Stars. Hundreds of stars. Sometimes, even million.
I miss lying down on the ground and seeing those stars. When the grass used to be the comfortable mattress, and the chill in the air used to awaken every sensual part of you. When I used to wonder looking in the infinite mass-less space whose non-existential presence I still question. The hours ticked away, and the birds went silent, with the occasional chirping of their hungry ones, and I still laid there, just looking. Was it true that those are our ancestors? Or that rare falling star will fulfill my wish? It never did, though. Maybe it was too busy with others’ wishes. So many weak people asking for that ‘one’ wish. It must have been really busy. But how did it pick one out? Destiny? Or some random algorithm to find out who deserved it more than all the others? Maybe it’s the instinct of the star.
But you know what? I don’t care if it didn’t fulfill my wish. Or in case, anybody else’s also. It’s still a star, in fact a rare falling star, and people still crave for it. It’s still breathtakingly beautiful and can’t be forgotten anytime soon. The sight of that star makes you feel life is worth living for. Every small moment of that beauty makes your living justified. No matter if it comes once a month, or even a year, it’s always surprises you, amazes you, makes you feel needy and bring out your emotions for what you really want and desire.
I miss lying down on the drew covered grass and see that falling star.
Welcome to the jungle. Sometimes its the hell on earth and the other times, its heaven and the paradise city and what not. Though the good times are hard to find. You have to really look out for and take the chances. There are instances you get sad about, little things that make you laugh, and the random events in your life that just leave you thinking. You never wanted to be a philosopher, but suddenly you are one of those person who have more than one perspective and think you’re smart enough to judge people around you. It’s not a big deal, more of a daily routine. People are afraid to find happiness, and fear little things, making it more difficult for themselves. Trying can be hard, but for those who do take a step further, shit still happens, and that too more often. But its good shit. Hearts get broken, loves get stolen, and you start running. But who said its all about rejection? What happened to the concept of getting up and trying again? Once, twice, thrice, four times, and so on. Maybe even 100th time. But isn’t it worth every effort that you put in? My argument is simple. If you are really going that far and always pushing your limits and the fenced boundaries of your comfort zone, just to get that thing you’ve always wanted, I believe it’s definitely worth it. To make this more delicious and add a cherry on top, the stories you get while pushing yourself out there are worth repeating over and over again.
That’s how you survive. To put it more significantly, that is how you live. Welcome to the jungle.
One of the best initiative taken ever in the history of computer science education. Why is that?
Because anybody and everybody can learn to code. It’s that simple! Ask any “coder” why computer science (I know this term is so boring!) is good, and he’ll (or one of the few she’s will) give you one of the following reasons: without computer science (promise I won’t use this again) not much works, or we have the best jobs, or you creatively solve problems, or creative technology is lucrative. I just have one thing to say about that. MAKING. REALLY. COOL. THINGS.
The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of future. We are so much dependent on technology, that if you know how to write code, you can actually do magical things involving just your surroundings. You’re gonna look like you have magic powers compared to everybody else. So why not take the first step?
We all know, intellectually, that living in the moment is the best thing we can do to maximize our living experience. What we also know is that it’s really hard to do that without spending too much time on planning for our future and looking back and regretting at our past from time to time. This seems to be the part of human experience; no matter how great the things are, it’s never enough. We often find ourselves imagining every possible scenario or organizing our future which is yet to happen. Either that, or we are enjoying or regretting over the past, the time which once was.
We always want more. Even if we are having a great time now, let’s say maybe a dinner with our loved ones, or a great concert, or even an amazing road trip, we can’t stop ourselves from planning for the future and looking forward, as if now is not enough, and always suggesting let’s do this again. We always want more.
For some people, past is the escape from the present. We, as a human being, are always regretting what we did and most of the times spend too much time on what had already happened. Is there anything we can do now to change it? The simple answer is no. Whenever we are more concerned with what has already happened than what is happening, the present moment loses its beauty, its power, its significance.
But there’s one occasion in our lives when we don’t this. This time travel from past to future just doesn’t happen. We all do it everyday. Drive.
When we drive, we avoid both unrealistic worlds. We focus on what’s happening around us. We have to keep our eyes on the road and be careful of the things on either side of the car. We know if we daydream too much, staring into the horizon, or keep looking back in the rear view, appreciating the beautiful scenery that just passed, we are going to crash.
It’s perfectly fine to occasionally glance on the roads behind us, just like it’s ideal to see what’s ahead of us from time to time when we are driving, but what we benefit the most from is the open road that’s directly in front of us. Right now. Right here. We don’t need more than this as it happens.
