Second Chances


Recently I accepted a friend request from a guy I knew in school. We never spoke to each other so it wouldn’t be appropriate to say we weren’t in touch anymore. Lets just say that the last time we sat in proximity of eachother (due to being in the same class ) was in grade ninth. Today I’m almost a graduate (another few months, hopefully). I have a strict policy of adding very few people on Facebook, yet I added him. Largely my decision was driven by intrigue. No, there is nothing romantic about what is going to follow from here.

I was inquisitive because he always seemed a little weird. He was simultaneously strange and brilliant. I was baffled by how he’s good at every subject. It was as if he had a natural aptitude for myriad, varied and absolutely different disciplines. He was as good at History as he was at Maths or Hindi for that matter. He was unbelievably energetic and restless. What he lacked was interpersonal skills (maybe more than that). His intelligence was forgotten or overshadowed by his absurd behavior. He couldn’t communicate properly. He hardly had friends and his speech rate was so fast that it rendered what he was saying incomprehensible. Make no mistake, he is not that shy and left out kid one sympathizes with. I would use my words more carefully now, but at that time he seemed like a highly functioning sociopath. He was mean, rude and unconcerned about what he said to both classmates and teachers. He seemed to be amoral and was absolutely apathetic towards norms of any kind. He also seemed to have impulse control problems.

Do you see something strange here? No, not about the person. About the rendering of the piece. I began with telling you how little I know him and I’ve followed that with a detailed (mostly disturbing) description about him. I’ve probably filled in blanks to my observations (since I’ve never interacted with the person I’ve methodically described).

Voyeurism took over me and I began stalking this rather different person. He seemed quite ‘normal’ even cool for that matter. I didn’t take into consideration that I barely knew him before I labelled him. I didn’t even think that even if he was like that he could’ve changed over so many years.

It made me wonder what people who know me from that age and have never interacted with me since would’ve labelled me as. Shy? Boring? (I mean I could be fun you never talked to me, right? ), socially awkward? Clumsy? Devoid of any personal charm… (Seems unfair 😦  )

Question your labels. Give people a SECOND CHANCE. Yes, all this stemmed from accepting a friend request. Yes, I do think a lot about everything.

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The Otherside


Their eyes looked at the sky above , seeing only darkness. They watched some lightning strike far off in the distance.  It was pouring down to where the line of sight was more obstructed by the constant thick mist of rainwater rather than the darkness that the storm always brings with it, clouding what little sun was left in the remaining hours of the day. They knew they shouldn’t have come here. The elders had warned them…

“Come on don’t be such a wuss. Are you actually scared?, ” one of them asked.  They were slightly tense. Something didn’t feel quite right.  She couldn’t put a finger on it but she didn’t feel good about the place. The silence added to the now palpable tension. The fear made her head hurt as if a hammer was pounding the inside of her skull.” Do you think there is a reason why we’ve been banned from coming down here?,” She asked. “The elders would say anything to prevent us from venturing out and exploring,” came her friend’s pat reply. They walked down the  slippery muddy path soaked in rain. The wind was piercing cold.  It became too dark. The weather was playing truant. They could barely see each other. It was impossible to go further without a flashlight or a lantern to guide their stumbling steps. They settled beside a fallen log to rest until daylight.

They leaned against each other. Both of them shivering. They were feeling scared now. Their imagination had run wild.  “Is it just me or are there shadowy figures on the left side?” What if what the elders had told them was true? The wet clothes made them uncomfortable, and they missed home. They heard muffled voices nearby. They clung to each other in fear. “I know they don’t come here after dark so stop trembling.” “But what if they did today…”

There were wild animals around but that was hardly a worry in comparison to…

“Do you know there is ancient legend about them that the elders told me once.”

“What?”

The sounds became louder and they leaned closer to eachother. This fell in the realm of fiction. It couldn’t happen.

“I forgot the details. I don’t remember how exactly this came into being. I didn’t pay attention because it seemed quite implausible.”

They could now hear footsteps. If this was ‘them’ then they were quite close by. It wasn’t possible to run away from them. Their only option was to remain calm and to hope for the best.

“W-w-whhat seemed implausible?”

They could hear them talking, smell they’re closeness, feel their presence and would soon see their worst fear.

“It’s probably not them. It’s some wild animal.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“Seriously, I don’t think they exist.”

“Me neither. Could you tell me about the legend. Stories are strangely comforting.”

They came in a group. That was what everyone said. They had a strange need to be in groups ever since their origin.

