Thursday, 27 September 2012

Breaking-up in the time of social networking*

Long ago, not so long ago, when I was a teenager and going through my share of heart-breaks and tears, it was rather easy to gather the reins and spring up. Why? I never had the hassle of ever seeing the guy who caused the pain and tears. Even till date, I haven't seen those guys who broke my heart. Well, I guess things are not as easy today.

First, there is the glaring 'relationship status' followed by the unfriending process. If that is not enough, there are mutual friends, tags and the like. There are different categories of friends and each of them only knows a 'certain' aspect of you and it so happens that the guy is known to many of the many friends. I cannot imagine the queries that rise after the relationship status is changed! Okay, deactivating Facebook for a short duration seems like a plausible idea but feminist-induced thoughts like, 'Why should I leave Facebook for a guy?' starts playing repeatedly in the mindscape. If you are a blogger then you face double jeopardy.

Blogging was a suggestion that the ex-beau would have given and you took to it as fish to water and now whenever you open blogger, memories start surfacing like the boiling milk when you are not around. The first comment would have been from him and boy! the comment was so touching. One cannot delete all the comments because egged on by his encouragement, hundreds of posts have been written. Sigh!

One cannot open Facebook, Blogger and Twitter without the messages being seen. Ah, how did I forget Google+. Well, he would have shared so many feeds with you that he thought were interesting and informative and it was almost a ritual to like all the things that he shared. Ah, now doesn't that make things a bit complicated.

Then there are the ubiquitous BBM (Blackberry messenger), Androids, blah blah to unfriend and block. Gosh! I'd rather not fall in love at all!

After the unfriending and blocking rituals, there is this nagging feeling to stalk the person by trying to sneak and read his/her blogs and checking out the Facebook profile through a common friend's profile. A permanent closure is sought but the lurking temptation of keeping tab is slightly overpowering.

I guess there is one solution to this scenario: Don't include your beloved in any of your social networking sites. Keep a distance in the virtual world, after all you talk to her/him over the phone and see him/her quite often.

Well, what do you have to say on this, dear reader?

* The title is inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 1988 novel, Love in the Time of Cholera

Image: Internet

Monday, 24 September 2012

A day in the life of a comment-hungry lazy blogger

Well, this post has been on my mind for some time but the urgency to post something like this was egged on by a visit to a recent blog which I came across in a recent blogger friend's blogroll. So here, goes the post.

Let's call the comment-hungry lazy blogger Narnia.

Narnia logs in after coming to her work-spot and the first thing that she does is open the dashboard of her blog simultaneously thinking, So many blogposts and so less time. Let me shoot!

The first blog she opens is a poetry blog. Narnia thinks to herself, "Ah, everyone is a poet these days and I can't imagine reading through this poem no matter how short it is." She hits the comment icon and writes, 'Good poem.' and moves on to the next blog.

The next blog is a photo-blog. Narnia with a sly smile, does not bother to appreciate the picture but hits the comment icon and keys in, 'Nice photo.' Narnia sits smug thinking that the owner of the photo-blog will return to her blog following her link and reward her with a comment. Some back-scratching for my popularity won't hurt anyone ;)

A prose writer's blog is the next one that Narnia stops by. Here she has one look at the long prose rendition and thinks, "Let me read the comments and then write a comment. That will save me some time from reading that loooong post. I wonder why people write such long posts and think that they should receive comments." She reads just three comments from the twenty and types her comment, 'Good read (and a summary from the three comments)."

The next blog is also a prose one which has reflections as part of the title and Narnia wonders, "Reflections, Musings, Thoughts, Pondering . . . I think all these literature students can just not get wacky titles and end up saying heavy stereotypical words like reflections. Well, . . .." This time Narnia adopts another strategy while commenting -- She reads the first paragraph and the last one and keys in her comment.

Narnia is happy that she has managed to satisfy and ego-boost the bloggers whose blogs she follows and finally sets to write her own post. After completing her post and giving it appropriate labels, she hits the publish button and starts her regular office-work. But every two minutes, she checks and rechecks her blog for comments and is pretty restless when the comments don't come. Finally, after checking the post for the seventh time, she finds the message, "New comment on  . . ." Narnia happily clicks on the comment that is waiting to be moderated. She finds the comment and it says, 'Good post.' Narnia is angry, and on the verge of spewing expletives. She mutters to herself, "Why do people write comments as these. I wish people like this never stop by my blog. Then, on a whim, she adds, at least people are reading what I write." Narnia waits for the comments to come one-by-one.

