Tuesday, December 3, 2013

To pee in my own personal pot

I did this last night when I finally had a pot I could call my own. It seemed like a significant progression in life as it had taken me 13 months of living in Singapore before I could rent a space I wouldn't need to share. Its amazing how life-stages can sometimes be measured using scales that are nowhere related to it.

It is also interesting how I ended up comparing an act with absolute meaninglessness as 'peeing' within a broader context of how the space you're able to rent out reflects on your life stage. While the former remains independant of all expernal factors, us associating it with the latter makes it a reason for meditation/ celebration (in my case). 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Visuals

Eyes were shut. The word 'mentally' passed by. I saw how the fourth finger pressed uncomfortably against the keyboard twice for 'll'. The point of view made my fingers look huge and the effort equally taxing. Almost feared a fracture of the bone.

Then the index finger followed to type the 'I'. The jump was uncomfortable. Like certain notes on the keyboard. Felt some familiarity.

'Intelligence' passed by next. The same feelings swept the mind. Found this word dirty. Always felt it was show off word. Type it, but never play it.

'Entally' passed by next. Was I looking for words rhyming? I wasn't. But they just kept occurring. The visual was of the yellow and red buses in Calcutta. Withy the name 'Entally' painted in red on all sides. Used to think of it as some downmarket place. And so I always wanted to visit it. I did perhaps. Don't think there is any place in Cal I didn't.

And rushes of walking along in search of meanings. Seemed so meaningful. Is so meaningless. Not really. Still breathes in some corner. Never to be lived again. Never want to. But they never die either.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Funerals. And Farewells.


The title describes it.

A closure ritual is necessary. The beating of chests, tears overflowing, acceptance of powers beyond, ceremony, etc. The body disappears. Memory remains. Longing and the love for the person stays back. Yet, something changes with the closure ritual. Acceptance maybe? Nothing changes, except the addition of an acceptance lens of looking at the same person.

Farewells with their overdose of emotions and revelations do the same. The closure unless done in the form of a closure doesn’t seem like an end. And hence, not like a start the next morning.

A closure ritual changes nothing yet changes everything deep within.

Monday, December 31, 2012

So many LIKES




Here are a few observations about behaviour as seen on social media and possible implications that it has had on people's lives.

So many likes

Appreciation has now become convenient - just the click of an icon. Appreciation has become common - for random status updates, pictures, videos and articles shared, etc. Acknowledgement and appreciation used to be more cumbersome in the past. It required some amount of effort to actually show it or say it. It was also something that was reserved for bigger occasions and events in one's life. Today, we tend to appreciate through likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc. multiple times each day.

As a consequence, the need to be appreciated has also increased. So has the need to be seen by others while being appreciated.

It could be said that as people get more busy with their lives and have fewer actual interactions with their social circles, they feel a gap being created in their lives. While this is never completely filled in by appreciation and interaction on social media, it has started assuming a bigger role in people's life with the acceptance of this form of living. Hence, the dependence on being appreciated publicly on social media is becoming more real and increasingly crucial to people.

De-sensitizing

At any point in time in our lives earlier, we would be exposed to a smaller set of events that used to occur in our environment. We were exposed to stories in the lives of friends whenever we would meet them or speak to them in person - and this was usually be a small group of people. We were exposed to news through word of mouth, television and newspapers whenever we would expose ourselves to it.

A hypothesis here is that with lesser events happening in and around our lives and us being exposed to them in intervals of time which were longer, we would be able to dedicate a greater share of our emotions to them.
Today, with social media where we have are connected with much larger circle of people and get updated on events from their lives and from the world constantly, it has led to us allocating a much lower share of our emotional self with these happenings. This has reduced our sensitivity towards everything that is happening around us because there is just too much happening. For us to devote a part of our emotions to an event or occurrence, it needs to be really important. If it is not that important, we just feel that we have conveniently done our bit by sharing, liking or commenting on it. We are now much less sensitive to occurrences in our environment than what we used to be.

