Inner Voice

I said, “I listen to you every time 
Yet you sound anew on each occasion.”
“Someday, I’d sit back and listen to you,” it said.
Or, perhaps, it was my assumption.

Ever since I’ve yearned for
That participating audience.
With whom I can discuss
All problems and their solutions.

The wait, how I wish, to soon be over.
The wait, which has been rather long and clever.
I can hardly wait. Actually, no longer.
Here I am to you, my muse; in full submission.

Be my thoughts, words, and voice.
Lend me the pleasure.
Here I am to speak and to listen.
Give me thy affirmation.

©Suyog Ketkar
Composed in March, 2021

Writing and Everything Else

The theory that the fictional characters draw parallels with life events is as much true as the thought that the writing impacts and inspires us. And I say this because, on umpteen occasions, I’ve gulped down the bitterness and dryness of words before they began to moisten my mouth and eyes with their truest selves. Yet, in the list of everything that ever has quenched my thirst and kept me alive as I have crawled through my deserted nothingness, writing is at the top. My writing has drawn a lot of inspiration from my life and experiences, and in return has equally blessed me with awe.

Good writing, I have always believed and found to be true, is the next step of despair. And yet, with each passing year, I see more and more aspiring writers stopping at despair. They, somehow, don’t have the energy to follow their dreams, if they have had any. In my case, the only thing that has stood by me ever since my introverted self has begun to surface more often, it is writing. All I do is return its favor. Writing, thus, is both a cause and a consequence for me. People keep asking me random questions. I answer those random questions with nonrandom answers.

Someone asked me the other day, for instance, “what makes you write?” I replied, “the same thing that makes you breathe, go to bed, wake up again the next morning, and go to (or sit down to) work.” I said, “We all are machines running on some fuel. Writing is my fuel. You have your own version of it.”

“But how do you do that,” someone else had asked. I said that writing was akin to sitting by the lake and watching the ripples as you throw stones in the lake. What you get as you unsettle the lake bed and its cozy arrangement of quietude is the ripples that bring up what lays buried underneath. Those are some precious thoughts. I only take a closer look at those, while most fail to acknowledge their presence. This process of acknowledging, churning, observing, and translating those ripples of thoughts into words is both encouraging and enchanting. Writing is quite like learning to live. The most important thing is to take the first step. The second most important is to follow along with your senses, for they are never wrong.

The part of my answer that I skipped deliberately was that they didn’t continue to follow along. A lot of aspiring—and sometimes inspiring—individuals do not remain loyal to writing. I attribute most of my writing to the allegiance I have shown toward this experience. Even before people had begun formally introducing me as a writer, I had taken the pains of going through the labor of birthing ideas. This umbilical connection that I have with some of the posts I wrote more than a decade ago makes me a possessive parent. My sweat-soaked pillows are a testimony of how and when the right ideas were born. I’ve taken the trouble of noting it down, sometimes in my sleep.

“But I don’t have the time and the skills.” Well, I don’t doubt that you have a packed schedule and that writing requires quietude. But when you can’t let your mind astray, is that not the best time for you to focus on moments within the moments of your life? Then how can you deceive your mind to pay attention to only quantifiable, tangible activities, while you must focus on enjoying this transformation? It’s as much a matter of choice: you choose results, I adhere to the process. Yet it comes down to what efforts you put in to make it an effortless read. The beauty, cleverness, logic, or wits are only the devices with which you decorate your writing. The tricks are easy to know about but difficult to put into practice. So, what you as a novice might find hard to install might come to my stolid soul with spontaneity.

It all comes to two things: compassion and emotions. For the human within you to leap over that stile and walk the then lush green lands in soothing gleams of rays, you must have compassion. You have to live life before living it. You have to live life without ever living it. Only then you embark on this journey.

Twenty Words Tuesday: Week 29 Post (Prompt: Bride)

Thank you, Bulbul’s Bubble, for this week’s writing prompt.

So, here’s my entry for #TwentyWordsTuesday, a 20-words-story-prompt. which for this week is Bride.


Bride

His ballads adore her lips,
His thoughts occupied her mind.
Without being his bride,
Meera was one with the divine.


Sunday, that is yesterday, was the World Poetry Day. So to celebrate one, I tried conveying my thoughts via a poetry instead of a 20-words sentence. I hope that you like my humble attempt.

