To A Stranger by Walt Whitman

In this poem, Walt Whitman uses verse to put forward the idea of universal connectivity. He talks about a stranger, being exceedingly vague in his description of the person.  He leaves the complete identity, right down to the gender of the stranger, ambiguous and open to interpretation, hence effectively  widening its scope to encompass all of humanity.

Something about the stranger strikes a spark of remembrance in Whitman, who is suddenly overcome with a sense of vague nostalgia. He proclaims that his path has undoubtedly crossed that of the strangers before, a long time ago in a previous life. He recounts fondly the wisps of a memory that he is able to recollect, of a time where his and the strangers lives have intertwined. According to Whitman, in the haze of a memory, he relives the time when he and this stranger had been inseparable, recalling affectionately how they had grown together, from boys to men, having shared beds, food and milestones throughout that life.

He muses on the absurdity and misfortune of social norms which prevents two willing strangers from interacting with each other. Due to this unwritten manifesto of society, Whitman knows that it is not in his destiny to approach the stranger, who was once his better half and is left with the comfort of reminiscing their journey together in solitude.

I Refuse To Write What I Know

Write What You Like

They say you should write what you know. That somehow writing from experience helps bring out the realism in the writing allowing the reader to better connect and identify with the piece. But you know what? I refuse to write what I know. To me, writing is my escape. Isn’t the sole reason we devour book after endless book, immerse ourselves in movies on a continuous roll and write fiction like our life depended on it because we want to step out of our mundane, trouble ridden lives for just a while?

I will connect with my readers with another way. I shall forge this sacred bond between writer and reader by putting in words those unspeakable things- their deepest desires, the wishes on stars on those desperate days, the lives they fantasize about when the world gets too much to bear.  Those unrealistic hopes, aspirations, dreams.Because ultimately, we all desire the same Utopia . In a world where we all just want to unplug, I will be their solace.

Writing to me is salvation, my temporary asylum from a life that never quite seems to go as planned. When I write, I transport myself into another dimension altogether, one where music, beauty, art and literature all merge into a fusion of color which play in the wind, complementing each other just so. Sitting at the keyboard, I explore worlds that never existed until a minute ago when I created it from nothingness, a world where I hold destiny at my fingertips. In a world where impossible is literally just a word, I fearlessly play the game of chance knowing I can never lose.

I’ve spent half my life in a world to which I provide my own personalized soundtrack; a symphony that is my own personal blend of the sounds of my hopes, ambitions and victories. A place where I can give that powerless girl the world at her feet, make the underdog win for a change, create my own demons and destroy them all with the stoke of my keyboard-a world where where defeat is always balanced out with triumph, where a happy ending in inevitable. I once wrote about how beauty will save the world. It saves me everyday.

I often wondered how people who don’t write find it in themselves to stay sane. Sitting there at my keyboard, I can live a thousand lives- it gives me the freedom to go tour the world when I’m bound in one place. And such is the magic of language because I know that once I leave, I’ll never be returning back to the same place. Yes, evading is never the answer but in a world so listless and mundane, is it so wrong to beautify a moment?

Munnar

Munnar

It’s gorgeous over here, its spread across the top of these ranges of mountains and the weathers a lot like Maine weather. On the 8 hour bus ride over here around the winding valleys, I did absolutely nothing but sit by the window and stare. There’s something about being on eye level with clouds, surrounded by nothing but miles and miles of tea plantations and untainted wilderness; with the drops of sunlight filtering through the canopy of trees overhead that makes you forget about every single trouble – almost hypnotizing you, making thought of any kind impossible. The dew hangs like drops of quicksilver from the overhead trees and there is a profusion of wildflowers around each corner. Kerela is called ‘God’s own Country’ and it literally radiates some divine force with its flawless landscapes and breathtaking beauty. The mountains lie in slumber, defining magnificence with not only their mass but how they manage to blend in so perfectly in the background, managing to look so powerful without undermining the scenery around it. Waterfalls crash in deep pools- arising and disappearing from absolute oblivion. The symphony of the whistling trees and the weightless clouds overhead leave little to be desired. Inhaling the brisk air- the mixed smell of tea and wet earth, it feels as though this air alone can cure any sickness. You can almost feel yourself passively absorbing the beauty of this place and holding your breath, afraid to shatter the ungodly perfection that surrounds this place. Each aspect of this place, fits in together like a puzzle- crystal clear and listless. Who says paradise isn’t right here on Earth? The glistening of the drops of sun and the waves softly kissing the shore, murmuring in song makes technology feel oddly out of place in my hand, makes music sound like uncomprehensionable noise and makes it almost impossible to think that the houses we left behind back home is the ‘better’ place. At dusk, standing underneath the blazing sky and staring into the endless mountain ranges makes you feel so small but yet at the same time- a part of something so much bigger. As the last song of the birds overhead slowly dies into the spreading blanket of darkness- it seems to take with it any lingering thoughts and leaves you in a state of absolute bliss; as though saying- until tomorrow.

