Life Notes · Opinion

The Fallacy of Workplace Happiness – Don’t Fall For It

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Photo credit – Unsplash

Happiness is less of a desire and more of an obligation today. I have to be happy because any other way would not make my life worthwhile. And since happiness is never permanent, making it obligatory is both a lost cause and an exhausting undertaking. Yet, the charade of seeking happiness has somehow found its permanent way into our lives, and that includes our work lives. The importance of workplace happiness is felt more passionately now than ever. And as it seems, the conversation around workplace happiness isn’t just a passing fad; it is here to stay.

The corporate philosophy that equates happy employees to productive employees has been adopted, propagated, and widely accepted across the board. New departments are being set up. Special happiness officers are being appointed. Dedicated meeting agendas and budgets are being finalised. The management, around the world, has geared to pull every trick to make sure employees remain happy (whatever that means).

Snack breaks, gym, unwind rooms, free lunches, nap rooms, fun office décor, regular office parties, outside premise get-togethers and whatnot. These are just some of the frequently used tools in the grand scheme of achieving a higher employee happiness quotient. How much such happiness activities help, in reality, is a question for human resource departments to answer.

There’s a famous Mark Twain quote that correlates enjoyment at work to the success you set out to achieve. “The law of work seems unfair, but nothing can change it; the more enjoyment you get out of your work, the more money you will make,” Twain concludes. Both Twain and his words have found takers in the corporate world. While our HR works hard to make sure “fun” is intact at the workplace, Twain’s words often found space on corporate building walls as a reminder.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with seeking enjoyment/fun/happiness when at work. My question is how sure are we that workplace happiness leads to success?

Practically speaking, how much of ourselves should we invest in the pursuit of happiness before it backfires? And it will backfire. It will backfire because the continuous happiness chase can be exhausting. And here we are building an entire narrative that workplace happiness is imperative to success.

So, Is It Okay To Romanticise Work As Anything Other than Just Work?

To understand this, we have to understand what work actually means to millions of people. What work means to the e-commerce delivery boys or to the healthcare professionals forced to leave their families for months during the pandemic and work in life-threatening conditions without proper safety measures. What work means for millions trapped outside of formal sectors or to the 9 to 5 toilers. For them and many other professionals, work is work as most of them cannot afford to ask for more. Work for many is survival. Happy or not happy!

All this conversation about workplace happiness loses its meaning when 60% of the workforce is engaged in the informal sector. These people work with no protection, no benefits, and no job security whatsoever. For that matter, the condition is not so different if we consider many working in the formal sector as well.

A 2019 research by International Labour Organisation estimated 2.8 million deaths every year due to workplace stress, excessively long working hours and related diseases.

The bottom line is, working conditions around the world in some of the most popular professions are dire, to say the least. So, how justified is the call to seek happiness at the workplace in a rather superficial way knowing that this narrative, in reality, is abysmally far-fetched.

Besides, How Accurate is Correlating Workplace Happiness to Success?

What is success? I’m assuming we all have different perceptions when it comes to success. Still, if one has to define it, success often appears to be a combination of many things that are beyond our control. How and when success touches someone heavily depends on their social background, genetics, financial inheritance, and sometimes pure luck. One can blame the skewed social structure of our societies, but that doesn’t change the facts. Hard work, which is a universally propagated conundrum plays little role in the overall success. And then there is the farce of meritocracy.

Corporate leadership has the world fooled. Efficiently. The perception that meritocracy governs the corporate sector is meticulously built and craftily sold to millions. Research, however, says otherwise.

Office politics, favouritism, higher-lower management disconnect, and no real job satisfaction are some of the problems on the rise in the private sector. Success here is governed by not just performance. But somehow, the corporations have been convinced by the workplace happiness myth. It’s not that hard to understand why because let’s be honest, organising a staff picnic is any day easier task than fixing core issues breading beneath the carpet.

One significant aspect that the believers in workplace happiness invariably ignore is job satisfaction. It is difficult to talk about job satisfaction without questioning every foundation surrounding us. What is important to understand is that job satisfaction is not always money or success oriented. The value attached to the work you are doing usually dictates the satisfaction you set out to gain at the end of a working day.

