Waiting to Wait…and Tea इंतज़ार—इंतज़ार का… और चाय

जिंदगी  जब  चाय  की  एक  प्याली से  दूसरी  तक  सिमट आती  है,

छोटी  होती  है, पर बहुत  लम्बी  हो  जाती  है…

अलसाई  चाहतें  चुस्कियों  में  तलाशती  हैं  चुस्तियाँ,

बेबाक  बेफिक्री नहीं, रह  जाती  हैं  सिर्फ  मायूसियां…

चाय  की  बिखरती  भीनी  भाप  में  भीगे  कुछ  सवालात  हैं,

कुछ  कश्मकश, कशिश, कुछ  ख्वाब  ख़यालात  हैं…

चाय  के  ऊफान सी  हैं  उफ  ये  ऊफनती  उल्झनें,

परेशान  हूँ, पीता  हूँ  मैं  उसे  या  वो  पीती  है  मुझे…

चाय  से  सने  सूने  सपनों  में  कोई  शामिल  नहीं  होता,

बेइंतहा  इंतज़ार, और  इंतज़ार  का  इंतज़ार  है  रहता…

Jindagi jab chai ki ek pyali se doosari  tak simat aati hai,

Choti hoti hai, par bahut lambi ho jaati hai…

Alsai chahten chuskiyon me talasti hain chustiyan,

Bebak befikri nahee, rah jaati hain sirf maayusiyan…

Chai ki bikharti bhini bhaap me bhhege kuch sawalat hain,

Kuch kashmakash, kashish, kuch khwab, khayalat hain…

Chai ke ufaan si hai uf ye ufanti uljhanen,

Pareshan hun, Peeta hun main use ya wo peeti hai mujhe…

Chai se sane soone lamhon me koi giraft nahee hota

Beintehaa intezaar, aur Intezaar ka Intezar hai rahta…

pic: clay banks-unsplash

 

Moving Tree… Journey Through Roots, Spirit n Time

I am rooted, I remain…but to rise roll n run /

I resist, I rest…yet restless I rustle n rush /

I am recluse, I am restricted…only to rove ride n race /

I resign, I am reigned…but I ramble reach n return /

I am restrained, I retire…yet raring roused n rampant.

I stand, I am still…but to sweep sway n swing /

I stay, I surrender…yet I speed sprint n spring /

I sit, I straddle…only to start stir n stride /

I snooze, I am static…but swift spirited n sprite /

I sleep, I settle…yet I sail slip n slide.

 I am tied, I am timed…but to tread trend n travel /

I tremble, I tumble; yet I trip twist n twirl /

I am trapped, I am trounced; only to touch tour n turn /

I am torn, I am tranquil; but I try trek n trace /

I am tired, I am troubled; yet I tour transit n traverse.

My Tree Series

Pic: Linde Lanjouw – unsplash

Is Social Media Turning Us into Zombies?

My following article (titled as above) was published in The Deccan Herald, Bangalore on 28.9.2020. Link:

https://epaper.deccanherald.com/Home/ShareArticle?OrgId=28999f660bc&imageview=0

Article reproduced below:

The hard-hitting documentary trending on Netflix—“The Social Dilemma”—begins with eerie music and a chilling quote that alludes to social media as a curse. In this, several executives who held top positions in social media companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter warn about the existential crisis caused by these manipulative organizations.

It hits us hard with several facts we are unaware of, or continue to ignore. The covert aim of the ‘free’ platforms is to monetise the social media use. They constantly track, collect, and analyse data on every facet of our lives. The advertisers on the social media misuse this data to predict and influence buyers’ behaviour. We, the unaware users, are the products being bought and sold. It is a market trading in “human futures”.

Social media companies treat people as specimens. They deploy experimental tools such as Persuasion Psychology, Growth Hacking, and A/B testing to manipulate behaviour at the subliminal level for multiplying users and their engagement. The social networks lure, push, pull, and even annoy us into doing what they want. These platforms programme our preferences for people, places, and pleasures. They seduce us to buy a product or service which we never wanted. These networks decide how should we live. 

Social media companies exploit social, biological, and evolutionary instincts, and pander to our ‘reward/approval seeking’ tendency. They keep nudging us to ‘like’, check, chat, comment, view, share—the list is endless. We have moved away from user-driven tool-based technology environment to an addiction and manipulation-oriented system. This dopamine releasing drug turns us into addicts and morphs us into zombies and robots.

