Empathy, Humanity, and Studying Context

AUTHOR: SAMBIT PATTNAIK | EDITOR: YUHUI CHEN (MSIM, Information School, University of Washington).

This writing was submitted as part of a writing assignment for the IMT 540 - Design Methods class taught by Batya Friedman. This post talks about "Empathic Design" in particular and discusses the views of different authors and suggests ways to incorporate the same into our daily design process. I feel, empathy is key to any kind of design because unless the designer steps into the shoes of the users, unless she feels the needs and emotions of the users, understands her inhibitions and constraints, she can't envision or implement a proper user experience. Below is the writing:

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “Empathy” is defined as, “the imaginative projection subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it” which in simple words would mean the vicarious feeling that makes someone think and feel from other’s perspective. D. Leonard and J. Rayport in their article have clearly pointed out the importance of empathic design and the subtle differences that traditional methods like surveys and interviews might raise and how it could obfuscate the design process by introducing the designer’s own biases. I find it quite compelling in various ways, especially from a designer’s standpoint.

In a recent article published by the design firm IDEO named, “Empathy on the Edge”, K. Battarbee, J. Suri, and S. Howard, have identified various real world scenarios where designers actually blended themselves into the users’ context, went through their pain to identify issues and design solutions thereafter. There were cases where a designer got his chest hair waxed to empathize the wound-care patients and another where a group of designers administered a fake injection as part of month-long exercise designed to build empathy (IDEO, 2012). We can illicit conclusions out of these interactions which might be similar to what the CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs once quoted, “A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.” (BusinessWeek, 1998). These interactions immensely help designers design new and innovative products based on the observations of users’ behavioral patterns because generally users don’t have a context or a previous experience to base their responses on. 

In most of the cases these very observations help designers reduce redundancies and improve existing products by leaps and bounds. The process should ideally follow the steps of observation, data capture and analysis, brainstorming for solutions and finally developing of prototypes. (D. Leonard and J. Rayport, 1997)

The basic idea behind Empathic Design is rooted from the very fact that people are driven by habit no matter how inconvenient it might get, they figure out workarounds and stay unaware of some of their daily surroundings and hence are unable to report and identify their needs at times. (D. Leonard and J. Rayport, 1997). This is the very reason why designers have to step into the user’s shoes, watch and observe her in her natural surroundings to figure out user needs and identify the grey areas of their own products. I came across a beautiful exercise performed by Joyce Thomas, Professor at UIUC to improve the lives of people with disabilities, where she aimed at taking her students beyond their “empathic horizon”. Based on one of her visually impaired students suffering from Retinitis pigmentosa, who had a very narrow field of vision, she asked her group of students to wear disability goggles to replicate the vision impairment. To their surprise, the students weren’t even able to properly perform their daily tasks, like getting past the glass doors of the building which which they were very familiar with, they spilled coffee and were unable to climb stairs with a limited vision. (TEDxUIUC, 2010). This exercise proves the fact that people do not pay attention to the environments they exist in but if they are observed performing their daily activities, designers could figure important behavioral traits and design better solutions. Also, the students of this exercise as designers would be able to properly understand the needs of the people with this disability and design creative solutions that are relevant and effective. 

The process of observing the users in their own context (familiar environment), commonly termed as “Contextual User Research” must be well organized and the results must have to be well segregated and grouped in order of relevancy to formulate the final design solutions (K. Holtzblatt and H. Beyer, 1993). 

But the whole idea of the empathic design and contextual research incites a few ethical questions in my mind. Walking along the lines of the researchers and designers inclined towards observing users in their natural environment, daily routines and confusions and turmoil might in some cases raise ethical concerns over privacy and the unwillingness of the user to actually share the observed information. There have been issues raised where Microsoft tried to collect data about the installed programs in a user’s computer using a network application for developmental purposes but was later discontinued as it was termed as a breach of privacy. (D. Leonard and J. Rayport, 1997). Even though unaware users provide a treasure of valuable information which might be central to a design process but many situations might need an agreed consent and a line needs to be drawn to avoid issues going overboard.

References:

Leonard, D., & Rayport, J. F. (1997). Spark innovation through emphatic[sic] design. Harvard Business Review, 75(6), 102-113.

Beyer, H. & K. Holtzblatt (1998). Contextual design: Defining customer-centered systems. New York: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

Battarbee, K., Suri, J., & Gibbs, S. (2010). Empathy on the Edge. Retrieved January 17, 2016, from https://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/news/pdfs/Empathy_on_the_Edge.pdf 

Thomas, J. (n.d.). TEDxUIUC - Joyce Thomas - Empathic Design. Retrieved January 17, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0w3ItNVl2E

Design Activity - Observation and Affinity Diagramming

This was a class activity and students were asked to observe people using their cellphones in various public spaces and report the findings. It was followed by Affinity Diagramming Process which can be found in greater detail in the PDF embedded below. I observed people in various different setups and reported my findings. This whole process taught me the power of observations and note-taking leading to arranging and grouping of ideas using the Affinity Diagramming Process. 

The observations were done with my fellow classmate : Ms. Gargi Saha from the MSIM Program in iSchool, University of Washington. The Affinity Diagramming Process was performed with a team which consisted of other MSIM fellow classmates namely : BK Sarthak Das, Qin Jiang, Qianying Miao, Jyothirmayee Mocherla, Gargi Saha. 

Design Activity & Reflection: Four Squares

This was an in class design activity where everyone was handed over 4 black squares and were asked to represent emotions on paper. Individually and then with a team. This activity tried to explore the different phases in the design process - being the Explorer, Artist and the Critic.

These were the design challenges: 1) Using just 4 black squares, made from construction paper, create a composition that conveys the concept of ORDER. 2) This time create 6 compositions for each of these concepts, TENSION and JOY. 

Deliverables: 1) How did the first part of this exercise compare with the second?
2) Propose a “process” that might be used to enhance these roles and discuss how you think the
process will be beneficial? 

