Hate And Why We Love It

I was reading a rather disturbing feature on Time about the attack on Nido Taniam in Delhi. It struck me that this, and other instances of hate that happen all over the world every day, are not surprising. We can’t pretend to be shocked, awed and disturbed, and cringe away from these acts of violence. As human beings, we are programmed to inflict pain on others. And we love it.

hate and violence
British Riots. Image Courtesy: BBC

My theory is quite simple: we are hateful creatures, forced to live together on the same piece of land and a bunch of makeshift rules and laws thrown in to govern our behavior. We forced ourselves into this corner. No one did this to us.

On our own, we are quite the pacifists. Well, most of us. But why is it that when we are put in a crowd of people, we bare our teeth, beat out chests and turn on each other? I think the answer lies deep within ourselves – our inherent fears. I’ll explain what this means.

I’ve been doing this very interesting social experiment for a few years now without anyone realizing it, and it’s proven to be quite the eye-opener. Whenever I am alone with someone (say Bob), in any situation, the conversation progresses like any other conversation between two people – about random things or something in particular. The minute a third person (say Dave) joins the fray, I use a variation of the following line: “Dave, hey! What’s up? Have you met Bob? He’s my friend and he’s uh.. um…”

I pretend to forget what Bob does for a living or what he’s good at, or what he has achieved, in an attempt to trivialize him. Bob immediately takes the cue, subconsciously, and rattles off his résumé to Dave – where he studied, what he graduated in, where he has worked, what he is currently working on, etc. This does not always happen, mind you. But when it does and you observe Bob’s body language, and he is the very epitome of defensiveness. His body is closed, arms folded, shoulders drooped, as though he is bracing for an attack.

The same thing also happens when I’m alone with Bob and I feign indifference to his achievements in life.

It’s our fear of rejection (or the fear of being dismissed as unimportant) that puts us in this situation. We all do it. I do it too. I have found myself talking about my career choices and my achievements (or lack thereof) to people for no fathomable reason except my fear of ridicule and rejection. I don’t want the other guy to think I’m weak. Or stupid. I beef up my arms and shoulders, brace myself and start telling him through my body language that I’m a (relatively) smart guy and can defend myself if need be.

This behavior tells us a few very important things about ourselves – we are all in a constant state of alertness, always on the lookout for a threat. This threat can be in any shape of form – physical, mental, emotional, financial, etc. We believe that everyone around us are a threat to our way of life. This is perhaps why we don’t do certain things like wear sunglasses when we’re inside a building – we fear that people are going to point at us and laugh, thus making us feel small, insignificant and vulnerable. This leaves us open for attack from a larger predator.

When the concept is applied on a global scale – to societies and nations as a whole, we realize that the equation does not change one bit. A billion paranoid people are constantly wary of a billion other paranoid people. Fear multiples in crowds and takes a life of it’s own, which leads to bad decisions and ultimately, a lot of people die. This is used as fuel to further our paranoia  – because it’s all right when we kill someone because we are doing it out of self-defense. But we fail to realize that the other person is killing for the same exact reason. We think he’s a monster, with no thought control and emotion.

The fact that we need this mutual hate and fear to survive and lead our lives is the biggest illusion that we have performed on ourselves. The idea that we need to lash out at a fellow human being in order to survive is ultimately going to make us as extinct as the Dodo. But not before we realize that it makes us just as dumb.

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“Your Missing Comment” :)

Dear Mystery Girl,

I don’t know if you remember the first time we interacted. It was, like so many other hapless souls these days, over the internet. You commented on a post of mine and then accused me of deleting it. What started out as a friendly exchange of emails soon turned into a deeply meaningful conversation in which hopes and fears were shared.

We had not seen each other and we were already beginning to feel like we have known each other for a very long time.

Then we met. We fell in love but were unable to express it. You were unsure and I was still a kid. We made promises to keep in touch and drifted apart.

