Nothing but Hope

In the turbulent tides of time,
The ebb and flow of the fortune, that is,
What holds me in place is
Nothing but hope.

In the pitch-black nights,
The darkness of misdirection, that is,
What serves me right is
Nothing but hope.

In that corner of my heart, where
Words weigh more than memories, that is,
Passion and compassion meet, I have
Nothing but hope.

In contrast with how much I take
That source continues to give, that is,
A soul that is burning forever has
Nothing but hope.

Inquisitive, as ever, as my self is
For the world that continues to unfold, that is,
Full of surprises, I can only hope to have
Nothing but hope.

Into the untraveled destinations as I step,
I am apprehensive yet committed, that is,
Of a belief that I have
Nothing but hope.

After you became one with the One,
And merged yourself, that is,
I wish you to be there with me, after all, I have
Nothing but hope.
© Suyog Ketkar

From Micropoetry to Tech Comm: Connecting the Dots

In only 2015—quite recently, I know—I learned about Haikus. But, it took me three more years to begin to understand Haiku and the other forms of micropoetry. You might have read some of my recent experiments with writing micropoetry—like this and that.

So, this post is about the insights that micropoetry shares with technical communication:

  • Sometimes, a lot of solitary moments teach you more than an experience that lasts for a length of time. Micropoetry is one such experience of wisdom that lies within a moment. It is either result- or experience-oriented because each word or line carries an action or empathy.
  • This one matches the Pyramid Approach in technical communication. We communicate the most important information first; everything else Similar goes for micropoetry, just that there is no “everything else” in this case.
  • Words count; count the words. Usually, the lesser the better. Simple.
  • Words weigh based on their definition. Word also weigh based on the intention with which we apply them within a sentence. The latter is the reason people perceive the same word differently in different situations. So, for the sake of the composition, we must keep the right word in the right place.
  • Stories move us. Stories empower us. Stories educate us. All three apply to micropoetry and to technical communication alike.

What are your thoughts? As always, I am curious.

Speaking with Kids in English? Here’s Why I Don’t.

The following conversation happened recently between the Class Teacher and us:

The Teacher: As part of giving Spruha a comprehensive learning experience, please talk to her in English at home.

I: Well, we do use English words and phrases in our conversation. But, mostly the conversation is in her mothertongue. Why do you stress speakinng with her in only English?

Teacher: It will ease our communication. She must become habitual of the language. After all, she is going to use it for the rest of her life.

I: I still fail to understand the importance of speaking in only English?

Teacher: Spruha will soon graduate out of this preschool. For her ease of learning, you must speak to her in the language that schools these days use. In most cases, they compel all students to use English, which is why I tell you to speak with her in English.

I gathered my thoughts and spoke:

I: Language is of sound importance in the first five years of anyone’s life. But, no language except for her mothertongue will help create a bond between us and her. While I certainly get your point, I find it largely impractical on my part to teach her English before helping her communicate fluently in her mothertongue. The critical part is, she must learn to communicate, and not merely speak.

Teacher: I see your point. I just wanted to tell you that schools expect certain things.

That’s when Shambhavi eased the conversation.

Shambhavi: I know what you are saying; even I have observed the same thing. But, I also see from where Suyog is driving his point home. We’ve seen people try to speak with thier kids in their own [usually annoying] versions of English the moment they see us speak with Spruha in English. People feel overwhelmed by this self-assumed responsibility of speaking in English the moment they see someone else do it out of plain habit.

We all chuckled. Then, Shambhavi added.

Shambhavi: There is also a common misconception that speaking in English makes people appear sophisticated. Basically, Spruha has to first learn to respect her mothertongue. And then, any other language. Let’s just say, we will teach her Marathi; you teach her English.

The long conversation deservedly followed an almost-equally long pause. We assume that we convinced the teacher on our point of view.

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Given that pretext, let’s get to today’s conversation. As a learning facilitator, I’ve been itching to write on this subject for long. For kids, getting to express themselves is the foremost thing to learn. But, if that’s the case, and I believe it is, why do I see an increasing number of parents restrict their respective kids—toddlers, in some cases—from using any other language in [almost] all public spaces if not for only at their homes? Are they all snob? Many bothersome questions like these underpin this post.

