Aphorisms and Other Learnings

An Aphorism (noun) is a pithy observation which contains a general truth. 

Living in both, reality and fantasy, I can no longer believe in and fall for mighty quotes that inspire. I would much rather read into situations and discover my own learnings. A first attempt at the same, I am listing down ten aphorisms which I owe to my past experiences, friendships, and relationships.

  1. If somebody calls you a fool repeatedly, you will soon start believing that you are one. You will then spend a good amount of time fighting that phantom only to realise that it never existed; you never were a fool to begin with
  2. The illusion of having a man by your side is painfully romantic till the time he actually is by your side.
  3. Often, love is only a euphemism for convenience.
  4. When conversations inside your head sound more enriching than outside, it’s time to change your friend circle.
  5. If the number of people you hate is significantly lower than the number of those you suspect hate you, congratulations, you’re doing well in life.
  6.  Never go by words, go by actions. Actions never lie.
  7. When convinced that you’re being lied to, play along. Don’t make your life uncomfortable, they will only deny it, or worse, make an unconvincing argument as to why they lied.
  8. Never settle, it implies that someone isn’t willing to go to great lengths for you, as you see yourself doing for him/her. So, you’re just extending your own misery.
  9. Perception is the invention of the mind. Just like a brain tumour.
  10. Never mistake codependence for friendship.

Once learnt, you cannot unlearn these little findings. While the feeling isn’t too pleasant and you find yourself becoming some sort of a cynical philosopher (?), it reinforces the fact that there is always room to learn.

Do leave your aphorisms/ thoughts/ findings/ love in the quotes!


The Slut

It wasn’t easy being a teenager. I had moved so many schools that it was difficult forming an identity, which is what everyone is doing as a child to “fit in”. but instead of finding it for yourself, you were given one- Being good, bad, naughty, nerdy, stupid, funny..it never ends.

Not so strangely, I found myself to be very different from how my peers perceived me to be. At 13, my teachers joked with my calling me a “beauty queen” when I got a haircut. At 13, the boys began noticing me because “you developed a nice rack”. At 13, my friends tagged me as “the flirty one”, the one who “sticks it out just to get closer to him” [ a friend made this jingle ripping off some Linkin Park song, thanks, Z] and thanks to a false rumour, I was one of the “sluts”. [ The rumour didn’t stand for too long which was when I uncovered an ugly truth, nobody cared about the truth.]

Eventually that was all I heard. Forget trying to create an identity, now, I had to strategise and try to scrape the word “slut” off my forehead. Here’s what started happening. It was obvious that I wouldn’t be too bright and my peers found it strange if I scored well. It didn’t matter what I wore or not simply because it was established that I was someone who “craved attention”. I found myself fighting a lot of people and the rumour mongering and the name calling just didn’t stop. It didn’t matter what my opinion was one something, because I was obviously stupid. I was never picked for debates or competitions- in my school, you couldn’t just apply. The teachers would walk in and pick their pets. So I’m assuming the pet will write an article about being “The nerd”. 😉

I’ve mostly removed each person who harmed me in this process from my life. I’ve taken every action in my quest to change this perception. But what I haven’t lost are those awful memories that make me cringe each time they come to mind. In my current social sphere, I’m guarded. I never let my guard down and as each drink goes in I become quieter or happier to discuss any subject but me. The ghosts of my childhood haven’t gone but keep reappearing in different forms. I find it exceptionally hard to trust someone. There are some awful friendships I cannot get past, some relationships that were straight out of hell, and the hate I have received from people I absolutely didn’t know, really hurt. My rational mind keeps bringing up past data the minute I feel threatened in any way- to be hurt, to be judged etc. and I draw conclusions adding up all that. Conclusions that are extremely negative and I act upon them.

My defence mechanism is so polished thanks to a lot of encounters I’ve had in the past, that it attacks anything resembling vulnerability. Over this, I have no control. Maybe writing about it will help? There are too many instances I recall where I am unable to understand what even happened. Unfortunately, those who let me down outnumber those who didn’t and my mind simply registers everything with a hint of cynicism.

Victims of abuse don’t become better people. They don’t “learn to be better” just because they were once subjected to it. In fact, I only notice myself reacting in certain ways to protect myself- what I don’t notice is how that reaction is perceived by the person opposite me. I may sound rude, I might even sound like a bully. It never ends. It’s a circle of viciousness that basically alienates everybody. People become bitter and repeat it. They do exactly what was done to them. What do the words “forgive and forget” even mean? Nobody forgets and certainly, nobody forgives.

