You may not wage the war, but…

You may not wage the war.
But… let’s not forget,
this world itself
is a battleground.
Each one fights
… for space,
… to find his place,
… or leave her trace.
In this world,
the attacker swings
from the right …
or will hurl at you
from the left;
or hit you
from the rear …
or swing a blow,
straight at
your face.
Over time,
Life teaches you,
my friend, to
be cautious.
Be prepared…
There’s little choice…
get trampled upon…
or, hold your ground.
What’s your choice?

~ Pictowrit

In Paris… meeting Mohanjeet!

On 12th October, just over two weeks ago, while strolling along Rue Saint-André des Arts, I suddenly saw this storefront that read, “Diwali”. I was delighted. No pun intended. It was still my third day on my first visit to Paris.  😉

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The bigger joy followed just moments later, when I met Mohanjeet! I was admiring the architectural details on the buildings of this delightfully narrow street, when a lady stopped me in my tracks, held my forearm, and asked, “Are you Indian?” I nodded in the affirmative. (Why would I deny a fact that’s written all over my desi face.) 🙂 I said, “Hello” with a broad smile I could not contain. The lady introduced herself, asked if I was in a rush to go somewhere… No, I wasn’t in any tearing hurry to get anywhere. I’d just got to this city a couple of days ago… and had many more to go. She said, “Then come with me, let’s have coffee, but first I have to go to the post office.” I followed her… we walked together to the post office, then to a café not far away – I remember it was Café Brasserie Le Danton at Boulevard Saint Germain. She asked if I would have a glass of wine. I preferred to have café at that hour. Glad I did — it was Lavazza, my everyday favorite. No sooner was l’addition du restaurant placed on the table — along with a bowl of chips, a glass of wine for my host, and a coffee for yours truly, Mohanjeet quickly put the bill in her pocket, saying she had invited me! Hmm… 🙂 Well, I learned some most interesting facets about her while we chatted. She was rather pleased to see I was with camera et al… and that I was traveling all on my own, immersed in the sights and sounds of this French city, which she seemed to have embraced as her home for almost 60 years! When she learned that I was writing a book – a biography – it brought on a smile. Soon I would learn why.

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She cajoled me to eat the chips from her bowl, and when one bowl was empty, she quickly called for another… obviously, a regular patron there. 🙂 It was getting close to 7 p.m. By now we had been together for a good hour or two. She said she owned a store not far from there and invited me to go with her. We walked back to 21 Rue Saint-Sulpice. Voilà, haute couture, that’s what the boutique was… Earthy colors, elegant styles, this was women’s fashion… classy, chic and a cut above much I’d seen in the past 15 years — garments worn by Indians in the US. All of it was her own creation! While she talked to her staff, my eyes took in all the pretty stuff. She said, “Go up, there’s more to look at up there.” I went up the spiral staircase… ooh la la… more beautiful pieces… Shortly after, she closed the shop, I walked her to her bus-stop, and she invited me to see her again, if time permitted. We met again a few days later. I invited her for dinner. We ate at Cafe Comptoir Tournon, a short walking distance from Odéon – Théâtre de l’Europe. It was indeed a unique experience. She shared some stories from her life – personal, and professional. By now – through a Google search – I had also learned that she had played tennis with Elizabeth Taylor, and that Hollywood stars from Jane Fonda to Cameron Diaz had worn her creations. Originally from Lahore, she had survived Partition, but had left India when she was 19. She had rubbed shoulders with the likes of Yves St Laurent, and her creations had splashed across Vogue, Bazaar and such… but what may be of interest to my friends here is that she also had lunch with renowned actors Raj Kapoor and Nargis in 1952, with personal autographs from them. That was in Los Angeles, when she was a student of Political Science and Literature at UCLA. 🙂 This store – since 1968 – the only active one now, was among 11 that she had owned in Paris! Once upon a time, Mohanjeet had even worked for The New York Times. Oh, wow…

There’s much I could write here… but this should suffice… I was very fortunate to meet such an interesting person… serendipity! A memory I will cherish, and which I doubt will fade anytime soon… Mohanjeet, please take care of yourself. 🙂 I look forward to meeting you again someday. When I knew not even a single soul in Paris until a few days ago, from out of nowhere, you held my arm, and spent time with me. Thank you, for reaching out…

You can replay your favorite song, but…

Life moves on, and you can never rewind nor replay it, ever. That is a fact, my friend, even if this song is drawn from fiction.