Visiting the “Museum of Modern Arts” while visiting New York this fall break was my last choice, and there was a reason. I’m not a museum-going person, and moreover, after going to New York, I didn’t want to waste my time by going to museums, and that too of modern arts. Though I am interested in arts, and I also paint, but still the idea of going there wasn’t exciting at all. But after reading the “outstanding reviews” of the place, I decided to give it a try. What I learnt from going there was totally unexpected. I always thought of art as something that can be used to express the human thoughts and emotions visually, but I realized I was wrong. What I saw in MOMA was entirely different. Even the minutest details were presented artistically, but that wasn’t art. The art was behind the creation of those objects, paintings, sculptures, and everything there. It was the way they were created and showed to the world. That day I learned, art is not a thing – it is a way.
How best to define the term “art” has been a subject of constant contention; many books and journal articles have been arguing over even the basics of what we mean by the term “art”. Furthermore, even the basic meaning of the term “art” has changed several times over the centuries, and is still evolving. The main recent sense of the word “art” is roughly as an abbreviation for creative art or fine art. Here I mean the skill is being used to express the artist’s creativity, or to engage the audience’s aesthetic sensibilities, or to draw the audience towards consideration of the “finer” things. Often, if the skill is being used in a functional object, people will consider it a “craft” instead of art, a suggestion which is highly disputed by many Contemporary Art thinkers (Wikipedia). Likewise, if the skill is being used in a commercial or industrial way it may be considered design instead of art, or these may be defended as art forms, and called applied arts. Some philosophers have argued that the difference between fine art and applied art has more to do with the actual function of the object than any clear definitional difference. Art usually implies no function other than to convey or communicate an idea. But in my opinion, the term “art” has a much more meaningful meaning behind it.
Elbert Hubbard, in a 1908 volume of Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Teachers, said that “Art is not a thing – it is a way”. It is not just an imagination or a way of expressing your emotions. People who just see the visual aspect of the art totally ignores the process behind the creation. They choose to see what is visible to their eyes, rather than how it is created. The proof of this is the categorization of the art forms in 21st century. When I started exploring different art forms, I found the most popular art forms to be:
All of these art forms deal with visual aspect of the term “art”. This categorization only shows what people think of when they hear the word “art”, all thanks to the media publications, according to which the contemporary art encompasses many different art forms, from traditional media such as paintings and drawings to more recently developed approaches that use digital and time-based media to create works that incorporate both sound and image. But as Elbert Hubbard said, art is not a thing – it is a way.
Let’s change the perspective and consider the definitions of art given by the philosophers, writers and artists. According to Oscar Wilde, “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” One of the greatest artist of all time, Michelangelo, himself agreed that above all, artists must not be present only in art galleries or museums – they must be present in all possible activities. The artist must be the sponsor of thought in whatever endeavor people take on, at every level. This is what “art” is all about. Even the simplest thing we do in our everyday lives has a process to it. This process consists of our way of doing things in a certain way and makes use of our imagination, emotions, and feelings. The way we perform to create anything is “art”. That is what I realized in the Museum of Modern Arts. The way they created and presented their masterpieces and then let people visualize and interpret it in their own way is the very true nature of “art”; the use of imagination and emotions in everything we do, even in thinking. “Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, a game in which man lets off his excess of stored-up energy; it is not the expression of man’s emotions by external signs; it is not the production of pleasing objects; and, above all, it is not pleasure; but it is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity”, concluded Leo Tolstoy in his essay “What is Art?”.
At this point, the reader may be thinking “So everyone is an artist in this world.” Yes, that is true. Every person in this world is a unique representation of himself; everyone has different feeling, emotions, and imaginations, and so is the way of doing things. Their way of living in this world defines the term “art”, and if everyone is an artist, and the way we do things is similar to painting on the canvass, then we surely have the power to paint our own life the way we want to.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
“Education is not the filling of the bucket but the lighting of a fire.” –W.B. Yeats
I have always been interested in education. 15 years of school and then college is enough for anyone, but I’m talking about the education here, not the school. Having spent most of my life in school, sometimes I do wonder if it’s going to be worth it in the end. Everybody dreams of being successful in their selected careers, living an easy and comfortable life, and this is the reason why most of the people go to school, and then college, in the first place. But is the formal education provided in the schools really helpful for us to live our dreams or is there something else we need to do in order to live like we do in our imaginations?
