materialistic philosophy, Stroke of time

Redeem and Rebuilt

Not so long ago, I used to write blogs more frequently. Not so long ago, the website that I am using to write this looked pretty different. Only a month and a half ago, I was in the city that broke me and humbled me. A city where I met my first love and had my first break up. A break-up that seemed more like an act of mercy than any phase of heartbreak. A city where I dreamt of being an entrepreneur and saw me built a hasty retreat to job life. A city that saw me get fit enough to run a marathon and saw me unfit enough for my doctor to tell me to leave my job. Bangalore gave me the best of times and worst of times but it broke my spirit and me unhealthy and poor but wise.  I needed to rescue myself. Rather timidly, I just wanted to get out of the city.

I started looking for jobs. I got a few great opportunities but broken me did not want to walk through the streets of my failure. Having spent the bulk of my professional life in startups, I was no longer fit to work in larger organizations. Botched two-three interviews and then started applying to all countries of the globe. I even applied to exotic countries not know for their tech prowess. In the state that I was, I felt I need to come to startup capital of the world “SFO” or Israel. The way VISA works, it was easier said than done but I had gone well past the realm of giving a damn.

I took a contract position with a startup as a consultant with a possibility of converting to full-time employment if an O visa came through. In a months time, the job offer came through contingent on visa approval. After a three-month VISA process, greatly helped by the press coverage of zoomo, the VISA came through. VISA interview was really funny, I had to go to Chennai to get my VISA stamped. First time I went there the CM died and the consulate declared a holiday.The next time I found myself in the middle of a cyclone.

On 16th January, I was ready to leave home for foreign shores for the very first time. Twenty odd hours later, I was in SFO. Ever since I left Dibrugarh, I have lived in Delhi, Kharagpur, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore but I always missed my old home. I missed the rains, the muddy roads and most of all I missed the clean air and tasty water. I missed walking up to see a tea garden, every day of my life. But SFO was different. It was a city with clean air, beautiful trees, beautiful houses and lovely weather. There are many things to like about the city, the road by the ocean, the walk across the streets and the lovely smell of the pine trees. I  love the smell of the pine trees, I really love the smell of the pine trees, I really really and truly love the smell of the pine trees. I love the run on the road by the ocean, I love the trek to the nearby hills.

I was pleasantly surprised to see people on the roads so polite. Even the dogs are very different from back home. I have run on the roads quite a few times sharing space with dogs and never have I been ever chased once. It took me quite a while to get adjusted to not react to the presence of dogs while running. In the month and a half here, I have been to a few other cities but nothing compares to this city. To top it all, I have got my health back and my sugar levels are back to normal, lost two inches and love with the work I do.

 

In many ways, I am now living a dream which I had never dreamt.

When engulfed by stress and external circumstances, it is easy to lose faith in everything. A  year after the dark days of my life, I have started to take things more lightly. I am now only interested in completing bucket list items. I have jumped from a building, ran 21kms without any reason, went to Vegas and walked one whole day alone on the strip. Life has been really good to me in this distant land that I call home.

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life, materialistic philosophy

The guilt free sundae

 

In moral science classes of my very initial school days, I was often told “an idle mind is a devils workshop”.  Idle mind or not, many of my brain cells responsible for storing the memories of my life were empty back then and till date I remember these six-seven words in the same order.

Today things are different, although my dna report will match to me of two decades earlier, my thoughts and thinking process are not exactly the same. I no longer think that devil and divine fight for control of my mind. But it is quite funny what an idle mind can do to your life.

I try to keep myself busy either coding or running in the few seconds of the day when I am not doing any of these I busy myself thinking about all things in life which I will never have.  It has been now seven years since the Brazilian Grand prix won by Kimi Räikkönen . Incidentally that was the day I was told I am a diabetic. It would be a lie to say I was not expecting this news or to say that I was not shattered by it.  Bad news, even though we know is inevitable, always comes across as something sad.

Thankfully though, my willpower rose to the occasion and now I am largely non-diabetic – at least my blood test thinks like that. I run aggressively every day and am rather paranoid about food I take. If I see oil floating around I can’t eat the food. If the food tastes sweet and I don’t know how much fibre is present in the food, I find myself unable to eat.  I feel like a criminal if I miss one session in the gym.

But all these seems to be taking a toll on me. Every now and then I feel like is why and for long do I have to do this. Why do I have to do all of these just to stay alive and now and then , I try to recollect the last time I had a guilt-free sundae. After searching my brain for recollections of the feeling of a guilt free sundae, I only realise I have quite forgotten how it tastes and just wonder how many cousins of guilt free sundaes will torment me in my idle hours.

