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.

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 her mother’s 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:

google-cpi
Few months ago I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress. The reason being my old blog disappeared from Google search altogether. For no particular reason it simply vanished.

So I did some research and I was asked to verify the website using Google webmaster tools. I followed all the instructions, but the site simply could not be verified. It was quite vexing because Blogger is Google’s own product and I simply assumed, that it would measure up their own standards.

Somehow that was not the case and my blog could not be verified as a legitimate website. After a few frustrating days, I made the decision I have been putting off for a while and moved the blog to WordPress, where I should say it is doing pretty well. The site has been verified by Google, Bing and other social networking sites. Of course Twitter doesn’t verify you until you are a VIP (‘commoners, peasants, shoo, shoo, away’).

sunset at vellore/shelly paul
Image by Shelly Paul

A religion’s origin, that is lost in time. A religion, that has survived the influx of many other religions, cultures, its own corruption and foreign invasions. After several thousand years, Hinduism is still the predominant religion in today’s India. It is more a way of life than a religion. It permeates into everything that’s Indian. That is why it is hard to separate India from Hinduism. Everyone who is born Indian does have a degree of Hinduism within them doesn’t matter the religion they are born into currently.

While absorbing the news about the fanatical murders of the Charlie Hebdo staff, I was reminded of something Mr. Lewis Black said on a talk show. In the stand-up routine, ‘The End of the Universe’, he wraps up the show talking about faith. He talks about the importance of balancing faith with a sense of humor. In course of the segment, he says, “…and that’s what happens when you don’t laugh. You get all wound up in what you’re believing in and nobody goes ‘eh,heh’ and you’re ..you’re screwed.”

That is the role of a satirist in our society; to go ‘eh heh’, when group-think takes over people’s minds. Especially in today’s era of ubiquitous information, it is easy to isolate ourselves by cherry picking whatever suits us without

Recently, I happened to read an article in New York Times that impressed me with its blunt honesty.
Titled “The Charitable Industrial Complex” it’s an article written by Peter Buffet, son of Warren Buffet. The article discusses something he calls ‘Philanthropic Colonialism’.