The Pursuit of Happiness. Step 5 – Sitcoms

It’s somewhat coming out of the closet when i say that i am a complete sucker for sitcoms, or situational comedies. I have always been a big fan. In fact, i have grown up imitating them. Back in Kanpur where we all took offense to anyone talking too fluently in English, i secretly watched all the western comedies. It made me feel better, forget my exam worries. But today, sitting here, i know that it was much more than that. That i am no better than a junkie, shooting stuff up his nerves. He wants to have some fun while by escaping from the reality, so was i. And something recently happened that brought into light a very weird side of me.

It started when we were warming up to the phenomena called ‘Cable TV’. There were to the most five channels, three of them were English. My parents thought that it will help their convent-going English-medium-studying son. It did, but not the way they would have imagined. I grew up to become a copywriter; there is no bigger testament to a shipwrecked career 🙂

So I was saying, that it began really early, a time when my other friends still thought Archie’s was a real racy comic, specially the swim suit editions. Anyways, my first sitcom was ‘Wonder Years’, and what a perfect timing it had. I was 10-12 so was Arnold. His geeky friend had his avatar in my best friend of that time whose name I dare not disclose. His trials and tribulations were mine too. His crushes inspired me to go up to an undisclosable girl in my school and pour my heart out. There were so many stark similarities that I started living as Arnold. And boy, was I in love with Gwendolyn “Winnie” Cooper or what, so much so that I never told my friends about her. I knew they will not respect what me and her shared 🙂

It was followed by many more like, ‘Who’s the boss’, ‘Different Strokes’, ‘I dream of Genie’, ‘Silver Spoons’, ‘Full House’, ‘3 Stooges’, ‘Doogie Houser MD’ et al. You all know what I am talking about don’t you? You have seen one or all of them yourself. I grew up seeing myself somewhere in those characters, living a life I wanted to live, in a city that didn’t give you any opportunity to be anything else.

By this time I was already in the age of cynicism. Sarcasm had taken its high seat in my head, and puberty was a bad patch I didn’t want to remember. I was already past schooling and into the world. TV took a back seat for a while, as I tried to make my way through dating, working and dating some more. Music was the priority then. You know those dark ages when boy bands were cool, Spice Girls were hot. Ya, that millennia.

Undoubtedly, TV made its comeback into my life with ‘Frasier’, ‘Seinfeld’ and most importantly ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’. Those six inspired millions including me. I thought I was ‘Chandler Muriel Bing’, you know that nicer one of the lot who cracked cheesy jokes. I lived a life of wishfullness through re-runs after re-runs. Wishing for a social circle like that. You know, cool nice people who had a great life. FRIENDS stuck to me for more than 15 years. And somehow it never boring.

When I met my wife, I imagined a life like Monica and Chandler. Fun, with friends, cheesy lines and cosmopolitan lifestyle. She was no better either. And we lived, drew references, and forced inspirations from the scripted characters, trying to justify this illusion that we do have a life like them if not cooler.

Then came along ‘How I Met Your Mother’, a story about five friends who live in NYC and how. My wife was supposed to be exactly like ‘Lilly’, and I, by default became ‘Marshall’, Lilly’s husband. And we have a name of our own set for every other. But the point is not that. The point is that sitcoms make me feel nice about life when my boss is throwing faeces at me like an ape. It makes me believe that I have something more than what I can see. It makes me believe that there possibly is a teeny-tiny bit chance that my life can one day be as colourful and fun as theirs is. Because it makes me believe that I still have a shot at a better life. I know it might be escapism for others, but I like to come back to this cocoon of private emotions and feel good.


The Pursuit of Happiness. Step 4 – The Deception

When I look back at life, it seems that everything has a way of sorting itself out, that everything happened for the best. But that’s the beauty of nostalgia, isn’t it? To make everything seems alright, colourful and nice. For example, our childhood.

When we were kids, most of us wanted to grow up, and fast. Not because of anything else, but because being a kid just plain sucked. We wanted to dress better, have a career, walk-in walk-out any time any hour, take calls on life, smoke without fear, and drink with social acceptance. We forever wanted to get out of childhood as soon as possible.

There was no money, no power, no freedom to do the stuff we actually wanted to do and definitely no sex. On top of that, there was a constant running routine of school, homework, peer pressure, puberty and expectations from the parents. We hated waking up in the morning, hated doing homework, hated having a ban on TV during exams, and to the least detested the idea of getting the bag ready according to the time-table of the next day. Ah! It all comes screaming back, isn’t it? 

