Doomed to fail

Let’s face the truth. We all are doomed to fail. All the efforts that we put in towards what we call success in life, are nothing but efforts to delay the inevitable.

Let’s take an example. Example of life. Will death be considered our failure to live? If so, then since our birth till we die, all our efforts for a better health and life are nothing but efforts to delay the failure.

Business for example. Every business has a cycle. The ups and downs. A trajectory that almost always spirals downward. The attempts are made to stop the trajectory from flatlining.

Brands constantly reinvent themselves and make themselves relevant to new consumers so that they don’t disappear into oblivion.

Business and brands have a role to play hence they must keep on doing what they are supposed to do. What matters to me is life and living.

In our effort to delay the inevitable, we focus so much on all the effort that is required, we stop living. We are more bothered about death and afterlife that we don’t even realise we are putting this life to waste. What is the point of living to be 100? What are we going to achieve? If anything, we are putting pressure on the eco system and thereby whole lot of other people who have to work even harder to go on living.

Same thing with relationships. We all want our relationships to succeed. To end a relationship is to accept that it has failed. Hence we focus very hard on making it work. We don’t realise that the spontaneity that existed at the beginning, we have killed it by making an effort to make it work.

But I guess that is how we are wired by the social construct. We are not supposed to FAIL. The education system, the professional life… they all instil in is the stigmas of failure and we carry that into our personal life too.

This post is totally random and stems from something I read about failure.

Era of evil?

Been thinking about this for a while now. News for whats it worth has been all about killing, intolerance and nothing good at all. Sure there are bits and pieces of good but mostly it’s all bad.

It made me wonder. Why there is so much of this all around. In India and everywhere else. For this post I will stick to India.

Over the weekend I was watching a TV SERIES called Mindhunter on Netflix. It is creepy as hell. Messed up with your mind. And partly responsible for this post.

We seem to have totally given in to our darker side. Positivity and a healthy attitude towards a fellow human being is just not there.

I don’t think it has happened all of a sudden. It has been happening for a while. We have become utterly selfish and self absorbed. The so called seven deadly sins have perhaps stopped being sins.

Why has it happened? Is it just us venting out? Is it technology? Is it us being part of a larger world with access to all things good and evil. Is it just a phase or it’s here to stay?

I believe that freedom and openness that did not exist earlier, is causing all the problems. Think back to perhaps maybe 25 years back or even earlier when we were a rather closed society. Maybe society is the wrong word but we lived in an era where there wasn’t much for us. Everything around us was just enough for basic existence. We were not flooded with images from around the world about what is possible. We lived comfortably in our closed world. We didn’t have great demands from the world around us and in our relationships. Yes, it wasn’t an easy life but we had learnt to accept it.

And then it all changed. Liberalisation, beaming of images on satellite channels, and the biggest disruption called the internet.

All of a sudden it made us realise what we have been missing out on. We looked at the imagery with wide eyes disbelief and perhaps excitement. It became a frenzy. To catch up with the world.

Nothing wrong in that. We all want a better life and means to achieve a better life. It all would have been fine if we focused on a “better life”. But we did not. Better life became acquiring symbols of a better life. And in order to get those symbols, we gave up on our biggest strength – to be a good human being. Materialism and hunger to be better than our neighbours and relatives corrupted us. Corrupted our mind. Once the rot sets in, it is hard to pull things back. It becomes all pervasive and corrupts everything we do and our mind.

We kept demanding for more. And more. Whether in terms of money or relationships, being satisfied with what we have took a beating. That’s when sin stopped being a sin.

Look around you. Stress, hypertension, obesity, depression, couples struggling to have babies, relationships falling apart as soon as they start. Terminology like ONS, FWB, no strings attached, depravation of every possible kind, it’s all around us.

We were pretty healthy and fit in the past. Marriages (or let’s say relationships) lasted a life time. Respect for elders and unconditional love for children were the bulwark of our existence. There was a larger societal connect. All of that is gone.

Technology wasn’t supposed to lead to all of this. It was supposed to make life better. Sure it has on many fronts. We are able to perform better, be more productive, more connected (?) but…

We have stopped being humans. Animals we were and animals we have become. Even animals tend to take care of their own in a herd. We don’t do that. We are totally self centred. Yes we do mouth all the right things but we don’t mean them. Talking social cause is just a step towards building a better brand out of us.

Human mind, it always had a dark side but in the past, we never focused on that dark side. But all that has changed.

