Burning Up.

Photo Credits: Ajai Singh

Photo Credits: Ajai Singh

We’re running in a circle,
Faster and faster,
Losing a little each day,
And we burn.

We’re chasing our own tails,
Unaware of the price paid,
We forget a little each day,
And we burn.

We’re handing out our souls,
To earn our pound of flesh,
Playing with fire each day,
So we burn.

Where do we really want to go,
What are we really trying to get,
We’re lost in so many questions,
Elusive are the answers, so we burn.

We say this is the way of life,
But is it really what we’re living for?
We stumble at the hint of honesty,
And we burn.

Restless and tired on the inside,
Confident and  alive on the outside,
We tire ourselves with the charades,
Set ourselves on fire, and burn.

How alive are we when we forget to live,
Wound up in our petty lives,
Running these mad races,
Isn’t enough of us already burnt?

Do we remember the last time,
When we looked up at the sky,
Soaked in the sun, sand and sea,
Enjoyed the tingling of the sun’s burn?

IT Happens Only In India (Part 1)

I sat on the bed. Barely able to breathe. Heart lodged in my throat. Palms sweating. One eye on the clock and the other on the phone. Nervously checking if the network was clear. That’s when the pacing started, I wore out the floor with my frantic walking up and down the room. Every time the phone would ring, I’d jump right outta my skin. And unsurprisingly, it always turned out to be customer care or telemarketing or my mum telling me to calm the hell down. So far, it wasn’t working. I took a friend’s advice and decided to step out. Distract myself a little bit. And so it was that i landed up at a crowded mall with a few friends to shop, when finally the phone did ring and it was the call that i’d been waiting for all day. I ran to the nearest restroom and picked up. Ten minutes later, I walked out of the restroom, absolutely stunned. My friends looking at me like they’d seen a ghost. I sat down and Abhinav asked,” So? What did they say?” Literally incapable of speech, I took a deep breath and broke the news to everyone,”I made it.”

The next two weeks seem like a blur to me. They passed in a flurry of collecting documents, finishing the pending formalities at the college, shopping, etc. Fast forward to April 6th, my first day at TelMaximus. I entered the lobby, outwardly confident in my Austin Reed suit, and a nervous as all hell on the inside. The lobby seemed quiet, the receptionist asked me to take a seat, said someone would be down shortly to get me. Within the next few minutes, I saw a familiar face. Prerna Kulkarni, apart from me, the other candidate who’d made it. We looked at each other and a wide smile spread across our faces. I’m not sure, but i think we both muttered, “thank god” under our breaths when we saw each other. While we were talking about what we both expected the day had in store for us, a lady walked into the reception to fetch us and took us to another lobby where at least 50 more people were waiting. “Laterals”, says Prerna. I looked a her with a mighty confused expression and she clarified, “off campus, or non- freshers”, comprehension dawned, and I made a mental note to not let my ignorance all hang out next time.

As we walked down to the induction hall, I soaked in my surroundings. Mahogany paneled corridors, people silently working in their cubicles, high security areas with guards, it all seemed like a lot to take in. The induction began, let me not beat around the proverbial bush here, but the whole thing kinda sucked. Prerna and I kept shooting each other looks of utter boredom. I’m sure I saw a couple of people dosing off, I was one of them. Thankfully we got pulled out of the induction by Pramod, our new boss, for our very first team lunch. What shall follow shall be a lesson in the subtle art of deception, but we’ll get to that later. And so it was that Prerna and I went on our first lunch with Pramod and Anirudh, a senior in our team, as a part of the Global Alliances and Channels team.

That day, I got home at 8 p.m. and met Abhi and Abhik(funny, I know. They were roommates too at the time.), and we spoke about what happened that day and how exciting it was that this time had finally come in our lives where we could finally say, that we’re standing on our own two feet. We had dinner and they left early to let me catch some sleep. That was the first time, in a long time that I hit the bed and fell asleep in seconds of getting in. I woke up straight to the sound of the alarm at 6. I couldnt wait to get back in there. Today was when I was to get my I Card and my cubicle, my desktop…. so excited.

The office was a good 15 kms away. I got an early start and was at work at 9 sharp. Prerna joined me shortly ad we both went and met Srishti, from our new team. She was Prerna’s classmate from MBA and had referred her for this job. A petite and pretty girl, piercingly intelligent eyes and an extremely quiet personality. I could see this was not going to be an affair to remember at all. I was going to have trouble with this girl. She showed us our seats and went along with us to get our formalities sorted. We were just getting comfortable at our new desks, when Shreeram Cherian walked on to the floor. We’d met him during our interviews. He was our new manager. Simple, portly fellow… unassuming. I instantly took a liking to him. There was something very protective about him. Just like a manger should be. We discussed our first few basic assignments and then he left us to it. So I finally had my show on the road. My job, colleagues, managers and their bosses- all sorted. Thus, began my introduction to the world of the cubicle jungle and the over crowded canteens. IT, truly, happens only in India.

As Within So Without.

