Vonnegut’s Prescription

(Photo Credit: Sue Vincent)

Knowing neither the subtleties of similes nor a metaphor’s essence

Casting aside logic and caving not to rationale and its neat set of rules;

With impulse for a cause and spontaneity as a natural consequence

The heart charts an unpredictable destiny using its own set of tools.

 

Inventing the arrow, Artificial Intelligence and everything in between

Paying obeisance to cold protocol, laws of nature and the tenets of mass assembly

With competition for siblings and monopoly as off-springs to continue the reign

The brain creates its own future observing neither the dictates of glory nor infamy.

 

Castles built by the calculating machinery of the head lay destroyed by the complex mechanisms of the heart

While Fantasies woven by an energetic and love-struck heart are rend asunder by a ruthless head;

Reconciling the tug and push of these two warriors calls for the mastery of an ancient and painful art

A task that has left many a component of humanity confused, tired and at times even dead.

 

A dose of John Steinbeck for the mind & a generous measure of Scott Fitzgerald for the soul

Vonnegut to calm racing thoughts and Hemingway to lend a measure of equanimity

Orwell in the morning and Huxley at night in an attempt to plug the gaping hole;

Always having the antidote of Dostoevsky to guard against the perils of dangerous vanity.

This is a response to the #writephoto Prompt – Imagination curated over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.

Possibilities Infinite

hill cresting cp

(Photo Credit: Crispina Kemp)

It was his path of spontaneous creation and crushing doom

A way that had for passengers the siblings, hope and despair

This was the trail where blazing light merged into fearful gloom

Imparting the quintessential lessons of life, whether bitter or fair.

 

On many days he had walked holding her hands with a spirit unshackled

While on other days he was the solitary reaper, walking towards a destination unknown

The woods had reverberated with their laughter, so pure and unburdened

The trees now bear testimony to his screams of pain which in intensity have grown.

 

The whispering wind carries with it a treasure trove of tales so tantalizing to parse

The beaten tracks hide within their ruts the power of a thousand possibilities and myths;

Trees gnarled and twisted under whose shade he lay with her counting the shiny stars

He still continues stumble along the path and its widths.

(Word Count: 150)

Written as part of the Crimson’s Creative Challenge #10 More details regarding this challenge may be found HERE.

A world in need of healing

(Photo Credit: Dale Rogerson)

Stubbornly disregarding the recommendations of the sincere real estate agent, Venky moved into the semidetached property which was in crying need of repair. Come to think of it, the whole world seemed as if it required some prompt and urgent fixing. Instead of dismantling barriers between nations, walls were proposed to be erected; instead of respecting green canopies that breathe life, holes were being punched into the ozone layer.

Venky latched the door closed and observed that the panel of glass was splintered and taped over in an unprofessional and hasty manner.

Splintered hopes, shattered glass!

(Word Count: 96)

This story was written as part of the FRIDAY FICTIONEERS challenge, more about which may be found HERE

 For the complete list of entries, please click HERE

Friend of a Friend – David Burkus

Image result for friend of a friend david burkus + review

On the 6th of May, 1973, in a paper curiously and paradoxically titled, “The Strength of Weak Ties”, American sociologist and Professor at Stanford University, Mark Granovetter revealed the proposition that acquaintances are likely to be more influential than close friends, particularly in social networks. Weak ties as he called them, were more likely to connect social networks and also act as bridges. This research paper did more than just pique the interest of its readers or merely arouse their curiosity. As of November 2018, according to Google Scholar, “The Strength of Weak Ties” boasts a jaw dropping 50,000 citations, making it the most cited work in the Social Sciences.

So what exactly are these weak ties and how best can we exploit them to further both our personal and professional prospects? Is there an overlap between personal and professional ties? These are some of the key questions which David Burkus grapples with in his extremely readable, evocative and essential book, “Friend of a Friend of a Friend….” (“the book”).

