Sunday, November 28, 2010

21 Brahmachari Eccentricities

I have an untested, home-grown, humorous hypothesis : That is, Brahmacharis develop eccentricities over a long period of time. They exhibit some or other kind of eccentric behaviour or mannerism. This is not true, of course, it’s just a story. This blog post itself is eccentric. Still, I went on to collect some data. I had to use my phone to record notes over a few weeks at all times, because when the Brahmacharis pass by and eccentricities appear, you have to note them down when you spot them. I compiled a few Brahmachari eccentricities that I observed in the Brahmachari world around me, then imagined a few more, mixed some of this and that, so that people don’t make out which is which. Arundhati Roy style.

Before I get into the light-hearted list, here is some serious gyaan.

Why does this happen ? Why might Brahmacharis develop eccentricities ?

See, simply put, this is what happens if you are not steadfast in your Sadhana and not regular at your midnight meditation.

However, the main reason it happens is a misleading interpretation of the word “independence”. When you are unmarried and staying alone, you are free to do whatever you wish and you indeed go about doing just that. If you are married, Ah, this possibility shrinks quite a bit. On every decision, you might have to consult at least one more person, who has equal veto-power and can bring in additional voting candidates like your parents or in-laws. You want to buy Sony or Samsung ? You want to paint Blue or Brown ? You want to wear White or Black and you want me to wear Blue or Green ? It so happens that God puts the opposites together, so that one may complement the other and learn from the other, so every decision is a parliamentary procedure. You can’t do strange eccentric things, you may get whacked, chided or advised by your spouse, depending on what is your acceptable form of instruction. You will be gently requested to live according to the world around you and if you don’t listen, first ‘gently’ will go and then ‘requested’ will go. A person, more cool-headed, balanced and smarter than you, is walking with you and you have to be aware of the presence.You will constantly be called upon to rise up to expectations.

Neways, what do I know of the married world, except for those surmises ? Don’t ask a monk how he knows the things he knows. If you are not married, you think you have none of these boundaries. So you take your independence to the extreme and end up doing all eccentric things, because there is nobody at the peer level to ask.

Then, there is this conviction called : ‘I will do whatever I feel is right’. While this is a good thing, you take it to the very extreme, and you end up doing things that feels good only for you. You think you are following your conscience, which is a very serious matter and a wonderful thing. May be you are. But you may refuse to consider the possibility, that other people around you may be following their respective consciences with as much earnest. May be, two consciences can be in conflict. If that’s not possible, one of you may not be following the conscience after all, you may be following some other buffalo (like your mind). Whatever, taking this to the extreme, causes you to disregard what others think as an acceptable behaviour. It creates a self-centered approach to choices, partly calling it joy of independence, partly calling it conscience and what turns out is an eccentricity that I can blog about.

As the 7 habits book says, interdependence is a greater value than independence. We loosely talk of terms like financial independence, professional independence, creative independence and so on. But, at the end of the day, we are Prema Pipasis, we hanker for love, both of the mundane human kind and of the higher spiritual kind. If everyone were to be independent, there would be no one at the dinner table to share stories. Interdependence creates a better environment of togetherness and promotes love rather than independence.

Oh oh, enough of the analysis paralysis. This post was intended to be an attempt at humour. Let’s get into some lively worldview.

So here, in one of the largest ever research on Brahmachari eccentricities… 21 of them, in no particular order.

You put a “STAFF” board on your bicycle, in huge saffron letters. As if it is proactive compliance with RTO and thieves will check out the informative board and then keep away. You know the cycle repair guy tells some story every time and robs you of a lot of money, but you think you are helping the local economic ecosystem by providing him business opportunities and the cascading effect will benefit the whole town. You call it Gullibility with Full Awareness. What a concept !

2. You are stationary, but your parts are mobile. You keep twiddling, turning, clasping your fingers, biting your lips, scratching your head, shaking your legs (horizontally and vertically, alternatively). As if all the wood-boring Beetles in the Mummy movie have entered your body through all the holes. Drawing your tongue deep inside as if you are sipping a cool drink and releasing it as if it wasn’t tasty enough. Rubbing the chair’s handle so much that after a while, you have reached the wood after wearing out the cushion. You do all of this at the same time, so seamlessly that you don’t know where one process ends and the next one begins. Your motor nerves have a tough time handling data. You generate so much kinetic energy enough to power a household. When someone mentions this, you give the analogy of the ocean : waves on the surface, but deeep calm within, you say. Aha!

