Showing posts with label Philosophy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philosophy. Show all posts

Monday, October 14, 2013

K2K - Soul of Solo Riding

In September 2013, I did the Kashmir to Kanyakumari (K2K) SOLO motorcycle road trip. A journey from Himalayas to the Indian Ocean all by myself on a RE Thunderbird covering 5,043 kms in 14 days. (read more)

Most people are convinced that long distance SOLO biking is a colossal-bore and that such an endeavor interests only the lonely souls. They say, “Why would anyone go out ALL ALONE while you can go out with family and/or friends”.

But, very little do they know of finding peace in silence or the bliss in discovering oneself. Far less do they understand that biking is a two way journey; you’re traveling further along the road and at the same time delving deeper into yourself. People whose sense of SELF is defined by materialistic things and other people do not very well comprehend the metaphysics of biking.

So, this post is not for them but for you.
Here are some of my learning along the long road.

1. THE virtue

If I were allowed to pursue one and only one virtue of biking, it’d be this.
“Ride slow. For faster you ride, less you witness and lesser you’ll experience”.

Let me highlight the technicality; the bliss of self-actualization trumps the fun in burning adrenaline any day. Hands down!

Now, let me elucidate the same in layman’s tongue.

If you’re riding too fast, all your attention & energy is spent on NOT falling down than on actually enjoying the ride. You’re gripping the handle too tight, you’re pressing your legs into the fuel tank; you’ve lowered your head and forced yourself to see nowhere else but the road ahead. So, instead of a fulfilling and enriching experience, you’ve merely managed to come out alive from a self imposed risk.

I’m told that there is a certain degree of sportsmanship, competitiveness, discipline and focus required in motorcycle racing. Well, I say that this situation is akin to drowning oneself in alcohol and then competing to remain focused. There are competitions that drunkards play and there is motorcycle racing. They are guilty pleasures in self inflicted chaos. I ride my bike for another thing altogether.

I seek an endearing & liberating experience. I ride for a blissful journey through clarity & awareness; not a survival mission through danger and chaos.

Also, think about it. Faster one rides, sooner he gets tired and distracted too. If you’re riding at 120 kmph, you’ll hardly notice the paddy fields along the road. However, if you’re riding at 80 kmph, there’s a good chance you’ll smell the moist air, notice the different shades of green and even spot a farmer or two aging about their chores.

Needless to remind, if you ride responsibly; you’ll live longer and actually get to ride lot more.

2. Absolute reality; the here-now

 For long man has been a confused creature. Every single one of us has a mistaken identity. We form a complex idea of who we are based on what we were yesterday and what we dream of being tomorrow. We’re struck too badly in the unforgiving past of the dreamy future. Little do we realize that both of them don’t matter and ruin our present with the burdens of the past and the uncertainties of the future.

The faculty of living in the absolute reality; the here-now eludes most of us.

However, I think there is a close approximation to this absolute reality. There is one thing in life that treats you to your face value. It does not care who you are, what you did, or where you’re headed. It’s the open highway.

On an open highway, you’re judged not by your past and weighed not by your intentions. The open highway does not discriminate; you’re handed just as much luck as the other guy. Nothing less, nothing more! You’re tested for awareness & responsiveness every moment. It’s funny that the punishment and reward is the same – life!
Couldn’t it be that one lives in the here-now on an open highway?

3. Reset your senses
K2K ride helps you discover the multitude shades of green and blue that you did not know existed. It’s a full blown awareness of the entire color spectrum. The interplay of colors is so amazing that it’ll make your 1080p television look like pencil sketch.
Keep your eyes open, ears attentive and smell the fragrance of the fresh air. Lose those goggles and iPods. You have something more majestic to experience here. It’s the ultimate reset option for the five senses.

Did you know that the air smells differently while you ride along the sugar cane fields and paddy fields? The air always smells of dampness over the paddy fields. Did you know why? Or more importantly have you ever cared to notice?


One more thing that you can’t miss on K2K ride is the TRUCKS. In a matter of 10 days or so, you’ll see more trucks than you’d have seen in the last 10 years. Trucks in India transport everything and/or anything than needs transportation gets dumped on a truck. While you’re struck with the great Indian truck rally, might as well get some laughs out of it.
Tractors on truck
Trucks on truck
140 feet truck. Notice my bike in the pic?
Railways on Roadways
Thoda kam pee meri rani, Mehanga hai Iraq ka paani

I wouldn’t comment on their driving sense, but truck drivers surely do have a good sense of humor. Next time you’re bored, try reading the quotes inscribed on them. You’ll sure in for some enlightenment and entertainment.

5. Nostalgic Moments

Well, what’s wrong with indulging in a little bit of humor coupled with Bollywood stardom? Here’s some to get started.

Rajesh Khanna Moment: I was riding along Malegaon-Shirdi highway chasing a goods train all along. I couldn’t help humming, ‘Meri sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu’. 

SRK moment: The sunflower fields were in full bloom. But then, Simran was missing. So were the cows and the bell. 

Sunny Deol moment: That is a fine handpump along the Indo-Pak border. I wasn't Bollywood-enough for uprooting it with my bare hands. But, I did stare at that innocent structure laughing for a while. 

