Vicarious Living – The Temporary Sense Of Fulfilling One’s Own Dreams

Of all the versions of MasterChef that exist, it can be universally agreed that the Australian version is the best. No yelling, no insulting, no unnecessary drama. Agreed, the way contestants running around in a frenzy to finish their dishes in time is shown is dramatic, but that is what MasterChef Australia does right. In its 9th season, the contestants and the challenges have leveled up drastically.

Why I talk about MasterChef Australia in a blog post that talks about vicarious living, you might ask. Here’s why.

Even though Star World airs MasterChef Australia every day at 9 PM, I started watching it from the middle. As an unspoken, unspecified rule, I don’t watch episodes of any TV show out of order. So while this show finished in Australia way back in July and Star World is currently in the 30s of the episode list, I took it upon myself to start watching it on Hotstar, right from episode 1.

A 19-year-old girl, Michelle Lukman, was the first contestant of this season. With a dish she called the Golden Ball, she wowed the judges and me in an instant. In the moment she finished plating the dish, I started questioning myself. My vision blurred and I didn’t know where the emotion was coming from but I could feel my chest constrict. Whether it was from regret, shame, or joy, I couldn’t say. There wasn’t just one thing clamping my heart down. It was a torrent that threatened to deluge me if I didn’t take a deep, calming breath.

13 - Vicarious Living – The Temporary Sense Of Fulfilling One_s Own Dreams

All of us have dreams of reaching out farther than we can see – of gliding over the horizon, breaching the limits, and be satisfied with what we do. But until we have the means to fly there, we glean inspiration from as many sources around us as possible. Using this inspiration, we build up the courage brick by brick. Maybe one day, thanks to this inspiration, this courage, we can see the world in the same light that they do. Maybe one day, we can see our goals as achievable, the same way they do.

Until then, let’s look on in awe and appreciate their immense talent, and watch them make their dreams come true. Until then, let’s live through their realities to see our dreams through. Until then, let’s applaud as the worthy push forward and show the world what they are made of.

Because that’s exactly what I decided I would do. In the rush of the contestants’ flurry to cook up lip-smacking dishes, I understood the importance of composure in a time crunch. I understood the importance of levelheadedness, that of creativity, and that of loving what you do, so much that it brings joy to the people sharing in your love. And if you can make people smile while doing what you love, there is nothing that can beat the feeling.

I lived vicariously through Michelle Lukman’s stunning creativity that day. But the feeling that coursed through me when the judges applauded her – the feeling that I’d somehow won with her – is priceless and will remain with me forever!


Picture Courtesy:


Compassion and Competition – Why Have People Begun To Confuse Them?

They say it’s a dog-eat-dog world. It is true. But the fact that this competitiveness extends to not only careers, but also emotional capacities is something to think about. Compassion is disappearing at an alarmingly rapid rate. “My problem’s worse,” they say, without a word about anything else. How do you expect to live in such a world, one devoid of compassion? In such cases, it feels better to live and remain alone than to maintain company that shoots you down without a trace of empathy. After all, what is the world without empathy? An empty, dull sphere is all.

But why does competition have to mean the death of empathy and compassion? When we are together in the ace, why can’t we support each other and come up to break the surface rather than stay under and bring the others down? Why has it come to the point where we have to best (for lack of a better word – oh the irony!) others even in our sorrows?

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Picture Courtesy: Camilo Diaz, World Photography Award Winner,

It’s true what they say. In times like these, we engage in conversation to respond, not to understand and empathize. We hardly absorb what the other person is saying before we go off: “Yes, all that’s fine but listen to what I’ve got to say.” It is as though we hardly register what they are saying, give them the amount of time we feel appropriate (or not), and jump in again.

Why, though? Is it so bad to have to hear another when all we expect is for the other to do the exact opposite of what we’re doing? This competition, this unnervingly rude and harsh contest between egos will be the end of us one day.

This has happened to me on multiple occasions – this competition to one up sorrows and problems. “If you think you’ve got it bad, you should listen to what I’ve got going on.” Isn’t there a thing called perspective? Like someone’s rose-tinted glasses could be another’s Kryptonite? If it all comes down to ‘the grass is greener on the other side’, then what hope do we have for humanity?

It also comes down to hypocrisy. If we hardly listen to what the person we’re having a conversation with is trying to say, isn’t it unfair of us to expect them to listen to us? Them allowing us to steamroll them while we don’t let them get a complete sentence in – doesn’t that reek of hypocritical smugness?

