Sunday, 24 May 2020

A test out of syllabus!


I'm sure many of you could relate to the title. A discussion with your friends or your mom, on how you studied something and the test turned out to be a farce. Everyone has found themselves at this juncture, some becoming diffident and fragile, and some becoming stern and resolute to make it count. But what if the test here doesn’t pertain to any academia or any of life's quotidian pursuits? What if it is the test of life itself?

Exactly! Circumstances today are extenuating and make us a good contender to be spared on many counts of lack of preparation. But given the laissez faire that life is, you're out of chances already. And I'm not talking about how this #covid pandemic is forcing us to observe social distancing. I am speaking about the consequences of something all of us vicariously saw coming, but still didn't envisage. I'm talking about the contraption that our upcoming lives would be.


Mankind spent generations, segregating and winnowing tenets of life. What was once a persiflage of hunter gatherers killing cattle and recklessly mating, turned into corporate hobnobbing followed by chivalrous dating. We defined every element of what a life well-lived is supposed to be like. The panache was clearly separated from pestilence. Neat and clean office spaces, followed by neat and clean bookshelves at home for leisure reading; the most ostentatious chandelier for imposing your success, and the brevity of succinctly measured shots being poured at parties post work. We had everything, every detail planned to the T, and suddenly, it's all jeopardized.

This surely is not a test of our immunity or character. It is just a test of our basic instinct. Isn’t it the instinct after all, that made us survive the score of attacks from scurrilous fauna as we usurped every other species and sat at the throne of surreal supremacy? This is a test of how quickly we maraud all that's needed and how furtively we escape before fate catches up. Gone are the days of investments in mutual funds, insurance plans, safe investments in golds and govt. bonds, a house being the ultimate attainment. Every shred of logic we so salaciously cherished has been extirpated. And a new world order is now suddenly chipping in. 

This new world order is nothing but an everlasting panacea to thrive. There is a sudden display of masks and lockdown successes, a sudden surge in public ramblings on either acceptance of governance or disdain for the policies. But somewhere in between, everyone is expected to act quick amid an ever changing set of rules. The rule book is being practically written right when we're following it, and omissions and alterations are done, right when we betted our life on some of the burgeoning postulates. 

An ever crowded, ever populated microcosm, is now finding solace in the bloom of flowers its actions garrulously annihilated till a few days back. And then immediately, the attention is back to when the movement would resume and when the lockdown would be revoked. Even in this pandemonium, it is still the numbers that define the situation and reify our faith in measuring everything. The numbers that were once used to see who won an election or how much profits were registered, normally connoting more success with more magntitude, are now dearly wished to shrivel. The numbers now represent deaths and no. of cases. But even in this entropy, we have found numbers that keep us engaged - the recovery rates and PPE kits distributed. Our outright rejection of the gravity of what's going on and our gyrations with numbers of solace, continues unabated! 

This is also no test of idology. Over a long horizon of mankind's evolution, religious, sectarian and political ideologies have brought the biggest of conflicts.The gravest of situations and our magnitude of success often found provenance in our vested faith in our long enamored ideologies. But this situation would see both communism and capitalism fall flat. The freedom defined by the former and the imbroglio represented by the later, would be equally perilous.

In short, this is a test of everything apart from what we have been taught. We were taught to work hard party harder. Here we have our work redefined and our parties expunged. We were taught to invest as it would ameliorate us someday. Here we have job losses ripping apart our savings and bonds been broken in infancy. We were taught to work today for a better tomorrow. Here we are, relentlessly squandering every cent in protection today and not even knowing if there would be a tomorrow. 

This is a test for which we were never prepared because we simply chose to ignore the subject. Every life comes with a death sentence. And time and paleontolgists have proven that every species comes with a death sentence too. In our conqest of this miniature ball of lava cloistered inside layers of soil, we have long forgotten our beginnings, and long surpassed our ration of space. We have invaded every piece of inhabitable land, not knowing that we are just marking time on what we had already. We are so deeply engrossed in our cacophony, that we never as much as careen towards the inevitable.

Mythology and fables and seeing our loved ones depart this life have made us accept the immediate truth of life not being everlasting. However, our dumbfounded principles and conceit still buttress us to keep producing more and more progeny to ostensibly take our legacy forward. However, one thing that we were never taught, was that we as a species are also not going to last forever. We have become a futile and inefficient species. Even with a 5% annual population growth our collective GDPs are not growing. Partially because we have stagnated the world that we inherited and partly because our machinery is now worn out. Even with our countless recent breakthroughs, there have been no pathbreaking discoveries and inventions like the fire, incandescent bulb or the difference engine. We were never good at emancipating other species, but the whole promise of humans promulgating and stamping their superiority was upliftment of ourselves. The world continues to become more disparate with the only empathy residing in "Humans of XXX" pages. Our NGOs are money laundering outlets, our egalitarian initiatives are a PR campaign or a favour to the governance, and our concern for the environment is because it's mandatory to be considered a part of the bourgeoisie. 

