(author’s note: I hope the writing is clear. admittedly my camera work is not exactly up to mark all the time. As always do let me know about your opinions and things to improve.)T
(author’s note: I hope the writing is clear. admittedly my camera work is not exactly up to mark all the time. As always do let me know about your opinions and things to improve.)T
To appreciate the little things in life. a random encounter, a good meal, a compliment from a friend and sudden shower. it is strange how easy it seems to undervalue the simplest pleasure.
To pay attention. things have a way to often not being what they seem. to read the fine print, to see beyond what’s obvious sometimes makes all the difference in the world.
To not underestimate those around us. so routinely we look down on people around us, discounting their potential and judging their abilities based on only what we can see. remember though, one must take great caution choosing friends or enemies solely on appearance.
The importance of hard work. you’re not exceptional, chances are you’re not even as good as you think. the only difference between you and the person next in line then would be your willingness to improve. its okay really, to fail. chances are you’ll fail more often than succeed but it’s critical that you pick yourself up and go at it again. and again. and again. evolution never gave any being a hundred per cent success rate.
There will be times in our life when being honest would seem too much trouble. conforming would seem the only logical solution and at times like these, we must remember we were made different for a reason. to be yourself in a crowd of conformers doesn’t just put a target on your back, it also makes you stand out in the crowd.
(edit1. All the photos are from the collection of yours truly; feel free to use them. just remember to pass on the source)
We are a generation which grew up on most improbable notions.
They had us convinced that we’re special and all we need to do is to believe really hard and everything we dream of would come true, to never give up is all you need to do.
That we’re all diamonds in rough and one day world would recognize us for we are and we’ll have fame and money, the happily ever after.
Not one of us, isn’t sold on the idea of true love, O how we Wait and wait! for that person who would come along make all out troubles seem miraculously easy to deal with! This one would be special for he or she would accept us with all our flaws (even if you are a sadist who likes torturing puppies in free time!), the power of true love would save you from every misery you ever suffered and you’ll live happily ever after.
Well chances are you already know better, if you don’t then I hate to break it to you but that’s just not happening.
P. S. It’s understandable that you may not agree with me and I’d understand that even if I don’t agree with it. Isn’t it better to see things how they really are no matter how bleak than to just rather believe blindly?
P. P. S. Do let me know what you think about this in the comments section.
Everyone needs to be reminded of this every once in a while.
I write a lot about winning and success because I enjoy being successful and I love winning.
And I imagine that most of you who are reading this post think about success at least once a day and are framing some aspect of your reality around achieving high levels of success. Most of us have big goals we would like to attain, and we desire to live a meaningful life.
But here is something many people have either not considered or do not fully understand.
Success almost never shows up when you think it should. And success certainly does not show up right away. It takes TIME to win! It does not matter how good or great you think you are at your craft or niche. It does not matter how awesome you think your ideas or plans are, the fact is, enduring success takes time to accomplish.
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He laid down the black heart at the old man’s feet, it still beat sometimes… but much weaker than when he had cut it out of its body. The old man looked unimpressed, ‘so you killed the monster?’
The knight, still high on the frenzy that comes from blood nodded; he laid his sword down in the Wizard’s shadow… it still shone with the wyrm’s life blood.
‘Tell me Ser, how did you accomplish this feat?’ the knight bowed reverentially, ‘night and day I climbed up the mountain where it stayed.’ it seemed like just now when he finally climbed on the final ledge and came upon the sleeping devil.
‘The wyrm roared and spat hellfire on me!’ it had been sound asleep, its lair reeking of rotten flesh and something much worse. ‘But I was quicker, I ducked behind a stone and waited for it to tire.’ there was a treasure in its lair. More gold than he had seen in all his life. ‘When the beast paused I threw a piece of glass to distract it from Me.’ even a peasant knew of a wyrm’s lust for all that glittered.
‘When it turned I jumped on its back and drew out my sword’ he made a swinging motion ‘and chopped off the devil’s head!’
