- Don’t get involved in other people’s bullshit. When someone starts bitching about their family, their love-life, their stupid, snotty kids, or their stagnant career, tune them out. Especially if they start bitching about other people you work with. People HATE that. Repeat after me “Not my monkeys, not my circus. Not my monkeys, not my circus”
- Put in your headphones and start jamming to your favorite tunes. This gives off the vibe that they don’t want to talk to people.
- A good practice is to start meditating in the middle of an annoying conversation you’d rather not be a part of. Imagine you are in your happy place; killing all these idiots who force you into boring conversations. Not very ‘zen’, I know, but whatcha gonna do?
- At times just put in your headphones and pretend to be jamming so you can eavesdrop on conversations and use them for blackmail later. This comes in very handy on rare occasions.
- Start crying whenever someone talks about their dad, guilt-trip them because you don’t have one any more.
- Perfect the eye-roll and jabbering hand sign, use it whenever someone tries to be funny in your presence. This will devastate them and force them to realize they aren’t as funny as they think.
- During dull conversations stop making eye contact and use your thousand yard stare to good effect. The other person will pause when he realizes you’re obviously not listening. Then go off on a tangent and introduce a topic you are interested in; the last book you loved, your favorite musician or how hot Idris Alba is.
- Whenever a group of people looks like they’re enjoying themselves, talk about how miserable your life is and how suicidal you are. Wipe those smirks off their faces.
- Be alternately hot and cold around. Extremely chatty one day and really pissy the next. No one will bug you with their boring stories any more, you’ll have all the power to talk to people only when you feel like it.
- Frequently start long, boring monologues and stop abruptly without making a point.
Once in an eon an author comes along whose books have such a significant impact on society that the concepts and particular turns of phrase assimilate into popular culture and psyche. Eventually they become such an intrinsic part of everyday conversation that the origin is forgotten. Shakespeare’s contributions to the English language are numerous, even people who have never read a book in their life can confidently quote a monologue or two (Albeit wrongly), if I were to say a novel was set in a “Dickensian” universe, images of a bleak and dismal neighborhood would flash through your head, with rampant squalor and poverty festering like a disease. A family of 10 huddled around a single candle, lamenting their abject state and the hunger that has gone unchecked for days, now.
The point of this long-winding intro was to build a big case for one of my favorite authors; George Orwell. Not that he needs a case built for him, If the last century has had an author as widely read and appreciated as Dickens or Shakespeare, Orwell would be it. Today the book I want to talk about is “1984”. If you are even remotely paranoid and suffer from the “impending doom” syndrome, this is the book for you. Sadly though, the Orwellian universe is much like the world we live in today. A lot about the dystopian future that Orwell predicted in 1949 has come to pass.
Big Brother is not only watching us; like a paranoid lover he has started keeping tabs on even our most intimate communications.
Our protagonist is Winston Smith, we follow him around as he goes about his day and realize with increasing horror how every aspect of his life is controlled by the interfering government. He never has cause to complain until he falls in love with Julia, aah young love! Sex is among the many things forbidden in this vile world so they meet in secret until they are caught. I don’t want to give the ending away except that it’s heart breaking and for a long time afterward you will feel like there’s a block of cement in your stomach.
!984 has become such a part of mainstream culture that everyone from the Apple computer’s iconic ‘1984’ ad to David Bowie’s wonderful song “1984” has used it.
Orwell was a student of psychology which came in quite handy during the writing of this book. For example, how Newspeak gave words like freedom and free thought negative connotations of ‘thought crime’, certain words that were detrimental to the designs of the powers that be, were phased out completely from the vocabulary. A people that have no words to form thoughts suffer a pretty huge handicap. Limit their vocabulary and you limit their capacity to think.
War is peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength
We may scoff at these party slogans, but if we look around us at the world of today we’ll see some form of these slogans being used to subdue the masses in every country. What is war on terrorism if not waging war to create peace? What is the media promoting if not mass hysteria and mass ignorance?
My only issue with Orwell is that he is about as subtle as a sledge hammer. He drives his point home by hitting you with it like a ton of bricks. But, sometimes the masses need that kick in the rear to get their heads out of their asses.
If you enjoy this I recommend “Animal Farm” by the same author; a satirical critique of communism. If you are a Pink Floyd fan; their album ‘Animals’ was heavily influenced by this book. Also, “Brave new world” by Aldous Huxley, which has similar themes but a somewhat more hopeful ending, I like to think. 4.75 stars out of 5, which is really the highest ranking I’ve ever given.
