Friday, January 10, 2014

Copy Cat Inc.

He shuffled his feet and looked nervous sitting in the chair that he was in.  I had forgotten about those large spectacle frames that he now wore as well as just how skinny he really was. Come to think of it, he was just ten years old right now and so much of life still lay ahead of him.  He also had a deep frown on his face that just didn’t seem to suit the good natured boy, who I knew, existed underneath.  

“Why don’t you smile more? You seem to have such a sweet face and those dimples of yours are a gift you ought to utilize?” I said.

He stopped and stared at me.  “How do you know about my dimples?” he asked quite aloud.  I could sense that he was getting quite frightened. 

“I just do. But please don’t feel so shy I just want to talk to you” I said.

I looked at him again and asked “Do you love who you are?” 

He stared back.  He looked down for a few moments and then replied in a low voice saying “No.”

I waited for him to look up again and then began with the topic I wanted to share.  “I understand your feelings but why don’t you tell me why you don’t love who you are.”

He seemed nervous but spoke quite quickly “Well for starters I’m not very smart, I haven’t done well in school and even though I try not to hurt people they hurt me in so many ways.” He paused and with a great deal of effort continued. “The kids think I’m a freak because I’m different and always exclude me from everything.  Girls don’t like me because I’m not handsome enough. I don’t feel I’m worth all that much. I really wish I could be like some of the more popular kids I know. Or better yet I just wish I could be someone else…. someone important then maybe people would love me. And maybe…..maybe I could feel happy with who I am.”  He glanced out the window and then turned back to me.

“I see.” I said.  “It’s clear that you do have low self-esteem but I think it’s important for you to realize that you shouldn’t dismiss who you are.  You need to give yourself time to develop and grow.”  I paused for a second and then continued.  “If you try to be someone else and not aim to explore and find out who you are then it’s clear you’ve been sold on what so many others have bought into, which is being a member of Copy Cat Inc.” 

“What’s Copy Cat Inc.?” he asked. 

“Well think of Copy Cat Inc. as an organization that most people apply to working for their whole lives, either knowingly or unknowingly.  It is essentially a place where people, both children and adults copy partially or completely, the behaviour, manner or physical likeness of others, who they regard as being superior to themselves.  They think that such imitation would also make them as superior or successful, though it doesn’t stop there.  Many adults try to emulate or copy the work others have done such as songs, books, business presentations, movies, activities etc.  They do this because they feel inferior about themselves or are so inspired by something someone else has done that they deeply desire to have their own version of that person’s output.  Sometimes, it could just be sheer laziness and them not wanting to make the effort do things of their own.  It’s sad, really, because they never try to run their own race and find out just what their own life is capable of achieving and what unique sets of masterpieces their life can create.  More so, because they see other people or groups praising one particular individual either through attention, love or even fanaticism….sorry I mean almost like angry fan craze, it can make those who feel marginalized by the rest, want to imitate that perceived outlook of success.  But don’t ever do that.  Stay true to who you are.  It’s hard but the way to do that is to run your own race and measure your success against what you feel makes you happy and complete. It is true at your age you need to please many others such as family and friends but never let go or forget about what matters most to you. Most of all remember that those people throughout history, who strove with a deep sense of curiosity and passion to be all they wanted to be, while also observing things in other people and their environment that could help them discover more about themselves and use those discoveries to achieve further greatness, are always remembered.  Aim to be yourself and you will see that in the long run, that is the only way to be!”

“The famous writer Oscar Wilde is remembered for many wise words but it is his quote on the self that I personally love, which is: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken!”  A simple meaning but one that quite a few people never grasp or are ever able to achieve.” I said while smiling and looking at him.

He too looked at me and said finally “Ok I will try to see who I can become but will you be there to remind of this lesson that you’ve taught me from time to time?”

“Absolutely! I will always be there.  Never doubt that.” I said.  I crossed over from my desk and gave him a hug.  “At all times, you need to remember that you must always fight hard to be yourself and not a member of Copy Cat Inc.” 