This post is sure a funny one and to be honest, I have not come across any reader like this. They may or may not exist but I am sure that sometimes time and passion don't always fuse to give a wonderful blogging experience.

What say, dear readers?

Image: Internet

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The many interpretations of waiting!

Today my husband and I were at an auditor's office. It wasn't crowded nor the work we had was something that required plenty of time. It should have been done in a couple of minutes. But no. We were made to wait for a very long time. It was then that this post struck me. Being made to wait is a sign of power. The longer a person is made to wait, the more important the person on the other side is. In India (I can't speak for any other country. If you have similar experience, please do share) everywhere one is made to wait. The person-in-charge will never commit to an exact time and if she/her does so, then invariably the time is delayed. An appointment is given only to prolong it. If one is asked to come on a particular day for getting some official papers, the papers aren't given until two days pass. Laziness? Power? I don't know. I am unable to put my finger on any one particular reason. But like the shit, dirt and squalor that you read about in the last post, we the citizens of India have grown accustomed to waiting and being denied the luxury of having everything done on time. So when we visit other countries, we are almost bedazzled!

My dear friend K, exclaims, "But the wait is part of India's epistolary tradition . . ." when we discuss our letters reaching each other at the earliest. We endlessly wait and perhaps that waiting has added that extra dash of pleasure for receiving hand-written letters. But can someone trust our postal system and write a love-letter to her/his friend? Who knows by the time the letter reaches the person, she or he might have fallen in love with someone else and even married him or her. Well, that's the waiting for letters.

Now, the waiting that many young ones profess to be doing: Waiting for Mr or Ms. Right! I hate to be the one to throw cold water on this belief like Sharmila Tagore did to Rajesh Khanna in the film Aradhana! The rights never exist, it only depends on us to settle down for someone who is an assortment of rights/lefts/wrongs and humour! Tell me, who is the right one after all. If the looks are good, the thoughts are creepy, if the thoughts are good, then the education is not okay. Finally if everything is good, the person is already taken! Well, the wait is not actually a wait, it is foolishness.

So, in India, we end up waiting for many things and if one calculates the time that we have waited for everything, it would be a good number and in that time we would have done many other wonderful things - like wasting spending time on Facebook, repinning inspirational quotes and smiling buddhas, checking what blog posts have appeared in the dashboard and so on.

Sometimes even the internet booting makes you wait. Well, one can always check stuff in the mobile until then.

So, dear reader what have you waited for?

Image: Internet

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

What makes the Ganga dirty and the roads stinky!

Recently I completed reading a work of fiction, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer. I cannot say that I liked the read but parts of the book remained with me long after I put the book to rest. I must confess that I purchased the book after reading some glowing reviews of the book. I wouldn't say that the purchase went awry for the book is an impressive hard-bound one with a colourful jacket that is quite a sight in my shelf of books! So much so for the appearance. I remembered the phrase, "Appearances can be deceptive" from Shakespeare. Let me go on with the post.

The first section of the book talks of the protagonist's experience in Venice and the second half is his experience in Varanasi. Apart from the Vs, it so happens that both the cities have many similarities that only the discerning traveller can spot. The protagonist Jeff does not see much similarity between the two Vs and treats each city according to its special flavour.

