ArpitGarg's Weblog

An opinion of the world around me

Posts Tagged ‘past

Why do we Celebrate Birthdays?

with 2 comments

Like always, I threw a party for my friends this birthday. We celebrated, ate, I got gifts et al. This year was different though. I turned 25; a quarter of my life gone. According to a legend, man lives total of four lives. First 25 years “life of a human” when he enjoys, next 25 years “life of a bull”, when he works like hell, next 25 years “life of a dog”, when he barks and no one listens to him. And the last 25 years “life of an owl” when he is awake at night and listens to everyone without his own existence.

Accordingly I am done living the enjoyment part of my life. During early years of my life I used to wait eagerly for this day. New clothes, gifts, money. As fate should have it, I started falling ill on my birthdays regularly. At the age of 8 my Grandma decided enough is enough, no more celebrations. “Logaun ki nazar lag jaati hai chore ko”.

From that day, I avoided opulent celebrations, a tradition which I have carried on since. It has been just a few close friends, raising a toast and a small cake cutting; personal and close. Inadvertently I have moved on from opulence to sobriety.

I often wonder why we celebrate birthdays at all. When and how the tradition started? It could not have started before the advent of calendars, right? We just celebrated birth and death prior to that. At birth God gifts life, at death God takes it away. Both events take us closer to God. Hence the celebrations.

During winters, days get smaller, and as summer approaches they start getting bigger. Early people thus considered advent of summers as rebirth of Sun. This was among the first annual birthday celebrations by man. When calendars came into existence the same was applied to birth of the son (sun, Jesus) and effectively to every human being.

So what does birthday celebrations signify during our modern times? Are we celebrating the coming year, are we celebrating the accomplishments of the past year, are we celebrating surviving yet another year?

If we are celebrating the future life, than with each passing year, we have less and less reasons to celebrate. So should a septuagenarian celebrate any less than a guy in his twenties? If the answer is no, then one thing is quite clear that we are not celebrating the future life.

Are we celebrating the past year? But why? The past is past. It is gone. It is a like the sand which has dropped out of the hand. It is like the wind that has passed. We could have admired it as it was happening but why should we celebrate the past. Though we often raise a toast to the past years accomplishments during the party, it’s just a filler.

Since we move one year closer to death, we are for sure not celebrating the gift of life. Coz we are one step closer to that gift being taken away. It will be a delusional stunt of defying death if that is what we are celebrating.

What I feel is that birthdays are just a timely reminder of our existence in this vulnerable world. It’s a way by which we feel ourselves. We realize our existence. “Look, I am still here, despite what life has thrown at me. It’s just another way to celebrate who we are and where we have come from. It’s just another way to announce ourselves.

Advertisements

Stranger on Train: The Handwriting Expert

leave a comment »

With the advent of discount airlines in India, frequency of my train travel had become lesser and lesser. I must admit that train travel is an experience of its own. More often than not you meet people who are far from ordinary. You find yourself in situations which you would never find during the normal course of life. Also with each train travel you find more grey hairs on your head, such is the learning you get.

Now that the air fare has sky-rocketed, train travel has once again come back to the fore. This Diwali, we boarded Goa Express from Pune to Agra. Now why didn’t I have confirmed seats and why were we standing through half the journey is a different story altogether and I will cover it up separately. For now I want to tell you about a stranger I met on the train.

Let’s start. I was lying on the upper berth when I heard someone spreading “Gyan”. Don’t ask me how and why, I just know it when some one is giving Gyan. There was this Guy Gyaaning a fellow passenger how to stop eating Gutkha through self control and self motivation. He was a middle aged lean person, whose bald head was shining in my eyes helped by the sunlight from the window. It was a hot day. Apparently, this person was able to study another person by his handwriting. Quite a few passengers were taken aback by his observations about their past and future.

A couple was sitting beside him. The husband in a bid to impress his newly wedded wife; took it upon him to bare the bald con man naked. He jotted down six different signatures of his and threw the challenge to now study him. I could see the wife was really impressed by his hubby’s brilliant stroke as she leaned closer against him. I couldn’t hear what the bald man’s observation were but I could clearly make out the brimming with confidence face of the husband getting paler and paler until he retreated behind his wife, who seemed not much amused now.

I called from above. “Chacha whats up! Whats this art all about”. According to him, this was a quite old American art revived in India by his Guru in Mumbai. He named a number of famous personalities including Sachin Tendulkar who have sought his Gurujis help. According to him Sachin has a certain flaw in his signature which reflects uncertain health issues thus causing frequent elbow injuries. Hmm…Impressive. So the guy knew his art well. I and my friend climbed down to test for ourselves. First me. I wrote down. “My name is Arpit Garg. Tell me something.” It was followed by my signature. He made me write down “dog”, “cat” and couple more of such short words. I was expecting some loose vague remarks, when the very first line he uttered left me shell shocked. I won’t go into detail of the remark as it was something personal about my family. I can only reveal that it was about a relative of ours who has wronged us. Had it been a remark about a vague relative, I would have understood. Instead he pinpointed who the relative was, i.e Chacha, Mama, Foofa, Tau etc. He made certain remarks about my laborious and sharp mind and such other things. By then I wanted to listen no more. When he was about to embark upon my future, I asked him to discontinue. In fact I don’t like predictions about my future in general. But his very first observation about me still lingers in my mind.

I can tell from the faces of people in my compartment that they were quite curious. Many wanted to know about their job prospects, success/failure in business, family, health etc. The usual. Was he a con artist, was he real, was he fake, was he a messenger, was he the Oracle or just a bug.

I have decided to travel by train as much as possible. Come with me. Just one thing. It should be the sleeper compartment. Coz therein lays the true mystic and majestic journey through India.

Written by arpitgarg

November 3, 2008 at 1:12 pm

%d bloggers like this: