THE N WORD

The N word. No, it’s what you think it is. The word is Narcissist. It’s not just a word anymore. It’s an entire generation.

Meet Generation N. An entire generation of people who have dedicated their lives to living online. Yes, all thanks to Social Media. The ultimate alternate universe. But, before I go any further, I’d like to say something though. In a way it’s great that there are places to share thoughts and precious moments with your friends and family, and an even better way to keep in touch with the people who you haven’t met in years, decades perhaps. Alright, now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s move along.

I’d really like to believe that everything we see on social media is exactly what it is. Perhaps the number of likes on a picture fuels our addiction of knowing how great we are. It’s fantastic to know that people are learning to loves themselves more etcetra. And, why not, right? But what happens when this self-love actually turns into self-loathing courtesy the comments and everyone’s opinions.

Think about it.

How many ‘selfies’ do we take before posting one that looks the best? How many apps do we use to guarantee at least a hundred likes? We are turning into clones of people devoid of personality. Ever go through an Instagram feed and see how many pictures post of themselves? Just their face. Is it so important? Well maybe to the one to whom the picture belongs, but to the rest of the world, we just keep scrolling down. One just morphs into another and another and before we realise it, we’re not looking at ten pictures of the same person, but rather ten pictures of different people. But who can tell the difference? I can’t.

Then there are online bullies. The ones that swarm in together hiding behind each other to ‘take down’ somebody. But in reality, they can’t even hold up a finger. This virtual world has caused so much chaos that it affects ten year olds. Ten year olds! How does this even happen? When we were ten we were enjoying a childhood outdoors in the sun riding our bikes. Not taking our pictures, editing them and sharing them with the world. obviously continues well into adulthood.

People flaunt their relationships online. For whatever reason. It’s great to see that people are happy and doing well. I always support that. But when it turns out to be fake, who are you really fooling. People share some wonderful pictures and moments with theire significant others online. And of course, it’s picture perfect. In reality, it’s exactly the opposite. They do not treat their partner with respect. They do not show them the same affection that they would have showered them with online. So, what’s the point of it? They share every mundane detail of their otherwise bleak lives just to show the world that they’re living the dream.

So here’s the question. Does people’s approval and acknowledgement matter? Are these the achievements to share? Does erasing your past online, erase the person who you really are just to create the perfect illusion of who they want to be? Or perhaps, who they want the world to see them as? I wonder if there’s a point of showing people you’re this wonderful person when in reality it’s all smoke and mirrors?

It’s a lonely world when we’re so engrossed in our social media instead of making real memories and enjoying the moment. We’re dining with our friends but we’re all on our phones. Sharing these carefully documented moments with thousands of people online, in an empty room. Putting up pictures of people who you secretly despise. Creating this fake persona as though life just began last year.

We’re so engrossed with what’s going on online that we think this ht elegacy we want to leave for the next generation. If everything we do is for this image, then what’s the point. There are millions of people who look the same, dress the same and talk the same way. Do we want to get lost in an ocean of darkness?

The truth always surfaces. You can tell. From the empty smiles and dull spark in their eyes to body language. You can’t really fool anyone with the facade. You can delete all the pictures but in the end, you can never delete the person you were and the person that you are. Embrace it. Flaws and all. Because it makes us better people who really want to do good and make a difference in the world.

The Fork, The Knife and The Spoon.

Life is like food. The more flavour you add to it, the better it tastes. Whether life is spicy, salty or sweet, it’s a mix of it all. Sometimes you need the sweet to balance out the bitter, and the spicy to bring out the zing. And just like food, in life, you could get chewed and spit out or simply add value to someone’s well-being. They say that food tastes better when it’s shared with the people you love. It’s exactly the same with life. It’s worth living when you share it with those who you love. 

Sometimes it’s fast food, sometimes it’s gourmet and sometimes it comes in a box. Thats the package all of life’s events come in. At times you just have to get things over and done with because, let’s face it, time is always of the essence and these days, everyone is in a rush. But, there are days when you just want to slow down. You simply want to stop and smell the roses. When you just want to savour the moment and enjoy every minute, just like gourmet. If we’re taking things out of a box, then you just know that it’s easier to prepare but there are instructions to follow. 

