Salvaging Sanity

I wonder how did I get in the habit of writing letters…..to nobody.

Words following words, messages stacking across the pages in the form of letters – addressed to someone other than myself but no one in particular. I have written incessantly as if it’s epistolary pleading to a being of questionable existence. Tantalizing words kept spreading their tendrils all over my body, tightening its grip, choking, suffocating me until I learned to contain them. Ironically, it’s an internal battle which seldom surfaces on my outer appearance. Amidst the intermittent pangs of insanity, they seemed the only reasonable action to salvage my fading sanity.

Prologue

I first thought of this post 9 months ago, sometime around the beginning of this year. Of course, that didn’t happen.  I couldn’t bring myself to write it because like a perceptible change in time that is a new year, you also want the new you – one who sheds off the burden, peels off the past that engulfs him. Well, things don’t work that way. The more you keep your it bottled, the stronger this concoction gets and it becomes increasingly harder to get rid of it until you set it free – whatever your way of doing that may be. Also, things don’t automatically become alright when you shift through this concept of time like traversing blocks of a human construct. It has to be made ok through conscious reconciliation.

The past two years felt like the toughest years of my life. This was also the time when some major changes happened – the people, the environment, the game – all of it were new. There were definitely good things that kept the light of fight alive. And a major weapon I had was to write it all down. I didn’t have anyone who could have listened patiently (it’s really tough man!) and I doubt if I would have done away with no writing at all even if I had. Believe me, I tried telling it. I did try hard.

It may have been the very first post this year on the blog – either this or ‘The Culture of Extremes‘ that still lies incomplete in my ever-growing drafts. But I couldn’t bring myself to give it a definite form. It was obscure, abstract and way more personal. And then it changed. Yes. Like any perishable item kept unpreserved over a significant period of time, this post also underwent an irreversible transformation. It didn’t remain the written account of the past two years. Instead, it became about this one.

Subconsciously, I had kept recording the moments of my insanity, moment of sinking thoughts and the instances when I felt I was imploding with the churning force of matter, in the personal notes on my phone. This is what it culminated to.

I know it’s totally haphazard. As much as I would have liked to recollect those moments with considerable accuracy, I have either forgotten them or outgrown them. I don’t exactly remember as to which thought, in particular, triggered each of these separate sentences. So I went discrete, even to myself and noted just the fleeting feeling of the moment. This way, it would also seem relatable to the reader even though the context might vary. Also, it has been presented verbatim in chronological order for the most part as was noted in those instances besides few grammatical corrections. Different paragraphs have been separated by the horizontal line.

Moments of Insanity

This withers my heart into a thousand pieces – insignificant bits of innocence slain by the cruelty of circumstances. Time, renewing everything I have held so dearly, keeping me bound in Saudade, drifting into the void, tied up – not moving, just living, just being. I bear this weight that is crushing my soul, pulling me down into the abyss of despair, teary eyes and shrinking heart, silent cries and shrieking screams from the pain I’m in. I wonder what could have I done differently.


I don’t know when it changed from imaginative to impulsive writing. When did my thumb start driving my mind instead of the other way round?


All my posts have been more of pushing out facts than voicing my thoughts and opinions. And this bugs me as a writer. What makes my writing different?


Sometimes, I can feel the chemical reactions happening inside my body. I’m not kidding. I could feel my feelings being affected in a mechanized predictable way.


All the impulsive decisions I have ever taken or maybe all the decisions I have ever taken have impulsively felt wrong. It happens just after the things go out of my control. The deed is done and it is to be decided whether it was right or wrong. But in that infinitesimal moment, it has felt wrong. Not the most optimum one for sure. And then I have chased my life making that decision correct. It has taken time for me to be at a position when I can say with surety that whatever I did was right.


My troubling dreams are so deeply rooted in the reality that I don’t know if it actually happened or were mere projections in my mind. They are becoming indistinguishable from real possibilities.


Frequently, I have been getting these stress hits, especially at night when all I think about are career prospects, my family and the direction life is heading to. It happens mostly late at night. I suddenly wake up and have a hard time sleeping. During the day, I can dissuade these feelings by getting involved in something that takes my mind off the situation but at night, when all is blank like the darkness that surrounds me and I am finally at the bed, inactive, all these thoughts come rushing in.


Looking inwards to probe my fundamental flaws, I see that I take a leap on trusting people more than what they deserve and that has eventually left my heartbroken. This optimistic heart of mine doesn’t refuse to give up and it is very much hopeful that someday it will find someone who appreciates my core values.


I listen to so many life-changing stuff – I read them in books, I get them for free during intellectually stimulating conversations and by listening to people who are smarter than me, people who possess much more life experience. And in those moments, I seem to grasp the meaning of it. I question myself about the characteristics of those habits, introspect my behavior in daily life and if I see the discrepancy, I decide how am I going to change from tomorrow. But when I try to remember those stuff on a random day when I feel uninspired or my actions let me down, I hardly seem to recall any of it. There is nothing but obscurity that prevails and the thoughts are miscible fluids than chunks of consolidated solids. I wonder what was the meaning of giving all those time to those activities? Does it amount to anything? Like it’s said about knowledge, I think, inspiration also works in the hindsight.