Aap Ki Kasam
Rajesh Khanna in “Aap ki Kasam” (1974). Background score “Zindagi ke Safar Mein Guzar Jaate Hain Jo Makaam”

 

Over four decades ago, for a film situation, a very special lyricist wrote a song sprinkled with beautiful metaphors. Today is his 86th birth anniversary.

Story Context: A man, blinded by suspicion, throws his wife out from his life. Much later he realizes his folly. Alas it is too late; she is now married to another man. Deeply saddened, forlorn, he wanders around, regretting his rash decision, aching for the love he had recklessly abandoned.

Here is my transliteration of that iconic Hindi song.

Flowers will bloom, but some will fall off in autumn, to never bloom again next spring. Consider this, you meet thousands of people along life’s journey, but although you call out for some over a lifetime, alas, they may never return… you may never again meet those who had parted – disappointed with you – a long time ago some day.

A note of caution. What your eyes see may not be the entire truth. Don’t open your doors to suspicion… it is the darkest foe of friendship. Pay heed, ’cause if you don’t, you will regret it deeply, and all through your lifetime. No matter how often you call out to your friend (read ‘beloved’), your ‘hello’ will meet a deep ‘silence’. Those who have gone, will never return… ever. Refrain from such recklessness.

A new day will dawn, and dusk will bid goodbye, then another day will dawn, and this cycle of night and day will go on. Time moves on, the moment is here, and before you realize it, it’s gone… it won’t ever return. Man barely takes in the scene on screen, but in a flash it’s gone.

In life, the milestones that go past, will never return.

Here’s the song, I’ve just transcribed in Hindi.

ज़िन्दगी के सफ़र में गुज़र जाते हैं जो मक़ाम
वो, फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

ज़िन्दगी के सफ़र में गुज़र जाते हैं जो मक़ाम
वो, फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

फूल खिलते हैं, लोग मिलते हैं
फूल खिलते हैं, लोग मिलते हैं मगर
पतझड़ में जो फूल मुरझा जाते हैं
वो बहारों के आने से खिलते नहीं
कुछ लोग इक रोज़ जो बिछड़ जाते हैं
वो हज़ारों के आने से मिलते नहीं
उम्र-भर चाहे कोई पुकारा करे उनका नाम
वो, फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

आँख धोख़ा है, क्या भरोसा है
आँख धोख़ा है, क्या भरोसा है सुनो
दोस्तों, शक़ दोस्ती का दुश्मन है
अपने दिल में इसे घर बनाने न दो
कल तड़पना पड़े याद में जिनकी
रोक लो रूठ कर उनको जाने न दो
बाद में प्यार के चाहे भेजो हज़ारों सलाम
वो, फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

सुबह आती है, रात जाती है
सुबह आती है, रात जाती है यूँही
वक़्त चलता ही रहता है रुकता नहीं
इक पल में ये आगे निकल जाता है
आदमी ठीक से देख पाता नहीं
और परदे पे मंज़र बदल जाता है
इक बार चले जाते हैं जो दिन-रात सुब-ओ-शाम
वो, वो फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

ज़िन्दगी के सफ़र में गुज़र जाते हैं जो मक़ाम
वो, फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

The melancholy that seeps through Rahul Dev Burman‘s music composition, and Kishore Kumar‘s voice, along with the visual portrayal of Rajesh Khanna‘s helplessness, his forlorn state in the film, especially during the height of his career, has made this song from “Aap ki Kasam” (1974) memorable. These lucid lyrics, the mastery of Anand Bakshi saab’s metaphors in this film’s context are endearing, easy to sing along, soulful.

Trotting on your high horse?

