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Jul 02

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The Necklace

This is not going to be a story, article, poem, speech, excerpt or any of the other literary contrivances that this blog has attained the notoriety of nurturing. Instead, for once, we are going to be more like other ‘normal’ blogs, where people express their thoughts and emotions in a very direct manner and not enveloped within morally upright and righteous tales conjured up for the purpose of creating the aberration of a scholarly delivery. Infact, the theme of the following meandering string of words is going to be simple..
“How to live the life that awaits us after we graduate”

I know it’s a very hackneyed topic and many a blogger blogs about it, year-after-quotidian-year, by getting all worked up and nostalgic about the fact that they are about to leave the place they spent four unforgettable years in. Well, don’t worry.. it’s gonna be nothing like that..
The reason I emphasize the uniqueness of this post is because it’s not going to have any of the standard elements of an about-to-leave-college-approaching-a-delayed-puberty-blog… viz.
  • Cheesy quotations from novels and movies (inarguably read & seen during this period)
  • Mention of crappy little insignificant incidents
  • Use of ‘hip’ words, smiles’ or textese in an attempt to connect with the audience
  • Sense of gratitude towards the four year period of seclusion/reclusion
  • And.. finally.. Nostalgia..

***

The world is a brutal place (No I haven’t faced its full brunt yet, but whatever little I have, has always pointed to this conclusion). Now when was the last time you heard that? Quite often, if I consider that you belong to the class of first generation engineers* in your family – and I  presume there are a lot of those – especially because, before the IT boom facilitated the creation of engineering colleges in even the remotest of locations, engineering was considered to be a highly technical and specialized major.
But the great rule of democracy didn’t spare this walk of life and now almost everybody can say that they are the proud owners.. oops.. parents/uncles/aunts/childhood neighbors of an engineer* from an obscure engineering college (Anyways, what’s in a name, it’s the pay-packet that you receive at the end of the four years which matters, isn’t it?).
So after digressing enough from the original topic as your patient (sometimes loyal) readership would allow, let me get back on track.
The world is a brutal place. What does this mean? It’s nothing like the idyllic and serene setting of your college. And to further impart lucidity to the statement, lets break it up into bullet points..
  • The world doesn’t give a damn about what you think.
  • The world doesn’t give a damn about your knowledge.
  • The world doesn’t give a damn about what you dream.
  • The world just doesn’t give a damn. Period.
Most people are used to being coaxed, apologized to, and basically getting things done pretty much the way they want them to be done. Which explains the frequent mass strikes, the rallies for taps that run dry, the languid daily routines, et al. It’s not entirely wrong to go about your own way, after all, it incubates ‘leadership skills’ inside us, something we can proudly flaunt while tearing apart our own friends in Group Discussions for a company. The moderator is quite impressed by the obvious ‘I’m-the-leader-of-my-pack’ attitude, isn’t he? Well, such is the widespread acceptance of this misconception that it has attained a hallowed state of being-obviously-wrong-but-presumed-to be-correct by popular opinion. And if at any instance you do acknowledge this fact, then scroll up a few lines and refresh your memory as to how much the world cares about you..
Done?
Great. Let’s move on.
The reason why the Human Resources heads are impressed is not because of the supposed tenacity and grit and valor shown while framing up inconsequential sentences in a bid to be proven the most outspoken and enlightened amongst the group. What they love is seeing a brutal dog-fight (which is actually banned in most countries. A-ha!), an earnest representation of the environment they themselves thrive in. The dog with the most brutal bite and highest moral flexibility is picked up by the dog pound. The entire point of this exceedingly verbose description of the brutal world was to tactfully state (read: so as to appear entirely in context with) the following point:
“The set of morals which we have followed all our lives, those which were so tenderly passed onto us by our loving parents, count for zilch in the outside world”
Oh I know what you must be saying in your heads.. this is such a pessimistic post, why am I even reading this.. well to tell you the truth, there were many a college lectures which you could have easily bunked without any repercussions, but yet you didn’t, for some unfathomable reason. Think of that unfathomable reason for an instance and carry on reading. I promise you will get your due…
Anyways, getting to the point stated above, that if our innate morals count for zilch, then what should be our code of conduct? We can’t behave like uncouth savages can we? So there is a need for a new set of carefully tweaked morals that make us adept at handling this brutal world. Sometimes need is the mother of invention. And sometimes there comes so powerful an invention, that it creates a need for itself to be adopted (as an example of which, you need not think beyond the mystical iPod). Whichever is the case here, you are the best judge of it. I won’t intervene. Seriously.
And without further ado, possibly causing anticipation (maybe even agony) here’s The Necklace. (Necklace?? It’s actually a poetic expression you see.. pearls of wisdom are strung onto a string of sentences.. anyways forget that..). I’d like to call it the three-Bs’. (It’s more hip.)
  • Believe in coincidences:
Einstein said “God doesn’t throw dice”. What he meant was nothing in this Universe is left to chance. Now just like Darth Vader said that every person has a bright side and a dark side, this overtly simplistic statement can be canonized into two connotations as well.
  1. Everything is predestined. Your life has been scripted by some unknown-all-knowing-force and you can’t change it. You just need to play your part as best as you can and then one fateful day, die.
  2. If you plan carefully enough, and give the subject matter enough sincere thought, you can actually put up a spectacular fireworks display with the dampest of squibs.
That said, the best thing you can do is to believe in coincidences. Illogical, irrational, unpredictable coincidences. Whenever something unexpected happens, think of it as an outcome of some mystical coincidence. Coincidence can be best defined, as the occurrence of two mutually conjoined events you hadn’t anticipated. Actuarial purists who swear by the laws of probability would argue that the number theory takes every possibility into consideration, hence ruling out any anomalies such as a ‘coincidence’. To further drive the point home, their predictions are backed by fundamental mathematics. Well, all I can say is, mathematically, one plus one equals two. It’s an irrefutable law of nature. Put one apple beside another apple and you have two apples. But put one apple beside an orange, and you have a fruit salad…
Not logical, isn’t it? Ditto for life.
  • Be the idiot:

Some wise guy once said “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know”.

