Life Building

The next day, I sat alone on the floating jetty(?) and was feeling really content letting the sun warm my skin and the breeze ruffle my hair. I am very averse to discomfort yet the freshness that I felt compelled me to jump headlong into the lake. Again and again I plunged into the depths of the fjord, each time seeking to jump farther and dive deeper. The interval was just enough to let me feel my limbs.

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A couple of weeks ago I was at the lakehouse of the Karolinska Institute’s student union, Solvik. The ice had only just melted and the overbearing, gloomy grey skies had been dispersed by the ever increasing daylight. Thanks to the initiative of my lovely friends, we organised an overnight gala, wine flowed as we gathered around the fire. Juicy, flavorful meats sizzled on the barbecue.

I was pretty languid after the intense experience of the sauna (my very first), alternated with jumps into the freezing ice water but as my sobriety receded, I had my share of fun on the dance floor and then sneaked off to the sauna again, though the alcohol dulled the bight of the late night chill. All in all, a very pleasant, relaxing experience.

The next day, I sat alone on the floating jetty(?) and was feeling really content letting the sun warm my skin and the breeze ruffle my hair. I am very averse to discomfort yet the freshness that I felt compelled me to jump headlong into the lake. Again and again I plunged into the depths of the fjord, each time seeking to jump farther and dive deeper. The interval was just enough to let me feel my limbs. I will forever be grateful that this moment got captured for posterity,

I had a ecstatic feeling of cleansing, of solace and life. After tiring myself out, I did what I do best, I pondered. Unlike my phases of existential agony, this time, the splendor around me would not let me slide into the melancholy I am so well versed with. I don’t really remember what I was thinking but I know I was content, the very best kind of happiness there is.

Yesterday, I was considering where my ideas about life and such come from. I readily identified the obvious sources and re-discovered some obscure ones. The earlier I looked back, the more fragmented these influences were, partial understandings of concepts way beyond my age at the time,. Yet it was these half understood ideas that had the most profound impact.

One of earliest ones, was Swami Vivekanandathe famous Indian ascetic. In my school, students were sorted into colored houses, each representing an acknowledged sage with a profound influence on the Indian society. I was assigned to the saffron colored, Vivekananda house. Buddha famously rejected extreme asceticism alongside materialism and then promulgated the middle path. Vivekananda had a similar realisation, though in contrast to the passivity of Buddhist philosophy, his was one of activity. The strength of spirituality, manifested as  energy to live life to the fullest. And by that he meant a drive to excel in every aspect of life.

I always imagined this to be akin to having an inexorable force, propelling me to my self determined destiny. The belief that, I could throw myself headlong into challenges, with a constant, unrelenting persistence and I would surmount anything. This was the ideal to live by. As I grew, several other ideas, thoughts and goals blended in. The bedrock of what I want to do is the certainty that I can do anything.

This also begs, the question then, can I stop? Could I imagine being content or would I always be stuck in the pursuit of a ever distant goal?  It doesn’t help that not everyone shares this compulsion. Going against the herd sounds glamorous but this is hardly ever the case. Most often that not, everyone is choosing their own unique path, and mine seems to be getting harder by my own doing. Unlike people who cannot escape their burdens, I was lucky enough to have a chance at an easier life. Is constant wanting or waiting or struggling, a sure way of making my life hell? I feel so at times yet I  reject the notion of stopping, of being satisfied with what I have.

That being said, it is really easy to find happiness along the way and it can look something like this,

The pure bliss of letting go (of doubt)

Fortress of Solitude

Stockholm can feel like a toy town at times, with its empty streets, transport that runs like clockwork and a majestic, aged feel about it. This was so different from the crowded urban jungles cities are. Yet here I was a few months later holed up inside a small room. I couldn’t help noticing the contrast.

