Humans and souls


Right through my professional life, while I have worked with people similar to my age and experience, I have learnt the most from those who are lot younger. Have met some of the sharpest brains. And it has been my privilege to hone their thinking. Be their mentor. But at times (and the occasions have been plenty), the stuff they say and think, is very thought provoking. Yesterday, my young colleague told me how she believes in this rather profound quote – “too many humans and not enough souls”.

Made me think. It is perhaps an indictment of what we have become.

In the past when we said “be human”, it was in the context of being different from animals. Human was about empathy and understanding of other fellow human beings.

So yes, today we are 7 billion strong as a human race. Driven by culture, society, aspiration for all things material, running after every single desire. Killing in the name of race and religion. Doing anything possible to get ahead. It doesn’t matter who we hurt in the process. How many dreams we kill to get to our dream.

We now have a human form but it is just a physical embodiment.

We do not have a soul. We do not have depth in our thinking and understanding. We do not look at a deeper connect with people. We count the number of people who follow us in social media space. We do not even interact with even ten percent of our followers.

Soul is what defines us and yet we have lost it somewhere in our drive to get ahead.

Any person who is not materialistic, does not have ambition (the way world defines it), believes in building deeper relationships that go beyond the shallow, is considered weak, an abnormality in this world.

Of course the digital world is in a way the biggest culprit. It gives a sense of being connected but that is never the case.

Today, we lack emotions, we lack empathy, we lack understanding.

Soul mates is just something nice to say to one person till we find another person to say the same thing.

There just aren’t enough souls anymore. Only humans pretending to be humans.

Stumbling through life


We all like to believe that life is about stability. Life is about moving at a comfortable pace.

But do we ever get that? Do we ever lead a stable life?

Look around you. Look at yourself. Are you leading a stable life? Or are you in a big rush to get somewhere, whether as a physical destination or as a life goal.

We work ourselves to the ground in order to achieve the mythical stability. We put pressure on ourselves. We put pressure on people around us. We never quite get that stability.

Stability for most is rooted in money. Steady job. Steady pay check. Steady life partner. So we slog. At the job and at maintaining relationships. In this day and age, neither are stable. There are always undercurrents that keep us insecure.

We may feel we are stable but the truth is that we are stumbling through life. Towards what constitutes as stable.

Think about it. How much money would you need till you consider enough is enough. Now I am going to slow down. Relationships too. If things get stable, they become predictable and boring. But hey, isn’t that what you wanted? Stable relationship. So don’t crib now by saying that the spark has gone.

Maybe if we were to reconcile ourselves to the fact that there is no such thing as stability, we just might find it?

Why is it that we seek mundanity when life is so much more? Why should the next day be no different than today? Why shouldn’t every day be different.

Was working on something the other day. What if like the start button in many of the cars and bikes today, life also had a start button and we pressed a reset every morning over the previous day? During the discussion we were having, one of the people mentioned this movie “Fifty First Dates”. Haven’t watched the movie but the concept sounds interesting. Of course in the movie the female lead has a memory problem. But what if we were to reset every day. What will happen?

Now am not saying this in an absolute sense where it happens. But in our heads. In our minds we reset every day. Will our lives be any different? Will we live our life? Or will we prefer our life to pass us by in the name of stability.

Hope


Dictionary meaning hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen”

And that by itself is a trap! Hope is a trap because it has feeling in it. It has expectation in it. It has desire in it.

All of that totally irrational. Doesn’t involve head but only heart.

In our culture we are full of such dichotomies. We have been told for long enough “fal ki apeksha mat kar “. Desire is bad and yet we are also told that we must have a positive outlook towards future. Isn’t positive outlook based on hoping for a better future? And hope has expectation and desire in it?

How does any of this ever work?? I live a life without expectations and am berated for it. I have desires which I know will never be fulfilled so I bury them into an abyss of my mind. And yet there is another part of my brain that hopes. Hopes for many things to happen. It’s in constant conflict with the part that doesn’t have expectations and desires.

When I say I don’t have expectations, I get a weird look. When I say I have desires, I get weird look.

So why do people hope? What is it that they really want? And why do people give up hope?

