What Does Focus Even Mean?

Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath.

Relax.

Focus.

Teachers and invigilators tend to say things like these before an exam begins, in an effort to give us a pep talk to instantly calm our frantic nerves, all those neurons revising last minute details. They try to motivate us to write down every single answer that we didn’t even study while preparing!

When it came to me, however, I never really understood what they were trying to achieve. I mean, I never really got what they meant when they asked me to focus. They say focus, I ask howww? What do you mean?! How should I focus, what should I focus on? You know?!

And so, today I’m going to try and answer the question: What does focus even mean?

It was about a year back that I began to understand what focus might mean. I was in the middle of this intracollege writing competition and I had advanced to the final round, and it felt like everything was falling apart because I had no creative clue of what to write next. I don’t know what wise old neuron gave me this idea, but I began focusing on my breath.

I remember being told right from my childhood, that whenever you feel angry, anxious, nervous, scared, just close your eyes, count your breath, focus on it, and you’ll calm down. Since I had nothing else to do, and nowhere else to go, I decided to do this. When I opened my eyes a minute later, I saw this third year student, who was supervising the event. She looked at me with her eyes wide, as if trying to say, “Time jaa raha hai, aankhein bandh kyu kar rahe ho! Likho jaldi! (You’re running out of time, why are you sitting with your eyes shut? Quickly, write!)” I smiled at her and for the next 15 minutes, I tried my best to write down whatever best I could come up with.

Later, I found out I won the competition. I’d never gotten to the point of hoping to win it, because in that moment, all I was doing was breathing, and acknowledging that process.

Of course I sound all wise right now standing here, but its something I just happened to do, and it worked. Since then, any time I begin to feel overwhelmed, I just breathe. I don’t know, maybe that’s what focus means, or at least that’s what it means to me. So, today I want to ask you, what does it mean to you?


Remember, a few months back, I shared a post with you, which I said was a speech I gave in my Public Speaking class? Well this post was the latest speech I gave in the class.

I hope you liked it! If you want to read more of what I write elsewhere, or just see the stuff I do in life, go check out my Instagram and Facebook. You’ll find the links at the bottom and top of my page, respectively.

I’ll see you guys soon!

Your Mountain, Your Path

I have had a few thoughts about stuff, so bear with me as I try to compile them into a fairly sensible blog post. I might be incoherent at times, but trust me; there is a method to my madness. So here goes.

Bruce Wayne kicks off Batman v Superman by saying there were once ‘diamond absolutes’. I believe, in real life, there are none. There are no absolutes. It’s all variable and relative.

There’s a lot of idealism in most people’s upbringings, I suppose. I’d hate to generalize or speak for others, so I’m going to stick to me. I grew up with a lot of ideals being placed in front of me. I continue to grow with a similar buffet of ideals placed in front of me. “I must strive to be ‘x’ kind of a person”, “strive to achieve ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’ things”, “look for ‘x’ kind of qualities in people I must accept as peers, friends, partners,” et cetera, et cetera.

Simon Sinek is a well known orator and in general, someone with great understanding of people, among, I’m sure, a lot of other things. There’s this one interview/speech of his where he talks about millennials, the why behind their troubles in life – faulty upbringing, skewed perceptions on life, low self esteem, lack of “grit”, and how society sees them. I am aware I’m not the typical prototype of a millennial, but I couldn’t help but relate to some things Simon says (see what I did there?).  

He says relationships are slow, uncomfortable, meandering, messy processes. He says, “I see young people these days standing at the foot of a mountain, with this abstract concept of ‘impact’ that they want to have in the world. What they don’t see is the mountain.”

The concept of this mountain is what I’m trying to get at here.

Its not wrong to have ideals like the ones I mentioned above. I have many of those ideals, and I’m sure many of you have a variation of them as well. They motivate us and keep us going. They give us somewhere to go. However, there’s some traveling to be done from where you are, to where that ideal is. There’s some climbing to be done, and there’s no one single path. I may walk 20 miles before falling into a ditch 10 feet deep, not coming out of it for a few weeks.

That’s how life is. There ain’t no map, no instruction manual. Each and every one of us is figuring it out as we go along. A different path, is not necessarily the wrong one.

