Friday, May 16, 2014

INDIA ELECTION RESULT 2014

A SPIRITUAL OUTLOOK

To the winners and losers of the Indian Parliamentary Elections 2014,

Every contest breeds two sides: winners and losers. Here are some spiritual steps that should be taken by both of them.  

The layman, who wasn’t even part of the contest, takes great pleasure in attaching himself with one of the parties, the winners or the losers. He finds it part of his pride, his self-respect to do so. They sing, they dance, and they become one with the winner, and they choose this to be their destiny. There are others, other the other hand, who stand by the failed candidate. They cry, they beat their chests, and drink the bitter juice of failure with their leaders, and chose this to be their own destiny.

Therefore, it is important for the winner to carve out the victory in the hearts of the multitude. The victory is never complete until it reaches the roots of the nation. If victory remains limited to the number of votes, percentages and intellectual discourses alone, its true benefit will not reach the winner. One must never forget that the multitude is the creator and destroyer of the rulers—the Brahman and Sivan. The victor is the sustainer, only if one moves according to this wisdom. Only then, one can become Vish, the lord of sustenance.

The cross bearer, the failed one should not disrespect the winner. You had chosen winning when you decided you would compete. But now, victory has chosen your opponent, of that you should be mindful. Therefore, the winner deserves all due respects from the failed ones.
Image Courtesy: Google

Even failure gives one enough responsibilities to look forward to. Failure is surely the first step in success, provided one understands this principle. If the failed one ignores the lessons in failure in the pang of losing the contest, there will never a victory again to the loser.

When a failed one learns one’s lessons from failure, one becomes a warrior. There are no failures or victories for warriors. There are only states; states when a warrior feels exalted or dejected. And for a true warrior exaltation is not relativised in terms of material insufficiency or gain. He exalts himself at the lessons he learns.

There is no gain, if there is no pain. The winner should remember the pains he had borne in the journey to victory. The memory of the pains one had borne would give the authority and authenticity to govern the hearts of the weak and the minds of the mighty.

Finally, winners should treat the failed ones with respect. Sense of equality should govern their perspectives when they ever communicate with the failed ones.

The winner must remember that victory had taken their side on this day, but they had feared to meet failure more than once during their campaign to victory.  
    
Such wisdom will lead you, the leader of multitudes, whoever you are. But remember, the true ruler is not the winner or the loser. The one and only true Ruler governs all truths and victories. That most powerful one is the One all wise ones stoop to, and not the winners of contests. The moment a winner expects others to bow in front of him, and forces them to do so, his state is lost. This is so, because all rules and due to the Most High.
  
Read more Anu  HERE  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

BOOKMARKS: THE NEW EVASIVE PARADIGM

STATUTORY WARNING: If you bookmark this article for later, you are in serious trouble.

Image Courtesy: Google
With just a swirl of my hammer, I could demolish the complete social media system, which has already become an institutionalized system that governs, controls, and punishes its subjects, for all the harmful impacts it has upon us. That is if I were Thor, the god of thunder in Norse mythology. However, with the reality being made clear, no one can tether social media to the iron bar of a prison cell. Such attempts would be called authoritarian and by nature, I am not one of them.

To criticize social media on the harms it had brought upon us, you have to be either a moralist or a fundamentalist. There is no choice, once you start voicing your concerns, from being labeled under any one of these narrow political icons. An iconoclasm in the powerful political arena is not underway yet and would not ensue in any recent times. Therefore, there is no other choice other than bearing the cross and taking the spitting of the world. I will make my face stone like. Nothing would affect me.

Among other “bad things” done to us by the social media, one relatively trivial thing escapes most of our discussions. We do not consider this ‘thing’ to be one among the other potentially harmful information streaming through social media. We take this as ‘useful’.

‘Usefulness’ is the basic credo upon which the whole institution of World Wide Web works. The one ‘bad thing’ I am going to discuss here hides inside the ‘usefulness’ credo. What I am talking about is the “bookmarks tab”.

To the right or to the left hand side, top, or bottom, depending upon which browser one uses, one can find the bookmarks tab. It gives the chance to dump all the links to important information and long articles for a later perusal.

