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A case for the showcase

Clever tees have been an attraction for quite a while now. Less generic, and more fun mashups. This one is an example from a few years ago.

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Once, when I wore this while out in a group, one kind soul complimented the design. Another person in the group immediately commented that people wore such tees to send a “look how smart I am” message. My views was that at least for me, it was less vanity/personality and more a means of expression and identity, which served as a conversation starter, given my less-than-gregarious nature. But it did stay with with me, and make me wonder whether he had a point. More

Habits and home

It’s been happening on enough recent Cochin trips to be given the status of a habit – visiting The Grand hotel for lunch. The food is predictably good, though they take liberties with what can be called ‘meals’. But there’s more to it. The Grand has been around for as long as I can remember, and in the otherwise rapidly changing landscape of my hometown, it offers a solidity and anchorage that is rare and appealing. This time, we had this guy seated right behind us. :)

Another habit, which is even older, is shopping from Malabar Chips – for friends, colleagues, and us. Some of the people working there have been around for decades, and I told D how I’d watched them change over the years. “..all the faces that made up my childhood“, as Rana Dasgupta phrases it in Solo. It made me think how we probably notice changes in others more than they themselves do. By the same token, we don’t notice ourselves change. More

Ends & Beginnings

A few weeks ago, I met the gentleman who was my first boss in Bangalore. We were meeting after a long time, and over a cup of coffee, he asked me for my visiting card. He looked at it for a while, and said, “I don’t know about you, but I feel very proud about this.” It was a humbling moment. He then smiled, and asked me if I remembered our interview conversation.

Of course I did, because it was one of those occasions that changed my life’s trajectory. He reminded me that when asked why I wanted the job, I had answered “..because my future wife already has a job in Bangalore and I need to move here from Cochin to get married’. He had laughed. The year was 2003, and thus began my life in Bangalore.

The conversation was a reason in itself for a bout of nostalgia, and as I made my way back home later in the evening, my mind was replaying the time I had spent in this city. But there was another reason too, and that’s what this post is about. More

Home, virtually

The idea of home has made its presence felt many times on this blog – personal perspectives, as well as its evolution based on the institutional realignment line of thought. In fact, this is one of those topics  which I continue to have many thought wrestling matches on. While home begins as a physical place, as one steps out of it and moves out into the larger world, one realises that it becomes as much a place that is created in the mind.

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To quote Pico Iyer, “For more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil than, you could say, with a piece of soul.” The ‘piece of soul’ changes with circumstances and choices – from childhood, landmarks, experiences and so on to a different set of people and places, and a different sense of purpose, for instance. All of this continue to change over time, until probably, at a certain point, you realise the set of places, people and props you’d want around in your final years. But let’s not get morbid ahead of time! :)

To quote Pico again, “Home is not just the place where you happen to be born. It’s the place where you become yourself.” And sometimes it can be both. It also explains why I did not recognise a future home when I saw one – 11 years back, on a screen not very different from this one. That’s what this post is about – to acknowledge the day it all began – 11 years ago. It is also a hat tip to Rediff, where I began my blogging journey (when I spoke at BlogAdda recently, most people didn’t know Rediff used to have blogs) and a nod of thanks to my 25 year old self who had no idea what he was getting into and wrote some horrible verse to start it all off.

A place that, in a click, helps me travel back in time and shows me people, perspectives and pages, some of whom/which I have outgrown, but have influenced what I am today. Experiences that have shaped the course of my life. A journal of the past which continues to help me shape my narrative – thoughts, to words, to actions, and beyond. A place where I continue to become myself.

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A piece of my soul that is my consciousness and on many occasions, even my conscience. A homepage that I consider home. :)

until next time, thanks for reading!

Notion states

My last post on the subject of home was in the context of the multicultural world we are creating, how in our pursuit of convenience and familiarity we might end up creating a homogeneous world, and whether the idea of home would change with time, as we begin to choose places that connect to our soul over the soil we were born in. (soul vs soil courtesy Pico Iyer)

One of my main punching bags in the institutional realignment line of thinking is the concept of the nation state, more specifically its relevance in a massively connected world. A simplistic view is that economics, trade and many other things might be better off without them, given how much of an enabler technology is turning out to be, and geo politics will anyway be a lesser phenomenon if there aren’t any nation states. Arguable, yes.

However, I had very little idea on the replacement concept. Geography (land) would exist and would have to be organised in some way. What way? In a wonderful display of appropriateness, Wired gave a possible answer – in the form of a post titled “Software Is Reorganizing the World“. I loved the concept of ‘geodesic distance’, and the mapping of not nation states but states of mind. (soul) The idea of (what is now) cloud communities taking physical shape is fantastic! While it might sound far fetched, it really isn’t – the post gives historical precedence and emerging patterns to back up the idea. As does Tony Hsieh’s The Downtown Project in the present day to transform the decaying and blighted part of the old Vegas Strip into the most community-focused large city in the world.

Around the same time, I came across this Facebook (official) note titled “Coordinated Migration“, (thanks MJ) which shows how Facebook is using ‘hometown’ and ‘current city’ descriptions to track migratory patterns across the world. Probably, in a few years, this would be a mapping everyone would take a keen interest in, to find kindred souls, and to be what they are destined to be.

