That You Can

I had heard and noted that seeing yourself doing the things you wanted to do in life was a sure-fire way to actually be able to do them. I also formed my own perception of “Dream it and you can do it.”

Translating thought into action is more difficult than it sounds.  

Several factors are at work, influencing what you do and when you do it.

In addition to the most obvious ones – the economic and social factors – there are also some other subtle ones, chiseling away at your personal efforts at shaping your dreams.

So, over the course of living, you realize that it cannot be all that hunky dory. The grime, grit, and gory details of forging your means to a dream existence were simply not accounted for in your dream concept. 

Your own efforts are governed by factors far too powerful for you to even negotiate with.

Living with inconsistencies, despair, incompetence (both one’s own and others’), unforeseen challenges and circumstances, little niggling things, and – of course – the hindrances others might be throwing at you in pursuit of their own convenience – are all things you need to get in your stride.

Easier said than done, right?

But you know what, chipping away at these challenges and re-inventing your own approaches, methods, and concepts is a good way forward. It is, in fact, the very substance of meaningful living.

C. Rajgopalachari’s Ramayana describes how Rama, an avatar of the Supreme Creator Lord Narayan or Vishnu, is so distraught by the loss of his wife to the demon king Ravana, he actually contemplates suicide and talks like one who knows no sense whatsoever.

Even the supremely powerful among the gods can be so stricken and distraught as to lose his hold on ground reality. Lakshmana, his brother and an incarnation of Sesha Naaga, on whose coils Vishnu is seen reposing, offers entreaties to no avail. 

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“All Lakshmana’s efforts to console him were in vain. He was convinced that the Rakshasas had carried away Sita and torn her to pieces and eaten her up. He pictured to himself in detail the horror of her suffering and cried in his grief: “I must have committed terrible sins. How else could such suffering come to me?”

 

If such a state can befall even the supremely powerful, what can you and I hope to achieve in the face of adversity?

But that’s the beauty of the Indian Grand Epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata. 

The idea is to understand that in the face of adversity, even the most powerful among us can falter. Yet, it is possible to pick oneself up, continue on one’s way, and excel at whatever one seeks to achieve.

In short, it’s okay to fail and be miserable temporarily. You can pull through the most trying circumstances.

The Indian epics have a powerful way of conveying a message.

Rama goes on to not only bring back Sita but also completely exterminate the fearsome Ravana, his  fellow demons, and their great armies. In the book, the events in the virtuous Rama’s life as a mortal on earth are rendered soulfully by the author. Wanna read Ramayana by C. Rajgopalachari? Here’s the link to the online pdf: http://bit.ly/12Fw8MR

The idea is to understand that you can overcome the most daunting obstacles with just the right amount of fortitude and patience. 

The idea, of course, is that you can. 

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A Translation of Convenience – ‘Jeev Dangala’ from ‘Jogwa’

The following is a translation of a Marathi song from the movie ‘Jogwa’. This is a must-watch movie for every socially conscious individual. The translation is intended for those who don’t know the language … only to give you an idea about the meaning of the song when you listen to it at either of the following links. The song is rendered by Hariharan and Shreya Ghoshal, who have done much more than full justice to the composition:

Only Audio: http://topmarathi.com//files/Marathi%20Songs/Marathi%20Movie%20Songs%20-%20A%20to%20Z/JJJ/Jogva/Jiv%20Rangala%20%5BTopMarathi.Com%5D.mp3

Audio + Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CslqU1QKYxY

Here is my translation of the song:

The soul astounded, stupefied, and immersed so
In a hope of love that’s you
The soul transfixed, an overwhelming breath, gaining the yearning for you

Take me across the waters, stay on with me, the heart of me are you
My joy is in high tide, the sky touching the earth to abide
The full moon are you

The moon will bring a fragrance, the night a sighs few
The earth is yours, the germinating soil are you

The mad cloudy sky, wrapped up in tradition
My precious beloved, break the bangles of convention

My fond heart have I gifted you
At your feet I dedicate my life’s hue

DOESN’T READ AS GOOD IN TRANSLATION, BUT SANJAY KRUSHNAJI PATIL HAS WRITTEN AN AWESOME POEM IN MARATHI, MY MOTHER TONGUE.