3. You think, the ladies mess up things. Always. Everything. You also think, they are emotional, they are difficult to deal with, they have more politics than the men. And loads of other such MCP opinions. You don’t know what that abbreviation means, You think they are all Maturely Considered Perspectives. You had to click on that link and look it up to know it is Male Chauvinistic Dot-dot-dot. You direct your ire particularly at nuns and spinsters.

4. You are more comfortable working with machines than with men. That’s because machines don’t have perspectives. You don’t have to be courteous to them. They are glad to get booted by you and they don’t complain ‘I got booted by my boss today’. They don’t lie and tell different answers to different people. They don’t mask hypocrisy with diplomacy. Those blue screen error messages are better than some confusing expressions put up by real people. Of course, there may be such things as Windows perspective and Linux perspective, but you can always keep them under dual boot or virtual machines, providing private space differently. A space that people hardly provide for you.

5. Apart from talking to real people, you do other kinds of talking. You talk to yourself. Sometimes, without a mirror. Pouring out, accusing people, that you can’t do for real. You talk in dreams and chase away Greek warriors in battle. You talk to your dog more than you talk to your friends. You even speak to the dog about your bank accounts and mutual fund investments. You blog as a therapy. You say the same thing again and again in conversation.'Did I tell you about my musician aunt in Thanjavur who fell from a tractor ?', you begin, not realizing that the poor listener has gone through the torture already. Some jobless listeners, they hear you out completely and even ask newer questions to elicit additional information. And then, they drop a last line, ‘Yeah, you mentioned this last week’. Huh !!

6. You never get angry. You are Sant No.1. In fact, you spend considerable amount of time sublimating your anger instincts, but you are not sure whether you are sublimating or suppressing. One fine morning, when you do get angry, the ceiling comes down, and even the sublimated impressions re-crystallize, liquefy in the heat and pour out as lava. This is a split personality disorder that manifests once in six months.

7. Nothing is useless to you. You keep collecting every single nut and bolt, pin and paper. Pamphlets and empty diaries are your favorites. You take pride that archaeologists 2000 years down the line will be able to reconstruct lost history of an entire civilization by excavating just the room where you lived. They are going to connect the dots in cuneiform script by matching the pictures in the pamphlets to the dates in the dairies. You have empty diaries, that SBI had gifted to Dadabhai Naoroji , which he passed on to your great grand mother’s servant maid. Every year, you think you will use the diary for “time management”, to keep a log of, when you got up, when you had noodles etc. Personal Growth, you think. You haven’t used the rotting, rusting stuff in years, but you always want to use all of them tomorrow. ‘Just in case I require’, you know. The only good thing out of this unlimited inventory is the polythene bags you keep. At least, they save the environment. Although you are incapable of such a noble intention, it’s just an incidental benefit to mankind, apart from the archaeological ones.

8. When you see a boy and a girl talking to each other in the post office, you think, they are upto something. Upto what ? You wish in all the world, that they broke all the societal shackles and told you what they are upto, but sadly, that doesn’t happen. You don’t want to consider the straightforward naive possibility that a girl might just be borrowing a pen from the boy. Things can’t be that simple, a pen can lead to anything, you know. Curious, you come to post office the next day at the same time, because you watched a Maniratnam movie and you are expecting something to happen. Oh sad, it’s some other boy, some other girl and some other pen this time. You deliberately left your pen at home and came, but you feel shy to ask. You are hoping someone will come and ask you, ‘Do you need a pen ?’ and then compliment you by saying ‘Nice T-shirt there’. But, it doesn’t happen, you buy a new pen and write the address and go home. You spend entire lifetimes in such misplaced wishful thinking and unanswered curiosity at every post office, ATM and bus stand. Phew.