The only saving grace was the fact that you had your friends, who would agree to the fact that life sucked big time. Nothing has changed still. You still wake up grudgingly, get dressed, leave for your job, and forever crib about it to your present friends. Only, now you have the examples of how great it was when you were a kid. Sun coloured days and shit. But the fact is, twenty years from now, when you will have no challenge left in your job, no youth, and no sex drive left in your mind. You will look back to today and say the same things. You will suddenly be talking to your equally menopausal friends about how exciting it was to do whatever shit you did at work. And how so much money can never count for the crowded bus-rides to your office. You will also criticize the way the people of the future are not remotely professional as you were. But the fact is, you will forget that you actually were looking forward, and working your ass off towards earning lots of money, so that you can leave your shitty job and ass of a boss for a better life. And also, that you spent most of the time in the office Facebook-ing, and reading stupid blogs like these. Trust me, you will forget. And conveniently so.

This very deception is what all these words are about. Nostalgia is a switch that makes every remotely nice incident in the past turn golden and beautiful. You know why? It’s because we ask it to. We want to believe that we had a good childhood, that our teachers and parents loved us dearly. We want to believe that we were great as professionals. We want to believe that we made a difference. That we had a good life. So that when we die, we don’t die in regret of a wasted life. We die thinking that we actually were happy.

And you know why I am writing this? I am writing this, so that I can come back here twenty years from now and know that all that is not true. But I have a lurking feeling that by then, I will forget why I wrote this in the first place 🙂

The Pursuit of Happiness. Step 3 – The Rebellion

Most of us were rebels when we were teens. And most of the time it was without a cause. In retrospection, we can blame in on the hormones, and move on with our set life & lifestyles.

But what do you say when a guy, who’s speeding head-first towards mid-life crisis, suddenly turns rebel. A rebel against almost everything in his life. When he starts questioning every basic thread holding his ‘culture’ & ‘society’ together. When everything that he has worked for, for the last 7-8 years seems worthless & unimportant, and when he knows in his heart that it’s time for a radical shift in his personality, profession & outlook to life. What do you say to such a person who just can’t f**king care less.

That person is me. And I’m bloody pissed at everything right now. And I want a change. A radical change, and NOW. I want a dictator who can put things right in this country. I want a joint entrance exam for politicians to enter and run this country. I want quotas to be ‘Financial Status’ based & not ‘Caste’ based. I want hardliners to be shot dead, and I want me to be a part of the shooting squad. I want people to wake up to the RTI rule & start using their rights. I want men to start feeling scared of women and know what we have been doing to them for this long. I want cricket to give way, and people to honk less. I want people to give way to ambulances, and dogs to have a better life.

But more than that I want to get my life in control. To make a difference, and not just by making the logo bigger. I want to get all my good men together and set them free. I want to be able to be more than a corporate stooge. I want to do good work, not just hard labour, and I want to do it at my own time. I want to have a say over my own time, and get rid of imbeciles sitting on top of my head and dictating terms. I want to keep the writer alive and kill the man-hour counting revenue chasing idiot. I want to keep the child alive, and kill the man. I want to be curious and kill the smug know-it-all jackass who keeps talking in my ear all the bloody time.

And to achieve all of the above, I am shedding my baggage and moving on. I’m letting go of the fear of failure, getting over this comfort level of a ‘JOB’, mocking the ‘it should be like this’ culture. In the worldly sense, I’m all set to be an irresponsible bum. I don’t care anymore. I want my life back, the one that inspired me to paint all afternoon long and sit by the lake watching snakes play in the water alongwith small fishies. I want my sun-coloured days back. I am done being grown-up. I wanted it, I had it and today I know that it pretty much sucked big time.

Besides, what’s the point? It’s all the same everywhere. Buildings full of handicapped faces, suffocating, dying in handicapped spaces. So, that’s it. I want my voice back, so that I can scream out loud when I want. I want my legs back, so that I quit crawling and run out whenever I want. I want my eyes back, so that I see more than a cabin space and artificial lights. I want my soul back, so that I can talk to it once more. I want my balls back, so that I can start taking calls on my terms.

This life of corporate diligence and dexterity is not for me. I am going back to being rebel. I am going back to everything nice in my life. So if you want to join me, c’mon in boys, the water is just fine :)-