There is this hilarious short story called ‘The Mappined Life’ by Saki –
The story is a conversation at tea-time between a girl and her aunt. The aunt wonders whether animals in simulated natural reserves feel the difference between the jungle and their current surroundings. She suggests that animals, being less evolved in their expectations and awareness than human beings, probably do not realize that they are living in a relatively cloistered and unnatural environment. The girl retorts with a dispassionate, relentless and humorous exposition of how most humans live in the same trammelled, uncreative, stolid way, but fool themselves into thinking otherwise.

So true!! After two and a half years at office, after having met dozens of people trying to outperform each other by straight and devious means, after cribbing about work with friends over icecream and coffee, I’ve come to dislike the way society works, more than ever.

The connections in the above paragraph may not be apparent.. let me fill in the gaps. My office is an interesting place.. I’ve met hugely talented singers, superb orators, violinists, pianists, drummers, chefs, entrepreneurs etc – and they all go under the guise of Network Consulting Engineers. I’ve known managers who don’t have a yen for managing and techies who feel like they’re on thin ice while doing whatever it is that techies do ( I’m one of those uncertain techies). So many many people choose the wrong career, the wrong lifestyle, the wrong people, and get stuck in the wheels of this humongous, boring juggernaut that we call society. So many people conform to collective standards and spoil their happiness.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we all shook off all the rules of ‘proper’ living, and just played by heart? Of course that would necessitate that people stop judging each other, stop shooting down radical ideas and stop wanting to scramble to be better than somebody else..basically, stop living in fear. And all of these are ridiculously tough demands to ask of today’s world.

But it is my favorite Utopian fantasy..and I believe we’ll be that evolved someday.. a place where you have the luxury of having to compete only against yourself, a place where nobody is in the race to be just like everybody else.



How do we imagine that we’ll be happy
In a world shuddering under our tyranny
How are we smug about our creature-comforts
In the midst of tumult, confusion and cacophony?

How do we close our ears to the cries
Of unfed, dismal, neglected lives
How do we turn our eyes away from
A road lined with forlorn tree stumps?

Why do we frantically watch the news
About a hijack, bombing, a shooting-spree,
Only to forget and not question
Why such things have come to be?

How can we open a tap and watch
The water gush out, dispassionately,
Why is global-warming a far-cry away
Just because we are in a room with A.C?

We shake our heads and utter solemnly,
‘There are only 1400 tigers left’,
We blog, we debate, we write a poem
And we think we’ve done our bit.

Why do we think that we’ll enjoy
Watching our kids grow, succeed, marry
How can we tell them life’s gonna be pleasant,
And overlook what we know to the contrary?

People, animals, plants,all in need of succor
But we’d rather watch our planet crumble
We’d rather shut out the bad news,
And live in our delusional happy bubble.

How can we feign ignorance anymore
How can we live for the day,
How can we close our eyes, slip under our sheets
And childishly hope the monster will go away?