We are quick to hate and even quicker on the keyboard to vent out that hate. We might get up in the morning, do pooja and have all the love for our kids but we reach work and layoff a few hundred people. We drive fanciest of cars that block out the misery that exists beyond the tinted glasses and almost sound proof cars. People in South Bombay don’t know anything about the world that exists in suburbs. Same goes for all the posh addresses in all the other cities.

We all believe in Gecko’s philosophy of “Greed is good”

Murder, rape and doing unspeakable things to another human being has become a norm. It is not just at a physical level but even at a mental level. Our minds are taken over by lust – for power, money, fame, satisfaction…

Given how our country moves at different levels of evolution and progress (I laughed when I typed these words), all the evil will continue to exist. The ones who got on the ground floor of evolution will have a more polished approach to evil. The ones who are getting in, will look at everything from a very crass perspective.

Dante wrote inferno in 14th century but we see it all around us now – “realm… of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against fellow men”

Is there a redemption for us? I don’t think there is for the generations that are currently walking this earth. Future generations perhaps. If only the ones who are really young, grow up to despise what we have become and lead the Change. On their own. Not driven by so called social causes promoted by brands.

I would like to believe that eventually we will use technology for what it is supposed to do. I hope we get over all that WE think technology is for.

But till then… like pigs in the muck we will be happy in the this self created muck of our sins.

Caffeine and Nicotine

Statutory warning – this post in no way is encouraging consumption of caffiene or nicotine. The views expressed are solely of the writer and an addict 🙂

I had thought about “confessions of an addict” as the title for the post but then it would have led in all kinds of directions 🙂

Yesterday I was watching some random movie. The protagonist has a lit cigarette in his hand (bottom of the screen has the statutory warning) and is in a heated discussion with another character and the character says something to the effect ” look at you! You don’t belong to this world. Nobody smokes anymore and here you are smoking and living with so called machismo”. Made me wonder. Machismo? Surely we have gone way beyond the Marlboro Man days and yes that kind of imagery perhaps got us into the habit. For me of course it was the crumple pack with a denim feel of Charms. But once in, I doubt if everyone we take a puff, we are feeling macho about it.

So am addicted. To caffiene and nicotine. Yes go ahead and judge me. Am sure you won’t be judging me as much for caffiene as you would for nicotine. I like my addictions. I am not going to say I know they are bad and I should stop. What’s the point of life if you are not addicted to some things. It’s not like I am the only one with addictions. I have mine and you have yours. I am not going to judge you for that.

But coming back to caffiene and nicotine. Only the true addicts will relate to what I say. That sip of coffee. That long first drag of cigarette. That feeling as both go down the throats and mingle with whatever they are supposed to mingle with and do what they do to the physiology and psychology of the person.

These two are extremely individualistic. They do not have a social context or a setting. Think about it. Out of all the cups of coffee that you have or the smoking that you do, what % of it is social? Yes you could be sitting in a coffee shop full of people and be sitting alone and giving your elbow exercise every time you take a sip. Or the smoke. Every time you smoke, it is not like alcohol that you more often than not are with people. It is mostly alone. So after a point ( having got through the social setting it was peddled in) it is about you and you alone.

Caffiene and nicotine, they are there with you in happy times, sad times, stress or euphoria. They are your companion when you are sitting and thinking. About work. About life. About relationships. About what’s bothering you. They don’t talk back. Give advise. Judge you. You are not doing it for social acceptance. If anything, smokers in this world are becoming pariahs. So are the people who consume coffee for what it is and not the imagery. There is a certain bliss, momentary slowing down of everything within your immediate environment. These are the downtimes that you get in day full of pace. You are with your thoughts and eyes are staring into space. The last sip of coffee or the act of stubbing out the cigarette is either done with excitement because you got the thought in your head that you wanted or there is an inaudible sigh of the mind that the downtime is over.

Yes people talk about health issues. How we are destroying our lives with these addictions. And these voices have become vociferous. Specially about smoking. And do you know why? Smoking perhaps is the most visible of all addictions. The spiralling smoke is visible to all. So are the stubs. So what’s visible, is attacked with all the vigour. Passive smoking becomes an issue. The smell (I will call it fragrance) becomes an issue. Also perhaps there is a direct impact on non smokers so it is condemned.

Tell me which addiction does not impact people around the addicts? Perhaps the impact is not direct but there is an impact all the same.

Drinking is socially acceptable. Being on social media all the time is acceptable. Being addicted to making money is acceptable. Being addicted to work is acceptable. And please let’s not talk about corporate culture of maintaining work-life balance. It’s all lip service to act as a great corporate. Tell me which organisation would not want its employees to think about work 24X7?!

