Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Parallel Universe

Growing up, the one thing I distinctly remember hearing is, 'after a certain age, you don't make friends. It's hard to meet like-minded people.' It is this dispiriting urban legend that forces a large population to hang on to their past - a prime cause that prohibits them from seeking newer friends or even making social acquaintances. They find it extremely arduous to break out of their cocoon. They develop a defeatist attitude towards change & new people. These people consider pursuing new friendships as a colossal waste of time. I have heard a few say, ‘they already have their set of friends. Why will they befriend me?’

I, for one, disagree with this erroneous midwife’s tale. To my delight and with god’s grace, there are enough friends I have made in the past some time, who are as important to me as the friends I grew up with. Was it hard or weird? Well, my answer would be it’s only as hard as you want it to be or see it as. Don’t forget; most humans have skepticism and cynicism attached to their personalities. We all fear newness; some people ignore it and move ahead, while few others struggle to get out of the emotional rut.

It is uncanny how you find that ‘common thread’ between people from different walks of life. The ‘commonness’ or the ability of being able to relate to, can be in terms of upbringing, values, belief system, dreams, aspirations etc. Few of my friends and I have an alarming level of ‘commonness’. A very dear friend of mine recently said, ‘you and I could be cosmic twins’.

Have you ever felt that some people you meet are a mere replica of you or an emotional clone? In fact, my amigos have made me question if a parallel universe exists. How else do you explain the remarkable similarity between two people who didn’t grow up together? How did their parents share the same ideologies? How else could you define any of it?

Copyright © 02.28.2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

An Oscar Retrospective

Boy, time does fly! Was it not just a year ago when Jon Stewart, one of America's top social and comic geniuses, hosted the Academy Awards? Despite Stewart being the epitome of a perfect host - smart, charismatic, and witty, the awards were a failure - ratings fell.

Even though he is a well-liked TV star, Stewart’s performance at the Oscars received mixed reviews in the press. The audience in the Kodak Theatre did not consider his performance as stellar.

In spite of being a die hard Stewart fan, I have something negative to say about him; at the awards, Stewart was an ineffective communicator and his performance was insipid. Other than a few jokes, his humor offended the star-studded audience and his comments were abhorrent and inappropriate.

Having said that, I am both exhilarated and nervous about Ellen's performance tonight. I guess we will have to wait and watch.

Copyright © 02.25.2007

What if???

Most of us humans go through life asking ourselves a very simple question – ‘what if’? Some might say that one core question shakes you up from your real world slumber, broadens your horizon, and enriches your perspective. Another school of thought might not see the need in being capricious; they go through life saying ‘it is what it is.’

Not just today, but even in the past, I have had profound discussions with my amigos about the 'what if’ factor. A simple question - If you could change that one thing in your life, what would it be? More often than not, the response has been career related.

I was surprised; the cornucopia of choices should not inhibit, but encourage people to seek out what is best for them. I have not had a single person tell me that what they do for a living today is what they would do if they could go back in time and change the clock; the luscious magic of the ‘what if’ factor works its charm.

A few dear ones shared their ‘what if’ dreams today. Without sacrificing their privacy, I would like to add just one thing - their jobs today are drastically different from their inspirational ‘what if’ factor ones. On one hand, an advertising expert regrets not having studied sociology; on the other, the tech guru duly fantasizes about being a photographer with the National Geographic. Last but not the least, a friend in the finance industry mentioned that if he could go back in time, he would be a professional football player.

As always, these confessions have piqued my interest in understanding this ‘what if’ concept. Without further adieu, let me ask on question. You do not have to divulge the answer to me; it could be your own deep dark secret, but at least be honest to yourself. Do you think it is wise to honor the ‘what if’ questions; consider them a part of your hidden desires and pursue those dreams? On the other hand, are you of the opinion that the concept is delusional and a waste if time?

Copyright © 02.25.2007

There is just one life for each of us: our own.
-- Euripedes

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Grammar Terror - Part Deux!

In my last blog, my intolerance for callous, inane, and deliberate grammar error came out rather instinctively. The responses and requests from the ‘self-proclaimed literati populace’ (I consider it an honor to be a part of them), is the reason I am writing a sequel to ‘Grammar Terror’.

Honestly, I have never been mortified about my fanatical attitude towards ambiguous communication, but today I feel honored to have found my posse. These people have reaffirmed my faith: in the power of the words, the magic of grammar & punctuation, and the desperate need for a tenet that will curtail the proliferation of incessant incoherent ramble amongst people who pointlessly strive to belong.

I feel comforted in knowing that I am not the lone obsessive-compulsive lunatic, emending people in my head, as they speak. The other day, some one at work asked me if they should continue working on the project ‘irregardless’ of what the client thought. Irregardless! C’mon! You want to kill me, use the inappropriate tense, but for the love of Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde, do not just invent words.

Honestly, how many people do you know who pronounce ‘ask’ as ‘aks’ and ‘desk’ as ‘deks’? The first time a woman at a bank told me ‘Miss, I am aksing you to stand on line irregardless of when you cames,’ I didn’t know whether to feel intimidated or snicker. If this is how we speak, this is what we’ll teach. It’ll take a malignant form where the entire world would be a concoction of miscommunication.

