Saturday, June 18, 2011

A walk into a new world

Harry Potter walked into a wall... and walked into a new world.

And I, after all these years of zero interest in literature pertaining to Economics, am finding myself devouring it like there is no tomorrow. Whenever I ran into such books at the bookstores, I used to dismiss them all as hot gas. It might have to do with the Economics fanatics (mostly posers, who seemed to have no idea of what they are talking about) I have come across. But boy! this is one wonderful world. To be honest, while I was reading the first few books which turned me into this new convert on the block, I couldn't stop wondering why the hell did I ever not bother to know more about it? But then, I would have missed this charm of tripping on something like this, unexpectedly. Also, after all these years I've more or less caught up on this pattern of life. The way I bump into something and discover a whole new world from time to time. What's the fun in life otherwise?

It all started with Blink, which takes off from the good old saying "First impression is the best impression" and goes on further to investigate its validity. This new perspective of looking at reflexes formed at a subconscious level, appealed to me. It's like learning to tune into your sensory responses. This is something I've been paying serious attention to, since the past year or so. Whenever I meet a new person, or visit a new place, I open myself up to feel the energy flow towards me. We've always known it as intution, though now it is like making a conscious effort to increase the awareness to our surroundings. And I'm amazed at the quality of guidance provided by that capacity. Afterthought: May be 'Love at first sight', is not altogether a Mills and Boon sponsored concept, eh?

And so, I went scouring for other books by the same author, which led me to The Tipping Point. And that, my friends, is the book that spiked my interest in Economics. It is not a hardcore economics book, in the literal sense of it. But I loved the way it ushered me into that world. The way it beautifully discusses seemingly mysterious happenings and tries to find it's cause whcih turns out to be so very surprising for a naive person. I've been particularly interested in the tools and methodology they've used to reach their conclusions. And so, that book led me to Freakonomics (super freaky, super fun) and I'm glad to say, I'm happily hooked to this apparently freaky domain.

As of now, I'm busy lapping up The Argumentative Indian, which I'm very much liking much to my surprise, as Indian history is not something I was very interested in, during my formative years at school. It's only lately that I've found myself looking up historical facts, in a bid to understand the Causality of current trends in our assorted culture and belief system. It's been 5 years since I've been hearing about this book, but as I always believe, you get to a book (or rather the book finds you) only when you are prepared for it. I loved the timing, because I've never been so keen about the socio-political scene in India. It all started with another book (ha!), A suitable boy, I read early last year. For some reason, the gentleman who runs that little library wanted to know whether I managed to read the whole book. When I told him how much I loved the book for the insights it provided about that interesting phase post-independant India was going through, he gave me the warmest smile ever. Apparently, quite a lot of people who borrowed the book from him could not manage to sit through the whole book. I still don't get how they all managed to not put it down. The book is my idea of an wholesome novel. Sheer brilliance.

And how could I have gone without mentioning Many Masters, Many Lives. My first read of a book on Parapsychology (looks like it's been a month of Firsts for me). To be honest, I was a li'l skeptical about this one. Because, the ways of the mind seem to me like a maze of winding narrow lanes. I'm not quite sure of what exactly holds me back. Whether it is the fear of getting lost in there, or the fear of finding what is at the other end. Some seriously scary $hit, that is. Thanks to Dhanya, who gave me a very re-assuring review of the book, I went ahead and read it up the very same evening. While I was getting prepared to deal with it, in case it turns out to be a disturbing read, it amazingly put me at ease. You'll find it interesting too, if you have ever wondered about afterlife and the concept of re-incarnation.

Dhanya was also gracious enough to lend me her copy of The inheritance of loss , while treating me to an awesome mallu lunch at her new pad. (Bless the noble bunch of blog friends). Now let me revel in my kid-in-the-candyshopbookstore mode, while you peeps get back to your own world of books.


In other news: Have been getting my fill of some good Bollywood masala as well. Will write about them soon.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Dear friend J called up after many years. J is this friend I shared a hostel room with, 7 years back. We were room-mates for about 3 months. We hit it off real well, thanks to our very similar backgrounds, though we had totally different expectations from life. Our life experiences till then were more or less comparable, but the lessons we learnt from our experiences were very different from each other's. (Remember primary school days, when the teacher just had to ask "...And the moral of the story is?" and brace herself for the 'n' number of answers from each one of the 'n' number of students.)

J was naturally optimistic, while I was cautiously optimistic.

J trusted that life will be great, we just have to go with the flow. I too trusted that life will be great, but that we need to have a foolproof plan and stick to the plan, to make it happen.

We were too young then to know the complexities of life. We just had a one-dimensional view of happiness, love, success and knowledge. Life seemed simple. It seemed conquerable. Life was promising, for both of us.

And then, soon, she was to get married to this nice guy working in Abu Dhabi. And I was to take up this new job in Chandigarh. We met up one last time in Bangalore, the city we both loved to bits, and the city we were both leaving at the same time to pursue our lives. It was a heady feeling. From there on, it was going to be a new city, new people, new lifestyle, a brand new life. We were both raring to go.

What we didn't know then was that 7 years later, we would be having this conversation.

J has just filed for divorce after having lived a troubled life with a violent man and his family that quotes the bible to remind her that 'A wife is her husband's slave'. Years of ill-treatment and manipulation by holding back her little son, and other assorted tactics by them, J made up her mind when she saw her toddler son screaming while his father was beating up his mother. Yes, that is the same situation which forces many mothers to put up with their collective fates for the sake of their child's future. But J decided to stand up for herself, for the sake of her son's well-being. and I'm awfully proud of her for that. J is planning to go back to school, and restart her life. And it just so happens that I am gearing up for a major reboot myself.

Life is such a slippery thing, I tell you. No amount of planning or positive thinking is going to save you from those nasty blows, just the way nothing can ever take away the triumphs it has it store for you. Good thing, this will power is.. which helps you get back on your feet again, pick up the broken pieces and move on. Because, there's one brand new life waiting to be lived, and you don't want to miss that bus.

J and I remembered that evening 7 years back. There were no silly giggles this time, no carefree laughter, no friendly teasing. Only a stronger resolve, and a promise to live it up, better than ever.


Reboot always seems like the most difficult thing to do. The prospect of starting life from scratch all over again can be scary. You don't know whether you have it in you anymore, to fight it out. You would want to look for work-arounds and quick fixes. Anything, something, just so that you can avoid the reboot.
You doubt whether rebooting = quitting? You know you are not a quitter.
You doubt whether you are supposed to adapt to whatever your life has become? But why would you put up with it when you know you deserve better?
You doubt the outcome of this new innings. Is this for better or for worse?

If we take a look around, there are so many of us stuck in dead-end jobs ('coz I don't know any other work!, 'coz I have worked 10 years in this industry to let it go.), sorry relationships (but I can't live without him/her.. wait a minute, neither can I live with him/her!), bad investments (I know, I should have opted out of that xyz fund when the market nose dived, but I would have had to suffer a loss. It's another thing that I could have recovered my loss + made sky rocketing profits, had I pulled out of it anyways and re-invested in something else, maybe gold?), grieving the loss (I can never get over it). So many of us know that our boats are heading in the wrong direction, but still prefer inaction because we don't want to rock our precious boats.

I wonder what keeps so many of us from letting bygones be bygones, and making a fresh start on a clear state?