The Same Frame

The one on the left is due for new glasses (or lenses, if you prefer; given that they are synthetic, perhaps lens is better word), so off it goes today for refitting. The one on the right is an old one, which will be my frame for a couple of days.

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I’ve been using the left one for a while now, so this thick heavy frame is causing all sorts of trouble. It’s heavier and bulkier. I did use this one for over a year, but now I am not sure how I did. It’s quite irritating, especially the thick rims, which obstruct my view. Or, perhaps, I am now just too used to the rimless one. And of course, I have no idea of what’s fashionable. Are thick frames still cool?

The new glasses are just not replacements, they have an added feature of being reading glasses. No more trying to squint and read an SMSs and other fine print through the gap. I’ve never had reading glasses before, so when the frame returns with new glasses, it will quite an experience. I’ve seen through my father’s reading glasses a while ago, and didn’t think much of it. Now, when I will have my own, perhaps I’ll know what Paul Simon meant when he said:

It’s true, the tools of love wear down
Time passes
A mind wanders
It seems mindless, but it does
Sometimes I see your face
As if through reading glasses
And your smile, it seems softer than it was.

~ Proof, by Paul Simon

Different things in life, calling for a different focus

Appeal: Do Vote

The 2014 Lok Sabha elections are on, 800-odd million people are voting in the seventh-largest country in the world. Unlike earlier elections there’s too much of information, data, rhetoric, and opinions. Especially opinions. Anyone who is anybody is presenting their opinion; on mainstream media and on social media. Which only means that there’s enough scope for confusion for the voter.

Many constituencies have already completed voting, so perhaps, this post – in that sense – is delayed. A large number of first-time voters are in the fray. Many parties are attempting to woo this segment. There’s ample mud-slinging going on between political parties; many complaints to the EC (Election Commission). As a voter, who is concerned about the country, how do we choose?

My cousin and I were out to buy a mobile phone today. He saw a few phones and decided not to buy. He couldn’t make sense of the one that made sense for him in the plethora that was available to him. We left the shop.

We discussed his confusion. People who sell products have a reason to sell you something. Perhaps, certain products offer better margins to them than others. Naturally, they would push those products more than the others. I asked my brother, what he wanted. in other words, what did he want from a phone and how much he was willing to pay. What’s important to you, in a phone, I asked him?

Enough advertisements have promoted this message, and I do the same. What’s important to you? Who will deliver the requirements that you have? That’s the only way to vote. It requires involvement, however; some research. That’s how you will know where and how your vote should be cast. The most interesting thing about a democracy is that you can vote the way you want in spite of your friends saying something else. This is perhaps the perfect opportunity for you to get into a debate about what you believe in. Let your vote be about you. Even if it is against the popular vote or for it. Anything is right, as long as you believe in it. 

We all know that our vote counts. But if you have not given enough thought about how your vote will be cast; it doesn’t count. When the ink is marked on your finger and you press that one button, be sure of one thing: You have pressed that button with conviction and awareness of what you expect your vote to mean. More importantly, remember this: irrespective of who you vote for, the government of the day is responsible for you; irrespective of who voted for the government – they have to take care of the country. The government has no way of knowing who you voted for. So, the government has to work for you. Even if you did not vote for the party that’s formed the government – you have a right to ask questions of that government. 

If you are lucky and your voting day coincides with a long weekend, please go ahead, get out of the city. But, after you have cast your vote.

Perhaps, you are curious about how I will vote. I will not tell you. Our constitution gives me that right. And this appeal I make here is not about asking you to vote for this party or that. It’s asking you to go out and vote. You are welcome to ask me (not in the comments, but in a face-to-face conversation) how I will vote. But, even in that conversation, I can only tell you who I will vote for and why.

You will have to take your own decision. That’s tough. But not impossible. Go out. Vote.

Being Articulate

A friend of mine speaks rapidly. In doing so he ends up substituting certain words. The substitutions aren’t usually equal; more often than not, they are somewhat heterographic homophones. Not in strict sense of the definition, but the substituted words sound similar. I’ve often brought this to his attention and he is aware of it too. And while he seems to be improving, there are still a few occasions when the substitutions occur; usually to a comical effect.

