August 12, 2014

Project #1000Sher : Origins & The Inspiration

क्या तूने कहा किसे खबर किसे मालूम,
मैं तो तेरी आवाज़ ही सुनता रह गया…
(First of the 1000Sher. November 16, 2011 ). 

... And the whole school clapped. Yet again. Morning assemblies and his poems had become a routine affair now. He was the Superstar of School. 

I was mesmerized. How can he write stuffs that I can't even think of? And then have the audacity to walk up to the stage and recite it in front of at least 1000 younger and older fellow students. 

Will he become my friend? I was a class topper of course, but I was sure nobody knew me outside of my section. But He!.. Everybody knew him. He was The Guy! Will he ever become my friend? 

"Rey-vi could you write a poem to recite in tomorrow's morning assembly?". My 9th Class English teacher thought I was good in English. She probably concluded it from my marks in the subject. Of course, she couldn't pronounce my name properly. She was a Keralite probably. But I couldn't care less that day.

A chance to recite a poem in the morning assembly! Wow! May be that popular  guy would see me recite poem, get impressed and become my friend. And then people would see me hanging out with him and then I would become popular too. The dream was about to come true. All that I had to do was a write a great poem. 

But there were 2 problems. I had never written a poem in my life. And I had never walked up to the stage to utter a single word. 

I went home and spent that whole evening writing a poem. I don't know what exactly I wrote but I think it was on environment and shit. I tried to portray trees as living creatures. They are the treasure of our society and we shouldn't harm them. Blah blah blah... BLAH! 

But it rhymed! I had made ample use of "sexy sounding words" and jargon by consulting the dictionary so it was technically a poem. I was proud. I crammed it. 

Next morning, 5 minutes before I was to go up the stage the English teacher reviewed my poem. "What have you written?!" she said, as she took out her red pen. She couldn't understand my passionate monologue on trees. A few phrases deleted  here, a few words changed there. The sense remained the same but it wasn't the same masterpiece anymore. 

I went to the stage. I recited. I fumbled at 2 places. It was a run-of-the-mill affair. I heard a few claps as I returned. But they weren't claps of applause but of courtesy. I wasn't the Super Star like that guy, that I had hoped to become. I was heartbroken. I deduced - I am incapable to write poems

So I went back to my first love of solving maths problems and physics numericals. 

In 11th standard my best friend showed me his register full of poems he wrote in English. And they were all Good. They seemed to be written effortlessly. I thought it was because he had gotten bored of studying (But now I think he was in love.) And, of course I felt cheated that time. How could he write poems when I being his best friend can't write any? 

Meanwhile that Superstar Guy and I were classmates now. I wasn't a "friend" may be, but He knew me now!

A few girls I liked would sometimes write poems and put them up on display boards. And I won't understand 70% of it (refer this to know what I mean) . "Do these words even exist in  English vocabulary?". 

It was frustrating. I was (still) the class topper. Many more people knew me now. But that guy would still walk up to the stage on any random day, recite some shit and get all the applause. And now he was on School Bulletin Boards, School  Magazine (of which he was the Editor) and sometimes even in Newspapers. And somewhere in between he published his own book of poems! 

He would sometimes walk up to me and ask me to clarify certain theorems, numericals etc. And then later he would say "how awesome you are". While I would try to determine if he was being sympathetic or sarcastic. 

And those girls... When we would come face to face, I would feel they are saying "Hey RavS, you might be good in solving differentials and vectors and optics problems, and all the Teachers might adore you. But we can write poem you won't ever understand in your life. Ergo, We win; You lose."

Inferiority Complex. Aaarghhh... 

That Superstar guy left school a few months before 12th boards. He had some other evil plans. It was kind of sad, we were good acquaintances, if not friends by now... 

2 years would pass and except for occasional chats on Social networks, we lost touch. Then one day, he would start visiting home, and only then would we become 'real friends'. He had stopped writing poems regularly by now. But every now and then he would update some on his blog.

And sometimes he would create them "live" at a rough speed of 2 lines/5 Seconds. It was AMAZING. I would have a hard time to find adjectives in praise of his poems (Side Note : Poems aren't for everyone . But they are one of the concise forms of expressing yourself. And I have always loved them (the ones that I understand, that is) ).

