When There Is Clarity in the Thought

Product @ Amazon India: https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/9384454117/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The most brought item in Amazon India is books. I began with Amazon.com in US, buying my course books and maybe a gadget here and there. Amazon website is so easy to figure out for a confused person like me. It also made me feel safe when I ordered books from them. So even after switching continent I still enjoy shopping in Amazon.

Among the various books that I have got, spiritual books are slightly popular with me. I love to collect The Bhagavad Gita. I collect them not to gather dust; but the book to become dog-eared due to constant reading and annotated with the inner reflection.

The above URL is my latest collection of the books. The first time I encountered Songs of God (The Bhagavad Gita) was when I was in my 8th Grade. It was well worn out copy of my youngest uncle. All my uncles, aunt and my father were believers in this book. Each incorporated the teachings in their own way and with their special quirks. But the Sanatana Dharma was very much a way of life in my family and I believe it has filtered to the current generations with their individualistic version of it.

But these are all incidental events, the main reason that I have such fascination for this book is the fact, that the various version that I read gave me insight only to that level of emotional growth that I held within me at that moment. During the 8th grade I understood nothing of the book, I flipped through with earnestness of course, but did not understand anything. After the rush and stress of 10th grade, I again settled to read the book. This time the chapter on Karma Yoga was very appealing. I kept reading it repeatedly.

Then, when I reached my first year of college, I decided that I would club lamp lighting activity with reading the book, in the hope, maybe I will get clarity of the ideas given in the book. The Gita is a huge tomb of footnoted explanation for which you need to read up a lot on the other explanatory books. So then, I checked out various schools of thought, which included, Sri Aurobindo,  Paramahansa Yogananda, then many other explanation providing shows by many gurus from north to south. These gurus excelled in the art of pravachan or discourses.

I somehow showed a greater inclination towards the South Gurus since it sat well with my sensitivity. I am greatly influenced by Velukkudi Sri U. Ve. Krishnan Swamy. I found his discourse far more convincing to my seeking soul. But I never stop at one Guru, my nature is to keep searching until I can say, ah! Now I know.

My quest never stopped at any given point of my life. The progress that I have made is based on the emotional growth and psychological effect that was present in me at the time of reading the text of Gita. So why does this specific book be over and above other scriptures. I would say the simplicity of the entire work.

The fact that I cannot read the source language in which it was written, Sanskrit, it didn’t stop me from perusing to read it in English translation. My Uncle’s copy was a very poor translation and later when I began collecting other translations, something was always missing in it. But the English part didn’t sit well or resonate with my inner writer’s spirit, until I picked my latest copy from Nightingale’s Vedic Cosmos division’s, which is involved in publishing Vedic Literature with the true aspiration to bring to the seeking soul the lessons from the ancient past.

For the first time, I understood Sri Krishna better. I found a connection between each chapter and how they were interlinked. It is like any Analytical Essay on the Soul and Its ultimate goal on Earth. I personally feel that this life is rather interesting, given the fact that, I am seeing it emotionally, scientifically (theory and practical), philosophically, and essentially to discover what really happens to humans whether individually or collectively.

I was greatly influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s speech in the World Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893. Though the import of it took a long time to happen for me. By some mysterious logic which I don’t even know, my mind understands of things related to spirituality. I always believed that my life was a spiritual progress with a process already settled into my inner Self.

Spiritualism is never far away from my thoughts and I try to understand this mystery called life in my own ways. In that self-discovery process I have used The Bhagavad Gita a lot. Among the many books that I read about the interpretation of the Gita, one of them was Devadutta Pattnaik’s My Gita. which was an interesting way of looking at the text.

But this time when I read the Vedic Cosmos’s version of the gita’s translation, I was blown over. For the first time, I saw the logic in the text. I might still not have got the complete import of it, but I figured out the points covered and the sequence in which Sri Krishna places these ideas as progressive path of improvement towards self-realization and reaching god head.

