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Indianhyperbola

I see things, they make me think, my thoughts gush out through digital ink…

When Jack Uninstalled WhatsApp

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Monday isn’t the worst feeling. Realising on Monday that you have wasted your weekend, is.

It is the feeling I get, when I fail the weekend. I totally felt like a Jack (suffix avoided) few weeks ago for giving away the precious weekend just like that. It is not that I don’t do interesting things over a weekend, it’s actually about how I used to do them. I kept doing two things at once, one of which was checking my phone frequently. It is sad because this can barely be categorised as multi-tasking! More importantly it is not what I deliberately do. Well done, Social Media!

This compulsive-obsessive behaviour made everything so much less fulfilling because I would be distracted the whole time. I was distracted when I was watching a series, listening to music, or even when I was eating an amazing Sunday lunch. I didn’t enjoy those things as much because I was not really paying attention to them.

Commitment makes us feel rewarded. It heightens the value of both anticipation and realization of the outcome.

‘So what is the way of repatriation? What is the way to go back in time when everything used to be more satisfying? This time was not so long ago. This was the time when Social Media didn’t happen to us. So how about I give myself one less reason to check my phone?’

I got a tinker. Eureka! I got WhatsApp from Surekha (name changed here). She had sent me a joke that wasn’t even funny. (This is coming from a guy who just rhymed Surekha with Eureka for no apparent reason. The point is, her joke was worse.) I realised that I get so many WhatsApp messages every day, most of which don’t bear any implication on my life. Also, I can’t not check them as soon as they come.

The one who can sit at ease, possessing the knowledge of having unread messages in his phone is no less than a monk in this digital age. #PeaceOfMind #PieceOfMind

To confess, I am active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (with varying levels of activity) but personally I don’t find it difficult to ignore notifications from them. Personal trivia: I check my Facebook only on desktop & not on phone (expecting to raise a few eyebrows here). But WhatsApp had a special place in my heart and we were sort of in a love-hate relationship!

Although addicted, I had been considering to go off WhatsApp for some time now because of untimely, unruly and unfunny messages, or rather my inability to not check them every now & then. So I changed my status to ‘Off Whatsapp. Call if anything.’ and uninstalled it. It was like a mutual relationship breakup that a less committed person enforces on the other one.

Had WhatsApp been my Girlfriend I would have said, ‘Hey listen, you’re a great girl you know. You mean so much to me and to so many people. You really are important. But I’m afraid it’s not working out anymore, we are different people… (blah blah)

I don’t have any quantitative data about how strong is the correlation between our social media usage and focus/ productivity/ satisfaction in general, but they are certainly linked. With no WhatsApp in phone, I did many things and had a fulfilling weekend after a long time! (I could tell you all about how I could spend more time with my parents and music that I explored but instead I will tell you my scene with WhatsApp…

  1. All for one, one for all…

It just gets to me how we use the same communication platform for leisurely/ personal/ urgent/ professional needs. If I may draw a 2 by 2 grid with personal & professional on X axis and trivial & urgent on Y-axis, WhatsApp would sadly appear in all 4 quadrants. Because it is so, does it effectively underline our intention of communication?

  1. Too cool to care

Taking my point 1 ahead… WhatsApp has truly revolutionised the way we connect and it certainly offers a great deal of convenience in our busy-busy lives. In fact, it has made it too convenient for us to connect with each other. Because if you have been using the phone for long, studies show that it takes at most 3 seconds for you to type ‘I really want you to be ok’ and at least 3 minutes to say it and mean it, over a call. (Statistics are unverified/made up.)

  1. Converse (Thought of it as brand and not verb? You probably buy more shoes than books on Amazon)

The beauty of WhatsApp is that you can always bother someone with something that they don’t care about! You can talk about something that they may not want to discuss. You can talk everyday but you may not necessarily converse. (Remember Surekha?)

  1. I’ll be there for you (cause you’re there for me too)

Being on a receiver’s end, how much do you want to be available for others? Do you want to say, ‘Yes, I’m available (that is in fact one of the pre-set status updates). I’m available for all of you. Go ahead, send me a forward just as easily as you send me a personal message.’

 

After reading all these reasons, you would ask that if it was so bad then why was I in this relationship at all? Good question but your question hurt me (Any Bollywood fans?). It hurts me because the answer is simple & stupid…

We always need someone. Someone who will validate us. Someone. Anyone.

