On a flight to Jaipur for some work, I found myself in a tricky situation. Twenty minutes into the 90-odd minute flight, I realized I had sent all the emails I had to. There was some work (there always is!) to do but it wasn’t urgent. I didn’t have my iPad or a book so reading was not an option. I didn’t have earphones so listening to music or watching a movie was also untenable. Not knowing what to do, I started browsing some old folders on my computer and came across one titled worklifeimbalance. This is the folder containing archives of the dozen or so posts that I wrote from June 2005 to Nov 2006 on my blog which I had called worklifeimbalance.
I read through all the posts – at first, out of curiosity but later out of sheer self-indulgence and judging how and what I wrote back then. Among many other things, I noticed that one of the blog posts titled “Management lessons from the Tawayafs (prostitutes) of Awadh” was unfinished. It was inspired by the 2006 re-make of the classic movie Umrao Jaan. I dearly wish the ‘2006-me’ would have had the discipline to finish the post. Procrastination. Some things don’t change.
Or do they? As I read through those posts, I realized there is a stark difference between the ‘2011-me’ and the ‘2006-me’. Some of these changes don’t really hit you since you are trying to be yourself every day. The blog posts were an eye-opener in that sense – they are fragments of ‘me’ from 2005-06 preserved in time. They make it easier to compare and contrast. Now I am not passing a value judgment of which ‘me’ is better – this is just about how I have changed and how unobvious that transformation is. It has probably happened to you too – if you are aware of it, great. If not, read on –
- Flights: I had written in 2006 a blog post around how I narrowly missed a flight because I mis-read the flight time. The post also recounts how I missed one flight and almost missed another because I landed only in the nick of time. That was a time when I would time landing in the airport to 20-25 minutes before flight departure – sure, the airline rules were lenient but it was almost fashionable / rebellious in my mind to land up last minute. It was the early morning or late evening adrenaline fix that I enjoyed. Today, I typically budget for landing up 1 hr ahead of my flight – I usually end up 75 mins ahead, settle down in the airport with a cup of coffee and wait! I also try and avoid taking flights or travelling to the extent possible! Also, I think I have demoted ‘flights’ to a subterranean part of my consciousness – I would hardly ever talk about them and rarely ever dedicate a blog post to them.
- The 2 X 2 of Life©: In another blog post that I wrote back then, I had proposed a framework to evaluate people. I had called it the 2 X 2 of life. As I read it today, the post sounds very definitive – almost overly so. There is a level of absolutism in the value judgment passed on each quarter – you’re either a star or NOT! While I hope I maintain the level of clarity even today,my opinion has undergone “consultification”. Nothing is clearly black or white anymore, there is a level of “it depends” in every answer. Looking back, I find that “me” enchanting – with almost the same level of endearment as my 4-year old son in whose world either he gets what he wants or gets what he wants after he cries his eyes out!
- The room with a crow-view: Back then, I wrote a philosophical and symbolism-filled piece on my cabin that looked out into the corporate jungle. Another added attraction of the view was frequent visitation by a crow that sort of completed the view for me! Having a cabin, one with a sea view, the crow outside were little things that one observed and held close to one’s heart. Much in the same way as my treasure-box when I was 10-12 years old (the said treasure box was a shoe box covered in some glossy paper housing some prized possessions like my fluorescent green Fido Dido wallet, WWF playing cards, a pocket book on how to master cricket, etc.) Today, I don’t notice crows; I have a cabin without a view but don’t care much about it. Yes, I have less mindspace now than I had then. Yes, some things hold a charm initially which fizzles out over time. But, even today, I still think of myself as the romantic in the Walter De La Mare poem – the dude who is standing on the bridge on a bright sunny day – looking out at the flowers, the flowing water and the scenery. The dude who has time to “stand and stare”. This difference is the most baffling – one that I haven’t reconciled to fully in my head!
- Pun-y thoughts: There were some posts just capturing a thought – most of these thoughts occurred while I was driving down to work in a cab. Most of them had pretty serious double entendres and were essentially NSFW. The real point, however, was the consummate ease with which I would put up such things on the blogosphere! Today, I consider the consequences of putting out a thought or an opinion on the web a lot more – part of it is awareness, I don’t know what the other part is.
I have carefully refrained from passing a value judgment on the me of 2005-06 and the me of today. As I read this piece, I know the reader will be tempted to have a strong point of view. I don’t worry about it. What is fascinating – and the reason for this post – is how significant the delta is between now and then! We all harp about and talk in clichés about change. What is striking to me is the subtle manner in which change strikes. It is like the frog experiment – where two frogs are put in two water containers. Frog A is put in boiling water. Frog B is put in normal temperature water but the temperature is slowly increased till water starts boiling. Frog A jumps out of the container immediately while Frog B is dead before he realizes things have become uncomfortable. Awareness is everything!