Don’t Hate

A few years ago, I chose to remove the word “hate” from my usable vocabulary. Which instantly raised the question – how I would express that extreme emotion. So I invented phrases that were equivalent, while not using the h-word. Well, not invented – they were always up for grabs and in vogue.

Sort of. Intense dislike; utter disgust; absolute abhorrence, and such. Using these phrases allowed me, or so I imagined, to qualify my degree of disagreement. That is what “hate” is actually. It is a degree of disagreement — the extreme degree of disagreement.

Hate is blinding. And, while quantifying adjectives may just seem to be an exercise in creative writing, I prefer that. Because there is no adjective that ever qualifies hate. It’s extreme, it is absolute. Hate is point of no return.

Hate is like standing at the edge of a cliff and refusing to turn back. Refusing to look at anything other than the drop. Qualified adjectives may give you a chance to turn around, look for options. Hate does not. It may seem like an exercise in word-smithery, but it is not.

I hate the way hate consumes us (OK, yes, for effect, I am using the h-word). It shuts our mind to possibilities. To options. To Truth, that we may not have experienced before; to Truth that was no available to us. Hate extends. From one thing to one person, to one concept, to a thought. Hate is a dark, sticky envelope. Ever-ready to engulf.

Love is not hate’s ‘necessary’ or ‘automatic’ antonym or antidote. Love/hate are not obvious antonyms — if you take the time to think about it. Proper, relevant, and topical adjectives, paired with appropriate synonyms of disagreement is what will bring us back from the abyss (or cliff; #YouPrefer)

Disagree till the cows come home; be disgusted vehemently.

But don’t hate.

A Social-Media Experiment Unravels

This post is premature. By a day. But, I’ll allow it. The advantage of having your own blog! Rules assume the garb of guidelines, when you want them to.

I have ranted often of what I am now writing about, today. The topic is not new, the emotion has been experienced often. The content, perhaps has a fresh flavour or a tantalising twist.

As of tomorrow, I have been away from three social networks that I used to indulge in, regularly — for a working month. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I was mostly a consumer on all three, while creating some content on Facebook and Twitter. YT was pure consumption.

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Little over a month ago, I finished reading Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport — I was amused by the directness of a Chapter Title — “Quit Social Media” — but I read it nevertheless. This post is not a review of the book, nor do I want it to be. After a while you pick and choose your battles — like writing a review of a book. A star rating is enough to describe where you stand.

Of the many reasons mentioned in “Quit Social Media” – the one that intrigued me the most was the question: how many people (of the few hundred friends you have) will miss you, if you do not post. YT didn’t fall in that category, because I never created any content on YT.

Twitter also did not matter much, because a decent percentage of my followers started following me, because of a random tweet in a timeline of years, which appealed to them. They stayed followed, but never ever interacted after that one tweet. Most Twitter connections (other than my actual friends) are connections of convenience.

Facebook was the one I really wanted to put to the test of: how many people (of the few hundred friends you have) will miss you.do actually know all (ah, ok, most!) of my connections on FB. In recent years, I was never a prolific poster – but I was irregularly regular. What would happen if I stop? Armed with a commandment from Cal Newport’s book, I took the step. Changed my profile picture — showing my back, looking away, to all my FB friends. Changed my cover photo to a metaphorical chain (smart, eh?). And just stopped posting.

For ten days since that day, I religiously did not open any of the three sites, web or mobile. But, what if Cal was wrong? What if in the ten days gone by, people were missing me? So, I did some soft cheating; I did not post anything still, but went and checked who was missing me.

Zilch on Twitter; Zilch on Facebook.

//INSET

The mobile phone innovation came to us in the late 90s. Even before that – basic telephony was costly and cumbersome. It was cheaper to meet-in-person according to convenience. 50p and 1Re coins jingled in our pockets. In 2021 coins have almost gone out of circulation, and 1Re coins cant get you anything worthwhile. We used to make 3-min calls, without any niceties, conforming time, place, and Plan B’s.