Headed to Buckingham Palace? Chances are you’re more than likely not going anywhere near there. Then why this compulsion to speak the Queen’s English, eh?  Here’s what I think the issue is…

It’s an instant giveaway that although you’re a product of independent India, you haven’t quite broken away those shackles of your colonial past – even if you were born two generations later. See this invisible long chain… your parents’ thinking influenced your childhood. They in turn were a product of parents amid an entire generation who believed that speaking English with the appropriate vocabulary, specific diction, pronunciation – ‘a command of the language’ would get them in high places. What does ‘high places’ really translate into? It meant a better paid job, access to an ‘elite’ inner circle, a membership into a club reserved for those not just with the means, i.e. wealthy, but also with a certain ‘polished’ look and feel about them. In other words, knowing which spoon to ‘not slurp’ that mulligatawny soup with, which fork to jab the paper thin phulka roti, or dosa with… and which knife to stab the steak with. No… you can’t pretend to be shocked! This was hurtful… because it’s true…

Well, in a desperate effort to give their kids a head-start parents work even harder in urban metros, I hear, paying an arm and a leg to see their kids sail through an International Baccalaureate program offered by a school that may even be tens of kilometers away from their residence — which is hard on young kids. Ostensibly, there’s the  ultimate payoff i.e. easier access to an Ivy League School, or at least better chances of admission to a good university in the US; or even to Cambridge, Manchester, Stirling, Oxford in the UK; or even down under in Australia! Isn’t that true? On the other hand millions of kids and youth strive, struggle and must elbow their way to come out ahead through education at poorly-funded municipal schools (not ‘Public Schools’ since those in India are the elite schools), or ordinary primary, middle school and high schools that are  close to home. In rural areas, they have to walk miles and overcome challenges to get anywhere near a school.  And that’s another story. I’ve digressed.

What crossed my mind is the following. Remember Bharat Ratna Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam? 11th President of India? Ever listened to him speak, whether he addressed the nation, or in an interview on Knowledge at Wharton? He spoke in English, but with an accent that is construed as ‘thick’, not just in the western world, but among his own people – the ones from elite schools. Listen to him, and say you don’t think so… but wait, pay attention to the content and his line of thinking? Amazing…

The point is, with the spread of languages we are exposed to routinely, we are at such a huge advantage (as compared to those who speak only one language — English)! Even the Eastern Bloc folks learn English, but foremost each one speaks their own language, may be even a different dialect. We know that the Japanese, Chinese, in the Philippines, natives of numerous African nations, the French, Spanish, Greeks, Hungarians, Scandinavians, Portuguese… they all are proud of their respective languages. As Indians, to express ourself, if we don’t find an appropriate word in English, there’s always another language we can borrow from… I often do. Just dip into your ‘mother tongue’ – no, chances are English is not your mother tongue, even if your entire family speaks in English! The joy of sprinkling your everyday parlance with your native lingo is immense… it’s so satisfying. It’s like having a complete meal – tangy, salty, spicy, sweet, and oh, with even with some bitterness in the mix! It’s all made so very flavorful…

When I hear Indians say with a hint of pride, “Oh, I only speak English, and am unable to read or write in any other language”, it makes me sad. What if one day, our human race turns into a homogeneous society where everyone speaks and thinks in just one language… how boring will it get! Science, math, technology is all boiling down to zero and one (0,1, 0, 1, 0, 1…) If all the languages of this world are reduced to just one, society, I’m afraid may be reduced to zero. They world may feel, “Know thy English“, but all I would like to say is, “No, to thy English.” “Ride, no?” 😉
QE On Horse_archive_hourseandhound_CO_UK

On 11th June 2016, Happy Birthday to Queen Elizabeth II… Her Majesty turns 90! 🙂
Photo Courtesy: Horse and Hound

Remembrance (2011): My Take

Last evening, I watched this foreign film, “Remembrance”.

It is the story about a Jewish woman, Hannah Silberstein, who struggles to break free from the dark memories of her past life in the Auschwitz concentration camp during Poland’s SS occupation.

