Astonish

Daily prompt : Astonish

Life never ceases to astonish. I ‘ve had my share of good and bad.

I won some battles but lost many wars. I’m not sure how but I’ve come this far.

Sometimes I gave up, sometimes I fought back. Sometimes I lost control, sometimes I held back.

Many times I have been confused, not knowing what to do or where to look. But the faith inside ensured the situation itself got diffused.

I’ve made mistakes, made amends but always managed to get through with the best wishes of close friends.

Looking back in hindsight, I reminisce. Wondering how much more or how much less did I miss.

For all its troubles and and all its worries, there are some angels and some fairies.

For all its glory it’s not without its blemish, Life never ceases to astonish.

Daily Prompt: Tantrum

Tantrum

Tantrums

When my daughter was just out of infancy, she threw her first tantrum. She was being fed a particular kind of baby food and she just spit it out. With each attempt, her reaction got stronger, she would move her head left and right and violently kick her feet with a shrill cry of protest.She was not obviously liking the food and that was her way of conveying the feeling. Welcome to tantrums!

Tantrums are one of nature’s most effective ways of conveying displeasure, mostly. Though tantrums are largely associated with kids and teenagers, adults too display them in a more manipulative way.

Infants and young kids are simple and pure at heart. The seed of ego is yet to sprout and the ‘ways of the world’ are not yet ‘cultivated’. Hence the reason for the tantrum could be as simple as a toy, a food item or a desire to be taken out somewhere. These tantrums though not difficult, could be tricky to handle.

When it comes to teenagers, the world has just started to open up. The ego has started to manifest itself and last but not the least, peer pressure is starting to build up. Accordingly, based on the reason and situation, the display of tantrums could range from shouting, arguing, throwing things or simply shutting themselves up in a room. Handling a teenager’s tantrum is lot more tricky and difficult.

Tantrums in adults can have an entirely different dimension or meaning. Adults would use tantrum more as weapon or a tool to get certain things done. Or to convey certain message which cannot be done in a conventional way. Or to divert attention from some other thing that they do not want highlighted. Or to plainly get something done while conveying something else!

Bottom line, tantrums can get as simple or as complicated as the user wants them to be. They can also bring out the ‘innovativeness’ in whoever is throwing them. It goes without saying that tantrums are the most effective ways of expression in the repertoire of human skills. Just that God wanted us to spice up our communications.

Abstract Writing

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After my last post few weeks back, I had been thinking, procrastinating, reminiscing, waiting, forgetting and finally forcing myself to write a new post. Well, here am I trying to put together words but still struggling with them. It is 11 p.m. after a not so pleasant day at office, I am shuffling in my chair partly fighting fatigue and partly the ghost of writer’s block. I have got no clue what am going to write, I cannot think about any topic, subject or phenomenon to write. I do not know from where or how am going to get that stimulus to write. I am panning my surroundings trying to catch that elusive clue, that thin thread to pull out the ideas from the subconscious, that spark to fire up the thought process. However, am still at the starting block, seemingly frozen and locked up.

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By now, I have downed one cup of strong coffee hoping to clear the cobwebs in the mind and coaxing the amygdala to throw up some emotions but in vain. Few minutes have passed, I venture out in the balcony. The outside world seems to be peacefully disappearing into the night. The gentle breeze blowing off a few dry leaves off the tree is adding the necessary special effects. Although my conscience is coaxing me to write, my mind refuses to oblige.

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Now I change my tactic. I calm down, settle into my chair and take a deep breath. I close my eyes and try to focus inside, trying to rein in my adamant brain. No am not meditating though it may seem so. Sure enough the first thought that strikes is why doesn’t  the medical research fraternity make a pill to generate thoughts and ideas? Just pop a pill and voilà….you’ve got a nice bunch of ideas. But it’s of no use if the ideas just pop up randomly and overlap each other. As it is, the mind is a chaotic being. To be able to do or write something constructively, we need to reach that ‘ordered mental condition’.

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And to reach that condition, the psychic energy has to be channeled in a particular way so as to generate ‘the flow’. But we hardly notice how little control we have on our thoughts unless we are involved with some external stimulus like playing a game, watching a movie, reading a book, driving on a challenging road and so on. But as soon as the external stimulus is taken off, the mind wanders off to who knows where. It has the uncanny ability to fill itself with trash and gibberish. According to well-known psychologists, to control this chaos, we have to practice habits that facilitate control over the thought process. One of the simplest techniques is daydreaming, playing out pleasant and interesting sequences as mental images.