I talk a lot about ‘moments’ and enjoying them, in a lot of my blog posts, but that’s because I believe in the process. I live for it. The ‘little innocuous moments’ as Sinek calls them, when you’re not doing anything, when you’re just sitting and looking around, observing, registering, and thinking. When ideas come and go, when people look at you like an idiot for not looking down at your phone or reading something and instead just gazing around. You’re not an idiot. In that moment, you’re human. And the great thing about that is that while you’re on a path to some esoteric land where you want to get to, you’re looking on each side, at the fields passing you by, the roads, the people, all the other mountains, the rain drops, everything. You’re looking, and that’s more than many of us can boast of having really, truly done today. So, look!

To not blindly walk, but appreciate the path others are on, while walking on my own path, is something I want to live by.

How to not be Stupid – For Dummies

It is common experience that distraction and a temporary lack of definite direction are easy to befriend in certain states of the mind.

I just call it plain stupidity. (Of course, the first step to accepting your own stupidity is to not glare when your closest friend taps you on the head and calls you the stupid fellow you are.)

“…the pangs of sequestration in the maddening darkness of a closed prison,” says K Satchidanandan in one of his essays.

I have a habit of sometimes being too naïve. That’s a bad thing, by the way. I say things I may mean as a compliment, being completely oblivious that there is one small facet of what  I said, that turns the whole thing on it’s head. It no longer remains a compliment, having lost all its endearing attributes. It is now a prickly statement of disinterest. You’d have to be supremely detached to not get pissed when I do something like this. Stupid, remember?

Of course, ‘getting pissed’ thereafter brings with it the various stages of “maddening darkness”, giving birth to the aforementioned “pangs of sequestration”.

Satchidanandan knows his shit.

I could quite easily go into vivid details about how these “pangs” are, in totality, quite sucky indeed. Or, instead, I could tell you how I stop feeling stupid (although I’m told I still am stupid), and go down the river of #SentiFeelz.

This is exactly how.

I write.

And then I am rather hastily transported back to a land of no pangs. Here, its suddenly hard to brush off the thought of those flowers. I actually, thoughtfully, bought flowers for the first time ever today. It was a big deal. They looked amazing. Even better in the hands of whom they’re meant for. The rains just make this moment of reminiscing, shining.

I just keep smiling out into the trees, as the drops continue falling in front of me, the wind occasionally spraying some water at my stupid face.


Yes, that is me in the image, photoshopping a bunch of potatoes. Everyday stuff. No biggie.

On New Opportunities

They said (degree) college life will be fun.

They were right.

They said I’d learn a lot there.

They were right.

They never said I’d learn so much so early! ‘Cause I have. I’ve learnt a lot. And very little has been from studying the subjects, ironically enough.

One opportunity I got at college was to take part in and volunteer to organise the fests that take place at college annually. I volunteered for two such fests, which took place during the past week.

I definitely learnt a lot just from working with so many people organizing something of this scale, but I think I was offered more to learn, because of the different experiences I had working with two different sets of people on two different things. The people I got to know, the things I got to be a part of; it was all worth the ‘trouble’.

One of the fests was organised by a department that I wasn’t connected with in any way because the curriculum I’ve chosen doesn’t include that subject. Had I not gone to that first meeting when they were calling out for volunteers, I would never have been part of this great event, and never would have gotten to know all of those wonderful people, just because I don’t share a subject with them.

Hmm. Funny how that could have worked out.

Now that I think of it, these fests were an awesome place to conduct a social experiment. I realise now that my perceptions of a lot of people changed over the course of the three to four months we spent planning for the fests. Some people to whom I was indifferent, I now really respect. Some who I really respected, I don’t as much, anymore.

I won’t say that this change in perception is solely because I got to know them better over time, because we all judge people and we have a perception in the first place because we’ve made a judgment of them. That isn’t always bad if you don’t consciously let that judgment get in the way of you interacting with them and working with them. I’ll admit there were a few incidents where I failed at doing that. I really did not like a few people I had to work with. There were moments where I consciously despised them and did not want to meet them at all. I ranted about them to my friends and parents. I got myself angry over them. I tired myself out over them. I’m just really fucking grateful to have my parents and friends around, because I would have been cribbing for much longer if they hadn’t listened patiently to my rants, and then given me a kick up the butt to get it together and do what I gotta do.

At the same time, there were so many more people who I’d love to spend more time with. There’s so many people who I have massive respect for and I always will. I had disagreements with a few people in the heat of the moment. I got pulled under the pressure a little and let go for a bit. I said some things to some people, and I shouldn’t have done that. I let them know of that, and I think my relationship with them is in a better place because of the past week.