Let’s jump to the very basic question about education. Why do schools exist? As Sir Ken Robinson suggested in his TED talk, the whole system of schools and the formal education was invented for a reason. There were no public systems of education really before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. Now industrialism, as we all know, is the technical part of the society that runs the world nowadays. Also, we have one more thing common in every part of the world besides industrialism. That is the hierarchy of the education system. Whether you are in America or Asia, this thing will strike you for sure. Every education system on Earth has the same hierarchy of the subjects, and I’m telling you this by my own experience. It does not matter where you go. At the top are mathematics, sciences and the languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts. Further classification is done by Ken Robinson, who believes that Art and Music are given higher status in schools than drama and dance in the field of arts. So is this a coincidence that we have two things, industrialism and education system, that are similar in every part of the world? Of course not.
Remember as I mentioned before, the public system of education came into existence to meet the needs of the industrialism. So the hierarchy here of the education around the world is rooted on two ideas. Number one is that the most important subjects are on top. And the second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities designed the system in their image. So it can be understood that people who dream of becoming a professional industrialists in their lives are getting a good help from the education system we have nowadays. But what about the others who have different dreams? Do they really get any kind of help from the formal education?
Paul Pogre and Ines Aguerrondo, the guest editors for the Education Portal of the Americas, were really concerned when they expressed their views about the condition of the current education system. Mostly focused on the ability to understand things, they explained it as the “ability to establish relationships between concepts, which in turn, indicate understanding of each of the concept involved.” For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. “It is impossible to understand simply by receiving information, although clearly basic information is necessary. Learning for understanding implies committing oneself through reflective action, with actions that build understanding.” The views expressed by the two authors deals with the technical aspect of the basic human understanding, and what schools are really missing out nowadays. But when you look at not-so-technical aspect of the basic human understanding, you find out these schools are doing something really bad.
If the current education system is good enough for people to be successful in their careers, then we should not have:
->42% of visual and performing arts students saying college didn’t prep them for employment.
->Six times as many graduates work as waiters, salespeople, instead of working in retail or hospitality as originally planned, because it’s the only work they could find.
->284,000 of college graduates (37,000 of those who have advanced degrees) working minimum wage jobs.
->75% of people saying they are not living up to their creative potential.
And just to be sure of these stats, the report was published by a renowned consulting firm, McKinsey and Company, with Forbes.
So where is the problem? I think Scott Dinsmore was correct when he wrote in his research that “on top of that, the whole system, from when we are eleven years old, is designed in a way that kills creativity.” And if we stop for a moment here, and just focus on the last line, I think he is right. When I look back at my childhood, all I did was focus on rote memorization and test taking. I can’t think of anyone who went through the stages of the education and never did that. And to make time for that, we almost entirely lose focus on building and creating things. It was just whatever is taught is taught to us is right. No questions. Somewhere in the middle of the process, “we stop learning by doing – the only learning that really tends to work” (Scott Dinsmore). And let’s be honest, because creativity is a lot harder to test on a Scantron multiple choice. This carries on for entire life – first school, then college, and on and on.
I remember reading a book this summer called “A Little Prince”. It’s a really short novel written in 1943 and the most famous work of the French aristocrat, poet, writer and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The reason I’m mentioning this here is because I came across a little story in that novel which made me really think about the current education. There was a child in the novel that drew a bag like thing and asked everyone what that was. Every grown up around him answered what they saw, a bag! But the child was really disappointed by everybody’s answer. Why? Because what he drew was a sleeping snake with a little elephant inside his stomach, not a bag. Now what struck me was not that none of them were unable to guess what it was, but they all answered it the same way. They didn’t use their imagination and just went with the simplest answer possible. And like Picasso once said, “All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up”, it’s really concerning to see the formal education killing the creativity of the humans.
There isn’t an education system on the planet that teaches dance every day to children the way they teach them mathematics. Why? Why not? As Ken Robinson suggests, “This is rather important. Math is very important, but so is dance. Children dance all the time if they’re allowed to.” As he focuses on the importance of other things in the education, he continues to go deep in the question. “What happens is, as children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side.”
The unpredictability of the education system is extraordinary. Children starting school now are going to get retire in around 2070, and since we have no idea what the world will look like in 5 years, preparing these kids for this long time is extraordinary. Let’s come back to the hierarchy of the education system and the two rooted ideas of it. Number one, the useful subjects are at the top. “So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician; don’t do art, you won’t be an artist. Benign advice – now, profoundly mistaken. The whole world is engulfed in a revolution.” Ken Robinson describes the second idea also, just like the first one. “The whole education system around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.” This is actually true as these people can’t realize their true potential, hence falling into the wrong hands of the formal education system.