Does it matter? I have been asking this a lot lately, not in the act of play but in the afterthoughts.


There are instances when you realize that you are not in your senses. You can very well sense it – weird, isn’t it? And although you feel like making the situation better, you unintentionally keep making it worse. You seem to have no control and what comes out of your mouth adds fuel to the fire. While the intentions might have been very much the opposite, your actions further sabotage the dynamics.


What is it? What am I doing? This just doesn’t stop. One after the other, it keeps on coming. The same thing. The same stuff. Repetition. Loop whose end is not within my sight. How long will it continue? How long would I have to keep going through the tedious process again and again? Even though I’m progressing, all the work seems futile because it’s no longer discernible. It takes a toll on me mentally, seeping into my veins, clogging up my neurons, putting a mental haze in front of my eyes.


I am tired of telling people to do something or to act in a way derived from my own experience but they go ahead and do whatever they want to anyway, with total disregard to my feelings. As if I don’t matter at all. Am I so insignificant?


I feel like the concept of love evades me. I don’t even know what is it anymore? For a better part of life, I have believed in it diligently but then the circumstances sometimes dwindle even your core beliefs. It feels like trying to hold onto a fistful of sand, slowly dripping out of the crevices. But I keep wishing that I would hold onto at least one grain. How do I restore, reinstate this belief which is the fundamental reason for my existence?

Hold me close and hold me fast,

The magic spell you cast, 

La vi en rose;

Give your heart and soul to me

And life will always be

La vi en rose.

Salvaging Sanity

As of this moment, when the situation seems stable and I look back with a clear mind on everything I wrote above, I recall some of the actions that helped me cope up with them effectively. Consider this to be the sequel of everything I had mentioned in my ‘Lessons in Failing‘ post. The difference is that this post is more concerned about external factors while it was more about personal shortcomings in ‘Lessons in Failing’.

First of all, it’s decluttering and detachment. In the moments of insanity, we get so much entangled with the problem, fog our mind with all sorts of bubbling thoughts that we hardly see the solution lying in vicinity. It’s important to know what’s the most important thing to deal with at any particular moment. We fool ourselves when we think we can handle multiple things at once. The concurrent mental processes only divide the resources, so it’s essential to eliminate things that are not part of the pressing problem at hand. Keep them in dormant mode for a while till this one is resolved.

The ability to practice rationality is the highest of virtues. To be able to communicate (and be understood just as well) and to understand things from an objective perspective makes everything a whole lot easier. This is tougher than you realize, I’m telling you.

Also, calm the heck down. Things inevitably get worse when we get restless. Hence, request (if there are people involved) to leave it up to you if you are the one to solve it. Ignore things that prevent you from exercising that calmness. Breathe. It’s weird to think about how often do we forget to take deep breaths and think things through.

Identify things that excite you. Things that give you strength when you need it. Things that show you the vision of a better tomorrow. It has to be something larger than life. Yes. For once in life, devote yourself in pursuance of a goal that feels extremely hard to reach yet it gets you stoked every single day. For example, my fascination with space has always helped me in putting things into perspective which is basically making it insignificantly small and hence solvable.

The right people will eventually come. You will have discussions you always wanted. You will laugh and scream and gasp in awe. Things will start to fall in place, maybe not all of them because it’s a never-ending battle but that’s ok. This is me saying from the other side.

Just remember, if you find yourself in the valley, keep going because there is a peak too. And after that peak, maybe you would descend into another valley so that you return to exploring the depths again. Being at the peak for long may blind you because then all ridges, plains, and valleys merge into one. The mantra of ‘everything in moderation‘ is very much applicable everywhere.

And then there would be this one person who will make it all worth it. All the pain, all the struggles, all the fights, all the mysteries & crazy coincidences would confluence to place you at this juncture you will forever be grateful for. It would be a lot easier then onwards because then you would have someone by your side you can call a companion. You would be understood for who you truly have been. You would realize that you were not insane in thinking this way or believing in things that you always have believed in because sanity is not statistical.

Things will make more sense, actions would have more meanings and all these would be possible if you just keep going. It may take years but you have to keep moving patiently. Stagnation is crippling. It’s like putting a fence around yourself. You may call it your happy place but then you have restricted the things to come to you as much as you have stopped reaching out to them. Move because you can.


Author’s Note – This is my 100th post on this blog. Yep! It’s a century. It took me 6 years to reach here. It’s been a crazy journey so far and feels like I’m just getting started. For the next venture, I would like to take more risks in terms of things I write about, put forth my bold views and take up challenges that give greater value to my writing. Let’s see how it pans out. Till the next time, godspeed! 🚀

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When The Odds Are Trolling

Have you ever taken a stand on the situation and shouted – “how the heck did this happen?” or sighed – “huh! what were the odds?” or, or frowned – “this is not what I expected”? Well then, you have got a company here.

