Category Archives: On Second Thought

Where Desires Come to an End

On clear monsoon mornings
When clouds retreat
Without a warning

And the exploring sunrays
Burst open the tree-cover
Finding a way

As this crisp hour becomes gold
And the sky suddenly pours
All it was trying to hold

Rolling out a night all spent
Where the peeking moon
Says hi with jasmine’s scent

This is where all my desires come to an end

Grapefruit slice atop a pile of other slices

Two Souls

Two Souls

Two souls from above
Peeped from behind the clouds
Captivated by the Earth, descend below
For adventures yet to be found

They go to live separate lives

Years later, at her front door
His voice gives a soft knock
Her disbelieving ears jump with joy
As with this divine music they begin to unlock

While his feet caress the awakening ground
And tell it to hush,
Roses and lilies wake up wildly
And redden with a deep blush.

She poured out to him everything

She asks him sheepishly
“I know not
Which part is fact, and which, fiction”

He says
“Only the truth in the moment
And the rest is fabricated from conviction”

“Why are we here?”
“Perhaps to experience this Earth.
Or perhaps to un-trap other familiar souls,
Only reachable through this mortal birth”

Inevitably we find ourselves here
In flesh and bone
Getting pulled and pushed in a world,
Feeling so alone

“If you have found the truth
You must help others feel it in their hearts”
“Maybe. But they hold desires
That need fulfilling before they depart”

“Okay, but tell me before you leave…
That love is a rumour
Tell me it cannot be found
Tell me it is all said in humour.

I meet all kinds of people
And hear the stories that they weave
But I don’t know which version is real
Can you tell me which one to believe?

This love is killing me slowly

If it is a fable
I can forget it with ease
Because I am being mocked
With this silly tease

If it is a lie
I can shrug it off now
But no one would tell me
Will you?” She bows.

He smiles. No answer.

Epilogue:

They have each other
In an endless embrace
Perhaps not on the Earth,
But in the infinite space

A Selfish Love

January 2018

“I think you are pretty
I think you are bold”
“Wait, hang on”
– I smile and put you on hold.

Why?

If you come closer
You will figure it out
That I am a tad bit
Too proud.

And

Its comforting
To see you smitten, dear
Have someone to turn to
When I feel that fear.

So

When you dial my number
And I put you on hold
I need you due to my fears
Otherwise I am just cold.

NOTE: Sometimes people ask me if a particular piece that I have written is a narration of events from my own life. It is inspired from something real – but that inspiration could very well be just a fleeting image or emotion or intuition that I have noticed and by way of writing have tried to explore it.

Half Story

Maybe the stories are only half true
So the only way to have the truth you want
Is to imagine it through

Maybe there is no way to clean the floor
It is a permanent scratch on the door
– (one you can’t ignore) –
Surprise surprise – always an unfinished chore

Invented-to-sell vitality
Imperfect reality
Non sensible even in totality

No true story of love
No caring dove
Only illusion of someone above

What not to do to Wounds

Tip One: Don’t wound people
Of the many wounds a person could get
The worst are from those one wouldn’t forget.
These wounds have an unusually long life,
Being tied to friendships that have memories running rife.

Tip Two: Don’t hurry in with wrong cures
Imagine the case of a wound slender and deep
And an eager friend
Covering it with random ointments’ heap;
Surface actions will provide temporary relief –
And wounds will re-surface once the hardened surfaces peal.

Tip Three: Don’t take shortcuts
You can heal only things that you understand
Your shortcuts may delay the touch of the right hand.

Tip Four: Don’t be late
Come back to heal in time –
If one has inflicted wounds that charred,
And they come back late
They will just witness scars.

In a moment of guilt visitors may tear them open
And be over-whelmed and run again afar.
Leaving wounds worse and bleeding,
They have only come and marred.

Tip Five: The ideal healer
To assist in healing,
One must sit down on their knees with bandage
Keeping a persistent watch,
On all that they damaged.
The best ones stay through and make things right
They stand by their friends in this fight.

