Happy, but lucky?

What is it like when you feel exhilarated, but the world around you goes about in blissful oblivion? Remember the bowler who sent the stumps flying, only to realize she had stepped over the crease? No madam, I’m not once questioning the validity of your excitement. If anything, the crease is probably an accomplice in conspiracy. No, I meant the feeling of having to swallow your pride along with all that booze, after your invitees do a no-show at your party. The world just doesn’t give a damn about you, does it?

Just in case you thought this little essay is about the virtue of being happy for others, it is not. Of course, one needs to be happy, all the time! If you are of the multitasking kind, as most of us are, you make space for happiness for others while stealing those moments of glee for yourself. Happiness here being, a state of being! It’s more about, shall we say, people syncing to your state of exuberance.

‘But how can you expect that? The world isn’t programmed that way!’ would probably be a standard response. Sure, they got the keyword right. Programmed. Imagine a charade at work where you go about giving hi-fives and back-slaps to every second chap you bumped into. (And please, can we keep Karan Johar out of this?) An observer of slightly higher refinement would whisper to their friend, ‘she must have smoked up some real good shit’ or ‘this is what comes of smoking cheap weed’. The masses would probably mutter among themselves, ‘bhai, bachke rehna usse! She is probably putting on an act’! Bad programming, maybe.

How is it then, that we end up talking zestfully to some people, keeping up with their demeanor? One would think we have a great party coming up, that our lives are a bouquet of pleasant surprises, and that we are perhaps well endowed. They may well be forgiven for assuming that we belong to similar worlds. How lucky! Step back a little and you’ll see that the people whose bearing we match will likely have many such circles of friends or connections. Positive vibes they give, we would like to attribute. Heck, they don’t even need a cause to celebrate. It is they who should be high on something.

So, the next time you got that award at work, or picked up a sexy new car, or even got your book published, make sure some serious overhaul of your facial expression precedes that event. But who’s to say when something big will come your way?

 

 

An image too precious

Can you pick out three individuals from your life and think about  your image of them? Now then, I’m unsure whether you are going to share your list with me or not, so let me pull up a fairly generic selection from our collective experiences. Does that work?

The chap who knows that you – and countless others – have a crush on him

Your man, the dude, has caught you fawning over him. And you, like your other similarly smitten classmates/colleagues, haven’t mustered the courage to tell him that he looks like a billion dollars. So, what does the dude do? Raise the bar. Not for you to jump over, but to outdo himself. He brings on more enigma. A clever line here, a smirk there, and of course, making himself a little scarcer than he already is.  You end up convinced that he deserves all the adulation no doubt. But if there’s even a hint of curiosity inside you, you have to know more about him at any cost. You try to dig out more. If your dude is happily settled (not necessarily married, mind you), he’ll probably insulate his personal life from work; if he’s foraging about, he may likely play hide and seek. He will only present to you that side of himself that you first fell for. You finally decide to get closer to him and try to chat up a little more. Not much comes out of him. You gradually start wondering if you are really talking to a human. If you are not persistent enough, you let go and wash down your consternation with, wine probably? If you are of the other type, you take him head on, and say “hey, is this how you are all the time?” For which, the dude may say, “how?” You know he’s up to his evasive tricks when you say, “hell, I wonder if there’s anything more to you than just show off”. If that ticks him off, he will say, “bhenchod, dimaag ka dahi ho raha hai mera! Just what do you want?”

Whatever happened to the suave and smashing young man you salivated over? He still may be one, for all you know. But didn’t fit your image of him, right? Did we hear a burst??

Your sarcastic bossimgmgmt

So you have this manager who can never spare a sweet word for you. Even if he’s approving of your work, it will be with a sneer. Hard to say if he has complimented you. Like, “this is wonderful! Some precious talent you have, huh?” Now you don’t know if means that your talent is really precious, or if you have been hiding it all these days that nobody has noticed it.  But the same chap talks very cordially with others at his level. He’s probably nasty with juniors then. Maybe he has some soft corner for you after all. You think he will look out for you if you continue to deliver. You are cruising along, when one day by a stroke of bad luck you goof up in your work. And he has a go at you. With a vengeance. You then feel that you shouldn’t have given him the benefit of doubt at all. A few days later, you are at a dinner do with him, among others. The wound has healed. You think he might socialize with you and talk general things. But not a peep from him. You then walk up to the group he’s talking to amidst laughter and quietly blend in, whisky glass in hand. And in no time you hear him say, looking your way, “guys you need to involve our buddy here a little more in the strategy meetings. We need more people who can think. But hey, tell your wife you may get home late in the days to come huh? Let her not get worried” You are like, “really? Did he just show some concern, and also appreciate my work?” You try to catch him when he’s alone a few minutes later. He throws half a glance your way and moves away, appearing to responding to someone

Your favourite movie star

She’s vivacious, intelligent and dignified. She sounds just so right in all her interviews. You catch her at the inauguration ceremony of a huge store. She certainly all that she is known to be. You manage to shake hands with her. She is all smiles, but did she meet your eye for half a second even? Of course she has to satisfy a hundred other fans. But hell, what’s a handshake without proper eye contact? Do you mean anything at all to her? You wonder, what if you write to her. Would she respond? Yes, you should try that. You go home and turn on your iPad. Your fingers are raring to tap the keypad. But you just aren’t getting the words. And then something dawns upon you. How’s a fucking email gonna help when she gave herself away in real time!

