Friday, September 19, 2008

The pursuit of 'Happiness'

There comes a time in a person's life, when his entire perspective on things undergoes a complete metamorphosis, when his whole perspective changes, and things which seemed relevant a year and a half ago may seem trivial, like some vestiges of an era gone by, like an old scribble on a palimpsest, existing only as a mere shadow of it's former self.

This metamorphosis, may come from inside, or it may require a little help from outside. In my case, it was a bit of both. The outside was somewhat like fuel, without which, the logs of wood, are well, just logs of wood. Again, my definition of the ‘outside’ may be a little ambiguous, it may be a person, the environment , but I think it has one defining characteristic. This very entity, may directly or indirectly reveal your very soul to you.

I had some presumptions about my ‘soul’. It turns out that I was wrong. Imagine if you had these goggles, which allowed you to see everything, albeit in a particular shade. Now imagine that you had these goggles fitted on right since your birth. In such a scenario, one would believe that his world basically has one particular colour, only with slightly different shades. Now imagine that one fine day, someone takes these goggles of your eyes, and suddenly you see all these colours and hues, which you had never seen before. In a similar fashion, my presumptions about myself suddenly started to appear irrelevant, if not baseless.

I was a very ambitious person, which I believed was a very good thing. My whole life revolved around my plans, my future, the big company, fame, fortune, you know the routine. I don’t deny that it wasn’t exciting. There was that rush. But it was a little bit like opium. The rush, the feeling was all very fleeting. Another thing was my dependence on my absolute principles. Everything was either high or low, good or evil, black or white. Most things in life, I learnt later on, were a shade of grey.

So my love for materialistic glory gave way to things more subtle, and from ‘Gates’, I moved on to ‘Ghalib’. I am still on a pursuit no doubt, only the destination is different. I assume the destination is ‘happiness’, but then again some routes aren’t supposed to lead you to a particular destination. Or maybe ‘happiness’ is the route itself. Maybe ‘happiness’ is the origin, the destination and the route. This pursuit has different manifestations; it may be in music, in poetry, in language or anything else. This pursuit could be an ‘entity’ or a mere figment of my imagination.

I don’t think, this article, like my ‘pursuit’, should have a conclusion. I don’t know where my journey will lead me, hence this article should also, like the written spirit of my thoughts, shouldn’t end here…………………………………………………………………………or should it?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

On analogies

A civilisation can be a complex thing to understand.One way to gauge it's essence is to look at it's various aspects, like the people,the dress,the language and strangely enough,the script.
If one observes carefully, a script can tell a lot about the people who use it. To make my point a little clearer, let me give you an example about 2 scripts which are closely related to each other, and yet have subtle differences, i.e. the Naskh Script & the Nastaliq script.

For the unacquainted, Arabic is commonly written in the Naskh style and Persian is written in the Nastaliq script. If you look at the former, it is written in a very linear fashion. There is an inherent simplicity in it, although on the face of it, Arabic calligraphy may seem somewhat complex. On the other hand, Nastaliq script is highly ornate, with plenty of curves.

As Arabia is a desert, the way of life there in the ancient/medieval times was highly simplistic. Iran, on the other hand was known to appreciate luxury, and this is well reflected in their calligraphic style. Both the writing systems are beautiful, but the concept of beauty in both is different. The desert is certainly reflected in the Naskh style, while the sybaritic nature of Iran exhibits itself in the Nastaliq script. It's quite like comparing the Alps & Ladakh. While the beauty of the Alps lies in their abundance, it's the very elemental nature of Ladakh that gives it it's beauty.

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While we are on the topic of anal[ogies], here's an interesting one-

On the face of it,marriages and government systems are not closely related. But if you look carefully,they share a close resemblance to each other.

The Arranged vs Love marriage debate is something that is guaranteed to generate some heat.While I am quite a strong supporter of the latter[do not worry,my oh so anxious relatives, I am not bringing some weed addicted hippie home...no wait a minute,I might just ;)],both the systems can be compared to the systems of governance of India and China.

Arranged marriages can be compared to the government of China. It is statistically speaking,a very stable system,with a greater rate of tangible success. Also, since the control is generally autocratic,problems due to dissent are generally lesser.The problems,if any,are generally suppressed before they take a more serious shape.Arranged marriages are quite the same.Since it is generally the parents/relatives who are running the show,the sense of authority flows from top to down.Also,lesser disputes arise,since the decision is largely a collective one rather than personal.

Love marriages are a little bit like Indian democracy, messy and highly flawed.It is visibly less stable,as dissent is allowed.Also,since the power in a democracy is in the hands of the people,it is subject to the moods and fickleness of the public[akin to the mob in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar].Now,authority in this case flows from bottom up.Similarly,in a love marriage,the power lies with the couple & consequently the protests are more marked.Since the expectations are higher(unlike an autocratic system),it is more prone to discontent.Also,the couple,like the public can make their own decisions.Likewise,the way we elect our leaders and mates are overshadowed by our emotional prejudices and hence there is a tendency to make flawed judgements.

All said and done,I am still a strong believer in the strength of Indian democracy, inspite of all it's faults.A democracy is a more human approach,flawed and emotional while an arranged marriage is much like a computerised algorithm,efficient and it generally works...The choice is yours