Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

123. Stranger

Vivek comes to my desk at about 1.30 in the afternoon.
“Did you have your lunch?” he asks.
As the canteen is always crowded till 1.45, I generally go for lunch at about 2.00 – though many times when I reach there, the canteen has no food to serve.
“Not yet, I am just going.” I answer.

Vivek is my new teammate. Actually to call anyone ‘teammate’ here is making mockery of the words ‘team’ and ‘mate’. Everyone here is like a self declared leader. ‘Divide and Rule’ is one of the most used Management Skills even in NGO sector. Managers are happy as long as their subordinates are not a good team. Managers always play games with teams so that everybody feels insecure and unnecessarily competitive. People foolishly fall in that trap. In a way subordinates deserve this treatment. So, Vivek and I, though working together are not really a team, in the sense I perceive a team!

“Come, let us go for lunch, I am hungry,” Vivek urges me.

Now I am in a bit of dilemma. Vivek is by no means my friend. He is at most my colleague. If we are traveling together for official work then eating together and chatting together happens – because there are no alternatives. But in my own city, to have lunch with someone like Vivek (and that too alone) is not a very comfortable idea.

However, I cannot say ‘no’ to what Vivek is suggesting.

I am hungry. The restaurant Vivek is suggesting serves delicious food – that is one temptation. Vivek is not a complete stranger to me. He is a decent man. So far, I have not observed anything objectionable about and in him. We are not friends, but we are not enemies also. Saying ‘no’ would be unreasonable.

“Come on, what are you thinking about? Now don’t waste time in opening your wallet, I have money enough, let us go,” Vivek is almost dragging me out.

I decide to go.

We walk. We talk – little bit of office gossip, little bit of personal stuff. I ask him questions about his first language – which I am trying to learn through internet (that sounds funny, I know!). He suggests me few books. We talk about weather. We talk about traffic.

The restaurant is crowded as usual. We wait. We get a table. We order. We eat. We chat. We walk back.

All this while, I have a very strange feeling.

It is not for the first time that I am eating with someone whom I do not know much. I am known for chatting with strangers, spending time with strangers, taking interest in life of strangers, showing affection towards strangers etc. Many of my friends are worried about my capacity to be close to strangers. They feel that by close conversations with strangers I open myself to unforeseen risks. But I have always enjoyed interactions with strangers.

Here is Vivek, who is not a complete stranger to me. We are together in various discussions, meetings, planning, review etc. But I am not relaxed as I usually am. I am feeling bit weird. Why?

I remember German Sociologist Georg Simmel’s writing on this concept called Stranger. (http://www.infoamerica.org/documentos_pdf/simmel01.pdf)

And I wonder. When do people become known and cease to be strangers? Is it like crossing a line? What does this ‘crossing line’ indicate and entail? How does it evolve? Does time play important role in this phenomenon?

While coming back I am thinking about many people, many places, and many ideas which were once very close to me, with whom I was completely comfortable – but now they have become strangers to me and I have become a stranger to them. When and why do people cease to be close and become strangers? Why the places lose their charm and make you a stranger in the midst of the crowd? The ideas for which once I used to work hard, are now alien to me and new ideas replace them.

I wonder again – What triggers this process? Is it more of an external (worldly) process? If you don’t spend life together or don’t spend enough time together then you automatically become strangers? Or it is more of an inner (psychological) process? I mean you realize that your ideas differ, your values differ, your attitude to life differs, your responses differ and then you move away and become strangers again? Why this change happens? Where does this lead us?

Sometimes I feel so strange about myself. I feel as if I do not know myself enough; I am not sure about myself. I keep on changing so much that I feel ‘loss of identity’ time and again.

I enjoy interacting with strangers. Continuous dependence on ‘outside stranger’ is not good – because every stranger becomes an acquaintance after a certain time. And a 'brand new stranger' and ‘once known but now stranger’ are strangers of highly different qualities. One does not enjoy ‘once well known but now strangers’ as much as ‘new strangers’.

So, I guess being and becoming a stranger to oneself is the only assured way of having fun in life!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

122. Vacancy

People talk and their is a purpose.
People maintain silence and there is a purpose.
People tell a deliberate lie and there is a purpose.
People ignore and there is a purpose.
People turn their back and there is a purpose.
People get angry and there is a purpose.
People are honest and there is a purpose.
And so on....

People welcome you with lot of enthusiasm .. and many times this one act is without purpose.
It is as spontaneous as rest of the actions, but it is still different.
One can feel it.

I have been always amused at the way people respond.
It is not that a particular person responds or communicates in the same way for all the life.
People are different with different people.
Not only that, people are different at different times with the same people.
Situations change, relationships change, urge changes, comfort level changes.

I have been always amused at the way I get connected with people and the way I am disconnected. This happens without apparent reasons.
People come and go.
Today one is the highest priority and tomorrow the same could become a stranger and vice versa.

If one looks at all these connections with the perception of 'destination' one gets attached and the attachment brings both joy and pain. Both are extremes.
But the connection and disconnection can be very non-violent if one looks at it as a journey and not destination.
Journey brings moments of joy and pain too - but one knows that it is going to end after a stipulated time.

