Paths we walk

While walking along the river bank earlier, a thought occurred to me. Not the first time I have thought about it, but still reflecting again in that moment provided a good analogy.

Just like how the path along the river is meandering, so too does the path we walk in our lives. Our sights are restricted, we can’t see beyond the next bend. The view ahead is revealed as we walk forward.

Most of the times, we don’t know what lies ahead. Just like walking along the river bank, in life too, there are known unknowns & unknown unknowns.

Unicorns- A novel review

What do I know about unicorns? This is meant to be a review of Hard Boiled Wonderland And The End of the World. In Japanese, Sekai no owari to hādo-boirudo wandārando.

Achtung ⚠️  Es gibt viele spoilern für den Novel.

What stood out to me in the novel?

No names. All characters were referred to either by description or job title. The chubby girl, the librarian, Calcutec. There are more but I am not planning on telling the whole story here. Du magst, du liest. Don’t know why I am including a bit of German hier und da.

I guess because of a recent funny video or maybe because I watched Monster again. Every time I watch it, it’s like watching it all over again, mainly because my memory with animes is poor to the point that I enjoy what I watch but don’t retain most of it. Maybe because I binge through most of the series.

Anyhow, in this novel, the protagonist is a calcutec. Calcutecs work for The System. The novel contains two stories, each narrated in an alternative chapter. The two stories merge near the end like two rivers meeting at the meeting point. The calcutec is being pursued by Samiatecs whose job is to steal the information from the calcutecs. Cyber warfare.

It’s a strange, bizarre and out of this world novel. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call it Kafkaesque. Many of Haruki Murakami’s work take inspiration from Franz Kafka.

What can I write that you wouldn’t find on Wikipedia or Google about this piece of art. While a lot of the story is still fresh in my head as I recently listened to it. I took my time listening to it. I want to review it so that it makes you want to pick up this book.

If you’re one for creativity, imagination. If you’re into surrealism, science fiction then this would definitely be a good read for you. What’s more, the novel explores the concept of death. The end of the world is a theme for the science fiction story that is taking place in the protagonists world. What he doesn’t know is that this world has been embedded into his subconscious with the help of the old scientist who worked for the system. Shuffling, sound editing and examining the subconscious is the theme here.

What caught my attention is the relationship of dream world and real life. How the subconscious influences it. While not apparently made clear. I came to my conclusion listening to the book that the characters between the two stories are somewhat related. The relationship isn’t hard to figure out, especially the librarian in the two worlds and the protagonist in both worlds.

The intricate relationship of how the protagonist finds a way to not lose his mind, memories and identity is hinted at, him getting into a relationship with the librarian who is as empty as him inside, after some traumatic life experiences and previous personal relationships.

Then what is further hinted at, are the attributes and qualities that the protagonist possesses that make him the only survivor of the System’s experiment. Here what I understood was the resilience and it’s connection with the subconscious which is near a breaking point that either helps him retain his mind and memories or come to an end like the rest of the subjects who went through the experiment.

Well as you see from my review of the novel that a lot of the story is left open for debate. Each reader can make their own conclusions. Perhaps, this is also a point of critique. When you read or listen to the story you will find many other nuances within the two stories that are open for interpretation. Nevertheless, the story is still complete. The ideas and nuances left open for interpretation and debate act as a hook to get the readers involved.

Another point of critique perhaps is that the start of the story is bizarre, also a little slow paced. However, if you continue reading you will be absorbed by the story after a couple of chapters.

Hard Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World easily goes in my top list of Haruki Murakami’s novels. My other favourite novels by Murakami are The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, 1Q84 and Kafka On The Shore.

Image credit: Behance

Thoughts At Dawn

I am writing this at the hour of tiger. Although, I hear more ravens cawing haha the dawn is about to break. I mostly wake up around this time, no matter what time I go to sleep. It’s like a body clock that just wakes me up before dawn. Boy am I glad it does! Some of the most fulfilling moments of life are the hours witnessed at the break of dawn. The still and calming air. It’s almost as if all tranquility descends down at this time. Those who wake up find some of it descend into their hearts. However, waking up is not enough. Once out of the bed, you have to perform your routine rituals to truly feel and witness the moments. One of my habits when I wake up at this hour is to feel and witness the quietest moments, enjoy them, meditate on them.