We all want to hear and be heard. I used to overdo it with the help of WhatsApp. There are other Social Media platforms as well which help us in constantly surrounding ourselves with people and their murmur. Sometimes, these people shout out in the name of ‘self-expression’, at times for nobody’s sake. My objection is not to connect over social media, my problem is with mundane engagement while so much value addition can be done doing other things like reading (online or offline), watching (movies, series and documentaries) or talking to real people about real things.

These days we can get anything online, from pseudo intellectualism to armchair activism. Yes, there are powerful ideas and collaboration too. For what it’s worth, we must be sure of what and how much of it do we want. Because there is no end to it. You keep scrolling and you will be led on.

Take a step back from this Social Media paranoia. Let go off the Fear of Missing Out. Don’t give in to this fascinating chaos of constant chatter. There are a lot of people who want to talk to you. By people I don’t mean just people, but brands, causes and even governments. Don’t be flattered. Because, some of them don’t even want to talk to you. They want to talk to someone ‘like you’. 26, Indian, follows football, digs certain type of music, does certain things on internet, etc etc. That is my digital sketch. It is statistically accurate & behaviourally synthetic.

Talking about something as personal as WhatsApp, you will agree that people send each other information because they ‘think’ that it is relevant for the other person. That’s why you don’t enjoy humour in your family group; they don’t get it that you don’t get it (or need it).

With technology, it is now easier to typecast people.

We are exposed to certain type of content because of algorithms of these sites which track our digital footprint and neatly dissect our digital personalities. They create echo chambers, as they expose us to the views and opinions similar to what we currently express. This is all staged for achieving content stickiness by showing us the content that we tend to Like, Share or Comment on. It leads us in a direction to believe that this world is what we think it is. Had the algorithm of these sites been neutral, the articles I share would have reached to as many people as my newly updated profile picture does. It’s so unfortunate that with such an uninteresting face I get more views and Likes than I get for sharing an interesting article.

It is not that Facebook doesn’t want you to read or indulge in something more meaningful than just a pretty-pouty face, but it is designed to majorly push towards you the content that you are more likely to engage with (Like/Share/Comment). In that sense it is more likely for us to be engaged with a photo or a video than an article.

We need to seek better things. Because we can.

It’s true that the marketers of our age have to find their ways to talk to us, it’s their job. I know how badly brands, governments and even people want to reach out to people. Sure they all want to talk to us. But so what? Whom do we want to listen to?

What needs to be done is we need to consciously prioritize on what we choose to hear & what we choose to see because that in turn will fuel what we want to say. ‘If you make your opinion by listening to others’ opinion, then really what’s your opinion?’

Let’s not make chat-bots out of ourselves; all sounding so similar. Let’s try to consume varied content that we choose for ourselves, so that we turn out to be ‘individuals’ in true sense. Let’s break away from Social Media loop and go beyond ‘Recommendations’…

 

PS: I had been off WhatsApp for 3 weeks, just enough time to form a habit or break one, in my case. Now I’m back on and I’m not addicted anymore. After returning from 21 days of exile, I had 65 unread chats. I went through them one by one patiently, reading almost everything in group chats. After I was done I realized that there was nothing that I had ‘missed out’ on.

Jack and Jill got digital quill
To share a bit of chatter
Jack fell out then Jill fell out
And it didn’t really matter!

 

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Underdogs and A Non-AC Bus

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Recently, I had been to one of the premier B-schools in the country to attend a couple of marketing related events. The visit was brief and I was like a man on the mission! I was looking forward to attending workshops by the best in the business and they didn’t disappoint me even a bit. But what I remember vividly is not any speaker session but something unusual that happened.

We were sitting in an evening session, the speaker was late & everybody was getting impatient. There was chatter happening in all corners of the room. May be the organizers saw an opportunity to fill in the slot by engaging the audience in a ‘sponsor slot’ and we saw two representatives of a sponsor company climbing up on the stage. They put their presentation on and we knew that it was going to be one of those sales pitches. ‘Aaahh not this’ I’m sure everybody thought this unanimously. One of them started with introducing himself and his colleague. He moved on to explain the product, the features, the benefits, etc. He was very nervous, as if instead of all the product-gyaan, what he really wanted to scream was ‘I didn’t sign up for this!’ But still he kept on, bravely facing 200-300 people, hiding his anxiety. People were desperately waiting for the speaker to turn up and he had to engage such an audience; tough situation but it’s ok. Things don’t work out well some times and you have to step up for unknown challenges. He was really trying to cope up with this one. Suddenly somebody yelled from the audience. I was shocked, my other two friends and the entire room was shocked I guess. I looked back but I couldn’t spot the person. It was a female voice. She yelled again ‘THE AUDIENCE IS THIS WAY!’  What had happened was while talking, the presenter had turned his back to the audience without knowing. After this incident, he was embarrassed to death, he heard it but he didn’t know how to react.  He pulled himself together, stood straight again and said, “Sorry.” He took a breath and he continued. Meanwhile, there was a little bit of applause for what the lady had said. This was even more shocking!

