Mr. Nobody

I chanced upon this song while watching Mr. Nobody. The narration is gripping, the actors engaging, and the music, you can devour it.

“As long as he doesn’t choose, anything is possible” – imdb.

The protagonist is empowered by the weight that his choice has on his life, and yet, he is only choosing among the many options laid out for him. Why does he not pursue his own interests? It is true that he is matching possibilities with his own multi-morphosing desires, and yet, he is confined by the choices made available to him. In his mind he exercises free will, and yet he is oblivious to the limitations in his dreams. He thinks he is free. An analogy would be of a wild animal running freely in a controlled forest area. Sure, you think you are the choice maker. But what you really are doing is comfortably allowing the past and the current environment to shape your decisions.

The beauty of this movie is, you can form conjectures in directions that you fancy – much in contrast to the handsome protagonist, who is given freedom, but on a leash.

 

The Pusher

She hurriedly tugged on her shoes

And walked into the rain

Ineffectively covering her head with arms

The dark night making it seem less vain.

 

The car around the corner

Now had the blinkers on

She briskly made her way to it,

Getting in, but post a hesitant stall.

 

Her shivering wrinkled hands –

They were moist and swollen

Her eyes struggling with them

And bringing from her coat,

A packet into the open.

 

She handed this to the men

They had had a history of trade

They were the loyal buyers

Who first turned the pusher into a rich maid.

 

And yet she had no idea when the object made a haven in her son’s blood,

She was busy finding users when the infection made him fall with a huge thud.

 

It was a necessity now

To sell, to earn, to pay for the meds

The smoothness of the rise

And to the fall – that’s where it led.

The Hold and the Chase

That pretty stone from the beach?

Yes, I had to have it

So I picked it up

Tossed it onto my blanket.

 

Sneaked it away, yes –

Took it into my hold

Took it away to the sunny warmth,

Away from the water’s cold.

 

Are you of the sea?

Or of the sands?

No it doesn’t matter –

Cuz you’d still be in my hands.

 

Discoveries add meaning

To days otherwise crazed

Reignite the spirit

And dreams and desires to be chased.

Dating – A Happy Illusion?

There goes another Valentine’s day – whether you were having a romantic dinner with a loved one, chatting with them late into the night on the phone, or exchanging gifts – I am glad you had a great day. As for those who were invariably single on this dreaded day – I have some interesting ideas (maybe a tad bit geeky, but who cares) that should make you smile at the very least.

The Root of all evil: Dopamine and Norepinephrine. Do you know which hormone is released when anything gives us any remote amount of pleasure and excitement? It is indeed the famous dopamine (neurotransmitter that is released in the reward system of our bodies, when we experience pleasure) and adrenaline/epinephrine. Adrenaline is a close cousin of norepinephrine. Both hormones increase blood pressure and increase fatty acid supply to the body which acts as a fuel when  increased alertness is required. Guess what, according to researchers (among them Helen Fisher, anthropologist at Rutgers University), this is dopamine and norepinephrine are the same chemicals released when we are falling in love and give us a feeling of elation. When out on a date to a new place with that charming girl or boy, very often, there is an easy confusion of feelings – it is the Dopmine and Adrenaline’s overlapping effects with that of falling in love; it is often the new ‘experience’ that is exciting, not the said person. And yet, it is easy enough to be deluded to think otherwise. MRI scans of subjects’ brains during the initial phases of crazy-obsessed/hopelessly-romantic love have shown to activate areas high in dopamine and related to “euphoria, craving and addiction”.

Interestingly, dopamine is also the same chemical released through use of cocaine (this of course is still contended to irreparably damage dopamine receptors, inhibiting their ability to feel the same level of pleasure again). Therefore, when people have a bad break-up or fall-out, they exhibit similar withdrawal symptoms as drug addicts as their body gets reduced levels of dopamine-induced pleasure.

People in initial stages of love have also been found to have low levels of Serotonin – the chemical essential for good sleep, appetite and memory. Remember when your mom told you to drink down a glass of milk before you hit the bed? Milk is a major source of Serotonin. Low levels of Serotonin are also a problem for people affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). So not only are people mistakenly thinking they are in love, many times when they actually are falling in love, they are subjected through hopeless phases.

Now suppose Jack and Jill have been in a long-term relationship. You know which chemical induces feeling of bonding in lovers? Let me introduce you to the love-hormone, oxytocin. While this hormone is known to be affecting positive feelings such as trust, it can also have an opposite effect of “jealousy, envy, and suspicion”.

I am certainly glad I was spared by these emotions this Valentine’s Day, although I fear I am arguably falling in love with Ranveer Singh (@Gunday). There goes my peace!

P.S. Those of you who were in love today, don’t despair, because in the end love alone triumphs @ RomeoJuliet, RamLeela, Cyclops&Jane, Titanic, Ishaqzaade, Aashiqui. Oh wait.
P.P.S. Unintended pun: Dating- a happy illusion vs. Dating a happy illusion. I hope you get the joke now.