Most people in the modern corporate setting don’t even feel good about the actual work they are doing. Many contemporary jobs deal in tasks that appear redundant, not just to the people around but even to those who are doing these jobs. This actually brings us to the phenomenon which was first mentioned and studied in detail in a book by David Graeber — Bullshit Jobs!

What are Bullshit Jobs?

Anthropologist and Professor David Graeber presented the concept in his book titled — Bullshit Jobs — and argued how millions of people across the world are simply unhappy at work because they believe their work doesn’t have any meaning or value. Bullshit jobs are jobs that seem pointless in the grand scheme of things. Strangely, even though it hardly finds space in mainstream discussions, those performing the pointless jobs are well aware. In fact, this self-awareness serves as a reason for dissatisfaction at work.

Thanks to technological advancements and lack of demand for labour-intensive work, an entire generation has been forced into paper-intensive work weeks. Mostly based in administration departments, this workforce is usually overlooked. Professionals in clerical positions, administrations, telemarketing, consulting, corporate law, and service are fighting a hidden battle. The sad reality of their bullshit jobs is neither accepted in corporate board rooms nor talked about in lunch breaks.

The point is, the conversation about workplace happiness is fragmentary. And the discussion and effort towards ensuring employee “happiness” is surface level. To add more to the already flawed vision, we are not even sure about the concept. Does workplace happiness really enhance performance or overall company output?

Does Workplace Happiness Have a Positive Impact?

It is a question that should be asked first. Contrary to popular perception, research indicates a contrasting opinion. Studies suggest angry or dissatisfied people are more productive. They are also supposed to be better at negotiations, in life or at work. When you are dissatisfied, your zeal to perform is much higher. On the other hand, happiness can be a huge dilutor. Too much positive excitement can make people delusional and far from reality.

Happiness is fleeting; it’s not permanent. And constant search for something that is transitory or short-lived can lead to dissatisfaction. The pressure of ensuring happiness in life and at work has the capacity to not only demotivate but have a negative impact on the entire journey.

So, while management is using surface-level workplace happiness talk as a manipulation technique, it is the employee who is setting unrealistic expectation from the job for themselves. As much as happiness can uplift spirits, the pressure to be consistently happy or fun can pull anyone down.

So, What About Workplace Then?

The focus during work should be on work, not the workplace. Unfortunately, work-life being anything other than happy raises eyebrows these days. People expect you to not only be happy at what you do for a living but also enjoy every day. But it wasn’t always like this. There was a time when getting work was considered a privilege, and not the other way around.

Interestingly, if we look at the unemployment rates in different economies, whether democracies or autocracies, having work should really feel like a privilege even now.

Workplace happiness should be all about job satisfaction, which can only be achieved through dialogue. Your workplace doesn’t have to be fun and your work shouldn’t have to draw you the highest paycheques. What is needed is an effective dialogue about the actual work with the management. What is required is to have open and approachable higher management.

Otherwise, work is just that, work. And as long as this basic fact is stitched in our brains and heart, one will take it just as that, work.

TV & Movies

Some Random Thoughts on Netflix’s Squid Game

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Let’s talk about Squid Game, because a) we must, and b) WE MUST!

Having said that, I’m wondering, is there really anything left to say about this Netflix’s original? Frankly, the straightforward answer is NO! Every valid or even invalid point has already been made, every plot point dissected, and even the camera angles or screenshots of the series has been already discussed in length. In fact, a month ago, the discussion around the show in the online fandom was so fierce that it quickly turned into a toxic round table group discussion with enough passive-aggressiveness to scare non-viewers standing two miles away.

In case you are one of the four people on this planet who have no idea about this show, let me spill some facts about the show for you first.

Netflix released the South Korean original series, a survival drama — Squid Game — worldwide for the first time on September 17th 2021. Since then, the show not only was an instant hit with both viewers and critics, it soon became one of the most-watched Netflix series of all time with more than 142 million household views (the last count made public).

According to Netflix, an estimate of Squid Game’s “impact value” (whatever that means) is close to $891 million. There are too many milestones to count in the context of the success of the series, so let me just wrap this introduction up with the most bizarre story that surfaced with the success of this 9 part series. The popularity of the show led a South Korean broadband company to file a lawsuit against Netflix claiming monetary compensation for the associated maintenance costs with the surge in broadband usage due to high viewership.