Social media pandemic has permeated our psyches and penetrated our lives. It has entered our bedrooms and invaded our boardrooms. It tempts us while we sleep, lounges with us in our living rooms, dines with us, and accompanies us to toilet. This pest drives out with us, and sits on our shoulders in school, office, and parties. The fake forces us to forget family and friends. Social media has appropriated our essential resources: time, mind, and free will for making intelligent choices. 

Social media exploits human weaknesses, conditions people, and causes depression. Children and young-adults suffer most—they stay glued to screens for hours, seeking self-worth from pseudo social approval. This self-deception disillusions and disorients. An increasing number of pre-teens and teens are harming and killing themselves after getting hooked to social media.

The agony and insanity caused by manipulation of our minds and behaviour by social media come alive in “The Scream” painted by Edvard Munch, which i have posted here.                

Unlike Wikipedia, social media tells different versions of truth to different people. It changes the reality based on which we act. These platforms create and disseminate fake news. They spread conspiracy theories which can influence elections, create social unrests, and destabilise democracies. To achieve such results through social networking sites is easy because they are fast, cheap, and effective. Social media has circulated claims, counter claims, and lies about Covid-19 pandemic, Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, and climate change. Fake news spreads faster and generates more money for social media companies.

Social media is dangerous because the advances in this technology are exponential as compared to evolution of the human mind. Powered by artificial intelligence, this has become an existential threat for the humanity because of its ability to bring out the worst in society. 

Why is it difficult to shake the monkey off our backs? The documentary answers: it gives us both—Utopia and Dystopia. Social media is an enormous problem, but it has made significant contributions. It is neither possible nor advisable to shut off this engine. Yet serious considerations of ethics, conscience, and humanity remain. The social networks are changing who we are. This raises grave questions for civilisation, and our present and future. 

The crux is the manner in which social media companies earn. Making money is not immoral, but manipulation is. Companies are acting as de facto governments. Stringent laws govern harmful businesses such as illegal drugs, human trafficking, and trading in human organs. Then why not laws for these social media companies which manipulate our minds? 

The responsibility to correct this state of affairs lies with these companies, the governments, the civil society, and the individuals.

These platforms must self-regulate and operate with ethics. They have to dump their manipulative tactics and technologies. This is their responsibility because they created them.

Governments need to regulate the social media platforms with strict laws, penalties, and punishments. The civil society can debate, generate awareness, and engage with these platforms, governments, and public for creating collective will for reforms.

As individuals we must say ‘NO’, and demand that these technologies do not treat us as lab-rats and manipulate us. We have to switch off notifications, remove unwanted apps, and limit screen time for ourselves and our children. Most designers of social media either do not allow, or give limited supervised social media access to their children. We better exercise our mind, will, and choice.

Social media is a problem that needs a solution. The answer lies not in destroying these platforms, but in reforming them. We have to control these controllers. We can’t allow them to hack our happiness. Smart phones are making us phoney. The social media is changing us into anti-social. We have to stop this.

https://epaper.deccanherald.com/Home/ShareArticle?OrgId=28999f660bc&imageview=0

लफ्जों  के  लिबास  नहीं  होते ! Words are Naked !

