Friday, July 29, 2016
Monday, July 25, 2016
Today, I visited the la Brea tar pits. There is an observation pit there, that shows how animals got trapped in the grease pits. Ashpalt can be solid or liquid depending on the temperature. So, parts of an asphalt deposit could be solid and parts liquid or the same area could be solid in winter and liquid in summer.
A lot of leaves, water and multiple things on top of the ashpalt can make it look like a normal first floor, hence confusing animals that could wander into it.
A huge herbivore could have walked towards the pit and gotten stuck right in a pit. It's cries would have attracted carnivores. They predict around 10 carnivores for every single herbivore trapped. A few might have gotten a piece of the trapped animal, but quite a lot would have gotten stuck in the pit along with the prey. This is called entrapment.
Funny thing, this helped us get oil and we are now able to learn about the world all those thousands of years ago, from these fossil deposits of multiple animals trapped to a slow painful death.
A couple of things got me all fascinated.
First was how a few things however miniscule survive across thousands of years and tell us about a world set so far away in time. Tiny fossils showcase, a whole forest floor and here I'm able to see it come alive across eons.
Second, the whole taking the easy way out thing. You go for something thinking it's easy. But, it's actually not all the time and there's so much more than meets the eye.
A few predators might have managed to make good and escape, but a majority were stuck in a situation where they got exactly what they wanted, but it was not what they thought it was. Haven't we faced that situation in life too? Nothing can ever truly be easy. It just comes with fine print we never notice.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
When all is said and done, at the end of the day, all that's going to remain, is hopefully a hand full of dust. That in itself is in a few cases unlikely. Then, what's the point of it all? If all that remains is nothing, what's the point of all the joy, the sorrow, the heartache? Going down this line of thinking depresses me to no end.
Whenever this thought upsets me, I tell myself that in a lifetime, there are some moments that truly take your breath away. They come from nowhere and not always with the people you expect. Those moments are worth all the craziness. All of us have those. We just need to acknowledge it.
There are some moments, which help you create something that stands the test of time at least for a short period(I love old buildings, paintings, temples and sculptures). It won't be everyone who gets to do it, but all of us in a way contribute to the art and the thought that survives. The romantic in me thinks that the muse is always unknown and eternal in a few cases.
In a place far far away
From everything familiar
I come out rinsed from an immersion
In beauty across the ages
Somethings from deep within
Find a way to finally come out
Out in the open
Out despite the opposition
Out despite the internal struggles
For a few fundamental truths cannot be hidden
For all too long.
I come out, expecting to be greeted
By a blast of heat
A strong denial of truth
Instead, I'm greeted by a world caught between
Is that apocalypse? Or is that liberation?
Are the two even that different?
Saturday, July 23, 2016
I was reading an interesting book called metal boxes and the main character had never lived outside a ship of one form or the other in that. He'd never seen the skies and finds it very scary when he experiences the open. It was a science fiction(a well written one) but there is a grain of truth in it.
We're all stuck in metal boxes of one type or another. These are the sanitized version of the world we create for ourselves, because let's face it, the world is a scary place. When we peek out of these boxes, we find things to embrace at times. But then, if we're judged by those we least expect to, we want to crawl right back in and never come out. I guess, it's all about a risk, reward, evolution thing. If you're ready to look beyond your metal boxes(there's not always a necessity) and try to expand your reach, you might be rewarded with an evolution, but not always. You might be beaten black and blue(metaphorically of course) and left to fend for yourself. What you choose to do at every point in time is completely up to you.
I just hope I don't lose the child like wonder when I look at the world most of the time. My box looks so comforting and cozy. I want to crawl right back in at times.
