Swimming in an ocean of thoughts.....

Ask me no questions and i shall tell you no lies :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The conversation continues..... ~ Man questions again, 'He' answers

It is a long long way to go
In a life full of uncertainties one never knows
With the destination getting further away,
There is no time to be jolly and gay
When life is busy throwing curve balls at every turn,
Man wonders, ‘whatever for, is this barmy run?’
Because in a world of testing times,
Nothing comes without a price
As man ponders, struggling through every phase
The same question resurfaces,
‘Will there ever be an end to this mad race?’
And that is when the inner voice speaks,
‘Do not buckle, do not tweak
It is not the end of the world yet,
So nothing must let you break
Gather your strength and wits
And get ready for the show
For there is no time to sit
And lament over a past that is no more

Life is never a bed of roses
But a journey of gains and losses

So do not squirm or wriggle
As there is no life sans struggle
Remember, success is not final
Failure is not fatal
What matters is the courage to continue
That counts in the long journey of life
Which is full of inevitable circumstances
That are seldom nice
As man listens, wisdom dawns upon him
And he decides to keep going, keep going till the end
Because what matters in the end, is every opportunity tried
Without having to regret of having left anything untried
After all,  there is just one life
So be the best of it while the time flies……


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Social Networking and 'we' ~ Living in modern times

This article was later published on Women's Web here.

Gone are those days when sheer pleasure was derived from making handmade cards and writing heartfelt letters to our near and dear ones, no matter how close or far they stayed. It was pure fun jumping in muddy puddles no matter how dirty we got. Sitting together with crayons, pencils and paints and then unleashing one’s creative side, no matter how colorful the floors and the walls got, is now a thing of the past. A personal touch is what everything was about way back then, when no matter how self-indulgent our actions were, but the fact that the emotions came straight from the heart made even the silliest of the silly acts all the more endearing. Be it playing out with friends in fields or scooting down the narrow alleys hunting for pebbles and kites, be it making paper boats during monsoons, or even counting the number of snails and slugs in the garden, nostalgia always reminds us that there is always something we leave behind when we enter future. However, nostalgia in many ways, reminds us that certain things in the past were seemingly much better than ones from the present, forgetting for a moment that the present shall soon become the past in future.

And today, there is nothing laced with a personal touch. In a fast pacing world of internet savvy crowd who are perpetually glued to Internet, personal touch is nowhere to be found. Well coming to think of it, I too get glued to the Internet, and that is when my father gently reminds me, “ Wasn't the world functioning when there was no Facebook or Google?” Knowing my father well, I knew he had asked me another hidden question as usual which was, “ Wasn't the world much better when social networking was absent”? I couldn’t bring myself to answer that because I agree I was happy and sane when there was no social networking, but cannot firmly believe that I am not, now. Networking in a virtual world is like getting hooked to a drug. You know the cons, but you still crave for it. And now, it seems to be dragging all of us away from the real world which is livelier and safer than the virtual one. But then forbidden fruit is always the catch. You want to do what you are cautioned against doing. You want to try the untried. You want to express in a way you never do in the real world. Perhaps, the thrill in taking the risk or perhaps the veiled pleasure in trying the untried makes one gets bold at most inopportune times. And it reflects in the way people react on social networking sites today. A comment, a tweet, a post is enough to instigate trouble, worse arrests. Is it because you never tend to face the real person you are addressing, on social networking? Or is it, because you get a kick out of voicing your opinions, thoughts and ideas, how much ever unsolicited they are? May be, maybe not. But what is most disturbing is the fact that people tend to judge you on the basis of your updates on social networking sites, which is absolutely ridiculous. Here the question is not about freedom of speech, but about the impact social networking has on the world today. A ‘like’ can boost moods, a ‘share’ can spread news like fire, and a ‘comment’ can spur a volley of arguments. The most affected lot are students who not only get addicted to it, but tend to associate themselves with it, on a very personal level. Photos and likes followed by comments and arguments which on the real world would not have been so apparent snowball into unexpected problems, considering that certain expressions become a way too public on social networking. This thereby, affects the adrenalin levels in teens, who in the spur of moment get too personal on absolutely senseless incidents and impulsively take foolish decisions pertaining to rivalries.

Needless to say, one has to be careful when posting anything on social networking sites. Because, nothing on Internet is private or classified. Whenever you feel like voicing your opinions aloud, ask yourself, “Would you say that on someone's face?” I doubt. Of course, opinions and ideas are one thing. And living in a democracy, one has every right to express. But there is a way of doing it, without getting embroiled in a controversy and without inciting someone. Right thing, right time and right place are what matters when you have to say or do something you feel is right.

