Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Swimming in the stars

Hey Shiv
<No reply>
What are you doing?
Swimming? But I don't see that? Where are you swimming Shiv?
In the stars...
I told you, you are mad!
I told you, I know...

Monday, October 3, 2016

A small chat with myself...

What's up Shiv,
<No answer>
What are you doing Shiv?
Building castles...
Where? I can't see any...
In the air
You are insane
Finally, you know!!!

The war of languages

So, after almost a year I am back to writing… Why... the real reason even I don’t know. But yes, there is one that has certainly played a role in it and that is my last month’s backpack trip to US. I mean I have so much stuff, so many experiences, so many things to share that I need someone and something where I can just pour it all.

I can’t do that with people, guess it can be torturous and I do not believe in torturing souls…<at all>

Anyways, so the first thing that I chose to write about from my bucket full of experiences is about the language. Yes, the language: different kind of languages that different kind of people use in different kind of regions.

While travelling from one state to the other, I just couldn’t resist myself from observing the languages that people from various parts of the world speak (and write, off course).

I was in a plane, which was still to take off. The passenger next to me was a Japanese and he was continuously on his phone. I happened and managed to sneak a bit in his phone (yeah, I know that’s bad habit!) and I saw that his complete phone, I mean all the features were in Japanese, and obviously his whole chat was also in the same language… I couldn't understand anything and that is why I carry  absolutely no guilt of that peekaboo :)

And this is where my obsession about observing languages started.

While I was in Grand Canyon (let me mention it here its one of the most beautiful places I have seen!!), where people from all over the world flock by, I met quite a few belonging to different backgrounds, different countries etc

One of such rendezvous of mine was with 2 girls, from Bulgaria. I spoke to them for a long time. Well, the communication started when poor girls were struggling to take a selfie with the gorgeous Grand Canyon. And I offered to click a picture of them and with that, our chemistry clicked! Pictures and girls, girls and pictures, needless to mention, they have some sort of connection since ages. Anyways, I ended up clicking some 10-12 pictures and they ended up with 20 pictures of mine… Equilibrium I call it!

Anyways, so talking about my obsession, I noticed them speaking in some other language, so I asked them what language were they using, to which they replied Bulgarian…

And then I had this Arabic couple sitting next to me observing and absorbing the beauty of Canyon, and they, guess what were talking in Arabic. <The guess was pretty simple though>

To cut it short, I met or saw or just observed many people and the languages they use, in my whole trip. For instance, Chinese and needless to say they were talking in their native language. There were Latin’s, talking in Spanish…. There were French people and the language… Japanese and their language… amongst few

Then on the way back I met another person from Germany and I just discussed the language thing with him. He told me that in Germany, it is almost impossible to survive without knowing German. Infact, if you get employed there without knowing the language (chances of which are very minimal), you are being given a crash course by the company…

Ditto is with other countries like France, Russia, and Spain etc

Did you notice I did not tell you about Indians. Off course, I cannot be the only Indian roaming around in US! Not for any other reason, but as they say save the best for the end.  And that's what the intention was. 

I saw/ met many Indians…And observed that more than 80% of them were talking or trying to talk in English, without even caring if they are able to speak the proper language or not. As if it’s a rule to talk in English ‘coz you are in ‘Amreeka’…!!! I noticed so many people just struggling with the language! Even Uncles and aunties… You could see that they are using the language forcefully and unwillingly. Especially aunties, who were rebuking their grand-children and guiding their husbands in the canyon in English, rather broken but English with an accent…

BTW, I am not generalizing it at all... I met many genuine Indians as well, who have such brilliant command on the language they were speaking, that it can just leave you mesmerized...

The ones with the fake accent are the ones that annoys people around… but then, deep down when you try to think about this behaviour and phenomenon, you will realize, it's not them who are at fault. It's all of us: Indians, it's our society largely.

Let's be honest here guys, we do judge the brilliance and intelligence of our fellow Indians on the basis of their fluency of English language. If we see anybody talking in a local language, we call them names like ‘Ganwaar’

But why don’t we do that with foreigners, who do not talk in English, who rather talk in their own native language?

And I am bound to ask my fav question, where are we heading to? We are on the verge of becoming a confused society, who is trying to copy west without putting in our brains… Let's face it…

I remember a friend telling me to stop reading and wasting my time on Hindi novels. Instead, I could use that time in reading English ones, as it will also help me build my English Vocabulary…

I know mothers declaring it with so much pride that their children get full marks in every subject, sans Hindi… They don’t know Hindi, they say! Is it something to be proud of?

