Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Murphy and Coelho.

If anything can go wrong, it will.
- Murphy's law.

When things are going well, something will go wrong.
- Corollary to Murphy's law, Chisholm's second law.

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it .
- The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho.

Nature sure has opposites. Yin and Yang. For every minus one there's a plus one. Its hard to understand the effect of this theory of opposites if one is still unharmed, unaffected even once by it.

Paulo Coelho says the entire universe helps one achieve what he wants. Murphy on the other hand quotes the opposite; That wrong is bound to happen and if some good happens, some wrong is sure to follow. Who then should we believe in? Because whatever we do, whatever we try to achieve everyday, is characterized by our desire to have that thing completed with hundred percent efficiency and output. Hence everything we do everyday is something we want, very eagerly, to return a positive output. And things we don't care about much can be disposed off or replaced by those that, as I mentioned, point to a significant size in our mental desire-box. Thus it seems as if we involuntarily tend to follow Coelho's line of thought. Or more accurately, The Driving Force pushes us into doing things that it thinks might be the ones we desire more and might want to see done at the moment, more than the other tasks which can be disposed off without much thought or concern. Say you are helping your friend. Then ask yourself why you are helping him. To help is our nature. Yes. But you just helped him because that would just make him happy (even if he mightn't show it) and that in turn would make you happy. And as for someone who doesn't help a friend, when given a chance to, just wants to hurt him in some way or the other. It may be an argument they might have had the previous night. Or it may be something else. But in that case, hurting him to prove his point might be the one thing that he desires the most at that particular moment. And so, The Driving Force forces him to act on it and so he does, ignoring all the other things he might have done instead. Coelho wins again.

Now consider this. That same guy who helped a friend do something checked a few things off his list to allow the help-friend to-do to creep in. Out of those few things that he ignored, one was going to a nearby hangout joint with some other friend. If he would have gone there, it might so have happened that he might have overheard someone talking about a local band contest and a decent enough prize money which would have done him good. But he doesn't go there and so he doesn't come to know. But how then does the affected realize this? Unless and until he doesn't comprehend the intensity of the chance that he just lost, Murphy's law cannot be applied to him. But under those circumstances, some other wrong is being discovered. But he comes to know. Someone tells him they're playing at this gig and he asks him about the show. To which he gets replied to and he realizes that had he been there at that time, he might have been able to buy performance tickets off the guy who was selling them. Its then that he curses Murphy. Talking about the corollary, if he might have finished helping that friend quickly and rushed to the hangout place, somehow managing to buy tickets, he would have later come to know that a hot chick had just dropped in at that friend's place later that night and had he stayed there instead of rushing off to the cafe to buy tickets for a contest which he anyway did not win, his friend would have invited him along to another cafe and he might even have had a chance of scoring the hot chick. He curses Murphy again.

Murphy and Coelho might seem to travel on two paths. They might seem to be totally different but in reality they are brothers. Brothers in arms. One cannot survive without the other.

To cite an example, reckon this : I've been trying to convince my dad of buying me a bike for a long time. Two years. I've always wanted a Bullet. And I've been trying to make my dad understand of my passion for biking. It so happened that a very close friend of dad once visited our place. My dad, expecting to hear a kind of an answer that might aid him win the age old battle and close the case asked him:

“Say. How is this bike called Bullet?” (Hmm?)
“Bullet? Beautiful bike! Marvelous!” (Smile on face. Spark in eyes.)
“Oh? He wants to buy a Bullet.” (Oh-no.)
“He knows what he's buying. A guy who buys a Bullet knows what he's buying. Its a very charming bike. Especially the noise. As kids, we used to drill holes in the exhaust to increase the sound. Resonance.” (Still all smiles.)
“But what about the other stuff? His driving is very fast. And reckless. Obviously I wouldn't want to buy him such a powerful bike.” (CMON!)
“No no! You needn't worry about that. Its a powerful bike alright. But its a heavy bike as well. You have to look at the power-to-weight ratio. And its a bike that one enjoys riding only if he rides it slow. I know. I used to be an avid biker. Its a brilliant bike and you shouldn't hesitate.” (Still all smiles.)
“Call Mr. X and ask him. He has a Bullet and he's been riding it for almost 17 years!” (Smiles.)

I was mentally smiling all along. There was a resonance between the two of us. A kind of a resonance that occurs between two people who realize they share a common interest, an interest that makes them. Plus. Whatever he was saying was all in my favor. I knew it all and after all the ball was beginning to get in my court. I was happy. Dad was reconsidering. Good. This was Coelho. The universe was helping me. But I had forgotten about Murphy then. Murphy did strike and how!