Written by Stephen Chobosky, this coming of age story was published in 1996 but has recently seen another surge in popularity when it was converted into a film in 2012.
I know the idea of a coming of age novel makes you all groan inwardly because we’ve had it up to here with young adult literature. In my experience there are two kinds of YA novels; the ones where the author doesn’t dumb down enough to embody a teen protagonist, consequentially creating a narrator that is too precocious a la the annoying brats from “The fault in our stars” (I hated that book) or where he dumbs down too much and the lead comes off as mentally deficient.
Perks is a happy middle-ground. It’s a very easy read which tactfully handles heavy adult themes like abusive relationships, sexuality, suicide & death, emotional trauma and how young people come to terms with it. The author has avoided being heavy-handed or preachy. Something has to be said for the resilience of young people, which the author has showcased quite wonderfully.
Charlie is an adorable ‘wallflower’, he’s shy and doesn’t have a lot of friends and we instantly feel protective of him. The world is a dark, crazy place and my maternal instinct made me want to shelter Charlie from the evil elements. But this is what growing up is all about, we send our kids off into the world to take the good with the bad and hopefully mature into well-rounded individuals, but I digress.
Sometimes it does feel like the book is trying to do too much, some huge revelation is mentioned in an off-hand kind of way and that annoys me because I would’ve liked that theme to be explored in detail.
A great theme in the book was how it encourages the protagonist, and through him all young readers, to read great literature. “Catcher in the Rye” is suggested to Charlie, one of my favorite books.
Two of the protagonists have excellent taste in music and introduce Charile to “The Smiths”, the patron saints of angsty, depressed teenagers everywhere. I love books with great music, and I think this is the first time I came across a YA novel where music was a pretty central theme. I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5
I have a propensity for old things. It’s like I’m forever stuck in a state of nostalgia for a time I haven’t really lived through. I like classic rock, retro fashion and explosions of colors. Simpler times, hand written letters, type writers and vinyls. I prefer leather-bound books to most of my friends. I like men old enough to be my dad and I like kids not at all. I mean not like I beat up kids or anything, just that I’d rather avoid their presence if possible. Baby talk disgusts me and romantic relationships are elusive and something ethereal. I’m not sure I believe in love. I have tried. Many times. Each time I present a different version of myself to the object of my desire. That’s not me being a phony, mind you; just whatever I’m feeling with that particular person.
I think I’ve veered off track a little here, but let’s see this train of thought to its logical end. There was this guy I was really into and he kind of told me I need “help”. I guess he meant psychiatric help, to deal with my “struggles and issues”, I had reigned it in quite a bit, I thought. I don’t know what that means and I didn’t have the guts to ask him. I don’t like playing games or being coquettish. I usually say what I feel and I try not to lie.
So, the point is this. I can’t get him out of my mind.He’s hurt me deeper than I thought was possible and I doubt I’ll ever be talking to him again, yet I can’t stop thinking about him. Why is love so hard?
Travel writing, according to Ibn-e-Batuta “leaves you speechless and then turns you into a story teller”. You have to weave a story with your words, so that your readers can live vicariously through you. You have to add enough of yourself to it that it’s your unique spin on an experience millions have had. It should be vivid enough that your words jump off the paper, grab your reader by the hand and don’t let go till you’re done. Some of my favorite travel writers are Mark Twain (The innocents abroad) and Aldous Huxley (Jesting Pilate), though I can’t really hope to emulate these greats, they are my inspiration.
The perception of the states in my mind has been formed through a steady diet of American literature and cinema. If Agent Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks) and Kerouac (On the Road) have taught me anything it’s that freshly baked apple pie and piping hot coffee in a rustic old diner is what Americana is all about.
The other place would be a blues bar in New Orleans. Blues and psychedelia are my favorite types of music. Where the lights are turned down low as you listen to that familiar riff while a smooth, whiskey soaked voice laments about the bad hand life has dealt it.
I heard Neil Young’s “unknown legend” and instantly knew it was about me. Specifically the line “She was an unknown legend in her time”, and though I don’t have long blond hair, I can totally see myself riding a Harley Davidson through a desert highway. I consider myself a free spirit whose wings have been clipped due to budgetary constraints
I thought about this long and hard. There are tons of places I’d like to visit. The Gugenheim and NY Met, rock’n’roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Burning man in San Francisco, Comic Con in San Diego, Café Wha? In NY just because that’s the place where so many great musicians got their break.
