Richard Cory and the world

There was this poem, Richard Cory, that we read in school. Richard Cory was a gentleman, from sole to crown. He was rich, fluttered pulses, and was graced in every virtue. Everyone wished to be like him. And yet, one fine evening, he went home and… The last line, when we read it, only amused our young minds. We didn’t wonder much about his last act. It even seemed like, sort of natural… a result of some hidden misfortune, pain or grief. Adults could harbour such pain, we felt, and it could happen. It was a normal, volitional act of a well meaning, healthy man. There was no point speculating on what ailed him; the poem gave no clues. That’s how complex life could be. Looking at today’s booming world, it could drive normal sensitive men nuts. Is there a cause to be happy? The ones who are happy are happy. The sadder lot carries its misfortunes alone. Some can take it in their...
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Where is the present gone?

Life … karma… the past and the burden of the present. The joints are stiff, and the backbone shows its aged slouch. Reality is overbearing. Where is the present gone? It hovers around, like a ghost. The child has no past, and the future hasn’t come yet. There is home, and the meals will be ready. Life isn’t a burden yet. Pleasure or pain, the caretaker takes care of it all. There is speed in the steps, and a bounce in the walk. The world is music, and music is the world. Work is far away, and life is a gig. The young man is happy, and so is the TV set. There is a world to conquer, and a might to show. Things to think about, and things to do. Money shows its colours, and money is the world. Compromise or sacrifice. Run away or wallow. The work trains are ready to go. It’s afternoon, go to sleep. Wake up and think of...
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Response to – An Open Letter to India’s Graduating Classes – NYTimes.com

An Open Letter to India’s Graduating Classes – NYTimes.com. The India Ink blog column carried this piece of advice from a consulting firm employee a few days earlier. The letter is addressed to India’s new graduates and postgraduates (from engg. and business schools) and carries a typical employer’s expectations, experiences and words of advice to the soon-to-join younglings at work. The piece generated some heated discussion and angry reactions for its truth-on-your-face writing style. Here is a rather sketchy attempt to address the same audience, but from the perspective of an employee with 10 years of experience in the corporate world. Dear friends, Leaving college to join workplace is both an exciting as well as challenging time. The workplace is a sphere of life that till now had remained a half-mystery, and it was all too convenient to lose oneself in the invigorating atmosphere of college life. The postgraduates may differ on this, for they are already half-way through to the employer’s door. But...
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Living a dual life

The most famous of all notions about man describes him as a social animal. That is to say, it is a part of his nature, an instinct, to form groups and communities wherever he lives, and that man cannot live without society, and ought to do so. However, the term ‘man’ in the sentence ‘Man is a social animal’ refers to mankind as a whole, and not individual human beings. It is the nature of an individual that needs introspection. The contention arises when the individual is described solely in social terms. Does this notion of man really describe an ‘individual’ in his or her totality? Is it a true reflection of his or her real nature? There are times when an individual wishes to interact with others, and there are times when he or she wishes to be left alone. All of us live a dual existence, as individuals and as members of groups and communities. Individuals in human society seem...
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Living a free life

As an individual grows up, he becomes a free person in his own right, begins to rule his life, makes his own life decisions, and becomes independent. He is the sole guardian of his best interests, his own self-protector, and the sole maker of his decisions. This alone makes him responsible for his actions. It is not a huge price to pay considering the ownership rights of your body, mind and soul that come with it for a lifetime! To govern oneself, be one’s own ruler, is to be free in its real sense. This is how children are distinguished from adults, and the latter considered responsible for their behaviour. Guardianship, paternalism, protectionism, coming from outside, remove this distinction, and reduce adults to a child-like state. The strongest blow that can be delivered to an individual is to consider him or her unfit for freedom, and put them under some form of guardianship or paternalism, undermining their free nature, returning them into...
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Living in a box

When one has lived for long in conditons of limited freedom, as in regulated and heavily censored countries, it conditions the mind in such a way that exposure to greater freedom only produces an instinctive revulsion and dislike. The mind gets so used to living in protected environments where there are no free spirits to be encountered, that any change that appears to produce a free lifestyle seems wicked and corrupting. This is probably the reason why a good part of the world where conservative religions hold sway dislikes much of western culture. They find it difficult to come to terms with the uninhibited show the western media puts up every night. A free and open life, which has only recently come to be seen as good for humans, remains as disliked as it probably always was. The condition is much like those of boys in conservative societies who do not interact with girls, and find the whole idea of a free...
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The play of passions

“As for me, my business was his money. The passive jade thinks of no pleasure but the money.” – Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe Freedom is a basic necessity of man. If there is any worth and dignity to be have in being a human being, it lies in being free. So much so that, for all crimes the simple punishment consists of taking away this vital element of life. Constraints and necessities too rob us of this precious element. Yet, freedom itself brings along with it a mortal enemy which, given a free reign, reduces man to a mere animal governed by his own instincts. The enemy is pleasure. The dersire to be free comes instinctively to every one of us, and its opponents are easily identified too, dictators of all types and anyone in a position of authority over others. The control exercised by them comes from outside. Inside us there are forces at work that can have a similar effect,...
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