Meaning?? What our infinite hours of education have given us is only material knowledge. You can put it down in black and white (just like most teachers do so effectively via class-notes) and transfer it through this particular media only (once again like most of our teachers). But can you transfer that bit of ‘education’ to a layman or an eight year old without the aid of any tangible media? Can you utilize figments of your imagination to actually transfer an idea from one head to another? If yes, skip to the next ‘B’, and if not, you are no more educated than the man for whom the alphabet ‘A’ is just a queer assembly of three sticks. Quite a bitter pill to swallow ain’t it? That’s why the best thing to do is to swallow it immediately. The longer you keep rolling it around in your mouth, the greater the bitterness that would impinge your tongue.
Hence in many situations in life, it’s imperative to be the idiot (it’s actually harder and more rewarding than it sounds). You may feel being an idiot is the easiest job in the world. But beware, ‘idiot’ here doesn’t mean throwing your arms up with complete disregard for education. It’s all about highly selective idiocy.

Suppose you are completely oblivious about say.. Soccer. And you need to know about it for something important and deterministic. So you approach any self-professed soccer fanatic and chat him up. Somewhere in the conversation you throw up a highly contentious and debatable question like “Who was the greatest soccer player of all time? ”
(Now a bit of advice. This practice gives maximum benefits when carried out in a group of 3-4 people sharing a common interest, but who are at complete loggerheads with one another.)
Everyone will have their own opinion, and you have your own (preferably the most ostentatious and outlandish one). Everyone will ridicule your choice and try to prove theirs to be better than yours. That’s where being the complete and absolute idiot, and also making it obvious to others, helps so much. They will all give out statistics, achievements, awards etc. earned by their heroes to prove themselves to be above you, and in a few minutes, you will be inundated with information which would have taken you hours to gather, if you had opted to be the ‘smarty-pants’ instead.
As a fact, this is the quickest way to learn about anything. Be an idiot in front of a group of people knowledgeable enough in a particular field, and argue until they are getting ready to punch you in the face.
Plus, it’s mutually beneficial for everyone. You’re happy about the fact you collected the data expeditiously. The others would satisfy their bloated egos by thinking they bashed up an idiot real good.
Everybody gets the largest piece of the cake. Genius.
  • Be honest with your parents:
God (however omnipresent he’s supposed to be) couldn’t be everywhere, hence he created Mothers. Mothers had certain complicated issues in their heads. So He created Fathers to sort them out. And, sometimes, when mothers and fathers were together in congenial conditions, they created us. Hence, they passed a little piece of Gods’ purpose of creation onto us. But it’s human nature to forget. We conveniently forgot we were created for a purpose. And squandered away our existence in pursuit of illusive objects of status like a girl/boyfriend (or both.. whatever turns you on), a dream job, bank balance, and not to forget the most illusive of them all.. happiness!
“Oh this is just a load of bollocks.. who doesn’t want happiness in life and what’s wrong in being happy” you say?
I’ll tell you.
Picture this: You get a ‘dream’ job from campus. You work real hard. Get a raise. And consequentially the love of the person you admired. You rent a home. And a car. You marry. You are (supposedly) happy… but something is missing.
Now picture this: You screwed up at work. You are fired. Your boss won’t take you back. Neither your spouse. Nor your friends. Your cars’ mortgage is too much to pay and you sell your apartment off as compensation. Helpless and exasperated, you call your parents. They ask about your health, your job, what have you been eating, when would you be visiting, etc. You blatantly lie by saying you have taken a week off just so that you can be with them. Oblivious to the truth, they tidy up your childhood room, prepare plans for the magical week ahead, call in relatives from all corners. You show up with a suitcase and a laptop and say you have quit your job (obviously, which lunatic can fire the embodiment of sheer genius that is you). You cry in front of them. They cancel their own plans. Get you out of it. And just like they taught you how to walk so many years back, they get you back on your feet so that you can go far away to create a lucrative bubble for yourself once again. All they ask from you, their only unjust demand from you in return for all this is: “Whatever you do, please stay happy.”
Or: Havingnothing to lose anymore, you can now go out to do what you really wanted to do. Pursue your dream. Open a restaurant. Go look for Alaska (but stay away from poisoned plants a la Chris Mc.Candless.)
What I am emphasizing here is, how much our sustenance, our non-blood relationships, our bank-balance and yes, not to forget, how much our happiness depends upon whether we have a 9-5 job or not. All these things we pursued for so long can completely vanish the moment we are sacked. And maybe a lot of us realize this, which is actually the driving force behind people working their butts off at work so much. Come to think of it, how much is it worth? Is this acquired happiness more valuable than the inherent sense of satisfaction obtained by the assurance that whatever we do, however badly we screw up, there are at least two people who earnestly believe in us and are always there for us? Those two people happen to be our parents.
Lie to them as much as you want. You’ll reap what you sow.
***

That’s pretty much it. Accept it, denounce it or report abuse against it. Hardly matters. It’s entirely at your discretion. But, don’t just forget so easily about that brutish and nauseous feeling that overcame you while you were reading it.
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