Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Man-U ???

This account comes as a form of self-awakening. In fact a lot of soul searching and face-to-face with frayed facts could only lead me down this road of jotting down some of the key questions, inferences and nascently formed strong beliefs regarding the vitality of co-existence with another species.

Well, the species in question is something called a Man. I wonder what that is. Or how people view the structure as. Albeit the anatomy, wonder what makes others associate the frame to strength, stability, shelter, security and power?

Obviously, to this general cattle, there must be some exceptions. Quite rare - probably on its way to extinction too - or probably myths like Yeti.

Constructs of masculinity vary across historical and cultural contexts.The extent to which masculinity is a result of nature or nurture, a matter of what someone is born with or how they are socialized, has been the subject of much debate.

But is it really nurture that drives the being or how the man himself grooms his nature to be in his adult years? How does he perceive himself and is there any correlation through the looking glass to his public and private selves?

Is the stress on his masculinity code quite taxing - making him forgo his own eros in search of an identity reflecting collectivity? To be or not be - HE - is it the question that predominates most thoughts when men decide what they want / should do. In fact, as I get acquainted with most, I steadily feel that more men are geared to choosing what they should do / ought to do than choose to do what they want to. Is it the dogmatic society driving actions?

So, when we view the category codes, do they constrict life - not only for men but also women. Does the micro view deny the larger picture of accepting masculinity is all its shades? When women think of men, or see them in their flow of life, do they adhere to a vision or see the reality as it is. Then , I am forced to question, whose is the greater view - the men who have to be men or the women who must see them as one?

For women , I guess, a man's man is someone who stands up  - for them and themselves.

Recently I came across this picture that made me further ponder on this issue -

Do men really know what their women want of them ?And are they scared of showing their real selves?

A man is always viewed as the breadwinner- no matter the societal progression.He must earn and take care of his progeny and dependents. But what if his heart lies somewhere else - and he denies it all to himself to follow the one course in life that history books have recorded time and again. So, if HIStory gets enmeshed in the flow of life, is he questioned on his masculinity?

When I read Amit's post earlier, about how divorces generally start with the notion of the men being questioned / suspected, I felt that this society has quite a harsh view on manhood. If the man in question, slips his standard of being a so-called man, then instantly he is emasculated and tagged.

Tags stigmatize dreams - cutting short a free living.  So many men, flowing through consequences of codes, resign themselves to roles assigned. We easily glare or stare at the man as he de-mans himself.

Funneling my random thoughts to one central question - when women see men, which is the parameter they judge them by - brains or balls? Balls to stand up or brains to sit out ?

Well .. this is a continuous debate raging through my mind- slashing with other thoughts. I still wonder what a 'man' is ...

A strange(r) companion.........

 Midnight is not exactly anyone’s dream hour to be behind the wheels trying to juggle two seemingly contrasting jobs at the same time - driving and sleeping.  However as history has it (at least since automobiles were introduced), every once in a while, a true braveheart must undertake this hypnotic act and literally live to tell the tale.

This past weekend destiny (read my Travel Plans) decided to hand me this task and judge if I could live up to its daunting challenges.  Like every Don Quixote  who has had that “one for the road” extra drink, I decided to take up the challenge and considered it an act of weakness to succumb to the somnolent desires. So at midnight, here I was zipping and swirling through the “video game like” labyrinth of Interstate Highways and Freeways of Texas while Hypnos the God of Sleep and his half brother Thanatos the God of Death ferociously fought over who should get my final “custody”.  Fortunately for me and unfortunately for many of you, Thanatos and MS Dhoni both were later found drinking at the same bar and licking their failure wounds as I lived on…..

So, on this entrancing ride to the Beaver Bend State Park as I was juggling with my cell phone, my GPS (which refuses to form a bond with the dashboard), and a water bottle ---  at one enlightening moment, I realized that after a long time in my driving career, I was the only “one” on the road. This was a single lane state highway, with no lights, large fields bordering it on both sides and no one in sight. I quickly glanced around and looked in all mirrors to spot some signs of human existence, but all in vain. This gave me a glimpse of how Mars Rover might be feeling every day. However even Rovers has the excitement of unpaved roads and a distant communicative companion(s) in “Houston”.  I did not have that luxury !!

A moment after I realized my lonely existence, the ubiquitous sadist in me quizzed me in a Rapid fire round……

Do you have fuel in the car?...
Is it enough?..............
Do you have Cash in your pocket?.........
When did you last check the air pressure?....
 Why did you not get the “Check Engine” light checked?….
Did you renew your AAA membership? …..
Is your insurance card updated?............
Does your cell phone have coverage? ….
What if your car breaks down here?........
Where is the damn flashlight?......
What about the dead body in the boot?.... ok maybe that was in some movie…. But the others rang loud and clear in a few seconds.

