Archive for the ‘Soho’s Inspiration’ Category

Meaning of Life: What’s the point of it all?

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Loneliness in the age of social networking

I bumped into an ex-colleague this weekend and despite meeting after many months, the first thing he proudly proclaimed was that he now has 2000 friends on Facebook and 1000 followers on Twitter. I faked a smile and gave him a glance, and also wanted to ask him: “Do these friends communicate when you really need some soul to talk?” But I guess it was rude to ask … I didn’t want to break his heart and release him from his virtual cocoon. Because he prefers to get wrapped up into his thoughts, his virtual thoughts which he believes is ‘real’.

Loneliness in the Age of Social Networking

Social media – that intends to make the world a more connected place, might just be leaving us more isolated and even depressed.

And this is not just ‘his’ story. Most of us have so many friends and followers on social media, Despite there is sense of loneliness in the heart. It’s not a down-and-out loneliness, mind you, but an inkling that things aren’t what they seem. No one is near you, everyone is everywhere in their own ambit, a world prefabbed with all the information, entertainment and very often nonsense, one can hope to have at their fingertips.

It’s an empty feeling of having it all but not having anything. It’s a reminder that our journey into the age of information has come at a cost: We’ve lost touch, in a very large and real way, with our sense of humanity and with one another, even as other lines of communication have opened.

An interesting article published in ‘The Guardian” blog, suggests that “Loneliness centers on the act of being seen. When a person is lonely, they long to be witnessed, accepted, desired, at the same time as becoming intensely wary of exposure.”

According to research carried out over the past decade at the University of Chicago, the feeling of loneliness triggers what psychologists call hyper-vigilance for social threat. In this state, which is entered into unknowingly, the individual becomes hyper-alert to rejection, growing increasingly inclined to perceive social interactions as tinged with scorn. The result is a vicious circle of withdrawal, in which the lonely person becomes increasingly suspicious, intensifying their sense of isolation.

Behind a computer screen, the lonely person has control.  This is where online engagement seems to exercise its special charm, says Olivia Laing, senior editor and author of the blog. Hidden behind a computer screen, the lonely person has control. They can search for company without the danger of being revealed or found wanting. They can reach out or they can hide; they can lurk and they can show themselves, safe from the humiliation of face-to-face rejection. The screen acts as a kind of protective membrane, a scrim that allows invisibility and transformation. You can filter your image, concealing unattractive elements, and you can emerge enhanced: an online avatar designed to attract likes.

But now a problem arises, for the contact this produces is not the same thing as intimacy. Curating a perfected self might win followers or Facebook friends, but it will not necessarily cure loneliness, since the cure for loneliness is not being looked at, but being seen and accepted as a whole person – ugly, unhappy and awkward, as well as radiant and selfie-ready.

While there are many more views on this topic, next time, we feel lonely, we can try joining a library, a club, a gym or bond with old friends in person? Smartphones, Tablets are gadgets to keep us communicated, but they can’t offer us the warmth of friendship that we can get from your real friends. There is no harm in having online friends. It is up to us to keep a balance between the real and the virtual world.

Being a technology editor, I confess, there is more to explore in life apart from gadgets. However, the great irony of this post is that as soon as I’m done, I’ll post it across social media sites. Then I’ll kick back, take a sip of water, and unlock my phone.

Wishing Upon A Star

Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight.

 

Living in a big city, I miss seeing the stars at night. There’s always a glow from the street lights though – which astronauts term as “light pollution,” and when we look up at the sky, we see that it’s filled with clouds and smog – no wonder then that stars in the night sky are disappearing faster than we can imagine.

Over the years, I’ve realized there’s nothing better than being away from conurbations and being able to look up and get soaked up in the stars. I like to call this experience “counting the stars” which gives me a sense of a ‘nothingness’ as I simply look up and see the entire sky in all of its beauty. Some of my best thinking has been done looking at stars. For me, it’s a meditation – peaceful and relaxed.

Stargazer's delight

The stargazer’s delight

There was a telescope floating around the house where I often visited as a child [my father’s ancestral home] . In fact those days – in the early 1980’s-  you could see a lot of “sky”. Lying on the terrace watching stars is a memory I cherish even today.

