First Impressions of Varanasi: Part 1 — Eat.Travel.Live.

Banaras or Kashi is every traveller’s dream. One of the oldest inhabited cities of the world where a river is revered to the extent that many seek death at its banks, where Shiva is ubiquitous and where Hindus and Muslims live in perfect harmony, each religion colouring the city in its unique grandeur. It was […]

via First Impressions of Varanasi: Part 1 — Eat.Travel.Live.

Ah! …for that is my city… its dark.. and dingy.. and full of ghosts and spirits.. there is spirituality and enlightment… and a confluence of the old and the new… and of everything in between…

Ignorance

Sometimes, like in this moment, I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of my ignorance. There is so much knowledge in the world, so much to learn, so much to know, so much to think about. And I know so little, so very little.
And accompanied by this emotion, is an urge to acquire as much from this vast ocean, as I can. While this would seem to be a very positive outcome, believe me when I say this, it is not.
There is only so much that an ordinary human being can understand and assimilate. And what is left out, leaves a searing hole in my expectations with myself.
As a future engineer, I take it as a responsibility to come up with solutions to the problems that mankind faces on a daily basis. As I move closer to becoming a professional, I feel myself growing more and more detached from society. Education should have been about connecting the various spheres of my life, and giving me the tools to understand their interactions and interdependencies. So, I took it upon myself to learn history, economics and literature. I ended up learning very little.
Isn’t trying to do too much at once, the key to ending up not doing anything at all?
Is it not alright, to not know some of the things about this vast world around us?

For Absolution – #01

I sat there for a long time. Or for what seemed like a long time to me. Just sat there and stared. At everything. The trees, the weeds, the green leaves, the dead leaves. Hundreds of them scattered all around me. People walked past me, busy, stressed, and unheeding. And I just sat there.

I could feel the blood flowing down my wrist, slowly, and then dripping down into the grass below. It must have rained here, because the soil seemed soft and I could see the red fluid being soaked in. The soil seemed almost thirsty for my blood. As if I was late for some pre-destined meeting and now that I was here, it would take in its share; and more.

I really didn’t feel any pain. Of course the first cut had hurt, the blade hadn’t been that sharp after all. And I did feel weak, but that was to be expected. After all my healthy heart had been pumping so much of my blood out into the open. It was all so ironic. The very pumping that keeps everyone alive was pumping the life out of me.

Stupid heart. As always.

I could feel the dizziness spreading over me. I shifted my hand slightly, glanced at my watch and slid back into my repose. Six thirty and the sun had almost gone down. My blood soaked sleeve felt sticky and cold. For the first time I felt a shred of doubt about what I was doing. Nothing happened.

Just all of a sudden I asked myself, was it my time already? Was this how all was supposed to end?

For me, anyway? But then I realised the answers didn’t matter. I was leaving anyway. Leaving for a place where I hoped the mundane occurrences in the life of an eighteen year old didn’t matter. I remembered a movie, the protagonist dreaming of a place far beyond this realm where the concepts of ‘right and wrong’ and ‘now and then’ didn’t matter.

I knew I was dying, and it was not at all horrific, not in the sense it is always portrayed. For one, I had planned it. It did seem a bit sad; a tad disappointing, but that was all. In that moment I was overwhelmed by the insignificance of my existence. And why not. There are simply so many of us.

By now I had been observing a small sparrow for quite a while. Chirping, hopping and feeding in all the glory of freedom it possessed. Then came the meow of a pet cat, a streak of black fur, panicked fluttering, a strangled squak and then the appreciative chuckle of the cat’s owner. I almost stood up for the bird.

And then I blacked out.

I’ll be lazy… later…

Ever since I started leading an independent life away from my parents, it seems as though it has been a blur and a mix of short periods of intense under pressure activity, and long periods of laid back procrastination. While I understand the havoc that laziness can wreck upon someone just about to step into the professional world, I do not even consider myself lazy. A procrastrinator, on the other hand, – most definitely.

Are the two the same?

No. Not really. While lazy implies that the individual is unwilling to use his energy at all, the procrastinator simply puts it off till it comes up higher on the list of priorities. The problem comes, when the procrastinator, turns out to be a bad planner. The reason these two ideas have been mixed up so much is that usually we are not very good planners, and the end result in both the cases turns out to be the same, a muddle of incomplete tasks, missed deadlines, and lost opportunities.

