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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ring Out Facebook ; Ring in New Year

The silk tree had started shedding its leaves. Shortly blood red flowers will appear and  all kind of birds will be flocking  again on the tree. I have not been to my usual evening haunt at Vadakkunaathan for sometime now. I had missed the heady fragrance of the Indian Devil tree in bloom in October-November. I am in time to see the blooming of the Silk tree.

 It was  a December evening. Mandalam season was just over and there was the usual hiatus before the Makara vilakku pilgrim rush started. Not many vehicles carrying pilgrims were parked in the temple compound.. A mild evening sun, well on its way on its northern journey from the tropic of Capricorn was hovering over the 'Naduvilal'. The sun starts its northern journey immediately after the winter solstice as per the solar calender. For us though , the 'uttaraayana' will start only on 'Makara sankrathi’ because we follow the sidereal calender.

My usual place on the parapet was awash in the light of the setting sun. It will be another half-hour before the lengthening shadows reach it. There was a cool nip in the air making the sunlight bearable and even pleasant. For the weather experts, the wind would have qualified as a light breeze measuring not more than Force 3 on the Beaufort scale. Ideal settings for one  to 'stand and stare' and perhaps ruminate. And absorb some sunlight vitamin.

The time of the year, the quiet surroundings and the congenial clime all  seemed to provide an ideal temporal and spatial setting for a retrospect of the year about to go by. As each year passes, one is reminded of  the depleting stock of time left at ones disposal. News of departing friends and colleagues reach you more often than news of their conquests and adventures. Children seems to fly away from you impelled by some unseen, compelling  centrifugal force of circumstances. One realises increasingly the profound worthlessness of some of the things and values once  held dear and how insignificant and meaningless those are in the grand scheme of nature. One start longing for reducing the accumulated clutter, simplifying ones life to the maximum and be in readiness to eventually sink in the vortex of time without making much of a ripple.

Such thoughts may sound maudlin or melancholic or pessimistic. But somehow, in some way ,the idea of simplifying my life fascinates me immensely although I am not driven by any morbid thoughts of impending departure. It is just that I realize more and more and cannot help admitting to myself that quite a few of the things and activities in which I found pleasure and used to spend a lot of my time were futile , inane, pointless.

Face book for example. My routine somehow got shaped without my knowing it into a rigmarole of getting up-FB with bed coffee- toilet-more FB.. The ‘timeline’ on your profile  enables you to go back and go through your earlier comments and statuses. I often wonder whether it was indeed me who wrote some of those comments and for what purpose. Would anyone be really impressed by such inane comments and forced humour? Was it all worthwhile? Granted one came across a few guys with whom one could be friends with  in real life too but one had to put up with  a lot of people who would at best remain mere acquaintances and a few, to avoid whom one would  be prepared to take a very wide detour. Going back to some of the statuses and comments on the timeline did not even give a feeling of ‘de javu’. 

I feared  I was becoming an FB addict.. So much so I even undertook some of the tests available in the internet to measure the intensity of one's FB addiction. The results were reassuring. I had not progressed to the level of chronic addiction and there is still some hope left. I decided to test my ability to stay away from FB for a whole week. I succeeded in limiting my comments to just two only during the whole of the last week of the year. That gave me confidence and  the needed impetus for my New Year’s resolution. 

No more FB. I shall respond only to the notifications on my email which I hope will also subside within a couple of months. I shall go back to my previous love-reading..Having decided on what to do in 2014, I proceeded to devise some concrete steps to ensure that I keep the resolutions.

1. Remove Face book from the Favourites bar.
2. Make a list of books you want to read or re-read in 2014
3  Do not touch the laptop before 8 am or after 4 pm and never on a Sunday.

The first and the last one were not very difficult. But the second one presented some difficulties. Should I shortlist books which I already have or should I include books not in my possession? After a great deal of pondering I decided to include in the list  only books in my possession, some of which I have not read yet . New books will have to claim my time and attention just on their merit or on the quality of any recommendations accompanying it. 

So where should I start ? As one who still has not fully succeeded in getting rid of the feudal spirit would be sorely tempted to do when presented with such a dilemma, I decided to 'Ring for Jeeves'. 'The inimitable Jeeves' seemed to suggest that I follow the 'Code of the Woosters' ( or rather Kozhippurams)" and reserve my first ministrations to the P.G.Wodehouse Omnibus. That seemed to be a very sensible suggestion and so I said 'Right Oh Jeeves' and "Thank you Jeeves'. Can there be a more appropriate way to begin to implement your New year resolutions than with a 'Stiff Upper Lip'?