Young Hannah falls in love with an inmate, Tomasz Limanowski. Together, after they escape from the camp, he returns home, introducing Hannah – his fiancée – to his mother. Instead of warmth and joy, they face Mrs. Limanowski’s wrath. Circumstances compel Tomasz to leave his too-ill-to-travel fiancée in maternal care — for just a couple of days. 30 years later, Hannah catches a glimpse of him on TV. Truly, was this the same Tomasz who had rescued her? Where did he go? Did his mother reconcile? Now, what?

Remembrance2011Film2

An interesting story set in the mid-’70s, the film’s narrative moves back and forth spatially and temporally, transposing audiences from Brooklyn, NY, to a tiny village in Eastern Europe. Paced perfectly, you will savor the romance and anticipation, while feeling the pain of separation when two people are in love, the circumstances notwithstanding.

The older Hannah – played by Dagmar Manzel – plays a fine role of an anguished woman battling her demons during her 30 year old marriage to an affluent businessman. Based on the true story of Jerzy Bielecki, a Polish social worker born in the early 1920s, and Cyla Cybulska, a young Polish-Jewish woman, the only one to have survived after her family was murdered. Played poignantly by Alice Dwyer, you will see glimpses of defiance and determination even during her stricken youth. Mateusz Damięcki and Lech Mackiewicz, as the young rebel Limanowski, and as the older Tomash, respectively, both portray the character deftly, and with just the right portions of passion and aggression.

Remembrance2011Film

Director Anna Justice has delivered a fine film, with the entire cast in tune with the story. In 105 minutes of the film’s duration she has unfolded the characters at a pace that holds your attention, while developing every one of them – short, or tall – as a strong presence – whether brief, or long. Hannah’s husband, their adult daughter, Tomasz’s brother and his wife, Janusz – a family friend… every character is memorable.

This German film was released in late 2011, so NetFlix aficionados are fortunate to be able to watch it now… before they pull it off from their drama and foreign film categories. Original title: “Die verlorene Zeit”.

Stuck… without a smile!

How often do you think, “I’m stuck”? Pretty often, eh? I’ve felt that several times, and at the time then, I’m stuck in that feeling. So this is a reminder to myself.

For many of us, these clichéd phrases hold deep meaning and may have serious consequences, although the situations we are in are more often than not pretty commonplace. Annoyingly, we walk around wearing an expression that tells the world that we are stuck… [check] What’s worse, is that we silently imply (albeit, inadvertently) that it’s their fault that we’re stuck!

Stuck in a rut

Stuck in a routine

Stuck in a jam

Stuck in a relationship

Stuck in a job

Stuck to a nasty boss

Stuck to the boredom

Stuck in the rigmarole

Stuck to a spouse who won’t live with you but won’t leave you

Stuck in a life without meaning

Stuck in a place with nowhere to go

Stuck in a situation with no hope in sight

Stuck financially

Stuck with bad health

Stuck in a spot

Stuck in a past life with baggage that grows heavier by the minute

Specifics of each situation may be unique, but in a broad sense – at the macro level – these are everyday situations for everyday people, i.e. for all of us. So, is there no solution? But of course, there is, just as there is a solution to every problem conceivable… Even if the system is indeterminate, (mathematically speaking), it’s worth a try. But first, what is the problem? To find a solution, even a doctor asks of the patient, “What is your problem?”

We assume that the person/s across, whom we think we know well – our neighbor, our friend, our boss, our colleague, our subordinate, our partner’s ex, our spouse, our kids, our kids’ friends, our teacher, our gardener, our house help, our chauffeur, our relatives, our in-laws… s/he or they are all doing better than us. We believe that each of them is having an easier, more fulfilled life, has been dealt better cards through life, and hence appear to be a happy/happier person/s. S/he is able to wear a smile because s/he is trouble free… because, unlike us, s/he is not stuck in any way. Now, nurturing such a belief, or making an assumption like this in itself is a mighty huge problem. Yes, that is a problem. The first step is to detach oneself from this core notion. Effectively, acceptance of the fact – we all have problem/s in life – is very necessary. Life is a series of problems that must be solved. Some seem to have an easier test, but what if they don’t have the skills to cope with even that easy test, wouldn’t it be difficult for them? 

