Confined Creativity

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I have a brother who is twelve years old, and like any typical twelve year old, he spends all his time playing video games, watching TV and annoying me. I remember asking him what he wanted to be when he grows up once- about five years ago- and he promptly told me that he would be a super-hero. When I ask him the same question now, he confidently says,”Either a game designer. Or a professional cricket player.” And I believe that maybe when I ask him the same question five years from now, he will tell me that he wants to become an engineer. Or some other mundane, safe career like that. Of course his bank balance will see some action. But where’s the fun in that? The adventure? The stories to inspire his own children? They say, throw a stone at random and the chances are that it will hit an engineer. And there is no doubt about this. Every second person is one of them.

In another instance, I asked my cousin the same question today. Being seventeen, she is about to make this decision herself. I have asked her this before and her answer has always been the same. It is today, what it was even three years back. I don’t know whether to applaud her on her keen sense of decision making or bang my head against the wall in frustration. YES, ladies and gentlemen. She wants to be an….. ENGINEER!

And then I begin to wonder what the world will do with about 4 billion engineers. There are after all only so many technical problems to solve. What is the fun in living like that anyway? You spend roughly four years getting your degree. Then you get a fancy job from the campus recruitment, usually. Earn some money. Marry an engineer/bank manager/doctor (yes, those are your only options). Earn some more money. Have two kids. Earn more money. Spend all this money to buy a house, on education, insurance policies, vacations, etc etc etc…. marry off your kids… work work work and finally retire. At the age of 65, your life FINALLY begins. But by now you have arthritis or diabetes or some other problem. Hence, you buy two rocking chairs and all the newspapers in town and spend every single day in pretty much the same way, reading newspaper, drinking coffee and rocking away!

Where’s the excitement?
“Oh hi honey. I’m home! You know what happened at work today? A server crashed. And I fixed it. Woohoo!”

Where’s the risk?
“Guess what? I decided to take an extra hour off during lunch today! What an adrenaline rush!”

Where’s the fun?
“I sat and typed out twenty different codes today. And now my wrist hurts, my back aches and I’m pretty sure my eyesight is going to the dogs. But I like the noise when I type.”

Oh. And most importantly. Where’s the time to… live?
“I have a holiday tomorrow. Which means I have to work only from nine to four! YESS!”

See. This is what I’m talking about.

I’m saying ‘engineer’. But it could refer to any other such career, requiring only a degree and a willingness to give up your life.
Yes, it is safe. If you get fired today, you’re likely to find a pretty decent opening very soon.
Yes, it’ll give you financial security. Your pay hikes will come faster than those mounting expenses.

But the real question is, will it make you happy?

All I’m saying is, don’t confine creativity. Don’t be afraid to dream. Dare to do something different.

Make mistakes. Crazy ones. But be happy.

If you really want to do something, whatever it is,  give it your best shot and do it. You can never be bad at doing something you love because you will end up giving it all you’ve got. If you want to become a painter, dancer or writer, then do just that. Don’t waste your life sitting in a cubicle, doing something you don’t love, enjoy or aren’t good at. Because, you might never be happy.

I’m sure that if you’re doing something for ‘the heck of it’ or because ‘it’s what everyone is doing’, then someday, you will wake up miserable and you will think back on those days when you dreamt of being a… An astronaut or  a writer or maybe even… a superhero? Then the realization hits you. Your dreams have died. The child within you is buried so deep inside that you cannot even feel its presence. It is probably the most terrifying feeling. Like something within you has died.

So wake up before it’s too late. And let your creative juices flow. Do whatever you’ve always dreamed of doing.

And even after all of this, if you still want to be an engineer, then go ahead!

I, for one, am taking the unconventional road. I might never be ‘The Richest Woman on Earth’, but I will find happiness.

Because I refuse to bury my dreams.
Because I refuse to kill the child in me.

Because I refuse to confine creativity. 

