25 October 2009

10 Likes and 20 Comments

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"...Hmm, what should I do. Should I buy a 7 riyal large can of Coke...or go for two small cans of 3 riyals each? I guess the 7 Riyal can is bigger...but I dont think I'm that thirsty right now. Guess I'll go for the two small cans instead. Peace out people!"

What you just read, was a Status Update on Facebook. No, seriously. Someone actually took pains to type it all down, so that every one of his 326 friends could know what exactly he drank.

Well, there's good news and bad news as far as this story is concerned. The good news is, the fellow was quite pleased with the decision he took. The bad news....well, he began wondering whether he needed ketchup or Mayonnaise for his burger...

Years from now, we might look back and talk about how Live Updates, such as on Facebook, Twitter, Orkut (?). What I'm wondering is...will we remember just how messed up the whole system was?

Think about it. A Status Update was originally meant to be a clever and quick way of letting your friends know how you were doing. You could say things like, "Enjoying my vacation in Venice,", or maybe something like, "Tired after a long day's work".

If that was the actual idea, I'm sure the genius who came up with the idea must be smashing his head onto his computer monitor right now. Because, obviously, things havent worked out quite according to plan, have they?

Take a look:

Arnold Webber is happy, happy, happy, happy! :)) :))
I know happiness is supposed to be contagious, but cmon, get a grip!

Thomas is in the mall! Good fun//\\Misses all his friends...Luv u guys! Stay cool...Keep rocking...Peace Out!
This, just for a trip to the mall. Cant imagine what a 2 month vacation would sound like...

Of course, not all Status Updates are horrible. There are some that actually make you think, or atleast chuckle lightly. Which is when I realised that Status Updates actually reflect real life.

The thought came to mind when I read a Status Update of a friend of mine. It was about him preparing for an upcoming tournament. Nothing much, just a status saying that he was excited. It got 15 likes, and almost 35 comments. For those of you who're not in Facebook, that's a pretty good response.

Just above his status, was another one. It was from a mutual friend who wasnt high up in the social ladder, and what he had to say, wasnt so exciting. "Life sucks....everything feels horrible...Just wish I could end it all..."

No likes. No comments. Nothing at all.

Which makes you wonder. Why is it that a popular guy's upcoming tournament is more important that another guy's potentially suicidal status update? Why dont we all rush towards him, asking what's wrong?

The answer is simple. That's how life is, most of the time. The school heartthrob could twist his leg and have the whole cheerleading squad around him. No one notices the loner in the rest room, with his wrists slashed, almost lifeless.

Of course, that doesnt mean we're all cold hearted. Why, I myself am going to update my status with a link to this post...and then wait to see how many comments I get.

It just means we're human...and sometimes, that worries me.

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15 October 2009

A Single Cup of Tea

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This is a fictionalized diary entry from an army man's journal...

Life was supposed to be an adventure for me. And for the first 25 years of it, I thought I was doing just fine. Until the incident on 26th August, 1988. As newly promoted Group Leader, it was my duty to carry out reconnaissance missions throughout a jungle that basically functioned as an Enemy base.

It all happened so quickly, that I still dont remember most of it. All I know for sure is this. Because of my mistake, three men in my team were taken hostage. For the next 48 days, they were severely tortured. Though they were eventually freed through diplomatic interventions, life never returned to normal. Not for them. And especially not for me.

I quit the Army. I cut contact with my Army buddies. The thought that my actions had caused so much pain for my comrades, I realised, was too hard to bear.

Which was how I ended up working part time in a restaurant.

My job was simple enough. I took care of preparing the drinks. One day, a customer chocked after taking a sip from a cup of tea I'd made. Turned out, I'd put in pepper instead of Cinnamon.

Which made me realise I wasnt even fit to make a cup of tea.

My boss brought the cup back, and bellowed with fury. "You nincompoop!" he cried. "What the hell are you fit for? Cant make a cup of tea without killing somebody? Are you trying to run me out of business..."

Only one phrase caught my mind. Cant make a cup of tea....without killing somebody.

The next day, I sat idly next to the window, ignoring the growing pile of orders for tea. Soon someone noticed the delay, and called the Boss.

"Oy!" He yelled, entering the kitchen. "What's the matter with you? Why the hell arent you making tea?"

Without moving a muscle, I kept staring out of the window. "What's the use?" I asked. "I'll probably screw it up anyway."

Surprisingly, he didnt reply. Instead, swearing loudly, he got someone else to take care of the orders. That night, as we were closing up, he entered the kitchen again.

"Hey kid, what's the matter with you?" He asked angrily. I didnt reply.