Coming to the conclusion, we were taught about how our end would look like. We had the World War Zs, Alien takeovers, Zombie apocalypses and what not. But this end, would be something we were never prepared for. We are likely to have a brief resurrection with everyone making amends and industries thriving and reaching peak outputs. We would also have a newly found élan wherein everyone would piece together a recovery like none other. But deep down inside, these lockdowns, these battered days of forlornly and asinine existence, have invoked either a complete disregard for the establishment, or an irresistible carpe diem. These two combined, would soon compete or collude, and fester into such an unpredictable collective behaviour that would decimate whatever logic and structure that exists today. This time our test subjects are not going to be rats or Orangutans. This time we are the test subjects of multiple social, chemical, mechanical, economic and psychological experiments that would ensue from how the different controlling stakeholders of the world choose to react to this. This time we are not appearing for a test which any textbook, classroom training or even practical experience taught has taught us. This time, we're treading roads that are not even there, with our actions based on philosophies that are not even made. This time, it is the test of our lives, for our lives, for our species. It is one which we would collectively appear for. And guess what, the test is out of syllabus! 

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Festooned defeats!

Over the last 18 months, a lot has changed. The country has made another attempt at sending a probe on the moon. A few more industrialists turned money swindling diablos escaped the laws of the land. A few celebrities married, a few are now feeling cocooned in someone else's arms. Think of it, a person lying in a comatose state for the last 18 months would wish they never woke up. 18 months is a lot of time for a lot to change. A lot.

I'm writing this post after defeating a writers' block that lasted a whopping 18 months. I have not only lost all the grip on my words, but I'm also unable to glean over my own thoughts. I have also lost a lot over the last 18 months. None of this is tangible and one tangible thing I wished I lost was some kilos. Nevertheless, a lot has been lost. My nascent wizardry with words, my ability to churn stories out of the obvious, my avidity for fitness, the voracity for reading and even my blog domain name! Yes, I lost that too, and I lost it to some Ukrainian porn site. Imagine! 

While world moved on from blogging to microblogging to quotes on instagram, there is a part of my identity that flustered beneath the bulwarks of my character which lead me alive out of my daily dalliance with entropy. Like a recluse, I kept getting institutionalised day in and out, thinking this is what I actually signed up for so why not. And now suddenly, I find myself gandering at the panelist's face when they ask me to tell something about myself. All I can recall is the grades, the bold numbers buttressing my menial achievements and a few standard quotidian verses which even the other party knows to be a face, but I stuff them in their mouths nevertheless.

So what's the whole point of this post? First of all, please notice our new blog domain name. It's Royal Ramble, with shameless and incongruous inspiration taken from the annual Royal Rumble. Though this blog is going to be no less chaotic as well as useless, but yes the derivation is both delirious and deplorable, but so what? So yes, we will always start with ramblings and then come to the point, which you must have been able to gauge by now, for this post, if you're still reading this, you sore loser! 

It amazes me how every single day, I convinced and connived myself into sugarcoating the paltry achievements at workplace and life, while I kept losing a new battle for keeping my identity alive. Identity! It all boils down to the identity of an individual. That's the only thing that matters and the only thing that cannot be insured. 

Our identity is our trademark quintessential all authentic all veracious blueprint. Of all the zillions and permutations and combinations of the decision making junctures that you had, it was one unique set of decisions and choices that brings you down to your current miserable state. So that is the only thing completely unique about you. But what if you end up gaining control of everything else in your life - your finances, your career progression, your short and long term plans, the make of the shoe rack you never really needed; but ended up surrendering control over your own identity? Don't think much because that's what you're doing!

<Insert random quote here>


In every moment of conceit that you live in your life, right from the cracking of coconuts on the hood of your new car to the envy of your repugnant smirking neighbours to the appreciation mail from your manger, there is a defeat enshrouded in the open murder of a facet of your identity. No matter how big an introvert you are, you will bask in the glory of the appreciation mail. No matter how much you lampoon capitalisation for destruction of the environment, you'll still end up buying that car. Every achievement in the open, is innately designed to annihilate an original figment of your provenance and your persona. Why? Because that's how you fit in.

We're all essentially benign outliers when we begin our long waited journeys to success. Then there is an elaborate assembly line, where our malleability and ductility help shape up the next picture perfect cogs and sprockets in the corporate machinery. If we continue to remain an outlier, the sampling process throws us out. On the other hand, if we bid good riddance to our natural rebellious all questioning demeanour, congratulations, you've made it big. And then what?

Ahoy! There begins that phase of evolution where lunatics and the depraved are shovelled into the dungeons of oblivion and the precipices of human progress are put in charge for the next cycle. You turn from the psychedelic schmucks to state of the art idols. On the other hand, you turn from apogees of self awareness to the clueless malingerers. You never realise the latter because the glitter of the short term mirth is too inundating to see the smouldering ruins of your own selves, with your identity festering and fading beneath the hoopla of your accomplishments. And every such accomplishment is adorned and cherished, and so is every eternal defeat to no one but your own self. And yet, it goes on, until yet another identify melts into the myriad of our collective human superiority. A zillion permutations and combinations fizzling into just another brick in the wall. 