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Jerome Singer, a Yale psychologist who has studied daydreaming and mental imagery perhaps more than anyone else has suggested that it can help create mental order and reduce frustration and pain of unpleasant past experiences. Sounds interesting, if only we could spend a better part of the day – daydreaming! The entropy in my mind kicks in….how do you study daydreaming? By studying other’s daydreams and daydreaming yourself? Not bad for a job. Now this has got me thinking, what did the great philosophers and thinkers used to do? What was the motivation for thinking when there were no incentives like the Nobel prize or monetary awards?

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It is said that they just enjoyed the process of thinking more than anything else. Democritus, a pre-Socratic philosopher would sit for days immersed in thought. His countrymen, the Abderites had no clue what he was doing and thought that he was acting funny or was plainly ill. So they sent Hippocrates, a great doctor that time to check what was wrong. Now Hippocrates was not only a good doctor but also a wise man. After his discussions with Democritus, he immediately understood that he was merely lost in his flow of thoughts. Some of the retrieved fragments of Democritus’ writings prove how much he enjoyed the practice of thinking: “It is Godlike ever to think on something beautiful and on something new”; “Happiness does not reside in strength or money; it lies in rightness and many-sidedness”; “I would rather discover one true cause than gain the kingdom of Persia”.

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Democritus

Suddenly, the entropy in my mind again kicked in, I wanted to write on a particular topic but ended up on a roller coaster of random thoughts moving between the present, past and generally the abstract. Now I do not understand much about abstract painting which to me looks like random brush strokes of colors but I would liken whatever I have put down so far to abstract form of writing.

If time travelled backwards

nature-images-86Sometimes I get weird ideas, so weird that they qualify to be labelled as thought aberrations rather than ideas. But the mind refuses to be reined in and continues to run amok. One such thought aberration was what if time travelled backwards? Now Einstein would be surely turning in his grave saying it’s all relative and there is no such thing as forward or backward. However, with my current frame of reference and the way my mind is programmed to think, “clockwise” is time travelling forward and “anticlockwise” is travelling backward. With that issue settled, let’s embark on a journey “back in time”, literally.

I would start my life as an 80 year old, with standard complement of medical complexities, whiling away my time, cursing others, creating occasional nuisance and ogling at women third my age, boys will be boys! Not a bad start, considering the fact that I would already be retired and the onus of my responsibility (actually burden) would be on my immediate family rather than other way round. After spending couple of decades, I would have gradually regained my health and would be about to join the workplace.

The medical complexities would have ebbed and I would be joining the workplace at the pinnacle of my (erstwhile) career, with its full baggage of pressures, responsibilities et al. It would be cool to have all the knowledge and the experience prior to joining the workplace. No interview, no tests. Over a period of few years, I would gradually “move down” the corporate ladder.

Though I may have a settled life, the customary midlife crisis would make it appear as if I am the most unsettled and the most unfortunate of them all. While desperately trying various options for course correction including retirement, I would essentially stay on the same course just procrastinating. While the midlife crisis would die down, I would still be doing the tight rope walk trying to balance my personal and professional life.

Meanwhile my full grown, full-fledged family would be progressively getting younger each day. The kids who had just got a job and were independent would now be attending college and then “graduate” into school. While in school, wouldn’t it be amazing to show them their own photographs and videos when they were older? Same would go for me and my wife when we would look at our photographs and videos when we were old and have a hearty laugh. One immensely satisfying thing would be to lose the flab around the waist and get the foliage back on the head.

As I would progress back in life, one day I would get married and the next day I would be a bachelor! Oh how I yearn to be a bachelor….if my wife reads this, am sure to get killed or maimed. Subsequently, it would be the good old college, sun in my eyes, wind in my hair, no studies, no worries….just friends, fun and movies. Next, it would be time to go to school. The energy, the insatiable desire to learn new things, the innocence and excitement would return. I would find joy in small things like jumping in puddles, playing in dirt, chasing insects and butterflies, making paper boats and airplanes.

Getting younger and younger, I would lose weight and height, would start wearing colourful clothes with images of cartoons, slowly losing my vocabulary. Instead of saying full words and sentences, would start blabbering in monosyllables. My routine would now be eating, sleeping, crawling around and again eating and sleeping. The diaper would take care of the rest. Finally it would be time to say goodbye to the world and get into my mother’s womb!

 

Walk in my space

IMG_20160308_104835852_HDRIt has been a few months now that I started my early morning walks. Well, at 10am, it is not exactly early morning when most of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood are well past their early morning chores, having reached respective schools, colleges and offices while some are on their way. Thanks to my work hours, which allow me to call it a day not before 12:00am and my inefficiencies which allow me to wind up only at around 12:30am and the icing on the cake is provided by the 1 hour commute time from office to my abode.

