Posts Tagged ‘blog’

My quest for the last


You know what the problem with life’s lessons is?

They are like Technology.

Just when you think you have mastered one, life reveals its newer versions- Truer versions of truths.

Sometimes they are just upgrades. But often they are completely new, and change your old beliefs so much that it feels stupid to have clung on to them stubbornly all along.

Happens to me all the time. So if you spot contradictions in my posts, remember, they aren’t conversations of a confused soul, but new, improved, updated versions of my beliefs.

Look at 2012, for instance. I started the year eagerly with ‘First, at last’. But grew wiser through the year, and am ending with ‘My quest for the last’.

Coming to think of it, this is a lesson life has been desperately trying to tutor me unsuccessfully for five decades.

Take First Love- a concept that the world has unnecessarily romanticised, given undue importance and immortalised. In a moment I’ll tell you how meaningless it can be.

Mine happened quite early in life. I remember it vividly. I had fallen for that dimpled, giggling, bundle of ecstasy in the cradle next to mine, at the Baby Room in a maternity home. I think I was two days old and she, one. On the third day as the head matron came to take me away, mercilessly separately us young hearts, I remember, I bawled and flapped my tiny hands around in an uneven fight. As I was taken out of the room, I threw one last glance back at my love, just for keeps. She was kicking the air in protest. It was then that her diaper fell off and I saw her stark naked.

She was a he.

Forget the First, no matter how many loves you have in life, the only one that really matters is the last, because that’s the one you get married to and live with for the rest of your life.

Life is clear about its lessons. “It’s not the first, but the last that matters.”

In cricket, it’s not the first, but the last ball that counts. It’s not the first, but the last run that becomes the winning run.

In a race, it’s not how well you start, but how well you finish.

In life, it’s not who you were born as, but who you die as.

In a chocolate box, it’s not the first, but the lone last slab that’s the sweetest.

In your wallet, it’s not the first, but the last coin that’s most precious.

In school, it’s not the first, but the last day of exams that is most memorable.

Dumb me, life was so blatant about its clues and yet I didn’t catch them.

I used to come home from school and say that I was the 35th ranker in class or finished 8th in the 1500-meter heats. But I would never admit I was the last.

This, in spite of the obvious rewards that life doles out to those who finish last.

The last ranker enjoys every day of his school, and has just one bad day in a year- the day of the results. Whereas the first ranker slogs the whole year for that one good day.

But the world continues to equate finishing last to losing.

Which is why 31st December isn’t the last day of the year, but the new year’s eve.

It is never about bidding a fond farewell to the last, but always about ushering in the first.

As I write this, even the precious last seconds of the year have been reduced to just a countdown to 2013.

Not for me. At least, not this year.

I am dwelling in this last moments of 2012, slowing it down, stretching it to an eternity and delaying the year’s last tock after its last tick, as much as I can.

So much, that I have all the time in the world to publish this post.

Whoever thinks that finishing last is easy, should try finishing last in Slow Cycling.

Or, refuse to budge from the end of a bungee jumping queue.

Or, get the last word with his wife, boss or news anchor- that’s like trying to win a shouting match with your echo.

Or simply do what I have just done- become the world’s last blogger of 2012 by publishing the last post of the year in the whole World Wide Web at 11:59:59 on 31st December.

Stare and Bare

A walk that would be fairly easy on an opaque floor turns nerve-wracking when it has got to be on a see-through glass, at the same height.

That’s what’s happened to me with this blog.

WordPress sent me my blog’s Annual Report in the first week of January. Among other things, there was a world map to tell me from where my readers came. Flattering, I thought at first. Until I realised that the maximum views came from Indonesia, outside India.

The search terms that brought people to my blog in 2011 was even more foxing. I wonder how this highly intellectual attempt got mistaken for a desipapa kind. Believe it or not, one of the search terms that brought a reader to my ‘Lakshman & Rekha’ post was: Parmeshwar Godrej’s low cut blouse.

I am ashamed.

The best comments that my posts got were those rejected by WordPress as spam. Tell you, no one can make you feel like God the way spammers do. Sample these: Chanced upon your post by accident. But it got me hooked / Outstanding / Much appreciate your research on the subject / You write like a dream / Things you said rang a bell / How convincing / We love your style and content / (Those end with a link to an Organ Enlargement drug, Tummy Reduction machine, Gambling site and such.)

WordPress ended their 2011 report with graphics of fireworks against my name in the sky, congratulating me for the various milestones I achieved in number of posts, etc. Made me feel like a star. And then, they went on to set targets for 2012, making me feel like a salesman at a sales conference being fooled by corny AVs done by budding copywriters.