I am not Shakespeare’s descendant, but I don’t want him turning in his grave either. It’s not about proficiency; it’s about making an effort. I know peer pressure can be hard; however, what if people like us pressure our peers in to sounding intelligible? I am convinced most people know the difference between ‘right’ and ‘write’ but they choose not to acknowledge it.

I rest my case with this clip from YouTube.

Copyright © 02.24.2007

"A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers." Gandhi

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Grammar Terror!

We live in an era where the usage of slang, colloquialism, and profane language is not only considered intellectual but also a sign of eminence and modernism. The furor over sounding gibberish has grown out of proportions. It’s not limited to just that; people succumb to the peer pressure of using grammatically incorrect words and massacre punctuation.

Someone at work once said to me, ‘I could have went there.’ What is with us literate humans paying no heed to ‘tenses’? It is comparable to desecrating the shrine.

One fine evening, as I was waiting for a few of my friends, I could not help but overhear this delinquent conversation between three people with snazzy clothes on. The Armani-suit-wearing woman said, ‘Nicole should have came by now.’ I was so tempted to correct her but better sense prevented me from doing so.

I have had people send me emails with only abbreviations in it. I am not daft and yet it took me over seven minutes to comprehend the message. One of the emails went something like this - ‘at the party, BYOB (bring your own booze). OMG (Oh my god), KIH (Ken is here). He is 2G2BT (Too good to be true). TTYL (Talk to you later) LOL (Laugh out loud).’ I have explained all those abbreviations for your benefit; the email obviously did not contain any of that.

People blame the idiot box, SMS technology, instant messaging, and the new and social media for the manifestation of these malignant problems and our decomposing society.

For anyone who has studied the English language until high school level, there is no valid excuse for sounding incoherent! You do not have to swear by the thesaurus, be a writer, or quote Shakespeare, but you can at least make an effort to respect the language. Does it matter to most whether they write and spell with scrupulous care?

Moving on to punctuation now – do people understand the seriousness of a world devoid of punctuation? I have stated one of the famous examples below. Depending on how you punctuate it, it has a completely different meaning.

Woman: Without her, man is nothing
Woman, without her man, is nothing

When will we start taking responsibility for our lack of ability to think before we write? Will someone let the ‘voluntarily verbally challenged’ people know that it is not hip to have an erroneous vocabulary!

Copyright © 02.22.2007

"It is only by language that we rise above [the lower animals] — by language, which is the parent, not the child, of thought" — Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tornado Day!

Are there days, when you feel such intense anger?
Like a piece of crumpled cotton clothing, on a wooden hangar.
It’s a mixed emotion,
It definitely squeezes out from life, everything positive and fun.
It drives you so crazy that you lose control,
And in your heart, it creates an unforgiving hole.

We all have days where things seem to be out of bounds. I like to call it a ‘tornado day’. What baffles me is how some people manage to fight the bad feelings and NOT hurt the person who’s caused him/her all this pain, while a few others snap. Who or what really determines this threshold point? In addition, why are some people so deliberately butch and incompetent with their social skills and why is their attitude so contemptuous?

I have been reading books and intriguing articles on ‘emotional intelligence’. For those of you new to this exemplary concept, emotional intelligence "is a type of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one's thinking and actions" (Mayer & Salovey, 1993: 433). In other words, it is the awareness of and ability to manage one's emotions in a healthy and productive manner.

Having said that, what I am curious to find out is if EQ is the sole determinant of the behavior & mannerisms we exhibit? Does the society we live in have any influence whatsoever? Is lower emotional intelligence, the despicable excuse people will continue to use for demonstrating poor social skills instead of taking responsibility?

Copyright © 02.21.2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

What if we were still one nation?

The bomb explosion on Pakistan bound Indian train, Samjhauta Express, ended up killing over 65 innocent people today. I am sure; the government in both the nations is trying to determine the group behind this deplorable act. The loss of these innocent lives breaks my heart.

Have these people for once thought how wonderful it would have been if we were still one nation? Just think for a moment; what if the partition of 1947 had not happened?

  • We would have the strongest cricket team in the world.
  • The flavor of our cuisines would have been the finest; the aromatic blends of curries & kebabs.
  • We would have more culture and history than the ancient remains of Mesopotamia.
  • Most importantly, so many people would have been alive today.

Copyright © 02.19.2007

“No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.” - Mohandas Gandhi

The world created by YouTube!

Up until a few years ago, if someone told you about this concept of a video sharing website where people could post and share videos, you would define the person as being an epitome of everything delusional. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘Be the change that you want to see in the world.’ Chad Hurley, Steven Chen, and Jarwed Karim, the brains behind the birth of YouTube, dared to think outside the box and did just that.

Today, not only does that concept exist, but YouTube also happens to be one of the most visited websites; a few million people visit this hugely successful and revolutionizing online space every day.

There is something for everyone on YouTube; the entries are multifarious. On one hand, the Bud Light ad could crack you up; and on the other, an articulate man like Shashi Tharoor can mesmerize you with his eminent interviews. YouTube offers this plethora of information which appeals to every age and demographic.

