12th December, 2013.
9th July 2014:
As an employee of an airline, in my mid-twenties, I happened to meet a celebrity photographer at the Calcutta airport, as he waited to take the flight to Mumbai. He struck a conversation, even as I was walking past him in uniform. After he introduced himself, my immense interest in photography propelled me into the seat beside him. His attentiveness, however, as I was to realise in course, was of me as subject rather than pupil, even as I quizzed him on technicalities. He chose to reply from the viewpoint of me as subject and though I could well do without his intrusive gaze, my curiosity kept me looking back at him steadily.
“You cannot be a ramp model” he said bluntly, even though I didn’t remotely ask him “but can do well as a still photo model…your weight could be taken care of with the right camera angles.”
Now for a woman in her twenties, that statement on weight, and how it was an impediment to my beauty could have sent me scuttling into depression or a crash diet and exercise regime, it didn’t…rather firmed my resolve I did not care to make an impression on the world with my looks.
Yet, I am the same woman who changed her clothes, applied lipstick, and did her hair, at 10pm of a January evening, on her way to the crematorium, accompanying the hearse carrying the remains of her father- alright even the night before. I dressed only for myself that evening, even though I knew I could be judged as frivolous by the large crowd outside our house, waiting to see the hearse leave.
Absolutely, I can never quite value the romanticism- as it is to some people, of unrequited love. If someone ceases to love me, ignores or avoids me, I let them go so promptly they won’t apprehend who let go first, them or me…and I can do it so very kindly.
Tears, if you allow them to fuel sparks of fire, have the power to propel you to illuminate the world. But you have to be able to harness that force positively, instead of letting it char your soul instead.
We hardly, if ever, realise our views and opinions of the world and people, is a projection of ourselves, more than of that or those we evaluate or critic. Also, it is character that determines whether we have the gumption, to voice our true opinions and views. It takes courage to allow the world to view our beliefs, see what we stand for, knowing we’re being judged in turn.
A novel aims to draw all these people out of their numerous worlds, to project them realistically…and it is exhaustive getting under people’s skin if at all they allow you, or else you just get under your own skin to imagine their world’s, to feel under their skin and into their souls.
We can effectively pretend ourselves into the state we want to be in. If we pretend to be happy, calm, open, gregarious, generous, smart, whatever else we wish, we can become all of that in time. The world tends to reflect the view of us it sees, back to us. Internalizing the thoughts and images we’re playacting, they soon define us. So let’s pretend all we like, but take our time in thinking, choose the characters we’d like to enact.
I never allow myself to be so bored in my own company…that I become dependent on others to entertain me always, and thus allow them to become bored of me in turn.
Failure toughens you, teaches you the essence of humility, and builds your character in preparation for success and adulation, so you are prepared to deal with its deluge rather than drown in its tide.
I love going up into the mountains, they make me realise just how small I am and yet how firm. The beauty around and below caresses me with calm, even as the chilly pure air wraps me in a blanket of security and assurance, reminds me how strong I can be even in my solitary minuteness. I have the freedom to stretch my arms here, touch the clouds as if in a dream, and float up if I dare. As I climb up to the light and warmth of the sun, passers-by may notice, follow suit in my trudge.
22nd June: I’ve asked myself what is really important early on…and have had the courage and wisdom to sacrifice many things to build my life around the answers. Thus I’ve never looked back on life with regret. Yes, I’ve quit jobs I’ve put my heart and life into, just when I could see brighter lights beckoning with money and growth, for love and family; I’ve sacrificed the ability to buy expensive clothes, jewellery or shoes and take random vacations, to write a book with single-minded focus without surety it would see the light of day…and I have no regrets whatsoever. To those who tend to view my life as a chain of suicidal bids…all I wish for is the smugness I feel.
I ensure to bathe in positive thoughts daily, at some time in the day however late, whatever my engagements, and I share…as I believe when you share anything it multiplies manifold
Happiness: Sometimes, the only way you can be happy, even when your world seems to be crashing around you, and all you feel is a void inside, is by putting your energy into making others happy. Like the moon, you will absorb and reflect the beams of happiness people exude, and your life will glow again from it. Thus making others happy can make you happy. There is no harm then in faking a smile, is there, till it soon truly defines you.
Just when you’re done defining me, I’d go and redefine myself…just when you think I can’t do that, I’ll prove you wrong; by the time you’re sure that’s exactly what I’ll do…I’ll do it no more. Predictably, unpredictable…is how I see myself, and yet, very predictably, if ever you need my help I’ll be there. See I’ve defined myself, so don’t bother doing it yourself ha-ha
Less Can Be More and More Can Be Less:
I really wish people would appreciate this viewpoint, then they would recognize why people with far less than what they have, can be much happier than them. It’s because they don’t understand this basic idea that people think those who are apparently happy with little are faking it.
Happy people are chasing the right attitude, even as you chase quantifiable gains to reach a state of exaltation which constantly eludes you…so it’s time to wake up to that.
People assume those with less would be jealous of them. They need never be, as they could be feeding their souls with the right attitude, also the choice of relationships and dreams, even as you feed yours – with the debris of measurable gains that weigh you down.
if you keep hovering close to the shore, afraid to swim deeper into sea, you will never see the beauty of the shore from the distance…how it beckons you, cajoles you, with its glittering lights and the absolute beauty of life, to enable you to appreciate it to the fullest…So, just brave going out far from your secure zone, risking getting lost even, you will find a way to return with greater appreciation of life and what you have.
