Saturday, 19 July 2014

INSTA-SPECT : Living For Likes.

Instagram, snapchat, whatsapp, viber, hike, facebook.

You’ve got to be on at least one of them to validate the proof of your existence. Social media is no longer just a medium to communicate and neither are our “cellhphones”; but we hardly use cellhphones these days it’s all about the Smartphone generation! The tablets, the I-pads, the laptops and god know what else is to come.  These gadgets are such an integral part of our lives that living without them even for a day seems like an impossible scenario.
My family loves eating out and it just so happened that we were at this fancy restaurant, you know the kind where they decorate your cloth napkins into ducks and swans? Yeah, that kind. I was enjoying the ambience, soaking it all in. The rich tapestry, the deep blue Turkish centre pieces. It was living larger than life, elegantly. I scanned the room, drooling over the exquisite looking food contemplating if I should stick to the cuisines I know or be bold and try something different, something rather strange like squid or sea urchins when I saw a small family celebrating the birthday of their son at the centre table. The kid had just turned five as the candle on his expensive looking dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache suggested and even more expensive was the jacket that his mother had casually draped over her chair. It was Gucci.
I was fascinated by everything about the family and their lavish celebration for a tiny little child. I noticed the mother more carefully, she had an I phone (of course) which was connected to a portable charger and the father who had a pleasant smile on his face was busy ordering more food , tipping the waiter more than he earned and then he went back to his blackberry probably typing an email which would earn him millions. And then it struck twelve; the kid was so eager to cut the cake he could barely contain himself. Holding the steel knife upside down, butchering the cake he giggled in glee and soft but audible claps could be heard which surprisingly came only from the waiter. The mother was busy tweeting her son’s birthday update and uploading his birthday cake’s photos on Instagram with not so relevant hash tags. The kid took a piece and instinctively looked at his mom to take a bite from him but mum was busy so he turned to his father. His father looked at him, ruffled his curly hair and received a call on his phone. The kid didn’t wait; he just had the piece instead. And another one after that. It was good about fifteen minutes when his mother finally looked up from her phone and gave him a kiss on the cheek while the father was still busy on his phone. I am sure the kid didn’t really feel bad about it or even understand that this isn’t how he was supposed to have a birthday. It was normal for him. He had seen his father on the phone daily, his mother on the laptop uploading photos of her as well as him. But was he going to remember this day? His Instagram photo? I don’t think so. The only memory he would probably have is of well, nothing. 15 years from now his fifth birthday, although expensive and lavish is not going to be one of his favourite childhood memories and it could easily have been!
“Hey mum, don’t put chocolate on my face, ewww!”
“Hey dad! Don’t make a mucchi out of chocolate!”
THIS. This would have stuck in his mind for a very long time but his Instagram photo? I’m not so sure. It’ll just be one of the many pictures his mother uploaded.
We see it every day, people sitting across each other busy checking the number of likes their photo got instead of making memories. We are so busy trying to be popular in the virtual world that we’ve forgotten how to feel; how to live, to experience the memory. To be a part of the photograph we take.
The internet is a part of our lives and we cannot do away with it; it’s a boon for the twenty first century but a bane if we let it become our life. Our facebook account is OUR profile and not the way around.

So let’s put those gadgets away, have a meal with our loved ones and for once not post a picture on Instagram? Let’s cleanse ourselves of this infectious disease, free our minds of the internet please.

Saturday, 5 July 2014


I’ve got some great feedback about my blog which on one hand makes me very proud but also adds on to a certain amount of pressure to perform , that’s just really me being me. It’s just a blog right? People read it, like it (I would like to believe that) and then like everything else that matters we forget it, even if does stay it’s in some cramped up little space in our brain. So tiny that we can almost neglect its existence.
So what does REALLY matter? The economy? Your job? Your dream? Your LIFE? Such a simple questions yet seldom thought about.
My father is in the Indian army, most of my childhood he’s been away keeping the country safe. Keeping us safe. Keeping you safe. With him it’s more like meeting him on vacations rather than not seeing him in vacations. But its dad right? He’s always going to be around.
That’s what I think every time I don’t “whatsapp” him back to his overprotective love for me.
But something happened and it made me miss him, I missed getting scolded by him and that’s saying something. He’s a hard taskmaster so to miss him for his scolding? Yeah, that’s how deep the incident touched me.
One lazy afternoon my mother told me we had guests coming over for dinner, I made a face as usual  because now I would have to dress up, be proper while all I wanted to do was slump back into the beanbag and watch some television.
I heard the bell ring and before I could reach the door my mother pulled my hand and whispered "uncle passed away in a helicopter crash recently" and just looked at me for a fraction of a second longer than usual eye contact to make sure that I had absorbed what I had heard. I had.  This wasn’t something strange or unusual for me, I had seen it and heard about it one too many times but hadn’t ever interacted with anyone directly affected by such a tragedy.
Aunty came in, she was stunning. Pretty, poised and confident but you could see the pain in her eyes. The overdone kajal to disguise the previous night’s teary eyes. She came in and with her was her 4 year old son. Probably the cutest kid you would ever see and also the smartest kid in town. He could have real meaningful conversations about why Noddy shouldn’t ever listen to Big Ears.
I took him to the Television room and we watched some cartoons and suddenly he stood up, startled, almost worried and then a smile broke onto his face. It was like watching fireworks.  When you light them you don’t know if they’ll burst into a sky full of sparkles or just vanish into smoke.  I looked at the direction he was staring at and I saw my father’s flying shoes (pilots have special combat flying boots)
He went up to them, examined them. With such seriousness that it made me wonder why he was so interested in these gigantic boots. Before I knew it he ran to the drawing room and stopped just a few steps away from aunty. He looked at my mother then at aunty with such beautiful beaming eyes that it instantly made everyone in the room happy.  Little did we know what he said next was the most painful innocent truth. He looks up at aunty and says “ mummmmmaaaaaa, appa ( dad) is here !!!!!!! You were wrong mummmaaaa he’s not gone anywhere ! appa is here mumma”
It didn’t even take a minute for aunty to burst into a flood of tears, I could see her hold back for her son’s sake but it only made it worse.
I took him inside to the Tv room. I wanted to hug him, console him but how could I?  he didn't know the truth. He didn’t know he wasn't going to have his father to teach him how to ride a bike, to force him to watch the discovery channel, to give him “the talk”.
He wasn’t ever getting his father back.
Four years old and he didn’t have his ol’ man anymore. It was torturous to pretend it was alright, to laugh with him, to watch cartoons with him.
That night, I called dad and told him I scored A+ in one of my exams which really didn't exist. I just wanted to hear him say “well done beta”. And he did.
Parents love you no matter what. They’ll always hold your hand, sometimes tighter than we want them too but they’ll do it anyway.

Go hug them. TODAY. It's these little things that make a huge difference in our lives.
Just stop for a minute and give back some of the love we've been showered with from the day we set foot on this planet.