If the current scenario of education is like this, should a person go to a college then? After reading this about the state of the education and stats in the same field, it’s normal for this question to arise in the mind. This is the big question. The system is flawed and “will not provide answers to some of life’s most important questions” (Scott Dinsmore). He suggests further to take the proactive approach to building the practical education that one needs. He believes that you have to stay motivated to piece it together on your own. Either way a lot of work is required if you want to actually learn to fish and get the results you want and deserve. And as the saying goes, “Get a fish, eat for a day. Learn to fish, feast forever.” He focuses on being creative and always open. Ken Robinson also thinks the same way, and he suggests taking a chance for being creative. “Children are not frightened of being wrong. If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with something original” (Ken Robinson). When writing on why schools exist, the JacksonHerald Today concluded that “While schools tend to focus on language and math skills, that don’t seem to be working. Take a look at the terrible grammar and spelling by those who put comments on any of the various mainstreetnews.com websites — the inability to communicate clearly is obvious. And while some students do conquer math, many high school graduates can’t compute simple math formulas. Maybe it’s time for school systems to focus less on developing worker-widgets and more on developing well-rounded citizens.”
After reading the views of the people who are really passionate about education and the change they want to bring, I couldn’t agree more with Eric Hoffer, who says,
“The central task of education is to implant a will and a facility for learning; it should produce not learned, but learning people. In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future.”
The things that happened last year with me have changed my beliefs, tested them, challenged them, shaped them up and strengthened them. It’s because of those things I think I know the answer to this question.
In 2012, I was studying in a college in India, and was one of those bored students who didn’t have anything to do after the classes. Most of the colleges in India don’t have the so-called “necessary” facilities like a recreational center, intramural, and fun events going on. So a friend and I decided to start our own college magazine after getting fueled up by reading the autobiography of Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin group. Crazy enough idea! We actually got some people working with us. The results were astonishing. In no time, we were on the verge of creating our own thing. But how did this happen so quickly? It wasn’t a miracle, it was the belief I had. It was the belief in people and in my dreams.
What are the odds of you asking somebody you don’t know at all to help you by spending out a large part of his time and doing it for free of cost? If you have asked, you know that the answer will always be a ‘no’ until you actually ask. A guy studying graphic designing and arts in England agreed to make the cover for our magazine. A professional photographer in California agreed to get the particular kinds of photographs we needed. A well-known journalist was so excited that he wanted us to use his work. A famous rock band let us interview them. One of the world’s most famous cricketers said no to give us his interview (still a pretty big thing just to receive that email!). The rejection didn’t help us but it did fortify my faith in what we were doing. Every time when I read that email, it reminds me that anything is possible.
I couldn’t believe what was happening at that time, but it was right there happening in front of my eyes. I was just amazed at how much easy this all was with these generous people in the world. I agree not all of them said yes, but most of them were willing to help, even though they had never met us. Sometimes, you have to convince them a bit because most of them are too protective, but most of the times, you’ll be surprised by the result you get when you actually ask for something. Though I never had the final copy of the magazine in my hands, it helped me a lot as a person and a writer.
The satisfaction of helping someone and that happy feeling is just too good to ignore. It may be one of the best feelings in the world. Sometimes people don’t help to gain something; they just help. That small act can change somebody’s life forever.
I believe in people. They are good enough to make this world a better place and inspire others by just simply helping each other. If most of us do even little things to help others, then soon, we won’t have a lot of things to complain about.
2 people passed. Some sadness filled their eyes, but in another moment, they were laughing. Even I couldn’t stop laughing. Same happened to many more. All of a sudden, their eyes seemed to be happier than before. It was fun to see their at-once changed expressions. Why? They all were looking at me! I was sitting on a chair waiting for the doctor to call me with my one leg spread across the floor. The wound gave a very saddening effect to anyone who looked at it but excitement on my face could not be hidden from anyone. The doctor had seen me few minutes before and told me that it was indeed a very deep cut and so, he would have to perform some tailor stuff. You know stitching and all! But why the excitement? Coz I’ve never been into this tailor stuff before. Though there have been many deep cuts in the past, few of them worse than the current one, but there was not even a single instance where I allowed Doc to carry his needles and scissors. I was always afraid of some pointing non-living thing going deep in my body. But today was no ordinary day. My old enemy, football, had yet caused me another of some serious troubles I’ve ever got. 7 years back it was a fracture in right hand, and now there was a volcanic eruption in the toe, again the, right side, with just one dissimilarity. There was no lava, just blood. Somehow it was made to stop by applying some primary first-aid things. There wasn’t much pain but as soon as you see it, you’ll be saying the same thing that everybody said, “Oh my God!”
