Sunday, 6 January 2019

Looking inward

It's been a while since I last posted anything. Maybe it's the usual excuses (e.g., work has been crazy) or the more usual lies (e.g., nothing much to share), either way, I have been away for a while.

Last year, was spent quite a bit on mind-training. It all started with this random book I picked up at Crossword. Mosyly, because it was such a pretty blue, with cherry blossoms on it, and ot had a catchy title too, "Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life". And with a title like that, who could resist. We all want a long life that is happy, as well, not just one of the two.

What I really appreciated from the book was this journey that the authors took us readers on. It was never as if they were speaking from a higher plane of knowledge, but as if they too were uncovering these secrets, with us, together.

This book turned out to be my first step in the thousand step journey of self-discovery and awareness. With time, I became increasingly more aware about how we spend so much time building our exteriors, e.g., learning a new language, developing skills to help our job etc. Yet we do so little to decipher our intangibly complex mind.

The world of neurology and psychology, believes that we are still collecting pebbles on the shore of the understanding of the brain, and we do even lesser so to understand just our brain, our mind. Why is there such a lack of awareness to want to know just one-self and more inclination on knowing another person, another skill, another language?

How did we reach satiety with discovering ourselves, if we never even started?

Let me know your thoughts. :)

Sunday, 31 December 2017

That time of madness

Thanks to a lot of things, I turned into a runner.

I started running, a bit by bit. Then one day I decided, and did my first 10k. I loved it. Group sport activity, "WOW! What a rush." I've never been much for sports or activities or anything. I then took up a 10k race a month.

It was March, and I was revisiting my 2016 resolutions. I secretly pined to do a half marathon by the end of the year. I told no one, let no one breath out my zest for it, because for whatever reason far more number of people will demotivate you to be a poorer version of them, than inspire you to be the best version of you. Whatever that "half-glass-full-of-poison" psychology is.

I guess the silent screams are the loudest, and the universe answered. A random soul pinged me, to join the Half marathon training that his training club was conducting, I joined without much hesitation.

Training meant discipline. And I have never done anything disciplined, ever!

This isn't about my journey. It's about the discliplined approach I undertook to make sure I am my best self when I hit the race.

Before every race I forget what makes it a perfect preparation, this is so that I can keep referring to it. maybe modify as I rediscover things on my journey.

  • 36 hours prior to the race: Eat a carbo heavy dinner, sleep really late. So that the next day it's easier to sleep early.

  • 24 hours prior to the race: Don't step out of the house. Don't go anywhere. Stay indoors. Laze on the terrace, read a book, do whatever, but do not step out!
  • Diet: Eat carbo & antioxidant rich foods. Low on fat and protein. Avoid cheese and all dairy.
  • Get your next day kit ready - Bib, pins, water belt, dry fruits, wet tissues, hand sanitizer, dark chocolate, a change of clothes, slippers, gatorade, stand-up&pee kit, cap, wrist bands, a small microtowel (light to carry, dries easy), deodorant. Decide where you would go for breakfast post run. Carry protein powder.
  • Apparel ready: If it's winter layer up. 1 sweater that you take off after warm up and can hand it over to your race guardian, and another thin full sleeve pseudo sweater that serves more as a layer than anything else, gloves, hair wrap, a full sleeve shirt to wear under your regular run top.

Race day

  • Wake up to your silent alarm. 
  • Do a mini shower, use the deodorant balm.
  • Clip your hair. 
  • Have a banana, 1 tsp nutella, 1 tsp peanut butter and 100ml milk. 
  • Pin your bib to your leg, not to your shirt.
  • Stretch & warm up. Regular stretches at the venue. 
  • Possibly start with your group, if you have one at the race.

Post run

  • After run, do 15 minutes of cool down stretches, preferrably post the run-provided-physio. 
  • Have your protein powder. 
  • Change into fresh clothes and loose slippers, which will feel like a new life to your sore inflamed muscles.
  • Eat a carbo and protein heavy post-run breakfast. 
  • Drink lots of water and gatorade to rehydrate yourself which will in turn minimize your cravings and muscle cramps, headaches, fatigue, pretty much everything. 
  • Avoid alcohol at all costs. 
  • Have a cold shower (preferable). 
  • If it's a 10k  you can indulge in a post-run massage, not if it's a half marathon as your muscles will be too sore and it will only seem like more exercise to your muscles.

