Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Better late than stupid

He stood at the traffic signal. He watched other two-wheeler pass him by and get onto the adjacent lane where traffic moves in the opposite direction. He knew they would block the traffic in that lane, and also that they would never realize this. Even if they did realize it, they will never change. He kept lamenting the sad future of his country while staring at the rear end of the public bus that stood towering in front of him.

A traffic congestion situation
The bus moved at a snail’s pace. He was certain he could have reached the other end of the road faster on foot. But he couldn’t leave his beloved two-wheeler in the middle of this slow moving ruthless traffic. Moreover, he needed his two-wheeler to cover the rest of the distance beyond the end of this road.
Time went by. He was certain he could have eaten his dinner at home by now. Some more time went by. He was certain he could have watched Thor: Ragnarok by now since the time he entered this road. Instead, he was on the same road, moving painfully slow towards what felt like a faraway infinity. He was certain that if he were a mathematician, he could have devised some new theorems on infinity based on his personal suffering.
He was famished now. But he still wouldn’t take the other lane to drive ahead of the bus. His principles wouldn’t allow him to do that! His moral code of conduct stopped him from obstructing path of other vehicles by entering their lane. But others, he realized, had no such moral code of conduct. They were like water, seeping through whatever holes and gaps they could find in the dense traffic. But he wanted to be strong and stand like a rock, as an example to be followed by everyone. But nobody cared. And he knew that. Some even stared at him as if he had lost his mind. But he wanted to follow his common sense and not become a part of traffic congestion at the other end of this road, where there is no traffic signal and such meaningless senseless driving ethics cause dense knots of traffic that looks beyond comprehension to be resolved.
Yet such knots get resolved, given enough time. He wondered whether he would move behind the bus long enough to watch other people grow old and die and their children take their place on the same road, then few decades later their children and so on. He wondered if he would spend enough time on that road to witness Darwin’s theory of evolution play out in front of him. He wondered if he would spend enough time to witness the sun turn into a red dwarf, or perhaps even the end of the universe.
He finally reached the junction at the end of the road, took a left turn and sped towards his home. He felt like he was traveling at the speed of light. He felt such monumental relief, similar to the feeling of releasing one’s pee in the toilet after stopping it for hours. He felt victorious without having done anything. Perhaps, good things come to those who wait, he wondered.
Wait, now he did feel like peeing. That made him drive faster towards his home.
As soon as he parked his two-wheeler outside his house, and started climbing the stairs, he looked at his phone. 15 missed calls. And he was an hour late. An hour that felt like eternity. He wondered if he had been driving a car instead of a two-wheeler, maybe he would really have witnessed Darwin’s theory of evolution play out in front of him! He shook his head in disbelief and muttered to himself that none of the guys have any driving sense, they will never evolve.
Perhaps the street dogs that cross us while we’re stuck in the traffic jam may end up evolving as superior beings to us while we continue to cut corners and maintain healthy traffic congestion at the junctions. And then witnessing our traffic, the intelligent dogs might wonder, why do humans bark so much while driving?

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Secret Superstar - Choosing the lesser devil

(Minor spoilers ahead. It reveals the plot but the plot is so simple and predictable that it wouldn’t matter!)
While the movie Secret Superstar is about a teenager trying to achieve her dream of becoming a singing sensation with her mother’s unflinching support, what stood out for me in the film was the difficult choices the main character (the teenager girl, Insia) had to make to realize her dreams.


Secret Superstar Devils — Insia’s father and Shakti Kumar

At the core of these difficult choices was the decision to choose the lesser devil. On one side was her father, who terrorized everyone in their house, and on the other side was Shakti Kumar, an infamous musician ostracized from music community. Her father was the devil she had known all her life and knew what to expect. Shakti Kumar was someone she only knew through news, award functions, reality shows etc. on TV. At one point in the story Insia has to make the difficult choice of choosing between these two devils. While she wants to move as far away from her father as possible, she just can’t do so. And she hates Shakti Kumar, he disgusts her. He is the last person she would want to meet, let alone seek help.
Eventually, circumstances and her desire to pursue singing pushes her to make the difficult choice of choosing Shakti Kumar (no surprises there) over her father. As a viewer I may feel the decision was easy, but when I imagined myself in her situation, I don’t think I’d have had the courage to take this giant leap of faith. Shakti Kumar may have turned out to be a sexual predator or may have exploited Insia for her beautiful voice and then left her without giving her any payment or credit. Choosing unknown devil, no matter how bad the known devil may be, is never easy. Perhaps only an strong unflinching desire to pursue your passion (or a purpose) can help you find the much needed courage to surrender yourself to the mercy of the unknown.
That’s what is truly compelling about Secret Superstar. The chance that a person (irrespective of age) may be forced to take due to circumstances and how one’s passion can be a guiding light to achieve one’s dreams. While the film takes a fairy tale approach, in real life when we make such choices, we must make an informed decision. Each one of us pursuing something beyond one’s comfort zone and societal norms will face many unknown devils, but if our faith and passion is strong, we must find the courage to take that giant leap.
Not a blind one but an informed one.