"Here's where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let's make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let's make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don't need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own 'happily ever after' for ourselves"
The quote above was by Jennifer Aniston. Now most people who know me or follow my blog know I'm not star stuck(shahrukh has a piece of my heart but I'm not crazy about him to be honest. Just works that I like him more than the rest). So quoting a celebrity(I meant the TV kind) is the last thing I'm supposed to do. Still this line of hers stuck a chord with me. I really feel that somewhere along the way we've all become so lost in text book definitions(didn't I rant about this last week?) that we've forgotten a very basic thing. Individuals are as similar as they're different. Everyone has their own version of happily ever after seems to be a nice thing to say. (the cynic in me says ever after is over rated)
Last night, when I was talking to someone(a very enjoyable conversation), I realized something. I've been yapping about text book definitions all the while, been aware of biases and still not been trying to get to know a few types of people(there's also the other fact that I've to stay in touch with those I already know)
I'm letting my existing biases cloud my head unintentionally. No matter how many times I come to this conclusion and go through a whole de biasing exercise, somethings happen to shake my foundation again.
I'm not going to become an Aniston fan overnight and go watch friends. But I'm going to derive joy in the knowledge that a celebrity who's so different from me also does agree with me on a few things. Even one that looks picture perfect. I don't want to hear the whole motherhood is a joy line from someone again. All of us deserve our own version of happiness and should learn to accept that what gives us joy might not be what someone else seeks. Of course, if you seek joy with that person, then it's going to be tricky.
I can find my own happily ever after, I'm not sure what my path is going to be and I'm going to promise myself to try and derive joy in ways that make sense to me.
It's funny how sometimes when you look for a sign you find it in unlikely places. Today, I read this post by Paulo Coehlo(I love Veronica decides to die, a point unrelated to this post I know) and it resonated a lot with me. So putting it out here. To remind myself. Just in case, I forget.
"When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change. At such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.
When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat and despair are the tools that God uses to show us the way."
I truly think I'm not afraid and I believe that the best is yet to come. But is that belief driven by sheer bull headedness or optimism? Does it even matter sometimes? I also believe that are multiple such paths. Just a few are too critical to be ignored. You still can, if you are think that the what if, of my following the path is something you can't live with than the what if of following the path.
Friday, July 22, 2016
The great thing about life is that it's easy. The greatest thing about life is that it never seems so. I am a believer in signs and the fact that everything happens for a reason. On days when I've doubted myself, a chance conversation with a stranger on random things, has made me find myself, even in an avalanche of my thoughts.
It's a different thing that I've been avoiding being found for a long time. Maybe I need to accept that fact first and get ready to face the world, in my own terms and not in the ones defined by it. Life is easy and the best, is yet to come.
What's the color of your eyes?
I'm convinced it's grey till I see a flash of blue
I see beyond the obvious
Through the magical lens I hold
You're found, you're lost, you're stuck between worlds
I see beyond this realm and I wonder
If the color could tell me much more
Your eyes magnetic and magical
All I have to do is to close my eyes
For it to flash right in front of me
Wish I could look into it all day
And forget reality for a change.
(I fell in love again, with another dog)
Thursday, July 21, 2016
A lot has changed about me over the years. The way I look at food, the company I keep, my attitude about a few things, my professional life, my involvement with animals etc. But the one thing that hasn't, is my interest in writing and my dream of becoming a writer.
In some ways, I claim it's not just a dream because I write in my blog and even if very few people say something, it does reach an audience. Perhaps, I can go back to my favorite argument that I don't write for an audience. All of us want validation and even if I didn't write keeping it in mind, it makes me happy if what I write resonates with someone.
Here's a bitter truth about me and writing. I'm really scared of criticism and have never shared some of my (what I think) best work in any forum. There are quite a few short stories and poetry languishing in secret corners of my phone and laptop. Perhaps my fear stems from my probable inability to handle rejection, as this is the one thing that means the most to me.
Maybe I'm inherently pessimistic here, as it's going to be easy for me to use it as an excuse to have an eternal dream, rather than face the reality, that the some day I'll put myself out there, will never come if I don't think about it seriously and stop making excuses. Recently, a very good friend of mine told me to stop writing and I was so mad. That day was also an eye opener as i realized, whether I like it or not, expressing myself is my super power and I can't let it go so easily.
I'm going to try and get a poetry collection out there. I know poetry doesn't sell, but I don't really need incremental income. I know people might not read it, but I know there will be a few who will. I know there will be critics who might find my short lines disturbing, but there will be people who will like it. So, I'm going to try. Make an attempt. Conquer fear and actually do something that scares me more than jumping out of an airplane.