People actually thought it was cool to do what she did? Or was it just embarrassing for me? It was awkward to an extent that I felt something moving in my in my chest and my stomach. It was a very weird feeling. I texted my friend ‘I’m disturbed. I’ll tell you what happened.’ The incident was totally uncalled for. I think it affected me much because it hit my soft corner for underdogs. He was not good enough, I agree but he was trying and that matters. Nothing justifies somebody from the audience making such a crass remark. I decided to support the poor chap with my attention and nods of validation wherever I could. That’s the most I could do for him. He managed to survive the presentation along with some unfriendly giggles, increasing chatter, uninvited rounds of applause in between and what not. He was treated terribly and I didn’t find any organizers around who could stop this nonsense. The presenter stepped down after he was done and walked away to a very hard round of applause. I just sat there, still and thinking. The speaker finally arrived, we had a great two-hour session but the feeling in my gut didn’t leave me. I kept feeling terrible for a long time.

Cut to – boarding the bus. Couple of hours later, I was getting on the bus to travel back to Mumbai. It was a non-AC bus with double-decker sleeper coaches. Each section of the coach had a sliding door, dividing it into boxy compartments. Well, this was new to me. As I was about to slide into my box, I heard a voice from top opposite coach, “Bhai charger hai kya?” He was asking for a phone charger. Phone chargers have helped mankind initiate the most number of conversations with strangers since the advent of smartphones with bad battery life. I carelessly said, “Haan dekhna padega”, which can be loosely translated to ‘I’m most probably not giving you my charger.’ Generally, I’m nice to strangers but my mood wasn’t alright. To add to it, there were loud discussions in the bus among various groups, within groups and without groups. The discussions were in the local language and I’m assuming by the tone that they weren’t very friendly ones. I sat on my coach with legs stretched. I got a text from my friend asking if I boarded the bus. Rest of my friends were traveling in an AC bus that they had booked a day before. Here, I was sitting in a booked-in-advance non-AC bus with nominal difference in the ticket prize, trying to settle in a humid place while questioning my decision. As I was going to shut my compartment door and lock myself in, the same guy said, “Chappal andar rakh lo, chori ho jayegi.” I looked at him as I picked up my chappals and put them on a rack inside my compartment. I thought to myself that I gave him a very straight-faced reply for no reason earlier when he had asked for the charger. I shouldn’t have done that. So I took the charger out of my bag and handed it to him quietly. He said “Thank you. Thodi der mein de dunga.” I smiled and nodded.

The bus started moving and then it was very pleasant with the wind blowing. Although I was not in a very happy place since evening but now I felt alright. Only after I enjoyed this luxury for a few minutes, the bus stopped again. As some more people boarded the bus, the charger-chappal-guy got down from his coach, sat in the passageway and handed me his phone with the charger that I had given him. I kept his phone for charging. Earlier he was just a horizontal head sticking out of the compartment, but now I finally saw him in full frame! He was a young chap with dark skin, messy hair, ruffled clothes- dirtied probably by labour work. I smiled at him, he smiled back. I asked, “Kaha jaa rahe ho?” He answered. I asked, “Rehte kaha ho?” He answered. Education was a sensitive area so I chucked it. I asked him about his work and why was he traveling. He answered everything. When I asked him about his family he said “Mere maa pa… mummy daddy rehte hai gharpe. Mein aur bhai company mein jaate hai.” I guess my urbane attire subdued him and made him call his parents; mummy-daddy. I smiled and realized that I probably won’t get any question asked in return as he has already townie-zoned me. But before we stopped talking he said something interesting- “Merko train se jyada bus achcha lagta hai. Kabhi bhi booking karo, jagah mil jaati hai. 300 rupye mein chhod deta hai. Insaan sirf paisa dekhta hai, aaram aur sukoon nahi dekhta. Abhi to 3 ghanta merko bed pe sone bhi diya. Aur kya chahiye!’ He said, “I like bus more than train. You can book whenever you want, you’ll get it. 300 rupees is all it costs. Man only cares for money, he doesn’t look for comfort and convenience. They even let me sleep on the bed for 3 hours. What else do you need!’