Where does it begin? Why do people do this? They’re insecure. Most assume this would mean you have something they don’t. Jealousy? Sometimes. Others, it’s because their lives are, well, shit. They don’t feel complete in themselves and they only project that on to you. They feel safe knowing they’ve managed to reduce someone else’s self worth, momentarily, and it gives them a very temporary power rush. “See? I’m better/smarter/more attractive/richer/hotter/thinner.”

If somebody calls you a fool repeatedly, you will soon start believing that you are one. You will then spend a good amount of time fighting a phantom only to realise that it never existed. If you feel your friendship is being abused, end it. If you are the one doing it, a virtual hug for you, you are suffering.

The Annihilation of Autonomy

Willy Wonka will die a sad man knowing that the Chocolate Factory is no longer the place where unimaginable magic happens. Actually, it has all been imagined, you should catch the West End play at Covent Garden, London. It’s an absolute must. Anyway, Marketing is the new king in town. The Marketing industry is where the magic now happens. You’re either a part of it, or you’re a product; both being awful choices and worth being judged for. Let the game begin.

He’s watching you. Don’t flatter yourself by thinking you’re special or anything. He just wants to know if you’re watching him. What your vanity does not allow you to observe is that he just wants to know whether or not he is being noticed. Freshly manicured nails, nose hair clipped and eyebrows shaped, he’s looking dapper in the Emporio/Giorgio Armani suit he’s wearing. Or so he assumes you’re thinking. He’s confident, intimidating, alluring…isn’t he?

What we have established till now is that he clearly cannot think because you’re already doing the thinking for him. What he cannot see is that everything has been cleverly manufactured by you- not just limited to his attire, you have created him, his identity, his ideals; everything. You smirk as his eyes linger on each pair in sight, constantly gauging reactions, verifications that he is in possession of all things desirable. He is your guniea pig and he smiles back to what he mistakes as your approval, clearly missing the sinister gleam in your eyes as you watch yet another creation of yours.

You are the creator. He is the consumer. He is your consumer. You have created everything he believes in, you have carefully changed his lifestyle, and the beauty is he will never know that. He believes it’s all him! They say ‘power cannot be innocent’ and one can only imagine the thrill of creating a SIMS character you actually love. That’s consumerism today. You create. You control.

All I ask of you is to be mindful. For, those who identify the pattern, capitalise on the chaos. Be mindful while purchasing items, and observe the identities created by others. What to wear? Where to eat? What opinion to endorse? Whom to date? Which is your spirit animal?


Amazon Invades India

Kudos to Amazon. While there are millions being exploited by only a handful corporations owing to open cross-ownership of businesses, these are your insights into this raving new “market”.

Do read the inside story of Amazon invading India.

“The size of opportunity is so large it will be measured in trillions, not billions—trillions of dollars, that is, not rupees,” says Diego Piacentini, Amazon’s senior vice president for international retail.

Source: Amazon Invades India

Goodbye Secularism ! Enter Theocracy !!

Three cheers for Democracy?

KAFILA - 10 years of a common journey

Understanding the yet unfolding ‘Dietary Fascism’

Image : Courtesy – bollypedia.in

To the question whether the Hindus ever ate beef, every Touchable Hindu, whether he is a Brahmin or a non-Brahmin, will say ‘no, never’. In a certain sense, he is right. From times no Hindu has eaten beef. If this is all that the Touchable Hindu wants to convey by his answer there need be no quarrel over it. But when the learned Brahmins argue that the Hindus not only never ate beef but they always held the cow to be sacred and were always opposed to the killing of the cow, it is impossible to accept their view…

B. R. Ambedkar 1

“Did the Hindus never eat Beef?” Dr Ambedkar has dealt with this specific issue holistically in his various writings and has also tried to link it with emergence of ‘untouchable’ castes.

At a time when the…

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That Pocket of Sanity

Of sun-kissed beaches and looong walks!

Of sun-kissed beaches and looong walks!

Caution: Incessant rambling!

I had the privilege of meeting Jeffry Archer this week in Mumbai. I would like to share with all you other fans that I got to personally thank him for William Lowell Kane. His reply to this was “Aaahh! God bless him, William Kane!” He spoke of the overwhelming response he received here in India and how back home people would find the same hard to believe. Well, why not? Look at our population.

As I type this post, I’m sitting in a luxurious shack on the beach off the coast of Mumbai. The wind  in my hair and my feet are nestled in warm sand. The waves are lapping against the shore and there’s a high tide. I can see tiny specks in the waters which I suspect are fishing boats or trawlers. On either side, there are hills with no concrete, only trees and shrubbery. The beach is bare, save me and the thousand shells dancing as the waves retreat. I enjoy the isolation, the calm, the breeze and, my bare feet against the sand.