I'm not sure how I'm going to do it, but I know I will, because if I don't do this now, I never will.
A lot is being done and a lot more is being said about diversity in the work place. I wanted to write about my experience for a long time, but I never got down to it. This is just my personal experience and I can't claim it is going to be the case for majority. It could be the exception and definitely not the rule. That said, my two cents.
There are amazing people out there, who respect and value employees and colleagues irrespective of gender and age. I've worked with some of the most wonderful mentors and colleagues who've helped me learn, who've groomed me and really stood by me when times were tough. For every person who tried to discriminate based on my age or gender there were many more who did not. I had a very bad experience early in my career, which definitely made me stronger but which could have potentially killed the enthusiasm in a few other people, so I know I'm being thankful for the right reasons.
I'm thankful for having met people like that and I wanted to put it out here to remind myself to be one of those people and to tell the nay sayers that all is not bleak, there are good people too.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
This Sunday, I was out with my friend and we met her niece's dog. It was love at first sight for me with the Doberman. He was so gentle and huge. I walked him around the area they lived in, played with him and was very upset to leave him behind and go sight seeing. I didn't know my friends family too well, else would have stayed back with the dog a lot longer.
I never thought I'll become that dog crazy person, but honestly, given a choice, I'd pick a dog for company any day (I don't want to say over human beings in a public forum).
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
So here's the thing. I don't like using swear words or hearing them. Makes me feel all weird. I know quite a few, in fact I spent quite a bit of time in college picking these up. Earlier I did have quite the potty mouth for a bit as a few of my friends loved to swear. Over a period of time however, I've come to detest that habit and feel that people who swear are creatively limited. They just have the f word or the b or the c to fall back on when things fail. They can't think of creative ways to curse which are definitely more fun.
Don't you think calling someone "a person who's head sways in the wind because it's so empty" more fulfilling than using words like bimbo? A lot of people I know find it very appropriate to swear. They do so at every single opportunity. I just want to tell them, that they're limiting themselves and not challenging their creativity and vocabulary enough. There are more fun ways to mock the world.
This Sunday, I had the awesome opportunity to go to the railway museum in Sacramento. They display the entire history of the California rail road and show how the railway lines helped make the country more prosperous.
Often, I think that the one thing, that truly helps people evolve and prosper, is having access to the rest of the world around them. It was through a rail road or highways earlier and now through the internet.
Imagine how wonderful a farmer must have felt when his produce reached the market, in one tenth the time it would have normally taken?.
I'm sure the rich and famous got to see all the beautiful sights in their life time which they would have had to struggle a lot harder to reach.
This generation is luckier because with cheaper air fare, we are now sitting in different corners of the world and watching it go by. I marvel at how much we've learnt over the years(and how much we haven't still) and how in my lifetime, so many things I didn't even dream about, have become everyday occurrences. It's such an exciting time to be alive and I'm glad to live in a global village.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Yesterday, I had a very interesting conversation with my friend and her brother. The topic was about transgenders and how more and more people are coming out in the open and questioning their gender identity. I was actually a little surprised about the topic as I've never really paid attention to it in the past. However that said, I wonder how relevant is our basic identity of gender and age? Aren't these just means to help us have something basic to cling to? What if what's considered the norm is unacceptable to me? Why should I stick to it just because everyone thinks I should, when it actually has to do with just me?
The problem is, gender, something actually personal is not something that's left to the individual at the end of the day. Were taught there are two genders. We treat boys and girls differently. Let's leave discrimination out of it for a minute.
Take using bathrooms for example. If I'm a woman who is a man, then I need a gender agnostic bathroom. Same case if I'm a man who thinks I'm a woman. How many companies can afford to have gender neutral bathrooms in all buildings? What about people who are very sure about their gender and don't want to use gender neutral bathrooms? Is it OK to offend them? Are men OK walking past tampon disposal units and women across urinals? (Maybe both won't be there, I don't know)
I realized I think I'm open minded, because in a lot of cases, things beyond my range of acceptance, don't even come to my notice. Some day in the future if I have a kid, who wants to be gender neutral, how would I behave? What's the identity I want to give myself? Why should gender be the most basic one?