I was perplexed. There were dots that I couldn’t join. How is he traveling in 300 rupees when I had to pay 800 rupees? What does he mean by 3 ghanta sone ko bhi diya? I was looking out of the window and thinking about it. I spaced out for a while and when I came back to him, he was already sleeping on the floor, making pillow out of his forearm. We were traveling together, but not so much. I had a foam mattress, a sliding door, a rack to keep my shoes and a charging point, he had none of those. Now I understood that he could get a ticket in 300 rupees because there was no seat allocated. As soon as the passenger boarded the bus who had booked that upper coach which he had occupied, he had to climb down and make himself comfortable in the passageway. When I saw him sleeping, it answered all my questions without him talking to me. Now I wanted to know him even more. I kept imagining how his life would be based on what he had spoken to me.

Then there was a Eureka moment! I saw a wire running down from the plug-point to the side of my bed. He had left his phone with me to charge! I took it in my hands, peeped out of my box to check if he was asleep, said sorry to God and opened his phone! It was a basic non-smart phone with a non-qwerty keypad. How much can you know about a person through such a phone, right? Still I continued experimenting. I opened his contacts; no contacts. It had only pre-registered contacts of Airtel entertainment, movies, cricket, etc. I opened his call log; missed calls, received calls, dialed numbers. It showed no pattern as such, but on an average 4-5 calls in & out every day. Then I opened his messages; no messages. I opened his photos. Now I was excited! Because photos from our phone camera define us the best, don’t they! Our Instagram accounts don’t show what our lives really are but they definitely show what part of our lives we want people to see! Insta is the tip of the iceberg, it’s the public image. But Photo Gallery of our mobiles shows what do we want to capture for ourselves to see later and not to show others.  He had photos from his village; his mother, a house made of sheet metal, barren land, trees and selfies! I liked all of the visual footage, I felt I knew him a little better now.

I moved on to the next icon. File Manager. As I opened it, there were like hundreds of songs. I took the earphones off from my phone and put them into his phone. I lay down comfortably on my mattress. Soon I had a bumpy midnight music party going! I started playing mp3 songs one by one and scrolling down the list until I found the next interesting one. I reached a point where I found something… Titanic.3gp. I had a smirk at the corner of my cheek when I opened the file. It was a music video of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, more popularly known as ‘Titanic Song’ in India. I felt bad for being cheeky earlier with the judgement on ‘.3gp’ part. Apparently it was not cheap porn to him and I had just judged him on the file extension (technological stereotyping?!), just as he judged me when he looked at me and upgraded his maa-papa to mummy-daddy. We were similar in our vices, weren’t we? I went on exploring his phone music. He had some old classics; Jab Hum Jawan Honge, Jihale Masti, Lumbi Judai, some modern songs; Sathiya, Bhige Hont Tere, some unusual ones; Jo Bhi Kasme Khayee Thi Humne from Raaz, Jab Koi Tumahar Hriday Todta Hai from Purav Aur Paschim and then some caught-in-between ones; Meri Beri Ke Ber Mat Todo Remix and Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar Remix! I really enjoyed watching videos of all such songs. Some of them were iconic songs I hadn’t seen videos of, some I remembered frame by frame as if I watch them every day and some were simply laughable ones from albums of 90’s and early 2000’s. Those who know me, know that I have a very wide range when it comes to music. It basically ranges from Himesh Reshammiya to Hariprasad Chaurasiya. So I generally enjoy music of all kinds! May be even if he had any other Hindi songs, I might have liked his phone none the less. But I liked the music he had and I liked the feeling that we have something in common.

And music wasn’t the only thing that we shared. For example, he has an elder brother just like I do. He clicks terrible selfies just like I do. So he had understood the science of selfies but not the art of it, just like I don’t! The list could go on until I say that we are so similar; we even chose this non-AC bus over other popular choices like train or an AC bus! May be if I had spoken to him more, I could have known more similarities. Surprisingly that is what it had come to now… Finding similarities.

This guy doesn’t know how to save numbers but he had created a music playlist- ‘gum’ with all the sad songs. He can take selfies (let’s say he can) but his music isn’t updated after 2005. Just as any other youth of today, even he thinks that money is of no use if you can’t buy convenience with it. He prefers watching music videos while listening and not let it run in the background. So many insights… Some converging, some diverging… But I wouldn’t have had this feeling of happiness of knowing someone who seemed so different had I not taken this bus… That is for sure.

