Thoughts on friendship

“I’ll get by with a little help from my friends”

Pensive, withdrawn, lonely. The life of the world can be teeming around us, the high decibel sounds can be dinning in our ears and still we can be lonely. It is possible to be lonely in a crowd. Loneliness haunts the places where crowds gather. It is not the presence or absence of people that makes the difference because a person need not be lonely even if he/she is alone. Sometimes it is good to be alone. But that does not make us lonely. It is not a matter of being present with someone. It is a matter of being present to someone. This calls for special communication, special human interaction, special acceptance and understanding. If these are lacking, all we have is lonely people, each encased within his/her own impenetrable shell. No one wants to be lonely. People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.

To dissolve loneliness we need friends. A friend gives warmth, understanding, time, love oneself. A friend stands up to my anger, my selfishness, my short-comings. A faithful friend is a sure shelter. Whoever finds one has found a treasure. In his inimitable way, I suppose Snoopy would cut through the core and say, “Happiness is a friend who lets you be yourself and still loves you.” We need friends because we are social beings, not by choice, but by nature.

“I spent one morning with a friend and wished the day would never end…”

 

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Of anger

“He conquers the world, who patiently puts up with the abuse of his neighbours. He who controls his anger, as a horseman breaks an unruly horse, is indeed a charioteer and not he who merely holds the reins, but lets the horse go whither it would. He who sheds his anger just as a snake its slough, is a real hero. He who is not moved despite the greatest torments inflicted by others, will realize his aim. He who never gets angry is superior to the ritualist who faithfully performs for a hundred years the sacrifices ordained by scripture. Servants, friends, brothers, wife, children, virtue and truth abandon the man who gives way to anger. The wise will not take to heart the words of boys and girls.”

Sukracharya imparts wisdom to his daughter Devayani who is angry after being treated badly by her companion Sarmishta.

(Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari – p.34)

Communication: from pigeons to facebook!

“Communication is the art of bringing a smile upon the face of the person listening to you”

On the historical front:

Communication can be conceived as the corner stone for civilization. A civilized world is unimaginable without communication between the species. Ever since the early days, man, a social being has interacted with his environment by some form of communication. The medium of communication being sound, actions, crude drawings in the early days to speech, music, writing, acting, singing and so on, in the modern world.

Investigating further, when we try to draw a chronology of advancements in the media of communication, history has taught us how man used mud paints on the caves during early civilizations. Perhaps at the same time, there existed a crude non-structured interchange (spoken or symbolic).

In the course of millions of years, an established code of communication emerged into the society – the language. Language was distinguished mainly geographically; meaning, people belonging to a specific region communicated in a specific language. Over the course of time, this barrier began to diminish and with this there was a need for better media of communication.

On the technological front:

Until a few decades ago, written form of communication was predominant as a tool to send a message across where a ‘runner’ (the modern day postman) would carry the letter from the sender to the receiver. During this period, animals such as dogs and birds like pigeons were also trained to deliver these messages.

All this changed drastically once the first electronic message was transmitted over a telegraph. It was transmitted over electronic signals, encoded using the Morse code. Following soon, there was the telephone which could carry voice over electronic signals. From then on, the entire outlook of how the world communicated changed forever.

The convergence of space programs, innovations in technology and the necessity of ad-hoc communication systems laid the foundation for wireless and mobile telephony over satellites. Another milestone in communication systems was the birth of the internet. People can now communicate “almost” at the speed of thought.

That said, the research and innovation in the field of communication is still an ongoing voyage and promises to bring many surprises ahead.

On the social front:

As we spoke earlier, it is fair to deduce that communication has made man a social being and enabled the formation of civilizations. Man has always looked at his fellow beings for happiness, support and solitude. Having said that, the psychology of communication has changed.

If you were to ask your grandparents, you’ll mostly hear them say how they used to send letters; wait for days for the replies. Even though it was tedious, people were constantly in touch and everyone felt it was cheerful to write and receive letters.

