Sunday, February 23, 2014

The ISTP-ENTJ dilemma - and Kolkata again!

It's been quite a while now since I posted anything. Almost three whole years. Quite a journey it has been too - both literally and otherwise. Joined a profession that I would've thought to be of the least interest or fit to me, then got posted to a far far land three thousand kilometres from home and now back I am, in Kolkata again. And surprisingly quite content. 

The other day, I was going through some of Crichton's old works and reminiscing certain moments again, and stumbled upon this quote of his from Travels, his autobiography of sorts.

"Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am. There is no mystery about why this should be so. Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of your food, your closet full of your clothes -- with all this taken away, you are forced into direct experience. It inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That's not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating"

The one year after college, that was more or less me; and everybody else in an FMCG sales stint, for that matter. New surroundings, not so usual routines and a host of new people that you seem to keep on meeting.. Direct experience? I'd say so. And the single most glaring thing that one keeps noticing throughout was, new or not, how quickly people seem to judge one another. Scary but going through it helps - the entire experience. There was this professor in my college with whom I had a feedback session of sorts before leaving campus for once and all. And I figured she was right - the workplace is a very different environment from anything else that one has had the opportunity to live in. There was something else that came through in that session too. Actually something that had been on my mind in those last few months back then but which got confirmed that day. That my Jung typology was probably very different from what I would've made it out to be. 

And if that last line didn't sound geeky enough, please read on.

Ever heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test? Apparently human beings were classified into 16 different personality types based on four core attributes. You'd think you had a fair idea of yourself before you took the test. I was never so wrong. Not in one but in three out of the four attributes and not by all that close a margin either. This was actually quite surprising. And if you're still wondering, that's where the title of this post comes from. My first guess would've been an ISTP - or maybe an INTP, but either way, ENTJ came as a surprise. Maybe it was because of those years of spending time away from home. Maybe it was all those direct experiences. I'll never know. 

Got reminded of all this again when I was watching the Highway yesterday. Quite good - and among other things it got me thinking about this whole behavioural traits thing - and in particular the Judgement/Perception attribute. Well, 'judgement' here doesn't quite refer to being judgemental but even then. It might be convenient, but how okay or bad is it? Me? As far as I'm concerned, I think it's a trap. That even the best of people might fall into - to judge in haste without giving room for perception or the circumstances under which something happened. And more experiences outside your comfort zone actually help out in terms of not falling into this trap (that the test labelled me as a J when I thought everything pointed to the contrary is an entirely different topic - not one that I'm going to go on about now).

So yeah, that's exactly what the last three years have been - a tad outside the usual social groups and comfort zones I used to be part of. There have been a lot of good moments; and an equal share of bad ones too. Not to forget the crazy bits of it. So here I am, back to the city where all of that madness started; now along with a sudden desire to start blogging again. Let's see how that goes. 

To end with, a favourite quote of mine about being judgemental : 

"Do you think the noble Lord of Winterfell wanted to hear my feeble explanations? Such an honorable man. He only had to look at me to judge me guilty"
 - Kingslayer (Book 3 from the song of ice and fire)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lost.. In Translation

Caution:  This particular post has two parts - not necessarily one related to the other; in fact don't blame me if you can't make heads or tails out of it, but then feel free to make any connections that may seem fit.
         Past one month has been kind of crazy. First of all after a long time, I had a big vacation. Which was spent almost fully in laziness. That naturally led me back to watching random movies every now and then. Guess what Lost in Translation, Little Manhattan and Up in the Air have in common? Well, granted, I did end up watching them all in the new found movie-watching-spree, but apart from that? My feeling was that they were all trying to say something similar. In fact, out of these three, I must admit I didn't even like Lost in translation that much. (But, you know, the tagline was kind of cool and the poster with Scarlett Johansson looked cute and hence the reason for the title and the picture). More than the movie itself,  it was the reviews that captivated me more. I have the habit of reading IMDB reviews randomly for movies and this one and this one were in particular intriguing and played a major role in getting me to watch the movie. Up in the Air, I barely need to say - probably most of you have already seen the movie and have your conclusions. As for Little Manhattan, I must say it was pure magic. The boy who played Gabe was amazing, together with some wonderful lines - in particular the ending was so cool. 

