Saturday, 15 February 2014

With A Pinch Of Salt- At God's Conference

Even the three days of practicing before the mirror, having myself video recorded, wasn't enough. Still wanted to get it perfect for this big one. After all, how many times do you get to make a presentation to God Himself?

D-Day arrived, there we were five of us at the appointed time. We were ushered in by His Angels. God walked in and we all stood up in awe. God waved to us informally and said
'Sit down, make yourselves comfortable'

The Image Management Expert spoke first 'With due respect, isn't it time You revisited your wardrobe? You look grand in Your flowing robes. I can imagine just how smart You'd look in a tailored suit! Your hair also needs styling. Also, You need to be versatile in your dressing: its almost as if You are dressed for a mythological epic! Separate formal and casual wear for starters. Clothes maketh God, too!'

'We are the world's No.1 Celebrity management firm' preened the young lady.
'I can visualise the potential of a rock solid PR structure for You. Consider this: at present your devotees have no real direct communication link with you. The middlemen 'representing' you are ruining your image! The PR team would help establish a direct access to You all the time without You having to be disturbed for petty things'

Next up was the Wealth Management Expert.
'You are in control of the resources of the Universe. I doubt if You have ever kept a track of how Your assets are managed. Surely, we could invest these mind-boggling resources more optimally and work wonders! All You need to do is authorise me and my competent team to take care of all the intricacies. I won't charge You a fee, too. A few referrals would suffice'

The Fitness Expert eagerly took his turn to speak.
'It might seem arrogant, God, but aren't you out of shape? Look at You! All the offerings and adulation by your devotees has made You soft. Healthy mind in healthy body. A three months fitness program with me with strict diet regimen and viola! You'll have the six-packs that You see on me!'

I was glad had the chance to make the concluding presentation.
'I wonder if You are even aware of what Your Personal Brand is worth! What if we monetised it!
Firstly lets set up Your Social Media accounts. God's own Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram andGoogle+ accounts! Your own FB Page! Whoa!! One Billion followers in a jiffy guaranteed! The servers would crash! Doesn't stop at that! Out of sight is out of mind. The world is rapidly forgetting that You exist. We'll set up a Blog for You. I'll even volunteer to ghost write for You. Imagine a perfect Klout Score of 100 : You'll be a rockstar of the Internet!'

God looked at all of us. He said with tearful eyes, 'I am so moved by all the concern and love all of you have for my welfare'

'If I bother so much about myself, who's going to bother about seven billion of you jokers on Earth!'

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Three Priests And Their Guru

Atop a scenic hill surrounded by lush greenery was a temple. It had a following of loyal devotees who thronged to it, not just to pray to the deity but to seek the blessings of the wise Guru there.

One evening, a senior Trustee of the temple went across to meet Guruji. He was sitting in the courtyard deep in meditation. When he eventually opened his eyes, the trustee spoke up.

'Guruji, we need your advice on an important decision. Our Treasurer has retired and we need to select a new one. Since you are aware that the offerings by the devotees are substantial, we need to be careful about the man we select.'

Guruji replied 'If you have any persons in mind bring them with you tomorrow at 6.30 in the morning'.

The trustee returned with three young Sadhus (priests) the next morning. They sought the blessings of Guruji.

Guruji addressed each one of the prospects.
'I want you to go the banyan tree at the base of the hill and meet me again.' to the first Sadhu

'Go to the pond which is covered with lotus flowers and see me again' to the second.

The third one, he turned to and directed, 'Visit the Primary School we have set up and report to me'

The three of them set about their tasks wondering how this had anything to do with their being assessed? The first one easily made it downhill to the famous banyan tree. The uphill path back to the temple made him feel grumpy. Then he saw something shining in front of him that made him grin. It was a diamond necklace! He picked it up, kissed it and pocketed it. 'Thank you God! Maybe this is Your way of gifting me! This a good omen'

The second went to the pond, sat down for a while to admire the tranquility and then took off to return. Immediately on turning around he was amazed to find gold coins strewn as if in a sequence. 'Strange that I did not see them on my way here! Maybe the beauty of the pond distracted me..
He began collecting the coins one after another...

The School was a place the third Sadhu loved visiting. The laughter of the small boys and girls, their cleverness brought him delight. They came running to him the moment they saw him.
'Here's the prasad of the Temple' (the food offered to God) while handing it over to only too willing hands. After spending time with the children, each child excitedly wanting to share her/his recent experience, the Sadhu bid goodbye to them and headed back for the temple.

