Saturday, June 23, 2018

Death and other cursory contemplations....

Since last few days, my head has been buzzing. While navigating through the changes in my life I have been excited, exuberant, nostalgic, apprehensive, confident, bothered, optimistic, sad; sometimes concurrently, with a 'to-do list' continuously running through my mind.

It made me recognize the compulsiveness of thoughts and consciousness and life.

So what happens when we die? how does this all stop? will we notice the stillness and silence? will it be dark and lonely? Will it transform into something or it will just be absolute like squishing a bug?

While we struggle to navigate through life, dealing with death is an absolute curve ball with no concept or precedence.; at least not something we remember even if the concept of reincarnation is real and we have experienced it before.

No wonder, all religion and numerous rituals assure/maps/exploit the unknown, promising a "life" beyond life. "From riches and servants being buried with the pharaohs in the pyramids" to "a feast served to members of a particular caste in Hindu culture" to "a complicated system of karma and reincarnation in buddhism" to " a promise of 72 virgins" to "Saint Peters and the gates of heaven and hell" to "burning fires in hell"... and many more notions/fear/concepts of afterlife are known to shape a lot of life decisions for many.

I have my doubts.

Humans lack imagination. Even though we have seen the body disintegrate after death, we still propose that the soul survives to seek and enjoy the pleasures meant for flesh and blood.

So what does death entail?

We don't know. And we will not be able to tell when we know. But may be the better scenario will be that we don't know about it when we know.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Point of No Return?

I really like to rationalize my decisions and stay open-minded about my choices. Several years ago converting from a non-veg-craving youngster to an animal-loving-vegetarian adult was one such choice.

Restaurant Menu's and travel shows repeatedly highlighted what experiences I was missing as a vegetarian. When Anthony Bourdain says you are making a mistake, you are forced to ponder. You also notice the handful of dishes you can eat at each restaurant while you meat eating friends browse through booklets of options. When at Emeril's, they have to cobble you an entrée from their side dishes, it hurts.

But an animal dying for my dietary convenience still did not seem worth reverting my decision.

Then an amazing revelation happened last week. I ordered the veggie Quesadilla at my office cafeteria; one of the two vegetarian options. The second being a veggie burger which is so dry and hard to chew that you wonder if its incorporated with the pieces of the same packaging it was sold in. 

My veggies cooked next to all possible meats on the grill. There was chicken , steak , turkey breasts and more steak. I had no objection to sharing the grill. But the chef was extra sloppy that day.

My ninja cook sliced and diced and sautéed and tossed the different piles of food ... with little respect for boundaries. I did not complain, complying to my own need to "Play it cool" and " be an open minded person"  who should not make fuss over self-imposed preferences. 

I collected my order and got me the usual side of buffalo sauce and returned to my workstation to eat.

To my surprise, my food looked as suspicious as a politician's good intentions. Every brown bit looked as much like a piece of sautéed meat as it looked like a sautéed bell pepper. The smell seemed "meaty". It became mighty clear that I should have not observed the "grill action" with such close attention. 

To my horror, my crossover to the "grassland" may be more permanent than earlier appraised. Though I am still respectful of everyone's choices , I think I should accept that being vegetarian is less of a choice for me, now.

One more reason to wish that there is no Zombie apocalypse. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Aabbbabbaaa

I am seriously questioning the definition of good communication skills!!!

I am pretty sure Aabbbabbaaa is my toddler Nephew's favorite word. And I have never understood, loved, effectively entertained, got entertained and connected with someone like I do with him. Just a few mins with him washes away my stress like some good iced tea can wash down bad, greasy fast food.

Despite his limited vocabulary he is fed, cleaned, entertained as per his will and specifications. He melts our hearts, makes us smile, tell us when he needs attention, approve and rejects our desperate attempts for his giggles, choose his nursery rhymes and effectually guides us to serve him better.

He makes me wonder if there is anything like an effective communicator.

We speak incessantly. We learn multiple languages and accents. We ruminate over completed and upcoming conversations. We pre plan responses to a phantom conversation or arguments. We try to access people and situations based on the words and their tone. Even with a plethora of words, most relationships, personal and professional, suffer with miscommunication and misrepresentation of our true expression.