OK, two days ago, I didn't know what a Pikachu was and I had quite an awesome life( I still do). This whole Pokemon go game and people's obsession with it has just surprised me. I was walking down mountain view, when I saw a lot of people standing in a corner with their phones. I thought there was a celebrity visit or something and looked around.
I saw posters for a farmer's market and was super excited but people were still not moving towards it. Then my friends suddenly stops me and says, "This must be a spot". I tell her that were definitely on land, when she decides to catch a Pikachu on her phone. I was initially excited thinking we would embark on a treasure hunt and then deeply disappointed to see it happening on the phone. It's an augmented reality game where you catch a creature that's in your phone screen but the background changes based on your location. (This is my best explanation, Google it if you're still curious)
Then I walk down Embarcadero this evening and I'm again shocked to see people staring into their phones instead of looking at the beautiful view. This apparently is another spot. I don't know what to say..
I'm going to sound judgmental, if I ask them to actually look at the birds and the sky instead of their phones. They're trying to capture a Pikachu and I'm trying to click a pic, two screens through which we interact with reality. Are really that different? Have we lost the ability to interact with the world without a screen as defense?
The picture is of the view that stole my heart. I'll prefer this screen to the game screen. I justify it saying that I really try to capture something way beyond beautiful.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
What is privilege? Is it being able to spend without thinking? Is it being able to make life choices about who to marry, when to marry, when to let go, when to have kids etc without much interference? Is it being able to walk out any time of the day without being judged? Is it getting three meals a day? Is it just having the freedom to speak your mind?
The more I interact with people the more I realize that privilege is a very subjective term. There are folks with oodles of money who don't have the privilege of making life choices. There are those with the privilege of making life choices, but don't have enough to choose from. There are those with the privilege of living in big houses with enough food, but don't have the freedom to even think, let alone talk.
Why is life never simple? Why can't I simply categorize people one way or the other and just let it be? I have to analyze and I have to accept that everything is relative and that each person's suffering, no matter how trivial to the outside world, is still their cross to bear and it might not be an easy one in a lot of cases.
When we get down to it, in the most simplistic way ever, are we all really that different? There are definitely superficial differences that are primarily a result of economic status, family, region of birth etc etc. But when you try to peel the layers and get down to the core of a human being, don't we all effectively want the same things, once the basics needed for survival are met?
Love, acceptance, power in a few cases, the list is not that big. How we want it and what all we pick for it varies, but fundamentally every single person is fighting similar battles. We don't want to accept it, because looking at the world through an us and them lens makes life simpler. If we figure out a way to meet the basic needs of majority, would philosophy then thrive? Would acceptance and peace become the norm? Or would there still be a craving for power? I need to read more to understand.
I guess I've already spoken about my renewed love for photography. I've got an awesome DSLR as a gift and my one issue was I was so used to editing pictures in my phone, I was finding it a little labor intensive to open my personal laptop and move things to it. Last night, my friend and I discovered how to transfer pics from my camera to my phone via NFC. Technology is truly marvelous and I'm still speechless as to how convenient everything is and how we've solutions for almost every technical problem through an app.
Airports are always just so busy. Everyone hurrying around, staring into their phones and in display screens looking for their flight. Everytime I enter an airport I feel so happy. There are so many places to go, so many things to do and all you have to do is book a ticket I romanticize air travel because the poet in me loves the thought of flying. It's so awesome right? HK airport is so beautiful. I'm taking a different route to the US this time and I'm excited to say the least.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
This is going to sound like a rant. It's in fact a frequent one that I've tried not to let into my blog too often.
To quite a few folks not part of this IT generation, we look like aliens from another planet. We earn a lot, spend our time in frivolous things, insist on picking our spouses one way or the other. We either have a love marriage or have a set of conditions even in a traditional arranged marriage set up. We've friends in the opposite gender and we go on trips to far flung places. We do things in a few years what earlier took a life time to achieve.