But the universe had other plans for us. We found each other again in professional avatars and we both tried to ignore the white elephant in the room that always loomed over us. Those unkept promises and those unsaid words of love and passion. We worked well together and achieved little, but it was always a pleasure to be around you. I haven’t met anyone else with whom I have shared so much. You know my deepest fears and my darkest moments. You are aware of things and people that depress me and you have helped me through my darkness.

We drifted apart when you mysteriously disappeared from my life. When I found you again, you said, “The people who want you in their lives will find you.” That made me smile.

We’ve laughed, fought, almost cried, smoked, smoked up and gotten drunk together. We’ve read, written and composed for each other. We’ve cursed each other and we’ve praised each  other. And even though we’re on different continents and separated by mountains, volcanoes and oceans we’ve sailed through it all.

Mystery Girl, you are a great friend, a fantastic woman and will always be the one that got away. I wonder what would have happened if we’d hooked up and given it a whirl. Oh well, if wishes were horses, I’d have a stable by now.

Yours always.

Me 🙂

2011: Acknowledgements & Year In Review

2011 Year in ReviewIt’s been a long-drawn battle with time, and I finally won. A crappy year ends and a hopeful, new one begins. There were so many instances in 2011 when I thought that things couldn’t get worse, and each time I was proven wrong. I have laughed, cried, fought, patched up, been cheated, cheated myself, been lied to, lied myself and finally, searched for the eternal peace which has seemed just barely out of reach for so long. The past year has had occasions of absolute bliss and considerable misery for me, and I will very glad to end this year on a good note, with friends, lovely strangers and a lot of well-earned alcohol.

2011 began for me on a fairly good note, with a job offer at a promising firm. Just a couple of months down the line, I realized my mistake and it was too late to rectify it. The company turned out to be a nightmarish hell-hole managed by lesser mortals and run by an insect. After being sucked dry, my will to go forth and survive took over and I quit the garage (yeah, it was a communications firm being run out of a garage) and started managing my own firm, which had been neglected so far.

I did that for a few months and made some absolutely lovely friends in the process. Here’s a shout out to Satish and everyone at Design Esthetics. A couple of more months saw me take up scuba diving as a pseudo profession. But, as luck may have it, the dive center for whom I was doing the marketing, was run by another insect who turned out to be a bastard of the highest order who cheated all his employees out of their hard-earned money and respect. It’s only sweet justice that his business is ruined and he has nowhere left to run. Oh, I’m waiting to see the asshole’s face in the papers when he gets arrested for fraud.

Things got really interesting after that, and I reached a point where I had to dip into my savings for the first time in five years, just to survive. A year-long courting ritual with a well-known and respected multinational communications firm finally reached fruition and I made the decision to move to Mumbai, tentatively at first, to check out the playing field. It was a decision that I have not regretted and I’m pretty sure I won’t regret for a few more years.

On the personal front, things couldn’t get more strange than they did in 2011. I had a lot of illusions shattered this year when the woman I was in love with turned out to be nothing more than that – an illusion. I made a few bad decisions, I agree, but when two people love each other, they are capable of both pain and pleasure. I realized that money plays a vital role in deciding how long you can love someone. So, on a fateful day in November this year, I lost someone very close to me and made me wonder if she ever was capable of loving someone for who they are and not how much their wallets can carry.

Just when I thought I’d give up hope on 2011 being a good year, I rediscovered what it was to fall in love with someone totally unexpected. A fresh feeling of puppy love, evolving into lust and desire and at this point of time, to a steady state of mutual understanding, trust and faith, made me a believer again. Here’s a warm bear hug to the woman I’m in love with – the hottest mallu chick in the world. Yeah, I’m dating a mallu, and if anyone’s got a problem with that, you can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass when your number’s called.

If I were to send one message to 2011 and all it’s incidents and people, all it’s merry and misery, it would be this: Good riddance to bad rubbish.I can’t wait to enter the new year. I’m ever the optimist, cautiously pessimistic and according to my girlfriend, annoyingly pragmatic.