If I could’ve been born in a different era it would’ve been the 60’s. The music, the fashion, the whole hippie philosophy speaks to me. I can relate to it, karma, positive thinking, oneness with the universe, et al. I love to read, travel, listen to music, write, sketch, paint. I recently bought a typewriter because the only way to write a manuscript is on a typewriter. I also own a beautiful turntable and some priceless vinyls. I promise you I’m not a hipster, though. Just a really old soul born in the wrong era.
I love visiting places with rich culture and lots of history. I have lead a fairly sheltered life and this will be my opportunity to explore on my own, to meet new people and open up to new possibilities and experiences. I have had some heart break in my life, who doesn’t?! But I think now is the time for me to take life by the horns (groan, right? After my rant about bull fighting!) and really live! This could be a life-changing experience for me and in this moment I can think of nothing that would make me happier.
We landed on Spanish soil and I was home. The generous splashes of color on every building façade, balcony and alcove; the garlands of artificial flowers, decorating every nook and cranny; the cobble-stoned pathways; it was like a rainbow had exploded over everything. There was unrestrained emotion everywhere, whether it was the troubadours laying their heart on the line or the artiste selling his soul on paper. One sketch magician proposed to me right there and I was dumbstruck. “I would want someone as colorful as you in my life” were his words.
We Pakistanis, as a nation, have passive aggressiveness down to an art form, any open displays of love and individuality are frowned upon, so it’s fair to say I felt these Spaniards were my people. Open, free, happy, colorful.
There was the Flamenco dance we attended at this local restaurant. I had a vague concept of what Flamenco was; a lot of stomping of leather shoes and musical clappers, but I was slightly taken aback by the sheer display of aggression and nonchalance. The feminist in me rejoiced to see this beautiful woman with her game face on, letting her man know he will rue the day he walked out on her. Though he is breaking her heart he will never break her spirit!
There was the Cathedral of Cordoba; formerly the mosque of Cordoba, so many eons ago, when Muslims ruled over Spain, torn down and rebuilt as a church; part of the mosque was saved for posterity. This Cathedral is now a testament to the grandeur and decadence of both styles of architecture. The stark difference between the two styles hits you quite violently, where one is all about gilded opulence and gorgeous sculptures, the other uses organic curves, spherical shapes and scripture as an art form.
What struck me most was how the same situation can affect people in such different ways; we were a group of about 40 people, roughly divided down the middle in to two generations, the old and the new, people in their late 20’s and 30’s and our parents. Faced with the Cathedral, the oldies spent most of their time bawling over the lost glory of the Muslims while the younger generation saw hope of coexistence, peace and love. If we respect each other’s differences we CAN all get along. As I wiped a tear from my eye it was a proud moment for me. There is hope for this generation yet.
There was the visit to La Cartuja, a monastery on a river island near Seville, where DNA verified remains of Christopher Columbus were buried. There are parts of Columbus buried at four different locations in four different countries, each guarding its precious bit with its life. Even though most of us now know Columbus was kind of an asshole and a bumbling idiot. He discovered the wrong place, died thinking he’d discovered some place totally different. Raped and plundered the land he landed on. Brought back Syphilis to his country and thousands of people died of it as a result. History is indeed written by the victors, or severely uninformed friends of the victors.
Also, the “Earth is flat” theory had been debunked by Pythagoras 2,000 years before Spain even came into existence, so it’s safe to say this was not the reason he had a hard time procuring funds for his expedition. It was more because he knew shit all about navigation and had severely under estimated the distance he had to travel to get to Asia, which is why he ended up in America.
Once he got back his own crew testified against him for the atrocities he inflicted on them, but money talks, or in this case, spices do, as the justice system failed us once again and he was sentenced to 6 weeks in jail. Because 6 weeks is the prescribed time period for curing tyranny.
To my utter horror, people in my group wanted to take in a little bit of light animal cruelty in the form of Bull fighting. How is tormenting any poor creature ‘entertainment’?? They actually kill the bull in the end as a form of ‘mercy’ because the wounds would probably do it in anyway. The bloody scene from Hemingway’s “for whom the bell tolls’ immediately sprung to mind and I put my foot down. This was some serious bull shit, but at the rate they’re going there won’t be for long, when they kill all the bulls!
