Kathy D, Dia de los Muertos
Kathy D/Paper and ink imaginings

Prejudice – blind hatred of a stranger, based on superficial differences

Character Soliloquy1

‘I don’t know you from Adam, and even though you have not harmed me in any way, I hate you, I hate you so much.

‘When things go wrong in my life for reasons I cannot fathom, I blame you for that. And there are other times, when a little soul searching and self-introspection can explain the reasons for the bad choices I make, but instead of taking the opportunity to become a better person, I hate you viscerally.

‘And if you think that I will credit you for the things that go right in my life, you are stupider than I thought you were. All that credit belongs solely to me, only me. And if you think that I act like a petulant child, why not? When this hatred of “different” people is sanctioned by my own family and endorsed by the society either explicitly or implicitly.

chelparkseries/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul

Recycle – reusing or repurposing a used product, through a process.

I am proud to say that I live in a county where almost anything reusable gets recycled, that the recycle bin fills up faster than the trash bags. Recycling is a good thing. Very little is wasted, which matters because we are a teeming eight billion on this planet, even the most frugal consumption compounds the environmental problems we already face.
But there must be a limit to things we recycle, like movies. Have you watched any re-cycled movies lately?

I tried to watch the 2015 release of the movie, “Poltergeist”. I caught it on television. Didn’t even know there was another version of that movie.

I caught it in snatches since I was curious to see which modern gadget would snatch up the little girl in the latest version. My first guess was the laptop.

Ramblings
Original image by Shelly Paul

“Ramblings on a word”, is created with the intention of showing a different perspective to a word that is in common use. The definition of the word given in each article, is more specific to the context of the topic of discussion, than the broader definition of the dictionary. So each word mostly stays within the confines of that definition, occasionally it does get twisted around a bit, just to show a different angle or probably because I am irreverent.

Several articles are just my opinion and are written in essay format. Some are personal essays. A small number of them are, “character soliloquy” where I try to channel a character for demonstrable effect. So, even though the article is written in first person, it is not my personal experience, it’s an expression of a view-point through a fictional character I create for that purpose.

let's talk/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul


Discount – deduction from the whole

Personal Essay

In conversations with friends and family over a period of time, I have come to understand that there is a tendency to distort or stretch the truth. Such alterations make for interesting anecdotes and lively conversation. But, when it comes to regular interaction with people in daily life, staying close to reality keeps life’s flow relatively smooth.

Over the years after listening to numerous personal stories, I realized separating the husk from the grain can be really hard. I also realized that I don’t have to know the absolute truth about everything to have healthy relationships. All I need is a credible approximation of the broad reality. To ascertain this, all I need to do is to discount certain parts of the issues presented, according to the individual’s nature and character.

This is my current formula to get to the heart of the matter:
At first I take all things said in a conversation at face value. No assumptions, no presumptions unless the context is obvious or common in social parlance. In time, a pattern would emerge and some lack of consistency would begin to show, in the continuity of the narratives. Depending on the degree of this inconsistency, I assign discounts to the information presented to me.

brokenglass/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul


Hypocrisy – the gap between word and deed, between the image of virtue and its reality

An ode to hypocrisy

O hypocrisy! The juice that binds our dysfunctional society together. You make it possible for us to look civilized and not require us to be civil.

You let us sophisticate the barbarianism of war with technology and perpetuate injustice through the semantics of law.

You let us dilute moral principles that keeps the human society functional and let us call it moral relativism.

You let us hide condescension within acts of charity and hide double standards in eloquent verbiage.

You give us rituals to escape from the truth about ourselves. Thus, we can repeat our sins without compunction, because there is easy absolution.

hotel taj/Shelly Paul Image by Shelly Paul


Algorithm – method for tracing predictable patterns

When Úrsula Iguarán, matriarch of Buendía family began to go blind in her old age, she devised a clever method to keep the impaired vision a secret. She accomplished this successfully by observing, processing and storing data.

While walking down the verandah one afternoon, she nearly tripped over her daughter, Amaranta who was sitting in the shade doing needlework. Amaranta reacted sharply and asked her mother what was wrong, to which, Úrsula responded that it would not have happened if she was sitting in her usual place. The ensuing conversation and some reflection made Úrsula realize that the sun’s position changed slightly throughout the year, which caused her daughter to move to that extent each day from her usual place into the shade, until one day she obstructed the carefully memorized path.

Úrsula listened, deduced and memorized the patterns of all her family members and realized during the process that her family lived in predictable patterns, so much so that she could pin-point where everyone was at any given moment on any day. Her mental map was so accurate that one time, she helped locate her daughter-in-law’s misplaced wedding band through an aberration in the pattern.

This is the technique Google search, Facebook and other social media websites uses today to understand the behavior of their users and hopefully convert that into advertisement revenue or create emotional hooks by customizing user experience thereby making the user feel special.

unhappy queen Unhappy Queen / Illustration by Lekha Murali


Mythology – A study of myths
Myth – figment of collective imagination

It was a time when sun was the only clock. It was long before the era of verified and meticulous documentation, long before the ancient languages had rudimentary scripts developed by primitive linguists.

It was a time when people began exercising vocal chords to express themselves, when the evolving species was still figuring out which of the weeds agreed with humans and that carrion could be detrimental to one’s health.

The tribes would huddle around the communal fire and try to dine with whatever food, that was the result of the latest experiment. That’s when they talked about the things they could never fathom.

Without awareness, their imagination took wings and built extraordinary worlds where magical people lived –

photo

Wheel – A circular object that makes locomotion possible

I am sure many of you would have learnt in school, how the wheel was invented by the MAN.

Being a woman, having observed how men think, here is the revised edition of that story:
First of all, the caveman could not have invented the wheel. He would have been too scared and hungry to have a cogent thought in his underdeveloped brain, not to mention the fact that the tangled jungle floor would have made for treacherously bumpy rides.

The necessity for transportation would have come up when our ancestors moved into villages and began farming.

The village headman saw four men carry around a plank full of things and decided it was time for automation.

Charity – Alms, Philanthropy

You try to get out of the grocery check-out line after paying for the purchases, when the cashier pops the question, ‘Would you like to donate a dollar to such-and-such charity?’ You look around and see a lot of cardboard balloons with names on them, which brings to mind a related TV commercial, and you wonder how much of your charity buck goes to the ad agency.

The corporations who are the latest human beings, are charitable too. ‘For every product you purchase from us, we will donate 50 cents to such-and-such charity.’

Coercive philanthropy in thirty seconds: