To Share, Or Not To Share

To Share, Or Not To Share

One thing I learnt in my 6+ years of retail experience is that “jo dikhta hai, wohi bikta hai”. (Translated: “What is seen, is what sells.”)

And showing off the products at my shop was an easy enough thing to do. I just needed to manage the display and the layout and organization of the store in a way that things were visible. I also needed to talk about the utility and possibilities of certain lesser-known items from time to time.

Thing is that the same principle still applies when you venture into a professional field, i.e. where YOU are the product. You’ve got to showcase YOURSELF – your strengths, your achievements, your journey and experience in the field – to be able to sell yourself.

And some people do this brilliantly! They can go on and on, and share – WITH statistics and figures – about themselves.

The last 1.5 years, I got the opportunity to observe and learn from such people, as to how they do this so fluently, and I must say, I have got so much better at this. (Proof – Page 1, Page 2)

It is still not coming easily though. I’m facing a lot of internal resistance. On some points, these “mental blocks” are so strong that a part of me is even willing to switch to a different career altogether, one where I don’t need to talk about myself, or share my story.

It’s taken me over 2 months to dig out all the layers of this monolithic mental monstrosity of monumental proportions… (Yes, a tongue twister, because that is how it’s got my mind all twisted up!)… AND I'm still figuring out how to make any headway through it!

So, what are these “layers” then?

What Keeps People From Sharing Their Story?

  1. Inability to SEE themselves.

    I mentioned in my earlier post on “The Secret To Building Self-Confidence”, about how people sometimes get so adept at doing certain things that they don’t even realize what they’re doing. They may have learnt those skills by unconsciously modeling others, and now, those traits are in their “Blind Spot”. Naturally, they can’t share those of their strengths that they aren’t aware of themselves, right? And while I'm guessing I still don't see myself FULLY, this is not that big a challenge for me now (thankfully!), after all the work I did last year. I DO believe I’ve got enough to keep going.

  2. Critical Environment.

    If you have spent too much time in the company of people who repeatedly belittle you, minimize your achievements, or even respond with sarcasm and mock, or cut you off when you try to speak about some accomplishment or some aspiration, you get “programmed” to NOT talk about these things. The more intense this repeated “shaming”, the more deep-rooted this “aversion” to sharing your story. Such company, coincidently, also fuels point 1 above, as you’re only getting negative feedback, throwing no light on your “good parts”, and in fact PUSHING them more into your blind spot. I am still “UN-programming” this.

  3. Being an Empath.

    One person’s success and achievements can sometimes bring out another person’s insecurities. And empaths are people who go out of their way to make the others around them comfortable. I realized in class VIII, in school, that I had a choice, to deliberately underperform or not perform, if I so wanted. I didn’t know then that this was actually “self-sabotage”, but, I am wiser now, as I realize that this is disrespectful to both yourself AND the people you’re trying to make comfortable by downplaying yourself and, consequently, not giving them a reason to explore their potential.

  4. Survival Stories.

    For some people, success stories are in the form of getting admission into an Ivy League Institution (say Oxford). For some, it is about getting a full-scholarship in the Institution. For some, however, just being able to continue with their education is a battle they’ve had to fight tooth and nail for! And if most of your “major accomplishments” fall in the category that people usually take “for granted”, then it can feel very daunting to not only share those stories in public, but to also earn respect through them.

  5. Fear of Judgement.

    Not so much for yourself (although some people WILL twist things around to portray you as a “victim” instead of a “survivor”), but for the people who put you in this space, because you understand where they’re coming from too, and you don’t want your audience judging THEM negatively, portraying them as some kind of villains. This is the pattern I’m seeing on all the social media pages and accounts I follow that are related to surviving abuse in any way. And for me, this is turning to be “deal breaker” level HUGE, because I believe that people are never ALL black or white. I have not been able to figure out a way around this yet.

  6. “Toxic Positivity” Syndrome.

    I’ve always found it easier to write about funny and “feel good” kinda stuff. On my old blog, self-deprecating humor and inspiration were the 2 types of posts that were most abundant, AND most popular too. On those abuse-related pages I follow, I see the authors getting trolled for “spreading negativity”. But are they really spreading it? Or are they simply addressing the elephant that was already in the room? Then there is also the “Law of Attraction” to consider. Is ignorance a bliss, or does knowledge create self-fulfilling prophecy? But if these pages hadn’t been around to create awareness on such issues, wouldn’t I still be stuck in the narcissistic cycle of “love-bombing, abuse, discard and hoover”? What is the right thing to do here, then?

  7. The “Cinderellas”.

    Then there are also those people, following these social media pages, who take everything PERSONALLY, irrespective of whether the shoe fits or not. And then they start crying foul and attacking the author, even trying to defend and justify their behavior so often. To be fair though, there are the abuse victims too, who gain validation and better understanding of their own experiences. For them, it’s like somebody just gave words to the feelings they were struggling with. And they are also equally expressive with their love and gratitude for the author. So, basically, the interactions on such pages are just so wildly extreme! Am I even capable of handling this emotional “seesaw” yet?

  8. Privacy Concerns.

    I’ve been sharing so many personal stories on my blog, so openly, for so long, and yet, there’s stuff that I simply close-up about. If it is a sticky stress situation, in which I’m unable to write my usual kind of posts, I would go underground even (“hibernate”, as I called it on my old blog). It’s like – “WHY do I need to share it publicly? I don’t need revenge. I don’t need validation…” Okay, in cases of trauma related to abuse (especially gaslighting, where your reality and sanity are questioned), you DO need validation from someone else, but not the ENTIRE “public”! Besides, that’s also only temporary, until YOU start trusting yourself once again. The way I see it, your story – the AUTHENTIC one – is more important for YOU to know than for anyone else. So why share?

  9. Reliving the Trauma.

    Owning and expressing your story is cathartic, yes. At the same time, it also makes you relive all the pain and suffering. Going through the experience over and over again just etches it that much more deeply in your neural system, amplifying and intensifying the hurt. And I see many of these page authors still stuck in their trauma. In the past, whenever I’ve had to journal through a rough patch in life, I’ve always torn those pages off, or deleted the file from my PC. So yeah, this is also kind of like a “deal breaker”. I have been sharing bits and pieces for the last few months, on my FB profile, like a “test drive”, you know… but seriously! Do I even want to do this consistently, even to create awareness about abuse? I don’t know yet. (I actually quite miss interacting with kids at my store… that was so much more positive!)

  10. Your Future Legacy.

    I see these pages on trauma and abuse, and the authors of those pages… I see an “abuse survivor” or a “trauma survivor”. It’s become their identity. I don’t want to be remembered as “a survivor”. ANY survivor. In my world, there is something beyond “surviving”, and that’s “thriving”. I am “a thrivor” (even though it’s not officially a word yet). Surviving is where you’re doing the bare minimum to avoid further damage to yourself. For me, it can only be a temporary healing phase. Whereas, thriving is when you go OUT of your comfort zone, try new things, engage with new experiences, make new mistakes, even get hurt again (Why not! It’s a part of living, isn’t it?)… and then share it all out there, complete with your fumbles and goof-ups and silliness… which brings me to my next point…

  11. WHAT ALL to Share.

    When I came back on FB few months ago, I went through (Read: “stalked”!) the profiles of a lot of big influencers – people with thousands of followers. I even talked to a couple of them, to pick their brain about this. You see, I’m someone who has a LOT of diverse interests, and I keep learning and trying new stuff, and I keep SHARING about my “experiments”, and naturally, not all of them end up a success, right? And sometimes, it’s not even about success or failure… I just do things for the fun of it, like sharing stupid pics using Snapchat filters. For me, they're ALL just stories. Also, I don’t claim to have ALL the answers ALL the time. (How is that even possible when you’re learning NEW things all the time?) I get stuck at times too. Like, this post, for instance. Do I NOT share it then? Do I “censor” actual living parts of myself, to fit into a “role”? Does “social networking” become synonymous with “professional networking”? That IS what I’m seeing mostly, but is it possible for me to be that “unidimensional” – even if just on social media? When authenticity and freedom are my top two values?

