Interpretation of a dream never had

July 13th, 2012

Dreams are “…disguised fulfilments of repressed wishes”, wrote Sigmund Freud in his famous book ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’.

He also wrote that there were two components of dreams — manifest content and latent content. The former was made up of the actual images, thoughts and content contained within a dream, while the latter was a representation of the hidden psychological meaning.

But, that’s theory, albeit intriguing.

Freud did not shy away from conceding in his book that dreams, if interpreted correctly, could speak volumes about a person’s psychological station in life, but it’s certainly not easy to interpret. However, each one of us, has, at some point in life, tried his or her hands at interpreting dreams. Some even keep doing so in multiple ways — practically, literally or figuratively.

I may be one of those trying to make some sense of dreams in whichever way possible. Call it curiosity, or love for hit-and-trial methods, or sheer handiwork of an idle mind forcefully kept busy, I keep trying, even as I know I am only pretending to read a script as good as ancient Greek to me.

I surely am miles away from what could be called any creditable interpretation, but there is something very peculiar about the outcome so far.

Earlier, I would dream, wake up, do my math with my eyes still sunk deep in slumber and think I know what the manifest or latent — or whatever — content of my dream was. When I would be fully awake, I would try to recall my dream, and its interpretation, and try to draw some sense out of those. I would invariably find my interpretation rather laughable and without any semblance with whatever could even remotely be called reflection of my personality or psychological station.

On one of those days when my mind was perfectly idle but I wanted to keep it forcefully busy, I thought I’d try interpreting the dreams I never had and see if those made more sense than those I had had.

Funny thought! True, but I wanted to give it a try. There was no harm in attempting something weird, for many historic finds had been serendipitous delivery of weird conceptions, I thought. Why not? I might end up being the propounder of a brand new theory — one much more complicated and weirder than Freud’s interpretation of dreams.

That evening, only to initiate a pointless debate and have fun at someone else’s expense, I asked a friend what her dream was. She thought for a while and said she wanted to turn an entrepreneur and start her own chain of restaurants.

I uttered just one word, “interesting”, smiled a philosopher’s smile, and slipped into a measured quiet, making sure she threw the same question back at me. And, she did. I had my answer ready. I said I wanted to be a little one, three or four years old, hopping around at my parents’ house with my girlfriend, whom I would be meeting for the first time some two decades later.

By now most of my friends know that I seldom make sense — never when I am in a mood to behave like a thinker. So, I thought she would be expecting something silly. But, no, she fell for the bait; perhaps my philosopher’s smile worked.

She argued what I wanted was no dream but, possibly, a desire to go back in time and relive things in a different way, because dreams were meant to be what we wanted in our future and not in the past.

I asked why wasn’t it a dream? My explanation was that a dream and an ambition might not necessarily mean the same thing. An ambition might well be placed somewhere ahead of the time we were thinking and speaking in, but dreams were boundless — they might move in a linear or zigzag way, back or forth in time, being just the manifestation of our unfulfilled subconscious desire.

She visibly wasn’t convinced and, being a thinking woman, began her own interpretations of my “dream”. From rubbishing it as a non-dream, now her stance had shifted to decoding why my “dream” was to go back in time and alter things a little.

She concluded, my childhood, as a little boy of three or four, might have been a period in my life I reckoned the best. And, my girlfriend might be that special person in my life with whom I wanted to share my best phase.

“Bingo!” I said to myself, not because her interpretation was bang on target. It might or might not have been correct. But I was glad that a thread of my freshly woven imagination had got her thinking.

This was an interpretation — quite wholesome — of a dream I never had. And, you can’t call it twisting facts to prove my point… After all, it wasn’t I who was doing the interpretation!

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Where have all the DVDs gone?

March 3rd, 2012

There can hardly be anything as frustrating as going hunting for a household item you think is easily available in every fifth shop in the market and yet not being able to find any of it.

I experienced a series of events that had me exposed to a frustration of that kind. Let’s start from the beginning.

My landlord recently decided he needed to dispose of his old DVD player to buy a new and jazzier one, and, as always, mine was the first name that popped into his head as a prospective buyer. I don’t blame him; after having bought so many outdated and unwanted items from him, I easily qualify to be the proud owner of a curiosity store, if I decide to open one.

