Mar 20, 2011

What is a Fan to Do?

When I was around 15, I was a huge fan of Ricky Martin.

Really huge. Well, at that point of time the only album of his that was big in India was the one with that World Cup song. Strangely, I cannot even recall it now without a little help from Google.

I listened to that one album over and over till my tape gave way. I had all the lyrics of all the songs by heart. I got a Spanish dictionary for the ones I couldn't understand. My family was surprised at the way I rattled off songs in a language that no one was remotely familiar with.

That summer I went to visit my parents in Saudi. At the local mall, I literally combed the music shop until I found about 3 or 4 of Ricky Martin's early albums that were all in Spanish. I remember it felt like a treasure hunt to me, it was nothing short of pure excitement. The shop guy was so amused by all the fervor I was so openly displaying that he gave me a life size Ricky Martin poster for free. It was one of the most happiest moments of my life until then.

Once I got back to India, I remember sketching I (heart) Ricky Martin on the covers of all the tapes I owned. The poster went up on my wall just above my bed. I had my shiny Ricky Martin badge stuck on the front of my backpack. I never went anywhere without the cassette tapes in my bag. I knew off the top of my head the color of his hair and eyes, his height and weight and all such stuff. I was surprisingly well informed at a time when Google was a non-entity. I was completely and totally drawn by his voice and music.

And then one day, it all came crashing down. I did poorly in some random exam that I have no recollection of. I came home disappointed, dejected, depressed. I sat in my room, on my bed. The tears poured down freely. Life seemed to have come to an end. My eyes wandered for a while and came to rest at the poster on the wall.

All of a sudden, it seemed strange to me. Like I was looking at a stranger. Like I had been woken up from a trance. Like I was kicked out of a long dream. Like I suddenly woke up to reality. Suddenly, everything seemed pointless, ridiculous. The tapes, the music, the words, the man on the wall. It all seemed to carry no meaning whatsoever. It had nothing to do with who I was. It had nothing to do with me.

I reached up and pulled the poster away from the wall. And then proceeded to tear it up into halves and then quarters and then eighths and then some more and some more. I threw the pile of paper bits away. And that was it. I haven't listened to Ricky Martin since.

Ahh, if you were waiting for a point to emerge from this long story, sorry to disappoint. It's a pointless little anecdote. Nothing of any meaning or significance, really.

I was just thinking this evening that I haven't been a fan in a long time. I realized that I've completely forgotten what that feeling is like. I then decided to relive the experience.

This time, I thought, I would choose an actor well worthy of being bestowed upon by my fandom. The first (and only) name that came to mind was Surya (the south Indian actor). I've always found him to be remarkably attractive and I guess he also acts well. And so it was decided. I had to make this official. So I give you a conversation I had with my husband this evening.

Me: I've decided to become a fan.

Murali: Huh?

Me: I've decided that I like Surya. So now I am his fan.

Murali (not even looking at me): Hmm.

Me: Okay?

Murali (Still not looking): Hmmm.

Me: Okay na??

Murali (Sparing me a glance now): Okay, okay.

Me: So, what is a fan supposed to do anyway?

Murali (Looked away again): Noooo idea.

So at this point of time I decided that he was being deliberately unhelpful and turned to my one source of inspiration and information: Wikipedia. A quick read later, I came up with a plan.

Me: I've decided that I'm going to watch all of Surya's movies. That's what a fan has to do.

Murali: Wokay!

Some more quick searching on YouTube, and I settled upon a Telugu version of one of his movies I've heard great things about, "Surya son of Krishnan."

I even coaxed Murali to watch it with me, so we sat down huddled before the laptop after dinner, watching the movie, part by YouTube part.

Me (About 15 minutes into the movie): Surya is a terrific actor.

Murali: I can't see that.

Me: How can you say this? Can't you see the way he emotes? Can't you see how he effortlessly shifts between roles? He is a very intelligent actor.