My REFLECTION:

1. How did the first part of this exercise compare with the second?

A few negatives that I identified during the individual design exercise were: My thoughts were omnidirectional in a way with a very little room for flexibility in terms of ideas. I agree to have transitioned through all the different roles, I did come up with ideas, some of them totally opposite to each other, but the first idea stuck in my head throughout the process. That same bias in some way trickled down to the last stage and affected my final choice rendering the critic phase less effective. But there were obvious positives to the whole process. One of them being: I was compelled to divide my attention between between being and explorer, artist and critic without any external bias or influence, though internal bias was always present. This process eliminated the external dependency factor. Handling multiple roles provided a complete picture of the process at the end. The whole idea behind my design was the show “Order” in two ways. I chose to represent proportional spaces in my first design (Equally spaced steps – diagonal sequence – partitioning the while space into two equal triangular halves). For the second design I chose to ignore the order of the white space while focusing on the sequence of the black squares, ultimately arranging them in an intersecting cross or a plus which unintentionally gave me a perfectly square white space in the middle. 

Even though the team of 3 started out on the same foot, discussions, individual designs influenced each and everyone equally. I remember changing my ideas more number of times, I was less focused on a particular solution and more open to suggestions while working with the team. As a team consisting of people with various personalities, there were obvious distinctions and some were drawn towards design by default while others were more of a critic. Also somewhere deep within each individual wanted their idea to be selected as the final one. That might have led to a few positives like thinking uniquely and out of the box (where Gargi & Me came up with radically different ideas like tearing up the squares or stacking all of them together) but that might have introduced a few negatives like each one trying to influence or dominate the whole design process though not explicitly. I was more of a design person as opposed to Gauri being a critic. The idea behind our design was to present the worst form of Tension. That made us use Gargi’s approach which depicted an extreme form of breaking squares. For the depiction of joy, we decided on my approach to stack all the squares together to showcase togetherness.

But another major driver behind the selection would be the aesthetic design component attached to it, everyone had the same verdict, “this looks beautiful”. So, in this case a pleasing design might have somehow biased the decision which was supposed to be more logical.

IMAGES:

2. Propose a “process” that might be used to enhance these roles and discuss how you think the process will be beneficial?

In my view, a process that explicitly assigns the roles (Explorer, Artist and Critic) to individuals instead of asking each individual to perform the multiple roles would be more beneficial. I am sure there would be arguments against this view, someone might say, the former process brings in variety of ideas into the design process, might help an individual think and grow as a whole, would help them grow a multidisciplinary skillset, but I would counter that by stating, “the burden on the individual isn’t worth it and there might me more negatives to it than positives.” In a real world scenario, multi disciplinary teams and individuals with specific skillsets assigned specific roles and tasks exist for a purpose. As the age old adage goes, “Jack of all trades, master of none”. When it comes to perfection and detail, a single person should be allowed to apply his niche skills to the area that she specializes in. Potential benefits of that process would be, a much more systematic approach, a streamlined process flow and a much defined hierarchy that makes issue resolution simple as responsibility is vested on a single individual.

Sambit Pattnaik - UX Design 

Introduction to Design Methods Reflections

I have been sinking deeper into the world of design every passing day. Taking up design project in the course - IMT 540 at the iSchool of University of Washington during my program is enhancing my design skills and reflection abilities. In a series of blog posts, I will try to present all the different types of reflections on the the readings and design activities I have done in class. There reflections were submitted in class as assignments and I acknowledge that these are original work of my own with proper attributions and references to their original authors if any. Most of these reflections were written by me and there are a few that have been co-authored or edited by a fellow classmate : Ms. Yuhui Chen (Raina) - also from the iSchool, MSIM Program, University of Washington. These writings are subject to copyright and cannot be copied or reproduced without my permission or the permission of my co-author (in posts where that applies). I hope with these reflections I would be able to delve deeper and understand the nuances of Design and plan systems to implement them in more holistic and user centric methods. Empathic design and value sensitive designs and scenarios have been at the core of the posts and my thinking/design process. Prof. Batya Friedman from the iSchool - the instructor for the course IMT 540 has been a major driving force behind my creative design journey. I attribute all my design methodology and reasoning process to the Design Gurus Don Norman (and his book "The Design of Everyday Things") and his colleague Jakob Nielsen. I hope these posts are relevant and meaningful.

Many of my previous blog posts exhibit my love for technology and my creative writing journey through articles, thoughts and stories. Thanks. 

Back to Tech

The hiatus hasn't been brief at all, since last I wrote all about stuff that I live for, I would rather die for, technology, gadgets, innovation seemed a long faded blur until today. I remember the last post I wrote, may be 2 years back on GadgeticWorld.com, with all the nostalgia now haunting me back, I realized this can't be contained within me any longer, spurting it out rather would usher me some solace, so here I go. As promised, from now on my blog would feature, all kinds of posts, articles - Tech & Non-Tech (I love to tag it philosophical, you know how spiritual I can get at times, kidding I am ofcourse). I have got this target in my head to get in as many posts as possible on my blog until 2015, so Godspeed, fingers crossed. If I prove to be quite assiduous, achieving this target won't be that difficult when I have readers like all of you (yea, the one reading it currently as well, I love you, you know ;) )

"Back to Tech", a prologue to my resumed and to be sustained journey exploring my inner Geek (not that boring kinda *wink*). The Tech articles featuring many latest gadgets, innovations and news from that higher spheres of computers, I promise would amuse you and would if not, keep you hooked until you get that inner fulfillment. I am keeping up my promise after all you know.

Disclaimer: All the contents of this blog contains views of an individual (in this case its just me, no external influence whatsoever) on varied topics that I deemed fit sharing with a wider audience. Please bear with me and keep this going. Your comments and wishes were always welcome.

 

Distractions!

Just as Energy can neither be created, nor be destroyed, it can just be transferred from one form to another  Similarly, I say, Distractions are always there, they can never be destroyed, they can just be shifted from a point to another, one object to other  You know that's true  

"Long live The distractions, life isn't life without you! its just that at times you get quite unruly to manage!" 