Aren’t we all watching out for our AC bus? Aren’t we all choosing to stay in our tiny little compartment with door closed? It stops us from venturing out. It stops us from exposing ourselves to people we do not mingle with; hear things we do not conform with. We don’t want to hang out with people who are boring/ weird/ outcast/ uncool, etc. We want homogeneous groups. With greater choice of choosing things and people in our lives, we are not appreciating something that is not part of ‘us.’ For instance, people shifted in flats from chawls and we stopped seeing that neighbor aunty stopping by our door every now and then! But to make up for it, we have our home WiFi which connects us to people we want to connect with… Unknown is not our first choice. We don’t have a pressing need to see others as somebody like us and accommodate them, when we can easily see them as Them! It was never a pressing need but somehow with joint families and collectivist mindset of earlier generation, it happened. Now we have better individual choices than ever before. Passing judgements is easier than showing empathy to someone. Have we not felt shy in standing in front of the class and speaking up? Weren’t we scared of it in school? In fact most of us are scared of it still. How did we feel when we were being targeted as a child? When we were mocked and laughed at? But now that we’re grown-ups, it is ok to do that to someone else because we have moved on from that experience long ago and we are more confident at public speaking probably, isn’t it? Confidence… To what extent? And at what cost?! Is our exposure and knowledge making us arrogant? So much so that we don’t mind throwing a harsh comment at somebody who’s already struggling to speak in front of the audience filled with management students, professors and researchers? It’s good to know who we are and what we’re capable of, but we shouldn’t forget who we were and how we got here. Empathy can’t be distant and dry. It is not just a thought in our heads, but as much a feeling in our gut. The question do we want to look at somebody and find similarities or do we want to get away with underlining the differences?

I kept his phone aside. I plugged my earphones back into my phone and put a slow track from Coke Studio. The thoughts were still lingering in my head. The man who spoke little helped me solve mystery of the man who spoke a lot. Both were underdogs. Just as we were, once upon a time. Or may be we still are.

 

Learn From The Front

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Learning from the front is the only option. You have to be leading from the front to play the field wide. The more you play, the harder you fall, the more you learn. It is scary. Because then the learning will come at the expense of somebody else. You goof up in the front & they all suffer. But they signed up for it. Nobody stopped nobody from coming ahead and claiming what you claimed. Those who won’t get to lead will be the ones with all the opinion on how it’s ought to be done. Never bother. Because opportunity is a toy in possession of the one who gets it. To play it or to throw it away is an individual call. And it’s fine either ways. But if you choose to play, then play it fast & rough. Fight a fierce bout & come back wounded. The blows you take will teach you more than punches you fling. Sweating in the ring for days and then going to the bout is going to take longer. And if you still get hurt, the pain is going to be much more.

Kya Aapke Toothpaste Mein Efficiency Hai?

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At 4 in the morning I have an urge… An urge to write! (?! :D) The recent development in my life; Emm-Bee-Ayy is taking a toll on everything I love to do. No time + No energy = No willingness. And it has been like this for a long time now! I had to beat that, I had to do something for myself.… So writing. (You may think I am in a mood for some easy-peasy, let me warn you I’m not. Because of MBA I have some serious brain-throw-up to do plus I just finished the research for one presentation so I am really on a high right now!)

These days, my life majorly revolves around my college. I hear two things in the college more often… One; ‘Arey yaar assignment likhna hai’ & two; ‘Chal yaar Snack Bar chalte hai!’ A mere mortal like me always gets caught between duty & food due to lack of time. As I was sitting in peace after a long time now, it made me think and I realised there is no other option left than being more efficient. And what popped up in my mind next was not so shocking for this hour of the day… ‘Stretch your ability or die slow as a mediocre.’ It draws a lot of attention when something like comes across in literature or motivational speeches. But we have become immune to such quotes; they simply come and go. Let’s give it one more try. So do we see in us every day what visionaries talk about all the time? (Philosophy Alert! You can quit my article right now before it starts to get interesting..)

What if mankind didn’t stretch for what it enjoys now & didn’t have before? What if subtle needs were ignored to focus on primary needs? What if only the lazy asses ruled this world & stagnated it to the hell so that now it would be inevitable for us to think about going clubbing on the Mars? (Again ‘stretching’ isn’t it?!)

Don’t worry, I am gonna dial down the Philosophy. No ‘yeh-sattar-minute-tumse-koi-nahi-chhin-sakta’ – speech for you! Certainly no talk about being a visionary & setting stretch goals for yourself, I’m sure there are lot of other capable & culpable people on the internet to do that! Only thing I’m going to do is to share something inspiring yet simple about the visionaries…

Somebody like Steve Jobs had really stretched himself, so far so that he gave us something before we even knew we wanted it. We were almost happy with CDs, Walkmen & the way we listened to music and then bammm – iPod, a square inch gizmo was invented which totally changed the game! Jobs beat the need at its very time of arrival. He fastened the process!