THE JOYS OF ONE’S MOTHER TONGUE WILL NEVER BE PARALLELED BY ANY OTHER.

MR. PATIL, HEARTIEST CONGRATULATIONS!

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What is Content Writing – and a few stray thoughts

A bosom buddy of mine recently asked me, “What is content writing?” As you’d expect, it was a bolt straight out of the blue. My buddy probably asked me the question of the century, and answering him immediately was well and truly beyond my humble means.

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You toil away for over half your life on a farm and suddenly someone asks you, “What is agriculture?” Well, brilliant question, buddy dear, and am I glad you asked!!

I got down to it almost immediately and began thinking on those lines. Someone not familiar with the basics of something would want a grassroots explanation. In this instance, it’s a little difficult to come to grips with because content creation is an activity that’s been going on for almost all the millennia of creative human existence!

I had asked my buddy to recommend me on LinkedIn and he had replied that he would gladly do as much, except he wasn’t aware what content writing was all about. And I feel duty-bound to provide an answer.

Well, here goes:

Content writing – a.k.a web content writing – is essentially the creation of the textual content for a website’s pages or other online communiques such as PDF files, e-books, white papers, articles, blog posts, product descriptions, mailers, promotional material, and so on. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing are the biggest fans of well-written, original, and engaging content that informs and entertains visitors to a website.

All of this is written with customer engagement in mind. You need to sell your service or product. So you need to give your customers a good idea about the value you are offering. At the very least, you need to provide accurate information on your wares or services. You must make it interesting, informative, original, and enjoyable. Nothing less than perfect grammar and deft use of language will do. In addition you may also need to be familiar with a software or two that aid the very creative and challenging tasks within content writing.

The power to decide what to buy passed from the mega brands into the hands of the regular guy or gal on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social networks, and hey presto! Content is suddenly king. I’ll correct myself here … Content has always been the emperor! That is because content rules over all the realms belonging to both the buyer and the seller.

The buyer uses it to acquire (and disseminate) information on particular products or services. The seller uses it for its value as the most powerful marketing instrument.

Now customers, by nature, have come to trust their peers’ opinion more than advertorial messages from even the biggest and best of brands. Quality content should draw website visitors in and keep them interested in your content. If that happens, you have a better chance to make a sale.

Website content is just one of the names given to the same single sun that illuminates and warms the reader’s universe.

Content writing is the arduous quest for the most effective copy that serves both the buyer and the seller. It helps them in both buying the best product or service and selling to a maximum number of customers, respectively.

The power of quality content is evident:

* Marketers and business owners go bonkers and drool after it, as if it were a voluptuous chick

* Designers go green with jealousy and madly keep insisting that online images are worth a thousand words

* SEO pros rue the fact that they did not take their English classes seriously

* Google (and other search engines as well, of course) firmly insists on it. Your website isn’t worth a cent you paid if it does not have top-notch content in it that Google’s search engine users require.

* Buyers and sellers, however, feel glad for having it. They bless it and use it and share it among themselves and their peers. They feel grateful and liberated that quality content is not only possible on the Internet, but also available, at times.

Such content is absolutely precious.

Who can forget the candy-man who peddled his homemade delicacies from door to door? Or the bio-scope guy who brought the movies and the talkies to the street for the children of the poor? The utensil polishing guy who would yell “Vasssoiiiiyene” in the streets, or the bartender who juggled the glasses, or the clown who rode the one-wheeler or the girl who walked the tight rope had all been trying to catch the customer’s attention, for decades. They were never glorified for their efforts, unlike many marketers, writers, and middlemen. But they brought high value to the experience of the customers and made their lives so much richer for everyone around them.

What professional on a social network today can dream of enriching people’s lives so effectively? My answer would be the content writer. Thus, the modern-day content writer is your regular candy man, or the guy with a trained monkey, whose sole aim in life is to make increasingly mundane lives just a tad better with his repartees, humor, witticisms, and to-the-point information.

