Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My 25 Things

I got this viral note from a friend on Facebook recently, which asks you to list 25 things about yourself - essentially factoids / trivia / minutiae, including aspirations, hobbies, habits, etc. You are then expected to post this on your Facebook page and tag 25 other friends. At first I ignored it but then one fine day I thought I'd give it a shot and see what comes out of it. So here're my 25 things - for the benefit of my non-Facebook friends.

1. My life is an open book, but that doesn’t automatically mean that I will let you read it.

2. I am still trying to understand the meaning of the complex number “i” (the square root of minus one). Frankly, I’m still trying to understand the meaning of “meaning”.

3. Five things I can’t live without – love, music, work (not to be confused with 'job' or 'career'), good food & fine wine, conversation.

4. I started blogging so that I could hone my writing skills but with every post, I become increasingly disappointed with the way it turns out. I have a long way to go, it seems, before I learn the art of crafting extraordinary poetry from ordinary words. Prose lends itself to the proclivity to be bombastic (I could have said tendency but I said proclivity – see what I mean?), and while I try to desist, I find it hard to resist.

5. I grapple with my ability to tolerate intolerance … and rarely succeed.

6. As a kid, I used to make model airplanes, ships etc. Some of my airplanes actually flew. My favourites were the gliders I made out of thermocole sheets – I enjoyed launching them from a height and watching them glide gracefully. Few things give you more joy than seeing something that you have created, actually work the way it was supposed to.

7. Some time ago I propounded my own version of the Uncertainty Principle – “It is impossible to simultaneously and precisely eat your cake and have it too, but you can come pretty darn close to doing so, if you’re lucky”.

8. I don’t drive. But strangely, I have implicit faith in the person sitting behind the wheel (though quite often, they are complete strangers), as I do in the nameless pilots who fly the aircrafts I travel in. This is perhaps the only real manifestation of faith that I have. When my son jumps down into my arms from a tree, he has the same faith in me. This is awesome!

9. I am always looking for opportunities to do absolutely nothing. This is not as easy as it sounds. Try it some time!

10. I learn a lot from everyone, especially from the ones I teach. Quite often, my most intense learning comes from trying to teach something I believe I know, to someone who doesn’t seem to understand. Some of my most momentous moments of epiphany have been in such situations.

11. One of my favourite quotes is from Tunda Kababwalla (a famous kabab chef in Lucknow). In a TV interview, he was asked why he had not started a franchise to expand his business. His reply: “Munafa utna hi ho jitna khane mein namak”. I understood that as: “Target only as much return (in business), as you would have salt in your food”. (I hope my Urdu is accurate!) To me, this was a lesson in moderation.

12. I am fascinated by the universe and everything in it. Especially women. (Kidding! Just thought I’d add that last part to make it funny in a Woody Allen-esque way)

13. Though I do not purport to be a believer, I pray often, because it teaches me humility.

14. My paradoxes don’t bother me as much as they used to: I’d rather be complete than consistent. Then again, I’m not a fan of inconsistency either.

15. Speaking of which, I’d rather be consistent and reliable than inconsistent and unpredictable. It is only those who are truly and intrinsically boring that are afraid of being predictable.

16. My paradoxes don’t bother me as much as my convictions do. But, over time, they turn into paradoxes, and then I am a bit more comfortable with them.

17. Some day I hope to be able to form a band that will play my favourite music and let me play along too!

18. Anyone with strong and deep-rooted beliefs (even if it is belief in the doctrine of faithlessness), scares me. However, I must admit that the zealously devout scare me more than staunch atheists do. It is only with the uncertain sceptics that I am comfortable, though I doubt I am one of them. (A wise wag once said – Always trust a seeker, but only till he finds the Truth.)

19. I have great respect for a few people – some for their vision, some for their character, some for their talent (as manifested in their work) and others for various combinations of these three great qualities. I am not so impressed with personality or charisma as an attribute by itself – if it comes along with vision or skill or character, then so be it, but stand-alone, it represents insignificant value to me.

20. Unlike John Stuart Mill, I’d rather be a contented pig than a dissatisfied Socrates. While Socrates is among the few people I have the greatest respect for, I’d rather not be him, if I have a choice. Ah to be a contented pig!!

21. I would love to travel the world (not on business, like I’ve been doing all these years, but as a carefree nomad). Places, people, cuisines, cultures, music, dance, art, architecture, tools, technologies, history … a vast ocean of enchantment.

22. I’ve always considered Invention to be easier than Discovery; Innovation easier than Insight; Building easier than Understanding. Which is probably why scientists are more intelligent than engineers!

23. My learning from relationships – Give more, expect less. But don’t give more than what you have and don’t expect less than what you deserve. (Works at the personal level as well as in business.) The toughest part is learning to deal with expectations – your own as well as your counterparty’s. Master that and your relationships will be successful.

24. I enjoy getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city to the open and wide country. I can actually hear the absence of the ‘white noise’ in the background of all urban spaces, and it is the most beautiful sound. It feels like a load has been lifted off of you, and you are light and alive. (To those who don’t know what I am talking about – I can only liken this to the fragrance of the first rain on dry earth, which I am sure you can relate to.) Now ... if only those places had broadband!

25. I’ve always empathized more with Hector than with Achilles, and more with Karn than with Arjun. It is easy to be brave when you have been blessed with the protection of gods, which makes you almost invincible. Be a mere mortal and fight your battles yourself! Here’s a quote on bravery from the movie “Kate and Leopold” (yup, the chick flick with Meg Ryan et al.): “The brave are simply those with the clearest vision of what is before them – glory and danger alike, and notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”

26. (Bonus) I didn’t realize I had 25 ... correction 26 ... things to say about myself till I started with this list.


Merwyn Andrade said...

Wonderful list Hemant ..thanks for sharing.

Re: related to your love of gliding ..I was watching a slightly dated but inspirational TED Talk by Paul MacCready (of "Flight of the Gossamer Condor" fame) on "Nature v/s Humans" ..
and thought you may enjoy this as well.

To share one of his well quotes

"Anyone who's not interested in model airplanes must have a screw loose somewhere"

You did turn out all right .. and all the best in your journey ;-)


HyperActiveX said...

Thanks Merv. I often suspected that I did, though it helps to know that I have at least one witness who will testify to the fact! ;)

Will check out the link. Cheers!

buoyant said...

ught i would be updated abt your new post- discovered it by accident. anyway i would know when you write in next?

sxray said...

Hemant I did not know it was you until I clicked the link. Not quite digitally savvy yet but learning.

Your point about 'i' is a classic confusion which Robert Musil writes in 'Young Torless' about. The protagonist is a boarding school boy who is just as perplexed about 'i' as you say you are.

But I think Grassman and William Rowan Hamilton cleared up all that with hyprcomplex numbers and all that. Now if you wish, you can contemplate the meaning of 'i','j','k' :)

Anonymous said...

"My life is an open book, but that doesn’t automatically mean that I will let you read it."

So Scorpio!

Olivia Sprinkel said...

Love the list!
I had the same resistance to doing this initially, but it is an interesting exercise. And looking back at what I wrote in February, my list of 25 would probably be completely different now. Perhaps an exercise to do every month to see where your mind is at?

HyperActiveX said...

Thanks Olivia, good suggestion!

Mahendra said...

Very well written, highly enjoyable. Wonderful!

HyperActiveX said...

Thanks, Mahendra!

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