If you don’t believe me, I got my facts from: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/190049/epinephrine-and-norepinephrine

http://www.positscience.com/brain-resources/brain-facts-myths/brain-in-love
http://people.howstuffworks.com/love6.htm

Cynicism: my own

In Conversation…with an ex-user

“Would you like some tea?”

Me: (turning and smiling at the young man behind the voice.) “No thank you”

Him: “You sure? You don’t like tea?”

Me: “It looks a little too strong for my taste!”

Him: (pulling up a chair and settling down with his own cup of hot tea) “So, are you a journalist?”

Me: “Um, no, I am just working in the office here.”

Him: “Ok, well, either way, if you want to ask me anything feel free to do so”

(after a pause)

Me: “So you are working here as well?”

Him: “At this rehab centre? No, I was in here a few years ago; I came back then to get help with my addictions, and since then I have been trying to get my life in order, starting from becoming independent so I don’t need to be dependent on anything or anyone. I like to visit this place once in a while. Just come back and say hello to all my friends in here. ”

Me: “That is a good thing.”

Him: “Really, you can ask me what’s on your mind.”

Me: “I was wondering how did you get into it though.”

Him: “Oh it was just everywhere when I was growing up. You know this place, its very populated and there is no future, well atleast we never saw any when we were younger and playing and living off these very streets. Socially, the culture just passed on from the youth to kids, it was that bad. Habits caught you even before you knew what a habit meant. When I was as young as nine, I started smoking. I remember it was one of my seniors from my local school that offered me my first cigarette, and back then we were so young and naïve that I didn’t really think twice. When I was eleven, I was already smoking up.”

Me: “Didn’t your parents realize what you were getting involved in?”

Him: “I had about half a dozen brothers and sisters and my parents were very busy raising them. They had barely enough money to keep the house running and kept busy with that. Plus once I would be off to school, I would be on my own. You might have already guessed I could not get much money from home, so I started doing odd jobs after school to afford my new lifestyle. I would do work for anyone who would pay me a bare minimum, provide an extra helping hand in small shops or for small businesses. As these were random jobs, and we needed something much more steady, we got around to picking rags and sifting through the rubbish to find anything we could resell to kabadiwalas (scrap dealers) who would find someone who would pay for their scrap value. This was an okay thing until we started finding curious things in the wastes from the area where we were growing up – the residential-cum-commercial area was full of grown-ups sniffing and discarding worse stuff in the trash – there were always traces of such things, especially the cheaper, unhealthy, and contaminated variety, for us to find and experiment there.”

Him: (continuing) “We got in a nasty habit there, trying all sorts of things, first for free then slowly paying for it. We just didn’t realize we were paying a part of our lives as the price. This went for many years before my family finally gave up on me and stopped giving me shelter any more. Looking back, this was one of the best things that happened to me. Then I had to come here to seek shelter and also make changes to my life. These people were nice, they let me in at zero fee, I just had to follow the rules and help with chores. Things turned around slowly. It was not always easy, but I kept trying. Since the time I got out of here, my target is always the monthly salary from a decent job – nothing gives me more happiness than going home with a cheque in hand and being greeted with smiles. I live for my family, from one day to another.”

(awkward silence)

Me: “Thank you for sharing that with me.”

Him: “I will see you next time I come around here. You really should have that tea, if you intend to work here for longer.” And then he passes me one of the most genuine and warmest smiles I have ever seen.

As he walks away with his cup, I pick up my tea reluctantly, take a sip of the bitter liquid, put it back on the table, and try to do some work. From the corner of my eye I can see him chatting smilingly with other people. I wonder if his new fix is hope – or love – because we are all dependent in some way. It’s just about choosing the right fixes.

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?

Find x

To find x has been the most consistent quest of my life.

From the bubbly memories of my childhood when the powerpuff girls could still save the day, Chemical X was the most intriguing mystery. Had it not been for chemical X, the city of Townsville, USA would have had to face a sad fate at the hands of its monsters of reptilian/alien/robotic descent, without the ‘just-in-time’ epical kindergarten heroes. If only in my dreams, lady-luck smiled a charming smile and elevated my passionate daydreams into – well – adventurous night dreams.

That is where I first befriended mysterious Mr. X. It taught me to dream while I thought I was simply looking for it.

I could find x in my school notebooks, surely alongside the alphabet that first opened my eyes to the written word, but doubtless it would be standing with even more confidence alongside a lot of nots! I solved a thousand algebraic equations to find x. It was this search that taught me mathematics. I was meant to go off to sleep with the knowledge that although for the day my job was done, the next day would bring along more x’s to find!

When Christmas arrived with its bright lights, long vacations and celebratory mood at the end of a long year – my eyes pondered a second more at the X on the X-Mas, appearing in various forms everywhere during celebrations, unable to detach from the playful and merry feeling it exuded, nothing more fittingly signified the festivities. The strength of love and kindness could be felt without being spoken of. It made me hope. While decorations changed over the years, so did houses, people and wishes. We were never the same as we had been the last year. But even in the dilemma when you would lift your head from a bow at the church, the ‘X’ sparkled constantly, and so did our hopes and wishes. We prayed with the same sincerity and it was then that I first saw glimpses of faith.

