The 100th post, or an excuse to talk about myself

I never thought I would reach this milestone so soon though I had sought to get here by the end of the preceding month.  However, in that month, I suddenly had to go out for something that turned out to have results widely divergent to those I had anticipated – eventually. However what is important is that I did what I was supposed too – what people thought of it or did not is not my lookout. The point is that this detour affected my schedule and it is only in this month – the last of an abominable year that I reach this number.

What to write in this post occupied my thoughts for quite some time as I began reaching this figure as I racked my brains to put in place something that would be befitting. However, finally I decided to put a few thoughts about myself. But to avoid for putting off readers completely, some indications of what they can expect here in the days to come.

Lets start with the basics. What differentiates an individual from the other six or seven milliard people around? It is a most subjective issue as the opinion I may have about myself may not be shared by anyone (I know this section would include my friends or even those I think as friends – this is not mere semantics but this is a vital distinction here- and it will certainly not be subscribed by parents or my sister). So I will confine to discussing three or four traits I embody and strive to live for – ultimately it is our choices more than our wishes that make what we are.

Reading  – All those who know me will easily concede that seeing me with a book is the most normal event and should it be the converse, it is the one time they will wonder what is wrong with me. There are even those so kind to tell me that all that three decades of relentless reading have already wreaked their toll on me and there is one who suggested that my last image for people on the earth will be me lying on the ground, with books strewn around and on me and should a painting or photograph be taken, it can easily be titled “V… D… overcome by his own knowledge”. However, this is one facet of my life I can not compromise and my parents and friends have often remarked, citing bitter experience, that I can easily spend time within my books, unmindful of passage of time, unless that it be of a calendar. Surely they jest! However, who can one explain what a wonderful, unparalleled and sublime  experience is it to be engrossed in a good book – to wander through foreign climes or bygone eras or even times yet to come, to meet wonderful characters – real or the result of an author’s fecund imagination, or to read about someone express their thoughts in verse  (this basically covers barely two or three of the genres I go in for but should be enough to give you an idea).

I can go on and on about this pastime – but see it fit to end with a trenchant observation made to me by an elderly bookseller who wanted to know if there was something particular I was looking for and when I replied that I was searching for whatever caught my interest, remarked “Aap ke liye bhi padhna sirf shauq nahi junoon hain” (For you also, reading is not a hobby but an obsession)”. Well that hit it right on the spot.

Good Manners – This, in a certain respect, follows from my love of reading. The link is my own fancy and will not easily be comprehended by most. Well understand it this way, one of my favourite phases and the one I have read about the most – well most of my recent reading – was about early19th – early 20th century continental Europe and England – a society and way of life that was irretrievably wiped out in the tragedy that engulfed it in the middle of the later century’s second decade, with a greater tragedy at the end of the fourth, mopping up all remnants. For those in the subcontinent, it was an equally widespread tragedy in the middle of the last century that did the same here  and we are still living with the consequences.  (I have known people who did suggest I was myself a relic of the first era I mentioned, inflicted on them by some accident of time and space….. well who knows what the truth is. Quid est veritas? Asked jesting Pilate…. Those who do not understand the reference, well, I can just deplore your lack of classical knowledge).

However, the main issue is what are these manners? It is a sad reflection of the sad mores that prevail that one has to enunciate them when they should have been readily understood. However, I will remedy this deficiency – to me, these are chiefly politeness, courtesy – I realise these two concept have a wealth of connotations but those who know will understand themselves and those who don’t, no amount of explanation will suffice-  helping others (specially friends) without thinking of the time, effort or inconvenience, and above all, consideration of other’s feelings, keeping promises or at least doing your best to and above all – rising above, far above, those who do not display these qualities and not using it as an excuse to enjoy them the benefits of these. It is hard but not beyond the realm of possibility…. There are times when you want to respond to something by standing in a flurry, pulling out an automatic and inserting a fresh clip…. But the era when this was feasible is long past…or is it?) I specifically mentioned the last in my list of what constitutes good manners because it concerns me directly and should be obvious to all those concerned. It is the mark of moral superiority that you should not allow others to drag you down to their level.

It may be surprising but this state of affairs is not only recent but was also present in the ages I referred to. It was the incomparable Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, who writing sometime in the 1850s, put it succinctly in a dozen words.

Hamko unse wafa ki hai umeed
Jo nahi jaante wafa kya hai

Anyway…..

I just realise I have used up more than a 1000 words and am just towards the middle of what I have to say – I am getting positively garrulous at this age. In order to prevent the post from getting interminably long, I will end it here only and carry on my peroration in hmmm lets say the 150th, no lets make the 200th post.

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