The magnitude of the involuntary competition that so many people participate in – most of whom do so subconsciously – is huge and it rankles big time. If only the world were inching closer to shovel love into the gaps, we’d be far better off. But the hard truth is, the gap only widens with every passing hour, every passing minute. And the worst part is, there are so many who are merely willing to go with the flow.

Can we not do something about it? Can we not bring us together again? Stir emotions for the greater good?

If the people desperate to see the gaps filled come together, there could be a chance. A chance where we all live peacefully, content enough in our own skins not to compare our sorrows with those of our neighbors’ and belittle them with all we’ve got.

This blog post isn’t powerful enough to bring a sweeping change – far from it. But maybe sometime in the future, I will see it as the stepping stone that helped me see straight, that helped me structure my thoughts and start something – a spark that ignited a whole beneficial forest fire!

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Picture Courtesy:


P.S. Months ago, this concept had first hit me with a force that left me reeling. Then, as like now, I put my thoughts into words. But those words made up a poem.

This poem that I’m really proud of!

Why Is #MeToo Being Branded As Anti-Men?

No smartass title. No lengthy introduction. Let me cut straight to the chase.

Why would some people think that something that is pro-women has to be anti-men? Why are so many men lashing out at something that is helping women bring out their horrifying secrets? Why hasn’t nobody noticed that there’s a hashtag that’s doing the rounds along with this that includes men, too? Why doesn’t anybody pick up on this?

For so many years, women have been subject to rape, molestation, and humiliation. Yes, men go through it, too. I do not deny it. But if you don’t come out and talk about it, you have no right to yell against those who do! It is only now that women are being empowered to talk about it, against it. And if, instead of supporting them, you decide to belittle them by calling them names like attention-seekers and anti-men, then you are less human than anyone ever found you.

People, in this time and age, think everything is inflammatory. If you don’t like it, diss it. If you like it, defend it with all you have, no matter the language and people’s feelings. There is no opinion now. There’s only “you are wrong” and “I am right”. Why does it have to be like this? Have we lost our capacity as understanding, compassionate human beings? When I look at all the hate being spread over social media, it doesn’t take long for me get the answer.

The hashtag #MeToo was supposed to help women come out and talk against what they’ve been through. The men who thought not could have merely changed the ‘women’ in the status to ‘men’ and updated it. But no. So many of them had to cry foul, go on a rant, and bring it to feminism stomping down on men. When all those women needed was support, these men decided to accuse women of merely looking out for themselves and ignoring men.

This class of men thinks on the lines of ‘if you want feminism, do it yourself.’ Or ‘if you are so strong, open the jar yourself,’ or ‘if you are so independent, change the car tire yourself.’ Then why now, do they need women to bring their problems to the forefront? We are doing it ourselves. You do it yourself, too. Why pile on the hypocrisy?

Forget feminism. Be human! Help each other out. Just stop with the self-inflicted hate and self-pity! #MeToo is NOT anti-men. Open your eyes and ears, read, and listen. Most of all, listen to yourself speak. It doesn’t even make sense when you look at it in the larger picture. Years from now, when you look back, it will be what defined you at one time. And I’m not sure that’s a good thing to be proud of.

The Jasleen Kaurs and Kangana Ranauts of the world don’t deserve any support because they took advantage of and misused their identity as women. But we are more than that. When you say ‘Not all men are the same’, why don’t you apply the same rule to women? Maybe it is futile asking this question. But we would love some sanity in your arguments.

The anger behind this blog post had been simmering since morning. But this picture popped up in my Facebook news feed, shared by an acquaintance from college, and I couldn’t control my anger.

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How unfair is it that when men oppressed women for so long, it was considered tradition. But when women are now trying to break free and fight for their rights, it is looked down upon as anti-men. Many traditions have been misogynistic, if you pay attention. But when you compare that number with those that have been misandrist, the misandry is almost negligible.

I am not saying that men aren’t subjected to the same trauma that women go through. I am as sympathetic to men as I am to women. And that’s how it should be. But when many people from one gender start dissing the other for standing up, I feel ashamed for humanity.

I had written against the ‘My Choice’ video directed by Homi Adajania and that starred Deepika Padukone. I still think certain points in it aren’t good. But does that mean everybody starts taking offense at narrations of horrific experiences?


It is in times like these, that we need compassion, understanding, and a ear to hear us out. And when we don’t find that, where else can we go?

