Wise in Foolishness

Religious rituals perhaps have their logic and use, but they don’t sit easy on my shoulders.

Not for me the rituals with no relation to the real. If feelings glisten my eyes, if emotions touch my heart, if sentiments stir my soul—I am alive. And being so alive exhilarates me.

If I can keep my sanity, achieve equanimity, and forgive myself and others for the dark deeds… I would have found Nirvana.

I believe—I am good enough if I am human, and better if humane.

My prayers were answered whenever parents held my hand; I find heaven in the smile of innocent children; I see Gods in the humans who are kind.

My simple routines uplift me—work gives me a high, reading a good book delights me, I am buoyed when I don’t write nonsense.

I am intoxicated in nature’s embrace; I am thrilled when children bring out the child in me; I am awesome and in awe of myself with friends.

My little rituals and elaborate idiosyncrasies—brewing a heady mix of Earl Grey, Assam, and Darjeeling for 3 minutes for that perfect cocktail in a cup, admiring swaying Jacaranda from my window every 33 minutes, listening to Richard Clayderman’s ‘Souvenirs En France’, ‘Theme from Romeo & Juliet’, and ‘Ballade Pour Adeline’ (only in that sequence) for 13 minutes in the shower every morning—transcend me.

These unadulterated rituals and routines fulfil me and reward me a life uncluttered, uncomplicated, and uncompromised. These put my feet firmly on the terra firma and the head high in the heavens while my middle meddles with the mundane.

I am religious about my rationality, fanatic about my fancies, and stubborn about my story. I don’t pretend, nor do I fake.

Perhaps I am wise in my foolishness.

“Wondering Mind Wandering Thoughts” Series

These are my personal thoughts. The intent is not to criticise or belittle anyone or any views.

Jacaranda Tree

To Guilty With Sarcasm

Some people perpetually impose guilt—in ways subtle or crude. Swinging like a pendulum from being aggressive to wearing sorrow on their sleeves, they resort to emotional blackmail, portray themselves as pathetic losers, and wear underdog’s hangdog expression.

They seethe, shout, and sulk; they throw threats, taunts, and tantrums. Locking themselves up, becoming incommunicado, or aiming abuses at themselves are their hallmarks. Leaving food untouched at home but hogging hamburgers in hiding, tossing the teacup to spill and spell their strategic sensitivity, or spewing sweet sarcasm are the tricks of their trade.

Brazen like crazy, to them flinging and foisting guilt comes easy. They cover their cruelty with cunning—wrapping it in sugary words which wound. Past masters at putting others down, they invent sophisticated systems to suffocate.

Bravo, good they are. They inflict injury with elan and hurl guilt with aplomb to hide their own.  They play victim to victimize.

Those who impose guilt are the ones who are guilty. Shall we then be guilty of feeling guilty because of someone’s guilt?

– “Wondering Mind Wandering Thoughts” series.

Pics: unsplashGuilty Sulkingadi-goldstein--KobSuU7b3g-unsplash

Cede & Concede… Lose Senses & Control

Decided to cede control? Cede all the way… And sooner the better.

Putting someone on the steering wheel and continuing to caution and correct from the back seat is a perfect recipe for disaster. The driver has a nervous breakdown; many times the passengers are burdened with broken bones and the unfortunate others suffer collateral damages. Two drivers are too many.

Having ceded management and control of affairs at home or work, why be a leech? It is foolish to nag, instruct, and enquire repeatedly. Trust people, let them make mistakes and learn on the job.

Try to pull the reins forever and be sure to lose respect… and self-respect. Limit yourself to offer help in changing the punctured tyre or filling the tank. Be subtle when pointing out a wrong turn.

Sit back in the back seat and enjoy the luxury of being driven around; after all, you have driven the people crazy all your life. Feel and fly like a bird and sing “Una Paloma Blanca” at the top of your voice. Consume chilled Corona*, sip nimboo-paani**, or savour a Shandy. Be sozzled, spill—it makes sense to lose senses… and control.

*the bottled version; ** lemonade

Wondering Mind & Wandering Thoughts Series

Image: LA Times

JPEG-backseat driving-LA Times

‘Modern’… Really?

Yearning for what is in, what is in vogue…

To be with it and longing to belong,

Aching to see, say & show it first…

To beat others…Oh, the insatiable thirst;

Divorced from depth n cut from contemplation…

Unfailing in following the fashionable n fashion,

Craving for admiration from known and unknown…

Living in the reflected glory and shadow of opinion;

Itching to impress with the idiotic n inane…

Caressed by the crudities and the vain,

Eager to embrace the frivolous and banal…

Pseudo is seduced by the souls shallow n small.