Nightmare by invitation

Swapnil Pednekar had never foreseen this problem. Intractable as it was, the predicament didn’t seem to offer a way out and he was getting knotted up by the minute. Whatever  happened to our dear Swapnil?

Fancying himself a creative writer, Pednekar always tried his hand at smart and quirky themes. He believed he would have rocked the field of advertising, but his ‘well-wishers’ advised him against taking up an ad agency stint, citing pathetic pay scales. Resigning to his concession of being a typical Indian middle-class young man with an eye on a secure future, he took up the first available job at an IT firm in Pune.  As with many individuals of his sensibilities, he went about pursuing his passion for writing by the moonlight. Never did an evening pass without him scribbling his thoughts; never did a day break without his resolution to quit his nine-to-five compulsion.

Swapnil had a hundred short stories to his credit, but just a handful of them published. He always wanted to be known for that one piece that would end wars and vanquish poverty. In his constant endeavour to churn out that seminal work of art,  Swapnil always meditated on different approaches to telling a story. His latest brainwave was to tell a story featuring a writer whose characters came to life, literally, and threw his life out of gear. Kicked about this revolutionary idea, he dashed home from work on a breezy evening, and pulled out his laptop without bothering to change even. This was a grand idea, and he would not rush it one bit. He just wanted to make a start, save the draft and sleep over the flow of the story. He wrote, “Ron from Bombay wanted to disrupt the literary world and wrote a story in which the characters came to life and started talking.  The protagonist was a female prostitute who commanded respect in the alleys of Bombay, and was sought after by the media. During an interview with the Times of India, Mala Dy,  the prostitute was asked if she ever thought of changing to a respectable line, and being a model for many of her followers. Mala Dy retorted , “But why should I change? This has given me life and today I’m sitting here talking to you because of what I do, night and day!” The interviewer seemed to be convinced.” With these lines Pednekar saved his draft and proceeded to finish dinner and then call it a night.

He went to bed, with a smile that refused to leave him till he drifted off. The smile sat on his lips right after he woke up early, and resumed dancing ever so gaily.

Till he opened the saved draft.

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In continuation, Swapnil wanted the interviewer to ask Mala Dy about what was the median age of people visiting her. But the last line read completely different.

“Dude, can you get me a job that pays this kind of money? If yes, come and see me tomorrow. Or do you wanna make it tonight itself?”

Swapnil rubbed his eyes a dozen times and stared at that last line. Was he seeing what he thought was happening? It was still the same, “… tonight itself?”

He was wide awake now, and could hear his pulse racing. For a good five minutes Swapnil let himself lose all calm and started howling, wondering as he did, if THIS was the sound of his impulse.

Back at his laptop, Pednekar scrolled up and saw that the one paragraph he had stopped had had crossed a page.  As he eyeballed the activity on his machine while he had slept in ignorant bliss, Swapnil saw that there was a conversation in progress.

Ron: “Hey Swapnil, kaay re! Tu svatah la kaay samajtos? Who do you think you are?”

A few blank spaces down.

O baba, aiktoyes ka? Do you hear me?  I just wanna know what made you think I’m a writer. Man, I wanted to be an MLA and go on to become CM. Hell, maajha naav Roshan Galande, Ron naahi. Chaaila! Jai Maharashtra!

Swapnil read on and realized that the belligerent Roshan Galande had decided to peek into the character that his own character had supposedly created.

“O writer bhau, hullo, ithe bug! Tula sex manje khup aavaData ka? You seem to like this sex business a lot! Writers are like that only. Given a chance, they write out their imagination! Hello madam, interview vinterview sagaLe bandh kara aaNi ghar zaa! End this interview business and get going!”

To which the feisty Mala Dy responds, “Oiy, mera baap bhi aise baat nahi karte. My dad would think twice before yelling at me. Look at your guts! This is my interview, and I have every business being here.”

Galande: “Wait till I go get my boys! You will face the heat. Aattha bug! Jai Shivaji!

Mala Dy, returning to the dumbstruck interviewer, “Can we please continue? Don’t mind these thugs, huh? I know how to deal with them. What was your question, again?”

Interviewer: “Have you ever considered changing your line and getting into the mainstream,  and being a model to your followers?”

…. ….  …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. ….

Pednekar, fairly in control of himself and alert now, realized it didn’t make sense to continue this story. But then, should he be quitting? Wasn’t it THIS great idea that had found favour with divinity or mysticism or black magic or whatever? He could close the file and destroy it forever. Or should he let the characters tell the story themselves? All he had to do was trigger a conversation and stop worrying about the proceeding. Wouldn’t that mean he was relinquishing his creativity for inanimate characters that decide to start typing on their own? Still better, should he start conversing with his characters and arrive at an agreement, and complete the story in harmony? But seriously, would that even work? A writer who doesn’t want to be one, gets to be a politician and goes about terrorizing the neighbourhood. A prostitute cannot survive a story, because she’s being tormented by the politician. How does one even kill a character?

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What was that? Kill a character? How about bumping off the MLA? And make the prostitute very peaceable?

—- —- —- —- —- —- —– —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —-

He looked at his watch and realized that he was a couple hours late to work already. Darn the bloody story, get to real business, he decided. While at office, his laptop’s hard disk crashed.

The computer died. Swapnil Pednekar survived!