On the eve of Christmas 2010, I was feeling a cocktail of bored and lonely. So, I wrote what I would call "My First Mental Vomit". I liked it. But I wasn't a poet yet (I think I would never be one in traditional sense).

Then came 2011 as I left College. Something changed. I was bored. I wanted to try something new. I started writing spoofs of my friends' poems on FB. It was a joke, but surprisingly people liked them. They were hilarious. Sometimes they would be liked more than the original. 

I thought may be I can also write something serious. So, I started putting some of my own thoughts in the form of rhyming lines. Most would get ignored, but some started to get appreciated too. It was fun. Friends were encouraging. And the best part, my Superstar friend was appreciative. He would critic them sometimes, sometimes he would write a few lines in 'response' to my own (a tradition that continues till date). It was such a humbling experience. So slowly, it started to become a habit. 

I also started to put the long form of the poems on the main blog. Then sometime in early 2012 I realized, may be I could be in this for the long run. So why not archive my creations? And hence the project #1000Sher was born

1000 Sher! - it's intimidating. But the number isn't impossible to achieve either. It's going to take years and years of constantly writing shit. But I am up for the challenge. 

My Superstar friend(s) have been supportive and that has always been an essential reason I continue to write even though I don't have any "natural talent". Recently I completed 200 Shers on 1000Sher (we are at #221 as I write this) . Who gets the credit for this milestone? Me of course! But it would never have been possible without the encouragement of friends and supporters. 

Do I write good? I don't know. It may very well be ordinary. Who am I to judge? But my yardstick is that if at least one person likes it genuinely, then it's an effort well spent. And by that yardstick 95% of my compositions (in whatever form) have been successful. 

I don't know if Project #1000Sher will ever see its completion. It's an ultra-marathon considering I am not a professional writer. But I am not giving up on it anytime in the near future. 

And ohh!... Vikas, the Superstar Poet/Philosopher/Friend in my life  for the past 1 decade. And the one who has been an inspiration of it all - Thank You!

August 03, 2014

What it means to be a Friend? [Guest Post]

One of 'those' pages.

RavS' notes : 

Here's a fact : I am pretty stupid. I don't know most of the things that 'normal' people can so easily identify with. If they were to bestow me the award of the 'Stupidest Guy on the Planet', I would be happy to take it. Takes of a lot of pressure to pretend to be smart, when I am not. Also gives me a license call anyone and everyone stupid. Won't hurt anyone if they know I am more stupid than them. Hah!

One of the many questions that I struggle to find an answer to is "What it means to be a friend?". And this question applies to me as well as to anyone else. 
Am I behaving like a real friend? When I promise friends something but don't live up to it, is that 'normal' in friendship? Does being friend mean always being a 'resourceful guy' to others? Are they taking advantage of me in the guise of being a friend? Am I milking the relationship called Friendship by only contacting them only when I need something from them? Is being disappointed justified when a friend doesn't return a favor you did for them  many times over?....

In school and college, I had my small world of a friend circle and I never tried to venture out of it to meet and greet new people. There was never a need. After leaving college, I was almost 'forced' into the Real World. And hence, started my struggle to make sense of what it means to be a human in contemporary times (forget being a friend for the time being). People behave so differently in different moments, many times I am left second guessing about how I should respond to them, and the kind of relationship that should be maintained. 

Anyways, since I couldn't make sense of any of these questions about Being Friend and Friendship, I turned to - guess who - my Friend Vikas to try to guide me through these questions. And heckled him to write an essay on this in a very short time period. 

I have been reading thought provoking writings of Vikas since almost a decade now (Find his blog here). But here is an interesting thing about this essay : Vikas went lazy (I love LAZY) and refused to type his thoughts. "At the most" he could write it down on a sheet of paper and I would have to type it up. I had to agree. So, the following is a humble attempt of a friend to define what it means to be a friend from his perspective; and which has been Painstakingly typed by me and minutely edited at a few places. Enjoy!

Ohh.. and one last point. Why am I posting it today? Of course because it's "Friendship Day" today! I have stopped believing in Days such as Friendship Day a very long time ago. I  have written about the Days that really matter in my life. But here's the thing : most of you - my friends, still believe in this gimmick. If you are atheist you have no right to mock the religion, right? Hence, I respect the sentiments, but like the market I am trying to encash your sentiments too. Please read the following interesting essay, and I would LOVE to hear your own views on What it means to be a friend? 

