Word of the Week #171:

Efficacious

“That field has no scope.”

How often have we heard that when we say we want to devote our lives to studying and practising the arts, be it writing or singing or painting or dancing?

Last week, we spoke about how the scope of traditional fields like engineering are grossly overrated in our society, and we tried to analyse the reasons why.

Tonight, let us look at the scope fields like writing do offer but are often grossly underestimated in our society, often for the same reasons.

Writing is fun. But is it really a profession? Is it feasible to think you can get paid to write?

Well, what if I tell you that I do get paid to do just that? And I get paid plenty, if I may say so…

So, let us ask ourselves, how did I end up here?

Am I particularly gifted? Well, that’s debatable.
Am I very rich? Nah, but I did have enough support to never have to worry.
Did I receive any specific training? Nope. None.

Then what did I do to reach financial stability while pursuing, and really focusing on, my artistic passions?

The answer is stupidly simple: I worked really hard for a really long time.

For five and a half years, I kept work on my craft, with no pay and little appreciation from beyond my inner circle, slowly but surely improving at what I do, spreading my roots in the industry, and seeking out opportunities wherever I could find them.

That’s hardly any more time than what most people spend on college and stuff, right? At least my route was totally worth it.

Tell me, how can a writer make money?

The first and most obvious would be by publishing books. But as any writer would tell you, the investment in that is extremely high, and the rate of success is exceeding low. Of course, that is no reason to not do it.

Essentially, one could say that it is the most likely to be artistically rewarding, and the least likely to be financially rewarding. And as we go further down this list, the former will continue to decrease, while the latter continues to increase.

If you want to make easy money as an author, one can try to write non-fiction books that highlight certain individuals or organisations. Co-authoring an autobiography can make you a lot of money.

Of course, you could also make some money by publishing articles in successful magazine or newspapers, or you can monetise your own blog.

Or, you can write for advertisers. That’s where Salman Rushdie started his career.

Or, you can write for TV or movies or, heck, even video games. Sidney Sheldon started his career in TV.

Or, you can find all sorts of jobs that require writers, from PR to content writing to creating subtitles. Really, the opportunities are endless.

And if all else fails, you can always work as an editor. As long as there are writers in the world and AI is not yet entirely up to speed, there will always be jobs for editors.

So, keep working, keep learning, and keep looking for opportunities. Your success might not be guaranteed, but that can be said about anything you try.

In the end, if you have spent every waking moment of your entire life in a passionate pursuit of your dreams, would that not count as a success?

Advertisements

Word of the Week #170:

Ambit

“That field has no scope.”

How often have we heard that about careers that are even slightly outside the mainstream?

According to these people, everything apart from a handful of disciplines has no scope.

Why do they think so?

Well, I believe there are two reasons for that.

Firstly, Indians love structure. If you want to be an engineer, your life has a structure. 13 years of school, 2 years (minimum) of heavy coaching, and 4 years of college. Work for 19 years and you’re an engineer.

Now, the fact that this mechanism has been churning out 15 lakh engineers every year for almost a decade, while the industry simply does not have enough jobs for each one seems to be lost on them.

Secondly, Indians love success stories. One of their friends’ kid, or cousins’ kid, or neighbours’ kid, or even some random kid, got a great job and built a great life doing something? Then it is natural that their own kids should do that.

In doing so, however, they seems to forget about the rest are of the kids who didn’t get the jobs they wanted, or didt’t get any whatsoever.

Only 3% of Indian engineers find jobs doing what they were actually trained to do. According to some estimates, only 20% are capable of finding any job in the market.

If you bring that up, naturally, you’d be told, “Of course, you have to excel at it. The best students get the best jobs. Survival of the fittest.”

So, you want kids to excel in the field you choose for them, with little to no regard to their abilities and preferences and only a slight chance of success?

Looks like education has failed you, and you have failed your children. You should not be surprised when your children fail you too.

Word of the Week #153:

Misogyny

Even as a boy, a very young boy, I often despised how other boys would talk about girls. How they would reduce the girl’s identity to an assortment of body parts. How they would feel the right to spread vile rumours based on, well, plain malice. How they would gleefully discuss what I can now only describe as rape fantasies.

Now, I cannot take much pride in saying that I did not participate in such behaviour; much like I do not expect praise for not killing anyone in the past hour. It is the bare minimum one would expect in a civilised society.

If anything, I do feel remorse for not being able to raise my voice against any of it. It must have been partly because I did not have the strength to oppose them, and partly because I did not realise the damage such behaviour could cause.

Today, when I meet or speak with some of these boys, I can still sense the remnants of that mentality. It is often obscured by a mask of feigned civility—and occasionally it isn’t—but it is still very much there. Apparently, it is not something that can change by itself.

But one thing has changed: My willingness to call them out.

After all, there is only one way to ensure good guys no longer finish last. We need to weed out the bad ones.

Word of the Week #118:

Sinister

It was only tonight that I realised that I had not really spoken much on the blog about the fact that I am left-handed.

I think it is rather odd… After all, being a lefty is an immutable part of my identity, but at the same time, it does not come up that often in the normal course of a conversation, right?

