Monday, December 03, 2007

Lofty Dreams and Little Ones

Dreams are either lofty or little ones. Some people think big and actually pursue their dreams. That separates them from the aam admi, the hoi polloi. Others are happy with their little dreams. Manjari Shukla, a classmate at the university, called up and asked me what I am doing with my life. Working for a corporate university. And why? Because I have a son to raise. So what's your dream? I don't have one. Why don't you write?

Yes, I've heard that from another Manjari (Manjari Rathi), my best buddy colleague ever. She is the most apolitical person I've ever met. Everybody in the office is a mini politician otherwise. The Bongs stick to the Bongs but backstab them, the Mallus are always going on and on in Malayalam. The Punjoos are always talking about Mrs Chopra's new sofa and Mr Chaddha's tax evasion strategies and the Gujjus about how tasty vegetarian food can be and how one makes better dhoklas than the other. Manjari isn't into any of this. Her ethnicity is hardly discernible because she comes across primarily as an Indian, which is such a welcome change. She is nice. She wants me to write too.

So does Christine. "You must write your memoirs," she wrote once. Christine was my boss earlier and I guess we connected for a brief period once. She feels I should write my memoirs. About how the urban Indian woman has changed from being absolutely inaccessible thirty years ago to someone who would sleep with you tonight and forget about you the next morning. How they have triumphantly crossed the virtual limits put around them by the misogynistic society of this subcontinent. How, despite facing a lot of discrimination at the workplace and otherwise, they are breaking all the barriers and coming out. This is nothing short of a revolution, only we haven't been able to accept it as one. We are afraid to accept that the girl student outscores and outshines the male counterpart by a few miles. And one such emancipated young girl walking to her apartment last evening spied three little children playing some weird games. She removed her ipod earplugs, went near them and realized they were playing "sex sex" with each other. Two girls and one boy, probably around seven or eight years old. Every new generation is shocking the earlier one out of their wits. Christine wants me to write about that because she thinks I am a new-age feminist. Because I was particularly polite with her, perhaps? I liked the compliment though. Who doesn't like compliments?

And like them, there are plenty of others who keep asking me to write. Only they forget that I am a person with little dreams. My lofty dreams of being a writer, a rally driver/rider, an actor, a blues harp player are just dreams. I love to live with my immediate, little dreams. What is the difference between the lofty and the little ones? If the lofty one is to be able to write fiction, the little one is to be able to express your immediate angst in a blog. Manini Chatterjee, the editor of The Telegraph (a Kolkata newspaper), once told me why she is not really happy. She has published a couple of books; she has won the Rabindra Puroshkar for her book Do and Die; has a son studying Philosophy and History at St Stephen's, New Delhi; has built a nice retreat up in the hills of Kumaon (remember Jim Corbett, anybody?), but is still not happy. She is content, but not happy. "You know why you and I feel we still have something more to do? That is because we haven't written fiction so far. Our lives will be unfulfilled if we don't get recognition as writers." It was very polite of her to include me in parentheses, but she is a writer and she will be able to write fiction some day. I cannot. Because my dreams are still little and I am talking to you here.

If the lofty one is to be able to beat Moudgil in the Raid de Himalayas next year, the little one is to be able to take my Royal Enfield out every weekend for a 300 km ride. How can you participate in a rally when you have to keep aside money for your son's school fees, your tax-saving investments, your mortgage payments, and other day-to-day expenses? You cannot. You can just buy a copy of the Bike magazine and read about Sachin Chavan, Moudgil, Prashant, Easha, riding up there and living their dreams. I have accepted that I cannot live up to those dreams so I want to live my little dreams of touring. The next little one is to ride all around India, leaving aside the extreme corners of course, alone. Achievable.

Aparna Sen will never know about me, but I feel I am so versatile. I lack any definite topography of face and can pass off as anything from a Korean to a Puerto Rican. I feel I can act. But can I? I can never find out, so that lofty dream has to take a backseat as I sit in my living room and watch Easy Rider, Motorcycle Diaries, Riding Solo to the Top of the World, Amelie, and think about my wrinkles. No little dreams here either. Maybe someday to strap a handycam to the gas tank and ride off, preaching salvation through a surfeit of something you desire for. A time comes when you don't want it that bad.

And my dreams are coming to an end now. The last one is to be a blues harp player. I think of visiting Peter Isaac one day and finding out from him how to think blues. You have to think blues but all I can think while playing is of John Denver, easy John Lennon, and Kishore Kumar. You have to learn to think the blues. That dream is strong, and will probably be the first one I will actually wake up and run after.

But for now, the little one is to be able to sit alone in the attic and hear the echo make my rendition of Chalte Chalte more soulful.


rajiv© said...

keep on dreaming ... the losers are the ones who dont dream, who dont aspire ... dreamers get half way atleast :o) ..... vipin and me were having this conversation a few months ago, about someone famous telling that dreamers dont really have their head in the clouds .... they aspire for more ....

I'll try and get you introduced to peter :o) and sanjay too ... he is part of a rally training school with Gaurav Gill and others.... atleast you can figure out where you stand without crashing your car :o)

Aurora Sky said...

i think, little dreams are more important than the big ones...they are the ones that keep us going in life..the big ones do, in fiction...

Anonymous said...

Your write up reminds me of two things.
First the title of a poem by Cecil Day Lewis which says O Dreams, O Destinations. I suppose it makes sense without having to elaborate on what the poem talks about.
The other thing, continuing with the philosophical and retrospective tone of your current blog, is of Joseph Conrad: We live, as we dream alone. We live, as we dream -- alone. You could intrepret this statement in a million ways.
And of course, the famous nursery rhyme: Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!
I would say, never give up dreaming or on dreams. They may just come true. Even if they don't, they are what add colour to your life. The very colours you like, your choice, painted without strings attached or conditions applied.

Lazyani said...

Well well, a hint of melancholy somewhere?

But spoken truly. Dreams are the source of sustenance for all - big or small.

So carry on my friend, my brother, chasing myriad dreams such that the path you took may one day itself turn into a dream for others.

Well composed sir!!!!

nowheregirl said...

wait till i make my film... ur role is fixed ;).... plus u need to write the script too na :D

Anuradha said...

Hey Nice post, though your son might have something to say if he reads it few years from now :)

Keep Dreaming and I am sure it will come true as time goes by,If you want it real hard !!

writer2heart said...

It's nice to see you active on your blog...yes, dreams you going. IMO, small and achievable dreams are more superior to lofty dreams which may end up taking you nowhere.

Aurora Sky said...

Ur tagged!

Puzzled Private said...

There's so much in you that i fail to recognise when in person.. there's always been that much anyway.. and about 11 years of being this way, every post tells me there's still so much about you I fail to take notice of.

Fiction or not, keep posting. Rikin would be proud of this someday... that isn't the stuff your dreams but who knows it might matter someday when you have gone past working for the Corporate University... and happily lazing in a small town called Durgapur...

Mampi said...

Very beautiful Post. Made me sit up and think of my ow dreams-the big ones and little ones, and if i have left mine somewhere behind on the way to become a person that i am today.
Were those dreams worth anything at all?

Pinku said...

lovely post...makes one introspect.

Dreams should be big you can make the steps to achieve them small.

Small dreams bound us to small thoughts.

I know I sound probably foolish...but my life with its fiction like turns and twists has taught me to hang on to dreams no matter what.