 

 

In India, dealing with “English” matters in public is still a matter of pride—for those who speak—and amusement—for those who don’t. Typically, when parents speak with their kids in English in public places:

  • Some people desperately try to ignore thinking that it is in fashion nowadays.
  • Some just walk off. They mentally call you an angrez (Angrez is in Hindi for people from England—or any other English-speaking nation).
  • Some feel scared. They even try to compete by faking an accent; never mention their grammar.
  • Some feel low on importance. This category will usually begin speaking a bit louder. Yes, in a common language, like Hindi.
  • Some ask the Hindi version of, “Goes to an English medium school. Right?”

7583954880_IMG_1739Aside from such funny situations (and people), this is a learning lesson for me. Let me be specific: there is a visible gap between those who use English out of habit and those who [try to?] flaunt it. If they still do it with the sole intention of helping their kids learn a new language, I can still buy their argument—so long as they don’t advertise it. There are countless reasons, such as North India-South India divide or that two people may not understand one another’s regional language.

But for the most part, most of us do it because they fall prey to a sort of social pressure. Yes, you guessed it right: the same social pressure that makes us think that one language is superior to the other and the same social presume that makes us feel that, eventually, one degree (like the Medical or Engineering) is superior to the other vocational courses. It is still a huge statement to say that some of us see kids as kids, and some, as report cards.

Let us help our kids learn to respect themselves. Let us help them preserve their core. Etiquette and skills can (and, certainly, do) follow.

🙂

Between Then and Now

Then, I loved brushing my father’s thick facial hair,
Which, I was pranked belonging to my grandfather
And which my father had stuck on his face.
Now, a part of my daily schedule
Is my own beard that equally isn’t few!

Then, the miniature me, for whom,
Everything looked big and formidable.
Now, I laugh that nothing
Is neither so shocking
Nor so ignorable.

Then, the unpaved trails to my home
That I loved to run around in glee.
Now, all I do is smell the hometown
On the shores of the workplace,
Hoping peace to alight on me.

Then, the biggest small HOME
That was more than enough for four.
Now, a HOUSE that’s big enough for eight,
In a time where
Living together is only in folklore.

Then, the wounds that healed
Way before the pain was felt.
Now, the scars of countless stories,
Not on knees but on heart,
You know, all that is left.

Then, the little me,
Who crouched behind a chair,
Waited like stocking a prey,
Now, staring at the lurking fortune,
Would the game be any fair?
©Suyog Ketkar

She’s that Inspiration

I usually keep my feelings to myself unless I wish to write about them. Whether good or bad, this habit of writing looks like one that’s here to stay. Also, I cannot wait for another year to convey her what I feel for her: the person in context, my maternal grandmother.

It is easier to decide on your inspiration than to become like one. I, however, am finding it hard, for I have a little too many of them around. The trouble is, I can and do learn from each one of them with every passing day. This post is about the one who’s each day is a happy-sad challenge in her now salt-and-pepper life of intermingled experiences.

She is from an age (read era) where women were hardly considered powerful enough to have full education let alone running a family competing with husbands on the salary part. But, credit must be given where deserved. She has led her family well enough after her husband’s departure in 1976.

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From the Second World War, India’s struggle for Independence, and the 1965 and 1971 wars, she has stood firmly beside by maternal grandfather. But, after these hard phases, the worst ones for her have been losing her family members—first husband, then my father (in 1993), and then her son (in 2011). In January, this year, she brushed past death after a series of heart attacks (two of Mild and one of the Severe degree) in a single day. On one occasion, doctors told us later that they couldn’t detect her pulse for as much as 10 minutes.

In April, she turned 88. But, if only that was enough for her to think that she needs to stop working. She still does everything on her own, which I find amazing. Did I tell you that she performed stage shows of Violin in the past? And that she learned to play synthesizer about 10-12 years back and plays it every day since then? She reads a chapter from Bhagwat Gita every day and has been doing that for as long as I remember. In the process, she has learned all the shlokas from all the 18 chapters from the epic.

If that is not enough, cooking interests her. So, she takes mental notes from the cookery show on her favorite television channel. Then, she experiments in the kitchen to prepare that for all of us. Yes, even today. It is because she thinks that the ready-made clothes don’t give her the required comfort and fitting, she stitches her own gowns that she usually wears every day.

Here is my message: We are and will be yours. Why this message? That too, after four months, you may ask. I don’t need an occasion to write about Aaji. You are an inspiration for people. But, you are much more than that for your family. I have come to conclude that if old age were to add numbers to people’s lives, it added wrinkles and stories to yours’.

