Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Are You Lonely When You Are Alone?

Disclaimer: In the following pages I have used the female pronoun, whenever there is a need.

For ease of construction.

No gender discrimination intended. Replace every "she" and "her" with "he" and "him" and the article remains the same.

Furthermore in one of the conversations with a friend of mine (happens to be a she, by the way) she mentioned “We do not have time to realize that we are lonely, and when we do, it is so late, that we get used to it” – I started to wonder why would one reach such a stage or say such a thing and what follows is a result of that thinking process.

“If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company” said Jean-Paul Sartre.

On the face of it, it looks like a clever play of words. But Sartre is not the one to play around with words without imparting a serious message. 

This one is no exception.

The term lonely implies that you are missing a good company. Thus the word, in its definition, explains the basic problem. We seek that “good company” from without and not from within. Why do we put the essence of our happiness in someone else’s hands?

The problem stems from the society that we live in. Too much of how our lives are conducted is dictated by societal norms. Without any strong reasoning.

A husband needs a wife.

A child needs a sibling.
Or friends.

A family needs a small group to which they feel they belong to in order to ensure that they are not left alone. You move to a different town, the first thing you do is search for someone with whom you can relate with; based on region, likes, religion, profession, hobbies etc.

One grows up under these “conditional happiness” as a norm.

A festival is complete ONLY when you have visitors.

A birthday is a party ONLY when you have guests/relatives crowding your home or the chosen venue and you end up spending longer hours cleaning up.

Any significant event of your life is incomplete if it is NOT celebrated in the presence of scores of outsiders.

One is conditioned from the earliest memory to put one’s happiness in the hands of others.

If a child is seen playing all by herself, the first reaction she elicits is sympathy.
“Poor child – playing all alone; apparently no friends”

When a person seeks solitude as solace to enjoy moments with only herself, the society sees her as an outcast.

And to ensure that she does not get to enjoy her moments of peace she is branded as arrogant, an epithet no parent would tolerate.

The parents would rather have her miserable than be called arrogant when she actually is at peace with herself.

If you are all by yourself, you do not have to bother about
-          What you say
-          How you say it
-          Whether it is misinterpreted
-          Whether it is mis-reproduced, out of context
-          Explaining what you meant
-          Explaining what you did not mean

I often go to the mountains. There are many good reasons why I do that.

One – I stay reasonably fit

Two – the trek, the scenery, the clean air are all invigorating

Three – the beer at the end of the climb is really awesome

Four – the most important is I do not have to do any bullshit

I talk to no one. I offend no one. I take help from no one.

I do pass by people. It does not matter to them , nor to me, whether I acknowledge their presence or not. I am not branded as arrogant if I complete a trip without acknowledging a presence of even one of them.

Even if I am branded as such, I do not know. And hence it does not affect me.
I am the happiest and most at peace with myself when I am on the mountains.

Or when I go cycling.

Or when I am running.

Or when I am reading a book.

Or when I am writing something.

Do you see a pattern?

I am at peace with myself when I am alone.

Does not mean I do not like company of other humans or canines.

I do enjoy the few moments when I need to interact with people other than I. On most of the occasions these interactions do leave me as happy as I could be when I am alone. That is because I choose my company wisely.

Over the years I had undergone a metamorphosis.

From being too concerned about the emotions and needs of the others I had reached a stage of self-centered life. Nowadays I only do what makes me happy.

I do not hurt anyone. I do not offend anyone. When I do not like the company of some I simply remove them from my life and I continue and I find life is much simpler.

If someone feels that my ignoring them is a great insult and that I am unsocial and arrogant, I do not make any efforts to clarify such impressions.

Usually such sentiments are whispered behind my back and never in person.

From an attention seeking child, always insecure, always wanting to please others, always paying attention to what everyone told that I should be doing, and carrying out the same without any imperfections, and left wondering why life is looking incomplete and empty, I reached a stage where the only person I care for is me.

I talk to me, and I listen to myself.

And overnight my conversations have become simpler and meaningful and full of purpose.

The disagreements are easier to resolve.

There is no pride to swallow.

No shame to hide.

No discomfort to squirm out of.

Of late the only time I feel lonely is when I am surrounded by people.

I long to return to my company.

Good bye then.

I am waiting for me! 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cyber Yogi !!

I have seen the best part of my generation (thanks Howl ! ) spending their efforts, time and money seeking the perfect meditation technique that would set them free.