 

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bike, Hobbies, materialistic philosophy, my life, travel

Here I Go on the road again

the call of the road

 

I love to drive. I really love to drive. I really totally love to drive. I really totally absolutely love to drive. Humans invented words to be able to communicate . While it is true that our mastery of larynx has enabled us to become masters of the world and deluded us into creating competitions to find the most beautiful thing that breathes in the universe, no matter how many daggers I inflict on the works of Wren and Martin and the guardians of English dictionary , I cannot honestly describe the joy that driving gives to me. Words can indeed be funny, only way to describe your love for anything is to write that you cannot describe them in words.

So, I love to drive. I love to drive fast. In India, driving fast is not something that any cardiologist will recommend to the fainthearted. Driving on the roads of India, it sometimes makes me wonder where did Stan Lee get the inspiration for his characters . Maybe it was good that he did not live in India or else his description of the physical self of his characters would be so much realistic. Every day in India you have people take to the road that they are the one and only spider-man and superman. Helmets are something meant for people whose brain skulls are made of fragile calcium composite. Driving on the wrong side is only way to drive specially if most of the lesser mortals who are driving at over 100 km per hour stand to disintegrate after a head on collision with the superman. The best part of it all is that the biggest superpower of Indian motorists is the high beam light that shields them from harms way by blinding the oncoming traffic driving on the right side of the road.

So, I have a self-destructive love. And there hangs the tale or whatever Lord Archer might have programmed my brain to mutter. If I am to analyse every thing I do in my life, my driving stands out as an anomaly. I was a lethargic when it came to physical activity , while I won accolades galore in academics and extra-academics, I have a resounding empty cupboard for sports. I used to hate games period and would actually study during the same in school. Yet, now I am one of the most regular guys in the gym challenging myself everyday to run an extra kilometer so much so that most of the fit members of the gym publicly declare me as an object of envy. Post diabetics, I have almost killed the foodie in me, I used to live to eat and I used to eat. For years, I could eat the most in my locality and now I am scared of having an extra serving of wheat bread. When I see oil floating around, it becomes difficult for me to chew and digest.

But we all are slaves to our own brain who will always find a way to justify all we do. While it is tempting to say that I am in control of my car, it is not really the right answer. I have had times when I lost control of my bike or car for a few fleeting seconds,seconds where only extraordinary symphony of circumstances saved my life. So I take refuge in my knowledge of biology.

When you are in fear, your brain produces adrenaline. A rush of adrenaline stimulates the body and causes a sudden release of glucose as well as an increase in blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. It makes you more aware of your situation and your body is physical more ready to react.Different people have different brains. Some brains needs a lot of excitement to pump out adrenaline (Formula 1-drivers, sky-divers, base-jumpers,), others, however, need just a little; stealing a candy bar, going into an examination.
After a while the adrenaline is no longer active in your body and you have indeed conquered your own fear. That makes some people feel “more alive”.
Some brains produce  dopa-mine, a kind of reward-drug: you get a good feeling about yourself. It’s all about these chemicals. Because of this reward-drug you may want to do it again, and when, for instance,  becomes too familiar, you need to go off-piste to ensure the production of adrenaline and dopa-mine.

Fully satisfied with my explanation, I can only mummer the lyrics of Bob Sager’s song “Turn the page”- especially the part “on the the road again“- juxtaposed with the background music of Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of glory”, and dream myself pressing my accelerator hard enough so that there is no air bubble between the shoe of the accelerator and the chassis of my car.

 

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life, materialistic philosophy, philosophical me, reflections of time

Variables and Constants

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Thousands of miles on my car and thousands of lines of code on my editor later, I am back to my blog trying to reflect on the days gone by and make myself feel greater than I am and preaching to how one should lead ones life.

Some say that it is the fourth dimension of our existence, some say that it can curve under the influence of gravity some say that it is the greatest healer but all I know that time is something that exist in calendars and recorded in my brain cells as collection of hormonal changes. Since we humans owe our very existence to the giant furnace called Sun, it is no wonder that we have always defined in terms of where we were relative to Sun at the moment when the event had come to pass. Due to the actions of many a religious preachers who wanted to replace paganism with Christianity and yet maintain similar festivals, we can say that the current year is 2013.

Things as they are, so long we are alive, we do realize the arrival and passing by of time. By some strange coincidence, 2013 has been unlike any other year I have lived. All the people with whom i had spent my college days started taking life changing decisions. Every month one of my friend was getting married. This will also be the first year where there will be nobody in my college campus who had joined while I was a student. Marriages of close friends in quick succession plays out very funnily . You see your friend circle split into two singles and the rest. To start off the rest are the outcast minority but with every occasion you realise the dynamics are changing and before you know you are hanging out only with your juniors and then their juniors . I guess I am blessed in that – I have no shame and a lot of pride in screaming that while most people had friends restricted to their own batch or one batch up and down, I used to hangout with people across all batches so there is still time before all the juniors are exhausted. I can still refuse to grow up.

