Saturday, August 3, 2013

When You Regret a Good Deed

Good deeds can be a fickle bitch. Even if you have demon parents who taught you nothing but destruction and gloom, you're still bombarded from birth with messages of "Help your fellow man" from virtually every song, movie, TV show, and video game in existence. But if you've been alive long enough to read and understand these words, you've most likely hit a stretch where it seems like no matter how much good you try to do, no one appreciates it. Hell, many of you probably work jobs where good deeds and extra effort aren't even acknowledged.
The hard part about good deeds, even if they're something simple like carrying groceries or delousing the neighbor's yak, is dealing with the dark void of no recognition. Or at the very least, understanding why people didn't accept your gesture while belting out Journey's "Open Arms." It's hard to keep in mind that:

Some People Just Don't Know How to React

When I'm in public, I'm painfully polite. I let people pass by first in a crowded aisle. I allow the person holding four items to check out before I pull up with my massive cart full of Red Bull and dildos. And I always hold doors open for people. The door thing is a problem for me.
Nothing will 180 my mood faster than offering a kind gesture and not even receiving a "Fuck you and everybody who lives in your house" in return. If I hold a door for someone and the person walks by without even acknowledging me, I cannot stop myself from shooting a smartass comment at him or her in my head as I walk away. It's usually something simple, like "The correct response is 'thank you,' fuckass." But I always want to follow it up with a suplex and maybe an elbow to the neck.
What's hard to remember is that most of us have grown up in a society that teaches caution toward and exclusion of strangers, nd with the sheer amount of violence and crime that spackles the news, I don't really blame them. I'll teach my kids to avoid strangers like Nickelback avoids depth.

To me, the person walking past in silence is an uppity, entitled piece of shit, thinking, "Yeah, you better hold the door for me, peasant." But to them, it's most likely "Don't make eye contact. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit ..." Either way, I walk away pissed off, and one day I'm going to say the wrong combination of "fuck" and "yourself," and the recipient is going to charge me like a rabid moose.

You Open Yourself Up to Be Their Personal Service Person

Every single "friend who is good with computers" knows exactly what I'm talking about here. A friend or family member's computer goes to shit because they haven't quite learned that not all boobs are free -- some are secretly malware cannons. Or they did virtually anything at all, because the Internet is a clusterfuck that requires 50 layers of protection in order to navigate. So they give you a call, and being the nice angelic person that you are, you merrily skip right over and spend the rest of the night unfucking their porn box.
Maybe they provide you with a free dinner and it feels pretty good to help someone out. Until they call you again the next week to come over and fix it again.

"Oh, this shouldn't take long. Can you bring me a hammer and a blowtorch?"

And then twice a month for the rest of your life. Even if you're not physically there, it doesn't stop them from calling and asking you how to do it themselves, which you know for a fact means that you're about to be on the most frustrating phone call of all time, most likely for a couple of hours, as they clumsily slap around their keyboard. You're pretty sure that at one point you're going to have to remind them that they can't eat the mouse.

It's not just "computer people" who get shafted with this. Any service-based profession is a potential target. I'm sure there are tons of mechanics reading this article thinking, "Yeah, sure, I can diagnose your car problem over the phone without ever looking at it, based on noises you're making with your mouth. And sure, I can make you understand what's wrong. Get comfortable while I teach you the entire inner workings of the combustion engine."

It seems like the worst possible response to a favor -- to assume that it implies infinite future favors -- but it's less about them being greedy time leeches and more about assuming you now "own" this problem. When any problem comes up in the future, they (not unreasonably) just assume it's related to the previous one, so they think it's just following up on the last thing and that it'll thus be easy to fix. If their geeky nephew knows how to fix "their Internet," why start over from scratch with somebody else and have to re-explain everything? So the call goes something like, "Hey, my Internet is doing that thing again, can you do what you did last time?" "Sure, remind me what 'thing' it's doing?" "You know. That thing where it stops working properly. Remember? And you fixed it by spending 14 hours re-installing every single piece of software I own?"

It doesn't take long to start regretting the initial offer to help once that cycle starts.

