Category Archives: Thoughts
Posts that are general in nature, commentary-based, or self-expressions. Not related to any particular topic.
December is here, and with it I’ve almost completed two months of my travels. It seems like such a short while ago when I departed from Mumbai, and then spent all that time driving around in Scotland. The weird part is that is was such a short time ago in October that I was enchanted in Scotland, and yet here I am sitting today in an airport in San Francisco, feeling devoid of hope. Not lost or sullen, but certainly a bit disappointed that things don’t quite seem to be heading in any clear direction.
I’ve spoken to various people about my career, and everyone has pitched in with their opinions based on their own sensibilities. That, however, may not necessarily be the best thing for me personally. Most opinions revolve around working overseas by changing jobs for some time to earn good money while keeping other interests as weekend endeavors, and doing that does make sense at least for some time. That said, I was going through my emails and noticed this quote in one of the replies from a photography school contact – “Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.” It’s words such as these that I keep using to remind myself of the fact that I only have limited time on the planet, and the part that goes away trying to earn a little more money or to make a well-evaluated decision is never going to come back.
I was never a person for whom it was essential to be with the leaders in the race for earning money, owning a house or cars, or achieving significant monetary or material gains as fast as possible. I wanted to do something for a living that would give me happiness, or at least something that I didn’t hate. And yet, today I feel insecure and possibly a little inferior to all my contemporaries with whom I always compared myself. Everyone seems to be doing extremely well financially in his or her career, and they’re all happy with it. Even those who started off behind me are now way ahead of me. For some reason it seems I hold monetary achievements synonymous with happiness. I’ve always had reasonably good success in terms of money through my career, without putting in a ton of effort. Every time I’ve tried to push my way out of IT and into something that I want to try, it hasn’t worked. And that was a big reason to do this trip – trying something out to see if it brings to me some way to break out, and get into something I enjoy. That doesn’t seem to be happening so far.
What am I supposed to do to make things change? I understand money is important, but I don’t understand when, how, and why I began to consider material gains as being more important than those that keep the soul happy. Why am I so scared now to jump into the unknown, to start over again? Is it the lack of finance? It shouldn’t be; when the entire world takes student loans, why should I harp so much on having all the funds as a necessity? Is it the fear of falling behind all my friends who’ve moved so far ahead of me, monetarily? Why does that matter? Why should it matter? They’re happy doing what they are, and it brings them money. I hate doing what I do, and it doesn’t bring me anywhere near their daily wage. Shouldn’t I be striving for happiness than material gain? Isn’t that what’s really important? Don’t I have enough time to turn things around for myself? Why am I so hesitant to make a decision? I like photography, but I also find cinematography appealing. Tons of people learn this stuff, so why can’t I? As for making a business out of photography, maybe it’ll only happen once I become good enough. I’m not there yet, so why should I be killing myself for not being able to do it? The course is really expensive, and it is in a specialization that isn’t my first preference. I’d rather be doing something in the realm of what Bruce is. That will take time – till I’m good enough. Or maybe I’d rather be a cine guy working on commercials, songs, TV or movies. It’ll take time, but I need to explore all this.
I need to be reminded from time to time of why I am a bad fit for the corporate world. I go to sleep in meetings, even those that discuss topics I like. My attention span at work is negligible, and so is my satisfaction of being there. Money earned overseas being what it is leads to times of agreeable compromise, but why should I let that override my desire to do something else that’s more interesting to me?
I don’t know when I’ll get the answers. I don’t know why I can’t get what I want. I don’t know whether I will end up getting it. I need to see the way, and how to get on it. Somebody, please help me. What did I do to deserve this materially satisfactory, but soulless life I’m living?
When is life, life? When you sit down to eat your favourite meal, or walk to the theatre to watch your favourite film? Is it taking a walk down the road which runs next to your house, or when you sit on the pier at the edge of the sea? Is it taking the morning train to work everyday, or leaving your job to do something you always wanted, even if you’re unsure it’s the right thing to do? Is it wanting to give your parents, who’ve given you everything they could, all that you can, or treading your own path in life irrespective of what others think and feel?
Is it exploring the world, living in different countries and among varied cultures, or settling down in one place – making it your home and being content with knowing your world is right there? What, then, about either exploring new things that life throws your way, or standing tall in the face of a storm that threatens to pummel your life into a direction you never imagined?