My friends from the spaceflight community would know this –

18th December 2018 (UTC timing) – With 5[1] back to back rocket launches scheduled, this day was going to be written in history. The entire December has been a party for us space nerds but this was like a double bonanza. It has actually started feeling like we have ushered into a new era of space race.

But, but, the lauchapalooza turned into scrubapalooza when 4 out of 5 launches got scrubbed for 4 different reasons.

SPACEX – Falcon 9 with USAAF GPS-III 2 satellite – Out of family reading on first stage sensors

Blue Origin New Shepard with NASA Payload – Ground infrastructure issue

Arianespace – Soyuz CS01 mission – Bad weather conditions

ULA Delta IV Heavy with NROL-71 satellite – Scrubbed due to high winds

ISRO GSLV Mk-II with GSAT-7A satellite – Launched half hour later than first scheduled time but within the launch window

 

Huh! what were the chances of that? Let’s do a little bit of maths here, should we?

A rocket can either launch or stay hold on a particular day. So 2 possibilities.

Summing it over 5 independent launches, the probability of that all of them would be scrubbed is –

(\frac{1}{2})(\frac{1}{2})(\frac{1}{2})(\frac{1}{2})(\frac{1}{2}) = \frac{1}{32}

Ok, things are little weird with binary possibilities because compliment of \frac{1}{2} is also \frac{1}{2} and in any case, the probability would be \frac{1}{32} . For accuracy sake, we should actually take Probability of Go into account for each of those launches. The result would be an even smaller fraction considering weather wasn’t much of the issue for three of them. In a sense, nature actually picked the option which was the least probable.

At the time of writing this post, SpaceX has attempted its GPS-III launch for the 4th time in 5 days and it has been scrubbed again. By the time I would be posting this, hopefully, they will have a successful launch.

But this wasn’t the inspiration behind this post (although, it certainly contributed to some content and an interesting start, in my opinion). The topic first came into my mind at one cold morning of early December when I was standing at the train station. It was an overnight journey and I had another train to catch a few hours later. So I separated myself from the crowd and got to the waiting area. While standing there, I looked around and suddenly it struck me. The scenery felt rather odd.

I have been to that place numerous times before but that day it felt like being caught in the wee hours when it was still getting ready. I do accept that it was more of an internal feeling than an external cause yet it got me thinking – what are the odds of me witnessing it like this? It wasn’t even a planned trip.

Later that day, I took the most defeated walk of my recent memory. A plethora of emotions turned, twisted, collided and merged inside my head as my feet traced the road which stretched to eternity. I felt totally helpless, for now, I held a secret I couldn’t have divulged. On the other side, the usual place of my retreat wasn’t the same because of a sudden turn of events. I wished I could be a recluse, just for that day or the day later. Yet at that moment, I knew, I was the only strong bond holding all loose ends together.

You know those voices at the back of your head which shout the least favorable but probable outcomes? The one we shut down because either we don’t wanna face it or those we think are irrelevant – chances of later being less. What’s the way of safeguarding yourself? Would you turn and run away or would it take it head on as it comes?

There have been far too many such instances recently which led me to re-evaluate the odds of mere speculations. In a sense, this entire year has been like that. Facing the least expected. Fighting the odds which knocked on my door. I was cornered into my little space, confined in seclusion until I turned, looked it straight into the eye and decided to fight. Let’s see what all I can remember for the recap –

I started this year still working in a so-called core company. It was a well-respected Govt. job and I am grateful to it for giving a start to my professional career but it sucked the soul out of me. I constantly felt like I was downplaying myself but it paid well because of which I was finally able to finish my student loan within a year of graduating – that was my biggest relief (people spend years buried in debt). I started out at one place got transferred to another place in the second quarter and finally, after months of scrutiny, I resigned. Seriously, don’t get stuck in a shitty job and get out while you can. Life is too short but weigh your liabilities carefully before you take the risk.

I got a coveted fellowship but took a conscious decision of not taking it. It was after I took a hit of the quarter-life crisis. Relaxed, enjoyed with my bio-design buddies and traveled to a new place to stay with my friend while I applied to different jobs there. It felt like a tug-of-war between my fate and destiny. Things didn’t materialize according to my expectation but settling with alternatives meant neutralizing the risk I had taken. For two months, I fought with the question of ‘what actually that I should be focusing on?‘. Somewhere in between the process, I realized, I needed to re-calibrate my strategy to be able to do things I really want to do. Specialization is for ants but one should develop a strong core-skill first. Other things can be outsourced.

