What’s your 'entry song'?

Remember the good old days of WWF. The Rock and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin kind, not the cute panda kind. That is still there. Right? Moving on..

While the WWF I loved has been replaced by WWE which is quite obviously fake unlike the good ol days when they actually fought, genuinely got angry and meant to do those stunts with all that anger and vigour. Okay maybe I am getting carried away and that’s why growing up sucks. Let’s leave that for another post. But either way, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the ‘entry song’. Remember that? Remember Triple H’s mean ‘I-will-beat-the-crap-out-of-you-and-then-spit-water-coz-its-cool’ entry song? Remember ‘Big Show’ coming on with the swagger of an elephant on dope. Ya well that was the shit. Those songs would electrify the crowds in the arena and get me super excited too especially when ‘Rock’ would come unexpectedly during a match and beat the crap outta some poor guy and get the hell out of there to the crazy adulation of his fans with me air ‘choke slamming’ my pillow to death.

Now that’s the power of an entry song. And I think we all need one.

An entry song is an announcement of your arrival. It could be at the beginning of your day, it could be when you walk into office or when you sit to take a dump or it could even be when you walk into gym. It’s that song that sets you free and makes you look at everyone around you and go, ‘Look at me bitches, I’m the real shit’ (Side note : That line translated in Tamil – damn funny!!). It is the song that reminds you of the part of you that you want yourself to be all day. It may not play on loud speakers in a stadium filled with people but it sure plays in your head waking up every bone in you and reminding you that getting your act together is the best orgasm you can give yourself. Ok, make that second best. Either way, an entry song that you play on your Ipod or phone which only you hear on your earphones allows you distinct anonymity especially for the ones who choose to have ‘Justborn’ Bieber or ‘Dicey’ Cyrus as their artist of choice. You see no one will ever know what you are hearing and you will just have that smug smile of a person ready to kill it.

We all aren’t built to motivate ourselves all day, we need props. We need the power of music or powerful imagery. Technology makes it freaking easy yet cumbersome to figure out that one perfect aid that will help you rev up those engines. So choose wisely and if it is embarrassing, don’t worry because the music, the artist or the words don’t matter, it is only the feeling that it gives you which gets you ready to kick ass every day that counts. The rest can stick to their motivational quotes for all I care.

And just for the record, this is my entry song.   

My Social Quotient

Recently I have been hearing a lot of people comment on social awkwardness, people’s (and sometimes ‘my own’) inability to socially relate and for some reason instantly equate that to a reducing ability to connect with the world. Here are some of the things I have been hearing about myself and comments directed at others:

You need to apply yourself more in a social gathering or you stick out like a sore thumb.

Embrace the hashtag. It is the only way to evolve (#ihatehashtags)

Till when can you continue ignoring the presence of people in your life?

Solitude makes you unhappy – Well it wasn’t framed exactly this way but after about 12 lines of gibberish it was all I could gather.

Now let me ensure you at the outset, I am no social outcast nor do I intend to be. I enjoy the company of people but yes I have become increasingly selective of who these people are and am constantly assessing the value they add to my life. Now some people would very quickly dismiss me as a snob and close the tab of my blog and decide to hate me a tad bit more from this day. But I pray you continue to read, maybe, just maybe there is something here for you too. I have begun to embrace the power of anonymity, not the kind that spews famous quotes with an ‘Anonymous’ at the end to heighten the mystery of the original contributor, but the kind that fulfills me. I believe that life is a sum of the conversations you have, the experiences you live and the moments that inspire you. The richer the three, the longer your life. Sounds good, right?

Well unfortunately in the quest for these I have to answer some pretty sticky questions. Like the ones above and others concerning my devotion and affiliation to people. The people who feel the need to question that instantly enter a self-defeating game where they are constantly reducing their value in my life themselves. I choose to stay away from those conversations as having to prove your value to someone in any terms other than time spent, meaningful conversations and subtle gestures is pointless. My argument being: is the person going out of his/her way to prove value to you, being selfless? Is that who you want in your life? The answer technically doesn’t matter. The value of a person should always be in your eyes, the moment it diminishes in the way you define it, you disconnect but to expect others to see the same definition too is tantamount to all the many beliefs forced upon people over the years.

Over the past half year I have seen an incredible growth in these beliefs of mine. And believe it or not, they haven’t happened by locking myself in a room as per popular perception but by choosing to limit my interactions and ensuring they are fruitful. Travel has been an amazing companion, so has my new Nexus Tab J but most importantly it has been a few friends who have had the maturity and innate ability to redefine the way I think, act and support me through these changes when I most needed them. They have accepted my flaws and embraced my quirks and allowed me to breathe. The last one year has taught me many lessons, some very cruel ones but all intended to ensure I reach this point in time and I can’t complain anymore.  
There have been more first this year than in all my life and also more lessons than ever before which has helped me define my idea of a ‘social quotient’.