A ‘Fortress of Solitude’ is what my colleague called the 25 day self imposed, exam induced hibernation. My travel plans dashed, I resigned myself to a quiet Christmas and New Year, knowing fully well that the weather in Stockholm is conducive to a passive existence that I am prone to. I lost track of day-night cycles and life flowed along without boundaries, a blur of existence. Day after day I stared outside my window at the snow and wondered how it could have been. At night I heard the plastic I had placed on the vent crinkle, thankful of the warmth I had as the lakes froze,

I did attempt to spend this precious resource, time, prudently on things like learning programming and preparing for the exam. The inevitable did happen and the process wasn’t as efficient as one might hope. Countless youtube videos were consumed. Unfortunately my attempt to do something useful kept me from the things I would have loved to do instead. So, the books and anime went untouched as I slipped and skidded in my attempt to do something useful. Could it be that I tried too hard, might have I instead written a poem? Progressed on the long abandoned book? I feel a pang of regret but the milk has spilled, the days have long passed.

I came here with the urge to make something of myself, to learn new things and do things that amaze me. That enthusiasm has fallen flat on its face. I thought about the hard journey ahead, a sinking feeling came to mind. I have never been a rushed person and it struck me that I might have been a little too hasty this time around. The idea that I might have jumped into a quagmire of my own making felt very real. Could I have given up on those small pleasures of life, the little things that go unnoticed till you are deprived of them? I recalled the wondrous sights I had seen when I arrived here and how enamored I was at the beauty. I was taken by how different and storied the surroundings seem,

This was an open city full of greenery and hidden pathways. Often I had wandered and stumbled upon fabulous things.  I have walked and come across castles and hidden wooden doors. Stockholm can feel like a toy town at times, with its empty streets, transport that runs like clockwork and a majestic, aged feel about it.

This was so different from the crowded urban jungles cities are. Yet here I was a few months later holed up inside a small room. I couldn’t help noticing the contrast. I felt restricted and as I pondered more, I felt the extent to which my life had been altered. I always knew what I was getting into, but the physical manifestation of constraint hits hard.

I wondered at the remarkable change in perspective I have undergone during this time. As I boarded the bus to the university after several days, I felt a sense of return. In contrast to how everything had felt new and wondrous half a year ago, I felt the comfort of a known landscape, a feeling similar to how one looks at home.The striking sensation to me was how much I still appreciated the wind, the quiet calm of this city and that beautiful, intriguing things stay that way though I might encounter them time and time again. I had planned to post this collection of pictures a while ago but I see things differently now.

As I had grow accustomed to my life here, the murky restlessness returns. It is an important force that drives to me to strive for better but too much of it and the doors to perpetual frustration swing wide open. I feel like an important lesson has been learnt. I have come full circle. Starting from a place where I was content to let things happen as they would, to a burning desire to lead my destiny and now finally the realisation that good things don’t happen overnight. In the meantime, I suppose its ok to have some fun!

I missed a lot of people this winter and I was missed by a lot of people too. Thank you for all the love you have showered me with!

Life’s a crowded bus ride

..over the past many years, I have always been able to find amazing people who I love to be with. I think I have had great experiences with them and all of us have somehow influenced each other. Like a bus ride, life involves getting jostled, trying to keep our footing, and many a times we get affected by people we never meet.

Munching my way through the epic saga of the T lymphocytes…(pardon) I drift down the memory lane. Life for me has been as crowded as most though I have always been keen on noticing my differences from the rest. The urge to form my unique individuality, to do better and to live life on my terms has been particularly strong. And yet, friendship is a need, not an option..

Fortunately, over the past many years, I have always been able to find amazing people who I love to be with. I think I have had great experiences with them and all of us have somehow influenced each other. Like a bus ride, life involves getting jostled, trying to keep our footing, and many a times we get affected by people we never meet. So much of our lives are shaped by forces we aren’t aware of but people, is something we all relate to.

So, I think about all those times I felt glad to have friends and I came up with this..

I am a pretty nerdy guy, so I despise the stereotyping of nerds as emotionally dull. On the contrary I have always found interacting with people, understanding their needs & motivations and to be able to provide the affection they seek, a profound experience. On the same lines, for me talking about my thoughts and feelings is a necessary aspect of life. (Obviously!)

Great thoughts may involve ideas but it’s the people and happenings, that give meaning to our life and substance to our souls.

Winter Woes

Things that were once new, become routine, but the almost otherworldly thrill of a gust of wind, sensation of the inexorable passing of time as seasons change, thoughts that remind us of our puny stature in the vastness of this world, they never grow old.