Think about the last time you heard someone say, “As a left-handed person, this is what I think about this issue.” It just does not happen.

However, as with any demographic minority, there is always some bias, intentional or otherwise, that we have to deal with growing up.

Things as basic as scissors are made with the assumption that the user will be right-handed. It may seem inconsequential to us as adults, but you cannot even begin to imagine how traumatic it can be to an eight-year-old sitting in art class trying to understand just why he cannot get the scissors to work.

Yeah, it took me half a decade to realise that I’d have to use it with my right hand to make it work, but to be honest, I no longer care…

Even pens and pencils are not designed for use, and let us not even talk about chalk boards and white boards and spiral-bound notebooks…

As a young adult in college, it did not take me as long to realise why the drafting equipment would not support me, and how to compensate. This was largely because I knew I could ask other lefty friends who had done it before.

Even now, most tables I use are asymmetrical. As a result, half of the space remains unused.

Such impedance is always annoying, but after several years of bumbling about, it can certainly be circumvented.

What is a much larger annoyance is the extreme stupidity of the people we meet all across the world.

If I could get an extra mark every time an invigilator asked me, “Oh, do you really write like that,” I might have actually made the cut-off for Delhi University.

“Yes, of course, I really do write like. What did you think, I’m doing a bit, here in the examination room? Moron…”

Of course, I never really said that, but I assume my glare would have sufficed.

I remember one morning, I must have been 10 or so, when a shopkeeper refused to take money from me because I offered it with my left hand. Give it with your right hand, he told me, and of course, when he said right, he meant correct. I did what was the natural thing to do in the situation: I left the cash midair, glaring into the man’s eyes till the coins clanged onto the floor, and just walked away.

When I look back now, I feel lucky to have had family and teachers who did understand what it meant to be left-handed. I have met others who have not been as lucky.

There are many who erroneously believe that being left-handed is a disease, and needs to be corrected. A forced change in the handedness of a person, particularly at an extremely young age, can have catastrophic repercussions. Since handiwork is controlled by the same part of the brain as speech, such a change is often accompanied by speech disorders. Learning disabilities are also a common side-effect.

And then, of course, are the morons who actually believe that lefties are unlucky or inauspicious or whatever. To quote Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, “When I come to power, those people will be sterilised.”

I recently attended a Pride Carnival, and while I was generally quite, well, proud to be there, I could not stop this one thought from continually nagging at the back of my head.

For a society that still struggles with the idea of “left-handedness”, concepts like “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” might be far too advanced.

Now that I think about it, there is a simpler way to explain these things to the more moronic parts of our society:

Some people are different. That is all. It is not a disease. It is not a curse. It is not something to be outgrown or corrected.

Different is not wrong.

Word of the Week #116:

Pivot

Now, before you get your hopes too high, let me just clarify that this is not a Ross Geller appreciation post.

Although, now that I think about it, that too is long overdue…

No, today we talk about this one trick that politicians and their spokespersons use when asked a difficult question.

The truly inept ones will start by lying, and end up looking foolishly out of depth. Of course, for some individuals, this is their go-to move.

The skilled ones, however, will follow a simple routine to dance around the discussion until the interviewer and the audience are too confounded to carry on.

I could teach you how to do it, if you’d like…

Step #0: Catch the interviewer, or the camera, in a dead eye stare. Establish a position of benevolent dominance.

Step #1: Catch a keyword, or a phrase, from the question and shoot off into an unrelated tangent. This way, it looks like you have answered the question, but you have not.

Now, most interviewers, either trying to seem polite or adhering to a strict timeline, will let the question go. Some reporters, however, are more tenacious than others, and will keep repeating the question. What do you do now?

Step #1 (a): As a novice, you might try to dodge the specifics and continue to move farther and faster on the tangent. This may exasperated the interviewer enough to lose balance, or simply leave the audience too disinterested to care.

Step #1 (b): Once you are experienced enough, you will be able to take this chance to paint the interviewer as a biased, and rude, opponent, instead of being a neutral observer. This is meant to sow seeds of mistrust towards the media, and will usually polarise the audience.

Step #2: Blame it on the opposition. This is, of course, the most basic tactic but its efficacy is almost alarming. Irrespective of whether this blame is justified, the audience will be distracted from the facts.

Step #3: Equate the interviewer with the opposition. Firmly establish a bias against yourself. YOU are the real victim here.

Step #4: Counter. Since you have already established that the media is the opposition and the opposition is guilty, you can now force your interviewer on the defensive with some sharp questions and allegations of your own.

  • If he tries to dissociate himself from your allegations, he undercuts your opponents in the process.
  • If he tries to justify your opponents’ actions, he further consolidates the perception of bias.
  • If he tries to dodge the questions or deny the allegations, he seems evasive and unreliable.

In any of the above, you are the winner.

Step #5: Accept your victory, and assure the audience that things are better with you in charge of the situation.

See. Simple, right?

Of course, don’t blame me if you try this on your college professor and get into trouble, okay?

Class dismissed.

