The vicious circle

So now that I have stated quite plainly as to how dissappointed I have become at the hot chocolate quality that is being dished at various places in San Diego, I would go ahead and try to describe as to how fate has conspired against me in a cruel way and has forced me to drink it day after day.

So I go to cafe vita and I am there minding my own business, standing in the line, waiting for my turn. And I am looking at the guy next to me and from the looks of it he looks to me like a guy who, on principle, hates skim milk. He seems like the guy who would gladly give his thumb away for a good cup of fat rich, cocoa abundant hot chocolate. He looks like a guy who has his heart in the right place. If given a chance, he would much rather jump off a cliff than be made to drink a substandard piece of chocolate beverage. So I obviously sympathise with him and I am just hoping that he does not order a hot chocolate since there are few things worse in this world than watching an innocent hope getting mutilated. And I am saying to myself, god please save him from this cruel realization, this harsh truth, this malignant reality. And then he says, "Can I have a hot chocolate please" and I could feel my eyes getting slightly moist.

Anyways, thats not even the point. Its me next and I have resolutely decided that come what may, its not going to be hot chocolate. If its the day of the armageddon and nuclear warfare has wiped out all the beverages in the world and Cafe Vita is the last place thats still serving something drinkable and that something happens to be just hot chocolate, I would gladly slit my throat and embrace the sweet respite of death. So with determination in my eyes and resolution in my clenched fists, I move ahead with my mind set on the goal in the distance. One hot cup of plain coffee. And I reach the counter and there is this lovely girl there and before I could speak anything she goes, "So, the usual ?"... Now I don't think I am particularly easy to convince but I have a slight weakness. I am suseptible to the whims of 50% of the human population if only their wishes are accompanied with an affable smile. Thats exactly the reason why I have a bank account in a bank that gives me .5% interest on savings. Thats precisely the reason why I had a phone connection during the first year in US with a service that did not even provide connectivity in my house. So I am in this huge conundrum here. Its my principles against my temptations. Its the grand war between good and evil, morality and weakness and while I am chewing over this great big issue, looking all the while like a deer in a headlight, she takes my confused silence as a sign of consent and goes about her task of preparing that godawful drink for me. And I can only stare at her in despair for I know that I have been caught in this never ending cycle here. Next time she wouldn't even have to ask me the question "So, the usual ?". She would just have to give that look of acquaintance and I would melt into a malleable whole. She would just have to smile and I would be forced to say yes. Thats the whole problem with this world. People are unaware of how strong their unsaid, unintended signals can be. Or is it just me and my habit of reading between the lines ?

Thats not all. The girl at Cafe Vita doesn't even wait for me to order now. The one at Fairbanks starts preparing hot chocolate even if she spots me at the horizon. And the one at Roma has gone ahead and decided whats best for me. And its not hot chocolate, its some godawful drink called Cafe au Lait and by the holy mother of god, I have never had it but somehow she thinks that I am the kind of person who would drink Cafe au Lait. So everytime I go there, she gives a smile, says "the usual ?" and brings me a Cafe au Lait. Seriously, this 50% of the population is killing me.



Lets see if you can picture this. Lets see if I have the talent to recreate even a part of the magic with words.

You wait impatiently at the red signal flanked on one side with a Ford Mustang and on the other with a Chevy SUV, the size of your motorcycle hugely dwarfed by those of the cars around you. You stand on the lane marking with barely a few inches between you and the cars on your either side. You can almost smell the grunt of the Mustang and touch the intimidating power of the SUV. Its 2 seconds to green and you shift your motorcycle into first gear with the clutch reining in the 100 horsepowers waiting restlessly to burst forth at the slightest command of your right hand. You rev up the engine by holding the clutch and providing a slight throttle. You rev just so much that the bike creates a graceful grunt revving along at about 5000 rpms, the range where it is designed to deliver its highest power. 3-2-1 and you release the clutch fast enough so that your bike acts like a slingshot. With an acceleration that almost lifts the front tyre off the ground and pushes you off the bike, you zoom forward like a well directed bullet and then you see the rear view mirrors with the cars appearing like 2 small dots in just a matter of a few seconds. But power often is blinding. You push it so hard in the first gear that it starts making a loud groan and then you push some more until the revs almost start hovering around the redline. At this point, you shift into 2nd repeat the whole procedure, the 3rd, 4th, 5th and by the time you reach the 6th gear you either run out of road or run out of guts to push it harder than 110 mph. And all this happens in a blink of an eye barely taking 8 seconds. And those 8 seconds define a euphoric state of being when nothing else matters in the world, when you are ready to put your life at stake for a surge of the adrenaline punch, when you keep hovering over the edge that separates life and limb from a mangling catastrophe and in those 8 seconds you are ready to play the game on life's own terms. In those 8 seconds you choose to ignore the whats and ifs of the situation.