So in order to enjoy it all, most of the time you’ll need a fork to hold, a knife to cut and a spoon to pick up your food. Metaphorically speaking, it’s the same thing you’ll come across in life too. A fork in the road of life. It’s all about making decisions. We’re constantly making decisions and the most difficult task we have is to stick with the decisions we’ve made. In the last few months. I’ve been stuck at a career crossroads, a fork in the road that I was waiting at for the longest time. However, I didn’t realise it until just a few days ago. Taking a sabbatical from work, I discovered that there is a world of opportunity and it’s time to explore. Suddenly, I had a breakthrough thanks to a friend of mine and now I’m taking the path that I think will add more value to my professional life, thus, increasing the nutritional value for my mind. 

The knife, though the perfect choice for cutting a slice of life, may not always be useful. It could be the fact that we are stabbed by someone or the other, especially someone you care about, at some point in life. If revenge is a dish served cold, then betrayal needs a knife. It hurts even more so when you’re being stabbed in the chest with a blunt knife. Yes, it might not always be sharp. The blunt ones hurt the most. It’s not so easy to cut through and the feeling of it slowly piercing into you seems to last forever. 

Now we’re left with a spoon. I’d like to use it to add a dash of sweet nothings into this big dish of a life that includes a lot of love. Perhaps use it to stir in the essential ingredients that I need in life and, to taste it and see what’s missing or the flavours can be added and how I can make it better. 

This last week I was served a fork, a knife and a spoon. I somehow figured out a way to use them and discover their true meaning. It’s quite simple really, life is a lot more interesting when we have the right people to support us and interestingly, the right people to get us through it all. Just like the right cutlery to help us enjoy every delicious bite. 

 

There’s no grass on the other side

I’ve often wondered about cultural differences and the role they play in our lives. It does play a big role and it teaches us tolerance. Or even better, teaches us to adapt. I like learning about different cultures and the way people from other countries live. It’s intriguing and also puts the way we live into perspective. Helps us appreciate ours more or maybe even gives us room for improvement. 

But here’s what I don’t get. When people who have the balls to actually comment about other cultures and almost always point the faults out. Here’s a piece of advice to these very opinionated people – your opinion doesn’t make you well-observant, it borders on arrogant and ignorant, and it’s not appreciated at all. 

The thing that bothers me is that how people portray certain cultures. Promoting the idea that people take a dump on the streets or try to make a living selling food from a cart or throw garbage around doesn’t define a culture or the way people live. I live in the same country and I do none of the above. It’s a shame really when they visit a country like India which is rich in it’s own cultural heritage with the diversity in languages, clothes and food, to name a few, they get lost in the cloud learning about it from people who only know what they do from the badly researched articles they read and cliche documentaries they watch made by those who seem to think they know it all. I’d like for them to know two very important things – first, we do not ride around on elephants and second, we all speak English. And it might come as a surprise to them but we speak it very well, perhaps even better than most cultures for whom English is a second language. I don’t think they understand how much is too much. Fine, I understand that it’s too hot and crowded but what are you going to do when you have 1.6 billion people around? 

I’m not writing this just to justify why the country is the way it is. I’m writing this because I’m really miffed by the way that other people perceive the country. And only highlighting what is dirty or broken or incomplete is not what the culture is all about. I’m not just talking about India. This goes for all cultures. Every big city in the world is dirty, crowded, noisy and smelly. It’s how well they cover it up or even so, condition themselves to accept it for what it is. 

I think that it’s great that someone selling food from a cart is trying to make a living. At least they’re not carrying iPhones and living on welfare, or just spending the working man’s tax money and running bills of thousands of dollars in credit card charges and adding to the already mounting national debt. 

What I’m also trying to get them to understand is that every culture is different. And just because it’s different from yours, doesn’t mean yours is better. If there are certain rules or cultural norms that people have just go with it and stop cribbing. Perhaps they have these rules and ‘stupid things’ because it’s the fool-proof way to curb certain behaviour. Yes, it might seem strange but when their country has over a billion and a half people, then maybe they’ll understand why things are a certain way. 

So, here’s what we can do. If we can tolerate other people’s shenanigans, I think they can stop promoting another country as a shit hole. It just goes to show how small minded and ignorant they are. 

