Thursday, February 21, 2008

Some Place Called Engineer's Hall!

This post comes with a disclaimer: Every person, place and event mentioned in this blog might be fictional, any similarity with real version might be co-incidental .....and every thing you read might be an illusion. mutually created!

:) now with this go on to read.....

I feel like starting with "Once upon a time". But then this is no fairy tale....

Still, long time back in 2000, i joined Tata Motors (then Tata Engineering) as a Management Trainee few days after my Masters in Psychology with an activist bend of mind.

Something was wrong from the start it seemed. And the full realisation is yet to come....

I was not prepared, for a shock of a completely different culture. A professional and engineering cuture.

I never grew up with men and engineers around me and here they were, far too many. A hostel (called Engineer's Hall) full of almost 120 or more young men, beeming with their engineering degrees from best institutions of the country and only 6 young women, out of which only 2 from social science background.

Every one had to adjust it seems some more than others. ( I remember or replay events in my mind...)

Over the time, over the years, most of the 'batch' (almost college like) moved out... some for higher studies and others lured by software industries... And i kept having my own group of friends and may be admirers ... like all other women there (no one can help it in such a scenario....nothing to my credit!!). Well that story some other day.

As the things started settling .... a seeming arrogant stranger offered his friendship and not only we really became very good friends, but I also was initiated into the boys gang (Almost!). I lived those late night ‘addas’ discussing every thing from personal lives to professional dreams, demonstrating planchit (which i never did after that)…. vivid images!

Then... one day, I found presence of a serious misunderstanding between us and the resulting events lead to one of the biggest crisis of my life, which took years….. to resolve.

Only my further training in my field brought some sense of understanding for was a breakdown of 'reality perception and interpretation' on the other person's part ….

Gradually some sense of resolution on an individual basis came. Joint resolution came, a bit later, years later, that too not full, still it came!

But in others' memories, often only the darkness survives.

As they say, Asian cultures have an inherent dialectical ways of interpretation, i too looked at what good came out of it...i was woken up to reality, gained some life long friends having pure, complete faith in me (? soul level connections), learned about mob reactions of people living in close vicinity and ...I learned how society matters less and less many times and how to survive opinion of majority (which sometimes becomes curse in democracy and collectivist cultures).

I survived it all and went on to have my own moments of fame somewhat in the city's cultural life.

Meanwhile, me and my friend moved on in our respective fields, moved away from the common organization, city, country, continent and even started losing touch with common friends. For myself, I had picked up more troubles while walking on my life path. And learned my own lessons intensely.

There is no experience like a first hand trouble :)

After distances of time and space, suddenly yesterday we got in touch after seeing each other in dreams, especially when he is quite unwell. And pat came his explanation, 'past life connections'.

I raise my palm to heaven and say 'I believe'!

...Finding presence of deep connections with another human being is really a humbling experience for me. It suddenly makes me feel how much meaning there is to each event in life and each interaction. As if every thing fits well in the grand architecture of the existence, while we groop with the meaning of the every day happenings and pains.

I have often struggled to keep this view point and save it from the attacks of significant others, who take it as boundary violation of the spheres of concrete or socially constructed reality. While I try, I have not converted many to my point of view…except those who always had that insight waiting to be explored...

This reminds me of the beautiful poem which runs shivers down my spine, every time I read it….I love it, I believe in it and will continue to do matter extra troubles in life :)

'No man is an island' (by John Donne)
No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as any manner of thy friends or of thine

own were; any man's death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Of Films and Film Critics...

Once I have something in my mind, if i do not write it, soon its lost forever.
So today even with lot of time constraints, i wish to write some random thoughts about a film fest i attended. Many films were there and as it happens in any concurrent session, we have difficulty in choosing what to go for. I too had. The ones I saw were more about relationships with oneself and others.
While there was one with lot of psychoanalytic content, I would find it difficult to explain here.
About others, one was 'Sancharam' on love ( which seems so natural) of two women (who grow up together) for each other, portrayed beautifully.
Another was 'Yugant' about a couple meeting after estrangement of 18 months (but the looks seemed otherwise) and trying to work out the marriage. But the wife's devotion for dance as an art form was much more than a normal marraige can hold and she had to fly away. While the husband himself into a creative field had his own inner growth chart and they remain like the railway track, somewhere near but not together.
The third was 'Persona' a difficult movie about masks we wear and how it all effects us....

