Monday, March 19, 2018

The Game

Have you stood on a fairway at
daybreak waiting for your golf partner to take their shot? The air is nippy at that hour. There is the squelch of dewy grass. A steady stream of headlights snake up from the front gate. Birds confer and call out to their clans. The trees are still recovering from the night's shadows. An odd dog barks. There is the hush of human application and aspiration. Thoughts of hot chocolate flavoured coffee just two holes down jig about in the pinching air. The metal face of the club lofts the orange ball and the reverie is broken. Everyone resumes their purposeful advance towards the greens . But the opportunity comes up again. For daydreaming. Golf is like that! Punctuated with tit bits of zoning  in and zoning out. You can be more alone in company here than any place else. It is an odd space. Your prayers are never answered. You keep hoping to come upon lost balls, they remain in hiding. You are sure to screw up a shot right after the par, they say! Bad behaviour speaks louder on the course than anywhere else. There are a sea of unwritten rules. You must always pounce to take the putt that is conceded. The actual hit will be nothing like the practice shot. You can prepare to feel intimidated by as peripheral a thing as the adversary's golf kit or her powerful drive. But there are aspects, a golfer will insist no one else who has not missed a par will know and understand. The game gets you up early. There is glamour, an eternal degree of difficulty and an exclusivity that humans crave  It is a flourishing, prosperous world out there where rules still hold and and boundries respected. Above all, the  game is an excuse to laugh at and with each other.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Fear

Have you any memory of when this insidious emotion seeped into you? This dark, acidic, bile colored thing called fear. Do you even remember a time when you were young and fearless? Nothing bad could ever happen to you. Then you became a parent! That new little life sucked out all your bravado, turning you into a perpetually on edge, dithering duh. You have lain awake at night since. You have spent hours staring vacantly at the clock, numb at the disastrous thoughts swimming around your head while the kid is out on the city roads in the middle of the night. You have dialled then disconnected their number thirty two times, sick at the switched off tone. The once  potent and flourishing you has aquired an abiding faith in the worst case scenario. You latch your suitcase with a thick metal chain in the First AC now. You cover your jewellery with a scarf or a dupatta when out. You submit yourself to medical checks regularly. You track your children like a hound. You plan and string up several standby options. You subscribe to insurance plans. You suffer anxiety at the smallest plan going awry. Some fears are specific in these parts. Your cup of tea may run cold. The gulab jamun may not be served hot. Your weekend movie booking may come up against a houseful sign. Your maid may vanish for days without notice. Your child may be unmarried at 30 years. You just might bump into a relative when between jobs. God forbid, should India lose to Pakistan! What are we to do with ourselves? The air rings with, "Be careful. Don't get run over, mugged, hijacked, maltreated, swindled, rejected, used, abused!" So paralysed are we.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Generation

Have you met anyone socially and not asked them what their children do? Our
culture tells us that the kids are our most visible validation. Their success and failure is ours. Our primary duty is to them, until our last breath. Anything we do for ourselves has to come after their needs have been met. It is fairly common to base retirement plans on the needs of our children. We want to continue to be available to them long past a reasonable expectation and even desire, in some cases. There is an active myopia amongst parents today that will not permit them to see that their progeny may be crying for space and independence and liberty. Freedom to be average. To live life from a back pack. To roam the world. To not shoulder family baggage. To just be, for heavens sake. To shake off the suffocating stranglehold of religion. To run from the forced socialising with extended family. To be released of expectations. To not have to plan, project, invest, save. To not be knocked down by a mace called marriage. To not bring kids into this world and give them the uninformed parenting they were themselves subjected to. To earn just enough. To not repay house and car loans. To not lose steam in the rat race. To not have to worry about standing out. To shun brilliance for contentment. To reject competition for an inclusive mediocrity. To listen only to the music of their own hearts. To drop the mask and be themselves. To be able to scream, abuse, love and experiment. To take risks. What's wrong with that? You grew up in an age of meagre means. They have matured being waited upon by proud parents and grandparents. Don't cry now. You enabled the magnificent millenial. iGen and Gen Alpha to follow!