Russel’s wit is unsparing:

“The belief that fashion alone should dominate opinion has great advantages. It makes thought unnecessary and puts the highest intelligence within the reach of everyone”

Let Them Weave The Tapestry Of Their Dreams

We give them the whole world

But in our measured mould…

Lame, limited and limiting

A bother, a burden, a binding.

Let go, let them break free

And soar in their own sky…

Paint their own rainbow

Live life, embrace it, or defy.

Let them push their limits

Happy thus they are, let them be…

Shackle them not in selfish love

With emotions teary n knotty.

The carpet we spread for them

Is warm and comforting…

But let them weave

the tapestry of their dreams.

Wistful…we wish with us they are forever

Alas! together apart, when distant closer…

Fist’s sand soon slips silently away from fingers

Are times and relationships, in palm, held ever?

 

Pic: Jump: Peter Conlan

What More I Want ?

What more I want

I don’t pursue happiness. Nor do I run after enlightenment. I have tiny times when I am content. That is when joy, like a dancing butterfly, enters and sits lightly on my soul.

I have this bliss when I bend to admire a Parijat*, and the dew on it flies to kiss my eyelashes. I smell it in the wonderful words of an old musty book. It touches me when a child tiptoes from behind and closes my eyes with little palms. It comes to me when the rains falling on the swaying trees wet my feelings. I felt it this morning when the season’s first fog filled my senses.

These sensuous moments make my life and are mine for a lifetime.

What more I want?

*Parijat: A tiny white fragile flower with orange stem

Image: Fog: Austin Schmid; Books: Peter Kratochvil

Moving Tree… Journey Through Roots, Spirit n Time

I am rooted, I remain…but to rise roll n run /

I resist, I rest…yet restless I rustle n rush /

I am recluse, I am restricted…only to rove ride n race /

I resign, I am reigned…but I ramble reach n return /

I am restrained, I retire…yet raring roused n rampant.

I stand, I am still…but to sweep sway n swing /

I stay, I surrender…yet I speed sprint n spring /

I sit, I straddle…only to start stir n stride /

I snooze, I am static…but swift spirited n sprite /

I sleep, I settle…yet I sail slip n slide.

 I am tied, I am timed…but to tread trend n travel /

I tremble, I tumble; yet I trip twist n twirl /

I am trapped, I am trounced; only to touch tour n turn /

I am torn, I am tranquil; but I try trek n trace /

I am tired, I am troubled; yet I tour transit n traverse.

My Tree Series

Pic: Linde Lanjouw – unsplash

Is Social Media Turning Us into Zombies?

My following article (titled as above) was published in The Deccan Herald, Bangalore on 28.9.2020. Link:

https://epaper.deccanherald.com/Home/ShareArticle?OrgId=28999f660bc&imageview=0

Article reproduced below:

The hard-hitting documentary trending on Netflix—“The Social Dilemma”—begins with eerie music and a chilling quote that alludes to social media as a curse. In this, several executives who held top positions in social media companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter warn about the existential crisis caused by these manipulative organizations.

It hits us hard with several facts we are unaware of, or continue to ignore. The covert aim of the ‘free’ platforms is to monetise the social media use. They constantly track, collect, and analyse data on every facet of our lives. The advertisers on the social media misuse this data to predict and influence buyers’ behaviour. We, the unaware users, are the products being bought and sold. It is a market trading in “human futures”.

Social media companies treat people as specimens. They deploy experimental tools such as Persuasion Psychology, Growth Hacking, and A/B testing to manipulate behaviour at the subliminal level for multiplying users and their engagement. The social networks lure, push, pull, and even annoy us into doing what they want. These platforms programme our preferences for people, places, and pleasures. They seduce us to buy a product or service which we never wanted. These networks decide how should we live. 

Social media companies exploit social, biological, and evolutionary instincts, and pander to our ‘reward/approval seeking’ tendency. They keep nudging us to ‘like’, check, chat, comment, view, share—the list is endless. We have moved away from user-driven tool-based technology environment to an addiction and manipulation-oriented system. This dopamine releasing drug turns us into addicts and morphs us into zombies and robots.

Social media pandemic has permeated our psyches and penetrated our lives. It has entered our bedrooms and invaded our boardrooms. It tempts us while we sleep, lounges with us in our living rooms, dines with us, and accompanies us to toilet. This pest drives out with us, and sits on our shoulders in school, office, and parties. The fake forces us to forget family and friends. Social media has appropriated our essential resources: time, mind, and free will for making intelligent choices. 

Social media exploits human weaknesses, conditions people, and causes depression. Children and young-adults suffer most—they stay glued to screens for hours, seeking self-worth from pseudo social approval. This self-deception disillusions and disorients. An increasing number of pre-teens and teens are harming and killing themselves after getting hooked to social media.