I understand that in this new profession, you NEED to share your story, for creating transparency and trust, obviously, AND for building people’s respect and confidence in what you have to offer. I have just not been able to wrap my head around some of these aspects I discussed above so far.

But I also know that I am exceptionally good at this work. I have already worked with some teens (one was a suicidal anorexic!), some trauma/abuse victims, as well as people dealing with relationship issues and loss/grief. I even followed-up with some of them for several months. So I know that what I do makes an actual tangible impact in people's lives.

Basically, the crux of this loooong post is that along with clarity of “WHAT you want to do” and “WHY you want to do it”, you also need clarity of the CONSEQUENCES of doing it. Then only, you can figure out an effective “HOW to do it”. And some of these consequences seem to be a major turn-off for me at the moment.

I don’t really think it’s going to stop me though. It’s probably just going to take some time to figure my way out through this. Since I haven’t yet found a “precedent” whom I can model, I’ll have to CREATE my own working model, through my trusty ol’ “trial-and-error” methodology.

Well, at least I love experimenting… that's one thing going for me, huh?

Here's more in MyMusings...

10 Personal Skills Of Narendra Modi That Truly Inspire Me

10 Personal Skills Of Narendra Modi That Truly Inspire Me

Before I begin, let me make one thing clear. This post is only about Narendra Modi's PERSONAL skills that inspire me — his qualities that I look up to. It has got nothing to do with politics. I am not affiliated with any political party in the country. This post is not even a "performance review" of Narendra Modi's tenure in politics. It is only and ONLY about him as a person, and what all I've learnt from him, by watching him at his work, and the way he deals with people, AND with his life challenges.

I know... quite a few people still hate Narendra Modi from the bottom of their heart. Some because of his humble background and less-than-stellar formal education. Some because he leads a "Hindu Nationalist Party". Some because of his connection with the RSS. And some simply hate him because they are not right-wing. Fair enough. To each, his own.

For the context of this post though, all these things are not really relevant.

What if Narendra Modi was not a political leader? What if he was an actor, like Aamir Khan? Or a cricketer, like my favorites Rahul Dravid and Dhoni? What if he was a legendary music maestro, like late Shri R. D. Burman? Or any other public figure, really? ("Public" obviously, because then only we would know so much about him, right?)

This post is about his 10 *personal* skills that would still inspire me. And I request you to read it in THAT light, without all the "labels" attached to him.

I originally published this post on my old blog, in April 2019. And today, on the historic milestone of the "100th episode of Mann Ki Baat", when Narendra Modi started the program by saying said that "Mann Ki Baat has become a great medium to learn from the qualities of others", it was like a "full circle" for me, because it reminded me of all HIS qualities that I have learnt from.

Resharing the original post below, from 2019, differentiated by its font-color. Some minor edits in places have been highlighted in purple.

. . .

10 Personal Skills Of Narendra Modi That Have Personally Inspired Me

  1. His Optimism.

    Time to confess. I was (and, at the time of jotting down this list in 2019, still am, to some extent) one of those "nirashavadi" people (pessimists) that he often talked about in his speeches. His optimism, and faith in the people of this country, seemed downright stupid to me. Every time, he talked about making "Smart Cities", my mental response was "Oh really! And how are you going to do that without smart people?"

    Narendra Modi's inspirational Optimism

    Five years ago (NINE now), when he first became PM, I used to hear his big plans for this country, and seriously believe that he was making castles in the air. Idealistic, yes. Grand, yes. But, still more like fantasies. I was a true cynic, in all sense. And then I continued to watch him work — with the same people, the same bureaucracy, the same media and government systems.

    And then Demonetization happened.

    I was stunned at the way the people of this country stood with him, as one, in all those long queues in front of banks, as well as BEHIND the counters in those SAME banks! That was the first time I experienced the tiniest flicker of hope for my country. That maybe, just maybe...

  2. His Energy.

    Another confession. In 2013 end, when he had started campaigning for the General Elections, I was fighting serious health issues, both physical and mental/emotional. (A 6-year long relationship, involving narcissistic abuse, had finally landed me into the ER and then the ICU, with a broken body AND a broken mind.) And I would watch him hold TWO rallies almost every day, at the age of over 60 years. Even in peak North Indian summers. And not show a trace of exhaustion on his face or in his voice.

    And then I used to watch him on his foreign trips. Multiple places on one trip. Attending meetings, conferences, and speeches, one after the other. Along with various cultural events planned in his honor. Even sleeping in his plane. And again, no trace of jet lag or fatigue. Looking fresh and vibrant as ever.

    Narendra Modi's inspirational Energy

    His energy and fighting spirit literally FORCED ME to find more strength inside me. "If he can do it at this age, I have absolutely no excuse to give up." That was the thought in my mind that time, that kept me going from one day to the next.

  3. His Passion and Dedication.

    My regular readers (of the old blog) know how much I admire Aamir Khan and Dravid for their dedication towards their respective fields. Narendra Modi has also become a part of that group.

    If he sets his mind on doing something, then he totally commits himself to it. Doesn't matter how difficult it is, or how much time or effort it takes. He would stay up the whole night, if he has to, but he WILL do it. He works, not like a machine or a robot, but like a person who enjoys his work and takes pride in it.

    Narendra Modi's inspirational Passion and Dedication

    And it shows, doesn't it? In his work, in his speeches, in his team. I'm even beginning to see a small spill-over effect on the ground! His passion seems to be contagious. It has started affecting the rest of the country too now!

  4. His Willingness To Learn.

    He doesn't have fancy professional degrees. He's not even well-versed in English. But he has never allowed that to lower his self confidence, or let it become an excuse for NOT doing something.

    He stays abreast of technology, treats it like his friend, and leaves no opportunity to learn about all the new advances in every field.

    My God. I've had so much of a better start in life than him. I've been working with technology (software part of it, at least) since I was 11. And still, I get scared at times! And then I again have to "pep-talk" myself... "If he can learn all this, at THIS AGE, seriously, what excuse DO I possibly have?"

    Narendra Modi's inspirational Willingness To Learn

  5. His Humility.

    About a decade ago, I was very much into reading spiritual stuff. My then Reiki teacher would share bits and pieces with me, and one such bit was about the challenges we all have to face during our spiritual journey. I remember reading that whenever anybody came into a lot of power, it would simultaneously be accompanied by the challenge to keep his/her ego under control and remain detached to that power.

    (Note: While I don't remember that entire article, I do remember this part, because we discussed it in the context of Reiki Grandmastership, that when new Reiki Grandmasters get exposed to students touching their feet and treating them like some kind of celebrity or God, it often gets to their head. And then they fail this challenge on their own spiritual path.)