Only a few days before, I had, quite painstakingly, dragged home a bulky TV set, when he wanted to buy a swanky LCD one. And, the antique piece had given me more pain than fun. First, to watch cartoon shows — the only programmes that I can bear on television — I had to buy a 100-channel pack, even as I required just two full-time kids’ channels. Then, there were so many technical problems that, for the next few days, I had to — reluctantly — have a TV mechanic as the most frequent vistor to my place. And, when all these issues had been resolved, the power button on the remote refused to work; and the refusal was so stiff that I had to eventually give up and buy a new one.

The TV, thankfully, had sobered down now. But, the numerous troubles with gadgets had, perhaps, become such an important part of my life that I decided to bring home another nuisance — the DVD player.

The good landlord — I don’t know how he managed it — ran it in front of me and there visibly wasn’t anything wrong with it. Assured, I brought home the three-year-old as the newest part of a family of antiques — of which I, too, am a member.

The first challenge I faced with this latest apple of my eye was in connecting it to the TV set. The too many inlets and outlets baffled me, maybe because I was never known to be a tech wizard. But that was just the initial hiccup. What followed was worse.

Having connected the two great devices, when I tried to test run an old DVD on it, the most I could see was a dot on the blank screen. I kept heart, thinking there must be some problem with the poor old disk I was trying to run. I tried another one and then another one. One after the other, I tested the might of all the eight or nine disks I had in my beloved CD bag since my college days. None could saddle the unruly brute of that player.

Tired, I decided to have the good landlord’s expertise brought to use. I immediately rang him up with my SOS and he — who lives on the third floor of the same building — was kind enough to rush to my fourth-floor madhouse.

Surprisingly, he also struggled with it and concluded I had not handled it properly. He asked if I had dropped it while bringing and instructed me to handle it with some tenderness. Not that I had wrestled with it, or used the gadget to fan away flies, or as a mat to sit on, or as a dining table — but I took his instruction calmly with a nod of my head.

By this time, I had gathered there was some snag in the player that neither a gadget-unfriendly I nor an expert landlord could fix. So, wisdom now was in sending it to a mechanic and getting it repaired. That I did, only to realise that the amount I had paid for this very old DVD player + the repair charge = more than the price of a new player.

But that’s another issue. I never crib about having paid more for a thing than it’s right price because that only puts the stamp of genuineness on the ‘money-wise unwise’ tag I have walked with all my life. The good part was that the device was now working and I was sure of that after having tried a few disks on it.

Now, the difficult work had been done and all I had to do was get some good movies and enjoy those. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It surely wasn’t!

I thought I would start my hunt for disks with a neighbourhood Planet M store. Hunt it was — not for DVDs, but the store itself. I went to the place where I had last seen it. It was no longer there. Some said it had been moved to a new location… some said it had been permanently shut down. I understood their compulsions because the last time I had been there, the store had few movies and the buyers it attracted were fewer still.

I rang up a few friends who had stayed in the locality for longer than me to find out if there were more stores in the vicinity. All were good enough to not only tell me about a store but also the way to reach it. I patiently listened to all of them, only to conclude that all their pointers reached just one store — the one that I had just found to have been closed down.

By this time, I had begun to lose my patience, so I put off my hunt for another day and returned rubbing my empty hands.

The irritation had had the better of me and the whim of buying DVDs did not descend upon me for the next few days. One evening a week later, when it did, I decided I would buy some movies the same day after work, come what may!

I called one of my friends again and asked if there was any other store in the locality. She said there was, and gave me directions too. But I wanted to be doubly sure. So I called another friend and assigned him the job of finding a store in my locality. Now, I wanted to be triply sure. So I called yet another friend, who stays in Noida, and asked her to buy a DVD for me. The idea was, if I am still not able to get hold of one, I would drive down to Noida and collect it from her.

After finishing my day’s work, I set out on my mission. Following the directions given by my first friend, I drove right into an overcrowded vegetable mandi, barely keeping from hitting some stalls. After wondering for a bit why the market was unusually crowded that day, I recalled it was Monday — the day of the weekly veggie market in my locality, and also the day when the regular guys keep their shops shut.

The first friend’s idea went for a toss! Now, I switched to Plan B and called my second friend, who was to give me an address. He indeed had done his job and got the address, but, to add to my frustration, it was the same shop that I had been hunting down in the crowded veggie market. Plan B also flopped!