Many of Us Don't Know How to Give a Compliment

I don't know if this is a new trend or not, but I can't remember it happening much before the Internet. At least not at its current frequency. Then again, when I was growing up, I didn't have access to tens of thousands of people on places like Twitter. But what I've noticed in recent years is that people have a really hard time giving just a simple, honest compliment. It seems like it always has to come with some sort of barb or backhand. I don't know what causes it, but I see it constantly. And I'm not the only one.
For every single writer people talk to for every site, "You're the best writer on this site. You're the only reason I even still visit this shithole." Or "I love your work. You're so much better than that piece of shit Chad Writerperson."

Aside from the occasional troll, these people don't mean any harm by it. In fact, they mean the opposite. They read something they liked, and they went out of their way to tell the writer. I find that admirable, because most of the feedback people hear in the creative industry is negative. I just don't think they ever learned how to phrase those compliments in a way that's sincere and to the point. I guess it's a skill like anything else. It's just weird that our natural instinct is to balance out the positive with a little negative.
Of course, on the other side of that coin ...

I mean, if the police are complimenting me on how easy I am to detain and how beautiful my penis captures the sunlight and shades my lower body, what do I say to that? "I know"?
I wish there were a class for stuff like this, because those communication breakdowns cause way more problems than they're worth and I think that's one reason people shy away from good deeds. I guess that's why people say to just do them and not expect anything in return. The important part is that you did something admirable for a fellow human, right? At least I wish it were that simple.






Saturday, July 13, 2013

Incomplete

Sometimes there comes a time when you feel incomplete, even though you have everything but still it feels like a very important part of your life is missing. Nothing feels right. Nothing feels good. The sky is blue no more, the sun is bright no more, heart goes numb after you realize that nothing can fade the pain away.

Why does this happen you ask? Well, the answer is simple. We do this to ourselves. We fall in love, we try so hard to make ourselves worthy of  that person's love and respect, but what do we do in the end? We mess up everything again and again until it can't be fixed anymore, and they stop seeing a future with us.

It's sad how so much time and effort is wasted just because of the little mistakes we make in relationships, and most importantly we manage to hurt our loved ones even though it's the last thing we want to do.

Don't you just wish you could tell them how much they mean to you, and how badly you want them to be yours forever? So many words remains unsaid, so many promises never made, so many REGRETS.

So, guys, if you have that someone in your lives who makes you feel alive, who teases you all the time, who keeps you close when you're down, who misses you every second of the day, who loves you for who you are, who has made you a better person, who completes you.. Hang on to them, cherish them, love them with your heart and your soul. Do what ever it takes to keep them happy. Be there for them. Give them a big hug everyday, tell them that they mean everything to you, tell them they are the reason for the happiness in your life. Trust me it's never enough, but it's true and it's surely better than regrets.

The realization of the mistakes and carelessness in the past haunts us for a very long time, even though it makes us strong in a way but still it's not worth the pain.

So, as I was saying, sometimes there comes a time when you feel incomplete... That's what I am without YOU. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

At War With Yourself.

Generally we blame motivation or a lack of willpower for failing to keep our Resolutions. But this is too simplistic a view. If you want to create an endless source of motivation you have to understand what motivation is and how it works. Everything in life has many, many layers and levels to it. And motivation is no different.

No one has ever lacked motivation. Probably the most common area where people talk about motivation is losing weight and exercising. Now why is someone overweight? Because they have too much motivation for the foods that make them put on weight. Why don’t people exercise? Because they are more motivated to do anything rather than exercise. The problem is not motivation. We are always motivated, but for the things that we feel will bring the greatest rewards or the least pain.

Our motivation depends to a great extent on your personality. Introverts are more interested in avoiding pain, whereas Extroverts are more concerned with possible rewards. Some people have a longer-term view of life, others care more about now. So an Introvert with a longer-term perspective is far more likely to choose the fat-free option because he or she wants to avoid the pain of being overweight. Whereas a more impulsive Extrovert will probably go for the chocolate cake because the reward now is far more exciting than the possible pain in the future.

Everything we do is based on an economic mindset. By economic I don’t mean financial, but we do attribute everything with a value, and we continually look to maximize our pleasure and reduce our pain. So if your Resolutions aren't working out, look for what you are valuing more. The pay-off may not be obvious or even now, but on some layer or level there must be a pay-off.