I think his brain works too fast for the speech to catch up, and there’s a need to get that thought out before the next one’s taken in for processing and output. I do not know this for certain, but I am quite convinced. I’ve known him for a long time and he is one the smartest person I’ve ever known. You have to say it when the thought’s ready to be expressed; if you don’t it’s lost. That is perhaps what’s happened with my blogging, but that’s a separate post.

A Maximis Ad Minima

I’ve also often thought of people who are articulate. Their minds must be processing faster than my friend’s. First the thought has to be processed, then it has to be weighed for its worth, considered and reconsidered, and finally it has to be expressed calmly, with the right choice of words. This is especially true in a debate, argument, or even in a conversation. When writing, articulation is relatively easier, I think. There’s time for editing. Being articulate in a dynamic conversation, however, is admirable.

People often attribute articulation to a large vocabulary. It is not true. There are (and have been) many articulate people with a limited vocabulary. In fact, having a large vocabulary requires further processing to choose the right words and could obscure what you have to say, for people with limited vocabularies.

The power of articulation lies in a personal conviction, clarity of thought, and awareness of the meaning of words that you will use. I’d go ahead and say, in that order.

We are so much less without our thoughts; so much more when we say well, what we have to say.

Of Thumbs: Green & Brown

Someday I hope to befriend a villager, just when he hasn’t taken a break in a while, and while things may be going well, and he feels a sense of sameness surrounding him. I’d like to know if he would “leave it all” and settle down in the city. Not in a financial sense, because that would be a no-brainer. It’s the sameness of it all that I want to know more about. Perhaps people are the same everywhere – their daily sameness gets to them and they want to jump on the other side of the fence. They usually have a fleeting experience of the romance it offers; and they imagine, perhaps it has more to offer than what they experienced in that one weekend.

Baby Chilli Plants

Baby Chilli Plants

I am no different. The village, the river, the lush fields, fresh air and such, where I’ll grow tomatoes and chillies all day long, all year-long. A laid back life that’s all laid out to a very fine detail. The power of imagination bestowed on us is a prolific scripting tool. But escaping from the sameness is not easy. When I recently decided to exit a sameness, it took me almost a year to scrub away the scent of that sameness. While we may know something in our heart, the mind has a muscle memory of its own. The conflict is not an easy one to resolve. Needless to say, it was extremely difficult. Comfort is a synonym for sameness, and, depending on which word we use (and mean) it can be nice and cozy or boring and lifeless.

I started growing chillies and tomatoes in the congested window sills that Bombay flats offer. It was to be a prototype in a pot for the fields that were to come. The plants grew well and flourished, but bore no fruit (or vegetable, in this case). I justified the stunted growth of the plants to the lack of space and the polluted air in the city; and imagined, the wonderful job I could do when I would “leave all of this and go to the village.” But that justification died an almost instant death, when I outsourced the management of the plant to an expert — my mother. The chilli plant flowered. My mother took over and a month later there were three chillies. Both my parents have green-thumbs. My father, well, he was banker. Different sort of a green-thumb.

I have since concluded — under protest, that due to circumstances beyond my control — that I have brown-thumbs; perhaps an ancestral gene that chose to express itself after deep slumber.

One plant, which I took care of, once sprouted three beans. So, perhaps, I have brownish-green thumbs.

Three Beans

Three Beans

Happiness 2.0

Since the time my friend has introduced me to the song – Happy, by Pharrell Williams, I’ve been conflicted, in some ways.

It’s not so much about the song as much as about the music video. There are people in the video who are dancing (and prancing) all along the video. It’s a great way of expressing your happiness, I will concede, yet I am unable to relate to the video. The song? Yes. I like the beat, more so, because you cannot ignore what it makes you feel.

This post is marked version 2, for a reason. I wrote about Happiness a few years ago. I didn’t post it then, but what I saw on that day in 2007 is the photograph that you see below. No reason or rhyme, but I was really HAPPY that day!

The following post may turn out to be old wine in new bottle, but we do not know – here goes.