I think it is a mix of the past we had and the current we are leading. It makes us desire for more. It makes us desire for something better (better is relative). It makes us desire for a transformation. None of it ever happens of course but we keep hoping.

This post comes from a mind that is tired of hoping. This time I am going to let the part of the brain that doesn’t believe in hope, to win.

Another Monday, Another Flight


The routine is down to almost perfection.

Enter the airport, get the boarding card, fidget at the baggage drop. Head for security and then it becomes an art. Taking the stuff out to put in the tray. Both hands operating to take the stuff out. And then put it back in. Unlike George Clooney, we don’t have the option to choose the queue to stand behind the right person for quick check through.

It is interesting to watch people. Earlier post was about people in the aircraft, this one is about people at the airport.

The ones flying for the first time or very new to flying. They have this look of uncertainty about them. Fumbling with stuff at the check in. Observing what others do at the security check. Still missing out on putting the wallet and phone in the tray. But soon they will become experts too. And it really is a wonder and nice too. Everyday new people are taking flight.

Then there are the suits. Always busy and on calls even at 5 in the morning. How much work do they do!! Consulting, marketing, sales or whatever… always the hustle. And yeah, they move around with the feeling that the suit sets them apart from the common people around them.

The bags and backpacks too make for an interesting story. Labels get defined here. It is no more the in thing to carry the backpack with the brand of the laptop across it. Now it’s all about practical stuff. The suitcase and the backpack or the bag match. They reek of people on the move. No time for check in bags. And yes, if they have time between check in and flight taking off, laptops come out promptly.

Amidst all the chaos, there will be some on a leisure trip. You look at them and you know. The clothes, the slow pace, browsing through shops. Books in hand. Envy them!

But coming back to the suits. They make me wonder. They are so focused on work and always have so much to do, that I wonder if something is wrong with me. I don’t have enough work or am I too laid back. And yeah I don’t wear suit or jacket for that matter. Why am I not on constant calls or sitting at Starbucks with laptop open. Is this about ambition? They have it and I don’t? Have I missed the bus by not being like them. Am I the exception to the way this whole corporate world functions.

Sure I have the hustle of life. But there is a time and place for everything. Making the most of every minute is not packing it with work. Am somewhere between the suits and the leisure travel people. Once am off the flight, I am all work. I will rather be bleary eyed post the flight due to the sleep I had rather than having worked my ass off at the airport and in flight. If reaching the top asks for these sacrifices, nah… don’t want to make those sacrifices!

One life. It has to mean lot more than the constant treadmill. One might argue that because I have reached a certain point in life and hence talking this rubbish. But I was always like his. Even when I was climbing up the so called corporate ladder. People get a sense about me that I don’t do enough but hey if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be sitting at the airport and typing this right?

I have always liked Mondays. And for past couple of months, I have also liked these Monday morning flights. An added bonus to the super charged Mondays. But all that once I land 🙂

Between “Boarded” and “Landed”


These two texts that are sent out, bookend every flight we take.

Between these two texts, the ones they were sent out to, go on with their lives, while we hurtle through the skies at 35,000 feet (15,000 for a propeller aircrafts in which I have travelled a lot lately).

After the “boarded” message, unspoken thought with the sender and receiver is the thought of “landed” message. No one thinks about it but it’s always there in the back of our heads.

So what do we do and think about while our life is in hold till we reach our destination and while the life 35,000 below is unfolding at its own pace?

The busy ones whisk out there laptops as soon as the seat belt sign is turned off. Spending time productively is what they would call. I will say it is terrible time management if you haven’t been able to finish the work and choose to work while sitting cramped and bumping your elbows into fellow passengers.

The ones on holiday are the boisterous lot. Hell yes they want the world within that steel tube to know they are heading for a holiday! Especially the kids.

The other boisterous lot are the group from one organisation who will talk about Office gossip. No please I don’t want to know any of that!

There are also those who even after sending the “boarded” message will continue to talk over phone and let everyone in the vicinity know how important they are. Also the ones who whip out their phones and are the first ones to send out the “landed” message.