Have a fun run!, whatever!

So, it's the eve of 2018, AKA good bye 2017, AKA the most universalized materialistic phenomenon where everyone celebrates the end of the year by spending as much as their pockets can afford.
My long time readers, or people who know me in real life know my hatred for this day as it leads to overcrowded streets, cafes, restaurants; in fact it should just be renamed as Happy Overcrowded day, but I digress.
As man made as this holiday/ritual is, it always causes me anxiety. Another year over? Did I really get nothing done? Am I really just floating through time like that? And, like everyone I know, I too spare no acidity when judging myself. Because if John & Yoko can sing about it (" this is Christmas and what have you done. another year over, for the old and the young.."), I guess its not more of a millennial problem, but more of a human's problem with accepting the concept of fleeting time and mortality.
My generation while we have achieved great heights, we are also the generation that takes pride in "doing nothing". It's a shared hurrah moment when we brag to our co-breathers, "This weekend we had planned to do nothing, and we did nothing." There is a soar of jealousy across the room, and those who did something or could not achieve the nothing status, almost always felt jealous of the folks who did nothing. And really, why is that? We are far less overworked than our parents, who tirelessly worked their hineys off to provide and care for us better, everyday. Yet, here we are, bragging about doing nothing.
I think that's the part that scares me every new year's eve, that I am losing my leverage of running away and shirking my responsibilities, that in this race of responsibility vs. me, responsibility is fast catching up to me. But who started this race? Why are we running? When will it be over? All answers lie in my subconscious and how I have been brought up, really. Where when you are of a certain age, you get married, get a house, get a dog, "settle down". And perhaps that is what tires me, because I am only at step 1 of many. I am also afraid, that everyone I know and I am effected by is also blinded by the same markers of growth/success.

But that's the second thing that's wrong with "this" self-assessment. These are markers that worked for generations that preceded us. Our generation has done everything to their time and tide, and has taken very minimal heed to "..hamare zamane mein..", so maybe, just maybe we need to set newer and better milestones to be judged/estimated by.
More women have actively pursued a career post completing their education, more men have been accepting and accomodating of that, men share the responsibility of taking care of their new-borns and are not just limited to paying the bills, we pursue more vibrant hobbies. We definitely travel more and are more open to doing new things and differently and how!

Well, what the hell! Happy new year to you all! Hope you all keep coming back to enjoy my ramblings and cherish some of the good points that I sometimes do make.

Hope you have a great year ahead!

Monday, 17 July 2017

Here's to hoping for better music

Do u think "pop" is called so, because it is exactly that? Like a soda pop it fizzes, and you enjoy it for the moment, but it does not enrich you, or leave a lingering sensation, or keep you hankering for that feeling, or to go back to it, or to make you feel that way, maybe justtt once more, unlike a good wine, whiskey or even a well prepared meal.