We remember everything and are also corrected from time to time, about English grammar… Do we remember anything about Hindi Grammar, which is just so vast and logical?

In the seminars and conferences in India, you are bound to deliver the lectures or talks in English language, why shouldn’t you have this option of speaking in the language you are comfortable with.  Imagine, the talent, ideas that will be produced then. Half of the people just do not communicate their ideas because they are not fluent with English language, which is a second and a foreign language for us.

Why are we turning into such a hypercritic society?

I am not saying stop talking in English. All I am saying is let's not demean our own language, which is just so beautiful. Let's respect it. Let's not judge each other on the basis of a foreign language! Let's not alone learn from the west, let's also take and imbibe good things from other countries…  See the way they love their culture, their language, and their things. Observe the way they cherish them and keep them so safe. We should also do that…

They give a damn about the second language. They never care about the accent or about the grammar, for them, it is a second language. They speak in their own accent, own way… They leave it on others to understand… When we don’t judge them, why do we judge our people who talk in Hindi? Is Hindi or any other Indian language so bad?

Out of connotation, let me mention it here about some of the most beautiful words you have in Hindi and Urdu. They sound so poetic that you can't help, but fall in love with them like Jazba, Prerna, Adbhut, Avkash, Chaaon, Rimjhim, Jhilmil, Silsila, Jijivisha amongst million others

I am not demeaning the English language BTW, in any which way. Just that let's not demean ours, just to add a bit of ‘cool’ factor to our personality. Just to make an impression on some hypocrites.

Let's love our native language equally and let’s respect it the way other people from different parts of the world does.

P.S. Just observed, selfie word still shows spelling error! Still not added in the dictionary… How???? And why????

P.P.S. I always thought I would never visit ‘Amreeka’… I thought I would never like it (probably because I am not a great fan of concrete jungles) but this trip proved me wrong! I loved every bit of this visit. The place is much more than concrete jungles. Ok… that’s for the next post J

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The tough decisions: You or them...

We, humans are so weirdly wired. No?

We love to be free. Yes, we do and every single person does! Come on, don't you? Everybody does. We all feel like just being by ourselves, doing what we love and what we actually want to do... Right? But then still we are so desperate to bind ourselves in relations, which to a certain extent takes away that freedom. 

We bind ourselves by creating so many expectations from our loved ones and in return, working hard to fulfil theirs. And in all this, we simply forget ourselves. We forget our individuality. We become so busy giving love to others that we simply forget to love ourselves. We become so busy fulfilling other's expectations that we just start taking 'us' for granted. Is that right? We don't even care if we are happy or not.

And the worst part is, till the day you think about others and make your life and decisions revolve around the people you love, they will be happy. They will be with you, they will adore you but the moment you try to take that away, the moment you try to add 'You' in your life, you will mess it up all. The same people who use to love you will start criticizing you. Trust me! Actually, they will start finding faults in everything you do then, even with the things that you used to do before, things that used to make them happy! 

You will be left alone, thinking and pondering what wrong did I do? Thinking if this life is actually yours? Thinking which way to go? Yours or theirs? To make yourself happy or them? Tough decisions!

And be ready to be labelled with different adjectives: Selfish, egocentric, Self-centered etc.

They will kill you every single day with these harsh words... Be ready to get tortured. 

It's not easy to love yourself in this cruel world, 'coz the price you for that is loneliness.

P.S. Sometimes I feel 'selfish' people are the happiest people on this planet 'coz they give a damn to what others think about them.

P.P.S. Have you heard about unconditional love? Well, there is no such love... Till the time you fulfil the conditions, everything will be heaven and you won't even come to know that you had been fulfilling them. The day you stop entertaining those conditions or pay any heed to them, you would understand that there is no existence of such words as 'unconditional' when it comes to giving adjectives to Love!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Century Trilogy: Ken Follett (Book Review)

“This is amazing,” Volodya said. “He’s the President, yet he has to make excuses all the time for what he does!”
“Something like that,” Woody said. “We call it democracy.” 
― Ken Follett, Winter of the World

Once in a while a book comes along that grips you entirely, making it impossible to concentrate on other mundane things. After long this book has done exactly that. Absolutely unputdownable!

The characters are so well etched, their stories intermingling to perfection. Follett gives such a brilliant insight into the psyche of so many people in different geographies of the world and at different levels. Indeed, a wonderful read this trilogy by Follett had been.

