Two individual things caught my eye today in the newspaper. Yes i do read it every morning with my morning coffee. First was the 42nd Bridge Championship in Chennai, and the second was a public awareness advertisement about honking on the road, in traffic.
Who do i have to do with the news about a Bridge championship, i don’t play the game, know very little about it let alone, then why am i so interested in it? For this news sent me away on a little train of thoughts; which when it stopped left me at the station of self realisation, and thus came the idea of penning my resultant learning from that journey down memory lane.
Before i start my train of thoughts journey, as is common with rail journeys, i have to show the conductor who am i? Not the spiritual, purposeful question everybody is asking everyone and themselves, but just a more social status of mine. I am successful or so i like to believe, earned enough money, though there can never be enough, to indulge in most of the frivolities of life, own at least two cars, have changed more mobile phones than i may have changed lightbulbs in my life, and have an excellent credit limit with various banks. I may or may not be married depending on which angle i want to look at it, but i can travel comfortably, stay at hotels on a strata above normal budget hotels when i say i am travelling on budget. But then all of this that i have, and have done, is for me and maybe somethings for my family as well.
But the where did i come from? By that i didn’t mean which city or my place of birth, or that of my forefathers. Where do is come from is indeed a question which asks what is my spiritual or character lineage, who were the people who came before me?
My grandfather was in the irrigation department. He was the first generation of kids to migrate out of our village, study in the city and get a government job. Eventually he even rose to the position of Director in the same department. He helped start and finish more irrigation projects in his areas of posting than the number of books i can ever hope to get published. But behind all that he was a farmer at heart. He would regularly dirty his hands, so to say, at least once in an year, in the fields. Even before i was born, he was a seasoned man, human rather, rich in practical experience, well travelled, had enough knowledge of culture and behaviour of people, which i may need two life times to gain. Some of it i know from my father. About how he was as a person. My father seldom talked about him, in fact he seldom talked much. But when he did, he ended up teaching me a lot about values of hard work, sincerity, truthfulness, and common sense. He taught me all this not by speaking, but by his actions. All of this, which i ultimately chose to forget so that i could become successful quickly. My father was well educated. Being born in the era when our country had just attained independence, he was the youth in the 70’s and 80’s. They had huge responsibilities to fulfil, at home, in society and they took upon themselves to fulfil a few for the nation. This was a generation who never had it easy, they had to get to everything in life the hard way. And that he did. He was a grade one officer in the revenue department. While growing up i learned a lot about how he was as a professional, by the awards and recognitions he garnered, time to time. Some small tokes i too wore at times on my clothes proudly, little understanding their meaning then. I think with all the law that he wrote, the amount of revenue he got for the government, would be enough to sustain the state along with the whole of his department for eons. He was extremely intelligent; brilliant; infact very observant and has astute knowledge of life. But behind all this he too was a farmer at heart. Though i had never seen us visiting our family villages, since i had grown up, or him working in a field, but he know all that there was to it, and practically too not like me who had read about kharif and rabi in the class 3rd or 4th and forgotten all about it since it was of now use after the exams. He could tell a person from a tree, and one tree from another too, unlike me, who thinks humans are humans, come in different shapes and sizes, and anything green is a plant, tree, or shrub or a vegetable.
My maternal grandfather was a national level bridge player. Not as a vocation but as a hobby. Infact he even was a cricket player at the sheeshmahal club, and an umpire as well later in his life. And an officer in the secretariat. He came from a family of intellectuals and lawyers. I think he was the second generation in his house to leave farming and dwell in to the urban lifestyle. On my mother’s side every one was creatively gifted. His youngest brother was a sitar player, in fact he was a principal at a prominent music college. I have recollections of him playing music at home, with many now famous people learning from him.
My mother too is quite a lot many personalities gelled in to one. Infact her capacity and will to learn beats me. She has been a home maker most of her life. She has taken care of everyone in our family, elders and young ones alike. She is also a meditation teacher, a course director of a course to teach people how to teach meditation, infact now her hobbies include practising the alternate healing method of reiki, reading tarrot cards, and most recently, astrology.
All through my bloodline, i have been preceded by individuals who have had a personality, beyond their what was their job and source of income, infact today too who are around from that generation have a higher integrity than any of us from this generation.
But then who am i? And this time it is a very deep question, one which actually forces me to go down deeper in to myself to search for an answer. Do i have a personality? Do i have hobbies? Do i have time in this life away from my source of income? If i were to create a report card of sorts, i believe this is what it may look like,
Knowledge : zero, or close to it, about the practicalities of life
Experience : Only what we write on our resume. Of life, we have none, none that we created of our own. We have childhood memories of good times, but same we cannot offer to our own children.
Learning : Hardly any. Because if we had learnt anything we would be off becoming better people, infact we would start becoming people in the first place.
And this isn’t just me, but the whole generation around me, everyone around me. We are the ones honking on the road, we are the ones who had a glorious past, but we aren't having any present. Future? We don’t even have time for our selves; let alone the future generation. They are growing up with phones and tablets, so what of their future?
May be that jam on the road would clear up and we would get to the correct destination in life.