Sunday, April 26, 2009

I open at the close

The title is obviously not a reference to Dumbledore's clue in the last of the Harry Potter series.

As children, we are open and take to knowledge like a sponge to water or a moth to the light, i.e. with verve and without inhibition. When we grow up, we tend to close in to things around us. We become less receptive to the signals emanating from everywhere.

There was a time when I absorbed everything that lay in front of me. I found out things by happenstance and latched on to them. There was a thirst, a quest for knowledge and understanding. I have savored the best things in life, assimilated an astonishing amount of information, mingled with the best and the worst (that was also the best experience in a way) just because of this openness and a willingness to learn.

I can cite a few examples here. Hearts of Iron is one of the best games that I have ever played, it has consumed a major part of my time in the last three years of college. How did I come across it? I have a vague idea. It was on one of those nerdy history forums. Some guy mentioned somewhere that people who played Age of Empires were the Mussolini's, who played Civilizations were the Stalin's and who played Hearts of Iron were the Churchill's of this world. I, one of the better player of Empires in my cohort never wanted to be a Mussolini and detested him to a certain extent. To those of you not in the know, Mussolini was perhaps the worst military commander in chief of a nation in the Second World War. So I downloaded a game I had never heard of, on my crappy internet and it doesn't end there. This is one of those games that tests your patience. There is no easy way to learn it. It took 2 months to understand its basics and start a game at Easy level. It was another 6 months to defeat the AI in Normal mode. On top of that, you make a small mistake in the game and its repercussions are felt 10 game years down the line just like in the real world and that is 3 weeks of real life time down the drain. But I stuck by it and now know the entire political map of the world. People have been amazed, dumbstruck at times, by my knowledge of the world's cities and regions. Therein lies the answer to that mystery. Now, I haven't played a new game or even Hearts of Iron or any other game for that matter in the past year.

The first time I listened to Metallica was on advice from someone, having hardly heard of the band in almost 17 years of life. I started watching English movies and listening to mainstream music after being chided by a cousin from Bombay on being a simpleton (literal translation - gaonwallah) for not having heard of Barbie Girl a year after it was released. Now, I find it cumbersome to try new music.

I read Making History because my brother in law happened to get extra books that were lying around in his ship's library. He just put them up and said I could go through them if I wanted to but he had no idea of what these books were. I found Guns of August on the roadside bookwallah in Nerul and happened to buy it for an excess of some money and time and for that picture of Winston Churchill and Kaiser Wilhelm on the cover and JFK's accolades on the inside pages. These books have molded my professional ambitions in life beyond measure. Now, it didn't take months of unrelenting publicity by all newspapers and signal boys swarming with pirated copies for me to read The White Tiger. It took a boring day at office and an ebook on my screen to bring me to taste it.

I heard of Harry Potter from a friend, always read the new releases through the night so I could return it back to her in the morning. I read the Godfather in 4th/5th in a week after another cousin advised me to read a lot and suggested that I should complete my schooling abroad. Now, it took me 12 months to finish Hitchhikers guide in my final year.

It is astonishing how these things fell into place at the right time. And how I or in general, people respond to them. If it were not for that childish openness, we would be such different people.

That brings me to the very point of this long post. As adults, it is difficult to remain open and unbiased (better word virginal) to hear out contrary opinions and go through novel experiences. Prejudices and mental blocks have been formed and I can no longer absorb things or randomly read through Wiki entries as I did 4 years ago.

Isn't life supposed to be an ever learning curve? We put our puny hands into a hundred things when we don't have the resources and when we do have them, it grinds to a stand still.

Is it the 27 syndrome? Your brain functions start deteriorating at that age. I hope not. There is so much to learn and so less time.

I quote Sonya here, Life is short and there is too much to read and explore to even think of experimenting with anything but the best.




At April 27, 2009 at 10:46 PM , Blogger crackhead said...


At April 29, 2009 at 9:44 AM , Blogger Wendol said...


At May 1, 2009 at 1:48 AM , Blogger The Huffington Post said...

What more can be said after such eloquent comments :P

At May 14, 2009 at 6:44 PM , Blogger Pagan Winter said...

Abbe if you realize it, why the hell you not doing anything about it...?
Is just realizing it an excuse for retiring to lame-ville???

At June 12, 2009 at 5:59 PM , Blogger Sushrut said...

Loved it. Loved it. This post is gonna make me buy the game. :D

At September 22, 2009 at 2:08 PM , Blogger satyr said...

hmm never imagined you introspecting! but if you ever did it had to be like this..
AOE and hearts of iron thrown in! Pleasure knowing you Wendol.


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