Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Its been called an independence streak by some of my friends, selfishness by others, and even more recently, I have been branded a capitalist.

For a simple reason, that I don't like the idea of inequality in my life. Don't like the idea of being dependent on someone, or the idea of someone being fully dependent on me (though immediate family is not really included in this). I don't like my grand-parents giving me gifts/cash to spend whenever I meet them, knowing that I will never give it back. Don't like the idea of having a friend drop me home, when I would never do the same (hate the fact that being a girl, I have to be often dropped home after late nights). Don't like getting gifts from anyone, cause I immediately start worrying how will I "pay it back". Don't like asking for favors from friends or strangers when I don't know if that person will ever ask me for help "in return".

The fact that I can never repay my school teachers for having taught me, all the authors whose writing have affected my thought processes, all the books and movies that made me rethink my life decisions, my eye doctor for making sure my eyes work fine bothers me soo much that I tend to value their "services" in terms of money, and try to fool myself into believing that I have paid them their "just fees" for the services that they have provided me, all of which is determined by the capitalistic demand-supply equation.

As if paying 100Rs. to watch American Beauty would justify the number of times I have thought about it while making a decision in my life. As if paying my eye doctor 10000Rs. would be adequate payment for the fact that I would have been semi-blind and maybe jobless if she hadn't operated on my eyes. As if the 100Rs. annual fees I paid in school was enough payment for all that I was taught.

And it gets worse when I start wondering about all the scientific work on which our life of today runs. From round wheels to electricity to the printing press - all these inventions and more have fundamentally changed who I am, what I do, how I live. And then there are the philosophers who have established some ground truths, and are helping me find out the purpose of my existence. And yet, none of these inventors/philosophers ask me for money, or ask me to repay this debt by doing something for them.

So evaluating everything in terms of money is a really bad idea. I can see this. But I can't help not doing it. Can't stop treating cash as the baseline into which all units of work/play must be converted, using an arbitrary conversion system, which is itself a function of personal values, and society norms. Damn, even my conversion function has been derived from others, proving that "each second of my life is a debt to the society in which I live". (I still can't help feeling though, that the society which gave me so much, would want me to live my life the way I want it, setting my own standards, and maybe redefining someone else's standards for the better.)

So effectively, this useless conversion system must be stopped.
The first of my new years resolutions is to stop trying to find the baseline to evaluate this world on, my life on, and maybe rely a little bit more on gut-feel.

Oh, and I have also resolved to lose some weight. :)


  1. Sometimes a simplistic measure is better than any other :)

  2. Gut feel is not of much help. I am still to come to terms with decisions that I have taken on gut-feel, and have left me wondering endlessly on what they were really based on.

    Pay-it-forward leaves me with tons of guilt; but can be done to give back to - say - Newton.

    But sadly, I am still grappling with the whom-do-I-owe-what question. If that gets resolved, probably how-much-and-in-what-form will get more perspective.

  3. I have not met a selfless person, at least not, as yet. An artist expects appreciation in return, a scientist expects understanding. No more and no less.

    Many a times we gift people more for the joy that they give us than the joy they give to the person receiving it. And, if one has to choose between taking away the joy or the money (spent in the gift) from a friend, I would rather take the money.

    As long as one is sure that the gift or knowledge is being given freely (and not by any coercion or societal obligation), the only acceptable payment to the gift-er is the 'joy of giving'. And if you have ever given a gift, you only have to reflect back to that particular moment, and you will have your answer.


  4. "Barter" was always a difficult system to work with... and hence was replaced by the "money" system. The important thing is to understand the essence. When someone does you a service that you think you cannot fully repay... you pass it on to someone else who in turn will pass it on to someone else. And if we are to believe the Chinese, the first one to render the service gets back everything he deserved. And put it together with the Indian system of multiple lives, its ensured that one gets repayed in this life or the next... don't worry about repayment. Take when you need and give away when you can... and you and the world will be just fine :)

    And oh, best of luck with that diet :)

  5. hmm cool. so what is the fortnight's track record? and who is paying for the post-lunch chai? ;-)