Posted in Fiction Experiments

The Pink Flats


It’s a third time today that I am opening that tempting tab in my browser to peek at this object of desire that has caught my fancy.

I find myself staring at this pair of sinfully elegant, unapologetically feminine Parisian pink flats.

Then my eyes hover over the hefty price tag – surely my overstuffed closet doesn’t need a $450 Gucci shoe. But the mind is wandering and I can imagine this pair going perfectly with that still untouched magenta super swingy skirt which I had never been confident enough to pull off.

A meeting reminder pops up on my screen and breaks me of my reverie. “Ah”, I scold myself – “The PG&E meeting is in 15 minutes and you are lusting over a pair of shoes that you don’t need. Wake up Girl!”.

To give some background, I work at BigRock – an investment management firm.  And yes – today is just another ordinary day. I have an upcoming meeting with a client and there is this lingering sense of anxiety to bat this well.

“Many eyes are on this deal, and if you nail it – the Sales Director role is yours. Just make sure they get the messages right .. and don’t make it seem too much of a hard –sell .. and hopefully, they won’t dwell too much on the terms in Section #4… ”

A constant drone of to-do lists is hammering at the back of my head.., imagining all the ways this meeting can go wrong. And every time there is a blip in this train of thoughts – I am seeking refuge in these pair of Parisian pink flats.

“You need these shoes to be successful!!”  – a chirpy voice screams inside my head.  Click .. click ..click. it would be so easy to buy.

“I’m sorry, but..”, another calm voice patiently explains. ” Remember how you had to give away those Coach boots which were in perfect shape because you realized you had two pairs which looked exactly like the same?”

“But well, you know..” – the chirpy voice pops up again – “Don’t be so hard on yourself,  you’ve been working so hard and that contract that you won last month. You deserve this!”

“So.. On Page#5, don’t forget to mention that we analyze the attractiveness of an asset not only based on its risk, but also on the return potential the asset may bring to the portfolio”  – That one is my BigRock employed thread, urgently entreating to be heard among the other two voices.

“Blah, blah, blah”.. the chirpy voice interrupts again. “Pleated Magenta skirt with a sleeveless white blouse and pink flats with a floppy bow –  now that’s a killer outfit!”…

“Nooo… Too many shoes in your closet, remember?!”. The calm voice seems all flustered and is screaming now.

“.. and the long-term performance goal for this portfolio is to achieve at least 80% of the return of the global stock market” – weakly mutters the BigRock thread again.

The calendar invite has popped up. It is time to join the PG&E call now.  I take a deep breath and flick these voices away as I begin dialing the number…

Hello Everyone, this is Anjali from BigRock Investments”, I brightly announce myself on the phone.

Like I said..  it is just another ordinary day today.

Posted in My World View, Random thots..

The Non-Fiction Reader


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It is a few months since I have been stuck in this persona of a non-fiction reader.

And this turn of events surprises me because there was a time in my life when I thrived on fiction. I would read almost a book every day – and get consumed by the ebbs and flows of all the action in those pages. In my teens, it was the Nancy Drews and Agatha Christies. The twenties started with the intensity of Ayn Rand – followed by Booker prize nominees and winners – Aravind Adiga, Amitav Ghosh,  Emma Donoghue, you name it. The only non-fiction books that sneaked into my reading list were celebrity publications. One that I distinctly remember is Shashi Tharoor’s ‘The Argumentative Indian’ – that one was like a workout for my vocabulary!

And then later, as screenwriters ran out of creative ammunition and the trend of books screenwritten into movies took over – The Twilight Series, Vampire Diaries,  Game of Game of Thrones, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I had always read the stories cover to cover before anyone had even heard of them on TV or Netflix.  Boy, was I ahead of the game!

But then, one fine day – the rush stopped.

It is hard to pinpoint what caused this, but there was this long phase when I didn’t do much fiction reading and the switch flipped.  I think that with time – you are more aware of your factual ignorance, and a lot of non-fiction reading I began with was to bridge that gap. Some of them – like ‘Homo Sapiens’ helped me understand my own roots.

