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writing

How to move Cape Disappointment

As an introvert, the last thing I like to do is express myself. I spend time finding ways to avoid stating things as they are. Eventually, they come out sugarcoated or sarcastic. My expressions end up indirect, far from the point and thus confusing to others.

So, after a day of introspection, I decided to write a post about myself. I opened a new document, typed ‘Dissappointing’ and instantly, the spell-check was disappointed. Apart from spell-checkers and compilers, I have been disappointing people from a long time. So, here’s a guided tour of [my] Cape Disappointment.

“I think if anyone can beat Nitesh, then it is you,” said a friend, sitting next to me, as we were returning from a school trip. Nitesh had recently joined our class and consistently topped the class. I thought he was amazing but boring. I wondered why my friend thought I can beat him and more importantly, why he thinks I want to. Those days, I was learning origami and pottery. I practiced making the Lucky Swan, one of which was always in my bag. My hands were dry due to repeated washing after playing with clay. I’d take a locket’s impression in clay and then make a copy of it from plaster of Paris. Yes, the same plaster of Paris that gives a true home to spiders and false ceiling to humans. We had taught Caesar to fetch a newspaper without tearing it to pieces. I was reading Bashir Badr and Hemingway. Neither made much sense but I felt literary. Poetry made me want to be in love and war made me fear loss. I often sneaked French phrases, from War and Peace, in English essays but my teacher never pointed them out.

None of this appeared on my report cards. The fact that I did not make it to an IIT, then IIM and move to the US to work for a software firm is a disappointment to my schools. They must have been proud of Nitesh because he did all that and now works for an investment bank. Unfortunately, he is still in India. Perhaps, if he works harder, he might get a chance to move abroad. Hope his check-in at the international airport will bring peace and relief to the unrequited expectations bestowed upon him.

Assumptions flaw our understanding of many ideas, three of which are particularly interesting: motivation, creativity, and intelligence. We are always curious about how they work. Attention grabbing articles strengthen assumptions as they often describe research in an overly simplified manner. We look for recipes to become creative and stay motivated.

Then, there are associations. We associate idea to one another, like fairness to beauty, wealth to happiness, flags to patriotism etc. Together they form an inter-connected web. Stimuli trigger a chain of thoughts that travel from idea to its association. This is how we learn and begin to restrict our thoughts. This makes our personality. This tendency to form associations is easy to test but difficult to get rid of them. In careers, intelligence is associated with engineering and creativity with art. The problem is not limited to associations but how rigid they become. Say, if you are considered intelligent, then it is assumed you would become an engineer.

Children learn about everything around them. That is all we do until we have to pay taxes, then we merely conform. The subject and pace of learning vary. Since computers can help in so many subjects, they fascinate us. I did not learn computers because I liked them. On the contrary, using a computer was frustrating. Getting something done was joyful. It was a triumph. It was the possibilities that kept me going. Imagining what a computer could do made me sit and try. I saw an opportunity to bring exciting ideas to life without asking people for help. Looking back, the problem was not people but asking. I was hesitant, not shy.

I used to spend a lot of time on a computer and thus, assumed that a career in software is best for me. Currently, everyone spends more time with a computer than anything else. This might be true if you use a computer at work and carry a smartphone. I started using a computer to make something as amazing as The Matrix. Computers were slower and being left handed didn’t help. I figured the code can ease a lot of work. Instead of painstakingly moving objects with the mouse, you can define their path in code. The computer will then fill in the details. It is called tweening. I made the bullet dodge scene with stick figures. The Matrix was my motivation.

Creativity is considered like an organ, an extra thumb that whether you have by birth or not at all. Intelligence is something that can be quantified. You can be an intelligent engineer, doctor or officer but not an artist. Art is from creativity, problem solving is intelligence. These are not accurate. They are not mutually exclusive.

Rarely are school kids encouraged to make stories, they’re taught grammar and made to write essays. You probably don’t know when an idea hits you or what will motivate you. We spend a lot more time and effort trying to transform something that we are not. We have an image of what we should be and we chase it relentlessly until we are in a groove. It is a groove of monotony. It limits our capacity to observe beyond the obvious.

This is why anything outside of our sphere of comfort appears creative and sadly, unreachable. We interview individuals about how they do it. We continuously consume information and rarely try to create something new. After I watched Ratatouille, I did not try to create a 3d animation. I did not try, I thought I’d fail. Instead, I longed for another movie that would make me feel the same. This is the cycle which goes from one experience to another. Each must outdo the last or else the monotony kicks in. This is an addiction. Intelligence is not about being able to repeat. It is about being able to see the patterns.

You may also enjoy being a spectator and obsess about those that made to the top.

