On Opinions

 

How do people form opinions?

Few days back a thought struck my mind.

Opinions, these days, are nothing but perceptions based on the limited knowledge that we gain and obstinately flaunt around in the manner of absolute truths.

OK, that is just my thought. That is really not my opinion. In fact time and again I have realized that I am not much of an opinionated person. I am scared of opinions. I often feel that I don’t have enough information to form opinions.

It really shocks me at times when I hear or watch certain people fight for their opinions. They get into verbal brawls on social media and it shocks me to see that people consider their knowledge supreme enough to put a foot down and say that what they say or believe in is the ultimate truth.

Phew! How do people survive under the weight of all that arrogance?

Wisdom comes with knowledge. Opinions also stem from knowledge. Then what is the difference between the two? Often grown-ups confuse opinions with absolute truths. If they can’t differentiate between the two, are they really grown-up?

Correct me if I am wrong, but I feel that wisdom doesn’t reside where arrogance does; information doesn’t really mean knowledge; opinions are not absolute truths.

I am not an opinionated person. I was a judgmental one (may be still I am – a little bit) but off-late I try not to be one. Maybe that is why it is difficult for me to form opinions. I feel I have no right to opine about anything or anyone until I am aware of the truth.

I often find myself speechless when people talk about opinions. Trust me, not having opinions comes with their own share of troubles. By the time I have dug enough to form an opinion about something, the chapter is well-closed and left behind.

I don’t have opinion on most of the things and often is taken for granted in making any kind of important decisions. But I am really not able to wrap y mind around the fact of forming an opinion base on limited information.

Can anyone help me out here?

 

 

Eleanor & Park

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Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult/Romance

This story is for all those 80s and 90s teenagers who grew up listening to mix tapes on walkmans and being the ultimate obscure personalities at school. This is a not so typical love story where the misfits are protagonists.

Park is a boy with few friends and even fewer words. He finds comfort in his superhero comics and music. Eleanor is the new kid in the school who is a diminishing shadow of her beautiful mother. She is plump, has red, curly hair which has made her the subject of mockery of the mean girls from her day 1 in the school. These two characters are thrust into a situation together with no other option – they share the same seat on the school bus.

This is their love story. A love which slowly blossoms and goes from innocent to gentle to passionate all in the course of 1 year. This is also the story of their personal struggles; the story of a love which would make you wonder and question a lot of things.

At least, I had my thoughts and questions.

It is a teenage love story filled with turbulence;
what will the end be?
They are too young to get married.
They are not even mature enough to understand long-term commitments.
So what would the end be?
The author really cannot go on about their entire lives.

These thoughts kept gnawing me all throughout. But then the end did arrive. And even though it left me wanting more it was in a way a beautiful ending.

Eleanor & Park is a sure shot hit with people who love love-stories. For me it was a refreshing change or one can say a happy break from the serious or action-packed subjects that I have been reading.

The author has kept the characters real and vulnerable. And perhaps that is one thing why I didn’t dislike this love story. For once, it was not a nauseating sweet love story or something with some stark and grave tragedy. Although, many people have criticized the book on the basis of its timeliness. But I am not such a minute picker.

All in all, I enjoyed reading the book and loved Rainbow Rowell’s writing. I might even give her other books a try; Fangirl for sure.

Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami

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Name: Norwegian Wood
Author: Haruki Murakami
Genre: Fiction, Romance

This is only my second Murakami, but what caused me to pick this one and read was the many reviews which told that this one is totally different from the standard Murakami books. Not a proper authority to judge yet, I shall give you a POV of a rookie Murakami reader.

Norwegian Wood, the title is derived from the song of the same name by the famous band, The Beatles. This book caused me to obtain the majority collection of the band and now I am totally in love with their music.

Set in the 1969 Japan, this is the story of 19 year old Toru Watanabe, who is in love with Naoko. Both, Toru and Naoko, are connected through the life and death of Kizuki, Toru’s best friend and Naoko’s boy friend. While Toru leads an oblivious life of a normal Japanese student, he is devoutly in love with Naoko, who herself is troubled by her own demons. A patient Toru bears with all of Naoko’s whims, while waiting for her to accept his love. Meanwhile, Toru is also drawn to Midori, a self-reliant, independent, and highly out-going girl, who has fallen in love with him. But his wait for Naoko is holding him back.

