Word of the Week #159:

Zest

You know, when I was young, like, really young, my parents signed me up for a skating class.

Now, I fail to see how this skill would prove useful over the course of my lifetime, but okay…

Anyway, these classes… I absolutely hated them!

I was uncomfortable and clumsy, and I always struggled with the equipment.

I was not too bad at it, I thought. I could complete all the drills adequately and I never had any particularly painful or embarrassing falls.

I just didn’t like doing it. It was just not fun.

But every evening, my mom would give me one piece of chewy andy each time I left for the class, and promised another when I got back.

To my young heart, that piece of candy was one of the biggest accomplishments I could comprehend. It was worth the effort, the pain, the overall annoyance.

And for that piece of candy, I kept going back to the class every successive day.

One evening, I was laughing so hard that the candy actually flew out of my mouth and out of the window down onto the road. I swear, in that one moment, I felt a piece of myself die.

Now, considering all of this, I think it may sound odd, but I actually hated that candy too! It tasted like an orange peel flavoured eraser.

Personally, I have always prefer clean, unflavoured erasers, but that is beside the point…

I don’t think I ever mentioned this to my mom. I was never the most vocal of kids. I was always more of a ‘how-do-you-not-know-EXACTLY-how-I-feel-right-now’ kind of kid.

In fact, I don’t think I even mentioned that I didn’t like the skating class either.

Eventually, I did get good at skating. We had switched my old, clunky skated for a new, cool, more cooperative ones. We had begun focusing less on drills and more on free skating.

Eventually, I started to enjoy skating for what it is.

And almost immediately afterwards, the class ended. And I have no idea why.

But at least the candy ended too. And for some reason, I kind of miss it now…

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Word of the Week #157:

Discourse

I like politics.

I suppose that might seem strange to some people, but yeah, I do enjoy it.

It is the most entertaining spectator sport on this planet, some might say. And it is definitely the most consequential one.

But as with most sports, there is a right way to play. Unfortunately, most participants do not seem to appreciate that.

You can win by focusing on your own strengths, right?

Talk about tax reform. Talk about better public education. Talk about better public transportation. Talk about clean, cheap and reliable energy. And, occasionally, back up your talk with some actual performance.

When you have true game, you do not need to rely on thumping your chest, talking trash about your opponents and stretching the rules to their limits and hoping the referees do not notice. Those skills may be a part of a champion’s wide repertoire, but are not a winning strategy.

Just play hard and play fair. If you are good, there is no reason why you cannot win.

After all, what is the point of playing dirty and winning, when half the audience is only going to hate you and everything you represent for the next 4-5 years.

Word of the Week #155:

Esse

Last week, we tried to answer an important question that people tend to ask us: Why do we write?

But there is another question, one that is arguably far more important, that comes to mind that one must try to answer.

Why do we live?

In a way, I am glad it does not come to my mind too often, for there is no simple answer I can offer.

Should life be more than the mechanical execution of our mundane routines, the fulfilment of our fundamental needs? Should life be more than just a checklist that we have to complete before we run out of time?

Should life have some sort of meaning or purpose? Should we need a reason to get off the bed every morning besides our bladders?

What about us artistic types who live in our own world and are unencumbered, at least relatively, by the mundane? Do we live to write? Or do we write to live? Are the two mutually exclusive?

Well, the later is absolutely true for me, and I believe Stephen King would agree.

“Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”

Stephen King

So, why do we live?

Does our life, our existence, make a significant impact on the grand scheme of things to warrant the effort we have to exert on a daily basis?

Directly, probably not.

The simple truth is that too few of us will achieve greatness in our lifetimes. And even if we do, that too is fleeting.

Every year, over 60 players join the NBA; so far, only 111 players have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. 111 players in almost 70 years… And I would be surprised if you can name 5 of those players who were inducted before your parents were born. Hell, I would be surprised if you could name one.

Too few. Too fleeting.

Not every scientist will be the next Newton. Not every writer will be the next Shakespeare. And I highly doubt that too many carpenters can claim to be the next Jesus.

But you can definitely earn a footnote in someone else’s discovery that changes life on this planet, and possibly beyond. You can always hope your stories inspire one child to see the world in a different light. And you can absolutely provide someone the comfort of a cosy armchair after a long, hard day.

If you think about it, we are the grand scheme of things, and it is a cumulation of every single thought, word and action of every single being that creates the world as we know it.