If someone tell you, the person has “bookmarked” the article you sent him, consider it forgotten. I talk standing upon the fire of realizations my personal experiences taught me. Bloggers often face this rather frustrating situation. Friends, cousins and other family members, who often hear from someone else about your ‘brilliant’ blog post, would often want you to send them the link. If the next thing you hear back is--“WOW boy, you have done a wonderful job. Such a long article, you have written! I bookmarked it. I will read it soon and will let you know my comments.”—you know what would happen. I know the feeling.

The personal part of the story is, I have dozens of pages bookmarked and ‘saved for later’ perusal, many of which never find enough time from me. It might take me more than 24 hours to go through all the pages I have bookmarked in all the three browsers I use, Chrome, Firefox, and Explorer.

Apart from our general consent to procrastinate, what else do bookmarks help us with?

In the non-internet sense, bookmarks were extremely useful technique for readers. A small piece of paper could tell them where they left off reading due to some interminable urgency. However, in the pro-internet sense, the word has come to symbolize, (almost ironically) the place where one leaves reading a page, only never to come back again (in most cases).
Image Courtesy:charlesduhigg.com

Researchers say that three decisive factors contribute to form human habits. Certainly, habit has form. Now it’s been uncovered and the hypothesis that is currently considered acceptable involves three factors. These thee decisive factors act in a cyclical form known as “habit loop” to form habits. More information on habits can be found in Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business. Charles Duhigg is a business writer with New York Times.

The three decisive factors that form habits are—Reminder, Routine, and Reward. ‘Reminder’ is a “cue or trigger that starts the habit.” For example, the length of the article that you are about to read online and the time you are left with. Your watch could act as a perfect reminder and you might turn to the next stage inadvertently—Routine.

‘Routine’ is the action involved in habit. Bookmarking itself is part of that routine. The habit of bookmarking is no exception from the ‘habit loop’ hypothesis. That gives us the third factor—Reward. It may be subjective what reward one garners psychologically by repeating an action as a habit. However, in picking up a habit, reward-consciousness plays a crucial role.

If a reward is involved with bookmarking pages habitually, what that reward might be is an interesting area to ponder over. Would the reward be the satiation of our innate love for procrastination? Or is it laziness?

Image Courtesy: Google
This is where some habits become important concerns for the health of the individual. What guarantee do we have that the internal reward our mind consciously or unconsciously wills would go along with our well-being? There is no such thing as objectivity to our subconscious mind, reminds Dr. Dyer in his book Wishes Fulfilled. The subconscious mind does not look at what is right or what is wrong. It merely follows what is transmitted to it through our thoughts.   

Bookmarks and the drive to bookmark longer articles or videos for a later time without ever taking time to come back to it could expose the individual to trigger a new ‘habit loop’.

Sociologically, this new paradigm of “leaving it for later time” or evasive strategy could bring a catastrophic meltdown of the society’s efficient working. This is so, especially because the time dedicated for using the internet is relatively longer in many cases than the dedicated time for any other activity. This raises the potential of ‘catching’ a bad habit on the way.

It’s good to see you following this post to its end. Let this be a new start. Let us read and watch to finish. Is there anything shameful in taking this cause up as a social movement? I don’t think so.

If you have a long blog post in your website, you should know how I feel about it.


Read more Anu HERE  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

JAISHREE MISRA: FINDING THE ESSENCE IN EVERYTHING


Where does fiction differ from real life?

The juncture where I asked this question is related to the Indian English writer of great renown, Ms. Jaishree Misra. She has her roots in Kerala. Her parents are Keralites. Well, deep roots. In one Youtube video, I even heard her talk in Malayalam.  

Ever since its publication, I have been coming across her novel Rani, based on the life of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, on and off the shelves of the campus library where I studied Literature. It was a thick tome and so I kept it away thinking I will watch a movie if they make one out of it. They didn’t make one yet, though. However, I felt renewed in my interest in reading Ms Jaishree Misra recently. There is a reason I would like to share this incident with you. This event can be seen as a trivial occurrence. However, such triviality has important roles to play in changing the way we look at certain things in our lives.

Before sharing the event, let me confess that I had stripped myself off my ego, as much as possible. In fact, that moment was infinitely powerful. And this stripping of ego owes all its credits to that powerful moment.

The guy at the barbershop, in Chalode, my place, was a friend of mine, who did a fine job with my ‘traditional’ hairstyle. He kept a daily newspaper and a weekly publication at the shop. Did he intend these two reading materials for the public? Or is it for himself? Sometimes, the barbershop gets really crowded. These are the times when the customers find these reading materials extremely useful. Corollary to this commonsensical stand, it is not surprising to find the Weekly dog-eared, covers crumpled and a bit dull, while I wait for my turn.