Jeff is sent to Varanasi for an assignment and even after he completes his assignment, he prolongs his stay in the holy city. When Jeff first lands in Varanasi, he seems like any other tourist complaining about the dirt and squalor of the city and questions the 'holiness' of the river Ganga. But as time goes on and Jeff grows tuned to the city and its ways, he experiences a spiritual transformation. But believe me, the spirituality is what I perceived of the change but Jeff does not think so. One fine morning when the sun is just about rising and there is a chilly weather, Jeff plunges into the Ganga for a dip. The previous thoughts of dirt, grime, dead bodies and other things no longer niggle his mind. This particular passage struck a chord within me. I began to meander as to what is this disgusting feeling with dirt and shit? Everyday while passing the roads one encounters so much garbage, shit, and an assortment of waste materials but inspite of all that we continue living and in a way all that on the road becomes a part of our daily existence. Even though we despise squalor, we cannot leave the place looking for a place which is benign. We live on. And Jeff discovered that when he decided to take a dip in the infamous 'dirtiest river in the world,' where corpses float and animal carcasses rot. Nothing bothered him. At that precise moment when realisation struck Jeff, he became someone who valued the sanctity of the river and respected the intrinsic value of the Ganga.

Reader, does this post strike a chord with you. Tell me . . .

Image: Internet

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Thoughts on the concept of 'weekend'

I can bet that the early man had no concept of weekday and weekend. I reckon that it's a fairly recent phenomenon. Even when I was a student at school and college, there was nothing like a 'weekend.' My guess is that the trend of the weekend was largely made popular by the American working ethics where five days are devoted to only work and a two day break which is usually a Saturday and Sunday. I can even go ahead and say that Sunday was the usual day of rest or Sabbath as it says in the Bible and the western system being Christian added a Saturday to the Sunday and christened it as the 'weekend.' With the onslaught of MNCs in India, everyone has adapted to the concept of the weekend rather effortlessly.

Now, what surprises me is that the weekday/weekend concept seems appropriate for people who work and   require respite from their work, hence a two day break to cool their heels. But every age bracket seems to have appropriated the 'weekend' phrase that the word has become pretty ubiquitous. Once Thursday dawns, the familiar, 'So, what plans for the weekend' starts making the rounds not only in offices but even schools, colleges, universities, supermarkets and other places. What is amusing is that even students in the hostel await their weekends as if they have slogged their a#$% off in the week. I understand that students also work hard but their work and the work done by a professional are quite different. The student has nothing else but studies peppered along with some love stories, games and hobbies. This student who has not a care in the world looks forward to the weekend! Ha.

Every Facebook page that carries adverts starts the 'Weekend is here, what are your plans' slogan and one is rather stifled as to what to do with the weekend. For some, like me, who never really differentiated the weekday and weekend, messages which end with 'weekend' are viewed quite suspiciously. Yesterday atleast three individuals wished me "Have a happy weekend" or "What plans for the weekend?" as if the weekend is what I have been waiting for. Maybe weekends do matter to hard-working individuals who look forward to the Saturdays and Sundays, but not me! The weekend concept has become so very compulsory that some poor individuals who work on a Saturday and Sunday are made to look very very sorry since they literally 'don't have the weekend!' Now, how can anyone not have the weekend! Funny, right. A weekend is common for everyone but not working in the weekends is not common for everyone. The so-called weekend people seem to possess a frenzy of somehow making the weekend interesting. If anyone says, 'I will remain home and enjoy some rest and television,' the weekend (not to be confused with weakened) person says, 'Why are you wasting your weekend?' as if the weekend is a commodity! Duh. One looks forward to the weekend but when finally the week actually ends, there is the question of not wasting it!

Sometimes, I have also wished my friends and readers a happy weekend but hence forth, I would rather say, Enjoy your day. 

So, dear reader, are your weekends 'happy and not wasted?' How do you view this concept of weekends?

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Reading a book and eating pistachios

The problem is that one cannot read a book and eat pistachios at the same time. Well, if you haven't tried it yet, please do so. When I say pistachios, I mean the pistachios with the shells. If the book is interesting, then the pistachios have to wait but if the pistachios are tempting enough to pull you away from the book then the reading has to wait. Like me, if you like both books and pistachios, then there is an existential problem between choosing what to do.

Well, let me list the odds. First, you hold the book in one hand and try to skilfully remove the pistachio nut from the shell. 99. 9% you will not succeed for you have to keep the book down and then shell the nut! What a nut one can be to do two things at the same time!

Second, if you think that you can just pop a nut into your mouth and spitting out the shell, then you might end up spitting the nut and swallowing the shell. Distasteful!