Saturday, 31 March 2018

A literal loss of words...

Opportunities to write are becoming an increasingly rare privilege for me. It is not merely a writers' block or the lack of leisurely time. It is in fact apprehension; and a rather dumbfounded one, but an apprehension nonetheless. Of late, I've been getting this mortifying feeling, of being denuded of words. There is a lot that I feel like expressing and there are still those limited modes of expression. So while writing still sits at the apex of the list, here I am, finding myself at a literal loss of words.

A lot has changed in my life over the last couple of months and as I prattle and meander through this quarter life crisis, the speed of change continues to wreak rampage. It seems as if change has accelerated exponentially. Over a span of a month, I'm not able to observe the pages turn, but over a year, the very book has been rendered derelict. Last 3 years have seen more change than the last 9 for me. And my loss of words, is largely attributed to this inexorable panache of change.
It took my family 15 years to graduate from a CRT color TV to an LCD and not even 5 to switch from the latter to an LED. Likewise, it took my home 20 years to graduate from a landline to a polyphonic tune based frugal looking cellphone, while it took barely a year to switch from 3G to LTE. You must be thinking I'm going to prescribe the usual technology bickering, but my loss of words is only partly predicated to that. It's a result of something else.

In this ever changing world, what petrifies me is putting myself in context. As a human being when I imagine my great great grandfathers, who would have been nomads, ferreting for pastures and hunting prey, they were largely driven by the basic human needs. In fact as children even we were sensitized to the fulfillment of the basic paraphernalia - Roti, Kapda and Makaan! But of late, things seem to have changed.

Suddenly, at the helm of everything, is the need of fitting in. While the slang Fear of Missing Out (#FOMO) is no longer the heirloom of rebellious revanchists and is in fact a part of the mainstream culture, this fear is actually much more deep rooted than we can imagine. Our actions are no longer dictated by what we were taught or by what we always believed to be the truth. In fact, our actions are now solely driven by the vagaries of the social fabric. 

About a decade and a half ago, when Orkut and some nascent social media platforms were prevalent and text messaging didn't allow anyone to see you, even someone visiting your profile was such a profound event that Orkut kept a count of it. And here we are today, oblivious about what facet of our life is out in the open and what information we're unknowingly serving on the digital platter. In fact we're so absorbed by the appeal of proclamation, that concerns of privacy are now only limited to privacy settings and 2 factor authentication.

We're taking pictures not with the intent of preserving a moment, but with the intent of making sure it is shared. We're using a hashtag, no matter how incongruous it is, just to prove that we're not luddites and that we're a part of the clan as well. We send whatsapp messages and are on groups, just to feed that sense of belongingness. Most of the correspondence or most of the content we're exposed to, is not of any use to us, but yet we chose to filter through it, instead of blocking the same. It is this insane amount of data that makes me feel helpless. 

We, the Homo Sapiens, might have come really far and might have accomplished unprecedented feats on our sojourn, but we're still made of flesh and bone and not of silicon and solid state devices. While our systems upgrade from single to dual and quad cores, we still have one single cranium supporting one delicate kilogram of mass running the show of our lives. Simply put, I'm too afraid of all the communication that now controls my life.

Right from the beep of the alarm till the final scroll through Facebook feed, it seems like we're not the ones in control, but we've surrendered it to what we now believe to be the supreme commander. Every few years, some piece of technology takes over mankind, but cellphones, while they're used for facilitation of some job, are used by everyone alike.

While the working class needs smartphones, you'd find it even with the most idle fellow on the street. He is not using it for accomplishing any task, but such is the appeal of technology's inextricable illusion of social circles, that even he is welcomed. Just by joining Facebook or Instagram, even this fainéant forays into this virtual world where he is given an identity. Truth be told, he or that 5 year old school going toddler still don't have an identity. But this manifestation in a social circle, and this certificate of existence are the most important identity ever. 

This crotchety change will only intensify with time. Same people are on multiple platforms, all allowing seamless movement of data. Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and Snapchat have all the same stories, tailored for different crowds, suited to different tastes. There would have been a time when you were not obliged to prove that you're happy, but now you are! 

They say change is the only constant, but here, we're compelled to change for pleasure, rather than changing to combat adversity, which otherwise has been the hallmark of human progress. Entropy, the agent of change, used to make us adapt by forcing us to learn new ways of tackling some nettlesome chagrining situation. But entropy today is the massive obligation of trying to fit in, and it just makes us succumb to the art of putting considerable effort in fitting in. 

I was just never prepared for this onslaught. I have been through gargantuan personal and professional upheavals in the past and I didn't wither, but this speed of change, and this ever piling weight of extraneous obligations, is facetious enough to knock out the wits. Suddenly, the sound that the pen made over the chasms of paper as I wrote, is replaced by tick of the keys on the keypad. I couldn't undo what I wrote on paper alright, but suddenly I can't write anymore what I once could have. Such is my literal loss of words...