Now every time I go to my blog to write a new post, I sense those eyes on me. It is like walking into an interrogation room, knowing fully well that there are cops and witnesses behind those opaque glass partition, watching you, listening to you. It is like having a school examiner stand behind you as you write your answers. It is like a kid who is asked to pee with the whole family staring at him.

People freeze in such situations.

It’s easy to dance when no one is looking. It’s easy to sing when no one is listening. It’s easy to argue with the mirror. It’s easy to fight your shadow. It’s easy to blame people behind their backs. It is easy to lecture sitting on the pot. Words flow freely. Ideas drop down smoothly. But try doing it in an auditorium in front of an audience, your mouth inches away from the mic. I bet you will be constipated.

There are times when I have spoken and argued non-stop for long in conference rooms, as people texted, took calls, ate sandwiches, played footsie and took loo breaks. But at the end of which when someone says, “Sorry Ramesh, I wasn’t listening. What were you saying?” I stare blankly at the many pairs of eyes that look up and ears that perk up. They wait. And I stare, blanked out and frozen, not remembering even one word of what I had just said. And so meekly accept: “Nothing, I was saying that I agree with you all.”

That’s what has happened to me here. I have come many times during the last two months and gone away without keying in a single word. I just couldn’t because I was conscious that people are watching, listening.

And then someone told me that the best way to solve a problem is by staring at it, accepting it and talking about it.

Guess I have just done that.

Thank you for listening.

First, at last!

12:00:01 a.m. on 1st January, 2012.

This should officially qualify as the world’s first blog post of 2012.

(Unless there are loners like me who have nothing better to do on New Year’s eve, in New Zealand, Australia, Japan or in any country where the year dawned earlier.)

Imagine, no one in front, millions following.

Guess this is how leadership feels. It’s true what they say, it’s kinda lonely at the front. Hello…hello…hello…anybody here!

The first in WordPress. The first in the blogosphere. Perhaps, the first in the whole world wide web, too.

What if the world froze or ended just now.

By virtue of this being the only post, the only written document, would I bag all the World’s Best Blogger awards? Maybe even the Nobel prize for Literature?

But let me confess, I am not much of a victory-stand guy.

Forget finishing first, I’m not even into starting or doing anything first. It’s scary, that’s why.

What if the craters on the moon were man-gobblers? Not even the strong-arm tactics of the US would have saved poor Armstrong. Mid-way through his famous one-liner, he would have disappeared forever. The first man on moon, the last man ever.

It takes guts to be the first. How the hell did Sir Edmund Hillary know what he’d encounter on Everest? What if there was a 4000-year-old naked Yogi meditating there? “Excuse me, what era is this?”

Or worse, what if it was actually the abode of Hindu Gods and Goddesses as mythologies say? In heaven before death? God knows what the heavenly laws say about illegal immigrants.

My fear of the First is not unfounded. I have many bad experiences. The worst of those was in my first job.

The agency was taken over and the new management sacked our old bosses. About ten of us decided to rebel. We marched to the new Chairman’s office to protest. We marched down the road, up the elevator, through the plush corridor, past his corner office, into his room, towards his table. I stood triumphantly waving my resignation and shouting slogans as planned. It sounded meek, croaky and familiar. Of course it was. It was my lone voice, not a chorus as planned. I was the only one standing there. Others had been stopped at the reception by security. What made it worse was that he readily agreed to all our- sorry- my demands. Everyone rejoiced. I was the only one who had to look for another job that week.

There’s too much uncertainty around the first, too much responsibility on the leader, too much spotlight on the No.1 and too much pressure on the winner.

Crowns give me a headache. The throne is such an uncomfortable chair. And permanent fame can get as agonising as Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th ton.

Which is why I, at best, accept only fleeting fame. Enjoy it, and let go of it before it becomes a burden.

Cinderella taught us this lesson many years ago.

I now run only the first 100 m of marathons. I bolt off the block like Bolt himself, while others are ambling. For a full 100 m I am the one that the onlookers first see and cheer. Some even discuss if I am the dark horse who is going to leave even the Kenyans behind.

By 150 m I am panting and others are catching up. By 200 m, I snatch a free drink and go home. Like they say, the time to quit is when you are on top!

Look at this space now. In a matter of minutes thousands of blogs, pokes, tweets, posts have flooded what was just a while ago solely my domain. This post looks like a speck in an ocean already. Hundreds of bloggers have gone ahead. Most, I am sure, are bigger and better. New firsts, winners, leaders will emerge from them. That’s the way life should be.

But this year, if you ever get to the hot-seat and are asked the million dollar question “Who was the first blogger of 2012?” make no mistake.

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