Now as I tried to appease the sadist in me and convince him that “Aaalll izzz well”, I stopped juggling with my electronics and also instinctively took my foot off the gas pedal. My convincing of the inner voices might not have been that effective as some sense of insecurity still loomed in the mind. I obviously kept on driving confused if I should attempt to enjoy the serenity or hope that none of the fears actually come true. As I have trained myself to do over the years, I went through a series of “What ifs?” and realized that even if the car was to suddenly come to a screeching halt in the middle of this lonely road at this unearthly hour, I would be able to manage the “disaster”. That helped a little to calm down and keep driving, ----- not that stopping was an alternative in any case.

I must have driven a few miles in that confused state of mind, not realizing fully that this had actually helped me become fully awake and aware.  As I went downhill on the road, I saw a set of headlights appear on the horizon of my rear view mirror. In the otherwise pitch darkness they were hard to miss, rising from behind the hill – sunrise of a different kind! And suddenly I had company…. a fellow traveler, a mile away from me. Weirdly enough, I suddenly felt not only some relief but also a strange connection. I slowed down enough so that the car catches up and stays in my rear view mirror as I continued my drive to into the darkness, with a liberated sense that up close and behind I now have a companion…. I kept driving at a speed to ensure that we are in each other’s sight. Every time I felt that the distance is increasing I consciously slowed and sped up every time I thought that we are too close (lest the car overtakes). This slow waltz of ours continued for eighty odd miles, with me taking the lead. Then as we approached a town interestingly named “Paris” in Texas, we parted ways as I could see the car turn left  driving into oblivion. Now why did I feel a sense of desolation as I watched the lights disappear from my rear view mirror?

Nowhere in this entire drive did I ever figure out any details about the car – what make was it? What was its color? Was it even a car or a small pickup truck? Who was driving it? Were there others in that car? Was the master of the car equally relieved to see me drive ahead? Did he (or was it she) also make an attempt to stay close? But there it was – not just a “light” at the end of a seemingly dark tunnel but also a companion of sorts in those eighty miles.

How many times in our lives too we have such markers or milestone people who we don’t know well enough but do expect them to be “there”. How often do we then notice them only when they actually disappear?  A cobbler at the corner of a road who you never will go to but someone who you see daily working diligently head down – making someone’s life better? Someone sitting in a cubicle close to the elevator who you see daily and maybe occasionally smile at too but never even bother to read the name plate. A neighbor who you never get introduced to, but with whom you share the exact office time and see him backing out his car while you alight from the stairs. These seemingly meaningless relationships too I guess have some meaning because you do feel a sense of loss (however fleeting it may be) when that milestone ceases to exist…….


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Being headless is being a chicken ?

More oft than not, specially in our sagacious country, where every other person competes in omniscience and its associated degrees with one another- we have heard our wise elders preach values about determining a course of life.

A charter of rights - to be right- to do right and in short - just exist right. The charter forms the mandate - the holy grail to truth absolute. Its also said and felt, that this would lead to the path to success... possibly Nirvana too as the state of  Kaivalya obviously rests in paying heed to he(a)rd words.

All kinds of eyes watch our progress in life- wide eyes, big round eyes, red eyes, blue  eyes and green eyes. Our steps are always measured with time and distance sums. The space between the footprints, seems to be imprinted in the in the baby's mind , while it lies in oblivion in its nascent stage.

The words uttered all around us - a chant handed down as a lip service across time and space- are expected to cover all tracks in life. No-one must question the power these words wield as they  hold a biblical  relevance in one's life. Years can only fray the edges, adding to their wisdom. Obedience is thus sought as an inevitable dharma. Deviation is thus chaotic, for a world so orderly.

Even Durkheim, while eulogizing on law and order, spoke about chaos being ridden by disobedience to norms. In fact, literature and history remain strewn with examples of turmoil caused by non-adherence to words. The fables must be believed. The scriptures must be swallowed as a whole- to be a whole and be part of a larger whole.

Expressions come easy at another's failure thus. People, socially driven to emote in the least positive manner, frown on the one unable to follow norms. The tongue clucks itself while the muscles all around the face contort to show displeasure. So easily can the smile turn frosty while one's support maybe withdrawn at the slightest hint of 'trouble.'

Yet how many of us are empathetic to chaos? How many understand the need for turmoil?

In how many books / movies / serials / WOM, would you find a support to such a brouhaha?

While the destination always remains the goal, how many of us fall in love with the road to it and all the agony along the way? Is noise a barrier then - to still one's own rhythm?

Delving deep in our hearts, how many can admit to the courage required to follow one's choice? Is everybody led on by the illusion of a straight line?

So then, what about those stuck in a quagmire of their eccentricity? Would people doubt their authenticity or dub their ethnicity in terms of origin, to be hollow?

Is success linked to linear progression? Are these straight lines, the path to self-actualization?

What about those again, who seem confused about their aim as they run along amok in their concentric circles? Is circle or round a shape then, symbolic of worthlessness / defeat/ loss of purpose?