So yeah…. Squid Game is THE thing in the current pop culture scene.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone why the show was such widely accepted all around the world. And at the same time, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if I say I don’t think it’s that good of a series.

Before watching the show, I noticed when many viewers were having these lengthy discussions online on how the show makes a giant comment on economic inequality. Honestly, I didn’t see how.

Yes, one of the main themes of the show is economic inequality and how that weighs down on people. But the way this line of the social issue has been treated in the story shows a completely different intent of the makers. To me, it seemed as if the economic struggles of the characters were only used as a catalyst to justify unrelenting bloodshed.

What worked, in my opinion, is the unabashed binge-worthy treatment of a rather simplistic storyline. Secondly, the clever marketing tactics need a mention too.

Squid Game is about a larger than life game series organised by a mysterious organisation where economically troubled contestants are shortlisted to play children’s games to win a whopping 45.6 billion won at the end. While the prize money can change their life, the games are not designed to make you a winner whatsoever. The catch thrown in the middle of this plot is a hunger game inspired, carnage inciting “win the game or die” twist.

The storyline, while seems interesting, was predictable at every turn. If you pay even the slightest of attention you would be able to see the major plot points from miles away.

The outright carnage as a plot device in the show definitely has the ability to shock, which in the times of streaming seems to be the biggest plus for any content. Your jaw will hit the floor and you will find yourself biting all your nails off.

There has been a lot of online discussion on what made Squid Game work, that too with such worldwide acceptance. And although while watching the show I didn’t realise, the one thing I now believe that truly works in the favour of the show is its binge-worthy treatment.

I’m almost sure program creator Hwang Dong-hyuk attended a good business school just by looking at the way he designed and marketed his product. The screenplay of every episode is cleverly drafted to make sure the viewer returns for the next episode the moment they are done with one.

And when I say Dong-hyuk marketed his product well, I mean this:

Interestingly, Bezos is just one name (and one of the most powerful names) in the long list of popular accounts that tweeted about the show in the initial few weeks.

Not-so-strangely, this was enough to create a never-dying vibe around the show in the initial week of its launch. Sooner than anyone thought, the whole internet was in frenzy on Korean children games and costumes from the series. So, yeah… the whole “word of mouth” theory has worked on another level for Squid Game.

But as many would say, marketing alone can’t make something as huge as this. And I agree.

The production value is the next aspect where credit of success definitely lies.

Whatever I’ve seen of Korean dramas, they are always well produced. And the case is not different with Squid Game. Reportedly Worth $900 Million in production cost, this Netflix original looks great. Every frame is meticulously designed and planned. The set design is creative and intriguing, something that complements the show theme beautifully. The game’s world created for the show is one the most memorable world-building I’ve seen in recent times.

Squid Game is the second South Korean drama that I have seen. And though I was aware of the popularity of K dramas, I wasn’t really touched by Hallyu, Korean pop culture, before this. As the hype increased, ignoring Squid Game became cumbersome. Everyone I know was talking about it. And it wouldn’t be entirely wrong to say I was truly peer pressured into it.

Life Notes · Lifestyle

Food and I…Learning To Have a Better Relationship

Photo by Elle Hughes on Pexels.com

No, this isn’t a recipe post and neither have I suddenly turned into a food blogger. Last week was World Food Day (16th Oct) and I’ve been thinking as usual. I have been thinking about my relationship with food and how it has improved lately. It seems living through the lockdown phase of the pandemic and struggling with messy eating habits have somehow helped me build a better relationship with food in general.

Although my eating habits have never been irrational, I’ve never been into a balanced diet either. I ate whatever and whenever. But soon enough, like everyone else, the bug of conscious and healthy eating bit me too. I started reassessing my food.

Now, the moment you start looking at your food from a health perspective, all you see is unhealthy carbs and greasy junk. Food guilt becomes inevitable, and that never ends well.

The idea of “diets” has always been daunting. I used to imagine diet changes as the only path to improving food or eating habits. Turns out, it is not.

Anyhow, after many failed attempts at being restrictive, what I’ve learned in the past year is diet changes are rarely achievable. What is achievable is small habit changes that ultimately helps in building a better relationship with food.

To me, a better relationship with food is all about enjoying food without guilt. It is also about sustaining an improved way of food. It’s picking the food that is nutritious and being genuinely happy about it, not because you have to follow some diet.