However, the scenario is much different now. Owing a lot to mobile telephony and the internet, people are constantly ‘on the grid’. Nevertheless, it has become an obligation to stay in touch more than the sanguinity involved.

Things have worsened with the emerging of social networking websites like Myspace, Orkut and Facebook, where people boast of the number of friends they have on their profile page, yet knowing very little about each of them; let alone having met each one in person. The real sad state of affairs is how people, especially the youth, spend hours chatting with a friend across the globe, while having lesser and lesser time for family.

Technological advancements in communication have certainly helped us keep in touch with people far off. Is it also responsible for people drifting apart?

Turning a blind eye

“A person can explain anything to anyone if he can explain colors to a blind man.”

Its a hard, dark world for someone with no eyes. They see no light, no colors, and the beauty of nature is forever elusive to them. For them, everyday is a challenge, a struggle and a fight to stay equal with the rest of the world. The battle only gets harder as they are bereft of one of the most vital senses a person would need. Each passing day is dotted with a hundred bumps into people and things – sometimes embarassing, and many times, painful. But, I believe God has His way with life and everyone are created equal. When He takes away something from someone, He’s sure to have given them something greater to mask that loss. The real challenge for a blind person is to discover that uniquity in him/her and exercise all their efforts to excel in it. The brain-seed for this post was an incident that ocurred in the bus (on my way to college) that left me contemplating for a long time:

This happened two days ago. I was pretty late when I left home for college that morning but thankfully I managed to get on to a bus without having to wait for long at the bus stop. I managed to find a seat close to the door and settled down. A few minutes later at a subsequent stop, a blind person was helped into the bus. The person folded his ID cane and groped for something to hold on to. I got up, held his hand and guided him to my seat. While this was happening, another person who was standing in the bus thought I was going to get off the bus and had taken my seat. I told him that I had gotten up to help the blind person and asked him to vacate the seat for him. The person said: “Oh, I’m sorry I did not see”, and he gave up the seat. I said it was okay and helped the blind man sit down.

What struck me then was that a person with normal vision does not appreciate its true value. Also, that God, when He created people blind, expected the other ‘normal’ ones to help. Of what use are your eyes, if you do not use them to help a person in true need of help?

I’m pretty sure that a blind man will not be able to read this article of mine, and on the contrary, I hope the others who do will understand that its their moral responsibility to help and I hope you would consider donating your eyes – like Pavan urges everyone to. Its a good feeling to know that someone is still looking at the world through your eyes, even after you are dead.

(Thanks to Suda for letting me know of this clip’s existance on Youtube.)

How much of ‘bad’ is ‘good’?

I was contemplating upon how we tend to rate things (or even people for that matter) as good or bad. And a realistic fact hit me: Good and bad are relative and opinionated. Meaning, something good for me needn’t be so for you. Just like: ‘One man’s music is another man’s noise‘ or ‘One man’s treasure is another’s garbage‘.

This tends to happen a lot when it comes to believing and trusting people. Some people whom we think are good might just be on the top of some one else’s bad books. Such situations are pretty hard to handle, especially if you are (some one like me and) a friend of both. I’ve had a lot of such situations in life. I sometimes try to change the opinion about that person; but I have come to realize that most of the times it is of no use. Either people refuse to change themselves or even their opinions.

I believe in having an open mind when dealing with people. Accept their opinions but never let them change your beliefs (until you are sure about it).

Coming back to the discussion of good and bad, their relativity is established, like I mentioned above. But I sometimes ask myself: Do we recognize and respect the good only because there is something bad in this world? Is the bad really necessary to emphasize the existence of the good in this world? If so, how much of bad is good?

For example, will the position of the police be recognized as good, if there weren’t a thief?

And sometimes, actions are also deemed good when performed by some people and bad when done so by others. A soldier killing to safe guard his country is good while an extremist doing it is bad.

I think good and bad are contents of a wobbly balance. The world lives in harmony as long as their weights cancel each other out.