And fail.

I found an easier, surefire method. Absolutely free!!!!!

Going through your promotions, unwanted mails in your inbox and venturing into spam folders of your Gmail should be the perfect place to start (and end) the search.

And the best part; it is free!!

It moves my heart when I see Dr.Batra relentlessly expressing his concerns over my hair loss. And expressing sympathy. Suggesting various options available to restore my crown to its former hirsute glory.

And he hasn’t even met me.

A gentleman who has a very long name, and equally unpronounceable, begs almost every fortnight to let him deposit an obscene sum into my account. I tried writing the sum mentioned on a scrap of paper and I was stunned by the number of zeros that followed 761.


In INR it was even more scary. I am left speechless.

He is not alone in this endeavor. He is given a stiff competition by a bloke from Barclay’s bank, someone who is associated with facebook lottery, another gent who represents HM the Queen from Royal Enfield and a last one from the troubled nation of Congo.

Having addressed my balding crown and pathetic bank balance the attention is now turned to more private affairs.

I, till date, have no clue about what makes these voluptuous women from Ukraine consider me worthy of their carnal propositions. And boy are they ever discreet? They, probably rightly, assume that a man with a balding crown and pathetic bank balance is not bright on grey cells and spell out their intentions in lurid details. And they have such fancy links peppered with $, & and # signs and with some strange alphabets thrown in.

The last in this sequence is a logical extension. Unheard of pharma companies offer me Viagra without prescriptions and a whole lot cheaper. I am completely flabbergasted by the concern shown by these pharma firms, who must have diligently followed my mails and realized the need once they have encountered the offers from the Ukrainian damsels. Imagine a global industry spending time on attending to a single man’s need.

Lesson learnt: Wary of unrequested assistance.

When you have the will power to control your temptations and manage to send these to the trash bins, you are on the road to what some fancy meditation course offered by a saffron clad guru could probably achieve.

And what is more, you have saved a great amount of money too.

The next in line is the self-appointed matrimonial sites who had decided that my married life is heading towards a disaster and decide to act before the calamity happens. Their benevolent heart can’t begin to fathom my miserable life after years of conjugal bliss and they offer me a wide spectrum of brides. It surprises me to look at the variety of women available, ready to marry me at the first yes from me. These sites express their grief when one of the offered brides is taken by another person.

I repeat their banshee cry “Krishna, members of your community are stealing your brides”.

Believe me, it is not an exaggeration. They advise that speed is the essence.
Lesson learnt : One in hand is better than two in bush. (No pun intended)

There ! In a matter of under 30 minutes you have been able to resist two best temptations known to humankind. Money and women.

If you are a diligent browser of all your mails without ruthlessly dismissing them, your chances of more such experiences increase. All of them help you become a better person. The more temptations you are successfully able to resist, the stronger an entity that emerges.

Free movie tickets, earn more interest, 95% discount sales, free goods worth more than what you shop for, …. The list is virtually endless.

Plus the cyber temptations are now in an advanced stage of playing the seductress.

Try this.

Go to Google and search, just an example, flight tickets from Prague to Kilimanjaro.

Sit back and watch the fun!

For the next few months, advertisement  offers of fly cheap from Prague to Kilimanjaro pop up on whatever you browse.

You will be reading the match report of Manchester United scoring a dramatic Fergie Time winner and Bam! A pop up from Cheap Air offering you a return flight for 400 €!

In the middle of watching Oliver skewering Trump, WHAM ! an ad break offering the same cheap air tickets at an even lower price.

At the end of it all you emerge stronger!
And become a Cyber Yogi !
Impervious  to all that the world can throw at you!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Enjoy your meal

A small cup of salad

A plastic cup of water. If you can open it without spilling its contents you are already qualified for the tightrope walk in the next Olympics.

Another small cup of dessert, impossible to break with the spoon, but once broken into, is guaranteed to drip all over you.

A piece of bread, crust stronger than Scylla, but the interior is made of indescribable form promised to send a spray of dust in the near vicinity.

A piping hot casserole with contents totally inedible.

Sparkling pieces of stainless cutlery; knife, fork and a spoon.

A chocolate, of the wrapper kind and a toothpick to close it out.

Optional beer, wine or a drink of your choice.

If you can place all this in an area that is roughly 0.02 square meters, you are ready for a long distance flight.

To raise the difficulty level, you have to do it with two other people sitting on either side of you doing the same.