9. You are so desperate for good food that you go to the canteen with ghee (or Amul butter cubes), 2 types of pickle in bottles, Podi(2 types again) and Chips, all of them as side-dishes to your meal. You ask for more chutney and sambar than the total mass of the idlis, maximizing value for money. The board ‘Outside food not allowed’ seems so intimidating to your kind of eating habits. The good part is you share it with everyone around. This food urge can take other forms. You are waiting for your indirect aunty, three levels away in the family tree (or any aunty for that matter) to invite you for a home lunch. As they say in Dil Chahta Hai, ‘we go anywhere for a piece of cake’. On festival days like Deepavali, you even schedule your lunch/dinner offers and space them out at regular intervals, getting choosy at which item is best at which home, putting up a reasonable performance at each location.

10. Someone sends a wedding invitation over email, and you are thinking whether to wish him or not. Where does the question arise? Even for wishing over email, you go through three levels of complicated algorithms to arrive at that dilemma. Finally, you go to the reception. You are talking to people, but you are feeling lonely. You wanted to go for the wedding, but after reaching you wonder why you came. You have been collecting sayings like :

  • Marriage is like a besieged fortress where people who are inside, want to get out and people are outside, want to get in.
  • Married people have one set of problems and the unmarried ones, well, have another set. Problems still.
You are waiting for the every little opportunity to use these sayings. You want to make married people feel guilty and unmarried people feel confused. You finish your food before the couple arrive on stage. Got to save on time, you see.. Food is good, but you when you reach the couple to wish them, you finally say, Happy Birthday. Hmm. You are uncomfortable being photographed, and more uncomfortable standing on the bride’s side, even though you are standing three people away outside the camera’s range.

11. You carry a great feeling of brotherly oneness, but only when you are using things that belong to someone else. ‘Ah, our brother only na, he wont mind ya’ is your local delivery of Vasudaiva Kudumbakam. Someone has given chocolates to your room-mate for safekeeping in the fridge and you have already nationalized it without the slightest hesitation or ethical dilemma. The thumb rule is : If it can be used by you, it can be used by me.

12. In the school, in the Indian Pledge, they taught you ‘All Indians are my brothers and sisters’. You believed it, took it seriously and now you don’t know how to provide for exceptions. You haven’t grown up since. In fact, you don’t want to grow up, because, there is this sweet feeling of not growing up. After all, grown-ups have problems, don’t they ? You don’t realize that modern young women working in multinational banks hate to be called ‘Akka’ by their male colleagues, because it makes them sound so old. It looks outrageous to you that you can call them by their name and they would prefer that indeed. You still want to add a ‘ji’ to their name, just in case. After all this conservative build-up, you finally end up treating foreigners as exceptions to the Indian pledge and get ready for a cross-cultural revolution.

13. You think fluorescent orange, fluorescent green are good colours. You wonder why the rest of the world doesn’t agree with your aesthetic tastes. . Saree choices: you get confused so much, you give up and buy whatever the sales girl suggests, as if the sales girl thinks exactly like your niece. You don’t know that there are things like male colors and female colours. You also wonder how gender differences can be attributed to non-living things, like gents watches and ladies watches, gents footwear and ladies footwear, gents purse and ladies purse. They are just functional instruments, right ?, why do they complicate choices ? Why not have gents cars and ladies cars, gents keyboard and ladies keyboard, gents mosquito repellent and ladies mosquito repellent ? Thus goes your orrriginal thinking.

14. You are so much established in Vedanta, you have mastered the art of detachment so much that you can right-click and choose attachment or detachment. You come up with complicated phrases, like, attachable detachment and detachable attachment, which only the Brahmachari community understands. At a given point of time, you can be emotionally connected but spiritually disconnected. This can baffle people at times, because they are trying to find out what mode you are operating in, are you interested or not interested ? It’s like the loose contact of the network cable to your laptop. Every time before you press Enter, you have to check whether it is connected or not.

15. You have no clue how to handle kids, particularly infants. If someone gives a baby to you for a few minutes for caretaking, you start sweating. You think they are going to scream anytime. And just when you thought that, it does scream. Their cheeks get red and you think it needs medical attention. You are always wondering whether it is going to do the zing thing on your lap-top, causing you to rinse your clothes. You have strange concepts from nowhere, like, ‘if you spend lot of time with kids, you may convert to making some of your own’. You are waiting for the Mummy or Daddy to come and get the baby back from you.

