Five learnings from three years of blogging

November 26, 2014 marked three years of my venturing into the world of blogging. Looking back and reflecting on the last three years, I can say without the least bit of exaggeration that blogging has changed my life. I owe the version 2.0 of my life to blogging.Power of Words

Today, I want to take a moment to list out the five most important learnings from three years of blogging.

 1. The world always has enough room to accommodate one more blogger.

When I started out, I was unsure if my blog would be read by anyone. I didn’t know if people would like me, my voice, my writing. Three years from there, take it from me: The world always has enough room to accommodate one more blogger. In fact, the world has enough room for one more *anything*. Don’t look at the high-brow crowd. They intimidate you. They confuse you. They put fears in your mind.

Look at you own inner self and ask it “What story do I have to tell the world today?”. If you answer that question everyday or every now and then, then that is good enough. Take it one blog-post at a time.

2. Your story is important enough for the world to know.

People often tend to shy away from sharing personal stories on their blogs. Most do for reasons of privacy. But some simply refuse to believe that their story would interest the world. Trust me, your story is unique and it *deserves* to be told to the world.

Believe in your story’s power, believe that your experiences would be interesting enough for readers across the world to read and like. This single belief would take away a lot of your inhibitions. You will start to believe more in yourself.

3. It takes one person to make a difference, and you can be the one!

While you are blogging and enjoying it, don’t hesitate to start a campaign or a movement of sorts, if you feel the need to. Some experiences are so moving, that just writing about it is not enough. One needs to do more. And, one can!

4.  Page-views are not everything

Page-views excite the blogger. They are proof that his work is being read by people across the world. But, they are not everything. Don’t judge your work or potential by page-views.

5. It is okay to desert your blog once in a while

Yes, you love your blog! You love it to bits. You probably post everyday. However, if there comes a time when real life takes over and you have to let go you of the blog for a while, don’t feel too bad about it. It won’t be long before you will be back if you really love writing. Priorities change in life, and there’s no reason to feel bad about it. Its all fine till you always manage to find a reason to return to your blog.

Please share your five learnings from blogging!

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For the “broken”

I have never done posts based on daily posts. It is because inspirations have to come from within for the posts to read well. But, from time to time, I have kept an eye out for interesting daily posts, more so, on a day lacking in motivation to write.

Today however, the guys at The Daily Post have for me a trigger I couldn’t resist.

Today’s post reads:

Tell us about a habit you’d like to break. Is there any way it can play a positive role in your life?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BROKEN.

I am obsessed with “broken”. I have always felt a strange pull towards broken people, ever ready to take them under my wing, and heal them. A sob story never fails to move me, to an extent that this trait has been used to take undue advantages.

Never mind, though!

Helping people has been such an overwhelming passion. Learning to say “no” is a lifetime project.

About broken – I have a different take. What happens when something breaks?download (1)

It is no longer like its previous self. Its shape has changed, there’s probably a crack somewhere too. But why would you call it disfigured?

Why won’t you credit it as a new shape, with its own characteristics?  Why wouldn’t you rather acknowledge its own independent features – admittedly not like its previous self, but of course something totally anew?

It has its own purpose, and identity.

Similar is the case with people. Broken people attract me because I realise that the kind of empathy, sensitivity, and goodwill broken people can learn to build is far greater than most whole people. It is just a matter of converting the pain to something beautiful. One just has to discover a passion where all their energies can be poured.

How often have you heard of people losing a loved one to some illness, later on going on to build support groups, hospitals, knowledge centres for others who suffer from the same illness?

Me? I have heard them tales too often.

A “break” can be transformed into immense positive energy. It doesn’t have to be always drugs and alcohol.images

Broken people also tend to take utmost care to not hurt people, or to “break” them in any manner. They tend to become healing centres.

What is so bad with being broken?                                                           

I want to explore why the general notion is so negative about broken people. They are the ones who are avoided and considered to be holding unnecessary “baggage”.

But is anyone really whole?

Truth is the world breaks everyone. No one escapes without a blemish. Some are just good at hiding it too well, and for too long. But, hiding has its own negative effects too.