This brings us to another aspect of motivation. Different Resolutions work on different levels and as a result access different sources of motivation. The source of motivation you are using will determine how long you stay motivated for.

What does this mean?

Well, there are four levels of Resolution that I can think of. And each one has a slightly longer life span than the last. I think of them like this:

1. The Resolution you make because it’s expected of you.


This type of Resolution has no real emotional pay-off to you. It’s just something you are doing because doing something else may cause you the pain of disapproval or the risk of standing out and appearing abnormal. Doing what’s expected is easy. It saves anyone nagging you and the effort of thinking for yourself, but once you are out of that situation its hard to maintain, because it loses it’s reward and you have to suffer the pain of carrying it out.

2. The Resolution you make because you feel bad at the moment.

This type of Resolution is made as a knee jerk reaction in the moment to get rid of a pain. So it has an emotional pay-off, but as soon as the pain has gone there is no reason to continue.
For example, if you really analyse why people exercise, you’ll find that they tend to do it because they’re fed up being overweight or unfit or whatever. But this isn't a sudden decision. Most have been considering exercising for months or even years. What really gets them to start is a more intense emotional pain. Either a Doctor scares them into exercising or more often it’s a time when they feel insecure. Perhaps they have just got divorced… or their relationship is hitting a rocky patch and they are thinking of either competing for their Partner or being back on the dating market. Whatever the specifics they feel so bad when they worry that they have to do something to ease the pain. Yes, they say they're determined to stay on the program this time. I know its not a quick fix but they mean it when they say it. Two or three months later though, the situation that was causing the pain has resolved itself one way or another. So the incentive for exercising has gone. Yet still the grind of going through the boring routine is still there. Sooner or later the pain of exercising outweighs the pain relief it used to bring, and then the Resolution ends.

3. The Resolution you make because you want something.

Sometimes this level comes from wanting something to get rid of a pain. And sometimes it just a natural ambition to grow. It lasts until you outgrow the desire or something better comes along.
Often people will go through the other levels of Resolution. And with each stage of evolution they find that life in general starts to feel better after overcoming a problem. Then somewhere something just clicks and they realize that they feel better because each problem caused them to grow, in order to resolve it. The idea pops into their head that if they were to just grow for the sake of it… life might get more and more enjoyable, because this resolution is based on a far more permanent feeling it lasts for far longer than the previous motivations, which were just passing wants. However what you want and do to feel good will change as you grow. One time you may want X, but three months or three years (depending on how quickly you are evolving) later you change your mind about what will make you feel good. Then your Resolution will change possibly before your motivation goes.

4. The Resolution you make because it’s you.

There are some things that you just feel so strongly about that you absolutely must do them or you would never do them. This is because they just aren't you. So the motivation for this type of resolution will last for as long as your identity remains constant. Overcoming these problems or achieving these desires causes us to grow and evolve. Once we grow there is no going back. Try not being able to ride a bike or do up your shoelaces. So problems and desires are the carrot and the stick forcing us to evolve. 

"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on." - Thomas Jefferson




Eventually we can reach a stage where we realize that… all along it was us that created the problems. And if we just accept ourselves as we are… we can enjoy all of life and life will enjoy us.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'Black Ops' : Game Review

People kind of hate Treyarch's COD games. Die-hard Infinity Ward fans of the series are worst for it, obviously, but almost everyone who's played both brands of game will agree the modern warfare series is just a lot better. There are a lot of reasons thrown around for why, most of which relate to specific multiplayer game mechanics, but on the whole, like other Treyarch games, Black Ops lacks polish.

Actually, before I say things that are bad about the game, let me say this in bold: Treyarch makes great Call of Duty games. They're really fantastic and the only reason they're so frowned upon is because they're so heavily compaired to modern warfare. I think Treyarch did a really good job on Black Ops. That said, here's why I didn't like it as much.