How, and why, is that most people you will speak to tell you to play it safe, than to live it up? And who’s to say what right or wrong is? Stories of living with what you have are as common as those where you rebuild your life from scratch, after you’ve lived the last half as somebody else. Yet, when confronted with the chance to live the dream, you have nightmares, during the day, of a new life you have the choice to entering into. Is the yearning only for the chase, for getting there? Isn’t it more about the story than just the trailer? When each choice is a compromise, then the easier path is more tempting despite its ubiquity and lack of soul. Do you then turn your back on that which you’ve worked towards all this time? Turn your back on you, to choose another you?
Despite countless replays, choice is a road travelled alone. Time changes us all, but the hardest part is realizing when we’ve changed after hard-fought battles. When the fight becomes the end, and the dreams you yearned to turn into life now seem better as they are. When the questions pile up, and the myriad answers stare at you in the day, and blind you at night. When you know only you can choose, only you can alter your own course in life. Maybe that’s freedom. Maybe, that’s life.
I’m taking some time off from the regular dose of travel-related posts that I dish out to talk a little bit about a new band doing the rounds in Pune nowadays. Hourglass Inversion (formerly Hourglass) is an alternative/progressive rock band making a name for itself in the local music circles lately.
My association with the band is through its vocalist Yayati, and drummer Chetan. Both these guys were with me during my B-school days and never left an opportunity to make my life miserable. In fact, so notorious was Chetan for the torture he inflicted upon freshmen that his nickname, even to this day, is Satan! Now I’m certain they’ll be eager to get hold of me for letting word out of their true nature, so under pressure to save my neck I’ll admit that I kid about the facts. Even though Chetan’s nick is still Satan, neither he, nor Yayati were ever bothered about ‘dealing’ with freshmen. They were always up to necks in music, and I was fortunate to have witnessed them perform many times during college. My friendship with Yayati grew out of admiration for his musical abilities, and it has persevered through the years solely, I think, on the basis of loving the arts. He even tried to teach me how to play the guitar, but I had already committed to photography. Someday I’ll pick up the six-string again, and then we shall jam together.
Anyway, back to Hourglass Inversion. The other two band members are Amit (lead guitars), and Hemant (bass). Together, these four make a solid base to create music. Their inspirations may be individual, but their visions for music have been combined to come out with a sound that is unique, and easy to listen to despite being progressive/alternative in nature. They have been doing gigs within the city for the past year, and have played at some big-name places such as Not Just Jazz by The Bay, Soul, Elysium, and at the 2011 Bryan Adams Rockathon. They have had media coverage in magazines and on radio, and have just come out with their first EP. Work on a web-site is presently under-way, and you’ll be able to sample their music once it is up and running. In the meanwhile, have a gander over at their Facebook profile – Hourglass Inversion, where you can listen to their first track – Someday.
Another uneventful day today as I stayed indoors for most of the time. The weather has been quite uncooperative along with the dead camera, so the number of images I’ve been making has dwindled drastically over the last few days, and I really can’t see that changing in the next week either. In a way I’m relieved that the camera made it through the most important part of my UK visit, in Scotland. It would’ve been better if it had kept working, as that would’ve allowed me to make more of my time here. As things are now I’m not very keen to send it in for repair here, not knowing how long it could take. Moreover there’s only about a week remaining till I get to Boston, and it might be better to get it done there.
Additionally, I find that not having a camera with me seems to have slowed everything down, though it’s hard to explain. I seem to have more time for everything, including going to the market, or just doing pending edits to the images I shot in Scotland. I guess I needed this time too, and it might end up being useful for my upcoming tour of some photography schools I’ve been looking to visit while I’m in the US.
All the same, I’m starting to wonder whether my this trip will give me any useful output at all, in terms of my career. Having started off almost a month ago, I had hoped for a pattern to emerge, thinking that maybe I’d realize something is more apt for me, but I’m presently no better off than I was back then. It’s not scary. Not yet. I know I have a lot more time remaining, but the thought does keep creeping back in to my head – what if I get back to India and I haven’t managed to figure out anything at all? Does that mean I go back to my horrible job? Would it mean I’ve wasted three months and gobs of money to achieve absolutely nothing? That can’t be good. I then catch myself thinking of all this and more, and tell myself to try to take it easy. I have some time to go before this hypothetical tragedy befalls me and my life goes down the gutter. Fate might have something else in store for me that I’m still unaware of. Give it the time it needs; the time that had been promised. Things have a way of something falling into place in the most unexpected ways and in the most unexpected places imaginable.
