Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Many things on my mind

        A mundane day - get through the assignments at work and chores at home, go to bed thinking "Why do I have to do this?". Last day of the month, cellphone beeps, salary credited to account, Woohoo! Shopping, movies, eating out, weekend plans chalked out. Reality check- however much my job sucks, I need it. Next weekend, no movie release, friends busy, lousy day. No doubt this has happened to each one of us. So I begin to contemplate "How much money does someone actually need to be happy?"   . Are our needs actually needs or luxuries. Well, there is no meaning left of the phrase 'Simple living and high thinking'. The most basic needs are not food, clothing and shelter but I-phone, MacBook pro, Blackberry etc., etc..I am not saying that a cupboard is a luxury, but where are we drawing the line,or don't we need to, provided the cushy jobs that we have landed, not by some super skill but by some miracle of globalisation called 'outsourcing'. Being on leave for almost a year now, I have, at times, had nightmares that Obama has actually banned all outsourcing, and billions of us in India have become unemployed. Ridiculous it may sound, but it is not virtual reality either, only an impending disaster. Then I begin to think, I could do something simpler in life, maybe that would give me less money, but peace of mind. What that would be, I do not know.

    The fact is, acquiring status and material possessions has become the be-all and end-all of our existence. When I was young, why, even now, I hear my parents speak to me of someone's else's plight, and what all are doing to chip in and help. Like the small pan-shop owner who lost his wife and is himself ill. With business at an all time low, he is struggling to make ends meet for himself and his two daughters. The people in his locality have made donations, and are now trying to ensure that his elder daughter gets a job to help her ailing father. "What are/ should be my priorities in life?", I begin to think. I see some friends who are involved in teaching orphans, or caring for destitute animals, and it makes me very proud, to think that they are giving back to the under-privileged in society a part of themselves. With family ties not what they used to be a few decades ago, even caring for parents or ensuring the education of siblings are no longer priorities for most of us, everyone is more or less independent. Selfishness is brewing big time, and most of our free time is either spent mulling over what we do not have, or thinking aloud on social networking sites.

   A medical study has proved that people who spend more than 30-40 hours per week on social sites need help. So what is this percentage...excluding the infants and elderly, illiterate and poor, non computer-savvy people like few of our parents, it must be definitely more than half of the India's total population. Come to think of it, companies who ban such sites deserve some credit. I never spent more than 2 hours per week on Orkut during my normal workday, but now, all hell has broken loose. With plenty of time to spare, a Facebook account, and no other creative pursuits at hand, I am spending more time planting and harvesting virtual crops than I do cooking a meal. After around 4 months of crazily pursuing various farming community goals, and landing with a frozen shoulder, I have given up, although the addiction seems to tug on and force me to play sometimes :-). I read the posts from friends and wonder, "Does our behaviour on social sites give an idea of our state of mind?". I would like to think this is true. Incessant status updates, repeating even the day's headlines, mild abusive outbursts, are people too involved or too lonely, given that all are having regular jobs. There are certain things which definitely are worth sharing, but are we getting an excess of others' minds...random quizzes and predictions, and worst of all, conversations have lost their personal and private nature. Of course we can message or call friends, but we seem to enjoy making a display of everything. Also,"are all the 247 people in my friends' list really my friends?". Agreed, there are juniors, seniors, some ex-colleagues, school and college buddies and also the few unknown personalities. But with how many are we actually in touch. It is no denying that without these sites we never could have united so many long lost friends, and I earnestly hope we are not neglecting those who are not savvvy enough(yes, there are a few of those). If someone does not put up their kids' photos on Facebook, are they not happy enough? This is just the point I wish to make here.

    Until a few years back, we took part in all celebrations and social activities but being present physically. Call it small-town mentality or whatever, going to someone's house uninvited was the norm, and people came to your house at any time as well. There was no call made to enquire if they would be at home, or if we would be disturbing them, just land on their door and knock. If they weren't around, we would go to someone else's house nearby, the idea was just to engage in some chit-chat and banter. "Why don't we visit people without informing nowadays?". There were few neighbours at whose homes we children would land up at meal times, and many friends who arrived suddenly and made a request for some special delicacy to my mother, and she would oblige, whatever the hour. You would be caught shabbily dressed, and your room would be far from clean, but nobody cared. Even with friends, a sort of pretence seems to have taken over. Or is it because we meet others  personally only once in a blue moon, that we want to put our best foot forward.

    As children, we always imagine what our future will be like, when we'll be all grown up and independent, and shape our lives the way we want. But as time goes by, I realise that I think more about the past than the future. Incorrigible me, I try to seek solace in Linda Goodman's prediction for the crab, who, she says, hold on to past memories for life. As a result, I feel that "Some people have better foresight than others". Little decisions have big outcomes, be it a decision of pursue further studies, or to change a job, or move to different city, you can very easily get caught in the web of things if you don't have foresight. One does not require a crystal ball to delve into one's future, but it is conscious decisions and foresight alone that pave your way in life. Or else icons in any field would not have been born, if one stuck to doing what their ancestors did.

    But is a person entirely free of the influence of their environment - our basic social studies knowledge tells us otherwise. "Can parents(background) decide our standing in life?". Obviously, from the economic standpoint, life poses fewer challenges up to a certain time if one comes from a well-to-do family. But in the end, its your ambition that decides whether or not you have a solid backing. If the son of a government servant set out to make films, there ought to be some hiccups. But no obstacle is too great, and people with sufficient will-power sail through. I put too much stress on 'self' because I try not to assign the responsibility or blame of my decisions on others, nor compare myself with anyone. This is me sermonizing to myself.

     'Where there is a will, there is a way', some wise soul said, and our elders have many a times quoted. People are immensely talented, they sing, dance, write, draw, click splendid pictures, perform martial arts, and play musical instruments. "So are people prodigious or is it just sheer interest to learn something?". I think one has an inclination towards certain things, which one pursues as a hobby. For most this is just one thing like reading novels. You just read, you don't have to be good or bad at reading. But the arts are a different domain. You give pleasure to yourself and much more to others, be it by singing, dancing or painting. And if you do more than one of these, you simply are exceptional. But no art comes to us automatically, it requires so much patience and practice. A good voice may be a gift from above, but learning the right notes and tuning it is just as important.

    These are just some of my thoughts that have come to mind more than once, trying to answer my own questions...


  1. excellent didi.. wish people could think like this

  2. Nice blog.

    Agree with most of them and often wonder about the points in first paragraph! (regarding money and all)