Looking for a star

2007-2008

The star at which I stared
And wondered how it stayed so –
So constant, so bright
And thus derived inspiration when low,

That ever-shining ray of hope
The eternal supervisor of my life
Has now fallen across my thoughts
And life’s weary strife
Has forced it to consume itself.

A brighter day, a higher morrow
When the sun would stay at the horizon and blink
It would thus overfill me with its glorifying light
And into its depth I’d let myself sink.

I’d know then that the star had done it’s job
And had hugged its fate letting mine free.
My strength would yet behold me on my voyage.
But for the ship, the sea, the destination, in their entirety for me.

Notes: The poem is about an experience that brought into focus the harsh reality in which the speaker stood dejected by his own worshipped idea. The ideal image had failed to inspire and/or help the speaker who was thus at a sudden loss of what was to come. The totality of his existence, being, thoughts, work, and actions – had been diminished to nil.
But to hold the speaker in such a metaphorically darkened phase of life, comes forward yet another force of nature and infuses in him faith and belief for Nature’s plan. The plan, which the speaker now realizes, is none. The aim of life is to go on your own, self-willed voyage, with the forces of nature nudging you forward. They cannot make you see, but can give the power of vision.
We are thus equipped and must seek our own dreams, independent of any outside force. Although at some point we may feel all alone, light follows the darkness and clear soft skies the cold insensitive mists to show that happiness and sadness are momentary and as in nature, our lives are a true balance of love and friendship, hope and despair, dreams fulfilled and unfulfilled – and through all the complexities of life, a simple, clear guiding light constantly falls on us.

Dilemmas of our Generation(s)

We are, as Generation Y and X, the most privileged generations that have come to be. And yet, we are of generations easily dissatisfied and often disconcerted. We have some very unique new age dilemmas. (You wonder if I am a loathing critic? Quite the contrary – I am an admirer. )
Privileged as we are, we also have the most opportunity and potential. Our issues are the unnoticed natural dust accumulating on the furniture – some routine housecleaning will help in avoiding unforeseen colds.
Our systemic issues are placed in a domino sequence. Sitting at the very beginning is,

The Paradox of Choice

There is liberation in choices. And yet, the more choices we are given, the less free we make ourselves. I will let author Bruce Hood explain: “we procrastinate in trying to make the best decision…We are so worried that we may make the wrong choice that we try to compare…along dimensions that we have not even considered relevant before…that makes us put off things that we really should do now.”
I say no more.
This pushes over the next domino in the sequence:

The Paradox of Commitment

It is only when one limits their own options that they can manage to exert influence on the other participant’s choice of actions. I am talking Game Theory 101, with a little real-life ambiguity.
Suppose I have two free tickets for a movie show tonight – and I have a choice between Birdman, and Mad Max Fury. My first preference is definitely Birdman. If I fail to find suitable company, I am happy to go for Mad Max as a second option. I post this on facebook to invite replies. By noon, I get two replies for Mad Max, but none for Birdman (I know, all interested parties had already seen the latter Academy Award winner). In theory, I am quite flexible in this situation as I am somewhat okay with either of the movies.
However, my flexibility has added uncertainty into the situation. Although I am quite open with my choice, I cannot say a ‘yes’ to the two people who messaged me as I am still hoping for someone to say yes to Birdman. I tell the two friends the situation and that I will confirm about Mad Max plans in the evening. Come evening, if I am lucky, then I would have found company for Birdman. If not, my two other Mad Max friends may have by now made alternate plans and leave me friend-less for the movie. What’s more, I might be too late to book a seat for Birdman and end up going for the dreaded Mad Max anyway. Had I committed myself to Mad Max earlier, I would have had some company. Alternatively, I could commit myself to Birdman. That way, I am sure to go for Birdman that night – I might go alone, or with someone, but atleast get to watch the right movie!