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Changes to the blog

With passing time and aging of my blog, a few realizations have dawned upon me. The major discovery I have made about my blogging preferences is that I like to write in a variety of genres, ranging from fantasy, fiction to reality, which got me thinking about bifurcation of my blog. If I widely categorize my blog and thoughts, I can channelize them to 4 broad spectrum of thoughts, those being, articles, stories, Tech blogs &  poetry, in addition to that there will always be a General section to which all the uncategorized stuff would fall into. So let me tell the readers, going forward, the blog would be having a number of posts, unlike the few ones that it currently has. Thoughts for my tech articles flow quite naturally and frequently as compared to the general and philosophical ones, so it you would be seeing a mix of them. For your convenience I would try to put up strategically placed tabs for easy classification if that is possible or else you have to take the help of the tags. I plan to segregate the Tech blog section to a new blog altogether, where in the articles would be transferred, but that is a thing of the future, quite in the offing, so you need not bother about that currently. Lastly, I would like to thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you have a good read here, I hope my thoughts and ideas makes some sense in the broader perspective and reach a wider and interested audience. Lots of love and looking forward to a new tomorrow. :-) keep the smiles up!

I laugh at their ignorance!

The title must have seemed to most of the readers as a demeanor of me,  proclaiming myself as some kind of "self-styled Godman" spiting pity on the fellow human-beings, considering them emotional fools hence some kind of lesser beings. Well, now that's not the case, can't faintly even be the case because in current Indian side of the purity, those God-men are symbols of exploit, deranged-sexual fanatics and sadists. I am none of them, I am a healthy human being, counting average on the social meter, having ample amount of respect for women and I do abide by every plausible rule basically expected of me, so does that in anyways make me in-different of human emotions? No it doesn't, I do feel the same as others do. But there are times when I feel pity on some emotions that seems quite worthless to me at that very moment. I see the stupidity of people around me, the unnecessary cries, hate, anger and jealousy, seems to fly past me, I stay there, standing unhindered and unperturbed. Now how does that make any sense? No offence, but it does happen for me, and I at that particular point feel quite detached from the situation or person, I formally listen with a perfectly fake attention, a skill that I have acquired after ages of practice, expect the conversation to end as soon as possible so that I can forget it and lead my life as if it had never happened. Call me selfish, but that is my inner self taking control in such situations, I can't help it. Even I have figured out the reason for such a behavior, I never want to hurt anybody's emotions or feelings, I never want anyone to feel bad. Now I have also recently chalked out the reason for why at times I feel those emotions displayed by people worthless, because I put myself in his/her shoes in every possible situation, its unavoidable and I can't help doing that either. So when I do that character shift for a moment, being in that person's place, I utterly realize the gravity of the situation, I realize how stupid the person is being crying over a stupid thing which is totally unworthy of attention. I am faint on the display of fake-emotion side, though I do it everyday, but that doesn't even mean I am emotionally detached to the self, I am a pretty emotional guy who likes to laugh at jokes that deserve a hearty laugh and cry my eyes out in situations I deem fit for the same. I can understand your pain, the paragraph above must be totally confusing for you and you must definitely be searching for a stone to hit your head buzzing your brains out! How can I help it, I have two different persons residing inside my head, one being a soft & timid gentle man and another a bit more aggressive though harmless sociopath. And as a matter of fact these two have resided inside me for the past say 22 years and that explains my inner true self, well known to me, mind it not the one that you actually see. So, you have been cheated a bit here, sorry for that. Now getting back to evidences for proving my little theory of "unnecessary involvement", I have gathered a bit of paraphernalia to set my shoes right, in your minds.

There was a time long long back when I too was quite ignorant of my uncanny stupidity. Reading down below you can definitely have a laugh on me, I won't mind because this is what I too did the day I had the realization of the fact. Back then, whenever I faced any kind of problems, any mistakes that I did, any obstacles that I would face, I had a single solution with me. Those may include many silly ones as well, like say my watch stopped working, my legs are hurt badly, I had broken my video-game, my dog had passed away, I wanted a snake n ladder game, I had a really bad fever, asteroid colliding onto the earth. All those had only a single solution in my rule-book, the golden rule/answer said, "lie down on your cozy bed, call out for the super-power mom had named Almighty and sleep", next all I expected was, when I get up, everything would be alright, set-up the same way it used to just before I dozed off. To my dismay I realized, world and life doesn't work that way. But the theory didn't show up in all its ugly reality until I was old enough to realize that the almighty was none other than my dad. My dad was my fairy who after I slept would magically get to work, get me a snake n ladder game ready on my table before I opened my eyes, who would replace my dog with a new similarly looking one explaining me about its behavior change during my sleep, fixing my video-game and watch, getting me a pain-killer tablet, solving all my problems before I got up. But that faith was shaken up down from its roots, challenged when until recently I lost my grand-father, an inseparable part of my live, a store-house of love and affection, the meaning of my childhood memories. I remember the numerous times I had lied down facing the heavens, closing my eyes in prayer, expecting him to return any moment I opened my eyes, but that did never happen. All I saw when I closed my eyes was him in smiles, bidding me a final adieu, kissing my forehead in blessing, whispering in my ears, "Dear, my days with you in this physical form is over, I would be forever dwelling by your side, viewing the beauty from within your eyes, smiling and crying with you, exploring newer avenues walking by your side all the while...", only a tear rolls down my cheek every-time he smiles back.