And slowly my bookshelf filled up with the Ray Dalio, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Tim O’ Reilly and Malcolm Gladwells of the world. In fact – the last book I was hooked on to was  ‘The Society of Mind’ by Marvin Minsky  ( a friend of mine was appalled when I had tugged it along to a coffee shop – Seriously, this seems like a dense reading assignment you’d punish someone with, how can you read it for pleasure?!! )

Well honestly  – it was not an easy read. And even though the language was simple, I had to read it over, again and again, to connect the dots and get the message right.  Still, with my current frame of mind, it was easier for me to absorb than a work of fiction. Nowadays,  I pick up fiction books to read but it’s hard to follow along with the emotional threads and vagaries of a story.  I get exhausted and give up.

Surprising, isn’t it?

My guess is that after a while of practice –  facts and logic get hammered into your brain, and you almost start predicting what a logical argument will look like. There are, after all only a few ways in which you can get the logic right.  And somehow I observed that there is a lesser cognitive load in reading non-fiction- because is almost an extension of what I do in my day job.

Or… Perhaps I am going through a phase – you may say.

Whatever that is,  I would hate to lose that appreciation of fiction, poetry and intense emotions that a string of words can bring.  That’s what attracted me to the lure of reading in the first place!.

Those stories that can take you through a rollercoaster of thrill, happiness, hope, dismay, and laughter have burned timeless memories in my brain.  So many solitary, but memorable moments spent with a book – alone at times perhaps, but never lonely.

Which brings me back to the current state of things.

The long weekend is here –  I am struggling with Zadie Smith’s ‘Swing Time’ .. nursing a cup of coffee.. and fervently hoping that my Fiction reading bug comes back!

 

 

Image credits: Unsplash.com

Posted in Fiction Experiments, Random thots..

The Mansion


Blurred poto

She started trudging across the long winding trail, not knowing how long it would take for her to reach her destination. And scurrying along because she wanted to be back home early, and in time before the sun sets. Across a lonely road, with barricades on one side where construction was in progress. And up to the steps leading to a meandering trail.

It was the first time she was walking this way, and it filled her with apprehension. Made her think about all the true crime stories she had read about women in books. But she banished all these thoughts and walked along. The long series of steps led to a bridge across two parallel hills. And crossing the bridge she moved to the trail. It was beautiful, with the setting sun casting a pale golden light on the skies, and flocks of birds flying back home in perfect formation. All this making her feel a bit sad and desolate – reminding her of her own loneliness. But then , this was not the time and place for these thoughts. She had to focus her mind on her destination.

On the winding trail, to her right was a huge mansion, with droopy trees and melancholy shadows beginning to grow ominously with fading lights of the setting sun. And embracing it a huge garden, with blossoming flowers and a mammoth tennis court. A faded board on the fence surrounding the mansion read – “No Trespassers”. The front of the house faced the bustling expressway ahead. She peered curiously. Oh, so this is where he lived – dappled in luxury and excess, enjoying his life within these walls.

Something snapped inside her. Was it a pang of jealousy. Or a plea of belonging?  She was desperate to see him now!

Posted in Random thots..

On Growing Up..


Calvin and Hobbes cartoon

There is this seemingly innocent question which has popped up in my mind:

“At what time and age do we feel all grown up and without temptation?!”

I mean, all care and caution is abandoned in the heady enthusiasm of youth. I get that.. But do we really grow up and lose that thrill of risk and adventure. Do we grow up and become model citizens and parents and hmm..well.. Grown ups!

Who knows ? Sometimes it might feel that we’ve never grown up. Or never will. There are moments when you want to slip back into the stage of life when you do everything as you wished to. To live your life without any fear. To have to answer to no one.. To be free of all the cares and responsibilities which being a grown up brings..

But then, these are ephemeral wants.

Because in the end, we wish to be tied up by our relationships. We desire to be wanted, loved and cared. We secretly hope things fall apart when we’re not around, so that we’re missed. We want someone to fall back on us.

Otherwise if I were a free bird, and no one’s life depended on me then I imagine I’d feel far worse  – thinking that I have wasted my life!

