Monday, March 26, 2007

The Godfather

My last post caused a furore I never anticipated! :-) The furore is not the subject of this post. It is too personal. Yet, it took a while for me to get over it. Only now, more than a month afterwards, do I feel ready to write another one. The fact that I have been more busy in recent times has not helped either.

One thing that my last post and its aftermath definitely made me do is look for a copy of THE FOUNTAINHEAD. The most obvious place I tried was the local library in my town of which I am a member. Unfortunately, the book is not available there. During my search, I stumbled across another another gem - THE GODFATHER - instead! I had read it more than ten years ago. May be almost fifteen years ago! I still remembered it vividly... or so I thought! I still took the book out of sheer curiosity of finding out how a classic (or rather an individual's interpretation of a classic, in this case the individual being me) changes with age, time and circumstances. What I found was astonishing. Something that I think deserves a post in its own right.

About the last time I read the Godfather, I don't remember a lot of detail. I don't remember where I read it for example. I don't even remember when exactly I read it either. What I do remember, however, is the physical experience of reading the book. What I remember is how it made me feel. I remember my trembling body. I remember how I had to go to the loo a number of times through sheer excitement and thrill the book gave me. I remember my continuously racing heart. It was unbelievable. Of course, I did not expect to feel the same excitement again. (Why don't we have a delete button for some of the memories? I could have enjoyed the same thrill reading this book again!)

To my surprise, bringing this book home was like Jumanji. It kept calling me until I started reading it. And then, just like Jumanji, once I started reading, there was no stopping it. I had to finish it. The book again made my heart race. It was again exciting. It was again thrilling. There were so many smaller characters that I had completely forgotten about. So many situations I did not remember existed in the plot. It was like reading a new book almost but for the biggest of the surprises that I don't want to reveal for those who may wish to read it.

The biggest surprise the book had in store for me though was its PHILOSOPHY.

In the amazingly pacy plot of The Godfather, I had almost skipped it.

Or may be I was too dazed to notice in the thrill of the first-time-read of this novel.

This time around, after almost fifteen years, I found pages and pages of it strewn across the book.

Pages that talked about life.

Pages that talked about people.

Pages that talked about tough decisions.

Pages that contained gems like -

Every man has but one destiny.

Behind every great fortune, there is crime.

I'll make him an offer he can't refuse.

In that one final instant, before anything actually happened, Sonny knew he was a dead man.

These and many more...

But one part of the book made me rethink my whole life again. The process is still on. In fact, this post is just a beginning. The story quickly and in short -

Johnny Fontane is a singer and a movie star. Nino Valenti is his buddy who used to sing with him while they were younger and when Johnny was not a star. Johnny loses his voice when at the pinnacle of his career. His career is almost in an irrepairable decline. Godfather helps him gain some of it back. But his voice does not improve. In the meanwhile, Johnny gets Nino into hollywood. He makes him a star too. By luck, Johnny comes across a skilled surgeon Jules Segal. He identifies the root cause of Johnny's voice failing him and repairs it. Johnny doesn't trust the doctor and never believes his voice could come back. One night though, he just feels like singing and does sing - alone. He realises his voice is back. He can sing again. Johnny is delighted. All the acting in the movies, being a producer, earning money, being in Don's good books, none of it has been able to make Johnny happy. But one night of singing and the realisation that his voice is now back makes him extremely happy. It shows. To Johnny's surprise, Nino is standing behind him listening. Johnny senses Nino is happy for him and yet curiously jealous. When Nino is about to die through his own excesses in life, Johnny finally realises - Nino was not jealous of Johnny getting his voice back. He was jealous Johnny had something in life that could make him so happy. Nino didn't. There was nothing in life that Nino cared about enough that could make him live. Nino had everything. But no purpose. No passion. That brought him to his deathbed eventually.

What is my purpose in life?

What is my passion?

Where do I want to be ten years from now?

Do I have something in my life that will make me feel absolutely lousy if I lost it?

Do I have something in my life that will make as happy as Johnny Fontane if I rediscovered that lost treasure?

WHAT IS IT?

Wish I knew!

7 Comments:

Blogger Meghana Bhuskute said...

Too good.

Monday, March 26, 2007 6:39:00 am  
Blogger Anand Sarolkar said...

Wonderful piece of writing! loved it from the bottom of my heart.

Monday, March 26, 2007 9:56:00 am  
Blogger अभिजीत कुलकर्णी said...