       ".. and leave you bleeding on the floor. And what does it really get you in the end? Nothing but a few incredible memories that you can't ever shake." 

         Now for the common part - as some of you might have guessed - all those movies  were about chance meetings (yeah, as they say in middle earth). In case of Lost in Translation, the reviews said it clearly. I loved reading the movie's reviews than I liked the film itself, which, let's face it, was boring ultimately. One of the reviews was speaking about the life-changing connections one might have missed in the past by just being passive and solitary. I don't know about the 'passive and solitary' part, but otherwise, yeah, the life changing connections called friends that you might have missed in the past.  I don't know, but sometimes you just think of stuff.. like, what if you had not been interested in quizzing? what if you had not been allotted to that particular room in your hostel? what if that guy hadn't come in late and sat along with you in the last bench? what if you hadn't been interested in lan gaming at wee hours? Again, I don't have the answers, but it sure sounds scary. Which brings me to my question. Are acquaintances and friendships based on such chance meetings? Would you have found the same relationship had things gone differently that particular moment on that particular day? After all, one would think that there can only be so many people alike - and that ultimately you do end up getting along together as you are supposed to and that it's just a matter of time. But you never know and sometimes it's just too late.
           And here begins the second part. After a long stint away from the place, it was Chennai again. Four years of my life I've spent here in this place - more than anywhere else except my hometown. But still, I keep getting surprised every now and then. Turns out, my knowledge of the city was limited to weekend trips in and around when the whole city lies dormant. It takes a typical weekday peak hour to realize it's full capacity. I never saw too many office goers before. Well, partly because you don't register them in your mind when you're travelling half asleep or chatting away with a friend or engrossed in texting someone. On the other hand, you do get to notice all these and much more when you start entering the first steps of your career and have to be on your lookout for the missed bus stop or for the potential pick pocketer - you just never know. 
           Working in a city, away from your family or friends is kind of very different from all the experiences you've had previously. Admittedly, it did seem dull in the beginning but then now I kind of realize (well 4 days of experience isn't anything, even then, please hear me out) there are hidden potentials - after all, even college seemed dull initially. Agreed, there is still the challenge of having to come home from a tiring day only to be alone and on the search for the next new restaurant (or face indulging in the tiresome activity of cooking), but I  have the feeling it will pass. There was a speech given by people today when one among them was leaving the job to pursue activities abroad and I could see respect. Genuine admiration and respect. And then I realized - You might have people moving in and out, but it won't be long before you find something or the other to hold your attention. Between those phases, you might feel lost, but then you do turn up okay in the end. Whatever happens, you'll have a special set of people, very different from the countless that you pass daily, ensuring that you do. And the rest? Well, the rest is just stuff lost in translation.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Find yourself…

          There’s a reason I keep alluding to obscure taglines or titles from Lost. It’s because those are one of the few things that I actually like. Others? I’m actually getting confused about my real likes and interests. Been watching House recently and I was just done with season six. There was this episode where a character gets amnesia and her entire personality changes. Apparently, without past memory, personality tends to return to its fresh, natural state (tabula rasa anyone?). Which, it turns out, can be quite different. I mean, a totally different nature because of lost memory; wow, how cool can it get?

           On a more serious note though, it is kind of fascinating; thinking about how, because of certain reasons, you choose to believe in something that you originally didn’t. No, I’m not talking religion or philosophy here. Just voicing aloud the thought that identity, is not as unique as I believed it to be. Sure, we are all different at different levels, but then we are not who we truly believe we are. Well, for those who say no, wait till you find out.