It happened gradually with me. Probably unconsciously too! Inculcating these six simple habits have helped me in forming a better relationship with food. They made me feel better about what I’m eating and generally confident when it comes to food choices.

The phrase “relationship with food,” is usually associated with eating struggles or, in a more headline friendly term, eating disorders. I am dealing with neither and this is certainly not intended for someone who is. This is strictly based on my personal experience.

Five Simple Habits to Build a Better Relationship with Food

  • Reading Food Labels

This is the simplest of all. To know what we are putting inside our body, that’s the bare minimum, right? Almost everything that we eat these days comes in packaged form, which isn’t ideal but somehow has become unavoidable. Fresh food of decent quality is either too expensive or out of reach. So, we in return have learned to depend on packaged food for most things. What we haven’t learned, however, is reading the food labels that usually outline necessary information about the food inside.

Reading food labels does two very significant things to our overall food habits. It provides vital information about what we are about to eat and it pushes us towards planning our meals better. And planning meals is where the key lies.

Since I’ve started reading food labels, I’ve naturally become positive when it comes to food. I feel confident about what I am eating and that somehow incites guilt-free food habits. Also, you will be surprised to know that a lot of food items that are heavily advertised as “healthy” actually carry multiple contrary ingredients, something that they mention on labels.

  • Maintaining a Food Journal

This is such a funny yet life-changing thing I’ve gotten used to. It started as a joke on a video call with a friend and now I have six months worth of notes on everything I ate during this time. The biggest realisation from this – food that we often crave doesn’t always taste good or succeed in making us feel better. To be honest, my food journal is a game-changer.

We often don’t pay attention to what we are eating. If someone asks us to talk about the dinner we had last night, I know most of us won’t be able to construct two sentences apart from what we ate. Our eating experiences are mostly robotic or pass in a joyous daze, when in a company.

That’s where a food journal enters. And all I did was write down a few lines on day’s meals and how I felt about them. The idea is to become a food critic.

(I know this sounds stupid, but I hope people would try it. This was interesting and unbelievably funny to look back at.)

  • Investing in Beautiful Tableware

Yes, it is an investment. A personal one!

We usually do not take tableware seriously unless we have a house to decorate or guests to entertain. And we rarely pay attention to our everyday tableware. It might not appear significant, but investing in beautiful tableware for your everyday use can elevate your eating experience.

These cute cups I specifically got for my evening herbal tea that has become a necessity for my anxiety management are my recent favourites.

  • Spending Time with Meals

My grandmother used to say many things that and one of them was to eat slowly, taking your own sweet time. I used to be a fast eater. To be honest, I think I still am. This is so important and often missed by many of us.

During the pandemic, I noticed how even when I’m at home (and not on any lunch break), 15 is the maximum I take to finish a full meal. And that’s when I’m stretching. Lunch breaks at school and especially at work ruined our whole idea of mealtime. We are all programmed to finish as soon as we can, even when the break is probably for 30 minutes at least at all places.

Having a relaxed mealtime where you can relish your food and have a good time can have a life-changing impact. If not every day or for every meal, at least try this for one meal every day.

  • Learning about Nutrition

Our schools and education system is such a failure when it comes to two things – food and money. No one teaches us how to invest and work around our money to turn it into an asset rather than just a means to our ends. And similarly, no one teaches us to take a practical approach to nutrition that can help in developing better eating habits naturally. With everything they teach, they don’t teach is what’s most significant for survival.

Nonetheless, you have to teach yourselves. About both, money and food!

Learning about nutrition is so important and we should have at least one meeting with a nutritionist to understand the requirements of our body. If you can’t have a personal appointment with a nutritionist for whatever reason, the least you can do is start reading about it. Pick up a book or online; frankly, there are tons of information available. Nevertheless, taking nutrition lightly is not wise.

Food is such a common and sensitive topic for so many, yet most of the conversation around it often seems like the result of indirect marketing. Moving on…

There could be so many reasons why one would want to improve their relationship with food. It could be fitness, strength building, better lifestyle, health improvements, or even battling an illness that demands change. Whatever it may be, I’ve now learned how the focus should be on small things and not drastic unsustainable changes.

Life Notes

Peeps!!