That said, sometimes I lose the ability to get up of the bed and laziness becomes my companion. I wake up lying in bed, feeling cold and sometimes feeling other emotions. At other times it’s a rush of thoughts in my head that I am trying to calm. This turbulent state of mind sometimes really worries me. How can the mind not be quiet at the break of dawn. When all life is still, why is the mind not still? Why are there thoughts zooming in and out of the head? Pretty sure though, this is probably something a cycle or a period others go through too. When I get to this stage, I am concerned with the ways to return to a state of calm and quiet. Sometimes that is through meditation, other times through prayers, or at times simply accepting the fact that I am feeling lazy and half the reason why my mind is filled with myriad concerns is because of feeling unproductive. The mind is concerned with productivity and perhaps ego. Ego wants to feel valued, ego wants to break laziness, the higher consciousness is rebuking the laziness that is creeping in the self.

Exercise- martial arts, running or some of form of routine is a good way to create a void in mind, where thoughts can be blocked out. This void is quite healthy the way I am. Solitude and finding time alone is something that has always come easy to me. To keep my self in balance though, I have to balance solitude with activities or simply conversations with other humans; friends, family, peers and so on.

Then there are fewer periods where I lose the ability to wake up at the hour of dawn and my body clock stops waking me up. There are also periods of fatigue tied to waking up naturally at this time. No matter what time I go to bed because I wake up just before dawn, which is a blessing to me. My body requires a nap in the afternoon. Lately, these naps had been turning to hour long naps or more. Last few days, I have been so fatigued I guess that I fell asleep during the daytime without realising it. The following few nights were followed with waking up from a sleep paralysis and hypno-whatever the term for that nightmare lol. I am saying this and yet here I am writing at the hour of dawn… this had me worried because when I woke up, my leg muscles felt so weak that it felt like I had no strength in them. I looked this up and all symptoms pointed towards narcolepsy. Yes… taking a long look back I have had few moments here and there where I have fallen asleep and woken up confused. However, knowing my level of activity in those times especially school days and college helps me dismiss these as symptoms of some sort. These last 2 weeks fatigue built up is probably due to some other factor too, lack of consistent exercise, poor blood circulation. The fact is because it has been raining I haven’t ran or exercised at home. Yesterday though after waking up, I exercised till my leg muscles gained their working strength.

What I am saying is human body has limitations. Sometimes the weather, other times poor sleep pattern-(in my case), lack of exercise or psychological or physiological stress can induce fatigue, undue stress in our body which is out of the ordinary. The best thing to do when stuff like this happens is to take extra care of the self.

I didn’t start writing this article today. I have written it over a few different days. More like whenever I felt like dumping my thoughts in my head at the early hour of dawn. Writing at this hour helps me quiet the mind and focus, instead of just scrolling through the internet or YouTube or some other platform. It helps me centre myself so that I can look forward to mediate and exercise at the minimum. After I have done that I am more than grateful and happy to head back and catch up on my sleep.

This is my normal circadian rhythm. I am quite used to the fact that I have to catch up on my sleep via naps. Although there are occasional days when I sleep a whole 12 hours or more. This reminds me of the time when I was around 9, I fell asleep for two weeks. There are just a few things I can recall from that time, I vaguely recall being dragged to go to the toilet, I recall waking up after two weeks and getting up to walk and falling down. My body wasn’t responding, so I had to crawl until I could walk again. Which only took a week at most. The reason given to me at the time was that I was sick and mumps made my body quite weak. Not sure if that was a coma, because I was not hospitalised. Anyhow… that’s just a short trip down memory lane, the last two years has really helped me recall most past memories. Before that I mostly used to think that I have had a poor childhood memory. Even though I know that my memory in the present has always been really good. In fact, if anything it has improved a lot more after being able to process and recall many of the past memories.