Reflections

Spinning the wheel – My reflections on blogging

A couple of years ago, I stood in Kathmandu’s famous Swayambunath temple. I stood transfixed, besotted by all it offered. Of particular interest was a stellar set of prayer wheels. They were exquisite and seemed to offer something deeper and more joyful than what was apparent.

I watched in quiet awe as people came by to spin the wheel, reciting something quick and muted. The older folk turned it with gentle ease and with a ready rhythm backed by an effortless flow. I stood there for a long time. Taken by the magic of it all.

There is a reason why I think of that now.

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A few days ago, I was in Kolkata interacting with some bloggers there. Friends at Blogadda were hosting a meeting and I was passing by and happening to have to time at hand. It was delectable. Both the conversation and the consequent thoughts that it has sparked off. I shared some of my views there and the kind folks there were kind enough to stay put and listen. Some of them reached out to stay connected after the event! Which left me smiling.

Ever since, ‘blogging’ has been on my mind, wondering if I could have been more pointed and coherent.

For, to me blogs are special. They offer the scale and opportunity to thoughts and expressions. Blogging has had a profound impact on my life. So much so, that I could go out on a limb and proclaim that it aided in changing the course of my life.

Here are some reflections on my journey of blogging. Five points. Not much I think. Top five, if you will.

1. Blogging is a craft. People excel in a craft because they love a craft. Awesome bloggers that I know, publish content because they love doing so. While their voice and points of view get heard, it is a relentless discipline at getting better at it, that rests beneath. They treat blogging with respect and intensity. A certain sense of joy and deep value that passionate practitioners of any craft can relate to.

2. Getting the basics right is such an important facet of any picking up a craft. The basics of blogging, in my opinion, revolve around creating good content and finding a way of reaching it to people. Now, ‘good content’ in itself lends itself well to a long conversation. But the idea is this: Content is key. Statistics on the number of hits, where the hits come from, at what time they come etc are incidental. Focusing on getting better at putting the message across makes a substantial difference. You become a great batsman by watching the ball and spending time at the nets. Not by staring at the scoreboard.

3. Participating and building community conversations matter. Making friends via blogs is a natural consequence. The bounty of friends that I have made just because my blogs have been around for a while is a true bounty. Perhaps bounty with a capital B! Blogging is about people and conversation.

I have enjoyed growing with a set of bloggers. Going far beyond knowing them through their blogs and being present when they turned a new page. Grooved by passion and polished by time, this intimacy has evolved beyond the URL. A blessing that is so rich, that it stays outside my limited capabilities of describing it.

4. Responses to posts and ideas over all these years have varied. Swinging from idolatry to the downright dismissive, teaching me a thing or two in the process. The famous lines from Kipling’s ‘If’ has much mindshare now:

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…”

To be equanimous to comments and responses after I hit ‘Publish’ has been one huge piece of learning. Blogging lends itself well to comments and staying calm help.

People who read a blog in the initial years happen to be friends and relatives. People who are generally of the kind kind. A heap of good comments can show up every time you published. I learnt it the hard way, that it’s so easy to get swayed by it. I have one piece of advice: Don’t! Keep working on the craft. If you are into writing, do read this book by Stephen King.

5. After you have put down Stephen King, do make it a point to read other people’s blogs. The better ones. The getting better ones. The ones that you disagree with. The ones with a point of view. The ones with a flourish in language. Whatever. Do read.

For reading helps in finding inspiration and establishing a connection. These connections and inspirations span generations and geography. But present an interweave that goes beyond the obvious. And in a good way, will lead you to stay curious. In the present day templatised world, staying curious can sometimes make all the difference!

So there, those are my top five reflections on blogging.

Now, back to the prayer wheel.

The prayer wheel is profound at many levels, as I discovered. The prayer wheel is spun with a meditative stance. You stay focused and get better at it. There are several beliefs and practices that surround Prayer Wheels. There is one that hugs my mind, though. The Tibetan tradition has a practice ‘of dedicating any accumulated merits that one may have gathered during practice to the benefits of all sentient beings‘.

That to me is at the centre of it all.

To share a point of view, with love and a degree of compassion is an opportunity that is available to everyone with a blog. The choices, of course, are ours to make.

The Sunday Post. The Week that was !

What a week ! What a week.

It was perhaps one of the fastest of weeks with so much of work ( & misery). At work, well, the uncertainty & pulls and pressures of corporate life suddenly hastened to take its complete hold and toll. It isn’t easy spending 14 + hours on a daily basis for as many days as the week has. Shrug ! Shrug !