On the day when this remarkable piece of article came across my attention, I was at the barbershop. It was in that Weekly I mentioned, dog-eared and crumbled on the cover. The staples on the spine too had come out loose due to frequent handling. As I waited for my turn, I turned the pages randomly. On the page just after the cover itself, I noticed the article.

It is not that the article was so classy and sacrosanct, that I could not describe it with the title it bore. That is not the reason I am not giving you the title of this particular piece. The reason is simply that I am unable to recollect its title and so is the destiny its writer is pitted against in my memory. The poor, poor writer. I am so sorry.

The article was about Jaishree Misra. I hadn’t explored her works in detail yet. So the incidental coming across of this article inspired me to take a perusal. Who knows if I might be able to pick up a few book titles? I could search them out later, in Amazon or the local library. The realization regarding my lack of awareness, about many such authors of Indian origin, opened up in a gaping mouth of shame and guilt and engulfed me. I am open here about my naivety, since I had stripped myself off my ego, as much as possible. I learnt at a very young age itself that true learning happens when one empties false notions about Learning and Knowledge.   

Merely an introductory glimpse into Jaishree Misra’s writing career, the article mostly centered around her personal life. Even in that side, information and insights were limited. However, due to some reason, like simplicity for example, I could not overlook the whole article. I started reading it carefully.

Jaishree Misra was quoted saying to the author that without support from family and friends, a writer cannot grow. This idea hooked me. It made me think about my own “writerly life.” It is true that without peace of mind and calm, writing is impossible. I read the exact same idea in the article, quoted from Jaishree Misra. Perhaps, these small but vital connections gave me the impetus to move forward with the article.

We get into this one bad habit as we progress in our profession as writers. We tend to observe the details as to why or why not some part of a story is rather interesting. It turned out that this article appealed to my unguarded personal side.
      
Then there was information about her family life and how her husband, Mr. Misra is supportive to her writing endeavors. Indeed, without that support, she wouldn’t have made it. Jaishree Misra has one child, and she has a “severe learning disability.” The daughter requires her active care, whenever she needed, which was always.

Therefore, whenever Jaishree Misra would be writing, her husband took the little girl out and go for a walk. Most of the time, he takes bus rides through London city, where they were living when Jaishree Misra wrote her first book.

The real shock was when I realized that the baby was from her previous marriage, which ended in a divorce.

She met Mr. Misra in London, and apparently, according to the article, they were classmates. When they got married, Jaishree Misra was licking wounds from her previous separation.  
Image Courtesy: Google

Ancient Promises, her first book, gave her fame and money. This novel is semi-autobiographical according to Jaishree Misra herself. She left her job with BBC and became a fulltime writer.

Through Ancient Promises, Jaishree Misra attempts to find the meaning in the birth of the child and she draws connections between Karma and re-birth, two concepts from Hindu Philosophy. This is where I asked myself, where does fiction differ from real life? The lines of separation between fiction and reality, and the realness of reality are too fragile in terms of some of these life-experiences. These experiences might be difficult to endure, for anyone. But a writer was born out of it.

Her latest book is A Scandalous Secret.   
Courtesy: Jaishree Misra
http://jaishreemisra.com/ 
 

Monday, May 12, 2014

MISERY REVIEWED

When I started reading Stephen King, I decided I would not read another book by the same author. However, when I was about to finish the book I was reading, I amended my decision and became his Constant Reader.

This is my story of how I read Stephen King. This review is hardly important, because the book I am reviewing here is Stephen King’s novel, Misery, which is read, re-read and reviewed many a thousand times before I even read the book. However, for a true reader, each time a book is different. As they say, no one reads the same book again. What did you say? Oh, you have read Misery even before I was born? Yeah, I know. Let me state that I am jealous of your seniority in this business.

Paul Sheldon, the centre upon which all feral deeds are committed, is a popular novelist. He writes two types of books, in his own words, “Good books, and bestsellers.” In order to finish his latest novel, he takes off to a mountain hotel. A snowstorm hits hard on his plans to get back to New York, submit the manuscript to his agent, and set off on a secret journey to find himself.
Image Courtesy: Google

His car skids off from the snow-covered road, topples over, and crashes into a snow bay. His number one fan rescues him. You know what happens next. Annie Wilkes, the terrifying mother figure intends to keep Paul Sheldon in her custody until he writes a novel exclusively for her.