Life must, therefore, contain within itself the potential to change everything in the entire universe. And possibly beyond…

But that is the answer to a different question altogether.

The question remains, why do we live?

My answer is actually quite simple. ‘Cause it is all we know.

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.

Word of the Week #141:

Purist

Ah, Test cricket… There is just a beauty to it that the other formats lack.

Of course, the Indian team playing well overseas makes it all the more special, regardless the result.

Now, while India may have beaten Australia in Adelaide, can we really say that we played well? Sure, the pace bowlers have been impressive and Ashwin did exactly what was required of him, as did most of the batting line-up, at least sporadically.

The victory was still too narrow, in my opinion, especially against this severely depleted Aussie squad.

The good news is that there is one obvious aspect where we could see significant improvement. Take a look at this video, and see if you can notice it.

This is what happens when your top order is more accustomed to T20 than Test cricket. People get out flashing outside the off-stump. Repeatedly.

Back in my day, temperament and shot-selection actually meant something. We didn’t give our wickets away. The opponent had to pry them out of our sticky, sweaty hands.

But the kids these days, I tell you… Sigh…

Word of the Week #134:

Balefire

Gah! I am so tired… I’m in so much pain…

Why, you ask? I mean, I hope you do. You seem nice, after all. Okay, I’ll tell you.

Have you heard of a thing called the Halo effect?

It is basically why women forget about the pain of past pregnancies and choose to have another child.

If you think about, it is the entirety of Domino’s business strategy. The remote possibility of some remnant of a happy memory will draw a customer back is the only reason they are still in business.

Now, you see, I love playing basketball. The thrill, the joy, I can hardly put it in words. And that is basically what I am supposed to do, right?

So, anyway, I haven’t played much over the past few months. Hardly any since I hurt my knee in May, and definitely none since I moved in July. I have been back to the gym and on the court, though. Nonetheless, the feeling of a real game is not something you can ever emulate in any solo drill.

As it would turn out, I had forgotten quite a few things about the game over these months.

I am still good at making passes, which is a relief in itself, but getting into spots where I can receive passes was something with which I really struggled tonight.

And my defence, in general, was just abysmal. Like, for the first few possessions, I seemed to have no idea where to go or what to do.

Luckily, I am a quick learner, and apparently an even quicker relearner. Within half an hour, I had improved drastically in every aspect.

That is when it hit me; I had forgotten the most important thing about basketball.

It hurts… Hurts like hell… Hurts like a hundred nails being hammered into my shins… Hurts so much that I have been whining about it for the past four hours!

Gah!

Of course, it is not like that will stop me from going back, tomorrow evening.

Yeah, it will hurt, but it will be worth it.

Well… At least as long as I don’t break my knee, or my shoulder, or my ankle, or something new.

Word of the Week #132:

Bide

Think of a profession. Any profession.

No, I am not going to guess which one you are thinking about. That is not what I do here…

No, think of a good profession, one that you wish was yours.

Okay, turns out, I will be guessing…

I guess a common answer would be a professional athlete. That is fun, after all, right?

Well, I agree, playing for money does sound fun. But think of it this way. Is every aspect of the profession fun?

Being able to take the pressure, the weight of expectations of your fanbase may not always be fun, but some people are still better equipped to handle it than others, right? But I am not talking about the mental aspect, right now.

No, the parts that nobody would enjoy are the more mundane ones. Things like the incessant travel. Nobody wants to take a cross-country flight after every game. But, it is something you cannot avoid.

It is the same for musicians, singers, comedians and such. You have to travel before you get to perform.

Lawyers have to do lots of unglamorous things, like examining briefs and filing motions and visiting jails. It is not all courtroom drama.

Now, I don’t know what part of being a doctor is fun… I do not understand that profession, to be honest.

But, you see, that is how all professions work. You need to do some of the annoying stuff in order to do the stuff you love.

It is like eating on orange. Nobody enjoys peeling an orange. But if you like eating an orange, you have to endure peeling it.

Being a writer is the same. There are so many parts that drive me so crazy: Editing, querying, marketing, dealing with publishers… None of it is really fun.

But you are done with all that, you get to do what you really love. Just sit back, and keep writing all day.

That’s the dream, right?

Well, I look forward to the day it comes true, once again…

Of course, I remember a time when my Mom would peel the oranges for me. A convenient system, you know.

If only I could find an agent to handle all the peeling for me, now…

HWAITING!