Monday, November 03, 2008

I, Sri Vallabha.

There has been a slack in my blogging activity and it took more than two months for this post to come out. I acknowledge this delay. When ever there is something that we all know, I feel that it is better to talk about it and clear up things, than keeping mum. This delay had been due to a few things. Till end of September I was busy preparing for GRE and TOEFL. And then, joblessness took over. {Don’t worry; I am not jobless in the literal sense, I have a job.} With applying to the US delayed for a year, and having finished GRE etc. I find myself free, so free that I am lost in confusion about how to use this free time. I have been trying to do many things, from learning flute to volunteering for Janaagraha, to blogging in Telugu to carrying out a few experiments in human psychology. Experiments which gave me valuable insights into how people from different academic and social backgrounds think. More about these in the next post.

In this post I would like to talk about my thought process and behaviour, something that interests me the most. I wish to explore the various phases it went through and how it matured to what it is today. Here it goes.

As a child, I was a bit naughty. Of course, all children are naughty. I never hesitated to make the fullest use of an opportunity for mischief. At school, these opportunities presented themselves in various forms: sitting in the last bench, lunch break, games period or a favourite teacher’s class. During these times, I was at my usual best, doing what I liked. Sitting in the last bench, I used to play pen-games during class hours. {There were two designs for a pen-gun. Competing with friends, I perfected both. Feel free to contact me for more information on pen-guns.} In sixth standard, during history class on one lazy afternoon, a misfire from my pen-gun sent the ‘bullet’ straight to the teacher from the last bench I was sitting in. May be he did not know how it came, or may be he did not know about pen-guns, the teacher left it at that, and I escaped punishment. At home, picking up a fight with my little sister was the easiest thing to do. Whenever I felt its time for some liveliness, I used to scare my sister or pull her pig tails and run away. Those chases felt more heroic than most of the ones I see in films today. Of course, if I was unlucky, I would get caught and receive a slap or two from my parents. Being a kid, I was not at all worried about the consequences of my actions. If I felt like doing something, I did it.

As I grew up, my understanding of the surroundings improved. I was able to think through and understand the consequences of an action. If I wanted to do something, I would think of what others would feel about it. During that time, ‘others’ comprised of my parents, teachers and my friends’ parents. Being a first ranker at school, I was supposed to be a good boy, who would conform to the norm. And I followed it religiously. This restrained me from being mischievous or being myself. When my friends would scale the school walls to pluck mangoes, I would stand outside - watching. Actually, I was uncertain of what was right or what was wrong, and how I should act.

This confusion and indecisiveness only increased with time. As I came to Hyderabad, to study at Ramaiah, the number of ‘others’ increased greatly. Now, apart from being a good boy for those back at Ponnur, I was also expected to conform to the opinions and expectations of people in Hyderabad - may it be my relatives or people I got to know through my uncle. Added to this was my poor academic performance during those days. I was doing badly at Ramaiah, and that made me withdraw into a shell; into a set of rules I framed for myself, hoping they would bring me success. I was not willing to watch movies, as good boys always focussed on studies. I remember one particular day when I waited at a theatre for an hour to get tickets for my uncle’s family. Despite their prodding, I refused to watch the movie myself, gave them tickets and went back home to study.

I am not very sure as to why I was so meticulous in following such things, but they gave me a sense of satisfaction, of doing the ‘right’ thing. It was not just about doing things I liked, it was also about things I felt wrong with other people. If someone did things I disliked, or hurt me with their caustic comments, I never replied back. I used to think of their comments and the possible repartees, but never had the desire to express myself. Some doubt that I might be wrong and they might be right prevented me from doing this. In this process, I had to sacrifice many things I liked, had to put up with that mental strain and had to calm down the surge of emotion at feeling insulted. In short, I was like a wax statue, moulding myself in the way people wanted to see me.

This kind of thinking didn’t leave me till my third semester at IITM. During the first year, I was the same introspective and cautious guy. In fact, even to play cricket in the hostel quadrangle, exams had to be as far as a month away. However, three semesters of life at IIT brought back the same old confidence I had as a kid. The sense of being capable; of doing things I liked, returned slowly. Of course, there was an event that triggered this. It made me understand that sitting and ruminating about the course of action will take me no where, and to at least get close to what I wanted; I need to take the plunge. And so I did something I liked, after a long time, in the October of 2005. Since then, I started being myself again. Never hesitating to enjoy those small pleasures that matter, either coffee in rain or badminton at night, or riding my bike @ 70kmph in city traffic. Of course, I know my limitations. I only did those things that did not trouble others.

Speaking my heart was a different story. In the process of expressing myself frankly, I hurt a few people; some who matter the most to me, and some I wish I had never met. With people who mattered, it was more of explaining myself, convincing them that I had my own ideas and beliefs too. Making them understand that I was right in my own sense was difficult, but a worthy exercise. And with people I wish I never met, it was more of an ego satisfaction. With their feeling of self importance and skewed sense of equality, they would subject me to unwanted trouble. Not being able to appreciate an idea is fine, but refusing to think, to use the brain that is given for the sole purpose of thinking is not fair. Dealing with such people had been and will be difficult. In such cases, I had and will have the last word and prove that I have a set of superior moral values or what ever. I have no regrets for doing this, because at the end of the day, all that matters is being at peace with myself than being a good boy to the wrong people.

Here is a way to explain all this behaviour. As a I kid, I did not know that there was something called a value system, and hence did not care about right or wrong. As I grew up to be a teenager,I knew of its existence, but was not sure as to what it comprised of. The cognizance of its existence made me cautious in my actions. I did not want to cross the line, but did not know where the line was. Now, having lived for more than 20% of my life, my value system is approximately 80% complete.{I am just applying the Pareto's principle.} And hence I act, in accordance with my value system and live at peace with myself.

I, Sri Vallabha mean what I say, speak my heart and do what I feel is right !


kris said...

nice post amma.clearly shows ur thought processes change over the course of 24 yrs. lets just hope that in trying to make ppl understand ur point of view you dont lose sight of theirs

Musings of a wanderer said...

Nicely written psychoanalysis of the
life so far. We need such retrospective introspection to move forward.

Mits said...

Please correct me if I am wrong, if by this long exercise, you meant that you would speak your heart and do what you feel is right? If so then I have a comment to make:
I see that through your experiences you have perceived answer to the second question, that is 'what', but let me ask you the first question, which is, 'why' do you want to be the way you want to be? The answer, that you have given, I see is to "live at peace with" yourself, i.e. to lead a life of no regrets.
How you exactly do it depends on you and may be affected by various factors including the very first comment on this very post :)
I think it is always important to know the answer to 'why' you do want to do something and then it would be good to know 'what' you would do and I am sure 'how' is then the most easiest part :)