Intense concentration elelvates you to higher plane of consciousness where everything seems to move slowly.You are then moving so fast that the pattern of white strips marking lane boundaries dissolve into one single line. The wind is so unforgiving that it is ready to push you off the brink at the slightest possible lapse. Tears from you eyes are flowing so fast that they evaporate before they can reach the ears. And then you lean forward ever so slightly to hide behind the small windscreen in the front so that you and the bike now form an aerodynamic whole. And then you accelerate some more and you look down to see the black tarmac running below the bike in a frantic hurry. And it looks all so real. Its not like a car. Its the cruel hard road thats moving just a few inches from your toes. Touch it at those speeds - and you will be news in the morning papers next day. Then you look ahead to see a sharp curve and with irrationality defining everything you do, you accelerate yet again. You accelerate till the point where you know that going any further would make effective braking impossible and at that point you leave the throttle and push the brake paddles as hard as possible without sending your bike in an uncontrolled slip. And while all this is going on, you lean into the curve more and more and more and finally your toes touch the road and you suddenly realize how close you grazed past an accident. You straighten the bike thinking this is crazy and that you would never do it again. But then you see another curve far in the distance and your eyes lighten up and your right hand, subconsciously, starts rotating and you know that you have to get this right yet again, hopefully for the last time.

Although I believe that knowledge and experience are overrated, I infact have learned something from this. It feels so good because its a metaphor for a good life. Not knowing where you are going. Not aware of the consequences of your actions. Not worried about life's various buggings. Not being responsible for anyone else. That moment has its own life. It stands apart from the baggages of the past and the future. That one moment of the present stands free from the tentacles of life.

Meanwhile, I don't nearly drive like that. Atleast never with a pillion rider. I am infact a very safe driver :)


The death of hot chocolate

Here is the deal. The art of making a good cup of hot chocolate is painfully dead. It is dead in the hands of Cafe Roma, it is sadly perished in the premises of Fairbanks and it is lying in a blood spattered carapace in the fresh battlefields of Cafe Vita. Believe me, I don't want to carry the mantle of the agonisingly precise clairvoyant that I am generally considered (*smug glow of self-satisfaction*), hence I shudder when I see my theory of increasing 'isotropicity of mediocrity' taking shape in the various walks of life.

This new theory is like the second law of thermodynamics and so far, I have failed to find even a single exception. Much like "Sadi Carnot" predicted that left on its own, the universe would move from a more organised state to a disorganised one, my theory says that in the absence of proper punitive measures and in the presence of an illusion of free will, humanity is apt to move from a creatively rich state to a relatively mentally dead one. And it happens because there isn't really a free will anywhere but only an illusion of one. If you look at the history of human civilization you would see something very peculiar. Creativity has seen surges of genius during small phases of time. While art flourished in leaps and bounds during Rennaisance in Europe, music for examplt saw a peak in the quality of content beginning the later part of Mughal era till the first part of the last century in the Indian subcontinent, and science had its heydays during Galileo/Newton and then finally culminated with a bang with the advent of Einstein and the brilliant assortment of minds who gave rise to elementary physics. There is something common to all these times. The greatest feats in human creativity were never carried because of social support or need but despite that. It was a result of the free will that failed to acknowledge the immediate needs of the masses and didn't bother itself with the petty details of incremental developments that is so necessary for the sustainence of the society. We start witnessing mental decay when free will is replaced with just its illusion. Its free will in the theoretical sense of term. Its just a word and frankly not of much use. While free to do whatever we want, its rare that we muster courage enough to disregard social norms and actually carry out our heart's desires. Anyways I have digressed quite a lot.