Once at home, my confused body clock still thinks it’s too early to sleep and then my newfound hobby(?) of reading a book or freshly published blogs takes over. I manage to barely get past few lines when the eyelids revolt and begin dropping down. I do offer a symbolic resistance by reading next few words even though they appear like some smokey figures and before long, am knocked out.

The next thing I remember is getting up bleary eyed at around 09:00 am in the morning. By this time my daughter is already halfway through with her morning school and my wife after having despatched our daughter to school tries to make the most of the ‘space’ she gets subsequently. However, we do exchange customary updates over piping hot tea which I call my turbocharger, that carries me through at least in the morning.

Another thing I do religiously is read the newspaper. However, even after reading it regularly every morning, I find my general knowledge and awareness going down. I have no qualms about blaming it on the lack of genuine news and the burgeoning advertisements. The habit persists, though it is not adding any value.

After devouring the breakfast, I am ready for my morning walk. Isn’t that what I started talking about at the begining of the post? Glad that I came back to it, thought I almost forgot!! Well, my morning walk is what I call ‘my space’. That’s because this is the time am on my own, all by myself, esconced in my thoughts. The weather is usually pleasant at that time in the morning though the sun does make an effort to make it difficult for me. However, its efforts are thwarted by the multistoried building where I live and the adjacent trees.

The walkway encircles the housing society and is lined with well grown trees. The gentle breeze creates a rustling sound as it blows through the trees which has a soothing impact over the frayed nerves battered by the previous day’s travails. The trees are home to a good number of birds and squirrels. The chirping of the sparrows and the cooing of the cuckoos is pure music to ears. The squirrels too descend down from the tress to nibble at anything they find interesting and scurry around from one place to another which is nothing short of poetry in motion.

These morning walks have now become ‘my space’ where I can take stock of my life, gather my thoughts, try to think something new (though I haven’t had my eureka moment yet) or just observe the surroundings and watch life go by.

 

Pour Your Thoughts On the Paper

Writing“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”. Beautiful quote by none other than William Worsdworth. This exceedingly simple yet effective quote applies not only to writers but every one of us. After all, writing is about thoughts, emotions, feelings and ideas which we humans have in abundance. Based on the situation and the state of the mind, these are expressed through talk, gestures, facial or physical expressions and writing. One thing is for sure, there is a writer that lurks behind the curtain of inhibitions in each one of us.

He has to be coaxed out from the sideline into the spotlight. Most of the times, it is the brain that controls our decisions or what we do but for something as creative as writing, let the heart call the shots. With a bit of resolve and determination, once the thaw sets in, the earlier frozen thoughts, emotions and ideas begin to flow in a trickle and slowly but surely turn into a steady flow, charting out its own course in form of beautiful descriptions, plots or stories.

But then writing is not for the faint or the broken hearted. It takes herculean efforts to overcome the initial blocks and lot of blood and sweat needs to be spilled on the paper before the rainbow comes out. It takes persistence of the ocean waves that ram into the rocks over and over till they smoothen out the rough surface or change shape or that of a river that carves out a valley or a canyon between mountains. Once you persist and overcome the initial hurdle, the next thing you do is identify the ‘sweet spot’ or the ‘zone’.  

This is the time, the place, the conditions or the trigger that make your thoughts flow effortlessly, something like an F22 Raptor does when it flies at supersonic speeds without afterburners(extra power) or a car that cruises at 60mph on an autobahn. When you are in the ‘zone’, the words flow with utmost ease like a brisk breeze in an open field. It is as if you are possessed and driven by divine power. However, it takes significant effort and patience to find out the ‘zone’. The sooner we find it, the better; I am yet to find it though.

But there is no denying the fact that writing can be immensely satisfying even for greenhorns like me. There would be times when you feel like writing for an audience, craving for that praise, raking in some moolah, getting huge views and likes on your blog which would eventually happen but your best would come out when you are writing for yourself and no one but yourself. So just sit back, relax and unshackle the horses of your imagination and let them run wild.

Here are some beautiful writing quotes:

“There is no magic trick to good writing. Writing is soul searching. Once you empty your soul, the words will appear.” – Natrietia McClendon.

“Write drunk. Edit Sober.” – Ernest Hemingway.

 

A stab in the past

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Even though some characters are real, the story is purely fictional.