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I’ve been gone for sooooooooo long. And it’s not even remotely funny. Both mind and thoughts were – probably still are – in shambles. So many things going wrong at the same time. Maybe they are all in my mind, but everything feels wrong.  
No.. really.. anyone still here???

TV & Movies

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Review and Thoughts

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So, I finished watching The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 and I have thoughts. Lots of them!!

In one sentence – as an attempt to make it a spoiler free feedback – I would say the season was sadly not one of their strongest but saved itself by the end thanks to the dramatics.

(Now, was that too harsh; I really hope not? Frankly, I loved the first two seasons so, SO much that I have no idea how to be disappointed at this series. Huh! This season definitely made me cranky.)

Here’s a thing about fiction – the end of the story makes the story. The feeling you have while turning the final chapters, the last few pages, determines how you’ll remember the story. While watching a show or reading a book that instantly appears great, my apprehension about their endings often increases. You can’t blame me though; too many good stories, especially these modern drama shows, have disappointed with their finales. The Handmaid’s Tale is one such show. Not the disappointment part, but the apprehension one. It started at its peak and I want it to end on one. Season 4 gives a probable glimpse of how it all might come to an end.

Talking about the season specifically, I have to say I was worried at the start. Probably the weakest season premiere of the series yet; nonetheless, it got better. The start, or in fact the whole first half of the season, seemed off. Directionless! But it got better in the second half and takes a turn where things actually get interesting again. Somehow the narration reached to a point by the end where it left me wanting to come back for the next season, and that’s… positive.

I will never talk about The Handmaid’s Tale without talking about her. Elizabeth Moss! She puts on the director’s hat this season. And I must say, I felt so proud for some unimaginable reason. I recently finished watching Mad Men. (Thoughts and reviews on that can be expected in future *winks*) From that pilot episode of Mad Men where she plays a new, shy and intimidated secretary who has dreams but has no idea how to pursue them to now directing the hell out of an emmy winning show in which she is the protagonist and appears almost in every frame. Like I said, I’m in awe. She is as natural behind the camera as she is in front. Her direction was at par with the standard of the show, which is high praise considered how unique and impactful this show’s direction has been so far.

To move forward, we have to get into the spoiler zone. So, this is me, giving a big – SPOILER ALERT – if you haven’t read the latest season, read no more.

Thoughts – SPOILER Alert

The Decapitation of the Waterfords finally happened. HA HA HA! Can you see my evil grin? Now, who wasn’t waiting for THAT? Commander Fred Waterford wailing and screaming – “I’m a man, and I have rights!” on top of his voice wasn’t just poetic but one of the most satisfactory moments of the entire series. It was one thing every viewer of the show was waiting for since the pilot episode, the dethroning of the Waterfords. And while the process started last season, the second half of season 4 is much more decisive about their fate.

The Wordfords have always been the strongest aspects of this story. They built Gilead and by the virtue of our protagonist spending so much of her handmaid days with them, we understood Gilead from their eyes. From the very first episode, the Handmaid’s Tale made it clear that Serena Waterford was as much a participant in the making of Gilead as were the men we saw ruling it later. Even when Serena’s figure was cut off for crime of reading (since women in Gilead aren’t allowed to read), Serena’s belief in the system that she played an influential role in creating was evident when she mentions how it was as per the “law of the state.” To say men were responsible for this dystopian state become a reality is a lie. The fact remains, women not only participated but some like Mrs Waterford even became the architect of Gilead. She played a significant role and now she can’t pretend. At least not in front of the commander. There was a moment this season when Commander Waterford reminds us – and Serena – this truth in flesh – “I am as you made me” he tells the woman who definitely has a lot to answer for, if not more than anyone else.

One thing, Fred, Serena and June (Offred) – I needed more of this trio. I won’t lie I was hoping for more fireworks and a much intense faceoff. Some may find the plot with the Waterfords underwhelming, but I honestly can’t think of a better way to this arc so I’m going to accept what the Handmaid’s Tale writers did.

Next, we have June finally escaping. It was a surprise to be honest, and I wasn’t expecting that to happen till the end of this season, especially after watching the first few episodes. Nevertheless, she did and we have to be glad. June’s Arc, after she reunites with Luke, Nichole, Moira and Emily, took the interesting turn I was hoping it will take whenever she sees the normal light of the day. After everything the woman has been through, what does life even looks like after this? Trauma and its effects are complicated. You can’t just escape abuse in such severity and find solace in your safety or even family. I’m glad the writers accepted this and are making us face the music. “We are the ones we have been waiting for” June’s mother used to tell her and she made sure to repeat these words when they are needed the most.

