Word of the Week #150:

Contingency

Gah… I’m so tired.

I have been feeling so unusually weary all day.

Like, have you ever felt so tired, so weary, so completely and entirely drained, that suddenly Coldplay songs start making sense?

When you try your best but you don’t succeed,
When you get what you want but not what you need,
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep,
Stuck in reverse…

Yeah, that bad…

Not that it is any surprise; I did miss my lunch two consecutive days, after which I played basketball till I could barely walk, following which—ironically enough—I went for a walk.

Unusual circumstances yield unusual consequences. That should be no surprise. And these circumstances did teach me, or at least refresh into my memory, an interesting lesson. 

You see, for situations like these, always keep something sweet at hand.

It could be some juice, or a bottle of soft drink. Perhaps a few slices of pineapple, or some cookies. Anything sweet and light, that may offer a jolt of energy that will help you survive till your next meal.

Sure, it is not the healthiest of ways to live. Sure, it will have repercussions in the long run.

But you know what, it is always better to live unhealthy than to die healthy.

And sometimes, there is nothing better to do than live to fight another day.

And if your limbs just do not have the strength to even manage that, well, to once again quote the second coming of the bard himself, I will try to fix you.

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Word of the Week #149:

Ambience

As a writer, I often get the opportunity to converse with readers and learn what they like or dislike in books.

Over the past few years, too many of the readers I encountered are of an unusually impatient variety. 

They have neither the temperament to endure the few pages, and occasionally chapters, of descriptive background a good book might need before the plot takes over, nor do they have the ability to appreciate the mood that needs to be bolstered by the seemingly insignificant details in the background of the story.

These are the kind of people who think Edgar Allan Poe is dull and Agatha Christie is slow. Well, not that Christie isn’t slow, but that is part of her charm.

It may seem odd, but I believe this impatience is borne out of mental lethargy. Minds that have been benumbed by decades of cinematic indulgence.

Think about it. If I want to talk about a secluded cabin in the woods, it would take me hundreds of words to make the reader understand the extent and limits of its seclusion. In contrast, a movie can do that in a single still, and cover the cabin, the woods, the weather, the sky, everything you could want and more. 

After all, they are not stupid to say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

But in a book, there are only words. And this is exactly why we need thousands of them to tell our story.

If only each reader could differentiate the subtitles of a movie from a book…

Word of the Week #148:

Bereavement

Well, everybody hurts sometimes
Everybody cries

That’s what the guys over at R.E.M. taught us, many many years ago. And everybody heard them, because it does make sense, right?

Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten to mention that everybody processes the pain in their own ways. I suppose that is why nobody realised that a person can be in pain even if you don’t hear them whining about it.

For years, people have been telling me that I need to discuss my problems, share my pain, express my feelings… And I just cannot understand why.

Empathy? Please. As if I can be understood.
Sympathy? Please. As if I need pity.
Counsel? Not interested.
Perspective? Resolution? Catharsis? I can get that from within, thank you.

You know what I need when I am in pain? Some space, some time. Perhaps some sugary drinks.

You know what I do not need? People encroaching on my space, taking up my time, giving me grief. As if I don’t have enough of it already.

Or, to put it very simply, for all intents and purposes…

Word of the Week #147:

Detoxify

How to detect traces of toxicity in yourself?

Simple. Swallow a pill of bitter truth, and observe your own reaction.

If you feel any inflammation around your cheeks or ears, you may be experiencing some symptoms of chronic toxicity. Let us take a look at the following video, for instance.

Thoughts? Generally, a nice video.

Nice message. A rare, but refreshing, example of a corporation taking a stand. Right?

Well, oddly enough, the video has twice as many dislikes as it has likes, presently around 1.2 million, with thousands of men claiming they felt attacked by the ad and vowing to never use a Gillette product ever again.

Just take a moment to think about this. What exactly does the video say?