Some wear it as badge, more like the scars of a war!

But, as a general rule, we are all broken. There’s nothing wrong with it.

Use your “break” proudly!

(This work by Subhabrata Dasgupta is licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

I’m good enough!

Have you ever realized what power these four words wield – “I am good enough”?

Try saying them to the mirror in front of you every once in a while. It feels empowering, and we all deserve that power; we all deserve that confidence.

For the most part of our lives, we are taught that we are not good enough, and that we need to buck up. We are taught to be like him, or her. Judgments are passed about your abilities, without any consideration for our feelings. The bar is often set too high, and unfairly so.

Then one fine day, we end up finding that one thing we love doing best. Luckier ones end up actually doing that thing that excites them.

Then, the rest can be described as “Pure Magic”.

There is no better joy on this planet than finding one’s feet. That feeling can be felt, or maybe even imagined, but it cannot be described. At least, my humble words fail to do so.

Imagine waking up every morning feeling positive about the work you are going to do during the day. Imagine being pre-occupied with thoughts about how to improve the quality of your work. No, imagine being possessed with improving the quality of your work.

That is the most beautiful feeling that can ever grace our lives.

Ever felt that satisfaction of looking at yourself in the mirror before going to bed after a day of good, old-fashioned hard work. You’re tired and weary eyed, probably goddamn sleepy too, but your soul sings.

You look at your reflection – eyeball to eyeball, and break into a smile and think, “I’m good enough.”

All your detractors were wrong, and there’s nothing like the guilty pleasure of quietly proving them wrong.

Yes, I’m good enough, and I always was! Life is beautiful! 

Thoughts on the writing journey.

When I was 12 or 13 (I don’t remember accurately), I wrote a poem. Not in English. But in Hindi.
I was very excited and showed it to my Hindi teacher and asked him how it was.

He said, “Take this home and keep this inside a chest. Open it after 5 years and read it. You’ll know how it is”.

It was a pretty sophisticated way of saying that it sucked! It was perhaps to shield his real feelings about the poem.

But, now when I think of it, I really get what he meant. As you grow older, you tend to become a better judge of your own work.

I’m glad I wrote that poem that sucked. I believe it was the start of the effort to write – to create something.

Over the years, that effort to create has taken various forms – from creating music, drawings, song writing.

It has finally culminated in writing blogs. Even now that thing persists. I read my earlier blogposts, and shake my head gravely.

Everything seems to be wrong about the earlier posts. The length – the tone – the style. But the thing is that I can’t disown them. I can’t edit them because they are well documented journals that capture my evolution as a blogger. They are ME – a less evolved me.

Also, it makes me glad that I started writing at some point, hence allowing myself to be in a position to critique my own writing. I also realise that the early bird catches the worm.

The earlier you start something, the more time you give yourself to learn and improve. One more important thing that I’ve learnt is that there’s no end to perfection.

What I write today will seem like shit tomorrow. But it will always be special. Because it is MY writing.
The key is persistence.

I’m glad to be blogging.

The right to not work.

One India that lives in villages and smaller towns demands that their women be allowed to work.

They are slowly waking up to the knowledge that men and women are equal and that a woman reserves the right to be actively involved in some profession.

But, this post is about the right to ‘not work’. This is about the right to be a housewife, because one loves to be a housewife.

This trend is more visible in the cities and metros. Almost every second woman is a graduate or more qualified than that, and she is expected to work.

The Global Financial Crisis, too, calls for double income families. That is fine.
But, there is this counter prejudice that if a woman doesn’t want to work, then she is simply not smart enough.

If she wants to have kids and raise them up being devoted to their development, it is seen as a ‘backward’ thought.
Working mothers are the new ‘in’ thing.

But, whatever happened to freedom of choice? If she wants to be a housewife so be it. What’s with the prejudice?

Raising kids is a tough job, and if not done properly, things can get messy. Being a housewife shouldn’t be seen as an easy option.

That’s not easy at all. Consider it as human resource development. Done for free.
One good mother ensures good children, who in turn shall become good parents. So on and so forth.

I see this tendency among young people to get ’embarrassed’ about the fact that their wives don’t work.