The Truth Behind Triumph and Disaster

The Truth Behind Triumph and Disaster

We all face loss sometime in our lives. It might be those loses that shake the very foundation of our world and leave us groping helplessly in the dark; it might be those loses that we accept as a passage of rite in life, those that leave us just a little bit wiser and cautious, or it might be just those daily losses that are so common and insignificant in the grand scheme of things that we barely even notice them at all such as the loss of another day.

However profound or insignificant these losses may be, they all have one thing in common. It is inevitable that even through these losses, past all the grief and turmoil- life will go on. But at the time of grieving, we are unable to see this logic, or rather unwilling to accept the truth that life will continue without it, unaffected and unaltered, just as it did before. And so, in that moment, we allow ourselves the indulgence of forgetting the world outside and drowning ourselves in a fortress of sadness and solitude.

But as everything in nature, the good comes along to maintain this state of limbo, to steady the tilting balance of good against evil in this unreal world. And it is for these moments that we live- it is that momentary glimpse of happiness that makes all the hardships of everyday life feel worthwhile.

This is the cycle of life, it has been so since the beginning of time and truly, it is how it should be. For it is only after surviving the plunge of the fall that the bird can truly rise.

However, it is in the the very attitude with which we embrace the good and the bad wherein our fault lies.

Rudyard Kipling once wrote:

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same”

and by penning these words, he successfully disclosed the pathway to happiness. No, not happiness but rather, he unveiled the path to eternal contentment.

There is a reason Kipling so rightly coined the two as impostors, warning us of their presence and their ability to govern our lives through their subtle ways, for truly, neither is what is seems to be.

Triumph. The sole ambition of every person here today is to be triumphant in his endeavors, be it in the treacherous fields of work, love or even leisure. We all strive and push ourselves ruthlessly, grasping and clawing with our fingernails to capture that contentment we know as Triumph. But it seems as though no matter how hard we may try, the elusive creature always seems to be just beyond our reach. And then, on finally conquering all odds and attaining that much sought after Triumph, we are deluded by the bubble-like security it brings with it and in that moment, we truly believe we are invincible. We get comfortable, complacent, start resting on past laurels and fail to remember that one piece of wisdom that all our parents imparted to us every day of our youth, the wary warning that pride comes before a fall. And what a fall it shall be.

And then there’s Disaster. The one we spend each day trying to evade but which in time we know, will inevitably get the better of us. But see here’s the thing- Disaster is highly misunderstood. It is counted as defeat, a sign of weakness and failure. Wrapped in our web of misery and doubt, in that very moment, we fail to see that looking back, this would be the historical turning point in our lives, the kodak moment that will determine the future. For it is moments like these that tests the character of a man, the very fabric of his soul. That draw the line between the coward and the brave, between the Triumphant and the Defeated.

For it is in that very moment where we make the single most important decision that has the power to govern the rest of our lives- the decision no one can make for us for the answer must come from within. In that moment, amidst the internal turmoil of grief, regret, hatred and doubt, we answer life’s single most hardest question. And this question is whether to give up and stay where you are or to claw your way, inch by excruciating inch out of the abyss of defeat back into the glorious light of success.

And so you have it, the ugly truth covered. The reality remained stripped of all the delusions and lies our minds perceived. If right now you’re confused as how to approach every Triumph and Disaster you are to encounter during your brief sojourn on this inn we call the Earth, well then, Kipling has given us the answer to that as well- Treat those two impostors just the same.