Wish, people did not take social networking that seriously. Wish, we again start writing letters on paper, rather than emailing them. Wish, we could personally go to our near and dear ones to wish them on special occasions. Wish, our children play with each other more than playing video games on Internet. Wish, we enjoy the life on nature’s lap better than enjoying face book updates. That is, I guess, too much of wishful thinking. Sometimes, I feel forced to agree to what my cousin quoted on her Facebook update - Nostalgia is a scam perpetrated by our brain to make us detest our present. So true.....Sigh!

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Advertisements, Media and Ethos ~ Media Ethics

I love watching advertisements. But it would be much fairer to say that I loved watching them as I grew up, more before than now. And what is so good about them? Probably because I relate to the people in the advertisement. Probably because I am one of the breed that goes by the name – common man. Probably because they help me everywhere, right from setting up a home or buying a conveyance or even getting all the essentials I need for a luxurious life. But then when the same media that helps a common man upgrade his standard of living, starts conveying not so right messages to the society, questions start popping up over the standards and ethos of advertisement and media. Which now brings me to the fundamental question - What are advertisements?

In simple words, they are a means of communication that convince an audience to go for something they have been speculating over whether to buy or not. Needless to say, every advertisement exudes a message too. And today, the world runs on advertisements. Be it clothes, cosmetics, footwear, jewelry, food items, gadgets, books, vehicles and so on, advertisements make it a lot more easy for the consumers to compare products and buy them. Just because an actress seemingly looks younger by applying an anti ageing cream, females get lured into buying products that promise to stall ageing. Just because an actor looks fairer by applying a fairness cream, people are convinced about the authenticity of the product. Who knows for a fact that celebrities would never use the products they market for, considering they are all so made up for most part of their life, camaflouging their blemished faces behind makeup, getting frequent face lifts and going under the knife to stay ‘young and beautiful’. Believe it or not, advertisements influence our lives by a great deal.

And then gone were the days when one had to take some time off for purchasing items, thanks to the technology today! Online shopping is the order of the day. Log on to Internet and there will be a thousand pop ups trying to convince you to buy items online, adding to the advertisement gimmick: 50% off OR Shipment free OR Replacement within 30 days if item is faulty OR 'all three mentioned'! The world has shrunk. It is practically possible today to rate your purchases sitting at home rather than going out to finish shopping chores. And thanks to the advertisements of today that have made it all possible. But then there is ethos. How ethical are the advertisements today? Besides guiding the consumers and clients, what kind of message do they give to the society? To what extent can advertisements go to promote products? There goes some food for thought!

The reason I am writing about this is that certain advertisements that are shown today definitely don’t cater to good taste. I would refrain from naming the products. For instance, there is this advertisement for car that shows a bunch of students gaping in awe at their class mate’s big sedan. And so mesmerized they are that, they treat their classmate like a king and subject themselves as his mere servants. It was so disheartening to see that kind of a message which instead of bridging the gap between the rich and the middle class/ poor, is rather making it wider. What will our children learn seeing these kind of advertisements? Although they take just a mere 2 minutes, but the number of times they are replayed on the television is countless. And it is human psychology that when you see something or hear something for an indefinite period of time, your mind starts to accept it as rational thinking is overpowered by the persistent visual or audio perception. Then there is this advertisement that uses kids barely 4 – 7 year olds speaking and behaving like adults. I was also one of those who chose to see the humor alone first. But then as such advertisements continued to increase, I wondered whatever is wrong with the advertisement world? Is there not any respect for innocence? I mean, the kids who are acting in those advertisements would have definitely been forced to let go off their innocence to act the way they have been asked to. And that is because kids can never pretend. They have vulnerability written all over them. It aches to see these flower like children getting used to promote a product. Certain advertisements for deodorants and perfumes are no less antagonizing. Some of them portray women in poor light questioning their basic integrity and morality. And not only us, but now as our kids grow they will be watching all of this. What is worse, in today’s world the generation gap is so less that we sometimes fail to distinguish between what is ethical and what is not. Perhaps in future, nothing would really seem wrong to anyone.

However, despite all the cons of the advertising industry, there are good ones as well. There are meaningful ones too that convey profound messages that leave us pondering. Advertisements should be such that they make the person think, rationalize and make his opinions after careful assessment. At least they should pass on a good message to the society.

