Sunday, October 28, 2012

Walk & Laugh

Its Sunday, again. And I see everything is as it was.

Last Sunday morning, I decided I was going to wake up a new person. Turn over a new leaf. After all, it's October. The weather is changing colors. Why not me?

So, I am up and about at 6 am. Shortly, I step our to feel the wind cooling my face. Early morning is the only time when Bombay feels wintry  I relish the moments as the sun is still sneaking out, taking its own sweet time. I first head towards our Raudat Tahera, a marble mausoleum of our beloved Syedna Taher Saifuddin  (RA). Prayer is always a good way to start you day. The cool marble makes me feel light and glowy from inside.

I decide its time to take a long morning walk. Health is wealth, no? Secretly, I want to feel the cool breeze on me a bit longer. I want to revel in today some more.

So I think of this garden close to our home perched on a hilltop which we would frequent when I was a kid. It was hidden somewhere in the layers of memories from the past and came rushing back, just like that. After nostalgia and euphoria set it, I decide to revisit pleasant memories.

It was a good 2-3 kms of walk up to the park. While I enjoyed the almost empty streets early in the morning, my mind raced back to blasts from the past. As kids we would go there with my family and cousins: racing up the hill,  reveling in breakfast picnics and playing games of all nature. It made me smile.

So much had changed between then and now. This 124-year old "Mazgaon nu pahaad", as known as in my family, is now renovated and renamed to Joseph Baptista Gardens. The in-roads were paved with tiles. The garden was trimmed and looked shapely. It was just after 7 when I reached on top. Joggers and morning walkers walked along me, some already on their way down.

It was great to see so many people actively seeking a healthy lifestyle. There were tiny tots in protective arms, kids of all sizes playing away, middle age people jogging or walking; and older people who looked more fit than a lot of youngsters do today - their age only given away by the graceful silvering.

Still, something bothered me. Something was missing. The itch that needs scratching. The serene environment, the cool hilltop breeze, people choosing health - and I was still missing something. It was incomplete. And then it stuck me. 

The smiles and laughter were missing. 

Across the years, all my journeys to gardens and parks were filled with loads of laughter. Whether it was us kids running all over the place playing games or family cracking jokes together or even on solo walks the nearby laughter clubs which always manage to tease a smile.

I was surrounded only by people - not smiling and laughing people. That is a sad statement in itself. The happy feeling of seeing people choose good health seemed distant now. While we were seeking health, we were missing the very essence of great living. If you do not smile, how can your soul  be happy? If you are not happy from inside, how can you stay healthy? Once I realized this, I looked up and smiled at the next person I crossed - she smiled back! There is still hope for the Universe.
These are times of internal strives. One deals with so many things on a micro and macro level. But only those who live happily and spread happiness have truly lived. And rightly so.

Which brings me back to today. Life is not meant to be easy, only worthwhile. And you have to make it worthwhile. Laugh. Cry. Smile. Burst forth into laughter. Then, bring on the challenges, I will scare them back with my laughter!

I will continue to turn a new leaf everyday, will you?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I don't trust news anymore

As a kid, I had learnt that news stood for North-East-West-South. I believed it then. I am no longer sure it is true anymore.

Going by the acronym it would represent the directions from which share-worthy information would be disseminated by those who knew their news, making the news credible. It is sadly no longer the case. Or at least I am convinced so.

Take the case of Arvind Kejriwal. He seems to be unleashing at least one new scam or something of the size and shape and pointing new fingers everyday. This seems far more programmed than television channels themselves! How much of it is believable? Speaking for myself, I choose to believe none of it. I am realist, not so much of an idealist.

Every one has the news even as it breaks. And somehow everyone on Twitter is talking about it within seconds of each other. No sooner has the timeline been flooded by so many reworded versions in just 140 characters, it has already begun its spillover on Facebook, YouTube and websites. And rest, as they say, is history.. or becomes one! Says so much about the ingenuity of our communication skills!

It is no wonder then that recently a lot of celebrities have been RIPed off virtually. Sting operations rule the roost. Half stories start doing the rounds even before the whole story can get itself out of the bag. You believe what you see but you don't think anymore. Or don't need to? Or do we? And what, who and why do you believe anymore?

Our Professor Mohan Sinha taught us the 5W & 1H of journalism. The speed at which news does the round barely leaves the time to verify the what, who, where, when, why or how anymore. So, does that mean 5W&1H is now old school news? Or are we getting ahead of ourselves with respect to news being news itself?

Truth be told: these are the times of social news and citizen journalism. News now updates even before it actually happens! To me the paradigm of news itself has changed. It is no longer the truthful looking glass from which one could look at the world. It now always needs to be treated with a healthy dose of salt and sensibility.

Do you still trust what you hear anymore?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Written Word

I have been addicted to the written word as far back as I can remember!

Books, magazines, words that create a thousand new worlds - never fail to amaze me. I still read and wallow into new worlds which always adapt me as a welcome listener as the stories weave themselves around me and together we reach the high points of castles in the air. Oh, the exhilaration!

I take the local train to get to work everyday. When I am not reading I like to simply watching the milling masses of people all around me and oblivious to me! People all around me. Ladies of all ages, earphones plugged in, listening to music - few enjoy those rhythms. Some talk to their train buddies or travel companions. Some bargaining and buying cheap stuff off ware sellers. Some just looking away everywhere and no where in particular - their eyes seeking answers hidden to the crevices of human brain constantly holding back a smile or maybe fighting the salty water from seeping that regularly collects at the edges of their eyes.

And some read.

Reading here is not exactly inclusive of the last minute preparation or repetition test or exam. It is not even inclusive of those reading technical books or school/college text books or reference books. I speak of those who read for pleasure. Those who read because a book calls out to them. They just need to know. The need to know what happens in the next chapter, next page, next line. Those who cannot put the book down.

I have noticed people and their expressions when they read - totally engrossed in the storyteller's art. The feelings cannot hide. The hero of the story never hides. You got a duty to fulfill, another life in the wings that awaits you. A life that is not so ordinary or maybe more ordinary. Common solutions to uncommon experiences and vice verse.

Here is my question: When you read, when you are the hero or the bystander in the story - how does the story change or affect you? Does it make you any braver, less hypocritical, more open to ideas, more close to relationships? Does the book really leave you when you move from one book to another. When does a book really affect you - touch your heart? Even when it does touch your heart - what does it really do to you?

I like to think books affect us all differently. We are different and unique. What we see, seek and go through in our lives are all same and yet unique. When on a beach - we all have different feelings - some feel warmth, some love, some eternity, some hope - the idea is that it does not leave you unaffected. You cannot be indifferent to the sea/ocean. Similarly for books. You can love them or hate them - you cannot read them and pretend it didn't happen. The effect it has on you will differ from person to person based on personal learning  affects, effects, experiences, sympathy, empathy, nature, behavior and so on.

So when two different people going through two different types of life expectation and experiences are reading the same lines from the same book would it be weaving similar stories? Would the warmth from those knits and knots feel the same? Would it pinch in the same places?

When authors write books is it more important to tell the story? Or do they even need to think the story will create different weaves and interpretations that even they might not have thought of?

What do you think?