See the whole piece starts from when Arjuna is confused and reluctant to fight. From 0 -100% switch of attitude was achieved with remarkable oratory accomplishment by Sri Krishna. I feel that each chapter deals with specific issue at hand and then show how to progress forward with utmost care. Given my nature, I tend to pursue ideas and cross reference them with actual performance by me.

I have been reading this book since Friday last for personal and work related need. The level of clarity that I felt this time, while reading the book, was extremely surprising for me. The translation was done with great care for details and part of the manodharam could be deeply felt. Yes, it did have a few places where I felt, that it could be done well, which is atypically just my personal quirks on certain kind of sentence. But my critic cannot be fully acceptable, since I am seeing this work from just the English translation angle. Yes, the fact remains, that I am seeing it with many other translated versions from my previous reading. I feel this one was the closest that brought my thinking mind in alignment with the text.

I am enjoying the connectivity that I felt with the text and the fact that it was there all the while but, the Supreme gives the understanding that is needed for the text. I am grateful and humbled by the new understanding and the seeker is resting at base camp 1 and it is a long way to the summit of complete understanding.

Image Source: Amazon India

Emotional Freewheeling Indian Ads

I have always loved watching Advertisement in various medium. There is a lot of variation in the print and audio-visual format. Each of these medium uses its strength in representing company’s ideologies and product for the intended targeted audience.

Sometimes, I think, when you aim for a specific market, then there is a common aspect that requires to be looked at for the specific point for angling the advertisement. I mean, how do copywriter can come up with such interesting concepts for an ad? The ad becomes the source of social commentary under 3 minutes.

I feel a good ad is a team work’s best effort. The aligning of thoughts from the idea generator to the final executors are a trickle of synchronized understanding of thought process. The sophistication that is found in the present-day adverts can be very enriching experience for an audience, if one could view the content by contrasting it to real-life experience.

I might have been a person who had lived during the time when there was no television at home. Later when it did make an appearance, it was timed screening and of course, now it is 24/7. Any new medium has it own challenges that can be used for the best effect derivation. It is not surprising that exceptional ads are still popular in present-day viewing and are timeless.

Back in my younger days, my attraction towards adverts were more focused on sweets and something that I might get to eat and toys never was a part of it. I simply never thought of toys. Since my interest was centered around in knowing what’s the latest chocolate that I can ask my parents to get for me. Later as I grew so did my perspective towards viewing ads grew. The product no longer mattered and it was more about viewing the ad for its own aesthetics.

One factor, that I looked out for was the varied kind of humor that one can experience from the subtle play of words and actions. An ad can almost be an equivalent of a movie since it accomplishes in limited time what a movie does in hours.

The wiser consumer beliefs are tramped and squashed to create a sense of altered presence in the ad, which appeals to varied taste requirements. Might be, I am overthinking here about the Ad. But then, it is hard to explain what an ad does to the sensitivity if it is well done. There have been times when the ad has moved me to tears. The Ads make the maximum use of Indian emotions, which are as diverse as their understanding of the color spectrum

Sometimes, you see a celebrity making a field’s play with short roles in ads. I feel, it is far more difficult to get an essence of the moment captured in a fine web of emotional understanding and all under two minutes slot. There have been times when an ad could change the thought process for me, but this could just be me.

I seem to sense an interesting movement in the ad world. One could find a timeline in the growth of ad from the time it was first used to the present day VFX varieties. Some products have predictable storytelling; but, the surprise factor ads are the most attractive for me.

Commercial Ads story-line and words are my favorite interest and I like being surprised. Life reduced to its essence could just be a good ad viewed and internalized.

The latest ad that got me interested in the concept it was selling was Idea Ad. Though there are certain aspect of social media which indicate that being yourself on online might not be safe, yet being genuine really got to me. What with all the identity theft and much, there is a lot that needs to be thought about before getting personal on social streams.

Given this thought base, I was just an onlooker of the possibilities on trying the angle presented by the Idea Ad. Social Media rat race is rather hard to live by. I am trying to get away from it. The sense of being totally addicted to likes and comments makes anyone’s personal life an internalized hell. But here is some thought that kind of says about being yourself online.

