Of Passion and Pressure

I like when an article begins with expounding the incident that had given birth to it. Following this liking, let me too start with what prompted this piece of writing you are now reading. In the footsteps of passionate writers I too began a blog and copy-pasted the contents of all my desktop word docs onto my blog page. I then edited and re-edited the look of my blog utilising the myriad features provided by this amazing site, as I am quite anal about how things look. Once I was all set up and had even posted the link to my site on my facebook wall, hit me the thought that I hadn’t done any new writing for quite some time – except of course the book I am working on – which is going on and on and on forever (I am not being unsympathetic or numb towards my book, just saying.) So with the thought that I must do some new writing for my new blog jumping restlessly at the back of my head I was scrolling down the home page of my facebook account (which I love doing) I came across this post by my junior saying how happy he would be if given the chance to undo his decision of having taken up engineering. That’s the spark I needed to spring up a topic and start writing.

Let me begin this work by flashing a disclaimer card. I find myself using disclaimers a lot nowadays. Is it because my works are increasingly targeted at mainstream people and culture? Or I am simply getting paranoid? I must muse about this sometime. Well, the disclaimer I sought to put is this: ‘This is not to offend anyone or any idea that is being followed by the masses. This is purely a writer’s observation intended to enrich and educate the reader rather than to sting and mock him. See this as the work of an innocent, well-wishing mind.’

With the two paragraphs of a decent introduction and a necessary precaution over, I will finally get onto what I wanted to write. Of passion and pressure. I took up engineering in the year 2012 precisely because I wanted to become someone different, someone other than an engineer. You think I am box? Wait a minute. Statistics goes on to say an engineering degree unfailingly gets you a good, secure job (irrespective of your branch of study, of course). So yeah, to become someone different – which is taking a risk, a leap of faith – I wanted a strong, ready-to-fall-on backup. This is why I took up engineering.

I got hold of an interesting analogy while structuring this blog in my mind today morning. It is like getting married to someone while being in love with someone else. But the problem with this situation is that the girl I am married to, by the name Engineering, is being very devoted to me – she gets me decent grades, seduces me with awards of excellence and so on and so forth – to lure me into our marriage and to make me a faithful husband. This I naturally don’t want to be as I am in love with someone else, named filmmaking. However, this someone else – the girl of my dreams – is very adamant and strong headed. I am not simply able to attain her. However hard I pursue her with firm perseverance and loads of hope and love, she is rarely turning my side to give a look. Maybe that is why someone came up with the expression ‘chasing your dream’.

As my hope of becoming a film maker is only renewing itself every day without getting to realise what it stands for, I am feeling guiltier of not being faithful to engineering. Even if I try to listen in class and take notes, just a fleeting thought or even a whisper from two benches behind me is seemingly enough to upset my conviction and waylay my volatile mind. This is me. In love with filmmaking, writing and creating (art basically), while married to as dumb a field like engineering (a subjective opinion) that has no charms but only boring derivations that are surely not going to help you or me in practical life.  I have a stronger reason to dislike my wife so much (Please don’t think of me as an insatiable amorous person fallen into the ocean of infidelity – I am not.) It is because I am not able to understand her completely. There has always been an impenetrable fortification, a literal firewall, between me and science. If I rejoice at having understood a concept then my brain invariably comes up with a deeper point that I am not able to comprehend. Even Google can help you only so much. I don’t know if I am getting my point across. But see, say in a transport phenomena derivation (that I am currently taking a break from) you make a step assuming something – as is always the case – you then have to understand the assumption, right? At least my mind will not rest until I understand all the trivia concerned. So when I approach my dear professor he tells me it is beyond our grasp and that it will only feature in our M.Tech books. In a sweet tone he asks me not to bother myself with all such small details. That’s what I hate. Maybe it is the system that has developed in me the profound aversion that I now harbour for my wife; I don’t know. She is baffling; confusing; she is a riddle I want to solve, but I am only perpetually running for the answer. The weariness and exhaustion has made me pause and run away from her after all. My passion is different. My lady love is someone else.

This is me. Let me now concentrate on the inhabitants of my little world.

These people, my friends and other persons I know closely, live harmoniously with their wives. They don’t face problems or don’t undergo familial feuds as, I observe, they don’t try to understand their consorts. Or maybe they haven’t found their real love. That is, they want to be good engineers. But the problem in this case is that they want to be faithful husbands without loving their wives – they just want to be dutiful with no love and passion. They are living under the pressure to stay happy.

