Friday, October 22, 2010

"They're exactly as you described them."

Today is Mumma and Papa's twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. They celebrated it today in typical style - by being in different cities. This is now the sixth year in a row that I've missed their special day and with that comes a promise to be there every year into the foreseeable future.

Without intending either favour or influence (though both could justifiably have been exerted in copious amounts), they still remain, in purely objective terms, my template for the perfect marriage. In many ways, I'm glad I haven't inherited their idea of romance, rich and resplendent as it may well be. Equally, though, apart from the numerous lessons I've been taught by them individually (and mostly by personal example), I've learnt that it is possible to make very real diversity work in a very real way. It's a message that is as calming as it is inspirational and promises to be the bedrock of an increasingly important subtext to my life in the weeks, months and years to come. If I can manage to achieve a fraction of what they have, I'd be delighted with myself.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Thousand Million Miles from Home

As I turned down the right-hand corner past Magdalen College this morning, cursing the imposing embankments and high walls for not permitting enough sunshine onto Longwall Street, my iPod started playing the title track from Delhi 6. The four minutes that followed were quite surreal, as all the memories I have associated with that song came flooding back to mind. In that moment, it felt very, very strange to be walking down that street and thinking of how far away I am from everything that is familiar. In many ways, I still can't quite believe it.

It's just a matter of time, though. It won't be long now.

(First multiple same day posts since May 9, 2010.)

The Little Things in Life

Opposites don't usually attract unless there's something to bind them together. It could be shared interests or friends and I think that it'd be fair to say that it was a bit of both in our case. It could also be a quiet, unstated respect and I think it'd be fairest to say that it has been a combination of all three that has taken this fairly anonymous association (I really can't remember how or when or why we got to know each other) all the way to a memorable friendship.

I've always valued genuineness far above any other quality in making friends. What has often stopped me from making better friends has been a sort of familiarity with the kind of genuineness that I'm comfortable with, painting that particular quality with my colours, if you like. That has changed a lot in the last few years and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that she has been my one-stop introduction to the idea that genuineness of the exuberant type can be just as basic to sincerity, appreciation and pretty much every other desirable trait you can hope to find in another person. On top of that, she'll be considerate, she'll give you time and she'll listen. It's as overwhelming as a sense of genuineness can ever be.

Almost furtively, we've also managed to construct this place - halfway between a bubble and a sacred space - where our conversations are parked in their appropriate places. We tend to talk about things that are bothersome, intense or emotional, if not some combination of the three and I've found this place - which is like nothing else I've ever been a part of - to be a beautiful way of splitting what is important from what is noise. We've built this space over time (and that, I just realised, sounds very cool) based on the idea that the solutions to our problems lie in the infinite wisdom of each other and that when she's listening to me or I'm listening to her, that is what receives one hundred percent attention and nothing else is relevant. We've blown off many, many seemingly important appointments and people just to get the chance to talk. She's proved to be well worth the investment.

It has also helped that because of the interests and friends that we've shared, there haven't been too many secrets. That wouldn't have counted for too much, though, had she not known when to ask you something, when to let you know that you're not being honest with her and, perhaps most importantly, when to leave you alone. I haven't held back on too much because I've always suspected that she'd probably know anyway. This has opened doors to talk about family, it has given license to get justifiably upset, it has created a canvas for us to share dreams and it has given a reason to trust. A few short years ago, I would've defined all of those things out of the scope of a 'friendship'. I think it's a mark of how far we've come that today, I can't imagine giving up any of those things with her.

All this has been tied to some pretty unforgettable places and experiences. Due to the nature of the last five years of my life, I can name a host of people with whom I've repeated the endless routine of work/group-activity/eat-out/party. But there aren't too many people with whom I've watched three movies and countless IPL matches in a calendar month, taken a cycle-rickshaw ride through Noida at 11.30 p.m. and walked around everywhere from acad block and the Supreme Court to IIT-Delhi and the streets of Dhaka.