The very thought, that nobody else (or none of the folks I know) have encountered a problem (or a series of problems) such as the ones I have, and hence my issues are the biggest, unsolvable, and I’m stuck for life is a thought that must be banished from one’s head. No doubt, because each individual’s life is unique, the circumstances and situation are never comparable to the next person’s circumstances and situation, no matter how similar these may seem. Yet, despite the differences, the common platform is that Person X is in a difficult situation and must cope with it. Person Y is in a difficult situation and must cope with it… so on so forth. If each of the Persons A – Z were to wear long faces, and walk around as though the end of the world is just around the corner… wouldn’t we all be unhinged! Quite a bizarre world we would be living in, eh?

Life is like a puzzle. When you play a video game, or are given a puzzle (with no time limit for completion), many of us are engrossed in it, and enjoy the challenge of solving it. Some day, we’d like to see the complete picture, or solve the topmost level of the video game. Why not view life similarly? When we’re stuck at a level in a game, or while putting a picture puzzle together, would we blame the world, or would we say the other person has an easier game to play with? We would not indulge in such pointless comparisons. Likewise, meaningless comparisons to the next person’s life have no bearing on your situation or life problem. How about spending the energy, the skill-sets we’re endowed with to solve our unique problem/s. When we overcome the hurdle, there’s bound to be joy at having crossed what seemed at the time like a quagmire.

I recently met a very accomplished person and marveled at her accomplishments. Later I learned about her life-long physical handicap since birth. The new knowledge confounded me. But it also gave me renewed energy and a zest to make the most with my able-body and mind. Although this new friend was stuck to a chair… through her mental vitality she was soaring. With plenty to smile about, I refuse to be stuck. Lest I forget a lesson learned, this, as I said at the outset, is a note to myself… a reminder that’s stuck now in my head. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visited your local library, or the local bookstore recently?

When was the last time you visited your local library or peeked into the bookstore? If you’re like me, then more likely you’ve browsed through Amazon books online. Or, if you’re unlike me, you’ve read your books of choice on Kindle, or listened to music on your iPod. Who wants to drag oneself to the car, then drive several miles to the library, only to see drab faces along drab aisles filled with books on self-help? Depressing, eh? Well… if sitting in the car to drive a few miles is construed as ‘dragging oneself’; and real people appear ‘drab’, then online activity is drifting you, me, and them farther and farther away from reality into a phony, make-believe world… and that is surely even more depressing.

We need to snap out of it. Real people have real problems, and they may wear sombre expressions, but so what… that is the reality. By actively escaping into an online world, donning avataars that appear sexy, seductive, aggressive or egalitarian to our online audiences does not make the real you, I, or me that kind of a person. To truly deal with our reality, shouldn’t we face real people, live through real situations, to find real solutions to real problems?

Escapism is fine for an hour or two – as we did in the past when we had only movies – our entertainment on celluloid. But spending hours on end online is neither healthy for the head, nor is it heart-healthy. If we step out of our online space – that space which we believe is our comfort zone to meet people in person… in real time, not simply as facetime, that would be truly cool. Again, just going to the nearby mall, or to the grocery store don’t quite count for stepping out of one’s comfort zone. With self-checkout services everywhere, there’s little scope to actually speak to a living soul. We have to make it a point to chat to someone. Even in our job, not all jobs call for speaking to people… we may go to our desk day after day, and are not required to actually speak to anyone. Colleagues knocked on our door, or would drop by to say hello, or to resolve an issue, or we would go to their desk, interrupt with an ‘excuse me’  to ask a query that would take but a few seconds to answer! But now, our colleague physically next door, or even just a wall — or a hallway away, sends email, or text message. Isn’t it against current business etiquette to walk to a colleague’s door to resolve a tiny issue? Conference calls, video chat, voice chat (by appointment only) are the order of the day. Spontaneity is out in contemporary business or even personal communication. We leave messages, whether it’s in our office, or for someone we try to reach urgently at their office. Nobody answers their phone… oops, sorry, cellphone. Blame it on what was once a boon… the caller id. Whether it’s a bill we want to pay, or a charge we wish to dispute… no matter where, it is all automated. Try searching for a new job… “Don’t call me, I’ll call you” is so yesterday! Should you receive even an email response, consider yourself fortunate, or well, it could be an anomaly.