This is not an everyday love triangle. This is a train ride which will take you to the depths of all kinds of emotions. Murakami has rendered a story so beautiful that one cannot help experiencing what the characters are going through. You will get high when they get drunk, rejoice with them, relax with them, get all worked-up, and even feel spaced-out when the character does so.

Norwegian Wood is a poignant, deep and a beautiful love story. The romance is pure and is marked by its own imperfections which only goes to make the story so real.

The characters are powerfully sketched but each has been molded with edges so soft that it really hurts to see them hurt.

The story flows just like a calm crystalline stream, meandering gently through the plains, which is in no hurry to reach its destination. For me, it almost worked like a travelling-capsule, which transcended me into a zen space everytime I have picked it to read it.

The story contains its own gentle highs and lows. And the prose is as beautiful as a love letter written during the classical era. All I feel after reading this work is a weightlessness that one feels when one gets totally separated from the chaos going inside and outside of them. A detached bliss that only a love story like Toru’s is capable of giving.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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Author: Ransom Riggs
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Jacob Portman grew up listening to the stories of his grandfather’s childhood which for the most part contained descriptions about peculiar children and monsters. At the age of 16 when Jacob is wise enough not to believe the bizzare stories that his grandpa told him, a mind-numbing incident takes place which leaves Jacob questioning his doubts.

The quest to demystify his grandpa’s last words and also to clarify his own doubts takes Jacob to a remote Welsh island where decades ago a home had given refuge to Abraham Portman. Here unfolds a series of secrets that divides Jacob’s life into a ‘Before’ and ‘After’.

“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.” When a book starts with a line like this, it surely grabs the attention of not only your eyeballs but your mind too. Indeed the book is filled with extraordinary. Ransom Riggs has carefully crafted this book which he has based on numerous photographs borrowed from various collectors. He has meticulously placed all the photographs across the book and has weaved a story, filled with mystery and fantasy, around them.

The book starts at a good pace, slowing down a bit towards the end with bit too many twists and turns and an unexpected ending. But unlike most fantasy books this one neither has any wizards, nor vampires. The book, as the title suggests, feature ‘peculiar children’ which bear the element of fantasy in the world of 21st century. The story has its own creepy and scary moments at times even edging along dark fantasy and even horror.

The book is the first part and its sequel “The Hollow” released in 2014 which I am yet too read. A movie based on the book is under process which is said to be directed by Tim Burton with its screenplay being written by Jane Goldman who has also written screenplays for X-Men – First Class, The Woman in Black, and Kingsman: The Secret Service.

Just like any fantasy fiction this book will garner equal interest from both children and adults and is a good book to read over a weekend. Grab this book and get along with Jacob into an adventurous, dangerous and brave journey into a world of unexpected and extraordinary.

Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black
Finally I succeeded in reading a non-fiction book. The inspiration behind reading OITNB was of course the popular tv show, but my caveat there was that I had just heard about the series and nothing more than that. When I started the book I neither knew the subject of the show or had even watched its teaser nor any trailer.

My interest was sparked purely on the premise that a tv show was based on this book and trust me, until I turned the first page I didn’t even have a clue that it was a non-fiction. That is how I picked up the first non-fiction book. And I must say, it was not bad. No, not at all bad.

Orange is the New Black, is a memoir of an American PR lady, Piper Kerman, who had to spend 13 months in Federal Prison at the age of 34, just because during her post-college days she got hooked to a life of reckless decisions. The book is quick and covers a lot of aspects about life in the all-women correctional facility situated at Danbury.

I haven’t read any prison diary till date so I can’t really comment on its similarity to one. The author has given quite a detailed account of the one year she spent at prison, about her lifestyle there, about people with whom she interacted, about the effects of prison on her family, and about her relationships with her co-inmates.

I found the start of the book really interesting but somehow felt my interest slipping towards the middle. I guess it was more my feeling because I am really used to the drama of fiction and OITNB is a pure factual narrative. But somehow I held on and it was because the author has been really good with her narration. My patience really did pay off as the second half of the book is full of the stuff that I really look for in a book.