Watch the Ad here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQbmZjiXdSI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLNajx25hTw

To shift the view from the perfect picture to the image of having some naturalness, I feel that it is definitely worth exploring. I bought the concept definitely; yet I have not converted to the product! The interesting thing about ads are not whether conversion happens; though that is the main intention of the ad, I feel it has to do with just having sold a thought. Ad do add brand value in the long run. It is much like the Seo efforts for a website, which you see over a period of time and not immediately.

Image Source: Pexels.com

New York Public Library | Riverside

Today, I visited the New York Public Library. I entered the premises through a revolving door. I found the library so calming and soothing for my spirit. I enjoyed browsing through a lot of interesting books.

I looked longingly at the Romances and gave into my intellectual demand; and picked books by G. K. Chesterton, Shakespeare made simple, and Lewis Carroll’s piece. I must say it is really fascinating to read works written by these people.

One of my fascination is collecting Library Cards. Indian, Singapore and New York library cards are so uninspiring; but the San Francisco library card sang to a different beat.

My cousin J and I had gone to a concert by Thornetta Davis (Detroit’s Queen of Blues)  last evening. I enjoyed the songs Ms. Davis sang with such gusto. The umphoof factor of her performance was the fact, that she engaged with her audience and created a sense of belonging.

I am used to listening to concert without making any bodily movement during the rendition. So it was fascinating to watch people of varied types and ages shake their legs to the rhythmic beat.

One the first day of my stay in New York, I felt it was filled with being taken over by the view. I found the city resonate into my memory, where I have seen and felt the beat of other cities of my past.

The two cities that New York invoked from my memory was Mumbai and Singapore. Both these cities I had visited at various stages of my life. Mumbai during my middle school and Singapore post-marriage.

Mumbai was far more colourful than Singapore and New York. But all these cities are different in certain unique aspect. For instance, in the people that you find in these cities are really varied but somehow they were same in their core value aspect.

I still remember my Aunt feeling proud that Mumbaikars can hide the fact of their ailments from all. She exclaimed to me,”Watch how dressed up are the patients who visit the doctor?” I blinked a couple of times not really understanding what she was driving at.

But later in my life I understood why she placed so much importance for that external appearance of all is well attitude. But back then, I felt the doctor should know that I’m unwell, if not he would send me back with no prescription for a cure. Ah! Life moves on and what felt ridiculous at 10 make sense in 30.

Some people feel that the concrete jungle kinda leaves you hollow and bereft of your soul. It also leaves behind a sense of mad rush. But I disagree with both these points. I believe that within a small existence there is much to explore. Somehow a smaller apartment with the view of other buildings is much more comforting than the spacious spread of unoccupied land.

I must say that I enjoy J’s apartment and her kitchen is simply divine. It hardly feels like I just arrived a couple of days before to New York. I resonate to the heart of the cities beats.  Yesterday, while walking back we saw the scultpure that gets changed periodically to fit the current month’s theme.

It was mosaic tile sculpture which made the whole presentation wonderful to watch. It seemed more like a snapshot of the folktale of African origin. The spirits of the jungle was represented in the pillar. We admired it for a while and walked on. On net searching I found that it was actually an installation by Kathy Ruttenberg.

The three cities of my experience resonates to their own unique rhythm and I enjoyed the varied beats. Somehow, I can never seem to understand my own perferences and likes. I strongly believe, that it is never the place; but it is you, who determine to matching up of the city’s intrinsic beats.

 

Image Source: Pexels.com

Finding the Writer’s Flow

Have you ever experienced that sense of lightness that comes while working on a special piece. There is such a race of ideas that nothing else count for the moment but the task at hand. I have had those moments but they are like the butterflies wings. Touch it and your fingers are colored with their skin dust. The Positive Psychology calls it as “Flow.”

Steven Kotler in his article “Flow States and Creativity” in Psychology Today, provides a technical definition of ‘Flow’ as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”

I found this state, whenever I have found myself just sufficiently challenged. At the same time, if few of the information were backed by my past experiences, then the combination is a killer one. Within this relative familiarity section I discover my inference of the self in slow disclosing pattern.