They will do everything to ensure that she cracks through some exam – for a bank clerk position, or some position in a government office or atleast a teacher.

It’s nauseatingly stereotypical of the ‘new’ India. There’s nothing wrong with everyone being employed.
But, I value a person’s right to choose a career.

Development is fine. Feminism too is okay. But, if you’re going to force a woman to work, then we are back to square one.

It is as bad as forcing a woman to stay at home.

P.S. : Right now, I’m not able to read your work because of paucity of time. But I’ll get to it. I’ll reach each and every post that you write. Just not right now. Thanks.

Money.

“Only when the last tree has died
and the last river been poisoned
and the last fish been caught
will we realise we cannot eat money”

Cree Indian Proverb

Money is the language humans speak in. It is perhaps second only to God. One who doesn’t earn money is a lazy bum. One who doesn’t love money is an ascetic. So they say.

The concept of ‘paying’ is only a human invention. Animals don’t pay for food, or shelter, or the air they breathe. It’s provided by Nature. We humans do.

The worst thing to happen for the human race was the invention of the concept of “private property”. That is the root of all evil. We store. We horde. We think of accumulation.

Next in line was the concept of selling. To get ‘richer’. We think we can print money out of nothing and lend out or borrow. But, what is the true value of money? Does it have any true value? It’s just printed paper.

Every human has an equal right to food that the earth produces, fundamentally speaking. But, some, who’ve managed to horde large quantities of it, make the others stand in queue and pay money for food.

They think they’ll get richer. But, richer by what – by printed paper? What shall they do with that printed paper? Buy more.
Buy what?

Man only has three fundamental needs – food, clothes, and shelter.

I say ‘needs’ not ‘wants’. Man can want anything – he can want world domination, he can want all the oil fields in the world, he can want even the moon.

But, where is this ‘want’ leading us to? Why do we want all these? Because we want to get richer? We want to have more money so that we can buy more?

But buy what? Man can have only three needs, right?

It’s like a paradox.

The world is simple, really. Think about it. All these aspirations, these desires of outperforming your neighbour, owing the biggest car – they lead to naught.

You’re not running away with these anywhere. You’ve got to die one day. Some people argue – “I’ve got only one life. I want to make the most of it”.

They make it so complicated. You, human, are so puny that you cannot say with authority that you have only one life. Even Science hasn’t nullified the theory of re-birth.

If you’re born here, you’ll have to live with the fact that people are crazy after money. You too will have to earn it.

But, then, what is the right attitude towards money?
It’s not everything. But it’s not so valueless that you’ll squander it all. It’s nice to keep some for a rainy day.

But, then that’s it. Money is security. Having money is like having the knowledge that people won’t kick your butt. Think about it. Man’s only danger is man himself.

You want money because you want to make sure when you’re sick, another man won’t refuse to treat you.
You want to be sure that another man doesn’t refuse to teach A, B, C’s to your child because you don’t have money.
You want to be sure that another man doesn’t refuse you food because you don’t have money.

Money can’t exist for money’s sake. It is valuable only in exchange of a commodity – a loaf of bread, a pail of water, a year of college.

That is what money is – it is a medium of exchange. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Aspirations dot com

Amit, a 23-year old graduate is restless. He is restless for that first placement in an international company. His family had spent money without thinking twice, so that he could get his degree.

But, now, he is disillusioned. He sat through all on-campus interviews without cracking through one. He now has to wait to off-campus interviews.

This dream job of his shall change his life. From his rented three bedroom flat, he dreamt of his own house in the sub-urb’s and his own car. He is fed up with his middle class identity.

Amit’s father, Dindayal, too, wishes for him to get the job offer. But for different reasons. His aspirations no longer touch the sky. Dindayal only wishes for a quiet retirement life by the sub-urb’s. He is tired of chasing dreams.

Prasoon is a small town man, who is too big for the small town. He wishes to go out into the big city one day and make a lot of money. He is inspired by the rags-to-riches success story of Mr. Jain.

Mr. Jain is the owner and CEO of a huge software development firm. He has made it all on his own. He too has his roots in the sub-urb’s, from where, he had envisioned his life as the top-notch businessman of this nation.