Can “Magic” repeat itself?; The Casual Vacancy- A Review

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First things first, ‘The casual Vacancy’ is NOT in any way related to Harry potter. It is not a sequel, spin-off or anything else that might indicate any sort of connection between the two.

     

SUMMARY:

The Casual vacancy is J.K Rowling’s first adult novel. It takes place in a quaint little village called Pagford. With its cobblestone streets and community feeling, Pagford comes across as your typical English town. However, the village atmosphere itself is essential to carry forward the main themes of the story- War, Death and Social Hierarchy. And how in the greater scheme  of everything, we end up compromising on things that are far more important, just to win our own personal battles.

The book is divided into seven parts. It opens with the death of an important man called Barry Fairbrother. His death is discussed, as if it were gossip, with both grief and morbid enthusiasm among the inhabitants of the small town. This leads to revelation of underlying bitterness in the minds of Pagfordians. The book is filled with petty wars and secret desires, which are brought into the open as a consequence of his death.

Pagford contains an area called ‘The Fields’. The Fields are notorious for being home to the poorest members of Pagford’s society, who live in dilapidated homes and indulge in shady activities to make both ends meet. The elite of Pagford are ashamed at the thought of having to include them as part of their lovely town and wish for The Fields to be delegated to Yarville, a large town, sharing borders with Pagford. This issue is the main concern of the Pagford Parish council, which remains equally divided on the matter. That is, till Barry Fairbrother’s death, which creates a casual vacancy for his place in the council.

Chaos ensues and a battle breaks out, with each party trying their best to get one of their own to fill the seat. The Anti-fielders argue that The Fields cast a dark shadow over Pagford’s perfect reputation and wastes too much of the town’s resources. The Pro-fielders oppose them by saying that the members of the fields can be helped.  They say that  Bellchapel Addiction clinic in the fields is of utmost importance and can give these so-called delinquents a new lease on life.

This results in a nasty game of politics, in which everyone is inadvertently forced to take part, irrespective of their stance or interest towards the matter.

In a nutshell, the book is one long dirty political battle.

REVIEW:

The Casual vacancy is J.K Rowling’s first attempt at a different genre. And a very adult one, at that. I bought this book, fully aware of the fact that it is nothing like Harry Potter. I fully believed that I would be able to accept that and read this book without drawing comparisons or building expectations. But in spite of this, the book was very different from what I’d imagined it would be. And I found myself constantly wondering why J.K Rowling would write this after writing something as amazing as Harry Potter. It’s not that ‘The Casual Vacancy’ is a terrible book. But it certainly isn’t the best.

As I was reading the book, I constantly sensed that it was J.K.Rowling’s attempt to prove that she can write something else, something very different to Harry Potter. It’s as if she’s trying, quite hard, to shrug off the stereotypes surrounding her. This book has it all- Rape, Domestic Violence, Drug Abuse, Dirty politics, Prostitution, Self-Harm and Smoking. She also touches upon the subject of teenage sexuality in detail. And throws about swear words in nearly every sentence.  Not all of it is necessary, to be honest. She sure could have toned it down a little bit.

The book certainly has its positives. It is beautifully written and I absolutely loved the characterization. I actually felt like I’d met the characters and it was as if I knew them in person. J.K.Rowling has once again proved that she has an imagination that is truly out of this world. The story is also well-drafted. It develops in an interesting way. And though there are reasons for you to stop reading the book, there are greater, more over powering reasons that ensure that you don’t. In spite of all the dirt that covers the main plot, you manage to uncover it all the same. And it is the story that manages to grasp your attention and tweak your curiosity to some extent. Though you will put the book down when you feel like you’ve had enough, you will end up coming back to it simply because you just need to know what happens.