The fact that transpired before me in the later part of my life was simply the revelation to the cover for ignorance I had been nurturing vaguely all along my childhood. Truth of life is bitter and how unacceptable it may seem, it is unavoidable, how dark it may be, it always follows back the light as its shadow, inseparable totting alongside it. May be this eventually formed the foundation to my actions that follow my reaction to people's ignorance and deceitful behavior. Most stupid people end their worthwhile lives in analyzing the personal lives of people who doesn't even matter to them, in the process idling away their own time worthless. They do not even realize that their own lives are in an utter mess, broken beyond repair, may be that explains their outrageous behavior towards others, the perfect antonym to "Live and let live". A shattered soul, in generally searches for other healthy hearts inflict the similar damage it has been subjected to, it derives a sadistic pleasure out of the scene, seeing someone in the same suffering condition as itself. Time stands testimony to those few rare souls who actually try to heal other broken hearts by means of love and offerings of what is left of them, I call them "fairies cursed to fall on earth". I drew this inference from a recent conversation from a close friend who believed there are no lines in a friendship, trying to hurt me with shards from my own broken heart, I pity him. Over the years I have learnt, while emotional attachments are necessary, they should be limited within boundaries unless they are hard enough to get rid of when time demands, in other words "sow as much as you can reap", no more than that because emotional baggages are really hard to get rid of, even claims lives in extremities. I laughed at the stupidity of my friend, pitied his instincts that jumped on with a view to hurt that failed and crashed into the sea. My past experiences taught me well to cope up with such situations. During such acts of ignorance my mind skips the whole drama, and posts the message loud and wide, "No offence man, but I don't much care! God bless your ignorance". I consider it a God's gift.

Now the blog is getting really long and I must have portrayed myself as a spiritual preacher, uttering words that may seem crap to some yet enlightening to others. Frankly speaking, I am no genius, not a faint desire to be one as well. All those thoughts I drew above in lucid calligraphy was simply a reflection of my "carnal self". "Carnal Self", I define it as the innate personality residing beneath my body, a basic building block of my daily actions, the fuel driving my immaculate behavior, a force that shapes my future drawing experiences from my past. I am happy this way, unshaken by the foolish emotions that flow my way, filtering them out, making way for the true love to wrap my soul in numerous possible ways. :) My words will definitely entice many more such ignorance along my path. I have gathered enough courage now to shape my way diving deep into it and emerging out unscathed.

"Live live and spread smiles, it is really short to babysit a handful of hate!!"

A shapeless matter of time!

There were days when I used to think and ponder what life is all about? What does it actually mean? Does it even have a start pertaining to a paired end? Does it collate and cleave? Does it flow like a brook, delving into depths and bubbling through crevices? Well all those thoughts may or may not have reached an end until today, but one definitive conclusion has surfaced above the horizon with passing time, at least in my view and perception of the flowing matter we always confuse with "life", I conclusively prefer to call it, the Time-Life paradigm! Well as you must have conceived the idea of what I can ultimately coin as Life is simply "a shapeless matter of time". It is just a perceptive view of an individual in a single time-frame, and its whole course depends on the in-time Vantage point one chooses. 

So the outcome of that perceptive view may be numerous, just like probability of turning a die pair or may be tossing a coin, there can be numerous combinations and permutations possible, now the sole deciding factor here is "time" again that we at-times do confuse with "Fate" and "Luck" which actually has nothing to do with something which is so finite. The way the world has evolved over time is simply the fragments of such combinations, such combinations that have led to our origins, our lives, our relationships, our feelings and our ultimately rounded off "Lives". Well let me cite an example, for a married man having an adorable child and an awesome life, what if the combination that time chose for him wasn't this one, instead it was something more opposite to what it is today, what if he was paired up with someone who was completely off beat to his vibes, a wrong-combination, his life would have been a mess, a complex piece of puzzle he would try to solve each passing day to realize he has ended up back again to start at square one. Well to that situation we have in the cited example, what did really happen? Did "fate" & "luck" come into play or just it was another of time's mystified games, well no one can possibly know that, no one has control over it either, to all that it is another of that shapeless matter of time, complex yet unavoidable certainties we may call it for the better sense now. 

Well, now the frustrated reader may put forth a question, straight onto my face, as what is your point behind all these pointless blabbering? Does the argument put forth is sensible enough to chalk out any prominent view of a confused paradigm? Yes, I must answer straightaway! How illicit that may sound, I don't care even if a streak of absurdity sneaks beneath the cracks of the logic put up by me. I believe it is an absolute truth which may mean I can scale ledges of disbelief and shatter ages of vandalized misconceptions rooted under the skin of deceitful layers of the society. One can never change the actual course of time and the permutation that has already been etched, concreted over and hardened, in this case past is no more the shapeless matter but a matter that has already shaped an individual's behavior and life forever. Efforts that challenge this paradigm will simply be a fake distraction from the reality and how probable that change may seem, it is "never" going to happen, it will still be a file with a "read-only", "un-modifiable" tag stamped on it.  

Now even a percentage of readers who might have settled in for my view, may be out of frustration or formality will put forth another question, What do we do for it then? Do we simply settle down and let the time stream flow down its destined path, mark my words here destiny is another word for a settled permutation!? Do we have no say on this stage of life where we are dutifully enacting our roles? Well now I would love to jump in again with a solution and a bit of a scrambled answer to that! I would start that answering with a question though, after all questions lead to answers, cause leads to solutions right? So what if I try my best and change the course of a stream, by say a new path I have chalked out for it? It is possible, now the stream takes its new path bubbling happily along, now again I plan on shifting the stream to an altogether new part of the world, deciding a new future for it? Playing God yeah! You would now ridicule my thought, consider me insane, a fail of human though process. Same hold true for your answer, if you try to change the course of your life by a marginal fraction, you can very well do that, changing your negativity into a positive alteration, modifying your attitude, living a more accomplished life, its possible. But if you again try to change, shape, modify and alter life by leaps and bounds, you are foolish enough to be trolled. You are never going to make it to even the edge of life, you will be collapsing to death mid-way. So what I actually meant by all those twisted thoughts is, Life is just a matter of chance, they way it shapes, no one has ever seen it, what we have in hand is its human part of control, we can steer it to perfection, measuring our performances and responsibilities with a yardstick every-time we feel down or uncertain about the possibilities! We can just smile back at time and smirk, "bring it on bitch, I am high!"

That puts an end to the random thought that crept into my mind an hour ago, I would be really happy to hear from you, views that you drew from the perplexed lines above. Please leave your suggestions of improvement below. Have a nice day! 

Diving into a new World, embracing a new City!