I left Spain with a heavy heart and a very light pocket. The ten odd days spent there are some of the favorite days in my life. I hope I visit again some day
Every few months I start to get fed up of the way things are and the people I hang out with. This is not an inherent fault of the people or the place, mind you, just my fear of monotony and everything commonplace. Some call it wanderlust; an urge to pack up and take off and discover something new, what those SOME fail to tell you is that wanderlust is a pretty expensive habit. Road trips are great on paper, but with someone as accustomed to certain luxuries – daily showers, a bug-free bed and such – as I am, travel costs money.
I earn, and though I’m not rich by any definition of the word, saving would not be a problem if I could, you know, save!
The Navy League trip was a Godsend. it saved me the hassle of having to plan anything, because that seems like the most tedious bit. Though, Navy League’s excursions may not be as wild and out of the ordinary as a free spirit like me would have liked, the pros out weighed the cons.
it wasn’t the “Burning Man’ (I will attend “Burning Man” and the “Comic-con” if it kills me!), it was a wonderful experience none the less.
Some of the things I wish I’d known before I’d started:
1) The secret to excellent time management is to be the second last person down / out. A good rule of thumb is be tennish minutes late to the absolute final time the tour guide gives you.
2) Be an expert shopper . Browsing is not an option. You want this shit? You fucking buy it! Don’t dilly dally, everyone hates dilly dalliers.
3) Befriend an older person. You’ll be able to get away with a lot of shenanigans that way. (Durdana aunty, we love you!)
4) Invest in sunscreen. Even if the tour guide tells you there’s like ten inches of snow there. The sun is not your friend and will burn you to a crisp.
5) Older people maybe generally annoying, but don’t be miss. judgey judge and give them a chance. They are a reservoir of excellent war stories (my favortie kind!) take the time to listen. one of the members was an actual POW during the ’71 war.
6) Hit on that tour guide if he’s hot, hit on him with complete impunity. When else will you ever get that chance? So what if he has a gf or a wife??
7) learn to take pictures that aren’t so blurry
8) if that broke artist proposes to you, you jump on that shit! as long as you don’t starve, it’s a good deal. You’ll be a muse!
9) people with wives are strictly off-limits. Get your daddy issues under control!
10) All the Renaissance artists thought Jesus was a fucking ugly baby!
11) Once you’ve tasted European coffee you’ll become one of those obnoxious, pretentious gits that people avoid
12) People have a weird habit of praying in places they aren’t allowed. Hell, yeah! rebels for life!
13) No matter how ‘open-minded’ you think you are, you will never like the cuisine of another country. Stop lying to yourself, embrace your inner desi and add a little ‘mirchi’ to everything
14) I’m a hippie at heart and I like colorful, psychedelic buildings, bright awnings, pastry-like exteriors that you want to take a bite out of. Look at this shit! Even their graffiti is a work of art.
15) I did say a little prayer in all the churches and cathedrals we visited, just as I do when we visit a mosque or I would if we visit a synagogue. I believe God is everywhere and we are all one. Okay, end of hippie rant
I hope I get to see every country in the world and meet lots of unique people. Life is excellent.
Inadequacy seeps into my bones
as judging eyes glance askance
when did the race start?
heard the gun shot but a moment ago
Too old, too slow, but I must try (must I?)
might never quite get there…
but the alternative puts some zip in my step
(As an aside, from here on in I’ll be providing each of my posts with some mood music. Quite like an artiste, I know, but bear with me. Do listen to the music as you read the post and your pleasure will be enhanced, most assuredly. I bid you good day! *raises top hat*)
let inspiration fall
on this parched desert plain of a mind
If it’s about putting on paper
what you feel in the moment
maybe the reason I can’t write
is that I’m dead inside
and ice water runs through these veins
or maybe I’m just shit at writing…
Writing doesn’t come as easy as it used to. Seem like the more I boast about being a “writer”, the harder it is for me to write anything of import. Maybe I’m just meant to be on the sidelines, cheering on as others achieve the dreams I’d been saving for myself. This feeling of impotence makes me feel like a phony, the frustration sets my teeth on edge and a torrent of varied emotions; rage, melancholy, paranoia; threaten to drown me. I’m forever plagued with the fear that people will finally realize that I’m not smart enough, talented enough, capable enough to ever amount to anything…