Many Houses, Many Stories

Many Houses, Many Stories

Photo by Charu Chaturvedi on Unsplash
Photo by Charu Chaturvedi on Unsplash

Recently I read a book titled The Dutch House. I loved it! It reminded me of how important a house’s role and memories play in one’s life. Whenever I shifted, it felt like leaving behind a piece of me or a box of my memories. It is a strange feeling, maybe because the happier the memories, the stronger the nostalgia!

The Dutch House just made me realize how a house is always in the background in some of our most cherished or worst memories. And then it got me thinking of all the fond memories that I have in different houses I have lived in and how they have made my life happier bit by bit. 🙂

The novel revolves around this house that once belonged to a Dutch family, but reading through it reminded me of my childhood home and brought back the vivid memories of this beautiful one-bedroom house in which we used to live. It had a big verandah in the front and a big backyard. I have fond memories of that house from my growing up years there. Times changed, and we demolished the house to make a new one in its place. In my heart, I guess I metaphorically hugged the old house a few times before bidding it goodbye!

I also remember the good moments in the new house, but I do not remember ever feeling like hugging the new one. That’s the difference!

I currently love where I live, but I often think of the old rented house I moved in when I shifted to Bangalore and the beautiful memories I have from the time. However, if my current abode were a person, it and I would have been best friends! 🙂

Are your memories also associated with the houses where you have lived? Do share your thoughts.

Incredible Infosys!

Incredible Infosys!

The pyramid building at Infosys, Bangalore
The pyramid building at Infosys, Bangalore

Nostalgia? Yes. Sad? No. Love? Definitely! Those are my emotions in a nutshell as I left Infosys earlier this month after a little over nine years of an enriching experience. It is undoubtedly a unique company and its genuine, kind, intelligent people make it all the more special; as you grow with Infosys, there is no other way but to fall in love with it!

Three things that I will continue to love about Infosys:

  1. Powered by Intellect, Driven by Values. This is one of the best corporate taglines I have seen. Still, nothing summarizes Infosys better than this!
  2. Once an Infoscion, always an Infoscion. One realizes the power of these words only when one becomes an ex-Infoscion. 🙂
  3. People. Infosys is a microcosm with all kinds of people and experiences, and the good ones are always in the majority. 🙂

As I move forward, I must say my journey with Infosys has been fantastic! In this journey, I made lots of friends, traveled through lots of curves and straight roads, and achieved several professional and personal milestones in the scenic landscapes and beautiful infrastructure of Infosys campuses. It is indeed incredible Infosys!

Here’s wishing all my friends and leaders at Infosys a great time ahead. 🙂

Thank you, Infosys!

In Memory of a Friend

In Memory of a Friend

We met in one of the Yahoo! chat rooms in early 2000s. Those days, after work, I used to sign in daily to the chat rooms and look out for my favorite strangers who were frequent visitors to the same chat rooms I used to visit. Goodomen999 was one of them. We talked about everything – philosophy, astrology, society, literature, etc. Almost a year later, we started chatting a lot more through the night and eventually disclosed our identity in private messages. And then I virtually met Bhavesh through text messages on the messenger.

Photo by Daniel Hooper on Unsplash.

It’s been 20 years of friendship since then! I only know that he was 12 years elder to me, hailed from Gujarat, and was a romantic at heart. We shared lot of values, interests, and ideologies. I am still not aware of where he studied, who were his friends, what were his habits, what he did before we introduced ourselves on chat, but since we moved to private chat and then mobile phone calls, we kept each other informed of the milestones in our lives.

We became each other’s sounding board in life, friends who understood each other without the need for the other side to say anything. We shared about our respective romantic phases of life, heartaches, professional ups and downs, travel plans, parents’ health, finances, and what not, everything that goes in people’s lives between the age of 20-40! And all that just on phone while he was in Bhavnagar, and later in Ahmedabad, and I in Delhi, and later in Bangalore.

We never felt the distance and never realized that we have only met twice in life. Once when he came to visit me in Delhi, and I gave him a city tour – took him to see the Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, the sound and light show at the Old Fort, and then to my house where he met my parents and we all had a lovely evening. The second time was when I visited Ahmedabad in January 2015 and met him and his wife Nita, an equally warm and practical person. It was a short visit and I barely remember our conversation but I remember that he was very happy because we had gone through his struggle when he bought the house I visited.

Life has been simple with Bhavesh, a friend I could call anytime and he would be there. My friendship with him reminded me of nicer things in life – simplicity, joy in little things, kindness, being available for people who matter, taking on life’s challenges with a smile and little planning, providing care to the elderly, songs and poetry, and more.

Last November (2020), I lost Bhavesh to COVID-19. In January 2021 when I tried reaching him on his phone, Nita informed me of his demise and my world came crashing down!

I lost my dearest friend and would no longer have a sounding board, a virtual care that I used to enjoy, a bond I used to depend on, a friend on call! He is the first friend I lost in life and I can only realize what pain people go through on losing a dear friend. It has left a void that to this date keeps reminding me of the loss. I don’t remember my last conversation with him because it was casual and we never expected that it could be last! I could have told him how valuable he has been to me throughout life and how I have enjoyed his company, how I was planning to send some good poetry books to him once the courier restrictions ease, how my parents remember him, and how precious his existence was for me. If ever I knew it was the last conversation! I will miss you, Bhavesh. Goodbye until we meet again!