I know we're limited in a few ways, but we're all trying really hard to find our way. It's not easy because though we seem free, we are still influenced by the thoughts of a previous generation, the society in general and the world view. We feel the lens of the world on us, watching us through a microscope. The omniscient social media doesn't make things any easier. We're being judged by our own generation too to top it. Or so we think, ignoring the fact that everyone is stuck in their own problems.
We face the same pressures, we have the same heartaches. A few try to be detached but quite a lot struggle with it everyday. In more ways than one, we are lost and trying to find our way out. Let us be. Don't make things difficult for us by asking us what our plans are.
Don't talk about the millions someone from an IIT you read about in a paper is earning. Don't talk about the big houses. Don't talk about our irresponsible lifestyle where we spend on frivolous things and shop so often. Please don't talk about marriage. You've no idea about the heartache we might have experienced. Don't talk about children. You don't know how many of us want one or don't want one or are going through treatment that's not working. We're not ready to open our hearts to everyone. You don't understand or trust us, so how do you think we'll open ourselves up?
Just let us be. Not all those who wander are lost and all that glitters is definitely not gold. Somewhere inside those huge houses and swanky cars are people trying really hard and defining new boundaries. Just let us be. That's all we ask of you.
Saturday, July 09, 2016
Friday, July 08, 2016
Today, I was speaking with a friend when he brought up the topic of sensitization and how some of us who claim to be open minded actually carry deep biases. One example he gave was around how women are perceived.
The point being that women who are successful are harder on other women because they expect them to strive and do as well and not take the easy way out.
There is an inherent bias on how we want them to be and if they don't measure up, we moan about how they take the easy way out.
I don't agree with that because honestly, in an ideal world your stand should not vary based on gender. Maybe successful people in general could be harder on the rest of the world. Even that's a sweeping statement that's very general, but far more acceptable than the one about women being harder.
I belong to a school of thought that says that yes, we view the world through our biases, but if we acknowledge it and try to bias ourselves be more diverse, then there is always hope.
I truly hope that the fact that differences are as shallow as similarities will sink in someday.
Monday, July 04, 2016
Sunday, July 03, 2016
Today, I was talking to someone and I heard an off remark about how life was over because something happened. I was taken aback. I then thought for sometime as to what I would call the end of life. It would actually be the minute I stopped breathing. Nothing else.
How can anything else mean that when you have the ability to breathe, the ability to eat and live in a house? It can be the end of life as you know it(happened quite a few times to me ) but how can it be anything else?
Doesn't this defeatist attitude lead to things going from bad to worse? You are your thoughts, because thoughts becomes actions and actions dictate outcomes(I'm misquoting something I've read for sure) so how can you not face reality and think of ways to cope that are positive?
Is my practical thinking making me less emotionally involved? Is it better that way? I really don't know.
Friday, July 01, 2016
When I was a kid, I used to love studying. I'm not the character from movies, who complains about being pushed. I wanted to out do myself all the time and enjoy the process(I found other things to enjoy in college so if anyone is going to comment on my college grades, beware, I'll bite)
The motivation for a lot of it was the appreciation I'd get on annual day or from one of my teachers if things went well. In college, things were quite impersonal. But my friends and my peers really helped me grow in areas I never thought I would. As I started working however(after my first bad manager rather) I realized, nobody is going to cheer me on consistently except myself. I'm not talking about self promotion here, which I find quite annoying.
I'm actually talking about taking stock of life and saying, this is good, you are awesome in the mirror. This process is tricky because you really need to know yourself well, see improvements for actual improvements and not fall for things which might not be improvements.
After a little trial, I realized I was very very hard on myself. I never met my own expectations. I relaxed a bit after a point, and became my own cheerleader. It's been a very liberating experience. Nobody can know me as well as I know myself and becoming my best friend and worst critic has truly helped me evolve and correct myself.
I'm not saying that others don't cheer me or stand by me, but that I'm always there for myself. It helps me stay sane, motivate myself and keep my drive alive. It also prevents me from going down a rabbit hole when things don't go well in the traditional sense.