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He woke up with a shock.

Light coming from the window with no curtain had already filled the room. He looked at the calendar almost hoping it’ll be something different. Nope. It was not. It was his birthday.

Birthdays are supposed to be happy occasions. Particularly if it’s your 60th. That’s when you retire from your job, children take full responsibility of the house and life kind of runs on it’s own whilst you sit back and relax. If only he had a job that he could retire from. If only his children were responsible enough..

Sixty years, he thought, had drifted past him. But he felt as if it was just the beginning. Because only now was he starting to reap the benefits of all his hard work. Some small returns. Not that he was all happy now. Life was nowhere near what he thought it should be.

He slipped into flashback.

Three children in the family. He was still a kid back then. He never liked his brothers. Except appearance he found nothing in common between them. He lived in a separate house from as long as he could remember. Now even the other two had drifted apart. He never interfered in their businesses. Anybody’s for that matter. That was his nature. But they were always there to impede everything that he did. To hurt him in all possible places. Sometimes for something that he did, a few times for something he didn’t do and usually for no reason at all. He had learnt to live with them. “Well, that’s life. What can you do?!”.

But it distressed him when his own children fought with each other. A new fight everyday. Let alone caring for him, let alone caring for their family, they didn’t even care for themselves. In his own words ,” too egoistic to care for nothing but ego”. Although there were rare incidents of love and harmony, they could easily pickup a fight on petty things. Sigh.

He looked at the clock. It was getting late. He got ready for work and stepped out of his room. A loud cheer from God knows how many people hit his eardrums.

It took a while for him to realize what was happening. His whole family was there and a cake at the center. They all looked so happy together. Helping each other, smiling.

Hope it stays like this, he cut the cake. May be it is just the beginning.

In case the writing was too dumb and you didn’t notice the figure of speech,

He –> Republic of India.

Children –> Citizens of India.

I don’t need to say who his brothers are, do I?

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Okay. before you start imagining things. This post is about a ‘vaikuntha samaradhana’ ( apparently a ritual to send a dead person to ‘Gods own country’) of a friend of my grandma’s that I attended.

Two thoughts.

1)  When I saw her for the first time, she was around 75 and  I was around 3 years old. She was a widow and was living with her son. Now, if I look back and  compare our lives in the past 20 years, I cannot help but notice that my life has changed  so much and her life had been pretty much the same. She was still living with her son and probably had the same kind of conversations with her grand children everyday. But I’ve gone places.  So if I try to generalize it and plot a graph of new experiences (which I call ‘growth’) vs time, it will look something like this.

*As you can see, I’ve treated death as a major change.

So, after a certain point in your life, you will stop having new experiences and are bound to get stagnant. Your life gets monotonous. You get bored. That’s what I’ve seen. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

But as I was drawing this graph, I realized that in our early days, changes are built into our lives. New school, new friends, new places, new cities, college, getting a job, wedding, children etc etc. Something or the other keeps changing. But after that, we don’t have any major changes in our lives that happen automatically. So ‘growth’ as I call it is not a function of age but of change. All you have to do is to bring some changes into your lives and keep it new. Doesn’t sound that difficult! #relief

2) On a not so serious but important note, it’s irritating when people, that too people of your age, that too girls come and say ‘Bhargav, is that you? Oh my God, I couldn’t recognize you at all!!‘ when all ( I think) they mean is ‘Shit, You have got so fat! What do you eat for lunch, you moron!‘. I agree it’s been 10 years since we’ve met and even I couldn’t recognize some of them, but common, it hurts. And it doesn’t really help if her grandma comes mentions some stupid thing that you did a decade ago. And it really really doesn’t help when that girl says ‘Remember that poem you used to sing just to irritate me?!‘. And it really really really doesn’t help if  your grandma says oh so proudly ‘Yeah, he still does that. He hasn’t changed at all‘. So much for a great Saturday, eh?

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Thinking too much?

‘Where are you from, Sir?’ the question made me turn away from the window to face my fellow traveler. It had been 10 days since I left Bangalore to visit the Valley of Flowers. I was on my way back and was deeply immersed in the process of recalling what all I had felt and experienced during the last week. Amazing scene of aarti in Haridwar, the dangerous life at Uttarakhand, the faith of pilgrims to walk 300 kms on foot from Haridwar to Badrinath, the flamboyance and generosity of Sikhs, a brief encounter with that girl who was trying hop on to a horse but was too frightened, so many things rushing into my mind as I get closer and closer to the monotonous life back home. But there was one thing which took a predominant timeslice of my hours. How come all the married couples align themselves in a way and start looking very alike?

I met a lot of couples during the journey and they all can be placed into 3 categories.

Type A couples are the ones who are very energetic and enthusiastic and want to see everything. They have been to a lot of places already and are planning to go to the rest of them. They love trekking, trying a different cuisine, talking to strangers and all kinds of different experiences. Most of the foreigners who travel to India belong to this category.

Type B couples are the ones who try to do all the things that Type A couples do either because it’s  obviously cool to be a Type A couple or because they are friends with some Type A couples. They try to be talkative and adventurous but they fail because they apparently don’t want to do all those things.

Type C couples are the ones who don’t want to try the unknown paths because they are simply afraid of them. They don’t go out of their way to talk to strangers and they always always try to take as less risk as possible.

There is nothing great or wrong with being any kind of couple but what interested me was that in all the couples I met, both the persons belonged to the same type. I never met a couple where the man and the wife were of different types! I decided there is no way to say that like people got together, fell in love and got married because I knew most of them had arranged marriages. And common, in an arranged marriage, there is no way you can know what a person’s actual views about anything in life is, let alone what type he/she belongs to. So I came to the evident conclusion that the couple tend to become like each other and after some time somehow average out. How influential (dominant?) you are in the relationship actually plays a very major role.

May be. But that’s not the point. I know I’m a Type A person and I don’t want to become anything else. I would hate myself if after some years if I find myself to be a Type B or worse Type C!  Since I’m mostly sure that I’m going to have an arranged marriage, how am I gonna  find a Type A girl? What qualities would actually determine the type of a person? What if I want to go out and try some different theatre and she doesn’t want to miss the Kannada serial at 7.30? Oh my God, is there no way to escape this impending doom??

‘Where are you from, Saab?’ He must have noticed that I was lost in my own thoughts staring at the endless paddy fields of Andhra Pradesh, he repeated his question.

‘I’m from Bangalore. Where are you from?’.

‘I’m from Ujjain. I’m a cloth merchant there. What do you do?’

‘I’m a Software Engineer.’

‘Software Engineer? What do you do?’

I explained him how we have to instruct the computer what to do in its own language.

‘It’s own language? Must be very difficult! Good. Tanquah kitna aata hai? ‘

I didn’t get him. Tanquah?

‘Money’ he said, simultaneously signaling with his hand.

‘ Not much yaar’ I said, uncomfortable with the personal query.

‘Bolo naa saab. Tanquah achcha hi to hoga’. He didn’t let me go until I told him my salary.

‘Kya? Agar utna tanquah aata hai to abhi single kyun hai saab? Shaadi kyun nahi kar lete?’

A lot of things have happened since then and I’m not even thinking of getting married in the near future. But the simplicity of the concept in his mind still makes me envious of that bastard.

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