An Ideal World.

Look at the title. It’s big, it’s bold(I’m assuming, WordPress has never let me down on this so far), and it’s right there on top. Think of this. Allow the words to settle in your mind, then allow your mind to set off probes into all the infinity your limitations allow you to reach for, and when the probes come back, take a good look at them and search for what your idea of an ideal world is.

Don’t bother telling me what you come up with, though, this post is all about me, me, me, me. And my thoughts.

It was in class today that the subject of one’s Ideal World came up. I’m not sure why. Or  even where the class and the discussion led to, I never pay much attention anyway. But still – the idea of and Ideal World charmed my thinking process for all of thirty minutes.

My thoughts thus far amount to this: We all have an ideal in world in mind, whether or not we’re aware of it. I think that whatever it is that templates our personality also serves as a template for our ideals, and, by extension our ideal of what an ideal world ought to be. Whatever it is that makes us us is what also makes up our ideal universe(I need synonyms for ‘world’. Ideal… universe, place, surroundings, environment, cosmic crib… okay, cool, I’m set).

So, if this theory holds, then each and every one of us have an idea of how we think things ought to be. Everytime we are sad, or angry, or unhappy in any way, whatsoever, really, it is because things are not the way we feel they ought to be. Everything we do is either a step towards this ideal world, or a reaction to the actual world being or not being so.

The tragedy is this – No two ideals match. You would think that eeeveryone would want the same thing, like say, world peace, but then you find out that no two people have the same idea of what a peaceful world would actually be like. Some would insist on raising the world to live without a need for violence in any form at all, others say it’s no kind of ideal world at ALL if you can’t watch some Hollywood action star kill hundreds of people with his bare knuckles on screen. It all differs. Hell. Bring it all out into the open, and people’s very ideas of right and wrong are at unique as their fingerprints, if not more so(because, after all, fingerprints kinda DO look all the same, whereas with moral guiding principles, you don’t always need to look too closely to see they differ).

So. I’m going to write about an ideal cosmic crib. I’m going to make a list of 50 things that I believe would make the world an ideal place to live in. Yes, that’s right, 50 things, because excessive vagueness is a habit I must learn to break. I won’t post the list here. Because my ideal world may not necessarily reflect my ideal ME. My ideal universe is based on who I AM, NOW, my ideal self is based on who I want to be. My self as it is now is hardly the ideal I wish it to be. Therefore my current self probably has some ideals that, ideally, I’d be ashamed of.

My.

This is going to be quite an eye-opening exercise indeed. I seek to use this list of 50 things to gain insight into who exactly it is that I am. What are the things that make up my self. How much of me I am ashamed of, how much I am proud of, and how much of it helps explain my love for teeth-rotting candy. I give myself a week for the creation of this list. I know not what I’ll put on it.

I do know this, however –

In an ideal world, people can fly.

Ce jour est aujourd’hui.

And this morning, I missed my bus. Why? Because a parade of youthful, loud, grinning people waving indian flags was crowding up the street. Buses just moved on, they weren’t stopping in the middle of THAT crowd. Why, some of them were on motorbikes – patriotism and motorbikes, this morning, didn’t seem to be a very safe combination.

So, as a journalism student, I figure I am supposed to have hard hitting opinions on current events around me, and we all know this morning’s parade was brought to me by India’s latest fast-happy patriot, Anna Hazare. The basic gist of what he’s doing right now, summarized by a helpful classmate whose word I shall readily accept, is that he’s currently fasting for the right to fast.

I scanned a few headlines yesterday. That seemed more or less true.

The essence of things seems to be that Mr. Hazare will be screwing around with his health and comfort until the government agrees to his demands.

The way I’m seeing it is this – Mr. Hazare is throwing a tantrum until he gets what he wants. Forget the fact that what he wants is a noble endeavor(in theory at least. Nothing’s perfect). He is ruining his health until he gets what he wants. And if he falls sick, dies, or if anything else happens to him, it will be on the government’s head, and big time. Can you imagine the outraged voices rising up from the streets?