Dhoom Moment: A Govt of India safe was being carried with minimum security. I was on my bike, tempted, followed it for quite some distance. In the end, I told myself, "Sour Grapes" and moved on. Maybe another day, a fancy mask and a faster bike; things could've been different. Dhoom..Dhoom..

Don Quixote moment: I am not Quixote-enough to charge windmills. But yes, did manage to see a lot of them along the ride.

6. Be spontaneous

If you come across a river bed like this; don’t be a douchebag and ride along. Get down, do some dirt/sand biking and convince yourself for some cleansing. In scenarios like these, people don’t really care for the right costume.

Once you get past the customary broken beer bottles, you’ll actually realize that the water is lot cleaner than you thought and definitely more rejuvenating than your swimming pool. Spend some more time. Try swimming against the current. There’s a good chance, you’ll find some kids playing in the vicinity. Teach them a trick or two of yours. Learn one of their own.

I’ll assure you, by the time you get out, you’d have lost whatever little back and neck ache. You’ll even come out with a big grin plastered over your face.

7. Discovery of India

Nothing can be more boring than being handed out a tourist brochure to explore the place. Pleasant surprises are a better idea. Here's my top 3 discoveries/realizations along my ride. 

  • Cricket bats town: There this little town/village along the Srinagar-Jammu highway. It seemed as though all the shops in the road sell one thing only - Cricket bats.
  • Pathankot, PB (Camo Goods): There's a particular street in Pathankot, where you get plenty of camouflage gears - the whole range. You name it and they have it. All at wholesale prices.
  • Kumarapuram, TN: This little town is located at an hour's distance from Kanyakumari. It seemed as though this is a town of windmills with few humans and not the other way around. It seemed as though there ere more windmills in the town than people and cattle put together. The localities told me that the blades of the wind mills never stop rotating in this town. Quite a place, I tell you.
Wishing you a long and blissful ride. May the force be with you.
Let me know your thoughts about the post and solo riding in the comments section.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Notes from the Mountaintop

Sometimes, just as sleep is hard to come by after a tiring day; peace can be hard to find at the end of an eventful life. Especially if one's done and endured so much in a lifetime.

At least, HE believed so. One more thing HE religiously believed of was, "When in doubt; consult the Old Monk". In all likelihood, today seemed like an important consultation. 

Old Monk was his oldest pal and the also the most faithful. He was there by his side all though his life – in the good, bad and the ugly times.


It's funny how the old monk, can go down the throat and clear the insides of the head. The lights in his bunker seemed a bit dimmer now. The night was cold & he was alone; it didn't seem a big deal anymore now. He started breathing easy and let his mind slip from the alert mode to remembrance mode.

He remembered how HE was 24 years old when he had to make his life's first big decision. THEY said, "We Want You! We want you to join the finest and bravest men for the noblest task. You will be the protector of your bothers and uphold highest morals. We offer you a life of honour and respect". HE did not understand much but looked around. EVERYBODY said, “Your mother will be proud”. Mother said, “You'll make your motherland proud”. So, that was how he got enlisted for the camp and earned himself an uniform.

The next few months at the camp was exciting. He learned new things, mostly dangerous and explosive things. He trained with other like-minded friends; friends who wore the same uniform and were addressed as comrades. They were all fed three times a day with concentrated doses of self-righteousness and the will-to-act. On the last day at the camp all comrades received a GUN and a shiny piece of metal was pinned to their uniforms.

In the final speech at the camp, THEY said, "The gun will be your truest companion till the end of life and this shiny badge a symbol for righteousness. Outside the walls of this camp, EVERYBODY will look up to you. For you're fearless, selfless, brave and a little more patriot than rest of the people outside this camp.
Remember, EVERYBODY will be looking up to you. You cannot fail them. When in doubt - remember the training. Remember what you were told in the training. The will-to-act is your biggest weapon".

That speech and camp was a long time ago. Thousand miles and 15 years later, today in this cold bunker atop the mountain, he couldn't help recollect that speech and smile. "Funny", he thought. "THEY specifically said when in doubt, remember the training. They did NOT say think. THEY really meant, spare the thinking for us and just do what you're trained to do".

When in extreme pain, it's really hard to focus. The Old Monk may not be able to cure or suppress pain, but he can sure help take some attention off it. It now was becoming more evident how cold the bunker really was. His breathing was steady now. The mind automatically shifted from remembrance to introspection.

It was not very long after the speech that his moment of TEST and his GUN's day in the field came along. Battlefield is a very weird and confusing place. Also, one day on the battlefield can teach you more about the world than a lifetime inside the cosy home.

In spite of the years of training, sophisticated equipment and hours of strategizing; once that first bullet is fired, battlefield is all about manifestation of chaos theory. So many get killed, even more get injured and entire cities are scarred for decades. All of it in so little time. That's the weird part.

Interestingly, that first bullet brings 2 changes to the equation battlefield. One, it makes the cause of the war redundant, and secondly, it establishes survival as the sole objective. In the scramble for survival, nothing matters anymore; neither the cause nor the means.