“I don’t remember the details. If you find stories comforting then I shall tell you because this one will surely make you feel better.”

According to what they had heard from the elders the entire earth had been infested by now. They had been advised to be careful. There was no safe place. No escape. Just the lurking fear of being one of the other things that they’ve destroyed.

“Please, tell me, please. Tell me anything that will make me feel better. I don’t care if you make it up.”

“Well, legends are made up anyway. This one in particular is the most unconvincing story I’ve ever heard.”

They could see light from a distance. Was it a forest fire or was it them?

“No, don’t worry. Look at me and concentrate on the story. It might be an attempt on the part of the elders to make us seem brave but there still might be an iota of truth to it. We must believe. We must.”

The little ball of fire they spotted at a distance came closer and closer and the footsteps louder.

“I don’t think they can see us. Some of them might feel our presence or can they see us? Nobody is sure.”

“According to the legend they’re scared of us. Powerless as we are the legend holds that they fear us.”

“WHAT? Why would they be scared of us? They are the living. They have a soul. They are powerful, They…

The group of humans stood right in front of them. They lit a fire and placed their mattresses close to the fire. “Yay! camping,” one of them yelled.

The two ghosts settled besides a fallen log clung to eachother. They weren’t superstitious but their worst nightmare had come true. Humans actually existed. They trembled in fear.

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Here Is Why You Wouldn’t Want To Be In My Head


I’ve attempted to approximate what goes on in my head on a regular day so that you clearly understand why you wouldn’t want to be in my place. Here goes:

I can’t believe it’s time to get up already. I can’t get out of the quilt right now. I just can’t. I’ll just get up in five minutes. I mean it’s not like I can’t get ready if I have five minutes less. No, seriously I wouldn’t miss the first class if I had five minutes less, right? Oh! five minutes are already over. Okay fine out we go because I need to take a bath. There are people who don’t take a bath in the morning, disgusting. I’d tolerate that, but what about those who don’t take a bath atleast once everyday? Yuck! I’m okay with criminals, murderers, thieves and junkies, but these people, they don’t deserve to live. Must switch off the reminders. I can’t stand the red light they flash. Why do I put reminders when I always remember stuff and just end up removing the reminder before time? But then putting them ensures that you don’t worry at night about not remembering stuff. Why do I need to drink milk in the morning? Who am I? A growing ten year old?

Now, hopefully I’ll get an auto without bumping into anyone I know. There is nothing that spoils a day like running into people. Oh no there she comes. Looking foolish and pretending not to see her or just greeting her. Decisions decisions. Okay get into the auto and just pretend that I was too preoccupied. This South Ext flyover always has a traffic jam. Like always. Someday I’ll get late because of that. That’s horrible. Imagine the humiliation involved in walking in a class when everyone is already seated and the attendance has been taken. Also, it is irresponsible and disrespectful. There is a pattern here, you know? You let these people in and you’re responsible for promoting a culture of unreliable, lazy and worthless people.

This auto guy would stand next to cars and bikes with weird people, no kidding. Why would they roll their window down all of a sudden? I hope we go before this long red light. We can make it yes, yes.. shucks! I’ll take the money out so that I can just get off instantaneously without the guard telling us not to park the auto infront of the gate. That’s just embarrassing. People turn around and look at you as if you’re making out in public.

Time to sit in the class and pretend to enjoy theater because that’s what this class is like. Why do such people manage to get good jobs? Why do we let substandard education thrive and continue? Man, she could come up with a behaviour modification module aimed at discouraging and demotivating people. “AND NOW YOU GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE, YES YEEEEES…” This woman could intimidate anyone with her OVER-enthusiasm.

Woah! who wears knee length boots here. That doesn’t make sense unless you have to walk on the cobbled roads of London. These people need to clear the way. How am I supposed to buy coffee if they swarm around Nescafe like this? I’ll get late for class, like LATE besides I might have to talk to someone random. I mean what if a friend’s friend hugs me.  Ughhhhhhh over-friendly people are over-friendly. Oh! crap now I’m supposed to stop after every two minutes because these people will meet someone or the other. Why do I make friends with overly social people?  Don’t their jaws ache because of saying hi so many times.

Now you see these teachers in corridors -that’s like a trap. You don’t wish them would mean you lack manners and if you do and they don’t reply you seem dumb. Maybe they do reply and don’t reply in this variable ratio schedule purposely for sadistic pleasure, who knows? Look at how pretty that girl is. Perfect faces appall me. That just sounds like those jealous, weird and paranoid women who feel insecure of any pretty/hot/charming girl. Maybe this does stem out of my insecurities, weird. Gosh! She always seemed like she had issues with her looks. One more time she asks a question I’ll smash her face with a baseball bat and change it for her.