Creativity – A Trait Characterized By Unexpected Timing

When life kicks you in the gut and makes you reevaluate your decisions, you think about whether you are what you claim to be in the first place. At a time when my confidence in my abilities was at an all-time low, I read a book called Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man Who Invented the 20th Century. Written by Sean Patrick, this short eBook is a confidence-booster and a savior for those creative people who are questioning their worth. This book easily shot up on my favorite list. And I know that it will remain there for the rest of eternity.

The book states that imagination and creativity are two things that are different from ‘thinking’. Just because you think does not mean you are imaginative or creative. Creativity is chaos. It hits you at the most unexpected of times. Most of the times, you have no control over it. This is how it results in innovation – something that has given the world its ‘electric’ convenience of the 20th century. All this, thanks to the imaginative and innovative man called Nikola Tesla.

Tesla was duped and betrayed by some of the world’s most prominent personalities. He was treated unfairly, credit for his findings given to others, though it was rectified later on. Was it too little, too late? Even if it was, did Tesla stop his work? His creative genius was such that none of this stopped his onslaught. He worked till the day he died. He was unfazed, because he knew the true meaning of creativity – that it would pay off, sometime or the other.

If you are a creative person, you will know the uncertainty of sitting down and scouring for ideas. Looking for them does not guarantee that you’ll find them. On the other hand, remarkably stunning ideas can hit you at the unlikeliest of times and the unlikeliest of places. For example: in the shower, when you’re emptying your stomach, while exercising, or while driving. It isn’t that thinking won’t give you ideas. It may. Only thing is, there is no certainty about it.

Anybody who has watched Avengers: Age of Ultron will remember Vision’s lines from the end of the movie. “Humans are odd,” he says. “They think order and chaos are somehow opposites.” This is an incomplete version of the dialog, but it holds so true when you see it in the context of creativity.

Let me explain.

When we are agitated, we try to sort out our thoughts with the idea that ordering them helps us experience a brainwave. But that’s the whole point of creativity. Within the chaos of our thoughts, we find gems that bring order to our creativity. Within the chaos, we find awesomeness, and the chance to be imaginative and innovative. So the Vision indeed did have a bright vision of the reality of human creativity.

Ideas and thoughts are triggered even by the smallest of hints that resonate with us. This happened to me as I read the eBook I mentioned above. And while there’s a lot more to creativity than what’s discussed here, the essence of the trait – one whose timing is as unexpected as possible – remains ‘uncertainty’.

Here’s a picture of the excerpt from Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man Who Invented the 20th Century – a book that I’ve been fawning over for the entirety of this blog post!

Creativity - A Trait Characterized By Unexpected Timing

Why Is Sensitivity Stereotyped As Representing Weakness?

With the advent of modern TV commercials, the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of sensitivity is the ad for Sensodyne toothpaste (“Masoodon mein jhanjhanahat” or “numbness of the gums”). Now that these advertisements are everywhere, the world sensitivity has been relegated to a mere joke, though what the ad is trying to say is anything but a joke.

But sensitivity as a trait is so much more than the emotion it explains. As with some others, the way sensitivity is seen as a trait is completely twisted. It’s not exactly what it actually embodies. It is seen more as a negative quality than as a positive one. And that is, in no way, an encouraging statement.

This might be a little vague. Let me explain.

Sensitive people are mostly viewed as those who cry or get angry easily, or in more general terms, those who are affected easily, at the tiniest provocation. They are branded crybabies or short tempered people! But the point is, these are not the only things that define sensitivity as a human trait. It is much more than that.

Sensitivity is the quality wherein a person can gauge what’s going on around them without putting in much effort. This could include gauging emotions, behavior, or situations in general. Such people have the capacity to be sensitive about things that happen around them. They observe more, they understand people better (sometimes in eccentric ways), and they know better than to pick a fight and disrespect others. They may cry without replying. That only means they respect you more than their own arguments mean to them. They may leave the room if they get angry. That only means that respecting you and maintaining that respect means more to them than their venting their temper and saying hurtful things.

Sensitivity is misunderstood in the common world so much that it becomes difficult for one to explain anything about it. Mostly because many people are very unfairly dismissive of sensitive people. They prefer not telling sensitive people anything. “Oh, don’t tell her anything. She’ll get angry and explode!” Or, “Him? He’s such a control freak!” Or, “You react too violently.” And all this, while sensitive people are merely trying to point out the obvious while trying to have a normal conversation that involves information exchange and explanations. (Sensitive people -> more observant. Remember?”)