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Sometimes you find your answer in unexpected places. Courtesy – Explosm.net

Owning to my responsibility of an elder brother, I came back to look after my brother’s preparation for upcoming exams while I turned my focus towards building a portfolio & planning for graduate studies. I realized that the break would be a little longer because application deadlines approached faster than I could have caught up. On the bright side, I have got time to gain research experience (although it has to be at the mercy of professors I have been mailing). This break has been a bitter-sweet phase but I got to consolidate my future career plans.

Somewhere in February, my school friend called me to talk about this idea about a 360-degree travel experience platform that he has been working on. I liked it and went on-board. For the next 2 months, we worked most part of the nights. We had a working product ready and hence, triplou.com was born.

Working on a startup besides full-time hectic job was a challenge and it certainly took a toll on my physical health. But it was all worth it when we saw the hits counter rising. We entered into few startup competitions in hope that it would bring us recognition (the cheapest and least expensive method of gaining credibility). Didn’t make it to some even after hefty write-up and a concise pitch-deck. Well, that’s how these B-Plan competitions go but it doesn’t lessen our worth. We are now in the finals of one – looking forward to it.

I met my family once in January when my brother’s son was born and then again when we celebrated my parents’ 25th anniversary. I took my niece for shopping and brought her favorite dress with my own money. Held my brother’s daughter like she is a part of me while she slept in my lap – the absolute best feeling of my entire life.

It was also a time to look at relationships from a critical perspective when I understood how each of them rests on a fragile delicate balance. The string is tightened by compromises made on both sides. Also, when we start romanticizing someone, somewhere along the line, it ceases to be about the person and start to be more about the very idea of that person being in our life. It’s not worth it if it is not reciprocated and you should rather spend time on things that make you special. Some people are non-linear humans after all. This story also inspired the plot for my upcoming short film ‘That Thing About Lost Chances‘.

The test also covered the syllabus of friendship when my best friend and I took the opposite stand on an issue which led him to pivot into a totally different career field. Felt like it was for all the wrong reasons and I tried my hardest to convince him. He later came back to his senses and found a rational reason behind his decision. That was certainly a difficult period to deal with but I learned that you don’t easily give up on people you love. You simply can’t.

On the other side, our WhatsApp group ‘Kerala Expedition‘ felt silent for the most part. It was occasional buzz ground but went on frequent hiatuses. It has started dawning on me how our lives have taken different turns after college. We still haven’t made our trip to Kerala, hence the name continues. All four of us are now living in four different cities preparing to pursue four different careers (the odds man!). We didn’t get together at one place even once but I met two of them when I went on the Bangalore trip.

On the creative front, the first half was rather slow and I don’t recall any significant even worth mentioning. By March, I was finally able to churn out my first video of the year -‘The New Kind‘. I made it as a channel trailer promising more frequent videos with more unique stories. It peaked up the momentum afterward and I was all geared but it has come to an absolute halt by the end of the year. Tons of footage has still not made it to the editing room.

I had planned to make a video series titled ‘The Job Experience‘ for which I have been shooting for the past one and half years. I wrote the script, organized the footage and I had nearly finished editing the first episode but then I had to give it a rest. My focus was shifted for the above-stated reasons so I can say that the place and time haven’t been favorable. It’s still in post-production and now scheduled for next year.

For the first time, I got to collaborate with my friend who is an excellent cinematographer to edit his travel video. It felt absolutely amazing editing those beautiful shots and the entire video came out really good. Finally, I was done editing my sister’s wedding video after she continued pestering me for a year and I gifted it to her on Raksha Bandhan. I also shot sort of a documentary on a person in whom I saw a reflection of my own story but I couldn’t edit that too. We went to some exotic places in the land obscura to shoot. Face that These are secluded places which not many people know about, made the experience even more exciting

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This lake right here is in a bear-prone forest in the middle of nowhere.

Blog posts which were highly unpolished in the first three quarters finally started taking shape in the fourth, There are still some incomplete ones which I need to finish. My writing grew more and more personal and started piling up in my personal notes rather than ending on this blog. Twitter became my micro-diary but some things are still better left unsaid. I also posted more on my tech blog than the previous year but not to my satisfaction. My reading this year, which was only confined to articles on random sites, finally returned toward novels as I got to complete a few books. I missed my yearly goal by a large margin though and honestly, it sucks!

On the consumption side, I only remember finishing my long-awaited fourth and fifth season of ‘Silicon Valley‘ and now think it is the best tech-comedy ever written. I got hang of Reddit way too much in the first half but got in my senses in second. Later, I got obsessed with videos about ‘Exploration‘ – from Antarctic sea to Amazon forests, hidden civilizations and the world beyond our blue marble. It was a manifestation of the phase I was going through. I looked up for things which would help me become far-sighted and not get bothered by immediate circumstances. It rekindled my tryst with space.

I also watched a lot of SNL sketches (I mean a lot). Some excellent channels were added to my subscription list which taught me a completely new way of looking things. Peter Mckinnon continued to be my push to get things done while discovering Everyday Astronaut & BPS.space is certainly one of the best things that came out of my otherwise random YouTube surfing. I think I teared up watching Rory’s Lake Life 5.