Very well written, Baba. :-)

I don't mind this time, if this post was in English! I can imagine you wanted to pen down you thoughts about the reading in the same flow & speed, without slowing down to think & put it in Marathi. :)

I skipped the 2nd last paragraph, where you seem to have put a part of story, because I still plan to read the book for the 1st time. So didn't want a plot-spoiler feeling. ;-)

For the rest, it gave an amazing read. Now I feel like putting Fountainhead aside for a while, and reading Godfather first. ;-)

Cheers!!

Monday, March 26, 2007 11:42:00 am  
Blogger archanaa said...

Thanks you Himanshu. I sure can understand the bond between the daughter and dad...cause I have experienced it and now am watching it between my husband and saanvi - my daughter... must write something about that... thnaks....

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 10:29:00 am  
Blogger Abhijit Bathe said...

This is it Baba - thats what I was looking for! Way to go.
The language is not barrier, write in whatever way you feel like, but this is what I want to know about you. Even I didnt remember these small things you mentioned in 'The Godfather' (and Abhya, I cant believe you havent read it).
Baba (and for that matter Abhya) I am happy that you have come across the questions that Baba has mentioned towards the end of his post.
The answers are not easy but I have full faith that you will find them.
I wish that you find them soon.

laDh baba!
good post!!

Friday, March 30, 2007 8:33:00 am  
Blogger Abhijit Bathe said...

बाबा -

मेहता पब्लिशिंग हाऊस चे संपादक अनिल किणीकर यांच्याबरोबर मी आणि पराग एकदा रॉय किणीकरांच्या एका पुस्तकाबद्दल चर्चा करायला गेलो होतो. त्या वेळी 'गॉडफादर' बद्दल थोडंसं बोलणं झालेलं.
गॉडफादर बद्दल आणि 'बिहाइंड एव्हरी ग्रेट फॉर्चुन - देअर इज अ क्राईम' अशा वाक्यांबद्दल.
मला माहितिये तुझ्या पोस्टचा विषय ती वाक्य नाहिये, पण तरीही.
त्यांच्या मते हे आणि अशी वाक्य नेहमीच अर्धसत्य सांगतात. आयुष्याची फिलॉसॉफी त्यावर बेस करणं त्यामुळे फोल ठरतं.
थोडा विचार कर त्यावर - पटेल तुला ते.

हे लिहिता लिहिता 'बॉम्बे' बघतोय. तो बघताना जाणवलं - ऍटलिस्ट या पिक्चर मध्ये स्ट्रेस केलेला पॉइंट - जेव्हा सर्व्हायव्हल हाच सगळ्यात मोठा प्रश्न बनतो तेव्हा हिंदु-मुस्लिम वगैरे प्रश्न दुय्यम ठरतात.
जेव्हा (कितीही उथळ असलं तरी) प्रेम, आणि ते मिळालंच पाहिजे हा सर्व्हायव्हलचा प्रश्न बनतो - अर्थात असं हीरो, हीरोईनला वाटतं - तेव्हा कर्मठ वातावरणात वाढलेल्या दोघांनाही धर्म हा प्रश्न दुय्यम वाटतो.
ऑर फॉर दॅट मॅटर आपापले पालक अथवा कुटुंब.
ते दोघे एवढेही माणुसघाणे नसतात.
अथवा त्यांना एकमेकांबद्दल एवढा विश्वास ठेवण्याएवढी माहितीही नसते.
इव्हन हिंदु-मुस्लिम प्रश्न सोड - आपल्याला त्यांचा जो पळुन जाणं वगैरे शुद्ध वेडेपणा वाटतो, त्यांच्या साठी तो तेवढाच महत्वाचा आणि म्हणुनच 'सर्व्हायव्हलचा' प्रश्न असतो.
तर सांगायचा मुद्दा असा कि - आपल्यासाठी असे कुठले प्रश्न सर्व्हायव्हलचे आहेत?
किंवा असले पाहिजेत?
त्याचा कधी जमल्यास शोध घे.
अर्थात मी हे काही 'नो ऑल, बी ऑल' या थाटात सांगत नाहिये, पण जेव्हा असा तो सर्व्हायव्हलचा प्रश्न आपल्याला सापडतो, तेव्हा इतर प्रश्न (जे आंडु-पांडु नसतात) दुय्यम बनतात.
प्रश्न दुय्यम बनला कि तो हॅन्डल करायला सोपं जातं वगैरे हे पुढचे मुद्दे.
मला कळतंय तुला काय प्रश्न पडलाय ते, आणि मला तो पडला नाहिये असंही नाहिये.
मी सिव्हिल इंजीनियरिंग करणे वगैरे तुम्हा लोकांना जेवढी अचीव्हमेंट वाटते, तेवढी ती मला वाटत नाही. याचा अर्थ मी त्याचं महत्व कमी करतोय असा नाही, तर सिव्हील इंजीनियरिंग करणं हा माझ्यासाठी सर्व्हायव्हलचा प्रश्न झाला. जेव्हा ते करणं आवश्यक बनलं तेव्हा ते शक्य झालं.
मागच्या महिन्याभरात आपली जी 'मेला-मेली' झाली त्याचा रोखही काहीसा तसाच होता.
आठवुन बघ - अभ्यासाठी 'आय.आय.टी.' हा सर्व्हायव्हलचा प्रश्न झाला तेव्हा ते शक्य झालं.
ते एक वर्ष आधी का झालं नाही, अथवा ते निल्या किंवा मन्याने का जमवलं नाही (यावर दुमत असणं शक्यच नाही कि दोघांतही ती क्षमता होती) किंवा फॉर दॅट मॅटर कळ्याचं इंजिनियरिंग ही....कारण ते व्यक्तिसापेक्ष आहे.
कुणाला कुठली गोष्ट कधी आणि किती महत्वाची वाटते - ती गोष्ट 'सर्व्हायव्हल' साठी किती गरजेची ठरते यावर बरंच काही अवलंबुन असतं.
आणि म्हणुनच मला आयुष्याच्या 'क्रुज कंट्रोल' ची भिती वाटते.
आणि माझ्या सध्याच्या अस्वस्थतेचं आणखी एक कारण हे कि सध्या - असलंच पाहिजे, मिळालंच पाहिजे, झालंच पाहिजे असं काय आहे?
असं काय आहे कि जे पुढची काही वर्ष टिकेल?
असं काय आहे कि जे मिळालं कि स्वत:चंच कौतुक वाटेल?
माझा अनुभव असा (अर्थात वैयक्तिक) कि पैसा हे ते ध्येय असू शकत नाही.
म्हणजे पैसा हा ध्येय म्हणुन टिकत नाही.
कदाचित मी म्हणतोय ते तुझ्या प्रश्नांशी डायरेक्टली रिलेटेड नाहिये, पण हे जे काही सर्व्हायव्हल इन्स्टिंक्ट आहे ते - मी कोण, माझं ध्येय काय, माझी पॅशन काय, दहा वर्षांत मी कुठे असलो पाहिजे, जे नाही मिळालं तर मला स्वत:ची चीड आली पाहिजे - याची उत्तरं देऊ शकेल.