Murali (Smiling slightly): Oh, ya ya, now I see it.

And so we keep watching and watching. Interval comes.

Murali: So you still think he's a terrific actor?

Me: Yup, absolutely.

Murali then proceeded to touch upon about the various idiotic aspects of this so-called superhit movie, of which I could not deny any, having bore witness to these myself.

Me (with a touch of indignation now): See the actor cannot be blamed for a bad script or a bad story. Surya's acting is good. That's what I'm concerned about.

Murali (with a twisted smile): Yes, yes. Absolutely.

We then proceeded with the movie. It had turned out to be a sort of an all-rounder. So far we had been treated to a teen-romance, chick-flick, tragic drama and a heroic epic all packed into one movie, which was now showing signs of turning into a military action flick. My much pumped up enthusiasm towards fandom was slowly showing signs of dying away.

At this point, the movie takes a new twist. A particularly and remarkably ridiculous dialogue from the actress comes to mind:

Heroine (who is also childhood friend of hero who is still deeply in love with his girlfriend who lost her life in a violent bomb-blast meters away from him in a University in the US):
"I'm in love with you. I have known you very well since I was 14 or 15, loved you since I was 16 or 17 and noticed you since I was 8 or 9 years old. I know you can't forget your dead girlfriend but I don't care. Just tell me yes or no.." blah blah and more such sappy stuff.

Murali (now turns to look at me): Do you see it now? This is what a fan has got to do. Endure shitty dialogues such as these.

I had finally lost all patience and hope that this movie would dish out something worth watching. The YouTube windows were shut and locked away safely where no click would find them ever.

And so my tryst with fandom was over, yet again.

Mar 8, 2011

The Mind and it's Tribulations...

My mind has a mind of it's own.

Most people have a hard time believing this about me. For some reason, I've been told often that the image I project is one of a calm, studious, disciplined, 'good girl'.

I cannot imagine why that is. Because what's going on inside me is often the opposite. Well true, I'm not aggressive and I'm not at all ambitious or competitive. But I'm not good. Not in the definition of 'good' anyway. I'm not disciplined, i'm frivolous. Yes, frivolous. That's the perfect word to describe it.

I could be dead serious about something for around 3 hours and then change my mind about it completely. Now making this statement about myself has taken me a good amount of courage, because I'm just putting myself out there, being so honest.

And yet, there are those very very very few things in life that I can never change my mind about. No matter what will happen, that will never change. Maybe like true love. Or cheating on someone, or abuse.

Apart from these very few things that I can never change my mind about, I have always been confused. All the time. I have had few opinions in life because I am always confused. Someone once actually asked my opinion on a subject and I had nothing to offer. Not in terms of knowledge, but in terms of opinion. I actually came across as pretty dumb at that point of time.

All my life I've been waiting for some clarity. Clarity of mind. Something to come and clear up all the fog, so I can start living. That's right, I still feel like I haven't started living yet. Because I'm waiting for something to clear up before I can.

All this until I recently came to the revelation that there is no such thing as clarity of mind. And then it all started to make sense.

According to my understanding, what we call is clarity of mind, is coming to a conclusion about something. But to me, coming to a conclusion means closing doors on all other possibilities. When I look back on each and every instance in my life, coming to a conclusion has seemed impossible for me, and hence all the frivolousness.

According to my understanding, my mind is working from a very limited pool or database of information. So all the thoughts that collectively form the nature of my life, are coming from a certain understanding of the world, the people in it, the forces of nature. This seems to be forming my perception of things. But what if, I had a new understanding of the universe, say, I now know where the boundaries of the universe lie. Would my thoughts still be the same? Wouldn't that alter my perception and hence the nature of my thoughts?

So, where does clarity of mind come from, when there is no clarity in the basis of my thoughts? For instance, I could convince myself that for me success is to have a job that pays x amount, to have a home that is of some y size, a yearly vacation to some z place, and some p, q, r, and s amount of comforts in my life. Not to mention some people to love and share these things with.

