NANAji died–Story of a Beautiful Morning

The story of my NANA’s (maternal grandfather) death.

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It’s been almost a year since my NANA died. Recently, my mom told me how he never saw his mother. She died when he was about 6 months old and was raised by his aunt. Mom was reminiscing, perhaps as a result of longing than pride in her Baba. Stories of his life were never really dramatically glorified, or repeated like a family folklore. He led a very non-chalant life.

Born pre-independence, he was a Gandhian through and through. One of my favourite anecdotes from his life was how he loved my mother the most of his 6 children for she was her first-born daughter. Daughter – to celebrate a girl-child in the rural, conservative corner of India in the late 60s is as rare as education in his state of Bihar. But in his time, he was a graduate. Infact, More educated than most of his kids or grandkids today. Though what I always found attractive about him was he seemed to be the first elder who was clear in his ways of life yet never authoritative or imposed it on us. This is in a society where everybody was akin to a routine passed down generations, perhaps, as a cautionary mindset germinating from the terrors our nation has been through. But in this very chaos, he stood alone on his feet with his hand holding a book, rather than grabbing another hand.

Decades later, he left behind that book for his dear daughter. In 82 years, he never took a penny from his sons, just left a lot behind. He made his own living in a shop attached to the house he lived in. I have fond memories of that house. Perhaps, one of the most happy places known to me.

As a kid, the only thing I could appreciate was vast open places to play. And the house had lots of it : A terrace, climb another flight of stairs to another terrace and then walk across to the front of the house to another terrace. Every morning my NANA would feed grains to a flock of pigeons through generations of pigeons and humans. There were multiple ways to get to these terraces but perhaps my favorite was through the stables where he kept the cow and the calf. I never learnt their names, but they were dearest to my NANA. I never had a pet and the stable was closest to my understanding of the word as a child.

The cow was let out for fodder at sunset in the morning, after he died. He would not travel much for his cow won’t accept care from anyone else. The cow came back quietly sitting outside in front of the house. It won’t move. Many tried, but it won’t go inside. Mom said there was tears in her eyes. She sat there, perhaps mourning her father. A life interwoven with so many lives has evacuated the home that morning. I never knew why but some monkeys paid visit to his corpse as it was laid in the courtyard.

My best nights will always be on the khats laid out there under the stars. I always liked to visit the village for the stars. It is this what my NANA called his humble abode. His fulfillment and perhaps, internal peace.

About a month before he died, his first grandson had a daughter. It was as if life has reached a full circle from his first daughter to his first granddaughter. He flew all the way across the country to celebrate the birth of his great grand daughter, and demanded it be a grand one. Even in modern India, the birth of girl child could be deemed in a grey tone. He insisted on making it a grand affair inviting everyone to grace the occasion. He was in perfect health, fit to travel, and animated to talk.

He met everyone, said goodbyes, his final one. Nobody obviously knew that though, except I think he. Before returning, he disclosed to my mother the wealth he has left behind for his wife — my NANI. He left the book and the money with my mother, and declined the invitation to, then upcoming, my sister’s wedding. It’s as if he knew his time has come. Him and nobody else.

At 82, he was a self-sufficient man wearing his all-white attire, cleaned to the thread. He died after he reached back home, 4 days later. 4 days! I clamour for an extra hour with my best friend as I used to leave for college. But he –

I would dissuade from asserting what he felt. I didn’t meet him in his last days. Everything I know is an account from my mother. But even if I did, I don’t know what I could write post “he –”

May be humility, internal peace, or happiness. Or may be a word that scholars didn’t invent for they never could understand. It was his time – to retire from his life. One of my favorite human beings, Naval Ravikant, told: Happiness is a sense that nothing is missing.

I don’t think I have met anyone who was as humble as him. His content spirit etched in the consciousness of all of us. He didn’t seem to miss anything. My mother likes to say how my father cried a lot, even more than my mother. I don’t know why I just wrote that.

The night before, for the first time in about 50 years, he worked till midnight as he closed all accounts and shut down his shop. Tying every knot. Tied every knot. Filled his own glass of water, gulped it down and rested his eyes. He died an hour and half into his sleep. What did he dream in those 90 minutes? Perhaps, he learnt THE TRUTH in these last moments. Or perhaps, nothing!

Decoding Brandon Woelfel.

When I recently asked “What comes to mind when you think, Brandon Woelfel?” on Instagram, everybody said the same one thing: Lights. But that’s not quite where the story lives.

Think of the stars. Everybody likes stars. It’s visceral to the human mind. A sea of sparkling lights. I often like to travel outside the city simply to look at the stars.

Think about the following scene: A “star” walking down the red carpet. A silhouette carving out glamour and sophistication in the sea of flashing lights. A staple frame of any red carpet sequence in a movie.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Brandon Woelfel?

When I recently asked that question on Instagram, everybody said the same one thing: Lights. Specifically, it’s a “bokeh of fairy lights.” It’s an over-simplified, inaccurate explanation of Brandon’s vibe. But that’s not quite where the story lives.