For me a phone has always been about name, place, and time. Most of friends and relatives do not understand; I have a low tolerance for conversation on a phone. The real engagement happened when I met the named person at a time in a place that we we had planned for. Face to Face.

//

So, some people had liked my profile picture, with my back turned to them. No comments, no questions. Cal Newport was winning. On Twitter there was one mention, purely circumstantial; work-related. I didn’t even bother about YT.

I developed a 10-day-itch, so I continued to soft-cheat every ten days.

Zilch on Twitter; Zilch on Facebook.

(One day, I liked a photo that a cousin had posted; sheer muscle memory. #FAIL) #Sigh! I totally OUCHed myself!

In just a month long social-media rehab, I feel cured; or at least on the way to a cure.

For sure, however, not a cure from friends. For Sure. It’s a cure from the network. It’s like mistaking the map for the territory; or forest for the trees. Something like that. Specifically, it is a cure from the compulsions of the network. A networked connection does not automatically mean friendship. Not every network enables conversations (if they would, they would have greater opportunities of data mining and targeted advertising!)

[Damn! I should not have given them that idea. But, chances are, they have already exploited it.]

I have not lost touch with my friends because of my absence on social networks. In fact, I am speaking with them more often. On a mobile phone that does not weigh as much as a construction brick. Pandemic and all, that is the best we can do today. I no longer feel the need to post my crappy humour, unoriginal ideas, ill-formed opinions, and angry rants on these social networks anymore. I have not lost the feeling; I just do not feel a need to post it. (WhatsApp/Other IMs are an exception, because they are more intimate; but I think I shall conquer that, in good time)

Finally, this post; about social networks and social media – is not a rant. It’s a happy experience of not experiencing everything that is fed to you.

#JOMO.

As an early-70s kid, it has brought back a happiness that I knew and related to.

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Life’s better when it is small and full; rather than being big and empty.

A Musical Schizophrenia

There’s always one song — a crass, inelegant one. The genre doesn’t matter, the period does. Almost always this will be a song from when you were young. Perhaps in your early college days; a little more than three decades ago. (Needless to say, if you are still in college, or if you are just out; this won’t make sense to you.)

It is your favourite song. Still.

30 years ago, people around you, agreed with you. It was the best, they echoed. 30 years later, you dare not say it loud: I love this song. Most of us mature in our taste of music; some of us do not. It’s not something to apologise for. It is however, something not worth advertising.

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I may have said this before. I lost my iPod Classic during travel, a few years ago; it’s been a while. Since then, the music experience has never been the same. Music, movies, books, have to be possessed – the cloud does not cut it. Imagine painstakingly tagging over seven thousand songs in your own way, and not being able to access your music in the way that you want to.

Discontinuing the iPod Classic is the worst thing that Apple did. Not that they care, but I will never forgive them for that.

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I’ve lost my religion. I have to get back to Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel. True salvation lies in their words and their strings. For me. I do not know about you.

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Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them.
Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.
I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room.
The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love.
My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.

~ Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

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My life’s so common it disappears
And sometimes even music
Cannot substitute for tears

 

Of Tools and Skills

Advertisers are really smart people.

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Calligraphy pens, circular saws, digital pencils, 4-wheel drive vehicles, to-do apps, are a few examples I can think of. All of these tools and widgets are easily available to most of us today. One or four clicks on a website and they are available to us. We see the advertisement for it, and we want it. Because the advertisement shows how easy it is to use any of these tools. Of course, the advertisers don’t say that you will need some sort of a skill before you can use this tool.

Possessing a tool does not a craftsman make.

The tool doesn’t assure skill. It enables a skill. It will help you hone a skill; you have to have the basic skill, however.