Thus, Misery Chastain, the protagonist of Paul’s bestselling novel series Misery, comes back from her tomb. Annie Wilkes addresses herself Paul Sheldon’s number one fan. She loves the Misery novels written by Sheldon. Although Paul remains as the central character of the plot, Misery is the story of the ex-nurse, Annie Wilkes too.

Stephen King weaves the elements of terror in such a way that the reader can find associations with the characters and events, even if there is a clear deviation from “realism” in this book. The non-real however, is not some sort of fantastical being as in another of Stephen King’s novel, IT, but a number one fan herself. How many number one fans would do all the deeds that Annie does to Paul Sheldon?
Paul Sheldon, Image Courtesy: Google

Well, I was speaking relatively.   

Misery is not just book about an author living in imprisonment with a manic-depressive woman. There are undertones of a mother-son relationship gone wrong in the apparent power struggle, where the mother intends to keep the son-figure under her full control, but the son needs to get out, find his own ways and life.

The first part of the book is titled “Goddess Africa”. Stephen King suggests the similarities of Annie with some pagan goddess among the African tribes known as the Bee People. Paul Sheldon experiences Annie Wilkes’ enforcements with a certain hypnotic acquiescence.

Mr. King successfully draws psychological observations regarding the mental state of the inmate. He lives like a bird in a zoo. Although, initially it feels lonely and discomforted at the new place of life, slowly the bird is acquainted with the conditions. In this state of mind, the prisoner starts considering the prison as his new home. Even though he gets clear chance to get out of there, Paul gets back to his room, feeling guilty of betraying Annie, the psychotic person who could apparently kill him.
Image Courtesy: Google

Finally, Misery is a ‘guide to writing’ within a fictional work. Mr. King rolls the drums to a high notch by giving the reader a clear shot description about how this process called writing takes place. Not its glamorous side, but the dirty mind games the writer plays.

An additional observation is that Paul, the writer had almost ended his courtship with his series titled Misery, the story of Misery Chastain, a beautiful Victorian woman. He is showing his frustration on Misery and the joy in writing his promising new book, Fast Cars. In a psychological reading, one can observe in Mr. King’s book, a very delicate relationship with an author, and his character. Paul is unable to forget or to disown his character, even though he badly desires so. The events and the response in his mind towards the latest events in his life, suggest that Annie Wilkes, his number-one fan is only his means to get to the end of Misery Chastain story. Paul Sheldon sets out to see how it all really ends in Misery’s life.

No cheating Paulie…  
Image Courtesy: Misery, the Movie, Google

Get the book here: Mysmartprice.com/books/Misery

Let me know how you like it once you start reading Misery.


By the way, Misery was published after my birth, in 1987. So you can’t say you read it before I was born. Just saying.   

There is a movie with the same name and story. However, I loved the book best.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

FAILURE AND SEASON

Author Anu Lal in Wayanad
Dear friends, today, on this year’s May Day, I would like to announce that my 3rd book, which is the result of long nine years of meditation and journeys undertaken into the unexplored realms of human consciousness, is about to be published. The book contains 20 important stories of wit and wisdom. I thank the Cosmos for blessing me with this treasury of wisdom and helping me share it with my fellow beings.

This book has been conceived even before the ideas for Wall of Colours, (my first book) developed. However, I could finish it only now, after many, many years of waiting and suffering. There were times when I had thought I would never be able to finish this book. This was the one I wished I could call my first book, my first-born. Of course, for every writer, his or her books are babies that they bring out to this world. 

In this process, however, I have learnt one more important concept. What we (as a writer) share with the world does not come from inside of us. We become a channel to some higher dimension or consciousness to act through.
1 For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
2
 A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3
 A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4
 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5
 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6
 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7
 A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8
 A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.
__ Ecclesiastes 3, New Living Translation (NLT)
This passage underscores the concept I am mentioning here. A timely intervention either blocks our way or at times opens new ways to our quest. It can happen either way, and in both ways, we are the direct beneficiaries of this Intervention. Often, we could not recognize in what form we benefit from a particular block in our path. This was what happened with me when I encountered many a hindrances to complete my third book, 20 important stories of wit and wisdom. 

