Project Happiness

Our “big” annual vacation typically happens around May-June. But at least six months of preparation precedes it, and my levels of preparation (which D has now been almost coerced into) might be considered way too orchestrated for practical purposes. My defense is that in all probability, this would be the only time we visit the place, so I’d like to make it as hassle-free as possible. Also, the fear of missing out.

As a species, we are uniquely capable of projecting our future in our own minds. My plan is supposed to make us happy. The expectations are already set. And that means that things can go wrong in many ways. For instance, things might not go as planned because of events outside of my control. Or we see other possibilities once we’re in a place but we’ve already committed to our plans in terms of time/money/emotions! More

Halo Dilli

No, I’m not shifting to Delhi.

Lara Dutta is not an actress I’m a fan of, though I’ve not been able to fathom why. And this was long before she became part of Colgate’s Namak Harem (after Koel Puri and before Sonakshi Sinha), so that, though enough, can’t be the reason. However, Vinay Pathak is an actor I like, especially in roles in which he is a silent sufferer. (remember Dasvidaniya)

Things thus balanced out, I decided to watch Chalo Dilli. Vinay’s Manu Gupta is awesome as ever, and Lara Dutta actually surprised me with a decent performance, and the ‘bhaisaab‘ and ‘behenji‘ shared an excellent chemistry throughout the road trip. Yana Gupta has always received an excellent chemistry from my side and that continued with her rendition of ‘Laila o Laila’. Since this isn’t a movie review, I’ll stop at that, and let you read a legit review by my favourite reviewer. Not a movie I’d fancy at a multiplex, but easily one that I’d buy a DVD of.

Somewhere during the movie, probably the scene where Lara is surprised by the joy of seeing a sunrise, I had an epiphany of sorts – that I might have a better shot at joy if I didn’t pre-decide what could give me happiness. The templates that I form – movies, shopping, vacations, reading etc probably make me shrug off opportunities when they present themselves. In fact, I probably go out of my way to ignore them and prevent them from arising.

It also made me think of the flip side – unhappiness/sorrow. Would I be better off if I decided what are the things that would really make me sad, instead of being upset over every minor derailment of plans? The ideal is to be able to treat happiness and sadness with the same calmness and even further, detachment, but until the time I get there, this is probably a good measure.

until next time, chalo comment, don’t dilly dally ๐Ÿ˜‰


Sometime back, when I’d written the post on Onam, I’d mentioned a story that deserved to be told. About an old school pal R who has composed a wonderful soundtrack for a recently released Malayalam movie. He’s been composing for over 2 years now, probably more if you count the non-film work he’s done, but when I listened to this soundtrack, I was glad to note that I was proud of him. No, not pride by association – of knowing him, but actually proud for what he’s done for himself. I was glad for him. And so, I was glad for myself.

R and I share a history, which starts with a shared birthday, so it used to be that our ‘color dress’ย  days in school used to be the same. He also used to stay in the university campus, which, in case you haven’t noticed, is a constant handle for my nostalgia trips on this blog. R was obviously a very good singer, actually he was a little beyond that grade too. I still remember the time when for some class talent show, R and I were asked to teach group songs to our respective classes. R did a fantastic job, while i just taught the class the song – everyone sang everything. The difference was harmony. I didn’t know it then, I understood it later. Meanwhile, like me, R also played cricket. My tryst with that bloomed late (high school) and lasted only a few years,ย  as far as official teams went. I wonder if he did something about it. Oh, okay, I just read through what I wrote. No, I refuse to make myself an underdog on my own blog. ๐Ÿ˜€

The learning part of school life was obviously the most important, not by choice, but still….and as those primary/secondary class reports would show, I used to be the topper, modesty be damned. Add to that, the school junior hockey team, quiz, debate, Dumb C later, and being the quorum filler for things as varied as Malayalam recitation and News Reading (yes, we had that as a bleddy competition item, would you believe it!! Maybe I should sue that school, those certificates can be quite embarrassing) and you could imagine why my attention was spread thin. But wait, let’s not overcompensate. :)