Welcome aboard.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Finer Madness

Those of you who have not read my earlier blog would fail to see the connection in the title
So here is the link to the Part 1



A lot can happen over a coffee ; goes the catchphrase for a coffee chain ad.
Whoever wrote this knew what she/he was talking about.
In the cold evenings over the new year, the three protagonists of part 1 were warming themselves with endless cups of the excellent coffee that was being served at Dama Pykova (https://www.facebook.com/D%C3%A1ma-Pykov%C3%A1-Restaurant-1403673229907011/ )

New year is the time to lick the wounds, make new resolutions and all such inanities. It did not take long to conclude that a second visit to the majestic Kilimanjaro is due.

So the die was cast; before the adrenalin could die out, we booked the tickets, paid for the tour operator. Sort of a financial commitment to ensure that we do not back off.

And July-August saw us revisit the place that can be called "the torture chamber where we willingly submit and pay for it too" ; literally and metaphorically.

A few highlights from the trip:

  • For the records, all three made it to the top - so the next coffee session is not paved with any lurking danger :)
  • We reached Kilimanjaro on a Wednesday and Qatar Airways dutifully sent one of the items of luggage to Istanbul.
  • We were to start our climb on Thursday and decided to postpone it by a day. This turned out to be a blessing, as we could take rest and the luggage did arrive on Friday morning at 0600 hours just in time as we were starting at 0800 hours. 
  • The person whose luggage did not arrive had, by then, resigned to renting all gears necessary.
  • In retrospect, probably this made a significant difference. The weather was PERFECT on all days including the summit climbing night. The crowd was unbelievably thin. One could not have orchestrated it better.
  • We were also faster than the previous time.
  • We reached each destination at least two to three hours earlier than we did last time.
  • Reach early and you get a long rest before the killing routine the next day.
  • Also, the toilet was an improvement. No longer the cylindrical tall bucket which petrified us with a threat to topple. This time, we had a proper topple-proof toilet with a built in flush.
  • The loss of appetite was more pronounced.
  • We made the summit climb on Monday night and we, in fact, ate nothing (few slices of fruit and half a bowl of soup, strong cup of ginger tea loaded with sugar) between dinner on Sunday and lunch on Wednesday.
  • Our mothers would have been extremely happy if they had seen us on lunch time on Wednesday. 
  • How much we ate and how quickly we gobbled it up was beyond description.
A guide makes a difference.

It is often mentioned that experience has no equal. I saw a demonstration. Our Guide Omari Hoza kept a watchful eye on us throughout without becoming a dick, and often he would order one to step forward and take the lead and send another to the back. Hats off to him. By the way he has been a guide for 12 years now and he does about 20 to 25 climbs to Kili per year. Jaw drop!!!!

The Ghost Porters

The guides usually steal the limelight. But a word must be mentioned in the honour of the porters. They are there when we leave the camp. After we leave, they pack the tents, at times even our sleeping bags, somehow manage to cross us en route to the next camp, settle up everything and wait for us with everything in place. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Not once did they fail in their routine.

Lesson in humility

On the last day when we were ready to leave, the guide asked us to assemble and stood in front of us with folded hands and delivered a small talk. the gist was "We tried our best, we hope you are satisfied, if something was missing or not up to your expectation, I am sorry on behalf of my team".
Sounds plastic, right? Straight out of a customer satisfaction survey manual, right?
He said that with so much earnestness, it brought tears to my eyes. I choked in my reply. I made a promise, then and there, that if I return to Kili for any reason Omari shall be my guide. 
Later on, while waiting for the guide to collect our certificates, I was going through the guest notebook, where visitors left their impressions after their climb.
We fucking made it ! was one remark.
We conquered Kili was another


The climbing of a mountain must be an exercise in humility. It is expected to make you feel small. One must be thankful and express one's gratitude to the mountain for having allowed us, mere mortals, to stand atop her briefly.

If the feeling is one of "I have achieved", well, the mountain may have been climbed, but the person has , certainly, fallen.

My friends and other animals

And yes, we also did the customary safari for two days. When someone mentioned Ngorangoran crater, I expected a small valley with a water pool and all the animals converge there to drink, a la a Disney film. 

This crater was endless - must have been a few 1000 km2 in area. 

A stray thought..........

Besides porters and guides who do it for a profession, how many may have climbed Kili more than once? If someone ever decides to compile this statistic, I qualify.