“And how will I find you from here on?” he said smiling back.  Those dimples did add a real extra element to his smile.

“Anytime you want to find me look no further than the mirror you see each morning.  I’ve been there right from the start and I will continue to do so, if you let me!”


Next Take please! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?

“There lies a tingling in their bones, as the campers in the woods huddle together around the bonfire, listening to the wind cry as it flows through the branches above.  For they keep turning and watching the short distance beyond the fires light, towards the trees, searching for the eyes that they know are watching them now. The eyes of the unseen hunter!” Spirit of Fear

Image Source: www.wallpaperzhd.com 
There is perhaps no creature on Earth, more wrongfully stigmatized than the Wolf.  From popular culture to ancient folklore, Wolves are depicted as beasts of darkness that have an insatiable appetite for human flesh. Further, contemporary mediums through novels that include White Fang to movies such as The Grey and Wolf as well as scores of horror films, have portrayed these animals in a less than favourable light.  Even children’s stories such Little Red Riding Hood, The Three LittlePigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Peter and the Wolf and The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats depict Wolves as the ultimate forest villains, whose intent is to kill solely for pleasure while also instilling enormous fear into their victims.  A Wolf’s howl in particular, is used to show the ominous threat that awaits those who dare to venture into the forbidden areas or are simply caught unaware.  Coupled with this, is the stereotyped horror image of the popular Werewolf creature, who appears only during a full moon.  This further conjures up an even dark view of this animal.  

Image Source: http://images6.fanpop.com/
But if we were to look a little more closely, we would see that the Wolf is really not so bad after all.  Scientific study by National Geographic, WWF as well as other independent wildlife funded research of these creatures, for over half a century, have revealed that Wolves are nowhere close to being the marauders we have thought of them as.  If anything, they are shy creatures and like all animals, hunt only for their packs food requirements.  There is a gentleness to them and a caring family system that is continuously nurtured by the elders.  Additional scientific studies show that Wolves will go to great lengths to try and avoid any human contact.  Furthermore, like any animal that is either being threatened or is badly injured, will a provoked response be seen to occur. But having said so, there is no evidence to support any claims that Wolves view people as their ultimate source of food and more so, prefer human flesh to that of forest deer, buffalo or wild pig. 

Image Source: http://wallcapture.com/
Wolves raised in captivity haven’t shown any signs of abnormal or unwarranted violent aggression.  If anything, they are often placid and various conservationists around the world have gone on record to say they have never seen an unprovoked situation occur, where a Wolf or the whole pack turned on them for no reason.  But despite knowing the truth, people still fear Wolves and view them with more suspicion than they would with any other carnivore such as Tigers, Lions, Jaguars and Leopards.  Therefore, the question still stands that if Wolves are gentle and normal animals, why are they one of the most feared, if not the most?  For many people, the night is considered to be a disturbing time, primarily because our eyesight becomes severely limited and we become less aware of what’s around us.  As the Wolf is an excellent nocturnal hunter and a creature so comfortable with the blackness of the night, its howl coupled with the images we have been fed for so many years, has made the prejudiced view in our minds virtually unshakeable.  However, it is important that we develop a better understanding of these creatures on our own and act towards advancing their protection, as the Wolf population around the world has dwindled alarmingly, due to poaching and domestic livestock protection.  If we continue to let the accelerated killings happen, then indeed, there would be a total collapse of fragile ecosystems around the world, which would affect us in the long run. Hence, the choice right now is to act or if we don't and let Wolves become extinct then maybe some of us could boldly say “Who’s afraid of the big bad Wolf?” Next Take please!