Content writing is the effort made by a writer to make dreary web pages bloom and their readers smile in appreciation. That happens when the content he writes touches a chord with its readers. That is no mean a task, for you require consummate story-telling skill with which to interest your readers.

Of late, the jealous guys have been convincing their corporate honchos that no one ever reads online. According to them, people log on only to see pictures and the colors on a website. Funny guys!

With the latest updates in Google’s algorithm, website content is now expected to be somewhat longer, contain richer detail and information, and be written with unparalleled skill. Run-of-the-mill ideas and grammar will no longer be tolerated by Google.

If I were to get just a couple of content writing jobs every two months, I should be perfectly happy doing what I do. It is not the best job for someone who wants a fat paycheck; but ever since Google’s updates changed the rules of the game, companies have been shelling out some solid cash to hire the best content writers available.

Hope that answers your curiosity, buddy dearest. You can use Google to find out about the exciting world of website content writing and more.

Happy online reading!

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Days and Nights: Or How You’d Like to Spend Them

Days and nights do not ever remain the same. The harrowing thoughts and unfounded fears do not just go away. Finding the time to play with a dear child of your own never happens. Your ideas of pure, simple, inexpensive happiness never materialize.

You are left wondering whether all this is what you were put on earth for. Sometimes you beg God to put an end to all of it and permit you to live a simple rustic life, like you have always wanted. Does He oblige? Ha!

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Worries and problems galore would be exciting enough, even satisfactory. But hell no! You cannot have that. You have to do things that others dictate to you. It’s not as if you’d allow them to do so. But it is also not for you to stop any of it.

Your days and nights wither away in the scorching sun of the need to earn. Would you not love to just live off what your fingers can create? Hell knows, you’d live off charity if you could only be rid of the endless dissatisfaction.

A mundane existence – the occasional gadget, the rich food, the mindless commutes, the same old conversations – it’s quite the mind-numbing experience.

Billions of people all around but not a true friend in sight … thousands of rupees in the bank but never enough to purchase that sleek laptop (!) … a loving family back home but hardly a soul to speak to unless you want to try your hand at sycophancy … over 35,000 kilometers of car travel but only 400 of them memorable enough … and to think that you are so comfortably placed in life, you almost have it all.

Your days and nights are more precious than all the security and its attendant comforts can ever measure up.

You want to make a bid to reclaim the life that you have always wanted to live.

You want to sculpt some days, grow plants and trees, tend your own cattle, take the cows to graze in the morning and return with them at dusk, play gilli danda, street cricket, shoot basketballs the whole day, read philosophy and literary criticism and movie and play scripts, record poetry in authors’ own voice, build a tree house, live in a coconut leaf hut by the sea, go exploring into the mountains, hunt and forage for food – and peace of mind …

and live humbly in God’s own care without pretending that you could, in the least, be responsible for your own lot …

immediately exposed to various dangers but never pining for safety

suffering pangs of hunger every day but never going without a meal

owning next to nothing but having the world at your disposal.

— Not for you the artificial remedies such as pain killers, laxatives, soda, and aspirin.

— Not for you the artificial air of the AC

— Not for you a life among strange strangers

All you want is a few glimpses of the best that Nature and Life can offer … All you crave is a few months of an idyllic, pastoral life and … then … long slumber.

Tell me, dear reader, have you ever found the time to think on these lines? And if you have, can you share some of your thoughts with me? Click the following link to answer a poll question: How are you positioned in life?

Glory be to thee!

For thine alone is the decision

To God’s asylum flee

Or murder soul bits with precision.

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Translating Transformation

The very sound of the word ‘T-R-A-N-S-L-A-T-E’ triggers such feeling in me!

“Traaaan” … “Slei” “T” or perhaps “Transle” “It”. My … ! Gives me the goosebumps!

The ‘sle’ sounds like you are slinging something or someone on a giant catapult. Then you let fly. It lands with a soft thud, ‘it’.

What a thing to do! Translate. One language to another. One way of feeling, thinking to another. One heart and mind to another set.

Translate.