Today he lives his dream. But age has caught up with him and his health holds him back. He wishes to retire soon and live out the rest of his days in the quiet sub-urb’s.

Hariya lives in the crowded, squalid slums of the city by the sea. He has seen both – life in the sub-urb’s and the cities as well.

Somehow, he fell throw a crack between the two and managed to end up in no-man’s land.
But, he has his aspirations in place.

Someday, he wishes to buy a home at someplace cleaner. He wishes to do away with his tag of being a ‘lower-caste’ sweeper. He wishes to live like the ‘gentlemen’ of our society, with approval and pride.

These lives might be extreme stereotypes, but I see a lot of them around me. Aspirations let us live with our eyes set on the future. We are all dissatisfied with out present, more or less, and wish to be ensconced in a life that is free from insecurities and want.

Does such a life exist, where all your bills are taken care of, and your medical bill is paid, and the mortgage on your home is no longer due, and where you bequeath enough money to your family?

We don’t know.

The merchants who trade dreams for money tell us that such a life exists, through advertisements, television soaps, films. They tell us that such a life exists – at a stop near to us.

We aspire. We run.

In the meanwhile, they, too, aspire, for their bankruptcies to be never declared – for their skewed practises to be never uncovered – for the great Indian Dream to live on. So that they too, can live.

The world, indeed, is round.

I’ll figure out

Bloggers, or blog-tivists are often accused of losing touch with the grass-roots. The grass-roots are important.

You have to be able to put your ear to the ground and listen to the heart-beat of the people.
We are like this elite group of people who think alike, have lofty ideals, but we haven’t yet gone to the villages or the streets, where real India lives and breathes.

Untill we do that, we will sound half-hearted, no matter how many broad truths we broadcast.

What does the Average Indian Woman feel?
Does she know there are women’s rights?
Or, is she suprised when you tell her that women too have rights?

Does she realise that it is not ‘okay’ when her husband beats her up? Or that it is illegal to demand dowry?

We need to shut up and make that voice heard.
With regards to that, I think we still have a long way to go. We have to figure it out. I know it’s something like stirring the hornet’s nest or opening Pandora’s box.

But, someone has to do the job. I know it’s easier to evoke a response when tempers are running high, and everyone is clamouring for revenge.
But, when the crescendo fades away, it is then that we realise how alike we are with a mob.

I’ve been feeling detached to the blog of late. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Honestly, I want to do something worthy. I want to amount to something. I want to help people, help my nation.

I’ve been feeling let down, too. I had mailed a few so-called top-notch Indian bloggers. A few replies would’ve been nice. That is why I’m not a big fan of incredibly popular blogs. The human element is lost.

Perhaps, blogging was a good start. A fantastic start.
Now, it’s time for something else.

Public initiatives don’t always work. A man must learn to work alone. I’ll figure out a way. Thanks.

True test of a writer.

The true test of a writer is not how possessedly he writes when he is in flow, but how he manages to write when he is creatively crippled.

Writing is a challenging art form. How many books could you write in your lifetime? Or, how many would you want to write?
How old are you now? Till when do you expect to live?

Calculating the number of years you’ve got left, do you still think you can write the number of books you would want to?

A painter may finish ten paintings in a day. Or, a dancer maybe give three back to back recitals. But, only in case of a writer, we hear this thing about CREATIVE BLOCKS.

Aren’t other artforms supposed to be creative? People speak of wanting the right kind of environment to trigger the flow of words out of their pens.

I feel that at the end of the day, it is pure mathematics. I’m 22 years old right now. Given the amount of chemicals in my food now, and my semi sedentary lifestyle, my best case scenario would be to be alive till 70.

That leaves me 48 years to create my life’s work. So much for passion, life’s true calling, and the love of writing.

48 years. Make it or break it.

If you didn’t start younger than me, then probably you have less time than me. You think 48 years is enough, but how many years it would take you to complete a novel and then to get a publisher – 5 years atleast?

That gives you a book count of less than 10 books in your lifetime.

This happens primarily because of two reasons.

