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.

Optical Illusion.

When I got up from my recliner and turned around to go to my room, this is the sight that greeted me on the staircase going up to our upstairs bedrooms.
For a moment I was zapped as I thought that my son had gone berserk buying toilet paper rolls as I was reminded of photographs like this one below that were doing the social media rounds when the coronavirus first hit the West.
On closer examination however I found that these were cans of dog food that he and my daughter in love had organised to stock up and distribute to volunteers feeding stray dogs in our neighbourhood.

Due to the lockdown, collateral sufferers are these strays who otherwise would have found food by scrounging around restaurants and stores selling edibles. The volunteers are doing yeoman service looking after these strays by not only feeding them but, also by arranging for bowls of drinking water for them in this summer heat.

This is the dog food being given to them. Thankfully, our local administration has made arrangements to make this available in these shut down times.

Individuality And The Common Good.

This is the Advaita approach to the “other”. I am named after this sage and had been taken to him as an infant to get his blessings.

The oneness of existence is the core of the Indian philosophy.

Unfortunately, human beings have gone astray in their thinking and we have landed up in the Tragedy Of The Commons.

I have no solutions to the problem and if and when I am asked, I refer them to Advaita philosophy.

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, Padmum and Shackman 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.

Courage.

My earliest memory of being courageous is that of my overcoming fear of diving off a high diving board in a swimming pool. I learnt to swim in this very pool shown above in Chennai. I would have been all of eleven years old then. After having learnt to swim, the next step was to learn how to dive. First from the sides of the pool and then from the lower boards of the diving board and then came the most scary of them all the high board.

I can assure you that it was almost like Mr. Bean’s experience when I first went up the steps and saw the water below for the first time. It took a great deal of courage to overcome the fear and take that plunge which I eventually managed to. The next one and the next ones were pieces of cake.

The next challenge came when I went to a swimming pool with a higher diving board.

It was Mr. Bean time all over again but eventually I did overcome the fear and dived and need I say, history repeated itself after that.

It took me other experiences to teach me that being courageous is a one off experience. Once you have overcome the first fear you are off and running. My other experiences were, overcoming stage fright in school drama, asking a girl for a kiss, asking a girl out on a date, asking a girl to go steady, proposing marriage though, no sequel to it, quitting a happy life style to go to Business School, quitting a job after 23 years of service to seek fresh opportunities, going in for hip replacement surgery and so on.

Here I pause to share with my readers one exception to my observation.  In our North Eastern States, travel between two towns is usually by shared taxis and the favourite vehicle in those days used as taxis was Jonga. These were usually driven by daredevils who wanted to take on the likes of Sterling Moss of those days. Their speciality was in taking mountain bends and hairpin bends at speeds in excess of 60 KPH much to the discomfort of passengers like me. The locals were quite accustomed to such death defying driving but, I had to endure it during my travelling days there and I had to use them always with a prayer in my lips. I am convinced that if I am here to write this post, it is God’s grace and my good karmas.

There have also been foolish decisions that eventually proved that the experience should not be repeated but, the first one had to be taken as an act of courage.

My conclusion is that the first time you have to be courageous is the tough one. The same experiences to be repeated are not acts of courage but routine.

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, Padmum and Shackman and Conrad.   Conrad incidentally, is the original founder of the weekly bloggers group formed way back in 2009. This week’s topic was suggested by Shackman. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

A Common Enemy.

No, I will not talk about the latest common enemy.  For me, the common enemy has been for many decades, the idea of “the other”.  Mind you, I am talking about the idea and not “the other”.

“The other” has been the bane of human beings from time immemorial and there does not seem to be any end to it, not at least in my life time.

Let us take the most common today.  Islamophobia.  A conference of some Heads of Islamic States was recently held to address this issue. This is a global phenomenon and locally in India, I have recently been reading some very explosive material on the alienation that the Muslims in India feel. The first one is this book from a young mother and the other is from two very knowledgeable and erudite Muslims of India.

All the three links given above will give my readers some idea about the problems faced by the Islamic world in general and the Muslims of India. I am particularly concerned about the latter as it can have serious repercussions in the next few years with Right Wing nationalism growing in India, Pakistan imploding and Bangladesh in an economic crisis. If the problems faced by the two countries result in a refugee problem in India, there will be a major upheaval which I would rather that did not take place.

Let us talk about some other kind of “Others”. Here is an instance of old people becoming the other. I would very much like to meet this worthy when and if he ever gets to be as old as the people that he suggests die for the cause.

Need I say anything about the biggest “Other”, gender?

Every community has its share of “The Others”, thanks to inadequate education of the different types of people, religions, languages, colour, appearance etc and prejudices and fear drive bigotry and hate crimes besides discrimination.

The latest in the line of many “The Others” is China, thanks to the Coronavirus. It is extrememly difficult to determine how much of it is fact and how much just fake news but, the damage is being done.

If we delve deep into our prejudices, we will find enough and more “others” to keep us discussing them till kingdom come. I have just listed a few here to give a pointer to the IDEA of “The Other” as being our number one Common Enemy.

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, Padmum and Shackman and Conrad.   Conrad incidentally, is the original founder of the weekly bloggers group formed way back in 2009. 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.

Arguments.

discussion
/dɪˈskʌʃ(ə)n/

noun
the action or process of talking about something in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas.
“the committee acts as a forum for discussion”
a conversation or debate about a specific topic.
plural noun: discussions
“discussions about environmental improvement”

debate
/dɪˈbeɪt/

noun
a formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward and which usually ends with a vote.
“last night’s debate on the Education Bill”

conversation
/kɒnvəˈseɪʃ(ə)n/

noun
a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged.
“she picked up the phone and held a conversation in French”

argument
/ˈɑːɡjʊm(ə)nt/

1.
an exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one.
“I’ve had an argument with my father”

2.
a reason or set of reasons given in support of an idea, action or theory.
“there is a strong argument for submitting a formal appeal”

I would rather have one of the first three than the last. By nature I have been made like that and I have always been like that.  Now that I am a Senior Citizen, I am forgiven for being like that.

I came up with this topic for this week’s Two On One Friday blog post where Shackman and I post on the same topic. Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the topic.