Music continued to be a big part of my existence. It is the voice of my conscience. I ventured to explore even more genres and worldly music this year- not just confining myself to songs I can understand. Music transcends comprehension. I looked into the heart of techno through Charlotte de Witte & trance music through Armin Van Buuren, fell in love with lofi hip-hop – all thanks to Cubic Radiation!

It is mostly people who make up for off-screen experiences and this year, I got to meet some really great ones who accompanied me on this journey – from the toughest guy I knew who broke down when the time came for us to depart to the apprentices who came forward with all their heart to make my stay less miserable at an unknown place. I particularly remember one guy I met through my colleague who wanted me to make a dance audition video for him. He worked as a janitor in the day but slogged his night hours for dance practice because it was his passion. It was my absolute privilege to oblige and a great experience to count for before I left that place. I met several other inspirational persons who showed how talent nurtures among adversity and constraints.

In conclusion, a major part of this year was spent on daydreaming, finding means of escape. I started detaching from things that were near and longed for those which were so distant. Lessons were learned the hard way as I wandered through another year of adulthood without a guide. Let me tell you the crux of it all[2].

Getting what you want, how you want it, whenever you want it, is about three very simple things –

  1. Find something you want
  2. Find out how to get it
  3. Get it.

Only you can get the trolling odds to turn into your favor.


Note – I know this post went quite long but eh! Hope I could pack some lessons in those words. Wish you all a very happy new year in advance. May your wishes come true and you achieve greater heights. Have a great one! 🙂

Footnotes –

1. If we count ISRO’s GSLV Mk-II launch early morning next day.

2. These are not my words but absolutely nails the lesson. I took it from one of Mio’s vlogs.

The feature image is that of Starman on a Tesla Roadster on his way to Mars. It was launched on Falcon Heavy, courtesy of SpaceX. Couldn’t have chosen a better image for my year in review.


Song highlight

This song is attached to a very personal memory of mine. Last year, while I was listening to this song, I actually lived it lyrics (see the odds here?). At that moment I had decided that I have to make a video on it. I had the entire storyboard in mind and I gave myself till this year’s Christmas. Well, that didn’t happen.

It was relatively easier to make videos in college because someone or the other would volunteer for the role. It has been so tough afterwards since I’m not doing it professionally. Anyway, this song is still on my list, so if you or anyone you know would be interested in this project, hit me up. Peace✌

Stillness

Why is it that when I think of a title, there is always something else attached to the main word? Really, just look at all my previous blog titles. It’s never a single word for the sake of carrying all its essence. Does making it longer convey more information or lesser the word, the broader its domain? Well, certainly this is something to ponder upon.

Anyway, breaking the norm this time, I come up with a topic that struck me hard recently (almost like a eureka moment) – stillness or rather the dynamism behind it.

So, I was combing through my WordPress feed, looking over some of your blogs. There I came across a post which talked about anime. I don’t exactly remember who wrote it but I’m sure he/she was someone I had recently followed. I went to the comment section to see what others have suggested and there I found this movie which instantly intrigued me. Title – The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Now, the title itself is sufficient to raise significant interest, so naturally it tickled the cinephile in me who is in perpetual search for a good addition to his growing list.

I should take a moment here to describe my lesser-explored fascination for anime. I have never talked about it on this blog because I never understood myself what exactly about it that resonated with me, besides my understanding of the complexity involved and of course some of the childhood memories which have faded over time. In college, few of my friends were truly crazy about gaming, manga, anime or anything that involved some sort of artificial character in the virtual world (which is conspicuous unlike fiction).

I always felt disconnected then because I couldn’t relate it to anything real. I was too busy chasing stars in my physical world. Pardon me to say this but it also felt a little kiddish for my taste (or so I thought). Anyway, it didn’t catch up to me until that time in the final year when I fell for someone who identified herself as a proud citizen of the anime-verse. So, I had to follow upon.

I had always looked at animation from a viewpoint of creating it – time, effort, skills, patience – and all of those that are essential to make a beautiful art piece but I couldn’t fathom its extent for effective storytelling until I saw ‘Death Note‘. That anime simply blew my mind and established a new benchmark for any future psychological thriller I’m going to watch. All of a sudden, it felt like a new world has opened up.

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How could I be so naive about it? Source – Giphy

Watching ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time‘ simply consolidated my newfound belief. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend that you give it a try. The story, the animation, the sound design – the overall execution is just incredible!

Anyway, more than halfway through the movie there is a scene that captivated my imagination. At this timestamp (what could only be called the climax), everything comes at a halt and there are several still scenes are shown to symbolize that. What’s commendable is the usage of parallax movement of layers to account for the running time. The animator has beautifully utilized movement in relation to the progress of the movie even though the context is essentially that of frozen time.

