Saturday, January 29, 2011

Of human bondage

Emotional attachment is what differentiates humans from most other living beings. We tend to develop a sense of bonding with people around us, right from childhood. We become attached to people we meet in the family, at schools & colleges, work places etc. The number of bonds increase with time, as we meet new people and the existing bonds grow deeper. Psychology tells us that this attachment is a human need and that we cannot live alone all by ourselves.

There may be several reasons for which people need these kinds of attachments. Attachments create a kind of trust in the person to whom we are attached – much like the way we undoubtedly assume that a beautiful girl is also very good at heart. The belief that we have a lot of friends and relatives gives us emotional and social security. We feel comforted that we have people with whom we can share our joys and sorrows, and seek help in times of need. We turn to them for direction and guidance when we have to make decisions. We turn to them for support when we feel low in life and share things with them when we are happy. And we believe that people help us selflessly, just because we are their friends/ relatives.

I have always believed that this bondage is the most beautiful thing in the world - the feeling that tied me to people around me, that gave me happiness when they were happy, that pulled me down when they were suffering, that made me think of their problems as my own and attempt to figure out solutions. It is this bonding that made me actively participate {interfere, rather} in others lives and advise them many times, even when they have not asked for it. All that I wanted was to make things easy for my near and dear ones. I wanted to share things I learned and help them avoid mistakes I have already made. I feel that there is no good in each one making the same mistakes, each generation should at least progress to make new mistakes rather than repeat the ones of the old. There was a sense of responsibility I felt and tried to help in my own way.

I wouldn't say that I have been living my life entirely for others. I have my own dreams and ambitions to pursue, but when my dreams came in the way of relations, I tried to be accommodative. And of course, there were trade offs I had to make in terms of time and other things. I never grudged because, as far as I knew, the bonding is what made life worthy and I derived happiness in being of help to others.

I had an idealized view that people should be selfless in relations. But the realization came as I started to understand the true need of attachments for most people. It came soon, and came more than once - to reinforce the learning - from people who want to cash in on my attachment, to people who want to save their professional networks by giving me an advise that they themselves did not believe in. And so, I realized that for most people these attachments are a means to achieve their goals, professional or personal. When I realized that the people I held very dear to my heart are not angels and wouldn't mind using me up if they needed, the bonds broke. All those attachments I nourished and cherished, all those attachments in which I found happiness, all those attachments that limited me vanished into thin air. I started feeling detached from people and the world.

I don't think it will be very difficult for me to take this. I love myself the most and I have a feeling that I am born to do some great things. This detachment is only helping me to shed the useless luggage I have been carrying so far in my walk towards my goal. In fact, it has made things a lot easier for me now. I am lucky that the lesson came soon, for, it would have been very difficult to take it at a later date. As we age, our thinking becomes rigid and we loose the ability to assimilate new learnings. Our heart will not want to accept things even if the mind sees them as clear as a day.

Trying to achieve your goals is fine as long as you work for them. But trying to use friends and relatives to achieve your means tantamounts to misusing the trust bestowed upon you. It makes your goals meaner, even if they are the most noble goals.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Old friends

Meeting old friends is a very refreshing experience, especially after you realise that the friendship and solidarity hasn't changed a bit even after a long time. I was lucky to meet one this weekend, my B.Tech classmate, room neighbour and close friend.

I met him first at Sarayu, our first year hostel at Madras. His room was one room away from mine. After the first introductions, I realised that he was more or less like me, a calm going guy with a modest background. We struck a chord, and though we belonged to different departments and studied different subjects, we talked regularly. It was from him that I got to know the names of most professors from other departments, the happenings in the class rooms and even got the material for course work I had to do in the second semester.

If you were asked about a friend from your past, there would definitely be one or two characteristic traits that you would distinctly remember about him/her – a thing or two they said in the first meeting or something about them that captures your attention. When I think of him, there are two such traits that immediately come to my mind. First one is the meticulous way in which he did things. He is simply perfect. From engineering drawings to lab reports, the way he did them left me amazed. Till then I had a feeling that I was good at doing things neatly but he showed me what I needed to learn. He introduced me to extra dark pencils (2B,4B etc.),the ideal way of submitting reports etc. The second thing is the neatness of his room. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that finding a speck of dust in his room was difficult. It was always clean and neat and gave a nice feel whenever I walked in.

Second year moved us to different hostels, but the association continued. Getting to a regular hostel introduced us to computers, and we, who were reading novels or playing cricket to pass time started discussing about processors and hard disks. He was my technology guru. From installing Windows to CD burning software, I consulted him for everything. Even when people from computer science told me what was good, I looked up to this chemical engineer for the final word. Again, he introduced me to the 1GB pen drive, virtual DVD drive etc. He experimented a lot with computers, and reinstalled the operating system every now and then. I wonder why he did not move to Linux.

Even though I had many good friends by second year, he is the first one with whom I shared the most important things in life. Some of my friends still taunt me that I went all the way to Jamuna from Tapti to tell him something that they got to know two years later. I don't know if sharing problems with friends solved them or not, but it definitely made me feel better and calm. It gave me solace, that this guy from the city was listening to a villager and giving his perspective. In short, he was my safe-locker, where I could lock in all my troubles and worries.