Thinking about ground-breaking innovations; why something as clichéd as iPod? How about something as simple as ‘bicycle’… It is a vehicle which most Indian families own & use as the primary way of transport! (That’s the reach. Go check the last Census Report.) Is it an innovation still relevant in this age? Yes! Is it changing lives of masses to a great extent? Yes! Is it is cost effective & scaleable in terms of production? Hell Yes!! It is rudimentary in all senses compared to all the innovations we see around us in today’s world. Who would have thought of peddling a linear structure straight forth for traveling? The very idea that somebody thought of developing a new product then, which needs one to develop a new skill-set altogether to use it (pedaling + balancing + navigating.. all at once) is so thrilling! What if the first one who rode it, gave up too soon thinking the whole idea is stupid… The idea of being able to divide body weight equally on either sides & maintaining the centre of gravity while moving feet in a circular manner to move forward with least efforts; not forgetting- using hands to navigate the direction?! (Phew, that was a long tiring sentence.. Certainly easier done that said!)

In both of these cases of iPod & bicycle, there was a need. It was backed by a strong desire to work on it which in a way was the personal need of their inventors! And ultimately need is the mother of invention. You have to submit the final numbers by afternoon, so will you make macros in Excel or repeat the same-old hundred times? Earlier the need may not have been so intense. The need to Fast Forward. To fasten the process. But today it is. Are you satisfied with how most are walking or you want to peddle your way ahead?

If yes then you need one thing; a need. And that need needs to be created. Without it there is no pinch. But it is not as puffy as it sounds… Because your need may not be an acute one. You don’t have to be all ‘visionary’ about it… Like, how would you want to spend your evening when you are loaded with work? How would you do things faster? How would you crash your time, increase your efficiency so that you can grab a cup of coffee and watch your favourite football game in the evening? Keep it simple & relevant, that will really push you…

  1. How does one create the need?
  2. ‘Take more than you can handle & then try to do justice to it.’

A wise man once said .. ‘Jab tak niche aag nahi jalegi, tab tak efficiency pata nahi chalegi!’ The miracles happen out of the comfort zone, right? Rather than taking too less, stretching it too far and gaining too little.. Take the maximum, execute much & learn more…

Don’t think ‘is it possible?’ Take 25% more than what you think is possible. Because possible is in our heads. There are people who can read 800 words per minute. There are people who can memorise a randomly shuffled deck of cards in less than 20 seconds. We see movies making 100 Crores, 200 Crores, 400 Crores these days. And if Usain Bolt can win a gold, set a world record & come back to break his own world record… Boss let’s not conveniently escape with ‘is it possible?’ : )

Again, I’m not asking you to put your ‘visionary’ shoes on & run like Usain Bolt. I’m only drawing parallels. Something as simple as taking a shower in the night & cutting on the early morning hassle could enhance your efficiency. Better sleep + No need to take a bath in the morning = Great Deal. Even psychologically, you feel that you’ve slept longer because you wake up later than usual! The funda is to work on absolutely anything that would make your life simpler…

Taking charge of your life is about long term goals. Definitely. But it has to be broken down in small bits & pieces. Then executing one little piece at a time. 🙂 And it all starts with a need. Maa : Beta :: Need : Invention; we all know. But do you know…  Invention is a bastard. Because everybody knows about the mother, but nobody knows about the father! : D So father an idea today, father a small invention that makes your life a little better… Makes you a little more efficient.. Cheers!

Die for Yourself

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Only if we could choose; the best way to die is to breathe last is in your mother’s lap or in your lover’s arms. Those are the most crude meditative states. The most relief anybody could find. This stands true irrespective of means to end, and without any necessity to choose them. Some may say dying on a battlefield is a great death too; I disagree. Because it has too much flattery attached to it… Loyalty, bravery & a sense of bigger purpose. This is exactly why I condemn it.

When you would die in a more personal setting there would be no sense of exaltation, only self awareness. You would more likely to be confined to the small conceived piece of self without having any higher purpose to die for. So this would make your death very personal, like your life; personal. But more importantly that will make it futile, involuntary… Purposeless. And what else would justify purposelessness of life than purposelessness of death?

The Equation Between Good & Powerful

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Volition of mind matters.

But it matters the most; of those who sit high up in the system. Because they have volition & power both. They can change things faster & better than others.