All the people who have made my 2011 bearable: Rohit Nayak, for his constant support and encouragement; Pavan Attavar, for making sure I never got drunk alone; Mum & Dad, for their support through financial famines; Satish, for his trust and belief in my limited abilities; Nargis Namazi, for making the transition to Mumbai that much more easy; Sagar Pandey, for his warmth, generosity, hospitality and for allowing me to use his PS3; Mark Monteiro, for ensuring that I didn’t kill the asshole dive center owner by replacing the air in his tank with rat poison; Mahesh Bajaj, my newest friend who took the leap of faith and is hopefully in a better state of mind after Gokarna; Renuka Balachandran and Niveditha Singh, who made my days in the godforsaken garage bearable; Nitin Kumar and Pooja Rao, for their steady supply of sex scandals, movies, television shows and porn; Gitanjali More, for making sure that I got my steady supply of interesting conversations; and finally, a very special mention of my new-found sister, Aishwarya, without whose support and love, I would not have been able to settle into Mumbai.

My love to you all and I hope 2012 will be a fantastic year for all of you.

Two Zero Eight Four :)

I stood on the edge of land.

“I’m back, baby,” I whispered.

“I missed you,” she said.

“I missed you too.”

She responded by gently swirling around my ankles, gurgling as she withdrew and made way for another of her waves to wash over me. I had a smile the whole weekend in Gokarna. I’ve written about what it means to me, so I won’t do it again. I missed the sea, her warmth, her cold, her whispers and her screams, her love, her fury and her caress.

I made two wonderful friends this time in Gokarna. Here’s a shout out to Mahesh and Chris. Hope life takes you both where you want to go, and I hope Gokarna has been as therapeutic to you as it has been to me.

I was born on August 20, 1984. Or, in other forms, 20-08-84. A contraction of the same – 2084 – has always been a special number to me, at least for the past few years when I discovered it. It’s a perfect contraction, and aesthetically speaking, it feels beautiful and complete.

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So, all my contemplation and thinking and chickening out ended on Saturday. I got my first tattoo, and I think it beats the shit out of any abstract designs!

Twilight Dawn

Twilight DawnOppression filled the foggy twilit dawn, the recherché feminism of the morning light danced an undulating number with the mood of the solitary cyclist as he wound his way up the serpentine path to the crest of the craggy peak, bathed in the soft glow of the fiercely burning star billions of miles away, still under the horizon. The tires of the mountain bike crunched the partly-dewed leaves, much as innocence caught under sin’s cruel tires, all its spirit squeezed out.

The cyclist himself was an old hand at judging the curves – both of the road and of the weather – and immediately realized that the hiding sun was an aftermath to something oppressive that was in the offing. That’s when he felt the oppression. The Shah of Persia had once prophesized that an oppressive feeling was an indication of impending misfortune, but the cyclist had neither heard of nor had cared for the kingdom of Persia. So when he hit the pick-up truck that was barreling down the slope head-on, he attributed the accident to plain bad luck.

The cyclist’s name was Michener, and he was a hopeful for that year’s French circuit, when his career and his life had been cut short by an obese, drunk, hardly conscious idiot thought he could do a seventy on the slope, on the way down. The first thing Michener was aware of was an intense pain in his head – in fact, the pain seemed to originate from his head and spread its claws all over his numb body. Numb, that when he recognized the perpetual numbness. He couldn’t move an inch, let alone open his eyelids. There was a consistent hum in his ears that blocked out all other noise, but even the loudness of the hum didn’t feel in the least painful. It was, on the contrary, a soothing cacophony that seemed to say, “Hush, now. It’ll all be over soon.”

Through the pain, Michener amassed enough strength to force his eyelids open. He was staring at a black expanse of nothingness. The blackness confused his numb brain – he couldn’t tell for sure if his eyes were open or closed. All he was sure of was that, he could “see” the darkness clearly enough to deduce that he was, perhaps, blind. Though this thought didn’t particularly affect him, it shook him up a bit. To live a life without having to see it, to see the beautiful face of his two-year-old daughter, the twilight dawn, and a lot of other million things worth seeing, forced some tears to his eyes. Funnily enough, he couldn’t feel the warm tears flowing down his face, but could taste the bittersweet on his tongue.