I support the cause

The obvious argument the moment I mention that we are de-sensitized to events around us is the whole social media leading to revolutions and awakening in thousands of people. This phenomenon is true and cannot be argued. We do align ourselves with causes which seem of extreme importance in our environment. In some cases, we do go beyond virtual support and take up the challenge on ground.

However, with hundreds of causes that occur in our environment each day, our alignment with them overall has decreased. I repeat that unless we find something extremely critical, we do not emotionally align ourselves with the cause. In most cases, it is just a convenient casual alignment by showing support online and forgetting about the cause completely or moving on till the next one.

We need much in terms of criticality from an event for it to move our hearts.

See - I have a life

Some people are doing a lot of things in their everyday lives while some, a few. Examples include travelling to places, spending time with people close to them, shopping, eating out, dressing up, celebrating important moments, reading, writing, taking up a hobby, etc. This varies from person to person and has always been so. However, when it comes to social media, we are constantly exposed to a feed from a very large group which keeps exposing us to all the different things that people are upto. The belief about the inputs that go in to constitute a 'good life' have increased significantly. No matter how much we wish to ignore, it can lead to developing two conditions:

1. That we are not doing enough in our own lives - as we tend to compare our life with the sum total of all the people in our social circle

2. That we would not remain an acceptable part of this social group if we do not show that we also have a life which is happening

In some extreme cases, it can even lead to a situation where showing that we have an eventful and interesting life/ opinion assumes greater importance than living and enjoying the moment. However on a more common level, we do tend to feel some pressure to show that we have an interesting life.

Taking a break

The pattern in which social media is commonly accessed is like taking a break from regular work. At regular intervals, they would switch to the various windows open on their browsers or pick up their phones and go through get their minds occupied with the updates. Again, there are two implications of this that I can think of:

1. It provides them with a feed that is different from what they are doing - hence it helps diverting their minds from their regular work

2. With people being more busy and the definition of means of entertainment changing, they expect social media to fill in for this need

This entertainment-diversion of the mind, could have resulted in the pattern of content which is entertaining, visual, aesthetic, appealing, etc. grabbing attention and becoming popular. Social media is an avenue which provides us with a regular dose of entertaining diversion of the mind.

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Obviously this is not an exhaustive encapsulation even for me. But any further observations and implications are most welcome. Can keep updating this post as more thoughts are discussed.

Also, these observations would not be true in all cases. Just saying J

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Shop to A Shop



Shopping malls make a lot of sense when seen from a practical perspective. Almost everything that one requires for day-to-day living is bundled up under one roof. Malls these days would usually have a food court, stand-alone eating joints, fashion stores, movie theatre, super-market, entertainment stores and other shops for practically everything a person needs.

It wasn't like this before. I have grown up watching independent shops. Most of the times, these shops were based on the ground level of residences facing the street. Some used to be standalone as well. I have seen streets known for a particular kind of need: streets known for food joints, for latest in fashion, for jewelry, etc. There were certain areas shopping and food just as there were residential areas.

Even after having lived with malls for over a decade, I don’t feel comfortable with the concept. They provide convenience to shoppers and businessmen, but something is amiss for me with this concept.

Is it that malls are a new way of living; something that I have not grown up with; and hence I can never completely adapt to it? Or is there more to it?

My discomfort is probably from the lack of emotions that I feel inside the malls. I do not mean that people don’t treat me well enough in the mall. I am usually impressed by good services with some occasional exceptions. However, when I look back at the individual shops of the olden days, even if they didn’t provide proper service at times, there were real emotions that could be seen. There were times when some neighborhood shopkeeper would not pay attention to me even if he didn’t have any customers, some who would ask me to come and sit inside the counter and chat, some who would always be in a hurry to finish off the transaction, etc. Some of the people working in these shops were those I had seen for years. With some shops, I could not distinguish its staff whenever I would think of them. People in these shops were more of themselves than trying to be someone that they are supposed to be in a store which is supposed to deliver a certain kind of experience. 

The difference that I feel is that I used to see people own their shops. It was a part of their life the way they had chosen it to be. It was not just a job for them even though it provided for their living. It was them. From the way things would be arranged, to the way people would be served to the entire experience inside the shop; it reflected the personalities and the emotions of the people who owned and ran the place.