It wasn’t a book that was driven by its plot or story line. On the other hand, the book was solely driven by an idea—clear-sightedness. Therefore, as an author, I myself should keep my spirit clear and my vision sharp, accordingly. Whatever wisdom each story shared had to come through me. I had to live it first. Only then, I could write about it. In other words, I should acquire the clear-sightedness to share it with the world, while continuing the process of writing.  
Due to this reason, I had to undergo severe self-checking and meditation. I had to see through things and events that others might call pitfalls, stupidities, or disasters. I focused my attention on events that to the normal eyes seem tragedies or failures because I have led to believe through my experiences that great wisdom lies close to our grasp in a low life-situation. “When we think we are at the bottom of failure, we are the closest to great truths regarding this life and the other, great wisdom that could otherwise only learnt from the Heavens,” as you would read in my 3rd book. Failure is a gateway to the Highest Wisdom. If you can accept a person when he or she is a failure, you will never forget how to get back home under the dark skies of failure. 

When we fail, we tend to look at others with empathy, tend to be more humane to other’s problems and sorrows, at least in the hope that you will get the empathy back as you are suffering too with the same turn of fate. This is where the clear-sighted individual becomes different because he can see clearly, beyond a one-on-one confrontation. The Clear-sighted would never empathize with failure because for him or her there is no failure. There is no such thing, yes, you heard me correctly. For the Clear-sighted, for everything there is a season. And failure is only an acting out of that season, just like any instance of success is.  

I lived through this lesson during the work for this book. As I mentioned earlier, this would have been my first book. But the season was not ripe yet. Although I could resort to these ideas now, as I am Clear-sighted at present, after my period of learning spent with this book during its creation, when I went through the suffering and punishments my beloved ones imposed upon me for being so resigned to do anything else, back then when the book wasn’t in its current shape, it was hard. 

I would like to conclude by telling you the story of how I received the idea for this book, about being Clear-sighted. 

I was a student, then. Well, almost. I was doing a part-time job and my B. A. English. I had had a tough time to join English major. It was against everything my neighbours, schoolteachers, and family friends (those well-wishers, who never tire of giving you the right advice at the wrong time) considered a worthy way of spending time. “There is no scope for English main,” they often said. I had had enough with Diploma in Electronics, which I joined immediately after my Twelfth Grade. I was miserably out of place with the course. Finally, after three years of Diploma Imprisonment I recognized, it was the right season. Years of waiting had ended, and I joined B. A. English, my path had opened, the time was ripe.    

It was bedtime and I was lying down, during one of those early days of B.A. Many thoughts circled my mind like convocation of eagles circling a heap of meat. One of those eagles perched on my head. It fascinated me. It was the idea for the third book I mentioned. The idea was majestic and deep. But the task was too big for a graduate student to undertake. I didn’t know how to write a book. It was a book about clear-sightedness. I didn’t know how I would begin it and what ‘clear-sightedness’ even meant. Still, I had the faith that the barriers of dreaded failure had already been reached and there was nothing worse to happen. 

Hindrances often made me think, in the passage down the road to the Wisdom of a Lifetime, that it is better to abandon this task. At each turn on the road though, I met other eagles, which showed me that there is a time appointed by the Cosmos, for every action to fall into its rightful place. 

Standing here, now, I realize how hard it had been not to share what I learnt throughout the writing of this book, with my friends and family and well-wishers, until I could put it all together in one book form, under one title. I wanted the world to read the Clear-sighted Wisdom in a complete book-form because this would only make the complete sense and reveal the big picture about some of the Cosmic Truths. One at a time, perhaps these pearls of wisdom might have been lost. 

It’s been easier with all the social media these days, to share everything I have written, every new idea that came to me, every thought, every peal of wisdom, before it appeared in this third book of mine. But then, that would have been a futile attempt, and everyone might have taken those timeless stories as “just another Tweet.” 

I thank my own Restraint that helped me not to share any of it on the journey, so I could share it in totality at the end of it with the right person, you

Like the Bhagavat Gita says, “A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return,” this is the right time to reveal the wisdom of Clear-sightedness. 

Watch this space for further information on my third book with 20 important stories of wit and wisdom.
 
You can read this post in kindle too, through world's first "blog in kindle" Tap here.

Happy May Day
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