I must be wondering on myself, why am I flushing out lines while sitting on a comfy chair before a sparkling monitor? What is the need for it? Having jumped into the brave new world of IT, I am a software engineer now. The days I am passing out on schedule has been running definitely hectic and jam packed. Being in a new place, a new environment and a new city adds up to the plight right until last night when I realized nothing is worse enough to curb my literary exploits on the go. That single thought fueled my interests positively again, pushing me further and farther into it. These new challenges and newest experiences add to my new world generating a massive outflow of that long lost thought streams.

That was may be an intro to my current situation, an acceptance that life has taken strides the harder way, with struggle for existence forming the thought of the day. The rented world that I currently reside in is quite different, alien for those like me who come from the darkness, expecting a rose bed with a cold breeze in it. In this world the concept of colors bringing in warmth and fun into life seems non-existent, denizens herein instead believe work and wealth is the only path to the pinnacle of joy and success, very true I must say, fundamentalists may term them as naturalists and realists as well. Though when I delve deeper, this answer doesn't quantify me, its intriguing rather. Morning bells don't ring in this world rather people are woken up by pure white shuttles originating from hearts of The MNCs, plying on black strips fondly called Highways, picking up so called employees before melting back into their origins, cramming in the whole activity within an interval of few precious hours.

Self explanatory as it may seem, in this world the dust never settles, it keeps pushing itself to places exploring avenues of its own, in short which may mean, everyone runs quite short  of time.

In this world, human aspirations fly higher, emotions sink, coats with the never settling dust, hardens and dies in corners which no one dares to wash out, no one dares to speak off because everyone runs quite short of time.

In this world people reside in man-made freezers, freezers that freezes human hearts and sentiments further into hard baked ice, freezers that never mind continually adding up to climatic derailments, inching denizens of this plastic world to that ultimate catastrophe. Liquid flows, cracks, flies, hurts, kills and changes colors in this world I live in.

Money once originated with an aim to ease life and society seems to have acquired and burrowed traits of its own, now it too flows, flies, floats, hurts, hunts and kills with an enhanced pace, faster than that liquid ever did.

As stated by wise men, technology has ultimately surpassed human interaction in my world. Technology is now on its campaign to enslave humanity to finally hunt, hurt and kill.

So what am I doing in this world? Trying to fit in? Trying to change its innards? Trying to move the world out of its usual track?

No, I am on my pursuit to find an answer to question that lies deep within the heart of this world, that drives it everyday knowing no direction, something that questions its very existence, Is all of this really worth it? ? ? ? 

* My own views though, I won't be questioning myself after this. 

 

A long BlogComing episode right on my birthday!

Hello World,

Well this is something of a way, I have been taught long back to greet people and consider them sacred souls, co-passengers of the same ship wading all along through the turbulent waters of life. Screw them! I mean what sense does it make in a world that is filled up with so called "sacred souls" indulged in everything so "un-sacred"? Dominance of the earth's resources in a handful of unscrupulous creepy fellowmen seeking every chance to loot at every second possible. Its hard time now my co-denizens of this once beautiful earth, now we have to learn sating "no", yes its "no", a two lettered word, in whole of its senses meaning "negative", fills in negativity, still saves us from being looted? Makes sense? What about this? "Poor men shouting "No" when he is about being looted by his landlord, We spitting "No" onto the faces of greedy country selling politicians on being forcibly converted to vote banks" Now won't that make any visible change? I strongly believe it would bring in a splitting change, a divide that would raise a wall separating the "looters" and the "lootees". Pardon my sense of grammar, but at times small mistakes are necessary enough to set huge things right, ain?

 So, my dear readers, well I would just call that because I have already made it clear, I doubt the sensibility and credibility of words starting with "Co-" lately, so we need to put that aside for a moment and concentrate on my topic, words like "blogcoming" & "birthday" do they ring together well? and do they mean anything at all? Yes, they do, blogcoming, my own dictionary holds the word, synonymous to homecoming, seems a festive occasion when people return home after a long time, I too have returned back to my blog after a long long time! so won't that sound similar to sort of "blogcoming"!

About the word birthday, for starters, its my birthday today! :) Yeh! It's like me wishing myself more of a self-birthday kind of thing but after all its the D day for me and I am supposed to celebrate, right? So be it, just sing me a birthday song and we are even!

That was all the blabbering stuff trapped beneath me for days and got this space finally to blurt out anyways. The time that I am having with myself lately, the huge amount of ample time or vice versa, it has led me realize something about myself as well as the general human tendency to accept and adapt to situations. Many a times a feel like I am nurturing an individual inside me, a silent self that is growing over my existing mistakes and realizations. In other words I am learning from my mistakes, rectification is the light of the day.

This is very necessary for a man who is on the verge of starting a new life, shifting to a new place and environment, where he would be dealing with people of every breed!, he can't afford to lose his own self among the crowd, he can't sit idle cursing his own long coveted fate. No he won't and I won't, that is what I practically call "self realization". Owning a self painted a figurine of yourself doesn't matter unless it is passed on the community of painters and admirers who realize the true worth of it, who believe in the potential of the creator and place the artwork above the mantelpiece for the whole world to see. Does that seem "spiritual", I bet I never had any such aspirations to turn that into a more spiritually levitating work either.

Speaking of Spirituality in today's world, I wouldn't feel more enlightened than unmasking the true facets of spiritual beings inhabiting the earth and society! As the topic has already started, there is no turning back, no sense of guilt when I say, I don't believe you O' great saffron shroud clad holy beast! You don't deserve to be called a God when you do not have the sensibility to offer warmth to a poor shivering soul at the dread of the night when you felt it more comforting to tuck yourself in into the arms of your bikini clad devotee, long lost in lust. Is it the heavenly way you interpreted your holy scriptures? Is it what all your long hours of enlightening, mesmerizing speech, coated words with savory sprinklings  meant? Were they this spineless? We live in a colorful society where every young/old man with a black/white beard, clad in saffron/white silk, chanting holy slogans without bated breath is considered, in plain words mis-interpreted as a transcendental form of the Holy God! For Christ's sake, are the people so dumb to believe that? Don't our parents, society and every possible positive session we attend die to preach "Don't judge a book by its cover"? Then why is it that every such law is circumvented, bent and paused when it comes to a reality check over the name of God, why can't the so called holy ones testify their own authenticity? Why don't they live without the much needed fame, flair, luxurious and flamboyant lifestyle? Isn't it what looks befitting the name "O holy one"?