Many-a-times, a person’s sensitivity is used like an insult – as if it is a bad thing. But once you understand the meaning of the word sensitive, you will be able to see the infinite depths that the quality possesses. You will be able to understand that sensitivity is not just being provoked into tears or anger, but it is also being understanding of the emotions of the people around you. The empathy that you see in them, you build in yourself.

All a sensitive person wants is to people to understand them for who they are, rather than judge them for merely two of the emotions that make up sensitivity.

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Picture Courtesy: Linnea Butler, LinkedIn!

The Strong, Courageous Colors of Today

Burst through red-tinted windows

Into the fiery orange morning sky

Take in the light mist

Take in the springy gait of the early morning risers

Spread your arms wide

Embrace the day as it settles down on you

Embrace it for its newness

Embrace it for its uncertainties

Embrace it for the hope it brings

And the beauty that you could fill it with

A coloring book of unfettered beauty,

Today is a world of possibilities

Fill it as you will, fill it as you must

With colors you deem suited

But remember – there is always a but –

That once the colors sink in

Once the seconds pass, once the minutes pass

They morph into memories

Have-beens that you cannot change

Dreams are reflections of the future

While memories are impressions of the past.

Fill up the colors with wisdom, with intelligence

Let there be hope, let there be pride

In the way you wield your colors

In the way they flow into your memories

In the way you look at what’s to come.

Remember the fiery orange sun that’s rising

Remember its transformation into the prickly yellow of the noon

And its relapse into fire.

You could mirror it in ways the galaxies cannot fathom

You could wrap your arms around yourself

And turn into the phoenix you know you are,

Choosing your colors as you breathe,

Every breath giving you more reasons to live,

More reasons to love the book you’re coloring in.

In the end, when another opens your book,

And is bombarded with the colors you were bold enough to use,

They’d be wondrous, they’d be jealous, they’d be admiring

That you had enough courage, enough strength

To appreciate today, to praise today, and live in today.


Picture Courtesy:

Relationships and Shared Life Experiences!

Have you ever felt left out as your friends share inside jokes? Someone you were once close to is now close to someone else. They interact with them the way you used to interact with them on a daily basis. It isn’t jealousy that twists you from inside – just a helplessness, as you can feel them slipping away. You have friends you are close to now, too. You have inside jokes, too. You keep secrets, too. So who are you to complain?

The reason behind this blog post is simple: an epiphany about shared life experiences and their effect on relationships. These relationships could be romantic or any other that you might maintain. This epiphany came at a time when I was writing a story, the crux of which I cannot reveal yet. The weight of it was crushing, but it also made me feel lighter, and relieved me of the what if thoughts that had been burning in the background of my multitasking mind.

Memories are something that brings two people closer. When you undergo something with another person, this experience bonds you together. It makes you identify with each other on a level that only the people involved can understand. It gives you something to talk about, something to build your conversations on, something to build your friendship/ relationship on. Shared life experiences are the Venn diagrams between the common traits in the people involved and the situation that these people find themselves in.

So as you spend time together, accumulating these shared life experiences as days go by, you grow closer to each other, the bonds between you grow stronger, and comfort levels shoot up to incredible heights. You know you can do anything and say anything and that person will jump right in with you.


On the other hand, as you begin spending less and less time together, your shared life experiences grow lesser in number. The ones that you already have are so far back into the past that they are now outdated. New memories and new life experiences come into existence with every passing moment and you realize that you miss being a part of that. But then, you also realize that you also have your own set of people with whom you make memories and inside jokes. It’s a two-way street. And you have no hold over it. It’s how the world functions. It’s how human beings function. And that is how many relationships fray.

It is natural that you rue your absence from the memories of people you treasure the most. Even more so when the interaction becomes rare and stiff and is limited to a bare minimum. Forced interaction and making memories does not stay for long. So at a point where you find it too strenuous to be holding up the marquee all by yourself, just let go for a while. It is easier to reduce the emotional pressure of single-handedly trying to make new memories without any help from their end and failing miserably. Be comfortable with the relationships you have going in your life. Make your own inside jokes, and stop worrying about what if.

Many relationships with minimum or no shared life experiences do fray, but you don’t have to discard them. They are in your life for a reason. Even though they no longer put up with you, they did give you stunning memories that you’ll be able to look back upon and smile. Maybe one day you’ll have it all back again.

After all, the world runs on hope.


Picture Credit: