To Fail or Not to Fail

It’s only the 9th day of the month, and I can tell you now, it’s not at all easy writing everyday  It helps however, that a few fellow bloggers have encouraged me through their likes, shares, comments, and tweets. (Even when I know that some of the posts are not as good or complete as I’d like them to be)

When I think hard about it, it doesn’t really matter if I miss a day or two; this challenge has little significance in the scheme of things. It’s not related to money, work, or health. So, to fail in this challenge would mean little. But I intend to succeed. As I had written previously  we have to explore for ourselves the nature of our commitments. We have to define success on a standard that is acceptable to us – it may be the same as what is generally accepted, it may be higher or it may be lower. But it has to be ours. And failure – if it becomes ours, has to be measured by our standard.

There’s too much being made of failure. I recently tweeted:

While giving encouragement – the kind I receive on this blog – is important, when people close to you have embarked on an adventure, the encouragement has to be (for want of a better word) rational. There’s too much mollycoddling around failures. If you didn’t know better, you’d think it’s a good thing to fail.

We learn from our mistakes. Yes.

Failure is the first step to success. Yes

[Insert a similar over-positive-sounding idiom]. Yes

Isolation - 1

That’s all true, but there has to be some limit on failing. You cannot be failing all the while, thinking, “There, I’m that much closer to success.” If you do not learn why you have failed in the first place, it will take you farther from success. If I find myself failing over and over – I have to review the standard I set for myself, or the manner in which I have set out to achieve that standard, or both. There’s also too much talk about passion; passion that will see us through the difficult times.

To an extent. Yes.

Passion is an attitude, not a tool that will see me through. I will need to invest time, gain knowledge, and apply skill to what I do. There’s nothing romantic about failure.

Failure is not an option.

The Moron Lane

“Which lane is he driving in,” I asked, extremely frustrated.

“The Moron lane,” she said, quickly looking up from her phone, and as quickly going back to whatever she was doing.

I’ve said it many times before, but since my blog isn’t as popular, people hardly ever get to know what I say. Those white dashed or solid lines in between two lanes of a road aren’t a guideline for you to drive, they are there to divide two lanes – and you have to choose one of those lanes. The idea is to have those painted stripes either on your left or your right. And since, we drive on the right here, you are better off in the leftmost lane, till you get this right. (By the way, for what it is worth, dashed lines mean that you are allowed to overtake (from the right, i.e.) and solid lines means that you should wait till you see a dashed line, before overtaking)

I Walk the Line.jpg

When I thought hard about the Moron lane, I also imagined, we’d need Moron tunnels. Especially the Expressway. We have folks using hazard lights in well-lit tunnels and then changing lanes in the tunnel. I am sure, they actually switch the turn indicator. You see, the left/right indicators do not function as desired when you have hazard lights on. But then, there is no logic of using hazard lights in a tunnel – switching on the car lights, lights up the tail lamps. That’s enough information for me, driving behind you, to know that you are in the tunnel. If you have to use hazard lights – please do not change lanes in a tunnel at speeds greater than 80kmph.

Many rants have been suppressed; people driving diagonally across the three lanes as they speak on the mobile phone, stopping on the blind side of a curve to relieve themselves in a temporary waterfall, and on the city streets, puking red goo; cars in India should come factory-fitted with spittoons, rather than ashtrays.

But there is one sight I love on the expressway: the Bright Yellow Tata Nano doing 45kmph in the first lane.

Priceless.

Of Falling Skies

IMG_2660.jpg

If x happens (or doesn’t happen), the “sky won’t fall down.”

I’ve always thought that such expressions are useless. If the degree of the calamity that has befallen me is insignificant compared to the sky falling down, how am I to know, to what extent?

It’s an invalid reference because no one has seen the sky falling down. It is, after all, relative to the power of my imagination – which is also not a standard in any case. To make sense of this comparison, I have to imagine an impossible cataclysmic phenomenon to a significant magnitude and then allow my real calamity seem inconsequential – so that I feel better.

Not too helpful for people with shallow imagination skills.

And, too much work, if you ask me.

Leaving India and Leaving Indira

One of the things I like about blogging (and, generally speaking, the ability to post your thoughts for the world to read) is the power of expression it provides, which, a few years ago was limited by means and by reach. The entire scope of expression was limited to a specific audience. With the Internet and the tools to express, the scope is now global (limited, still, by those who have access to the Internet, but a significantly larger audience is available to you).

And while it is a good thing, it also means that you are opening your expression for criticism and debate from a much larger audience.

Recently, a post by Sumedh Mungee was featured in the NYT’s India Ink section: Why I Left India (Again) – his experiences on coming back to India from the US, and his reasons for going back (again). He has his own reasons and I leave it to you to read the post, if you haven’t already. Needless to say, the post has sparked various reactions from various corners of the world. If you have the patience, you will find the some of the 226 comments (at last count) amusing.

And of the many reactions that have been the result of this post, I’d like to highlight one.

Why I Left Indira (Again)!

All the emotions that all the people have felt due to this post are all worth considering; this response by Amit – to my mind is the best, I have seen.

Enjoy!