In Darkness We See That Hides In Light

In Darkness We See That Hides In Light

Photo by Marcus Dall Col on Unsplash

Recently, this potent expression, “In darkness we see that hides in light”, by Mr. Mukesh Kwatra in the recent Times of India Coronasutra entertainment section got me thinking hard. The last line of Mr. Kwatra’s poem on the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak was brought to my attention by my mother, a poetess herself, so she can help me understand the depth of it. And when I did, the essence of it remained with me through the day.

This year has been so different. I, and I am sure many of us, have never witnessed anything like this before where the world, with all its faiths, technology, and might is brought to a halt and is unable to cope with the challenge that nature has presented it. While it has been a relief to slow down a bit and consume less in many ways, it has also been tough in recognizing what we are going through in terms of our existence vis-a-vis our relationships, career, health, contribution to society, etc.

My generation has learnt how to get from being busy to becoming busier with all the technology that has evolved in our lifetime. Now when we are forced to use all of it by staying indoors, one realizes that technology cannot fill the emptiness that is caused by lack of access to nature and people one loves. However, one can hope to get some relief by looking inward and by counting our blessings, by appreciating what nature has given us and that which we haven’t had the time to appreciate thus far. And in these times of aloofness, darkness, see that we never really see – search soul, acknowledge the treasures we own in terms of relationships, friends, health, and the treasures we must seek such as peace, trust, goodwill, knowledge, compassion.

Today is 107th day of being at home and I have been thinking of all these things over the last few months. While life has been extremely hectic, I have utilized this phase to thank the cosmos for the innumerable good that exists around and that has kept me going. Here are a few things I am grateful for:

  • Having means to earn a living, and sustain
  • Having a family that’s always there for me (spouse, parents, inlaws, cousins)
  • A secure, peaceful, ventilated abode
  • Being fit enough to carry on
  • Friends that are there, yet are absent : )
  • Being able to provide sustenance to the house help
  • Having access to walkways I can use daily to connect with nature
  • Plants I can care for
  • The ‘giving’ sentiment God has blessed me with
  • Opportunity to read books that I have been wanting to read
  • The revival of nature, reduction of pollution
  • Learning to be empathetic
  • Being blessed with decent will power
  • Experiences that taught me patience
  • A fulfilling life thus far.

I will add to this as I focus more on counting my blessings. If you want, share your list in the comment and we can together realize how much we have to thank for!

Are We Living in 1984?

Are We Living in 1984?

Are we beginning to live in 1984? This fear has been present in my mind ever since there has been an increased disturbance all across India, my home. Those of you who have read 1984, the classic novel by George Orwell (published in 1949), will be able to relate why it is a ‘fear’ in my mind and not just a simple thought. It is not only about the government’s new policies and the way they have been articulated, and misarticulated, that is disappointing, it is also the general state of affairs (rapes, riots, apathy) and the violent public response to everything around us that seems to be breaking the system, the harmony, and to be preventing any kind of slow healing that may have been possible in the same scenario.

More and more we see an increasing retaliation to everything, without even seeing the complete picture or without waiting for the results of the first few steps that have been taken/introduced in the name of development. While I do not understand why the Government of India failed to articulate its new policies well for clear understanding in a nation that is as diverse and large as ours, I detest the violent retaliation countrywide without giving a benefit of the doubt or inviting a debate on the matter. Violence can never be the path to peace and no dialogue can be achieved with a sword in hand.

With all the disturbance going on, my mind has been constantly drawing parallel to 1984. Seeing the way things are in the country today, at times I feel we are living in 1984 … I wish it never happens in real for it is a fearful thought. For those of you who haven’t read the book, here’s a spoiler alert: It is an unpleasant read but it is also a classic for many reasons, as you can sense from this article.

Here are some quotes from the book 1984 that, I feel, hint at the state of affairs that have been existing in the country for years, something only imagined by George Orwell in the 1940s.

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

“Big Brother is Watching You.”

“Winston Smith: Does Big Brother exist?
O’Brien: Of course he exists.
Winston Smith: Does he exist like you or me?
O’Brien: You do not exist.”

“The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.”

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

“Inequality was the price of civilization.”

“A loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.”

“Life, if you looked about you, bore no resemblance not only to the lies that streamed out of the telescreens, but even to the ideals that the Party was trying to achieve.”

“nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws.”

“The more the Party is powerful, the less it will be tolerant: the weaker the opposition, the tighter the despotism.”

“I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY”

“Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.”

“The consequences of every act are included in the act itself.”

The quotes above are very contextual today in the way we and our thinking are being ‘managed’ by all sorts of politicians, in and out of power. There is a strong need for every Indian to rise above individual, and community, mindset and see ourself as a citizen of a great nation first. We must realize our national interest, our potential as a great nation, our unity in diversity, and our deep-rooted culture of acceptance of all faiths. Irrespective of who represents us in the Parliament, citizens need to unite to be able to manage who represents us than allow it to happen vice versa.

I hope that Orwell’s fiction remains a fiction, forever.