Friday, 29 April 2011

A Tribute to My Superman

Everybody's got their favorite uncles and aunts. I have had my fair share of them. But there are some people in your life who are more than your favorite. You are always in awe of them, observe them and try to ape them. When you were a child you even believed them to have superpowers. I lost such a person in my life this week.
He was my father's youngest brother. May be his being a deep-sea diver was the reason behind my belief of him having extraordinary powers, considering that I was petrified of water. I remember stories regarding his experiences under the sea water. His being bitten by a poisonous fish and surviving that. I still remember vividly looking at his diving gear with a sense of majestic pride and cooking up stories about my brave uncle among my friends.
He was the first person in our family who went abroad. My father in particular was very proud of this fact and used to talk about his kid brother lovingly to everybody. And, of course, never confessed his love for him. We are like that only. A man never cries, a man never asks for help and a man never expresses his love for another out in the open.
His trips abroad had special attraction for me as he would bring back coins for my collection. Saltenat of Oman, Bahreen, Sharjah and Dubai were names that crowned my proud collection of coins. I still have somewhere that Saudi Dinar he gave me when he came back from some Arab country.
As a diehard fan you like everything your superhero does. You like the way he talks, the way he dresses, the way he laughs and you try to imitate him in whichever lame way you can. Like jumping from the side of a bed pretending the bed to be an ocean and start swimming in that imaginary ocean. I am no exception.
And when you grow up your Superman also ages with you. It evolves as the time passes. You still believe him to have superpowers but of different kind. And these powers imaginary as they are do not actually help you out in your day to day life but the idea keeps your hopes alive.
God knows I was angry with my Superman for a period of time when I hoped that he would save me but he couldn't make it as he was not my Superman exclusively as it dawned on me. But even if he could not come to my rescue, I never stopped believing in his superpowers.
It's not easy losing your Superman. My father died when I was just out of college. It was not easy to lose him either. After all he was the elder brother to my Superman and he was my Superman for daily use. It's not easy at all. It challenges your beliefs and surprisingly these beliefs never die out even if they were buried in your childhood memories you thought you forgot long back. 
Watching him losing the battle with Cancer was a blow to my idea of a man who was never defeated by anything. And actually he did make his point by coming out of this disease once before losing the final battle.
There were a lot of people at his funeral and they were saying plenty of fancy things about him being a wonderful person, which he certainly was. But at that time my mind went blank and all I could remember about him was his gold bracelet which I used to admire a lot and always wanted to wear one just like that myself. For me that bracelet was equivalent to the cape of a magician that hid his magical powers. Surprisingly, it does not sound silly to me even now.
I have lost my Superman. And I am too old to look for a new one. So goodbye my Superman. Sleep with peace.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Be Selfish say I Love You, First.

Be Selfish say I Love You, First.
Oh yes. The three most selfish words you can say to someone, I LOVE YOU.
I know, I know it does not match the years of orientation and does not suit your heroic persona you have created for yourself in your mind. But, humor me and answer the following question:
What would you expect/like to hear back as an answer when you say "I Love You" to somebody?
(Let's make it a multiple choice for fun. And, No, you will not win a trip for two to a romantic destination if your answer is right.)
a. I Love you too
b. What?
OR
c. Thanks
Let's say your answer is (a). So you were expecting it to be the reciprocation of your sentiments in an affirmation. May be an acceptance of the proposal if this is a clich├ęd "I love you, will you marry me" kind of proposal.  And this choice of yours, if materialized, would make you feel elated and relieved at the same time. So there was a selfish motive after all behind this.
Wait. Although I have made my point, I have more to say.
On the other hand, if you expect it to be a (b), you shouldn't have said those words in the first place. But let's just say that love is blind and stupid (God I love to be right) and you call up the entire courage in your heart and say it and get the (b). How would it make you feel?
Embarrassed, stupid, sad and may be angry. Anyways, so these words were not innocent, selfless expression of your love.
And I am sure that not many of you would opt for the choice (c). That brings us to the fact that if the words in question were to be non-selfish kind, a simple thank you should suffice.
You say, "I Love You" and
"Thanks," comes the answer.
How would you feel about a "thanks" as an answer to your "I Love You".
Well I would personally prefer saying, "I am not handing you a bottle of ketchup you moron."
So there it is. It IS actually selfish to say I Love you.
But is it really a bad thing to be selfish in this context? 
How many of you have restrained yourself dreading a (b) as an answer and regretted it later?
How many of you are still struggling to call the courage and tell someone that you love her/him?
You toy with the idea of telling someone that you love her (Not using gender biased language is hard work for me, so read appropriate gender for yourself) but you are scared of the universal answer "Oh we are just very good friends" (yeah right).
You are petrified just imagining that you may even lose the friendship you pretend to have with that person. And you will be thrown out of even the "friends" zone.
Then you start doubting your looks, your social status i.e. I'm not good looking enough or I am not rich enough or if I was just six inches taller, if I was just a wee bit fairer etc.
Happier are the people who overcome the fear of rejection.