At no point am I prescribing to alienate the people around you or in any way consider yourself different but to only embrace the idea of ‘you’. It is the person you live the longest with and the more battles you fight with yourself the more the wounds and the lesser the growth. Choosing what makes you a better person and more engaged in your relationships is a path I surely vouch for. I do realize that this post is bordering on the ‘self help’ dribble that is doled out every now and then but honestly how often do you get to change the way you perceive the life you are living and actually do something about it? We are living in exponentially non-personal times with the space you create for yourself constantly being broken by the social demands you bow down to. Cut through that because it is possible and then see if you really enjoy life that way and if you do then have the will to stand by it.

I constantly question myself everyday to understand what I’m doing better and this obsession drives me. From more digital and paperback pages to more miles on the road and treadmill to heavier weights in the weight room to even heavier emotions around me, everything is just a matter of defining your social boundaries. Once that is done suddenly everything begins to become so easy, just so freaking easy!

Now all of you stop imagining me in scary ‘self help guru’ avatar but just look around your life and see what can be changed. And if it’s fun and fulfilling, I’m ready to help and support you through it. 

Where the heart is..

In a conversation with a friend recently we were planning her trip to Bangalore. We spoke of lovely places to eat, gorgeous places to read and well, just places. At the end I reminded her that she must remember to come back to Chennai and she said, very nonchalantly, that well,  'that's where the heart is'.

A simple yet profound statement with so much weight in it I thought. Made me ponder as to where really is the heart. Is it in the place where your dreams begin? If yes then my heart is beating wildly in a lovely little town in Madhya Pradesh called Jabalpur. This was where it all began, my birth and many years later my first experiences with growing up and the delusions that come with age and time. This was the stage where a fifteen year old me was convinced that irrespective of how life treats me, I will beat it. I would kill for that optimism today but then again I always remember that it is the same me, or is it? Is that where my heart is?

Then again is your heart in the place where you first lost your heart? Well proverbially at least. Mangalore will always be my spiritual home. The place I became me or at least the ideal of me. It was also the stage of my first love for a woman, a city and also the idea of a 'home'. From creating a world of my own to treating any relationship with that place as an inheritance, I constantly find myself drawn to that place and it makes me wonder if in search for a bond, something tangible that I can call my own, have I left my heart there? Is that where my heart is?

Could my heart be beating for a dream? Nestled deep down in me is a dream, one that simmers but unfortunately doesn't burn yet. It consumes me every now and then but let's go so quickly without notice and without the inclination to push me to be what I truly want to be. I begin to feel that I'm cheating myself like all of us who refuse to live or even contemplate the realization of our dreams. In me lives a soul desperate to write, to capture every thought in my head, to discuss it with an audience, even an audience of one and create some thing special, some thing that will define me and the world I live in because I know that's where my true peace begins and ends. So then, is that where my heart is?

Is it with a relationship that could never be? Is it with a job that challenges yet doesn't fulfill me? Is it with an idea of loneliness and wonder that knocks on my door everyday? Or for like my friend above is it actually in this city, waiting for me to find my way?

A new idea of patriotism

Disclaimer : This idea isn't formed. I am not preaching and I am not hoping that anyone changes any existing opinion of their country or the people who fought for it's independence. Consider this as a troubled mind, thinking out aloud. Also do forgive my digressions and runaway thinking at times. It after all is patriotism that we are talking of here.

Rishi Kapoor, the acclaimed Indian actor in a recent interview promoting his movie ‘D-Day’ spoke about the changing idea of patriotism in this country and as depicted by Indian cinema. He spoke about many movies talking of the freedom struggle in the years around 1947 and the decade that followed. Gradually with the economy and development taking centre stage, the Green Revolution and its proponents (the farmers) became the hero and as Hindi cinema discovered color and more verve we also began to unite behind the one constant enemy, Pakistan, and saw many movies made about the wars fought against them. Some have adhered to the principles of exaggeration to the point of indigestion of the real facts but in totality managed to create the required patriotism in the hearts and minds of today's India. By summing up these eras he very succinctly ends it with how today’s India needs to stir up its patriotic concoction with ingredients like cross border terrorism, the likes of Dawood Ibrahim and Hafeez Saeed who finance and incite hate against India and the idea of fundamentalism in Pakistan that doesn’t allow peace and safety in India.