Everyone has a unique way of expressing – love, anger, rebellion, pain, sadness, even jealousy. After the initial euphoria of love, it should well settle into being the process of deciphering all of that about someone, loving them for it. It should not be seen as the process of identifying whether their demonstration is attuning to our perceptions or its manifestation. Then disillusionment sets in and kills love. We might like to keep our individuality and also ally our perceptions to that of the one we love. All forms of love, including friendship, may be aligned to this thought, so as to thrive. However, I categorically override habitual misbehaviour, justified as love, from this premise.
A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS…is anybody interested?
I am constantly dissuaded, by my writer husband, from sharing quotes. That I continue to do so steadily is out of my strong conviction, that sometimes it is a mere statement from a reputed source that makes a major difference to someone’s life. It is not that I am not confident of my own thoughts and wisdom, or of my capacity to articulate them well, that makes me share time-honoured ones. It is rather my insight that allows me to discern people will not take my words seriously enough to consider life alterations, until I have made a name for myself. How else do I explain the readiness of even close friends to read my husband for the first time, over me? I graciously accept it is his brand equity from two decades of being a journalist with reputed papers and of being an established author now in addition to a really good one that is the cause, not necessarily a personal preference for his writing even before reading him.
As for me, with as many years in the corporate sector, but not even as many days as a writer have as yet to build my brand one steep step at a time. I have changed my work industry several times and every time I have had to build my brand-equity from start, so I am not intimidated by the need to do it all over again in ‘writing’.
I’m quoting here an example to validate my point: I had attended a concert in Chennai over a year ago, by Shreya Ghoshal, the reputed singer. Before she came on stage, as is often the case, a very young male singer – unknown, sang a few numbers, by the end of which the audience vociferously tried to boo him off stage, asking for Shreya to come on instead. The young singer, his condition leaving a big impact on me perhaps forever, continued to sing through the loud catcalls bidding his time. When Shreya came on stage, true to anyone who has made it big through struggle, praised the young singer fervently, stating she had selected him from amongst a large number who were vying for that role. After Shreya’s performance, when again that singer came on stage for a few final numbers, the same audience applauded him, much to my surprise and to a lesson well learnt as to why endorsements are so important.
So friends, until I am able to establish myself as a reputed writer, you’re going to be served a steady dose of thoughts from established sources that inspire me Also, something my husband is yet to learn about me – by now, through my stint as an executive search consultant, followed by that as a historical fiction author, I am master of internet research. He assumes, I spend hours to dig out the quotes I surface with and post and I should much rather be using that time to work on my writing. I believe in working smart, not only working hard.
Leaps of faith are like a desperate run for the last train/bus home for the day, so I’m not left stranded, or they could well be as the rush for the first transport to get to work, so I’m ahead of everyone to prepare for my day/life.
Whichever way I look at it, I take these leaps a lot and am getting pretty prolific at it. I have landed or been propelled to sea so often. But I’ve learnt to swim against the tide, bathed in salt water/tears and come out feeling stronger, wiser, invigorated by the swim.
Writing versus Acting: Writing fiction is different from acting in a film, in that in the first you have to make the reader enact the scenes in their head as the director would, while in acting you enact them yourself. In both cases, you get into the minds and under the skin of your characters, feel them through all your senses, laugh with them, cry with them, love and hate with them, you become your characters completely. In writing, you’re not only the director, but also an entire film crew. You choose the location, create the setting, choose the props and above all humour and engage your actors – who in this case are the readers, with the choicest of words and analogies, so they don’t get bored, till they complete the act till the end of the novel, in their heads.
This has always been my view on confidence, right since school: never to look at which point in the race others are, but focus on where I wish/have to reach. It helps garner mental and physical energy towards making it to the finishing line, rather than dissipating them on viewing others position, feeling insecure by those seemingly ahead. Thus even if I don’t win a race, I never have regrets, for I know I’ve put in my best effort. A lot of people like to see this attitude either as over confidence or heedlessness, but then that’s their perspective.
Communication: An adage I’ve practised since very young, noticing subtle cues when communicating with a person, sometimes seemingly distracted to spoken words as I don’t rely as much on them as I do the written, and I’ve never been sorry. You get better at this skill as you do with the practise of any other, till it becomes involuntary like with driving, swimming or cycling. In my view, you don’t really need someone to tell you that they like you or love you, as you can sense if they do, though it feels great to be told…or for that matter not understand when someone dislikes you, is upset, angry or jealous.
WORDS: The written word, gives many of us power, clarity and definition, when used over the spoken word. With written words we do not exhaust ourselves through physical manifestation and overpowering by voice or personality. I first gained cognizance of this through one of my clients – the MD, in my stint as executive search consultant. He always insisted on getting all top/senior level recruits to write out a speech/plan/email, before making an offer, in order to judge their cognitive abilities. In his view, verbal interviews can fail due to personality overrule, but not if one is asked to write a page with clarity. I have since then, used this awareness to my personal strength and to debate with myself into a standpoint or solution. It is also much easier to speak one’s mind, in writing, when the other person is not trying to physically over power you as some of us have not been blessed with a loud and booming voice or aggressive body language or a threatening countenance. Perhaps why I chose to become a writer…to be heard… ha-ha.
It is not as important, what you read or how much you read, as compared to how well you read. If you don’t open up your mind to what you read, carrying your mindset steadfastly as if in a covered palanquin through the thick foliage of fresh green woods of thoughts and words on your path, it is as redundant in my view, as carrying your belongings to the pyre or grave for use in the after life.
At times I have so much to say,
At other times nothing at all
Sometimes I feel one with the world,
At others from outside I view the world
At times I want to be amidst people,
Quite often just alone with my thoughts
However in life I equate with the world,
I know, one day, alone I must depart.