And please do not tell me that you are waiting for him or her to say it first. That’s just plain stupid.
Be selfish and say I LOVE YOU first. Say it to your parents, your brothers, sisters and everybody and anybody you love. Whatever the answer be, you will live longer and die happier.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Missing Piece


I have had the good fortune of visiting the most beautiful beaches in India. From the most commercialized in Goa, to far from commercialization in Pondicherry.  From the most crowded in Mumbai and Chennai to the most unexplored kind in Andaman Islands.
I was strolling down one such beach. Sun was setting. Needless to say it was beautiful.
And as is inevitable under the circumstances, the thought process slowly took a turn from single malt whiskey towards philosophical genre.
I have absolutely no idea why people turn pop philosophers/psychologists at the mere sight of a sunset.
You look at the waves sweeping away your footprints on the sand and it all seems to have a "deep" meaning other than the usual that its high-tide time dude, go home.
I am sure that it's just a trait of the people like me living in the land locked cities who seldom get the opportunity to be that near to sunset.
It was a happy ending of a good day. It rarely happens when everything goes right. Well everything was right till the philosophy butted in.
It's a human condition that we tend to improve everything around us but ourselves.
So the day was perfect, the beach was perfect, the sunset was perfect and then I tilted my head to one side like a Zen master and murmured "Something is missing."
What is it?
Well, something must be missing.
Why must it be?
Because, I am not used to the perfect. And if something resembles the perfect, it creates doubt.
But the truth is that something is always missing. The wants of our lives just come to the fore when we are nearer to the things that are perfect.
Perfect things confuse us, scare us and make us wonder, what's wrong.
Life is like a jigsaw puzzle and it's never complete. The journey of finding the missing pieces of that puzzle is an endless one. We have been provided with a lot of similar looking pieces and we need to arrange them in one particular order so that together they make a perfect picture.
This picture has our desires, our dreams, ambitions and a lot of pieces belonging to these are always missing. And if we find them we start looking for the other ones to make the picture even more perfect.
While we are busy putting these pieces together, there are some pieces lying unattended as these pieces do not fit into the current part of the picture we are trying to complete, surprisingly to fit these unattended pieces "Later."
These are actually the most important pieces which we have carefully separated from the other pieces and kept them aside.
So that when the whole picture is perfect, then we can place these pieces at appropriate places. We have already figured it out where they go in that perfect picture of ours once it is completed. But by the time we reach out for these pieces, some of them are already missing.
And as this ever unfinished puzzle keeps creating blank spaces of imperfection in our lives, at some distant canvas of life somebody is desperately looking for the most important piece missing in another unfinished and imperfect puzzle.
And suddenly it occurred to me, "I am the missing piece of somebody's puzzle".
I petted side pockets of my cargo shorts looking for the only thing that separates the two worlds of sanity, my mobile phone.
I felt a sharp need to call someone. And I did.
So sunsets have a purpose after all. They bring out the pop philosophers in us and help us find ourselves, "The missing pieces of somebody's puzzle."
I highly recommend them.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Potentially Bizarre Bazaar