The last week has been really good for me. I’ve done a lot of running around, both out on physical ground, but also up in my head. I’ve made a lot of new friends, and been a part of a few things at college, and had experiences I’ve never had before. Since the ‘first time’ only comes once, I guess I’ll never have those experiences again.

I wouldn’t like it to be any other way.

Coffee Update #8

Heyyyy guys! Welcome back to another Coffee Update. This is where we grab a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate, as the climate seems to demand, and I talk to you about what’s up with my life right now. A bit of a vlog in a written form, if you will.

So grab a cuppa and settle down!


If we were having coffee right now, firstly, I would tell you that I can totally NOT get over this song, at all. I’ve played it, like 47 times in the last 5 days. Maybe an exaggeration, but that’s as accurate as it gets. The song’s too goddamn catchy. Ed Sheeran never ceases to surprise me. Go check it out if you haven’t heard it already! Here, I’ll just give it to you:

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Click on the image to go to the football blog I’ve started

If we were having coffee right now, I would tell you that I’ve created another place for myself to write! Some of you may have seen a couple of football-related posts on this blog. I realised that this isn’t exactly the place for those kind of posts, but I do have a great interest in football and, as it appears, some people think I write well about football. So I decided to create The United Writer! It is a blog where I write about football and Manchester United Football Club.

It’s hardly been about three/four months since I started the blog, but its already allowed me to get in touch with some great people in the football-related media community and interacting with others in a field of your interest is always a great experience. For example, the owner of one of the biggest football fan accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, got in touch with me, since (I assume) he probably liked my work. Now I write with him on his website! The name is Man United Zone, and you can check it out by clicking here: Man United Zone

I’m really happy with where I am, and I look forward to growing more, and in that quest, I can use all the help I get!

If we were having coffee right now, I’d briefly tell you about what’s going on with me academically. I had my exams for the first semester of my Bachelor’s course at college about a month back. We got the results for that, just today. I’m not happy with the amount of effort I put in, preparing for the exams. We haven’t received a cumulative grade yet, but going by the individual subject grades I’ve got, I’m pretty sure I’ll make an A, I’m hoping they bump me up to A+. Yes, regrets. Powerful thing, no?

I haven’t done particularly badly, but I’m going to try and not make the same mistakes again. I tend to do that sometimes, and I really don’t like it when I do.

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If we were having coffee right now, I’d talk to you about Sherlock for a little bit. Holy shit, Cumbersandwich you beautiful, beautiful man! What an absolute gem this show has been. It seems pretty clear they’ve prepared for the end, and this was probably it. I think it’s a great end to a great show, and it would seem unnatural to drag it on further. It was a pleasure. I shall miss the two year long waits for new seasons.

If we were having coffee right now, I’d just like to thank you. For being here, reading and listening, with us separated only by something as trivial as a digital screen and maybe a few hundred miles, at the most.

I write because I like to share my thoughts here. Right now, I appreciate anybody who’s reading this, and even those who choose not to.


So, well, that’s what’s up! You are now officially updated with some of the stuff I’m dealing with at the moment! It was great catching a quick coffee with you peoples, I’ll see you soon.

Until the next post,

Adios muchachos!

Why I Greet People With a Salute

(And why you could too)

A lot of my friends know I do this. Whenever I meet them, whether it’s when we see each other during the first lecture of the day at college, or when we catch up with each other in the canteen, or when they open the door to me when I go to their house to hang out, I greet them not with a handshake, not with a nonchalant, “Hey, man,” or an embrace, but with a salute. Of course, I do partake in handshakes and nonchalant versions of, “Hi,” and hugs (hugs are the best, especially if it’s with a dog), but more often than not, it’s a salute. Here’s why.

 

Continue reading “Why I Greet People With a Salute”

Two Miles An Hour

One morning a few days back I was coming home from college since a couple of my lectures had gotten cancelled.

Now that’s not really out of the blue (teachers don’t turn up to class some days, some days they turn up but not many students do, or they’re “cancelled” because I don’t go) but this time they’d been cancelled because the seniors were having their exams and they’d occupied most of the available classrooms.

So, since I’d left earlier than I normally would, I decided to take the scenic route and come home real slow, ideally while having a hot samosa pav and sipping something chilled. I took just the samosa pav instead. Now, in this scenario, I’d normally take out my headphones and put on Twenty One Pilots, or Queen, or some instrumentals. Or put a little of all of those into a playlist and hit play on that. But that day, when I flipped my backpack towards the front, unzipped the front pocket and let my hand plunge into its depths, I realised I’d forgotten my headphones at home.