Culturally Awkward

What defines a societal culture? Is it progress? Is it the ease to adapt? Is it the willingness to evolve? Or is it defined by the value system that was created centuries ago? Perhaps it could any one of these or all of them or perhaps none. Every culture around the world is unique and different. Countries that share borders may have completely opposite cultures and ways of life. In our Indian culture, I suppose there are a variety of cultures. These days, there is no one culture that can be defined as Indian, but more of a value system of convenience. The people choose the values and morals  that suit their convenience. Not for mere reason but to justify the things they do. Unfortunately, when they do that, they are perceived as hypocrites. It’s very simple to blame things that they don’t agree with to be ‘the influence of the west’. Well excuse for me for pointing it out but this is the land of the Kama Sutra. Somehow over the years, in a modern age, it’s frowned upon or considered to be a sin. And it’s not all about that. It’s just the way of thinking. A repressive society where the voice of reason is just that ‘it is not an Indian thing to do’. 

I never quite understand what they mean by that. It’s okay to arrange the marriage of their offspring to complete strangers based on the family financial background but not to openly date people of their own choosing. That’s not all, it’s unacceptable to show any affection to them. This is exactly why there is an unhealthy outlook towards any sort of physical connection. A wedding in itself is society-approved consummation of the pairing. What a vulgar display of the celebration of love. Not that I’m averse to the idea. In fact I love the idea. I love it especially if it’s because of the love between the two, a sacred bond that they want to celebrate and not the fact that there were two thousand people present to see it. 

So what happens when women are harassed? Whether it’s a nasty look or a long uncomfortable stare, it happens all the time here and no one does anything about it. Are you going to ward them off a hundred times a day, everyday? Well at least we will try to because we have to start somewhere. The first thing that people have the audacity to say is that it was the girl’s fault or it was because of what she was wearing. When I hear that I just automatically categorise them into the ignorant buffoon file. What doe get to me, however, is that most of the time these are the sentiments of women. Yes! From women. There is no solidarity for the sisterhood and no empathy. Of course there are a majority of women who will stand up for you and with you and fight the fight. But when women actually utter these words it’s just appalling and downright disgusting. 

There are certain things that also don’t sit right with me. For instance, when someone tells us that that it’s not in our Indian culture to sit too close to our lover or kiss them in public. I’m all for the reason that perhaps it’s not proper protocol or not correct social decorum. It’s when people justify that it’s not in our culture then that just drives me up the wall. Even more so is when they say not to do certain things because other people take offense to it. Well hello! If it offends you then why look? It’s as simple as putting your fingers into an open flame and then complaining that it’s hot and get your fingers burnt. Everything is G rated. So I’m confused about what exactly are they getting offended by?

I have nothing to really say to these people except the fact that they should open their minds and put their time into the things that do matter. Put their energy into changing the world for the better and not get involved in the lives of those who have no relation to them at all. Well, here’s hoping. 

 

CONSIDER THIS

I live in a country where the word consideration does not exist. At least from what I know, there is no such word that can be used for consideration. In a society where there is no word in its local language that translates to consideration, it’s no surprise that the people don’t have any consideration for other people. It’s surreal how each person has no idea where the line between disturbance and normalcy lies. Last night there was a private party in the building society, where the food was arranged by caterers. The party was not allowed to go on beyond 11pm because if the noise or perhaps society rules. And it’s understandable because it’s about consideration for your neighbours in the community. What astonished me was that the caterers were allowed to yell out to each other while packing everything up until 1am. The clattering of very heavy crockery and the clunking of cutlery. And no one seemed to have a problem with that. I thought it was absolutely strange that no one seemed to have a problem with it. No one complained about that ruckus and the hosts didn’t seem to be bothered about it either. Perhaps they went home and slept after all that food and drink. This is something that happens only in our country. The most famous line they use is ‘what can I do?. It’s only a handful of courteous citizens who take it upon themselves to keep the volume on the down low after hours or not carelessly drag furniture in case the neighbours below are fast asleep. For everyone else this is a daily routine. They make the noise and cause disturbance and are uncouth about it. But when someone else is doing it, or rather when it directly affects or bothers them, it’s their business and they have no qualms about making it all a big deal. So after it’s all over, isn’t it the responsibility of the organisers to make sure that everything gets wrapped up silently, or within the stipulated time frame, considering it’s a private building?

