Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Disturbing devil

Mobile phones are incarnations of the devil. These small sleek devices can ruin your peace, your relationships and even your language. Regular use of these can even damage your health, your concentration and your memory . Look around you , especially when travelling by road and play this little game. Hold your breath till you can see someone who is talking on mobile …then exhale. Believe me you’ll not die . It is almost impossible to pass one full minute without sound of the devil- called ring tone. For someone who is married to a person who receives about 250 calls a day- I am rather mild with my criticism of these evil devices. Of course, these were not intended to be such a nuisance. They were meant to connect you with your world - 24X7 .or as an old mobile ad famously said ( to prove) “…फासलों का मतलब दूरियां नहीं होता “.

But the way this disease of talking incessantly on phones has spread, I wonder how many of us actually wish to be connected for anyone and everyone on a 24/7 basis? What do I mean? A celebrity once said that the additional available you make yourself; the more available everybody can expect you to be. Individuals can really be aggravated if you’re not instantly and constantly out there instead of being happy when you do call. Folks expecting you to be obtainable all the time could be annoying. Cellular phone calls follow you everywhere you’re including your bathroom. Even throughout nighttime when you want to rest, cell phones still ring and annoy you. If it’s vital, no downside however if it’s terribly menial, why you need to be bothered that late!!

Cell phone have become a necessity today, that is why most people use it and mobile phone makers have continuously develop totally different usage and functions for this terribly little gadget…With new and newer ideas (which can change our lives!) these tiny devils are bound to replace our wallet, our Laptop, our alarm clocks, our games and a lot other things. Now a days people do not use the memory given by nature but rely on reminders to remember birthdays and anniversaries.
I am fine with the use of cellphones- but it takes only two seconds to turn into abuse of it. On the excuse of a 24 X 7 organization, people from his office call my hubby in the wee hours of morning and late in the night for such trivial things that at times I wonder if they have any perspective of life at all.These days guests converse with him in between calls. I have forgotten when I had our uninterrupted dinner time conversation, our peaceful weekend TV matinee or even a unbroken eating out. I mean with every second sentence, he will have to halt his life to attend a call. I blame him for not shouting at people who disturb his sleep and mine for absolutely no reason. Mostly such callers call to get out of an assignment given to them. Had I been their boss, I would have given them such a piece of my mind that they would have regretted calling me to narrate their tale of woes. Well, he is too much of a gentleman to do that . So he'd listen politely...and they will call again and again .

Cellular phone etiquette is getting to be a forgotten concept. You may see individuals talking on the phone loudly ( and proudly) and disturbing people nearby in restaurants and offices. People no longer seek permission to take a longer feel apolegetic to attend one during a function . Many people rather feel disappointed if they do not get a call for few minutes in continuity . Many times in a meeting you may notice that when a cell phone rings, nearly everybody around will immediately look for their cell phones. If you were the one talking, and then the person in front of you talks on his phone, how would you feel? I am certain you may feel belittled and ignored. I have faced it so many times that I am in the middle of serious discussion in a meeting/conference/class and suddenly a raunchy ring tone breaks the solemnity of the room and it just spoils the mood. Perhaps it can’t be helped . Like all things devilish, these cell phones make you addicted. You start thinking that you just can’t switch it off. Though we have very strict instructions against it in my office, not a single meeting goes without anyone violating the instructions. But why alone office, I find people disturbing co-passengers in trains by talking loudly on mobiles…..and if you notice, they usually talk very mundane, everyday issues. It’s not an important matter – but the habit forces them to use the phone all the same. Have you not seen people fiddling with their phones all the time…to set a new theme, to play a game , to listen to a new song, texting to friends or forwarding some SMS joke ….? How many of us fail to notice the lovely new flowers on the trees because our eyes are glued to the tiny screens of our phone.

Then there is a menace called SMS. The corruptor of our language skills , this freaking monster can come in the shape of a promotional message, a mechanical greeting or just about anything. Even after having a DND registry for calls- you just cannot ignore this SMS devil. It bothers me at most inappropriate times . These days banks, service providers and almost every other shops wants to update you about your service requests or about their new products via SMS. Even unknown telemarketeers call you all the time and usually whenever you are in boss's chamber or in a meeting - following Murphy's law someone will call to sell you an insurance, a credit card...even an apartment.

I learnt how this tiny device can ruin your holiday when on our last trip to Shimla, hubby was almost all the time on phones from his office . So much so that it was difficult for me to click his pictures without his phone. And he insists that this cannot be helped. To top it, the fancy mobile ads promise (read threaten) us that their network will follow us wherever we go. As a result we do not talk with people who are with us, we rather talk on phone – all the time, everywhere.