My cousin gifted me a scope when I was 10 years, lying in the hospital bed and didn’t have much of activities to do. It was a SkyWatcher basic telescope, good enough to see the moon pretty well. Sometimes, I would spend frosty hours striving to look at faraway objects, Mercury, Jupiter and Orion’s Belt… Some of those explorations were made in the cold dark nights that brought out the best stars — they shimmer more brightly in the winter.

The best stars I have ever seen were at sea [quiet sea beaches] and mountain tops, dark forests and not to forget the planetariums [though that’s a momentary pleasure].

Great Bear, the most conspicuous constellation in the heaven

Great Bear, the most conspicuous constellation in the heaven

The sky seems huge, filling horizon to horizon with the glories of galaxies and our Milky Way. It’s like a river that flows across the sky. It’s no wonder that ancient Egyptians discovered an year-long calendar that included 12 months with 30 days by looking at the night sky.

They were inspired by the heavens, and built their pyramids in Giza to reflect what they saw – There are today two shafts built on to the sides which were built at the location facing the passing of two stars. One was Thuban, that was near to the Pole Star and Alnilon, a star situated in Orion’s belt. The ancient Egyptians discovered the Orion with ‘Osiris’, who was known to be the god of rebirth.

Recently, Nasa scientists discovered seven Earth-like planets just beyond our solar system that could potentially Harbor life have been identified orbiting a tiny star not too far away, offering the first realistic opportunity to search for signs of alien life outside the solar system. The planets orbit a Dwarf star named trappist-1, about 40 light-years, or 235 trillion miles, from earth.

Over the next decade, the researchers want to define the atmosphere of each planet, as well as to determine whether they truly do have liquid water on the surface and search for signs of life.

But life too comes in many forms and bacteria thrive in bubbling sulphur pools on the edge of volcanoes, in vents at the very deepest trenches of our oceans, and even now as we have recently discovered, in crystals in deep and hot caves for more than 50,000 years.

When we see photographs taken from the International Space Station of our blue Earth below, there is a wonder in the clouds and the oceans. It’s fun to try and figure out exactly where the space station is flying over, trying to identify the coasts or terrain far below.

The artists’ impressions of new worlds to be fascinating too. They almost bring those new worlds bravely to life, as if life exists there, waiting for us to visit and introduce ourselves, like new neighbors in this wonderful universe we all share.

But when you look at the stars, and try and understand the sheer size of space, the universe, you feel lost, astound. The distances are vast, the time taken for the light from stars to reach us can be measured in thousands of light years. And the sky we look at is actually a kaleidoscope of different lights emitted from stars in the past. We are not looking at the here and now, but a collection of pasts — though in the present.

At times, when the sky is full of stars, you can almost reach up and immerse yourself in the depth of the sky. In this universe we are but small, some would say rather insignificant. I would say, our  life is beyond messed up. But when we wish upon a star, we get more than we bargained for and that explains the power of Space.

 

Leave your past behind!

I am writing this piece looking out at the serene brutality of the never-ending sea. As I sip my coconut juice, I allow my mind to become engaged in the beautiful sounds of nature. The waves rippling gently, the trees subtly whistling in the wind, the nagging sound of a frog croaking behind the bushes, the birds chirping in the shade and the sound of fishermen casting their nets as they wade in the shallows.

There is something important to be learned from the art of 'letting go'

There is something important to be learned from the art of ‘letting go’

This feels like a truly blessed corner of the world, one where I feel incredibly free of distraction. It takes a trip to a place like this to really be able to let go… to let go of the mundane thoughts of bills, things I need to do, things I should have done, people I need to contact. Of course, I’ve come here on work, but for a while, I feel like my mind is de-fragmenting. I am just letting it all go.

My day started pretty early. As I took a quiet walk in the vicinity, I bumped into some monks, who were carrying out their daily parade through the dusty roads, blessing every person with an eternal smile. As they gracefully passed by, I was reminded of a story I heard many years ago, a story which ties in nicely with this day of letting go and re-centring my energy in the present.

The story goes like this: Two Buddhist monks, who have been taught not to have any contact with women, are walking back to their monastery. They come to a river where a young woman is standing, wondering how to cross it.