Calligraphy pens don’t enable good handwriting. If you have the patience, focus, and ability to write well, a calligraphy pen will help your handwriting look artistic — perhaps even elevate your handwriting. If you do not have an understanding of brush-strokes, colour — using a digital pencil in a digital drawing app isn’t going to enable you to create a masterpiece. What use is a 4WD vehicle for you, if you do not know how and when to engage the front or the back wheels (Transmission?)  (Pardon me on the vehicle example, I really have no idea how a 4WD vehicle works.) But indulge me for a moment – isn’t it glorious to imagine taking a vehicle off-road, over rocky and rough places and feeling the rush of an adventure of driving on a surface that isn’t a road?

That’s why advertisers are smart people. They know what you feel; they zero in on that. They have 30 seconds to tell you the story, so, they have to edit – and tell you the most important things. About the tool. Advertisers are in the business of selling ‘tools’. The skill: you have to acquire yourself. They do not get the time to tell you, that if you do not know basic carpentry – there’s nothing worthwhile you can do with a circular saw.

Let it be known, I do not bemoan advertisers, at all. For those of us who have the skill to use these tools, advertisers do us a service of letting us know of the ways and means of honing our skill. It takes months, if not years to even acquire a skill, forget mastering it. It is up to us to decide which tool serves us the best, at what time, and for what purpose.

“The tool can do only as much as the skill allows. The skill can be honed, only as much as the mind can train. The mind can train only as much as the heart believes.” 

From an Old Post

Acquisition of a tool is not acquisition of a skill.

A Sense of a Presence: #Anthem 20

My uncle, father’s brother, once accidentally called our landline, a few days after my father’s death. My uncle heard a recorded message — in my father’s voice on the answering machine. Needless to say it was a jarring experience for him, and I heard it from him years later.

What do you remember? Is it the voice; a name, or a face?

Almost twenty years have passed since my father passed. Frankly, I remember not his face or his voice. I often try and feel his physical presence. If I try, I could construct memories; but that’s inorganic. When family get’s together, there is a sense — a shared one — and memories play tricks on us; tease us almost.

Over two decades I have had friends who have lost a parent or parents. And my unqualified message to them is just this: It may take whatever time; but you will forget. You will forget the face, the voice. The presence will dilute. It does become easier, with difficulty. After twenty years, how you remember will change: tears will be smiles. How we remember, changes.

Each fragment of a memory; and there will only be fragments; will bring a smile to your face instead of tear in your eyes. The pain will never ever go away; but eventually you will learn to manage it. Some random Thursday afternoon it will sting you suddenly like the end of the world. And suddenly enough you will smile. God has given us equal strength to remember; and an equal strength to forget. (This theory of the power to remember/forget is not mine – I got it from another Uncle of mine)

Here is what the opening lines of this song are:

My name will be lost
My face will change
My voice is my only identity
If, you would recognise it

This song is for people who are alive. For me, this is the 20th song in the series. And it is a non-Anthem. In any case #Anthem has outlived its time, since the originator of this Tag is long gone. Am not doing any more #Anthems. I may embed music videos for other reasons

Photographs help. Stories from spouses and siblings help. Friends can tell vivid stories. But the absence of the person stings — in various degrees at various times. Twenty years later, it hurts but the pain isn’t there.

Twenty years later there is a remainder; a sense of a presence. And that is enough; even as memories dilute.

All the forgotten moments, all the conversations, all the arguments, all the fights, all the affection, all the advice: It is all enough to be together.

Forever.

The Story of Seventeen Years

Seventeen years ago, when I wrote my first post, without any idea what I was getting into and how how far I wanted to take it – I gave a very short advisory about carrying cash, if you travel to Konkan. The next post came much much later. And then slowly, but surely I found my writing rhythm, which has continued to this day, with all the highs and lows one would expect in any seventeen-year relationship. In a high, there is not much to think of – you go with the adrenaline-fuelled flow. It’s the lows that get you thinking.

You tend to seek the past highs as they were – and try and replicate them. But no high is like the other. The construct, the motivation, the experience, the quantity and concentration of the adrenaline – is all different. It is impossible to make the same concoction again. The lows become lower.