What I want to point out here is that the decay of the art of making good hot chocolate is a perfect example of increasing mediocrity and the fact that its equally prevalent in atleast 4 different cafes in San Diego just goes on to show that this mediocrity suffers from a debilitating isotropicity of space. Risking being termed a geek, the quality of hot chocolate in general seems to be a function of two variables. While it is symmetric in space and hence can be adequately represented by spherical coordinates, it seems to have an exponentially decaying dependence of time. Qualitatively speaking, a good hot chocolate is more than just a mixture of milk, chocolate and sugar. In-fact it would be a mistake calling it a mere mixture. Its like a compound wherein the whole becomes larger than the sum of its parts. While I am at it, let me just give this new compund a symbol (M6C2S : 6 parts of milk mixed with 2 parts of chocolate and 1 part of sugar) so that it could finally take its rightful place under the sun. It has a denser consistency than mere milk but falls well short of the disgusting solidity of a smoothie. Making it from 2% or fat free milk should officially be declared a crime liable to be dealt with capital punishment. In fact making anything with anything other than the full blown fat rich milk should atleast carry a penalty of 500$. While I am at it, lets just ban fat free milk and propose a resolution for burning up all the soy fields in the world so that people have better things to piss off their times with than making vegetarian chicken, low fat milk and meat-like vegetarian burger patties. I see that I have digressed again but then thats how chaos works. Thats how incoherence earns her bread and butter.


Feeling Weak

Its 2 in the night and I cannot sleep because I slept for the most part of the day today. So I thought, hmm, what shall I do ? Lets see how honest I can be with myself and try to jot down my own weaknesses. I am sure, with the amount of matter that would be available, I will get bored and go down to sleep before I am even half way through. So here it goes, a hopefully honest analysis of myself:

1. I think I am a bit of a cynic. Especially when it comes to new aquaintances. For me, every new person I meet basically is a pain to begin with unless he or she proves otherwise. People have pointed out my amazing ability at nitpicking small faults with everything under the sun. On the brighter side, it doesn't take a lot for me to change my first impressions and I believe, I get on pretty well with most of the people for a small duration of time and a small number of people for most of the time i.e. once I come to know them better. As far as other things are concerned, I have extremely strong likes and dislikes. My opinions on my dislikes are in many cases so concrete that I am generally not able to see their good points. Yes, opinionated would be the word. Extremely highly opinionated. Close mindedness can also be associated with me.

2. I am a loner. There is no way I can indulge in team activities or work with a group of people towards a common goal. I find it extremely suffocating. While I am at it, let me just say that I pretty much suck at every quality an average manager should possess. Team Building, leadership, and all that jargon those MBAs use. And its not even that I feel sad at it. There is a sense of wicked happiness at knowing that I suck at those.

3. Emotionally weak. I have this stupid habit of letting my heart do the thinking in important matters of life, something that has more than once landed me into trouble. I try to put up a facade of being emotionally secure but honestly speaking, if people think that way, only my acting needs to be commended. Which also makes me a bit of a hypocrite, I guess. But then I guess, everyone is a bit of a hypocrite in some way or another. I try not to be one in most matters and in this particular one, I can atleast take solace in the fact that my hypocrisy does not harm anyone else.

4. Possesiveness and Jealousy. I generally do not care about most of the things in the world. I certainly do not possess these feelings when it comes to anything material. And by anything, I mean absolutely anything material in the world. But there have been cases when I surprised myself at how jealous and possesive I could be and how detrimental I could be for myself.

5. I think I have bipolar disorder. Or thats what I would like to believe since it sounds so cool. Anyways, what I was really trying to say is that I have huge mood swings.

6. Most of whatever I say is junk. I somehow manage to maintain a consistent state of incoherence despite being absolutely teetotal. I have this vague feeling that we all take life too seriously so in my quest of correcting things out, I am contributing in my own small way towards a more meaningless future, mainly by maintaining a largely chaotic state of thought most of the time.

7. I am a narcissist. Hence this blog, hence the other blogs. Most importantly, hence this particular post. Even though I am just talking about my weaknesses, there is the guilty realization somewhere of the saying: Bad publicity is better than no publicity.

Feeling sleepy now. Will probably complete the list if I have enough enthu left.



If thought is food for the brain, I must say, the last few days have been quite sumptuous for my malnutritioned mind. Through intense deliberations and numerous arguments, through myriad paths of reasoning, and diverse ways of logic, I seem to have realized whats only very well known about life already. While Descarte set the stage on fire by his cogitation on the trustworthiness, or rather the lack of it in most matters pertaining to life except one's capacity to doubt, I have formally come to the conclusion, 'Why bother ?'. Put in other words, it simply means what each one of us is subconsciously aware of but are too chicken to admit, i.e. 'It does not matter'. Not only does everything not matter, the worse part is, driven by the higher intellect that we as humans have been gifted with, we just do not want to face this cruel fact.