I must say I was sold. There really isn’t much we can say in the opposite. Yes, there is a proxy war being waged by Pakistan and well, there really isn’t a different way for them to play it. With the US and its allies pulling out of Afghanistan, the emphasis of the Pakistan Army has shifted considerably to their northern border, with an incensed and fast regenerating Taliban looking to avenge what they see as treason by Pakistan who joined US in their pointless war in Afghanistan. Their government is also grappling with a sticky situation in the border towns in the Xinjiang province in China with the firmly rooted Uighurs (Muslims) now being overcrowded and out thought by the Hans (of Chinese origin) for the sake of development of China (More here). And finally the battle with India for Kashmir which sometimes doesn’t even seem to be in the hands of the Pakistan government, with the ISI and groups like the LeT and the fast growing Tehreek-i-Taliban calling the shots. To top it off we have men like Dawood Ibrahim who conduct business in the name of chaos in India, all this with clear knowledge on both sides of the border of the exact address and whereabouts of Dawood in the city of Karachi. If you need to Google it, just type ‘CafĂ© Flo’.

We live in this world. We live with these apparent solutions to our problems and a trigger ready to be squeezed a moment away from each other. A lot of it is in the name of economic development, what with pipelines becoming political and elections becoming the motivation for peace. We actually have surrendered our ambitions and opinions to very little fact. Why do I say that? What is the connection between ambition and opinion with our geo-political situation, you ask? I wish I could say it is simple but it isn’t, but I shall anyhow endeavour to have you see it through my eyes.

Our ambition as a nation is limitless, but it isn’t necessarily congruent with our reality. Yes we boast of some of the largest businesses, entrepreneurs by the hordes, a supremely fast growing middle class and a tedious tendency to boast about our youth (more on that later). We have the ingredients, we just have to many recipes and more importantly we have no clue of the conditions required to attain the perfect broth. It’s a great concern when many of us wake up every morning, read the news about skirmishes on the border and resort to dialogue on peace and war and then go about our daily work with these opinions intact. That is where opinion meets our ambition. Our ambition is not independent of our opinion. We have been taught by free thinking Bengali poets and JNU mavericks that thinking and opinions are our birth right. Yes, they are but ignorance has no place here. We are in too precarious a place to be caught unawares, to not know the real picture. When we rejoice at the idea of economic reform in this country, do we ever question if this growth is inclusive? When poverty declined due to a redefinition of daily incomes of the people below the poverty line recently, did we for once look at the other factors that contributed to this remarkable decline? (Read more here). We balked at what seemed like a conspiracy and continued with our vacant opinions. We are cynical, yes we are cynical. We have every reason to be cynical. Cynicism can just be the solution for a country drowning in hate politics and relentless violence against the mind. But our cynicism seems to be stemming from ignorance. We seem to believe that nothing can happen in this country like there is a tested case study for it. Like the formula has been prescribed and that we have already got the variables wrong and it is opposed to any reversal. We are far from complete anarchy, we are also far from a solution. And the solution for geo-political, economic, social and political harmony of a nation with the most diverse population in the world, cannot possibly be easy right?

But what surely can be a step in that direction is matching that ambition, of a harmony between entities, with opinion that is steeped in fact. It needs to be enriched with facts, it needs to reek of knowledge of this country. It needs to become a bloody obsession! Not all of us are going to become ‘doers’ or ‘changers’, but we sure can all be ‘influencers’. We all wake up in different beds, some are just sheets on the floor, some are just mattresses on the floor and some are large comfortable beds. Yes, we then have different breakfasts, go to different jobs or institutions of education and have varied interactions in a day. These interactions range from the lack of money to survive a month to your next electronic purchase. We are the youth (I did say I will get back to this) and we have a duty to this nation. That duty may not be to join the Army or IAS or the Police Service all the time, many of us will continue to do that and continue to excel and disrupt this system of ours we often curse yet hold dear, but we have a larger duty than that. We owe this country a resolute idea of patriotism that doesn’t limit itself to hating Pakistan or waxing lyrical about how ‘guss ke un Chinese chinki ko udha dena chahiye’, we owe this country sense and a definite idea of what is its reality. We are living in an age when real opinions are available because the facts that will equip those opinions are available and I am not talking about that deranged Arnab Goswami losing the plot on TV every night. I am talking about independent blogs like that of a Pakistani journalist exposing the truth about his own country, about reading newspapers that don’t align with anyone but the truth and of opinions amongst our friends that are rooted in reality and fact.

We owe our nation a chance for change and that will only come when we decide that there is no place for empty opinions and that patriotism will only find a form and wield power if it is defined - and most importantly, informed!