"What, you're sad because you screwed up a cup of tea yesterday? Is that it? So what are you planning on doing? Quiting your job altogether? Is that you're bloody brilliant idea? It better not be, sonny, cuz that's a shitty idea. Let me tell you what you'll do. You'll be here at 6 in the morning, and you'll start making tea the moment I ask you to. You'll make sure they taste good. If there's less sugar in one of them, the next time, you'll add more sugar. If the customer says the tea is too strong, you'll make sure you reduce the number of tea bags next time. And you'll keep doing this, day in and day out! You understand me? You'll keep doing this, until you become the bloody best tea maker in this place!"

He stopped for breath, and threw me a spiteful look. As he turned to leave, he remarked, more to himself than me. "Stupid little kid. Quitting cuz of one little cup of tea..."

What he said that night, changed my life.

I rejoined the Army within a month. By 1992, I was a Lieutant. By 1996, I was a Colonel.

Why? Because I realized that life....was just like preparing tea. Every day is like a single cup of tea. Just because you ruined your cup yesterday, doesn't mean you stop. All you have to do is make sure your cup of tea gets better....one day at a time.

[Please leave your comments, and rate the post as well....]
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08 October 2009

The Pressure Cooker Syndrome

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It was almost 7 o' clock, and I couldn't afford to be late to work yet again. So I rushed to the kitchen, threw open a cupboard and took out my Pressure Cooker. In my haste, the nozzle of the Pressure Cooker slammed against the tiled wall. Cursing loudly, I placed the Cooker on the stove, and left for work...

Ramesh said he was fine. And to the surprise of his friends, it seemed he really was. Even after being unfairly fired from his job, Ramesh was in good spirits. "I spent 10 years at the firm," he said calmly, "It's about time I had a change."

Martin meanwhile, was being a complete gentleman. He and his wife had just divorced, and he was quite fine about it. "I'm fine, guys," he said. "She wanted the divorce. There's nothing more to it." He was frighteningly calm.

The Cooker began hissing softly, as the water inside began to boil. The jammed nozzle made sure none of the steam was let out. Silently, the cooker remained on the stove...

Ramesh laughed the whole week. He attended parties, hung out with friends, and completely ignored the topic of his unemployment. He was far too happy to think about it.

Martin was behaving like a hot blooded bachelor already. He never mentioned his ex-wife, and made sure no one ever talked to him about her. He was over her, his friends were reminded. It's all in the past. It was time to move on. And that's it.

Two hours after I'd left, the Cooker began shaking violently. Steam was building up inside, and the hissing was getting louder.

"How long have you been at Wilton Corp., Ramesh?" his friend asked as they played a game of Poker at the bar. "Ten years," Ramesh replied. "Wow, that's a long time, isn't it? I'm surprised they fired you after so long. Have you found another job yet?". Ramesh shook his head. It had been over a month since he lost his job. His bills were over due, his insurance had expired. Suddenly he felt angry, first at himself and then at his company. How could they just fire him like that...

After hosting a successful birthday party, Martin said goodbye to his friends. Just as he was about to leave, Joseph turned around and casually remarked. "By the way, you heard about Caroline? She's getting married next week." Martin froze for a second. And suddenly broke into a smile. "Oh," he said. "Good for her. I hope..I hope she's happy..."

Finally the Cooker rattled, almost toppled over, and exploded...

They found Ramesh's car rammed into a roadside tree. The police are assuming that he was heavily drunk. His friends knew for certain that he was. He had stumbled into his car, grumbling to himself. As he drove off, one of them heard him talk about his company. "10 bloody years, and this is what they do to me..." Finally, it had all come back to him.

Martin's best friend came by at 8 in the morning. He found the living room trashed. Shattered glass was spread all over. A few paintings, along with the television and trophy cabinet were damaged. Martin was leaning against the wall, weeping to himself. As his friend tried consoling him, Martin buried his face in his hands. 'Claire...' he managed to say.

The Fireman surveyed the kitchen, and looked at me in disdain. "Sir, you should know better than this. The Cooker was obviously damaged. Must be a jammed nozzle. Anyways, there's nothing much we can do now. It'll take a few days to fix this mess"

We all suffer from the Pressure Cooker Syndrome. Perhaps it's just 21st century style, but for some reason, hiding our emotions has suddenly become the 'cool' thing to do. 'Get over it', 'Dont care a damn'. There are a dozen people around to hand us advice. Wish emotions were so easy to get rid off. Anger, sorrow, jealousy, depression...all going away if we just ignore it.

They don't just go away. You cant just pretend to be happy. You cant run away from how you feel. That's as smart as using a jammed Pressure Cooker. And if you've seen my kitchen, you'll realize it isn't a very smart thing to do.

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