Waking up is a tedious activity when it’s cold. Hours go by, as I lie listlessly, rolled up in my razai, luxuriating in the comfort of my cocoon of heat. It takes repeated assaults by my sense of urgency to overcome this quagmire.

Today as my eyes scanned my surroundings in the half sleepy, state of sloth, I noticed the flakes, swaying in the wind. I extricated myself from the trappings of my warm bed and was greeted with a magnificent sight outside the window.

The bitter cold has defeated the warmest clothing I could muster. The winter is going to be beautifully, brutal. I have seen some amazing changes in the past few months, from 10 hour long days, to the rich colors of autumn leaves and now this.

I think about how the years have passed and a lot has happened in in my life. Enough, that I can think about several occasions when my life changed dramatically. Things that were once new, become routine, but the almost otherworldly thrill of a gust of cold wind blowing through your hair, sensations of the inexorable passing of time  as seasons change, thoughts that remind us of our puny stature in the vastness of this world, they never grow old.

From the bleak grey sky, blows, the shivering wind;
Bringing the promise of a storm;
The bare trees moan, rain falls on the frigid ground;
A lonesome light shines into the blackness,
Smoldering embers come to life and rise,
As the smoke rides the winter breeze;
Across the solitary expanse they are scattered,
Memories of a dear life, relived in every dream;
Open doors invite the creeping chill,
As thick fog descends, the smoke rises on the winter wind,
Pale faces, seeking comfort in smothering hearths,
The windtouched child welcomes the cold and smiles,
At the white smoke riding the winter wind.

 

An Evening Smoke

I woke up to a warm twilight sky, in an evening as dull as any that preceded. It was overcast, yet there would be no rain. This was an evening I have known all my life. The strength sapping heat had died down, and as the sun set, the air feels soft, comforting, yet there is melancholy in the air. This overpowering sadness isn’t new and while nothing has changed, there is a transformative power in these lonely moments of bliss.

I confess that I have, not even by my own reckoning, done anything remotely great, though I hope to do so. The last few months have by far been the most turbulent in my life. After getting my first job, I was unable to reconcile the fundamental loss of freedom, that occurs in the process of becoming an independent adult, with the greatest amount of material liberty that I have experienced.

During this phase I devised an experiment to quiet the creaking beams of my sanity. The experiment involved removing the presence of cigarettes, a relatively new addition for a not so insignificant time frame, from my life. While I held no covenant, I did not indulge myself for over 8 weeks till the evening I wrote this article and I wished to mark the event.

“I woke up to a warm twilight sky, in an evening, as dull as any that preceded. It was overcast, yet there would be no rain. This was an evening I have known all my life. The strength sapping heat had died down, and as the sun set the air feels soft, comforting, yet there is melancholy in the air. This overpowering sadness isn’t new and while nothing has changed, there is a transformative power in these lonely moments of bliss. Perhaps it is simply the quiet crossing of day into night? For most of my life, this has been an inevitable occurrence that signaled the end of another unit of existence. This has been my own way of measuring the passing of my life and has always been a profound experience unparalleled in its peace. 

I have grown fond of this state, the slight dryness in my eyes and weightiness I feel in my brain. I am the most composed when I am tired, perhaps because I do not want for anything. It always feels like a unique form of catharsis, not an outburst but rather a quiet release of the panic, the desire, the greed, the ambition, the anger and the jealousy…I cannot write it all down. This has happened many times before and will happen often again. My relish however is not long lived since night approaches rapidly and the warm embrace that soothes, turns into the cool of the night, which while welcome, does not hold any potency with respect to my own self.

I rarely make the effort to write down and express myself, preferring the wanderings of my own mind yet every once in a while, there arises a great motivation that makes it click. I have often speculated that it is my own uncompromising nature that creates these urges. When there simply aren’t any distractions left, I seek stimulation without which I wither away. It is simply because I need to be entertained. I cannot function without steeping myself in the thrill of discovering something new, more often than not, these are new people, new circumstances and new challenges. This feeling is often scarred by impressions life leaves upon us and the very real constraints that always appear.

Smoking has inserted itself into these moments of wry feelings and solitude. It has done so, since it is an act of conscious will that is so focused, there is nothing more for me to do while I am enjoying a smoke. It is the absolute pinnacle of taking a break, an aid that keeps one engaged.