शोध माझाही चालु आहे.
ते सापडणं फार अवघडही असु शकत नाही.
ते जे काही आहे - ते न सापडण्या एवढे आपण आंडु-पांडु नाहिओत.
फक्त ते जितक्या लवकर सापडेल - तेवढं बरं!

नाहितर पोपट!

Sunday, April 01, 2007 1:28:00 am  
Blogger Monsieur K said...

"I'm going to go do this crazy thing. I'm going to start this company selling books online."

In 1994, Jeff Bezos was a 30-year-old Vice President of a New York investment firm, newly married, with a secure and prosperous future ahead of him. He decided to give it all up and drive to Seattle with his wife, in a used car, to start a business in their garage. He was betting his own savings -- and his parents' and friends' -- on a totally untried notion: that people would buy books through a little-known network of computers called the Internet.

When he was asked why he did it, he said, "When I would turn 70, I knew that if I failed when I was 30, I wouldnt regret that, but the one thing I might regret my whole life is not trying when I was 30."

This fellow started Amazon.com.

Finding your purpose, that inner calling is never that easy. I keep asking myself the same question to me every now and then - funnily enough, if I have earlier envisaged myself doing a thing or being in a certain position a year or two down the line, a year or 2 later I am not exactly where I wanted to be.
Does it mean I am not achieving my purpose?
Maybe yes, maybe not.
Should that stop me from dreaming or having a purpose? No.

As Abhijit says, the worst thing some of us fear is getting into the "cruise control" mode. That scares the shit of us, if we dont appreciate it.
At the same time, all we are trying is to achieve a certain goal - once it is achieved, we cant stay still - but the bar rises higher. Unfortunately (or fortunately) as the returns are more, even the risks are higher.
Thats when people like Jeff Bezos give us inspiration.

Anyways, wish you the very best in finding your purpose.

And before I forget, Godfather is a personal favorite too. I probably last read it around 10-12 years ago, and back then, I never thought about the philosophy part in it. Your post encourages me to precisely do that.

And I loved reading the comments too, especially Abhijit Bathe's take on "survival instinct".

~Ketan

Friday, April 13, 2007 1:28:00 am  

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