16. You go to a 5-star hotel with friends and have just curd rice. The waiter looks at you, as if your Mommy never fed you anything else for upbringing. You look at him back, brimming with pride that it’s indeed true. You shoot off into a speech to your friends on the wonderful effects it has. You recall with nostalgia, how, in your school days, you ate previous day’s rice soaked in water with curds and how it was instrumental in acquiring the vast intelligence you have now. Not knowing, that’s precisely, what the waiter will be bringing in a few minutes. And then you crib, ‘How can curd rice be so costly ?’. ‘Exclusive cow for you, Sir’, he explains.

17. When you want to describe a corporate scenario where two parties are fighting, you use the husband-wife analogy. When more parties join the fight, you start extending it by upto third wife, fourth husband and so on. If it’s software projects, it even extends to, my kid and your kid are fighting with our kids. You don’t realize that the project manager on the other end of the conference call, may be married and he may be raising his eye-brows at the way you are making his professional discussion more lively.

18. You do not know the difference between normal jokes and adult jokes. You think they are all the same. You even think, every normal joke has an adult significance. You don’t know which to use, when and where, to whom. Therefore, you draw twitches from people who listen to your jokes, instead of laughter. You wonder why the women in the gathering are not laughing but staring at you with a confused look like “what’s happened to this bloke”. Then you realize that you have told the wrong joke at the wrong place. But you repeat the mistake all over again at the next gathering with a different joke.

19. What is meant to be taken seriously, you take it as a joke.What is meant to be taken as a joke, you take it seriously. Like this post. You are an enigma.

20. You think, you don’t suffer from any eccentricity. It’s the rest of the world that is way off the orbit, particularly the married folks. The world revolves around you and it’s not doing it properly. You also use phrases like ‘Cha, married peepal, they are like that only no?’ or ‘Once you get married na, that’s all raa, gone case, booked forever, Govindaaa only’ and so on. To think you don’t have any eccentricity, may itself be one. Also, even a normal eccentricity found in normal people, you wrongly assume only Brahmacharis suffer from these eccentricities. It could be anyone. This misunderstanding can itself be an eccentricity.

21. And finally, some tidbits, all bunched into one item.
  • You are scared to death, of dogs.You feel all the dogs in the world are out to get you and afraid even of sleeping dogs. Let the dogmatic dogs lie as they are.
  • You think that a girl’s mind is programmed and re-programmable. By you.
  • You think the whole world is there to listen to your bathroom singing and you distort the lyrics of sweet devotional songs with Mexican tribal drum sounds produced by you, because you think tunes transcend the lyrics.
  • You carry a wide green sitting mat that looks like a flying magic carpet, occupying area worth three kadapa slabs. And yet you jostle for space.
  • You have tea at the middle of the road at midnight, after a drama practice session, and want to call it Brahmachari independence.
  • If someone names his book as Jyoti Rupa Sandhya Vandana and Gayatri Mahima, the title doesn’t look spiritual to you.

So, Which one of these, do you think, I suffer from ? Let me know in the comments.

Not that I’ll eliminate them. I’ll even out those eccentricities, get back into orbit and replace them with newer eccentricities, as part of personal growth. Different people have different eccentricities, and there as many eccentricities as there are people. So if yours is not on the list, put that in the comments and let others know.

I have no idea how the Brahmacharinees operate in this terrain. So if you feel this post has a gender bias or a chauvinistic angle, please know that it is not intended. Indeed, both genders are equally capable of going off the orbit. Do a simple find-replace and tweak the context a bit, you will get their side of the story. My guess is, it’s as complicated as it is on this side. But don’t break your rules and go to verify it, in Mohabbatein style.

If you think the eccentricity I am mentioning here refers to someone whom you know, keep quiet. Don’t put that in the comments and get me sued. We can giggle on that over a cup of coffee. I don’t know you, I disown all my readers regularly. Read Ram Gopal Varma’s disclaimer on Raktha Charithra. It’s all fiction and faction blurring into fact, occasionally. The rest is just accidental coincidence.

THANK YOU: These reflections draw sometimes from readers and friends who initiate ideas, build up discussions, post comments and mention interesting links, some online and some over a cup of coffee or during a riverside walk. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this blog are the blogger's personal opinions and made in his individual capacity, sometimes have a story-type approach, mixing facts with imagination and should not be construed as arising from a professional position or a counselling intention.