Courtesy: Adam Rifkin (Attribution license)

You've done it. I've done it. We've all done it. So let's do away with the judgement and try and look at selfies as a tool for self-analysis.

The day may not be too far off when psychoanalysts ask their patients to take several selfies and then submit them for assessment.

Think about it. There are so many clues to one's personality in a selfie - the way you look at the camera, the kind of emotion you choose to portray - sensual, defiant, innocent, arrogant; the tilt of your head, the parting of your lips, the flare of your nostrils and the angle of your eyebrows.

Facial cues are not all there is to selfie-analysis. The clothes you decide to wear for this 'prescribed' photo shoot can speak volumes as well. Are they provocative or the kind that would draw minimal attention? The venue is another significant element. Do you click the selfie in a more private or a public setting?

Some of the behaviours and traits we might project through selfies are:

  • Attention-seeking behaviour
  • Self-esteem (high or low)
  • Happiness quotient (width and exuberance of the smile)
I suppose psychotherapists could provide their patients with a few predetermined settings and scenarios for the selfies; or other specifications that might help them assess the images better. Armed with a background knowledge of the patient's issues, the selfies should reveal more to the therapist than they would to a lay person.

The only issue here is that the treatment might work better with women as they are in general, more prone to taking selfies. And they're usually better at it too. But with women, a lot of other factors would come into play - the fact that we are more used to being objectified and also more aware of the effect our appearance can have on people and situations.

Maybe, you could take a look at your selfies yourself and see if they tell you a story you haven't entirely been aware of. Do they show you a side of your personality you never knew existed? Or a tinge of unexplainable sadness or glee?

Selfies could actually be the doorway to a lot of personal insights that were hidden to us until the widespread use of phone cameras.

The drinking cesspool

Annie Mole (Licensed through Creative Commons)

It always begins the same way.

I have one (ten) drink too many, black out or fall asleep, wake up with a pounding headache and a general feeling of hatred (as opposed to the previous night's benevolence) towards humanity and spend the day ruing those last few (many) drinks and my predictable lack of good sense.

Then, I decide to go on a 'detox'. 'Never' is not something I'm brave enough to aim for even in my hangover-ridden state. So I opt for a week-long detox. Assume that this resolve is made on Monday morning.

Monday night. My will stands strong. I go home after work, without as much as a nod of acknowledgement to my favourite Old Monk.

Tuesday dawns, bright and guilt-free. When I get off from work, I find a mischievous thought straying into my mind - 'Just one beer', the thought says. 'One beer at Marine Drive would feel so good and hey, beer has less than five per cent alcohol!' But I ask the thought to go take its wily suggestions elsewhere. I go home once again, alcohol-free. I'm so proud I feel like I've contributed to saving humanity (and maybe I have, considering the things I'm capable of doing when drunk).

Ah, Wednesday. Now that's a tricky day. Because I get off from work early. And that usually means a movie or drinks and dinner with a friend. The evening loses considerable sheen without coke and rum to look forward to.

6 PM. The moment of decision looms nearer and nearer. That stray thought has now multiplied by a million. And all of them have only one thing to say - 'One drink won't hurt!'. My friend compounds matters by slyly suggesting a beer. He knows that's my weakness. One beer. Because of the five per cent alcohol escape clause. And because it lasts longer than a drink.

There is a moment - one moment - when the situation can go either way and then I collapse on the wrong side of the cliff. I give in. That sip of beer goes in - cold, flavourful and oh so satisfying. And I forget about that Sunday night. I forget about my resolve. None of it makes sense. Except the fact that beer by the sea, with a friend in tow is one of the best small pleasures that life has to offer.

Sigh. And that's how it ends. Every damn time.

My resolve never did stand a chance before the lure of light-headed, carefree happiness, otherwise known as alcohol.

It's better that we don't talk about the days following Wednesdays because I'm sure you can guess what happens. One beer turns into two and sometimes joins hands with chocolatey Old Monk. And every successive drink pushes my moral resolve a little further to the door, until it's out altogether. I watch my resolve sigh resignedly and wave me a forlorn goodbye, while I sip away like there's no tomorrow.

By the way, if you're reading this today, it's Tuesday now. So you know what stage I'm at. That's right. No drinking this week. I swear!

Thank you.

Courtesy: Ankita Shreeram
The other day, mom brought a book on gratitude from our local library. The author suggested starting every day by expressing gratitude for everything that's good in your life. I ran through the list mentally and thought I'd be done within seconds. :P But then, when I actually sat down to do the exercise, something magical and heartbreaking happened. The list was endless. I began with myself and then the things and people that populated my life. Then I realised it didn't end there. I had to include all the films I had seen, all the songs I had heard, all the books I had read, all the paintings I had set my eyes upon, all the trees whose breeze I had been cooled by, all the birds I had waved at in the sky. What's more, I even had to include the films I would see, the songs I would hear, the books I would read and the paintings I would gaze at, in future. There was no limit to the things I could be thankful for. And the bounty was more than I could bear. We don't really understand how blessed we are until we start measuring our wealth and our happiness by experiences rather than possessions. Because when it comes to the experience of the sea or the sun, the beggar on the street is as blessed as the CEO in his ivory tower. And I imagine, if we really could recall glimpses from our past lives, we'd recall faces and smiles and sensations; rather than the expensive cars we owned or the couches we sat on. How silly it is to even entertain thoughts of poverty or inadequacy when we have all these senses, capable of absorbing so much beauty. And how silly it is to be scared or to ever allow yourself to be miserable when the next smile is only a sunset or an embrace away.

The seconds turned into minutes and the minutes walked past, but I remained seated there in my veranda, cross-legged and teary-eyed, while dawn smiled indulgently, caressing my skin with her sun-warmed finger tips. If you're reading this, I suggest you perform the gratitude exercise too. You might be surprised with how much there is, to be thankful for. And then you feel so wealthy, so full and so gifted that you wonder how your frail human body will be able to bear it. Unimaginable that the whole world should be at your feet; that an ocean of books and music and dance should await your eyes and ears. Unimaginable that within this one tiny life, there is so much to be lived. Unimaginable that we still have words like 'boredom' in the dictionary. 

Worms and demon.

Courtesy: Ark (Licensed under Creative Commons)
Deep drags of air..
Peace settles in.
Doubts like worms
Crawl deep inside
Make way for serenity
Worms will fester
Beg for food
But you must be unkind.
You must let them starve
Wither away
Turn to ashes
Forgettable dust
To be blown away one day
By a puff of certainty.


There's a demon in me
And he loves to caress unsuspecting strangers
Stretching out his claws, scouring for blood
And if he finds it, he wants more
And then I know
I'm done for
And so is the unsuspecting stranger
And so they all run away from me
Screaming for their precious lives
While the demon and I
We sigh
In unison
Lonely forever
But together in our bloodthirst
Sometimes he goes to sleep
For a day or two
Or even weeks or months
And then I manage to lure a stranger into my life
I manage to be familiar with someone for once
And then the demon awakens
As I'd always known he would
And again he runs
Again I scream for him to stay
But the only one who stays
Is my demon.