Against Extreme Moderation

There are addictions that you enjoy and there are those that you don’t. There are helpful addictions and there are the harmful ones. Some would disagree – any addiction is harmful they would say – but that’s another story.

Mutterings that Matter have become thinner on the blog and fatter on Facebook, but let the record show that he used the dreaded A-word regarding Facebook. It reminded me of the addiction I used to have for this blog, and how I had escaped, once, to ensure that I remained addicted to blogging. Somewhere along the way, I got rehabilitated without wanting to, and now I blog in moderation.

Many messiahs moralise moderation.

But, like extremism even moderation should be exercised in moderation. (And I speak of extremism in its absolute sense, not with the contemporary attribute of politics, violence or terror) Else, it seems, our lives will permanently hover around the zero on the number line. I often toy with the theory that age has something to do with moderation. Age and second-hand exposure, actually.

As we grow old, most of us give birth to a tendency to be drawn towards the zero. It is a crowded place, and it offers some sense of safety and mob security and identity. When Nassim Nicholas Taleb said, “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary”, I think he was referring to the zero of the number line. They are comfort zones, spiritual, physical, and psychological.

Second-hand exposure, enhances our need for this safety. Contemporary society tends to share terrible and scary news faster than good news. With more means for sharing, we share plastic bottle warnings, gory pictures of dolphins being chopped, and conspiracy theories of how everyone is out to get you. Such information causes armchair-excitement – you tend to spread the information even more. To click a forward button is an effortless exercise.

Extremism (in my sense of the word) is exploratory. It is a first-hand exposure to the things that don’t drop in your inbox, never get pasted to your Facebook wall. To traverse the number line of life, left or right (again, in a non-political sense) is to be exposed to an experience. It is the power to sift through your inbox and know what is real and what is sensational.

It is an effort itself to even get to 3 or -4 on the number line, but if you do, it is amusing to watch the crowd at zero. You can sometimes see an image of yourself reflected in someone at zero and you will smile to yourself in a heady mix of amazement and amusement, that once, this was you. That mix, helps you get further away from zero.

So, +1 to me.

The Trouble of Having an iPhone

Don’t get me wrong.

I love my iPhone.

Over time – more than a year now – however, it has made me think a lot. Especially when I have had folks come and ask me “advice” on buying the iPhone. It usually isn’t that – they just want me to say, go ahead – it’s a wonderful decision. Don’t think! Buy it!

It’s a good device, an amazing gadget and really a fun companion to have with you. But it can get to you at times. A few instances where I wonder why I have this gadget:

  • There is an app (Pandora’s Box) that tells you what apps are available for free. (I have ever only paid for five apps, so I am not the one who contributes to the amazing statistics of app downloads from the iTunes Store). So you, usually, end up downloading apps that you use only for the first five minutes after you have downloaded them. Then they stay there – real-estate is apparently cheaper on an iPhone than in Mumbai – and when you see that app after six months – you have no idea what it does and why you downloaded it. You do waste a lot of time animatedly discussing how cool the app is.
  • When you have so many apps downloaded, and you realise that you don’t use 90% of them as frequently, there is a scramble to re-arrange apps. If you have an iPhone, you know how what I am talking about.
  • Most of the good apps aren’t available in India. In fact, the iTunes store for India is only one-third of the store. We can’t buy music and we can’t buy any video products. Even the sale of their OTA service is through the Singapore store. We are third in priority for Apple; we are a third world country. Nokia, however doesn’t think of us like that. Damn.
  • A friend of mine dropped his iPhone once. he had to buy another. Since then, I have become very careful about my iPhone. To the extent that my movements have become dainty. I wouldn’t think twice if I had to play football with my Blackberry, but couldn’t even dream dropping my iPhone on my desk from a height of 0.116 inches.
  • There are some amazing travel apps on the iPhone. None of them works when you are in Kumbharli Ghat. Heck, a state highway that connects Nanded to the NH4. Then, I love a compass. Any compass (That’s a safe gift to give me, if you were thinking). Now, I have to shell out the new bloated price for a 3GS if I want a built in compass. Gah!
  • I’d like to use Twitter on the iPhone. I have four different apps. Not a single one makes sense. While I have problems using Twitter anyway, the iPhone doesn’t help.
  • I can’t share photos very easily with folks who do not have an iPhone. So I have to go through a round about way of sharing photos. By that time the others have taken photos, shared it, uploaded it, had fun – I am still sending it by email and such. Bluetooth is so anti-social on an iPhone.

There’s more.

Sometimes I have fun re-arranging the apps. They make for some amazing “thoughts”. Not everybody understands it however.

An iPhone Grab

But this should suffice for now. But, don’t get me wrong, I love that thing. And don’t ask me why!

PS: Cross-posted on Selaphor

The Portal

Window

Sometimes all you need is a point from where you can look out. When what’s in is disturbing, depressing and dissonant to your beliefs and values, all you need is a place from where you can look out.

For one, it allows you to ignore the dark of inside. And for another, it allows you to see all that is possible — whether in reality or in imagination.

And though you can’t do it forever — because you cannot escape and you will eventually have to do an about-turn and see inside — it allows you to go quiet inside and consider the possibility of forgiving it, rather than fighting it.