जो  बातें  कभी  जाहिर  नहीं  होती

खामोशियाँ  जिक्र  कर  जाती  हैं

लिहाज  का  क्या  कहें

लफ्जों  के  लिबास  नहीं  होते

काफिले  चलते  रहते  हैं

कारवां  जाता  है  गुजर 

क्या  खोया  क्या  पाया

रिश्तों  में  हिसाब   नहीं  होते

परछाइयां  धुँधली  हैं

पर  खोया  चेहरा  ढूँढ़ते  रहते  हैं

आईने  पे  सायों  की  जमी  हैं  परतें 

अधूरे  ख्वाब  कभी  पूरे  नहीं  होते

हवाएं  न  जाने  कहाँ  उड़ा  ले  जाती  हैं

परिंदे  परेशां  नहीं  होते

ऊंचे  आकाश  में  छुपी  है  समंदर  की  गहराई 

ख्यालों  के  कभी  दायरे  नहीं  होते

बनावटी  बातें  जो  हैं …उनसे

कभी  कभी  नमी  का  अंदेशा  तो  होता  है

पर  लफ्जों  की  धोकेबाज़ी  से

दिलों  के  रेगिस्तान  हरे  नहीं  होते

बेगानों  में  अपनों  को  खोजते  हैं

और  दूरियों  में  नजदीकियां

दहलीज  पे  खड़ी  ज़िन्दगी देती  है दस्तक    

धड़कनों  के  दरमियाँ  फासले  नहीं  होते

ख्वाइशों की हसरतों  से  हैरत  क्यूँ ,

फितरत  को  जब  हरकतों  से  फुर्सत  नहीं

उधार  की  ज़िन्दगी  से  नाराज  क्यूँ 

हमराज  अक्सर  हमसफ़र  नहीं  होते

क्या  इंसानियत  के  चर्चे 

क्या  हैवानियत  के  किस्से

शख़्शियत   के  कई  अंदाज  हैं  ये 

हासियों  में  बंटी   ज़िन्दगी  के  मायने  नहीं  होते

Pic : Amanda APS

No Sins in Cousins

Relationships are relative; relatives relate, but reluctantly.

But the creatures called cousins are exceptions.

Cousins cross the coast of blood-relationship to become friends. A class apart—where friendship frolics, and relationship lurks in the shadows.

Cousins combine the best of both. They give us what we love in friends, shunning what we dislike in relatives. In “cousinship”, the theory of relativity falls flat.

Cousins do not weigh us down with relationship’s expectations. With cousins we are free as fun, buoyant as bobs, and light as laughter.

Cousins neither con nor control… they console. They do not count or concoct… they connect. They are neither caustic nor cumbersome… they care.

Aren’t cousins cute… albeit crazy?

(Dedicated to all the cousins and their wives & husbands)

आओ कभी… मेरी खिड़की में बैठो…Come Sometime… Sit in My Window

आओ  कभी … मेरी  खिड़की  में  बैठो…

कुछ  गाओ , कुछ  गुनगुनाओ

कुछ  हंसो , कुछ  मुस्कुराओ

कुछ  खिलखिलाओ , कुछ  फुसफुसाओ ;

और  आओ …

करें  कुछ  चुगलियां , कहें  कुछ  चुटकुले

करें  कुछ  कानाफूसी , लगाएं  कुछ  कहकहे

करें  कुछ  गपसप , और  कुछ  गिले शिकवे

कहें  कुछ  किस्से  सुने  सुनाये , कुछ  अनकहे ;

आओ  कभी  अलसाई  लसलसी सी  दोपहरी  में …

मेरी  गरम  अदरखि  चाय  के  घूंटो  में 

करवट  बदलती  खूबसूरत  कहानियों  की

चुनिंदा  चर्चरी  चुस्कियां  हैं ;

आओ  कभी  शबनमी  धुँधली  सी  शाम  ढले …

मेरी  पुरानी  रक्तिम  शराब  के  प्यालों  में 

सलवटें  और  खुमारियों  भरे

दबे -पावं  रिश्तों  के  नशीले  लम्हे  हैं ;

आओ  कभी  फटे  पन्नों  वाली  पुरानी  किताब  में …

ढूंढे  अपने  आप  को , या  फिर  खो  जाएँ ,

और  उसकी  लज़ीज़  लिपटवां  खुसबू  में

लपेट  लें  वो  अरमान  अर्सों  पुराने ;

आओ  सुलझा  लें  मांझे  को , जिसमे  उलझी  है …

पतंगो  सी  उमंगें  और  ख्वाहिशें ,

अतीत  की  मुंडेर  पे  बैठ  दो  पल …

आओ  करें  कुछ  ऎसी  बातें  मुलाकातें ;

आओ  कभी ऐ जिंदगी , के  एक  मुद्दत  हुई ,

आओ  के  सहला  जाओ , तुम  मुझे  बहला  जाओ ,

झरोके  मेरे  खुले  हैं , अपने  खोल  दो ,

झांको , मत  झिझको , मत  जाओ , रुक जाओ , रह  जाओ .

आओ  कभी … मेरी  खिड़की  में  बैठो …

कुछ  कहो …

या फिर कहने दो खामोशियों को…

*****

Fallen Leaf … Standing Trees

Seeing life through the lens of a fallen leaf,

Or through the scope of standing trees…

I stand at the far end in fog and mist,

Line of sight is straight, frames freeze;

A moment is caught in the standing trees,

A lifetime is captured by a fallen leaf…

Moment is momentous, monumental is minute,

Does it matter…big small long or brief;

Fallen… colour may be faded fawn,

Standing… shade is gallant green…

Life is seasons of myriad hues,

Faded, Gallant… many more and in-between.