Now here are some people who came for my study. They’d hate me for life for putting them through that. Should I say hi-nah, forget it. If I don’t get an auto in the next two minutes I’ll cross the road. I hate looking lost. I mean what would people waiting on the bus stop think about me. This auto guy has a mustache like a durbaan. He can’t possibly be decent. Good! we’re almost home. All I have to do is get home without bumping into anyone. That icecream stall guy is staring at me trying to create an obligation to buy icecream. Beggars do that to you too. They induce guilt. You pay them it mean you’re encouraging people to not work and if you don’t you’re dead within. I mean, why do people target me like that?

Why does he hang out of his balcony all the time? I hope he just falls. Does he do it on purpose because he knows I hate small talk. Fuck! NO no no…not a dog sitting on the stairs. I HATE animals and I HATE animal lovers. I’m going to complete the six rounds of the evening walk today. People I know are coming. Just smile and pass…just smile and pass. More people I know. If I just turn around and head home no one will notice. What if I’m unable to complete my project and get a zero? Did I put money in my bag? Imagine reaching college without money and having to borrow. Put a reminder for after 25 minutes of my getting up alarm That’s perfect. Must put a reminder to take the laptop. I’ll put in the laptop bag to save time in the morning. Monday and Friday means second class but I should check once more. Who’ll get out of the quilt now? I’ll put a reminder for that. My head hurts by the end of the day without fail. I wonder why…

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Man Proposes…


They were going to celebrate the occasion. Nothing compared to the excitement that enveloped all of them before this event. It was a show of their creativity, hardwork, of what they had learnt from their previous mistake. It was a new beginning. It was New Year’s eve . 2012 was about to begin. There is something so refreshing about a fresh start. To be able to begin from scratch. To see an opportunity to correct what went wrong. They had decided to launch their project on 1st January 2012 as a mark to a new beginning.

The food had arrived. It was being arranged on the unusually long table. Everyone’s favorite dish had been cooked. They ate nervously. New projects bring with them a blend of anxiety and excitement. They were to launch their project at sharp 12. They engaged in cryptic conversations to rid themselves of the fear.

“Do you think this would be a disaster like last time.”

“No, nothing can beat that. It was unstoppable and destructive.”

“Wouldn’t have happened had we not added the extra element by mistake…”

They all gorged on the delicious food, and simultaneously went over the pros and cons. They had lost too much of peace owing to their last creation. Hopefully this one would be better. These decisions are tough as one has to live with them for quite some time.

The weather was stormy. Surprisingly it was similar across all continents. Everyone was out to party on New Year’s eve. Girls looking their pretty best, young boys engrossed in their attempts to charm and young children busy listing their resolutions. Everyone enjoying and pretending that a change in date would change their lives.

They had eaten their food. The clock struck 12. The beautiful cake was put on the table. They dug the knife into the cake…

The storm became unbelievably violent. It was beyond normal. The storm swept away everything with it. It was a matter of seconds. There was nothing left on earth, absolutely nothing. The cold winds lead to a dramatic drop in the temperature. The entire planet was encased in a sheet of ice. There was no life, no vegetation. Just rock and ice.

They were glad about how neatly the entire process went about. Each person enjoying the cake. It was a beautiful beginning indeed. Soon a meeting of all the Gods would be called to decide after how many million years the new species shall rule on earth. Hopefully it wouldn’t be as destructive as their last accident- humans. They all rejoiced.

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Insecurity


I look at my image in the mirror

I compare it with the one I’ve always wanted to be

The confident and sure eyes stare back at me

with contempt for the fear they see in mine.

It stands confident and fearless

waiting impatiently to be real

It blames me for the delay

It tells me that ‘ I have chosen’ to be a failure because :                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

I think I’ll be beaten,

that’s why I am;

I think that I dare not,

that’s why I don’t                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I think I’ll lose,

that’s why I lose                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I think I can’t,

that’s why I’m unable.

For out in the world you’ll find

Success begins with your will

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

It’s all in the state of mind.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger, prettier or faster one;

But sooner or later, the one who wins

Is the person who thinks s/he can.