    So, naturally I tend to notice how Narendra Modi remains grounded, even as half the nation worships him as a God. AND some portion of the global population too!

    Narendra Modi's inspirational Humility

    He bows down at the steps of the Parliament before entering it for the first time as PM. He literally bursts into tears when his seniors, his mentors, try to treat him any differently after his ascent. He forbids his ministers to touch his feet. If he meets anyone older than him, HE touches their feet instead. And in all his speeches that I have heard so far, he keeps emphasizing that all this love and admiration is for the "elected head of this country", AND for the "125 crore (138 crore now) people of the country", and NOT for Narendra Modi personally.

  6. His Oratorial Skills.

    In my early blogging days here (2007-2008 maybe), few people tried to pull me down because I have a very simple style of writing. No creative word puns. No big GRE level words. No hi-fi vocabulary. I don't even follow the rules of sentence construction all the time.

    I got so demotivated that I actually started questioning my abilities as a writer. But then, suddenly, three different people — who I wasn't even aware were reading my blog — happened to casually mention to me that they LIKED reading my posts, and for THAT very reason, that they are EASY to read. The exact phrase one of them used was — "not heavy".

    Narendra Modi's inspirational Oratorial Skills

    Narendra Modi's speeches are also like that — "not heavy". He speaks in a way that even the uneducated villagers can understand what he's saying. Like he is one of them. Which he is, actually, in a way.

    (Note: As I'm writing this, I remember that during my training for Dell Technical Support, we were actually trained to NOT use too much technical jargon, and just keep it simple basically.)

  7. His People Skills.

    Basic rules of good PR:
    1) listen to what people say
    2) remember little details about them
    3) appreciate them

    He follows all three. Plus, he's a great storyteller. He has all these small-small stories, from all the places he has traveled to, and he narrates them whenever there is an opportunity, using them to connect to some point he wants to convey.

    Narendra Modi's inspirational People Skills

    Every time he goes to a new place, he makes an effort to find out what that place is special for, and uses that to make an instant connect with the people he is addressing there. He adapts, to whatever group of people he is with... in the stories he shares, the words he uses, the questions he asks... so that they are able to relate with him.

    He gives credit where it's due. Appreciates people whole-heartedly. Comes across as someone who is very much approachable.

  8. His Independent Will.

    Being able to have an independent will is quite difficult in India. The parents, the relatives, the society — they leave no stone unturned to make you conform to their set standards.

    I personally know of so many Indians, of my generation, with high professional qualifications, even some who have studied and worked abroad for quite a few years, but who still lack the strength of will to go against the norm, and especially their parents' wishes. And, Narendra Modi managed to develop such a high level of independent thinking and assertiveness so many years BEFORE my generation!

    Narendra Modi's inspirational Independent Will

    Going off to the mountains to connect with his spirituality, giving up his personal life to become a public servant, holding his own when he is invited for lunch/dinner during his Navratra fast, and even being able to say "NO" to any relatives/friends who might have wanted any "extra favors" from him in all these years.

    Honestly, how does he do THAT?

  9. His Courage.

    Suppose you've been in an accident that has left your face badly scarred. Like really horrible, you know, that people don't even want to be seen in your company. No amount of plastic surgery can remove those scars. And it makes no difference whether that accident was your fault or somebody else's, because either way, YOU have to live with that face for the rest of your life.

    Every day you go out for work, a lot of people will ONLY choose to see those scars, and it is up to you... whether you want to hide in a hole for the rest of your life, or you want to go out and face the world head on, and do something that will make them look beyond the scars.

    Narendra Modi chose the latter. He chose to let those scars become a map to guide him in future.

    Narendra Modi's inspirational Courage

  10. His "Lotus" Nature. (No connection to his party symbol)

    Few years ago, I came to know about Nichiren Buddhism, the philosophy of the "Lotus" Sutra, which states that you don't need to denounce the world to become an enlightened 'Buddha'. It gives the analogy of the lotus flower that blooms in muddy swamps. It also emphasizes on the concept of "Value Creation" — of creating something of value out of any circumstances, even adverse ones.

    I read this concept, in theory, in the books of this philosophy. And then Narendra Modi demonstrated it to me in practical.

    They ridiculed his "deviation from protocol" at his first awkward international hug, but he made this "jaadu ki jhappi" the new international protocol. They made fun of his humble beginnings as a tea vendor. He made a brand out of "Chai pe Charcha with Modi".

    Whatever they throw AGAINST him, he makes it all work FOR him. All the criticism, and the mockery, and the snobbery... he creates value out of everything. The more mud they sling at him, the more he blooms.

    I wish someday I can achieve THAT level of wisdom — to be able to create such high value out of anything life throws at ME.

. . .

So, these were the 10 personal skills of Narendra Modi that inspired me enough to write about them 4 years ago, and probably not just me, but millions of other people too, all across the world. And while I may or may not agree with all his policy decisions as the nation's head, (Frankly, I don't think I even have that much of political accumen, or enough data, to be a fair judge of all those decisions!) I DO admire him as a person, and continue to inculcate within me, all his above mentioned skills, more and more deeply, not just in theory, but in spirit.

When I originally wrote this post 4 years ago, I didn't know anything about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), but now I can see he is using it so adeptly, in practically everything he does. In fact, I was trying to imbibe all these qualities of his with no knowledge of NLP, whereas NLP actually provides a structured, systematic METHOD to model successful behavior of people.

And now I am a Certified NLP Trainer.

Like I said — FULL CIRCLE.

How about you?
Do you have a role model?
What kind of people do you look up to?
What kind of personal skills inspire you to become a better version of yourself?
If you could model any three people of the world, who would you choose, and for what skills?

Picture Credit: The credit for all original images used in these collages and captioned pics goes to You can get the images from there to make your own collage or captions, but please link back to this post if you're using one of mine. Thanks.

Here's more in MySpotlight...


Space, in relationships

They say that “distance makes the heart grow fonder”. They also say that “out of sight, out of mind”. So, which one do you believe?

LOL! That’s the thing about these quotations – they go both ways.

They are commitment phobic then?

Um, I don’t think so. I think they just want to teach us that all behaviour is relevant to the specific situation or context, and that the same behaviour may or may not be appropriate in different situations, based on our end objective, and ALSO that the same behaviour could even hold different MEANING in different contexts.

As such, we should exercise careful prudence while choosing what behaviour to adopt at a given moment, and EVEN while trying to INTERPRET someone else’s behaviour!

For instance, SPACE. Or distance in relationships. Why do you think people sometimes seem to pull back, or withdraw, in relationships? They don't interact as much, or maybe not at all even! This "silence" - is it necessarily a cause for concern?

Not always, actually. It’s meaning can, in fact, range from outright toxic to completely harmless, to even thoughtful. Let me show you how…

Distance in Relationships: What Does It Mean?

  1. Overwhelm.

    Sometimes, you may be just plain and simple “too exhausted” to deal with that sh*t then and there. You don’t have the bandwidth. There’s TOO MUCH on your platter already—too many files open in your mind—so that you feel too overwhelmed to take on anything else.

    It’s okay to give yourself some time to recharge and recover your faculties, so that you can come back later and address the situation with all your resources at hand and in top form.

    You may even take a temporary time-out from talking about just that one subject (maybe a topic of disagreement, or maybe a critical decision-making that requires extra alertness on your part), while continuing your interactions about other “lighter” things.

