Sunday, July 29, 2012


This is the only excuse I have, for being absent-minded and forgetful and uncaring, most of the time.

Click on the image to enlarge

Read Between Friends Comics by Sandra Bell-Lundy.
Read Sandra's Blog.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In truth, the journey is irrelevant, except to yourself

Whatever said and done, all philosophies of the world notwithstanding, what matters is the result.

If you are successful, no one really cares how. You got there. Let the congratulations pour in.
If you fail, no one really cares what you tried, or what you learned, or what services you rendered to others on the way. You didn't get there. That's all.

What matters is: did you reach, or not.

Perhaps that's why they say the end justifies the means. As long as the end is attained (or even if it isn't), no one really bothers about the means.

What matters is the result...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Changes and Patterns

I had forgotten how receptive I was to change. 
How I used to welcome it with open arms.
How I, even when terrified of what I was getting into, would embrace the simple fact that there was going to be a Change.
How I had struggled against myself when a part of me, the coward, wished to return to its well-known security and the other, the explorer, refused to succumb. How the latter eventually won. And how, sometimes, I let the coward win.
How I had delighted at the prospect of seeing, hearing and sensing the unknown. The delight I now see in my son's eyes when there is something New in life. A new toy. Or the magic words, Let's go out for a walk. Let's go for a movie. Let's play something new. Let's make a new kind of paper plane.
The way his eyes light up when I utter, "Why don't we..."
A Change from Routine.
Maybe that spark - the eager wait for Change, the excitement of facing the unknown - dies with age.

Now the very sighting to the horizon of an alteration to life's pattern sends me close to panic fits. 
I do not know how I got here... The coward begins to get her way more than usual. The explorer is burned out, from the fatigue of a million efforts.

I may despise my routine, but I fear change even more.
I may be tired of doing the same chores, seeing the same things, living the same life. But I am petrified of the unknown.
Unless the unknown were the much-awaited, much thought-of, much-imagined, but yet-unattained Dream. 
The Dream does have its routine.
An expected arrival of an unexpected destination.
The order in the Chaos.

I dream again.
Of patterns in dreams.
Of changes in routines.
Of the routine in changes.

The only option left to me is the only one I know. 
Take a deep breath, and let go. Come what may. 
Float, without trying to swim.
Live, without resisting.

And yet, the possibility of Change never ceases to terrify me.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Walking to learn

Like two children
Learning to walk,
Fallen trees in the path,
Thorns in the trail;
Walking in the dark.

Holding their hands
Drawing them ahead.
Through slush and mud
And fire and wind,
Walking to learn.

The fire burns within...
When the journey's done,
The darkness is past,
They've learned to walk,
It's time to let go.

The walk was fun,
It's now time to run.
Separate ways, other trails,
Out of reach,
But within earshot.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What if your heart came with a fixed expiry date...

What would have happened if the human heart was manufactured with a definite expiry date on it?
Some do say it already is - it's just different for each individual and none of us can actually read the date.

But my question is, what if the life duration was the same for all ??
What if each heart could beat for say, seventy-two years, three months, five weeks and twenty hours.
And on the last minute, it just stops beating. Piff! And we're gone.

What if the heart cannot be stopped by any means natural or artificial - the human will not die until the heart stops even if he is bleeding incessantly, or his brain is crushed, or poison has entered his heart, he will be alive because his heart does not fail any time before its time is up. The person may go into a coma - coma is allowed. But no death.

Don't ask me why. Because that's how it is.
I know, letting imagination veer a little off the path of reason, and all that.
But let's continue.

First of all, the moment this ultimate truth was figured out, mankind would have invented the most important tool since the wheel and fire - the Heart clock. The Heart clock (or watch) is obviously unique for each individual, and at any moment will show the time remaining in his life. It begins at seventy-two years, three months, five weeks and twenty hours (72:03:05:20) and runs backwards to zero.

"Age" will have a new meaning altogether, and instead of saying "I am twenty years old" one would say "I am minus fifty-two years old" or something - which means he or she has fifty-two more years to live.

There will be a huge division in Cardiology consisting of people exploring ways to extend the life of the human heart, doing experiments with rats and other lesser beings - and also secretly exhuming dead human bodies and tearing their hearts out to see how it works. All human efforts to transplant an old heart with a younger one and thus achieve immortality have failed miserably, mostly because none of the younger people were ready to donate their hearts before their time was up. Not to speak of it totally complicating things, with a running heart outside a living body.

The trials to extend life continue. Nobel prizes have been showered on scientists who unearthed the reasons behind this fixed lifetime phenomenon of the human heart. Some have arrived at theories and formulae on how to extend the heart life. But nothing have been achieved in reality.

A group of people have formed a cult that believes the human heart will function for long if taken outside the planet. Scientists who support this theory claim that a person who visited space has had his heart life extended. When the man died, there were controversies surrounding his birthdate (some said the date on his birth certificate was fake), so nothing could be established. Discussions are on to send another person to space, whose birthdate is non-controversial, and who is minus three or five months old in his Heart clock. However it seems highly likely that by the time the arrangements and formalities are through, his time will be up.

Meanwhile, some are involved in making commercial spaceships that can carry people on a trip through space to extend their lives. No one knows if it will work, but it's always worth a try. After all, business is business, and clever marketing still sells. People are ready to pay any price for a seat in the ship. There is also an underground movement involving VIPs from powerful nations to create luxury living conditions on another planet, but it is all hush-hush at the moment.