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The thing is: experiences disguise themselves as sometimes scars and sometimes as wrinkles. But they leave their marks on all occasions. And then, you don’t remain the same anymore. In the same sense, people are no more than wrinkles in the fabric of your life. You can iron out some; but, some just don’t go. They are there forever. They make you. They remain a part of you. You are as wrinkled a fabric as them. Have a healthy life ahead, Aaji. Your wrinkles and stories are a part of my fabric. They make me who I am.

What’s Your Writing Prompt?

In one of my previous posts, I covered how I compose my thoughts. In this post, I talk about how I get to what’s worth a composition.

The thing about writing prompts is that you can’t define them. There can and cannot be a pattern of how they occur. There isn’t a way you can generalize them. Pitchforking, for example, is one theme I have been itching to write about in the recent past. But, every time I sit down to write, my thoughts drift into the other unseen territories.

Today, I list all (or most) of my writing prompts for you:

  • An hourglass
  • Behavior and misbehavior of people around me
  • Countless dreams
  • Endless thoughts and thought-provoking issues
  • Everyday work-related challenges and my tiny accomplishments
  • Kids
  • Listening to old songs; mostly from my maternal grandmother’s collection of timeless classics
  • Longcase clocks
  • My “I’m home” moment when my daughter rushes back to me with all her might, jumps into my lap, and, with the limited and unclear vocabulary, explains how she spent her day
  • Petrichor
  • Photography, especially B/W pictures
  • Play-doh and toy shops
  • Seeing other writers fail or succeed
  • Soap bubbles
  • Storytelling my daughter to sleep—I must come up with a new story every day
  • Sunset from behind an office building right across my office window
  • The feel of my father’s thick mustaches when I was a kid (I was told that they belonged to my grandfather, but my father had put them and was no longer able to remove)
  • The reflection of the Rising Sun
  • Tracing tiny footprint of insects and crabs on a beach
  • Wet shores that sweep from under my feet

True that it is easier to find an inspiration than to be one. But, finding what inspires you is still the first step. Here’s mine.

As we come to the end of this conversation I have this takeaway thought for you:

Your writing flourishes when your head, heart, and hands work for the same purpose; in the absence of which, you can be anyone and no one at the same time.

Happy writing.

What Writing Means to Me

At first, I wanted to compose this post as a poem. But, that would mean another poem on my blog. And, I have had a little too many poems on my blog within the last one year. This, in one way, diverges from the original contemplation on writing. But, wait. I don’t wish to begin this post with a negative thought. That’s is how much writing means to me.

My writing is my ambassador to you. It means so much to me because it is how I express what I feel. Usually, I don’t speak much. Yes, for a lot of my friends, I am an out-and-out extrovert. But, deep within, I am an ambivert who leans, in fact, toward introversion. My words convey what I can feel but can’t express, can see but can’t report, and can write but can’t speak.

Writing is my textual meditation. It is the way I introspect. Just like one must close their eyes to see within themselves, one must pen their thoughts to sieve through to the core. The clearer they think, the clearer they write. And, the other way around. My writing is my soul disguised as words.

Writing for me is like composing verses in prose. It is a melody. A song. There are sentences of all compositions and lengths. Some are long. Some, longer. A few, like this one, shorter. True! The long and short sentences convey the long and short of it—and everything that lies within—to the readers. Mentally listen to yourself when you read varying lengths of sentences. It sounds good. Good, because it is rhythmic. Good, also because it means that the melody is as important as the messages conveyed through the melody. My writing is a lyrical composition that I can hum, listen to, sway along with, or fall asleep to.

Writing is like a mirror. It is that sense of contemplation that adds a dimension of meaning to reflections. It isn’t only the reflection of oneself, but also a cause to reflect onto oneself. Writing is that catalyst without which the inner and the outer selves don’t equate. No reaction, whether it is chemical, is ever complete without a word of thought. It is that skillful, scientific art; it is that masterful, artistic science.

Writing is that folklore that records, refers, and rekindles life. It is that act of play where you are both the actor and the audience. Writing is both the pen and the ink that scribes your acts, with or against your will. It is both the cause and the outcome of your performance. It is also the background score that amplifies emotions without your knowing.