Needless to say, a high, with a different cocktail soon comes over, and you are good to go, once again.

That has pretty much been the story of my seventeen years of blogging. Quite a bit of the writing has been about my thoughts and ideas, but a large part has been about my experiences – translated, protected, or reflected upon. And each experience was a result of an adventure. Those adventures are responsible for most content here, on the blog. And, those adventures happened because I said – YES!

As I look back at the lows of my blogging rhythm, I discover that almost all those times were when I said no to an adventure. For a few, I had good reason, but not for all. But I don’t think the reasons matter – irrespective of the reason (unless it’s about your safety) it’s usually a good idea to say yes. I recently went through such a time when I was called upon to do something that I wasn’t particularly interested in, but I did it anyway – in spite of an utter discomfort. I imagined it would be one off, so I thought, I’d just get it out of the way and be done with it. And I did. Without warning, however, it has set me on a path that I am now very curious about, and I believe I will enjoy it. It has a faded scent of a concoction I have had a long time ago; yet is absolutely fresh (and frightening) and exciting. Where it will lead me, I do not know – and that is the best part of it!

From the “Keep the Faith” Series, Atul Sabnis

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In the last few years, I have done a disservice to my readers, I feel. The frequency is down, the mood is depressing, and the tone is dark. Like the long-high of 2013-15, the time between 2017-20 has been a long low. Yet, many of you have always been here, often silently waiting, perhaps – for the high, that I have been waiting for.

Thank you all for all the love and generosity for all these years!

End of Things

All good things come to an end. All bad things do, too, apparently. In short, all things come to an end.

And that’s the nature of things. But how do they?

#I

Some things end abruptly. Without warning – like sudden death. One fine Tuesday morning – while everything is as normal as it seems; in less than a few minutes, things end. A world that you always assume is there, is no more. It changes. There is nothing you can do; you live with the change.

# II

Some things end with an alert. I am ending; I am going away; I will be no more. There is denial and acceptance, at the same time. This worse than #I, in a sense. The wait is the worst. The rubber-band of of hope and dread; but the alert is clear and confident. And it dies.

#III

Some things just end. No warning. No alert. While there is a way we can deal with #I or #II, there is no way to deal with #III. Because you do not know! It just dies a death. It’s in your face – it is obvious and not. It’s like participating in a slow death; only you do not know.

#III is the worst.

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#I and #II have ashes. #III is vapour.

It’s never about death; it is always about the pain. Pain is personal. There isn’t a pain that is better than an another.

Death is temporary; pain is permanent.

To Be Alive

Often, I have wished to be young and alive in the 70’s. Those of you have read my posts for a while will know. Recently, I have been thinking, maybe, it was the 60s when I should have been young and alive. I would have lived a life which otherwise, no one had noticed. But what if I would have the chance to work with Anant Mane or Guru Dutt?

Imagine seeing everything in colour but making everything in black and white. The contrast of mossy green or blood red. The brightness of a lemon yellow vs. yellow ochre. The limitation of not seeing the effect of colours in black and white. The absence of digital; and therefore that ability to correct in real-time.

The limitation required imagination. Inherent in that imagination – it required belief – of what is beautiful. I have a few friends who are well-versed in the art of cinema. My on going question is this: How much of a scene is a director’s choice, and how much of it is fluke. How much of the scene is happenstance, and how much ‘extra’ are we reading in? Was the ‘extra’ the intention, or are we, as fans, fanning it?

There is only one way to know. I should have been young in the 60s.

Plus the assumption, that I would be involved with the film industry. Too much to ask? Ah, well, we are imagining here; why limit it?

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But here we are in 2020s. Technology is much superior than that was available in the 60s. Or, the 70s. I can create a criss-cross of a bamboo wall or a library of books, adjust contrast, and manage exposure, and make a few other 100 adjustments. That’s easy. With the right software.

Software will never, however, substitute imagination. To think contrast. To think colour in black and white. To know how light plays.