If anyone has worked with graphic designing software, you would know how it essentially works on layers. In movie editing, we can either use motion keyframes or rotoscoping to separate out the elements and achieve a similar effect but technicality aside, I would let the scene do the talking –

Now, let me put some of those frames as images –

Does it feel the same? No, right? Isn’t that amazing?

At that instant, I knew I had to write about it. But what? As a person who prefers longer posts over short rants, I had some thinking to do. I wanted to look for instances in real life which could be mapped with this stillness function that yield dynamic results. I wanted to look for the inherent property of life i.e. dynamism disguising itself in other still moments. Think about it – it’s so non-intuitive yet so much rooted in reality. It feels like those paradoxical theorems of Quantum mechanics.

As a film-maker, I work with videos which are essentially moving images typically rendered at 24 fps. I know this but if I am to nit-pick individual frames and talk about its effectiveness, I would take a critical stand. Videos, from an engineering perspective, have always been that synergy where the overall effect is greater than the sum of its parts. But photographs are known to elicit strong emotions, right? Heck, I prefer taking photos over test videos to set the framing and test composition. Then, why don’t I venture into it more often?

Honestly, my photographs lacked movement. My still images feel like as if numbness has crept into the liveliness of the scene. But I’ve seen photographs which beautifully incorporate dynamism and I’m sure you have too. I have tried to learn that craft but somehow the learning didn’t translate to the intended effect in the final result. It still felt like it lacked a critical component for wholesome portrayal. Photography is that sense is much harder. It is like a highly efficient compression algorithm that crunches the whole data into its bit size storage.

Thinking about it made me wrap some of my surreal experiences by a single thread. These are the things that strike you at odd moments when you are lost in reverie. When you are motionless outside but your mind is host to turbulent thoughts that try to give definition to abstract phenomena. These are somehow internalized and keep piling up. I particularly remember something like this from my childhood.

Growing up in an Indian countryside essentially meant a constant chase with power cuts. There was no escaping though. In one of those dark nights when it would happen, the time that already passed lazily would feel like coming to a complete stop and the only thing that showed there was life to that still scene was the flickering flame of our study lamp. For me, those were the moments of reflection, of realization of something larger-than-life, of recapturing the world which has slipped out of my fist during the day. You were all to yourself wandering into your imaginary world where solitary nights carried you.

About the imaginary places – do you form imagery of a place or a person just by the name of it? Think about that time when someone told you that they visited a place or met someone or stayed somewhere and suddenly you have a picture in your mind of how it would be. It’s instantaneous without any need for description. Of course, it is refined based on the information like that crude sketch takings its shape as more features are added to it.

Don’t we picture scenes in our head when reading fiction? I’m sure we do. That’s what we are conditioned to. As a human being, we have more grasp over imagery than textual information. Consider it as a stillness.

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Now think about the time you actually encountered that place or person in real. Think about the very first thought. Did it strike you? Think about that infinitesimal moment when you are calibrating the picture in your head against what you actually see. Slow it down and analyze how you are modifying that still imagery to better suit its real form. Later, we may be saying – of course! it’s like this. How else could it have been?

Even in contrasting ways, it makes just as much sense. Now, on some random day when you are out of that space and try to re-picture that place or person, it feels like we cannot imagine it in any other way. The imagery has now changed – the disguised dynamism. It corresponds to a different stillness, transformed albeit to a more persistent one.

And it is not just about things outside of my control. It is even evident in my own works – say writing for example. I am not always with my notebook or laptop ready to write down anything. Inspiration may strike in bizarre ways and the sensible thing to do is to just note it down in my phone’s notepad. Sometimes I would write about it soon enough to retain the original context but more often than not, the time passes and I sit on it till the time it has loosened its essence. I can’t remember what I was actually thinking and now, these are just jumbled words I try to make sense of. It all feels still, desensitized until it is revived by my writing, even though it evolves in a totally different way.

I know this post goes all over the place with this topic but hopefully I gave you a glance through my eyes. There are multiple dimensions to it which I could have explored. Say optical illusion for instance – it is the perfect embodiment of subtle dynamism in stillness.

Stillness is an interesting character, a virtue of objects nonetheless but like it’s said – it’s not alive if it’s not moving and thus we see how movement is sneaked in for a lifelike characteristic. If change is the only constant, can the same be said about its converse? If yes, in what capacity? Think about it.

Have you experienced something that’s hard to explain? Tell me about it in the comments.