To me, writing is the means, the medium, and the end. It is as nameless, formless, and transparent as water. It originates with a spurt, from within. When it begins to flow like a stream of thoughts, it seeps and snakes through people’s minds, one after another, finding its way to you, who after traveling for miles has got down on their knees to enjoy their glittering reflections. When it flows from my heart to yours, it becomes a burbling river. When it becomes an ocean of emotions, you can watch it hug the limitless skies at the horizon and experience it wash-off the rare conch shells of revelations to the shore.

The most rewarding writing, however, often trickles down your cheeks as pearls of love. What does writing mean to you?

On Writing

I was amused, for what I had mused
Was either horribly bad or terribly wrong.
Then it dawned on me that Bad Writing is a rite
For the Good Writing to come just right.

I was devastated, for my thoughts were void.
Was that block my departure from my being?
Then it dawned on me that I mustn’t quit;
For it to pass, I must unconditionally submit.

I was clueless, for I had lost directions.
Were things leading me into the unknown?
Then it dawned on me that I mustn’t disgruntle.
I must ask questions. Seek answers. Rediscover.

I was seeking to rekindle imagination.
To cover more than covered, to rediscover that fire.
Then, it dawned on me that I mustn’t rekindle,
Smoldering afterthoughts sometimes bear more than fancied pyre.

I then went back to the stories untold,
Read something that I tucked under memories, and had never let unfold.
Made that cringe-worthy crap a subject of my Wrath.
And, decidedly strode toward the desk to create gold.
©Suyog Ketkar

Between Varnas and Insights Discovery

My contemplation on a day-long training I attended—it was an Insights Discovery workshop—inspired me to write this post.

To tell you the truth, I can reveal the learning from the course in one line: introspecting the self, while respecting the others’ behavior. But, applying is learning is the real challenge. That’s because our thoughts preoccupy our mind. So, we cannot respect other’s perspective and have a fruitful conversation. Anyway, our today’s discussion is hardly about that challenge. So, I will keep off it.

Amongst the many things that I now register on spiritual grounds, there’s one thing has had its profound effect on me. It is that when I take insights from my past and apply them to my future, the life’s pattern becomes visible. This is like a jigsaw puzzle. The trick is not in solving it part by part. But, in setting the boundaries first so that the big picture becomes clear.

The Insights Discovery is a behavioral tool from Carl Jung, who through the tool, tried to define our nature. His analysis is that each one of us is a combination of the following four behavioral styles:

  • Red: The one who prefers brief information
  • Blue: The one who prefers details
  • Green: The one who is full of compassion
  • Yellow: The one who seeks involvement

Today, we are busy running a rat race of earning more than others, spending more than others, and possessing more than others. It is this thought of defining every one using four colors that sounded familiar to me.

The ancient Indian wisdom of dividing people into the following four Varnas is similar:

  • Brahmana: The one who prefers details; structured result-driven content.
  • Kshatriya: The one who wishes to be at the forefront; the leader.
  • Vaishya: The thinker; the strategist; the money-minded; the observer.
  • Kshudra: The one who is a great worker; the action lover.

Mind the word, please. Varna, according to the Vedas, is comparable to the English word classification. Back then, classification of Varnas would depend on an individual’s deeds, willingness, and capabilities. Today, the word inaccurately translates to mean caste.

What I do not want you to do is map those four Varnas 1:1 with those four colors. That would be incorrect. As a conclusion to the workshop, the instructor told us to be considerate of others. She told us to stay away from making fun of people based on their color preferences.

The fact is, we all have those four colors in us. Yes, one color is dominant within us all. Likewise, we all are a mix of those four Varnas. And, we all have a different Varna dominant. Whilst we are all different, we continue to be a combination of the same values. How true.

Rediscovery

Amidst the bidders, for whom
Spoken words make the market,
I resort to words unspoken
To be the voice of my own.

Survived, I have
Through nights and days.
To survive within each moment,
I call upon my soul.

Witnessing two reflections,
Having faith in faith, I
Echo with the right one
To shatter the illusory mirror.

Floating in the quietude,
I lay in pleasurable languor,
Flashing mysterious memories.
The euphoric touch is worth an adore.

Enjoying my thoughtlessness,
Journeying through imagination,
Seeking the nomadic contentment—
Aren’t they my usual writing chore?

Explored, I may have,
The footprints of many.
I wish a stroll along the path
That I will tread sometime soon.
© Suyog Ketkar