Sunday, 13 September 2020

Spoiler Alerts and end is the beginning

I have started reading a thriller and I turn pages part  skipping,part skimming so that I can reach the end quickly and know whodunit. At home my daughter laughs at me.She tells me not to see a movie backwards or to open a book from the last page."Mom,you are killing your suspense!What remains in the book if you know the killer?" I tell her the book itself remains.The words remain.The skill of the author in weaving the story remains. 
    I cannot savour the words,the plot,the characters.My mind is always focused on what will happen in the end.Who was the murderer,who was the perpetrator of the crime,who married whom? I just cannot wait till the end to find out.Are you also one of this type? Of course I do not start reading the book from the back but do read the first few pages to get to know the plot.
    After that it is a rush to reach the end.Once I come to know the end,I let out a sigh,I feel relaxed,I am patient and I start reading the book again.This time I enjoy each character,each description,I marvel at the beauty of the places,at the wonderful way a scene has been described.I read slowly appreciating the way the plot has been woven,a thread leading to another or I find fault at some loose end.I find a discrepant note and frown.  
    I do not want to have the thought creeping up again and again of what will happen in the end.I want to finish with that doubt and then enjoy the book.The journey is more beautiful than the destination. Haven't we all read and re-read a favourite book hundreds of times? Haven't  we all watched a movie nth times ?We may know the dialogues by heart and can mouth them before even before they are uttered on the screen.But we find the same happiness and pleasure in all those re-reads and all those re-runs as we had in the first time.
    Many a times I have read some reviews of  TV series and it warns me of  spoiler alert.No problem ,say I. I don't mind them at all.For me the pleasure lies in the acting,in the way a character is formed.I am not half thinking of what will happen at the end,nor sitting at the edge of my seat.I feel the end is already fixed and whether I read it now or reach it in the proper sequential manner it will not change.So I opt for knowing it before hand and then reading the book leisurely,enjoying each tiny bit of the author's penmanship. 
    But this is true not only for mystery books,thrillers,Agatha Christie,PD James and the likes.Even when I am reading a romantic novel or a PG Wodehouse or something as predictable as a Mills and Boon,after reading the first few pages I jump to the last page after starting the book,so that I am convinced of the end.Then I come back to where I had left it and continue with the book.In the case of TV series I search and search till I find reviews with spoiler alerts.For movies I do go to the reviews or the Wikipedia and read the plot of the movie,the cast,the story and then sit down to watch it.In case of some movies and serials I am banned from opening my mouth because others in the family want the suspense to continue.So I am gagged when we watch a serial together.
    I wonder if it happens to other people?What would the psychiatrists say about it?That I cannot take pressure?That I do not have nerves?That I am impatient?That I cannot handle the intense suspense?That maybe I cannot handle tough situations? Afraid of the unknown? Sometimes even though I know the end,I keep hoping that by some extra terrestrial miracle,the end might be different.
Despite what everyone says I still love to read the ending of a book,puncture the suspense and then sit back  read and enjoy every nuance of the plot.And yes I so love party spoilers too !

Monday, 13 July 2020

National Simplicity Day 12th July 2020

Do you remember the one golden saying that our parents used to repeat often was "Simple living,high Thinking".सादा जीवन उच्च विचार। 
This one single thought,just four words make our life so blessed, so uncomplicated so joyful. Today we celebrate National Simplicity day which  is observed every year on July 12 to honour the life, work and philosophies of Henry David Thoreau. Born on July 12, 1817, Thoreau was an advocate of living a simple life and wrote a number of books around the subject. He was an American philosopher, environmentalist, poet and essayist. He is best known for Walden or Life in the woods, published 1854.The book is an account of a simpler life lived in natural surroundings. He described ways people could tap into themselves and be happier through a less hectic lifestyle. Thoreau was also a  tireless champion of the human spirit against the materialism and conformity that he saw as dominant in American culture in his times.
In Walden he writes and I quote:

"Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail . . . Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion". unquote 