Feature image source – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/560768591086248106/


Song highlight (put in your earphones and let it progress, gets better every second) –

Let’s Meet

Let’s meet

Neither your place nor mine;

Let it be unusual,

somewhere pristine;

Where the sun peeks through the window,

And moon shines through the night,

Where Totoro lives next door,

And Alice’s wonderland at the cross;

A willow tree spreads its branches at the peak

And leaves flutter in gentle breeze;

There’s an old hut lit in this silent night

With a flickering lantern, waving dimly bright;

Hurriedly jumping, there might be one rabbit or two,

There may wander other animals of the zoo;

Sometimes they gather around, when the king talks,

Believe me, they’re hopping & wading bunch of crazy folks;

Of course, this is just my speculation of someplace nice;

An animated utopian world, unpurchasable of humanly price;

Yet let’s meet – neither your place nor mine,

Some place unusual, somewhere pristine;

For I know few places quite similar to this

A beautiful arena, nothing short of pure bliss.

 

My Delhi Travel Log

When you’re working in an organization, the repercussions of your actions are propagated throughout the company. You’re no longer an individual entity. #CorporateLearning

It was evening drenched in drizzle, about a month ago when I was travelling back from a rather tiring day at office that I came to know that I would be starting my field training in Delhi in next 2 days.

Now this single sentence sparks around hundred questions that I need to address to my regular blog readers but lets just keep it for my next post ‘Post-College Aftermath‘. My dormancy on this blogosphere would be better explained there but for now here’s what happened in Delhi.

Ticketing, packing & travelling done, I landed at the place slightly known to me through my sophomore year internship. I have been to Delhi before that as well – once in my childhood when, as I remember, I hated this place so much that I use to cry everyday to go back. It was an alien abode for me. Not so much now.

The transit flat that became our second home for the next 3 weeks was one of the nicest place I have ever stayed in, apart from of-course home and my beloved college. Not just the location & the ambiance but the caretakers there were some of the nicest people I have ever met. The treatment was not less than royal. Being acknowledged as the company officers and the perks that come with it were not something that I am accustomed to.

My cousin has been staying in Delhi for the past 10 years or so. The moment I reached my room, I called to let him know that I’m in Delhi. Unsurprisingly, he was quite surprised. Luckily he was not much far away from the place I was staying in – Saket (a place in South Delhi). I immediately texted him my address and he came over.

My cousin and I have a very nice bonding from ever since I remember because of the life ethics we share. Our catch-up meeting quickly turned into a funky rendezvous when he discovered my interest in video making. He is into performing bathroom-stage comic arts and I, on the other hand, am always in search for the subject for my next video.

Though it took me sometime to shed aside my hesitations and shoot anything outside of the courtyard, our chemistry kept the momentum going. Whenever we met on weekends, we made sure that atleast one WhatsApp story comes out of it. He was much more eager to be in the videos than I for one making them.

Fun continued and so did the work. Each day I would wake up to a delicious breakfast and a discussion over the transportation medium we should take to reach the destination. Though the destination kept on changing each day. Not to bore you with the technicalities of my work, I had numerous things to learn each day. From machinery to operation, planning, management and the trick of trade – it was learn-it-all in a nutshell.

Delhi houses so many diverse places to visit – from sought-after historical places to grandeur malls, from fun-filled amusement parks to big public libraries. One would never get bored with this bustling city (may be I should the permanent residents). Though my whole-day office certainly put a huge constraint over time and energy we preserved to wonder around, we did manage to explore couple of places.

Having accommodation in a posh area had its own perks. The sports complex and two gigantic malls nearby were the biggest saviors. Not to forget the marketplace on the other side where we could find food at affordable prices. Eating at mall’s food court often would have heavily loosen our pocket.

 

A Cause That Went Missing

Isolated from the herd of wits and bullshit,

knocked over, by the choice of mine

By the choice of yours, I surmised

The onsetting dusk, I lamented;

 

For what it’s worth, I tried, mending

The broken bond, the shattered link,

Asphyxiating every ounce of my conscience

Of reason, now nearly lost, faded;

 

O thou confidante, my mate of ages,

Where thy friendship paled,

Faith vanished, yacht of trust sailed;

Leaving me here, belittled

By the mockery of circumstances,

You meandered into an abyss,

Never meant for me to wander;

 

Weathered, toiled & trudged, I have

To be where I resolutely stand, I tried

To pull you back from the chasm

In futile, for all in vain, at last I inquired,

I questioned – is this how it ends?

I prayed, not, yet if not otherwise,

Among the scarce choices,

I had to choose right, for the multitudes

That surrounds my mortal self, unaware you,

Blinded by basic human jealousy, it affronts

More than penitence, it outrages my senses;

Reminiscing the chronicle of obscured meaning

I now sing this ode to the end of an era;

 

I struggled writing this piece because I wanted to bring in as much clarity without being specific in depiction. This poem recounts my personal experience of recent times, which, as I recall, I have encountered in past too but this instance is much more intense. It felt like an unexpected blow to the fragile castle I was cherishing all this time.

I do not intend to incentivize over the broken bits but rather remind myself that it is a part of life. It hurts and it teaches me a lesson. It may seem irrational yet it begets rationality in my maturer self. It kills the hope yet shapes my expectations.