And how did I realize this ? Simple. I just went through the history of human civilization and did not find even a single human being who was born before 1890 and had not died by now. Countless philanthropists, numerous criminals, innumerable literateurs and poets and leaders, thousands of philosophers and saints, all of them just withered away against the winds of time. Sure we remember a lot of them by what they did but at the risk of hurting our collective ego, might I just add here, 'So ?'. Human life has this cruel habit of wearing rose tints on its glasses. It smears the truth that is painfully out there and gives us a misplaced sense of self-importance, and creates for us a cruel illusion of a higher purpose for which a mortal being should aspire. Our narcissistic indulgence, often bodering on vulgar self-occupation, has created this elaborate stage where we are led to believe that since we have a higher capacity of intelligent cognition as compared to say a monkey, somehow our purpose here on earth should be higher and nobler than the lesser creatures who primarily live to feed and reproduce. We often tend to ignore the argument that had these animals possesed the intelligence to invent slightly better means of intellectual pastimes, they would probably have lived their lives for things more than just food and reproduction. Come to think of it, we all do the same. We have invented pastimes our intelligence allows and are happy to live through our lives on them without even thinking about why we should be living the way we are. Thats exactly what animals do. Nature, as the great leveller she is, makes us all equal in this subtle way wherein each of the species on this planet just keeps doing what it knows best, completely unconcerned about the weightier issues of 'What and Why'. And then she acts like the unreasonable hag that she is and punishes humanity for its intelligence with its painful realization of its emotional suffering.

All this intelligence that we are so smug of, only goes into making our lives more miserable. Of all the human faculties that our intelligence has engendered and that have led to his sorry state, I believe there is none more cruel than hope. It keeps driving us like a horse with a carrot tied in his front and we keep running after that carrot week after week, month after month, year after freaking year. True, the carrot keeps changing but the thing that never changes is its capacity to delude. Somewhere down below it makes us all believe that we are working towards a better life, never actually realizing what that ideal is. And it is only natural. In this constantly flowing world, it is only appropriate that our ideals are also fluid. Hope deludes us in the guise of love, it decieves us in the garb of wealth, misleads us under the viel of fame and tricks us in success. And it does it all so cruelly and laughs all the way at the fool man makes of himself.

So what should man do to circumvent this conundrum? How should life be led? Now that we have concluded that the worth of our lives is no pricier than that of an earthworm and no cheaper than the greatest leaders, how exactly should it be led ? On a scale as cosmic as our universe, it is only a folly as blinding as narcissism that can make us believe otherwise. I think that the least that we can do is to live in a way that makes us happy. Its sounds pretty simple in theory but alas, human mind has developed to such a complexity, it refuses to accept things so simple and untangled. There are so many issues cluttering the space between our ears, it is hard to fathom how such simplicity could be comprehended. Even if we do realize it, our social considerations have placed such tight restraints over our souls, it is often next to impossible to put our noble intentions in practice. Perhaps we can all live a better life if we just realize that its not going to matter in the end. It does sound awfully pessimistic but who said that the rules of life could not and should not have been written in the Shakesperean way of a shattering tragedy. Realization of truth can never be termed pessimistic. It is merely intelligent and like all things intelligent, it has an underlying sadness. Its like a dying flower. Its not the flower that is sad. Its the idea of its dying that is sad and that idea is nothing but a child of our own intelligence.



तेरे ग़मों की डली बनाकर ज़ुबाँ पे रख ली है देखो मैंने
वो क़तरा क़तरा पिघल रही है, मैं क़तरा क़तरा ही जी रहा हूँ

इन आँखों की खामोश सिलवटों में, लबों की शर्माई करवटों में
रुकी हुयी एक आह दिल में, ज़हर मैं कितना जा पी रहा हूं
... मैं क़तरा क़तरा ही जी रहा हूँ

वो दिन जो मेरे करीब आकर, नज़र मिलाकर था तूने देखा
ये दिन जो यादें सिसक रहीं हैं, मैं फिर भी सपना वो सी रहा हूं
... मैं क़तरा क़तरा ही जी रहा हूँ

झुलस चुकी इस शाख पे अब मायूस ख्वाबों की राख बस है
तड़पती साँसे अनसुनी सी, कहानी चुप अनकही रहा हूं
... मैं क़तरा क़तरा ही जी रहा हूँ


कविता की पहली दो पंक्तियाँ गुलज़ार की हैं । बाकी मेरा छोटा सा प्रयास ।

About Me

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Like a particularly notorious child's tantrums, a mountaneous river's intemperance, a volcano's reckless carelessness and the dreamy eyes of a caged bird, imagination tries to fly unfettered. Hesitant as she takes those first steps, she sculpts those ambitious yet half baked earthen pots.