It was the turn of Plan C now and I rang up my third friend, who was to buy a DVD for me from Noida. I had thought this was one plan that would never fail. But, no! The store she had gone to had many movies, but not the one I had asked her to get. So she didn’t buy and now she was home.

All the three plans bombed, but not my resolve. I retreated for the night but made up my mind that the next day I would go to Connaught Place, where I surely would get a DVD.

Next afternoon, I went to three previously visited stores there, but found all of those shut — either for remodelling, reconstruction, re-stocking or because of some construction activity being undertaken by the municipal corporation. I visited a couple of more stores in that super-hit area and that entailed some more ordeal. But let’s not get into the details of those. The outcome was that the jinx continued. And, tired, I postponed my hunt till Friday, my off day.

On Friday, I decided I would go back to the market that had been occupied by vegetable sellers on Friday and look for the store that had caused the failure of my Plan A and Plan B. After some hard work, I managed to find the shop but was alarmed to see the alarm on the shopkeeper’s face when I sought to see some DVDs. Even as the store was called ‘Target CD/DVD Parlour’, it seemed to have completely missed the target of living up to its name. It dealt in railway and air ticket bookings and had no relation, even remotely, with movies or DVDs.

Quite agitated, I asked the shop guy why the name of the shop had in it ‘CD/DVD’ parlour if it didn’t sell movie disks? To this, he innocently said he used to sell CDs until as late as the previous month but now he was fully into ticket-booking business. The name, apparently, was yet to be changed.

Even my last hope stood dashed and, disheartened, I was returning home when the jinx broke — and I got reprieve in the most unlikely and unthinkable way.

On my way, I remembered I had to buy a pair of bathroom slippers and entered a very small shoe store. To my surprise, I gathered that the shoe seller sold videos too, even as his stock was quite thin. I was so happy that I bought over a dozen movies and placed an order for another few.

Since then, whenever I have had to watch a movie, I have given a call to the shoe seller. He gets it for me. Besides, some of my friends have also gifted me quite a few nice DVDs.

Today, I have a decent collection and, sitting with my antique in my madhouse, I watch a film every night!
Reetesh

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Cooking up some stress

August 10th, 2011

Stress and stress-busters can sometimes be like identical twins. It becomes very difficult to tell one from the other.

A few days ago, a friend said: “Work can be so much stress sometimes. I need a break. I plan to stay home this weekend and chill out. I will do nothing… Will watch TV and listen to music. That will rejuvenate me.” I replied with a mute and amused nod.

Perhaps it wasn’t anything amusing, but I had heard the same sequence of words spoken with the same expression by the same person so many times before, that I jolly well knew each word of what I was going to hear after the weekend. And, as it turned out on Monday, I was absolutely right. As I had guessed, the post-weekend narration of the chill-out experience was summed up in these words: “My goodness! TV shows these days are no good. And I don’t even want to talk about the stuff they play on music channels and FM radios these days. Pathetic! They give you headache. It was a terrible idea. I feel more stressed now. Next time, I am not going to ruin my holiday like that. I will do something really good.”

As before, my reply was a mute nod and a silly-looking smile.

I laugh it off every time this friend of mine repeats her stress-busting exercise and, disappointed, plans to do something better the next time. But I secretly empathise with her.

Not that I too do nothing better than sitting before the idiot box or listening to ear-piercing songs on radio weekend after weekend, but that exercise is not completely off my itinerary either. Besides these, I have tried my hands at other things too, perhaps everything that some or the other friend, at some or the other time, referred to as stress-buster.

Once a buddy said cooking was a good stress-buster so I should try it someday. I am not endowed with any culinary prowess. In fact, I am a horrible cook, to put it plainly. But I lent more than my ear to this advice and the next thing I knew, I was in a crowded bookstore, browsing through all sorts of colourful and flashy cookbooks, with recipes for delicacies from all corners of the world. If nothing, the excitement and the half hour spent in zeroing in on a good-looking cookbook of mughlai foods was certainly a stress-buster. So pumped was I that I even invited two of my close friends to dinner at my place. But what followed was quite an ordeal. Mounted on a motorbike with a backpack and in it, the cookbook, I was out in the market, shopping for such vegetables and spices and other ingredients that I had never even heard about.

Halting at each sabziwallah’s stall, bringing out my book, reading from it and asking for the stuff, only to get back amused stares, made me look rather stupid. But who cared… As long as I was doing something ‘interesting’? I somehow, after a marathon recce of the market, managed to get all the ingredients. And there I was, all set for my first real cooking experience.