‘Hmm… so the monster knew you were there when you killed him?’ the knight was startled, he pretended to be offended ‘yes,’ he answered curtly, ‘the wyrm knew who had slain it?’ it wasn’t a lie, you see just before he pierced the monster’s heart the beast did wake up. It’s dying cry still rang in his ears.
The old wizard nodded, ‘and did the monster said anything to you?’
‘My lord,’ said the knight, ‘a wyrm is no being of sentience. It showed nothing more than the low cunning of its kind.’ of course he was not going to tell the man what it said, those words were a curse and he knew for he had heard far too many of them in his years. ‘What you are, is what I was,’ the monster had sighed in its guttural voice ‘what I am… is what you will be.’ no! He cannot tell the old man about the curse lest he thinks him unworthy.
‘very well.’ the wizard agreed, ‘what do you want?’ the knight checked his temper, he had killed the monster on the old man’s order, he had traveled a hundred leagues and back to the monster’s lair and risked his own life in the process. The least he could ask for was gratitude!
‘You seem angry Ser,’ noticed the wizard ‘does it have to do with me?’ the knight remained stoic, ‘ah! You must forgive an old man’s irreverence.’ he smiled at the Knight; sitting on the rock on the hillside he had first given the task to the knight.
‘Ask for anything you want and it’ll be yours.’
The knight went down on one knee ‘to serve you alone is my reward.’ the wizard smiled, broader now obviously flattered. ‘We do not have to play this game young knight.’ the knight frowned; it had been a long time since anyone called him “young”.
‘I have heard of you Ser, and of your quest.’ the knight looked pretended to be confused, ‘it wasn’t a coincidence that you arrived here when I needed you. It was ordained so a long time ago.’
He could already feel the success, just a bit more.
‘My quest could be fulfilled only if I have proven myself worthy!’ he said empathically.
The old man chuckled, ‘you are a cunning one alright.’ he admitted
‘Yet,’ the knight was surprised by the sudden hardness in the old man’s voice ‘you are no different than others. Are you?’
‘I killed your monster.’
‘You killed a monster.’
‘ Because you asked me to!’ the wizard shook his head, ‘you killed it because you wanted to, for the reward and for glory, is it not true? Ser Wyrmsbane?’ Wyrmsbane ! The knight smiled despite himself.
‘Enough jests, let us be honest now Ser Wyrmsbane shall we?’
The knight bowed his head ‘my Lord knows of the reward I seek above all.’ he sensed the change in wizard’s mood, ‘indeed.’ said the wizard, ‘neither treasures nor kingdoms. Neither love nor peace.’
‘I can always gain them on my own.’ explained the knight. ‘indeed.’ agreed the Old man ‘yet, you are afraid.’ the old man’s voice was barely a whisper ‘frightened of what tomorrow holds for you in store.’
The knight stiffened, how much did the old man know? No! He thought he must not do anything foolish not now.
‘You grow weaker with each passing day, closer to your end.’ He was eight when he killed for the first time.
‘You know of the monsters waiting at the end of your road.’ he was eighteen and a young knight, absolved of sins and crusading in the foreign lands. Slaughtering blasphemes and raping heretics,
‘And these monsters you cannot kill with that sword of yours can you, Ser Wyrmsbane?’
He remembered the last stop he had made before scaling the mountaintop, the sweet young maiden he had lured and deflowered with his sweet words and false chivalry. He promised to take her away with him when he returned, make her his lady… just as he had promised to so many others. All their faces now merged into one in his mind.
‘Why did you not come?’ they ask ‘why? Why?’
‘You have made enemies and betrayed friends so you fear vengeance.’
‘ENOUGH!’ said the knight, his armor grew heavier as his breath raced, and he had never felt as old as he did now. ‘Grant me my wish or let me go.’ growled the knight, the wizard chuckled.