To add insult to injury, someone devised the thing called ring tones. No longer the boring “trin trin…”-- you can have almost anything else as you ring tone or caller tune. So while calling someone you can listen to Gurbani , quwallli, peppy songs from movies, ghazals , Beethoven’s compositions, cooing of their girlfriend and even gibberish spoken by their newborn. I wonder why people love to subject their callers with such forced sounds of music. Ring tones are no better – they can be funny, musical or may be even offensive. I still remember that in a very serious exit conference meeting with the top management of an organisation suddenly a chief engineer’s mobile rang with a very suggestive item number. Some smiled, others made faces and I just burst out in giggles. And now that we are in the age of life changing ideas about mobile phones – I just come up with an idea that my hubby’s ring tone should be language lessons for some foreign language. With such frequent revisions , I am very sure very soon I will be proficient in that language.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Balancing Doing and Being

(Confessions of a tired soul )

Today I sat still. I have lost count of how many weeks I have spent living from one day to another. I get up in the morning and before I realize anything, like a machine, I start running the race . Whatever I do, I am regulated by clock. I get up, get ready , work at office, get back, work at home, watch TV, make lists and go for sleep. I look around people of my age and find their lives are equally ‘busy’ . We have busy weekdays, busy weekends and even busy vacations . Why is it so? Is it because we try to pack too many things in the limited time available? Is it because we tend to be greedy in picking things we want- or that we are scared to unclutter our lives dreading we might miss something important ?OR may be it is just a curse of Generation Y ? We start the race of life just too early. We have rat races to win in schools, at work places, even as parents and friends! But I wonder how many of us are sensible enough to find whether this is what we want from life. I, for one, hate such an existence. I know if you go down to brass tacks, I do not care much for a big house, a swanky car or a designer handbag. For me life was always finding joy in small (rather insignificant) things . But still I too end up following the circle of routine- mindlessly. Underneath , there is a fear , of losing , of being insignificant ,of not doing well at work, as a spause /friend /daughter but God knows for what. I mean, with this speed, there is a good chance that I will end up spending prime of my life without living it at all. Even when I can afford to be free , I find occupation for my mind . I go out, sit in a park and I start making mental list of things to do . I succumb to this race of routine…I am not destined to win. None of us win this race anyways.

I enjoy doing ‘nothing’. As a poet famously said ‘ just stand and stare’. Believe me, it is a very calming state of life when you are not concerned about your office, your home or even about your world. The other day , a colleague gave me a lovely metaphor for this. In some context she mentioned that thoughts in our mind are like vehicles on a busy route . At times there is traffic jam, but if vehicles keep on moving…it sorts out eventually. She suggested that if you look at your thoughts as a traffic jam situation and get involved , it only leads to road rage . So, just be the spectator from the window who is looking down on a busy street. Traffic jam will take care of itself. I noticed that off late, I’m not very good at sitting still; even if I’m watching television I’m very busy watching television, or I’m reading or eating at the same time. I crave having nothing to do, but the problem is that there are always so many things that need doing that I rarely feel I can justify a prolonged period of inactivity. However much I love my inactivity- filled leisure, I end up spending most of my waking hours resigning to the demand s of routine. No time to stand and stare , No time to cry , No time to analyse where life s taking me , No time to stop and redo or remake , No time to make a new path , still treading the rough old path , still doing the tasks situations demand and priding myself at achieving the results of the preset tasks...Perhaps time is ripe for balancing doing with being!

Its strange how lives of young people follow a series of activities . Get a degree- get a job- get married- buy a house – produce a kid (or two) – start setting similar tasks for your kids . I look around I hardly find anyone who has successfully broken this trap of routine. Still worse, those who for some reason fail to get into the orbit of routine, feel miserable....incomplete and sulk. With half our mind always on the moving fingers of our watch, we hardly give our 100% to the work and we hardly ever do things we like. Most of us also develop such loathsome disinterest in all things that they almost sound mechanical in doing things they do. Even when we read good books or watch cinema, the dominant thought is to somehow squeeze this too in the day’s schedule, lest we miss it…rather than the simple joy of experiencing it. I noticed something the other day that almost everyone I knew was aware about a meaningless statement by a minister but no one noticed this really huge moon this weekend – which was in fact the brightest full moon on the year. So even in TV and newspapers we hunt for news which matter- in a very worldly sense of the term. I know colleagues who deliberately pick up hobbies which are ‘in’ these days . But who am I to judge others when it is now ages since I have done something, I feel strongly about. It so happened that I was reading a book on Mathematics and it occurred to me that all the great mathematicians, like great philosophers or great musicians had the luxury of time. Of concentrating things they were working on. They were not engaged in multitasking (with petty routine things) like me. They come up with such original ideas, such beautiful concepts and changed the course of world.

Today I sat still all by myself in a busy marketplace café for almost two hours . I watched people. I observed how people walk, how many young girls seemed to talk endlessly on their mobiles , the difference in movement and expression between people with a purpose and people killing time. I unnerved people out by making unsolicited eye contact and I quietly noted shop assistants going about their business unaware that they were being scrutinized didn’t buy a paper, read a book or pretend to do things with my mobile, I just looked out of the window. At first I felt faintly awkward, worrying that I might look like a Norma No-Mates, , but gradually I relaxed into it. After that it was me looking out to the world from a distance. The world carried on at its own spped and I, the observer just noticed its preserce. It was bliss. Very meaningful 'living' moments ...the taste of which lingered on for long. I strongly recommend this treatment to all other tired souls like mine. Just rebel against the routine. Believe me- all important, urgent and immediate things can wait .

Yes, WH Davies was right –“What is this life if, full of care,/We have no time to stand and stare./No time to see, in broad daylight,/Streams full of stars, like skies at night./No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,/And watch her feet, how they can dance./No time to wait till her mouth can/ Enrich that smile her eyes began.”