Friday, May 29, 2009

If you're happy and you know it, please leave.

If you are one of those rare and utterly bourgeois creatures who are truly satisfied with what they're doing, seek the written word elsewhere. This is not for you. Yes, this means the lucky and elite few who manage to combine making a living with doing what makes them happy. The whole miserable proletariat lot of us have the cold comfort of security in return for forsaking our true desires.

Don't you just hate it when real life gets in the way of your dreams? If truth be told, most of us would really be doing something else were we were to 'follow our hearts'.

A line I once read in Anne of Green Gables comes to mind - "My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes." There are millions of people out there today, stuck with choices that they didn't want, whose hopes and dreams and wishes have been interred six feet under. Which is very sad, when you think about it. It also makes for one enormous graveyard.

(Here also, is where we see the Hand-Me-Down complex, for want of a better term - parents forcing their children to study at boarding schools/learn Carnatic music/become a doctor, saying, It was my dream but I didn't get to do it, so now I'm giving it to you. If there's anything worse than a dead dream, it's a second-hand dream.)

If I were paid to do what made me happy, then I'd be a host on the Travel and Living channel. Or a writer for the Lifestyle section of a newspaper. Or a personal shopper.

I know a friend who works in marketing, but would really rather be a chef. And he'd be good at it, too. Makes the best goddamn mango smoothies in all of creation (adding a few pureed dates is the secret). Another friend wants to spend his life modifying automobiles. His currently works at analysing patents (you read that right, patents). A girl I know would probably give up everything to become a photographer if someone paid her enough money for it. My brother still thinks there's a niche out there for professional gamers (but he's studying mechanical engineering).

We all have those Dreams. Those half-secret, half-guilty moments where the thought of just "giving this all up" and going after what you want comes so close, only to be pushed away again. Becoming a bartender, wedding dress designer, singer, race car driver, hitchhiker. But for whatever reason, gave up those dreams and settled into staid bank careers or HR positions or, horror of horrors, programming jobs.

So you want to travel the world. But there's family at home you can't leave behind. Or people who're not going to let you leave.

Of course you would take your chances and open a restaurant. It's too bad your education came in between. Now all you know how to do is practice the law.

You could probably start that band in your spare time, but your job requires you to work around the clock. And you just want to sleep the few hours you get off.

Your biggest dream is to work and live by yourself in the big, bad city. Darn it, there's a non-negotiable age clause in your horoscope and it's bye-bye freedom, hello mangal-sutra.

Sure, you'd become an artist and do nothing but paint all day long. If only you could make enough money that way to live.

You don't have the funds. You didn't get the education. You don't have the time. Your family got in the way. You're just not good enough at it. No matter the whys and wherefores, real life is all about compromise.
But it's nice to imagine, once in a while. Vicariously living your Dreams through your dreams. Writing about them, watching movies about them, reading books about them - the escapist theory is key. As long as you don't forget that there are bills to pay, fiance(e)s to wed and society to keep placated.

If there have been any happy people (as defined at the beginning) following this note despite my warning, kudos to you. To the people who had the guts, the will, the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Who do what they REALLY want to do.

You make the rest of us sad sloggers envious. I wish I could say you stand as a shining beacon of light and inspiration, but I can't, not truthfully. All I can say is, here's to all those tombstones and unmarked graves in that cemetery. RIP.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The House of Four Women - Auf Wiedersehen

It is with great regret that I announce that the House of 4 Women is now down to 2. My aunt left to Ooty yesterday with my grandmother, leaving my mother and me to a large, quiet house in an even quieter neighbourhood.

Although I would have loved to finish such chapters as I had going on - The Return of Omanamma (she stayed 5 days this time), Skeletons in the Cupboard (why Achamma sleeps with a knife under her pillow and other stories), The Pursuit of Beauty (sundry and often hilarious beauty tips from the women in my family) and The Case of the Missing Purple Handkerchief (involving a purple hanky and the fat neighbour aunty) - while I would have loved to complete these, it is heart-breaking to admit that my inspiration has said au revoir. The kindly muse has left the building. Half the motivation, literally, has bid farewell.

So unless it is of interest to hear how my mother and I stayed up till one in the morning watching "She's the Man" with Amanda Bynes because we were too scared to fall asleep, I must signal an unexpected, and most likely permanent, end to the series.

I leave with a slight hope, the promise of Spring when winter is deep upon us - Achamma may yet return, as may Geetha aunty, and return the state of things to its familiar state of chaos and cacophony you all became familiar with in The House of Four Women. Amen. A-women.