Twenty Words Tuesday: Week 28 Post (Prompt: Fantasy)

Thank you, Bulbul’s Bubble, for this week’s writing prompt. I really hope you like my attempt for this week’s prompt.

So, here’s my entry for #TwentyWordsTuesday, a 20-words-story-prompt. which for this week is Fantasy.


Fantasy

Her thoughts reached him. How? ‘How could he listen and perfectly respond,’ she implored and reckoned, ‘I must be dreaming.’


While it is true that women think (know?) men don’t listen to them, there are those who really do. In most cases what, therefore, is fantasy, in a few others, it is stranger than fiction. I don’t know what people might call it. I call it love. 🙂

Twenty Words Tuesday: Week 26 Post (Prompt: Spring)

Thank you, Bulbul’s Bubble, for this week’s writing prompt. I am honored on my inclusion into your mention-worthy list.

So, here’s my entry for #TwentyWordsTuesday, a 20-words-story-prompt. which for this week is Spring.


Spring

“Let’s give up the bitterness and begin this year afresh,” he’d demanded. “We’ve never looked back ever since,” she reflected.


I hope you all like my humble attempt.

Twenty Words Tuesday: Week 25 Post (Prompt: Love)

Thank you, Bulbul’s Bubble, for this week’s writing prompt.

So, here’s my entry for #TwentyWordsTuesday, a 20-words-story-prompt. And, here’s my first attempt at writing a 20-words story based on this week’s prompt, which is Love.


Love

Passersby ignored him; a tradition for them for last two decades. “Here you’d proposed. Here I’m without you.” he sighed.


I hope you like my humble attempt.

Just Another Lens

Another day, another life lesson. Each day reminds me of looking at life’s brilliance in the simple terms it has lent me. Yet how complicated, difficult I make it to even survive through this ordeal. Life can become comfortable, provided I follow its quintessential policy of unconditionally believing in its design; His design.

The more I wish to take up control of my life, the more I realize that You are both the cause and the catalyst to it.

On Monday, Shambhavi and Aai came back from shopping—they’d accomplished this mammoth task of ticking all items off their long list. Aside from the monthly groceries, the list contained all fancy and unusual names that this Diwali could lend us. But only after mentally reconciling her accounts, Shambhavi realized that she had underpaid one of the vendors. Even though the amount was a meager 20 rupees, it made sense to pass it to him. It helped that we were planning to pass through the same route.

That one negligibly small act of kindness, perhaps, might have triggered a series of events that then took place. On our way, we saw humanity flourishing, radiating in its new awe.

On one occasion, we saw a biker helping an old street cart-puller push his cart up a bridge. On another occasion, we saw two men on their scooter stop at a signal before us. They then drew a few biscuit packets from their under-seat storage and handed them to three children who had occupied the pedestrian walkway.

Some day for all sorts of acts of kindness, wasn’t it?
Their rich perspective toward life lent me this poem, which I share here with you all. If there is a cause to this poem or a catalyst to it, then you know who it is! Through these strangely amusing and simple ways, He (or is it She?) continues to teach me life lessons that then flow through my words, such as these:

Those erudite discourses,
Those wise’s omens,
Those conversations
That exude Your brilliance.

Those detailed accounts,
Those sung, unsung ballads,
Those dances
That he performed in Your presence.

Those feelings of compassion,
Those acceptances of altruism,
Those promises
That reflected once in Your benevolence.

Have all been undone;
Annihilated by just one act.
The act that reflect
Not penitence, but Your essence.

That one act of kindness,
Of staying true to the oneself,
Of giving, unconditionally, and
Being one with the One, in a sense.

All it required was
That one heart: dyed and drenched in love;
That one act of feeling others’ pains.
Essentially, of using a different lens.

©Suyog Ketkar

3 Key Takeaways from Apple Event 15 Sep 2020

So, as Apple concluded its first big event, a first online event, for 2020, I could not help but think how carefully it designed and integrated everything into that one big thing that matters. This post is a result of that contemplation, and here’s what I’ve found:

Watching the Wrist: Listening Well Enough

As parents, we appreciate if our children listen to us. In fact, as friends, we want the people within our inner circle to do the same. And, as customers, it delights us when the companies we invest our hard-earned monies into be receptive toward our needs.