The problem I have is that it’s not so much a matter of consideration or perhaps a matter of common sense and in this case, lack thereof. Then I thought to myself, they probably have no consideration because there is no word in the language to describe it. And so, unable to have any. Maybe it all boils down to upbringing. Since we pride ourselves on good upbringing or in some local smart Alec’s words, ‘well-cultured” – whatever that means, why isn’t courtesy and consideration for other people part of that package? It’s just the blind leading the blind because if a person is inconsiderate they  obviously have no idea what it is and so they don;t expect it from others. So they have no reason to complain. 

Even politics can’t change this way of thinking. It’s a societal evolution. And I’d hate to be a know-it-all and teach them how to behave. So in the meanwhile, I’ll have to deal with it and get used to it. For now. 

Faded Beauty Queens

Beauty. One of the first few words I remember being able to spell correctly as a child. A word so easy to remember but often loosely used and, rarely truly understood. So what about beauty? What is it that is so intriguing about this word? The very essence of the what it stands for is what can be the source of misery. They say that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Simply put, it is subjective. What may be beautiful to me may not be to you. We live in a world where we evaluate certain things based on the level of beauty. People question their worth on how high or low the level is. No matter how directly the obvious can be pointed out, it’s relationship is inverse. The higher the level of importance we give to beauty, the lower is our capability to see beyond what is in front of us. 

We judge people based on the way they look and the way they dress. Beautiful hair, glowing skin and great body. How is that criteria to know if someone is a good person? If that person is reliable and worthy enough to be called a friend? Absolutely not. A beautiful looking person is not necessary a beautiful person. It holds true when they say that beauty is skin deep. Because beneath the surface there is much more to discover and that to me is beauty. That very moment when you discover there is more than what you see, is beauty. It’s beautiful. And no amount of shiny hair or great looking skin or what have you, can trump that. There’s beauty at every stage of the process of discovering that this person in front of me is a beautiful human being. 

We may give hundreds of girls crowns for being drop dead gorgeous and don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with telling someone they are beautiful because beauty should be appreciated. But, when we look beyond just what we see, there is more value in its appreciation. There are hundreds of Beauty Queens around. Everywhere you look, there is an entire flock. People may gawk and stare in awe but it’s uninspired. It’s the impersonation of what one industry wants people to think is beautiful. What’s the result in the end? An entire generation of people who want to look like each other and where the idea of looking alike is considered beautiful. Like mass produced generic play things. The whole idea of promoting ‘beauty with brains’ or ‘beauty with a purpose’ is just a facade behind which the shallow ideals are disguised. It’s misguided and just disgusting. There is no purpose and the only brains involved are the ones used to trick everyone into believing that there is indeed more than just a bedazzling crown. 

I have always wondered what it meant when they said that people peak too soon. They look their greatest and are in the best shape when they’re in their teens and then, that’s it. They don’t particularly take care of themselves after that and most don’t care about looking beyond the obvious. And then, that’s it. When they reach their twenties they’ve just given up and settle for a conformist lifestyle just to be accepted by society. They end up jaded and listless. Faded beauty queens. Our twenties and better yet, our thirties is when life begins, our careers have just taken off, you’re more confident and have more chances to meet all sorts of people. It’s a great place to be. Quite frankly, when people pay more attention to the things in life that matter, there is always much more to look forward to. 

 

Paris Hilton on Mandela – More of a Joke Than a Fake

“people were already leaping (without looking) at the chance to use his death as an excuse to make themselves feel superior over someone totally insignificant by comparison.” This holds true every time. Amongst non-celebrities too. Especially in times of loss, people always try to show how much they care and try to express how much that person meant to them when in fact, they didn’t care when the person was still alive.

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Two nights ago, I logged onto Facebook to discover a number of Facebook updates reporting the death of Nelson Mandela. I posted a few of my own.

Then, just one hour later, one of my friends posted this jpg of a Tweet supposedly made by Paris Hilton…

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…in which she says, “RIP Nelson Mandela. Your “I Have A Dream” speech was so inspiring. An amazing man.”

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