June and Luke’s relationship has been through a journey that no couple can even imagine. This season finally shows them together in the present time and what exactly we thought was going to happen. Do they just start living like they used to before? How? Do they talk? About what? Everything about these two presents such a nuanced point of contention in fiction, the Handmaid’s Tale did its best to do justice. Some rough and disturbing scenes here address the problem in a way that will always remain debatable. The scene where June rapes Luke (yes, the debate of whether it was rape of not is long concluded; it was in fact rape) remains one of the defining moments. It blurred many lines. Lines between characters, between relationships, between good or bad. It was an interesting choice, though I wouldn’t call it brave per se. The creators have crossed ticked the bravery bracket a long time ago.

Then we have June and Nick. Talking about Nick Blaine – well, hero is usually someone you don’t expect to be one. I would be lying if I say I wasn’t rooting for these two to be together. Not in a shipping way, but for the simple fact that no one would ever understand what June survived more than Nick. But Nick has to stay where he belongs to continue what was started and that underlines the fact that every hell has its share of good men being sent there for thing reasons we will never understand.

I want to talk about Janine. We have been watching her since the first season and although she endured more than any of the handmaids, Janine has always been the one to be taken lightly by everyone. Even by June, who was present throughout Janine’s struggles and was a witness to her strength in moments of absolute hell. June underestimated Janine. We all did. This season finally addressed it. I’m glad she survived because she deserves to see the end of it all more than anyone.

Here’s a serious question as an end thought – what is the plan for Mrs Keyes? The character was introduced with such fanfare in season premiere and then just forgotten for half of the season. This, however, increasingly continues to be a problem with many TV shows. Introduction of characters with big promises with no follow through. I hope we see some development here next season.

I think I know what the issue with The Handmaid’s Tale has been. It’s started brilliantly. The show was able to set the standards of cinematic brilliance so high that disappointment at continuation was inevitable. Which is probably why even after loving so many aspects of writing, performance and plot choices, I am not calling this season one of their strongest. Anyhow, I’m won’t lie, I am looking forward to the next season. Like an irritating yet loyal admirer, I complain but I will stand by it till the end.

(Check my The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1 , Season 2 , and Season 3 review posts. You are obviously free to skip, but I would recommend against it.)

Books

Twist in the “tale” of Cat Person – Reading Recommendation

This is a recommendation post. I usually stick to book recommendations, but I’m here with something more than that today. This is about a short story and a recent revelation from the person who’s life it was based on. This revelation, now almost 5 years after the short story was first published and went viral, has opened a whole new debate.

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I don’t know how many of you are aware or still remember viral items from almost 5 years ago. But for the sake of this, I’m guessing you are not. This is about a 2017 viral short story written by Kristen Roupenian – Cat Person! This short fiction gathered a lot of attention online during those delicate days when #metoo movement was gaining momentum worldwide. Women across the world were facing the reality much more than men as we ourselves were so used to hiding from it. Emotions were running high and it is safe to say that the story resonated with many, irrespective of gender. Some liked it, some not so much. Discourse was inevitable.

I remember reading Cat Person sometime in early 2018. I didn’t appreciate it and was immediate to question the intention. The story felt personal. Invasive. Incorrect. Immoral. The writing was mediocre. But somehow Roupenian managed to add everything that would get the reading community talking. In short, this small piece of fiction opened a painfully long episode of online debates with people sharing their feelings, disappointments, appreciation and rants. Not to say, Twitter went into its usual frenzy. 

Now, all that happened in 2017. Continued for sometime and probably remained in the minds of a few. When I say a few, it includes the one person who’s life the story was based on.

Cut to… we are in 2021 and we have a twist in the tale. A twist that I am not going to reveal for obvious reasons. (Wouldn’t you want to read it yourself??) But I am telling you – you have to read this.

Alexis Nowicki, an Associate Publicist based in New York, recently published an essay in Slate dot com. And she.. well, she talked about Cat Person, the story. She talked about the story and how it was basically……. her life.