That seems enough of a outburst for a day! So this was my long lost love for writing, I will be back with my blog bubbling with new and more sharper posts sooner or later. So keep being around me people! Love.

An Arrested Moment!! (Short Story)

A heavy duty truck, body painted with exotic artwork, depicting signs and symbols imbibed over ages of painting - repainting and renovations. Hefty and loaded with massive cargo screeched to an abrupt halt right by the middle of NH 45. Gorging deep below the engine was the fuel pipe, on the verge of exploding into shards within minutes. Quite unperturbed by a minuscule speck of fear was the helper Baburao amidst this seemingly devastating scenario. He cheekily jumped down the second gate besides the driver, proudly brandished his loin shirt collar with a twinkling glint in his eyes. He admired the sparkling finely depicted words “ASSISTENT PILAT” on the metallic body. A freckled boy with a lean, skeletal framework, draped with a greased shirt and a featured upright collar, a netted vest peeking out underneath the button less gaps, a muddy towel wrapped tight around his waist working similar to a belt holding the half tattered pant at its rightful position. His cheerful expressions filled his freckled feature with life wading off poverty down his neckline. A lone dimple adored his right cheek with lips splattering spit off the Gutkha he chewed to idle away his long rides down dark nights and bright days. With an expert move of an adept stealth soldier, he slid his flexible bony frame down the front wheels below the frontal section to check out the engine and its related malady. With the voice resembling a croak, accent diminished due to the spit that filled his mouth, he called out for Lalan Sardar, the driver of the monstrous beast on road for assistance. Sardarji in his 30s and usual Punjabi look, full with a flowing beard neatly made and hair tucked deep into his blue turban. His barely visible hairless areas of face carried an expression of strong distaste pertaining to the untoward situation they were facing due to the mechanical defect. Sardarji with a simple flick of his hand started scavenging his prized toolbox polluted with cut-outs of beautiful nymphs off Filmfare magazines, some adorning his interior decoration of his cockpit and rest piled up hitherto. Finally his sturdy hands caught hold of the hammer and plier that Baburao had demanded for just before. The touch of a rough metallic rusty finish was enough for Sardarji to realise what he was searching for.

Down at the truck’s basement Baburao started loosening the screws with alternate circular motions and closely monitoring the wired setup that formed the mechanical & electrical circuitry. Baburao was so familiar with his upside down world under the truck; he could tell the parts with his eyes closed as if they were the back of his hands. Cleaning the clog and sticky carbon off the pipes and moving parts, brushing them off with his own muddy towel, emerged proud Baburao, forehead glistening with sweat trickling down his brows making way into his upright collar that had been folded at the edges due to his heavy sweaty hair.

“There you go Sardarji, Baburao saves your day again, now its time to move on, Bhabiji must be waiting home” exclaimed enthusiastic Babu. He seemed more ecstatic of meeting Bhabiji because the simple thought of those Ghee roasted Parathas with piping hot sabji and chatpati imli pickle sent throngs of excitement down his starving stomach and left his mouth profusely watering.

Both of them jumped on-board, settling down his majestic throne, Baburao wiped stains off his hands throwing an expression that of an emphatic soldier returning home, killing hundred enemies and winning back glory for his motherland commanded Sardarji, “Paaji, Let’s roll, we have lands to invaded and stomachs to fill, Chak de Phatte”

Within seconds the traffic cleared off, some abusing, some thanking spirit up above heavens for the trauma to be finally over. Soon they were rushing under full throttle, speeding past lavish green fields, paddy workers in dresses of red and blue toiling, engrossed in their way of life, the silent kid in his early teen exploring the sugarcane plantings, a group of cheering pretty girls chasing down butterflies, sometimes a dragonfly or two, shy Meenu lost amidst dreams of her prince charming romancing with a guitar on left singing eternal love songs presenting her a glowing rose and withered old man polishing his rickety cycle in a puddle of water roadside. Muddy roads arched finally to the village foursquare, dangling ahead was the old friendly signboard. Scribbled illegibly on it was the name of a Punjabi smelling village “Pind”

Ecstasy pumped down the veins of awaiting Sardar, the cherishing smile of his own people – villagers, the thought of two little angels – Rina and Tina running to his huge truck tires, arms high up, ready to be lifted up in the air and showered with toys, a shimmering view of his pretty wife, flowing goldilocks down her fairy, shiny face with an embracing million dollar smile, rosy pink lips calling his name, her flowery fragrance would churn blizzards down his long frozen heart, those moments of love would flash before his tear shed eyes and he would hug her close with an urge to melt time into an immemorial infinite. His face shone and warm feelings gushed through his blood and he could feel butterflies right there in his stomach. Overflowing emotions flooded forging a half hidden smile slowly wafted off to Baburao. “Bhabiji and her smile is drawing near, Sardarji tasty food is raking on my doors, I can wait no more” blurted out Baburao with excitement filled eyes.