‘immortality.’ mused the old man who had seen five and forty kings in his time ‘to defeat the final enemy.’ the knight remained stoic, ‘to outlive your enemies and all who mean you ill. Is that what you wish?’
Yes! Yes! Yes! That was all he ever thought of… the future, the uncertainty of tomorrow was the only thing that terrified him. Never thought twice the Knight before jumping into the fray of the battle or maw of monster but nightmares of old age kept him awake all night until he drowned them with wine. Neither his armor nor his sword could keep away the chains of time.
The wizard nodded, at the snap of his fingers, raven-clouds turned the dusk into midnight. Thunder rumbled and the storm picked up. Yes! The knight thought, finally.
‘ I give you exactly what you seek Ser Wyrmsbane! ‘ the voice rang with authority; the knight could have felt the magic coursing through him.
‘ Let the bonds of mortality be severed so the true form could be released! ‘ wait! Something was not right… immortality should not hurt this much.
‘ Let the past loosen its grip and the future sees you as you are!’ the Knight screams in agony. His body twists upon itself… his armor stretches and cracks, the jerkin underneath sizzles as his skin cracks and darkens. ‘Noooooo!!’
‘You will live forever, neither age nor die.’ ‘ AAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!’ his voice cracks ‘you can not…’ reduced to guttural sounds of an animal.
There was something cruel in the way the old man smiled, what used to be a knight whimpers in pain… his head was splitting in agony, his body was pitch black as if burnt crisp… when he sighs, he breathes fire.
‘Welcome to immortality, Ser.’ the monster whimpers, why?
The wizard looks down at him, still on all four ‘ why you ask Ser?’ what used to be a knight cowers, terrified of the frail old man.
‘You should know immortality brings out the true form of a man. You have slain monsters all your life but in your core, you were always one of them.’
The wyrm snarls, the old man annoys him with his smile ‘but that’s not all bad, is it?’
‘Soon your memories would fade and you would be reduced to a true beast.’ the monster roars, unleashing a jet of blue flames on the puny thing.
‘ENOUGH!’ sky rumbled and despite himself, the dragon fell quiet. The wizard rose above its fire, untouched.
‘You have caused much pain.’ it snapped its jaws at him ‘go now, back to the darkness. Enjoy your reward as the one before you.’ there was power in the voice; the urge to escape overwhelms it all of a sudden. The wyrm spreads its enormous wings and flies away, away from the old man.
The black dragon found a lair deep in the mountains where he laid himself down to rest.
He still sleeps in the darkness, he dreams about a man killing a monster.
Remember the first time you saw a baby? This tiny being someone you know just placed in your arms to hold.
This tiny bundle of dreams, so weak… so helpless… so unbearably beautiful.
It doesn’t matter how old you were then… this memory never really fades, because there’s something too pure in it. So incredibly aware of this little one’s breaths… the heartbeat, the small sounds the baby is making. You touch it for the first time… tenderly in the tiny hands, and then all of a sudden the baby reaches out and grabs your finger (the thrill of that moment, the adrenaline rush you feel then is unlike anything you would ever feel again.)
in that one moment, no matter what your age, your belief is… all your pain, all your prejudices are emptied out. There is nothing left inside you that is negative. The first time you hold a baby all you remember feeling, is what you knew instinctively when you arrived in the world. To love and to protect.
Today, when hate seems to run the world, and fear grows deeper into the heart, every now and then we hear about instances where people, normal everyday folks like you and I, do the extraordinary for sake of others.
Dar Yasin was on duty as he had been for a couple of years now, as a photojournalist covering the social and political turmoil going on in the Kashmir valley, that particular day he was covering protests in Srinagar. He noticed a group of school girls caught in the crossfire between military and locals, one of their friends, 18-year-old Khushboo was struck with stone already bleeding. Now what he did next was important, he dropped his camera on the ground and picked up Khushboo; carrying the unconscious girl and leading her friends to safety. Khushboo was taken to a nearby hospital by a cab and one of Yasin’s colleague photographed him in the process. Think about it for a moment, Yasin wasn’t the only onlooker… he wasn’t fighting for the “Azadi”, the liberation of all Kashmiris as the protesters claimed they were doing nor was he one of the army, the ones who tried to maintain and peace and order in the state. He was working as an observer, his job adventurous as it was involved no such heroics but he became a hero anyway because in the heat of the moment he chose the greater good.