Even after more than 200 years the concept of this simplicity holds true as much as it did in Thoreau's time. Look around us.Do we not find ourselves surrounded,in fact weighed down by so many things which are really just the trimmings to our existence.We value the mobile phone we hold in our hands though it just a means of communicating. Our communications have become minimal but the means  have become disproportionately important. Our houses have all fancy gadgets,yet we suffer from lifestyle diseases.Our minds are cluttered with thoughts and not a single one brings us peace or tranquility. As part of the complete ecosystem of the earth,we are part of nature herself. But we are getting further away from her,isolated in our airconditioned houses,concrete buildings and mechanical devices. We have forgotten to listen to the song of the birds,the rustling of the trees,the vibrant hues of the sunrise and the colours of the setting sun. Relationships are becoming complex,they are becoming taxing and like taxes they weigh us down and sap our energies.Make them simpler,say simple words and relate to each other honestly. Our daily living fills us with anxieties.Do we really need to compete with our friends for a holiday abroad? Our existence is not defined by what we wear it is defined by who we are.The consumerism all round us has instilled in us a sense of constant competitiveness,a constant nagging of being left behind and in today's terminology of having FOMO or fear of missing out.        
A simple living is a way of life that focuses on simplicity, intentionality and living life with regard to simplifying your activities, eating habits, home, emotions and thinking. There is happiness in lifting our heads from the social media platforms and the movie streamings and looking around us to find joy and beauty in the sonorous singing of the bird,in the fun of doing routine chores,in the watching live videos made by nature and her creations.
Leonardo de Vinci said:"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication". Isn't this a truth we all know?We need to acknowledge and accept it and integrate it in our lives.Simplicity should manifest itself in everything we do and where ever we are.Just be true to yourself and cut out the excess everywhere.It does not really mean living the spartan way or living in poverty.With riches also you can be simple.You can be setting up a big business empire but you can be simple.A Head of state and yet simple.Mahatma Gandhi who led our freedom movement yet his core was simplicity.Simplicity is contentment.Mahatma gandhi said,
"Man falls from the pursuit of the ideal of plan living and high thinking the moment he wants to multiply his daily wants. Man's happiness really lies in contentment."

Even Steve Jobs,the co founder of Apple computers has this to say
"“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
So simplicity is not about lack of ambition, or about being dull or boring or unenterprising.It is about being in harmony with nature,with your own true self ,about less is more and about throwing out the non essentials.
Let us see what Thoreau has to say about the simple life since we are celebrating his life this day.
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.

But let me end with a quote from my favourite physicist Richard Feynman.
"There is always another way to say the same thing that doesn't look at all like the way you said it before. I don't know what the reason for this is. I think it is somehow a representation of the simplicity of nature."
And that is what we should aim for, a simplicity in everything we do, say and think.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Road not taken

Road not taken

As I grow old and sit on my verandah
Everyday pops up a new memory
Of days gone by, of evenings spent
Moments that I cherish,years that I regret.

I close my eyes and see myself
Standing at a crossroad or was it a fork
I wonder why I took  a road
Opted for one and left the one

What would have happened if
I had travelled on the road not taken
Where would I have been if
I had opted for that not this.

Would Destiny still have led me here
To this family,to this armchair
To this wrinkle,to this white hair
To the same heart and same hearth?

The road not taken is so unknown
I can only see where it begins
There is no algorithm for a path not travelled
Nothing to say how it would have unravelled.

 But how many times have we shaken our heads
And those dark thoughts crept on to us
If only I had done this or done that.
Just remember the  road not taken
 was not meant to be.

A road less travelled or a road travelled well
Both have their rewards and Karma coins
Just be true to values and humanity
Just do everything with integrity.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020



The priceless are ours for the taking
No wallet to be opened,no card to be swiped
A hand in ours
A smile of gratitude
A heart bubbling with joy
The first dada gurgled
The first step taken
An old parent's shaking blessings
A laughter that resonates
On the grass with faces upturned
A sky full of stars
Waves that crash at our feet
Despair turned to hope
Eyes that glow at your sight
A picnic basket
A hop,skip and jump
A tumble in the mud.

The price for priceless things is but
Forsake the rat race,
Slowdown.,shed the mask.

Monday, 15 June 2020

Tiny wonder

A tiny flower I may be
Among the bed of green
But I still raise my head
And  don’t go unseen.

 15th June 2020

Memories of summer past

There are some memories which I do not
Look into often
Some which lie deep down in my heart
No one knows I have those memories
Of moments that did not last
Of summers past
Of sunny afternoons and sultry evenings
When I looked up to to find your gaze upon me
And I held that gaze and kept it in my heart
When I felt the cool breeze of a sigh
I  made that a memory too
A helping hand outstretched
Yet loathe to touch me
I have kept that feel without the touch
And whenever summer comes
And some times become unbearable
I peep into memories
Of the summers past
And get the cool breeze,the helping hand,the loving gaze
To see me through.

Friday, 8 May 2020

When will it end?

Walking in Mighty Corridors and shuffling files
No life at stake and no walking miles
No nights spent in bunkers with bullets whizzing by
No son of theirs wore a uniform proudly
And put his life on the line
Young wives,young kids
Sons gone before their parents.
Cushioned ,armchair lives have no glory
Send your sons to the frontier
Tell them what pride it is to
To lay down one's life
for the motherland.
And then when you will plan you will know the value of each life,
How we spend our lives measuring each breath that we take
How we laugh in tomorrow's shadow
When you will wait for promises of returs
that he made
And wait in vain
Then when you plan and startegise
You will do with your heart
And do it knowing that a loved one
Is ready to take the bullet
And then you will do it to end this caravan
of Tricolour wrapped
Just send your precious ones to the border
Then when you write a note
it will be different.