Tempest

The rumble that the gods did make,
and the very earth did shake

Its glory to the heavens be sung,
The crashing clap of thunder rung

The constant lull of rain was so,
The very essence of earth did glow

The power of the rain was that,
It hisses and clapped and broke and spat

It rose up loud and roared with might
drenching all which was in sight

Relentless power, never to be undone,
Invictus; unstoppable by anyone

It crashed and roared, it rose and fell,
Capturing Earth in its ethereal spell

It commanded attention, not to be ignored,
It proclaimed its message from our Lord,

The beauty its destruction did bear,
Its influence seen everywhere

Those who lost did lament,
For beauty is not without price sent

But compensate the rain did do
For drenched in mercy, from old new grew

Nature’s change agent sent to cleared the old,
For to pay the price of new, the old must be sold

Torrential shower,no falter it showed,
it served it purpose, did what was told

For the duty of the tempest was not to wet,
but ’twas to ignite the fire, the lust which slept.

Beauty as a Force

I recently read on a blog an article called Beauty will save the world.

It was an article about how beauty though maybe not directly, but in the long run is the thing responsible for in fact ‘saving the world’. This article was so beautifully written and executed that it got me thinking of the role beauty plays in our lives.

Beauty can be found in everything. It is present everywhere, concealed in the everyday occurring of our lives. It is present in each glorious sunset and sunrise, in the magnificent thunderstorms, the glistening of water, the tantalizing breeze. It’s in the cell phones in our hands, the key board at my fingertips, the newspapers in our laps- for in these creations I see the beauty in the minds of their inventors who were able to dream, visualize the nonexistent and create from scratch. There is beauty in the world at large, in the ability of people of different cultures, ideologies and mindsets to communicate, to alter each other’s circumstances and lives subconsciously, to coexist every single day, every single time we step outside the house,

Beauty itself does not contribute to our daily survival. Law, medicine, business, engineering are all commendable professions needed to sustain life. But that’s just it. They merely sustain. The ensure existence, mere survival. Beauty however on the other hand, ensures progress and evolution. Creativity is the sole force that propels our world forward. And people create when they are inspired. As writers, we know all too well that one does not simply wake up inspired. Inspiration must be found, sought out either inside or outside; it must be found in beauty.

For me, it is not the brush strokes or the contrast of colors or anything of that nature that inspires me when I look at the works of art by artists like Picasso and Michelangelo. Rather, it is the painting as a whole, the passion, the vibrance, the story, the beauty that serves to inspire me. Artists, be it of any kind, are the makers of society. They take on the role of creationists, they picture that which does not exist, except in the individual’s mind’s eye. They transcend the pit falls of ordinary thought in whose snares the average man falls victim and instead immerse themselves in a world of their own, a device of their own creation. They dare to take on the role of God and create anew. And these creations of theirs are what we call art.

It is by looking at the art, or the ‘creations’ of the Greats that we ordinary people get inspired, inspired by their beauty. When we witness something so magnificently beautiful a lust is awakened within us and we too feel the urge to create something just as beautiful. Beauty inspires beauty, it ignites the dying embers of innovation,  it instills creativity and dares us to think beyond what we know. And it is by daring to think outside the box that new things are created- new methods in medicine, new programs in technology, new theories and amendments in laws. If it weren’t for beauty, there would be no evolution. Generation after generation would be blinding repeating and mimicking their ancestors and the world as we know it would continue in this monotonous pattern.

So here’s to us artists, the creators of the unseen, the flame-bearers of our generation, the illuminati, the driving force the propels this world forward. For in the end, it is indeed beauty that will save this world.

Expectations.

