Monday, May 28, 2007

Life in a Metro

I have been living most of my earnest life in a Metro. Infact, except Bombay (now Mumbai) I have lived in all three erstwhile Metro cities of India. I spent four years in Calcutta (now Kolkata), worked for two years in Madras (now Chennai) and have spent the last two years in Delhi. Although, two and four, in years, may be limited periods, one certainty was loud and clear. There was more to a Metro City than just promiscuous relations. In all these cities and else where I have stayed, I have come to know of teachers’ wives in physical relations with their husband’s students, friends sleeping with their best friend’s wives, girls sleeping with their ex lovers even after being married. Most of these were arranged marriages. I know of love marriages with the same interim scripts.

When you give a name to a substance, its essence should be felt. No one can deny the fact that monsoons and local trains and are the essence of Mumbai. But then making it rain after every alternate day and shifting scenes from bus stops to local trains, does it show the life of Mumbai? Having confessed of not having stayed in Mumbai ever, I may be wrong. But am sure, not all relations are strained in the city. Somehow, during the movie and after it was over this was what kept hitting me. And how come every couple is connected to the other in some or the other way? Why cannot one character be unaffected by another’s action or reaction in a hindi movie? May be in a three hour movie everything cannot be shown? Isn’t three hours enough? Haven’t we had some mind blowing movies of half that duration?

May be, if the movie was named Relations in a Metro or “Rishtae on Rastae” or something like that as most of the movie was on the roads of Mumbai, I would be a satisfied watcher. It is a well edited movie, though. Whatever shown was entertaining. But, walking out of the movie hall, the only connection which I could feel with the movie, was the music. All songs are well written, ‘rocking’ compositions and amazingly placed in situations in the movie. It’s a refreshing change to watch the real performers on screen along side the actors.

Temptations are in every walk of life. Be it the new car which your neighbor bought, new house your boss purchased or the new girl friend your already married colleague acquired. Everyone wants something new. Everyone wants change. Variety is the spice of life, goes well as a saying. But how many other famous quotes have we taken as seriously as this one? I am not blaming just men. If men get into an illegitimate relation, 95% of the times it is with a woman. Variety is what makes life spicy. Control makes life worth calling it, life.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Option to Choose

In all circumstances in life, we have only two choices. We decide either of the two. And life changes. I tried looking for a situation where we may have one choice or more than two choices. Analyzing a little more, all cases trimmed to be, two boxes, saying tick one of them! Life becomes what we choose it to be.

My “two choices only” theory struck me when I was caught by a traffic policeman for over speeding. I was well over 50 kms per hour when suddenly I realized I need to slow down as too many vehicles are crowding together ahead. At the speed I was driving, by the time I actually slowed down, and came near to the spot where other vehicles were, I came to the maximum speed limit actually allowed. No doubt, I screeched to a halt and was greeted by smiling traffic personnel. Now, I had only one choice, apologize. Or did I? I actually had another. I asked him what’s happening here? Very naturally, he replied, “we are trying to nab offenders”. I smiled back and said, “oh, that’s nice”, and kept a straight face. He then, very politely asked for my driving license. I took it out in a snap and handed it to him. He took the card, and started writing something in his note pad he was carrying. With a quizzing look I asked him, “What are you doing with my license?” It was then that he told me, I was over speeding and he is making a challan! Now, I had just one choice? Or did I? I could either argue and pay up eventually or pay up quietly. I asked him how much is the penalty? He gave me an amount which luckily I was carrying. I did not utter a word. He tore the challan, and requested me to sign it. I signed, paid him the amount and then asked him, “what is the speed limit?” He said, “Sir, it is 40 kms per hour”. I could just reply that I thought it was 50 kms per hour. He responded that I was much over my ‘thought’ speed limit too. He kept smiling during the whole conversation and in fact, all this while, he addressed me as Sir, in each and every sentence. I drove off the barricade slowly, murmuring I don’t remember what.

I was driving to Office early morning. My drive is a one hour drive if there is normal traffic on road, which on most days isn’t. I actually take atleast 75 minutes to 90 minutes on most days. I leave home well on time so that I don’t need to drive rash and high. This day too was no exception. However, early morning, driving to office, being stopped and asked to pay up, I should have been mighty irritated and cursing everyone around; the traffic rules, the traffic policeman, the people who made these traffic rules, the government (the only entity which is accused, abused and maligned for everything happening with our lives). And I had almost started doing just that. At that moment, my theory was born. I started thinking; I was at fault and was penalized for it. I always knew there is a speed limit (the actual figure was a mirage). And at that speed I knew I was over speeding. Once caught, I could have in no way avoided this situation. I had to pay the penalty. But I had two choices. Either I ruined my day by starting it in a pissed mood. Or, I realize my fault; accept it and forget it. The thought soothed me a little. I was feeling better.

I started generalizing my theory now. In academics, in marriage, in career, in writing, it applied everywhere! I did argue a bit with myself that I can choose to write in English or Hindi or any other language that am proficient at. But then, it struck me, the decision is to write or not. Once I decide to write, languages become options and not choices. The same was for marriage too. I decide to get married. God forbid, if something goes wrong in the relationship, it is not because of the other partner, it is because I decided to get married. The other person is one of the many options I had to get married to. My decision is the reason for all good (or bad) happenings in my life and never someone else. May be, that is the difference between options and choices.

We create options, but we make choices.