The book breaks a lot of stereotype views that society hold towards prison and prison treatment. But one may note that this memoir is based majorly on writer’s experience in a minimum security facility.

The fact that the world of prison is a totally different one than the one on the outside is very true. This world has its own rules n corruption, its own education system, employment system, a tiny economic system too. People form families and friends and each have their own way of ‘doing their time’ than to let their time do them.

The second half of the book is filled with revelations and realisations that author experiences and a keen reader will find many of these interesting and quite relatable to real world life too.

All in all, OITNB was a good non-fiction for me to start this genre and I look forward to reading more such books. One thing I do want to point out is that if you are looking for the interesting plot, storyline, drama et al that the tv series is providing you then you might feel disappointed because as I told before, the book is a complete factual narrative. But go ahead and have a read and don’t let my judgment prejudice you.

I took quite a few lessons myself from the book and enjoyed reading this book and therefore I write this with a hope that you experience the same.

The Book Thief

In the short life that I have lived I have read few books. And from those books only countable have been able to make it to the list of my favourites. Today one more got added to the short list – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Here is a book which I am sure I will read it time and again. If ever I become a mother then I will give this book to my children to read and perhaps grandchildren too. Yes, I even pictured a wrinkled, weak and frail me with sparse silver white hair on her skull, sitting in a wooden rocking chair and sifting through the book.

This book is ageless, just like how the narrator describes Werner to be. Werner, brother of Liesel Meminger and the first person to come in contact with the narrator. The Book Thief – here is a story about words, about love, friendship and relationships, about life and Death, about bravery and humanity.

This is the story which comes straight from the heart. It is filled with a warmth that seeps into the reader even as she eyes through those words that describes snow clad Germany. This story will make you happy, it will make you smile. This story will also make you sad and it will make you cry. It made me cry.

One cannot say for sure whether it has a tragic end because even though there is loss the story ends with a sunshine of hope. The characters are timeless. They will stay with you long after you have finished reading the book. But there is an end to each person’s story. And perhaps that is the reason that even though you are left with a hollow in your heart that usually accompanies the end of each book one reads, there is also a peace and a calm that it tags along and which continues to warm your heart.

All I can say is that today I earned a new friend, a new friend which will stay with me for a lifetime. And even though it is too soon, I wish that when I meet the narrator, he finds me lying amidst the words of this book.

Outrage is the new ‘vogue’

Disclaimer: I am human and I am not perfect. The views expressed herein are just my opinion and I do not mean to impose it on anyone. I respect the fact that everyone has their own point of view and theirs might not necessarily be same as mine.

Last evening, while scrolling through my facebook timeline I came across a video shared by one of my friends. I am pretty sure that by now most of you would have either watched it or heard about it. Yes, I am talking about the Vogue Empower video which features 99 women-of-note from India, featuring a piece written by Kersi Khambatta, recited in the voice of Deepika Padukone and directed by Homi Adajania. If you haven’t watched the video yet, then watch it here.

Since the video went viral, a lot of strong reactions have been stemming from people all over the social media. The reactions are both positive and negative. When I first watched the video I reshared it on my facebook timeline stating “This is powerful”. The video has that effect on women. But looking at the flak that it is getting from people, I feel it has not gone down well with many, women included.

I was not aware of the furor caused by the video until my brother pinged me asking about the video. He said he wanted to watch the video and wanted to know what the hullabaloo is about. He said that the video has created quite a controversy and I replied saying “some people just need some topic to outrage and I don’t find anything controversial in that video.”

When I asked him what he thought about the video, he said that it is bound to offend male ego. He said on one watch it seemed that the video’s sole purpose was to kick men’s ego and boost women’s ego. It was then that I realized that the video will obviously have a different impact on the two sections. It is definitely very strong.

My brother clearly explained me that just because he feels that the video hurts men’s ego, doesn’t mean that he is against women empowerment. As well as I know that guy, I know he is one person, who holds women in high regards and well agrees with the evils that women around the world are being subjected to. We have had long discussions on these issues many times and never once has he come across as someone who is in favor of male dominance.

