The Virtues And Toxicities Of Popularity

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

~ Shakespeare in As You Like It.
No. my intention is not to ring my own bell.
Nor to pat myself on my own back. I have a message about the topic where I am the centre of the action and so, these two pictures.

Fellow Five on One blogger and web-friend Shackman posted this on his facebook page and as he had requested I copy pasted on my page.

“I think most of you know me pretty well, it doesn’t matter when our paths may have crossed. Maybe some of you like me and some don’t, but if you’re on my Facebook, it’s because I like you. I would love to see if we can still chat more than just likes and actually write something to each other. Again, I decided to participate in an experience called “Meeting between bread.” The idea is to see who reads the post without a photo. We are so quick to dive into technology that we forgot the most important thing: good friendship. If no one is reading this message, it will be a short social experiment. But if you finish this to the end, I would love you to comment in ONE WORD about us. For example: a place, an object, a person, a moment in which you remember me. Then copy this text and post it on your page (don’t share) and I’ll go to your page to leave a word that reminds me of you. Please don’t comment if you don’t have time to copy the text. This will destroy the experiment. Let’s see who spent their time to read and respond according to the common story outside of Facebook! Thank you for participating!”

I was overwhelmed with the responses that I received, bar a few, all from my colleagues from my working life. These wonderful people have been in touch with me all these years despite my having retired twenty years ago, thanks to the internet and the social media. It brought to my notice that I have  well-wishers in my life who still have regard for me; and I am reminded of that post and the comments on it as I write this post.

I don’t think that I was or am popular. Popular is for entertainers and sportspersons. Popularity is ephemeral. What I received was pure affection and regard from mates who had worked alongside me thanks to something that was drilled into me during my younger days by mentors who taught me a simple formula to be good in my career. CCDO. Connectedness, Constancy in the connectedness, Dignity in the relationships thus established and Opportunity for growth for both in the relationship.  This is something that I passed on to the people who crossed my path as well.  That it has worked has now been amply proved and I am grateful to those mentors who showed me the way. I repeat, I was not and am not popular. These long lasting relationships are testimony to that fact.

Since this has been my personal experience, I would say that the virtues of popularity are that they are superficial, short-lived and ego boosters. The toxicities of popularity are narcissism and self destruction. I am glad that I was and am not popular. I don’t know what to call what I am and leave it to my readers to decide on a nomenclature.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, PadmumShackman and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Social Media And Memory Triggers.

Facebook reminded me and my family of an outing six years ago about which I had blogged here. Naturally, all of us are reminded of that day when Chutki was a pup recovering from the fractures in her hind legs.

Today, Chutki is a big girl and does not need that kind of looking after but, the hind legs are giving her trouble and she spends most of her time simply lying around either on her favourite perch the divan in the drawing room or close to wherever one of us is at any time. The presence of Koko sometimes excites her but, mostly annoys her as Koko is still a pup and very playful and frisky.

This is the latest photograph of Chutki on her favourite perch.

And here is one with both of them.

The Old And The New.

A friend of mine had posted this on his Facebook page.

I was fascinated with this observation for its depth and truth but also its appeal at the superficial level. I decided to change it to reflect  the physical aspect and came up with this one.

I wanted to insert an older photograph of mine but, I was too lazy to go to my collection of hard copies and spend time looking for one. Facebook came to my rescue and gave me this photograph with my siblings and two cousins which my sister had posted some years ago.

Rear row from the left, my late father, I, my late younger brother Arvind, my uncle’s driver Narayanaswamy;  front row from left, my younger brother Barath, my sister Padmini, cousin Gayathri and her elder brother Ramani.  Another important fellow, the brother between Gayathri and Ramani, Shankar, is missing as he was playing hard to get to pose for the photograph.  This was taken in one of the ubiquitous photographer’s studios that used to proliferate those days.

I took a cropped version of me alone, to show how I looked when I was about twelve, circa 1955.  The occasion, was a day’s outing to a temple outside Chennai, then known as Madras.

When I sent the middle image to my friends and family on WhatsApp I received some amazing responses about how either I have not changed at all (!!!) or, how I am still as handsome as I was then and so on!  Very flattering but, the point was totally missed!

The outer scores over the inner.

My Door Is Open.

My friend Shanker posted the following message on Facebook and I promptly copy pasted the same on my page.

My door is always open. My house is safe. Coffee & Tea can be on in minutes, and my dining room table is a place of peace and non-judgmental. Anyone who needs to chat is welcome anytime. It’s no good suffering in silence. I have food in the fridge, coffee and tea in the cupboard, and listening ears, shoulders to cry on and words to share. I will always be here…you are always welcome!!

This is an old value that has been lost to technology…a text, face-time or emoji is not the equivalent of making time for those we love or care about!
I promise to sit at the table while we talk…this is a value that we should bring back!! Let’s all bring it back!

Could at least one friend please copy and re-post.

The response has been staggering. I have posted many other messages on Facebook but, I have never seen such responses.  As I write this post, there have been 44 thumb-up and heart emoticons and 19 comments.  Five friends have also copy pasted the post on their pages.

The contents of the message must have resonated very well indeed with many people!

Retirement.

Two triggers came to me on the same day which made me suggest this topic for this week’s 2 on 1 Friday post. Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the same topic.

The first was this cartoon in one of the daily newspapers that I read every day.

Luckily for me, I did not have a son like Calvin to make me surly during my working days and in any case, those days were not like what they are today.  We did not have to spend so much time commuting to and from work nor were we under the kind of pressures that today’s employees face in work situations.

The other was a WhatsApp message sending me this link to a post on Facebook.

Again, luckily for me, my old friends continue to be my friends and though the number is reducing there are still enough to keep my mind occupied with them as well as in reminiscing about the good old days.

Having started my working career at an unusual age of 16, by the time I had reached my mid forties, I had decided that I should retire by the age of fifty. This was so that I could see a lot of India and some parts of the world accompanied by my wife. For various reasons I was unable to retire at that age but was able to at the age of 52. Not bad, I thought but, life had other plans. Again due to various reasons, I was unable to implement the plan to travel and so was sort of drifting around when life intervened again and pulled be back into corporate life on three different occasions. I finally retired from corporate life at the age of 62. I did have some gaps between assignments during which I also underwent two major surgeries and tackled some major domestic issues.

For the past 14 years, I have lived a life of a retired old reprobate as so affectionately termed by my dear brother. I have not had any retirement blues as many of my friends have had though I did go through some difficult times being a full time care giver on two occasions since the retirement.

My retired life revolves around a lot of reading and a daily dose of solving crossword puzzles. This blissful existence is interspersed with reunions of various kinds about which I have blogged elsewhere, meetings with like minded reprobates in Pune where I live and visits to or from friends and family.

I am one of those blessed seniors who still has company at home in the form of his son and daughter in love plus two very affectionate dogs. To add spice to the life, two alley cats have also decided to adopt us and keep visiting us to ask for snacks at frequent intervals. Hardly ever a dull moment!

It helps that social media like Facebook and WhatsApp have brought many friends and family closer to me and so, I do not find myself at loose ends ever. The only exceptions are when due to public holidays, I do not get my daily dose of news papers and crossword puzzles when I have to depend on additional reading to pass the morning hours.