Think about it. If you hypothetically place an external observer in to a battlefield, he pretty sure can't tell the right from the wrong nor can distinguish the bad guys from the good ones. The truth about battlefield is that everything and everybody are equally justified. That makes one think, "If everybody is right in their own way, why kill each other over it?" Now that's the confusing part.

One might think that killing another person is hard. But once you’re in the war-zone, the reality is more like what John Rambo would say, “When you’re pushed, killing is as easy as breathing”. The hard part about killing is having to live with it for the rest of your life. All those faces and voices can stir up quite a nightmare.


Pain had turned excruciating now. He looked around to re-assess the situation & evaluate his options. His bunker on the mountain was ambushed by the enemy. They fought back and managed to scare the enemy off temporarily. All his comrades were dead; he was severely bleeding. Now, there was only one way this could end. It was only a matter of minutes before the enemy will regroup and return to complete their unfinished assignment. He’d be killed if not already passed out from the bleeding. That much was clearly written on the wall. Either way, he had only a few minutes left.

A decade of killing flashed before his eyes. There were too many of them, too frequent and too much to digest now. His head was full. He had too much to say and express before all the blood drains out of that head.

GULP... GULP.... GULP. That was the last bit of Old Monk from his hip flask.

He was now breathing slower than normal. Clearly, too much blood had drained out of his body. “One last thing left”. He told himself. He pulled his little journal from his jacket and scribbled the following.

Note from the mountaintop
It took me 15 years of crawling through the depravity of our civilization to get here. This mountaintop lends a certain perspective; one that is hard for men in valley on both sides of the fence to comprehend. For this is the lesson that one learns at the end of a painful journey and I am writing it down so that no one else has to tread this path.

 Seen from this height & perspective, I cannot see any fence or border.
If you believe this world was created by a force
or an order higher than this, it’s a good bet that
a fence was never intended.

Right & Wrong
Your stance on most disputes depends on which side of the
fence do you reside as each side sees the same thing differently.
There are equal number believers and unequal
number of guns on either side of the fence.
So then, the fight righteousness is always a question
of who owns more/bigger guns?

Man with a gun
Uniform or otherwise, there is nothing moral about the
man with a GUN. He merely symbolizes threat and intimidation.
He can never be trusted nor should be. 

He wrote this and put the pencil down to contemplate on the last thought of his life, “If I should put this gun in my mouth and pull the trigger, will I actually hear a gunshot or pass out before hearing it”?

That seemed a difficult question. But then there was only one way to know the answer. He did what was necessary and what he'd trained to do. He sputtered the walls with stains of dark red. 
Ironically, nothing had changed in the world’s equation. 
One man less but the number of guns still remained the same. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mind Matters - Tabula Rasa

What differentiates the man from the beast?  

Clearly, MIND has been the potent force and the distinction between mankind and any-other-kind that there is. It is ultimate coordinator of all organs in the body. It is also the ultimate logic algorithm that has analyzed the world, pondered over the secrets of the nature and championed them.
The human mind has also created and defined the good, bad, god, evil, heaven, hell and everything in between. Mind defines everything in this world - the weather, living things, lifeless things, dead things and ghosts.

While the human mind has unraveled the mysteries of the universe, very little has it pondered on itself.

Do you think we are beyond this and that the neurosurgeons have it all sorted out; all the connections and chemical reactions inside your brain? Here's something for you ... 

Tabula Rasa or Not?

Even though the word/phrase 'Tabula Rasa', sounds out-of-the-world'ish, it is the most popular and widely accepted axiom concerning the matters of mind. The theory of Tabula Rasa states that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that all knowledge comes from experience and perception. In other words, when we are born (the zeroth second of our lives) we've nothing in our heads. Our mind is a clean slate; no memories, no experience, no emotions, no knowledge, no information & no-nothing. All that the minds learns and assimilates is through our experiences and perceptions of the world.

Fairly simple and believable. Lets put this to test.

Test one. Consider a hypothetical scenario in which two babies (healthy and without any anomalies) are born at the same time. We know that they have an absolute no-nothing in their heads. Let's isolate them in separate test rooms. Assume that the environment in these two rooms are identical and that parameters such as temperature, humidity and lighting are similar at any point in time.

Now, let's keep these two babies in their respective test rooms (without knowledge or contact of the outer world) for say, 20 years. The logic of Tabula Rasa suggests that any two humans that grew up in the exact same environment would have the exact same mind. Is that what you believe?

At the end of 20 years, will person A and person B react/respond to situations in a similar way?
Hmmm... I think, Maybe!

Let me rephrase it.
At the end of 20 years, will person A and person B react/respond to EVERY situation in the EXACT same way?
Hmm.. Now, I am thinking, NO! Not always and not everything.

Now, this hints at the possibility of some wild card. A factor X that has deep influence on the mind; one that is more intrinsic and individualistic to every person. Could it be the combination of genes? Hereditary factors? What would happen if we put identical twins through this test?

Test two. Let's summon Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

Put in layman's words, Darwin postulates that that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor: the birds and the bananas, the fishes and the flowers - all are related.