How joyous is that life full of questions than answers? Does it rate high even among the mass? What's the role of hope then in such a seamless life? Is it all a part of wasted lights, as the shining words illumine one's evolution.

It's a thought that often plagues me... I must be sounding strange...but what I really wish to understand, is the benefit of being directionless / aimless - in short non adherence to linear life. What is the role of an individual's essence wrt the collective? Is it that the herd mentality seems a safer route than a chaotic path  to joy?

Does it take someone more courage to be self-declared as headless - without being a specific-ist. Is transparency about a lack of vision, a reflection of greater bravery? Must all paths be pre-determined? How much does a flow attribute to finding one's direction despite the winds of change.

Taking this thread further then - must the headless person be called a chicken ??

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Brand Associations?

A Friend of mine recently got divorced and everyone asked HIM – “What did you do?”

Is this – Brand Association or Brand Extensions or just Brand Positioning which makes up all our “assumptions” in life? In this case, the assumption always is that statistically the husband is at fault in divorces more than wives and hence the "brand".
The question that comes to my mind is that does our (consumer’s) association with something in the past make us relate a brand in a particular way? I know it does in many ways but does a company or a person for that matter stay true to their Brand Positioning or should they try to alter it proactively. Do we rely on the neutrality of people or do we actively seek to take (dis)advantage of it? More to follow.....
But for now see this:


Monday, May 20, 2013

Dissatisfaction is a symptom of ambition?

I have always believed that there is a thin line between being ambitious and being dissatisfied, something that many times decides whether you remain happy or not. One has to always understand the need to be content yet strive for further gain.

The saints always claimed that needs and desires are the bane that cause the most trouble, whereas economists have always told us how choice and needs feed the wealth. Necessity always had to be pregnant to deliver inventions we were told.

Yesterday I came across two pieces which got me thinking on the same. First was the post by Averee on how one can and should self indulge to attain contentment and the other was when I was seeing an episode of Mad Men.

Mad Men has very good script writers and some really nice lines have come from the writers. The one that really struck me yesterday was from Trudy to Pete. The audio clip is given below

"Dissatisfaction is a symptom of ambition. Its the coal that fuels the fire" 

So the debate continues...... at least in my mind - do we need to be dissatisfied to be ambitious ?


Little moments of joy - how many of us have time to stop and stare. In their pathways to the Hall of Fame, amidst all blame-game, how many of us spend time in the solace of reflection at what really makes them happy.

In a movie seen recently, I heard the 2 very poignant lines that stayed as stray strands of unsettling association -
at the end of any event, stop and question - 'what do we know now and what have we learnt.' The question stretches itself to further build on - have we learnt anything at all ?

In fact, time given for self-absorption means time gained in return.

Time given to oneself for the love of solitude, translates in return to moments or selfish joy in harmony with one's own aura.

How many of us ponder as they wonder on the triggers and barriers of their own existence?

Do we care enough to love ourselves - so lost are we in our own bread and butter pursuit.

Do we really listen to our inner voice - or the stop button engineered in our system?

How many of us, have again, given up -  lost in the flow of time ?

I do know of some - quite close to home- who are waiting on the watch - looking for seconds to pass and the fate to reveal its mysteries.

Their eyes have lost the glow- spark of life amiss.

Questions linger in their minds - where is their life headed to? But little do they question themselves of their own wants and needs. Least do they realize, their own essence in their own happiness.

For these people, the joy in their lives seems measurable - actually reduced to some numbers which they crush with their own footsteps.

Mirthless in their own company, these lackluster people yearn deep down- for the little joys- that had made them happy in their days of innocence.

Their eyes perhaps see the picture of a long winded road left behind, while today , they feel no courage to turn back the time.

Anchored in moneyed hopes, these people find the canvas a jigsaw puzzle - while the numb pieces fall in places by themselves. The hands remain tightly pinned to their sides out of their own volition. Fire seems to have deserted them , as their blue hearts fail to keep pace with the thunder outside.

They become a parasite - to their own dreams or another's - which they zealously veto.
.... And slowly, the rat-race, turns the brightest into the most insipid- as he or she becomes an effigy of the countless year after year, the children plunge down the linear path of co-existence, failing to rise up or put a foot down- to crystallize their own sense of adult self. The id-entity gets submerged in the shadowed identity, as the clouded vision fails to see the bright light ahead.

How many of us thus have time look inwards- giving time to self ? Have we placed much faith in the idea of self healing at one's own pace and space?
We must love our own limits, to explore beyond them. The elasticity of existence, must be tested - the battle against self-drudgery , in itself a war to be won. All we need to do, is at times, give reigns to our silencio- to hear its echo when the mind's at the loudest.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

To write or not to write is THE question


Do I write for someone to stumble and read?

Or write because I want to?

What if no one reads?

Or worse they all do?

What if they don't get it at all?

Or get it and don't like it?

But write I should

And write I shall

For I got to hear

What I think !!!