The rhetoric incorrigibly finds me, sometimes placing its mammoth self in an inignorable position, or otherwise just finding a snug corner at the back of my head. Either way, our destinies bring us together time and again. It is a story unfolding overtime.

X no more is being choked into a mere mathematical variable. It is a humble acceptance, to let it embrace its truly deserved freedom. It can spread its wings and let its spirit soar to the wildest of horizons. The irony in finding x is that even with everything else concrete and available, x is what it truly is – a variable. It is the unquenchable human curiosity that forces one to look beyond the face value and forces one to question, search and inquire. I tend to lose myself even before I get a fraction closer in fulfilling my desire. Lost in the intricate golden-yellow print on a South Indian Kanjivaram Saree, to the fantasies of the frosty heights of the mighty Himalayas, lost in curiosity. From the magical streets engulfed in the aroma of spices to the rows of bright glowing oil lamps put out during the festive mood of the much-celebrated Diwali. X is the unknown. To look for X is to be curious and to look beyond the obvious. To search for x is to look for the heartbeat of something new, what moves us, and makes us want to move the world to simply know its meaning. X makes me appreciate a perfect world and want to know what makes it so. X sends me out on a quest. And this quest gives me meaning. For all you know, you are x. You are your own axis. You are your own essence. Defining your meaning every time you step out in sunshine to dazzle the world with your brilliance. And this is our sole power. When we look for x within us, and know its power, we can define our own worth.

X can set the world record for its multi-metamorphosis or mutability. This quest does not have an answer. The journey beholds more significance than the destination, the latter simply being an excuse.

X lies stoutly in the question and sends into a frenzy of search all its enthusiasts. As we scurry around desperately to find meaning, it is ironic that x is to be found most easily if we look at the question with real intent. It is right there. I find the answer when I find the meaning of what I am looking for. Well it sounds easy enough, the only condition is that to know the meaning of x, I have to undertake the journey to look for x – the meaning forms on its own.

So even though I am no better posed at having found x than I seemed to when I fought teaming up with the powerpuff girls, I am glad. For, well, if Tom and Jerry had settled as best of friends, the show would not go on.

I have still not found x. I have found more than I expected.

For those who are still looking, it is right there.

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.

A little girl with little feet

A little girl with little feet

Walked her little perfect land

She felt the wind in her hair, the smell of the sea

And underneath her feet some fine fine sand.

 

In her head her life was complete

And yearned only to keep moving

One step here and next one there –

She knew the path as learning and growing.

 

She steered the ship of her little life

And weaved little dreams that would forever last

Until of course when they became real

And then she would find another sail for her mast.

 

It was a bright sunny day

When her ship sighted another

On the vast seas that she thought she owned –

Here was a harmless intruder.

 

They opened a rum

It was a moment of celebration

To find solace

On this endless ocean.

 

They danced, they cheered

They laughed at life

But wondered secretly how they would look

As man and wife.

The words were sudden

So they quickly were made to vanish

And they continued to dance into the night

Until they went to bed famished.

 

Our friend the intruder deserves an introduction

He was an adventurer from beyond the horizon

He knew a million of the sea’s secrets

And had discovered a thousand.

 

A boy of might

And courage and heart

He had braved some storms

And played a proud part.

 

One fine morning

The girl and the boy said their goodbye’s

They went to their docks

And looked yet again at the skies.

They knew they had dreams

And hopes to be fulfilled

So they set again on their paths

And began navigating with skill.

 

For months the girl sailed

And crossed many-a-lands

She had her own adventures

With the helm held firm under her hand.

 

She often thought of the adventurer

But she laughed it off

There were her perfect little dreams

And she would set afloat with another job.

 

One morning at the bay

When the waters were calm

She recognized a bottle and a hat

Just by the palm.

 

She felt her missing pulse

And so did the face under the hat

Which she now recognized as her own

She went to join the boy where he sat.

 

He laughed

She giggled

He bowed

She clapped

He spoke

She blushed

He got the boat

She got the map.

WOW. (aka the feeling of posting for the first time)

It is finally here.

Cheers to my uncle whose sheer love for tech-problem solving led to a long late night trouble shooting session, toppling into the unexpected sheer joy of writing down this post. I can hardly believe it.

After a long time of delving deep into the technical puzzles and reaching multiple-dead ends, here is my own site with my own name and space for my own sensible and not-so-sensible ideas (of course). Despite thinking through this first ‘dramatic’ post on several over-enthusiastic and technically hampered evenings earlier, having reached here its a clean page without starting guidelines and yet there is no better time to begin but now.

I have already done a zillion spell checks, and before I make more, let me go back, digest this moment and be back, more sane.