Back in October 2010 when I travelled around Scotland I had kept a daily diary of my thoughts and experiences. Since the whole purpose of the trip was to shoot photographs, there is an obvious layer of photography embedded into the entire series, but it also contains a lot of information dealing with the kind of situations I found myself in, and also about the places I visited.
The initial idea of keeping the blog was that I’d post it as a daily update here, to allow all my friends and family to virtually come along for the ride. That idea, however, was soon out of the window because of (a) the gruelling schedule of travel that I was following, and (b) internet access being expensive at the places I was staying. So in the end all these posts ended up sitting on the MacBook’s hard drive, with the assumption that nobody would be interested in reading about someone’s random thoughts, which bear more or less no relevance to the reader. That said, I have now decided to post all those posts here. Why the change of heart? Well, for one knowledge or experiences shared are always useful to someone, somewhere, as everyone who has trawled the web for information about anything has found out. There are always websites or blogs or articles which contain information you never thought you require, till the day you do, and then Google is called upon to provide the results. So I hope these will turn out to be useful to somebody, if only in a small way that I can’t possibly fathom presently.
Coming up will be a daily post from the English diary I kept. Starting off with Scotland…
More than 70,000 crore. That’s the bill we’re all footing. And how many years has this project been on-line? Today, when the people responsible for making sure this thing was a success are more busy trying to convince everyone else that the positives of the project must be highlighted, do they really think we’re all so naive and delirious that we’ve lost our ability to see, understand, and judge? What, in this entire god-forsaken project, deserves to be praised? Are you seriously telling me that just because 2010 has seen unprecedented showers we should suddenly understand why the remaining years were spent doing nothing on the ground?
How is it that a country facing so many challenges on so many countless levels finds the political backing to spend a fortune on an event that will bring not an ounce of relief to those suffering with no homes, with no medicines, with no education, with no jobs, with no food, with no life? How can an expense of more than 70,000 crore rupees be justified? HOW? And now you want our sympathy? Have you absolutely no shame? Has sitting in the power circles made you so utterly inhuman that you’ve forgotten that maybe you were once piss-poor and looked forward to becoming someone important so that you could help others and not let them live how you’ve lived in the past?
I can say with utmost honesty that I feel ashamed that I am a citizen of a country where the people that have been chosen to govern possess infinite apathy to those they should serve. Rather, they are cocky enough to dare to tell us to forget about everything that is wrong (which is everything there is in this mindless CWG project) and instead focus on the things that are right (of which there is nothing at all). Shameful.
All it takes is one look at the books I bought and read, about aviation, and all the weeks and months of planning for any other career seem like such a waste. This is what my soul screams to me I should be – an aviator, and my place belongs in the sky. As much as I may try to convince myself that other things are worth learning, knowing, and experiencing, nothing will ever come close to taking off from the ground and being up in the air. Where everything takes on a different hue, and every little detail on the planet becomes part of a larger whole. Where it all starts to make sense. Every question gets its answer, and every doubt is laid to rest. Where relief is found from drudgery, boredom, lack of inspiration, fear, loneliness, depression, and every other malady that a human being (me, in this case) could be afflicted with.
As I enter the final lap of preparations for my 90 days of self-discovery, having formerly ruled out aviation as a contender for a career ahead, I think it may not turn out to be quite as simple. For every time I feel I’ve managed to come to terms with aviation being a no-show, this quote (whose true origins aren’t yet accurately known) comes back to me –
“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
Happy landings. 🙂
The memories in the flood,
Of languages never spoken,
Within the shimmering pools of light,
This dream from within beckons;
And time may spin deep,
Though the sun will stop,
Never shall you now seek,
This lie that I behold;
Life begets mystery,
And stories untold,
Look the farthest that you can,
For such truth lies within;
Across centuries and lives,
Of those great and small that have passed, and are yet to arrive,
This vial falls out of our hands tonight,
And so our visions collide;
When misery and wonder come together,
Peering into your soul to find the key,
Come forth now, o sordid mind,
It’s time to end our journey.
Today I wish I was 14, to start my life all over again.
Not make the mistakes I’ve made, and not have to live with all the regrets I’ve piled on over the years.
To know what I want, and work hard to get there. No shortcuts; no distractions.
To not run around in these mindless circles in my head.
To feel alive, to live this life again.
I wish I could start my life all over again.
Browsing through the archives I came up on this shot I had taken while walking back home from work one evening in Melbourne. Spent some time playing around with it in LR3 to come up with something I don’t usually do. This result kinda’ seems interesting.