What amazes me most is the way the content on YouTube lures in a non-target audience. It is a great place for creating brand awareness and reinforcing your brand. For instance, I watched the following commercials on YouTube and thought they were hilarious even though I am not a beer drinker.

Copyright © 02.19.2007

“What a piece of work is man!”

Up until last evening, I was convinced that the male species’ inherent weakness is SPORTS or rather watching banally played sports on the idiot box. If you dare to question them about their insipid preferences, you are returned the favor with that look which says, ‘Woman, what’s with the malarkey? A sport is a sport!’

I recollect reading that in the context of plants; sport could refer to a naturally occurring genetic mutation. Sure enough, even with men, they do undergo mutation while watching sports; in this case it is more of brain mutation:-) In case you are wondering whom this is applicable to, you would be surprised; this holds true for patrician as well as plebeian.

Having said all this, after my non-Earth-like experience last evening, I can truly define SERENDIPITY. My friend’s and my request was accepted with alacrity when we requested the ‘men folk’ to change the TV channels; few hours of continuous sport watching is not the most pleasurable moment for most women. To quote Shakespeare, “I have no other but a woman's reason.”

To get back to the astonishing evening, the men focused on Discovery rather than their sports channels. They did not just watch it; they were freakishly involved in it as well. Be it the lion chasing and engulfing buffaloes to the shark attacks in South Africa, all of it kept them engrossed.

This unintentional observation has got me thinking; do men actually have preferences when it comes to watching television or is there anything that they do not like watching? Can a great white shark actually hold more importance than Peyton Manning’s touchdown? Was last evening an insidious effort to mess with our minds? Maybe, it was another trick in their bag to avoid conversation. On the other hand, probably the concept of serendipity does exist in a man’s TV watching world.

Copyright © 02.19.2007

I have no answers to the above, but what I do remember reading, is a famous quote by Shakespeare - “What a piece of work is man!”

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Should I have noodles or noodles?

I have to admit that the overwhelming number of responses from my near and dear ones, has encouraged me to pen down a few more words.

I am going berserk with ideas; what should I write about? I know, it could be about the love of my life - a glass of crisp Pinot Grigio, or maybe traditions I don't agree with. Better yet, a brand which has added sizzle to the market or about a rare sport, which my coterie and I, actually comprehend and diligently watch. Oh, how could I forget; I am a self-proclaimed bibliophile. My next posting could be about the new book out in the market, which is a must read or the next book signing session by a Pulitzer Prize winner.You know what this bedlam in my head reminds me of; we, as humans, completely shy away from decision making. C’mon, admit it; every now and then you pray you DIDN’T have to make a decision and if only someone else would decide for you. For instance, I hate it when restaurants have way too many options on the menu; that forces me to think. Has it ever happened to you – you walk into this fancy Italian Restaurant where the zealous maĆ®tre d’ rambles on and on about the 'specials of the day'. Honestly, he loses me in two seconds. I am so tempted to tell him that ‘Sir, you are not exactly helping. All I want is chicken & some sort of pasta in a light cream sauce; I am not fastidious. If you desire, please feel free to name it whatever you like (Didn’t Shakespeare once say, what’s in a name?) and cook it however you want. Just don’t confuse me further.’ The good-natured fellow, in his quest of excelling at his job, ends up killing several appetites.

What I am trying to figure out is if we run away from decision making because we know that good or bad, the onus is on us? Does age play a part in it? I know for sure that my four and a half year old niece knows that she wants ‘noodles’ irrespective of whether you are dining at McDonald’s or a classy French Restaurant; I have never seen her shy away from ‘decision making’. Any thoughts?

Copyright © 02.14.2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

New Beginnings

There are thousands or more blogs out there; some are articulate, interesting, and brilliant, while others are an abysmal waste of space. Having said that, you must be wondering why I took upon myself to add to the never-ending information clutter in the digital space.

Well, I am tempted to say that it is my love and passion for writing that has inspired me to start my own blog; however, I can't fathom taking all the credit or discredit (sometimes I get cynical):-) for it. Aside from the fact that I love writing, and I probably express my emotions better when I put them into words, few near and dear ones persuaded me to share my views & opinions with the world. I will be changing roles or rather the content and topics of my blog will vary from time to time. Didn’t a wise person once say, ‘Change is the essence of life’. There will be days when my blog will appeal to oenophiles, and there will be others when a feminist might be able to relate to it.

I have a confession to make before you read any further; I suffer from malignant 'honestitis'. I am not rude, but I haven't mastered the art of always bending the truth. In a nutshell, I am not an adroit fib teller. My blogs might sometimes seem unconventional to a few and a 'little in your face' to others. Please remember, the idea is not to offend anyone. There are questions that we ask ourselves and answers that our heart seeks, but we are skeptical about human reactions, so we never openly discuss them. Consider my blog a lovely online space where you do the thinking, and I just put your thoughts into words.

Copyright © 02.12.2007

"I don't wish to sign my name, though I am afraid everybody will know who the writer is: one's style is one's signature always" — Oscar Wilde