Saturday, June 09, 2007


Today, I came across a friend of mine who was my junior in engineering college. I was walking on the road, when he saw me from his car and pulled over. We had spent couple of good years in the college and it was nice to meet him after a gap of almost four years. We exchanged pleasantries, and discussed job, and whereabouts of old friends, and since I had to rush, bid adieu, emphasizing the footnote of ‘We shall meet again’, both the parties knowing only too well, that that ‘again’ wont be ever planned and if it had to happen, it would only be accidentally and perhaps after another long time, just like this encounter.

I continued my walk. It was a 2 km stretch. Such a long walk will inevitably be embellished by a myriad of thoughts. My friend, I had noticed (and complimented) was in his new Hyundai Santro, and while I was talking to him, he received a call on his cell-phone, a latest N-series Nokia mobile (which again I had complimented). Everything normal, it would seem, wouldn’t it, to excel from a nondescript mediocre college grad to a comfortable, well-built foothold professional, as is indeed the case with several other success stories of every individuals’ lives. To be fair, it was same with me too. I never expected a decade ago to be where I am currently. “Touchwood”, as they say.

However, the thing that kept bothering me at the back of my mind, as I walked on, was the luxury. While almost everyone craved for luxury, and tried to attain the higher echelons in all aspects, I was just content with what I had. Rather, more intriguingly, I felt at times, I needed less than what I currently possessed.

Take for instance the cell-phone. People of my age are competing in the rat-race to own the best-in-technology latest mobile phone, and some even going for Blackberries (and am sure will be the first ones to own the iPhone when it gets released), while I am content with my out-dated Nokia (whose model name I have forgotten) which is no longer available in the market. “I can make calls, I can receive calls and same with messages too” is my argument much to the chagrin of many who try to push me to buy a new cell.

Then, the vehicle. I can easily afford a posh 2007 Honda or a Toyota. Yet, I am content with the 1989 Maruthi 800. Again, “it takes me where I want to go” is my simple counterpoint to someone who tries to force me! In an era of jazzy motorbikes racing through the streets, I am happy with my 1996 Kinetic Honda (which needs more than a couple of kicks to start after an hour or two of idle time)! ‘Why are you like this?’ a friend of mine had asked. I truly don’t know! In fact, if I could have persisted with my parents, I could still have had my Hero bicycle! After all, nothing compares to the pure joy of cycling!

And then my watch. I am extremely happy with my 1992 Titan (even though the outer rim of the dial is just a wee bit faded). Its my favourite, and while most of them buy a watch on their first salary, I refuse to wear even the free Titan that my company gave for its billion-dollar-day celebrations, despite the watch having hundreds of functions such as global timing, multiple alarm options, timer, etc. Well, I don’t need all that. I just need to look at my watch and know instantly what the time is. I have grown so used to my old Titan that I can do just that even at the wee hours of the night despite there being no numerals on the dial.

And it doesn’t just stop there. I am not a stickler for branded apparel or shoes. If I need a shirt or a pair of trousers, I just go into the first shop that I see and buy what I like. But if I have, say, a shirt-piece, I would just go to any tailor shop and give the measurements. For me, things such as this hardly matters. An incident that is indelibly etched in my mind is when another friend of mine had told me thus, chancing once upon my wardrobe: “Harsha! I think I have to disown you as my friend!”

And when it comes to music, my only interest lies in Carnatic Classical. I am hopelessly knowledgeable on the current Western tracks or the Bollywood flicks. I cannot even make out the distinction between the different genres. Rock, metal, jazz, pop are all just words to me. Come to think of it, I am not even fully knowledgeable in Carnatic Classical!

And then, the professional life. While most of them ask me to settle down in US, change jobs for higher pay packets, all of which I could do easily enough if I try, yet, I am content with the way I am. Perhaps not satisfied with what I am doing, but no complaints whatsoever with the pay packet. Apart from a countable few, I haven’t heard anyone who doesn’t want more money, who doesn’t want to climb up the ladder of life! Perhaps I belong to the world’s smallest category of the population!

Why am I not like others? Why am I not normal? Why do I not have the same feelings and urge as the common man does? It has been often told to me by many, quite frankly, that no girl (be it arranged or love) would ever say ‘Yes’ to me. Not that I am complaining, but, hey, this is who I am, for what I am worth. Nondescript, unimportant and insignificant little man, further expounded in the ‘about me’ of my orkut profile in a simpler manner as: “I am just an ordinary guy.”

At an age when, for most, God is just a 5-minute prayer affair, I look forward to visiting religious places by the dozen. A weekly visit to the temple is a must for me. Quite understandably, I have been mocked by many for reading spiritual books. Just as I reached my house, a somewhat final parting thought came to my mind that perhaps I was a saint in my previous life. After all, only saints want less. ‘Principle of Renunciation’ (and all that).

But, it still was a puzzle. A saint has no rebirth if he has attained moksha. Then I smiled as an answering thought struck me.

Perhaps I sucked in that too!


Sneha said...

Do I need to say how nicely written it is :-) ? Its wonderful as always.

Life is surely becoming more and more materialistic. Hope behind all this, happiness isnt lost.

Rahul Jain said...

Enjoyed reading but have a few things to say. Hope I do not start preaching but stop reading on the first yawn.ok?

Ask yourself. Why did you write this piece. Is this your way to tell your more materialistically inclined friends that you are still better off? That by not buying Tommy Hilfiger or a Louis Vitton on your previous trip abroad, you consider yourself (and want to be considered as) a higher human being? Soemone who has risen above the materialistic pursuits of life? Becuase if this is true then perhaps there is scope for some more introspection.

We all have every right to chose the way we live but first we must be ok with it ourselves. Sometimes, we follow a certain pattern because we idealize a particular way of living when heart of hearts, we oursleves don't believe in it.

I think that if you are in accord with your own style of living and, more importantly, with others' way of living, you will be more at peace with the ways of the world. Till then you'll just continue competing inside your mind.

Anonymous said...

"Only a fool is satisfied with life.." Dr Christian Bernard (look him up on Wiki). Of course, this statement hardly pertains to material pursuits.