Shaken off to his senses was Sardar Lalan the truck jolted with a powerful brake right before his house. For a few seconds neither Baburao nor Lalan were able to figure out what created the commotion around his own house. To find out the truth, Lalan jumped jumped down his seat, grabbed his slippers and ran all the way down the muddy fields to his house. He was already missing the anxious wait of his welcoming wife and expectant children. Panting out of his breath, running after him was Baburao holding his shirt, pockets jingling with rupee coins, shouting at the top of his voice,”Sardarji, you forgot your shirt!!, Calm down, have it!!, Will you hug Bhabiji now without a shirt? Care for the villagers at least Sardarji” Lalan was in no mood to pay a heed. He was engrossed with all his pre-calculations and how each was crossing out gradually one after the other. He rushed down his courtyard to see his wife. Standing before him were his village elders, his uncle Shyam and aunt Pammi with moist eyes, they had lot of tears to spill out. No one spoke a word. They all seemed heartbroken and aghast. Lalan shouted for his wife, calling every possible name he had ever lovingly called her to be greeted by silence, there was no reply. He could no more hear his two little girls chanting nursery rhymes running around the house with their mother spilling half eaten candies. He was crestfallen. He frantically started rummaging the whole house with a hope to find the lost laughter but they weren’t in sight. He didn’t have a clue of what danger had befallen in his absence. He ran up towards the backyard. The wooden charcoal cooker was ablaze, the pan spreading an aroma of burnt Parathas soaked in Ghee. His heart was pounding against his hard chest. Beside the cooker was a fuming pot of hot curry, slightly spilled at the edges and few utensils strewn across the place. Lying down there was his love, lifeless, snow white like a statue of immortal beauty, glistening with the brightest sunlight, silent, breathless as if awaiting a return. She was the girl, his love that Lalan had fought for against every odd, village, customs, traditions, emotions, just to embrace her. She was still there, waiting for him, lying still and motionless. She had nothing to speak, her sparkling brown eyes wide open as if staring into Lalan’s, with a fathomless depth of feelings to share. They eyes spoke, raced and waltzed together now. Her eyes soothingly whispered “Lalu, why are you late? I have been waiting for so long”

The world froze as Lalan fell to the mud plastered floor beside his wife. Everything seemed to stop, the whisper echoed deep in his ears and his eyes pleaded a return. Her smile echoed and so did her whisper. The bright glow of her face faded silently into darkness as Lalan’s heavy lashes fell. Now it was darkness everywhere.

“Sardarji, Oye Paaji, get up!! Check-out your mobile, 20 miss calls from Bhabiji, your Jaanu. Let’s rush!! ” Sardariji had no words, his eyes glittered as thick tears rolled down. His happiness that knew no bounds, which he could never explain felt like bursting way sooner. A nightmare he would die for rather than to return to. He hastily put down the toolbox and sped down NH 45 towards the village crossroads.

Sambit Shankar Pattnaik

Pain Lingers, No more!!

The pain still lingers Crawling beneath thy scaly skin

Cleaving through thy bloody heart

Singing the hymn of ethereal darkness

Still lingers all along

Fiery dungeons & twisted pathways

A sparkling firefly fights,

Lost amidst infinite black,

Born is an eternal dream

To paint the sky and pump in light,

Flush the world with bright sunlight,

A want to clear lurking mist

Off thoughtless minds,

The pain still lingers

 

Burning down its struggling wings,

Sending twitches past every vein,

Prayers lost amidst mercy screams.

Lust to live an owned free world

Lights back the sunken fire,

Mast-less boats of imagination have

Spanned thou vast venomous seas,

Awaiting master’s dark dungeon exit,

Baby sun fades down the mighty horizon

Those anchored boats along freezing shorelines

Loaded with aspirations, dreams and desires,

The pain still lingers.

 

Finally rests the aching firefly

Racing against a game of inevitable death,

The pain still lingers.

 

Glowing green now engulfs endless sands,

Thousands searching for thou fallen brethren,

An aura blows the dungeon bright,

Clears way down the secret path

Ends search with a final verdict

The pain still lingers, no more!! 

Society Dipped in Science & Technology: A Contemporary View

I recently adored the way Science is changing lives & society today, that urged me to feature one of my old articles about the beautiful world of science. Just have a read.

The term “Science” is defined by Oxford dictionary as ‘the study or knowledge of the physical & natural world based on observation & experiment’, finds its origin from the Latin word “scientia” meaning knowledge. Addition to it “Technology” refers to application of the scientific knowledge for practical purposes & both of these bind together to nurture a society.

            Science, it is said, is creating problems faster than they can be solved. This is not a criticism of science but of man’s inability to adjust himself to changed conditions. Science always transforms itself & in turns leads technology into a realm of more advanced human race.

            The subject science got incorporated right into our childhood textbooks, got subdivided further into biology, physics & chemistry & got split up even more when we stepped into our engineering career. As it plays a vital role in every individual’s life; each & every inventory that shrouds our daily life are a gift of science.

                                                             From the historical viewpoint, science & technology found its implementation right in the earliest human civilisation like Indus Valley & Harappa in town planning and resource management. The early men too made use of science & technology to design weapons to gather food & sustain themselves in hostile conditions. Science has also led to Industrialisation & colonialisation in the past that led to the formation of the modern world.

                                      In today’s contemporary world view, science has led to various innovations that has helped medical sciences to cure & develop organisms, study about origin of life, Astronomical sciences-in the study of the universe that includes everything, Atomic science in the study of nucleus & atoms –the basic building blocks, Earth sciences that includes geology, oceanology, ecology, etc. the most valuable service that science has rendered to mankind is that it has given it supreme self-confidence. It has given the assurance and power to man to control his environment & modify it to suit his needs. The pre-scientific era problems of natural calamities, low livelihood opportunities, communication gap, insecurity & low life expectancy have been removed by science & technology giving way to the power of predicting calamities, power to modify weather & earth through satellite imagery, varied livelihood options, unification of the globe using advanced communication links like optical links, satellite communication, etc. & insecurity removed by development of ultra-modern weapons of mass annihilation, life expectancy of human beings have been doubled with introduction new equipment, drugs & techniques to ward off illness. Technology has provided human race with ample amount of spare time by reducing the human labour & providing recreation & entertainment facilities for the people. It has cleared people of old beliefs & superstitions & has explained simple events & occurrences with valid reasons behind them.

                                    In the intellectual perspective science has revolutionised life. It has blown dust off age old questions including the origin of universe, nature of physical world & its evolution. It has traced the evolution of life & has given the world a new scientific outlook.