    Such “personal time-outs” are usually short, but can last for several weeks too, depending upon the complexity of the situation you’re in.

  2. De-escalation.

    Sometimes, situations get too “intense” in relationships. Too much of anger, not enough understanding. Too much of meaning-making, not enough listening.

    In the heat of the moment, when you’re too caught up in yourself, it may be difficult to see the larger implications of your words and actions, and how they can affect the other person, especially in front of people who are not even directly involved in the situation (unwitting witnesses to your personal drama).

    In those moments, it is BEST to step away for a bit – go off on your own maybe, cool down, gather your thoughts, look at the situation from a different angle, try to see it from other people’s points of views as well, process things that you might have missed or overlooked while you were “in” the situation – and then come back to start afresh from a calm place once again.

    In healthy relationships, such “thoughtful” distances are usually appreciated and respected. And yes, these are also typically short-duration, lasting from a few hours to a few days at the most.

  3. Self-preservation.

    Sometimes, though, situations with certain people don’t just become intense, they turn into abuse, where every word coming out of your mouth is attacked, or worse – where you find you can’t even get in a word.

    OR, you may find yourself in situations with people where, instead of discussing/addressing your ACTUAL concern, you are suddenly defending yourself against something you NEVER even said or did. That last one—projection and blame shifting (a.k.a. deflection)—is a classic technique of abuse in the form of gaslighting.

    If you suspect you’re being gaslit, then not only does it become vital for you to put some space between yourself and the abuser, it also becomes equally important for you to IMMEDIATELY connect to and surround yourself with your SAFE TRIBE, preferably OUTSIDE of your common circle with the abuser, because gaslighters, on being "stood up to", typically react by socially isolating you and starting a smear campaign against you in shared spaces. They may also "provoke" you into "reacting" in your shared group, to portray YOU as the abuser instead.

  4. Silent Treatment.

    Sometimes, distance is used as a form of discipline or punishment in relationships. This is where it gets very subjective and can even lead to a lot of victim-blaming at times.

    For example, person A was repeatedly disrespecting and overstepping person B’s boundaries, EVEN AFTER BEING ASKED NOT TO. So, B eventually distances himself from A, to let A know that this behaviour is unacceptable. That should be okay, right? Person B is only trying to protect his OWN space. So this is "self-preservation, actually, and not "silent treatment".

    But what if A, instead, cuts-off B, until B apologizes for disturbing the "status quo" in the relationship and agrees to make things exactly as they were (i.e. when A had a free hand to pull all the strings)? THAT, in fact, is "abusive control", irrespective of who is doing it, or how “CLOSE AND OLD” the relationship is.

    When silence is used as a tactic to control the power dynamics of a relationship, and to EFFECTUALLY make one person “subservient” to the other, then it becomes manipulative and unhealthy.

  5. Healing.

    Sometimes though, you don’t just need space from ONE person, or even a specific group of persons. You may, instead, need to take some time out from people in general. You may choose to leave some communication channels open, but basically, you’re in a "limited contact" mode.

    Because you want to protect your other relationships from some “acquired” negativity that you’re in the process of flushing out of your system.

    AND because you want to protect yourself from ending up in yet another toxic/manipulative relationship, in your current state of emotional vulnerability.

    But MOST IMPORTANTLY, because you need that space to heal your mind and emotions. You need that extra ME-TIME, to love and nurture yourself, in as many ways as you need, for as long as you need. You need to give YOURSELF undivided attention, to listen and to validate and to reassure, AND ALSO to celebrate and reward yourself for surviving through the sh*tstorm (whatever it was).

    Sometimes, you need some space from others in order to get close to yourself.

Sometimes, you need some space from others in order to get close to yourself.

People are inherently different from each other. They need varying degrees of space in relationships, and for varying reasons.

I once knew this person who took off on his own, for many many months, to do some volunteer work in a remote village, with absolutely no network connectivity, in order to process his grief in solitude. I also know people who use the "silent treatment" method very expertly, to manipulate others around them. AND I know people (including myself) who have had to completely distance themselves from some such people.

I, personally, am anyway someone who needs a LOT of space for proper functioning. That's, in fact, one of the few things I discovered accepted about myself recently, but that deserves it's own complete post.

What about you, by the way? Are you someone who likes to take off on your own at times? Or maybe that's the norm for you and not the exception? If yes, then what makes you do it? What is it, about solitude, that you like the most?

What about toxic "silent treatment"? Have you ever been on the receiving end of it? How did that make you feel? Also, have you ever been on the GIVING end of it? If yes, then what made it so essential for you to exercise such absolute control over another living being?

Have you ever had to go "no contact" with anyone? By your own choice? If yes, then how long did it actually take you to reach that "point of no return"? What made you ignore or overlook all the "red flags" all that while?

Here's more in MyMusings...

10 Bookish Challenges Only Bookworms Have To Deal With

10 Bookish Challenges Only Bookworms Have To Deal With

Book lovers seem to have it all sorted out, don't they? They never seem to have any boredom problem. They never mind waiting in long queues. Many of them, in fact, actually LIKE lengthy commutes. They never seem to stress over weekend-plans. They don't care if the Cable TV is not working. Or even the internet. Wherever they are, they simply pull a book out of their bag or the bookshelf, and time seems to just fly for them.

Totally zen, right?


Book lovers also have challenges. A very UNIQUE set of challenges, as a matter of fact. Listed below are 10 bookish challenges that only a bookworm would know and understand, for these are 10 challenges that only a book lover ever has to face and deal with.

10 Bookish Challenges Only Book Lovers Can Relate To

  1. Budget management

    They keep releasing new books (that you want to read) faster than your salary.

    Every month, you tell yourself - "I won't buy any new books next month." But come next month's paycheck, and once again, you end up buying more books than your budget would allow!

    You go to the store to pick up "only five" books from your wish-list, and you end up bagging 15 more that just "caught your eye".

    You don't have any savings, but you HAVE a house full of books. Ain't that the story of your life now?

  2. Space management

    At first you run out of shelf space for your books. So you buy more cabinets.

    Eventually, you run out of cabinet space too. And before you know it, you need a bigger house, just to accommodate your insanely expanding home library.

    But you can't afford a bigger house, 'coz of point number 1 above.

    That's when you grudgingly decide you need to start using Kindle! 😜

  3. Time management

    (My personal nightmare.) You have your entire day's "to-do list" in front of you, but you just want to finish this "one last chapter".

    Oh but the plot is hanging on such a major suspense point.

    So you try to sneak in one more chapter, on the sly. And then one more. And... oops!

    No work done in the house. Nothing to eat. Sleep has become an elusive lover. And you're constantly eyeing your TBR pile. And wishing you had 4 extra days PER DAY just to read.

  4. Fantasy and escapism

    (Another personal nightmare.) You get so involved in the book's story-line that you are unable to separate fiction and reality.

    Are you here? Or are you there?

    You are like a zombie. The characters of the book seem more real to you than the people you live and work with. You seem to get trapped in THEIR world, THEIR adventure, THEIR life's drama.

    And your own family members?

    What family members? Oh you mean these strangers? I wonder why they are always nagging me! [shakes head in incomprehension and goes back to book]

  5. Emotion management

    Managing your emotions can be a serious bookish challenge if, like me, you are a sensitive and imaginative reader who tends to get completely absorbed in the fictitious world of the plot. There are -

    • Embarrassing "public-giggling attacks"... in local trains, buses, office cabs, cafeterias... you name it!

