When you are a kid, you believe in a lot of bullshit that grown-ups feed you. If you are lucky, you’d shed most of them by the age of 18. After reaching adulthood, you acknowledge slowly that most of the adults don’t really know what they are doing or saying and are simply hoping for the best. Quite a farcical setup. Conversely, inside a pride, the lion knows exactly what is going on. Anyway, that’s also the fun part of childhood: the sheer cluelessness of being. You are basically shaped by the happenings around you as your learning curve becomes steeper with mimicry. Nice folks rub off on you and so do the bad ones as you continue to sprout. Lots of assumptions shall take place too. Without any intervention from a grownup, you might just assume that sweaty folks aren’t to be trusted and that rich folks don’t fart.
Home is where WFH should be. At least this is what the pandemic taught us, before the companies started calling their employees back to work stations. It was a bittersweet change for the employees. On the upside, they could now draw a line between ‘working hours’ and ‘non-working hours’ because that line blurs when you are WFH. On the downside, you can’t get a lot more done on the domestic side, stuff that otherwise had to wait till weekends. Between these sides, the joy of working with colleagues can go either way. If you’ve got wonderful team members, great. If not, not so great. One thing I’ve noticed is that those who work from office tend to behave more chilled about their responsibilities whereas those who are isolated WFH show deeper skin in the game, simply because they don’t have warmth of camaraderie, the reassuring shoulders of their colleagues to hold up more than their share of bargain.
During my recent visit to Gurgaon, a friend pointed out that he wants to visit the USA for a specific reason: to see for himself if people in New York City are genuinely as well-dressed as they show in cinema. Movies and TV shows, featuring fancy people, can go a long way—even if you never do—in painting a rosy picture for you. I am not a dresser but I too am fascinated by the American vibe (not dream). As of today, the only reason I wish to visit Amreeka is to have a good hot meal—pancakes, eggs, steaks, the usual—at a diner that serves endless coffee. This despite the fact that I am not a foodie either. It’d just be nice to recreate a scene from Pulp Fiction without any ketchupy blood. Just having a lonely meal while looking out of the huge glass window. Sounds like a treat.
For the record, I am not a coffee lover. It’s like strawberries. Smells great, tastes disappointing. Yet, given a choice between tea and coffee, I would go for the latter. Reason: acid reflux. Even half a cup of tea can make me nauseous whereas a full cup of coffee may not. Some might point out that coffee is the reason why my dark circles are the only visible growth happening in my life but here’s a tricky fun fact for you: caffeine on its own is utterly harmless to your body. That said, it can take a toll on your optic nerves, which in turn can mess up your circadian rhythm. In essence, caffeine blocks adenosine, a molecule that gradually accumulates in the brain stabilizing your body to rest. Tea keeps you up too but it has better PR in place. Comparatively, coffee is younger too. Almost as old as the Renaissance period.
This time around, I visited Gurgaon for less than four days—my shortest visit since moving there in 2015 and moving back in 2020—and I noticed that some cities serve as apocalyptic reminders. When you pass by Cyberhub, you feel like you are already transported to the 22nd century but as you move away from the developed parts of the city and wade through the dusty potholes-ridden hinterland, you’d be amazed by the rows of buildings that are yet to have occupants. The only constant here are the cattles who have been traversing the same route for centuries and if you look dearly into their eyes, you’ll notice that they already know that you are a tourist and won’t stay around for long. On the brighter note, what I truly miss about Gurgaon winters is the sweet intoxicating smell of Indian devil's tree. Haven’t inhaled it in a while now.
Speaking of unthanked trees, here is a recent conversation between me and a beloved –
“Trees are the greatest witnesses of our crumbling civilizations. They quietly stand there and see everything that unfolds.”
“But most of them are dead.”
“Maybe that’s why they are able to see so much without feeling anything.”
Different people deal with similar situations differently. For instance, if you ever find yourself in a cab with me, chances are you’d realize that I am a very talkative person. But as soon as we got down from the cab, my fluency would drop. Why? Because I talk inside confined areas to distract myself from the impending motion sickness. Like a monster waiting to pounce. If I stay quiet, I’d be feeling ill soon. So I tend to blabber, blabber and then blabber some more. It works 8 out of 10 times and that’s pretty good odds for someone like me who is perennially unlucky with numbers.
One way to look at your existence is to accept the fact that we never stop being a baby: constantly in need of distractions, moving from one branch of amusement to another, until we are fully tired. Chasing stuff we either won’t value (if we get) or get (if we value). Think about it. Whatever it is you thought would fulfill you five years ago, where is it now? The stuff we focused our energy on didn’t change. It remained the same. We changed. Perhaps the baby in us thought differently.
Another way to look at your existence is to find a metaphor in Venus. Yes, the same planet that is reduced to an “evening star” just because of its obsession with sunsets. It shows up late after the sun has drowned and waits for it for a few hours before repeating the cycle again. Never on time. The irony here, being unlike every other planet in the solar system, Venus rotates clockwise, meaning that the sun rises in the west there! Also, Venus is the only planet in our solar system to be named after a female figure. Sexism, much.
If expectation is the root cause of misery, is it possible to be aspirational? Yes. Expectations aren’t the problem anyway. Undue expectations from others is. Being aspirational is natural, wanting to achieve this and that from time to time and it’s healthy too because you are motivating yourself. Aspiring to cut down on sugar, gaining stamina and losing weight? Awesome. Aspiring to be a kinder and a caring person? Nice. Aspiring to not let negativity touch your mindspace? Amazing. These are aspirations. Expectations can ruin the scene only if you are in comparison mode. Otherwise, expecting more from yourself, and by extension from the world, is perfectly alright. It’s when you start comparing and creating these mythical competitions for an invisible crown, that you turn miserable. Thank you attending my sed talk.