Yes. How paradoxical are these things we want. Sometimes our wishes attempt to set us free, and other times they only serve to bind us in the most irreversible ways. We are so utterly conflicted – but frankly its a bit too difficult to decide. Maybe because we are selfish and want a bit of both.

Perhaps that is what Growing Up is all about – knowing about your conflicts and developing defense mechanisms to survive them with minimum collateral damage.

What do you think?

Posted in My World View, Random thots..

Going with the Flow..


Go-With-The-Flow

Everywhere you go, you see people ..and places.. Houses and roads and means of transportation. People going somewhere. Everyone trying to be someplace else, different from where they are now..

And that’s how life is in every part of the world. Everyone trying to do something. Reach someplace where they are not right now..on a constant journey. Which is what makes the wheels turn and our blood flow. Or whatever is the term for making things seem normal and routine..

And the moment you wake up somewhere someday with no place you feel inspired enough to go – life comes to a whirring uncomfortable halt. If you do not have any purpose for yourself – however mundane and insignificant it might be, then there is this evil question which creeps up – Am I doing anything worthwhile at all?

And a gnawing question this is – which follows you around like a hungry puppy and bites you in the hand when you try to feed it with inconsequential answers.

So what can you do to tame this ugly thought?

Go with the flow. Do something that makes sense in that moment. Follow a trail – or create a new one.

Because a river is always more interesting than a pond. New experiences always enrich your life’s perspective and because .. “A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.”!

Image Credits: http://ohksocial.com/small-business-growth-go-with-the-flow/

Posted in Random thots..

Idea #9: Never Regret


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Do not regret anything that happens in your life. “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way”.

It is the past. Swallowed in the black hole of time. Get over it!.

And quite possibly whatever happened might be for the best. Perhaps it will bring out something good in the future. Perhaps it will make you see things in a different light. Perhaps it will help you live life to the fullest. Perhaps it will help you avoid the mistakes you made in the past. So…

Its OK if you were wrong. Some of the most brilliant things have happened in life when people made mistakes. And then, you couldn’t have been right all the time, could you ? ( unless you are Sheldon Cooper, of course! )

It is OK if you left some things to chance. After all, decision making is much more complex than a binary yes or no. And under the circumstances , if you made some decisions based on information you have at hand, and few others based on chance – you needn’t regret if the chance factor didn’t work out as desired. That’s why they call it chance, don’t they?!

It is OK to change your course mid flight. That’s why in flight navigation systems are there in place! That’s why corporations hold strategic planning exercises.. That’s why management consultants are paid such hefty salaries.

The point is – regret is a non productive emotion. It doesn’t give you any solutions , and can only spawn more non productive negative emotions like helplessness and despair. So if you replace regret with something positive like – Hmm…determination. motivation . experience… enlightenment.. 🙂 ,  you will have something much better to work with!

And now. if you think of it.. The more you analyse, the more you will realize the futility of it all..

“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.” ! ― Søren Kierkegaard

Posted in Random thots..

Idea #8: Bird by Bird


Bird by Bird

So.. What do you do when you get stuck?

 Do you sit back and mourn your lack of action ..Think of inventive ways to over come your situation?. Or Just wait – thinking that this too shall pass!.

 We all have our own solutions to  dealing  with stuck moments. Some would slow down, blow off some steam.. or if you’re like me, you would go off to sleep!.

And then .. What do you do?

You DON’T give up!.

You come back to the table .. Pore over your shitty first drafts.. Move ahead bit by bit..

Because big changes don’t happen in a instant. Corporations are not successful overnight. Trust is not built in a day. It’s a gradual process. The only difference is that you notice it suddenly.. And people start talking about it suddenly..

In this age of instant gratification, it is easy to think that you will get results immediately. And also get frustrated when you don’t.

Like Alice in Wonderland, we cant wait to reap the benefits of our efforts – “No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.” !!

But in real world, you have to take it step by step.. Bird by bird ..A metaphor used by  Anne Lamott. She narrates this beautiful story in her book:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’

Then again. What do you do when you get stuck?

You come back. Pick up all the fragments piece by piece. Slowly build it again – bird by bird!