Once the opening move was decided upon, subsequent moves fell in place like the opening moves in a chess game. Wodehouse to be followed by Harper Lee, Dostoevsky, Oscar Wilde, Cornelius Ryan, Rushdie, Kafka, Camus ........ and a daily dose of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. One could even fit in Mein Kampf somewhere in between.

So here I am. All set to Ring out Facebook and Ring in a New Year. 


  1. Ram Mohan
    4:21 PM (33 minutes ago)

    to me
    Thank u for that well-written piece & I am in full agreement with the sentiments therein & the remedial action proposed, ie, lose oneself in reading. Make sure it is not reading for any purpose such as education, infn. etc. Make it reading for just the love of it & what better author to start off than Wodehouse & the world of Wooster & Jeeves! Best way to end this message is to quote that reading-obsessed writer, Somerset Maugham "To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life ". I am a beneficiary of this precious thought.
    Happy reading in the new year !
    Rgds, Ram MOHAN

  2. happy new year rajagopal. an enjoyable read. the negative influence of FB has been bothering me too, though i must say it has given me many leads to interesting reads. anyway all the best to your sensible resolutions. the thought of a disapproving look from jeeves will help you stick to your resolutions. btw, have you read robert mccrum's biography of wodehouse? good one though it makes you a little sad at times. all the best....achuthan

    1. Thanks Achu. I haven't read Mccrum's biography although I have read stary articles on Wodehouse indicating that he was not too popular for his views during the war time. Let me see whether I can lay my hands on it. Regards and Happy New Year to you and family.

    2. Thanks Raju. Yes, the war time broadcasts are well known, a situation only wodehouse is capable of getting into! and quite unfair that he paid a heavy price for it. aside from that there is a tinge of sadness in his life which one wouldn't imagine. anyway, can i send the mccrum book across to you? i will be meeting my ottapalam friend in delhi in end-feb. he can send it across to you.

  3. Extreme step. Very harsh on your followers /admirers. Perhaps you could make some concession as the days go by. I would suggest you cut down on your comments / update your status only when that becomes absolutely irresistible. After all these days your very existence on this universe is determined by your activity on FB!!
    I’m glad you are back with your books this time with more purpose. This is not say that you were away from books. Only, you wasted some useful time on FB! Hope keeping away from FB will give you more time to your blog. This is what I said in one of my posts: “In between these books I read (re-read) many Wodehouse, James Herriot (‘All things great and small’ etc) and Agatha Christie books which never seem to lose their charm. When feeling low and you need something to lift your spirits there is nothing like a tryst with Jeeves. Results guaranteed.”
    Some of the other authors mentioned by you appear to be heavy duty. Antidote for brain fog?
    I should also caution you on the potential threat from the Idiot Box moving into the vacuum created by FB. Let that not happen! Great going!

    1. ഉണ്ണി, ശ്രീ മൂല സ്ഥാനത്തിരുന്നുള്ള വായന നിർബാധം തുടരും. അലിസ്റ്റൈർ മക് ലീൻ , ജാക്ക് ഹിഗ്ഗിൻസ് തുടങ്ങിയ ശോധന സഹായികൾ ധാരാളമുണ്ട് കൈ വട്ടത്തിൽ.
      വിഡ്ഢി പെട്ടി പണ്ടേ ഉപേക്ഷിച്ച മട്ടാണ്. ചില സ്വാമിമാരുടെ രാവിലത്തെ പ്രഭാഷണങ്ങൾ ഒഴിച്ചാൽ.:)

    2. Marvelous! You know what; I am thinking of pasting your URL on my face-book timeline so that those who follow me-though minuscule in number- can also enjoy your beautiful verbosity. By the by one small correction if I am allowed to make it. Centrifugal forces are those which drags you in; the equal and opposite force is centripetal force which pulls you out. So in your context it should be centripetal force-the unseen force which compels the children to fly away from you. I hope my physics lessons are not failing me.

