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Mind is a Monkey


I don’t know why, but I had always dreamt of being an Autowala. There was something so very special about them. Starting from the way they dress, drive and their mannerisms, every thing was fantastic. Even Rajini Kanth had endorsed my view couple of years back. There were songs in their praise. Their ingenuity in loading a hundred or more people into that machine was simply mind-boggling. Autowalas take their machines through lanes inadequate even for rats and ants. Once while traveling in an Auto, the autowala overtook two buses by bisecting the space between them with clinical precision (we had only a centimeters’ width between the buses). My mind uttered only one word “Wooowwwww”. I decided that I will grow up and become an “Autokkaran”.

After a few days, I discussed my future plans with my friends at the bus stop. We were waiting for our school bus. As we boarded the bus, we noticed the new conductor. He was wearing a round neck t-shirt, over which he was wearing his khaki shirt. He had lots of tags in his wrist, red, yellow, black. He had ash smeared on his forehead. He looked cool. Especially when he closed his knuckles and blew the whistle. Wowww! He pushed his way to the front, among girls and women! We envied him. He stood at the steps, with the air ruffling his hair. He caressed them, his hair, like Rajni. Man! He looked cool. I silently decided to alter my career plan.

That was till I saw my neighbour return from Gulf. He was very fair, dressed impeccably, wore sun glasses and was clean shaven. He wore some very good shoes with a white sole and black top. I had never seen such stylish shoes. “They are Sneakers”. He smelled good as well. “Musk” he used to say. Words I heard for the first time. He knew lot new words, which my father, mother did not know. He had done his ITI in Mechanical Engineering. He had travelled in an aeroplane. “Flight? That’s nothing. I have travelled six times in the last five years” he once said. I visualized myself say to somebody “This is musk. I use sneakers. I travel by flight once in every year.” And, I knew what I had to become. My life’s goal was fixed.

Sometime later, my father took me to a Vijayakanth movie, “Chatriyan”. He was a cop (what else!). He smoked, he drank and he was super serious. He kicked the baddies even more seriously. The villain was scared of Vijayakanth. My hero swung and kicked with utter disdain. He was righteous. And I loved him (okay, okay, it was long back, before I saw Vanchinathan, Narasimma, Gajendra, Dharmapuri etc.). When I slept that night, in my dreams, I saw a man, wearing Khaki Uniform, with shining boots, stepping out of the Blue Police Jeep and beat the whole batallion of baddies. Single Handedly. Oops! Single Leggedly. I could see only his back. Then he turned. I saw his face. I smiled. I admired him. He was me.

To fuel my passion, to become a Cop, I started learning Karate, I practiced the swinging swivel kick (my hero’s favourite kick). To further fuel it, I wanted to watch a few more Vijayakanth movies (I can see you smile). But pity, couldn’t find one in any of the theatres. Tickets were pricey also. That’s when my uncle bought us this VCP (known as Video Cassette Player), in which we can play Video Cassettes taken on hire. I went to the nearest a video house, for the first time. There he was, the owner, sitting behind the desk. Behind him were stacked video cassettes of hundreds of movies. How lucky, this Video chap! What a fantastic vocation! He earns money and has loads of entertainment, watching movies. Lots of them. I to decided to watch lots of movies, like him, by becoming him, by being like him. …

…. …………. When I saw him ride his bike so fast that … … … I decided to be a bike mechanic.

… … … his fingers moved really fast on the keyboard of the machine which he called as laptop. … ……… he was suave and he also had an email account. I heard of only SB Account or Bank Account. … … … What a fantastic profession, this software engineering.

… … … … uncles boss was a Chartered Accountant, who used to order around hundreds of people, including Computer Engineers . … … … … I saw in the mirror, not me, the ordinary, but ME, the Chartered Accountant.

… … … … mirrors can lie. Having adorned by the NCC Khakis, the pride was huge. I decided to serve the nation … … … I was smitten by the MIG.

… … … my friend had enrolled for Journalism. … … … What a fantastic profession! ….

… … I saw Sachin Tendulkar for the first time. The next day I bought a cricket bat … … …

… … … what a beautiful kick and the ball flew drawing a banana in the air, and Beckham had scored a goal. It was amazing .. . ……….

The journey continues .................


— + — + —

Mind is a monkey, some Buddhist monk had said of the human mind. It has never stopped at one thing. It keeps on hopping from one tree i.e. thought to another, one goal to another, endlessly. And seamlessly.

To the mind, there are always greener pastures on the other side of the river (even if there is no river).

That mind is a monkey, is best seen in the political scenario. S Ve Sekar, noted comedian and theatre artiste, and Subramania Swamy, of Janata Dal are classic examples. SVS was once politically neutral. He was absolutely with the Kanchi Mutt. Then the entire unholy mess was created by our super arrogant Chief Minister, we find SVS on her side. Now, he is part of Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) under the leadership of Mayawati, a woman sworn to put an end to all “Manuwadi” people.