Expectations

We’ll all heard it, every single day of our lives. If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried. This implies that trial without failure doesn’t exist, that failure is inevitable. So then why do we yet try? Why do we brush ourselves and get up every time we fall, knowing fully well that we are just setting ourselves to fall again, knowing that we are setting ourselves once again to be subject to the judgmental eyes of society. Why do we put ourselves out there and expose ourselves time and time again to pain? Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes. Then why are we prone to keep trying every time even when it hurts so bad?
Everyone has expectation from you. They may not say it, or even know it but they do. People always sum you up, maybe based on the first encounter, or maybe based on a lifetime of knowing you. By summing you up, they set the limit for your standards, what they expect you to do. Expectations are like a most likely scenario you may say. And the only thing everyone of us wants is surprise them and go beyond those expectations, surpassing their boundaries. We all like to think of ourselves as hardcore, and so we push our limits and keep pushing until it hurts. Because who doesn’t want to be a hero? But more importantly, because we can’t bear the be the subject of their scrutiny, their judgment. The look in their eyes when they hear the result of our labor. The look of disappointment and anger in the eyes of parents and well wishers, of judgment in the eyes of new acquaintances and of sympathy in old,and that of tempestuous glee and contentment in the eyes of our competition.
And so we push, on and on past the pain, fatigue, insecurities, doubts and anger. We keep pushing. Because the biggest expectations come from within, the impossible standards we set for ourselves just to prove… prove what? Prove that we are as good as anybody out there, that we are extraordinary, that we are worth something. And who are we proving this to? You may blame it on society but that’s just an excuse- a facade to hide behind a shadow of lies.  Because in reality, we are proving this to ourselves, proving so that we may sleep peacefully at night.
And so we keep trying, because there is a force that drives us. This force may be influenced by many external factors but ultimately, it comes from within. We try because we know we can’t live with ourselves if we don’t. We try so we don’t die with regrets, a life full of ‘what-ifs’. We try as hard as we can and pray to God that this time won’t be the same as all the others. We keep trying.
So here’s to expectations- the sole force that drives this world forward.

Computer v/s Books

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers- Charles. W. Eliot

The Computer or the Internet to be more specific is very much like television in that it takes time away from other pursuits, provides entertainment and information, but in no way can compare with the warm, personal experience of reading a good book. This is not the only reason why the Internet will never replace books, for books provide the in-depth knowledge of a subject that sitting in front of a computer monitor cannot provide. We can download text from an Internet source, but the aesthetic quality of sheets of downloaded text leave much to be desired. A well-designed book enhances the reading experience. The Internet will never be able to deliver the feel of holding a book, the roughness of the pages, the sweet smell of freshly printed paper; the shiny, glossy, untouched cover or the crispness of the new pages. Convenience is another thing that puts books above computers. The easy portability of the book is what makes it the most user-friendly format for knowledge ever invented. The idea that one can carry in one’s pocket a play by Shakespeare, a novel by Charles Dickens or Tom Clancy, Plato’s Dialogues, or the Bible in a small paperback edition is mind-boggling. We take such uncommon convenience for granted, not realizing that the book itself has undergone quite an evolution since the production of the Gutenberg Bible in 1455 and Shakespeare’s First Folio in 1623. However, intimacy I feel conquers everything that I have mentioned above. The Internet will never be able to deliver the feel of holding a book, of owning your very own book; knowing that you are the only one who will read this copy, the secret thrill that joy brings, that this book is yours, and yours only.
Feel. The feel of the book provides half the joy of reading a book. The computer will never be able to provide the feel of the book-the rough texture of the page as you thumb through the book, the feel of the adrenaline kicking in, high lightening all your senses as you turn the page of your mystery novel, the pages of the book sticking together because of the sweat from your cold, sweaty hands as you clamp the book tightly in your excitement, the feeling, once your lost in a book, seeing the images in front of your eyes as though you’re watching a movie, completely unaware of your surroundings, even unaware of when you are turning the page. The computer, how ever developed it may become, will never be able to come even close to replicating such a thrill. Can you imagine clutching the cold, metal of your laptop in the spur of the moment rather than the rough, warm pages of your book or slamming shut the screen of your laptop rather than the cover of your book, clutching it to your chest and rolling around your bed when you don’t think you can bring you’re self to see what written in the next line?
Convenience. The book, unlike the computer, is hassle-free. Just purchase a book, out it in your bag, and you can read it whenever you want- one the train, on your way to work, on your coffee break, when there is an extraordinarily long advertisement break going on on V or even when you are taken over by insomnia at three in the morning . This, however, cannot be said for computers. In the case of computers, not only do you have to carry the heavy laptop itself, you have to carry all the various plug-ins and cables. Then comes the job of finding an Internet outlet or a Wi-Fi zone for Internet connection. Then, just when you’ve settled down, and more importantly just when Harry lowers his wand and stands defenseless against Voldemort and his army of Deatheaters or when Robert Langdon stands holding the fate of the entire Vatican City in his hands with the container of antimatter, what should happen but the battery dies and no amount of yelling at it and frantically pressing the power button will bring it back before you reach home and charge it for a good half-hour, leaving you tearing out your hair and cursing it in agony.
Intimacy. Owning a book, being able to see it laying around your house, complete with ‘doggy-ears’ , being able to open it and start reading it immediately without having to wait for your computer to boot up first, being able to see the stain marks from where you were eating Maggie Noodles while reading because you couldn’t get yourself to put down your book, even for a minute and your mother was shouting at you for making the food cold and have that sense of nostalgia come rushing back to you, that’s all part of the experience of reading a book which I feel nobody should be deprived from. While reading the book also, I don’t know about you, but I would rather sit in the comfort of my own bed, snuggled down under the covers on a cold, rainy day listening to the soothing and some-what sound hypnotizing of the rain against my window than sit focus-straight staring at the computer screen till my eyes start watering or be at some coffee shop such as Barista amongst a bunch of strangers, being watched and constantly interrupted by the waitresses asking if I would need anything else while I was reading.
Books provide a bridge to the past, to all of those who have gone before us and have left us the wisdom accumulated by their life experiences. Books have that magical ability to bring the past to life through the words of those who lived in years gone by. If you want to truly know history, you must read the actual words of those who lived it, unabridged and unrevised by today’s proponents of political correctness.
Books are also companions in a way that the Internet can never be. The author speaks to us directly through the pages. We hear his or her voice. If the story is compelling, it will become part of our own mentalities and provide us with an experience which we will have had through the author. We will have known what it was like to survive a concentration camp, or live the life of a great actress or statesman or musician, or suffer climbing Mount Everest, or rejoice in making a great scientific discovery. Each of us has only one life to live, but we can vicariously live a great many other lives through books written by other human beings. That is why the power of the book can never be replaced by the Internet.
That is not to say the Internet is any less than it is. The Internet, as it continues to grow, is certainly one of the most remarkable technological developments in the history of mankind. Its ability to connect us all with the entire world is what makes it so extraordinary. For example, you can read the morning’s headlines or weather reports in Australian newspapers, explore the subway system in Buenos Aires, or locate a long-lost friend in the U.S. if he or she has a telephone. Through email you can communicate with anyone anywhere who also has an email address. You can even discuss the latest book you’ve read.
But will the Internet ever replace books? Not on your life.