Furthermore, successive generations of any species will have to be more adaptable (if not superior) than their immediate ancestors. 
However slight the improvisation, you are more adaptable than your parents; that's what Darwin implies. But going by the theory of Tabula Rasa, successive generations are born with a clean slate; a blank mind. This means either evolution does not apply to the mind or evolution never happened. 
Now, this brings us to the million dollar question. If every human being comes with the same biochemical brain composition, it stands to logic that all of us must be equally wise. No one wiser/dumber than the other. How is it that only few attain the heights of wisdom and rest end-up as bums? 

Is it the environment and circumstances that holds the key? Or, how we respond to the situations that maketh the man? Either ways, can we really claim to have evolved? 

In the race to break the space frontiers and fathom the deepest seas, most of us as individuals care less about the matters of the mind. Could we have got the game wrong? 

What if we were meant to deep-dive not the oceans but ourselves? What if winning meant understanding yourself better than unraveling the mysteries of the universe?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Biking is meditating

What’s the craze between a guy and his motorcycle? 
Now that the simple answer, “Biking is an attitude and a way of life” wouldn’t suffice, let’s complicate …

Don't get shocked. This is a democratic land (some are trying to privatize internet though) and we are all entitled to our opinions. Yes, I  believe that biking has the meditating effect. Before I can connect biking with meditation, allow me to break down the meditative state of mind for you. 

The human mind, with all its complexities still retains the beauty of holding just one thought at a time. Let us take an example for clarity. Suppose you are in the middle of a road and all of a sudden u hear the sound of a speeding truck. Now, the following things simultaneously happen.
  • You feel a shock wave running down your spine alerting all your senses
  • Your eyes tries to confirm the if the truck will indeed hit you or miss you
  • Your ears complement your eyes in ascertaining the time to collision
In the end it is left to the brain to assess the situation, revisit previous such encounters, evaluate options and take a decision. The drill is pretty much the same for most circumstances. It really doesn't take a speeding train or a truck to experience this. The falling glass of water, stumbling over a stone, catching a ball or even something as subtle a beautiful girl walking past you.

If you carefully observe, there are always three distinct forces at work determining our actions; our senses, sub-conscious self and the conscious mind. It would do good to draw comparison with the computing world to understand the role of each one of the forces. 

Your 5 senses are like the peripheral data gathering I/O devices. They are in the business of sensing the external environment. Every waking milli-second of our lives, the senses are seeing things, capturing noises, smelling the surrounding and feeling the air. They are constantly capturing raw data and passing it on to the next stage. Raw data includes everything from the sound of the truck to unpleasant odor to sighting of a beautiful girl.

The sub-conscious self is into the business of conducting sophisticated big data analysis over the  information passed on by the senses. Our sub-conscious self specializes in finding patterns and trends in random data. For example, a shrill sound with a rapidly increasingly intensity could mean oncoming truck; your left foot not finding ground in time can mean that you've tripped and about to fall; a sudden burst of blinding light can either mean someone is flashing a torch at your face or you could be witnessing an atomic explosion. If you've been reading the newspapers, you'd know that IBM Watson does this very well. It literally read through (almost) all the digital garbage of the world (at least America) and posed meaningful and grammatically correct questions to random sentences on a TV show. Congrats Watson. Now that you have championed English grammar, I dare you with table manners !!

let's get back. The mind is your the ultra complex and turbo cooled processor (unfortunately single-core). It reads the information from the peripheral devices, evaluates possibilities and takes all decision. In the laymen lingo, mind is the king who collects intelligence from the pawns (read senses), gets counseled by the ministers (read sub-conscious self) and eventually takes a decision on what needs to be done. If it's bad odor, try not to breathe for a while. And if it's the hot chick in the red dress, forget everything and thou' shalt stare (Yea, this brain is definitely male).

Now to the question big question. Are the meditating and dreaming states very different from each other ?

Lets see. The eyes are usually closed in both cases. The heartbeat is steady. The subject (saint/dreamer) is relaxed and is in deep thinking mode. On a serious note, both the states demand suspension of senses and sub conscious self. Take a minute to mull over it.

In deep sleep, you don't feel your surroundings so you can dream for long durations. The moment there is a loud noise (alarm) or somebody alerts your senses (mom trying to wake you), dream is gone. Same goes with meditation, you will either have to suppress your senses or find a quiet place so that you can concentrate on one thing only.

As in dreaming so with meditation; the senses distract your concentration and the sub-conscious tends to bias the direction of thought. More you control the two forces, better can you meditate; delve into a singular thought. You know why day-dreaming was not as effective at the college. Your senses were constantly looking out for that possible chalk-piece thrown at your face.

Silence and a serene environment will reduce distractions and help dream/meditate better. That explains why the saints prefer to sit down at ashramas or mountain tops for meditation than at Bangalore International Airport or Kempegowda bus stand.

So, the point I am stressing on is that the deep meditative state is characterized by two things - lack of distraction from senses and interference into the thought process by the sub-conscious. Now munch over it for some time.

What happens with biking
Please note that commuting between work and home on a two wheeler does not qualify as biking. More so, if you are in Bangalore. Our senses are most active when navigating within heavy traffic. When I say biking here, I mean riding on a two wheeler for long distances.