This brought new hope to Michener, and at the same time, a new sinking feeling. Hope, that he was still alive, and had the use of his mouth, which probably he could use to call out, and despair by the thought that since he was alive, he had most definitely lost the use of his eyes and ears. Then, all of a sudden, the humming in his ears stopped and was replaced by memories – memories of the time when he had first heard John Denver sing “I’m leaving on a jet plane”, the time when he had first heard his mother put him to sleep with the story of the Three Little Pigs – her voice was particularly vivid – and the time when he had his daughter cal him “Da-Da” for the first time – and he found himself trying to smile, only he couldn’t tell if he was already smiling or not. The numbness was perpetual. The hum returned with a vengeance and filled his soul with a detached horror – a horror he couldn’t feel; a horror he would have given anything to feel.

Michener had heard the expression “Light at the end of the Tunnel” for years, and was not surprised to learn that it was a load of hogwash. There wasn’t any such tunnel, let alone light. His mind freed, his soul released, his life over, Michener found enough strength to close his eyelids – again, he couldn’t tell if they were closed or not, for the blackness lingered. Salacious thoughts entered his mind and he quickly snubbed them away. He forced himself to think of something else – he remembered the time his saloppete had torn on the ski slope and he had been the laughing stock of the entire lodge back in the valley, and he tried to smile.

His soul felt a lot lighter when he could sense it! He felt the smile spread slowly across the face! He could feel the gentle stretching of the skin across his cheek. And then, he saw her.

And when he did, he knew he was really dead. There she was, the only woman he had ever loved – his wife, who had been cruelly wrenched away from him and his daughter a year ago, also, ironically, by an accident. He had always blamed himself for her death; he should have never let her cross the street alone. But when he saw her standing there in all her beauty and radiance, he could see that delicate nose, those deep brown eyes he had missed all these days, and the lithe figure he had fallen in love with. His soul felt a thousand times lighter and he felt himself standing up – it took hardly any effort – and he walked up to her.

“What about Amy?” were the first words out of her mouth.

“Oh, she’ll be fine,” said Michener. “I’ve finally seen it.”

“Seen what?” she asked.

He held her tight and kissed her on the lips long and hard, then hugged her. He could still smell the intoxicating perfume that lingered in her golden hair. He would never let her go again. Amy would be taken care of by his mother, who would be heart-broken at first, but she had always been a woman of astounding mental strength. It never is bliss to attend a funeral, but for a parent to arrange the funeral of her son was punishment enough for her unnamed sins of her past years. Her chastity and her unquestionable purity of this life was a mockery to that effect.

“I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel, darling. It’s you,” he said and they both held each other.

Image Courtesy: TrekEarth.com

Bollywood Does it Again

Karan Johar & Tweety Bird: Separated At Birth?Or, more precisely, Karan Johar does it again. He has taken a cliched plot, soon-to-be washed up actors, ridiculously lame jokes and unoriginal catch-phrases from How I Met Your Mother and dished out two-and-a-half hours of pure and unadulterated crap.

He calls this soporific, brain-damaging spiel ‘I Hate Luv Storys’ – a phenomenon that I had the misfortune of watching last night.

Here’s what happens in the 135-minute joy-ride from Hell:

(Relax – ignore the spoilers, you’re not missing anything worthwhile)

There’s this guy, see, who’s disgustingly like Barney Stinson from HIMYM – he’s against the concept of love and he wants to sleep with a new woman each night. He considers the age-old concept of love as lame and does not want any part of it. Ironically, he works as an assistant to a Bollywood movie-director who specializes in just this of crappy movies. So, here ends the interesting part of the movie. Before it begins.