This is clarity to most people. This is a conclusion. Where does it come from? From the limited experience of what is defined as success in our society, in this world. What if I had suddenly acquired knowledge of a different world where success is something different? How can I conclude, confine and limit my experience of life by defining success in this manner?

And this, in every aspect of life.

So, in my understanding, there is no such thing as clarity of mind. Because the basis of every thought is just a past experience, and what I have seen of this world. The more I see and the more people I meet, the standards against which my thoughts are formed might change, but they will still be limited to the nature of this world we live in.

I've realized that I cannot talk my mind out of anything. Like, pain or pleasure. Say there is an instance of my past that has caused me a lot of pain. Initially when it happened I would think of it often and there would be much pain. As time passed, the memory receded and now maybe once in a long time I remember it and it causes me pain.

Being the sensitive creature that I am, I have often been faced with such painful situations. Most of the time in my life, I have felt pain. Such a strong emotional response; I have realized it cannot be reasoned out in the mind. There can be some perfectly logical explanation as to why I should stop feeling the pain (sentences such as 'it's not your fault', 'there's nothing you could do about it', 'it's all over and in the past now'), but it doesn't stop that way. I keep reminding myself of the explanation, but at times when I least expect it, the pain creeps back and holds on like there is no tomorrow.

I can control it maybe, but not for long, soon it will start bursting through the seams. There is no way to reason with it. I have suffered much in life not knowing what to do with painful memories.

I now understand that there is no way to make my mind stop feeling the pain. There are only two things to do. One is to sit down somewhere and stop resisting it. Simply allow the pain to happen and allow myself to be engulfed by it. It intensifies to such an extent that I feel I might burst soon. But then it slowly works itself out and begins to recede. And then there is a feeling of great relief flooding through me.

The other way is to detach myself from it. This is not an easy thing to do. But off late I have been able to do this a little. Detach means, to simply go beyond it. Don't deny it, don't try to control it, but don't follow it either. Simply let it be, watch it and don't do anything, don't respond. Initially this never worked but now it seems hopeful. Now slowly, it seems to be working. Fleeting, but definite.

This second way seems to have a lot of possibilities. If I hang on to it, get better at it, a lot of transformation seems to be possible. It gives me hope.

A few answers are now coming through to the millions of questions I have always had about life. It feels good.  Very, very good.

The same goes with me for pleasure. Very early in life, in order to deal with a few difficult situations, I began to take solace in food. Food became my primary source of comfort. It became my mechanism to self-protection and preservation. So much that later in life, when the situations have become better and better, the mechanism did not cease to exist. In turn, it reared an ugly head in the name of addiction.

After struggling a lot with this addiction (which I am not going to talk about in detail right now), I have finally been able to understand and come to terms with what is going on with me.

I have now come to the understanding that this addiction is a situation that was created within me for the sake of my own protection. It's true that the need for this protection is not there anymore, but the response still occurs from time to time. It is not my enemy, it is the only form of self-defense that my body has learned.

This addiction, or rather I would like to call it this response, is never going to really go away. I cannot control it, I cannot make it disappear. I have made peace with it. There are again only two ways to deal with this, like I said before. Either I stop resisting it and allow it to work itself out each time the response occurs. Or I detach. I become aware of it and I don't respond. I see it for what it is and I simply do nothing. I don't respond.

Again, the second path is extremely difficult, when I know that all I have to do is reach out and pleasure is right there. It is like reaching out to that thin line between self-control and self-awareness and being able to barely make it across. But off-late it has started to work. Very few instances, but I can see a definite possibility.

There might be a time in my life when my body is screaming and protesting for a bar of chocolate and all I am doing is sitting absolutely still, not reacting, not responding, not feeling a thing.

I look forward to that moment in life. In all earnestness, I do.

The Guru's grace is tremendous. It touches me in ways that I cannot even begin to comprehend. I now have hope for myself. :-)