Flow according to me is something that happens to your state of being. It is like, I find myself inside a warp-hole where everything is about what I am doing. Somehow, I am accomplishing it but blocking rest of the noise and distraction of my reality. I become engrossed in my own little world that I have made for myself.

But generally a Flow State is a human experience that an employee goes through in professional place, while accomplishing a slightly beyond the reach of the employee’s limit challenge, with their entire focus of attention zeroed in on the task.

There are many books on the working of human brain that have explained how the various processes happen within the brain. Encyclopedia Britannica even goes to the extent of explaining that the brain processes less than 50 bits in a second.

Psychologists in their line of research have found that when a brain is engrossed completely to exclusion all other distraction, then the subject under study is experiencing the “Flow state.”

A Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who was the pioneer of Flow research has found such wealth of information about this state. He founded the Positive Psychology and propagated ‘Flow’ concepts. He began his research in 1975 and since then, much development in the research has happened.

What brings about this state? This state happens at what condition? These and other questions are far more interesting to note. The flow state needs certain individual’s internal physical and psychological weather condition to kick in.

He kick-started his tests with artists and creative types; later he expanded his research work towards other professions too. He used experience sampling method (ESM) to observe the subject under scrutiny.

It was in these tests that he came to know of High-flow and Low-flow states, where he also found out how these states influence his subject under study.

Csikszentmihalyi’s research had brought out the following six factors that result in the occurrence of flow in individuals:

  • Completely intense focused concentration on the current moment
  • Action and awareness become one
  • Loss of reflective self-consciousness
  • Complete control of the involved task
  • Distortion of temporal experience
  • Having an asautotelic or activity providing a intrinsically rewarding experience

He states in his book “Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life” that “if you are interested in something, you will focus on it, and if you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. Many of the things we find interesting are not so by nature, but because we took the trouble of paying attention to them.”

In our work day we make a number of choices and decisions. The flow depends on what we choose to do and how we planned to perform it, this then would make our evaluation of our tasks as blur of events or almost art form of accomplishments.

Of late, I am watching the Flow word in my workplace application. My mind goes to the other meaning of the word Flow. When words “work” and “flow” combines in my brain I’m busy thinking about the flow happens within me.

When I get interested in the task I completely forget the office and people around. That kind of state, I actually don’t feel hunger either. I found the trick to be happy in my flow doing any type of writing tasks. The point is, the state of flow is an intense feeling that grips the experiencing person’s complete attention to exclusion of everything.

Within this state one could be close to the state of meditative silence. In this silence creativity can be nurtured and expanded to its relative stretch. Writing act is also a kind of experience that takes over all other distractions into its vortex of creative silence.

I usually have a set of activity such finding a uncluttered spot and use the same device to write. I would begin with reading up a little of the draft or old works to get into a swing. Once the mind kicks in I am ready to give free reign to my imagination.

I absolutely, love to be in that state and to explore until I feel content. Check out for yourself if you can find your flow in blogging or any writing activity!

Research

Flow, the secret to happiness

http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?language=en

Alex Vermeer, works for MIRI

http://alexvermeer.com/finding-flow/

Leo Babauta, Zen Writer from San Francisco

http://zenhabits.net/guide-to-achieving-flow-and-happiness-in-your-work/

Pursuit of Happiness

http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/getting-in-the-flow/

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/mihaly-csikszentmihalyi/

Quotes

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/27446.Mihaly_Csikszentmihalyi

Image Source: https://armidarhea.wordpress.com/module-3b/

Feeding the Child Right

I feel truly inspired after my solids feeding session with my youngest niece D2 and the idea was to write a fairy tale; but then here I’m writing a CNF. Life is truly a wonderful gift and if one could spend time seeing it with the right attitude.

My nieces and nephews have always been my inspiration. I still remember that I wrote my first short story for my brother’s first daughter N. Then, I wrote a poem for A and for K my brother’s youngest daughter, I wrote a ballad. Then both A and K together created a partially done story-line which was converted into visual medium, my little Minions!