Third, if the book is interesting enough that you think Let the pistachios rest a while, chances are that the nuts will disappear faster than you complete the interesting passage in the book. Why? The person next to you will hardly be able to resist the pistachios.

Four, everyone likes pistachios better than books and one cannot eat just one.

This was exactly my situation the day before yesterday when I thought I could effectively manage eating pistachios and reading a book and mind you, the book was no breezy fiction. It was a hardcore theory one which demanded my complete concentration but me being me decided that I could handle the combo of pistachios and a book. I was proven wrong. Finally, what did I do? Well, I put the book down, polished off the nuts and then began reading but by that time the book did not interest me much and off I went to sleep. So much for pistachios!

I guess no one can serve two masters at the same time! What say, dear reader? Do you like reading? Do you like pistachios? Are you a nut trying to do two things at the same time?

Image: Internet

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Non-working non-teacher and happy

For those who do not know: I am not teaching this semester which technically also means that I am not working (in a regular job which pays at the end of every month).

The reason: My Ph. D. degree is long due and I am yet to defend my thesis and get a degree. In this post, I will refrain bad-mouthing my University and get to the crux of this post - My status as a non-teacher and a non-working individual.

For the most part of my life I have always been either a student or more recently, a teacher. I have enjoyed being on either side and hence had something seemingly purposeful to say when asked, What do you do? Of late, I have to explain in more than one sentence as to what I am doing. Sometimes, I just respond by saying, I am a Ph. D scholar. Period. The queries don't stop there. They continue like constant dripping on a rainy day: You were working, na? What happened? Don't you have a job now? So, you are sitting at home idle? Well, it is true that I had been working and that I had a job but that does not mean that I am idle! On sunny days, I take it in my stride and nonchalantly brush off the queries and patiently reply: I am writing research papers and also working on a couple of other academic things but on not-so-sunny days, I refuse to answer and simply try to cut off the conversation. Simply put, I am tired of explaining to all and sundry my status of being a non-teaching and non-working woman.

While some are pleasant and chirpy: One needs a break or Being at home is good or Take this as an effective 'me' time, others quip in, No personal money now or Aren't you bored? Well, all of the above is proved right at some point but sometimes it's just a bit repetitive to hear the same words over and over. Translation of being a non-working individual is idleness and prolonged sadness. I see that there is a general belief among most of the people (I know) that being at home is endless pain and misery. The joy of having time to oneself, sleeping and waking at will, prolonged time in the bath, extensive reading is practically unnoticed by people. The fact that not working equals to not having money is a very crude way of looking at employment.

Even today morning, my close relative called up and asked me, What work do you do, anyway? I realise that I cannot blame people and their views and beliefs. Their world-view is limited and narrow. On my part, I should strive to not take things personally and brush them aside and do what I am doing: Being happy and controlling time!

So, what have you to say about the non-working status? Isn't it fun and joyous (even though for a limited period)?

Image: Internet

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Meanderings . . .

Given the large number of followers on my blog, I find it quite mind-boggling to keep track of every single subscriber. Hence, I decided to tweak some of my widgets and now I can actually see the number of subscribers to the Meanderings. This also means that I will receive notification of those who unsubscribe. Last week, I received a notification of a blogger unsubscribing from the Meanderings. I felt a tug. I wondered how could anyone unsubscribe from my blog!?! I utterly discarded the notion that the content of my blog could become monotonous, mundane and a shadow of my former posts. As a blogger, one gets quite visceral with the blog. I failed to stand outside of the blog's space and assess the content that is being hashed out at regular intervals. I wonder if this happens to everyone else.

Given the personal tag of this blog, it becomes imperative to the point of blindness that one does not feel the need to stop and examine what is being written. Sometimes, the label, 'personal,' gives the blogger freedom to express her thoughts, comments, observations and criticisms without stopping to wonder and ponder. At the threshold of entering my fourth year of blogging, I decided that I should stop and ask my readers to honestly assess and offer criticisms about this blog and its content. I mention, 'honest' because I know that many of you will be very sweet to me and sugar-coat your thoughts. You can be quite brutal in your comments about the content. I seem to ask for an outsider's perspective as I am quite partial and emotional in judging my blog and its content.

So, please go on and state what strikes you.

Image: Internet


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