Etalsnart? Anuwaad? Traduction? These and many more meanings apply, actually.

What happens to you when you are translating? Do you feel something? Anything?

My nerves tingle when I translate. More complex the sentences, greater the challenge in translating those. Simpler ones are universally acknowledged as the best way to go, but c’mon, hey, without complex ones the simpler would not be simple at all.

I am on a high when I am translating. Sometimes I translate that sensation I felt that time … I was either hot under the ears or cold-blooded all through – one of the two or everything in between.

It’s like having a rare scotch. Every new word smells like the dust after the very first monsoon shower. Euphoric! The prospect that you have been able to breathe new life into the original is extremely refreshing, isn’t it?

There’s never a dull moment when you are translating. I have done translations where I used a translator’s license to its fullest potential. And I have done translations where there was none; I had to stick as close to original words as possible. And I have done translations that required being faithful to the original yet providing original input where appropriate.

I was so immersed in translation for a long while; I even translated the old, classic songs I would belt out during showers! In a lighter vein, some day, I’ll reproduce those translations here.

Meanwhile, translation has gone and translated me into transformation. The effect you feel is tremendous – and unlike any other. It is an epiphanic moment to have found the precise set of words to describe the authors description. However, what is truly remarkable about that new sentence you have come up with is that you have made a contribution to literary communication if your translation is any good.

For example, as a fresh graduate, I translated four of T.S. Eliot’s critical essays into Marathi. His famous phrase, ‘objective correlative’ was translated as ‘aadhibhautik parasparaanvay‘.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Oh, the joys of translation are akin to creation!
Only, it is much better than creation itself, because the challenge is to use an example to make something even better.

I don’t know to what extent I succeeded or failed. Nor do I care, after my experience of translation. What I do know is that I translated experience into personal joy!

I translated transformation.

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The Things to Do When the Going Gets Tough

Sometimes, the going does get tough. We all know the pithy saying, “ImageWhen the going gets tough, the tough get going.” But then, to get yourself going is not all that easy to manage, especially when everyone around you is acting suspicious and you have absolutely no clue as to why that is that case. You have seen one of those scenarios, you say? I know we all do, don’t we? It just happens to happen to every one of us.

It is at those times that you need to put every last bit of pluck in you on red alert. You return home late in the evening after a harrowing day at the office. You are aware that you just do not have the strength to go back the next day. And yet, that critical report needs to be sent on time. Or you have something equally important to do that has to be done the very next day, on account of the deadline.

What do you do with your current state in such circumstances?

While it would be most interesting to find out what exactly you personally prefer to do to gather the gumption to go back to the office the next day, let me relate what I prefer to do.

I am taxing my body and mind all the time, whether at the office or away from it. I am careful about the food I eat, for sure. I am not always careful, however, about getting myself that bit of exercise that I must find time for on a daily basis. When my nerves are frayed and I feel utterly depressed, the first thing I know is that I must not let it get any further.

So what do I do about it? Here are a few things I do:

  • I get some light exercise. As a kid, I was hooked to basketball for some years. I even attended special training for it. That training introduced me to some light, warm-up exercises that I haven’t forgotten to this day. I use those exercises in difficult times.
  • I like a place with plenty of fresh air. Those are usually places with plenty of trees and greenery all around. University campuses and large townships near the city can be safely expected to still retain a good number of trees. I just go to such places for whatever reason and spend there anything from 15 minutes to an hour or so.
  • I clean up my place really well. The utensils, floor, shelves, and even the porch outside get a complete scrubbing when I do it with a purpose. I have observed my wife do such cleaning many times, so I know what exactly I must do to clean it up so that I really like being at home. A home is the best place to relieve frayed nerves. Once I start cleaning it up, I don’t stop until it is thoroughly cleaned up or I am dog tired. Either way, it helps me obtain much needed relief. Believe it or not, you are a transformed person at the end of it.
  • I cook for myself, sometimes. You see, I stay away from home for work-related reasons. Staying all alone isn’t fun, to be sure. But cooking all alone, with full license to cook like a chef or completely botch up everything, is a pleasure in a class of its own. Plus, whatever the result, I get to enjoy and internalize a work of art all my own!
  • As a matter of course, I have come to enjoy solitude very much. But I also enjoy select company, whether online or in person, though I do much prefer the latter option. I just go meet someone I’d enjoy being with; it could be a child I know or even the neighbor! I go and talk to this person thinking to myself that it is essentially me I am talking to. Try it.

