My mental trashpile

I have a confession to make. I can’t seem to concentrate on anything. Yes, its becoming harder than ever before.

As a child I had a concentration problem. Moving from the laws of physics to jumping into the drum-beating and ghost fearing wambesi-llongo tribesmen and Kit Walker in the skull cave or for that matter into finding the meaning of a nonsensical Capt.Haddockesque term like “bashibazouks” used to be a piece of cake. In one single fraction of a nano-second my mind could travel the world, look at a cheetah in the eye, get on top of Mt Everest, into the dark undergrowths of torrential rainforests, imagine myself on television, play Ravi Shastri’s chapati shot, remember DrWatson waiting in the bushes for the Solitary Cyclist, imagine flinging myself at a tennis ball near the nets like Boris Becker. My mind was like a teaser trailer of the world and its people and the things we do.

I still suffer from that inescapable super-imaginative condition. Most of the time. Most of my working day. Right now as I am writing this piece, I am thinking of the book I read last night, my discussion with a couple of blokes over lunch today(I was trying to talk them out of quitting the firm), that other book I want to read(which btw is pretty interesting-Its called ‘A brief history of nearly everything’), Steve Jobs’s video in Stanford which I saw a few days back, my dad who’s already reached Bangalore, my wife, who must be at office concentrating hard at her work (She’s good, extremely focussed and doubtless pretty good at what she does!!). I am also thinking about the next few lines that I am about to write, consciously looking back at the ones I already wrote that could potentially be written better, and wondering how it would come across to a potential reader once it is published.

One half of my auditory-perception (left ear) is getting a lot of inputs from the conversation in the cubicle behind me. I dont know whether I really want to hear whats going on. I am serious. I bet my left ear does not, either. Its just listening, to the audio waves. It likes to be distracted, like my mind. It wants to hear multiple things, at the same time.

I switch on the sports channel, and my mind thinks about NatGeo, and history channel that might show a trailer of the next Sherlock Holmes episode that I am usually so kicked about . The last one I saw was “The Dancing Men”, and I thought it was brilliant. Jeremy Brett, I feel, could probably be the only person ever, in the past and the foreseeable future who can depict Holmes’s personality so true to Conan Doyle’s writing. Wonder what Conan Doyle would have done to the character, had he known Brett was going to play it!!

I want to write a mystery story, and thats also something which is on my mind. Today morning, I thought I would spend some of my free time to look for ideas, and then got distracted by the SOA prototype demonstration that needs to be showcased to one of our clients tomorrow. Which is cool, since that’s something I built completely on my own, and it has created a good deal of interest in my circle. We are also talking about showcasing it in the NGB, which is even cooler! Think about it – touchscreens, futuristic ATM, digital pen and my SOA prototype!

I need to pay my credit card bill, the guy from the bank called me. He reminds me all the time, which is his job, one he does very well. Should I feel guilty?! I dont know! And yeah I guess Anu forgot to buy the Tata MF NFO. She didnt have the time I guess, poor thing. She lacks the ability to be distracted. What a pity!! On a totally disconnected topic, I have been thinking of writing an article with the two words “Anu Ojha” on it, that would make it to the top of Google search when one searches for “Anu Ojha”. I am pretty optimistic, it can be done without meta-tagging!

Its not that I am good at multi-tasking(Not entirely sure of that “hyphen” in there! Can I write “multitasking” instead.. anyways.. lets come back to the main thread!). Hell no, I am not talking about that at all. What I am talking about, is the ability to get easily distracted. I have always been an information sponge, which is why I like Discovery, NatGeo and History channel.  I also freak out on wikipedia, imdb and the like. Google makes my day. Its incurable, this habit. I must have a lot of trash inside my brain. An awful lot. And the more the trashpile increases, the more I feel like watching my channels, reading my magazines, seeing my youtube, because the programs they show, or the pieces they publish are structured presentations of information, and thats exactly what I guess I need.

But, is that true?! Is that what I really need? Do I need more TV, more books, more magazines, more interesting facts, trivia and stories??!!

I am suffering from information overdose. And its a viral disease, grows once its inside you!. Its been growing like cancer since I was a kid, and is now occupying a relatively significant portion of my left brain. My right brain, being the imaginative one, keeps trying out various imaginative ways to ensure distractions are at a minimum (like sleeping longer hours). But when half your house is full of trash, and you are living in the other, there’s little you can do.

Which is why I often keep thinking about giving it all up and going for a solitary trip to nowhere, but then, for now, thats just another distraction! Its yet another chunk of garbage that I have thrown in my trashpile, hoping, one day that I will find use for it. Its that same feeling I guess my dad used to have in his younger days. He would not throw anything away, especially things mechanical. Like old nails, nuts, washers, cans, piece of termite ridden wood, a rusting old tin box of Farex, which I must have finished as a kid (They fed me a lot of that, and I was a pretty plump kid),  talcum powder pets, old toothbrushes (helps you clean the carburettor in the scooter, he would say), an old medium wave radio, old slippers (the straps of new ones break often, we were told). He kept everything in that small outhouse we used to have (I am not entirely sure if that was why we decided to live where we lived-because it had an outhouse. That might well have been a serious consideration. There was little else of note in that house.)

I must have inherited that quixotic trait, with one change. I apply it to information. My father’s house was a mess, in my case, its my mind. You decide.

Heck, forget all this, I should tell you this story about the 300 spartans and their last stand. Its one of the most interesting stories I ever read, heard or saw (YouTube, where else!). You see, it all began with the Greeks burning down temples in Persian territory. Wait, I should tell you about the Hoplites, their Corinthian helmets and shields first, and yes!, the geographical importance of the Thermopylae pass. You know there’s a mere 30 yards separating the east and the west and its next to the Aegean sea. I need to draw you a map first, so that you can see clearly for yourself …………………………………………………………….  🙂


  1. My cure for your ills–settle down with a good, slow book in a quiet place and try to still the noise in your mind. I know what you mean about information overload and sometimes I wonder if our human wetware is wired up right for this high speed age. Time for some meditation/contemplation, a walk in the woods. Imagine what happens if your brain shorts out: you’ve be voting conservative, driving a gas-sucking SUV and listening to Toby Keith at full volume, howling like a crazed ape while dangling a Confederate flag out your window…

    Do you REALLY want that to happen?

  2. Great observation !!

    There was a time I loved fiction, and had the time to read. Now I dont(At least I think I dont!).

    But yes, when feelings like this take centrestage, you know its time to take a break in the woods.


  3. Cliff,

    I took your advice and an opportunity to go out into the woods for 3 days (No it wasnt the woods really, but just a resort that hosted a conference I was attending. But it was quiet at nights, and the cable tv signal was not great). I picked up a book, and read 200 pages, walked about in the evenings, and saw some real bright stars in a pitch black night sky.

    Feeling better now.


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