What I did instead, was have a really slow walk. Like reaallllyy slow. Like, two miles an hour. And I actually had more fun than I’d anticipated. As it turns out, what would have been a 25 minute walk with my headphones on and me walking at my normal pace, became a nearly one hour walk without my headphones on and me walking slower than usual.

As I walked along, and noticed all the trees and their green leaves moist with the rain, something I’d hardly noticed earlier, and snickered at some of the buildings with really whimsy names, and some stray dogs I’d never seen before, I noticed that people were noticing me more too. In a city like this, where most people on the streets are in a hurry to get somewhere, you don’t see a random teenager just walking as if he has nowhere to get to, nothing to do except intently look at the stuff that’s going on around him. I distinctly noticed people giving me weird looks as they walked past me. Many elders tell us to ‘slow down’ once in a while, ‘put the phone aside’, ‘take those things off your ears’, and then when we do, they look at us in a way that almost makes us want to go back to doing all of that.

So, I’ve got a task for you: Take a slow walk. Like, reaallllyy slow. NO HEADPHONES. Just you. You’d be surprised by the stuff you’ll notice.

Not a Lot of Words

CHAOS

“Chaos. When you can’t wake up before 9 but college starts at 7. When you want Coke but get Pepsi. When there’s no Maggi. When you run out of [characters]”

BLISS

“The wife’s skull cracked open. Brains everywhere. He felt bliss.”


Continue reading “Not a Lot of Words”

I’M A YOUTUBER!!!

Okay, well maybe we can tone down that excitement a little, but yeah, I’m now on YouTube.

I’m an actual person who actually sits in front of a camera and says stuff to it and then uploads that stuff on YouTube. Its fun.

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A post or two back I said how I was working on creating content, and working the basics out for setting up the YouTube channel, and I didn’t say much as to what it is about since things were still finding their way then and I wasn’t sure myself if all that was going on then was how it was going to stay.

Well, since the channel is finally up, and we know fairly well what we want and don’t want, I can tell you more about it.

Firstly, the channel is called ‘Look What The Hat Dragged In‘ (you can click on the name to go to the channel), and its created by Aditya Deshingkar (who goes by the name ‘Deshingz’ in our videos and on our social media accounts), Rohan Marathe (who is our cameraman and part-time video editor) and me (going by the name Vyas, in our videos and on our social media accounts). Rohan is a college friend of mine, who I’ve mentioned on the blog earlier, and Aditya is someone I met through Rohan. Interestingly, Aditya was actually in the same school I was, just a few classrooms away, but we never met. I didn’t even know about an Aditya Deshingkar. To be fair, I wasn’t the most sociable guy, but its still interesting. In the image right at the top of this post, the dude on the left is me, and the dude on the right is Aditya.

Now, before I head into what my channel is about, let me tell you that it is nothing like this blog, which is why I’m finding the channel to be a great experience. Its something entirely new, the likes of which I’ve never done before.

The channel basically revolves around comic books, and comic book characters, and their on-screen versions in movies and TV shows. It is intended for people who are interested in these things, may or may not have seen some of it here and there, but for the most part don’t know much about these characters and their roles, etc, in movies and TV shows. It is the Golden Age of comic books with multiple comic book based movies and TV shows being released each year, and it can get hard to keep up with everything, even if you’re like me and don’t have anything like a ‘job’. So, what we aim to achieve with this channel, is to tell people that fit into this category, about some of the basic make-up of the characters involved in movies and TV shows and essentially brief you with all you need to know and expect from them, before you head into the movie theatre.

So, why the name, ‘Look What The Hat Dragged In’? Well, that’s because, first of all, its a pun, and puns are fun. But more importantly, its because we have chosen an inanimate object such as a hat, to be the decider on which character we pick next and discuss on the channel. It lends a certain uncertainty and therefore suspense, which is always welcome. Suspense is what keeps one hooked.

How the hat works, is that we choose a certain movie or TV show that we want to begin discussing. For example, on the channel we are currently doing a mini-series about The Suicide Squad movie that releases in early August this year. So after we chose this movie, we talked about what it is exactly, and gave a sort of introduction to it (which you can check out by clicking here) before we jumped into the characters. After this was out of the way, we pulled out the hat, and throwed 8 pieces of paper into it (each representing one major character of the movie) and randomly picked a piece of paper. You can click here to check out which character the hat chose, which will be the first character we talk about in the mini-series (this video of us discussing the first character should be out sometime tomorrow).