The traffic?

The statements and articles and words and canceled schools and closed shops?

It’s annoying to think of.

This isn’t the way things should be done. This isn’t the way a system should work. This is the easy way of doing things – shout loud enough, be dramatic enough, and get things your way?

What if everyone did that?

What would we be reduced to?

Absolutes.

C’est jour est aujourd’hui.

I don’t like speaking in absolutes, but that much, at least, is true.

It’s been way too long since I’ve updated this blog. So here we are with a new post! Once again, I come to a point in my life where I need to say something but have nothing much to say. I shall ramble until a point comes out. I have done so many times and shall do so again.

I was doing so last night. I have this Dictaphone that’s a part of my music player. I love that Dictaphone. For one, I now have the opportunity to secretly record the conversations of people around me without their knowledge! My enthusiasm for this has been lessened, somewhat, on realizing that the conversations of people around me are usually not worth the effort. The Dictaphone, does, however, allow me to keep a record of my thoughts when a pen or paper aren’t handy, or when I have thoughts moving too fast for my writing to keep up with.

Why am I capitalizing Dictaphone? Because the computer’s word check doesn’t accept it as a word otherwise.

 

I am no closer to writing something important than I was when I began.

 

Facebooking on the side doesn’t help.

 

Okay, to focus here. I see blank white spaces. I see endless buttons and links surrounding these spaces, all provided by wordpress to enhance my blogging experience. I’ve never given them a second look. The only sound in my ears is the music of a Matt Darey mix. My neck hurts, and after I type this out I need to do some shopping – me and my brother are out of food.

I believe I began this post by admitting to a discomfort with absolutes. Let’s talk a bit about that.

I am not completely comfortable with most absolute statements. See? I was going to type “I don’t like absolute statements”, but I wasn’t comfortable with that statement. I think a lot of confusion has grown – gah. There it is again. Absolute statements are easy to make. One can’t help making them. I made two more, right there, and this one is a third. I shall try to stop keeping count.

I like a sentence that doesn’t rigidly define what reality is. There are a lot of variables involved in any situation in one’s daily life, I think, and absolute statements suggest that one is aware and has accounted for all of these variables. I can’t speak for other people, but I wouldn’t know where to even begin keeping track of these variables. So rather than make statements that deny these variables their existence, I try to come up with sentences that leave things open-ended, leave room for a variable to pop up and go “I apply to this sentence too!” without ruining what I had intended that sentence to say.

 

It’s something I’m trying to keep in mind. Remember to do. A lot of confusion can come out of making a lot of absolute statements. You find that you contradict yourself. You find you say things you don’t really mean. You find that you’re confused about what it is you really mean in the first place.

Mostly, you just find that the absolute statement you made is wrong.

That being said, when you do find an absolute statement that you CAN stand behind 100%, it’s amazing to have that much confidence behind a sentence. It’s a rock, in a world of uncertainty. Cling to these statements, my readers. Cling to them, write them down, and refer to them in times of trouble.

In the words of the immortal(and, let’s not forget, fictional) Saint Walker –

All will be well.

So here I sit, in a room in desperate need of a good sweeping and mopping up, finally listening to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Stadium Arcadium, thinking it’s about time I had this blog updated. I suppose I could write about the presentations in college today. There will apparently be more coming, soon. Being made to sit inside the conference hall, sitting through a presentation and then being given our ten minutes ‘interactive’ time seems to be something I’m going to have to get used to, so I may as well get my opinions about it out there.

I’ll leave aside my thoughts on these seminars on general for now, for today the presenters were the second and third year OPJ students at Jain. Presentation after presentation it was, and I’m going to try and see if I  remember all the topic names.

The topics were on Propaganda, The History of Communication, Honour Killings, Female Infanticide, Global Warming, Drug Abuse, Celebrity Culture… and something about Poverty. Oh, and two songs thrown in to give our poor heads a break. I’m not sure it helped, but I appreciate the sentiment.