So what is this world turning into? Isn’t it beginning to seem like the world we used to watch in films? But that was science fiction… oft they were memorable sci-fi films depicting degradation, a depraved human race, and decadence in the future. We are fast approaching that scenario… only now, it’s not on celluloid, it’s in real life.

Why is it then surprising that those self-help bookshelves are burgeoning? Why should it be irksome that people who approach those aisles are in fact searching for some meaning in their life. Folks who are actually taking the effort to drive up to the poorly-funded libraries, and to fast-disappearing bookstores, those who’re browsing through those depressing aisles are actually very real people. So I ask myself, “Who am I to mock those men, women and children who are struggling to keep head above water, striving to be human… while I busy myself furiously typing away at my laptop on a blog online”!

 

 

Gambling… anyone? For a happier planet, we should all turn into gamblers.

Since wake up time this morning, this crazy notion kept crossing (and doubly-crossing) my mind. Okay, please pardon this cheesy opening… I’m a tad excited.

As a kid I read this epic story about a great war that waged between two families – cousins, actually – that started primarily because the oldest sibling (Prince Y) lost his kingdom, his possessions, his respect and even his wife in a marathon series of gambling games. After each game that Prince Y lost, he returned to the table with fervor — his passion (and stakes) seemed to double!

From this emerged my train of thought… Often, friends and well-wishers remind us about the proverbial expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. In my mind I can’t help but think of mother who’s severely arthritic, and intensely intolerant of lemons or lemonade. Her pain is excruciating, reaching new heights after consumption of this sour fruit – in any of its forms… juiced, pickled, sweetened, other. Oh, well… but then Ma is unique (as each one of us would say of our own Mom), and perhaps of ourselves, and our unique circumstances.

Speaking of which, back to gambling. Only 2% people on this planet – (and this is simply my assumption, but a calculated one at that, I assure you) – seem to receive a hand of cards with all aces, from birth until death, or even every time they gamble. The rest of the world struggles between alternating a good, bad, or an awful hand of cards in every game, every phase, every year of one’s life. In other words, lemons, eh?

Poverty begets poverty, the middle class rarely moves upwards – downwards, more likely (yeah, yeah, there are always exceptions to every rule; this is just a hypothesis); the rich seem to always remain rich (at least as we view them from the distance we’re at from them – i.e. several planets apart). Someone may recall Slumdog Millionaire; another may remember their fortune changing on that last Vegas visit, or may even visualize something akin to an Ocean’s 11 scenario. Anyone in the top 2% is unlikely to be reading this, so let’s move on to the essence of where my thoughts had drifted.

If each one of us behaved as did Prince Y – return to gamble even more passionately despite that lousy deck (or hand of cards), wouldn’t we live life with more zest, excitement, energy, and positivity in our life and make it so for those around us? If we live life with renewed energy, despite every failure – in fact because of it – and with rekindled hope that we will win the next time, chances are we will actually win in life. Forget the lemons and lemonades… there’s only so much lemonade you can make and consume from the countless lemons that are thrown at us. But if we live life proactively with a desire to win the game, throwing in all of the energy, skills and talent that we are endowed with, then we’re more than likely going to win… in this gamble, you won’t have to share the bounty. The winnings will be all yours, each time, every time. So play like it’s your last game, determined to win. Allow no defeat to depress you. The battle, if any, is with oneself – yourself, myself, ourselves. If you lose, play again with renewed will to win. It’s a numbers game… the more you play, the chances of winning increase. So gamble like there’s no tomorrow. (Caution: not once did I say “gamble with your money”… nope, that is a no-no). 🙂 Good luck for good winnings.

 

 

 

 

To treasure or to trash… Are you taken for granted? Do you have no self-respect?

If you think a bit about these two questions, you realize that they are co-related. Well, I’m guessing, nobody begins life thinking to oneself, “I have no self-respect”. However, it is possible to live one’s entire life without actually realizing, “I have no self respect!”. Then suddenly, one day, it hits you. Either, someone draws attention to this, or you arrive at the conclusion on your own.  What does it all mean? How does one ascertain whether or not one values oneself?