Inside any store at a mall, I don’t feel like I am within people who are different in their own unique way. They are usually being nice and being nice is a requirement. When they are rude it is usually because there is something bothering them but not always their nature to be rude. The stores have a certain kind of a look and an experience and that has been created to evoke certain kinds of emotions towards the brand. While the effort on the part of brands to deliver on a certain kind of an experience does come across, it also leaves me craving for emotions which erupt from people and not from marketing plans.  

For me, this change has converted shops from being My Shop to A Shop.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Say Cheese


Every single day, a new tourist group with their guide visits the gems and jewellery manufacturing and retailing store right next to my work place. While observing them over a couple of days, the one thing about them that struck me and led to a string of thoughts was the manner in which they would go about clicking pictures.

These people look like they are on a mission to shoot everything in vision.

They start with shooting their individual portraits. Posing outside every possible section of this store. Even while going up the elevator and coming down from it. They also shoot all else which is visible from this point.

Then its group picture time. First its a group of two, then three, then more. It goes on till all combinations between everyone completes.

Finally, the guide shoots pictures of the entire traveling group. It takes a few shots before everyone is included in the frame and captured smiling. 

During each of these shots, you can see the women turning conscious before the shutter clicks. They would usually wipe their faces, check the hair, apply fresh make-up if needed and even practise the manner in which they are to stand or turn their faces.

The men would put on their shades and also light up a cigarette. They would be more bothered about the background in the frame when compared to how they look. Hence, you would find them shifting places till a frame satisfactory to their requirement is created. 

Their joys are immense after every click. Almost a sense of accomplishment. They would usually check how the picture came on the camera display and more often than not, show a bit of disapointment. Then they would begin preparation for the next shot with greater ferocity.

While there is nothing unusual about tourists clicking pictures anywhere around the world, the close similarity in behviour exhibited while doing so, makes me wonder why?

People from completely different cultures tend to be as excited and consious as anyone else when it comes to being captured on the lens. There is a universality in this behaviour and would be interesting to understand what is the deeper desire that prompts it. Is it just about having the opportunity to relive pleasant memories? Or is it about the desire to be preserved in a certain manner forever? And why is this desire so universal in nature?
 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Main Road


I wonder if there are others like me for whom directions are based on figuring out the 'Main Road' and then all the roads around it.

As a child in the pre-maps era, I had been used to forming mental tags of places by understanding if they were to the right or the left of the main road. This road was known as the main road because it was  the road which ran through the heart of the town, the buses plied on it and it was the link to the nearby towns. This road was wide and cemented. And had street lights. There was an occasional broken footpath.

If you ever asked anyone about directions to get to any of the nearby towns, they would always guide you to the main road and then ask you to turn to into one of the sides.

While learning how to ride a bicycle, we were barred from entering the main road. Till you were a pro at the motorcycle, you were expected to keep to the lanes. Any kid seen on the main road with a bike was an seen as breaching an unspoken rule. The responsible citizens would take it up to themselves and inform the parents immediately. Even in those times with limited means of communication, the news would reach the parents even before the child managed to get home.

Owning a property on the main road was a prized asset. An address on the business card which showed the main road was respected. The milkmen would keep their buffaloes and cows away from the main road. An accident on the main road would would not be blamed on the larger vehicle since it belonged to them. The opposite happened when it came to the other lanes.

The cycle rickshaws used the network of lanes. The prices were higher if they were asked to take the main road. A person was considered as growing successful in life if he took the cycle-rickshaw through the main road - since time was precious for him and since he was paying an unnecessary additional price for it.

Looking on both the sides before crossing was an event reserved for the main road. Sticking to the extreme sides while walking was also a main road affair.

Street food and other vendors wouldn't dare enter the main road.

Any work of repair to the main road disturbed the entire town while the absence of pot-holes in the lanes was a matter of surprise and discussion.

For us kids, getting to walk through late nights on the main road during festivals brought about an immense sense of pride and fulfillment.

City after city, that I have stepped into, I crave for roads which look similar to and also assume the importance that the main road did for me.