In addition to these, I would recommend anything and everything that makes for a welcome change for your body and spirit. Sometimes, just leaving the back door open to let the fresh air in can work wonders. At other times, nothing ever seems to work, so it makes sense to be stubborn and persist any way. And it does help to keep trying.

Over the years, I have made some recordings and videos of my little one, since those times when she was a cute little bundle of joy. That bundle of joy has now transformed into a very young princess now! It also throws some awesome tantrums sometimes!! In those recordings and videos, she’s so terribly cute; I regret she had to grow up. But those clips mean much more than the world to me.  They are a great source of courage, inspiration, faith, and raw will power.

Some of my music and those clips together make a very powerful cathartic agent. And I use my agent to exceedingly good effect. They make me laugh or cry, dance for joy, and get all worked up! It’s such a simple thing to just recall those times when I made those recordings; it gets me in chirpy mood alright.

I hope and pray for you, my reader, that you have some such formidable companions yourself. When you feel utterly down and out, make good use of what you have. Life is short, and we haven’t the time to waste on petty things.

Get your fancy boots on or whatever else that invokes your gusto the next time you are ‘UN-well’. Suffering and joy, crying and laughing out loud, and even simply going for a walk can cure you. Whatever it is you do, make sure you are doing it very, very deliberately. Sing out loud in the bath, jump all around your pad, work yourself into a frenzy just watching a ball game on TV, or just holler for help.

I think you’ll manage quite well!

Another thing you can do is just type away furiously to comment here to tell me about the thing you do. If you do one of the things mentioned here, or if you have one your very own, please do tell me about it! That will help too!! My response is, of course, guaranteed.

And then, of course, go write your own piece on the things you do!

Godspeed…

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On the Author of This Blog

Nikhil Khandekar is a web content writer, editor, translator, commenter, and ghostwriter.

He has taught English language skills at various institutions – both government and corporate – in India. He started writing in the context of English, American, Canadian, Indian, and World Literatures and graduated to writing for corporate purposes and the Internet.

Where work involves English language-specific skills, he has done it all. He has to his credit a modest body of top-notch work as a writer, editor, guest blogger, and translator. His translation of ‘Dahelu’, a Gujarati novella, was published by Macmillan India. In 1997, he was awarded the Katha Prize for Translation, a national award, for his mellifluous rendering of a Gujarati short story, ‘Bhuthar’, into English. Journals such as New Quest, Pune, and Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi, India, have published his work. He has handled with aplomb every form of techno-commercial and creative writing, its translation, and editing.

Khandekar also has a body of his own creative writing that comprises poems, short stories, articles, and informal, context-specific writing that he has stashed away to publish later.
He writes regularly for two of his own blogs:

nikhilswrite.blogspot.com: this blog was intended as a platform for venting and voicing opinion and a means to practice the creative hand
writersvoiceintranslation.wordpress.com: this blog was created to voice opinion on Literary and related issues, particularly translation in its various avatars

Both blogs are quite open to receiving and publishing posts by guest authors in relevant contexts. Khandekar once edited and published a ‘little magazine’ called A: Journal of New Creative Writing, which was intended as a platform for young writers.

His transition from Literature to Technology was facilitated by his love of technology and the precision required in writing for business and technology-related or technical topics. The two kinds of writing are complementary to Khandekar’s quest for linguistic excellence. The transition in no way implies a shift in interest; it is rather the extension of his interest in how fewer words might express more.

Besides offering his vast experience and immense talent for the written word in the form of professional services, he intends to further his insight into the phenomenon called language.

Just in case you have a requirement for the freelance services of a content writer, editor, or translator, please contact Nikhil Khandekar at 91-9662368620 or nikhilswork@yahoo.com.

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