There was a lot of information thrown at us. A lot of numbers, graphs, statistics, and other informational tidbits. Lots and lots of it. And then some more!

I can’t in good conscience say I learned anything new. Did I know the exact details? The exact numbers? No. But I what did those numbers and details say?

“Use your own mind, don’t blindly accept things”

“Communication tech has become a lot more advanced than it used to be”

“Girl babies are killed. Boo”

“Global Warming Exists. Booo”

“Drugs exist”(this seminar was bad. They spoke of drugs, not drug abuse. Aren’t the assigned topics vague enough without the students getting them wrong? Even the “Boo” was only implied)

“People are poor. Boo”

“Human Trafficking Exists. We’re not happy”

“We’re still not sure what we feel about celebrities. Really. Lemme read some more Filmfare and get back to you”(it was rather dissapointing that the most heated debate came after this presentation)

I’m sorry. I’m belittling important issues, I know. But I don’t think I saw the issues being given the seriousness and focus they deserved in the conference hall today, either. Well, aside from one student.

I don’t know his name, and I neglected to find out(some journalism student I am). But he says he’s actually talked to girls involved in human trafficking, and when I say involved, I mean victims. He was passionate when he spoke of these girls. How it was unfair that they couldn’t ever return to normal society, for normal society points out the ones who are different and shames them. He spoke of the organizations he was involved with that actually reached out a hand and helped these girls.

He didn’t speak enough.

 

Why wasn’t he in charge of a presentation? Why didn”t he talk about human trafficking, about his experiences, about what’s really being done to help? Why weren’t we told things by people who cared about them?

Oh, um, well, the last part is because we’re being educated. It’s the purpose of educators everywhere – to bring us into contact with things we don’t care about in the hopes that education rubs off a bit.

The thing about this guy who got up and spoke, however, is that he told me things I didn’t know, and showed me harsh truths about people in ways I’d never cinsidered before, and it made me think. He got up to speak. This was a guy who, unlike all the others, had a point.

Which should have been there in the presentations.

 

It hit me, today, that we have endless seminars on creative writing, on leadership, on time management, and on human rights. But not a single one on research methods. Nor do we have any on presentations. Yet a big part of our grade is on how well we collect information, and how we present it. For us journalism students, especially, I can’t think of anything more vital, hell, the collection and presentation of information is the very DEFINITION of journalism as far as I can tell.

Yet somehow the 832nd seminar about how to be a real leader takes prominence, yet again. I fear for my education.

And so began college, Take 2.

First day of college. So, of course, there were rounds and rounds of introductions. I’d say about a four hundred or so snarky snap judgement made in the sanctuary of us students’ heads, of which about three hundred or so were mine. It’s horrible how judgmental I can be about short, ten second snippets. And how snarky I get when forced to do something that makes me uncomfortable.

The real introductions happen when the students get a few moments to themselves. The ice has been broken by the teacher(despite our shared lack appreciation for the way it was done), and we get comfortable with introducing ourselves to total strangers, and said strangers are now actually paying attention. It is then we tell them the stuff the stand-up introductions would never cover. What music we like. How we’re liking the city if we’re newcomers, what are the good places to go to if we’re not. Sometimes, if you connect really well, the introduction can cover everything

About an hour after I had given the only completely honest How-I-Ended-Up-Here introduction I was ever going to give someone(at least, for a while yet), I realized that my life up to this point sounds more like a continuous string of failures than anything else. It’s an odd realization to have on the very first day of college, but the kind of odd that, hopefully, makes for a good story.

So hello, new readers(and I know you’re new. This is my first blog post here). My name is Armaan Babu. Born and raised in the allegedly sunny state of California until the age of six, by which time my parents had saved enough money to comfortably retire and introduce their children to their heritage. To raise them in the culture that runs through our blood. In short, to move to India. Kodaikanal, to be exact. I was schooled there until the tenth grade, then was sent to Bethany High, Bangalore, for my tenth and twelfth(funny story there. Ask me about it someday). Graduated out of twelfth, with slightly below average ICSE marks but somewhat above average SAT scores, so off to American College I went! Clark University(the only place in America, interestingly enough, that Sigmund Freud ever agreed to lecture at. His statue still sits rather comfortably marking the place where he spoke) was perfect for me.