    • Angry outbursts... when you realize that the book you just finished has a sequel that's not yet been published, so you'll have to WAIT... to find out how the story ends.

    • Week-long depressions... when you finish a long series, like Lord Of The Rings... because you just weren't ready to say "Goodbye" to your new friends yet.

    Oh, and Heaven help you if one of your favorite characters dies in a book! (I went into shock when Dumbledore died in the Harry Potter series.)

  6. Book hangovers(?)

    Ok be honest now.

    After reading Harry Potter, how many times did you try to use the "Accio" charm to summon random objects to you, because you felt too lazy to get up from your bed?

    Or tried to research the history of ancient Egypt on Wikipedia, after reading Wilbur Smith's Egyptian Series?

    Or tried to be Mark Watney (of The Martian) and grow potatoes in your own sh*t? 🤣🤣🤣

    Ummm no, I don't think any of you would have done that! 😜😜😜

    Or did you? 😁😁😁

  7. No social life

    Because you're a social snob.

    You judge people on whether they read or not. You even judge them on their choice of books.

    On top of it, you're ALSO a social recluse.

    You'd rather curl up on the sofa with a good book than attend some long-lost cousin's wedding, or get drunk at the local pub with a bunch of noisy friends, or watch some sweaty, over-aggressive players chase a ball over a field (or kick one, it's all one and the same anyway)...!

    Bottom-line: You'd rather be with a book than with a real person. Period.

  8. Relationship management

    First of all, you don't HAVE that many relationships, 'coz that would require you to pull your nose out of your books once in a while.

    But the few who're just mandatorily there... i.e. your immediate family and close friends... you can never figure out how to NOT get irritated at them for interrupting you in the middle of EVERY SINGLE BOOK you read!

    And if a friend borrows a book from you and loses/damages it?

    What friend? Whose friend? Who needs any friends? Huhh! [jerks head in anger and goes back to book]

  9. Dealing with crappy movie adaptations

    Because you have read the original masterpiece.

    You KNOW what happens in the plot. You know EXACTLY what each character says and does. You even know exactly what s/he THINKS and FEELS!

    So you find it very irritating when they omit half of the book from the movie, 'coz then every time you see the movie, you have to read the book again to fill in the blanks, no?

    And you hate it when they change a character so much that you can't even recognize him/her from the book. (Like they did to Frodo in Lord Of The Rings.)

  10. Bookish choices

    You spend an hour at the bookstore, shortlisting books you want to buy... and then ANOTHER half hour, deciding which ones to leave this time, 'coz you only have so much money that day.

    You stand in front of your bookcase like a statue, wondering which book you ought to start on next -- one from your TBR pile, or one of your old favorites again.

    And if someone asks you to talk about your favorite book?

    Whaaattt? ONE favorite book? ONLY ONE? [opens mouth to speak, closes it without saying anything, repeats... repeats again, and again... scratches head in disbelief and goes back to book]

Now you see? The life of a bookworm is not so easy after all. It is full of weird bookish challenges that only book lovers would be able to understand and relate with.

So, are you a bookworm too?
How many of these bookish challenges have you had to deal with?
Which one of these is your biggest personal nightmare?
Have you faced any other bookish challenges, apart from the ones listed above?

Here's more in MySunnyVibes...

Mother... and No Mother!

Mother... and No Mother!

She's your source
of all inspiration.
She encourages you
to surpass your limitation.

She's the cool soft moonlight
wherein dreams are born.
She's the smile
that sets right all wrong.

Her belief in you
makes you believe yourself.
Her pride in you
makes you proud of yourself.

She celebrates
every tiny step you take.
And when you stumble and fall,
she helps you up and calls for a "retake".

Against the harsh criticism of the world,
she's an impenetrable armour.
Through her eyes, you're able to see
the perfection that you truly are.

She protects you from the
scorching sun and stormy waters of life.
She is the cord that connects you
to planet 'home', through all the strife.

. . . . .

But then one day...
she's gone.
Just like that.
No goodbyes.
No parting hugs.
No final words of wisdom.
Not even the gentle reassurance, that
"Don't be afraid, I'll watch over you."

You feel betrayed,
You want to scream,
smash everything that is breakable.
You want to complain to Dad,
about her leaving you like that.
You want to cry...
cry soooo much.

But, you are told by "well wishers",
to check those tears
and "be strong".
You keep waiting to hear the words,
"Your mother is gone, but...
we're still here; we'll look after you."

Instead, all you get to hear is,
"Now YOU have to look after your Dad and sister."

. . . . .

More than 14 years later,
you're still left wondering "Why?"
Why are you the only one
who doesn't need "looking after"?

And then you wonder
if you're made of some different stuff?
Stuff like old Arnie was made of, perhaps,
in Terminator II?

You wonder why you're unable to
see yourself the way others apparently do?
Like a robot. Or the Superman.
Or maybe the Mount Everest?

you just come to the conclusion...
that maybe those "others"
need to start wearing glasses!

. . . . .

I originally published this post on my old blog, 12 years ago, in February 2011. Decided to share it today on my new blog as well, because today is my mom's birthday. (Or at least, it would have been if she'd still been around. As things turned out though, she never even made it to her 41st birthday!)

Mother's Smile Sets Everything Right

As a matter of fact, I was randomly browsing through my old blog today, going through all the posts that were related to my mom and her sister - my mausi. (Mausi also passed away a few years ago, and, for me, they both carried such similar energetic signatures that it felt like losing mom all over again!)

And as I was reading those posts again today, I realized that some of them will never make it into THIS blog. They are part of a different version of me -- a version that is already healed now. They don't quite belong here now. Still, it felt good going through them again today and noticing, from a detached kind of point of view, the different "shades" of grief that one might go through...

For instance, this post shared above today...

It is so clearly demarcated in THREE very distinct parts:

  1. With mother - All rhyme and rhythm, positive words and emotions, tenderness, deep-rooted sense of security... in your own being and in your connection with the world.

  2. Sudden (and, in my case, unexpected too) loss of mother - Completely devoid of rhyme or reason, so much pain and anguish... WANTING to express itself, but bottled up, a sense of disbelief and incognizance.

  3. 14-years later - Still unable to make sense, still no rhythm, the anger and hurt replaced by confusion, so many questions, and finally... the beginning of accepting your vulnerability...

Interestingly, ALL THREE parts were written as one single post, AT ONE GO, 14 years after my mom's death. Yet, all three of them are so different in their style and mood.

Isn't it amazing how, just by accessing and RE-LIVING different past moments, we can bring out noticeable differences in our writing?

This is, in fact, just the reverse of what I did in the other post I shared here about my mom - That Last Night - in which I DISTANCED myself from the experience, to be able to better write about it. (You can click on that link to check out that post if you haven't already read it.)

Both these techniques (of re-living and distancing) are actually covered in Neuro Linguistic Programming (of which I am now a certified Trainer), and they have many more applications, other than in writing.

So let's play a quick game in the comments...

Can you think of where else they can be useful? What other fields? What kind of situations?

Here's more in MyShowcase...

Reflections 2022: The Year That Was

Reflections 2022: The Year That Was

So, another adventurous year comes to pass. 2022. I say “adventurous” because that’s what it was for me. Not much of what I had planned for the year ACTUALLY happened. Yet, all that DID happen was so much better, AND MORE IMPORTANT, than what I had originally planned.