Debendra Kapri, on May 4 walked into the Police station near IGI Domestic Airport in Delhi. He was there to deposit a backpack some passenger had left in the backseat of his cab earlier that day. With gold, an iPhone and foreign currency worth 700000 rs (roughly 11000 USD); he comes from hinterlands of Northern India with a chip on his shoulder to bear expenses for a large family and to pay back a loan of roughly 1000 USD. It’s not that he didn’t know what the backpack contained; in his statement, he admitted opening it before depositing it to the cops… that single backpack could have been an answer to all his problems and then some. Only, the 22-year old did the impossible, choosing to do the right thing.
Yasin… Kapri… Abdlkar… these are a just handful of names we know, every day out there unnoticed and unseen there are ordinary people at work doing extraordinary for others.
Their deeds may not seem to make much difference not when you put in perspective against the horrors people fueled by hate and fear do every day.
But their deeds inspire people… ordinary people around them to do similar things. Simple deeds, seemingly insignificant favors to others. A chain of goodness that goes on, slower but steadier in-deterring in the face of crisis, sometimes even enhanced by it.
Maybe people are inherently good maybe we all meant well when we started out but lost our ways somewhere down the road, or maybe we are all dark deep down and only good we do is a pretense for acceptance from our peers. Or maybe humans are entirely amoral, the notions of good and evil are constructs entirely in the mind of the judge… there is evidence supporting every perspective.
Only when you think about it this way, that a five-year-old child won’t hate another because they are of the different cast or because they belong to different regions and follow different religions. The child must be taught this… hatred must be learned.
In phylogeny, an acquired trait is something every organism learns in the course of its life to assist better chances in its survival but unlike the inherited traits, these cannot be passed down the line and each individual must learn it from the start.
Thus we can assume hatred and prejudice are very loosely analogous to acquired trait, I say loosely because neither of two does anything remarkable to improve the quality of life either for the perpetrator or the victim. Love, on the other hand, tendency to safeguard young ones and helping the helpless are not only common in all social animals (ants, termites, bees right up to elephants and apes.) but has been coded into their genome and passed down through generations, why?
Because love is evolutionary advantageous… loving and protecting someone ensures increased security in future(read up about Altruism in the biological sense). So logically speaking at this point love becomes selfish. Protecting others and overlooking one’s own good for sake of others are inherited down the generations only because it’s beneficial to the parties involved either as direct fitness or indirect security.
However, in an interaction where both parties are benefited even if for a selfish reason is better than when one of the two involved ends up harming the other.
So where do we stand in the end? I do not really know… call me a skeptic, but here’s what someone told me not too long ago
“true that world statistics about population etc are bad… but true nature of humans is to love and be kind…and till how long do you think anyone can run away from their true nature?”
well, Spes! I give you this one. Maybe not all of us are bad, maybe not all of us are good… maybe most of us are just lost and scared… logic dictates there’s always an equilibrium in-universe, destruction and creation… extinction and evolution… order and chaos… safe to say therefore, for every terrified jihadi doing horrific atrocity there must be at least ten ordinary people doing unbelievable feats of goodness, none of them as large in magnitude as the single act of terror individually, but combined together these acts of kindness give us hope that perhaps someday world would be a better place. Maybe Gandalf got it right
“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love… small acts of kindness and love.”
Whenever I am in wild, I always find time to walk and wonder
and this is what always comes to my mind.
What if the mountains could speak
and tell all that they had seen.
Or if we could understand the river’s murmur
about the places, she had been.