Sadly, all our music is going increasingly pop. Like Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame said in a recent interview,"Well, modern pop, as in really mainstream, to be honest, I have a problem with most modern pop.." and goes on to compare how modern pop is really R&B. On the other hand, Bob Marley had a virologist concept of music; he believed that the only way to cure racism was to inject music and love into people's lives.
Now, try and imagine if you had to bring this concept to life, with a song of "now". Take any U.S. Billboard Top 100 songs, do you think it would cut it?
If you injected the currently chart topping number, "Despacito", which practically sings about how a man is attracted to a woman, and what are the various steps he would carry out to "profess" his love for her; it would not even cure homesickness, leave alone anything else. There is no background to this story, nothing moving, nothing groundbreaking, just good old plain objectifying women; one of the easiest plots to make a song/video/movie, practically any form of entertainment. For obviously, there is nothing more interesting in a woman, than her body. Thank you media, for keeping us reduced and stalled to that tiny image, that we have been trying to fight and shake off, well for since as long as we have existed.
Of course, most of the population listening, rhyming, chanting, dancing to that tune has no idea what the song is about (honestly, neither did I), but are just happy with how the Spanish words sound exotic, and how the music is well balanced to those syllables, that's it. Which in some ways is worse than the earlier concept.
Music is more than beats and words that are more like rhythmic sounds. It is supposed to be like a good book, which haunts you and makes you think and ponder and chime, posing the untapped potential to change you, for better or for worse, how ever so slightly. Definitely, something more than keeping you occupied while you are half-heartedly doing something else, or even worse, to lull out distractions.
Another thing that really bothers me about the ongoing pop is the stream of peppiness that you are made to choke upon. In a world of pop, no one is ever sad, depressed, or even just "OK", they are all just upbeat and dancing to the joy and miracle that is life. Ugh. I may sound grouchy, but even for the uninitiated or even the most happy-go-lucky people, this has got to be monotonous.
U2, the musical phenomenon that has been around for more than some people's lifespans, I think perfectly sums up the divide between the two musical cultures. He said,
"Pop music often tells you everything is OK, while rock music tells you that it's not OK, but you can change it.” 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Bolly femmes stop letting us down

For the gender that has been immortalized by the phrase, "We are just friends", "Woh mere bhai jaisa hai", "He is just an acquaintance", Bollywood females, of all the cliches to not to stick to, they chose this one, which in my opinion is more than rather unfortunate. Let's go back a few years into Bollywood, for I have really not paid attention to the humdrum that this industry has been spewing out of late.

The classic breath of fresh air of a movie, when we were drowning among the "me too" movies -Wake up Sid, it showed the perfect platonic friendship, and showcased multiple such relationships. To the uninitiated, let me help. Ranbeer Kapoor, the son of a millionaire, who is not interested in helping out his father's business or completing studies or actually anything, he just exists, doing nothing, except for photography. One day his dad throws him out, at which point Konkona Sen Sharma (KSS), who was an acquaintance, took him into her 1BHK and they helped each other out, usual good house mate stuff. Cook for each other, take care of household chores, pick each other up when needed. At which point the writer thought this is a good moment to inject a potent dose of oestrogen, and out of nowhere she starts falling for him instead of her boss, Rahul Khanna (like WHAT!), who was too polished (if there is ever such a thing!). And she creates a fuss, when he does not reciprocate; for him the roof has practically come undone. At this point, the writer's pressure to make it a "love story" is more than eminent, and somehow magically Ranbeer also starts falling for KSS. KSS who is a story writer for a magazine, dedicates her first cover page story as a love letter. Good thing the movie ends there, for the next scene would have shown her getting fired. For if I was the boss, I would have fired her and the editor, who let this smut pass as a magazine cover story.

Next, Jaane Tu..Ya Jaane Na, this sweet platonic relationship is forcefully turned into a love story, for "dost ho thik hai, shaadi kar lo" and both of them when taken apart only meet A-holes. Since its Bollywood it has to be extrapolated to ridiculous levels, so Genelia D'Souza's new partner had to slap her once they got into an argument, to which the guy who never lost his temper, got mad and furious and does something extremely....forgettable. Oh! Bollywood, crack out of your cliches, sometime, anytime soon.

I think I have proved my point, I do not reckon synopsis of various other non-movies is going to drive the point any further along. Cinema means production of films as an art for public entertainment. The time has long passed when the concept of movies, that had been passed on from previous generation film makers is found acceptable by today's audience and is more than stale, it is the literal equivalent of the sides of a bread loaf, and we are not having it.
We, as audiences have matured, and do not need to be told love stories to believe in love (they are no longer the equivalent of fairy tales), or the chemistry between two individuals - we know it first hand. The only movie, that I feel had recognized this and was not Kashyap dark, was Dil Chahta Hai, which made us, the audience, part of the journey of the life of three friends, and whatever happened to them was almost secondary to the story.