Word of the Week #114:

Scourge

Have you heard of Murphy’s law?

I have mentioned it once before on this blog, so I would expect that you have…

The precise wording still remains unclear, but the general interpretation is that everything that can go wrong, does.

Now, I generally stay as meticulous as I possibly can, and try to keep the margin for error so slim that the consequences do not pile up.

However, all it takes is one jolt to put everything way out of order.

I cannot quite trace where this sequence began, but I have been feeling that these days, whenever I try to do something, whatever can go wrong just does.

For instance, every afternoon, I go to play basketball at court significantly far from my home, and between the extreme heat all afternoon and the kids’ training all evening, I get precisely an hour to play.

Now, as it is, my margin for error is already not great. But what can go wrong? Well, apparently, quite a lot…

Sometimes, I will get dressed, put on my socks, and be half a dozen steps from the door, when splash! I step into a pool of fresh, warm pee.

Yeah, our kids are not entirely trained, yet. Have I talked about them earlier? I should.

Now, cleaning it up, then washing my foot, luckily not feet, and changing the socks takes up roughly a quarter of the hour. Significant.

Sometimes when I do not step into pee, my vehicle just refuses to start.

Of course, my vehicle is ancient, so I tend to include a buffer for that. But when it is so broken that I have to go to a mechanic, as I already have twice this week, that is more than 25 minutes easily.

If my vehicle does start after the first few tries, and I get to the court right on time, I should get an entire hour to play, right?

Well, not if it starts to rain with little to no warning. Not enough to actually cool down the scorching streets, of course. No, it will only rain enough to leave the court unplayable for just about an hour.

And, if I do not step in pee, manage to get there on time, and it does not rain, what happens?

Well, a guy manages to jump onto my leg, breaking my knee and leaving me bedridden for over a week.

Now, on the days that a guy does not break my knee, and of course also the day that he does, I will come home drenched in sweat, longing for a nice shower. That is not too much to ask, right?

Considering how often I have stood under the shower with not water raining down on me but the realisation that, well, the tanks are empty, apparently it is.

When the tanks are not empty, I go into the shower, let the water wash over my skin, and just as I am starting to work up a decent lather, the door bell rings. Repeatedly. Incessantly.

Having washed myself as much and as fast as I could have, I come running down the stairs, only to realise that my Dad is indeed home, and has answered it already.

And if this does not happen, my shower is completed without any incident, what happens?

I come out of the shower, a towel draped over my head, leisurely wiping my hair, when I suddenly realise that those are not droplets  of water that I feel creeping down my shoulder.

I am, however, a moment too late, as  I sense a dozen successive bites across my shoulders and back.

Freaking ants! Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, what are even the odds?

Already a couple of days have passed since that particular incident, and I still have no clues how those ants ended up in my towel.

Now, in the face of such odds, it would be understandable if one were to grow dejected.

However, I have found that the uplifting words of a great man, one Dr. Ken Jeong, always get me up and running.

Not today, kind sir. Not today.


PS: I have been trying to take a shower for the past 4 hours. It would appear that the odds are against us, tonight… 

Word of the Week #113:

Nostalgia

I don’t often take vacations. The kind of work that I do and the kind of life that I live just does not afford me that kind of luxury.

Of course, one could argue that, given how flexible and balanced my life already is, I might not really need a vacation.

Well, there is some merit to that premise, but there are several more details to consider.

Firstly, balanced may be a term you can use to describe my work schedule now, but that was far from true till the last summer.

Secondly, no matter how much you love something, fatigue does eventually set in. Taking no real breaks for a span of four years can be strenuous for even the most tenacious of us.

So, when I hurt my knee while playing basketball last week—a severe strain to the lateral ligaments—and the orthopaedist asked me to rest, I decided to take a break from work as well. Just take a week to relax…

Seeing how I tend to overwork throughout the monsoon, as there is little else to do, the timing could not have been better.

It is still a forced vacation, as each one I take tends to be, but it has been quite fun nonetheless.

I finally got to take my old PlayStation out of its box; the first time in several months. As it would turn out, NFS Most Wanted is still as fun as it was almost a decade ago, though the races somehow seems slightly more difficult than I can remember. Also, the way my shoulders and lower back start aching after just a couple of hours is an entirely new experience.

I often draw some flak for calling myself old, but the truth is, I do feel older. Things do change, as we grow older, and we often do not realise just how much.

One of the things I have noticed is that people seem to stop doing what they used to love doing as kids. I cannot think of any reasonable explanations for it, to be honest. Excuses, perhaps, but no explanations.

If you stop having fun, what is even the point of being alive, right? If you know something is fun, why postpone doing it? It is not like we have forever to wait…

So, this week, I plan to have some fun. Perhaps a little extra, just to compensate for the entire year.

Replaying NFS was fun, but now my thumbs feel weird, so I have to stop. Perhaps I will rewatch an old movie I love. Or perhaps I shall reread an old Agatha Christie that I have not touched for a few years.

There is just a different pleasure to redoing things you love, right?

My room is cosy and my heart is happy. This is going to be a good week.