So as I sat on the little bed looking at the primary preparations of the doc’s assistant and asking him several questions about the time period of stitches (I want to play again ASAP!!!), the doc stepped in closing the door behind him. He looked casual, the way I like it. The first thing he did made me realise the pain that was hidden from sometime. Next he asked me to lie down rather than sitting on the bed. “But I want to see how it looks, the stitching stuff”. This was my reply. He laughed a bit and said, “I guess you don’t want to lie down fainted”. All said, I quickly waited for the next instructions! Then started the process of tailoring me. 3 injections of small doses of anaesthesia to make my toe unconscious. And yet, it wasn’t completely unconscious. I could still feel whenever he put in the needle and took it out. Actually, it wasn’t much pain. It was the feeling of pain that made me feel something new. I had the realisation I was completely alive, no need to worry. Then came the next 2 injections, to lighten the effect of wound. Now that did hurt. Actually it was the only thing that hurt, the injections. Who the hell invented them? Couldn’t the doses be given by drinking or something like that?
So once again I moved out of the room with a different expression on my face, the expression of triumph. People, as before, looked confused, seeing my toe and then my face! I signed the form of something I don’t read in the pathology lab and then waited for my father to come back. He went to get the meds. Suddenly my cell started ringing. I picked it up and here’s the little conversation:
Friend: Hey where are you?
Me: At the hospital.
Friend: Why? What happened?
Me: (in a serious tone) I’m a father now.
Friend: What the hell!
Me: (couldn’t stop laughing!!!) Just kidding. Don’t worry; my clothes were torn, so I came here to get them stitched.
Friend: I think you are out of your mind. Will call you later
Well, girls give gifts, but not flowers, chocolates or big cakes. They are in the form of, well, in the form of some physical issues to the boys. And yes, Slap Day is one of them. I tried to find the history of Slap Day on Google but no luck (maybe the college firewall is blocking it). So I thought, why not invent one! So let me take all of you back to the day which says 7th Feb. On this day, a boy gives a rose to the girl to mark the beginning of the valentine week. In the following week, girl gets lucky, super lucky in some cases. But she has a secret, a deep secret that is buried inside her, which she don’t want to reveal due to gifts! So keeping aside this secret, she accepts all the treats and teddies. She spends her week happily, but when 14th comes, something happens. The boy hopefully proposes the girl. Now comes the secret part. The girl was already with some other boy! She didn’t tell that because she was selfish? Maybe, better ask her! So when her previous interest comes into play, he meets the new boy to celebrate the 15th Feb. as the Slap Day and what a way of greeting him….True Story! Maybe the girl is thinking of the best ways to spend the valentine eve but couldn’t. Just because of the boy’s fear of the following days that are destined to come? Yes, exactly! But what can he do? Nothing. Its all girl’s play! Whatever it is, njOy everyone 😉
Valentine’s Day. Just a day left for it. Flowers are ready, and so are the girls ready to accept them, though few will reject also! Gifts are being packed, colors being chosen carefully. Some are stuck on deciding the place for date, while others are booking movie tickets, etc. But do I care? Not at all…! 😉
Linkin Park wrote in their song ‘Valentine’s Day‘, “So now you’re gone, and I was wrong
I never knew what it was like, to be alone On a Valentine’s Day”. Maybe that is the true story of many of the guys out there, but definitely not mine. I’ve been alive since 19 years, and believe me, I’ve never ever thought about it, and I’m still alive! Valentine’s Day is a day when usually a boy, oh wait a sec, its always a boy 🙂 expresses his love to the girl. As the Wikipedia says it, “It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards“. But it says only flowers, confectionery and greeting cards. Does it also mentions the huge and expensive gifts that girls require nowadays? Doesn’t seem so….
Valentine’s Week is like a lottery for Archies, Cadbury, Flower Companies, and such other, who earn their profit only in this week. Starting from Rose Day, the week has Chocolate Day, Promise Day, Hug Day, Kiss Day, and so many others that one could ever imagine! Imagine a boy who is getting ready to celebrate this week for his girl friend. First he buys a rose, then chocolate, and not an ordinary one, it must be Ferrero Rocher. And girl gets it all. Thats not all. He then also has to make a superficial promise on the Promise Day, buy a large, sweet and cute teddy on Teddy Day, and then has to do a lots of formality, until you are like her 😉
And after so much trouble, what he gets ?
Here’s the list:
15 Feb : Slap Day
16 Feb : Kick Day
17 Feb : Perfume Day
18 Feb : Flirting Day
19 Feb : Confession Day
20 Feb : Missing Day
21 Feb : Break Up
So guys, celebrate your V-Day with your loved ones, but do remember the list above. Happy valentine Day!!!