May be speaking, with intent, finesse, consideration is over emphasized.

May be like in my nephew's case,  the key of good communication is to communicate with the people  who are willing, receptive and excited about what you want to express. May be while we over stress on what and how we communicate, we miss finding an audience who is compassionately wanting to hear us. May be this is why romantic relationships, managerial initiatives and political arguments fail.

Though we cannot have completely receptive audience with predictable reaction till we become successful dictators with very creative ways to vanish unfavorite people , we still owe it to ourselves to hang out with some kind-hearted and open-minded audience. Or we can be mindblowingly adorable like little Aaron.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Why We need only two news bulletins a day?

I am a self-confessed news junkie!!

I started with hating news at a very young age, as news time meant no other TV programs. Dad insisted on watching it from the beginning to the very end, revising the headlines. Those were the days of 20 minutes of structured news bulletin starting and ending with headlines; featuring twice, once in Hindi and the other time in English. The news readers dressed formally, stared into the camera and read from the prompter with a very straight face. Dad as a middle class man with finite means and influence felt the genuine need to know the bigger picture. 

Soon his interest and need rubbed on us, me and my sister. Our young minds started finding the news as captivating, intriguing and thought provoking. It was stranger than fiction, the quest for truth and justice, conspiracy theories, corruption, power, politics, foreign policies… we followed Dad's interest in it. People often noticed and complimented our knowledge of news worthy events. 

We were very excited at the onset of cable TV as news became more interesting. The monotone was replaced by analysis and discussion and investigative journalism where the quest for truth became a little more intense and a little more dramatic. But it was mainly marked by our new found role models; smart, intelligent, confident TV journalist who oozed passion and conviction …. came across as good Samaritans. The khadi kurta’s, rolled up sleeves of pin striped shirts, the enunciated appeals, the visits to far reaching villages or war zones, the discovery of unknown statistics, the analysis panels and hard hitting questions to and from social activists were embraced by us with awe and love.

But as common wisdom goes, everything is good in moderation.

Soon news channels were 24X7. And many more in number. More reports, more repetition of news, more not-so-true news, more of over the top discussion panels, more non-breaking breaking news, more repeated shots of news crew shoving camera in the face of grieving parent/celebrity/undertrial, more Bollywood gossips.

The Indian news casters and journalists tried to strive for a bigger role, as celebrities and political supporters The discussion panel became more dramatized and chaotic much like facts and news. They try to make fashion statements. Many were seen by rubbing shoulder with politicians while standing with and behind them; making a personal profit from their professional influence. 

At this point I moved to US. The media here is sinister in its sincerity.

You can believe in anything and there will be a newspaper/news channel to say how you are right and more importantly those who do not believe in your belief are wrong. You can believe your neighbor is an alien, dinosaurs still exist, bigfoot reads newspapers, unicorns can rap. And there will be a “news” medium to verify and validate it while shaming the non-believers.

Same news and opinions are badgered. Mistakes/gaffes/typos are highlighted till they get set in stone. People with different opinions are showcased so they can be mocked. Attention grabbing headlines are first engineered, then analyzed, then repeated till they provoke a reaction… then the reaction becomes the next headline.

Left, right, center!! All kinds of opinions color the newspapers/podcasts/news sites/new TV channels. They viciously attack and demonize the “others”. The newspapers/channels/website sale has been miraculously revived. I myself read several newspapers but the bigger picture that my dad sought and found is made blurry for me by the large number of sources of constant news, business of profiting from news, propagation of opinions, advice on how I should think and the assurances that “I am right”. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The carnage of Social Media

Nowadays, the need to take sick time off from work is specially excruciating because of the absence of the endearing crutches of the social media.

Once upon a time you could swift through the sweet, non-abrasive, non-political updates and pictures posted by your friends, very safely. Remember, the good times when the worst thing about Facebook was friends showing off the cakes, cars, kid's crafts and nausea inducing PDA.

