Thursday, 26 September 2013

Crossroads and Dead Ends

No matter how many ultra-viral videos you see or ultra-crappy books you read, some philosophies strike home only when you have experienced it. And no, I'm not talking about life flashing back in your last moments, but a much more boring one, cited cliché: "Connecting the Dots".

I have also leant that before coming up with a theme as, well, weird; as "Crossroads and Dead Ends", I should have realised that responsibility of belling the cat lies on the mouse who proposes it. Therefore, here I am trying to recollect what came to my mind when I came up with the theme and what it means to me.

And like any populist Bollywood movie by an entrepreneur-cum-cry baby-cum-actor (in that order), this script also has a lot of flashbacks (albeit devoid of steeply inclined romantic Jesus poses). But just to hold your attention, the spoiler is, the "theme" is the link that connects mental patients, SimCity Deluxe and Bajaj Platina.

Part one, the Platina. It is a bike that can drive you home to school and back with no visible petrol in the tank. It is also powerful enough that you cannot have pillion rider unless its a stick-thin girl who calls you "brother" immediately after jumping on the seat.

Personally, the bike taught me a lot. For instance, the only way to be a petrol head in the future is to bomb middle east and acquire an oil well. That has really given me direction in life. It has taught me that if you are following a city bus (AKA mainstream life), be prepared for a lot of dust in your eyes. It has taught me that the best time to enjoy a road is in the rains, because everyone deserts it, but if you have the courage to face it, you will enjoy every meter of it and doing so will mark you either as a crazy idiot or a hero.

But the most important thing, when you are in a hurry, dead-ends are sometimes better than crossroads, because even though you face disappointment and certain panic, the only possible thing to do is to find a new way, and having the closure of knowing all a particular road holds. You learn that the glamour and chaos lie on the crossroads and memories at each dead-end.

Part two, metal patients. As a fair warning, this is a really twisted connection. So, here goes.

I have been enchanted with puzzles since a very early age. While exploring visual puzzles, it doesn't take anyone long to collide with Impossible Geometries. The most famous example of course, is the Penrose Staircase, made part of popular culture by Inception.

The interesting part about Visual Illusions is that stare at them long enough and you are guaranteed a headache. But what Lionel Penrose, the father of Penrose Stairs, discovered, is that mental patients, especially those who have grown-up with their disability, have very little problem in staring at these illusions for hours. In a way, they are actually much better in grasping them an average "normal" person. The reason, he said, was that they know how to distrust their own brains and senses.

But what puzzles and mental patients makes you understand is that crossroads and dead ends are equally confusing. But sometimes all you need, is a different perspective. You can sit with a puzzle for hours, then a friend might come up and solve it in a second, just because he had a different perspective. That's what crossroads and dead ends do, every crossroad and every dead end gives you an opportunity to think afresh.

Part three, SimCity Deluxe. To be honest, this one has no deep meaning to it. I was addicted to SimCity at that time, and a major part of your gameplay goes into laying out roads, and using Crossroads and Dead Ends to maximum use. For instance, having City Prison at a major Crossroad is not a good idea, crime rates really shoot up.

So, as a parting thought, Crossroads make you think where you want to go, Dead Ends make you think where you have come from, but the secret lies on paying attention to where you really are.