Amidst the testing times of COVID-19, therefore, it is heartwarming that a major part of the announcement of the new iteration of Apple’s smartwatch was dedicated to fitness and health. It shows us how Apple believes this product can and will play a big role for the company.

Everyone tries to focus on fitness, but we all know how far have the Samsung Health and Google Fit have been able to achieve in comparison to what Apple has managed to do with its Apple Health App alone, not even counting what Apple Watch contributes to it.

Product Integration: Together, Better

Most of the Apple products are brilliant not because they are extravagantly designed or packed with features, but because they are packed with features that you need and want at the same time. I see that the brilliance of their devices is not in making them complex to operate but simple and seamless to use.

When I got my MacBook Pro, I didn’t have to type in my home Wi-Fi password. Because I had logged into the laptop using my Apple credentials, it logged in effortlessly. It was only when the browser opened into my favourite sites that I realized that the laptop had done for me. It were countless such episodes that made me realize what the others had been saying until then: one Apple device can only do so much, but more than one Apple device can do so much more!

With this year’s announcement of the Apple Watch SE, Apple wants us to do just that. We wished our parents and children to have an Apple Watch for them and Apple gave it to us. All those devices work and connect via our iPhones so that either side of the spectrum of age can use it without much fiddling with the technology.

Apple One: Sustainable Income and SIPs

The one thing that everyone wants for their company is a long-term source of income. And that holds true for even Apple. With more new and better products in the market every year, it is important for them to hold on to their customer base for not what they are providing but also how they are providing it.

It is this combination of their Hardware and Software that essentially creates an experience for their customers. With the new Apple One Bundle and the Fitness+ offering, I believe, they have hit the sweet spot. At least, I am sold. I use two of the four services available in India and for an additional sum of a meagre 37 INR per month, I can use two more services. Can you now see the impact it has? I could be a price-sensitive customers, and I understand that. But even those who aren’t will appreciate that Apple has gone a few steps ahead of the compeition, if they had any, with their new range of products, offerings, and software. It is a systematic investment plan where I am sure that my data is safe, privacy is safeguarded, and voice is heard and responded to.

Yes, there was a time when they were imposing us to use their products. But things have changed since then. They are more receptive and responsive. And with their vision for a 100% carbon neutral company by 2030, they are also playing responsibly. This traid of being receptive, responsive, and responsible will, I can safely assume, bring positive results for them.

If that’s their plan, I am in.

Strike O’ Muse

Today, my mother turns 62 years young.

Of all she has learnt from her life, the essence, she knows, remains in never settling, ever pursuing, and setting high standards for everything. If this already means trouble for us (I’m chuckling as I write this), it means that we, too, have to continuously better ourselves at everything we do. Tomorrow, she retires from her workplace. Over 30 years of her employment has seen her wear many hats most amongst which have been worthy of inspiration. But as she readies herself for what lies ahead, I can only wish a wish for her.

It is time she can dedicate her energies to do what she has always dreamt of doing. I wish her to pick the most cherished ones from her long list of passions. As she readies herself for the day she begins her ‘work from home,’ I gift her this poem:

For the one who,
Has never gotten tired of
Ever committing herself
To whatever came thereof;

For the one who,
Gave up dreams on her own.
Made instead the ones from those
Of her children as though of her own;

For the one who,
Committed to every single minute
Everything that she had
To be the best—I mean it;

For the one who,
Even though lost more
Found less. Learnt more.
Taught nevertheless;

For the one who,
Dedicated her life for work.
Strike once again, so she can
Work her way up to life.

Strike, for you must.
Let her find her way forward.
Be the light in the never-calming storms.
Be her inspiration amidst the storming calms.

©Suyog Ketkar

Happy birthday, Aai. 🙂

Learning through Writing

From the short stories and poems to the first attempt at writing creative fiction in the form of the Spyglass, many occasions made me realize that writing took me even before I took to writing. Writing has shown me that both as a vocation and a profession, the fullest one can achieve is still unknown. Perfection remains more a pursuit, a journey, than a destination. For this post, I will take you along back in time for the backstory.