After graduation, we parted ways. He took up a job in Bangalore, and I moved from place to place, Hyderabad to Chennai to Bangalore. Though we stayed in touch through occasional emails, his office timings made it difficult for him to be seen online, and he effectively disappeared from the online social networks for the last two and half years. We met just once after college, at a friend's wedding, where we couldn't find much time to talk to each other. Though I was in Bangalore since the last one year, I couldn't meet him.

Finally, his job shift brought a welcome change and he started being active online. It did not take me long to find out his phone number, talk to him and know where he lived. I went to his home this Saturday, met him and talked my heart out. After the “how are you doing” talk, we discussed about college days and a few things that mattered to me. I knew that it was not difficult for me to talk to him about things, but I realised how good it felt only after I started back home. The same warmth and the same maturity of thought when he explained things. I realised that nothing changed with respect to our friendship, and even the characteristic traits that defined him. His room is as clean as it was back in college, and he is still using Windows.

Some friendships are like rain that drenches you when you are thirsty. But some friendships are like plants. They grow slowly and silently, with the change unnoticeable on a day to day basis. After a while you look with wonder at the tree standing tall and firm beside you, offering you its shade and protection for the rest of your life!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


After six months of life in Bangalore, here are a few things that I miss the most.

  1. The Chennai sun and the heat

  2. Coffee @ Hot Chips

  3. Honda Shine 125 cc

  4. Venkatanarayana Road

  5. Sambar Idly

  6. Ranganathan Street

  7. Teammates at Emmeskay

  8. Berth 035, S6, 7043-Circar Express

  9. Meals @ Rathna Cafe

  10. Lord Anjaneya's temple, Nanganallur

  11. RC 108, Vodafone

  12. Chennai Egmore Railway Station

  13. Breakfast @ Tifanys

  14. Tairsadam (Curd rice)

  15. Badminton Matches at Office

  16. Besant Nagar Beach

  17. Murugan Idly

  18. Hindi Prachar Sabha Street

  19. Andhra Mess

  20. IC Engines Lab, IIT Madras

  21. Satyam Multiplex

  22. IITM LAN

  23. Emmkays Super Market

  24. Gajendra Circle

  25. Gurunath and Moserbaer DVDs @ Rs 13

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Piled Higher and Deeper

Long time since last post. My apologies.

The news not-so-new: I have joined the Indian Institute of Science for a PhD in aerospace engineering. It has been more than three months since I became a student again, and in this post, I would like to summarize the events in my life since I started working.

Two years of corporate life was good. In fact, I enjoyed it thoroughly, along with all the shocks and shakes it offered. Right from formally dressed business consulting at one of the big four to casual campus like life as a technical consultant, I liked it all. 'Like' not in the literal sense of it, but for the lessons learned at those places.

I took up my first job as if it was another team project at college. It did not take me long to realize that corporate world was nothing like college. Team mates and seniors were not like the ones I saw at IC engines lab at IITM. Every one had his own interests and did not care to hurt others feelings and even trample others careers to advance their own. Of course it was painful, but taught me a good lesson when it came to dealing with people. I learned to start with no expectations when it comes to professional dealings.

But there were good things as well, that my first job gave me. I learned the importance of networking and how important it was to stay connected with people. The best thing was the financial freedom it brought along. Not that I lived in dire poverty till then, but I have this feeling of independence and the belief that if I want to drive a bike, I should be able to earn for petrol myself. Once I joined office, not only did I buy a bike and went around Hyderabad, but was also able to pursue reading which I liked most. My weekend pilgrimages ranged from Himalaya Book Depot in Punjagutta, Hyderabad to Visaalandhra in Arundalpet, Guntur.

Six months into job, I realized that what ever I was learning was like the icing on cake. However, the cake was missing. There was no field or area of business in which I could claim experience nor any useful tool that I could master. I started feeling suffocated. Lucky that the tipping point, the event which made me decide to move out came early. And so, after eight months of business analysis, I moved back to a core job in Chennai and started to bake the cake.

I approached my second job with all the pessimism acquired from the first one. It did not take me long to realize that I was wrong. The people here were angels, in the literal sense. Every one, including the managers were very friendly and good, that I started feeling as if it was college again. Till then, I could never imagine an office that had such a good work culture and people that were excellent human beings. And there was a clear demarcation between work and personal life. Getting back to Chennai was another big advantage. Firstly, it had Insti, the place where I studied for four years. Secondly, it was the kind of place that suited me best – temples, vegetarian hotels, Moore market for books and beyond all, hot sun that never let me catch cold. I got time to read all the books I bought in Hyderabad and to visit juniors and friends in Insti.

This job gave me all that I could ask for. It gave me a good feel of automobile technology which I like so much, great friends to play badminton in the evenings, money to spend, and more importantly, time to pursue my hobbies, time to go home once a month and attend friends' marriages. But sometimes, good times come to an end too soon. Recession made things hard and I had to start thinking again of what to do next. So, I came back to do what I like the most, studying.