Two days after that episode, my dad must have called Mr. X and some Mr. Y as well. Both of them have Bullets and have been tripping since aeons. Murphy sucks, for from whatever dad told me, they must have had this conversation:

“Mr. X! How're you? Long time no see. I wanted to ask you something. My son wants to buy a Bullet and...”
“NO!!!! DO NOT BUY HIM A BULLET!!!! I've been riding it for years. Its a cranky bike. Not at all meant for guys of age your son is of. Just kick-starting it can give you fractures in the leg!”
“Oh? Is it so?”
“Yes! DO NOT BUY HIM A BULLET FOR GOD'S SAKE! DO NOT BUY HIM ANY BIKE I SAY! Bikes are not for 20-year-old guys.”
“Thanks Mr. X for all the valuable information. I definitely won't buy my son a bike.

And judging from the reaction, my dad might have had the same conversation with Mr. Y. So he comes home the other day and he's all You-are-so-not-buying-a-bike. Now, as I mentioned, Coelho and Murphy are very closely related and one cannot run along a path without the other. One is Yin and the other, Yang. Had that uncle not mentioned Mr. X, my dad would not have called him up and I would still have been dreaming of my bike-to-come. But since that episode supported Coelho's theory, some wrong just had to happen. And that wrong materialized itself in form of the mention of Mr. X. And that's where Murphy hugged Coelho.

Greetings to Murphy. Greetings to Coelho. You both suck.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On Bombay.

Bombay. I've read about it in novels. Watched movies. I had thought there always was an exaggeration to some extent. I had never let myself believe that one city can touch so many hearts, affect so many lives, or help, not force, people to make decisions that can set lives on entirely new tracks. Never had I believed without some doubt that one city can intoxicate a foreigner to such an extent that he chooses to stay in Bombay, inspite of all the hardships he might have to face and those that he already did, for as long as eight years.

All doubts just melted away. Once I set my foot out of the bus, everything was clear to me. I suddenly knew why. Everything was, and still is, very psychedelic.

I loved the wind on my face. I loved the songs of the people who sing to earn in the trains. The music in their voice is the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. And the combination of the wind and their music is something no person can deny not falling in love with. The locals. Standing. Sitting. The wind in the hair. On the face. The sense of freedom. And as Balu once told me, its inevitable. That you begin to like the people, the public, the janta of Bombay has to happen. It just has to. And it did. As I stood in the crowd, with as much as a thousand psi of pressure on my body from every side, I was surprised that it did not bother me. Never did it irk me; the crush on my body which tired me when I was fresh in the morning and tired me even more when I was already tired in the evening. The experience was all that it took to bring me out of my tired sub-conscious slumber.

I loved walking alone. Walking on the streets. Along the opposite lane. Against the traffic of pedestrians. Observing people, their faces as every other face dons a different expression. Its beautiful how sometimes an expression worn by a random person on a street might not even remotely resemble that on anyone till as far as the next corner. Walking, wandering, roaming around aimlessly, hence is something else that I loved doing in Bombay. Whether it be the streets, the galis or the wide roads of the Marine Drive. There is a smell, a very distinct smell which I've never sensed anywhere in India except here, in Bombay. Some say its that of the sea. I say its that of freedom. You step in Bombay and you feel that you can do almost anything. My work is not what one would call intense but it sure as hell does tire me. But as I get out and walk; as I travel in the locals, I feel as new and fresh as one would, after having a pizza and a beer. The atmosphere has that effect on you which heroin would have on a junkie.

I loved Shantaram. So I was all boing-boing over Leopold's. Such awesomeness! Getting high on the ambience that the place so generously throws and wondering what it would have been like in Sir Gregory David Robert's time. Getting to see a photograph of him on his very own Bullet and knowing that he was in Bombay just three days before itself is an adrenaline pump and just as big as it would have been to Shantaram, when he would have been on his bike, speeding on the roads of Bombay. The place, as you enter, grips your mind and hurls it in a pit, an abyss, not dark but a bright one, where all the happiness and hope and belief and faith in the world are held together by bonds making the pit one huge pit of light. It frees the mind of all worries. Not just a-bar by the way. Such is the magic of Leopold's.
This city is just beyond me. In a extremely positive way. I just love it. And I still have a week and a half in the city before I head back to Nagpur which, after this episode, is definitely going to give me a huge suicidal depression. But that's still a week and a half away. So well, life's good.

P.S. : To all those who have lived and are still living in Bombay, I envy you all. I'm jealous and I'll always be jealous.