Long distance riding is like playing a cricket test match. You can afford to forget for a long time where you are, how many runs to score and just play for beauty of the game. The first 25 kms of a bike ride is most painful. All your senses are strained, with constant interruptions to the brain. After about 50 kms, the traffic is sparse and you pick up speed. Your senses still has to be at their peak (making up for the speed), but the number of interruptions are less and far between. After 75 kms, your sub-conscious and and the five senses find an equilibrium. Even though there are no interruptions, your five senses are fully alert and transfixed on the road as you are cruising at high speeds. 

Voila! Your mind is now in the test match mode.

There are hardly any interruptions on the road; so senses aren't alarmed and hence your thought train goes on uninterrupted. It is as though your mind is detached from your body; inert to interruptions and prejudices (sub-conscious self throwing its weight around).

Now, lets compare the state of mind while biking and meditating

State of Mind: Senses do not interrupt/interfere the mind
Meditation: Saints either suppress their senses or find a calm place wherein senses do not get alarmed.
Biking: All senses are too busy monitoring the road and hence do not interfere in the thoughts in the brain

When I ride my Royal Enfield Thunderbird for few hundred kilometers without much interruptions; I find myself in this meditative state. I am sure most riders feel this way too. While others believe in rolling out their yoga mats in the morning, I prefer to taking out my blackbird (RE TBTS) on a long ride. Long distance riding has often helped me delve deep into a thought without interruptions. Given the time in this state, mind has almost always found its answers and resolved the conflicts.

In the end, but for a sore ass; long distance biking is a rejuvenating experience for both the mind and the body.

Meditation gurus, Fellow bikers, Yoga practitioners, Cricket fans and Dreamers at large... Please let me know your thoughts/gyaan in the comments section. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Angry Birds - Lessons for Life

Life reminds us of it's invaluable lessons in mysterious ways. I refreshed my lessons at this addictive game of Angry Birds. If you don't know what it is, it may help to read one of my earlier posts 'Angry Birds - The addiction'.

This article draws parallel between the game and life. If there were lessons to be learnt from the game, these would be my pick...

1. Acknowledge and understand your obstacles

Pretending that the problems don't exist and procrastinating has never helped. The first step is to acknowledge the problem and understand it. As Robert Frost has said, "The best way out of a difficulty is through it". The obstacles come in different forms; just as wood, steel and glass in the game. Also, they could confront us as one big challenge made up of all the individual obstacles.

2. Know your birds well and what they can do for you 
The key to success is playing by one's strength. To do that one has to know his cards well. Invest time in understanding your key strengths. Just like a piano; once tuned cannot be played forever. It requires tuning often to be in the best of shape. Hone your strengths frequently.


3. There is a bird for every obstacle

There is a bird for every obstacle just as there is a work around for every problem in life. However complex the obstacles look, there is always a way to overcome them. The trick is to breakdown the challenges into its constituent obstacles and address each one with the appropriate means. It is not hard to understand that the different obstacle takes different approach to beat. Play to your strengths. Break the wood, splatter the glass or blow up the concrete - use the appropriate means for each problem.

4. Make the most of opportunities (Explosive power)

Somewhere hidden among all the rubble and chaos are opportunities in our lives. Just the kind that can make your life far more exciting and easier. Keep an eye out for them. Make that extra effort to get them. Nailing these opportunities will help in achieving more than what is seems possible.

5. Teamwork is still the best strategy

One hammer has never fit all the needs; however big it may be. In a team game one has to play with their strength and towards the common goal. Use your birds judiciously. Every bird has a purpose and the key to winning the game lies in approaching the obstacles in strategic moves.

6. Perseverance is all it takes

Have you had a feeling that you've been trying hard but the results aren't coming. Are you struck in that elusive rounds wherein, you've felt that there ought to have been one more bird at hand. What will you do in life if you were in one such situation. Will you push it or simply quit? What we persevere at becomes easy. Not that the task becomes easier; our ability to do so gets increased.

7. Innovation -There has to be another way out

If one thing that Angry Birds teach us is that there is more than one way to do things. It is perhaps the best take away from the game. The feeling of learning an easier way to accomplishing things is invaluable; more so after persevering hard at something. In a way, perseverance leads to innovation.

8. After all, it's just a game and life is just a ride

All said and done; its just a game. Lie too, in the end, is not worth taking too seriously. Try not to control everything in life. Let go; explore things and enjoy the ride. Play safe and enjoy your game .. er.. your life.

Let me know how much you enjoy your game ... 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Can you find true love more than once ?

It has always been easy to fall in love. The harder part is to pick yourself up after the great fall.

The fallen have broadly taken up one of the two perspectives on life beyond the break-up. There are those who believe that true love happens only once in a lifetime. And there are those that believe otherwise.

The fundamental difference between the two lies in the way they answer the question, Kya pyaar sirf ek baar hota hai? An argument between the two schools of thought would be something like this.