One, because we choose writing too late.
Take me for example, I chose writing at 20 and I haven’t done anything significant till now.

Chances are it’ll take me three more months to actively start work on my first novel.

Two, because we give ourselves excuses.

Today is a Sunday. Who writes on Sundays?

I have a headache. It’s too cold.

I can’t think of anything to write about.

Most novelists wouldn’t reach that quota of 10 novels. Those who do certainly have the quality of persistence and being widely read.

But, as I see it, there is no magic recipe to being a writer. It’s about tucking yourself in, shutting the doors and windows, and writing.

Enough has been made about the two words CREATIVE BLOCK. They say, if you can’t think of anything, look around in your room.

For example, I see a lizard. Now I’ll write something about the lizard – describe it, praise it, eulogise it, criticise it for being on my wall – WHATEVER.

After having done so, I’ll try to bring this lizard piece in my story – maybe an imaginary conversation between my character and a house lizard. Atleast it provides for laughs.

Something is better than nothing.

The true test of a writer is not how well he writes, but for how long. Talent is so overrated. It’s about persistence and determination.

Too many talented people have stopped in their tracks after hitting roadblocks.
It’s the average guy who makes it, more often than not.

On Love.

I want to write about love. But I wish to do so without sounding too mushy or sentimental. I do that too often.

They say it’s the Indian way of writing that causes us to see things through rose-coloured glasses. But, I shall try to be as real as possible.

It is that time of the year again when Marketing moguls make the most moolah – Valentine’s Day is just round the corner. I don’t know if St. Valentine would be happy with the way we celebrate the day.

But, it is popular culture. There are legends, songs, rules regarding the Day. They say it is about finding true love. I love that concept. True love – I don’t know if that is a real entity.

Venturing into my personal life, I’ve been love starved. I’ve wanted to be loved, I’ve wanted to taken away by a love so strong, so passionate that I’d just surrender.

I’ve always been this way – sentimental. Brash on the exterior yet so vulnerable on the inside. This quest for love had led me to three different persons. Not simultaneously.

But then, rejection, rejection, rejection. I’ve been told that I’m not good enough, thrice. It is the worst feeling and I’d never do that to anyone, ever.

I just couldn’t figure out what was going wrong every time. My friend used to tell me that I have this charm that makes them adore me. Or fall for me.

But, certainly it needs more than that to make it last. I was still trying to figure out what I was lacking. It was then that I met her on facebook.

She was no stranger. I’ve known this girl for the better part of my 22 year old life and I’ve lived within a kilometre’s radius of her.

She was my junior in school. Beautiful, artistically gifted, and outspoken. I don’t remember having spoken to her in school.

So, old acquaintances met on facebook. Then, came the time to meet in real life. It was too fast. But I let it happen.
We met.

The little girl with two piggy tails had now metamorphed into a full grown lady, graceful and so beautiful. What bit me was her unconventional take on things. She was so different from the assembly line girls.

She had a mind of her own and boy, was she outspoken!
That same day, she fell for me. (She told me this later).

She said that the man in me took her breath away and erased all images of that adolescent boy. I was wearing blue, my favourite colour and Old Spice, to smell good. It is my personal favorite.

It happened!
No fireworks. No kissing. No rain.
Something on the inside changed, forever, for the better.

Days later, she professed her love for me.
I was overjoyed. Frankly, to this date, I think I got more than I deserved.

There’s something interesting when one falls in love with someone from their past.

Our times spent together were featured with peals of laughter. She made me imitate every teacher from school, every actor. She made me sing and crack stupid jokes.

They say when one is in love, it is easier to make the beloved laugh. I’ve experienced it. I can make her laugh easily.

Getting to know her from scratch was the best thing. There are so many pre conceived notions that we carry we judge someone by their face.

I found out that inside, she was so different from I what I had expected.

She lost her father as a child. So she is a tad pampered and sentimental. But I try my best to be there for every whim, every bad day or mood swing.

It is a wonderful feeling. We shall complete a year of togetherness this April.
I’m no love guru, but I can assure you if you have love in your world, the rough patches smooth out, the nights become shorter, and your head spins a little. Love is a wonderful feeling.

Make room for love!