Whereas, in my sister’s children case, I wrote a story for my nephew D and for Niece D2, I was inspired to write a fairy tale. There was such great fun with children. Actually, D2 is watching me write lying on my lap. She wants to type too, but then I have to tell her, that “Dearest, I will give you a chance like your brother.”

Life is all about learning new things and with children you learn a lot more. My first experience with feeding my nieces and nephews began with N when she was returning to her home. We had camped in our eldest uncle’s flat in Mumbai and that is when I had the pleasure to hold N on my lap as she was fed by my SIL.

I watched her eat her solids and something in my heart moved and the story found its nebulous start to form in my mind. It took me more than three months to write that story. I even sent it to my brother to read out to the baby N who will not understand a word of it.

N was the first for so many of first time things story-wise. When we paired up to create imaginary things it used to be complete March Madness and peerless Spring Equinox. I feel that it is easier to write if I used my little family members as audience for my stories. I found stories that used them were more interesting and compelling.

My sister’s son D was so interested in Russian folk tales. I, somehow am attracted to folk tales and fairy tales, which gives me great inner pleasures to explore in great depth. I have a latest collection of folk tales by Nelson Mandela presented by SIL after her Africa vacation.

Even today, I can still feel the magic of watching Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre production of fairy tales. There is much that can be learned and unlearned with children. When we become adults our sense of finding right and wrong becomes too strong. See life with a child’s mind everything will be funny and absolutely comical.

But for the first time D2 inspired me to write a magical realism story. Why not a fairy tale that has a single heroine! It should be her adventure and doesn’t end with her married and living happily ever after in a castle in the far away rich kingdom.

Long time ago in the land far known to all the little people, there was a little baby Rose. Her father was an adventurer who was lost in the search of a unique star outside the rims of the Universe. Rose wanted to find her father, so leaves her mother’s gentle care, and goes in search of her father. With this base, any level of expansion can be done.

But then, where is the magical realism in this?! But then, it is a nebulous and much is unsaid. D2 is interested in the story since she is eager to type. Okay short break. While D2 is happily playing in her Gimboree figuring textures, I get to write.

Both my brother’s and sister’s children are keen readers and their sense of humor is so typical of fun loving children which is part of our family DNA. I enjoy reading magical realism so much, that I feel, the stories with magic in them makes them truly wonderful.

Annotated with my niece’s musical rendition of happiness that can be found in her singing voice, I find that books of fairy tales and folk tales could provide children with innumerable new understanding. Nebulous is expanding and finding it own creative energy which means it is time to write that story.

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Tagore’s Package of Unforgettable Characters

Book Title:  The Very Best Short Stories of Rabindranath Tagore

Author: Rabindranath Tagore

Translator:  N/A

Rating:  4.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Tagore was always a fascination for me. In the very early formative years, I had read the Kabuliwahal piece from a borrowed and dog-eared copy of the short stories by this author. His way of telling a story is really appealing for two main reasons.

One is that he takes his time narrating; while ensuring to maintain the reader’s interest in the plot. Another reason is that, I found ancient voices talk to me with familiarity which was endearing to me in my mind.

Every story seemed well contemplated and effortlessly wrote. Be it The Postmaster, Kabuliwahal, Subha, or The Castaway every single story left a feeling of satisfaction; while encouraging being a creative thinker who is progressive.   Tagore was change-maker using one word at a time fitted in neat concepts.

Story in a Nutshell:

These are collection of stories about people in and around Kolkata and West Bengal. These stories are set in late days when the British Government was replaced with self-governance of India. The entire psyche of the Bengalis and of the immigrants makes an impact on the story plot; while providing a beautiful canopy of experiences for the readers. It is wonderful cosy blanket weaved into short plots that carried human emotions and feeling with great precision.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I really love the idea of short stories. Short pieces are hard to write; but great to read. The workmanship of Tagore in these pieces is really worth more than one reading. I am still trying to learn from the style that Tagore used for his short stories. There is never a moment of boredom in these stories; which happily amble their way to the finish. I didn’t have any dislike about the pieces but maybe I wanted to read more stories by Tagore.