In some parts of the world, along the ‘growing up’ phase you learn through ‘good teachings’, ‘religious beliefs’, or by following ‘family traditions’, that the “good human being” is the one who makes supreme sacrifices, thereby pleasing others (even if it means hurting yourself, risking your own life, or giving your time indefinitely). In return for “being good” – and whether one explicitly states it or not, or is even consciously aware of this expectation – the person who makes the sacrifices begins to assume and believe that s/he will be loved immensely by all, due to their “good, caring and selfless” acts towards those individuals – the ‘takers’. But in that very thought/belief lies a supreme flaw (which nobody teaches you, nor draws attention to)! Just pause for a moment to dwell on this.

In life, where there’s “give”, there’s always “take”. This rule applies universally. Think of fundamental accounting principles (of Debit the receiver, Credit the giver), or recall classroom physics i.e. Newton’s Third Law of Motion (that every action has an equal but opposite reaction). The difference in real life though, is that complex human nature creates a tendency in people to usually take more than they wish to give. Hence, many will try to grab as much benefit as is possible for the least amount of giving as is possible. In extreme cases, if one can get as much for free as is possible, then oft times there’s even secret self-admiration for being so clever. In the same breath, such shrewd people may even consider those they grabbed from as total fools, idiots! As we often see, the very people for whom you did good, tend to call you a fool.

Now, speaking of human relationships, is it possible that you pride yourself as being the supreme ‘giver’? Think again. Is it even possible for you to be that supreme giver who has an endless amount of everything, including energy, to give, give, and give without expecting anything in return from those you give to? You’re only kidding yourself, because even for the richest, the most generous, or the biggest philanthropist in the world, endless amount of giving (in any form) is just not possible. Therefore, pause to remind yourself that “I am not a Supreme Being (God)”! Remind yourself that you are not endowed with an endless stream of everything, hence you have no luxury nor liberty to ‘sacrifice’ endlessly.  You are not the supreme giver! By this token, nobody can, or should be allowed to expect you to keep giving without having to give you in return!

But ask yourself, how did people you interact with get this absurd idea in the first place – the notion that you should give endlessly without return expectations? Either you put that idea in their head/s by continually giving, and without expressing your expectations in return; or, your actions lead them to believe that i.e. by always being available whenever they called out to you (for help, or for anything else). Therefore indirectly you yourself are responsible for allowing them to believe that you are available anytime, every time, and always… for anything, and that it is okay with you, even if you must bend backwards to make them happy, or give of your time. In some ways, it also implies that you will set aside all your other priorities (or that you have none) to make time for them. When others think – consciously, or subconsciously that “It is okay with you”, that point is the beginning of your downfall! You don’t want to lead anyone into believing this of you. Wisdom lies in the knowledge that nothing in life is for free… not from your kids, nor from your parents, nor from your best friend, spouse… from no one, hence you’re not expected to give anything for free, because you aren’t God (Don’t kid yourself about that last bit)! Your life is not free for all to take as and when it suits them. People don’t have time nor inclination to think for you, nor for your good. They are neither being selfish, nor are they callous. They are just being human – like all of us. Each of us – I, or you – has to place a price for anything we do for others, or for anything you give others… whether it’s your time, your effort, or your love. I’m not suggesting that you ‘buy love’. Those who receive from you – your time, energy, your effort, your love – should be made aware of this fact by you and by you only. Then they will value you, your time, your energy, your effort, your love.They will stop taking you for granted. They will respect you for who you are.

People ought to be made aware of the value of what they receive from you. Just as when you go to buy the best strawberries in the market, or the best jewel, or the best anything… there’s a price one must pay for the best. If the price is not stated upfront, you wouldn’t know how valuable the item is, or even how good the item is. Usually, the better anything, the higher its value, right? How do you measure the worth of anything? When you are told its value or when you see its price tag. If that is not revealed at the beginning of the transaction, the person receiving the item may even be holding the most expensive diamond without knowing its value, and may even throw it away thinking it’s just another piece of rock. Only when you know the price of something would you decide whether to treasure it, or to trash it.