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Expert

Have you ever received dieting advice from an overweight well wisher? A cardiologist may have taken a smoking break in your periphery! How about a real estate broker who has never owned a house himself? There are therapists spouting diagnosis from their personally troubled perches. Even Freud, for all the ammunition he left the Psych community with, could not “cure” his own daughter of lesbianism! Who hasn’t survived religious fanatics at home with hearts as closed as a government office on the weekend? The digital literacy has made this phenomenon happier. Back then, only the Reader’s Digest used to be quoted for illustration and by the select who read it. Today, the experts are crawling out of frames and beadings. We have all “surfed, self-informed, read and converted” in the soft pool of our bedside lamps, hunched over our TABs and Laptops and Smartphones. The virtual world enjoys a greater credibility with us than our own eyes and gut. How many times have you reached a spot and shaken your head in disbelief because the GPS insists your destination is at least 80 meters away? Traditions seem comic, our immediate family is not with it enough, the experts are obviously not practicing what they preach…we place our faith in online wisdom put there by strangers looking for business. Of course, there is a lot of information and ease of transaction and empowering communication Google favors us with.  But the monster is not invested in any of us personally. On crucial life conflicts, it will tell us exactly what we want to hear. You can pretty much rationalize any and every one of your pet notions out there in the online court. You come away feeling in the right. This expert is not your grandma to say to you, “Don’t smoke, drink or have free sex!”

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Zone

Have you been in the zone ever? The world recedes, a cacoon of intense concentration envelops you, the sense of the moment is heightened and the light is sharper. You could be painting, composing, writing or simply cooking. It is just the two of you…you and the task consuming you. There is an alignment of desire and outcome, a silver amalgam of talent and opportunity. You don't hear someone calling, you chafe at interruptions, you want the world to still. You are creating! You dig deep into the innards of your being and draw out a complex stream of thoughts, emotions and impressions. Was this raw material lying in your head? Or did you pluck it from the air? What levers did you push to synchronise it all into that one melting melody, that life like portrait, that best selling book, that breath taking finish at the ribbon, that gutsy adventure, that defiant flight, that stubborn come back? How does science explain inspired actions? Or emotional drive? Where is man's  original stock of humanity? What are we constantly reflecting? Whose manifestation are we? 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Remedy

Have you ever blamed a compliment on your saree  for the blob of malai kofta curry you dropped on the pallu subsequently? The evil eye! Your admirer's  expansiveness turns to guilty dismay, "I should have gushed less!" You recover shakily to assure, "It is alright, I will have it drycleaned, " but the moment is marred. As a rule, Indians have a colicky equation with admiration. We are spasmodic, both at giving and receiving it. How often have you drooled over a friend's silver bracelet only to be hastily assured it is a cheap imitation? She fears your envy! Or doesn't want you to feel any lesser. "What a gorgeous bag!" you exclaim. The wearer splutters, "Oh, it is very old, a hand me down from an aunt." If sounding ungracious helps save mishaps, so be it. We must be the world's most comorbid race. We acknowledge envy exists and  guard ourselves with mantras, chillies, limes, prayers and charms. We spit, make frantic signs, rip white rags into seven strips,  swirl camphor smoke and emanate a range of audio effects to banish ill will. Families store and apply these formulas as traditional, customized arsenal. A runny tummy? Out springs a fistful of rock salt. Falling grades? Water and kumkum. Emotional rejection? Wait, we have the perfect poultice of mustard seeds. And the all time, all favourite Indian domestic deterrent to rival the Tsar Bomba? A black dab from the adoring eye.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Donkey

Have you niggled yourself occasionally that you failed in life on
the projection front? That you remained a donkey at work rather than a peacock. All plodding, no show. You were not street smart enough to give your boss a peak into your late night home work and traffic lights notations. You were raised to believe that hard work paid! No one said anything about its qualifying visibility! You laboured over a near flawless report but there it was, your plain plastic cover tucked under your rival's ethnic themed folder on the Vice President's table. While you were racing back from a last minute administration tie up, he was rounding off the "With your blessings" routine. Your sincere interactive sessions with your juniors paled in comparison with  his resourceful hobnobbing at the executive table. While you flailed to keep up on a sputtering stream of organizational loyalty, he flew on the asics of unadulterated self-interest. You kicked yourself every September when report cards were being rolled out. Why didn't you update your boss more regularly? Why did you get boxed into a hole? Why did you get defensive when being criticised? Why didn't you raise your head from the grindstone once in a while? Then along came the man himself one day, asking you to stand in for him at a graduation speech while he went globe trotting to pitch business proposals. He tossed you his prepared text, "Here, should you want to use it. The topic is: Hard work does not speak for itself. You do!"