Moving Notice

Will be posting from my new blog and website. Do follow me there.

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Running Away, Virtually

So I got off Facebook recently.

I know, it’s a little dramatic to deactivate my account, like I’m trying to run away from people. Just had difficulty relating to friends going away in so many different directions, I felt left behind, like I was doing nothing much in my life. It might be distorted perspective. The sum total of all my friends’ varied careers will obviously sound much more exciting than anything I might personally be able to do. Nevertheless, a little distance seemed appealing, lest I lose track of what I really wanna do. If a break must be taken, so be it.

The funny thing about this is my friends’ reactions.

Mom– “What happened? I can’t see your pictures anymore. You deactivated? hmm… Is someone stalking you? Are you upset with us? You can turn it back on if you want, right?”

Closest friends– “I thought you blocked me on fb. I’m gonna block you right back!”

Close friends who live far far away– “Too bad. Now if I wanna know what you’re up to, I’d have to call you up.”

Others who’s noticed I was gone- “Um. So let’s email then.”

One wierdo– “I thought you died”

Confessions

I am an architect. I have not ‘architectured’ any buildings yet, so let’s just say I’m a designer. Though most designers would like you to believe they know everything, I am happy to admit otherwise. Most remarkable people have more questions than answers anyway. I am having very real difficulties holding on to my current, well-paying-hence-extremely-regular, job. If you let me, I would sit at public spaces and sketch all day, analyse away, and dream of ways to make them better for people. I know urban design is a tempting fantasy for most architects, but it must be more than that for me. I would never know anything about it unless I tried it myself.

Something I read today, about a completely different topic, made me realize this: A dream is but an illusion until you drag it down to reality. No matter how crude and unshapely your first creation is, it is still better than a nonexistent story, and the best part is, you would then have something to work on.

Sometimes, there is no end unless you stop, and no beginning until you wake up. Sometimes, beginning is just about making the decision.

A good year past, but the next had better be better.

If there’s this one inevitable thing about New Year’s, it’s the urge to contemplate. Usually about one’s past year, and sometimes much longer back. It’s also that time when it’s acceptable to make promises to yourself that won’t last a week.

My 2012 was a big year. I graduated, for one. I’m an architect! I’ll never get tired of saying that. 😉 I learnt to live alone, away from friends and family. It was a year of so many firsts. My first business card, first flight, first international trip, first project, first missed deadline of this scale and the associated heartache, the first time my signature was required on a running bill of several lakh rupees. Felt so good to sign under ‘checked and certified’!

Despite having made several critical, life altering decisions I still cannot justify, my biggest regret about this year is about missing the Guns N’ Roses concert cos I was too immersed in work to realise it happened. People who know how much I worry on a daily basis will see this as a truly positive change: My biggest regret was missing a concert.

Two years back, I woke up from the comfort of college, and started planning the rest of my career. Yet, I’ve done none of what I’ve planned, and regret none of what I’ve actually done. I continue to plan, cos it’s kinda uncomfortable to not have a plan, (and plan B, and C,) but this year has truly taught me that “life is what happens when you’re busy planning your future” (Lennon, wasn’t it?) So this year, I’m going to rename this planning business. It shall henceforth be called “being aware of my options.” 

Now, resolutions for the next year. No matter how pointless, it’s tradition!

  • To eat less and maybe healthier.I don’t know what it is about Bangalore that makes me feel fat all the time! Well, I do know what. It’s the great (and rich!) food that ambushes one at every street corner. My fear of becoming fatTER is apparently abnormal. I do know a few obese people, and they seem to get on with life as though everything’s just fine. How?! It’s scary. I know that’s a little rude, but obesity is easier to deal with from a distance, admit it.
  • To write more. Duh, that’s an obvious one.
  • To take classes in singing and illustrations. No connection, just two random interests of mine. They’re way overdue.
  • Several more things I cannot publish cos friends and family (and possibly bosses) read this. This is why I should have shifted to an anonymous blog. Ok, I resolve to somehow continue to blog honestly, or find ways to conceal references, and not stifle half my posts as drafts.
  • To speak to all my friends on Facebook. One ‘friend’ per day, I might actually get ’em all. In the process, to unfriend all those people I don’t actually know.
  • To read the news everyday.
  • To learn Kannada.
  • To just be happier. Cos we only get one shot at life!

Whatever connects, works.