The irony is that those with right volition do not get to the top quite often, at times others don’t let them. And ‘fear’ is the strongest reason. Fear of losing what you have or who you are.

So let’s get it right… No pain no gain. Being weak is a sin. If you believe that your volition is in spirit of the greater good then you sort of owe it to the system to be on the top.

You owe it because you can fix what’s broken. Not just for yourself but for everybody.

And you know what’s the best part… No one else gets to play as much and as significant as the guy on the top.

Because he’s the one who runs the show! Others just complain about having to play a part…

The Chicken or The Egg? [Version 2.0]

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This question has been asked like a million times yet the approaches taken to address it are too less. The people are even fewer. You see the ratio of number of people who tried to solve this question to number of people who have asked it is lowest compared to any other question ever asked. Let’s consider some statistics here: This question remains the second most asked question in the history of humanity only losing the top spot to ‘Ohh God, why me???’ but the more interesting part is, it is also the second most ignored question losing the spot here to ‘Was it my fault?’

Don’t get too excited by all the statistical amusement! Because deep down we all know what this question actually invokes in us: one; it’s simply a stupid question and nothing else.. I mean who cares what came first?! Two; what, as commoners would we gain even if we knew what came first (a.k.a. kya-ukhaad-loge-FAQ)… And three; mutton is way tastier so who cares about the stupid chicken & egg!

Hence, the judgment is tied between theoretical importance & practical mediocrity. But one thing is certain; the question has an interesting air around it. Because it is also a metaphorical question apart from being a metaphysical one. Like things that are really difficult to arrange in order or have a perplexing cause-effect relationship are often expressed in chicken & egg analogy.

One such thought was recently aroused when I got talking to a stranger in a program. We exchanged words for a few minutes & it seems meanwhile he made a snap judgment about me. He said ‘why don’t you express your opinions bang on? Like if you think you know stuff you should say it..’ Surprised by his remark I tried to gently push it aside saying ‘Oh well I’m just being modest!’ But he was in no mood for a light comment & pushed his point further with a generic statement ‘you know, the first quality you should have is confidence’ & as if a reflex action I replied ‘No. I think the first quality you should have is skill.’ (And by skill mean combination of knowledge & ability. In this case, I was not certain about my knowledge & that made me ‘modest’.) I don’t really remember what happened next because I got busy thinking over what I said & it own-zoned me.

So really, what comes first? The confidence or the skill? Certainly in this era, confidence has popularity vote because it is considered as critical success factor for anything & everything. It is indeed true, no second thoughts about it. Also it is annotated to external signs which make it easier to say if somebody is confident enough. Whereas skill is less about external signs and more about internal strength, the fathom of which is difficult to deliberate by an outsider. Skill is the prerequisite for work & provides base for your efficiency. Ultimately, skiller is the killer, hands down!

But it’s not so theoretical & simple. In real-life scenarios both confidence & skill entwine so well that drawing a line between them is really tough sometimes. For example, you speak well, put your thoughts forward clearly & fight for what you believe in help you come off as a confident person. It helps you seize the opportunity, get the contract or win a client. In turn, what you do with that opportunity is skill. Unless you capitalize well on that opportunity, you can’t call it a success. And in the world we live in, there are also people who become successful not by “skill” skill but by, you know, boot-licking or sleeping around. (Looking at it objectively, these are the skills they employ!)

Now it gets interesting…What I said earlier regarding confidence- ‘Speaking well, putting your thoughts forward clearly’ is in a way a skill. Communication skill. And what I said regarding skill- ‘Capitalizing well on the opportunity’ needs fair amount of self belief, courage to take responsibility of decisions & have command over the task which are in fact vectors of confidence.

So confidence & skill now seem like affectionate neighbors getting into each other’s houses a little bit. But so far, they still look pretty much balanced and complementary to each other. Then why is there an upsurge only in public opinion over confidence being the key factor of success & relatively less emphasis on developing the required skill? We all have heard some oldie saying ‘You kids are so confident! We did not have as much confidence when we were your age.’ I believe that sometimes the confidence can easily be mistaken for outwardly strong gestures without giving adequate importanceto inwardly strong reasons. Are we just better at displaying confidence than earlier generation or are we really more convinced & confident than they were?