  • Misogyny is bad.
  • Sexual harassment is bad.
  • Violence is bad.
  • Bullying is bad.
  • Men shouldn’t do above bad things, and set good examples for boys.

Now, if any of the above points seem like a personal attack on you…
You’re probably NOT the best a man can be. Just saying…

Word of the Week #146:

Forewarning

We live in interesting times.

Just last month, the central government gave itself the power to snoop into any computer.

No warrants, no limitations, no nothing. Unlimited unbridled power.

Big Brother is watching. Cool.

I guess I’ll have to set up a VPN and a private browser just to read the news. Oh, how the world has changed.

Additionally, political opponents of the ruling party were thrashed by the police last week. For what Crime? Wearing black clothes and releasing black balloons in the presence of the Supreme Leader.

Who here is surprised?

35 years too late,  but let us still take a look at the 1984 checklist.

  • Personality Cult? Check
  • Denouncement of Facts? Check
  • Rewriting History? Check
  • Hateful Propaganda? Check
  • Eternal War? Check
  • Unlimited surveillance? Check
  • Thought Police? Well, we are getting there

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Word of the Week #145:

Quagmire

‘No’ means ‘no’.

We’ve been hearing that a lot; perhaps more often and more loudly over the past few years.

But is that really true? Does ‘no’ always mean ‘no’? Does ‘yes’ always mean ‘yes’?

You know, humans aren’t the most honest of beings. We are trained to lie and deceive, to blend in and hide our true feelings and desires in order to survive in this world.

Think about it. Try to remember the times when you would attend a birthday party as a kid. Remember how you would be offered an extra piece of cake, and when you took you it your parents would glare and frown at you.

If you were at all smart, you would understand exactly what it meant: “The next time someone offers you more cake, you better decline, you little critter.”

Makes sense, right? After all, nobody wants their kid to be branded as a glutton.

So, the next time you are at a party and someone asks if you want more cake, what do you say? Well, there have been many, many times when I said ‘no’.

Did I mean ‘no’? Occasionally, yeah. If the cake is bad, I’m not interested in seconds… But if the cake is soft and moist and just the right amount of sweet, why would I not want more? Then why would I still say ‘no’?

Well, in some cases, ‘no’ might not mean ‘no’.

It might mean ‘yes, I do, but I cannot.’
Or ‘not right now.’
Or ‘Yes, but I am just too full.’
Or ‘I do, but I am on a diet.’
Or ‘Yes, but I have to fast before my colonoscopy.’
Or ‘Yes, but that amount of chocolate will kill me.’
Or ‘Yes, but I don’t want it from you; who knows where those hands have been.’
Or simply ‘Nah, I don’t do chocolate. Cheesecake only.’

Regardless, that is far from an invitation to come and try to stuff that piece of cake into my mouth. Try that and you’re going to got killed, boy. DO NOT test me.

No matter what was meant or why, when you hear ‘no’, you better take it as a ‘no’.

To paraphrase a beloved poem from my childhood,

Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to get the hell out of my face.

Consent. It’s a piece of cake.

Word of the Week #144:

Quantum

So, another year has passed by us.

On occasions like these, it is customary to take a moment to look back at the key events of  the year. Luckily, I managed to outsource that task to an engineer in Bangalore…

Boy, am I going to get smacked for that… Eh, moving on.

You see, when we do do these kinds of things, we tend to focus too much on events that are merely stepping stones that lead us to more stepping stones.

You might think getting that new job, or a major promotion, made the year special, but did it, really? Sure, it may lead to something else that is special, but is it special in and of itself?

I don’t know; to me, it is not the big events that make my life special. It is the little things, things that are almost impossible to substantiate, but are substantial nonetheless.

Things like the smile on someone’s face when they taste the food you cooked, or the quiver in their voice when you get them something they really need but refuse to buy for themselves, or the shimmer in their eyes when you tell them how they make you feel.

The little things… 

“Some moments are nice, some are nicer, some are even worth writing about.”
― Charles Bukowski