My close neighbours in my class are all going for GRE classes, taking the GRE test once, twice and some even thrice to get a good score so as to get admitted into a good grad school. What I feel disconcerted at is the fact that they are not even interested in their B.Tech – at least to the extent I have observed. Some shrink at the mere mention of exams and some cringe when teachers ask to submit assignments. They are not studying passionately. And the good students I know in my class are good students because they study well for either the sake of ameliorating their family or to attain the prestigious scholarships (I say prestigious because people see these scholarships as not awards of excellence but as awards of prestige – if they miss it one year by say a grade or two, they go home and shed tears and make strong resolutions to attain the same somehow the next academic year.) I have never seen anybody take out a transport phenomena book or a thermodynamics book and go through the chapters in break periods or during the arduous bus trips to and fro college (They do, only if the next day poses the threat called ‘Unit Test’.) No one studies passionately or for the sake of gaining knowledge like Aamir khan of 3 idiots or Vijay of Nanban – which ever you like. It is just marks or something else that motivates them to take the book. Now to those of you who come running at me to justify yourselves, please stop in your tracks. And think. Your very first point may well be the education system in our beloved country. But is that even a valid reason to cringe when the teacher mentions assignments? You may fail at your exams due to mental pressure. This you can attribute to the system. But even not getting the thought to sit alone with a subject book? You can’t blame the system for that. It is just that you don’t get the disposition to sit and study on your own. Many of you may as well think it is a fault or lack of something on your side and try to hide it when you come arguing. No it is not. Relax. You are only destined for something else. You are destined to love a different person. You don’t see that and remain complacent with the one you are married to. I commiserate.

To those of you preparing hard for GRE, do you seriously want to pursue higher education or do some research or is it because your best friend is going to America and you can’t bear to sit in your house doing something you like. Please put this question to yourself again and again. Realise. Once my close friend preparing for GRE told me he wouldn’t have been doing all this had he stayed at the college he initially got placed at – a quite off-the-rank-list college where no one does GRE but only try to find an employment. So mostly the answer is this: peer pressure. You are doing this because he is doing it; you are doing that because she is also doing that, and you don’t want to be left out. Due to all such people who throng the embassy offices at three in the morning this has become a ritual. It has become a cultural stereotype; a pop-culture. Come out if you are not for it, for god sake! Follow your heart. Think of where your passion lies. Go pursue her. Follow her every day, every night. Do all you can to make her stop and give you that curious look. Fall madly in love, head over heels. As someone said, you should expect the Monday rather than detesting it; you should wait to go to work, not cringe at the mere suggestion of it. All the best!

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Kalachakra

Prologue:

This is interesting. Engaging. I often find myself musing over this incident; or rather I should say series of incidents, which has managed to weigh upon and occupy my mind many a time in the recent past – much to the annoyance and disappointment of my dear wife who is always devoted to me and engaged in my thoughts. I don’t blame her. I do find it increasingly strange that something so trivial and unimportant amongst other events of the big picture is continuing to fill my mind with deep thoughts. Sometimes, however, I find it anything but trivial; as an event very essential to my study of the big process.

Since the instance I conceptualised the idea of time and let it flow through the four undulating plains– namely the Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and the Kali Yuga – the Lokas all have seen remarkable and noteworthy changes; especially the Bhuvar or the Madhya Loka that I take special interest in. This may partly be because even the very people born out of my Srishti are becoming progressively more unpredictable. The previous universe created by my associate, Brahma – bless his patience – in his Padma Kalpa, was what that saw the remarkable incident I am now thinking about. It was an incident that ran for two cycles of time and had repercussions that would drop the jaw of a mortal. My over-thinking mind has now digressed unnecessarily to the lesson I taught my staunch friend Hanuman (and will continue to teach for cycles of time to come) regarding the concept of time running in a circle – how as King Ram I had asked (and will ask) him to go search for a ring purposely lost in the deep recesses of my palace, leading him to find a mountain heap of rings in the underground Nagaloka, and making him understand that it has been happening in all the cycles of time and that it will continue to happen for cycles to come. Whatsoever, let me now muse over this particular series of events while Lakshmi is away – for just one last time, I tell myself.  