Don’t want to go into the details, but the one MAIN thing that I DO want to record here—which was the highlight of the year for me—was that I finally started focusing on myself too. That, you could say, was the central theme of the year for me. If I were to describe MY 2022 in one word, that would be it – SELF.

2022 In A Nutshell for Me

Up until very recently, I had always been more of an “Others’ Oriented” person. I would make decisions based on what would be right for others, instead of me. I would think about others’ happiness and completely overlook mine. I never even bothered to think about what I liked, enjoyed doing, or wanted in life.

Remember Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride (1999), who had no clue about what kind of eggs she liked? Yupp. You get the picture.

But this last year was a major shift for me in this aspect of my personality. Let me sum up the key points below. These are more for my own future reference, so just jotting them down quickly in points…


I seemed to have acquired a lot of nonsensical beliefs about my identity, my capabilities, my so-called responsibilities (“shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”, “musts” and “mustn’ts”). Did a major mental “Diwali ki safai” (“Spring cleaning”, for the non-Indians reading this post!), in terms of my…

  • Self-identity – who I am, my values, my goals and aspirations, my competencies…
  • Self-talk – whether it is critical or appreciative, who all are controlling my mental narratives…
  • Self-awareness – of MY needs, thoughts and feelings at any given point of time…
  • Self-acceptance – of my dreams and desires, my feelings, my uniqueness, my strengths and even my weaknesses, without being judgemental…


Previously, I was allowing people to do anything or say anything to me, simply because they were “close” to me. But “love and connection” is no longer more important to me than “respect”, and this shift has enabled me to develop, AND enforce, strong healthy boundaries in my relationships (even if at the cost of some of those relationships), in the way of…

  • Self-preservation – I now CHOOSE what I let into my mind, especially the criticism directed at me, and the "belittlement" masked as "joke"…
  • Self-conservation – my time is precious, so are my dreams and needs, hence ‘NO’ to others' drama!
  • Self-appreciation – no more self-deprecating humor guised as my ‘super powers’, now I genuinely know what is good about me!
  • Self-motivation – knowledge of what I want, what is important to me, and what are my abilities… now leaves no space for any kind of self-sabotage.


Earlier, I had allowed other people’s narratives about me to shape my self-esteem. Because I used to “buy into” whatever they said. Because I gave THEM more importance than myself. But now I have started SEEING myself too, as an equal, and have finally started getting a true measure of my own value, which is reflected in my…

  • Self-confidence – having made these two DETAILED lists of my past achievements and my skills helped majorly!
  • Self-development – even at this age, I’m constantly challenging myself, stretching my wings, learning SO FAST…
  • Self-expression – asserting myself, instead of bottling up my thoughts and ideas and feelings, even if the other person is hell bent on hammering his/her own narrative into me.
  • Self-worth – a lot of what I previously believed I DON’T deserve, no longer makes any sense…


Being able to look at myself with the same joy and wonder that I see others with, being able to go all out to nurture myself, ALL aspects of myself, the way I have always stood strong for my loved ones… this is the part that is, at the time of writing this post, very much in “conscious competence” for me, but at least I have started making progress in it, including…

  • Self-forgiveness – showing myself the same compassion and kindness when I make mistakes…
  • Self-trust – having unconditional faith in my dreams, abilities, feelings, and my inner knowing…
  • Self-care – pampering myself, making time for quality sleep, exercise, food, and my hobbies, wearing clothes I like, having fun…
  • Self-gratitude – celebrating myself each day, deliberate mindful indulgence in things I enjoy…

While all this was not a conscious part of my plans for 2022, now, when I look back, I realize that these internal resources would be vital for me STICKING to the plans that I DID make, and would also propel me to move towards them with full confidence and conviction in myself.

2022 has been an “unexpected” year, in a good way.

I got to meet ME.

I wish the same for you too, for this new year…

Happy New Year 2023

Here's more in MySunnyVibes...

Book Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Book Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, is an intricately penned story of one man coming to terms with the mutable past. It is a story about the subjectivity of memory, and how it creates unreliable histories, because...

“what you end up remembering isn't always the same as what you have witnessed.”

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2011, this 160-page novella is truly a literary masterpiece loaded with dexterity and insight.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. (Many thanks, if you choose to support me this way.)

The Sense of an Ending

Author: Julian Barnes
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Literature, Literary Fiction
First Published: 2011
Format: Paperback, 160 pages

Book Blurb:

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

The central theme of The Sense of an Ending :

“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.”

How often indeed? We choose to remember only that which we want to remember. We modify our own memories, even implant false memories at times, just to write our life stories the way we want to believe it all happened.

For example, a doting wife would conveniently ignore the flaws in her husband, even if they were visible to the entire world, just because she's cast him in the role of "her knight in shining armour"! And a man might convince himself to believe that his love interest is married to someone else, even when there is not a shred of evidence towards this, just because he happens to relate with the Indian 'devdaas' character!

As Julian Barnes has so aptly highlighted in his book, The Sense of an Ending, human memory is indeed subjective and quite unreliable.

The main characters of The Sense of an Ending :

  1. Tony Webster is the narrator of this story - an average, self-centered guy, who, like most of us, has...
    "settled for the realities of life, and submitted to its necessities".
    His youthful ambitions and inspirations have given way to "maturity" and "practicality", and he just allows himself to be swept with the tide, rather than try making any waves.

    As he narrates his version of the story, he is very much aware of this "subjectivity" of his memory, and constantly points this out, portraying himself as an unreliable narrator. And while his life...
    "didn't turn out to be like Literature"...
    he's more-or-less content with it, with...
    "Some achievements and some disappointments."
    Until he's bequeathed an unexpected legacy of 500 pounds, which makes him re-visit his past and question his memories. But does he find the answers he's looking for? Is he able to make peace with his past eventually?

  2. Adrian Finn is Tony's old school friend, who analyses life and relationships in mathematical equations, adds a philosophical angle to everything, and is very much concerned with apportioning responsibility and blame for every little event in history.

    He seems to know clearly what he wants from life. His teachers and peers think of him as nothing short of a genius.

    Until his sudden suicide, with a note for the coroner, saying...
    "life is a gift bestowed without anyone asking for it; that the thinking person has a philosophical duty to examine both the nature of life and the conditions it comes with; and that if this person decides to renounce the gift no one asks for, it is the moral and human duty to act on the consequences of that decision."
    But was his suicide really the answer to a philosophical question? Was it really any different from their sixth-form classmate Robson's suicide, who got a girl pregnant in his youth, couldn't face the consequences, so ended his life? And was he really justified in holding Tony responsible for the events of his life?

  3. Veronica Ford was Tony's university girlfriend, who, according to Tony's perspective, dumped him and started dating Adrian, Tony's smarter friend, only to spite Tony!

    But was she really the "bitch" Tony believed her to be? Or was she "damaged goods" as her mom made her out to be? Does the book lead to a romantic reunion between her and Tony?

I was instantly hooked to the writing style of The Sense of an Ending, because it almost seemed like Tony Webster's personal blog--his experiences, his memories, his feelings, his perspectives. Very much like my own MugOfMuse, you know, complete with its humble "disclaimer" that the observations are "restricted to the extent of my perception" and "may not necessarily hold any truth/validity"!

In fact, just like MugOfMuse, it even tends to ramble on a bit at times - not serving any purpose in the advancement of the plot, yet playing a vital role in describing the character of the narrator.

And Barnes' insights about life and people are just so astute! For instance...