  4. Dear YP,
    Thanks for your comment. I have no problem if you want to paste it on your timeline.
    I had also some misgivings about Centrifugal and Centripetal. The Wikepaedia states as appended. Anyway, I am posting your comment and mine on the blog. Readers can choose whichever they like! Or I can add a parenthetical clause a la Wodehouse reading " if that is the word I want" *:) happy

    " Centrifugal force (from Latin centrum, meaning "center", and fugere, meaning "to flee"[1][2]) is the apparent force that draws a rotating body away from the center of rotation."
    "In simple terms, centripetal force is defined as a force which keeps a body moving with a uniform speed along a circular path and is directed along the radius towards the centre."

  5. എല്ലാവരും അവരവരുടെ ഭാഷ ഭംഗിയായി ഉപയോഗിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്.
    ഈ പുതു വത്സര സമ്മാനത്തിന് നന്ദി.

  6. പരമേശ്വരൻ നായരുസാര് ബ്രിൻഘിരിയുടെ കഥ കേട്ടിടുണ്ടാകാൻ വഴിയില്ല വടകുന്നാതനിൽ മൂലസ്ഥാനത് കാറ്റു കൊല്ലുമ്പോൾ കേൾകണ്ട കഥയല്ല . ഒരു കാലത്ത് അന്തിമയങ്ങിയാൽ മടംബിവിലകിണ്ടേ വെളിച്ചത്തിൽ കാണുന്ന രൂപമില്ലാത്ത നിഴലുകൾ ഭൂതഗനങ്ങളെ കണ്ടു പേടിക്കുന്ന കഥകൾ യക്ഷി പനകളും സുന്ദരിമാരും - kerala varma

  7. പാല മരങ്ങൾക്കും കരിമ്പനകൾക്കും ചുവട്ടിൽ അവശേഷിച്ചിരുന്ന മുടിയും, എല്ലുകളും നഖങ്ങളും പുള്ളി പുലി പിടിച്ചു മരമുകളിൽ ഇരുന്ന് 'സാപ്പിട്ട' വഴിപോക്കന്മാരുടെ തിരു ശേഷിപ്പുകൾ ആകാനാണ് സാധ്യത. ഏഴിലം പാലകളും, പൂള മരങ്ങളും എളുപ്പത്തിൽ കയറി പറ്റാവുന്ന 'സോഫ്റ്റ്‌ വൂട്സ് ' ആണ്. തിളങ്ങുന്ന കണ്ണുകളുള്ള, നിഴലുകളെപ്പോലെ നിശ്ശബ്ദമായി സഞ്ചരിക്കുന്ന 'പുള്ളി പുലി യക്ഷികൾ' പാലമരം തിരഞ്ഞെടുത്തതിൽ അദ്ഭുതമില്ല ,തമ്പ്രാൻ.

  8. By moving away from FB you are being harsh(as Unni wrote)on at least a few of your friends like us who value your comments and statuses as worth reading. I find the theme of your post itself very unraju like , unnecessarily melancholic and showing a lot of withdrawal symptoms. There is no need for looking back on your time line and to wonder about the value of the comments etc., as they were all important, appropriate and relevant when they were made. While posting on my blog I sometimes wonder what purpose it will serve and what its utility would be to others. But a stray acknowledgement or a comment/a question by a rare reader gives a lot of impetus for me to keep going. I am reminded of what a respected senior colleague of mine once told me. During his daily half hour “Nama japam’ in the morning, sometimes unholy thoughts as to the futility of the ritual, waste of time etc, crossed his mind. But he could immediately pull his mind back and concentrate on the ‘japam’, which on the whole gave him a lot of joy and peace of mind. One can shun the FB and the crowd today, TV and cinema tomorrow, cricket the day after and so on. One can even be away from the internet. But unless other activities took the place of those shunned, there would always be the danger of ‘painting oneself into a corner. Of course, in excess even ‘amrit’ is poison!

  9. SVJ. Thanks for your comments and also words of encouragement. I am not feeling melancholic at all. Looking for new pastures or revisiting old pastures would better sum up my thoughts on leaving FB. You know, I still hold an almost full time job and 'Poirots little grey cells' continues to reasonably active. :) I was just thinking of engaging myself in a more appealing pastime. And the Blog too.

  10. Dear Rajagopalanji,
    your blog made fantastic reading. With your permission taken for granted, fwd'ed to several, who appreciated it very much. Swapnalokam blog will make good leisure reading.
    thanks and regards, Mohandas