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To be alive, is not to wish you were alive in a decade. To be alive, is to create the decade, when you are alive.

Reclaiming Pleasure

I completed reading a book the other day.

(No, not this book.)

Normally, this would not have been news. Definitely not bloggable. I used to read a lot and often. Like writing, something broke, and I didn’t read a book for a long time. I didn’t stop reading; articles, documents and such were still being consumed voraciously; but a book didn’t figure in the list.

Clearly there is a loss of patience to go through the book. From deep within, there is a constant nagging that seeks finishing the book. The remainder of the pages on the right hand is a daunting task. Desperately waiting to increase the pages in the left hand.

It doesn’t help that others are reading so many books and so frequently. What should work as motivation creepily transforms into competition.

What should be pleasure, becomes a chore.

#NotesToSelf

The Silent Shout

The Bum and I spoke recently. On phone. Neither of us feel the compulsion to use video, when we speak. Never felt it.

In these times, when almost everything seems to go sideways, most people are changing the mode and frequency of their communication. Not us. I’ll admit, the frequency is better – and we are both happy about it. But a call is good for us. I think our collective imaginations more than make up for bad streaming video. We speak for about 15 or 20 minutes, at best. Either he has something to say or I do. And we dispense with the topic. If we did a video call, we would end up spending 15 or 20 minutes about how we look. That’s such a waste of time!

He called me a few days ago to tell me he attended a travel writing workshop online. I half-cringed (Another reason, why not to use video.) The first word on the tagline of this blog is travel. And I hardly write about travel anymore. Actually, I hardly write, anyway.

In conversation, I discovered that the workshop was less about travel writing and more about online branding. At least, that is my take-away; if he did learn any tips on travel writing, he did not share any.

This conversation, like any other, had a mind of its own – and we steered to the topic of the serious lack of content on our respective blogs, in the recent past. We surgically analysed the deficit and were satisfied with the analysis. We put off the solution for some other day.

And today, The Bum put out a lovely post about The Loud Silence. The date of the content of his post is close to my heart – that was the day we met, before we all locked down.

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Writing has been difficult for a long time now. Forget travel writing; any writing has been difficult. Not for want of topics to write, mind you. There is a numbing sense out of sheer fatigue; an overload of thoughts, and a break down in belief.

It is not unconquerable, this fatigue. It requires you to reposition yourself at a point of your own strength, even if it seems weak and lonely. And this position is not necessarily the position where most are standing. Our side. Their side. There is only one side.

And stand strong, even if you stand alone.

Gone Too Soon; Too Soon

Time, and the human brain are co-conspirators.
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I want to close the windows, draw the curtains. I want to paint black, the walls of my room. Shut tight, all doors. I want to pump up the volume. I want to listen to Pink Floyd. I want to drink affordable rum, as it is available, without a care, sitting right where I can hear the blare of all the speakers. The perfect position. I don’t want to move. I want to Run Like Hell.

I know you are smiling at me from heaven. Don’t give them a tough time.

He would have recalled it, if i reminded him of it.

I have no doubt about that.

I would have reminded him of the “Pachu cha Bet” (Isles of Emeralds). And Ennui and Rebel. And so many more things; he would have remembered and restarted the conversation, just where we left it off, sometime in 1991.

I have no doubt about that.

Recite the Leon Uris poem in The Haj for me, he would have said. He is the only one who knows that I froze, the first time I was on stage for the recitation. I often suspect, he lived the poem more than me.

I have no doubt about that.

But, I’ll never get a chance to show that to you.

Minya died, yesterday.

This is the only surviving photo I have of him, before mobile cameras. And thank God, we didn’t have mobile cameras then. We treasured memories.

I was not close to him, we were not intimate, we didn’t see each other for decades, In fact, I met him only once, after college. And then we did not meet for over a decade. In that one meeting, nothing changed. We were as we were.

I have no doubt about that.

But there is this hole, deep, gaping, widening, questioning hole, that needs filling. And I could have asked Minya, but he is dead.