I think ‘confidence’ is derived from two places:

  1. Certainty of thought… If you know what you want, if you know your direction, if you know what you are talking about; the clarity of thought will convert itself into confidence. This ‘being certain in your head’ about principles, opinions, decisions is the major chunk of ‘being confident.’ The objective analysis helps in forming the right basis. In Indian thought it is called ‘Mimansa’ which means enquiry or investigation. The deeper and fairer the enquiry, the better conceived & realistic the confidence.
  2. Certainty of action… This is where ‘skill’ part comes into picture because it is the prerequisite for action. And skill comes with focus, practice & perseverance. If you have done something over and over and over again until it becomes part of you then you would not feel down whenever it would be asked of you. Because you will be sure of your ability to perform. Having the required skill and proving it by application time and again boosts confidence practically. What does a coach mean when he says ‘you got this’.. Exactly!

Confidence is not an independent accessory which you must wear before you go for a meeting or an interview. It should be the subtle part of you that is not only skin deep. And it becomes the part when it comes through both thought & action; with understanding & skill. Confidence that stems from both of these has better reason for its existence. So to me, skill looks like a subset of confidence but of course in a larger picture, they are complementary in nature & help build each other up in a long run. This is my way of looking at it & you may choose to disagree. Because you know what truly comes first: the chicken or the egg? Whichever you order first!

The Mother of All Blogs

Disclaimer: I’m not saying THIS is the mother of all blogs. I have a theory to propose…

‘Acute Need of Self Expression is the Mother of All Blogs.’

Would it be easier to believe this if I said that this quote is given by some famous person with a French name who died many years ago? I mean that’s one way of slipping your pill to someone!

But seriously,  you must be thinking that this is my first blog post & I am making theories about what I am yet to explore. I know your reaction right now is similar to as it was when Alia Bhatt had quoted Prithviraj Chavan as the President of India in a talk show or when Salman Khan had said that he’s still a virgin in the same talk show (the former was still believable). I can understand. But I have very strong reasons. What actually made me derive this theory is interesting (I think).

So right after I started with my twitter journey a few months back I realized three things:
1. Tremendous number of thoughts are generated in my mind that seek to express themselves, instead they are sent out into the universe without bothering anybody actively,
2. At times I need a little bigger place than 140 characters to express myself, you know like 8000 characters &
3. People are so much cooler on digital space than they are in real life, seriously dudes!

The basic need of basic expression is taken care of by twitter fantastically & it is quiet handy too; I can tweet from anywhere about anyone without having to tell him what joke I made about him in my mind meanwhile claiming critical acclaim for the same from my followers (seen as valuable critics sometimes). Also I can turn specific experiences into generic statements to give vent to my anger+sarcasm without actually having to reveal how someone is such a pain in the ass. The best part is sometimes the ones whom I tweet about, retweet it thinking it is some unrelated generic funny thing to say. That’s like us Indians laughing at Indian-Accent-Jokes! And then there’s this big reason that some short-lived impulsive expressions like ‘saale g*nd maraa’ can be best expressed on twitter.

But there arises stronger need to express which stays unexpressed. Some ideas are elaborate, more than an isolated thought or a quick comment; posing as a harbinger for the string of thoughts that follow. And these thoughts are really important too. You know how much it hurts when you have a great insight to share or witty observation to make & twitter says -13 characters. Even after your best effort to shorten it, twitter says -4 characters. Damn. It breaks your heart, doesn’t it. These self-proclaimed best-of-the-best lines are either born out of experience or out of fancy and some others are najaayaz aulaads of them together. I realized that these thoughts too need to be expressed. I owe it to them.

We owe it to them. I am pretty sure that everybody who started their blogs have experienced this, I’m just saying it out loud… We are the people who have this acute need to express ourselves. For some twitter wasn’t enough, for some facebook wasn’t enough, for some personal diary wasn’t enough, and so on & so forth. Blog is a platform which helps us express ourselves in the best possible way where there’s most freedom of expression (you can abuse if you want), liberty to alter before you actually say it (kills 99.9% of stupid) & less fear of being judged by people (Sharma uncle is less likely to read your blog).

And so this thought took me to the digital-social space where I can write as much as I want & you know, somebody just might read it too! People may comment and interact & that will only enrich my thought in some way… Probable gain but certainly no loss! I may write here about anything from Bollywood to politics, from part-time philosophy to sit down comedy & from Amitabh Bachchan to Abhishek Bachchan.. I promise no genre as I want to write about things that I desire to express; but only those which are not small enough to fit in twitter window & not good enough to earn a commercial success like Chetan Bhagat books!

In the end I want to conclude it by using the typical formula that great bloggers/ writers use to end an article; reinstating the quote earlier said but with an effective modification (after given much thought or pretending to do so).

‘Acute need of self expression (above & beyond twitter) is the mother of all blogs!’

– By some famous person with French name who died many years ago.
Really.

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