He went ahead and explained me that, if a person looks at the video as a piece of art, the narration especially, then it will serve the purpose. This got me thinking. I guess the part that hurt the people most was the narration which talks about women being open to sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage etc. which are a taboo in our society. If only people could realize that the piece is more symbolic than literal in nature.

What I understood from the video was that, it is a message to both the men and women in the society. It asks men, not to take the women in their lives for granted. If one listens carefully, it asks men to value the love of the women. It also goes ahead to caution men to not be a fool to think that a woman who comes home early is all virtuous and the one who comes late is not. It also sends a message to women that, no one can really empower them unless they themselves work towards empowering themselves.

But, let us chuck discussing and outraging about this video. Personally I feel it’s frivolous to spend our tempers and time over fancy awareness videos. Yes, Vogue Empower is investing and roping a lot of eminent people for their cause. I am not belying the work that they are doing. But, the main irritant for me is the unnecessary importance that is being given to this video. Why can’t people rather talk about the real actions that are being taken towards the social issue of women empowerment?

Another point that had cropped up through this video factions the society into feminists and menists (fairly a recently coined word). Few people think that being a feminist means bashing men all the time. I don’t know how exactly feminists are supposed to be, but irrationally bashing men is so not feminism. If asked about feminism, I would like to favor the opinion given by Emma Watson as a UN ambassador for #HeForShe campaign. She has aptly put that feminism is not about man-hating but more about achieving gender equality.

I have myself gone through a myriad of changes in opinion while witnessing all the outrage that has been going on out there. At a point of time, I was skeptical to even put up this post as I was not sure whether  what I am trying to say would be taken in the right spirit or not. But then, as I said earlier, everyone has a right to their opinion.

I am now tired of discussing this video. In fact, I never understood the point of outrage in the first place. As I have said earlier, I would rather concentrate on reading, hearing and talking about the real actions that are being taken rather than a publicity campaign. Also, I want to say that, whoever has watched the video are people who are educated and have access to technology. Considering these two facts, I feel I can safely say that all such people are capable of rational thinking. And if the same is true then I guess such enlightened minds can decide what is right for them and what is not.

I don’t think the video is going to alter the cases of adultery or extra-marital affairs in any way. If a person has to get into an extra-marital affair, he or she will get into it irrespective of the fact whether they see the video or not. Moreover, half of the oppressed women for who such campaigns are being run might not even be aware of the video. Do we see the pointlessness of it all now?

There are few questions though, the answers to which I wish I could figure out.

Why the social media junta of our country only pick at the one negative point of any social efforts that are being made for any social cause?

Why the positive always gets shadowed by the negatives?

Why people take so much pleasure in talking about negatives rather than positives of anything for that matter?

I really would like to find out some answers to these.

And just so that I could end my post on a positive note, I will talk about something really heartening that caught my attention more than the vogue empower video. I want to share the story of the village Piplantri in Rajasthan where daughters are celebrated. Here, every time a girl child is born, 111 trees are planted in celebration and taken care of. And that is not all. Read the entire story here, if you want to know more about it. This is what makes me happy. This makes me more hopeful. And mind you, here are people who might not even be aware of the Vogue Empower Video. Let’s take some lesson from them.

The Brinjal writes…

What do you call a person who has not committed himself/herself to any particular political party? Who is not a bhakt or a “tard” of any party? Do you call them “thaali ka beingan”? If so then sir/madam you can call me so.

I am not a politics fanatic. I don’t have strong opinions, be it positive or negative, for any leader (except ‘few’ congressis). I cursorily follow the news and the happenings around the political scenario of the country. I often keep quiet and listen to the opinions of the people around me. And I often find them getting excited and perhaps a little aggressive too when they opine about their favourite political party or leader, even though I don’t say anything to contradict what they have to say, as my only purpose is listening to them.

At such times I really feel like holding them softly but firmly by their shoulders and telling them “calm down dude”. I can’t really question such fanatics. Mind you I have genuine questions and genuine doubts because I really have no pre-conceived notions or opinions about any party or leader.