The door bell was ringing frenetically and persistently. Igal reached out for his clock at the bedside and his strained eyes could barely manage to catch the glimpse of the unearthly hour, it showed 02:30am in the morning. Suddenly, he was shaken out of his slumber by the loud and violent pounding on the door.He instantly froze, knowing fully well that it was the SS, Schutzstaffel or the German Secret Police. Before he could gather his thoughts and composure, there was a loud thud, indicating that the door was now broken and in the darkness he could make out four dark figures armed  with semi automatics right in his room. Two of them pushed him to the wall, got him handcuffed and the third one brusquely did a body search. In no time, he was bundled into a waiting truck full of other Jews including women and children, some crying some wailing and some too shocked to react.

As the truck began to move towards the concentration camp, loud beeps were heard in the background and the images began to get hazy and blurred. The beeps seemed to increase in volume until Ofir was completely stirred from his uneasy sleep. Ofir squinted to catch a glimpse of his watch and strangely enough it showed 02:30am in the morning. He was shivering with the effects of his nightmarish dream, his mind still struggling to decide which one was real. He got up and turned on the lights, his pillow still damp with the perspiration on his face.

Ofir  belonged to a generation that was born after the holocaust but felt very strongly about it since the SS took away his grand father Igal and grand mother Yael. He had heard about the horrors of the concentration camps from some holocaust survivors. Since then, he had been regularly suffering this nightmare. But he was no ordinary Israeli citizen, he was a Mossad Agent, determined to correct the past.He brushed, took a quick bath and headed straight to the Mossad headquaters.

The present world situation with ominous terror threats had forced many governments to embark on certain secret programs like time travel and mind control to counter this menace. The CIA, KGB and Mossad had made some progress on these initiatives in collaboration with respective cutting edge tech corporations. Like many holocaust survivors, Ofir and some of his colleagues harboured an ambition to correct the past.

A unit within the Mossad was a entrusted with the ultra secret mission to send someone in the past to eliminate Heinrich Himmler and his deputy Reinhard Heydrich. Himmler was in charge of the SS and was responsible for implementing the “final solution” envisioned by the Fuhrer.

Ofir had readily agreed to volunteer for this dangerous and almost suicidal mission. Though the scientists had succeeded in sending a dog and a sheep in the past, both were never retrieved. They had mastered the logic and technology of sending a subject in the past with accuracy of within an year of the targetted date and few miles of the targetted location or that’s what they thought. However they had yet to find a way to verify this or get the subject back to the present.

Ofir was made well aware of these factors but he agreed anyways since the only thing on his mind was to avoid the massacre of millions of people.He reached the Mossad headquarters at 04:00am sharp and proceeded immediately to the remote corner of the building where the secret lab was located. The doctors did a quick check of his blood pressure, heart beat and other vital signs. He was briefed about the mission, given photographs of Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich, their addresses in Berlin(of old times) and also the address of SS headquarters. He had to memorise all the addresses and photographs to carry out the execution with any means available and possible.

The lab was now buzzing with activity, the super computer at the corner was crunching huge amounts of data and alogorithms. The huge screen in the middle of the lab had a split display with one side displaying the relevant information with the current time and another with January 1929 timestamp and maps of old Berlin. This was the time when Himmler had assumed the position as head of SS. By taking out Himmler and Heydrich during that period when SS was being expanded and given sweeping powers, Mossad planned to change the course of Jewish history.

The activity in the lab had now reached a feverish pace. The IDF chief was now in the lab after getting a “Go” from the political leadership to personally oversee the operation. Ofir was now taken to the chamber called the time capsule which had an array of instruments lined up and sensors connected to Ofir’s body.There were lights blinking all over the lab and a palpitable tension was felt all over. After all this was the first time travel mission undertaken with a human as the traveller. The chambers door was closed and Ofir gave a thumbs up to indicate he was ready to go. The time travel equipment now came to life, all eyes were rivetted on the chamber. It was filled with a bright flash of light and after a few seconds, Ofir had disappeared. The chamber was now dark and empty.

There was hushed silence all over the lab and all eyes anxiously shifted to the huge monitor in the middle of the lab. After about 2-3 minutes which seemed like eternity, a bright blip appeared on the map of Berlin. Everyone let out a sigh of relief but they also knew that they had no control over what happens now.

January 1929, Berlin……

Ofir felt a mild headache and was thirsty. He opened his eyes and found himself sleeping in bed in what lookied like a bedroom in a small apartment. It was a cold wintry night. The room was dimly lit and the furniture looked like in the 1920s. His vision seemed blurred. He rubbed his eyes and looked around and found a pair of circular glasses beside the bed on a small table. He put them on and it seemed to help but the room was still dim so he fumbled around the room trying to locate the switch for the lights. Finally he located one besides the cabinet with a mirror. As he was switching on the light, in the cabinet he saw a military uniform with a ‘swastika’ sign on it. With the light turned on, he glanced in the mirror and found Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler staring back….!!!