           I always thought that blending in to a community makes people choose roles; roles which get decided early on and don’t change that easily, sometimes never. That’s why most people find the latter half of their stay somewhere as the most beautiful part, worth remembering. It is that perfect identity, that perfect role, that people seek to find, takes some time, thereby making the whole thing a tad difficult, for some like me. Others, manage it quite easily. But for a guy like me, when that very identity gets challenged, it is quite an experience in itself. Yeah, it really is. And it begins with you starting to get stressed, beginning to doubt yourself. That’s when you kind of realize how alone you really are. You get reminded of all things that you’d rather not think about, which, brings you back to the question, ‘Who are you really?’

          Actually, the more important question here would be, ‘Whom do you want to be?’, which is as difficult, if not more, than the previous one. The trouble is, people like me, keep ‘running just to stay where they are’, but in the meanwhile, forget to think about what lies ahead. I used to live by a simple rule a wise guy once told me, “Just hang in there with the knowledge that you’ve learnt something today which you didn’t know yesterday”. Which is not so wrong really, is it..? Well, it used to work quite okay for me… until it didn’t. Until the day you become a victim of the bigger process. When that happens, you know it’s time to wake up; and to go find yourself.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance... or the lack of it..

          After all these days, I'm actually getting busy. Come to think of it, it's been about time, like coming back after a big vacation and finding yourself on the way back to school. The vacation, in this case, was of course my final year at college (or maybe two, for that matter - I can't really say). And you do enjoy school, no matter how much you miss the vacation. Anyway, I actually wanted to post something on friendship day, something, you know, like a dedication to all my friends, something I've always wanted to do.. But no, really couldn't bring myself to do it.
           I've been having classes, just like old times once again - and one of the courses we have this term is on Behavioral Sciences (we call it BS). As you might have guessed from the title, that's what was the motivator for this post. BS is one of those classes, where you can walk in to the air-conditioned hall calmly, go have a relaxed seat, sit back and enjoy the lecture - it's almost like walking in to a cinema hall, watch a nice movie and end up coming out with a lot more thoughts running inside your head than when you went in. At least, that's how I feel after every BS class. And it is one of those classes where you never get sleepy (even if it is a post-lunch 2 o' clock session).
            So there I was, once again finding myself in one of those BS lectures by one of my favourite profs and as usual, I was waiting for the session to begin. Usually, these classes always kind of make you feel-good, what with all the human behavioral analysis and stuff going on. I mean, one always can relate to the subject being discussed, because hey, everyone observes things happening around them and naturally would feel interested, at least to an extent. And it's fun to theorize about people. Even when you don't end up believing in those. So like I said, those classes are usually comforting.. until that day.
          The topic being discussed was about cognitive dissonance and the reasons behind it. Okay, for starters, cognitive dissonance is the state of mind where one is confused by contradictory ideas and is in an undecided, uncomfortable state. Now, the theory is that people tend to seek a path that reduces this dissonance long after they make the decision. In short, that people tend to justify or defend their choices, even under evidence to the contrary.
           Now where I come in the midst of all this is that, I've had choices. I've had dilemmas. Some downright trivial and absurd (like choosing between a bath and a breakfast on a hurry to class :P), or having to choose between two softwares (that's right, plus one to the list of people who believe I'm a geek), but there are major decisions too. Like having to choose between a college nearer to my home (well as near as u might consider 650 kilometres to be) and yet another one further away. Or to quote a more recent example, having to choose between a well known institute of management and right where I am now. But I can say with confidence that, never once have I felt any regret over my choices all along my life.
           So, am I a victim of this so-called cognitive dissonance..? Because I'm one of those guys who never complains. Maybe part of it comes from the viewpoint of negating, like when you know, people find fault about their surroundings (I love that House episode where he needs to negate to everything). But seriously, I've always had the view that, all my choices so far have actually been the correct ones for me and that I'm actually good at being me because of those choices. So, suddenly on hearing this theory say that people justify their decisions and thrive on denial so they don't have to face reality, you can imagine the discomfort it caused me.
           I came out of the class confused, had a nice sleep over the issue, thrusting it to the back of my mind and forcing myself not to think about it till I was more clear. It's now been more than a week since that happened. In the meantime, like I said, things were getting busy with exams, academics and stuff. And then suddenly one evening, when I was idling away my time, browsing something as usual, I got a call from one of my friends. It had been a while and it sounded like a voice from another world. And in that instance, right there - it all rushed back, all my memories from school and college - how could I have ever doubted all those moments? And it was then that I realized - BS or no BS, the experiences I've had are unique; the friends I've had are special; and my moments with them are all treasurable - and it was my choices all along that have led me along that path, to the very path that has led me to this very moment to write about it all. And you know what, I'm happy and grateful for the choices I've made. And that is all that matters. In the end, it is the people around you that complete the blanks and make your choices meaningful. I wanted to thank all of  my friends on the so-called friendship day, but hey, do you really need an occasion?
            To all the people, who've made my life cherishable... Thanks people..!!