Thank you Farhan Akhtar for that. Maybe you can also remember how to redo it, and teach a few of your peers while at it. Maybe one of you can do a movie about modern day women that is not steeped in love and hormones, drinking and drugs or dancing and frolicking around, just real angles, things that we, modern day women can relate to.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Language: Thou art a true beauty

I grew up in Calcutta. Naturally everyone around me was either born with music, literature or some form of art in their soul or stuck around long enough to imbibe and feign the part, until they actually started to reckon with it.
I grew up with Rabindra sangeet, Nazrulgeeti, Michael Modushudan Dutto's Bodh kabyo and other great laureates and their endless works.
As I grew older, I found that most of their works were translated to English, either by the laureates themselves, or as a befitting homage.
As a curious child, I rushed to read, compare, and explore. I was devastated with what I discovered. The text, the beauty, and the magic that was attached with the original work was gone and robbed, and only a besmirched shadow was left behind. I concluded at a young age of 14, that language has a beauty of it's own which can never be mimicked or the heart of it can never be copied into another language. And prized it as one of my truest discoveries.
A decade or so later, I discovered that I have the joy of running. I met wonderful people through this front. But, I digress.
I met an expatriate via running, and she was trying to get a hang of people's names. This lady introduced herself as "Bahar". She further explained that it means "the season that flowers bloom". Which I thought, at that point of time, a beautiful way to describe the same.
Running gives me a sense of tranquility, and things that my subconscious otherwise doesn't have time to think about, gets way. And, something similar happened. I pondered on the phrase, "Aap aaye, bahar aayi" and I realised the full blown meaning of it and I was stumped, maybe momentarily even slowed to a stop. I realised it means, "Your soul bears so much warmth, that the flowers chose to spring into full bloom to resonate with your soul."
I'm yet to learn how to handle the depth and gravity of "that" statement. I'm still pondering as to howf, for decades I've said and heard it, and never wasted a second to assess the gravity of the same.
I was always prejudiced about translated prose and how their meanings were perpetually lost. However, this time I was so wowed by it I couldn't think of anything else.
So 14 more years later, from the last time I had an epiphany, here I stand, corrected.
Life, you amaze me.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Flawed hoomunss

"Ram earns Rs. 2000 per month. His house rent is Rs. 500 a month and his saving is thrice that of his miscellaneous expenditure. How much is his savings per month?"

Even when all these numericals seemed daunting, I still thought that not only was he earning meagrely wages,  but also he was living in a really cheap apartment. Now all, old, grown and as wise and matured as an oak tree I still feel the same. But I digress.

Coming back to the point,  I originally started writing this article with. We all started out with math, especially in a bengali household like mine; pretty much everything took a backseat. If you don't know math, in the words of Ygritte of Game of Thrones famedom, "You know nothing, Jon Snow!"

We all cribbed about maths at some point of time or the other. Till it seeped so much into our souls we didn't even know or notice it. To the point we heard our grandparents and parents equating maths to the quality of life we lived, "So and so good things are happening, I must have done something good in my previous life" and mostly the other pessimistic way round.

I don't know who first got inspired by the idea of karma and established that good things happened to good people and bad things happened to bad people. For if the world was that just and with that strong a sense of retribution, everyone would come around to doing good for a very simple reason - selfishness. 
Man is a self preserving creature and self harm is the last thing on their minds. Centuries have passed yet this archaic emotion of "What goes around comes around" seem to be unharmed, untethered. I do not know or understand how. This should show that human logic in itself is flawed,  yet we think we are logical beings capable of logical thinking, I say far from it. We are still those cavemen chasing around animals, hitting it with a bludgeon, bang on it's  head and not caring that it causes the animal pain: for we are selfish. 
There is no concept of carry forward, like a balance sheet. Good deeds don't ensure you good things in the long run or the next life, it pretty much ends there. You do it cause you like how it  makes you feel, and not because you are a part of a grander scheme of things. 
Life is a one act show and it's not fair.
Bite the bullet, grit your teeth and accept it.