With experience and care, all non-lazy procrastinators can be fairly successful. I usually work well under pressure. So, I begin when I am close to the deadlines, and put in a concentrated amount of effort, to get the job done. The key is to know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses, so you can decide when is it late enough to start, and make sure, make very sure that you start by then.

Then again, why procrastinate at all? This question is more like the meaning of life questions. No humanly understandable answer possible. Everybody has his/her own reasons, and we don’t go around asking people, why on time?

To some it is the thrill of having to race against time for each deadline, to others it is the long periods of nothingness that give them the opportunity to just sit and think, and some are just plain old lazy.

But while laziness is a sin, and needs to be dealt with, procrastination is simply a trait, that can be moulded the way you want with proper planning and devotion.

Or at least, that’s what I think (and hope!).

Titles

I might have mentioned in passing in my previous post that I was working on a magazine of sorts, and we were stuck with deciding a name for the magazine as a whole. While it is supposed to be collection of student written articles, both literary as well as technical – related to my field of engineering; we are hoping to arrive at something that is a bit different and mature at the same time.

Which brings me to the idea behind this post. How deeply does the title of an article or a story, or the name of a magazine affect the probability of the reader sticking to it? I, deriving from personal experience would say that I have often (very often), been fooled by a good title into stumbling into a book that follows the same old story with new names for its characters. I am an avid reader of romance novels, and a majority of contemporary romance is centered around some very basic themes, all with exquisitely designed covers and titles. This kind of repetition is rampant in the paranormal and erotica genres as well.

But then, do the publishers have an option? There’s only so much that can happen in a story and eventually after so many decades of story telling, repetition is bound to happen. Are there limits to human imagination? Maybe. We all derive inspiration for our writings from our experiences, and our surroundings. And I have started believing that we are moving into a world of literary stagnancy. There is the occasional thriller or romance that I really enjoy, but the majority of the authors around the world seem to be repeating the same themes over and over again. In part, this may be attributed to the increase in the sheer number of people who now have access to the writing medium and the time and passion to write. While I deeply appreciate the fact that writing is now becoming more and more acceptable as a profession and pastime – as even the readership is increasing, people have easier access to literary content; I would even deeply appreciate a spurt in the originality in their content.

Meanwhile, when the arena is flooded with the same kinds of stories, the only thing left to differentiate them upon is their cover and title. Which means over the coming years, unless there is some kind of a story telling revolution, covers and titles shall continue to commoditize the very same stories.

What do you think?

#06

Over time I’ve come to realize that blogging is no more just a pastime. The seriousness with which people have started preparing their blogs is inspiring, and so after maybe six months of utter silence, I have decided to get back on the wagon.

When I started this a while back, my motive was to vent my opinions out in a place where very few people would know me, and even fewer would notice. Because blogging, where I come from, does not exist. I formed a premise, did some posts, and after a while the interest fizzled out, or maybe I got burdened with a lot of stuff that got priortized over my very own thoughts.

Then a few months back I decided to revive this old thing with simple homework assignments. Didn’t work.

And so, the great idea got filed away into a remote corner of my brain, to be accessed, if at all, in some distant future.

Until yesterday.

Why I decided to blog in the first place is a question that keeps popping into my mind every time I sit down and pop open WordPress. And, though I have tried many a times to explain to myself that there must be some kind of logical, material benefit that I derive from it; I’ve never been quite convinced. In this line of thought, doing anything without any apparent gain is a complete waste of time and energy. That’s what I’ve been told to believe over the past twenty years of my life. Ideas like interests and passions cease to exist in such a world.

Until yesterday.

It is a rarity that I truly consider someone my friend, close acquaintance – maybe, but my friends are usually a lot more closer to me. So while I was working on this annual magazine thing that I am doing, with my lead designer, who has been a very close acquaintance, I got into a discussion about something and one thing led to another and we got to the point of discussing things we were passionate about (no we did not kiss!).

While we are both undergraduate students in chemical engineering, he is not very particular about becoming an engineer (as it happens every so often in my country). But creative designing is something that he does with all his heart. And I really appreciate that dedication.

And then he popped the question. “Why don’t you follow your passion?”

For a moment or two I was quiet. It rarely happens, but this one time I did not have a cheeky retort. But it did get me thinking. Why at all do I not? I have always professed my love for literature to my friends, and when it comes to writing creative stuff, I am their guy. And yet, I am unable to gather the motivation to follow my passion.

Isn’t that what my blog was about? Letting go of the societal norms and looking at the world from my own lens, hopefully writing something meaningful, and provide an outlet for my passion.

From that moment on, that guy is a friend.

Here’s, to passion!