 

The past:

Bookstore, Meerut district                                                                    Sep 15, 2015 (of the Kali Yuga)

I was answering the questions posed by small-time journalists and general readers when the cardboard box was carried to the table before me. It was a rectangular box with a poster of my Hindi translated version of The Krishna Key novel, released two years back, stuck on one of its sides. I didn’t know what was so captivating about it that my eyes only rarely turned from it. I did love my work in that; the Mahabharata tale unfolding in the beginning of all the chapters, and my own story written for the novel following it. But that wasn’t the reason for my attention towards it now. The box was in no way peculiar looking, and it presumably had only stacks of my novel in the Hindi language. But why did I feel a sign of presentiment?

The manager of the bookstore – a sexagenarian – came and whispered in my ear that I was to distribute the novels in the box to the five children occupying the last row of seating. I shot a glance at them. They seemed underprivileged to me, and thus suddenly the manager looked like a caring and magnanimous old human. But these tender feelings did not replace the presentiment I had formed. They only exacerbated it.

The questions all answered and new books signed, the audience brought their hands together for a minute and rose to leave. Only one or two photographers remained to cover the book distribution event that they had obviously been priorly informed of. When the first of the five children (all in ragged clothes) approached my table for receiving the books, and when the manager of the bookstore approached the sealed box with a knife in his hand, the earth shook and all hell broke loose. It seemed as if Pandora’s Box had been opened with all fury. The floor beneath my feet trembled and I fell down after colliding with the chair I had been sitting on. Blood trickled out of my elbow where I had hit the metallic edge of a placard stand flaunting the text ‘Ashwin Sanghi Speaks’ in burning red. I could see the children all panicking and some even crying. The vibration lasted for a whole minute and the earth just before the table in front of me opened wide. I felt a chill run down my spine and instinctively backed against the wall behind me. I couldn’t see the old man anywhere. I rushed to the aid of a poor child about to fall into the wide crack of the floor when I tripped the cardboard box unintentionally. It fell into the dark abyss of the wide crack. I saved the child.

 

The present:

Kingdom of Hastinapura                                                             3139 B.C. (in the next cycle of time)

It was serious. Serious and important. A Kurukshetra war! Destruction of the kauravas! Death of millions of Kshatriya warriors! It was difficult to digest it all in. How could I have believed this… this thing? No one had given it to me. I had obtained it while tilling my agricultural land. A worn out box with many such things. The leaves of all the things were ruined except those of this one copy. Strangely the language of the leaves was also familiar. The first portion of all new sections had the story of what had happened in this kingdom and an account of the events supposedly yet to happen – that which I was not able to believe. The other story was, however, very absurd. About someone called Saini running from people throughout the story. It seemed very baffling with many of the terms looking incomprehensible. I had a feeling this story didn’t matter.

Upon thorough examination, after taking heaps of notes while translating the familiar looking language into my own tongue, and much extrapolation it did look true; very much believable. ‘What should I do? Must I alert the Pandavas, who have just returned from thirteen years of exile and are getting ready for talks with the Maharaja and his son Duryodhana regarding the split up of the Hastinapura throne? No, that is useless. They are only about to ask for what is their rightful share,’ I pondered aloud.

‘No. I must talk to Duryodhana. I must convince him to part with a portion of the kingdom to the Pandavas as promised by him before sending them on the exile. But would he listen to me? I can’t be sure. But I must try my best. A war must be averted at all costs.’

——x——

Duryodhana’s chambers                                                                                              The same evening

‘What are you saying, O Vaishya?’ exclaimed Duryodhana when I had reported to him everything – right from how I had stumbled upon the box while tilling my land to all my interpretations of the text and the imminent danger it posed.

‘I mean it, O Valiant Prince! Every word of what I have just said,’ I said, silently praying he would agree to my suggestion.

‘O Vaishya! Even my prime minister is not allowed to counsel me concerning matters of ruling the kingdom. But I have given you that authority; why? Because I regard you highly. I regard you as the foremost among the Mahuri Vaishya clan of my kingdom. O Great Ekghara of the Chandra Muni Ghotra, I know you to be a brilliant strategist and a wise human. But what you are saying now is insane. You say the Pandavas will declare war through Krishna? And that they would win it? And all this you found in that soiled thing you are holding? Absolutely ridiculous!’ His belly shook in his gale of laughter.