Anyway, R and I parted ways when i changed schools, though we used to meet later for most of the inter school festivals, where on one hand, I’d be shouting out Dumb C guesses, and minutes later, would be desperately trying to remember the lyrics for the next few lines I had to sing for the music competition. Once I also noticed him in the Western (Group) music part of the competition, and I went WTF (the school kid equivalent actually) on why there wasn’t a Bollywood part, since the only English lyrics i knew then were …..erm, nothing. ๐Ÿ˜ After school we completely lost touch, and a nice little music rivalry, in which he used to kick my a** regularly, except for stray upsets, ended.

A few years back, a nostalgia wave hit our batch, and a classmates e-group was created. Nice people that they are, they sent me an invite and I joined, even though I’d spent only 5 years in that school. That it remains my favourite school is a fact, though. Anyway, that’s where I heard the news that R had composed his first movie soundtrack, back in 2007. And now begins the role that R played without his knowledge – the reason for this post.

When i heard the news, a part of me was happy, but that was only a small part. The larger part was insanely jealous. This wasn’t like any of the stars/celebrities I regularly read about, I knew this guy, I had shared the stage with him and competed with him. And here he was, on the way to becoming famous, while I sat blogging about paths not taken!! That was when I looked at myself, and really bothered to take an objective look- as objective as i could be then. I realised it wasn’t the first time that this insane jealousy had happened. From wittier one liners to cooler jobs, the feeling had expressed itself many times, with different people. Sometimes fleetingly, sometimes for long stretches. Each time, it lasted till the mind gave itself a reason to stop being jealous, on why there was a flip side in their lives too. Bizarre ones sometimes, in desperation, but reasons nevertheless.

But from then on, I have been watching myself. It happens now too, in fact, on one front it is worse, because the proliferation of social networks means that there are more people I am now connected to – Twitter updates, Facebook statuses, vacation photos, all have the potential to get me launched into a ‘why is his shirt whiter than mine’ phase. All this, when on most fronts, I have nothing to complain about in my life, silly twist in my neck, notwithstanding. Initially, I tried to control the envy, give rational reasons – what I have gained and what i have missed on, and deliberately shut out things which would make me well, insanely jealous. From experience, the control is a myth, and the worst part is that it creates layers of denial. The massive risk is the day when it explodes in your face.

So these days, I don’t control, I admit to myself that I’m jealous, and wherever I can, i tell the other person too. Thereafter, the interaction is a delight. I get to know the hard work they’ve put in to reach where they have, I realise I can be genuinely glad for other people, and there is a sheer joy that can be experienced. Sometimes I am rebuffed by people too. I have also realised that the more i acknowledge, the lesser I get envy attacks.ย  I still get them sometimes, but I think the path is right. On a tangential front, I am also trying to leave expectations from myself open.

A strange thought occurred to me while I was writing this. Maybe its just me,ย  but with this sudden outburst of sharing and connectedness, are we increasingly living out a life that we want to portray to others? A “Hey look, I am happy, everything is perfect in my world” approach. Even the sad statuses are filtered, like the ‘negative things about yourself’ in job interviews. :) How much of the happiness is in the sharing, in the feeling that others might be envious? Are we going that way? If I don’t share and don’t expect any returns, but I can still be happy about something I have experienced/done, would that be joy? And as a next step, if I canย  go through the same experience without the baggage of expectations, would that be the objectivity I seek? Each second a new life? Beyond conditioning? Possible?

R’s story loop needs to be closed, eh? On request, he has sent me a karaoke version of a song I liked in the movie. I have promised to sing the vocals… for myself. And a story that deserved a joyous ending. :)

until next time, R bit ends for now :)

PS: For those reading this on the blog, see that new thingie right below this. USE IT :p