As decided, the Trustee took the three priests to meet Guruji in the evening.

Guruji asked them 'Tell me. What was your day like'

The first one nonchalantly pretended it had been unexceptional.

The second priest said with a smile 'Guruji! God has been kind to me he gifted me this gold coin which I wish to offer to the temple.'

Guruji smiled and asked the third one. 'So how did your day go?'

'Exceedingly well!' he beamed.
'I had a great time with our School's children. 

Guess what?

These are the wonderful drawings and gifts crafted  by them for the temple! Their love is astonishing!
I also have brought these fruits and flowers which I gathered on my way to be offered to God, dear Guruji.

The Guruji said to the Trustee 'this is your man.'

The first two looked puzzled. 'Did we go wrong somewhere?'

Guruji said to the first one. 'I know that both of you did not directly lie. You were not truthful either. Just think about it. You found the diamond necklace which you pocketed. Had you earned it? Who did it rightfully belong to? Did you pause to think?'

'And you. The gold coins that you found and gleefully pocketed. By returning just one what did you seek to prove: that you were honest or was it to lessen your guilt?'

'Come here' he smiled at the third priest. 

'You have managed to shed all attachment to material possessions. The others got what they constantly thought about. Throughout the trip you were chanting God's mantra. How could you possibly attract anything but the noble? Your mind is now engaged fully in His service, nothing else is important to you.

Your love for the School children, the warmth with which you interacted with them, delighted me. For I was present in every child's eyes.'

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Photography Bug Caught Me

It wasn't that I always loved photography. On the contrary I shunned it: in fact I disliked gadgets of all types. All that changed nine years ago when my daughter, Diti was born.

I must credit my wife Khyati for pushing me to buy my first Camera. 'How can we not capture the memorable moments of our child growing up?' she protested.

So, my first film based Camera set me going.
Being a basic model, it didn't take much of learning. Graduated to a Digital Nikon 4 MP Camera and later to a better Compact, the Nikon S9100, which gave me more flexibility.

What began as a must-have gadget transformed into an extension of myself.

Have always been a creative person and more so, a visual thinker. Scenic landscapes, nature, birds and unusual themes appeal to me. Ever since I took to Social Media and Blogging nearly two years ago, the evocative images suited my Posts very well. At times, while clicking an image, a story was born.

A few months ago, at my friend Dharmendra Rai's TRAINERS EXPO, an introductory session on Photography by a professional Photographer, Meenal Jaiswal. got me interested. Right away I enrolled for her full day Workshop on Basic Photography.

Not only was the Workshop enjoyable but I thought it went way beyond what a beginner would expect to learn about Photography. The best part was Meenal's passion and enthusiasm for

this art that was contagious. Although she has undergone exhaustive training abroad she does not let that come across. She cuts out unnecessary technical jargon and conveys most of the Training by using demonstrative tools.

I will not dwell in detail on the topics covered but we were taught the most important of basics: from aperture, focal length to exposure and shutter speeds. Invaluable learning for anyone who thinks Photography is just about artistry and compositions! Made me realise that it is as much a science as it is an art. For those like me who love photography

learning the science is a part of the art! Meenal kindled the budding professionals in us by her meticulous approach prior to the Workshop, during it and subsequently. The seemingly innocuous and minor changes in technique, learning to use the Cameras settings to our advantage and capturing the mood of the scene: all this learning boosted my skill immensely.

The Workshop made me feel my camera was woefully inadequate. 
I upgraded to a Canon SX-50HS. I thank Meenal here too for helping me decide what suited my needs the most. This a bridge camera, a sort of 'in-between' the high-end SLR's which can be unwieldy what with the plethora of lenses required and the plain-Jane Point and Shoot variety.

An interesting aspect is that prior to the Workshop I had spoken to Meenal and expressed my apprehension about my hand tremor: wouldn't that affect my photography? (a health condition causes this tremor which is quite discernible). 
'Not to worry. We will take care of that too.' she said. In a way I had elevated Photography to a personal passion, with a vengeance to sort of snub this very limitation! The pictures on this post are all done after that Workshop with the SX50, handheld. So much for the tremor! 

'Keep Clicking' she exhorted us- I haven't stopped since then! Thank you Meenal.

Meenal Jaiswal, Professional Photographer.

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