Perfect.

I flunked my first year, and was brought home, where I tried for an internship at DNA, which also ended badly. Don’t even ask about my three months spent as a grade school teacher. And the many, many months doing, um… essentially nothing. Doing nothing was becoming habit forming. I needed out. So out I got, straight into the welcoming(and air-conditioned!) classes of Jain University.

My first week of college went as well as could be expected. They threw a lot of seminars at us. Some hit, some missed completely. I had my trusty notebook and pen with me through every one. Because this is a blog that’s going to be read by people who include my journalism teacher, I shall take heed of the words “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” and talk about the seminars that really got my mind’s gears a’spinning.

The first one was the seminar conducted by a radio jockey and stand-up comedian(there was something else, but I forget it) who asked we call him Anjaan(pretty sure it was Anjaan). He worked his way through his personal philosophy summarized by the acronym TIP(Time, Ideas, Passion). He spoke to a rather full classroom, and what was fascinating is the way he held the attention of about a hundred students for almost two hours. He was on full steam the whole way, too, filled with energy and focus. It was that energy that really made the last part of his acronym stick in my mind – passion. When you think about it, it’s passion, really, that powers every action worth remembering. Passion lies behind every great action that’s been done. It was an idea that coloured my thoughts through all the other seminars – when Einstein was mentioned in another one, I couldn’t help thinking, “What if he wasn’t more intelligent than anyone else, buy was simply more passionate about physics? And passionate about proving the theories he had that nobody believed in? Because anyone can have an incredible idea, Einstein achieved his greatness by proving his idea was right. What inspires that kind of hard work but passion?” And so on.

Another thing I got out of the seminar with Anjaan was an idea of how the world must look like to people with two feet in the journalism world. I saw the world as a swamp, filled with hundreds of pretty gems lurking in the muck. I saw journalists picking those gems out of the murky waters of ignorance and rearranging the gems into beautiful patterns for the world to see and understand while the world sits around waiting to see when the next summer blockbuster movie is showing.

I wondered how frustrating they would find someone like me. Despite all the work they put into understanding the world and trying to make sure the world understands itself too, there are people like me whose knowledge of current events borders on the schizophrenic.

The other seminar that really grabbed my interest was held by C.N. Srikrishna. His seminar heading had the word ‘global’ in it, which is never a good sign. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I suppose I could take the cheap shot and say that he took the easy way out of having to lecture a group of students by keeping them happy with about 40 minutes of videos, but 1) They were really good videos, and 2) In the minutes between the videos, when he spoke, he did so with passion. Passion for the work he did in trying to save to world one healthy meal and glass of water at a time. Saving the world is a passion I can identify with, what with my unrelenting love of comic book superheroes. Speaking of which… the videos he showed us made me think of a Batman villain, Ra’s Al Ghul, who had his own ideas about saving the world. His idea was to bring the human population down “to a more manageable population” so that there would be more than enough resources to go around. Ra’s Al Ghul had some fascinating ideas, and the videos that Mr. Srikrishna showed us had me thinking that unless the world cleans up its act, the world will be in a situation only dreamed of by Ra’s. The world at war for its resources, and only the fittest will survive. If survive anyone does.

These were the two seminars that grabbed me. Solid 9 on 10s. The other ones hovered around the number five, and besides, I must wind up this post. The longer my entry is, the less chance there is that ANY of it will actually be read. Inverse logic, but true, nonetheless.

Lemme see… I am still getting to know my classmates, there are a LOT of stairs to climb to get to your classes(I refuse to take the lift. On principle), I’ve not yet gotten all my textbooks and my first week has me hesitantly optimistic about my three years here.

Dream safely, my readers.