            But every positive has some negative also, same truth holds for the science & technology too that is flushing the modern society. The fact is that science gives man power & knowledge but it does not necessarily give him wisdom, as power comes with responsibility. The foremost duty of a human being is the judicious use of power. The science & technology should be so balanced that it should lead to sustainable development, i.e., development without compromising with nature. The improper & reckless use has led to many ancient wars, atomic wars climatic disruptions, global warming, depletion of resources & an imbalance in the ecology of the earth.

                        The atomic energy can be used for various peaceful purposes & finding various substitutional energy sources may lead to checking of the depleting natural resources like fossil fuels, water & soil. The universal call for disarmament must be carried out to route away the fear of nuclear wars & emission of greenhouse gases must be checked to prevent global warming- the biggest menace the earth & its denizens are facing.  Too much of mechanisation has led to man’s dependence on machines that in turn is affecting the environment by depletion of trees & forests.

                        Lastly i would like to quote that...

If we want our Gen-next to populate the earth after 2012, we need to join hands to conserve water, fuels, respect mother earth, recycle and march towards a cleaner, better & sustained planet earth.

SAVE FUEL !!  SAVE WATER !! STOP FELLING OF TREES & STOP FIDDLING WITH EARTH &   STOP  ” GLOBAL WARMING “!!!

A Short Story

Hello again.. As I was speaking before, once I was interested to write a short story, I sat to pen down my flow of thoughts that finally resulted in a story as below. I never expected it to hit me so straight but still i tried to begin my journey of early times. I am sharing the story below and i hope that it may amuse you.

I have named it : "SWEETHEART"

“There you come, you little naughty bitch”, standing before me all drenched in mud was my cute little princess whom I loved more than anything else in this universe that ever mattered. As usual she put up an evil smile at the corner of her tweaky mouth and tried to run into me. But that smile was not the classic usual one, as far as I remember, rather it had a tint of agony and pain mixed with it. My palms caressed her smooth cheeks and I asked in a very perturbed tone, “What on this earth is worrying my lovely sweetie??” In response to my words a thick drop of tears dropped down her round pretty eyes sparkling within which a whole ocean of innocence was waiting eagerly to explain everything that had happened to make her sad. She turned her timid face down and sobbing she showed her left leg that was deeply scratched by a thorn that was still dangling from the wound. My heart pounded from within, a drop of tear rolled down my eyes seeing my sweetheart in pain. Without a second glance at her wound, I paced all the way down to the closet in the porch to fetch the first-aid box. With lots of care I took the thorn out of her leg and bandaged the wound with proper cleaning using dettol. I comforted her kissing her on the forehead.

Now was my turn to get angry on the action that she always repeats even after my several warnings landing her in twitchy situations. “Who told you to jump over the fence of Mrs. Simon?? I warn you every time not to hop into her rose bushes following that evil puppy friend of yours. You forget the world when you are with the devil, at times you trip into the swimming pool and sometimes you get your legs torn…. Do you love that guy?? Listen you little witch, today you have to decide one between us, either it has to be him or me…. You have to make your choice soon.. till then we are not talking …ok..” I gave her a stern look and slowly strafed towards the orchids to rest on the fresh grass that I had shaped the day before. She quietly followed me with her head hung low with guilt, she settled down before limping a bit on her injured leg. She raised her head and gave me one of the cutest smiles of her. It made me melt like an ice cream suddenly plunged into an iron furnace. Still trying to maintain my temper, acting as if I was still in rage I reacted, “Don’t you do that again Jennie, and don’t try to act cute else I will knock you down!! Ok…” I took her in my arms and whispered in her ears, “Don’t you know darling how much I love you!! Then why don’t you take care of yourself dear?? I can’t ever see you in pain and you know that right??” she too nodded and rested her chin on my shoulders. I took her to her kennel and put the Barbie belt around her neck that I had bargained at a local pet shop the evening before. I filled her bowl with fresh milk and an handful of Pedigree and greeted her, “Now be a good girl and finish up your food soon else Sam will get angry on you again and no Garfield show tonight…and yes.. I will throw the TV into the brook nearby if you see the evil puppy again… I am making it clear… okay??”

There she was my sweet little puppy Jennie, 3 years old and integrate part of our lives, especially my life. She came into my life when I had lost something or someone very important, the absence of which had crippled my mind and made my life a hell. Jennie makes my day, she makes me smile even in my deadest nights with her stupid little pranks and tricks..

HELLO ALL ~ WELCOME to My Blogs

Hello World ~ Hello People My hearty pranam - namaskaar and wishes to true lovers of ideas and believers of open thought space, "A Warm Welcome to my own Mind Space".

Few days back i wondered that whether my actions, beliefs and several reconciliations with mind, heart and perceptions can visibly ever bring any change in the society? in the life of the people around me? my surroundings? and lastly my own life? These queries haunted my mind ever since initiating ripples all over my thought process, pulling me down every time I pondered on them.

Before that I feel its quite important to introduce myself and express my interests:

 

I am a geeky guy primarily who loves his owned gadgets the most and dreams of the owning the newer ones in the market as well. I feel envied at times when I see a guy with a "Nokia Lumia 800" standing just before me in the queue to a movie ticket counter, endless desires fills my heart with a single though of it, this is the extreme to which i fantasize about the gadgets. Jokes apart, i love to keep myself informed about at least the basic Technology updates everyday which aids me to write posts for www.gadgeticworld.com and i seriously love doing that. Trying out new apps and socializing, in other words Facebooking- the buzzword of recent times keeps me hooked up. My other interests include the lately developed Photography with my Canon IXUS 220HS. I take pleasure in writing articles, poems and stories, reading books as well, to which i have planned of buying a Kindle Touch that may keep me reading all the time. I own a Playstation Portable too to entertain myself with my favorite games like God of Wars, NFS, Assasin's Creed to name a few.

That was enough crap about me, so now i shall express my basic idea as why i thought of creating this blog. I have observed that numerous thoughts and ideas creep into my mind just the the one shared before all the time which made me think, it would be great to share them with masses and like minded people, get suggestions, improve, after all this is the only way to grow. So i shall be sharing anything other that my crap that may interest you and at the same time keep in view Wordpress policies too as specified, i promise.

See you guys very soon. Amen