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So, if any of you are even remotely interested in comic books, comic book characters, or their related movies and TV shows that are flooding into theatres and on our televisions recently, you can go check out our channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6BB4tVc82GNzZcqKz5lP9w

We also have set up social media accounts, where we regularly post comic book related stuff, including snapshots of comic book frames, iconic/funny/amazing incidents from comic book movies and TV shows and various quotes and GIFs of the same.

You can check out our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TheHatBros
And our Twitter handle here: https://twitter.com/deshingzandvyas


Aaand that’s it for this time, I hope this new venture appeals to some of you, because I sure am having a lot of fun at it. Do tell your friends about our channel, maybe some of them are interested in comic books too.

Thank you very much!

Until next time.

Coffee Update #7

COFFEE UPDATE 7

Oh, its been way too long since I’ve written anything on the blog! Its good to be back.

So, welcome to a seventh edition of the Coffee Update. I felt it was a good time to do this since I’ve been off the blog for a long time now, and I thought I should say why, along with a few other things that have gone down in recent times in my life.

Settle down, grab a cuppa and join me at this Coffee Update.


 

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Big Dave parading the FA Cup trophy around Wembley Stadium.

If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you how Manchester United won the Emirates FA Cup. Hell yes! Probably a few of you aren’t into football (soccer), but for me, as a Man Utd supporter, it was a hell of a moment. Amazing game, amazing players, amazing match-winning goal, amazing atmosphere. Amazing day. I totally freaked out when they blew the final whistle at the end of the game, because there were honestly a lot of minutes in the game when I thought we were going to lose. But we didn’t.

If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you that my 12th Grade Board Exam results were declared a few days ago, and I secured 81.2%, which in all honesty is underwhelming for me. I did secure about 89% in the 10th Grade Board Exams, under a much tougher curriculum. You could say I had more time and outside help then, but its still not an excuse. I should have done better. Thankfully it isn’t going to have much of an impact on my immediate future academics, because I am guaranteed admission to senior college, at the same college I was for the last 2 years. It was a great thing that I did get 89% two years back, because only then did I manage to get into this college, which is according to me, in terms of academics, probably one of the top 3-5 colleges in the city. Now, I intend to major in psychology at the end of my 3-year course that will begin in a month, give or take, and a lot of people have told me that the psychology teaching faculty at the college is arguably the best in the city, so I am indeed very grateful.

Finally, if we were having coffee right now, I’d say I need to tell you why I have been away from the blog for a while now, and why that may happen again. No, I did not take another holiday. I am actually working on a sort of similar project as this blog, with a couple of friends. This project is actually much more elaborate than this blog. Two of my friends, Aditya Deshingkar and Rohan Marathe, and myself, are going to, in the near future [which is probably (hopefully) the next one month], create a YouTube channel, and a connected podcast channel on SoundCloud. We are currently setting the groundwork for both, which includes creating a set-up for the videos, making test footage, creating artwork for the channels and whatnot. Its a lot more work than I probably ever have put into a project, but its fun because its a project that I really want to put my hundred and three percent effort into. Since it involves putting in a lot of time and effort, it becomes difficult for me to set apart time for the blog as well, since I also have that two year long Yoga course that I talked about, and that takes roughly 4.5 hours of mine every Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and the gym takes about 1.5 hours about 5 days a week. I am assuming that once the channel and everything is up and running, and the basics templates and frameworks are in place, it would probably reduce some of our work.

So for those of you that would like to know, our YouTube channel is going to revolve around comic books and movies and TV shows based on comic books. This mainly means Marvel Comics and DC Comics, which includes iconic characters like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Daredevil, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and many more. What we are going to do, is talk about one randomly selected character in each episode on the YouTube channel, and give the viewers some of the basic info about the characters in their on-screen version (which means, as they were portrayed in TV shows and movies). We will, of course refer to the comic book versions of the characters as well, as and when required. Each video will more or less be for five minutes.

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Grant Gustin portraying DC Comics’ pivotal superhero, Barry Allen A.K.A The Flash

The podcast is going to be a little different. For one, its going to be much longer; you can expect it to be anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes long. On the podcast, we shall be sticking more to the comic book version of the character we picked in the YouTube video, so this will give you a more deeper insight into the character as he or she originally was and is in the comics.

So if any of you are interested in stuff like this, then stay tuned I will sneak some info about this out to you once we have something up or anything of that sort.


Aaaaand that’s all I got for this Coffee Update, I hope it wasn’t too long that your coffee went cold.

Until next time.

JV out.