A: To love someone means to hold your partner at a special place and according the highest concern and regards. The passion for the partner never reduces and the feeling is eternal. The special one is placed above self and their position is irreplaceable. After an unfortunate break up, the feelings and emotions for that special someone does not ebb away. The partners may physically separate, but the feelings for each other remain intact.

B: One of the characteristics of true lovers is that they remain themselves while they are with each other. In other words, to love someone is nothing but to remain in peace with him/her just as much as you are with yourself. However, like most of the emotions, love is a sub-conscious act and hence dynamic in nature. If the passion and feeling can build up over time, it is also natural that it may reduce over time. After an unfortunate break up and physical separation, the passion dries up over time.

A: The essence of true love is that the passion is absolute and the feelings eternal. What can ebb away over time could not have been true love in the first place. Even after the separation, the heart will forever long for that special one. The body can be chained, not the heart. However hard one tries to find love with somebody else; he/she would still be the ‘other person’.

B: Love is an emotion that requires people to open up to each other. It is essential for one to understand the other just as they are and accept them as such. Even as the passion demands trust and frankness, it is not person dependant. Given the time and willingness to open up to people, it is definitely possible to rekindle the same spark. It is to be understood that it wasn’t fake the first time or any less sacred now.

A: What most people resort to after an unfortunate break up is try to accommodate one more person in their heart. But the human heart, just like the brain, when once stretched beyond a limit, does not return to the original state. As the special someone can never be dethroned from the heart, the ‘other person’, in most of the cases never commands that kind of passion and remains unaware of this as well. The relationship is endured more as a duty than anything else.

B: To love is to feel; to feel special. The emotion is dynamic and cannot be forced. The feeling of love is something that is discovered gradually. Sadly, any discovery pursued with pre determined ends is no discovery at all. The worse duty that there could be is to forcefully carry forward a passionless relationship.

All said and done, there cannot be a blanket right/wrong to the matters that concerns love. As Pascal has rightly said, “The heart has its reasons, the reason knows not of”.

Note: This post is originally written for BlogJunta. The content has been reproduced here with permission.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Life on the rainy roads

Tough are the questions in life that don’t come with an answer. Tougher is the question which, simpler you answer, harder it becomes to understand.

One such being, “What’s the craze between a guy and his bike? “

Now as the simple answer, “Biking is an attitude and a way of life” wouldn’t suffice, let’s complicate …

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow, What a Ride!" — Hunter S. Thompson

The first thing is to understand that our lives in many ways resemble the motor traffic on the roads and how we lead our lives is insanely similar to how we ride.

We live in a world full of people going about their chores just as our roads are ridden with fellow riders en route to their destinations. A typical day involves meeting people, exchanging ideas, finding common ground and then working towards a common objective. It is similar to how we ride, guided by commonly accepted traffic rules and towards our respective destinations.

Unfortunately, our roads aren’t always good. Just as the humps and pot holes, not all is bound to be well in our lives either. Every hump and pot hole of the road is analogous to an unnecessary quarrel, ego-clash or grudge in life. Just when you learn to slow down and tactically dodge the pot holes, the cross roads with signal lamps show up. While a cross road in life represents multiple choices, the traffic signal represents the time left to take a decision. I’m sure we’ve all come to cross roads in our lives and paused before taking a decision.

I’ve always paused a while longer to make some interesting observations.
  • There are one set of people who always tend to be in a hurry and try to jump signals. A traffic offence may not result in severe punishment, but a premature decision in life cause irreparable damage.
  • On the contrary, every time you choose not to jump a signal builds patience and character. What it takes to pause at the signal light and give others a fair chance and time to pursue their way is exactly similar to what it takes to pause, wait and understand others.
  • There is another kind of people who have the patience to wait till the lights turn green but when they are supposed to make a choice and move on, get uncertain. They not only get themselves into a mess but also obstruct others at the cross roads.
  • Lastly, the most special kind of people are those who are unaware and utterly unprepared to be at the cross roads. They patiently wait till the lights turn green only to realize that they don’t know which road to take.
A classic example is that of those at this special cross road called marriage. The lights have turned green on them but they are not prepared to move forward. Sad for them that the by passers (friends, relatives and parents) are honking really hard. Most likely that they may yield to the pressure and take some road they may repent few kilometers down the road.
Theoretically speaking, the best way to handle a cross road is by initially turning on the indicator (hinting at the choice you will take) and patiently wait till the time is ripe (lights turn green) before crossing the junction.

Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul – Anon

The two and four wheeled clans are well known to love each other just as much as Tom & Jerry, if not any better. There is a saying that only a biker can understand why a dog sticks his head out of a car window. While the car is increasingly becoming an entity of luxury and comfort, thankfully, biking is still about being down to earth and out in open.

Riding a bike is far more pleasurable and demands skill. Pleasurable as the rider can be a part of the nature and so many more nuances to be relished. There is balance, bend, speed and the rider himself who has to skillfully wield them to the right extents.

I’m singing in THE RAIN, just singing in the rain – Jene Kelly

I’ve always used rain as a metaphor for troubles in life. The analogy helped me understand and analyze human behavior apart from learning to push my own limits. I hope one understands when I say that there are days in our life, when it just drizzles, when it rains and worse when the heavens decide to clean their water tank. Similarly, in life there will be days when we are peeved, disturbed, irritated, agitated, frustrated and rebellious. It’s quite fascinating how we ride and live in the same way.