“How time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but we were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time... give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical.”

And another deep one about time...

“The time-deniers say: forty’s nothing, at fifty you’re in your prime, sixty’s the new forty, and so on. I know this much: that there is objective time, but also subjective time, the kind you wear on the inside of your wrist, next to where the pulse lies. And this personal time, which is the true time, is measured in your relationship to memory. So when this strange thing happened – when these new memories suddenly came upon me – it was as if, for that moment, time had been placed in reverse.”

Here's one on the complexity of relationships...

“What if you can prove you weren't the bad guy she took you for, and she is willing to accept your proof?”

“You're doing it for yourself, of course. You're wanting to leave that final memory, and make it a pleasant one. You want to be well thought of...”

My top personal favorites though are...

“History isn't the lies of the victors, as I once glibly assured Old Joe Hunt; I know that now. It's more the memories of the survivors, most of whom are neither victorious or defeated.”


“I certainly believe we all suffer damage, one way or another. How could we not, except in a world of perfect parents, siblings, neighbours, companions? And then there is the question, on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it, and how this affects our dealings with others. Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it; some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and then there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of.”

Despite being such a short book, The Sense of an Ending weaves a complex web of real-life characters. People who aren't just simple "black-and-white". People you can relate to. People whose personalities are revealed to you layer after layer, just like in real life.

The suspense keeps you turning the pages, and yet, the depth of the philosophical insights in the book makes you stop reading every now and then, and reflect on your own life instead. The book sucks you right into the plot and keeps you there for a long time, even after you've finished reading it!

My rating: 5 out of 5. The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, is a disturbing, yet, an elegantly composed, thought-provoking tale about time and aging, memory and remorse, mistakes and disappointments, responsibility and blame. HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

Buy this book from: |
Check out other books by Julian Barnes on: |
Here's more in MySpotlight...

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian, by Andy Weir, is, in short "Apollo 13 meets Cast Away" or "Robinson Crusoe in space". It is a story about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars, after a freak accident that should have actually killed him, but didn't. It is a gripping narrative of surviving against all odds, of resourcefulness and ingenuity in the face of adversity.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. (Many thanks, if you choose to support me this way.)

The Martian

Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction, Contemporary, Action & Adventure, Space, Survival
First Published: 2015
Format: Paperback, 384 pages

Book Blurb:

I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m fucked.

I saw the movie adaptation of The Martian before I read the book. I didn't even know then that it was based on a novel. I was actually searching for a different movie (My Favorite Martian), but I found this instead, and Matt Damon on the cover image caught my interest. I simply LOVED the movie!

Weeks later, I was raving about it on someone else's post on Facebook, and a common friend happened to mention "the book has a lot more details". That's when I found out there was a book behind the movie. Naturally, I had to order it immediately! Guess what! I loved the book so much that I read it THRICE within a month of ordering it!

The Martian, by Andy Weir, is the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut who is a part of the crew of the third manned mission to Mars. He gets accidentally left behind on Mars when his crew mates are forced to abort mission due to a severe sand storm, during which, he gets impaled by a communications antenna and is presumed to be dead. He survives that one accident by sheer luck, but luck alone is not going to help him last FOUR years on that barren planet, with the limited supplies he has on hand, until he can be rescued by the next manned mission to Mars.

As Watney says in the book -

"In the face of overwhelming odds, I'm left with only one option, I'm gonna have to science the shit out of this."

Luckily for him, he happens to be the botanist and the "Mr. Fix-It" for that mission, and his knowledge of botany and mechanical engineering is what's going to save him.

Another thing working in his favor is his attitude - his natural disposition towards making light of stressful situations with humor. He knows there is a high possibility of his dying there, but he doesn't spend too much time feeding that thought in his mind. Instead, he is all business-like, focusing all his attention on solving one problem after the other. Weir has portrayed him as an intelligent, funny, witty and a mentally strong and extremely outcome-oriented person, not easily swayed by fear and despair.

This is how he handles the ROUTINE FEAR that comes with his unique circumstances (of being stranded on Mars)...

“I’ll be playing with high-voltage power tomorrow. Can’t imagine anything going wrong with that!”
“From this, I concluded the following:
    1. I’ve been in a dust storm for several sols.
    2. Shit.”
“Just once I’d like something to go as planned, ya know?”

And this is him at the EXTREME depth of despair...


You know what!? Fuck this! Fuck this airlock, fuck that Hab, and fuck this whole planet!
Seriously, this is it! I've had it! I've got a few minutes before I run out of air and I'll be damned if I spend them playing Mars's little game. I'm so god damned sick of it I could puke!
All I have to do is sit here. The air will leak out and I'll die.
I'll be done. No more getting my hopes up, no more self-delusion, and no more problem-solving. I've fucking had it!


Sigh...okay. I've had my tantrum and now I have to figure out how to stay alive.”

Mostly though, he's just making fun of everything - of his situation, of scientists, of NASA, and of course, of himself. Here are some samples of "Watneyism"...

“I started the day with some nothin’ tea. Nothin’ tea is easy to make. First, get some hot water, then add nothin’.”
“Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. 'Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.'”
“I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.”
“One thing I have in abundance here are bags. They’re not much different from kitchen trash bags, though I’m sure they cost $50,000 because of NASA.”
“I started with a large rigid sample container (or “plastic box” to people who don’t work at NASA).”
“Also, I have duct tape. Ordinary duct tape, like you buy at a hardware store. Turns out even NASA can’t improve on duct tape.”
“I got bounced around a lot, but I’m a well-honed machine in times of crisis. As soon as the rover toppled, I curled into a ball and cowered. That’s the kind of action hero I am.”

(You know what! Maybe I'll do an entire post later on my favorite quotes from Mark Watney!)

As for the rest of the characters in the book - well, they have very short roles (naturally), but I liked them. Venkat Kapoor, the JPL guys, Mark's crew mates on Hermes, and Mindy! I specially liked Mindy Park in SatCon. She started off as a typical shy nerd, but eventually went on to become so cheeky! In fact, quite a few of the other characters also showed a marked sense of humor, which, I think now, probably ACTUALLY reflects on the author's own mental attitude, in terms of stress management and coping skills.

The Martian, by Andy Weir, has been written predominantly in the form of "logbook-style entries" by Mark Watney, interspersed with third-person accounts of what's going on back at NASA and with the rest of his crew mates. I loved that style of writing for the scenario presented in the story. What didn't work for me was the sudden non-linear approach at certain places in the book. Those random "flashbacks-in-pieces", despite being very few, disrupted the natural flow of the book and seemed unnecessary.

But the amount of research Weir has put in the book is clearly visible and makes the story completely plausible and realistic. This is hardcore science fiction, and parts of it can seem really complicated to those not interested in so much science. But I liked it. All those problems related to mass, weight, speed and time etc. took me back to my Physics classes in school. The plot moved along at a brisk pace. One problem after another, combined with Watney's own brand of humor.

I loved the book more than the movie, even though Ridley Scott and the entire movie-adaptation team did a pretty decent job on it, but they left out a major portion of the book from the movie, which has many more problems for Watney to solve, and kind of demonstrates the FULL depth of his perseverance and grit. The movie doesn't quite seem to do enough justice to Watney's character, AFTER you've read the book. So, every time I watch the movie again now, I just have to re-read the book too!