If 2013 was seminal to a few of my friends , it shall also be an abnormal year for me. For the first time in four years I am without a job. In spite of loving my job as much as anyone can love their job, I have quit to start my company and figuring out what to do. This brings me to the title of my post -“variables and constants”, life doing a job is like a constant, you have a degree of predictability. If you are working with ethical people, if you do good, you will progress or someone else will be interested in working with you. While if you are trying to build your own, it is like a  game of variables , you really don’t know what they really are till it is too late, you can take your best guess and soldier on. Quite interestingly, some variables are in your control while the others are not.

At times it can be intimidating trying to fathom all the variables governing our lives. For all the criticism vented out at ostriches for hiding in the sand at the sight of trouble, I feel that works well for me.  I have found it better to concentrate on the variable that I have control on rather than the infinite number of them over which I have no control. As a type 2 diabetic with weight issues I had my share of health issues. Having lost over ten kilo- over the last year, I now have some authority on this subject, I found that instead of focussing on my weight it was better to concentrate on how fast I could run and how much. Weight was the outcome that had a lot of variables which I did not fully comprehend while running was a function of variables over which I had full control.  Being 27 and never having had a girl friend is not something I am proud of especially considering my parents  had the guts to marry(elope) defying one set of my grandparents. But the weight loss experiments tells me it’s no shame being the poster boy of “Forever  alone” meme, it sucks that I had not even tried in my life.  Pursuing only 1 girl over a time span of 27 years is not something to be proud of. So here I am trying to ponder what is the variable I should concentrate on.

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life, Literary experience, materialistic philosophy, philosophical me

Broken Resolve

You may have forgotten

All the words I have spoken

All the prayers that I once said

May have been destined to be waste.

I have protests to make

Tears to shed

Blood to bleed.

But I swallow my words

Dry my eyes and pause my heart…

All with a hope that you are free from all my grumbles and all my rumbles.

But some fine day,

A few forgotten emotions comes knocking at my doors

My resolve breaks and my walls crumble..

And I ask myself why do I wish to swim like a fish and fly like a bird

When all I can do it walk like a man and cry like a woman…

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materialistic philosophy

Emotionally unresearched and (il)logically argued

It was not so long ago I had a conversation in the canteen below my office which meandered from imperfections to human thinking to randomness of random number generators to evolution in the context of randomness. Somehow, today as I start writing another of my philosophical blogs, I take refuge in evolution to talk about some of the resent happenings of India. Based on human knowledge of evolution it seems human species is the pinnacle of the race of survival of the fittest. It is wounded in our DNA structure to protect ourselves or at least pretend to ourselves to protect ourselves. That is probably the reason why even a person who tries to commit suicide always welcomes help. It is probably a decision taken out of our illogical part of our mind. Why do I say this when I say that I write this blog as a response to recent happenings? This is because somehow my mind does not conform to both mainstream and extremist reactions to the recent grenade attacks in Kashmir.

Now that I have unveiled what made me write.It is perhaps time to mention why does some random comment of probably one of the few parts of India I have never visited bother me, a person born in Assam, lived in Assam, Delhi, Bengal, Andhra(/Telangana), Tamil Nadu (?). For the sake of self-satisfaction, I left the question inside the quote for it gives me immense pleasure to phrase the sentence “I chose to take liberty in my punctuation for my answer lies in the question.”

Assam is one of the states that still has the AFSPA enforced although arguably it is today one of the most peaceful states in India in terms of people killed in terrorist violence. As I grew up, my brain and living memory had been permanently scared by the memories of “Secret Killings”. The killings which were according to a judicial commission by Justice Saikia were perpetuated by ex C.M. Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.Whenever I think of AFSPA, I remember my solitary bicycle ride on the streets of Dibrugarh, after people protesting some recent deaths of two individuals one of them being my ex classmate at school. People say they saw who killed the protesters. But till today nothing has happened.

Funny, may be a very incongruous word, but death does alter the memories towards a person for whom you never had a very positive emotion. Dheeraj was never a great friend of mine at school, it would not be wrong to say we were acquaintance rather than friends but then hearing about his death when I was in class 9 was shocking. For a sheltered teenager, death only strikes old people. While I was in the same house another day altered my subconscious. These were the screams of my neighbor. Assam is very unlike rest of India and we follow a different version of Hinduism and Islam. We were Hindu and our neighbor was Muslim.This neighbor was also a distant relative. It was a love marriage between one of my hindu uncle and an aunt in this family. I would not say we were very distant but we were not very close either. One day, the small kids in the house were crying. Did I say crying? Maybe I am wrong,they were wailing, somehow some of those screams still ring in my ear. They say Army had picked up their father and their uncle. A few days later their mutilated corpse was found. They say they belonged to MULFA (a fundamentalist Muslim terrorist organization). Maybe, they were terrorist, but till date I can’t convince myself of that.