Here are the most common and popular reactions to rain, 

  • Curse the heavens and the hell alike
  • Run for shelter and decide to wait till rain stops
  • Bring out their umbrellas/raincoats and proceed if feasible
So, what kind are you?
“The best way out of a difficulty is through it” - Robert Frost

I’ve always insisted that I never stop for the rains. This attitude has consistently helped me in pushing my own limits and instilling a confidence to live and ride confidently against all odds.

After all these parallels that we have established between riding and living, it shouldn’t be hard now to understand the connection between the two. If you’ve been angry all day, it’s likely that you may tend drive impatiently that day. On the same lines, if you’re a good rider, you are more likely to lead a happier day.

Just as the way life can influence riding, the converse is also true.
As you drive, more likely you are going to live.

Jayanth Jagadeesh
The author is an ardent biker who insists on living and riding by the same principles.


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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Once Only .. Forever

There are several conflicts that afflict the human mind. Perhaps, nothing more enigmatic than a confused relationship. Girls seem to have always had absolute clarity. The confusion was clearly a guy's thing. Or at least he thought so.

Seeing her after all these years, a multitude of feelings erupted that were dormant for a long while now. He felt a heightened sense of awareness. One which made his heart feel warm and heavy at the same time. It was as though  he felt the presence of something extraordinaire in the vicinity that could not be ignored. Not even for a moment. Soon, all the noise and the people from the surroundings seemed not to exist.

He knew there exists a thin line between friendship and love. He had surely hopped sides several times.

The two were classmates at the college and had spent lot of time together. Too many memories flooded his mind in a short time - movies they'd seen together, trips they'd been together, late night telephone calls and of course, the hours they'd spent at the coffee shop. There were many girls in his life but she was different. She had an aura that would simply lighten up any ambiance and perturb his every time.

In her company, the rest of the world seemed to be moving in slow motion. She could talk all day not get tired of it. And he could simply sit all day admiring her shiny hazel eyes without speaking a word. Every time she laughed, he 'd adore the symphony of her pink lips, shiny eyes and dimples.  He'd crave for one more hearty laugh and would do anything for it. She evoked emotions in him, that he never knew existed. On every instance he'd help her cross the road, he delved to feel her small delicate fingers. He wouldn't care as much about the oncoming truck as much as did to feel her smooth palm.

He wished he could have talked to her about it. But could not. He never seemed to have found words to either explain what he felt or what it did to him. Also, admitting his feelings demanded a lot of courage. Denying it was far more easier and safe.

They had eventually departed with a big tight hug. The one that he would remember for the rest of his life. All the six-foot of him, for once, felt helpless and totally vulnerable at the arms of a girl. He wanted to live in that moment forever. But, it had passed and so did several years after that.
It soon occurred to him that it was not her who was special. What was special was 'what he felt for her'. His feelings for her were something he'd never feel for anyone else. Ever. Later, the high paying job would not seem as interesting. His walks  would  tire and solitude bore him.

Suddenly, the noise from the surroundings brought him back to his senses.  Just as easily as it had swayed him away earlier. He realized that he was standing on an elevated stage, in front of an elaborate floral arrangement. A young  lady, studded with precious stones and shiny metal stood beside him. She would, in a short while, become his soul-mate.

It was his wedding and she was there to wish him. He later introduced her to his fiancee as a good friend. He knew he had lied. He knew that he could never accept her as just another friend. He knew he'd have to hold onto his lie for the rest of his life, just as he'd hold onto her memories. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lil lamb learns his last lesson

His head was severed. As the head rolled on the ground and the light started to fade from the eyes, the sheep couldn't help recollect every chance his life gave him to become a wolf.

He was born unique, just like every other lamb in the world. His dreams and aspirations were unlike any other lamb. Then, he and his friends were admitted to an education system. Years after sitting through the same lecture, all the lambs adopted similar thought process. Sooner than he knew he was thinking and living on the same lines of his friends. But that was alright, he was doing better than his friends. So, he felt he was extraordinary.

He graduated from the education system and it was time for him to explore every pasture that he dreamt of. But, he sought the advice 100 others on what he should do, who happened to have lead a life that 100 others had told them to. He ended up confused and decided to follow a bunch who were following few others. Few years down the line, he looked back to see that he was part of a big herd. But, it was okay. He was among the forerunners of the herd. He felt he was extraordinary.

Every opportunity that his life gave him to assert his individuality, he chose to blend with the mob. He wasn't a coward, he simply wanted to play it safe. But, of course, he did not know it. Not yet, that it is a bunch of extra ordinaries who choose to remain ordinary that maketh the herd. 

Every opportunity life gave him to be whatever-he-was, he squandered it to become one among his peers. He spoke and lived their life just to be heard and understood. Now, it drew upon his severed head, that you'll still remain a RAT, even if you win the RAT-RACE. He wished, if only he'd stood up once for what he believed. If only he had held his own in a room full of conformists, his life could've been something else altogether. He could've been someone else altogether too - a wolf.. or even a lion..