Call of Duty games are hyperreal. They're games about war. I like playing them around and on rememberance day because they're unfiltered visions of what war is like, and what people really go through and see and experience. Modern Warfare 2 took it to another level, especially with scenes like the infamous "No Russian" which puts you in the weighted boots of a terrorist mowing down unarmed, terrified civillians in Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow. There's something incredibly sobering about seeing this sort of abomonation from a first-person view, as opposed to seeing aftermath photographs of ambulances or shattered glass on the ground.

Alternatively, you'll know what it's like to become close to the members of your squad then have your helicopter go down, and have several hundred enemy infantry advancing on your position, shooting all your friends one by one as they try to defend your position. No matter how hard you fight, you'll feel utterly hopeless.

I know seeing this kind of experience is definitely not for everyone but for a desensitized generation X'er or Y'er or whatever the hell we're called, it's really something else. I hate having to play sequences like that but I'm very glad that I get to because it really gives me an idea of the kinds of horror that troops have to go through when they're at war.

So why can't Treyarch games do this so well? 'Black Ops' first failing is that it's not hyperreal. It's still grounded in very real events, but the main character is the victim of a brainwashing scheme which controls him and forces him to take action, kill certain people... there are some arguments that one could make involving post traumatic stress, and hallucinating, but the problem is that it's protrayed in a much more over-the-top video game-y way, it loses that grounding in reality that it had. Scenes just don't hit as hard. It's really a shame, it feels like Treyarch robs themselves of such big moments for no good reason besides a different style of storytelling.

They rob themselves of some excitement in multiplayer as well when compared to Modern Warfare 2. It's a sort of isolated issue, but I think it's really important. In the multiplayer progression, you always used to unlock new equipment and weapons and that sort of thing, and you did so in a very structured way. At each level you received specific rewards. In Black Ops, you get to choose your rewards. The problem is when after the first dozen or two dozen levels, you've acquired pretty much everything you would ever want to posess. This gives you absolutely jack-all to look forward to as a bigger reward in the later levels, besides the obvious online reputation and the eventual prestige. It's way less exciting.

It's just a lot of little things that combine to create an overall slightly less exciting experience (I won't mention that the games, especially the PC version of the game, are considerably buggy). It's only slightly unfortunate that everyone hates on it so much for such minute differences. Again, only slightly unfortunate, as they're still making several buttloads of money. So they're being justly rewarded for their work. Just fine with me!

You'll notice in that review I didn't talk about Nazi Zombies at all. I held off on purpose because I just talk about zombies so damn much there's not much point in asking me. But if you're interested: yes, zombies are still completely badass, they've upped the gameplay in really fun ways, and given you a lot of things to try out. They even included a dual-joystick classic style zombie shooter. So much fun. :D

Note: It's just my personal opinion, so no hard feelings 'Call Of Duty' fans. :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Haphazard

Sometimes I Wish I Could Laugh In The Restroom

Today I happened to enter the restroom, in a wedding hall and some guy was in there whistling while he was doing his business. A guy who followed me in must have decided that whistling in the bathroom seemed fun so he started whistling. Of course, he couldn't whistle the same thing as the first guy, even if he knew the tune, because that would be gay.

So anyhow, I guess the first guy doesn't like the competition so he starts whistling a little bit louder. Now I've got two guys whistling different tunes in the bathroom with me, one of them a little too loud, and then they finish at about the same time and leave (the whistler that came in with me did not wash his hands), that was funny I swear.

I'm washing my own hands and as the door closes on the other two guys I hear a quiet whistling starting again.
I found it funny. But you just can't laugh in the restroom, that would seem weird.

Unsaid Words


When one knows that a friend is distressed, and one doesn’t quite know how to console, provide some kind of solace; tell the friend, that everything will be fine, that this too shall pass, but one just cannot find the right words, then what does one do?

There are different kinds of friendships; in some one can say just about anything, finding words and expressions is not a hurdle at all, but then there are those other friendships where though the feelings may run deep, the persons involved do not indulge in actually expressing them. The mode of communication is mostly mutual raillery, pulling legs in harmless jest, where resorting to words to express sentiment is embarrassing. Though the concern and care essentially remains the same. Where so many things have been left unsaid, the harsher facts of life were left undisturbed, where one pretend like pain and sorrow were mere trifles. Well, not pretence exactly but yes one try not touch topics which could hurt or haunt.