He meets a girl, who falls in love with him. He says he doesn’t want to fall in love. I think he hides the fact that he’s ridiculously and unbelievably gay, but that hasn’t been shown in the movie. He rejects her advances – which is strange, because when he first meets her, all he’s thinking of is how beautiful she is and how he can get into those pants of hers. Anyway, contradicting plot lines are the backbone of this crapoweseome* movie.

And then, as with all the other slipshod Bollywood movies, the hero (or rather, the actor-playing-the-lead-role) realizes that he’s lost his mojo and can’t get it up with any other woman, and all he thinks about is this chick. So, he decides to fall in love lest he spend the rest of his ‘manhood’ making love only to himself and the ever-present girls-gone-wild video that seems to be playing on constant loop in his room. (How bizarre)

He tell her that he loves her and now, its her turn to bitch-slap him and walk away. Aww, the poor sod is all heart-broken and decides to follow the chick all the way to New Zealand, in the hopes of scoring with her. But he realizes that the chick has agreed to marry some other loser named Raj, who wears atrocious shirts that look like something a cat dragged in, pooped on it and dry-humped your neighbor’s barbie doll on. So, our hero (or rather, the loser-who-plays-the-actor-who-plays-the-lead-role) decides to be generous and let her be taken by his nemesis.

And, just when he seems to settle down in his head, resigned to his fate of returning home to live with his insanely liberal mother (who, it seemed, would appreciate the beauty and charisma in anything from a sordid threesome to a full-blown monkey orgy) and marry some girl that she’s chosen for him, fate delivers the knock-out punch – his flight gets delayed and he realizes that he’s not in a Bollywood movie but rather in Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist, interpreting each and every coincident as a ‘sign’ from the ‘ooparwala’.

He runs back to the chick, tells her he loves her, and this time, amazingly, she says yes. Apparently, by this time, she has realized her mistake – she did not want to spend the rest of her life smelling of cat poop.

They hug, they kiss, the movie ends and the audience pukes.

There you have it – fresh from Karan Johar’s box of unbecoming movie ideas that he cooked up while getting drunk with four hot guys from Canberra who took turns in showing him exactly how handsome he is. Well, serves him right. Inox and PVR theaters all over the country are smelling of vomit and they have decided to shut down for a day to clean up the mess, under the pretext of the Bharat Bundh today.

My rating: Minus 34.5 / 10

*Crapowesome: A word that I invented while writing this post. This means an awesome amount of crap filled into a very small space, to the point of overflowing. It’s an adjective.

Matrix Relocated!

There were two pills – a blue one and a red pill. “Take one,” he said, and adjusted his black sunglasses. I couldn’t fathom why he was wearing dark sunglasses inside the already dimly-lit room. He couldn’t see a thing.

“Er, I’m over here pal,” I said, hiding an amused smile.

He turned towards me and used his free hand to raise his glasses. He stuck them over his forehead, looked at me through his blue contact lenses and said, “Don’t keep moving about, dude.”

“But I – “

“Don’t interrupt me!” he said, interrupting me. “Take a pill.”

“Why? What are these pills?” I asked, slightly angered with his tone.

“You are the Round One. We’ve been waiting for you for well over a decade. You will save us from the evil machine creatures that haunt us. One of these pills will enable you to see the truth and help us, and the other will enable you to go back to your boring PR life and your boring blogs and your boring PR life. You decide.”

“You said that already, man,” I said.

“What?”

“My boring PR life…”

“Yeah. I know. Now decide!” he said and held out his hand, on which nestled two innocent pills – one red and blue.

“Tell me something first,” I said. “Why am I the Round One? Is it because I’m fat? Why can’t I be the Chosen One or something cooler?”

“Stop wasting time, Round One! Take a pill and save our lives!” he pleaded.

I took the red pill and swallowed it with a glass of water. I waited. Nothing happened. I looked at him. “Now what?” I asked him.

“You bastard,” he said softly. “You’ve decided to go back to your PR life, Round One. You have damned us all.”

As I woke up, back in my boring life the next day, I decided to reduce some weight. Round One? WTF!