If you ask me what is my opinion about Manmohan Singh, you might probably not like what I have to say. But then it is my opinion. Honestly I feel he was an extremely learned and educated person, who, if he would have really wanted and dared, could have turned the economy of our nation. Yes I do believe the popular notion that he was a puppet. And that was the biggest black mark of his career.
I ofcourse do not favour his puppeteer nor her pseudo-leader son (who I really feel is spineless). But then again we cannot ignore the fact that Congress has some really learned politicians (here I tread on caution as I really have no clue about their ulterior motives).

When it comes to the current ruling party of BJP, I really admire the work that our Prime Minister is doing. He is an excellent marketer and I am sure by the end of his tenure the premiere management institutes around the world would have incorporated lessons from his work model as part of their management case studies. I admire his work, as atleast he is doing “something” compared to the last 10 years of governance that this country has seen nothing but scams and more scams. For that I support him. Yes, I do support him, but I am not his ‘bhakt’. My funda is very clear — I will support anyone until he is working (even if they be baby steps) for the development of my country.

That being said, I want to continue with the point saying that yes, the PM is working. But I don’t hold the same opinion for all the leaders of that party. The party in question at times seem too “Hinduvadi”, not to ignore some of its so called leaders, the “babas and sants”, who go on jabbering utter non-sense day-in and day-out. Presence of such dimwits really makes me question the credibility of the ruling party. I really woe at the kind of blasphemous mouths that are  leading our country. Deep within I really wish that if only Mr. PM could get rid of such half-minds. As it is not being done even though being so obvious, I presume it might seem politically damaging to them. Once again here I see an instance of personal benefit taking precedence over the national health. But hey as they say nothing and no one is perfect and I am sure Mr. PM will have pretty strong and well fenced reasons for not doing so.

Let’s talk about the new kid on the block. The Delhi-Winners. Their leader seems to be an educated administrator, but he really has a lot to prove after the last stint. He has, in the real sense, got a second chance. I have no clue what lead to his victory. Was it their excellent freebie filled manifesto or  was it their intelligent strategies? Was it the over-confidence of their competitors or the sheer confused state? Or was it sheer luck? I really have no clue.  When he first came, he was a revolution, but he turned himself into a joke. Even after that Delhi has given him a chance again this time, which I hope he takes it seriously and not blow it away in hasty decisions. I, like millions, had instilled a kind of faith in him during his first stint. He had seemed young and dynamic and full of a zeal for revolution. Really don’t know what got to him later. That was when my opinion about him dwindled. But Delhi has decided, so once again I will convince myself and prepare to watch him perform. Yes, the expectations are back as I feel Mr. Kejriwal would have learnt from his previous mistakes. All we can do now is wait and watch what the show unfolds.

I am not an expert on politics. I am the lamest in that aspect. I dont belong either to the Right-Wing or to the Left-Wing (Hell I don’t even know what they stand for). I am not a Hindu or Muslim or Christian. I neither belong to any scheduled caste or minority or OBC. I am just another middle class Indian, who just likes to be informed about what is happening around. And all I want from these warring political parties is development of my country. I am not difficult to be convinced. And if you give me even a little assurance of betterment of my country I will support you. Mind you, I will support you, but not blindly follow you.

Before I close this post, I want to word this crazy thought that I had in my mind. All throughout school I was taught that it is important to participate, winning or losing is secondary. We should never stop making efforts. So the crazy thought of mine is why can’t the political parties and their respective leaders follow this. Just imagine, respecting their differences, if the leaders co-operate to work with each other for the betterment of the country, if only Modi and Kejriwal enter a kind of treaty and start working alongside each other. The thought kind of gives me a contentment. But as I told it’s a crazy thought and I know that I won’t see such a scenario in my mortal life. If only they were mere competitors and not enemies. Power is a dangerous thing of which I don’t have slightest of idea.

What I have put here is just my thoughts and ideas. I don’t mean to offend or oppose anyone by them. Infact you are free to correct me if I am wrong anywhere. But only correct me, don’t preach about your favourite political God to me. Because it would not change me and you would only end up wasting your time and energy.

After all I am a mere Brinjal.