The term ‘networking’ ought to be a contender for one of the most used, and perhaps – abused words in the English vocabulary. Networking has been the subject of a million books and a billion pages all urging their readers to follow stereotypical paths ranging from the pedantic to the preposterous. However, as Mr. Burkus points out, more often than not, this “working the room” strategy leaves people with more than just a sour taste in their mouth. “In one study researchers Tiziana Casciaro, Francesca Gino and Maryam Koucchaki found that even just thinking about networking leaves most people feeling dirty.” Instead, citing the extraordinary examples of ‘super-connected’ personalities such as the entrepreneur Adam Rifkin, philanthropist Scott Harrison and producer Brian Grazer, Mr. Burkus says, “understanding how networks work, how to navigate them, and how to tend to the community they represent is what determines a lot of your career success and a lot of organisation’s ability to perform. Knowing who your friends are and who their friends are, so you can gain a better understanding of the community, will lead to better odds that your network will enhance your success.”

From this stems what reads like a most counter intuitive proposition which Mr. Burkus offers his readers.  Even though our spontaneous reaction might be to reach out to the people with whom we are closest to and with whom we have been interacting for decades, it might be more valuable to reach out to those with whom we have rarely connected for years or even decades. Why? The people we know best usually know the same people and also know what you know. “Our weak ties often build a bridge from one cluster to another and thus give us access to new information. Even though the strong ties in our life are more likely to be motivated to help us, it turns out that our weak ties’ access to new sources of information might be more valuable.”

The most fascinating aspect of this ‘antithetical’ or even heretical work is the plethora of real life examples embedded between its covers. Burkus embarks on an assiduous story telling saga as he brings together personalities and events spanning a variety of disciplines. From how Michelle McKenna-Doyle, SVP, and CIO of the NFL became – the SVP and CIO of the NFL to how the prolific movie producer Brian Grazer tapped into his weak ties to become the man who gave the world, indelible movies such as Apollo 13, Liar Liar, A Beautiful Mind, and 8 Mile, Mr. Burkus highlights the importance of striking conversations with people with whom one may have hardly interacted.

Every Chapter in the book ends with a pragmatic “From Science to Practice” summary where he highlights key tasks for his readers to strengthen and build upon their weak ties. He also provides links to online resources for honing and practicing the skills required to improve upon building up one’s weak ties.

One would do well to push aside the tried and tested Rolodex and instead pick up “Friend of a Friend” by Davis Burkus instead. When did you say was the last time that you interacted with the buddy with whom you shared your dorm room while at the University?

Milk Bundt Cake

(Photo Credit: Yinglan)

The windows afforded a clear view of the ‘pseudo-park-cum-makeshift-football-ground’ that was in need of some tenanting. A few scraggly trees with their slender branches and withered leaves stood as silent witnesses to the goings on in the park. What was once a jogging track was now obscured by the undisturbed growth of grass.

Joanne used the back of her hand to wipe away the beads of sweat streaming down her forehead. With her flowing locks of hair combed back and tied into a bun; a knee length apron preventing an assortment of ingredients from sullying her attire, Joanne looked out the window for a fleeting second before returning to the cake batter spread upon the table.

Her two young sons, her heartbeats, Victor & Richard were engrossed in kicking a ball with their trusted friend Francis for company. A luxuriant smile broke over Joanne’s face. The kids were in for a surprise. They had no idea that they would be welcomed back with the tempting aroma and delectable taste of their favourite Milk Bundt Cake!

(Word Count: 175)

This story has been written as part of the FLASH FICTION FOR ASPIRING WRITERS – FFfAW Challenge #200, more details about which may be found HERE

For reading similar entries submitted in response to the FFfAW Challenge #200 please click HERE

Thank You Yinglan for the photograph!

Mission Gandalf

(Photo Credit: Stefan Keller)

19 tired but determined souls weightily trudged along the barren land. A cold wind that cut like a knife blew right into their faces. Faces that were protected by fibre glass helmets that released a steady flow of Oxygen via ultralight cylinders ensconced within even lighter back packs. The howling wind whistled away like troubled wolves predicting a pattern of doom. The perfectly circular orb that was the moon shone in milky white splendor.

Venky’s concentration however was on the magnificently regal and natural formation of mountain made of ice. The indentations and cutting edges remarkably represented the image of a Socratic elder squatting on the ground and intently examining a patch of land with what seemed like an exquisitely sculpted arm. This jaw dropping spectacle reminded Venky of the mythical Gandalf. Gandalf, J.R.R. Tolkien’s immortal creation who in the blink of an eye could transform lament into laughter.