As a kid, I was never a dull boy. Yes, I was not good at studies, especially mathematics, physics, chemistry, but that was not because I was dumb. I was exceptionally good at all languages, including Sanskrit. I was also good at other subjects and extra-curricular activities. I neither disliked my teachers, nor did I hate learning. I still don’t. In fact, back then, I could not define what I now can. I hated the way people taught. This still remains with me: I am equally sensitive toward what is being taught and how it is taught.

The learning process needs a mentor and student. The mentors, I assume, have not changed. The student is still the same: equally hungry to learn. So, what made this student find his own identity? What happened that a kid who just about managed to pass the tenth grade and was made to accept a specific set of subjects turned out to be one of those students that outshined everyone else in almost every department before passing out of the same school?

It was during the eleventh grade that I began developing a reading habit. Or, I’d say, a few books called me to pick them up. It was a connection I cannot describe. Amongst the first few—and I want you to pay special attention to the selection here—were Johnathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach and The Glory of Puttaparthy by V Balu. I must have read both of those books at least a few times. While neither the books nor their respective genre has anything in common, both had the same effect on me. I became a better person after I finished reading them. It wasn’t enlightenment, but it wasn’t too far either. The same seagull that once had dreamed of flying at 70 miles per hour had transformed. It no longer needed to understand the rules, the aerodynamic flow, the wind direction, or wait for their turn in their flock of birds to get to nibble around the fisherman’s boat.

This small change then helped me graduate from being a mere reader to beginning to write. I penned hundreds of poems and short stories before I wrote my first non-fiction book on a writing pad. I called it the Ingredients of Success Recipe. Although I never published it, I did share it with my family and friends. They liked it. Or, at least, they pretended to. I won’t get to find out. But, that doesn’t matter, for I now have this priceless gift called writing. Now when I look back, I find mathematics rather interesting. And, so do all other subjects that I once hated of being made to sit and learn. Writing gave me the logic to decode the way to decipher through those dark clouds of thunderstorms called mathematics, physics, and chemistry. But, was that alone enough?

During my years as a freelance writer, I accomplished quite a bit, for I paid off my education loan even when I did not have a regular earning. During the same years, I had also enrolled for an MBA, which was exclusively for working professionals. Eventually, I figured that to be able to make a family and to sustain it, I will have to earn myself a job. Around the mid of 2011, I had completed a translation project that had drawn me some substantial appreciation and accolades from local representatives. I had completed that project in a mere 15 days—the project would normally have taken over four months of my schedule. But for a practiced hand, translation was a mechanical job. I wanted something more creative, more original.

It was during the last quarter of that year that someone suggested I pursue pranayama, the breathing technique. I researched it and settled on doing Nadi-Shodhan, a breathing technique that purifies the blood and mind. The first month of my breathing exercise wasn’t easy. While it resulted in some magical experiences within the first couple of weeks, it also gave me terrible back pain and other emotional turmoils. Words struck faster, so my efficiency improved, my earnings increased. But, at the cost of my health. The reason was that I had not taken the Deeksha (initiation) for its practice from a guru. So, I suffered from acute back pain for almost two years. But I persisted. Eventually, the pain subsided. Now it is gone.

Why do I tell you all that today? What is the reason I open those chapters of my life to you? What is it that I wish you to take away as the vital thought? The life of a writer is that of a generalist. We are the jack of all trades. And that itself has lent me the most potent insight: to be a learner, I just have to take the next logical step. As a proud generalist, I have broken down complex topics into simple terms and simple terms into clear messages, and clear messages into actionable, understandable items. One careful step, every time. I have moved from clutter to clarity in everything I have ever pursued as a writer.

William Zinsser, of On Writing Well, says, “Writing is thinking on paper.” I can only elaborate on his thought. If writing is pouring down your thoughts on paper, then re-writing is choosing which ones continue to stay there. In one of my previous posts, I said that if one of the best ways to learn a subject is to teach it, then the reverse of it—to teach a subject, learn it first—is equally valid. I have used writing to wayfinding my way into the core of complex topics. Writing, for me, is like a map, which I use to navigate subjects and thoughts, much like city roads.

Does that mean if writing helped me understand the world and make it my own, it would do so for you, too? Maybe. Maybe not. But it certainly would give you that perspective of your own to understand the terms of the world as you pen them down in your own words. Each one of us has their own learning methodology. Writing is mine. What’s yours?