My Artwork

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Language Of Dreams

My photograph
I saw myself standing on a cliff near the ocean. The pristine water bubbled and foamed below with a mix of various shades of blue and green.  I was intrigued watching the waves slapping against the cliff face, almost like a creature desperately trying its best to get a firm grip and climb onto the safety of the land above it.  The time appeared to be evening and not so far away I saw Seagulls calling out and flying motionlessly, in the same spot without the slightest movement from their feathers.  I continued watching them until an Albatross caught my attention. I was amazed looking at it as it flew continuously from my left to my right and back again.  As I continued watching it I saw that it hesitated, almost as if it was undecided in what its next action should be.  Clouds in the sky began to form and the whole scene was painted with a greyish light.  The Albatross then circled below, over the waves and suddenly shot straight up heavenward till it was almost out of sight.  Then after a few heart stopping seconds, it dived down as if all control over its flight had been lost.  I gasped as it hit the face of the water and disappeared altogether.  I searched the waves below for any sign of it. None was to be seen. Then almost instantly the clouds in the sky began to spread themselves and soft and warm ray of sunshine hit the surface of the water.  Instantly, the Albatross reappeared, where the light touched the waves, with a fish in its mouth, soared again and dashed towards my right, disappearing in the distance.  The clouds remained as they were but I began to feel a strong gale rising and blowing against my skin.  I wrapped myself tighter in my jacket and looked around. 

My photograph
Not a human in sight.  Away from the cliff, the remainder of the plateau had low bushes and towards the left I could see the outline of mountains. I pondered on what I was doing here and if I should move away from the spot I was standing on.  That’s when I heard a soft voice called to me.  I turned and saw nothing. But again, the voice called. I listened.  “You are here because you choose to be!” “Why?” I cried out! “You are here because you have a goal you wish to achieve but you fear failure and hence haven’t tested your abilities as yet. In order to do so you need to jump off this cliff and fly” the voice said. “What? But how can I fly, I have no wings?”  I gasped.  “Try to fly and you will see that you have more than you thought possible.” “What? I can’t” I said. “Just try…..”  said the voice and it faded away never to be heard again.  Irritated and confused I looked around once more. “Had the voice been right?” I thought. “Was I letting fear grip me and strangle the magic that lay within?”  I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, whispered a prayer of thanks, raised my hands and jumped off the cliff.  When I opened my eyes again I saw that I was indeed flying far above the cliff without any major effort.  “I can’t believe it!” I said to myself. I yelled out in joy and flew around testing my flying abilities.  Sure enough, my inner being knew how and I soared high above the clouds.  Once above, the brilliant sun shone upon my being and I flew towards it. “Brilliant! If I could do so much, how much more can I do?”  

My photograph
As I came closer to the Sun, I heard something and turned.  There flying next to me was Viktor Frankl himself. The man I hadn't seen for many months since our short talk in Berlin [*See "Next Take!" article - "A New Dawn"].  Viktor smiled and beckoned with his head for me to follow.  I turned as he did and we passed out of the Earth’s atmosphere, headed towards a bright collection of galaxies in the distance.  “I told you before, to find your purpose Rohan.  I hope now, you realize that when you start to focus on that, the universe will reorient itself to make you achieve it.  And as a guide for you to follow, the way in which it tells you what to do next, is through your dreams. Always pay attention to your dreams, they are the secret language, the cryptic code that contain all the answers you need to allow you to reunite your true self with your living self.”  He smiled and we sped even closer to the galaxies beyond.  “You have found your purpose. But you still fear failure.  This dream you’re having is to remind you that no matter how great the odds or how difficult it may seem, know that anything can be achieved.  All you have to do is to believe!” said Viktor. He added “The Albatross you saw was an example for you.  When he decided that he wouldn't let the fear of drowning defeat him, he realized that he needed great speed and distance in order to penetrate the waves effectively in order to get his fish.  Unlike the Seagulls you saw, who remained undecided and hence would never experience any victory in their life. So pay attention to the lesson here and you shall win, for there is much more to this universe and to life than what conventional wisdom will present you with!”

I awoke on this morning and saw the early sunrise outside my window.  The city was awakening.  I still remembered every detail of what my dream had revealed.  Today I was going to believe and live as I should. Next Take please!




Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rock ‘N’ Roll Over? [Part I]

My fellow Metal Head, Blood Brother and the Lead Singer of Horror metal act - Albatross - Biprorshee Das - shares his views on how music is being listened to today. 

