Mind your own business

“Why on earth are you doing MS?”

The question stated with a shockingly frightful expression left me dumb struck and all I could come up with was a

“Ummmmm…”

My surprise, at the seemingly innocent question is quite understandable as I was not aware till that moment that I was expected to explain my actions to people who in no way were affected by them. Imagine my astonishment, when I further realized that my life held so much interest, again, to people who were not actually a part of it.

“Why MS? And that too in computer science? And that too in Software Engineering? You’ve already done Bachelors in Computer Science. Do I really need to tell you that MS in the same field won’t affect your personality in any positive way?”

 

“Ummmm….”

(Was again the only response I could come up with, while what I really wanted to say was, “What are you talking about?!”)

“I think a better decision would have been MBA.”

“MBA!” (Isn’t it my decision to decide which decision is a better decision?)

“I think you’ve only submitted one semester’s fee, I would recommend that you forget about that money and opt for MBA from any reputable institute.”

And with this ended the uncalled for lecture and the person stormed off like it was ‘their’ money I was ‘wasting’ and not my own hard-earned income which I had been quite conveniently recommended to ‘forget about’.

This was my first encounter with people who made it their business to poke at other people’s not-so-amusing lives, trying hard to bring color to it by suggesting they take up entrepreneurship, try their hands at fashion designing, should consider setting up their own software house, should learn cooking as this is what us ladies are supposed to do at all costs, and the most interesting, yet irritating, should consider getting married and settling down. These people would go as far as advocating searching for a life partner (like we’ve nothing better to do).

Over the years I’ve been asked to reconsider my decision to become a software engineer, to do something, “anything, really” to improve my appearance, to learn cooking as that is what I’ll have to do ultimately, to be more social and to make more friends. I’ve been advised to take self-grooming courses as apparently I lack the skills needed to survive in this world; how I’ve been able to do just that for the past 27 years is something I am unable to understand.

I was once, quite bluntly, asked why I haven’t married as yet, as I am not getting any younger. She wondered whether I’ve found anyone and if I haven’t, why not? And the same question was asked at several occasions by the same person. I tried out different replies:

“I am not in the mood.”

“As you know, I am studying currently.”

“I need to do a lot of things before I decide to settle down.”

Each of these replies invoked further investigation and finally I decided to stay as far away from her as possible. Seriously, I had no other option; I was running out of excuses!

Maybe it is going through this torture where all irrelevant people endeavor to improve my life with their friendly advice or maybe it is that we are born with the talent to bother people so much so that they may start to consider putting an end to the life that is a source of despair for so many people. Or maybe it is something else. But I’ve recently realized that I too belong to this same clan of “extremely curious” people. The realization came crashing upon me when I caught myself explaining the intricacies of setting up and running a boutique to a friend who is known for her elegant wardrobe and her exquisite taste in clothes. I, who have seldom been to a boutique, relying on my sister and mother to bring my wardrobe up to date with the latest fashion. I, who abhor people who waste their salaries solely on designer clothes. And I considered myself fit enough to give advice to the person who would probably do better without the knowledge that people like me continue to exist in this fashion-driven world.

Unfortunately, the revelation chose the very last moment to hit me and by then I had already wasted half-an-hour of my friend’s life with uncalled for advices, during which she continued to nod her head at all the required instances, and also once tried to tell me that she really ought to go as she has loads of tasks to complete, at which I suggested that her job can very well go to a four-lettered word starting with a ‘h’, and that she should concentrate more on her innate talent of designing breath-taking clothes.

The rest of the day was spend with a horror-struck expression while I tried to identify the exact point in my life when I, too, became interested in other people’s affairs so much so that it seemed quite normal that I start telling others how to spend their lives. I went through all the occasions where I had done so. Once I told a colleague to forget about buying a car and instead invest in real estate, to which he kindly pointed out the stark difference in the capital needed for the two. My mind referred to yet another incident when I suggested a friend to take up a part time job on the weekends as well to improve her skills and account balance. The image of me suggesting a friend to take up knitting classes is what struck me next. Each such event closely followed by another cluttered my mind, forcing me to think that all “I” have been doing was for the betterment of the human kind. What I have been doing is quite-aptly-put an act of platonic humanitarianism. Why I don’t act upon my own advice is debatable but I too am a human being, and I can’t bear to see another of my kind indulging in an act which can very well end in a disaster.

With this note to self I decided that I can continue to meddle in other people’s affair but will be justified in asking others to mind their own business, should they attempt to do the same.

Advertisements

11/22/63 by Stephen King ~Book Review

Image

Reading the review of 11.22.63 incited an instant desire to get a hold onto this book. And who can blame me? Any story related to time traveling must have the same kind of effect on everyone, or at the very least, most. And not simply time traveling. But traveling back to time to change a particular incident. An incident that is claimed to be one that changed the course of history. Well, at least, the book cover said so. The incident is that of the assassination of the 35th President of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
 
Most of my friends don’t read Stephen King. They find his books of the boring kind. And  slowly and gradually I have come to believe that I am the only person (at least in my age group) in this country who craves for Stephen King books and the world they take the readers into. And, therefore, I had lost the hope of ever finding this book in Pakistan. But while trying to get my hands on Cloud Atlas, I found this novel in Liberty and almost shouted out loud, took it off, almost hugged it and kept it close till I browsed other books. And the decision to buy this book is not one I regret. 
 
Jake Epping, the main character of this novel, the unsung hero, is a high school teacher, who never in his wildest dreams would have thought to be able to travel back in time and stay there. Imagine his surprise, when all of a sudden he found himself entrusted with the responsibility to save Kennedy and, thereafter, the world.
 
Image

Every author writing about time travelling does something different with it. Some writers go on and explain the theory of time travelling. Answering questions like how it can be done. While others don’t hassle with the details of time machine and go on with their business. The change Stephen King brought in was that a person can travel back to only one point in time. Not before it, not after it. Only one particular date and one particular time. One particular moment. And no it is not the exact moment of assassination. Rather five years before it.
 
The rest of the theory goes on the same way. The butterfly effect and all. If you have read enough novels and watched enough movies on time travelling then you know what I am talking about.
The interesting thing is, that every time you go back to your own timeline and then come back again, everything goes back to the same way it was before. It is a complete reset. Any changes that you made in the past are erased.
 
It’s really un-put-down-able book. I loved it from the very first page till the very last. It’s one of those books that grab your attention from the first sentence and keeps you hooked till the last one. All along you’ll keep wondering whether Jake will be able to stop the assassination or not. Knowing at the same time that it won’t be any use to write a 740 page novel for the assassination to happen anyway. And then wondering what will the world be portrayed as if JFK survives. And all at the same time, enjoying the book, hanging on to every word and relishing every scene described. 
 
It’s been a long time since I have loved a book this much, since I have so completely engrossed myself in a book, while constantly narrating everyone who’s willing to listen about the storyline. Telling everyone how much I like the book.
 
Following are some lines that I loved in this book. Ones I read and re-read.
 
Do I know what people say? Sure. I shrug it off. What else can you do? Stop people from talking? You might as well try to stop the wind from blowing.
 
Home is watching the moon rise over the open, sleeping land and having someone you can call to the window, so you can look together. Home is where you dance with others, and dancing is life.
 
Life turns on a dime.
 
The crazy people of the world.. shouldn’t get to win.
 
For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens, you see that the world is barely there at all. Don’t we all secretly know this? It’s a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes, pretending to be wheels and cogs. A dream clock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate, and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.
 
Little by slowly.
 
The past is obdurate.