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


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.


Life is… Celebration!

It is such a wonderful concept to celebrate life with our different actions. Let’s participate in the joy of life.

Pearls of Thoughts

Motherhood has made me a better person. The statement is cliché no doubt but true! It has not only made me more sensible, motivated and a better manager, but has also helped me see the world with the eyes of a child. That’s a refreshing feeling for sure. As my little one grows up, bit by bit, every day, i could see him get so incredibly excited about everything, and so do I get the energy to participate in the joy of life. It’s fun to be around him and kids of his age.

Celebrating life Celebrating life

For kids the word celebration doesn’t mean ‘grandeur’ but it means life itself! Even eating a whole bunch of different fruits can be like celebrating every piece of the fruit they eat. I’ve learnt over the years, it is such a wonderful concept to celebrate life with our different actions. That is what life…

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That never was…

Her story…

She started coming a little late to office on purpose, so he could see her walk in unapologetically. Though she’d never missed greeting all her colleagues at work, she couldn’t help stealing a glance at him several times a day to see if he’d reciprocated… and when she felt he did, she’d wear a lost look, focusing on her work or not focusing on anything, just exploring the depths of everything.

She seems to move on

She seems to move on

She had known him for some time, but she felt connected to him as if she knew him ages before, and maybe she did … but she couldn’t recall. She noticed a spark every time their eyes met, there’s a smile at the corner of their lips when they spoke.

She felt good any time she spoke to him, whether casually chatting up on office tea session or discussing an important assignment. His sober look, with touches of melancholy made her more curious.

One day, she caught him writing a poem on love during recess, which he quickly said he wrote simply because it felt romantic. “The starting was the most fun though the last stanza never rhymed to my dismay,” he said wearing a smile, shielding something from her.

When loneliness engulfed her, a quiet conversation with him, interspersed with laughter of old stories, a discussion on old English novels and classic cinema, magically lifted up her spirit.

Of course she knew she was not in love… but the more she thought about him, it surely felt something like that – as if she was in the twilight zone.

And then came the awaited evening, when they were having some wine at a birthday dinner, she got an sms. Strangely, it was him. “I think you look stunning!”

The noisy smiles around her seemed blur for a moment. The mood of the evening and the alcohol must have given him the wings to send her a message, she thought.

Before she could reply, he came forward and asked her if she wanted to have dinner next week.

Her face lit up immediately, she wanted to tell him, she was waiting for this perfect moment. but she tried to conserve that feeling, holding it gently in her palm. She hesitantly nodded and smiled while he sent her something nice on sms again to seal the conversation for the night.


It was a Tuesday night and it was incessantly raining. They drove down to the poolside bistro that looked almost empty. They both looked a little confused, didn’t know what to speak.

They ordered some food and coffee in awkward silence as the waiter looked at them like he had an opinion.

Once they were chatting, she could feel he looked interested and observant; properly listening as she droned on…

Soon they had many things to talk… the places they’d been to,  of everything that was happening in the world at that moment, all the people eating food, holding hands, cosmos, death, making love and of everyday things… the more they talk, she felt  a deeper and spiritual connection.

They kept sitting on the couch that felt like an improvised stage in the corner of the room. Then he took her hand, for the first time.

Some moments of togetherness was like knowing him for a lifetime!  Her heart was burning in his wrists and palms. His hand was perfectly warm, so magical that it was unbearable. When his eyes met hers, she felt her heartbeat everywhere, even on her toes.

But she slowly closed her eyes…

She asked herself again, what exactly she wanted from life… she’d been curious, she wanted to feel something… but they knew they were not meant for each other…


Never did they seek the story left untold – the tale with an abrupt end.

Seasons passed by… till they rediscovered themselves on social media. It was not the same…

They moved on, their paths were different, and they tried making peace with life, away from each other, but in their own solitary world.

The entr’acte…

That Feeling of Emptiness

She could feel the void, a never ending dark void that consumes everything, leaving her with a feeling of nothing… that strange feeling, when she feels neither happy, nor sad… it’s such an empty feeling. There’s nothing to subside her hollow soul that creeps in the shadows, away from any other human life because its emptiness is so consuming it cannot bear to pretend that everything is okay.

That strange feeling, when she feels neither happy, nor sad… it’s only empty

That strange feeling, when she feels neither happy, nor sad… it’s only empty

In truth, nothing is okay! She sees people walking around this earth each day, pretending that everything is okay, and it always will be. She sighs…Why we can’t all just admit that we are just hollow plastic dolls with a painted happy face revealing no guilt, sadness and emptiness?

At some stage, she too tried hiding it with a big fake smile, masking it as if nothing has happened, but for how long? She didn’t get an answer.