As thinking individuals, we cannot escape forming opinions. As social beings, we can’t stop ourselves from sharing our opinions. But conversations and josh and smart-ass sarcasm have been replaced with a lot of nastiness. You come across a lot of name calling, insulting meme, a lot of aggression and propagation of one’s own ideology with no respect of others.

The age old wisdom of "don't say anything if you have nothing kind to say" have been thrown out of the window. 

A lot of friends seem uncomfortable. Some threaten to leave Facebook while others invite friends with differing opinions to unfriend them; Some maintain a balance trying to showcase their life/updates/check-ins along with their opinions, some others pretend to miss the new-age-social-media-activism while others have anointed their ideology, prepared a game plan and are set to convert all who disagrees with them... though meanness.

It’s not a complain. I am not requesting helpful tips. It’s a documentation of an observation on how disturbing it is to see the people you respect, disrespecting others; propagating a very unnecessary commotion outside the immediate working of democracy; yet the urgency you feel to express yourself in response to some of the appalling information that threaten to rollback the progress we made as free and civil society.

I wonder if the level of nastiness would have been the same if people had to write their opinion/news/fake news/articles/memes in their own words instead of sharing what seems to be coming from “professional bullies”

We adapt to our environment and this may be the new face of it. May be new social media friend/follow requests will accompany have a sequence of ideology questions to guarantee a rather “happy experience”.

Twitter believe me, is much kinder to me. May be I find respite in sharp perspectives, cleaner words, less attachments or just the comfort of reading from and writing to strangers. Instagram is heaven.


Before I end, thank you to all who show constraint and thank you to all others who don’t. The former group inspires and  guides while the later can always be ignored. This is indeed a very "First World Problem".

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Paralell Universe

Every visit back home, to India, is rejuvenating and re-calibrating.

Every visit home now also feels more disconnected to my life here. It is a funny feeling, where I stay the same person with my thoughts and views, needs and wants, dreams and duties... but the world around me and my position in this new cosmos changes dramatically.

It is like the singer performing in a musical where the set behind her changes while she is still singing the same song.

From the king of my jungle I turn into a claw less kitten, from chef extraordinaire to the ginger & green chilies retriever from the fridge, from a driver to scared passenger who closes her eyes and say a silent prayer just too often, from a decision maker to a permission taker ...

Characters of my musical change too quickly from friends who 'forget' their wallets when we go out for dinner to people who pay for my meals, shopping and existence, from people who think i am funny to those who see every hidden tear in my eye when i try to smile just a little too much, from taking care of myself to getting frustrated of being taken care of by the people who should take care of themselves before me.

..to knowing to each idea of mine will first be thrown out of the window, everyone proposal of help will be met with dismissal and from the head of the family i will move to being the kid of the family who has forgotten to act her expected age.

It is good to be part of two universes where you can still be yourself despite all the changes around you, wherehere you are loved, respected and missed ...is different ways for different reasons and how you love them both again for very different reasons.



Friday, September 09, 2016

#unpopularopinion

Here is my share

o   Making your bed in the morning is the most inefficient activity of the day. You will live through the day and get to sleep in it again!! Be positive people!!
o   I hate the name of the "family size" potato chips packs in the supermarket. They should be called “Motivated individual with right couch and good TV” size.
o   Your Dog or cat may be your babies, but they are still animals. You cannot love them unconditionally while eating other animals. Be Vegan/Vegetarian to declare your true love.
o   Facebook is not a conversion tool. Also the post about your opinion should follow the same rule of kindness and manners that you teach your kids.
o   "American (lack of) choice 2016" is a conspiracy for media ratings like the story of movie "Tomorrow Never Dies".
o   Netflix should have a “happy ratings” on the movie. I can’t afford to have another bad day at work and come back to watch a movie where the dog dies.
o   We should close all weapon manufacturers for one year and open them back only if the world become a worse place without them.  
o   We should introduce intolerance tax. I promise all governments will have enough for all the good work (if any) they want to do.

o   Everyone should be made to try five cuisines, visit four continents, have three passions, try two alcoholic drinks and fall in love with one CAR.