Life always creates new connections - which almost always are enriching.
The moment the learning from a particular connection is over, the next connection comes from nowhere.

The key is to keep the 'vacancy' in the mind and life intact.
So far, I have been able to do it.
Let me see, whether I can keep the vacancy forever.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

121. Change

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton Season 2 edition 18; the eighteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
Is it a story? Is it reflection? Is it philosophy? Is it weirdness? Is it dream? Is it silliness?
I do not know.
I have a definite message to give you.
You have a choice to label my effort. And you have a choice to label me as you like. 

No, I am not a prophet. I am neither God nor Ghost. If I say I am not a human being, you will assume that I am Alien - which in a way is right but not completely right.

My message is brief.
All I want to say is: Be ready for Change.
It can happen at any moment.
It will happen with anyone of you and each one of you.

I am smiling.
Actually, I notice it because I am smiling after a long time.
I am smiling at myself, not at you. So I hope you won't mind.

To be honest, I had always thought that after this unavoidable change, I would be less confused.
However the confusion remains.
Only problem is:  I do not know whether now I am capable of a feeling called  'confusion'.
For that matter, I am not sure whether I am capable of feeling anything.

Even after this biggest change, I cannot communicate to you.. I can not reach out to you.
Everything else might have changed, but this 'not being able to reach out' remains intact.
But as I said, it no more hurts.

Ha! Ha! I am communicating this confusion of mine to you, I understand.

I do not remember what I felt when I entered this world.
Nothing inhuman in it, as nobody remembers.
Seers and Spiritual stalwarts have said something about that moment of 'being born' , but rationally speaking it is all speculation.
Imaginative. Creative. Right; but after all just speculation.
What the Seers say is probable, but one can not vouch for its truth.
Human beings have selective memory, they remember only what they want and can hide everything else under the carpet.
If something is not remembered, that does not mean that it was never lived. Life is much broader than memories.

Just like 'the moment of birth' Seers, Poets and Artists have expressed the moment of 'Death' in different ways.
But that too is just speculation.
Nobody knows what human beings think and feel when they die.There is no general knowledge (as all human beings cannot be thinking the same) and no one can know what an individual thinks!

People always ask about 'what did s/he speak last?' to understand what the person might be thinking while 'getting' (or is it 'being'?) dead.
But this is based on the assumption that the brain of the person on the deathbed is fully functional and there is also an assumption that brain is logical.
Nobody will ever know what the person thinks when the last moment arrives.

Why I am talking of life? As if it is some distant phase? As if it is my past?
That is because, for me everything has suddenly changed.
The burden is over.
The journey has ended finally.
I am feeling ('feeling' again! Words are meaningless sometimes!) light.
I am completely relaxed.

The old binding exists no more.
The old relations exist no more.
The old ways of responding exist no more.
The old dreams and expectations exist no more.
The old resistance exists no more.
The old fear exists no more.
The old me is not there at all.

There is no pain, though you might be still discussing my pain.
There is no opinion, though you might remember me for my strong opinions.
There are no likes and dislikes, though I confess that once I was very adamant about those.
There are no more associations, though you might have those in your memories - me and the places, me and the objects, me and the other people, me and you.
There is nothing to hold on, nothing to possess,  nothing to own, nothing to feel bad or good about.

I thought - meaning when I lived - that I would know when I leave this body for ever.
Now I have no body, I have no mind.I have no intellect.
No wonder that I cannot reach out to you.
Actually in your day to day language, I am dead.

Don't be scared, I am not a Ghost.
I do not exist except in your memories.
You can talk about Soul and Life after Death kind of stuff, but to be frank  your ideas and your language is irrelevant Here and Now.
Again the words I used 'Here and Now' are misleading - they suggest that I am in some kind of Space and Time Frame - which I am not.

Change happens in different ways. Creation, Growth, Reduction, Expansion, Contraction, Decay, Destruction, Turn Around .. are all different ways of Change.
However,  Transformation is a totally different kind of change - it is not logical and not just  biological.

I want to tell you something about this Transformation, but as I said earlier - I am not able to reach out to you.
There is no connection between us now.
There is no bridge.
I might be your memory, but you are not my memory, because I have no memory.
In the process of death, not only body vanishes, but the whole perspective changes.
It is a complete Transformation.

This Change can happen at any moment.
It is going to happen with each one of you.
It is one of the most certain changes.
However, it is one of the most unpredictable changes too.
This Change is constant though transient.

If you are well prepared (body, mind, perception etc.), this change does not hurt. There is no pain if one is well prepared.
I want to assure you that when the Transformation happens, it is not painful.
To use your language - Yes, as Lord Krishna told Arjuna - vaasaansi jeerNaani yathaa vihaaya - death is just like changing clothes.

Do not lament, do not grieve for me because I am dead.
Do not lament, do not grieve for me because I am not with you anymore.
Do not lament, do not grieve for me because some of my dreams were never fulfilled.
Do not lament, do not grieve for me because I could not share my last thoughts with you.
Do not lament, do not grieve for the things that were not communicated to me, that were not done for me .. becuase in the long run they do not matter at all.

Be ready for this Transformation, for this Change called DEATH.
Prepare yourself for this Transformation, for this Change.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.