out of the log, chiseled, planed and polished before use. But here he is ok with the crudest of oars. He feels using them first is more important. Just that he wishes the oars to be planed by the vigor of the sea and polished by the friction of usage. This has to go on at least until he reaches the other side of the sea. Anyone out there ready to accompany him??

  posted by 3rd Person @ 2:38 AM                   

Friday, April 25, 2003  
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