The agony and insanity caused by manipulation of our minds and behaviour by social media come alive in “The Scream” painted by Edvard Munch, which i have posted here.                

Unlike Wikipedia, social media tells different versions of truth to different people. It changes the reality based on which we act. These platforms create and disseminate fake news. They spread conspiracy theories which can influence elections, create social unrests, and destabilise democracies. To achieve such results through social networking sites is easy because they are fast, cheap, and effective. Social media has circulated claims, counter claims, and lies about Covid-19 pandemic, Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, and climate change. Fake news spreads faster and generates more money for social media companies.

Social media is dangerous because the advances in this technology are exponential as compared to evolution of the human mind. Powered by artificial intelligence, this has become an existential threat for the humanity because of its ability to bring out the worst in society. 

Why is it difficult to shake the monkey off our backs? The documentary answers: it gives us both—Utopia and Dystopia. Social media is an enormous problem, but it has made significant contributions. It is neither possible nor advisable to shut off this engine. Yet serious considerations of ethics, conscience, and humanity remain. The social networks are changing who we are. This raises grave questions for civilisation, and our present and future. 

The crux is the manner in which social media companies earn. Making money is not immoral, but manipulation is. Companies are acting as de facto governments. Stringent laws govern harmful businesses such as illegal drugs, human trafficking, and trading in human organs. Then why not laws for these social media companies which manipulate our minds? 

The responsibility to correct this state of affairs lies with these companies, the governments, the civil society, and the individuals.

These platforms must self-regulate and operate with ethics. They have to dump their manipulative tactics and technologies. This is their responsibility because they created them.

Governments need to regulate the social media platforms with strict laws, penalties, and punishments. The civil society can debate, generate awareness, and engage with these platforms, governments, and public for creating collective will for reforms.

As individuals we must say ‘NO’, and demand that these technologies do not treat us as lab-rats and manipulate us. We have to switch off notifications, remove unwanted apps, and limit screen time for ourselves and our children. Most designers of social media either do not allow, or give limited supervised social media access to their children. We better exercise our mind, will, and choice.

Social media is a problem that needs a solution. The answer lies not in destroying these platforms, but in reforming them. We have to control these controllers. We can’t allow them to hack our happiness. Smart phones are making us phoney. The social media is changing us into anti-social. We have to stop this.

https://epaper.deccanherald.com/Home/ShareArticle?OrgId=28999f660bc&imageview=0

लफ्जों  के  लिबास  नहीं  होते ! Words are Naked !

जो  बातें  कभी  जाहिर  नहीं  होती

खामोशियाँ  जिक्र  कर  जाती  हैं

लिहाज  का  क्या  कहें

लफ्जों  के  लिबास  नहीं  होते

काफिले  चलते  रहते  हैं

कारवां  जाता  है  गुजर 

क्या  खोया  क्या  पाया

रिश्तों  में  हिसाब   नहीं  होते

परछाइयां  धुँधली  हैं

पर  खोया  चेहरा  ढूँढ़ते  रहते  हैं

आईने  पे  सायों  की  जमी  हैं  परतें 

अधूरे  ख्वाब  कभी  पूरे  नहीं  होते

हवाएं  न  जाने  कहाँ  उड़ा  ले  जाती  हैं

परिंदे  परेशां  नहीं  होते

ऊंचे  आकाश  में  छुपी  है  समंदर  की  गहराई 

ख्यालों  के  कभी  दायरे  नहीं  होते

बनावटी  बातें  जो  हैं …उनसे

कभी  कभी  नमी  का  अंदेशा  तो  होता  है

पर  लफ्जों  की  धोकेबाज़ी  से

दिलों  के  रेगिस्तान  हरे  नहीं  होते

बेगानों  में  अपनों  को  खोजते  हैं

और  दूरियों  में  नजदीकियां

दहलीज  पे  खड़ी  ज़िन्दगी देती  है दस्तक    

धड़कनों  के  दरमियाँ  फासले  नहीं  होते

ख्वाइशों की हसरतों  से  हैरत  क्यूँ ,

फितरत  को  जब  हरकतों  से  फुर्सत  नहीं

उधार  की  ज़िन्दगी  से  नाराज  क्यूँ 

हमराज  अक्सर  हमसफ़र  नहीं  होते

क्या  इंसानियत  के  चर्चे 

क्या  हैवानियत  के  किस्से

शख़्शियत   के  कई  अंदाज  हैं  ये 

हासियों  में  बंटी   ज़िन्दगी  के  मायने  नहीं  होते

Pic : Amanda APS