Most remarkably, however, we've kept up an incredibly varied (and often intense) ongoing dialogue from practically the day we met, which has since grown to encompass everything from the rat-race and the future to the state of men's tennis and pop music. The fact that we've never agreed on a lot of this has never been an impediment - I can't recall a single instance of hurt feelings or intentional slighting in any of these conversations - because there's always been a guarantee that we'll honestly hear each other out one hundred percent with the greatest of respect. I haven't managed to achieve that with people I've known my whole life, so I find it quite extraordinary to have found it with her - someone I've known, at best, for a bit under three-and-a-half years.

And over these nearly three-and-a-half years, people have cast a lot of doubts over what this has been about. It's been every kind of doubt imaginable, asking questions of our integrity, genuineness, priorities, even morality. These doubts have been cast by all sorts of people, too - people who are jealous, people who should know better, people who don't bother reading what has been a fairly open book throughout and, perhaps most hurtfully, by people who are closer to us individually than either she or I are to each other.

For the longest time, this really, really upset me. I don't know why this was - I knew that my behaviour had been above reproach and she's been fiercely committed enough to dispel any questions of her genuineness. But as she intersperses crazy amounts of organisational work with an inquisitive line or two every couple of minutes on Skype over in the other window, I realise that none of those doubts matter. Because some friendships are impossible to be explain. I also realise now that when I created this label of 'Special People' on my blog all those years ago, I had in mind someone very much like her.    

Friday, October 15, 2010

Where Real Life and Dreams Collide

I just completed the arduous task of narrowing down and uploading my collection of phone photos from my last term at law school into a reasonably viewer-friendly package of forty-nine photos. It made me realise that despite not going out of town, not talking to too many people and not doing too many things, there is so much I will always treasure about that last term.

For those three months, there was no pressure, no expectation and, usually, no work. I remember a senior of mine telling me sometime in the last three months of first year to live it up because there would never again come such a time for being carefree. If I was in that senior's place now, I'd say the same thing about 5,15.

I have, like most people, been silently drawing up a list of things I would love to do in life, for pretty much as far back as I can remember. One of those came true this June in South Africa. The list runs beyond that, though. Watching Wrestlemania live is definitely on that list. As is making it to May 31, 2013. :)

But I'm starting to realise that equally precious is the list of things I wish I could do again. And right on top of that list right now would be rewinding to March 18, 2010 and pressing 'play'.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Driven to Extremes

Raz, J, The Morality of Freedom (1986), ch 15, p. 404:

"Toleration can also be valuable when it curbs inclinations which, while valuable in themselves, are intolerant of other people's morally acceptable pursuits."

And this, a few lines later, on the same spellbinding page:

"I am not simply wrong in inclining to be intolerant of another person's meanness or vulgarity. These rightly trigger intolerant responses. A person who does not react to them in this way is lacking in moral sensibility." 

Have truer words ever been spoken?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

"That'll be two-twenty one, Sir."

This is as quiet as a weekend can possibly get.

Welcome everyone, to the Age of Inhaltsverzeichnis!

Friday, October 01, 2010

International Students Day

Sitting around the table at the Oxford University Students Union's International Graduate Students Welcome Dinner, I realised that VN and SSN might've already co-opted a third to make up for MCN being 4,500 miles away. It's a dynamic I've never really understood, but observing it first-hand is proving to be a really fascinating pastime. Wrong snake, indeed! :)

Learning for the day: A round trip on Buenos Aires' local metro service costs 1.10 Pesos which, if the exchange rates of the major currencies in the world are what they were when I crammed them sometime in middle school, makes it cheaper than every conceivable form of motorised transportation anywhere in India.

I'm not sure if there's a point to this story but I'm going to tell it again.

My photo
I've been wilfully caught up in the self-defeating quest to get to know myself for years. I've never expected anything beneficial to result from such a quest. I tend to evoke extremely polarised reactions from people I get to know in passing. Consequently, only those people who know me inside-out would honestly claim that I'm a person who's just "alright." It's not a coincidence that the description I've laid out above has no fewer than, title included, eleven references to me (make that twelve). I'm affectionately referred to as "Ego." I think that last statement might have given away a tad too much. Welcome Aboard.

IHTRTRS ke pichle episode mein aapne dekha...


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