Alexis’s essay is what I am here to recommend. The essay not just present a chilling twist in the tale but also rightfully opens a whole new debate around fiction being borrowed from reality and the question of ethics behind it. It is much more than what initially may seem. Yes, she is talking about fiction and her life but the piece is quietly raising many questions. More than anything, it opens the question of perception about people and how we assume things that are not real. We pass judgements, sometimes based on our personal experiences and sometimes well, because of our shortsightedness.

I highly recommend reading Alexis’s essay. It is one of the finest and most nuanced writings I have seen in recent times.

Links to both “stories” are below along with an article written in 2017 that captures the mood of reading community and the discourse that followed the release of the short fiction. Frankly speaking, I really hope you guys read these. This rekindled debate is worth a notice. And if you do, please leave a comment below to share how you feel about this, would love to hear more perspectives.

(I recommend reading these in below order by the way.)

Read Cat Person here.
Read about the 2017 discourse here.
Read Alexis’s recently published essay here.

Short Stories

In that moment..

The moment he was hit with realisation, he panicked. For the moment. And just in that moment he knew there’s no escape. Whatever was about to happen, will happen. He can’t run, he can’t hide, he can’t resist, and it was certainly too late to turn around or walk backwards. The choice he made in the moment before this moment brought him here. There’s no changing the past. And as he was panicking, he had no idea how to alter the future. So, what was he supposed to do was the thought that captured him after the moment of panic passed, somewhat. Was he just supposed to welcome this or accept this? That sounded more like submission. In a mechanical or instinctive movement, he closed his eyes. As if that was natural. He closed his eyes and it was all dark. Was he expecting something else? In the moment he was to open his eyes, he saw a tinge of blue. The colour. Of water. First in a small stretch and then the whole wide sky-like ocean. Welcoming. Smirking. All in front of him. Eyes still close, his smile appeared from nowhere.

Short Stories

A dream like a dream..

The buttermilk was all over the floor.
Just in that moment, there was a knock on the door.
An old lady was humming a song that night.
It was morning already when I opened my eyes.
There was a road. An empty one.
And a lamp post. Like the early sun.
I remember it was raining in the hall.
Or may be it was the sound of the distant waterfall.
You stuck around to see how I was feeling low.
Still through the window I had to see you go.
We were all really on our way.
All I have left is fuzzy memories that had to stay.
Like I said, it was morning already.
I closed my eyes for one minute and the storm was ready.

Books

Some Days by María Wernicke – Book Review

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Book Title – Some Days
Author – María Wernicke
Translator – Lawrence Schimel
Category – Children’s Picture Book
Illustrator – María Wernicke
Page Count – 24

Ratings – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis – From an Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee comes a touching story of family, security, and loss.

Thoughts

You don’t need many words to create literary magic. Sometimes, the tiniest dynamites of fiction leave the greatest impressions. Some Days by María Wernicke fall in the category of such little dynamites.

Although it is widely projected as Children’s picture book, this extremely short story quickly turns into meaningful poetic prose.

A little girl having a conversation with her mother about a passageway in their backyard. A simple conversation promising a thousand of meanings. I read it three times to make sure I’m not missing something only to realize I’ll be missing some meaning or nuance even if I read it ten times. I’m not sure if children reading this alone would ever be able to decipher what is actually being said, but then today’s children are not really children, are they?

The illustrations are impressive and intertwine with the written word perfectly.

In short, Some Days by María Wernicke is a work of art. Highly recommend it if you are looking for something heart pleasing.

Life Notes

Sorry I was MIA…

This month was weird, to say the least. Weird in a way that I just today realised that it is over. It’s gonna be a new month tomorrow. Life as such has been so blurry it completely slipped my mind that time was continuing. I thought I would stop and everything would stop with me. But turns out I was wrong.

I just wasn’t here. It was a much needed online break. I couldn’t come online. Or may be I just didn’t want to. Whatever it was, it did me good. I feel better, although I do feel like a break from virtual world have now put my mind to sleep.

Anyway, I have many scattered thoughts, jumbled sentences and lost words that all seems to be making some sort of sense at the end. So.. if my anxiety permits, hopefully… I will be able to express a lot better next month. May be I can take a writing challenge? Oooooooo, that could shake me out of this messy mind slumber.

It’s July tomorrow, can you believe it? JULY? Half of the year is gone. Huh!