From washing the vegetables to finely chopping them and pressure cooking or frying them, I went by the rule book, literally, word by word. I even used a stopwatch to ensure my food was not over- or under- cooked.

After a backbreaking 4 hours in the kitchen that also saw half the fluid content of my underweight body lost in sweat, my food was finally ready and it was time to enjoy the fruit of my day’s labour with my buddies.

With bated breath I saw my friends eat their first bites. At least one of the two managed to squeeze out a smile. The other, known to be vocally critical of everything less than perfect by her own standards, did not say anything. That, I assumed, was a stamp on the success of my maiden endeavour as the king of my kitchen.

But the joy came down from its peak the very next moment, as I could not resist the temptation and chose to eat some myself. I sprang at least half a foot above the ground and ran frantically for water.

It would take a lifetime of research & development to find out what went wrong and how I managed to fare so terribly in the kitchen. But when I was starting my work in office the next day my expressions and sentiments were not much different from those of my friend who spends her weekends watching TV and listening to music. I felt stressed.

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Why’s Gautam so Gambhir?

May 31st, 2011

Didn’t someone say the biggest problem with Gautam was that he was too Gambhir? Yes, it was Sandeep Patil, his coach. Patil, a former national cricketer himself, had made this remark when Gambhir had yet to win himself the star status that he carries today. Gambhir is a serious cricketer, but is that “the biggest problem” with him? Maybe, it is.

As a cricketer toiling his heart out in domestic cricket and struggling hard to make his presence felt in national, Gambhir had shown a lot of promise. Unlike many talented youngsters, who fizzle out when tested in the national team, he ably lived up to the promise – in all forms of the game. With every great knock on the field, he only proved Patil’s point.

But that is the second part of the remark. He indeed is very serious about everything. But isn’t the first part also true? Hasn’t Gautam done enough harm to himself, his cricket and the national cricket team by taking his immediate job – playing as the skipper of Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL) – too seriously?

After a rigorous World Cup that India, with much hard work and ado, managed to ultimately win, the burnout that most players felt was not misplaced. And Gambhir, who top-scored against Sri Lanka in the final match of the grand tournament, had played more than his part. A silent crusader, he did all the hard work in the game, held the fort strongly when going looked very tough for India and built the foundation mounted on which M S Dhoni was able to smash the historic six to get home the World Cup.

He certainly was serious about his job.

But then came the fourth edition of IPL, the mighty glitz-and-pomp 20-20 mega entertainment bonanza, in which he was to stand in as the captain of his new team. He did it, again, quite ably, leading from the front and lifting from the pits the morale of a team struggling to perform. That Kolkata Knight Riders should even make it to the eliminator stage was a big achievement. Many nothing-less-than-trophy-is-good-enough Bengalis were, for some reason, not even complaining.

As his team bowed out of the tournament’s semis, the picture of a distraught Gambhir gripping his shoulder, pain writ all over his face, spoke volumes about the tragedy of a man who was so serious about a job at hand that he jeopardised a greater opportunity ahead.

With all senior players rested or unfit or not available for the forthcoming tour to the Caribbean, Gambhir had been named the captain of team India for the one-day international and 20-20 matches against West Indies. In the absence of Sachin, the maestro; Dhoni, the captain courageous; Sehwag, the ball thrasher; and Yuvraj, flamboyance personified; it certainly wasn’t going to be an easy tour. But who have seen Gambhir play know he is not the one to be taken over by tough challenges.

His IPL team says it did not force him to play, his physio says he must not play for at least six weeks and he is set to miss the Caribbean tour. The tests confirm that he had been playing with “serious” shoulder and groin injury all through IPL. His franchise may not have known about it, but he certainly did, and he had the option of pulling out. But, perhaps, he was too serious about his game to do that.
As India sends a bunch of young boys to take on West Indies, the team has just four members – Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Virat Kohli and Munaf Patel – from the mighty composition that beat the world less than two months back.

The outcome of the tour would certainly be anything but predictable. The young team may spring a surprise for the Indian fans with better-than-expected performance, or shock the world that a world-beating Indian team crumbled under pressure.

Of the two, which one actually happens remains to be seen. But what we have already seen is that the game of Mr Gambhir will be missed on a greater platform because he was seriously playing 20-20 club cricket.

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