It’s an awakening to find your self in unfamiliar territory with no directions and absolutely no faith. Being lost is one thing. Being lost and helpless is another. Ask a child who got separated from his parents in a crowd. Heart in his throat, scary stories of what happens to abducted kids in his mind. But we aren’t kids anymore. Now we’re as helpless as we believe ourselves to be. Now regardless of how lost we are, our intuitions have been trained to guide us. Finding your inner peace and direction takes some serious practice, and a good measure of patience. Our gut and the weapons we need to use it, have to be earned through a lot of suffering and pain. But the fruits of this labor are as sweet, as the taste of life without it is bitter.

Coming from a rough childhood and a pretty adventurous teenage, I’d mastered the art of living in the moment with not a care for tomorrow. Somehow, with time, what everyone else wanted and needed from me became more important, took priority. So it was no wonder that I always got the thin end of the stick, and the way that astounded me was sad. Unaware of the simplest of life’s truths. You are exactly what you want to be. I wanted to be the sacrificial lamb. I wanted to be relevant and I chose to do that by giving a piece of me to everyone.

It’s been a harsh lesson. One that I had learnt before too, but it was too long ago and I was much stronger then. I’ve started the journey of trusting myself again. It’s such a revelation. Human beings, as a rule, will believe anything that makes them feel like they’re the victim and that they are entitled to protection and vindication, in any form. At least the majority of them do. It’s a vice that takes a lot of gumption to break out of. I’ve been struggling with it. I should know.

So since life waits for no one, I figured, I had better relearn the good stuff. It’s been a long, tough, and tiring journey, and by no means is it over, but boy has it taught me what I’m really made of. It took a lot of work from a lot of people for me to even begin this journey. I wish that everyone sooner or later opens their eyes to what it is that they really want from themselves. What they want from the world and what the world wants from them is secondary. Hard lesson but well learnt. Sometimes situations make us want things that we don’t really need. In those moments of weakness, we make choices that hang around our necks like our personal crucifixes. The art to rising above, is literally that- Rise above. Learn to step back and take a look. An objective and impassioned look at the stakes. Too close to the system and you’ll miss the glitch, that’s the usual story. I’m learning to step back with all the faith and optimism in me. My only hope to fix and understand the mysteries that come with the age and time I live in, is to arm myself with everything that is strong in me.

Also, I’ve learnt the value of self- investment. Let me simplify- invest in yourself. It could be anything, but as long there is one thing that you do everyday for purely selfish reasons, you’ll find its much easier to be a better person. My partner in crime, Snigdha recently commented, and she does that a lot so it’s hard to keep a track, but she recently commented on how I seemed calmer. Those of you who know me, know that calmness is not my strong suit. She also brought to my notice, the fact that I’m absolutely ungrateful and ungracious about receiving compliments. Low self- esteem maybe? Remnants of a misspent adolescence? You bet. Both these observations arose from my personal growth project(top-secret). This self- investment has given me the pause that I needed now, more than ever. It’s teaching me to step back. It’s showing me my flaws. My friends and family are happier around me, and I could not be happier seeing them breathe easy again. Such peace I’ve found after years, and I say this with not an iota of exaggeration(touch wood).

I still fight my demons and still question myself every now and then. The difference is, that now I know that I can make the best of what I get. The way I see it, too many lemons make for a lot of tequila. I raise a toast to everyone who will land on this page to read my midnight ramblings and rants. Thank you for being a part of the healing. Thank you for giving me the push to get the sickness out of me. I’m not accepting an award, and this is not my acceptance speech, but now that the flood gates have been opened, the gratitude just cannot be contained.

This post is very personal to me and I want a few of you to know how much you helped. Mum n Dad, I’m speechless and stunned at your sheer capacity for love and respect. It’s always going to be my most important achievement that I could make you proud, in any small way that I could. Snigdha, I don’t have to say it. Words wont do you justice and you’re not someone who can be shortchanged. I hope I bring as much color to your life as you bring to mine. SC and PK(I’m assuming you guys will want this kept under wraps) god bless you for silently supporting me. Every coffee break and every gossip and gyan session means more to me than I will ever be able to tell you. You took me under your wings as protectively and unconditionally as I could have hoped for. Abhishek, my late night walking buddy, for hearing all my theories and stories and for being a constant critic to all my writing. You’re right, I’m fun. Arjun, for this beautiful gift that you gave me without knowing how desperately I needed it.  All the advice and all the trash talk has been legendary. And last, but by no means the least, Akshit, by bloodhound of a brother, for pampering me one minute and fighting about who gets the remote the second. You’ve reminded me of how it feels to have family around. You’re way too cute and cuddly for me to resist. I hope you tap into all that latent potential and become the best that you can be.

What would life be without that random phone call, the impromptu dinner, the bitching and tale tattling, the crazy adventures and escapades, the all nighters and the sweet soft moments with people you love. My sincere gratitude and a simple thank you to everyone who’s a part of my story. The balance that I seem to have found has come after paying a heavy price. My one take away is this: peace comes with practice and patience. And when it does, situations don’t matter and adversity backs down in front of you. Truly, one must be as within as one is without.