This morning itself, before I picked myself off the bed to pack for my mini getaway, I was not at ease. I distinctly remember the subject of my nightmares but could not recollect what constituted them. Yet now, I have to make no effort to keep them at bay. The shift in environment has worked wonders and I think of how privileged I am to be able to just take off in the middle of the week and unwind by first love, the sea. I think of so many people who face similar or worse situations and do not enjoy the opportunity to just take off and enjoy a whole beach to themselves, with a laptop and a chilled beverage to sip on. I think of how, in a month or so I myself will be struggling for this kind of freedom. I don’t need music, I don’t need company; I’m just happy being here and as I relax, I don’t feel like I’m idle.

How trivial is everything once viewed objectively? How many of our problems actually constitute as problems and what is the bar that sets one from the other? I find myself perturbed by the smallest things and as the moment passes, as the tension wears off, the reaction seems so unnecessary. Coming back to the nightmares I’ve been having; what causes them? Will I sleep poorly tonight too? If not, then why and how can I incorporate something like this into my routine?

Living in a city, I am so caught up with my own life that I seldom stop to admire an artificial fountain or a nice coffee shop. I know I’m not alone and that each person who crosses me faces the same yet there’s never any attention paid to it. People save up for months to take one fancy week long vacation which is packed with an itinerary that suffocates them. Why not try a local getaway? Some place you can drive to and spend the weekend at? Some place which is not a well-known tourist destination but is well endowed with aesthetic beauty? Where one can enjoy the luxury of being calm and allow nature to therapeutically help him/her unwind instead of some artificial spa?

For now I’m back to the daily grind!

Defense Against Defence Propaganda?

Death Machines. Taken by the author at an Army base.

Death Machines. Taken by the author at an Army base.

It is God’s duty to forgive the enemies, but it’s our duty to convene a meeting between the two

Note: I am no intellectual, I am merely sharing an experience and my musings on the same with a neutral audience.

I sat through a discussion consisting of intellectual elites and of course, the regulars. Some were enthusiastic, some trying too hard to make jokes and most were just zoned out. It was quite a set up and I, running a fever, was only waiting for it to get over.

It began post a presentation on the various achievements of the Indian Armed Forces; while the oration was sloppy, it was cleverly accompanied by two short documentaries highlighting the progress made by the various wings in the past few decades. With (for lack of a better word) badass visuals of warships, fighter jets and tanks accompanied by a high tempo soundtrack, it was a great watch. What nobody will talk of is how most of the data provided flew right above our heads as we were too busy watching missile launches and other advanced defence machines in action. But, wait, that’s not even the best part.

After the introduction, came the real reason why I even sat through the damn presentation instead of recuperating at home:

  • What is the government aiming to achieve releasing such videos for the layman to watch?
  • Is the government trying to manufacture consent?
  • Why is the government spending money trying to justify it’s defence spending?
  • Why would the government dramatize the video and try to ‘sell us the idea of nationalism and patriotic ideas’?

Sitting where I was, I couldn’t help but smile as I thought of these questions myself. The same was mistaken as me blushing over, well, romantic ideas of Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Understandably, I am not contributing to discussion, so it’s correctly assumed that I have no opinion and even better that I’m dreaming about Tom Cruise and his Ray Ban’s, right? Hey, no questions raised there.

Firstly, these videos aren’t specifically made for the public. They are mostly used in presentations in Parliament and other domains where decision-making is involved. There’s no particular channel on which they’re displayed, there’s no advertisements for the same and if you still don’t agree, watch the video, one is able to understand a very small portion of what’s being conveyed. Yes, they’re made available in public domain like ALL other central government departments, maybe? But no questions raised about the spending on Railways. Not even on the day the annual Railway Budget is announced. Because, just.

Secondly, why? It’s common knowledge that a majority of the public doesn’t really know about the workings of the defence and thus would question the spending. However, if you’re claiming to be smart enough to think of propaganda, why can’t you zoom out on the map and realize the importance of having a strong and equipped force? It’s only a percentage of the tax you pay anyway.

Thirdly, the question about ‘nationalism and patriotic ideas’ arises. One has to be extremely imaginative to come up with an answer for that, correct? Why would the government try to force the military, whose job is to protect the citizens and the physical borders of the country, to make you feel towards them? Isn’t that inherent considering the nature of their job vis-à-vis yours? Obviously, they’re guilty of stealing you of your money and creating expensive content you can make movies about every couple of years.

I’m not offering solutions; I actually wasn’t fantasizing about Tom Cruise but was just marveling at the importance being given to this topic over a whole lot more that I regard as a contemporary issue.

But, what the hell, thank you, Noam Chomsky.