AFSPA and disturbed areas act have no place in a country where citizens are free. It seems more farcical today when terrorism can strike anywhere. Citizens living under the shadow of terrorism are anyways victimized why should be victimized more. Somehow, if a terrorist kills a person I love, I know I can fight back against the enemy by hopefully voting for a candidate who will go after them. If I have enough determination,may be I can join the system and fight the evil. But if some organ of government kills or does not do enough to remove false doubts, it is kind of helpless situation.

Now where do I tie all that I have written together. I will diverge from the common thread tying all my posts. I am not going to end with an open-ended question. I am going to just preach something that I can’t argue for logically: AFSPA is just the fertilizer terrorism needs to breed more terrorist. I shall give no research, no logical arguments just naked emotional memories.

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Citizen me, life, materialistic philosophy

A childhood in the fringes of national consciousness

gunFor the last few days, it seems only a curfew can stand between a bullet and a young gullible kashmiri. Today was one of the better days it seems some tangible property has been demolished . Loss to property is a loss nonetheless but it is not something that cannot be replaced. Loss of life on the other hand happens only once. Some of my earliest political memories I have is of the total apathy of my government as huge chunks of land in my maternal village were swallowed by the mighty Brahmaputra. Huge blocks of land simple leapt into whistling water to create another homeless family. It became a sort of yearly ritual to see people lose everything. It went for years and now the place where I spent many of my happy and innocent days of childhood no longer exists, the roads of that ghost village are only their in some hidden compartment of my memories. At those times, it seemed independence from the beastly creature called India was the only way out. That was the mind of a guy who was less than ten years of age. It seemed the cause of all problems was the occupation by India. I guess I am contradicting myself in this post like I usually do reminiscing about the political leanings of my early childhood. It didn’t help that newspapers were bombarded with reports of how the army and other central para-military forces were harassing the masses. I was given to understand that unified command was a mechanism by which security personal were permitted to rape the relatives of militants who did not surrender.

In those days we were more scared of military than the militants. Militants used to usually kill politicians usually giving us a reason to celebrate. A death of a militant was deeply mourned as that of a family member. One of our neighbours son was killed in an encounter. I was simple overwhelmed by the public outpour of grief on the streets. I was eleven years old. Gradually things began to change or at least my perspective of things changed. Having seen many militants surrender and make millions looting and killing the common man-made me realise there is no difference between the politicians I deride. It was also the time the hypocrisy in me was maturing. I found myself with a brain with better than average processing power and soon made my way out of my birthplace . Now I am a visitor to the place where I learnt to walk, speak and talk. On an average day,, the language I am most likely to speak is my mother-tongue.

Back then even though I hated the government of India, it was kind of perplexing I always supported the Indian team on the field. Maybe my childhood is a perfect example of the fact that you may love your country and hate the government. Since I am writing this post in 2010, its time for me to jump back to the present and write a few words bashing Armed Forces Special Powers Act. I know this generational jump is quite of sync with the title of the post and rather abrupt. But I feel too strongly about this issue to care for anything else. It is not so easy living under the shadow of the gun. It is even more difficult when the people who are there to protect you is the biggest threat to your lives.

Whenever sensible people talk about removing AFSPA, the top brass of army raise a hue and cry, the very same top brass whose corruption is a bigger threat to the jawans than the repeal of this act. I am told today there are twenty security personals for every civilian in Kashmir. They are immune to any criminal proceedings for human rights violation. Some might argue that there is a provision under some act or other but for heavens sake is it really practical. Some argue that our soldiers are already under lots of stress and adding the stress of criminal proceedings is not done. I am too biased and emotionally and psychologically scarred to say something impartial on the matter but I do try to give myself a high moral ground supporting higher wages and better facilities for the soldiers of the nation. I believe RR Patil should be hanged before Kasab for the death of Hemant Karkare. But then I have a lot of beliefs some rational.some nonsensical and some utterly comical.

In the end what I want to say is that we have lost over fifty young man in Kashmir due to stone pelting if at all they were allowed to pelt stones maybe we would have lost a few buildings, a few buses a few cars but it would have been far more preferable.

On footnote : after I have left Assam, the militants started colliding with ministers and killing innocents. I was aghast at the happenings but somehow it was easier to hate them and want them to die than the feeling of despair on being vulnerable at the hands of your supposed protectors.

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