(Must say this to myself everyday)


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The Complicated and Complex Skill of Complimenting


Compliments play an essential role in human interaction. Not only do they demonstrate our interest in others, but they are also a way to win friends or form allegiances, to gain affection and influence. Compliments are an expression of praise, respect, or approval. A genuine and powerful compliment is one of the best gifts we can give another human being. Think of some of the great compliments you have received in your life…they stick out in your mind and resonate deep within your heart, don’t they? Compliments play an important role in relationships, at the work place and in one’s social life. At the same time it’s a fairly complicated task.  It might sound strange, but giving compliments can be more difficult than it sounds.
The one tip that I can give you to perfect this rather difficult skill is that – Any form of acknowledgment that you give has to be real, honest, and genuine if  you expect it to have any power or impact on the other person. Here are a list of reasons explaining the importance of being absolutely honest with your praise:
  • Place a value on your praise – The power of a compliment to cheer up someone is huge but that will only be possible if you’re not a compulsive sweet talker. Nobody cherishes appreciation from a person who has a reputation of showering everyone with the the same. Be someone whose respect and praise is desired and difficult to obtain. So that when you use this powerful tool it actually works to boost self esteem. Also words like beautiful, intelligent, creative… are precious words don’t give them away so easily. Who you appreciate and for what says more about you than them. You must place a value on your praise.
  • Honesty is a commitment to a value not just the person- Being honest is the right thing to do always. You can never justify giving an undeserved compliment on grounds of it helping your friend. It doesn’t in the long run. It is never okay. There are too many insincere compliments thrown around on a daily basis. Your insincerity will often shine through. Platitudes are more than worthless. Just saying something complimentary to pacify someone is easily detected and most people are put off by something so shallow.
  • Nobody wants ‘charity compliments’- If you go around sprinkling compliments out of pity then you’re the worst kind of person. Step down from the pedestal on which you’ve placed yourself. No, it’s not sweet to appreciate someone because you feel they ‘need’ it. You’re here to uplift the morale of the less deserving mortals?  Narcissistic fool.
  • Most people can make out the difference between artificial and natural sweeteners- Credit the other person with some sense. Most of the people can figure out that the lavish praise is exaggerated and/or undeserved. The flattery usually does nothing but irritate others. It’ll make the other person doubt everything you say. Your opinion will no longer be valuable. One just wonders why someone would be so blatantly dishonest without any purpose.
  • It’s selfish – You do it in the garb of being sweet but the truth is that it’s just convenient. You’re a liar. You talk sweet only to ensure your popularity. You lack the  guts to give genuine feedback. You could’ve helped your friend by telling them how to improve but you chose the easier way. And you did that only for yourself. Not a sweet thing to do, right?
Compliments play an important role in any relationship you have.  Compliments by definition are free, yet they’re priceless. They must be used carefully. Give sincere, genuine and honest compliments to enhance your relationship with friends, family, work colleagues and bosses. 🙂

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Misplaced Sympathy


I’ve been wanting to write about this forever but I always end up sounding like a confused bunny. I think my thoughts are still quite muddled up, nevertheless this time they shall take the shape of a blog. I’m one of those people who very strongly believes in judging everyone. No, I don’t accept the diverse shades of humanity. There’s nothing wrong with judgement. As long as you can think, you will judge. The point is that you have to judge people for the right reasons because it’s on this basis that we decide how we feel about them.

I judge people on the basis of the virtues they’ve achieved in their own character (this doesn’t prevent me from passing snide remarks about a host of other things). I’ve always felt that strength, resilience and the ability to bounce back, calls for nothing short of reverence. Surprisingly, whenever someone displays immense inner strength, people have everything to offer but admiration. People are best at  pitying, sympathizing and advising as it gives them a vantage point. When faced with strength their response is inadequate. The talking point shifts from the strengths of the other person to detailed analysis of their abject circumstances. Maybe the, “Oh! I’m so sorry your finances are giving you trouble…” makes them feel better about their own life. No thank you, nobody wants your pity. Keep the sympathy lollipop for yourself. If there’s one thing more hurtful than hate, it’s sympathy.

I have the highest regard for people who’ve managed to overcome obstacles and achieved success(or relentlessly tried to better their circumstances). Watching anyone grapple with tough circumstances becomes an elevating experience. It makes my own trivial problems look ‘trivial’. I’ve never felt sorry for them. In fact there is so much one can learn from such people.

The inspiration of this post are a list of friends who come from disturbed or separated families. I admire their strength to  meet the problem head on, take additional responsibility and remain positive. None of them has ever asked for or expected compassion, pity, understanding or consideration. Therefore they don’t merit sympathy rather they’re worthy of respect. I always meant to tell them that they’re a constant source of encouragement and inspiration.

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