Or the small ones around us who scuttle and hiss
imagine what of their view, of all that we miss.
Or how about the green, out of earth which grows;
of all sort of secrets, I am sure it knows.
Whenever I am in wild, I always find time to walk and wonder
and this is what always comes to my mind.
“A Man is least himself when he talks in his own person, give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.”
growing up Oscar Wilde was an enigma for me because even though I loved his style and words, it was like listening to a song in an unknown language. You feel the beauty of the music and you listen to the melody but you can’t ever fully appreciate the true beauty of the song because the words of it don’t make sense to you.
Though I am older now I still can’t claim to understand all his works, I can appreciate him a lot more than my younger self. His quote about masks being my favorite.
As we grow older and the romantic idealism fades, we begin to realize the world is not black and white, there are far too many shades of gray (way more than just fifty) so in order to protect ourselves and the people around us we pick these masks and cover our true faces with them.
These masks are shades of what we really are, their sole function to let us walk in the world outside full of ideas and/or people our real selves can’t possibly get along with.
These masks help us accept things we would never otherwise.
These masks are a token admittance of our defeated attempts for individuality, for originality.
These masks allow us to be accepted by a world that won’t accept our true selves.
These masks are sometimes results of bitter experiences, the times we did try, to be honest with ourselves and the world; other times they are proofs of our cowardice, the times we were too scared and chose to take the easy way out.
Masks are really important for survival in everyday life, to go through the monotony without losing our sanity. Sometimes people suck at keeping appearances and they spend their lives resigned to be outcasts… sometimes bitter, other times sad about their peers. Other times there are people who get so good at wearing masks that they could be completely different person depending on their company.
Most people, however, are mediocre and spend their lives shuffling between a handful of masks and fistful of roles until the curtain falls and the people they left behind are doomed to wonder which was the real person and which were the masks?
Here’s the deal with masks, though, wear them long enough and you forget where the appearances end and the real you begins.My masks were pretty simple,
a) the polite guy-next-door
b) the gentleman who tried to keep everyone happy even if it ended up biting him later.
And so would the masks have stayed if I hadn’t gotten out. My trip to mountains happened three years ago around the last full moon of autumn. A couple of my friends, a couple of friends I thought I was friends with and a couple of people I didn’t know I’d end up being friends with, asked me if I’d like to go out. we took the night bus from the city to Rishikesh, this small beautiful place nestled in the foothills of Himalayas besides the Ganges. The late night bus we took was supposed to get us there at six a.m. You can understand thus the kind of driver we had when I tell you we got there at two a.m.
The following morning I woke up to the most beautiful scene I’ve ever seen in my life (yet!) it was at that moment that I knew I was in love with the mountains. At 6:12 on a chilly October morning of 2014.
I spent three days there… they’ve all merged into one long memory of one thing after another and I can’t separate the days for the life of me, what I do remember is the fact that I slept for 10 hours in those three days. Never tired and hardly ever exhausted.
One of those memories was when a friend of mine drove us up the mountain road at 3 in the morning in the pitch black darkness to what must have been five or six kilometers from the city to this small secluded place, too small to be called a “beach”. Lying down there though you could see the sky.
Faintest trace of milky way flowing across the sky… the bright gold full moon settling down for the night, in the wispy dress made of mountains’ mist. The pitch black night across the river grew lighter as it moved upwards and ended in the crown of conifers blue-green in the dazzling moonlight. The only sound (other than our voices) being the soft gurgle of Ganges already massive and deep. I can say for sure that it was that night I finally let go of my masks. The person I am underneath must’ve not been that likable after all because ever since I’ve lost more people than I’ve found but whatever few I did keep can see through my pretense for who I am.