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(via)

until next time, a state of bliss

A long way away from home

The Global Soul’ is not my favourite Pico Iyer book (though he is a favourite anyway) mostly because I couldn’t connect to three out of its six chapters. I picked up the book because, in addition to it being a Pico book, it was about a subject that has fascinated me for a while now – the concept of ‘home’. This, in a multicultural world whose corporate citizens are rapidly making sure that ‘Everywhere is made up of everywhere else..’ I remember writing about this almost three years ago, in the context of another travel book and my visit to what I still consider home – Cochin. It was evoked by the presence of the same brands that I might see in a mall in Bangalore, the disappearance of familiar landmarks, and the residents referring to new landmarks that I really didn’t know of. It is perhaps unfair to expect that even as I changed, the idea of home would remain a constant. Maybe I will get used to that in a while too.

I had wondered whether, in our pursuit of convenience and familiarity, we might end up creating a homogeneous world. Now I wonder if we might be one of the last generations to live in a truly heterogeneous world, as, in addition to the corporate imperialism, culture also becomes the most exported and imported product, courtesy technological advances – real and virtual. Home is, as the t-shirt goes, where the wifi connects automatically, and I’d be able to recreate it anywhere, with all the props made available to me.

Every year, around this time, there is usually a home visit, and I would be chronicling it, this year there isn’t. Our regular visit targets are missing in action, and going there doesn’t make sense. I wonder if this is how it begins, and a couple of decades later, when I’m traveling, a bout of homesickness would hit me, and I would realise that it wasn’t Cochin I was thinking of. I’ll probably feel sad then, and guilty. But for now, I am closing my eyes, and recreating Cochin in my mind, with no props. I am able to, I can sense the wistfulness as I walk through the streets (without Google) and they haven’t changed. It’s heartening to know that while I have left Cochin, it hasn’t left me.

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until next time, homegrown can be grown?

An idea called home – 2

Anjum Hasan’s “Difficult Pleasures” is borderline surreal, the jacket told me. She would be in my top 3 favourite authors list, and I am completely awed by her writing (check the last para here) but I wonder if even that can explain the surreal thought I had as I read the first few pages. Can a book be called a home? What is a home after all? Isn’t it just an idea that is sometimes real and tangible and exists physically?

And that was the surreal thought – every time I read this author’s books, it’s like going home, as though I could reach inside, get into the story and talk to the characters and they wouldn’t consider me out of place at all. I could belong. Yes, it’s surreal, and I haven’t been smoking, but I just couldn’t get the thought out of my head.

until next time, home away from home

From the Kerala diary..

An overcast sky met us at the Alwaye railway station on June 1st. As I sat inside the bus to Kothamangalam, I wondered where the rains would meet us. I saw school kids waiting for their bus, but not as many as I had expected. It has been a tradition in Kerala – on June 1st, when the kids begin their academic year, the rains are the first to welcome them. I remembered umbrellas, raincoats, pants hitched up, new wet notebooks…. But it seemed that things weren’t so anymore. I wasn’t the only one surprised – the Gandhi in Perumbavoor stood open jawed.  We reached our destination, dry. I learned later that most schools were opening on Jun 4th and the rains were scheduled on Jun 5th. On the way back to Cochin that night, starting from a near empty bus stand, I was able to relive the window seat. But I realised that just as the seer had changed, so had the scene.

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There’s a wonderful quote that’s attributed to Bryan White – “We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.” So when one goes back to places which only hold childhood memories, maybe there’s a natural pull to rewind to a time without that learning, and just let loose. And just like in that age and time, many impulsive, harmless things then become capable of delivering an incredible amount of joy.

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For a long time now, Nedumbassery had been my exit point from Kerala. And so I sat, after a wedding feast, on a journey from there to Palghat and beyond, watching a series of places I hadn’t seen in more than a decade. Familiar landmarks and new sights, and the Western Ghats that stood solidly in the background. Hello, Kuthiran. Dad was surprised I could remember the name of the towns. How many ever roads a man walks down, his first roads remain etched….

The occasion for which we had made the trip saw 3 generations – one that had been born and had spent all their childhood in that village, another (mine) in which the majority of the members had cities that they considered home but had spent many a wonderful vacation there, and a third which was probably making a few memories. There’s that favourite Garden State quote of mine – Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place. In this version, ‘imaginary place’ is not a place that no longer exists physically, but one that exists in a certain state in  the memories of many people. I wondered when a place would cease to exist at all – is it when it disappears physically, is it when all the people who have memories of the place cease to exist, or is it when the place changes so much that even memories cannot bring it back. You’ll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s just gone. And you can never get it back. When the seer and the scene let go of each other. And that was why this trip was special – memories had been added, and the disappearing had been delayed.

until next time, seen there, done that :)

Realty Check 1

They would’ve loved to live here. A relatively hidden area in the heart of Koramangala, such that the EMIs would karmically commit them to several rebirths. But they had a plan. A group deal involving like minded people – to dump garbage there everyday until the rates came down. This post is the first step. 😉