Then how does one use words of solace? If I know that my friend is the resilient type, that he/she would emerge stronger from his/her tribulations, and still I want to let him/her know that I'm here, that I know and I understand, but I find no words and I resort to silence and hope that my friend has heard my unsaid words, prayers and understands.


How Thought Bubbles Play Tricks On Your Mind

Human mind is a complicated, yet a very sensitive creation. Regardless of the fact that my blog is entitled as 'Life is Beautiful', I'm about to write something that would me you believe as if I'm fed up of my life. It's just an illusion, even for me. My life is perfect. Still my mind tells to that there's something wrong with this morning. Right now I'm trying not to ponder, not to wait for the words to emerge. I'm trying to let my fingers do the composing. It's a feeling that I'm about to describe in words.

Another morning and yet there is a difference. There used to be a time when one used to wait in eager anticipation for the next year. Now, again something is different. There is a sense of misgiving, a vague unrest, fear about passing years. Its not about age, wrinkles or grey hair only. It is about slowly reaching the edge of something which has no beyond. It is about coping with life's uncertainties which are certain to follow. Its a feeling of the ground below slowly slipping away from under your feet. It is about being pushed further on towards a horizon I know not. It is about unfamiliar sights and sounds and sensations, ahead is not as well as behind me. It is about forgetting to linger in the present and letting the shadow of the future mar the light of now. In spite of trying to grab new experiences, seeking things to look forward to, still there is a feeling of time running out,there is acceptance and yet there is a question mark. There is a feeling of 'what's the point anyway'? These thoughts are not deliberate, they're uninvited guests whom I do not want to welcome into the threshold of my mind and yet they remain waiting at the door. Even if I slam the door shut, I know they're there on the other side. I can hear them, waiting.

I'm not sad, I'm not gloomy, I try to laugh aloud, but I can hear the hollowness in my laughter. Every moment, every experience, every thought, exist while reminding me of transience.


Too Much Information?

The danger of this medium is that I become so comfortable sharing my thoughts, opinions, insights and foibles that I cross the line into recklessness. How much is too much information? I continue to be surprised at what other bloggers share on their sites. I don’t think I will ever totally lower my filter, and I wonder if my writing is any less powerful because of this decision? On the other hand, isn’t it awfully self-important of me to think that anyone even cares what I write about? :P


Peace.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Chocolates And Childhood

When I was a kid, we never bought chocolates in our family very often. I am sure none of us did, waiting for the opportune moment as kids when some certain nice guests would show up, and in the process of gulping in tea, would take out few bars of chocolates from his pocket. It is funny how you noticed the elevated rectangular thing in his pocket all this while, yet you were not allowed to seem too eager or keen. You were supposed to look coyly at your parents, seeking silent permission, when they would accede, provided the chocolate wasn’t too expensive. Then, you would be expected to thank the guests, accept the chocolate, yet still not open it or eat it in front of the guests. Like a nice kid, you would put it in the fridge, and forget about it. The guests wasn’t supposed to know that the moment the door closed behind him (after thanking him again for his kindness and chocolate for the 113th time now), I would spring in action, somersault and jump, cross 7 mountains and 13 rivers, and sprint to reach the fridge and grab that bar of chocolate. Had that guest been forgetful, he would have witnessed a very nasty scene of chocolate all over my hands and face on his way back to collecting his forgotten umbrella or car keys. Something quite contrary to the image that had been portrayed for the last couple of hours.

Our family used to be unique in another way. Chocolates were never divided amongst the two siblings. It was always divided equally into 4 shares. 3 out of the 4 shares went to my brother, my dad, and me respectively, while mom would have a bite of her share. Then, she would again distribute her share amongst us. Our family didn’t believe that chocolate was meant for kids. It was meant for everyone in the family. That included my grandmother as well.

it’s clear from advertising from the latter part of the nineteenth century that whether the companies like to admit it or not, children were a major target audience for chocolate. The industrialisation of chocolate production meant that it could be made cheaply available to the masses, and this, coupled with innovatory methods, meant that the chocolate manufacturers were able to make very child-friendly products.