We are not let down by achievements but expectations. We want to be successful; like the outliers who kicked open the box that caged their dreams. Still, we chase it in the most mechanical fashion. If you aim to be at the top of the ‘Pyramid’ knowing that there isn’t enough place for everyone then disappointment is a friend that’ll serve you long. You may also enjoy being a spectator and obsess about those that made to the top.  So, this didn’t turn out about how I let people down. However, I am happy to disappoint you by deviating from my shortcomings.

writing

Masaan

Ganges at Varanasi


पहाड़ों पे हो या समंदर किनारे, हर शेहर की अलग शक्सीयत होती है| बैंगलोर में ‘लेक’ अनेक हैं, तो कभी कभी ज़िन्दगी भी ठेहेरने लगती है| फुरसत के साथी हैं किताबें और फिल्में| कई दिनों से नाम सुन रहा था तो आखिर कल ‘मसान’ देख ली| इसमें बनारस से दो कहानियों को पिरोया गया है|


फ़र्ज़ कीजिये कि आप बैठे हैं और कोई कान पे पंखुड़ी छुआ दे| ऐसे ही चौकाने वाले किस्से से मसान की शुरुआत होती है| फिरते हुए उस पंख सी है मसान। एक तजुर्बे जैसी है, बदल देने का बूता है इसमें। आप किरदारों के साथ, सदमे से उभरते हैं| अब चौंकते नहीं, ढलने लगते हैं| बातें गुज़रती हैं जाने पहचाने रस्तो से| पुल, पटरी, नदिया, घाट और काशी की गलियो से बहता है भय, प्यार और इंतज़ार| किरदार दहाड़े मार कर नही रोते पर उलझन में दिखते हैं, कुछ टूटे से भी लगते हैं|


एक तरफ सीधी साधी लव स्टोरी शामिल है| जिसमे बातें बशीर बद्र की हों और निदा फ़ज़ली का ज़िक्र हो, उस लिखावट मे ऐब नही ढूँढने चाहिए| और फिर किरदार इतनी फुरसत देते ही नही। बांधे रखते हैं ध्यान| पुराने बरगद से लटकती टहनियो पर बिना सोचे झूल जाने में ही मज़ा है|


दूसरी तरफ एक लड़की है जिससे सबको दिक्कत है| वो झूझती है, लड़ती है और नज़रअंदाज़ भी कर देती है| ऐसे दौर से तो सभी गुज़रते हैं, नदी के विरुद्ध तैरना सा लगता है| कई देर हाँथ पाव चलने के बाद भी कोई फायदा नही होता| घाट पे दिन बिताने वाला उसका पिता ज्यादा नही बोलता| बोलते तो घाट भी नही हैं मगर उनकी गहरायी का अंदाज़ा ही लगाया जा सकता है|


घूम फिर के गंगा जी दिख जाती हैं| नदि बहुत सिखाती है| वो सूखने की कगार पर भी हो, झूझती है, बहना नही छोडती| उसका रुख बदलता रहता है, मगर इतना धीरे की दूसरों को समझ नही आता| जैसे गंगा कानपुर, बनारस और अलाहाबाद से बहती हैं, वैसे किरदार भी शेहरो से गुज़रते हैं| फिर इसमें मायूसी वाले दृश्य भी हैं| आप सोचते हैं कि ऐसा हमारे साथ हो गया तो क्या| एक अंत जिसकी सबको खबर है मगर उम्मीद नही, वो दिखता है|


साहब, ये किसी रेल सी गुज़रती है| पुल से टकराकर गंगा में गिरे सिक्के छोड़ जाती है| बस सिक्को की जगह किस्से हैं, मानो रायते में बूंदी के दाने, एक चम्मच में सारे नही आते।

Image © Kuntal Gupta

writing

The Consolation

There are kids who decide early what they want to be when they grow up. Then, there are kids, like me, who dread going to the barber because they don’t even want to decide the kind of haircut they want. Luckily, growing up I had to pick between short and medium haircuts.

Celebrations were in full swing as India turned 50. Schools, in particular, had elaborate plans. My school declared that the whole week leading to the 50th independence day would be celebrated. Each day there were events, competitions and the tricolor was everywhere on the campus. Tuesdays had a library period. We would sit at one of the long tables in the center of the library. Usually, the librarian asked us to pick books and read them for rest of the period. At the end, we would get that book issued for a week. I knew where my favorite books were. I had a sense of how books were categorized in the library. I had helped the librarian organize them once. I enjoyed reading and books were exciting.

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Facebook

After Reactions, a more expressive Like button, Facebook is planning to revamp “Add Friend” button. Here are few options:

First, a button that adds people to your wishlist. A way of saying, “in your dreams…”

in you dreams..

if only…

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writing

IT Manager introduces performance rating at home, faces backlash.

Harish, a manager at one of the largest IT companies in India, decided to introduce performance rating system at his home.

“My expenses know only one way, up” Harish

“I had my annual performance review sheet open along with my personal expenses sheet. It appeared odd that my appraisal depends on not just personal performance. Team, business unit, company and even market performance matters. On the other hand, my expenses know only one way, up. It was then I decided to change things.”
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