My rating: 4.5 out of 5. The Martian, by Andy Weir, is probably the best science fiction I read in a very long time! Highly recommended for all sci-fi lovers. It will suck you into the world of Mark Watney and will leave you in a "hangover" that could last for weeks YEARS!

P.S. - I first published this review over 6 years ago, on my old blog, and even today, I still think of Mark Watney every time I cook potatoes!

P.S. 2 - You won't understand the reference to "potatoes" if you have neither read the book, nor seen the movie! (Does such a person even exist anymore on the internet?)

P.S. 3 - (If the answer to the above question is in "affirmative", then...) Yes! I DELIBERATELY mentioned the "potatoes" because I WANT you to read the book AND watch the movie! :D

Buy this book from: |
Check out other books by Andy Weir on: |
Here's more in MySpotlight...

10 Lessons I Learnt From Starting My Own Business

10 Lessons I Learnt From Starting My Own Business

Entrepreneurship comes with a HUUUGE set of learnings... a very DIVERSE set of learnings. It is nothing like a job or a profession, where you keep gaining expertise in one specific domain or skill... rather it is more like an ALL-ROUNDER training, where you get to learn how to handle many different things at the same time. Especially if it is a DIY kind of micro business, wherein...

  • YOU are the policymaker sitting at the very top, charting the course of your business - what products/services you will offer, what consumer segments you will cater to, when you will diversify, what areas will you consolidate away from...
  • You are ALSO the frontline executive, the "face of your business" - doing the same routine tasks day-in and day-out, handling the customers/clients, answering their queries, making the sales, providing the support, maintaining the customer relations...
  • AND you are EVERYTHING in between - the "middle management", translating the business goals and policies into ground-level actionables, handling "situations" when they "blow up" or "show up", doing damage control when required, maintaining a balance between the needs of the "business" and the "business person/s".

Yupp. You get to put on a whole lot of different hats, play many different roles, as an entrepreneur. I shared my FIRST 10 lessons in entrepreneurship, soon after starting my own retail business, and then I updated the list and republished it 3 years later (on 28th February, 2017). Sharing it below on this new blog as well...

. . .

This is what I posted three years ago (in March 2014), when I'd just started my store... 10 lessons I learnt from starting my own business. Three years later, as I go through this list again, I realize that most of these points still hold true, while for some, let's just say "I've become wiser with age". So re-blogging this post with the changes highlighted in green.

Over the course of my very new and still-very-brief 3-year-long entrepreneurial journey, I've learnt some important lessons. While most of these apply to entrepreneurship in general, a few are specific to small-scale retail business only. Journaling them here, as I'm sure I will enjoy going through them some day in the future.

Lessons Learnt Along My Retail Entrepreneurship Journey

10 Life Lessons I Learnt From Retail Entrepreneurship

  1. Every single morning, especially in winters, there WILL be a few minutes when you will ask yourself - "Why did I have to start this business when I could comfortably work from my home?" But after you spend your first summer at your store, in the sticky heat, with all the mosquitoes and various other kinds of bugs, you'll realize that winters were a piece of cake!

  2. You will soon realize that doing all the domestic chores (viz. cleaning the house, the dishes, the laundry etc.) on your own is much faster than waiting indefinitely for the maid to show up! But if you DO get a maid who comes on time and doesn't take unscheduled leaves, then there is nothing like it!

  3. Fast food, take-aways and eat-outs will no longer tempt you. On the contrary, you will crave solid home-cooked food. Especially if your body is still recuperating from serious illness. Even the tea-time biscuits will gradually lose their charm.

  4. Those meal-time movie sessions with your Dad will soon become a thing of the past! (Those good ol' days! Siggghhhhh!) But, if you keep your laptop stocked-up with some movies, you might get to watch them at the shop, when business is slow. (Which is definitely bound to happen whenever holidays fall close to weekends! Do all retail business owners hate holidays as much as I do?)

  5. You will become "brutal" at prioritizing! Where to spend money first, what expenses to postpone. Even at home, your "to-do-list" will be numbered! (Preparing the day's meals is STILL my current "number one" priority! You really can't do much through the day if you haven't taken care of the meals first and got them out of your way.)

  6. You will realize that the retail business comes with a serious social obligation. Once you open a shop, you simply CANNOT take an unscheduled off any time you please. It can COMPLETELY disrupt the entire day's schedule of your customer! However, you CAN change your schedule completely, if you allow for a brief transition period to inform your customers, and put up prominent notices about the change. Oh, and if you don't keep making changes repeatedly!

  7. Your work hours in the evening will stretch further and further, until you start returning home so late that all you have time left to do is to make the chapatis for dinner, eat, and sleep! In fact, very soon you will find yourself watching "excerpts" of your favorite TV show - Dance India Dance - in "news updates", during lunch break! (LOL! I'm exaggerating that bit! There are no D.I.D. updates in the news these days... it's all just politics mostly.) But, after a few months of this late-night schedule, the stress will start showing in your body and in your productivity, and you'll be forced to cut-back to a healthier work routine, even if it comes at a loss of good business.

  8. Socializing will soon be restricted to phone conversations, WhatsApp interactions, and Facebook chats, and even those will be interspersed with loads of "customer-breaks"! And personal emails that were once-upon-a-time replied to within 24 hours, will now sit in your inbox for days! And even after three years, you cannot find a way to change this. Bottomline: Small-scale retail business leaves you with no social life.

  9. You will still not be able to differentiate between weekdays and weekends, as previously, each day was like a holiday, and now each day is working! Only till you realize that you are NOT a machine, and that you NEED at least one weekly off, even if it makes some of your customers very unhappy.

  10. Every single day, there will be AT LEAST one customer whose smile and heart-felt thanks will make you feel glad that you opened this shop! Despite the less-than-ideal working conditions. Despite the shoplifters (very rare, but very real nonetheless). Despite those handful of uncivilized people who believe it is their right to be rude to shop-owners. (No really! A shop is a great place to observe human psychology at work.)

Dad always said that small-scale retail business is a tough job, and I can see why now. There's just not enough mental stimulation. You sure get adept at crisis-handling, but other than that, once you've put all the "systems" in place, there is really nothing new to learn after a certain point.

But I think I STILL quite enjoy it... at least MOST of the time. Perhaps that's because I'm not just selling products, I'm also doing creative stuff here. I have plenty of working space, good lighting, well-organized storage space, all the craft material and other resources I might need. AND... MOST IMPORTANTLY... I get to step out of my house and interact with some humans every day! Especially kids!

Another reason could be That's probably the main reason for me sticking with my shop for so long... the fact that most of my customers are children, and it's usually a delight interacting with kids. (Read this if you haven't already: When Kids go Shopping... Alone!) Their simple innocence gives you an entirely different perspective on life, doesn't it? You realize that life is not as complex as adults make it out to be.

. . .

Hmmmm. ALL absolutely valid entrepreneurship lessons that STILL hold true. There is just one point that I don't quite COMPLETELY agree with now. I mentioned that there is NOTHING new to learn after a certain point. I change my stand on that. The "domain" knowledge, just like in any other job or profession, keeps getting refreshed... evolving market trends, government policies, new products, new competitors even! So, you need to keep yourself up-to-date at all times.

More importantly, YOU are the decision-maker, and hence, YOU get to decide what NEW learning experiences you seek, and how you can integrate them into your existing business model. As they say, entrepreneurship is a JOURNEY. There is NO FIXED DESTINATION, just MILESTONES along the way...

Here's more in MyDiary...