So why are most of the addictions socially acceptable? Why do we not even think they are addictions? Boils down to larger social norms and conducts of living in a society or being part of a larger world. Individualism and doing something for One’s own pleasure goes against the norms of being part of the society. Individualism vs collectivism. “How dare you be so selfish and have no consideration for people around you?!!”

Being individualistic is not good. Doing something for your own pleasure is not good. Free will, while it is talked about as a good thing, is not to be encouraged. We may strongly deny it, this world is very much Orwellian. Perhaps not as draconian or explicit but it still is. Under the garb of “it is for your own good”, we expect everyone to conform. Those who don’t, are constantly pushed into a corner or an invisible space. The best example perhaps is to be seen in pubs today. Either you smoke outside (you are an outsider) or you are on display in the small smoking room within the pub. It’s like being in a fishbowl.

These are symbols of a society. A society which says that if you don’t conform, you are an outcaste. Everyone will look at you with that derisive reproach in their eyes as you smoke.

This post is about my addiction to caffiene and nicotine. It is perhaps more about nicotine because like I said it is so visible. But it is also about questioning conformity. Cigarette is symbolic.

(Image courtesy http://www.insider.gr)

Doing the right thing


right thing

It was a kind of a movie weekend. Watched Blood Diamond, The Departed and Time to Kill. Sparked off a thought about doing the right thing. What was in those movies that caused the thought is something I will come to later.

What is ‘doing the right thing’?

Right from the time when we are young and start being aware of the world around us, our parents drill into us to do the right thing. And we follow what they say.

But think about it… what is the ‘right’ thing. What is ‘right’? Right for whom? For the people who tell us or for us who follow? Right is such a subjective word. And more often than not, it is never quite right for us. But we blindly follow what is right for others. And if we don’t feel happy doing that, surely it is not the right thing.

There are so many instances in our lives when  we have said that we did the right thing. That by itself is a confession that we did what had to be done and not because we wanted to do it.

Why do we do it? Why don’t we do what we think is right? Because if we did, we will be taken on one long guilt trip. Will be called selfish. And many other such things.

To do the right thing our way is considered a rebellion. But that apart, doing the right thing never gives us what we want. Other than the fake satisfaction.

Even the image that head this post, I would like to look at it from my perspective. It is very tough to do the right thing because while it is right for us, it is not for others. Convoluted logic but you get it right?

Coming to the movies watched, Whether it was Blood Diamond or The Departed, the protagonist never gets what he should have. In both the cases he is dead for doing the right thing. Lonely and dead. But a HERO because he died for the right cause. Of course the third movie was a John Grisham novel so it had a stereotypical ending where everything turns out alright.

So yeah we will continue to do the right thing… and rationalize it every time we do so because it has been ingrained in us that it is better to be a Hero than to be a Villain… Everything has to be black and white… though if movies are any reflection (as they supposedly are) of the popular culture, the trend is changing… there are grey areas that we traverse but unlike the movies, we keep them hidden…

That apart, I do believe that The Departed was perhaps best performance by Leonardo Di Caprio.

So have you ever been happy when you did the ‘right’ thing?

(Image courtesy blurrent.com)

Turns my stomach

After a long time I opened the front page of the newspaper and remembered why I have stopped looking at the front page.

The violence and the extremeness of it made me want to throw up. What is it that drives people to take another life. I understand rage but to snuff away a life?!

Why are we becoming so violent? Or were we always this extreme and somehow it never turned into action? Is it as a society that we are going wrong somewhere? Or is it ‘expectations’ not getting fulfilled that leads us to such an action. Whatever it is, something is going wrong seriously and for most of us it has become a headline that we read in the paper or watch it getting sensationalised on trashy news channels.

We have become immune to violence. We read and move on. It is not happening to us or to anyone we know so why should we care. Even if we cared, what is it we can do?

I firmly believe that all of us move around with a facade that shows to the world how nice we are… but deep inside all of us, there is a monster just waiting to rear its head.

In the past perhaps we had a fear that our actions would lead to serious consequences for us. There perhaps used to be a voice of reason that helped us keep the monster firmly chained. But today, that voice of reason has been chained and the monster is on loose. The facade that we have, slips very quickly at the slightest provocation.

I think we all are bi polar and it is the other personality that is taking over. We use the facade to seduce people into doing what we want and when they don’t, hands around the neck, a battering ram, a knife, a bullet… it has become all too easy to listen to the ‘insane’ inside us.

The entire society needs a shrink for the psychological problems. Because that is what the problem really is… at a psychological level.

I have rage inside me. Whole lot of frustration. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever let the monster loose? Right now I know I will never let that happen but then… I have never felt an insane rage ever. How will I know how to react if that ever happens….