Fallen Leaf Pic: William Smith

There Was A Tree, There Was An Island

I am the Tree, I am the Island…

In air, In water, and on ground,

I am in, I am out, I am within…

Real or Reflection, seen or unseen;

My leaves sway, shimmer, and seek…

My roots soak, sink, and surrender,

Longing to merge, melt, and meet…

Some will soothe, others shock, stab, and shatter;

Insides surface as outsides submerge…

In tight embraces, truths emerge,

The tree in me is shaken…

The island in me is broken,

Soil of memories clings to roots that now rot…

Waves gnaw, chip away every bit and mote;

Soon my sap seeps and saps…

I dissolve – I am particles, I am pieces,

Yes, there was a tree, there was an island…

Nothing ever remains except reminiscences.

Tree Island

pic: Gavin Hard castle

S I S T E R

‘Sister’…the word echoes and evokes all that is good and beautiful.

Sister gives us love akin to parents, shares strength of a brother, and brings happiness like a friend. She is our go-to person – in joy and in sorrow. She gives us her shoulder to cry on, stretches her hand to pull us up, keeps our secrets like her own…sister is our ‘man-friday’ in woman’s clothing.

Sister is a person for all seasons. A selfless soul, she gives all of herself and more…mostly unseen,  unsaid, and unacknowledged.

Some sisters laugh and slap our backs, some hide their smiles and slap nothing; few offer ‘kadha’*, others snatch and finish off our beer in a gulp. Aren’t they amazing?

Good that we can’t choose our sisters, for we will not have any others.

Our sisters paint beauty and create joy in our lives.

(I write this on behalf of all my bros and friends, and dedicate it to all our Sisters: sisters born to our parents, and sisters who left their homes to make our homes).

* Kadha: an Indian herbal concoction

children-1879907_1920

Middle Muddle

I never meddle, but plight of the middle needles.

Mind-boggling, if not maddening. Amidst motley of ‘mids’, it’s a medley of ‘middles’.

Malady or melody…depends:

It is a mystery why the mid-wife is a wife only in the mid;

It is an enigma whether ‘midnight’s children’ are born on this or ‘the other side of midnight’;

Even if it is a wily woman lurking in the shadows, behind every shady deal is a sinister ‘middle-man’;

While one end devours and the other discards, the middle alone fights battle-of-the-bulge;

Facts: It is always the mid-riff which is reported bare on a bike; Middle names are lost like middle-ages; Medium-spicy always turns out to be low-bland, like mid-day meals;

Having lost youth’s charm, and lacking wisdom of the old, the misfit middle-aged try to be both, and land up in no man’s/woman’s land;

Caught in the middle, like pendulums they perpetually swing from end to end, as if caught between ‘goodbye’ and ‘I love you’;

The moment we mingle middle with class, we assign it to the mundane; sensing the mood, even Modi has abandoned it;

Glory is of the elder, love is with the younger, and leftovers of both for the mere middle;

The middle-of-the-road always gets it – hook from the ‘left’, hit from the ‘right’;

A hit is a hit, but it is amazing over the mid-wicket; Out is out, but it stumps when ball hits the middle;

The mean is never mean, the median adheres to the median, and the mode is always a model, yet the central tendency of being in the middle is scoffed at;

No one wants them (even though they have their advantages): middle seat in airlines, middle berth in trains, a puncture in the middle of the journey, a slap in the middle of the road; the notable exception being a fiendish fart in the middle of a politician’s lecture;

Even though it is the longest, you can’t raise the poor middle finger, lest you are booked for being illegal or immoral;

Whereas the mad flings with mids* or maidens cause the mid-air collisions, the ‘midsummer night’s dream’ becomes a midwinter nightmare for the jilted;

The middle-east today is so west, it has none of the middle and little of the east; And in that County why is it only Middlesex, even if no one is counting?;

Don’t come running to me with your mid-life crisis when I am in the middle of nowhere.  My signboard is succinct:

“Don’t disturb, I am in the middle of something” (read- I am enjoying ‘nothing’ more than I had enjoyed ‘anything’)

*weeds

Disclaimer: I have written this in good humour, not to ridicule anyone. I believe we can laugh at ourselves.

Pic: Gabriela Pala, pexels.com

girl in forest