While on the subject of national, sorry, official languages of the country, I should talk about an incident that showed me a little too clearly the difference in perception of Hindi in different parts of the country.

Last week, I was at a workshop at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. A guest speaker from IIMA started off his lecture with a series of Hindi jokes that never seemed to end. While he connected with majority of his audience, he had alienated my collegues from Bangalore, who knew the language, but just not enough to understand the speaker’s colloquial jokes. They decided to speak up and ask for the lecture to be conducted in English. I was shocked at the speaker’s response: ” you don’t know Hindi?? you’re at the wrong place then.” And he simply turned away from them and continued to finish up his very local anecdote. He did eventually switch over to English for the rest of the lecture, but I was left wondering if that sort of rudeness is acceptable.

It’s not just north India, even in Bangalore, not knowing Hindi isn’t very well tolerated. As a batch of freshers who had just joined the company, we were being addressed by the HR heads. You know how the HR folks need to make a ‘connection’ So they resorted to Hindi jokes, but were met with blank faces from half the trainees whose only Hindi knowledge was “hindi nahi maloom”. They asked if anybody present did not understand Hindi. When a few too many hands went up, the lady put her hands to her face in amazement and said “I wish I could make you all stand up on your chairs and recite ‘We will learn our national language’!”

To put it in a nutshell, in Tamil Nadu, it is “You know Hindi? Hm, good.” In the rest of India, it is just “You don’t know Hindi? Shame on you!”

People of the southern states have always argued that Hindi is as foreign to the people as English is. I agree wholly. If we must pick a common language to communicate in, why the hell did we not pick English!? It’s easier! It makes it so much simpler to connect internationally. While that decision can be endlessly debated, the current situation simply demands that all Indians be multilingual. For people of the southern states, Hindi connects you to the rest of the country, English connects you to the rest of the world (most of it, anyway.) So just learn both! Don’t leave your mother tongue(s) out in the bargain though.

 

I give up, I speak Hindi now.

I had my first full fledged conversation in Hindi today. Yay! It was a Rajasthani civil works contractor, and a 15 minute drive from site to office. Not only did I manage to speak about work and resolve all questions, I even asked him where he was from, and about his family business. So proud of breaking the language barrier! I have known the language for the past 12 years, but have never spoken it unless absolutely necessary. The emergency situation being finding an auto ride in Bangalore, or when my Hindi friends corner me and say “ab Hindi mein baat karo.” Of late, I’ve had so much exposure to the language due to site work and frequent travel, I might have improved.Yesterday, I cracked my first Hindi joke! I can’t narrate it, it was situational. Just take my word for it, it happened!

With this contractor, I knew for a fact that he knew really good English, cos his emails are impeccable, and he always follows all English conversations that happen on site. I’m pretty sure he was educated in English as well. I understand that knowing a language is very different from being able to converse in it, but it seemed to border on sheer obstinacy when I noticed that even if one spoke to him in English, he would reply in Hindi. Well, good for him and me that he chooses to speak in one of the official languages, and not Rajasthani or whatever the regional language is, in that part of the country. Whatever keeps the country together!

The Clouds Are Prettier Back Home

Two months back, I had never set foot on an air plane. Suddenly, I stand at 7 take offs and landings. My first flight was so normal, it was like watching Up In The Air. The day time view was exciting, like Google maps come alive. Within moments, however, I started mentally clicking on buildings, expecting labels to turn up. Google, you’ve just spoilt me with so much information that real life pales in comparison. The second trip to Bangkok was just bad luck cos I didn’t get the window. Third time, I flew alone, and had the window. Flying across the country on a clear night is some experience. The return was even better. Ahmedabad to Chennai, 6 am. Im normally never awake early enough to catch the sunnrise even on land. To me, sunrise from up there was like prayer. A solitary trip to heaven and back. And flying home is the best feeling ever. The Chennai coastline is a breathtaking view. Even the clouds look so much better, fluffier and more magical over the land of my birth. Lower down, brightly colored little buildings rushed below us till moments before touch down. A rush of memories, recognitions, emotions. As a kid, our family would drive past the airport every weekend to our grandparents’ place. Sometimes, dad would stop to let my brother watch as planes took off one after the other. Being the least bothered about noisy flying things behind a fence, I would just be impatient to leave. I am now on the other side of the fence, coming home from work, all grown up. Time only goes one way. Away.

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