Smile For You!

Years ago, when a friend of mine graduated from his school, he was presented with a plastic file containing 16 printed pages with this cover:

taolife-a-smile-for-you

It was a collection of articles, poems and parables that had instantly caught my attention. So, I had kept a copy of them with me. And while cleaning my bookshelves, I was delighted to find it again. I plan to digitize the content on my blog over time. You can find all the content from that collection tagged as: smile-for-you

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What an Idea, Sirji!

A few days ago, I came up with silly expansions using the letters in the word “idea” –

IDEA – Intellectual Declaration of Enhanced Apprehension

(Bad) IDEA – Idiotic Disclosure of Extravagant Attitude

(Good) IDEA – Innovative Deduction of an Employable Axiom

What do you think? Do they make sense? 🙂

Oponions – Opinions that make you cry

Someone (presumably a great person) once said, “Opinions are like wrist watches. Each shows a different time; and everyone believes that their time is accurate.” Having an opinion isn’t really a bad thing. A good conversationalist always has an opinion about everything.

Opinions are an individual’s perception of a fact or an event, while Oponions are opinions that stink, and make you cry!

The reaction to the recent decision to star Ben Affleck as Batman in the upcoming movie has stirred quite an upheaval with die-hard fans opposing the move calling it bad for the movie franchise. One comment on this Forbes article read –

“… The truth is Affleck is a smug looking Boston frat boy, totally antithetical to the dark, tortured ‘Gotham’ nature of the character….Besides that, he’s one of the worst actors I (and a lot of other people, apparently) have ever seen in film

IMO the only role that suited Affleck was the self satisfied jerk-boy stockbroker in ‘Boiler Room’…Because that’s the kind of character his persona exudes …”

While another said

“… I don’t care about how much money this movie makes or how much success the actor playing Batman has had. All I care about is that the part is done right and I just don’t feel Affleck is the right person for it. Could I be wrong? Yes, but my opinion will be good enough for me until Ben proves me wrong …”

No points for guessing the oponion among the above comments. The internet is full of such oponions. It has in fact, become very frustrating to read comments on popular websites – especially Youtube. There is also a twitter account (@AvoidComments) dedicated to discourage people from reading comments online.

It is easy to be misinformed now more than ever because of how information and access to it has grown in multitude over the last few decades. In my opinion, opinions are good to have. As long as you re-visit them often, put them to test with intellectual discussions, wring them off of falsity and you are willing to change them when the truth-brick is hurled at you! One quote by James Lowell springs to mind –

The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion.

P.S.: Here’s an article that rightly sums up how silly the whole reaction to the “Ben Affleck as Batman” scenario is.

Body-Parking!

During my school days, I was fortunate to have heard many experts speak. The school management would arrange for eminent personalities to speak to the students about once in a month or so. I’m not sure if the practice still exists, but I opine it should.

We however, were more interested in playing than attending those sessions, and would find every way to escape from it. But we were forced to sit through them; I’m happy and appreciate it now.

I don’t remember all of the speeches I’ve heard, but some of them have etched themselves into my memory. I remember hearing an ornithologist speak and how he and his team managed to save a rare species of owls which were hunted down because the villagers thought they brought bad omen. I remember a social worker speaking of how important “Ahimsa” is and why we should practice it. I remember an eminent cricketer speak on how he would like to groom the future cricketing talent and urged us to join his cricket coaching camp.

I remember hearing a talk on how we remember things and little tricks on how to build a story around a series of events you wish to remember. I remember hearing a talk about superstitions and the speaker also debunked many of them giving scientific explanations. I remember hearing someone from ISRO talking about the Indian Space program and how it had succeeded in many ways. I remember a drama workshop in which we were made to sing, dance and jump around.

In many of the posts I write, the title hardly makes sense until you’ve made it half way through the article, and yes, this is one of those posts. I first heard the term body-parking in one such talk sessions during my school days. According to the person (unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, I do not remember names), body-parking means the idea that your mind wanders off elsewhere while you park your body physically where you are present. He used the term to describe students who seemed uninterested in his speech.

We are all “guilty” of body-parking some time or the other – in meetings, boring parties, during travel, or even on that occasional rainy Sunday afternoon. I say guilty because traditional thinking describes body-parking as a bad thing. You aren’t mindful; you aren’t concentrating. But I feel, body-parking is a necessary process of creativity. You have to think beyond your limits and boundaries, only then is it possible to think of something new. Writers, artists and musicians would agree with this. They usually live out of their bodies.

This reminds me of Sir Ken Robinson‘s description of university professors. He says, university professors live inside their heads all the time. They consider their bodies to be a vehicle for their brains, nothing more. In that sense, these university professors are perpetual body-parking entities. See, not a bad thing. (If you haven’t watched any of the talks by Sir Ken, you definitely have to!)

So, do you park your body often and let your mind wander?

 

The state of India

In the days when society is losing its moral roots, it is becoming ever so hard for the tree of civilization to survive, let alone flourish. We have become the gears in turning the society into a mechanism of greed and of crime – both however seem to have their roots in each other. Crime happens for greed and greed harbours crime.

We must beware of trying to build a society in which nobody counts for anything except a politician or an official, a society where enterprise gains no reward and thrift no privileges.

– Sir Winston Churchill

It is painful to admit that India of late, has successfully built the diseased society that Sir Winston Churchill described. Every Indian at birth comes with a price tag on his soul. It does not take much money to have someone killed. It is very easy to start a communal riot.

It is said that India has never attacked any other nation in all its history. It was perhaps because we Indians never had time to do so, as we were, and still are busy fighting each other. Truth be said, the real Indian does not exist anymore. There are only north Indians, south Indians; Bengalis, Biharis, Malayalis, Tamilians, Punjabis, Kannadigas, Gujaratis, Marathas; Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs; hundred other sub-castes under each of them; and lastly the rich and the poor. It is hard to believe that India is a single democracy. It is more like an unwilling unity between communities of people living separately under one flag. The only solace in this dysfunctional existence is that it beats the alternative. If India were actually broken down into separate countries, we would have fought and killed each other long ago.

The world sees India as the land of the intellectuals, the software hub of the world and the “yoga-land”. That’s all true, however there is a magnanimous skew in the ratio of such people who are contributing to the progress of the country to persons who leech off the loop holes in the system, the worst possible way. There is a way around every law in this country. Got caught over-speeding? Want to avoid the ticket? Cost Rs. 100 (~$2); Free, if you are the son of the brother of the barber of some minister. That’s how far and deep corruption has engulfed us. Many of our ministers and bureaucrats have criminal investigations pending against them – such are the people who are running this country. Rapists and murderers are released without so much as a slap on the wrist; and justice in many cases is an eluding illusion. Celebrities and cricketers are worshiped (literally) as Gods while soldiers who fought for the country are abandoned. Our women are not safe – female infanticide, rape, eve-teasing, molestation, dowry-related violence, domestic violence – have plugged them into a shell of insecurity.

India Corruption

When security (Police), well-being (Housing, Health, Water, Electricity) and literacy (Education) departments in a country are among the top corrupted, there’s very little to say about what remains. We Indians suffer from the disease of complacent indifference towards all these social vices. And unless there is an intellectual and social revolution, the situation will not improve.