I grew up listening to 'humara bajaj', 'mile sure mera tumhara', 'Ek tithli', 'Lijjat papad' and 'purab se sooraj uga' and many more. All of them have one thing in common. They all make us associate with it. We feel a sense of belonging when we see them. For instance, I can still enjoy the music of 'Humara Bajaj'. It brings back fond memories of bumpy roller coaster rides on that sturdy Bajaj scooter, which I rarely get to even spot one now. Even as you watch that ad, you can make out that it belonged to all classes of people. Be it a Parsi uncle or a working lady or a milk man or a family, the scooter belonged to all. When the advertisement of Lijjat papad used to come, I used to jump in joy as the rabbit cracked his Pappad to take a bite. 'Ek tithli' still reigns supreme over genuinely good advertisements for children. Thanks to Youtube, as those videos exist at the least. However, that personal touch is just going away in today’s advertisements. It feels like advertisements have evolved only to pick on a new audience who are more tech savvy and are ready to accept the ‘modified ethos’ of modern times with ease. Perhaps, the present generation is growing in a different world. And advertisements will continue to influence their lives intensely in their own way.


Art of shopping ~ Retail therapy

The below article of mine was published in a weekly magazine. So thought of sharing it online too :)

What is it that you do on weekends when you have had outdoor activities enough, dined out a lot, partied like crazy or have explored all the city joints enough or, have spent too much of time indoors? And then, you just want to break free from the monotony of life by indulging in something that makes you forget your woes for the day for a while at least? Shopping! I can already sense the ladies smiling. Well, retail therapy as good as it sounds, is like those dosages that work wonders when one just wants to change something about self by spicing up his or her regular lifestyle. Looks, clothes, attitude and personality undergo a major change during retail therapy. Precisely, shopping acts as a medicine by driving away depression without having to ingest bitter pills and tonics (leave aside the costs incurred in retail therapy). And who doesn't like to shop? The fresh smell of floral prints wafting from branded cloth stores or the comfort feel of hand woven cotton fabrics and denims, the aromatic flavors of the various cosmetics in popular brands and the funky smart footwear that make one imagine self in all delightful ways sporting them with the right attire, draw a person to shop. But then there is always a line, a boundary, a limit for every desire. Isn't it?

Notwithstanding the benefits of shopping, it can act as a drug for people who go overboard with their desire to shop. And that is when it becomes an addiction. Today, shopping is not just an outcome of necessity but has become a way of life, where all it means is to dive into a fantasy world just to be away from the mundane routine only to enjoy the splash of fresh colors and soothing smells. But then if shopping were to become an obsession, it can disrupt a normal life and make it chaotic. And that is where one needs to learn the art of shopping.

‘All that glitters maybe gold but need not to be bought!’
Sometimes, we are so much carried away by the glitterati around us that we often forget that happiness resides in simplicity. And for a shopaholic, it is almost impossible to comprehend.  So, if you feel like buying something that you don’t need or may already have, you just need to ask yourself three questions…..
‘Do I need it now?’
‘Is it worth the money I am spending on it?’
‘If at all I buy it, how much or how long will I use it?’
Sometimes, a rhetorical self questioning like that may help you curb those uncontrollable impulses to buy ‘all that glitters’.

‘Learn to give and shop judiciously!’
Many of us, or rather some of us have that emotional attachment with things that make us nostalgic, which in the process prevents us from disposing them off, despite the fact that they just occupy space and our memory and nothing much. Well, it doesn't really hurt to give away what we don’t need. Isn't it? And coming to think of it, just because we like some food, does our body choose to store it indefinitely only because the tongue loves the taste? No. So why not give away old clothes, toys, books, game boards and shoes that are no longer in use? The result is rewarding. Not only do your closets become spacious and clean but also you would realize, how many of those things you had were really put to use in the past and which, now would guide you to shop judiciously. So when you are out with your shopping bags and fat wallet next time, you definitely know what to buy and what not to.

‘Window shopping don’t hurt!’
There is no doubt about the look good, feel good factor that tags along with shopping. But the ‘be good’ factor is overlooked many a time. Sometimes, excessive shopping can lead to excessive spending and zero utilization of the items bought. It also leads a person to believe that his or her happiness resides solely in shopping. And that is where a person totally misses out on the logic behind shopping. In fact, if one were to sit and analyze the consequences of shopaholism, the results are always the same and not very good: Absolute dearth of personal space and time, negligible savings and no peace of mind. In such cases, one can choose to window shop. You can see and feel all you want without pinching your wallet. And that is because all that you want may not be what you need. For that however, developing self control is very important. Easier said than done, I know. Self control is definitely not an easy habit to form. But then don’t they say, “It is the beginning that is always tough and then the rest of the journey is a cake walk!”

Shopping is an art and it comes with experience. There are times, when we just spend money as if there were no tomorrow. It quite happens to all of us at some time or the other. But what one has to realize is to not get carried away by the marketing gimmicks. Moreover, one must apply one’s own logic to shopping by asking self the three questions that have been mentioned above. I am sure you will get your answers right! And to enjoy shopping to the core, all you need to do is choose: Shopping as a need OR as a drug. After all, the take is yours. Happy shopping!