Sunday, September 26, 2010

The road not taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay,
In leaves no step had trodden black,
Oh, I marked the first for another day,
Yet knowing how way leads to another way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh,
Somewhere ages and ages hence,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
Took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This beautiful poem by Robert Frost has stood the test of time and would continue to touch a cord within the reader's heart every time it is read.  What if I had taken that path, instead of this, which would have in turn lead to a different path and eventually the universe where I am sitting and contemplating this thought would have crumbled and a new world would have come to fore....would that one be better than the one I am currently inhabiting?

Well that is the question posed by Karan Bajaj through his hero Nikhil Arya in his second novel "Johnny Gone Down."  Nikhil has walked the less traveled road and what a road it had turned out to be! From Cambodia to Thailand, from Thailand to Brazil, from Brazil to US, and from US to India, spanning different lives and careers.  A tourist who eventually becomes a genocide survivor, a monk, an accountant (exclusively for the mob), and a software guy.

A racy novel with an underlying dark as well as witty undertone, "Johnny Gone Down" is a thorough entertainer, and reading this novel is like watching a good masala movie.  Karan himself admits of being inspired from Forrest Gump and also some other movies and books.

If you are in a mood to read something light, casual, and interesting at the same time, Johnny Gone Down is the book for you.

Also as an afterthought, I would like to add, whichever road we take, the journey is what matters and the friends we make on our way is what matters, and Nikhil aka Johnny would concur with that....;-)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It ain't fair

Last week while travelling on Island express, I came across a young boy, whose activities moved me very much.  He stepped into the compartment, removed the ragged shirt he was wearing, folded it into a bundle, came down on all fours and started sweeping the floor with that.  In slow yet neat strokes, he was collecting all the dirt and dust and also moving forward at the same time.  Occasionally, he would throw a soulful glance and thrust his hand forward.  Now this was not the first time I was seeing this.  In fact, used to see hoards of boys like this on our quadrennial trip to Kerala from Bihar, but this one set me off on a train of thoughts.  I tried putting myself in this boy's place, but still could not imagine myself doing that, because even if i was in that boy's place, I was still "deekay" and deekay would never do that.  I would try to work and earn money, do menial job, but wont beg. why? Because I had this upbringing in which values were inculcated in me by my parents and so it was unthinkable for me, but this boy had nothing like that. Or may be his parents had inculcated this begging thing into him, who knows!! I never had the option of choosing my parents and neither did he, but both of us did end up having parents which ultimately led us to the way we were.  Now is it fair?

I remembered Karna and Ekalavya of the Mahabharata.  Karna, one of the earliest known antiheroes and Ekalavya the greatest archer world would have ever known were sacrificed at the alter of life by the cruel hands of fate and destiny and, both had Arjuna as the competitor, the destiny's child.

It was while going through all these that I suddenly remembered Hassan, oh how could I forget him.  The self- sacrificing, hair-lipped kite runner of Amir from the "Kite Runner."  It was one of the 2 books in the recent past which had made me emotional, the other being Roots (more on that some other time).

Meanwhile the "shirt sweeper" had reached my side by now and I placed a few coins in his hand and he made his way forward on his all 4s.....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hobby as a career?

This thought has been going through my mind for quite sometime, what if one has his hobby as his career/profession, would the boredom/job fatigue that is usually associated with ones job go away?  This thought was first triggered by reading Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion wherein Prof. Henry Higgins says, "Lucky is the man who has his hobby as his profession."  Here, he was referring to himself, a phoneticist by profession, who was madly in love with English language and had mastered all its nuances.  A hobby according to the American Heritage dictionary is an activity or interest pursued outside one's regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.  So going by that definition, a hobby technically stops being a hobby once it becomes a profession.  Still can the amount of satisfaction derived from doing a job as a hobby be equal or greater than doing the same as a professional one, because the latter one comes with a lot of strings attached!

To add to the confusion, this is what Orhan Pamuk says through a character in his famed book, 'My name is Red', "To avoid disappointment in art, one mustn't treat it as a career.  Despite whatever great artistic sense and talent a man might possess, he ought to seek money and power elsewhere to avoid forsaking his art when he fails to receive proper compensation for his gifts and efforts."  My uncle from whom I borrowed this book is a very good example for the above statement.  He has a great love for literature, especially his native language Malayalam, closely followed by English.  He has carved out a name for himself in the literary circles of Malayalam and has a couple of books to his credit, but he never lived by his hobby.  He is a qualified accountant (now retired) and he himself admitted to me that he never thought of writing/literature as a full time career as he did not think he could support himself doing only that.

After a lot of deliberations and contemplations on both of these views, I came to the conclusion that the best path lay somewhere in the middle.  Incidentally, I am also reading One person/Multiple careers, by Marci Alboher, which made me believe in the middle path.  The case studies given in this book are an eyeopener for the readers, many of whom may have felt the yearning desire to do something creative, but who stick to the routine day job due to the financial security it provides.  This premise has been taken by the slash person (Marci's term for person pursuing multiple interest) and adjusted according to his or her requirements.  One of the best and most endearing case study that I remember is about a person who works as a freelance computer programmer to support himself and pay off his bills and in the free time pursues theater, which he is passionate about.  He has sort of achieved a balance between the two, and when he feels like things getting over his head in one of them, he just switches to another (from theater to computer and vice versa).

A medical transcriptionist/aspiring accountant/blogger seems to be an ideal slash career for me, but that figures do some times appear slippery and I am always too lazy to write (but still I do have a faithful reader~Joby, hope u read this) appears to be the 2 hitches for me.  Only time can tell what I will make out of myself, anyway, it has been a great journey.....