Monday, October 02, 2006

A Touch of Sunset, A Book, and You

A lot of people have been very angry with me, for committing the blogger's primal sin: not blogging regularly. To those of you who still stubbornly continue visiting my blog, I offer my apologies. In all fairness, there's been a lot on my mind lately. This post might seem a bit depressing, but, honestly speaking, I'm not exactly bubbly right now.

At the tender age of 7, I became Napoleon.
My dad (always the farsighted one in the family) bought me a book detailing the lives of some famous historical personalities as a ploy to keep me quiet (I was a pretty restless kid). As for me, I promptly fell in love with the idea of conquering Italy, marrying Josephine and coronating myself.
Whee. You marry the girl and you get to conquer the world. What could be better than that? So I practised tucking my right hand inside my shirt and convinced myself that I looked suitably imperial.
For I was 7 years old, and I knew I was going to conquer the world one day.

In due course of time, I grew up (regrettably), acquired the external trappings of rote learning that pass for education in our country, struggled through school, struggled through college, until I finally found myself sitting in front of a computer, hammering out code for a software giant.

What happened to Napoleon?

We think about this for a moment, and then forget it all and stare at a beautiful sunset, Nature's beauty overwhelming our puny senses. We settle down, read a book, and feel at peace with the world.
And, as Scarlett put it so nicely, "tomorrow's another day".
And tomorrow passes its torch on to the day after, and year follows year, until we look back at a lifetime of regret and missed opportunities, and we sigh, knowing that though we've had a good life, it will be over soon, and nobody will ever know that we had ever existed.
This is the nirvana that most of us seem to crave, in thought and deed.

When do we accept the chains that bind us to mediocrity? At what age do we make a Faustian pact with the Devil, selling our conquering egos for 30 pieces of silver?
A few of us will become great programmers, some of us will become brilliant academicians, an insignificant minority among us will become the future business czars of tomorrow.
What about the rest?
What about the artists? The creators? The thinkers?
Will we ever produce the likes of Gandhi? Or will it be just another run-of-the-mill politician out to steal money from the rest of the country?
Will we ever produce another Tagore? Or will our proto-Tagore be buried under the avalanche of Chetan Bhagats being churned out of the Indo-Anglian assembly line?
What about Ghalib? Mozart? Michelangelo?
Or will the silent majority of us be content whiling away our mediocre lives, sacrificing our ambitions to the twin pressures of family and society?

History shall judge our generation by the casual manner in which we tossed out immortality and settled for the tiny things in life.
A beautiful sunset, a book, a bottle of wine.
A lovely house, a lovely wife, lovely children.
Lovely pieces of code being banged out everyday.
Beautiful theories being spun out of thin air, at major academic conferences.
Blow at them, all of them, and they scatter away like the angel-hair they've always been. And Dr. Faustus comes to mind.

Our generation has been the closest to Utopia on Earth. It's a pity we choose to give it all away.

19 comments:

Sandeep said...

Awesome post dude. Napoleon would have been proud of you.

Phippogriff said...

Glad to see you back...more regular please.....
keep the observation on :)

streamofconsciousness said...

very thoughtful..hmm..now I am thinking..

adg said...

The Wagner in me is crying ...

A.G.Sudarshan said...

mediocrity is excused by hoping that your progeny will not suffer from it.
That's when we hope to live through the future... why is it that its "mera bacha bahut bada ___ banega/i!" ... tum kyon nahi bane? :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Anshuman..what u have written I feel everyday...unfortunately I have not been able to create anything great...I wonder how far u have got upto???

Mugger Much said...

Hi everyone,

sandeep: Thanks! But I doubt Napoleon would have even acknowledged my existence.

phippogriff: Yep, even I feel I'm getting back into swing. Blogspace rocks!

streamofconsciousness: It's best that we do so (think) now, instead of later when social constraints bind us.

adg: The Nietzsche in me will advise the Wagner in you. Dontcha worry.

Sudu: Hahaha! No replies to that question, eh?

Anon: I guess we need to move beyond feelings and do something. Having said that, public announcements of plans are very often the Kiss of Death. I hope you understand.