Missed some bill payments. Paid some fines because of the misses. I still haven’t figured, why I keep things for the last day, knowing fully well, that I am prone to miss deadlines. So upset and cross with myself. By the way, on a different note, paid some real heavy taxes to the government. Wondering why it isnt any value at all. That money would probably be spent on a government minister’s fancy car or his sons underwear. Or whatever.

Havent accomplished half of what I had planned to do. Sometimes, when the lousy weeks come in at you, they come in so much of a series that it bowls you over.

Saturday, I had a bike crash.

Well, another bike crashed into me.
Well, it was my mistake as I failed to signal that I was taking a turn.
Well, actually, I was in two minds if I were to take the turn or take the next one.
Well, actually, I did not know my way.

Net result, a young man crashed into me. The abuses started flowing. For a moment, for a fleeting moment, there was a thought to switch on the indicator and claim that I was not at fault. Something inside said NO. Parked my bike and, profusely and (sincerely) apologized. The rider picked himself from the ground, and came charging “What bloody sorry?”

“Sorry”. “Are you alright. Do we need to see a doctor”

A couple of minutes of speaking and stating that I was ready to help out in whatever manner, he smiled and said, “Its ok, I’ll manage”.

Me: “Am sorry. Is there some damage to the bike?” He didn’t even look at the bike.
He: Am ok. Don’t worry carry on. You should have indicated…I couldn’t stop suddenly
Me: I should have. Am really sorry. I am kind of new to this part of town
He: (Smiles & waves )

As I drove from there, a bit shaken, at the first bike crash in so many years of riding, my mind raced back to the fleeting thought of switching on the indicator and after the guy was down. I felt my stomach churn. Was it me ?

Thankfully, that thought was only as fleeting as it could get.
Thankfully, I hadn’t stayed on to that thought.
Thankfully, I said “Sorry”. I could atleast get to see the guy smile, when we left that scene. It was a sad event though, for many an onlooker who had expected a scuffle of sorts. A friend later said, “Thankfully, that guy was on a bike. Imagine if he was on a four wheel drive”.

The positives. Met a friend and her entire family after years. Felt good. Caught up with a former colleague. Watched a SPB concert on TV. Planned something for Gandhi Jayanti (will write about it tomorrow). And paid to attend a training program for the next week !

The last three lines, wiped out all the sweat and the sorrow of all previous lines in this post.

Lifes like that.

The Sunday Post. The week that was !

In more ways than one, the week that was significant !

Uncertainty at work, killed possibilities of productive growth and pathforward. I hope the guys up there have some understanding of this and ensure that things are set up properly, and the stage is set for big battles. Sabre rattling can cause the rank and file to be unnerved and unenthused ! Somebody said, the corner room needs a campaign manager. Well ! Huh !

Some firm resolutions & actions from the personal side, made this week suddenly ‘productive’ ! I fixed some tax issues. Insurance issues. Bank visits and related rig morale. Two public sector banks. One visit went like this.

Me: I have an account with you for a year and half, and am yet to get the promised ATM card.

Customer ‘SERVICE’ Rep” : Without looking up. Am busy today. Come on a week day, at 2.30 PM.

Me: I work far away from here and I cant travel all the way to get an ATM card. (I didn’t want to talk to him about my problems at work !)

CSR: That’s ok. You have to come on a week day

Me: Mister. That’s NOT ok.

CSR: (Looks up. Points to the managers cabin). Please go inside and speak to him.

Me: Huh !

The other public bank, was far lousier. So will not write about it. The health check ups were done. Some sundry payments were made (Its onlyt the payments !!) . Library memberships were done.

Surrendering a Reliance phone took 45 minutes. I had to explain why I had to surrender the phone to three different people, each of whom had the same set of questions. ( I took me 20 minutes to get the connection). And it is still not done ! The process took so much time that I felt like walking up some remote Himalayan jungle.

Wife landed a job, and that is posing requirements of significant changes in our lifestyle. And we have to reinvent ourselves all over again. A challenge worth its time i guess ! I met a long lost friend over lunch. His perspectives were clear. As usual. Sunil is a treat to be with. And in his own way, is so very inspiring.

Another interesting part was to be with students of the National Association for the Blind at a send off for senior blind students. It was both touching and wonderful to see people with such resolve, overcoming obstacles that were thrown at them. When I think of them and what they achieve and how they continue to face life, Customer Service Reps in Public sector banks, and the Reliance phone executives appear as mere specks in a long road ! I intend working closely with these blind kids.

When i look back at the week that went by, there is a quiet satisfaction at what was done. It was good, but could have been better ! Perhaps we’ll be turning the corner for good, quickly. Well, thats the hope. As i write this, i am reminded of the credo from Gita, “Do your duty. Dont worry about the results”.

Am positive the results will come !The new week will bring with it its problems. But I am girding my loins.

Wish me luck.