P.S.: As I write this, yet another day begins. To watch the morning sun rise here at joka.. really.. feels like heaven.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Make your own kind of music..

My friends would tell you that I'm a big fan of Lost. And that's a gross understatement. Its first three seasons were simply some of the best entertainment I've ever had. Now, I don't want to explain or review the show here (and it would take more than just a blog post to understand it), but what I wanted to say was about a song that was featured in the show. It's called Make your own kind of music and it got me thinking. First of all, no, it's not that great a song when you just hear it, without having seen Lost. But the context in which it appears in the show is beautiful. Ok, so I think I will have to explain a bit about the circumstances that lead to the song in the storyline.
In the first season, there a group of survivors from a plane crash, now living in the middle of nowhere, in an island in the pacific ocean. Out of contact with any technology whatsoever, they are now back to living like cave men and fight for their very survival. Meanwhile, they keep discovering mysteries in the island, (like, a suspicion that they're not alone)and among other things a mysterious hatch buried in the ground. Preferring to live inside the hatch for protection, they get it opened and find a deep path going into the ground. Cut, end of first season.
The second season opens with a man, sitting in front of a computer and punching in some kind of code and lots of gadgets and stuff around him. This song that I talked about is heard playing in the background. It goes something like this,

Nobody can tell you,
There’s only one song worth singing,
They may try and sell you,
As it hangs them up to see
someone like you;

But you've gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sings along.

You're gonna be nowhere.
the loneliest kind of lonely.
It may be rough going,
just to do your thing's
the hardest thing to do.

Now, the fact that the place this man is shown living in, is actually the inside of that hatch mentioned before, is an entirely different issue. No, what I really wanted you to notice, was the song being played. Here is a man, shut off in the middle of nowhere, doing some kind of duty (obviously, or he wouldn't living in such a place). Even when the survivors (after overcoming their shock on seeing a man inside) don't believe in whatever work the man may have been doing in there (which was incidentally, 'saving the world', according to the guy), he sticks true to his cause and refuses to believe to the contrary.
If you'll notice, that's what the song gently advises. To make your own kind of music; even if nobody sings along. To stick to your beliefs, at the risk of being an outcast. Now, how plausible is that? To pursue a dream that nobody sees, but you? Where does it all come from? This passion towards something without any kind of prior instigation; Everybody feels it - at some time or the other in their lives - It's that thing that keeps you going in the toughest of times - It's called individuality. The belief that you are unique and irreplaceable - that no two people are the same however similar they might be.
But what about the whole 'circumstances-define-us-individuals' argument? Aren't we the sum total of what lies around us? The equilibrant that completes the world, the balance that keeps shifting? People do get influenced by the world outside them and change accordingly. We all know how much we have heard about the role of environment in shaping up a kid, till the moment he becomes an adult. So many opportunities to get one's perceptions and opinions changed, right?
So, back to my original question, where does this sense of individuality come from? I wouldn't know the answer to that but no, it's not just a whimsical thought. In the show, in the end, it turns out that the guy was right after all - eventhough nobody believed him. There is uniqueness in and around us - the sooner we realize it, the better. Like Forrest Gump says, Maybe it's a mix of both - maybe we aren't just leaves floating around in the wind, but have got a definite purpose to fulfill. And oh boy, isn't that reassuring.