El Katto said...

Profound.
Somethin had an RDB effect on you didnt it?

Anonymous said...

The only way to dexcribe "our generation" -- people with utterly muddled, vacuous and cynical ideologies, whose only aim in life is to lead a happy go lucky life in the IT comfort zone or some cozy job in the United States of Atrocities. It is such an abhorrent site that even basic humanism has been replaced by a cynical and selfish mindset. 655,000 deaths in Iraq mean nothing to us, or even back home, the farmer suicides or the struggles of Irom Sharmila mean nothing. A dose of contributions to aid agencies is all we need to reassure our consciences. What is the most common talk that I hear from the Indian enclave in the dinner table of an Ivy League university? -- sex, gossip and {sometimes) how democracy is making India fall behind China. People seem to be so naive about history, politics, economics, peoples' struggles -- always vomiting out the relentless propaganda that has been fed into their mind. If this is what the "creme de la creme" of the nation thinks, all egoistic hypocroites, god knows what will happen? Anyways, the definition of cream is highly ideological, and in my view the much talked about cream is not really the cream.

The current ideology is very well illustrated in SEZ economics and putting every body into the informal sector, which is to somehow magically provide all jobs. At the same time, the ruling class has all its shopping malls and discos and bars, as prime farmland is turned into concrete jungles by duping the farmers. Any talk of socialism is equated with stalinism, and ideologies are all passe. The only ideology is money and self-aggrandizement with a cynical hope that Adam Smith's saying of "personal avarice turning into common good" will someday come true.
Nobody seems to dream anymore, except wet ones. Nobody even attempts to make sense of the human condition, the myriad contradictions, the violence, the underlying lovelessness of ever fragile relationships. And what is this never ending drive to keep ourselves busy with an ipod or a cellphone ? Why have we lost the sense of solitude, of being with ourselves, our body and mind of flesh and mind? Why this never ending need for external devices and gadgets to escape from ourselves? People seem to be like zombies, acting as processing automata for consumer goods, directionless, stupid.
Well i really dont have complete explanations for all these, but it is to an extent a function of the economic and social order. more later...

inaudible_shout said...

meesra... i hate you! (a similar expression of hate can be found on your orkut scrap book with a detailed description of the circumstances that led to its development)

Anonymous said...

"We tossed out immortality and settled for the tiny things in life"
The desire for such immortality has been the cause of much suffering in the world. Since people cannot appreciate the tiny things and always need to aggrandize their egos they generate mischief in the world to satiate their emptiness. Prime examples in politics are Napoleon, Hitler, Alexander the great Genghis khan. Just because history remembers you is not a sign of greatness. Further the environment of aggressiveness, competition and hostility prevalent everywhere is precisely due to this desire for immortality and godhood.

Subash said...

Yet another heart-touching thoughtfull post; hey man i have a friendly suggestion for you:-

Dive into the realm of writing; i am 100% sure you will write stuffs 100 times better then chetan bhagat; comparable to best of the world.

Writing such though-provoking article with such a level of simplicity is not a gift of everyone, one in million might be having it, don't let it go down for the sake of "A beautiful sunset, a book, a bottle of wine.
A lovely house, a lovely wife, lovely children.
Lovely pieces of code being banged out everyday"

Manoj Payardha said...

nice

sawhney said...

"Will we ever produce another Tagore? Or will our proto-Tagore be buried under the avalanche of Chetan Bhagats being churned out of the Indo-Anglian assembly line?"
this is to quote man.
and although it is out of context, i hate chetan bhagat, FUCK THE BASTARD.

Swati said...

very very well written....thought provoking!!!

ashish said...

great post!
but that's life ...
life is about small things not big things...

Pri said...

loved this post!
made soo much of sense :)
i wish, times like these,we would just follow our heart...

Anonymous said...

Superb piece of thought and amazing writing. No two thoughts about the fact that you are extremly intelligent!

Anonymous said...

Superb piece of thought and amazing writing. No two thoughts about the fact that you are extremly intelligent!