The rashness level of the planet is sky-high, because no one is afraid of death - in fact, no one ever knew what Fear of Death was - and they fly their motor bikes or sports cars over the roads without much danger to themselves or others. The only thing that hovers above the rashness level, is the carelessness level. With no Fear, the concept of being careful has no reason to exist. In fact the words 'careful' & 'careless' do not figure in the human vocabulary. Neither does the word 'Murder'.

When a guy proposes to a girl he would say, "Every moment of my remaining forty-nine years, six months, two weeks and three-and-a-half hours will be dedicated to keeping you happy." Obviously a lot of proposals are turned down because the time remaining in a person's life is too less for a long and happy married life.

No one can commit suicide. The best they can do is commit comacide, but they may find that skilled doctors can bring them back from coma too soon, so the whole exercise could turn out to be a waste of everybody's time.

There are nursing homes where those in coma can wait till their life time is over, without troubling those that are leading normal heart lives.

More important than yearly birthdays are the mid-life day, quarter-life day and three-quarters-life day, which are celebrated with invitations sent to the whole neighbourhood.

One of the subjects taught in school would be Life Planning - how to plan your life, and do the maximum possible before death, how to plan and choose your career, and make the best out of it for yourself and generations to come. And how not to panic. Of course that is an important lesson, and there will be end-life consultants who help you deal with the panic during the last days of your life. From childhood you'll repeat after your teacher the magic number: seventy-two years, three months, five weeks and twenty hours.

People prepare their wills about a week before their death. They also get to finalise their gravestone carvings and designs on their coffins, and so forth. Death certificates serve no purpose.

The heart slows down in the last weeks of its existence, and people show tiredness and exhaustion. Of course they all know what it means.

Photos and videos are taken on the last moment of each person's life, to record each death. People spend their last days knowing they are in their last days. The Heart clock will be rewound and kept ready for the next birth in the family, or donated to a poor man who does not own a Heart clock of his own.

Any thoughts on what you would do on your last day?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Why go out at all?

The last time I went out, I caught sight of a new library a few kilometres from where I live.

Before I go any further, there are a couple of things I need to clarify: 'The last time I went out' was at least a month ago, if not two (I can barely remember); and the 'new' library could have opened three or four years ago - speaks volumes about how frequently I tour the neighbourhood.

Anyway, the view of the passing library stocked with books and more books reminded me that it was years since I stepped into a book lending library. It also reminded me of something I wanted to do for a long time - register at a popular online library here in Bangalore. I came back and did that, and reserved a couple of books I had wanted to read. They were delivered the next day.

Thus the library became one more place I used to go out to, that now arrives at my door. To think that somewhere in the periphery of our memory, there still exist dusty, book-smelling libraries we used to walk into, long queues we stood in patiently to pay bills, book stores we frequented to feel the rustle of fresh paper in our hands, hotels we visited to taste food we loved, shops we pushed our way into to buy our monthly provisions, wooden tables and chairs we sat in to run our pen over papers and files, ...

They still exist in the world, of course, but it is easy to imagine a day when none of these would.

When Amazon came into existence, it was called the largest bookstore without a single book in it. It took me a while to understand what that meant.

I now pay all my bills online. A few of the bills I get by post, many arrive by email. When I need provisions, I call up the supermarket and within an hour I get everything in my hands. One day when my son needed a new pencil box, the boy from the shop brought two different types to my house for him to choose from.

For almost two years I have been working from home solely through email, using online whiteboards for discussions, online taskboards to track my work and Skype to chat with my colleagues.

In 2009, I published an anthology of stories and sold it through the Internet. Almost without taking a step outside my door - 'almost', because I did visit a couple of stores in Bangalore at first, before realising that their vendors could be contacted and the entire transaction managed through phone or email.

My daily dose of fresh air reaches me when I step out to the gate - in the morning to see my son off in his school van and in the evening to receive him.

My son's school communicates with me through email or phone. I could skip the monthly Parent-Teacher meeting if I wish, and the teacher would call me on phone if required and update me on his progress.

Restaurants deliver food to the house, and there is a variety of food and places to choose from. One can buy dresses, books, CDs and even furniture through online stores - it's just a matter of choose-and-click. All the latest movies are available on DVD or through the digital TV. With the home theatre, one does not even miss the ambience of the real cinema - popcorn and nachos could be delivered at the door.

In short, the only reasons why I may need to step out of the door is to get a haircut or take money from the ATM. I don't see any change happening in the first in the near future, but I sometimes manage a home delivery of money by transfering funds to another's account and asking that account owner to bring it to me.

Do I ever wish to go out? I do, once in a while, though I would rather not. A few minutes of the heat, dust, unruly traffic, and a handful of disgusting experiences are enough to send me running back to my sanctuary.

The day is not far when schools will be extinct and children would study directly from online tutorials, and take online exams. Already offices ask personnel to work from home when required.

I don't think anyone who first envisioned the Internet dreamt that it would one day lead to solving traffic problems or fuel price hikes. People would soon not have to travel at all (except the ones who do the actual delivery - till a better method is devised), then how would there be traffic jams, and why would anyone need petrol?!

Those days are long gone when the whole world was within reach. Now when we knock on our own front door, the world opens it for us.