This series deals with the economic, political and social incidents that marked the last century. The wars, the cold wars, the conflict between communism and democracy, fights for the civil rights, Revolutions in different parts of the world etc.

Follett tells you the complete history with such an ease, without making it boring, via knitting the characters so beautifully and perfectly. The series shows how enormous and wide-ranging were the effects of the incidents that took place in the last century.

The historical background is brilliantly researched. The details and the language will mesmerize you completely! With this series, he brings a world to us, that we always thought we knew but then, it will never be the same again.

As usual I wouldn't get into the details too much and make it boring. Will just try to pen down the gist

The 3 books, as I mentioned above are:

1. Fall of the Giants: The first book in the trilogy! I must say, it laid the base so brilliantly and made me hooked not just to it but also to it's successors. This book is an epic of love, hatred, war and revolution. The novel follows five families (with interlinked characters) through the world-shaking incidents of the First World War and the Russian Revolution in vast. The novel leaves you with nothing less than imagining the whole drama and leaving you with a momentous effect!

2. Winter of the worlds: This one begins exactly where the first book ends, with the same five interrelated families which are American, German, Russian and English. It deals with enormous social, political, and economic turmoil. All this begins with the rise of the Third Reich, via the Spanish Civil War. This book completely deals with the incidents of second world war. It tells about the struggles of the people in those times and also, the unfolding of the incidents at a higher levels.

It covers the catastrophe and cataclysms that marked the mid of the century.

3. Edge of Eternity: The third book in the trilogy... And I must say it is such an extensive and passionate closure to The Century Trilogy.

Throughout the series, Follett has tried to display the life of its characters and has followed the destiny of the five families. This book is about the enormous social, political, and economic turmoil in the later decades of the century, which covered civil rights moments, mass political movements, cold war between US and Russia, a war over the small countries, a war between communism and democracy. The book also gives a sweeping description about the Vietnam war, the Berlin Wall, the turmoil in countries like Hungary and Czech and the Cuban Missile Crisis

The best part what I liked about the book is the way Follett has described the fall of the berlin wall! He kind of forces a surge of emotions to erupt within the readers. For me, these emotions erupted in the form of tears. And I also like the way, Follett started the book with the Civil Right fights for blacks in US and he so beautifully ends it at Obama becoming the president of the state. It's a turbulent rollercoaster yet a beautiful journey that Follett takes you through this book. And he ends with such an amazing words by Shakespeare:

Time's glory is to calm contending kings,
To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light,
To stamp the seal of time in aged things,
To wake the morn of sentinel the night,
To wrong the wronger till he render right,
To ruinate proud buildings with thy hour
And smear with dust their glittering golden towers.
-William Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece

Go ahead, read it, You definitely will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ajaya and Rise of Kali: Anand Neelakantan (Book Review)

No self-respecting God would allow a good man to be happy for long. God has relevance only in the unhappiness of good people.
― Anand Neelakantan, Ajaya : Epic of the Kaurava Clan

These 2 books: Roll of the Dice and Rise of Kali: Strong enough to alter and shake all my prejudices and beliefs completely. The beliefs that were instilled and imbibed in me, deep and profoundly, since childhood!

Initially, I thought to write about them separately because both the books are so vast and they carry huge amount of information, emotions, story, drama and all. But then the problem is one book is incomplete without another, the second one is a continuation of the first, so thought to write about them as ‘one story’

There is nothing new in the story or the incidents, Its Mahabharata, which we have grown up reading and watching again and again… The same story, same incidents, same characters, same drama, same plot, same conspiracies, same events, there is nothing different, absolutely nothing, apart from one thing, and this one thing has the capability to change your perspective about the ‘same’ old story and ‘same’ monotonous incidents entirely! And the thing I am talking about is that this Mahabharata is written from DSuryodhana’s point of views, the view of the fallen, the view of the defeated. This book, somehow makes you believe in a very old saying, “The history is written by the people who are left and not by who are right”

Here in this book, the same old incidents (exactly how it happened in ‘our’ Mahabharata) has been depicted from the most evil man’s point of view and believe me, it will force you to questions all the things that you were made to believe via this great epic.

And BTW, if you are a fan or lover or believer or follower of Lord Krishna, do not even think of reading this book, because it's going to rip your beliefs apart brutally, it will tear your trust and love for him mercilessly and will force you to question the Lord and his ways.

The book is beautifully written, with so much detailed and extensive research, so much to the extent that not much of the events have been twisted or molded or added, by the author to prove his points right. Infact, the author manages to convenience the reader about the course of events from the other side (the evil side) and also manages, to make a space for DSuryodhana in the reader’s heart.