But then, none of that would matter now. His head was 10 foot away from the rest of his body and the only thing the connected the two was his own blood spilled all over the floor. He had no regret, no remorse for what happened to him. With a faint smile on his lips, he bid adieu to his little un-extraordinary life. 

Article by - Jayanth Jagadeesh

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Absolute Truth...

20 feet down under, water crushing my eardrums, the insides of me collapsing under the massive hydraulic pressure... Unable to breathe and unwilling to die, I realized the absolute truth of life.

Man has been around for 3,00,000 years now. He has supposedly spent most of it wandering barefoot in jungles. Either hunting or gathering for food, as situation demanded. After about 2,90,000 years he is supposed to have taken up agriculture. The neo-age scientists and anthropologists called it the birth of civilization. What they actually meant by civilization was actually the birth of an idea. The idea that man doesn't have to go where the resources and luxuries exist. He could get them to where he exists.

Our Civilization: Lets introspect how we civilized over the years.

  • Soon after taking up to agriculture, the importance of creating boundaries impressed upon us. We had to know our lands from that of our neighbor. As Robert Frost would put it centuries later, "Good fences make good neighbors".
  • Soon we figured out that fruits and shiny metals were not of the same value. Barter system was abolished and monetary system introduced.
  • Monetary system brought with it the pyramid that ensured a vast majority of us would serve as slaves all our lives.
  • The forces-that-be then decided that the society deserved a little 'Thought Control' and 'Allegiance'. Traditions, Customs and Thoughts were put in place which were inherently indisputable. Those who dared question were silenced (quite literally).
  • The Ubiquitous-Omnipotent now had a name-and-form and his acceptable code of conduct laid down. Some of his special children assumed the authority to ensure his ways are implemented.
  • We then burnt some witches amongst us and beheaded other non-conformists.
  • As if that wasn't enough, we burnt some more of ourselves based on our skin colour.
  • Today we are civilized enough to cross the borders that we created ourselves, hurt, torture & kill those on the other side just because we suspect that they may harm us. But then, we are kind enough to take away their natural resources and relieve them of that burden.

Also note that we have accomplished all this in record time. Three cheers to mankind !!!

You still believe that we are animals with a conscience ? Read On ... 

"You’ll see. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these ‘civilized’ people will eat each other." - Joker, The Dark Knight

I too believed that we are animals, but with a conscience. I've been an ardent swimmer for quite sometime now. It's one of the swimming sessions that enlightened me of the absolute truth of mankind. The swimming pool that I frequent is 20feet deep and it's very common that one does what is called 'under water walking'. It's a stunt wherein one dives into the water, exhales every bit of air in his lungs to get to the floor of the pool and tries to take a walk. For those who are not into swimming or haven't tried the under water walking, let me try to explain what it feels like.

20 feet down under, there is absolutely no noise. The silence is incomparable to anything else I've witnessed in my life. The weight of the water crushes down on you. Your lungs crave for one breath of air - just one. But it ain't gonna get nothing. 20 feet down under, there is no use crying for help and you can be sure of being unnoticed by anyone above. Unable to breathe and unwilling to die, one experiences the absolute feeling of helplessness.

I don't know what it feels to die. But, 20 feet down under, you can certainly experience what it feels to be an inch away from death. For the sake of my unaware friends, let me explain what an-inch-away from death feels like.

One inch away from death, couple of interesting things happen. The first thing to happen is that one forgets who he is. The sense of 'ME' becomes redundant as it wouldn't matter anymore under the circumstance. Secondly, all the learning/education of the world is forgotten as it wouldn't help any longer. Lastly, the mind is ridden of all thoughts but for one. All your mind is concentrated on One objective and One means to achieve it only. The ultimate objective of live - Survival & the only reliable skill - Instinct.This is the absolute truth of humanity. All else is learnt/forced-upon by things that don't matter in life.

Sages and psychologists have sought to experience/re-create 'Tabula Rasa'. I guess, this is the closest I've got to experience it myself. Things that my little misadventure taught me.
  • When pushed off the limits, all your education isn't worth a dime.
  • Morals and Conscience is a luxury unaffordable when survival is threatened. They are in fact tools that we use to boost our ego, sitting deep in our comfort zones.

It is in these moments that all the 3,00,000 years of legacy is forgotten and the neo-age corporate denizen turns cave-man again. Under these situations, there is no limit to which man would resort to survive. I swear I'd have personally killed anyone if I had to do so to survive. The best part is that I wouldn't repent one bit about that.

That brings us to the question. How different are we today from the monkeys that we supposedly bid goodbye lakh's of years ago? In my candid opinion we are no more than one huge tribe of less-hairy monkeys wearing fancy suits. Consider this - one half of our tribe (read Female) still go nuts for shiny metals (read Diamonds, Gold etc) and the other half (read Male) is crazy about toys (read Automobiles, Laptop, iPods etc). Assigning a huge monetary value to them does not change the fact - they still remain SHINY METALs and TOYS. 

So, I say, lets empty our ego-bags and the false sense of importance, for in the end, it doesn't even matter...