Author’s Note – I write about certain events on this blog because either they need to be told or I want to document them as learning experiences. I do not expect others to gain much from the later category, given their specific contexts. This is one such post. It has troubled me recently and I needed to vent out the feeling.

[Cinephile’s Diary] In Awe With Storytelling

A little more than a fortnight ago, I released my first short-film ‘Refaire‘ on YouTube. It’s quite special to me as it marks my debut in storytelling. It was received quite positively during the in-house film festival we had. This post is first in the series Cinephile’s Diary to encapsulate my experience of making this movie. If you missed the announcement in the previous posts, you can watch it here –

I would soon be releasing ‘The Making of‘ featuring some behind the scenes and raw footage. Reminiscing the chronicle, it took us around a month to transform our idea into reality. Timeline breakdown would seem something like –

10-1

In one of my previous blog posts I had written –

It’s an interesting idea to capture such tiny moments. But it’s equally difficult to convey the weight it carries. There are numerous instances which everyone goes through but their impact is somehow lost in the influence of the end result. I would really like to share the result of my experimentation.

So here it is. Today I will write about my own experience that made me realize how movies are a compelling medium of visual storytelling.

There’s an old saying – “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes“. This was my attempt to fit in.

Ever since I had realized the headiness in movies and effort that goes to bring out that subtlety, I was fascinated. I was eager to paint my own hands with hues of creativity.

The above block-quoted lines were written in context of seeing beyond the obvious. To interrogate and analyze the bigger picture. Now it may seem to be a philosophical ranting – a shell in lieu of solid. But that’s where your ability to comprehend kicks in.

Amidst the desire to cherish, there lies an opportunity to showcase. To extract out the what others couldn’t behold and embed it into your creation. A creation that reveals the beauty. That’s storytelling.

With this conjecture in mind, I dived deeper into my world unknown. A journey that started with mere fascination became a passion which drove me crazy. Now the creator had to find inspirations.

I have watched a vast number of documentaries, acclaimed movies, vlogs, skits, etc. But now I also started reading articles about the art, about the back stage stories, their inspirations, thought process, struggles, bloopers, the story before and the story after. Gradually I realized that beyond our fairly obvious scenes, there lies tremendous effort to make it as little noticeable as possible.

https://goo.gl/xgrBT5

Now there are multiple dimensions to visual storytelling itself and each triggers our nerve in unique style. Most of my life, I have watched movies that wowed the audience. But then I also incorporated movies that challenges intellect into my list. It was all possible now that I could get access to this vast repository of information – Internet. It then expanded to documentaries that took us to the unseen corners. I can’t forget my childhood’s obsession with National Geography and Discovery.

When I beheld further, I recognized them as just another medium and there were plenty. I binge watched skits like ones from SNL (Saturday Night Live) or TVF’s Qtiyapas. But then came the web series and changed the definition of how we perceived television. This is the era of online contents and it provided a way to better consume them. With wider penetration of Internet to the masses, web series quickly gained the traction and we got shows like TVF Pitchers, Permanent Roommates (one series that triggered my inner zeal to tell good story in a humorous way) & Little Things.

It was during my intermediate that I was first introduced to an impactful storytelling medium. All thanks to ‘Yaadon Ka Idiot Box‘ on 92.7 Big FM. Radio was my biggest companion back then and I owe a major part of my positivity to this show. And then recently I come across its visual counterparts.

There exists incredibly intellectual talk shows like this –

https://charlierose.com/video/player/29525

And the fascinating travel diaries like these –

Night and day, I kept immersing into a world that seemed so different yet been existing around myself. It’s not the matter of what one could or couldn’t have experienced, it is rather about the presentation. Call it the magic of cinematic shots or the power of editing, they came out way better than what an average person could imagine. This need vision. This needs creativity.

And then I stumbled upon something that seems to be the latest fad – Vlogs. But there are few creators who have mastered this art.  I was never much fan of vlogging where a guy just keep on moving and doing stuffs with camera in one hand but Casey Neistat showed me a whole new aspect. I owe a major part of my learning experience to him. He taught me what to shoot, how to shoot, how to edit but what matters the most is ‘the story‘.

And this was just the entrance. As I kept on looking around, I got to know about wonderful people whose works were as amazing. They taught me how to produce videos that make the audience feel the experiences without them being there. I would talk about them later in the series. Till then I’m just hanging in there – watching, learning and getting better as I practice this art.

Film-making is ever evolving. With each passing time, there comes another medium that surpasses the existing trend. These trendsetters take the crowd by storm. They’re here to persist. Each of these has different style but what remains constant is the story.

Author’s Note – The purpose of this blog post was to introduce readers with various mediums of visual storytelling. It was rather to consolidate the things that inspired me to understand the mechanism better. Obviously I couldn’t accommodate everything I wanted to write about but this gives a fair introduction of what I started with.

This blog post is mere a prologue to the upcoming ones. Keep falling in love with this enticing world of film-making and stay tuned to the series! Peace ✌️