I then quoted many incidents from the text, like the Lakshagraha or the wax palace incident, the game of dice and many more, but he shook his head at all of them saying the text might have been composed after the incidents had happened. He simply refused to believe me.

——x——

The king’s court                                                                                                                        The next day

I was summoned to the court of the king. Anxiously I reached the main hall of the court and faced the throne where the blind king was seated. Duryodhana came running to me. ‘Maybe he lost his mind again?’ I expected the worst. But he came to me and shook me by my shoulders, sporting a panoramic smile.

‘O Vaishya! Your words proved worthy yet again. Yesterday evening, after you had left, Krishna – that Yadava – paid us a visit. He said the Pandavas demanded a fair portion of the kingdom after having ended their exile, and when I refused and even humiliated him, he said they would wage war, just as you mentioned he would say. On deeper reflection, I have decided to pay heed to your advice. O Vaishya of the Ekghara family, I have decided to part with my kingdom and avert the possibility of a war. I am going to send a message of consent to that Yadava. After all, didn’t I give my word?’

 

 

The future:

Odyssey bookstore, Navi Mumbai                              2012 AD (of Kali Yuga, the same cycle)

‘No, the entire story line of Lord Krishna, which appears episodically, is not true. It is historically correct only till a certain point in the book,’ I answered the reporter’s question. I was launching my book The Krishna Key here. I continued, ‘In fact after that point in the story everything that comes as Krishna’s story is fictionalised. I took the liberty to do so as I felt the original story was dull. Imagine this yourself. The Pandavas have just returned from exile and not honouring his word, Duryodhana is even ready to jump into a battle when suddenly a Vaishya comes into the picture and prevents the war. I felt my book, a work of art, should need some dramatic conflict.’

‘Yes, I had to be extremely cautious in dealing with this topic as we put a premium on personal belief and faith, but it was a necessary risk. I thus changed the course of events and put a war into the picture. In the end, I dutifully made the Pandavas win. And by the way, I call this war The Mahabharata.’

 

Epilogue:

Thus I have recapitulated all that had happened a million years ago. After recapitulating I would often think if I had my hand in the entirety of the event. Today is no exception. Did I have a hand in what had happened? Did I purposely make the box fall through temporal dimensions and conveniently ruin all but one copy – so that the clever Vaishya could decode the text and prevent a destructive war? I don’t know. I don’t want to find the answer. Let my devotees be under the impression I am omniscient.

I remember being cursed by Gandhari, the mother of the Kauravas, for not preventing the war and thus the death of her dear sons when I possibly could have. I had gladly accepted he curse, saying ‘Tathastu’. Let Gandhari live long with her sons at least in that particular cycle of time, wherein Ashwin Sanghi and the Ekghara Vaishya (who was none but Sanghi himself in a different birth) had unknowingly conspired across generations to prevent the Great War. Let Veda Vyasa and my nephew be relieved of the effort of writing the epic. Let Mahabharata, a book that would have been roughly ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined, or about four times the length of the Ramayana, go unwritten. At least in that cycle of time.  

Now, as I can see Lakshmi, my loving consort, approaching Vaikunta, I will stop musing over this incident lest I should annoy her. I will settle on to the fact that it is indeed a trivia in the grand scheme of things.

The earth continues to revolve.  

 

Short and Sweet Advice for Writers – Showing Up

Respects to Allen – a person I look up to – for dishing out this quote. Nextly, thanks Jamie! for explaining it in a creative and encouraging way… it really made me take the effort to “show up” often.

Live to Write - Write to Live

If it’s true what they say, that 80 percent of success is showing up …

80percentMost often attributed to Woody Allen, the maxim “80 percent of success is showing up” has earned its place in the collective cultural consciousness.  But, how does one actually “show up,” and is it as easy to do as it sounds?

According to a Quote Investigator rundown on the origins of the Allen quip, the context of the writer/director’s observation was a 1989 conversation with language columnist William Safire about how writers and playwrights who had actually written their book or script were well on their way to publication. Unfortunately, Allen also observed that the vast majority of people never write the play or the book. They just talk about writing it.

So, it seems that “showing up” isn’t the whole story. You have to show up with the work done. Trouble is, “80 percent…

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