The sullen and bored mind that cannot find meaning or purpose to life, invites a variety of doubts and existential agonies to creep up. Questions about my own ego, about its beliefs and the stored memories on which I justify my existence.  It is not a pleasant sensation, the burgeoning unsurety of every single choice there is to make and truly, there are an immense amount of sequential choices one makes in life, perhaps this is what it means to live? I am fairly convinced about this.

Through the ups and downs I turn to an underlying will that is immune to both the happiness and unhappiness of my life. It is this will, that can reign in the more volatile, reactionary self that simply floats through. Writing is by far the strongest accomplice I have in this quest. The process by which I condense the wispy mutterings in my head.”

The pleasure I got that day was exquisite. It was a fruit of patience. It was not rushed, it was relaxed and composed and this deliberate nature of the act was the solace that I sought. Now that I have moved on to another phase of my life, my thoughts differ from his slightly, our feelings based out of experience differ. I remember the ‘me’, of that evening fondly, as I enjoy another one now.

 

Something prompted this!

I recently shifted to Stockholm for my Masters, pursue dreams and enjoy some first world living. So there is a huge amount of ‘major step in life’ enthusiasm going around (in my head). Now it seems, the epic beauty of this place was enough to push me off the edge and I have managed to click around a 100 photos in 3 days. Believe me, its an effort of staggering scale for me.

As you might have already read, I have been putting off this effort for 7 years now. Acknowledging this fact makes me feel really, really, old :\ but anyway, here is the thing.

I recently shifted to Stockholm for my Masters, pursue dreams and enjoy some first world living. So there is a huge amount of ‘major step in life’ enthusiasm going around (in my head). Now it seems, the epic beauty of this place was enough to push me off the edge and I have managed to click around a 100 photos in 3 days. Believe me, its an effort of staggering scale for me. These photos sit sadly in my hard disk but then I came up with the brilliant idea of posting them online :D So here goes nothing, YAY! -.-

I went around clicking photos of the area I stay in. Its called Lappkärrsberget, fondly refered to as Lappis (very cute)

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One of my first clicks, I was very taken by the streets and the lampposts that, as a friend suggested, might have been completely in place at Hogwarts. Everywhere I looked there were shades of red, gray and cream, all nestled in lots and lots of green. This combined with the cold air flowing through my hair was enough to put me in an adventurous mood.

I had 3 days to kill before the registration day, so I decided to move around a little and delight in getting the feel of the area nearby. I soon stumbled upon a trail behind my block and it led to a fantastic discovery :D I found this solitary bench. Notice the message carved on it, it says

THE FRIENDLY BENCH

Rule1: If you want a new friend, have a seat

Rule2: If you see someone sitting here, say hello!

Rule3: Make a new friend

I sat for a while, reading my book. Sadly there were no passersby.

Moving along, I saw something amazing, could it actually be and behold, a lake! A huge one at that. I decided to walk along and found a cozy spot some 3 kilometers ahead where I finally took a selfie!

Fun fact: I heard that the lake water is drinking quality water, that is just amazing to me :p

It struck me that all of this natural beauty, which happens to the most profound I have experienced yet, was hardly 100 meters away from the roads and buildings. Indeed it was possible to hear the traffic at some spots and occasionally peeks of multi stories were visible through the trees.

Today I followed another, more ‘foresty’ trail. I was sure I heard a bear..

Fortunately for me though, it turned out to be a relatively short walk till I arrived at the other end of Lappis, and the bear, was actually a speed boat out in the lake. Next time, I will venture with a more steadfast mental state. As I came out of the shrubbery, much to the surprise of an elderly couple cycling up the road, I heard music and merry sounds. It seems the locals were taking full advantage of the warm sun out today, at the beach.

This was all about my explorations of Lappis so far! I do have an interesting snippet of information. Waves of mystic lights have been reported in the sky at ungodly hours by the denizens, but it is rumored that only the most patient and hardy lot, willing to face down the challenges of nature and achieve inner strength can be blessed with these visions! Seriously though, I really need to get my ass out of bed at 2 AM to see the Aurora XD

As a final thought, why so many grills everywhere? They are everrrywhere!

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