Only for you, Minya – I am having the Party of my Life. Because that is the only way, I know you.

The King is Dead; Long Live the King. Only, in my heart. Forever, forever, forever.

Seventeen-Five

True art is in the doing of it.

~ Jean Renoir

The above quote is from the chapter about showing up, the subject of my previous post. Some may agree with the quote, same may not. I have always found an immense pleasure in the doing; and in that sense, I agree wholeheartedly with the quote. It’s immensely satisfying to sit back, look at your work and admire it, whatever its form.

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The quote however begets the question: is it enough?

I think the context and setting will always dictate if the doing is enough. You may dance in your home, alone, for yourself, that is pleasure in itself. But if you want to make a career in dancing, someone will have to see it, appreciate it, award you. Where commerce rules, doing is not enough. The done has to be exhibited.

And that’s when showing up is not enough, you will have to show-off

Sixteen-Four

Show up.

Way back, I was reading a book, primarily written for artists, but I went ahead and read it anyways. It was well-written, in the sense that it never made me feel that I wasn’t an artist, even though I am not one.

In the book, the author expounded several principles to help struggling artists, in very well-crafted essays. One of those principles was: Show up.

As would have been expected, the intended audience was the artist, but when you took in the essence of the essay, it applies to all of us, irrespective of what we do. Showing up is half the work done. With your presence, there is at least a chance of further value; your absence ensures that you will not gain anything at all.

If you come up on the stage, people may like your work, if you don’t they won’t even know your existence.

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Showing up is easier said than done, because the sheer act of showing up, means fighting and conquering many demons — real and imagined.

I have lost my audience – due to my long absence here. And the last few posts have hardly had any views. It’s easy for me to say that – well, I have lost my audience here, why bother writing anything at all. I am late on my plan of writing every day

But I will catch up. And I will write better in the days to come.

In the meanwhile I am doing the least I should be doing.

Show up.

Fifteen-Three

In between the obsession, there has to be sanity. If not, then it becomes a case for the mental health professionals.

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There isn’t a doubt that these are unprecedented and difficult times. Challenging ones. And amongst the different challenges, tactical ones, i.e., the real challenge is of keeping our sanity in check. I believe we will overcome these difficult time, even if it takes a while. So, the question before us is – will we expend all our energy dealing with everyday transactions, or will we keep some in reserve for when this is all over?

Because this will all get over one day. And in preparing ourselves during the difficult time – we tend to forget that we have to be ready for when it is all over.

Therein lies all the preparation. And we all will have different ways in which we will.

That we have to, is not a question.

Thirteen-One

While there may be many things for which I seek clarity, one thing that’s clear as a summer sky, is that I have lost the urge and inspiration to write here. Perhaps it has been evident for a while, but I wasn’t willing to accept it; was hoping that the sense would return slowly and steadily. There have been spurts of bloggable ideas, thoughts, and incidents. Very few made it to the stage where I would click Publish. Many, many more, never even made it to the editor.

I do have a lot of creative excuses though, for not writing, and more often than not the root of the excuse is outside of me, making me a colluding victim. It’s a win-win situation of sorts.

Today is no different. There isn’t a bloggable idea, thought, or incident that I am writing about.

There’s an event, and someone suggested I make good use of it.

In less than a month we are now living in a world that looks and feels so different. A cauldron-full of every turbulent emotion has been suitably sautéed and served. Small signs of movie-like dystopian visuals abound, and we close our eyes looking for hope. To realise that hope, India announced a 21-day lockdown all over the country, to stop the spread of the virus.

Today is the first day of that official lockdown. I am not a stranger to remote working, yet the announcement that you have to #StayHome for three weeks, caused some angst. And an otherwise frivolous post asking for ideas, on how to cope, got “write on your blog” as a suggestion; so this post. And I hope to continue writing for the next twenty days.