Subramania Swami was the original monkey. He was with Congress now, then he moved to BJP, then to DMK then to ADMK, then to nowhere. Now he is in talks with some obscure regional parties trying to create thirtieth front. (or probably fortieth, and I don't care)

The other examples who best exhibit this most basic trait are Ramadoss, Lalu Yadav, Sharad Pawar etc. (upto infinite entries)

This does not mean that the Common Man is any holy cow. The common man also exhibits this monkey mind in more ways that one. Right from the most basic of all things, choice of food to cloth to soul mate to what not! He never sticks to one thing continuously. He will plan to buy a Blue Shirt of Brand X, enroute to the shop he will see some ad, and change his mind to Green Shirt of Brand Y, at the shop, at the behest of the seller, he would have changed his mind to Grey Shirt of Brand Z. (And He is mostly She).

Give him some work, he will find the work given to his colleague much more attractive. (That he finds her even more attractive than his partner is another fact. But? Hey, the monkey is active in him even there!)

For every other action, he thinks that there is a better alternative. He is always on the lookout for that better alternative that he forgets what he has in his hand.

Result, neither does he enjoy what he has or who he is with, nor does he understand what he wants in life. As Mahendran, the once famous Director says in his movie “Johnny”, “In life, the other alternative always looks better. Searching for that other alternative makes life miserable.”

On the positive front, it is the man’s monkey mind, that of continuously exploring newer opportunities, shores, countries, continents, and planets that has really helped us progress as a civilized society. True, this exploring mentality has also created Atom Bombs, Anthrax and what not. But without that curious and exploring mind, we will still be grappling with Cholera, Pneumonia, Plague and losing lots of life. Without this monkey mind, we may still be visualizing the earth to be one big plate, rather than one big ball.

Though we have outgrown the monkey in more ways than one, at heart (and mind) we are still the same, that of being a monkey.

I am not completely sure if this is a good trait. I am even more unsure of whether this is a bad trait. But I am sure of one thing.

The Buddhist monk is right.

Mind is a monkey.


Ketan said…
If man has a monkey-mind, what kind of mind does a monkey have? :)
Ketan said…
I read this post, again!

First time around I must have read it as just another post, and hence the shameful smartass comment above. Sorry about that (not so much about the comment but reading this post superficially)!

This is a wonderful post. Seriously. As I could understand it better this time (not that it's difficult to understand per se), I realized, you've addressed every doubt in the same sequence they were arising in my mind! Except the politician part, which I didn't think of :) I'd truly never thought of the issue of man's dissatisfaction this way.

Just as a matter of trivia--when I was in primary classes, I wanted to be a watchman, then scientist in sixth, paleontologist-geologist in seventh, archaeologist in eighth, nuclear physicist in ninth and tenth and cell biologist in eleventh and twelfth. I never really wanted to become a doctor :) This field was a compromise between what attracted me most and some basic job-security. Now, the way my views (about sincerity towards one's vocation, especially research, in India) have shaped up, I just don't regret my decision. I might do a post on this concept one of these days.

G Saimukundhan said…
Thanks for your comment, both of them. Though I have listed the change in desires in some random order without any serious thought on sequencing them. Some of them are my experiences, some for others I know of. Some just an imagination. Though during my early Chartered Accountancy days, I was seriously considering doing something in automotives. (This is after completing my CA Course!)

On the research aspect, one of my friends once confided sadly that considering the extent of importance for research in INdia, he might find it difficult to come back. With more and more people choosing applied science, I guess pure science and the research part (the exploring mentality) is taken for a ride. Hopefully a few like you, and my friend abroad, might do some kind of turnaround.

Ketan said…
With mild shame, I'd like to tell you, I'm unlikely to try to change anything. My views might change if I encounter better people, and I'd be happy to be proven wrong about 'people'.

Research is afterall a team effort. It is as good as the weakest link. And in the government sector--where most of the research happens--one's unlikely to ever get to choose one's team members. Plus, there are constraints like funding. There's lot of politics like the boss arbitrarily deciding what field to do research in, and then having to include his name in the research paper you get published.

For a financially starved country like India, doing research in applied sciences is not a bad thing at all, but even that's not happening. And except for mathematics (which fortunatel to the best of my knowledge, doesn't require too many costly equipment) and theoretical physics, applied and pure sciences in hand in hand and the latter is not too much ahead of the former.

In matters of medicat research, people have brought so much disrepute to India by 'cooking up' results that Indian studies are almost never quoted despite having such a huge population (which with some knowledge of statistics you might have will realize tends to make studies statistically more powerful owing to larger sample size).

But with advent of foreign pharma companies, better research culture might develop in India. Am just worried, the pharma companies shouldn't lose their work ethics.
Ketan said…
Well, to get into worldly matters, with sixth pay commission, people are actually getting attracted to government jobs.

But I think if the trend continues, the government is bound to but down on recruitment, and maybe roll back the pay scale altogether. With more people retiring (many states had advanced the retirement age from 58 to 60 to delay paying them pension), and having to pay them pensions at higher rates, I doubt how long all this can be sustained. Plus, I've heard many import and export duties collections are also running low. But, I think this is your field, and you'd be able to shed more light on this.
G Saimukundhan said…
Lower duty collection signifies lower economic activity (less demand and supply). Generally, innovation happens to be the only key to put back the economy on its track. Probably, even if Govt stops, the private sector may pump in more funds into research.

As to Government Sector jobs, even before lot of people preferred them (for reasons best left unsaid).

One of my uncle, my first hero, is a scientist (did something in biophysics or protein cell research, not sure), is still in research in a pharma co.


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