Go ahead, if you are a lover of unconventional writings if you are a believer in looking at both the sides of a story, if you are audacious enough to read and believe that God can also make mistakes, go ahead and grab this one.

And trust me, this book will leave you with several questions about everyone!

I cannot find enough words to write about Anand’s fabulous way of writing. I had been a fan of his Asuara and these 2 books had just been an addition to that list. And these 2 books have completely lived upto the expectations, even after an amazingly depicted and written Asura

Beware: For the first time, you will shed tears and you will feel an excruciating pain for all the evil men in Mahabharata, especially Karna and DSuryodhana. They will make you cry!

Go ahead and read  them..

How naive you still are, Arjuna my friend,” Krishna said with a smile. “Once you win, everything will be considered fair.”

― Anand Neelakantan, Ajaya - Rise of Kali

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The game of Equality...

Yesterday I was having a discussion with one of my friends on a very common topic which is in fashion these days and which has also kind of become an obsession for everyone these days. Rather I should say I don't know why but everyone seems to be going gaga over it, whether they understand it or not (Really!!!). Anyways, the topic was 'equality' discrepancies between males and females in our society.

Now during the discussion, my friend asked me with full emotions in her voice that why are we not treated equal to men, even when we can do all the tasks equally good. Now, I have absolutely no problem with fighting for gender equality, we should and we need to...  but I have serious issues with the weird and absurd reasons that we give to prove ourselves right, like "we (women) can do all the things that men can do", "we are equally good to men in every task" and all that

No doubt, we are...

But then let's think about all the hows and whats and buts and ifs and most importantly, why's. I mean Why, we women are so desperate to be called and declared equal to the other sex? What's the need? Why do we have to scream and shout and tell everyone that we are 'equally' good as men in doing every task that they do? Why?

I, somehow believe that we are much better than them in many other tasks, that they can't even think of doing. Why are we running behind proving ourselves equal to men in other stuff and works, leaving the amazing plethora of tasks that we are experts in, and men can't even come close to us in performing those!

And moreover, we are built differently by Nature itself. Aren't we? Both physically and mentally! Women weren't created to do everything that men can do. They were, in fact created to do everything a man can't do.

We both have our own set of strengths and weaknesses, and why the hell then, we are so much desperate to be equal to them?

And BTW, if research is to be believed then, there are some notable differences between the way our brains works as well, like:

The brain areas that control aggression and anger are larger in women than in men, which may account for some degree in larger male rates of violence.
Women handle stress better than men.
When it comes to intelligence, there are more male than female outliers. Girls, don't boil your blood. It just means that Male IQ has greater variance than female IQ; in other words, while females cluster toward the middle, more males occupy the extreme high and low ends on the intelligence scale.
Women are more likely to suffer from mood disorders.
Women feel more pain, but we all knew that already, too.
The female brain is geared slightly more toward language.
The male brain is geared slightly more toward math.
Women are purported to have better communication skills and emotional intelligence than men. Women tend to be group-oriented, and apt to seek solutions by talking through issues.
Women are more emotional, but we all knew that already.

These are just very few examples from a large list of differences that both sexes have. And these differences show very clearly that we, both the sexes work according to our brains. Women are good in certain things and men are good in other departments. Big deal! We score high at some places and they score in other places. Win-Win situation. Why do we have to hijack their list and prove a pro in that as well? Why? And you know something, we are losing our individuality, our uniqueness in this thrust.

Not just mentally, even physically, we women are so different. Its us, on whom lays the responsibility of giving birth to the new lives. Which means somewhere physically, our bodies are more endurable, much more stronger. Isn't that so incredible and beautiful? Isn't that something so special. And instead of being proud of that, we waste our time and energies in pondering about why and how and what needs to be done to prove ourselves equal to men. Again, why?

When nature itself has given us so many special characteristics and qualities to cherish for, then why are we so eager to bring ourselves down? Why don't we take pleasure in those and admire them and feel proud and happy about us: The Women.

Guess, we need to start celebrating Feminism, which is much deeper and meaningful than these mere petty things. Its beautiful, Its amazing. Enjoy it rather than ignoring it for other useless things. Let's love ourselves. Let's be proud of ourselves. Lets celebrate us...

PS. Trust me. Its great to be a Woman. And feel proud about it...
PPS. I read something beautiful, somewhere on FB:
Our generation is becoming so busy trying to prove that women can do what men can do that women are losing their uniqueness...
Isn't that so true?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jealousy: A Hungry Emotion or a Signpost?