The first monk looks the other way and starts to cross the river. The second monk lifts the woman onto his back and crosses the river. After he puts the woman down, the two monks continue their walk.

The first monk then starts a tirade, ticking off the second one for touching the woman. He is furious about the contact with the woman and the latter listens silently. He went on blasting him right up to the gates of the monastery.

Finally, the second monk turned to the first and said, “I left the woman on the other side of the river, but she is still with you.”

The compassion of the second monk to put the needs of the woman before his own spiritual practice, and his mental ability to then let go of the fact that he had strayed from the path of his personal commitment, without feeling guilty or disappointed, is a lesson for us all.

…. The story brings some level of solace, I feel charged up. I’m nothing special. I get that. I come from humble beginnings. In school, I was quite a misfit.

I kept on moving ahead. I understood the power of passion, dedication – I read books, kept writing, studied consistently – putting in the effort relentlessly. Through seemingly small acts I made progress, quietly proving my naysayers ‘I can’.

Of course, there are a handful of teachers and professors, my parents and a few friends, through my journey, who helped me believe in myself. They shaped my thoughts, ideologies and often played a part in changing my self-perception. A lot in me transformed… There have been ups and downs, but my faith was bigger than my fear.

I kept moving… I believe, whenever I’d fall along the journey, I’d rise. When I’d stumble, I’d dust off all dismays. And stand again, that’s life… I would want to keep doing this until my death.

I am reminded (by my conscience) everything I’d experienced in the past was necessary to become the person I am today. Then why am I saying “let go of my past?”

That’s because, my pain has purified me. My stumbles have strengthened me. My failures have fortified me. It’s all been a brilliant path, even when I resisted it the most- and I thank mother Universe for that!

We cannot delete our past, just cannot erase it – but we mustn’t allow yesterday’s actions to affect today’s progress, because letting go of the past is necessary to live, grow and love. As spiritual teacher and author of bestselling book, “The Power of Now” Eckhart Tolle says, “As long as you make an identity for yourself out of pain, you cannot be free of it.”

New Year 2016: A time for contemplation and renewal

Today, the world will joyfully celebrate the New Year. Many of us will make resolutions to improve our lives like every year. But as I sit at the old keyboard, I try to focus on the fact that how many of our last years’ resolutions have we fulfilled. Not that we would want to know… Instead, we will drown ourselves in entertainment news, gossips and fake showiness and other trivial things that really don’t matter when we look at the bigger canvas.

New year - a time of reflection

New year – a time of reflection

From terrorism to brutal rape, from corruption to infant death, are we doing – or at least making an attempt – to do something about it? As we head into 2016, we are contemplating an uncertain future that looms like a dark cloud.
As one year ends and another starts, it is a time of reflection and looking forward to the future.

Let us not forget our mistakes of the previous years, so that we do not repeat them in the New Year and the years to come. Let us also thank the Almighty for the gift of time, who atone our mistakes and renew the gift of life we have been blessed with.

Happy New Year!

(Courtesy: Shampa Bagchi)

Here’s Why We Celebrate May Day

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day

Truly, history has a lot to teach us about the roots of our radicalism.

When we remember that people were shot so we could have the 8-hour day…

If we acknowledge that homes with families in them were burnt to the ground so we could have Saturday as part of the weekend…

When we recall 8-year old victims of industrial accidents who marched in the streets protesting working conditions and child labor only to be beaten down by the police and company thugs, we understand that our current condition cannot be taken for granted…

People fought for the rights and dignities we enjoy today, and there is still a lot more to fight for. The sacrifices of so many people can not be forgotten or we’ll end up fighting for those same gains all over again.

This is why we celebrate May Day.

Courtesy: IWW

All For A Smile :)

smile smile smile

smile smile smile

I smile when I am happy
I smile when I feel shaky
I smile when I am shy
I smile when I want to cry

I smile when I am sad
I smile, when I just go mad
I smile when I am envious
I smile when I am jealous

 

I smile when I am emotional
I also smile when I act abnormal
I smile when I am overloaded
I smile when I miss my beloved

I smile when I think something
I smile when I think just nothing
Never mind the reason behind my smile,
Give me a smile, and I’ll feel good for a while!