Songs of Ages Past.

The Songs of Ages Past.

So I just spent the last 2 hours with my mom and older sister listening to songs from ages past. Is it just me or are Dean Martin and Engelbert Humperdinck just the sultriest men alive? The grace, the suave, the attitude, the strut is all part of the package. They are the definition of the very word dapper. Their voices however seal the deal. Men like these are conclusive proof that a good voice and a microphone is all you need to make good music. No lights, no effects, no smoke machines- just good-old pure, raw talent. It’s at times like this when I wish I was there to experience the 50’s all the way to the 80’s in its full varsity sweaters, high skirts and milkshake glory. Yes, it was also the time of segregation and yes, there was a nuclear arms race ranging through the world back then but though today’s generation may have have surpassed them in the political sphere, with musical legends like that dominating the scenes back then, they put today’s music industry to shame. Our generation has heard once too often of those Saturday Night radios shows, when entire towns and cities would shut down for hours while everyone glued themselves to their radio and stereo sets.Ranging from The Bee-Jees and The Beatles, to legends like Tom Jones and Simon and Garfunkel, each artists seemed to outdo the other. Their lyrics, among other things are probably one of the key differences between the music of the ‘Golden Ages’ and that of today. Their lyrics are almost pure poetry set to tune, transcending beyond the average talk of heartbreak and relationships that the music industry of today so wholly exploits, and shedding light on the fears and hopes on man, the very essence of humanity. Maybe not all songs of that time do this, but this definitely stands true for the majority of them.

Take the song The Sound of Silence sung by Simon and Garfunkel for instance- this song with its intricate descriptions in the lyrics set to a soft, almost eerily ethereal music that compliments it just so, can literally paint a picture, complete with a setting to the very last detail while also capturing and emitting an emotion, one that this writer is unable to put in worlds, all through a 3 minute song.

I must stay true to my generation and in their defense say that many a songs today also speak of such worldly truths but with all due respect to the music industry of today, I would have to say that songs of today fall drastically short in both material and melody and the heart of this 16 year old girl from India today shall forever lie in in the sublime era of the 50s.

“And the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls..”
– The Sound of Silence
by Simon and Garfunkel.