The author is both the book’s greatest strength and weakness. For it is quite clear that, had it been written by anyone else, ‘The Casual Vacancy’ would have gone unnoticed. Gathering dust on book shelf counters. Only someone with a particular taste for a book of this kind would buy it, apart from a  few others who like to read or those who might want to read this book “just to see how it is.” Some might read the summary and decide to buy it. A few libraries would stock up. Some might buy it because it was on sale. But it is clear that it would certainly have not sold at 125,000 copies in just it’s opening week, if not for the author. But it  also means that most people out there have bought it only because of the author. Which implies that they have expectations and probably pre-conceived notions that will keep them away from being able to judge the book in fair light. That will keep them away from enjoying a moderately entertaining story that is hidden under layers and layers of unnecessary “adult-ness”.

VERDICT:

‘The Casual Vacancy’  is a very different kind of book, and it will certainly find its fair share of fans. But it caters to only those with a certain kind of taste. It has the ability to shock yet enthrall, appall yet entertain, disgust yet enlighten. The story itself isn’t great. But it isn’t bad. I don’t regret reading it. But I don’t think I’d read it again. The book is worth a read if you can stomach it’s content.

As mentioned before, it seems like a desperate attempt by J.K. Rowling to be associated with something different; to crawl out of the niche that the literary society has built for her. To disconnect herself from the tags that label her as someone who can only write fantasies built on clouds. (Although why one might want to disassociate themselves with such a Harry Potter-esqe tag is beyond me!!) And if this was what she was attempting, she certainly has been able to achieve it. Because this book faces reality head-on and maybe that’s what is hardest to take in, knowing that this is how it really is and this is what we live with. A dark satirical comedy surrounding the world of dirty politics is what best describes the book. But nevertheless,  it shows promise. Because she has proved to us, once again, that she is a great writer, with an amazing mind. She has stepped out to try something different.  And while there is nothing wrong with that, I definitely wouldn’t call this an improvement. Maybe all this book needs … is a little bit of magic!! 🙂

Woman’s Woe

WOMAN’S WOE

The world was free, though she felt caged.

She felt angry, upset and enraged.

They said we have freedom, yet she had no voice,

Nothing she could do, she had no choice.

No happiness, opportunities or rights,

Oh! What a miserable plight.

She lives her life, handicapped.

But the spirit within her can’t be trapped.

With patience, she waits for a fresh start.

Hoping and praying for a change of heart.

Ready to leave the past behind.

Waiting to use her own mind.

She shakes off change’s mocking smile.

Learns that it is her who has to go the extra mile.

Things won’t change if she leaves them this way

She has to fight to have her say.

Though women are denied equality,

They know how to maintain solidarity.

Not ready to give up, not ready to give in.

Going to keep fighting till they win.

Turning Tables

An old man was once walking one way

He met a young man who worked for him back in the day

His clothes once ragged, were now brand new

And his hair smelt of some expensive shampoo.

Said the old to the young,

“It seems like your fate has sung.”

Chuckling, the man replied

“I’ve never forgotten the days when you crushed my pride.

Made me your slave.  Took what I had.

Gave me nothing in return.  It made me sad.

I saw the way people looked at me.

Heard when they whispered, “Stay away, you creep.”

It hurt me. Brought tears to my eyes.

But I knew better than to cry.

I pushed myself to find an escape.

From this injustice, from this rape.

I worked as hard as I possibly could.

Fought for recognition. Took pride in all I withstood.

Now the world hardly cares where I come from.

It’s who I am that makes them look twice.

They’ve forgotten the looks they once gave me.

They’ve forgotten that they said, “Stay away from he.”

They bow down to me. A nice change, don’t you think?

For if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this.

A man may be as poor as it gets.

He may not have a home or a roof on his head.

But treat him well. And be nice.

For tomorrow you may meet your own demise.

For when you are gone,

Lost, forgotten and withdrawn.

He’s still around,

Laughing at how you have drowned.

He won’t give you a second thought.

Because respect, like happiness, cannot be bought.”

The old man disguised his contempt well.

Yet he could not help but dwell

On how the tables had turned.

For now, he was worse for wear.

And the pain was his to bear.

Words can change the World

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