There were other suggestions, a few I have taken up earnestly (which didn’t require any physically tiring effort) and I hope to continue those too, for the next twenty days. Directionally, I don’t expect any of these suggested adventures to take me anywhere.

But, perhaps there will be an opportunity to repair, align, and balance.

Misaligned, rusty Iron Gate Closeup

Scrape away the rust and polish to a brilliant shine, reposition and reorder to the standard, and return from the extremes; come home.

Time has appointed itself to decide, but I will have to pass the judgement.

Without prejudice.

Life of Others

There is finite time we have in life. Unfortunately no one knows how much time we all have. Which is why I always have an argument about ‘middle-age’ — how do we know, it’s the middle? Middle-age can be determined, only at the end. But that’s another post.

In this finite time, there is so much to do. Things that we need to do and things that we want to do. And somehow, both these are at loggerheads with each other. Using fear and guilt, they vie for your time. And as inanimate as they seem, they have borrowed a part of your consciousness, and have developed character. They haven’t necessarily taken permission while borrowing, and there’s little you can do about it.

The only escape, if at all, is to do nothing. Not what you need to do, not what you want to do. But that never works in your favour. It’s a separate and unique dread that has a character of its own. So you squeeze in a bit of want-to-do when you are doing what you need to do and bit of need-to-do when you are doing what you want-to-do.

If you are good at this alternative squeezing, you might be able to do what you need and what you want. But neither, ever seems complete.

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And you have to wonder, if the life that you are living, really belongs to you. And when you can answer that, all answers fall in place.

It’s a tough one.

All’s Well: Purposeful Moments

There is not a moment that stands apart – unless it is created purposefully, with intent. Each moment is a bad reflection of the previous one; like bouncing off of a cracked mirror. Can’t call out sameness even, but it is the same. An incremental distortion of sorts.

Those moments of intention, they stand out – brilliant, alone, and tall. In each slice there is a memory: fresh, fixed, and forever. These moments become the firm step which take us forward.

The moments that reflect off each other, they are imposters, like thin ice; they slow us down and could bring us crashing down in cold still water.

And therefore it is imperative to create purposeful, intentional moments. More we have, more we move forward, with purpose. Sturdy and reliable stepping stones towards a full life.

May there be many such moments.

All’s well.

In My Corner

Recently a friend shared a quote on Facebook.

“Earn two friends in life, One like Krishna who will not fight but will make sure you win and another like Karna who will fight for you even when you are wrong”.

Now, you need some context of Mahabharat, to understand this quote more than it’s literal sense, but even otherwise, I cringed when I read this. Those who have read the Mahabharat, will know what I mean – there is a connect with all that the Krishna and Karna did in the epic.

In short, Krishna was on the “right” side and Karna on the “wrong“. I highlight right and wrong because the entire story is about the nuances of good and evil; right and wrong, and quite complicated to explain in a single sentence. There is, as an author has said, The Difficulty of Being Good.

Back to the quote, I take exception to “fight for you even when you are wrong.” It just does not sound right — either because it is misleading or incomplete. And, mostly because I know of Krishna and Karna. It would be good to have a friend who will defend you against the world when you are wrong, but if the friend validates or supports the wrong, then we have a serious problem. Defending a friend should not be about, or construed as, justifying a wrong act or supporting it.

Somewhere herein lies the concept of friendship.

Also, this is where the context comes into play. Not like Karna. I believe Karna had a misguided sense of loyalty, and is often referred to as a “flawed tragic hero of the Mahabharata” – who justifies and even participates in the evil intentions and actions of his friend.

I have always been better because of my friends. They challenge me to be a better version of myself. Either in the way they carry themselves or by helping me do, what takes me a step ahead, towards good. In public, they will defend me, but in private, they will fight with me and ask of me to be better.

I’d rather have a friend, who is ready to show me the side of me that I may not see, or may not want to see. To show a mirror to my shortcomings and weaknesses. Yet stand strong for me, in the face of adversity.

In my corner.


