Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I am at that stage of my life where I am finally giving up on idealism. Yes, those same ideals that were so clear in my mind as a kid like “Don’t lie” “Don’t cheat” “Don’t bribe” “Don’t copy”.

I admit that at many moments I have resorted to breaking these same ideals. But at all those times I felt really guilty & resolved never to break them again. However stories like this that happen so regularly, have been regular hits to the well defined ideals. So now these ideals have become weak & may soon succumb to more practical & selfish concerns.

Probably from now on I will break all those ideals with impunity, without guilt, & with a sense of satisfaction that I have been able to become one up on all those sincere fools. My only concern will be not to get caught. Yes why not? Why do we stay in an illusion that people are there out to help each other? This is a competitive world. Why should I care for anyone? I have my own selfish concerns. At least I will be following a cause I believe in. At least I will not be having unpractical ideals which I break from time to time to suit the situation. Who knows? Maybe that is the right approach to take.

And I cannot continue because I feel sick right now.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I am confused. I really am.

How am I supposed to behave with people?

How should I behave with a person from metros? How should I behave with people from villages or small towns? What will be important while talking to foreigners? How should I behave with relatives? How should my attitude be towards girls? What about my immediate family? What about close friends? Or people who are just acquaintances? How should I behave with complete strangers? Should I adapt my behaviour according to rich or poor? Boss or subordinate? Powerful & Powerless? Age?

Answers to some of these questions are obvious. But I still feel it is important to write them down. These questions always trouble me. As a kid I was also exposed to the different classes that exist in the world- the races, castes, nationalities & genders. However I was taught the concept of equality & the importance of treating everyone with equal respect. I embraced the equality concept as at that time it seemed simple, logical & appropriate. However over time the concept has evolved based on the kind of experiences I’ve had in my life. I have come to realize that people are essentially different. Everyone is unique. A person’s identity cannot be completely defined by his/her caste, gender, race or any such category. And I believe doing that is an insult to his/her individuality.

So how does one behave with people? I have identified six approaches that we could use:

1. The equality approach: This approach as its name suggests implies that we consciously behave similarly with different people. We do not adapt according to what we know of them. First we define a set of rules (acceptable & desired behaviour) we wish to follow. Then we behave accordingly with everybody. This approach doesn’t factor in the uniqueness people have. But at the same time this approach also does not differentiate based on any criteria. This approach follows the concept of equality in its true sense & is completely rigid about it.

2. The individualistic approach: The individualistic approach in total contrast to the equality approach completely factors all uniqueness a person has. It takes into account all minor details in the person’s personality. We behave completely based on the unique subtleties in the individual. This again is a very rigid approach.

3. The category approach: This is the very approach that evokes strong emotions from many quarters. This approach will involve stereotyping people according to their category like caste, gender etc. We behave based on predefined prejudices we have about a person.

4. The flexible approach: Having sampled three rigid approaches, we find out what is this flexible approach. Basically this approach will use any of the equality, individualistic & category approaches based on requirement. At any point of time we evaluate the options of using equality, individualistic or category approaches & based on requirement use the appropriate. We could also use a mix of these three approaches at any point of time.

5. The mindless approach: All the above approaches involved some thinking based on some rules. This approach differs from them in this very aspect. We don’t think, we feel. Our behaviour is then not governed by rules. Rather we behave based on what our heart says. Thus this approach is completely random in its nature.

6. Personal approach: In the personal approach you behave based on the level of intimacy or closeness we have with the person. This approach could be confused with the individualistic approach. In individualistic approach you behave according to how much you “know” about the person. In personal approach you behave according to how “important” is that person in your life.

The approaches are not mutually exclusive. We could be following more than one approach at a time.

The equality approach was what I used to naively believe in when I was a kid. The whole pointlessness of this approach would be obvious to most people. In spite of being pointless, this approach is idealistic. And being idealistic, one will get a sense of pride while following this approach. But yes the approach is not practical. You cannot possibly behave similarly with a person trying to kill you & your elder sister’s baby boy unless you are Mahatma Buddha.

The individualistic approach is another ideal which is difficult to follow. Considering all details about an individual for any small interaction again is not practical. Also it is not possible to get to know a person well before we start interacting with him/her on a regular basis.

In spite of me despising the category approach, it does serve some practical purpose. Knowing about a person’s nationality, gender & other background is a good start to get to know more about him/her. Stereotypes & predefined prejudices do have some role to play, though a person’s caste & to some extent religion are loosing any relevance in modern India.

The flexible approach is what is followed most of the times. This approach is a safe way of navigating the behavioural waters. We use whatever is apt for the moment. This approach could also be termed as the practical approach. I admit I’ve been following this approach most of the times. But I soon get sick of the artificial & opportunistic nature of such an approach.

The mindless approach could also be termed as the heart approach or the random approach. At times when I have got disillusioned with the flexible approach, I decided that I wouldn’t control my behaviour. In those times I used to get thoughts like “I will say whatever I feel” “I will not cloak my emotions/thoughts to suit others preferences”. In the process I end up ruffling many feathers. In that sense this is a pretty dangerous approach to follow.But the sense of freedom while following such an approach is good. This approach is also a lot less taxing on the brain as there are no rules to be followed.

I’m sure a majority of people would be following the personal approach other than certain saints & sages who have reached a level of consciousness where they are close to everything yet far from everything. And I am also sure that this approach would be used in combination with other approaches.

So what is the answer? Should I become the idealist? Should I become the practical guy? Should I not worry about all this & just follow what my heart says? Where does the answer lie?

Friday, November 04, 2005

My money - Our Money

So I didn’t go home this Diwali. But when I do go home these days, I feel sort of disconnected from my family. Everything is so much changed. Everything is done to please me, as if I am a guest. The first two days are spent realigning myself with the lifestyle I had about 3 yrs ago as I myself am not able to come to terms that my life in this house is as good as over. I will be outside this home from now on, roaming around all the big cities in India & abroad, because of the career I have chosen for myself. This is the reality & I guess the sooner I come to terms with it, the better it will be for me. But my heart doesn’t seem to understand. Wherever I go, wherever I stay, I feel it is but temporary. There are some imaginary strings or bonds which extend right from Mumbai to Vizag which remind me that I actually belong there & not here.

But the most disturbing development is that now I have my own money that is not a part of the family money. To understand this you will have to understand how our family regarded money. In our home we used to always have this concept where all the money was everyone’s. We were never given any pocket money. As we grew to about 10 yrs of age, we were free to use the money stored in the almirah whenever there was any need. But we had to give complete information on all the money we spent later. Somehow given all this freedom to use the money, we never spent foolishly. We were always careful with the money we spent. After all this was our money too. When I started earning in a sort of a part time job there, I never thought of the money I earned to be something of my own. The thought process went like this – The only use of the money will be when it will be spent. If I have found something important or valid to spend on, I will anyway get the money to spend from the collective money. If something I wanted to spend money on was later proven to be not valid, even I myself would not like to spend money on it. Almost all our non regular spending was done by mutual consensus as a family. Sometimes we even stopped Papa from purchasing something’s when we thought that it was a waste of money.

So now I am earning money in Mumbai & I don’t know where it is valid & where it is not valid to spend it. I have been asked not to send money & to find my own ways of spending & investing if the need be. I am on my own now. I know that with the training I’ve got, I am not going to spend it foolishly, but what disturbs me is that now since I’ve started earning, I seem to be not anymore a part of my family. I know Dad that you do not need my money, but I don’t understand how this money is mine, and how all the money you earned was ours.

I guess staying away for so many years does take its toll.