Sunday, December 30, 2007

Barter as a medium of exchange...

Met my friend Akumal today, who is curating a painting exhibition. While the gallery is being doneup, we were discussing where the artists are going to be housed. The twelve artists are travelling from Kolkata to Bangalore for over ten days and accomodating them close to the gallery is important.

We noticed an empty house near the gallery ( which is in a very pleasant part of the city) and decided to check to see if the house could be "bartered out" for a week or so. The deal would be simple : house the artists for the duration and get a first-rate painting from them in return for the hospitality. Not a bad deal ! Considering that each of the artists who are exhibiting has the potential to make it big; and the works themselves are increadiblity beautiful, this is not a bad deal at all.

The discussion then veered towards how barter in some societies has replaced currency and how it can even in today's complex world be used effectively as a means of exchange. without enough "hard cash" many people feel strapped and cannot do things they really want to do. Barter can come to their rescue and be of great help in such situations.

A travel agent can offer free travel to a hotelier friend who can host the agent's friends for a few days; an artist can barter his paintings for some service or even hospitality. Even corporate firms can use this tool ( and i have seen this in practice) already. While barter in itself seems simple; the mechanism is susceptible to flaws and is not foolproof.

But in simple terms and among individuals, it can work very well if we mutually decide to share the resources we have. Something to think about on a sunday afternoon !

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The making of a hero...

Saw Lawrence of Arabia yesterday. I had seen the movie a few years ago; but not entirely and was always intrigued by the character. I finally sat down with the DVD of the movie and managed to see the movie last night.

It is a fascinating account of a romantic, a person who believed he could make a difference and unite the Arabs. My reading of his character is of someone who went beyond the boundries of skin, race and nationality and saw human beings for what they were - flesh and blood like himself. In this, he saw their pain as his and their struggle for freedom as something that he could relate to.

How much of his actions were motivated by greed or any other emotion, no one will ever know; but his integrity does come across quite strongly in the movie. T.E. Lawrence definitely comes across as a hero, who braved all odds to do what he believed in. A remarkable character indeed.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A bird, bullshit and more...

As i entered office today, i met my friend Ravi - a colleague and a "smoke buddy". We sat down over a cigarette and spoke about several things - and Ravi told me a story...

Once upon a time, there was a little bird. It was winter and the bird was sitting on a branch, almost freezing to death. Suddenly there was a snow storm and the bird could stand it no more and fainted and fell from the tree. As it fell unconscious, Ice started forming on the bird, and the poor little bird almost gave up hope.

Suddenly, a bull came from somewhere and accidentally shat on the bird. With the warmth of the shit, the bird gained consciousness and gathered strength. It woke up and started chirping in joy. As it was singing and dancing in joy; a cat passed by and ate the little bird.

Moral of the story : Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.

Bigger moral of the story : When in shit - keep your mouth shut !

Friday, December 14, 2007

Schizoid geographical identities...

I am an Indian living in Bangalore. Bangalore is probably the most cosmopolitan city in India and continues to grow at a rapid pace. While my sensibilities and emotional connection with India is strong; i dont think like many "Indians". So, does that make me an outsider ??

Europeans think Europe is the centre of the world. Americans believe that the world begins and ends with America. Indians like to believe that USA is the centre of the world and rest of the world is just a necessary add-on. As globalisation is sweeping the world with its un-relenting fury; i feel we are all becoming schizophrenic when it comes to our geographical identities and are confused about where we really belong.

I had a long chat with a very dear friend who called from Austria. He is what i would call "IBCTD"- Indian born confused traveller Desi. He is based in USA but is currently serving a stint in Graz, Austria. As our conversation veered towards home and where the heart belongs; one thing became clear - that both of us share similar confused mindsets about what really makes a place "home". Is it the emotional connection, the geographical place itself or a combination of both.

The Terminal - an interesting movie starring Tom Hanks brings out this dilemma clearly. The hero is travelling from an unknown country; which has been de-recognised when he lands in USA and he is here to perform an important task. He is forced to stay in the Airport and make it his home until his situation is sorted out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

No time to live....

Strangely, I had a fight today. Fight with myself. It was not the person who caused the fight which was important; but this was more an "internal affair" and i cried...silently. As tears rolled down my cheeks and i tried to calm down.....and stop feeling sorry for myself; i realised that most of us have forgotten how to live. And this "most of us" included me too...

We set up artificial goals, chase mirages, love heedlessly and are hurt. It is as if these "things" out there - people out there can fill the void within us. Unless we fill this void with a meaning - our own meaning for life...we will forever be hurt, depressed, bored. No matter how much money one makes, how loving one's partner is, no matter how famous one is; if this void is not filled; one will forever be restless.... and sad - as I felt today.

What was making me sad ? Unreplied emails ? someone ignoring me ? Someone not caring enough to give back what i expected - time and attention ? someone not making the effort to invest in me as much as i expected ?

It made me laugh for a while....I could imagine myself - looking as a passive observer and laughing at the absurdity of the situation.

The sad truth is that we are all alone. Alone and fast approaching our mortal end. If only we realise this and stop placing so much importance on someone/ external goals and success. Only if we realise that chasing mirages is not going to take us anywhere.... And to imagine that we give ALL of our waking time - waking hours to chase these mirages seems so stupid....almost childish...juvenile and taken to its extreme, it is madness.

I think ( and feel) some simple principles can make life easy for all of us :

1) Identify what is "meaningful" and important in your life
2) Give of what you can to these "meaningful" things or people...
3) Do not despair if you do not get back
4) Believe in natural order ...nature gives to everyone...what he/she deserves....even if it is delayed; eventually one gets what one deserves
5) If one is a believer in God, believe that God is loving, caring and he knows what he is doing...and it is for the best
6) place these priorities in order and dont give too much time and do not be too attached to anything

As a parting thought, i read this quote : "The enemy is not the other, the enemy is you" by J Krishnamurthy. I cannot disagree. All conflict begins and ends with the self.

You are the world..

Monday, December 3, 2007

Meaning of Dr Vicktor Frankl

"Hopelessness comes when there is no meaning in suffering. Man must recognise this responsibility that lies with one"

"Despair = Suffering with out meaning . As long as we see some meaning in the suffering; we can endure anything...". "People can turn their tragedies to personal many ppl cant find any meaning in life...and more often than not..have something to live by, but not life for".

Do i need to say more ??? watch this video

Carl Jung and study of the human mind...

Quite by chance i picked up a book by Carl Jung, the great Swiss thinker and founder of Analytical psychology. The book " Aspects of the feminine" deals with the female psyche and how the archetypes have shaped human consciousness.

Jung speaks about the Anima and Animus as the female and male archetypes. His approach appealed to me more than that of Freud ( though i must confess i havent read much of both of them). But Jungian psychology seems to derive from the dreams, archetypes and other symbols which are part of the unconscious part of us...

Strange that i saw a very lucid and beautiful dream of being on a beautiful island and swimming in the ocean just the night i finished reading the book...

Here is an interesting video of Jung talking about death, which he says should be approached like a goal and not something one has to run away from...