Lone Tree- Split-toning

My happiest times have been when I am with my friends. I will not say family. Because the folks in my family with whom I have shared the happiest moments are my friends. You spend a few years in life, and the line that separates friends and family gets blurred. A wise man once said, “Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”

Don’t worry about it now, you’ll know when you get to the age that I am.

While I cannot dance, and perhaps that is the reason, I have never felt like “dancing-out my happiness.” Not that dancing-out your happiness is a wrong expression, please note.

Love was the first victim; I feel happiness may be the second, of how commerce will appropriate our feelings: first for their advantage and then to dictate how our feelings should be expressed. Products and services aren’t sold on the basis how how good they are; they are sold on the basis of exploiting our senses of how we feel. By itself, there’s nothing wrong associating an instant noodle with a core human emotion; I take umbrage that it potentially tells us how we live our emotions. [An Example - YouTube Video of a Nestlè ad] Should personified cuteness be banned? I don’t think so. There is so little that we can do to capture happiness in a one-minute TV spot. The problem occurs, not when it becomes famous, and we have a million likes, but when we think that is the personification of happiness (or any other happy emotion, e.g.).

The extent of our experience of happiness is un-capturable. How, when, where and in what manner we experience it, is beyond any creative director’s comprehension. First because the manners are so many, and second because the manner is so myriad. So, we should not succumb to the narrowed celluloid expressions of what’s nice. While they are specific expressions, our own meanings and experiences should matter much more.

Sometimes,

we smile without reason, staring at our computer screens on a late Tuesday afternoon
we imagine non-existent people in the space we occupy and we have a laugh with them
we escape an ongoing conversation and feel blessed to be here
we wonder, without a trigger, what a wonderful life we are living

and, many such instances.

The best feeling of all, is when love envelopes you at 4:00PM on a Thursday and you can almost feel that you might explode. Ah, well.

If and when possible, we have to cherish these moments, for they are the true markers of the life that we are living. And with equal strength, we have to let them go, so that more such new instances are possible. Happinesses are ephemeral; there’s no clinging. It’s like, you have just one slot of happiness and you have to keep clearing it out to make way for new ones.

And how we celebrate that new occupant in the slot, is all up to us. No one can tell us how it should be. Not a cute ad, not your friend’s happy-status on Facebook.

I think, I’ll go do a funky dance and I’ll leave you with this. Enjoy! Be happy – In your own way!

Days of Magic

They are not necessarily the days when magic happens — these days of magic. They can be quite ordinary and may deserve no more attention from us than what the other days deserve. It may be a weekend day, when part of it is spent at work, a small bit reading and a short nap. And then you would go and have a lovely dinner at a new place.

I like these magical days that, otherwise are not magical at all. While not being magical themselves, they bring out the magic within us. And that smile you have, which you just cannot stop using.

Such magical days, perhaps have a lesson for us: every day can be full of magic — if you are willing to believe.

Remains of the Day: 014

I’ve started with coffee again. Just kept missing it too much all these years. All I had to do was to start making it and  drinking it to not miss it as much.

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There’s too much of worry going on about the blog. A friend had a few thoughts on why the blog isn’t doing so well; of all the things he said, one stood out in the spotlight: it just isn’t as good. I need to define a DNR for the blog. “It just isn’t as good,” is equally true of people and everything else in life. Everything should have a DNR associated with it. Makes way for new things. (see also: Current State of Indian Politics)

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Pull is so much better than push. It makes more sense.

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Charity should be a two-way street. Don’t give it, unless solicited and don’t ask for it, unless needed. Especially the giving; charity and dignity have an interesting relationship which I sense, but am not equipped to articulate. At least not now.

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Siri would never understand what Sushant Singh said all through the film, in Shuddh Desi Romance. For that matter no human would, either. Bad diction, unfortunately, has become fashionable. Yes. I saw it. Ridicule me. I deserve it.

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How you see someone is not how they are. They are, how they are. You have to see them in the way that they are. It follows therefore, that they cannot be who you think they are. Don’t try.

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My thoughts about Pain and Fear haven’t changed much.

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I think it’s quite ambitious of me to have a three-digit running counter for these Remains of the Day posts. I am amused because, first, I actually believe somewhere in my heart that there will be at least 999 such posts, and second, I wonder what I’ll do after the 999th post.