I recently experienced this, when someone moved in front of me as I was taking a volley of blows. I was at fault, and was cornered and defenceless, when this armour of a person stood in front of me. It was a learning moment, and I am grateful to have that person in my corner. It wasn’t to justify my fault; it was to stop the assault at the time. Then, there was time for us to get together and plan, so that I could be better.

Pressure and Pleasure Theory

A few posts on this blog early in this year, dealt with the problem of the “writer’s block” – what it meant for me. I thought I had found some answers, but deep down I wasn’t really convinced with those. There was more to it. Something real. Something tangible, something I could put a finger on and say, this is it. This is the writer’s block! Subconsciously, though, it seemed I was aware of it, and was taking action to unblock so to speak. I was aware of those actions, I was unaware, however about the purpose behind the action.

This news is not new, but there is an epidemic of attention spans getting shorter. Having grown through school and life with a heavy dose and habit of long-form reading and writing I believe I have acquired some immunity to diminishing attention spans. But belief isn’t enough, so I had to test it by reading and writing as I did. It was a relief to discover that I was indeed immune. I read two long-form non-fiction books, wrote reviews and other long-form writing. But, as Sulu would have said, defences were at 75%. Something was missing. The flow wasn’t as smooth, the effort was laboured, and the distraction was larger. There was an urge to complete.

This was new. And I did not recognise this sense at first. Folks had commented on a few posts, saying it felt abrupt. This sense extended to reading. I could see how my reading was changing. I looked forward to finishing the book. I wasn’t skipping parts of the book to get to the end, I was getting impatient with the content.

It was spilling over to my writing, for sure. The urge to publish was strong. And that was affecting the quality and the completeness of the content. The days when blogging was the primary social network is long past us. There is sanctuary there. There is no pressure to churn content like before. Thankfully that has shifted to micro-blogging networks, and I have shifted away from those.

What’s true for coffee is true for life and everything else.

Real Pleasure Can’t come in An Instant.

(Caption Courtesy: An old MR Coffee print ad).

Slow-brewed Heavenly South-Indian Filter Coffee

So 2020 will all be about taking time. The pleasure will all be mine. To savour it slowly.

#SOTD The 59th Street Bridge Song

Sweet Sixteen

It’s that time of the year. Again. The mandatory post of informing everyone how long this blog has been in existence. I say, in existence for a reason. To be alive and to exist, are two very different things. Often, incorrectly, used interchangeably.

Ten posts a year, eleven – if you count this one, does not a blog make. That is, not according to the old standards of this blog. There isn’t a global standard for frequency of blogging, so it really does not matter how many posts you post. So where’s the lament? That is something I have never explored. That, once there was a decent frequency of posts, is the only reference available for these lamenting anniversary posts in recent years.

This year’s theme for the anniversary post seems no different.

But perhaps, I could use this august date to discover why I have been posting posts of lament. Then, the post would not be a post of lament. This blog has always been about bloggable thoughts, so it would be worthwhile wondering if there haven’t been as many bloggable thoughts in the last few years. I’d posit, it is not true. There have been many thoughts, many ideas, many experiences, that have been bloggable. Even as I write this, the memories of all-things-bloggable flood my mind. And I wonder, why they never got blogged.

Things that had to be done to carry on the existence have hogged more time than usual, and hijacked the space and time required to be alive. That is the only conclusion I can arrive at. Which does pose the question, how much time to we really need to exist? At the extreme level, as long you continue breathing, existence is possible. But then what does being alive mean? All of us will have a different take on that – because it is intensely and decidedly personal. And an anniversary is as good a time as any other to think of how we allocate time to exist and to be alive.

It’s time to say yes, again. And again. And for different reasons. In different contexts. For different things.

Reflection

But then, like a pin-drop in a deathly silent room, you hear a question — what if you have changed and the blog needs to change with you? What if this is a split conversation of two selves reflecting differently off an image that once was?

That’s an answer for later.

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Happy sixteenth anniversary, Gaizabonts!