“Welcome to the wonderful world of jealousy, he thought. For the price of admission, you get a splitting headache, a nearly irresistible urge to commit murder, and an inferiority complex. Yippee.”
― J.R. Ward, Dark Lover

Jealousy, an emotion that has troubled innumerable brains, broke countless hearts and caused unrest to numerous souls, in various ways.

Let me go back to my childhood and narrate a small incident which will make it easy for me to explain the whole thing further. 

Ok, so I have this cousin of mine with whom I am very close, very close since the days I remember. I am certainly not here to tell the happy and glorious cousin tales, but then to narrate a weird obnoxious thing behind those happy moments. 

You know she used to live in a metro city and I belonged to a small town. And so, there were differences between us, quite a few notable ones. She used to wear beautiful dresses, had such beautiful wavy shiny hair, she had many barbies, trust me many! And on top of that, she had different dresses and accessories as well, for them. And to my dismay, she scored higher than me even in studies. So, in gist, I used to feel terrible and horrible and inferior and whatever negative adjectives you can think about, can be made to fit in this puzzle. But I would like to mention here that despite whatever, I never stopped loving her. Then, now and will always do!

Anyways yeah, so there was this one emotion, that used to erupt frequently, whenever I used to see her dresses, her barbies, her hair, her stuff, her amazing books and off course, the way my parents and other relatives used to treat her. But Barbies was one thing I tell you, I used to feel extremely jealous about. May be because of my age... 

But you know when did this thing crossed the limit? Well, a day which was gloomy and depressing for me. I was in pain because of all this, so much so that it made me hatch a plan - a devious one. I was up a little late in the night and waited for everyone else to sleep. And once sure of that, I just went off to my cousin's bag, picked up her fav barbie (and off course, the most beautiful one) and broke it into parts and threw it off at the back of our house (with all her accessories) which was nothing but a field of wild plants. And trust me, I felt so contented at that time and regret it today! 

I don't understand that particular emotion, that thing, that strong thing that made a little girl do such a heinous thing? Jealousy! And this is one emotion I was and is so much scared of. Jealousy can make you do things that you cannot even think about doing normally. 

It takes you into some other zone, where you are not yourself, you are just unable to think, as if somebody has switched off the button of your sanity. 

That's what jealousy does to you, it gives you pain and you pay the price of your sanity for it... And why do we do that? Because we become helpless. It just happens without you knowing or even realizing.

In fact I very strongly believe that when you are jealous, you make up stories, all kind of unreal stories in your mind and torture yourself. You strive and crave to know more about that person, about that thing that you feel jealous about. You start craving for the content. I don't know why? It hurts you, it gives you pain, but you like a fool still go back and search for more such stuff. You are just unable to leave it and live in peace!!! Isn't it? You know why?  Because jealousy is a hungry emotion. An emotion that needs to be fed, fed with imaginative and unreal stories, if there are no real ones. 

Take example of social networks, whenever your friends put up check-ins in some exotic places, you almost stop breathing, that surge of pain is much more than anything. And don't lie girls, whenever you see those pictures of other girls with flawless skin, beautiful hair and eyes, on insta, you start pondering about why you dont have it all. A small tip here: invest in some expensive makeup kit and you will have it. Anyways, yes so guess that's the reason why social networks are so successful (of course, apart from other amazing reasons). They feed people with content! And we like fools, go back and feed on the same content and go through the torture! 

Why don't we just stop feeding this monster? And if we do so, it will eventually die and you will never have to pay the price of your sanity for it after that. And trust me, you will live happily!

Or think it from the other angle, I sometimes even believe that you generally feel jealous of stuff that you think you can achieve or get, but do not have. We tend to envy things that are actually within our grasp like in above eg a barbie doll or good marks or that attention of my parents or relatives.

Now let's give this poor emotion a bit of positivity. Jealousy could be a signal for anybody to put in more effort into things that you envy about others: like a relationship, or appearance, or  a job or whatever. 

Jealousy is a signpost. Period! 

We are jealous of attributes that are attainable to us. So, next time you feel jealous, stop feeding the emotion and start working on the things that makes you feel jealous because trust me, they are the ones that are obtainable and that's why they bother you. 

PS. Have you ever felt jealous of somebody for being an astronaut? or for being something that you know you can't? No, right. Even if yes, then it is for a small duration

PPS. Yep! I never had the audacity to ask my dad for a barbie.