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 1.15.58 am

Clearly, if I were aware of my own preference, I would have committed to Birdman quite early on. Things get more complicated when I have a third choice of a Woody Allen movie, let’s say Irrational Man. Would you suggest me to commit to Birdman or Woody Allen? Birdman may give me an 8 or a 10, whereas Irrational Man is a definite 9.

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 1.16.30 am

Different people would have different answers, but it is easy to see that as little as three choices could cause commitment paralysis – a sheer lack of focused commitment – there is no telling what multiple choices, as in real life, can do.
Solution to the commitment paradox – commit! Commit yourself to a choice, and this will lead other people to join you. If you are certain in your path, it lets people make certain decisions (if not, introduce them to ways of resolving the commitment paradox).
But why can we not commit?

Fear of Losing vs. Fear of Losing out

Fear of losing inhibits action, when things should have just been carried through, when we over-think and over-analyze a situation to decide our actions. Given that nothing is perfect, we end up finding a fault in the possibility we had imagined, we ruffle the feathers of our mind and force it to look elsewhere. “The person over wedded to the planned career (especially if they happen to hate it) tends to believe the best risk management strategy is to take no risks.” It is completely legitimate to seek stability. Priorities change at different stages in life.
And then there is the fear of losing out. Fear of losing out pushes us to do things – reach beyond, don’t take things for granted, run around with a net, chasing dreams and ideas of fancies regularly. Of course there are many bumps and dumps in this process when what we dream of, does not materialize. It is worth the effort for the few things that do materialize. It all depends if at the end of the day you want to go to bed fearful of life, or over-filled.
The second approach works well until it reaches a manic level where one does things without real meaning behind them. In the previous movie example, fear of losing out would mean, me having gone for all three movies one after another – in essence not giving complete attention to any single one.
But why do we want to keep our cake and eat it too? To put it another way, why do we want more and more?

A wrong anchor can sink your boat

There is an explanation behind why we want more of everything, even when we don’t really want it.
Anchoring is usually spoken of as a marketing phenomenon where a consumer sets a certain standard in their mind (usually by what the market signals to them). Every consumer decision made thereof, is biased and would either overwhelm or underwhelm you depending on this initial anchor.
Media, especially social media, tells us more is good. Its continuous feed of glossy images and status updates shows a lop-sided view of life. If you go by social media standards, you would imagine there to be no space for a normal day as we live it. It incorrectly anchors ‘normal’ days to be a chain of events, one exceeding the others in terms of excitement. We are told to over-use and under-appreciate.

Since when is it okay to over-use and under-appreciate? If our generation is unhappy, it is often because we have received too much too quick, not recommended for digestion. If you are buzzing with too much cake and yet unsatisfied – it is time to take a walk and clear up the shelves of the dust – our indulgence needs a break and our potential needs fresh air to thrive.

This is your Box

How this works is, I find a box that I think suits you. Then I expect you to stick to it, however cramped it may get. And if you as much as poke an elbow out of it, things aren’t right.

Lame? Well, more often than not, we do exactly this. We label people around us, putting them onto a pedestal of expectations and stereotypes. By forming a certain image of them, we assign them a ‘box’. Of course this is advantageous: mentally, it simplifies the way we deal with people so we don’t have to formulate a relationship from scratch, saving valuable time and effort. Moreover, if people on average don’t deviate much from their inherently differing personalities, assigning boxes is logical and helps two different people in finding stability, where quirky behavioral traits don’t shock consistently. If I get cranky when hungry, a knowing acquaintance would form expectations, be undeterred when I show irritation and stick to a normal pattern. Potential conflict reduced.

Boxes, especially if they fit well, allow no room for growth, because, as I once read, “we fix one another in our expectations and we live down to those expectations.”

Any relationship that doesn’t accept your growth, is unhealthy. Cut loose. Live free. When you travel through life, travel light. Don’t carry burdens that drag you backwards. Allow the learning to strengthen and hope to energize – let the experience gym train you to be swift on your feet.