P.S. - I would like to mention the following quote by Michael Crichton here:
"Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their 'beliefs.' The reason is that beliefs guide behaviour which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behaviour may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Changing times..

I don't write much. Usually. But then, again, this is no usual occasion. Sometimes, I just wish I had something to hold on to my thoughts, to store for them for a future reference, like a pensieve or something.. Sometimes, I think there are too many random thoughts floating around without any orientation. Well maybe that's how human minds are supposed to work. The thing is, I'm undergoing a change. That's why I wanted to write a blog (and maybe that's why all this sounds so weird). Wait, first, let me say a little about myself, which might make this all a little clearer.
Well, I just finished my graduation in electronics engineering and have joined now for an MBA program. That apart, I'm generally perceived to be a reserved, silent guy who has his own little world. In short, I'm not the one you'd expect to break the ice in a group. And like all such people, I think a lot, about some thing or the other and I enjoy solitude even though I prefer to be with my friends (there's a difference, see). Though I don't think my close friends would agree on the reserved part, but really, I wouldn't know about that, because I never talk about such things. It's all the more difficult for me to define myself, because I'm not what I used to be; I change.
Oh yeah, I do. There was a time, back when I was in school, I used to think of people as being constant, fixed entities, whose behaviour can be explained or predicted, more often than not. That led me to think that there are values and beliefs that are held firm. But then, gradually, as time passed, I could no longer ignore the fact that I was slowly, but continuously, changing. The first of such changes was when I entered higher secondary, where I first had the real taste of friendship. I had some of my best moments in my life there.
But the real major change was after I started my college life. I never really noticed it, till I gave it out as an answer at my IIM-A interview. They were asking me about some things and gradually the talk went into about how I had changed over the years. I told the panel members that moving from a town to a big metro (well, not that big, but still chennai is a metro), and living a hostel had its effect on me and that it changed me. I just said it because it was a logical answer (and it sounded good the way I said it). I never gave much thought about that answer I gave them to seriously believe it, but after some days, I started to think and I saw that this was true. More than I ever expected. Thing is, college was different. After the final two years at school, I thought I couldn't be surprised by anything that college could throw at me, but I was wrong. The life I had in CEG was way different from what I had expected and I must say I didn't quite understand its significance till I had completed a half of my stay there.
I still remember my early days there vividly. But then, that would require me to go into details and I think it's best left for another post. Continuing on the subject, I think it was into my third year that I realized how grateful and lucky I was to be in such a place. The campus of Anna university seemed more beautiful than ever before. But even then, no I didn't realize its effect on me. It was well into my final year, towards the end, and after having thoughts about future and stuff about leaving college that I finally I realized I was right and I saw how much I had changed over the years.
I wish I had recognized all that in the first two years itself, but that's okay. Everything happens for a reason, right? The change in the surroundings from a town to a metro is enough to change anyone I guess. The very people you meet, the kind of places you visit, and in the very surroundings around you, lie the factors that shape your life. And sooner or later, you come to realize that fact. In my case it was the latter. Anyway, that was about college and then for a while I was really clueless as to what I'd be doing next. Not that there were a lack of options, but I really didn't know what I wanted to do in life. (Well, to be fair, I still don't but hey, I'm here, and that's a start.)
And then, finally joined for a post graduate programme for MBA and so, two more years of hostel life. It's just been over a week now since that happened. I just had my freshers' welcome party here. And thinking about it, the experience I've had here is again part of that ever happening change I talked about. A new state, a new language and a new environment -- it's all just exciting. I've just come back from the party and experienced the unique joka culture and I feel that sense of belonging that one associates with a place already setting in. I feel as if something is in store just around the corner. That change, that I keep talking about - it's happening right now even as I write this... And this blog is nothing but a mere effect of that. I'm looking forward to post here about the things that I see, stuff I think about and so on..

P.S.: So this, is my first sincere attempt at blogging and I hope I do keep posting regularly..

"Change is nature. The part that we can influence. And it starts when we decide.."