[*For more videos by me do visit my YouTube channel @ http://www.youtube.com/user/rohanmoorthy/videos]

Rock ‘N’ Roll Over? [Part II]


Courtesy: Gunjan Dharmik 
Anyone who knows me, is aware of how big a music fan I am! And by music I mean classic Rock ‘N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal minus Death Metal.  One of my favorite things to do while growing up, was to keep visiting the nearest record stores, during my school and college days.  What made it so special was to see so many posters of artists from around the globe, look at the latest albums that were out, browse through the endless rows of classic albums and hope against hope that I might be able to find those crucial albums that I was looking for.  Though I really wish Flipkart or Amazon were available to me back then.  It would have saved me countless hours of searching.  But wait! Wasn't that one of the joys of being a fellow rock n roll legionnaire?

Courtesy: Prapti Doshi Moorthy
Another thing I loved to do was to talk to friends, who had access to those beloved foreign music magazines [i.e. Rolling Stone] and could tell me about when a new record was going to be released by one of my favorite bands such as Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and Megadeth.  Plus, there was also MTV! Yes that MTV, which played great music and gave us the latest news on global artists, till of course Bollywood took it over followed by strange reality shows you see nowadays.  I loved waiting for an album, running each week to the nearest store to see if it had arrived, re-reading every magazine interview I could lay my eyes on, where the artists spoke about song titles, stories behind them and shared album artwork! Bliss for people like me! Then by the late 90’s, the internet showed up, which gave me the latest news and helped me engage, learn and know more about the bands I had grown to love, while also discovering newer bands from the pantheon of rock gods.

My Photograph
But therein lies the tragedy. I was close to graduating from school when the now famous, back then infamous, Napster broke out onto the scene and gave us starved fans an opportunity to sample free music from the artists we’d heard about and were eager to listen to.  For a music fan it was heaven. For the music artist it was hell. Loss of revenue by declining album sales made one of my favorite bands “Metallica” want to sue the pants of Napster and their kind. Plus, since then, music fans over the years have cared less and less for albums and just prefer singles.  There’s no desire to look at an album as a milestone or chapter in theirs and their music group’s life journey.  Hence, given this state of affairs, most rock artists are looking at releasing only a song or two every few months now and not making physical albums anymore, as it’s no longer proving lucrative. 

The early 2000's saw the end of an era begin and over the past year I can see the last embers burning out. The icing on the cake is that a month ago I tried to look for a new stereo.  All the major retail outlets I visited responded as if I had asked them for something completely alien or unknown.  At one store one the sales guys told me that no company makes regular stereo systems anymore.  He added that “Why would they?  I mean no one buys CD’s anymore and everyone’s listening to digital tunes on their iPods!”

Further to this, I recently visited Hong Kong and I couldn't see a single record store around nor in my original hometown of Bangalore, which is still, thankfully, the rock capital of India.  I went to all my old spots and found every record store had closed down.  All that remains as far as I've seen are the tiny CD collections in Landmark and Crossword stores, which aren't music stores in any form.  As far as I can tell, the last iconic music store in Mumbai is Rhythm house near Colaba causeway.  Pretty much everyone now, prefers to download the latest or old classics tunes online or buy them off Flipkart

So, in short, no more record stores, no more physical album releases and no more MTV.  I can almost hear Don McLean’s voice echoing somewhere singing The Day the Music Died…

Image Source: http://transparentproductions.org
But, there’s a light still shining in this void.  The music tours still happen and more people are today into music than ever before thanks to YouTube, iTunes and Spotify. Plus, these online channels have made rare tunes widely available once again and I have noticed that I prefer listening to most of my old records on them now. 

So, when I finally look at things, I can see that a musical way of life that existed for nearly 60 years has perhaps, when I think about it, not ended but evolved into something new that I need to adapt to.  It’s a different universe of sound that’s beckoning me.  Perhaps it’s time that I learn to “Roll” with the times and accept it for what it is without any sadness.  Or as my “Rock” icon Joe Elliott would probably say “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Way Over?  No Chance! Rock on kid, Rock on!!!” Next Take please!

Image Source: http://vegetarianstar.com