The point of this rant is… to separate yourself from your masks you need safe places. These safe places can be people, the ones you can be brutally honest and utterly yourself with, safe places can also be literal places, places where you no longer felt the need of wearing masks. In order to do that however, you must take risks…
let people in, let yourself go out. Explore your surroundings, your neighborhood, your city. You don’t always have to leave everything behind if you are to find something new (because what’s the point of rediscovering yourself if not be a better person than before?) Take chances with people, more often than not they’ll disappoint you, more often than not you’ll end up picking the pieces of your broken heart but isn’t that the point? To find a person who’ll help you put the pieces back together. Drop your masks in front of those you love, those you trust. If they really love you back, they’d stay no matter how ugly the face underneath happens to be.
At the end of my trip to Rishikesh I ended up finding both sorts of safe places for myself. Even now, when things get too much and people begin to fray my nerves I go back to that chilly night in the mountains, where moon still waits and mother Ganges sings me a lullaby.
(picture credits. The kabuki masks are borrowed from, http://blog.mcbridemagic.com/reinventing-yourself/. The second photo was captured by yours truly.Third and fourth photos were clicked by Rohit, a budding photographer and currently working on Wildlife in foothills of Himalayas. An easy to get along person and one of my safe places)
As long as I can remember, closed cramped spaces have always made me uncomfortable. Pre-school classrooms, “cozy” houses, modular cars, elevator cars… there were no exceptions to it. As I grew older, the obvious panic I used to have I buried under the voice of logic until the only thing left was the deep unexplained discomfort that just appeared on the thought of being in cramped spaces. Even as a kid I always preferred outdoors, large airy spaces and the only time I ever spent indoors was when I was home. Nowhere else could I sit still for long unless I could see the sky or ground outside (I’d scream like a feral cat if you try to put me in the basement back then.)
so it’s easy to understand even in higher studies I chose to work in the field with all the assorted occupational hazards than being cooped in a lab under artificial lights staring down a microscope. (now don’t get me wrong, major breakthrough of biology usually do come from these people working in the labs on things too small to be seen with a naked eye but I’ve done enough lab work in my college days to understand that this was not my cup of tea). My first trip in the wild happened to be also the most liberating one. Up until this point, the wildest places I’ve been to were scrublands and parks gone wild (in the city these passed for forests really) being there after the dark was an adrenaline rush. Have you ever noticed how dark stimulates your imagination? Every stray branch feels like fingers clinging, every thorn a fang digging into your flesh and do I even need to start with the wind?
In the forest, the true one, however, it’s the quiet that hits you like the jackhammer. On the nights after working, late into the dark, it was always unnerving how the chaos of dozen callers would simply go quiet, almost like clockwork. On the nights like these, we would just walk in the dark, conquistadors in amazon (just with torches and recorders instead of swords and flames) looking for gold we knew waited for us to spot.
On nights like these, I would let my companions walk a bit ahead and turn off my torch. The sudden darkness would always nearly choke me, gloom closing on all around me. The canopy 20 meters above our heads would be gloomy with the waning moon but down on the floor for all intents and purpose it would be pitch black and I’ll be blind as a mole (I know the saying is a bat but moles are more suitable, believe me.)
in the dark like this, I’d walk a little at first, farther and longer at least until someone would notice the dark and call me out and I’ll have to turn on the lights.
The towering trees all around me were like giants in the dark, waiting …
little by little, night after night the claustrophobia in me disappeared. The fear of closed spaces faded away, though I am not still comfortable in cramped spaces it takes me longer to start screaming and run away shaking my head.now I don’t expect you to travel all the way to your nearest wilderness to get rid of your fears (though that’s a perfectly fine idea!)
I do however suggest that in order to overcome your fears you first must admit to them. only after accepting your flaws can you start working on overcoming them. afterward, it is all about working to overcome it… baby steps, of course, simpler things. having understanding friends and family does wonders to your improvements though that’s not an essential thing.
it took ten years and three months of nocturnal field work for me to get rid of my fear of darkness and closed spaces, now darkness holds no fear for me (apart from an occasional panther or a group of elephants but that’s another story.)