Then there are people like me. Always the aisle seat. Always doze off during take off and landing and a few times in between, depending on the duration of the flight. Headphones on my ears shutting off all conversation and the world around me. One sense taken care off (hearing), I read so that I don’t have to make eye contact or indulge in conversation (second sense taken care off too). I must add here that I have fear of heights and also partially claustrophobic (hence the aisle seat!). I use the music and reading and sleeping to keep the fear away. 🙂 When I am not doing any of that, I observe people around me, the cabin crew going on with their work wearing a smile and care that is trying very hard to be genuine.

And there is a lot to think too while we are alone. Sometimes the thoughts are pleasant. Anticipation about what’s waiting at the other end of the journey. Thinking about the people who are waiting for our “landed” message. Other occasions the thoughts are disconcerting. The purpose of the travel is perhaps the reason or thoughts about the person you hope would be waiting for the “landed” message but isn’t.

As you can see, there is a lot that goes on while we are up there but most of it is in our head. People who don’t feel important in their life below, have a chance to show off to this small audience they are important in the world below. The ones who are boisterous are actually very insecure.

The ones like me, have put the time on hold. At peace with ourselves.

Which one are you?

Birthday


Unlike festivals and anniversaries, birthday is a very different day. Everything associated with this day changes every year. Or every few years. We travel a path from so looking forward to the day to so not looking forward to it.

When we are young, the anticipation starts few months before the day. The gifts, the celebration, who to invite, the cake, the food, the games… we look forward to all of that. As we grow older, the number of invitees becomes selected. The closest friends.

Even more older, it’s the college group. The friends who want to give you a surprise party. Same when we start working. The HR sends the customary mail.

Somewhere along the line, we get into relationships, get out of them. Sometimes this happens between two birthdays. In a relationship, two days that become important your day and your partner’s day.

Kids happen and there are more birthdays. Somewhere along the line, all that associated with your own day starts to diminishes. You spend more and more time prepping for birthdays of others in life.

Also the dread (?) of growing old starts to creep in. From arrogance of youth to fear of end, the day for you is back to being celebrated by people around you. The way it was when you were young. But now there is no anticipation.

I know it’s a very depressing look at such a special day but hey, it’s the truth isn’t it? In this whole process of growing old, we are so focused on the end that at some point we stop enjoying the journey…

As you would have guessed, yes it’s my birthday and am not depressed because I never worry about the end. I look at all the moments that I have had. The good ones, the not so good ones. The ones that made me happy and the ones that left an ache. They have all been part of my journey. And I wouldn’t want my life to be any other way 🙂

The suitcase life


To all those who live the suitcase life, why don’t you share your experiences. What follows is my take:

For last couple of months, I am back to living out of a suitcase. It’s almost a decade and half back that I used to do this.

Back then I was obviously lot younger. Therefore, things were lot different than they are now.

Airport lounges, aircrafts, hotel lobbies, coffee shops and of course the hotel rooms. Life now revolves around these areas. In the past there used to be night outs almost every night while travelling. Not so much now. And this perhaps is the biggest difference that leads to loneliness while travelling.

While waiting for the flight, sitting alone for breakfast or dinner, spending time alone in the claustrophobic hotel rooms (the rooms are not small but the walls do seem to close in), the loneliness gets to me.

It is strange that I don’t usually talk even when I am with people close to me. I have been called a snob, reticent, cold and bereft of emotions. But I always feel comfort in the fact that I have people around me that I can talk to when needed. Does sound a bit selfish, doesn’t it? So it shouldn’t bother me when I have no one to talk to when I travel… right? But bother it does.

I have started looking for ways to keep myself busy. The walking up and down while waiting for the flight to be announced, keeping up with my step count (did 2500 steps today while waiting), I smile and strike up random conversations with people. That guy who is also walking. The person serving coffee. Guy at the bar. Chef at the coffee shop. Person serving my food. People at the reception desk of the hotel. The cab guy.

Hitting the hotel gym on a regular basis (sometimes in the morning and evening as well), watching stuff downloaded from Netflix and amazon prime, music, books, those few minute calls back home in the morning and at night.

There are people who envy this lifestyle. There are people who tell me am lucky to get so much of “me” time. But trust me, it isn’t fun.

Travelling is fun and I do enjoy travelling. Cities and people in those cities, one can learn a lot about what’s happening in the world just by observing them. But the heavy baggage of loneliness, I guess that’s something I didn’t sign up for.