And yet in this frequent traveler environment, we shall stop and find companionship and build connections. It is human nature to connect. But relationships throw open the Pandora Box of human emotions: expectations, need, jealousy and desire. So is living light and creating valuable relationships compatible? If balanced well, why not.

If we know what boxes do to us, why fit others into them anymore than we want to be in them?

Relationships, like houses that we plan to live in, demand strong foundations. One could move into a house that someone else built, but that’s not personal. One could build a house on previous well-tested foundations, however if it is a new architectural structure one wants, the foundation has to be compatible with the architectural style. So, for a new personalized house with a new architectural pattern, we require solidly built new foundations. Effort certainly required. And if customization renders multiple-use foundations non-workable, we can’t really fit people into boxes and get away with it. These structures will fall.

And if a settlement of houses isn’t workable, accommodating tents are always a good option.

Fire in my House

There is a fire in my house

Let it burn, let it burn.

It’s a house, not my home –

Its something I must learn.

 

And let it burn

So I may leave

And find my ways

To where I should be.

 

And when I find that place

I will put down a tent

For a stay isn’t sure

I’d rather pay a rent.

 

You can critique

And call me lost or aloof.

I don’t know of tomorrow

But today I appreciate a roof.

 

A roof I need

Under which I may stay

Return to it by night

And there sleep after I pray.

 

A place to put my papers and maps

Where I can chart route for next morning

But usually I have no plan

And I would leave without a warning.

Half

It was half of me that spoke to you, half of me that wanted you.

In all sincerity were the promises made

By half of me that thought of you.

And now I wake up to the rest of me

But, really, never had I lied before

The half of me that confessed its love

Never knew that I could feel any more.

And now I awaken and see the light

And feel the wind in my hair,

And suddenly when I see a new part of me

The disguise of my half love for you I’ll no more wear.

It’s a funny love

It looked perfect yesterday

And now when I finally let it out to be free

I can’t bear to see it wither away.

So now I take the lesson with me

And I would say it was not my fault

Is it really wrong if I wish to be free?

Mulling over McDonald’s

Many, probably, would have preferred a title to be something like ‘Munching in McDonald’s’ – not only would it be juicy as a verb, but also as an adjective. But considering my thoughts as amongst the ‘not-so-juicy’ ones, kindly allow me to mull over it for now.

It was an early evening when I walked out of McDonald’s in Jaipur, India – a little excited for the evening’s plan – still sipping out of a large cup of coke. I was pulled back from my dreamland when someone moved my glass, spilling coke over my hand. I looked around angrily for the accused – and met a pair of dark, hungry eyes looking directly at me while a dirty, mud-clad hand reached out for the glass again. I snatched my hand away on an impulse and started walking ahead, but the hand persisted and this time made a strong pull.

Obviously I was stronger, but I let go of the coke, for which I had no more thirst. Anyway, I kept walking, rather briskly now, and went and sat in the backseat of the car, waiting for others to settle in. It is then that the ‘mulling over’ thing began. This was just another simple day, or so I could have been.

By God’s grace my plate at meals is always filled – I am rather generally overfed. The irony is that there is another side of the same world where children my age, and younger, are forced to snatch half-chewn crumbs out of someone else’s hand.

‘Forced’ though is a pun. Whether situational or as an enforced inherited ritual, makes me ponder more. Does it make you think? They say thoughts lead to questions. Does it make you question? Question the third largest Asian economy’s growth with increasing disparity. The craze for western culture while ignoring our own? Climbing up the success ladder, while stepping over someone else’s home? That McDonald’s could be a metaphor? Does it make you wonder who you are and where this road is leading to? I did know where I was going. I turn around and settling in the comfort of the cushioned seat, look forward to the evening.

The boy sits at the footpath. He is joined by another rag-clad boy who has successfully managed a packet of French fries.