Anyway, the third thing was 'the taste of chocolates' never lingered in our mouths. No sooner did we finish our share (and mom’s share, and anything remaining, depending on who was stronger), we were expected to go brush our teeth. All my milk teeth removed have been attributable to my dental cavities. Last I heard, my childhood dentist who had made a small fortune out of the fee my dad paid him, and his son is attending a college in London. Yet as an incentive for the painful process of tooth pulling, I always bargained, argued, bickered, and have fought for more chocolates. Of course as dedicated chocolateers we would like to think that all chocolate is good for us (‘a little bit of what you fancy’ and all that). 

The taste of chocolates in my childhood, if I remember correctly, used to be much sweeter. This was perhaps because both quantity of consumption and the frequency of buying were powered in the hands of my parents. Even though I knew I had 8 small bars of chocolates in my share, I couldn't finish it off in one go. I was expected to save it for days till most of it either went to the ants or into the neighbour’s child’s stomach. Self-sacrifice and controlling greed were virtues that always stood with monstrosity against my chocolate munching. Things got worse especially after my little brother sprouted teeth and learnt to talk and complain and cry because after finishing my share, I would always eat his share. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t very fond of chocolates, the chocolates still had to be there every time I opened the fridge just to tempt me and torture me and teach me qualities such as self-restraint. 

The chocolates of those days were very different from the chocolates of today. Not only were there less choices and less brands, there was a clear distinction between what chocolates must be had on what occasion. And while I write this, I can’t help but salivate profusely, thinking of the different memories of my childhood these chocolates bring back. The link between chocolates and me was so strong that at times it seemed as a right rather than a luxury. It has so many things wrapped up in it: Deliciousness in the moment, childhood memories, and that grin-inducing feeling of getting a reward for being good. Life without chocolate is like a beach without water. 

I'd like to dedicate this post to my closest friend Mashaal Irfan, who is a chocolate lover herself. For her 'if it ain't chocolate, it ain't breakfast' and she thinks that there's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with a Chocolate. :D


Peace. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Unfortunate Sex Life of the Banana

I was watching the Discovery Channel lately and I found out some interesting facts about bananas, which I would like to share with you guys in my own words, as I have nothing better to do. So this is what I learnt from that program. The humble banana almost seems like a miracle of nature. Colourful, nutritious, and much cherished by children, monkeys and clowns, it has a favoured position in the planet’s fruit bowls. The banana is vitally important in many regions of the tropics, where different parts of the plant are used for clothing, paper and tableware, and where the fruit itself is an essential dietary staple. People across the globe appreciate the soft, nourishing flesh, the snack-sized portions, and the easy-peel covering that conveniently changes colour to indicate ripeness. Individual fruit or fingers, sit comfortably in the human hand, readily detached from their close-packed companions. Indeed, the banana appears almost purpose-designed for efficient human consumption and distribution. It is difficult to conceive of a more fortuitous fruit.

The banana, however, is a freakish and fragile genetic mutant; one that has survived through the centuries due to the sustained application of selective breeding by diligent humans. Indeed, the “miraculous” banana is far from being a no-strings-attached gift from nature. Its cheerful appearance hides a fatal flaw; one that threatens its proud place in the grocery basket. 

Now here comes the boring part.The banana plant is a hybrid, originating from the mismatched pairing of two South Asian wild plant species between two products of nature, the former produces unpalatable fruit flesh, and the latter is far too seedy for enjoyable consumption. Nonetheless, these closely related plants occasionally cross-pollinate and spawn seedlings which grow into sterile, half-breed banana plants. Some of you might say,''I remember being taught in Biology, ages ago, that the banana was triploid, i.e. three sides. Freak of nature it certainly is, but yummy as in banana cream pie." Right? Some ten thousand years ago, early human experimenters noted that some of these hybridized unexpectedly tasty, seedless fruit with an unheard-of yellowness and inexplicably amusing shape are also an excellent source of carbohydrates and other important nutrients.

I'm not a banana freak by any chance, so don't get any ideas. The point of this short post was just to share an interesting fact that I learned so that next time when you eat a banana, you should know there's a purpose for everything that happens. I hope this was informative. Enjoy your next banana. ;)

Peace.