And now she has learned to play hide and seek with her only companion. It hides everywhere, this emptiness, in the closet, the cupboards and under the bed. There isn’t any getting away from it. Her nightmares seem to help fill it. They remind her of those days… they call it the past for a reason… the bygone, the defunct, really?

She doesn’t know… she’s scared, but she needs it. She needs to feel it now, she needs it to distract herself, from not everything else but, simply, from herself… She closes her eyes gently and curls herself up onto a cushion of nothingness.

When Nehru Jacket Becomes Modi Jacket

While ‘searching’ for a desi waistcoat online for my son (as it’s raining discounts ahead of Independence Day), I made an interesting observation. The search terms, ‘half-jacket online’ immediately throw up two powerful expressions on Google: ‘Modi jacket’ and ‘Nehru jacket’. They take you to the same products – what I was looking for – and some sites even call it the Nehru/Modi jacket.

All these sites display a gamut of this graceful ethnic piece of garment, which has spun quite a long political yarn. Since childhood we have known them as the ‘Nehru jackets’ or ‘Jawahar coat’ and now these have been endorsed as Modi jackets. Welcome to the new India!

Nehru’s trademark is now doing a good job of creating the Modi look, with of course a little ‘twist’

Nehru’s trademark is now doing a good job of creating the Modi look, with of course a little ‘twist’

From different media interviews, we know by now that our current PM Modi Ji has a clear preference for these waistcoats. But for a man with a strong disdain for the Nehruvian legacy, it is but obvious that he will completely ‘tweak’ it and brand it his own. As a friend of mine rightfully said, The ‘Congress livery’ in now the ‘BJP livery.’

…And Modi ji is doing a pretty smart job at this. Just the way he has given his ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make In India’ agenda a global voice, the PM is endorsing these bandis at a global platform rebranding them as the ‘Modi jacket’.

Actually, the (Nehru) jacket’s history can be traced back to Mahatma Gandhi’s call to boycott non-native goods in 1930, when Nehru had given up western suits-which he was wearing till then and moved to homespun Khadi kurtas, thereafter it became his style statement.

A wardrobe twist is a great way for a politician to stand out. Whether it’s the Arafat kafiyeh, Karunanidhi’s dazzling yellow shawl, Mayawati’s plain light coloured salwar kameezes, Mamta Banerjee’s white sareers with blue borders or even the otherwise colourless Manmohan Singh’s sky-blue turban. The little touches finally matter the most. And hence, the same jackets that were once Nehru’s trademark is now creating the Modi look, with of course a little ‘twist’.

Unlike the Nehru times, when these were available in only black, cream and grey, now they seem to be influenced by PM Modi’s choice of colors that are far more flamboyant, ranging from oranges to pinks to yellows. Well, prices have gone up over 50-70 per cent. Never mind, the times they are a-changin, as Bob Dylan said.

Not only for Modi and his followers, anyone who wish to make a political or patriotic statement, these jackets are a perfect fit, especially if it is tailored in khadi. My uncle said once, it camouflages his big belly and the wide hip, that common body flaw in the middle-aged Indian men.

So what’s in a name you may ask… for a section of the people, it will always remain ‘Nehru jacket’ and for others it will become Modi jacket.’

But try to fathom a little… whether you love them or hate them, you just cannot ignore these two PMs of the nation – Nehru and Modi – both with very different political identity – but both bound by a common thread: Their tremendous global appeal!

When India got its independence in 1947, and Jawaharlal Nehru, became the country’s first prime minister, the nation witnessed a new leader born. He was not perfect in so many ways, but he was what India needed at that time. Of the first few things Nehru did right was to set up a Constituent Assembly to write India’s Constitution, and set up centers of knowledge (IITs and IIMs) in a country that has over the decades produced many talented business leaders, heading global companies.

Nehru did drive India’s international profile to a great degree in the post-independence years, even though some of his foreign policies were subject to much debate. But nobody can doubt the international appeal.

PM Narendra Modi too sees Digital India as a tool for the country’s transformation, in a scale where the world looks to India for the next big Idea. Even during his visit to the US, Modi has always promoted the causes of Digital India and Make in India, making these names known globally, besides making a style statement on his jacket.

Nehru Jackets were also popularized by The Beatles in the West in the ‘70s. They went on to become so popular that in James Bond Movies, and even Sean Connery, the Bond himself, expressed his love for those jackets. And now Modi has given these timeless classic (which faded for a while) jackets a revamp and a ‘Modi’ branding.

Changing times and changing names….no big deal, believe many. Modi certainly has brought a lot of color and style to these jackets, and as long as it excites the prevailing weak khadi institutions, we are absolutely fine with it.

Jai Hind!