In our staple frame of the red carpet, a person walks by as all eyes are fixated to someone who literally carries the moniker of a “star”. The fixation, the heightened attention, is in the awareness that the “precious” moment will be over in the blink of an eye. A hysterical burst of camera flashes, “the sea of sparkling lights”, exemplifies the fleeting moment.

Continue reading “Decoding Brandon Woelfel.”

i’m CONDESCENDING

Why I tell my story – and why you should too.

To assume that you should click and read through what I have to say is condescending. To assume that someone should invest time and emotions to indulge in what you created is condescending. And that makes every artist inherently condescending.

After existing in the concealment of mystery that people allow you when you declare yourself a writer, or a photographer, or an ‘artist’ of any kind, when you finally click publish, the exposition that follows throws you in a paroxysm of self-consciousess. Hit publish and you’re implicitly demanding people to indulge in what you know will never be perfect, just done. But it’s important you share. Why?

For the same reason why you found any art to be important: CONNECTION. To have a piece of art resonate with you. A piece of art that finds you when you’re alone in your bedroom, when all the promotions, IMDB ratings, trending today columns, and aggressive recommendations – when all the noise shouting “you should indulge in this” dissolves and a work of art emerges out to you and occupies your mind playing on repeat, feeling something real. You connect!

It’s incredibly powerful to know that you’re not the only one facing a problem, asking a question, feeling an emotion, living an experience. All art is, perhaps, a bridge.

I started writing this blog and many others months ago. Tens of blogs occupy my drafts section but I keep coming back to this blog or should I say, “this blog keeps coming back to me.” And so I must complete. Even though I must live in the fear that this blog might not be perfect and objectively not the best use of your time and emotions, I must be done with it.

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I find solace in that thought. It resonates with how I try to create. Write a lot and then aggressively edit. Click a lot of pictures and then aggressively pick. Choose what has value. Though cannot assure you if I can impart perfect value in return for what you invest in me. But then :

Continue reading “i’m CONDESCENDING”

The Fundamental flaws with IGTV

Instagram introduced IGTV, a platform for sharing long-form vertical videos, competing for your internet video appetite with YouTube. This will be a native video sharing platform for all instagrammers and IGTV’s success depends on leveraging the network effects of Instagram, or as I like to say, “Facebook’s Instagram.”

The dual-nature of Instagram’s network

We exercise a sense of exclusivity to our lives as we form relationships with people. Facebook’s aim was to represent this exclusive relationships online and provide every conceivable way to exchange digital content within these pre-agreed confines. But the exclusivity we wanna exercise to our online content is highly subjective, the nature of which is vaguely defined and is crudely labelled as “friendship”. As a result, this exclusivity watered down into irrelevancy as people accepted every friend request that came their way. This made sharing things on Facebook quite uncomfortable for many.

Private accounts is hugely popular among the Faceboook-first social media generation who migrated to Instagram. Now, people got a second chance to define the exclusivity they prefer for their online content. A sense of caution meant they invariably used the Private Accounts feature on Instagram. But mostly they use this exclusivity to largely restrict access based on pre-existing relationships, not unlike Facebook.

But this was very different from how people used to form relationships on Instagram. When it was originally conceived, the message was “follow if you like the content”, common across all content-first platforms like Youtube or Twitter which IGTV directly intends to compete. Private accounts ask the question “follow if you know the person”, very much like Facebook.

I will be exploring this dual-nature of networking on Instagram as IGTV intends to capitalize on the network effects of Instagram. Continue reading “The Fundamental flaws with IGTV”

Everybody is wrong about the Notch

The Notch gives, and not takes away, useful space. Software can help make that apparent.

Why is the Notch such an infamous design decision from Apple? People wished for the notch to go away more than they wished for the top and bottom bezels to go away on the iPhone 7 or even the new, Galaxy.

The Notch makes it look like you’re taking away some screen from the user, a cut out from our perfect rounded rectangle. Design making a limitation of engineering apparent. BUT, the notch allows for more pixels to be used by the software. So why do people wish it away? Continue reading “Everybody is wrong about the Notch”

The best way to consume Blogs

If you are someone who has not done much reading all their lives, picking up that book, owning your learning and developing a consistent habit to read can be a daunting task. I was one of them, but then Blogs changed me. A 300-page book can feel a bigger commitment, a 2-3 page blog may seem a good baby step.

Some of the really smart bloggers digestify, and simplify knowledge from books and observations into blogs.

Publishing on the internet means there are no publishers to convince. No editors trying to save their ass. Which is great for humanity. But it also means you have an endless stream of virtually infinite blogs at your click. And there’s no gatekeeper. You’re all on your own. Continue reading “The best way to consume Blogs”

The Case for Physical Keyboards on Phones – Why I use a Blackberry in 2018?

Last year, BlackBerry did what it should’ve done a decade ago. It switched to Android OS on a Blackberry carrying a Physical Keyboard – called the KeyOne.

Physical keyboards is still an essential hardware for modern day computing. It’s a device which is not broken, just not as necessary for a smartphone. A Touchscreen reproduce the effect of a keyboard/mouse on a display and more. It was the obvious tradeoff for a device characterized by compactness.

Why we still use Physical Keyboards?

Continue reading “The Case for Physical Keyboards on Phones – Why I use a Blackberry in 2018?”