My Opinion

I feel that this is a great book for beginning readers because it is reflective and simple at the same time. I would recommend it to students of 6th grade without any fear of censorship for some of the stories. But there are some adult stories too in the collection. The stories are euphemistically done with an eye-for-perfection.

Image Source: Embassy Book

Larking at Larkin Main Branch Library in SFO

Larkin’s Main Branch Library was my hangout space on days when I felt that I made a wrong choice to study MFA in Writing at CCA. Especially, during the winter my mood swings were really bad, I made sure that I picked my mood dead carcass to the Library. The choice was between Mission Library and Larkin Main Branch. Mission won mostly.

During my stay in San Francisco, I was entirely dependent on Google Maps for directions to any place in US. It was almost close to real address. I am a person who gets lost in my bedroom, so it was quite a challenge to reach places. But it used to be so exciting to take that printout at the Writer’s Studio, kind family members house or even jotting it down on a piece of paper.

This also meant that I had to plan my visit to the place way ahead of the time, since I needed the printout of the directions. I would only take printout of those directions, which are really crucial; but for the rest, I would depend on writing it down.

Surprising thing about the Google Maps would be, that you can actually plan to the last minute of your travel plan. Of course, I took longer to walk to the BART and Muni stops, so I would plan a couple of minute earlier departures from my start point.

So the first time that I went to Larkin Library was on a sunny chill morning of October. I needed to find some material which the Mission Library indicated as available in the Main Branch.

It was pretty much easy to go to Larkin Street, if I took the BART from 24th Mission Station to Civi Center Station. I would find a spot to sit down to dream away hugging my backpack.

My backpack was special because it had everything that I needed. There have been times, when I felt, if I started to walk away with just my backpack, then I really didn’t need anything at all.

The interesting thing about going to the Main Branch Library was that I would be confused which exit to take. It happened every single time I get out of the Civi Center Station, even if I have visited the place almost many times, I would get lost and have to figure the place despite my jotted directions. I simply don’t get the left or right directions and get confused very quickly.

I had very few friends and I tried not to disturb them with my pestering company. But I must say my friends in US were really interesting people, who I enjoyed spending time with. The pull of a quiet library is very stronger than talking with people. I still remember the day when I shared silence with a fellow writer Veronica. She didn’t mind my being quiet and talking intermittently.

That’s one thing you can say for the friends from CCA, they provided me space to just shut off and remain silent. I read so many of their works for the workshop and I wished that I could talk to them about it on a one-on-one bases. But my shyness got the better of me and I couldn’t really talk to them all. I always landed not stating what I felt about the piece even in the workshops.

My first semester was such a huge stress for me. I didn’t know the place but it was not strange that I was in a new place. Since I could connect to the place at a higher level, it was the people that I needed my energies to settle down. Once I settle down, then it is so easy to converse.

One fine October Sunday in 2010, my mood swings were really high and I needed the calm space of the library. I got ready and started towards the Larkin branch library and religiously jotted down the details of the directions. It so happened that I had arrived early to the destination. So I had to hang out until the library opened for the day.

Out there at the location, I found a Sunday market and hung around to look at things being sold in temporary stalls. There was this sense of places mixing in my head and I remembered markets of Singapore and Chennai. All my commerce day lessons came rushing to my mind.

The sense of place in my life is very connected and especially when I needed to find my inner balance. After hanging for about an hour the library doors opened and I went in.

My first impression of the library could be summed up in a word, Palace. The architecture of the library was so Roman and I felt like Alice floating in air. For the first visit, I was just hanging out there on polished floor and tall rooms. I felt I might have lost a few inches, since I felt the rest of the people were taller than me.

I remember the grey shades of the library warmed by brown shades of desks, shelves and splatter of colors that were the bound books. The first visit was just spent walking around the place. It was only in my second visit that I even try to take out the book that I had searched in Mission Library.

I relaxed to the moment spent in the library and my peace restored with my confidence in me to go on. There is no amount of talking can get me to calm down, as much as a visit to a library can accomplish. Larkin Main Branch Library was my angel in disguise.

Image Source: https://sfpl.org/