It was exactly such a messiah that Venky was in dire need of. He had plunged into what seemed like a reckless and suicidal mission just because it was – well reckless and suicidal. The first phase of colonization of the Planet was announced with spectacular pomp and shameless proclamations. The Joint Declaration by the 19 Presidents coming together under the aegis of “A New Eternal World” (“ANEW”), a lofty euphemism for crony capitalism, was welcomed not just with fanfare but with funds.

Venky could care less about either the advantages of living on the moon or the anxiety of losing one’s way on Earth. Since the time his Ash had left him in a huff, carrying along with her not a shred of material possessions but his very soul, Johnny Walker had become his confidante and John Steinbeck his comrade. Books and bottle occupied him during the daytime. The arrival of nightfall just had the order reversed. Hence when a call came from the Altruistic World Publishers Association asking for a volunteer to chronicle what was being hailed as a path breaking expedition involving Nuclear Physicists, Particle Physicists, Chemical Experts, Microbiologists and Botanists, Venky jumped at the chance like a drowning man clutching at a straw. He was not looking for either a resuscitation or a resurrection of his career. He just wanted closure, a closure that would finally bring him peace, quiet and fulfillment.

Taking out his all-weather stylus and electronic keypad, he paused went down on his haunches and wrote, “We all need a Gandalf in our lives. We might not find him if we consciously set out seeking him. We just need to be unconsciously aware of his presence when he finds us.”

This is a piece of fiction piece written for D. Wallace Peach’s monthly Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt. 

KGF Chapter 1: Rocky’s Rage

Image result for KGF

First things first, KGF – Chapter 1 is here to stay. A combination of cinematography, musical score, screenplay and execution on screen contrive to take KGF to levels hitherto unseen and heights previously unattained, in the annals of the otherwise illustrious Kannada film industry.

Coming to the plot of the movie, the genesis finds its voice in the year 1951. A confluence of two profund events in the form of the birth of the protagonist and the discovery of gold in the mines of Kolar Gold Fields (K.G.F) sets in motion a high octane, racy and rambunctious chain of events. Seeped in poverty Yash, a.k.a Raja Krishnappa Bairya (“Rocky”) heads to the city of dreams and dons, Mumbai to carve a niche for himself. Aided by a fearless nature and untrammeled ambition, Rocky soon becomes a don of fearsome repute. Rocky takes on the big bad boys whose synonyms are gold smuggling. After successfully warding away Inayat Khalil a menacing mafia don from laying down his marker in the bullion black market in Mumbai, Rocky is dispatched on what seems to be a ‘point-of-no-return’ mission back home where he finds himself face to face with the ruthless Garuda, the monarch of Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) who murders people for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Will Rocky liberate the enslaved miners from K.G.F thereby stopping Garuda in his tracks forms the crux and core of KGF.

Yash, as Rocky, scorches, and sizzles. He is suave, sleek and sensational. A gun toting, witticisms mouthing, human-wrecking machine, Yash holds his audience in absolute thrall as a brooding hulk who neither brooks opposition nor obstinacy. Breathtaking in all his stunt sequences, Yash has in one fell swoop and one single clean stroke, bid goodbye to his stereotypical romantic chocolate boy next door image. This paradigm shift is more than just welcome. There is a definite finesse to his performance that is refreshingly non-linear and electric. Even though at times the plot becomes thick and heavy with layers of complications and a plethora of characters, Yash manages to hold his own with a ridiculous ease that is frightening.

Ravi Basrur has reinvented himself with a background score that is easily the best in Kannada cinema over the past few or even many) years. The contextual and thematic scores are lilting and haunting leaving a scarring impression.

Prashant Neel excels in his screenplay and direction. Of especial mention is the climax which blisteringly sets up the excited viewers for the much anticipated sequel. The assiduous employ of monochrome, colour and VFX is a troika whose brilliant coalescence is one which till now has been alien to Kannada cinema.

The cinematography by Bhuvan Gowda is melancholic, simmering and impatient.

The veteran Anant Nag as the narrator and a senior journalist is his usual expected effortless self. Srinidhi Shetty as Yash’s accidental love interest just manages to hold her own even though the script has nothing spectacular or significant for her to deliver. Ramachandra Raju as the antagonistic Garuda is scary enough commensurate with the needs of the script.

KGF however is Yash and vice versa. This movie is sure to mark a renaissance in the acting career of this promising young star.

KGF – SALAM ROCKY BHAI!