Over to Vikas...

Friend and friendship, the two very meaningful words. Since the so called "Friendship Day" is around the corner, on insistence of one of my dearest friend, I am troubling my fingers in giving pain to pen and paper. 

First of all, I don't believe in this concept of Friendship Day. I think Friendship is just too Big or say a Grand thing to be limited in a day. Even a life span seems short, less in celebrating this very blessed, sacred, wonderful and meaningful relationship. 

Now if someone asks me to define friendship in one word or phrase, I would just say Life -- Friendship is Life. It is one of the multifarious yet the most simple relationships. It is an autonomous relationship. Blood relations you carry by virtue but friends are your own choice. It's the most holistic, comprehensive and complete relationship. It is a relationship which compensates for your all other relationships by bridging broken gap. It's versatile in character, unique in nature, sophisticated in thoughts yet approachable and simple in behavior. True friendship is beyond the walls of Good-Bad, right-wrong and all earthly things thought needed to make life better on earth. 

Friend - this is a very unique, exclusive and inimitable creature who makes your life feel blessed. He takes your all worries, back you in your bad time, pull you in your good time. He/She never ever needs a reason to be with you,only excuses are needed. It's said that if you get a good friend, your life is easy, if you have two it's sweet, if you have three it's heaven. And, even if you try your best, you can't find and sustain four! 

I am blessed with some very splendid friends and that is the only reason my faith in God is still intact. Sometimes I even think it's God who is making things easy for me by being my friend. (I will not take names of any individuals, as promised. I like to honor my promises sometimes!). Sometimes I wonder - Do I deserve such good friends? What good have I done to get them in my life? But still the fact remains, I have them and this bring a little bit of pride (arrogance) in me. 

As I said friends are unique creatures so they can't be classified. But one thing is sure, they are so versatile that we always look for solution of every problem from them. Sometimes they make us 'Nikkamma' (the only disadvantage of friendship, but I don't mind having this disadvantage ). They take all your burden. For me friends are always over and above family since they take away all worries.

Historically friends have been of two kinds (three if you include "Friends with benefit" ). 

Some famous examples: 
  • Krishna - Sudama where Sudama devoted his whole life to Krishna. So, it suggests there has to be some kind of devotion in friendship. Krishna understood his pain without words and been kind to him. This means in Friendship there's exchange of thoughts without words. 
  • Krishna-Arjuna which suggest a friend is your philosopher, guide and keeps all your worries away. At the same time, in friendship there is consultation, advice, guidance and mutual respect too. 

But my favorite and most inspiring example is Karna-Duryodhana. For me that is the greatest friendship where there is devotion, togetherness, mutual trust and submission irrespective of cause. They were always ready for each other. 

And fortunately, I have friends with all such vivid colors and characters. One I am devoted like Sudama, on other I am dependent like Arjuna for taking my all worries and find the right path for me, and my all three best friends have the last qualities I mentioned. They are always ready to help irrespective of the cause. I will always be thankful to God for giving me such precious living creatures. 

But... what about Friends and Friendship in Contemporary Times? 
Now it's not 'Satyug' and 'Tretayug' anymore. We are living in 'Kalyug', and Kalyug brings the time of Friends with Benefits. This is an era of communication, in this era you communicate with large number of people and everyone can't be your friend. In this era too, Friendship has to adhere to the basics of past, but now one carries a lot "Friends" without 'Friendship' (the ones known as professional relationships). Then there are people in your locality, they are also your "Friends" (social friends) but again without any 'Friendship'. So grossly, the word 'Friend' is being overuse and fatigued in today's time like the word 'sexy'. 

You get your best friends mostly in school time since that time it's a selfless relationship. As we grow older and our brain matures, we start having motive in everything. Hence, the relationships also start getting made with motive. But Real Friendship has no motive, it only has devotion, selflessness, mutual respect and love and extreme care towards each other. Now, it's up to an individual to decide who is a friend, because as I said friends are the 'chosen ones'. 

Signing off on that note. And yes, Wish you all a Very Happy and Caring Friendship Day.