What do I have in common with people who have so much money that they need a wealth manager to manage it, people who can afford very costly cosmetic products (beside the fact that I really can improve in the looks department) and finally the people who potentially drive a BMW convertible that costs more than my apartment.
Nothing, you loser. Pops a thought in your mind.
But the gurus of bazaar think otherwise or they wouldn't have planned a satellite advertisement campaign around the time I usually watch TV.
To be honest it felt good.
Whatever those brilliant minds contemplated while designing these campaigns for those forbiddingly priced products, it feels good to think that I have something in common with very exclusive demographics.   
Once upon a time when all those possibly rich people and I were watching a Jack Nicholson movie around midnight, at our respective homes, it occurred to me. What could possibly be the common factor between all these people and me.
Well, all of "US" potentially rich people like to watch Jack Nicholson movies for one. But is this enough to risk spending so much money on these campaigns? Millions of people like Jack (artistic license affords me the pleasure of being on first name basis with Mr. Nicholson), so do we. So what?
Then I really got carried away thinking about the lifestyles of the rich and richer.
Imagine CEO of a company waking up in the morning, browsing newspaper headlines, sipping morning tea while admiring the BMW (the convertible one) proudly parked beside the green grass of the lawn. Basically, a Bollywood movie kind of setting. Getting the picture?  
An assistant arrives with a folder containing appointments schedule. After carefully going through all the appointments, the CEO instructs to cancel some of them and asks the assistant to squeeze between appointments a business lunch with Minister Sahib at a super luxury hotel.
After taking a bath, the CEO applies those expensive cosmetics we talked about to make herself gorgeous (Aa Haa! Caught you imagining this CEO as male. You gender biased middle class miserable people).
So this gorgeous looking lady gets in her BMW and whisks off to her office. After the pleasantries are over, she calls in the wealth manager guys and gets on their case for making a few millions less during the last quarter.
As you can well imagine by my description of her day that how far off I am being in the know of things about CEO kind.

So, after that lunch we talked about a few words ago, she plans her evening that includes more richie-rich things (I'm tired).
Blah blah blah and its 11 PM when she heads back to her home that looks like a small, well, country.
She has had her dinner already at some fancy shmency party so she is not hungry while I am carefully choosing the flavor of my potato chips for consumption during the Jack Nicholson movie promised by good people of movie channel.
Could this be possible?
Has there been a mistake while choosing the time slot by these advertising people?
Or have they just figured it out by some crazy formulae that "I" am potentially a rich man to be.
Yeah, the crazy formulae thought feels good. (to be continued)

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Facing the Book


It's becoming harder and harder in this Facebook era to avoid people in social life. Let's face it; all of us are stuck with some people in our friends lists that actually do not belong to the category.

There are acquaintances, friends of friends, first cousins, distant cousins (spouse side), irritating relatives/colleagues, old flames, cold flames and all the permutations and combinations imaginable under the sun. And believe you me it's not that easy to get rid of them.

And technology is not helping either. I am sure that all of you have already duly categorized your friends into different groups and you switch off some of the groups on chat while you chat with your "countable on your fingers friends". And those of you who have mastered this social giant to the extent possible must have assigned different privileges of looking at photographs, commenting on your status etc to different categories using your discretion.

In good old times post office took all the blame for all the lapses in communication. All the complaints about not keeping in touch or not writing regularly were redressed with "Oh I did not get your letters honey, these post office people, I tell you," or "I knew there was something wrong with your address," etc.

Comes the Facebook and you have nowhere to run or hide.

"Why didn't you like any of my comments,"

"Why didn't you accept my friend's friend request,"

and you are left with no option but to hit the like or accept button. And some months down the line you are wondering who the hell is this person sending me twenty Farm Ville requests on daily basis.

I am sure that many of you feel the need for proper buttons to express your real feelings such as
I Agree (Meaning: Okay. You are right but I do not wish to honor this with a comment)

I believe you (Meaning: Oh C'mon!!!)

How Cute (Meaning: Actually it isn't but I am glad I have to just click this button because writing that would be too big a lie for me)
Love You (Meaning: Use your discretion)
And then there are some indescribable emotions not fit for expressing through social media.

Lack of proper smiley signs also poses a challenge to already technically challenged people like myself. I for one would like to have a smiley for "fake smile :)" that resembles "real smile :)" which means that nobody would know you are faking a smile but it would let off some steam.

It's not that we wish to avoid everybody on Facebook. God knows there were some moments when you screamed with joy looking at the recent picture of that old "friend" who still looks so hot. After hesitantly sending the friend request you must have signed in many a times just hoping to see that romantic red sign that says 1 and frustrated upon the obnoxious pitch instead that tries to convince you about a free I Pod being given away every minute.

There is no denying either that this BOOK has made us smile, laugh and cry for all the good reasons. Has helped us find our long lost friends and also made us wish that some of them were lost long ago. It has given the reason to young and not so young to talk to that hot thing working at the cubicle opposite them in the office thank God.

So love it or hate it here it is. Keep signing in. :D