Here's my column for BBC Future from last week. It was originally titled 'Why money can't buy you happiness', but I've just realised that it would be more appropriately titled if I used a "won't" rather than a "can't". There's a saying that people who think money can't buy happiness don't know where to shop. This column says, more or less, that knowing where to shop isn't the problem, its shopping itself.
I have been down with influenza the past month. And other troubles as well. Nothing new or interesting about that. But the interesting thing that happened was I lost my voice (am still voiceless) due to the infection, and that has been a great learning experience to be unable to say even “hmmm” (my favorite word). In the past two decades, each part of my body has gone on solitary or orchestrated strikes off and on, teaching me the value and function of each of them, but being voiceless is a new thing for me.
Yesterday I spent many hours in an emergency room, clutching a pen and a notebook (always a source of great comfort to me in stressful times, now a tool of communication), and the minutes I was alone led to these thoughts:
Strange things people take
To mellow, numb or intoxicate.
I founder down the day in a daze
Hours hum by past my bleary haze
Blaring white noise blasting my brain
Pathetically plastered on agonizing pain.
The person far more distressed than me for my lost voice is my music loving two year old daughter, who needs me to sing songs all day to her. Oh, ok, I don’t sing, I croak songs, my singing voice and musical intelligence are both croaky, but she does not know that yet.
Autistic People Should…
When I first heard about the “Autistic People Should” flashblog, I thought about it for a long time. But I couldn’t think of anything that would be insightful. I’ve seen some wonderful posts today, about how autistic people should “be respected”, “be loud”, "be accepted", and “be proud”. I’ve seen things saying that I should be an activist, that I should speak out, that I should do all sorts of things.
In 2009, I was tagged by Devinder Paul Singh to do a favorite film tag. I discussed why I liked a few movies in a series of posts, which were read by only a few people, but I cherish the posts because it was through them that my friendship with Dev and Man of Roma started.
Back then, Dev was working in McGill University (Montreal) and was an aspiring film maker. He had a graduate in engineering and an MBA, and was ardent about his passion for films. The wonderful thing is that he did go on to become a film maker and made his first short film, Take Out, which was screened at Cannes Film Festival in 2011.
I watched an advance screening of Dev’s new short film, The Search, and I simply have to share my delight with the world about this amazing movie! Here is the trailer:
I love the supernatural genre (no romances, pure suspense), and in that I find most interesting the paranormal short stories. The story of this movie is just that, something weird, something not quite right, not quite normal, and yet you cannot put your finger on it till the last moment.
John Woods, the protagonist, is an average middle aged man, who received a text message from his wife in the library that suggested something was wrong there. The movie begins with the worried John entering the library late in the evening to look for his wife. The story is about his search for his wife in the library, vacant except for the sinister staff, and yet fraught with something heavy and ominous that bears down on the book cases already burdened with the dead weight of the books.
The screenplay and cinematography are absolutely engaging, without anything superfluous, and drew me into the eerie library, breathless with anticipation of the lurking menace, and I accompany John in his quest, trying to make sense of the seemingly meaningless and inexplicable clues he finds, until it all leads me into the final moments of dismay with startling clarity. The story, by Anish Pallyal is interesting with a novel climax. The music is great, and without spoiling the suspense, I must tell viewers that you must LISTEN carefully!!! Use all your senses to join John in his search for his wife!
This is a short film of just a little above 7 minutes, and yet, in such a short duration, this film could get me totally immersed in the intrigue. And you will think about the movie afterwards. You might want to rewind and watch and listen to a few crucial scenes again. And the idea of the movie will haunt you, and you will shake your head with a smile and agree with me and say, a damned good movie!
Kudos to Dev, this movie is a fine piece of work. All the best!
You can join the Facebook group on “The Search” here. The movie is going to be released soon, and you can find the link for viewing it when it is updated on this FB page.
I love the snow on the pine tree across my window. I never get tired of looking at it. When winter has denuded all the trees to frail shadows, when the overcast sky has decolorized the world, this pine tree still remains leafed, green and strong, and is at times the only colored and hopeful object in the bleak greyscale panorama.
It is snowing again, and the temperature outside went down to -6 C on Tuesday. Snow in practical terms means wet roads full of salt granules, and the water and salt quickly make their way into the apartment. Not a pretty sight on the foyer floor, but the outside view is definitely pretty!
I may be sad and I may despair because you think I am worth killing over and over again, but that does not make you the light, for sure.
Keep the empty rhetoric to yourself
And let me be.
Let me live my life
Let me die when it’s my time
But above all, let me be born.
It is difficult to be coherent today.
It is a day for memories, personal memories, collective memories.
Three small children entered, the patient being the eldest, a sweet 8 year old. She was escorted by a younger sister probably 5 years old, and a little brother, who looked 3 years old. Three delightful angels. Three musketeers on an adventure visit to The Hospital. They lived not too far away, and were therefore unaccompanied by any adult, because the grown ups must have gone to work in the fields. The people in those parts could not afford the luxury of taking a day off from work for trivial reasons.
The girl had an innocuous cold. I examined her, told her she will be alright with the medicines, and made small talk with the cute trio as it was not a “rush” day. I looked at the top of the OPD card, where the patient registration details were written, and her name was written as Udasa. Thinking there must be a typo, I asked her, “What is your name, Beta?” “Udasa”, she replied. I swallowed. “And your sister’s name?” “Nirasha”, she said, gloomily, I imagined. I kept my pen down on the paper, and asked, “And what is the name of this little brother?” “Deepak”, replied Udasa.
Note: I edited this post as an non Indian friend told me she did not understand what the words mean. Udas(a) means sad, Nirasha means hopelessness, and Deepak means a lamp (here implies hope and light for the family!).
There is no Hell.
But there is hell here
Right outside my door at times
And right inside my mind at others.
There is no Heaven.
But I have known heaven
In the quiet company of a friend
In the quiet strength and faith of love
In the quiet smile of a child
And in the quiet.
The Days and Celebrations are lost on me
But I know Happiness and Hope
And I celebrate every day.