I set off by starting to explain this concept in a very different way. However, I hope those who will read this piece to its end here, will dwell on this simple analogy. Often, a lifetime goes by without realizing or respecting one’s own self-worth. But when you do realize it, value yourself for what you have been endowed with, for what you have achieved. Nobody else can know your value and what you’re worth, except you yourself.  When you know what you’re worth, just watch, even others will begin to see your worth. Be proud of who you are. Others will be proud to be associated with you. Introspection, self-discovery are the first steps to discovering the beauty around us. When you have fun discovering the diamond that you are, others will stop throwing rocks at you. 🙂

 

 

Had trouble finding followers?

That’s the trouble… why do we even think of this as trouble. Are we Pied Pipers driving the art of writing to its death?

Those who truly think independently, don’t quite care about a fan following. The real independent thinkers and philosophers wrote their ideas or expressed them. Because they made sense we read about such people, read their books, or follow their ideas, believe in their philosophies, or ponder over their thoughts.

Writing can be triggered by something you saw, read, or experienced… anything could serve as a stimulus. The idea about having platforms like wordpress, or twitter or blogspot or even facebook… if each of us did our own thing, write our own ‘think’, create content that we actually believe in, it would be so much more fun than just circulating ‘forwards’ from hotmail to gmail, or worse, re-posting it as your own content (aka plagiarizing).

How much of all that we read, or is written is truly meaningful? What I write today on my blog (web log i.e. my diary) here, will the words sound dated five years from today, or five months away, or say in five days? Recall, blogs first started out as digital diaries that you could revisit someday. These diaries were personal, not items and writings that others could pry into. If someone laid even a little finger on it, leave alone leaf through its pages, the diarist would be hopping mad. But a page in a diary gives a glimpse of the person who wrote the words. It may give a hint into a person’s character. What interests me are human relations, how the mind thinks… why it thinks the way it does, what transpired in the person’s life to bring about such thoughts? You can weave an entire story… stories are telling. We will forget products but if there was a story around it, we tend to remember it more.

Today, though, many of us tend to clamor for a large fan following. Just the other day, I recall either tweeting (or blogging) about why anyone should care how many followers I have on Twitter, or how many tweets I posted… or for that matter should it matter to anyone but myself how many folks I follow? What does matter is whether or not my content, words, tweets, chirps hold meaning, have some interesting take or twist on a subject that I read, or found interesting. e.g. on Twitter, I’d be more eager to see a tab that displays counts of re-tweets, or favorite-d strings of 140 characters. But all we do is post link after link without giving our take on it, without expressing our views or what it was that piqued our interest, or held your attention if even for just a moment. We’re in such a grand rush to move to the next subject… all in a hurry, rushing to nowhere in particular.

So here’s what I believe… you can create your own content, or you can curate content that others have created. Yeah, someone will likely turn around and say this is jargon, old hat, content curation is a term used for years now. But my point is, even if it’s been used for years, have we all learned how to do it? Whether as companies, or as individuals, how succinctly can we summarize what we read and present it in a coherent, or more interesting manner, or more pertinently, can we add our two cents to it?

Every platform that is built – either as an app or web tool – is sort of latched on to by marketing departments to promote their brands, products etc. What started off as a space for ‘you, me  and us types of individuals’ now turns into an overcrowded platform used by professional corporate bloggers, content providers, content curators. There’s just so much information out there about everything and nothing. If there’s any particular topic or subject of interest, sift through it to find what interests you, present your views, and create a fabric that appears interesting when you look at it as a whole. If it is linear it won’t be quite interesting, but add dimension, give it depth, add color, bring in elements to enhance the entire picture. But as in any picture or photograph, if there’s a singular focus it will appeal to many. Some may like the picture for the color, others may enjoy it for its texture, but most will enjoy it as a whole, unable to quite pinpoint what it was they liked about it, nevertheless they do like it. Well, in a nutshell, that’s what I think is the purpose of content creation, and content curation.