(Clearly you can see, I am having difficulty talking about the movies as each of them have so many layers and i can't write here all. So I am just picking up few small points....)

The discussions after the movies had an interesting trend. The difficult movies were very well understood and layers of it analysed. But when it comes to something so near, so homely as a relationship, people really have difficulty to leave a cliched way of looking at it.
One comment came about homosexuality as sin and deserving to be treated (by whom?? psychotherapists are ethically not supposed to treat it as an illness now. Therapy is only about coming to terms with the situation one way or other, as per the values of the person).
Another i heard in the corridors (by a supposed intellectual), about how women run away if pursued...???

Many people are so very comfortable with the cliched ideas!!

Also, i was wondering how difficult it is to have or to really appreciate 'love' for an individual or for something larger as an art form or sea or may be people .....

My favourite moment was when Rupa Ganguli (in movie yugant) dances on the beach, to the sound of waves, explaining her lover what sea talks to her, what deep secrets sea tells her....
Tell me what!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Introspective days

Recently, while discussing with a dear friend about life's inevitable pains and hurts, i had written a long mail.....

Going over it again, reminded me of the saying that we write/say, what we ourselves too need to know. Or may be, need to put it in more concrete form and give it words.

We touched so many of the issues of growing up...

of occupational hazards of our unique profession...
reassuring ourselves out of fears of having one way intimacy (where others seek us out to become their therapist or psychologists and not as a person)
of not dismissing our own expereinces by thinking some phenomenas exclusive to those studying psychology....
of how when we are feeling so alone, we can do something about it. Look at it from the lens of other people-related researchers in the fields of social work, sociology, activism, and other fields of humanities and even arts and literature. May be also widen our values, commitments and agendas...

Of Social questions ....
of being 'strong girl children' of our parents in a society where our generation of women (after being lucky enough to survive) are trying to prove their worth... and it becomes an extra burden. The glass ceiling comes at times, not in concrete form but in the attititudes of loved ones..

of negotiating life decisions so as not to hurt loved ones and carry its guilt (the launching out guilt) but also not to hurt ourselves by living a suffocating life with those values which our minds reject. An inevitable phenomena which we take years to out grow and many never do :(

of having or not having the picture perfect childhood, adolescence or youth.....and questioning who painted those perfect pictures for us to add it to our wish list. I like the not so perfect ones, for then there is a lot of scope to grow. We have saved enough within to last long and not to end up into a sick life, career and relationship to be doomed forever??

of people who treat others as objects of their gratifications, stripped of any dignity and deserved respect...

of questioning our feminity ....have we become so androgynous to miss the feminine goodies in life? or is it a bargain or are we finding it difficult to bring a balance and confidence about it... About why this question?

about how finding people like us gives so much of courage ....and inspirations too...

And spiritually ...

About how most of us dislike introspection for it might disrupt our sense of comfort. And thus how difficult it becomes, to strip out the layers of false existence stuck upon us since long growing up years....we have to first fight with different parts within us.

And beyond all this, having a life of pain and living it to the full. May be celebrate it and still not seem like having some kind of psychopathology :)

Do we have problem? or is it about the way world functions. In the name of acceptance, people stop for too little too early in life and restructure their cognitions around it.

But if we stop, will we be happy? no that is not the perfect lives for us, we will get bored to death with the sense of meaninglessness and walk out in one way or other some day.

But then there is no choice! No salvation out of this mess!! ...human birth, now i know more experientially, what buddha meant. The way out we have to learn experientially too.

It is never easy... that is the biggest challange. and the universe sustains on this play / interaction of lessons and our individual and collective limitations. If we look around we will find same story in diferent ways.

But i think it is a really good that we are facing such crisis. and some days one walk out of it and look as an observer, how imp. and meaningful these struggles are.
Is there anything else of more worthy to take birth on this earth. The pain and the struggle is the only thing.... the smooth ride periods are only the reinforcement to carry on. The day challanges are over we will merge in god?? or god would have given up on us??