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Jugaad-One man’s pride is apparently our nation’s embarrassment

March 6, 2013

The concept of jugaad has exposed itself to me recently during a routine browsing through my blog reader. I wasn’t even trying very hard to find trending articles; these two just happened to pop up.

“What the west can learn from jugaad” 

“What falls to hand” 

Translated from Hindi, jugaad encompasses the practice of doing a lot with a little. In my home, we would call this “being resourceful.” Others say it is “embracing the entrepreneurial spirit.”

What caught my attention was Adelheid Fischer’s essay and description of “makeshift vehicles…made from reclaimed jeep parts and scrap wood.”  For our culture, this description recalls the popular Failblog meme “There I fixed it,” meant to poke fun at shabby duct tape repairs and “ghetto-rigged devices.”

Insane house, There I fixed it

Crazy bumper, There I fixed itEasy printer fix, There I fixed it
It’s funny. What we laugh at and pass poor judgement on is really, when you look at it, incredible inventiveness. To take parts that seemingly don’t belong together and engineer them in a functional way is a sure sign of jugaad. Sure, the design and aesthetics may not be the most attractive, but assuredly money was saved and the job rendered complete.

The Hindi culture for centuries have lived by the ideals of finding utility in scarcity; why is it so hard for us to adopt this program? It is common within the American mentality to want instant solutions. We are constantly allured by the “shiny object” and demand only the newest and top-notch materials in both our personal and professional lives. I know I’m guilty of this. I’d rather go out and buy new things the instant something breaks or fails to work they way I want to. I call on professionals to solve my problems, rather then invest time myself to learn how to solve them on my own.

Even though I’m not a follower of jugaad, I have much respect for it. Those who exhibit such ingenuity and cleverness should wear badges of honor square on their chest. Not everyone can solve a problem when materials and resources are scarce.

By +Maggie Young

I’m An Introvert, And That’s OK.

February 20, 2013

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking deeply on how I connect with the people in my life, my community, and the world.  In the quiet hours of the morning, while my neighbors slumber peacefully, I begin my morning meditation.  This is a time for me to focus, to breath, and to fill my body and thoughts with positive thinking to fuel my spirit through the day.

By nighttime, I’m exhausted, and I recess into my inner consciousness in the hopes that I can recharge myself to move forward with the daily practice of life productivity. I either settle in with a book, a documentary on Netflix, or the pages of my journal, until my eyelids are too heavy and cave in to the nudging of sleep.

I am an introvert, and I like it that way.

Introvert, Mashael Al-Shuwayer, Flickr

There has always been an anxiety, almost a pressure, within me that tells me that I have to be a social butterfly.  I think to myself, “But I don’t want to be around large crowds of people, why should I do something I don’t want to do?”  Constantly did I feel a nagging that I have to part of something bigger, something outside of myself.  In college, this pressure was so insurmountable that I succumbed.  How did I overcome the discomfort of having a social agenda? Alcohol.

But now college has come and gone, and booze (and cigarettes) are no longer in my diet.  I’ve come to accept my introverted propensity and have silenced the voices that tell me introversion is a negative quality.  Susan Cain helped me with her succinct and well-researched TedTalk on the subject of introverts.

One of the best quotes from her talk was “…solitude is a crucial ingredient to creativity…”  Sure, we need collaboration from time to time, but in the end, it is our alone time that we do our best thinking.  Instead of feeling restless, as if we have to be around people, we have this intense concentration on a certain thought or idea that spurs us to generate insights on a different level.

I’m an introvert, and that’s ok.

What’s In an Image?

February 17, 2013

Have you ever seen an image or photograph that drove you to imagine all of the circumstances leading up to the final capture of the moment?

Or, have your eyes had the experience of delivering such staggering sentiments to your brain that your body physically reacts?

These are the moments that photographers strive to capture with every flash and snap they take.  To encapsulate human and physical elements in such a way that they continue living in a static, unchanging environment is what truly makes a photographer an artist.  One such artist, Platon, has paved his own route in making the characters in his photographs seemingly divulge their darkest secrets to the viewer.

I was lucky enough to receive two tickets to the Richmond Forum this past Saturday, reveling in quite an adult affair for this recent college grad.  Dressed in my best evening wear and with curls in my hair, I waited anxiously in my red, plush seat in the historic Landmark Theater.  Unsure of what to expect, I did some research on this Platon guy, nearly skeptical of this mononymous person of certain celebrity.  On my small mobile screen, his photos looked sharp, with his subjects having  the most recognized mugs in the world.

“Ok,” I thought, “I’ll give this guy my attention.”

The next two hours I was on the edge of my seat, being taken, along with the audience, on a universal tour of human emotions.

Image by image, slide by slide, one could hear the resonating gasps and ahhs of the audience as we had huge photographs of both public figures and embattled human beings placed before us on a large projector screen.  Platon let the photograph sink in before recanting the story of each interaction with his subject.  Never before have I seen such powerful images that entirely boils down someone’s persona, and in a sense, animates them.  Along with his amusing, heartfelt, and even unsettling stories about the time he spent shooting these individuals, these photos proved that visual images are more powerful than ever.

 To evoke such reactions is to be a visual image master.

Now master he may be, Platon is also a person of modesty.  While there is no doubt that his portfolio is world renown, Platon focuses more on the content than the communicator.  In the Q&A session following his presentation, the moderator asked him about some of his techniques.  Platon answered, simply, that it is not in the technique or the equipment that he focuses on.  Rather, it is ensuring that he captures the essence of his subject matter and that his photo can communicate effectively the content it holds.

Wow.  Platon got down to the fundamentals with this statement.  He knows that photos are more than images; they are messages.

As the excited chattering lingered on, I felt an odd feeling tinkering on my consciousness:  My experience with the visual storytelling actually increased my ability to understand things that are larger than me.  And as cliché as it is, this proves that a picture is indefinitely worth a thousand words.

2011 in review

January 11, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,300 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 6, 2011

http://mashable.com/2011/12/02/facebook-condoms/?WT.mc_id=obnetwork

How far must you go to make your brand stand out?  Olla condoms have no problems breaking the boundaries in their most recent campaign to urge Facebook users to buy their condoms.  They are now disguising ads as Facebook Friend Requests, which most Facebook users generally welcome. Now, not only is this ad acting as the newest form of spam for social media, but they are outspoken on the facts of unprotected sex.  No condom? Welcome to the world your living creature that eat, poops, and sucks up all your time and money.  Check out the video below:

My heart, restored

December 1, 2011

My heart, restored

The day after my 25th birthday, I made the conscious decision to quit smoking cigarettes.  Cigarettes were the last blockade, besides the occasional fast food, to the fulfillment of a healthy Maggie.  To make this occasion memorable, I will make my goodbye letter to nicotine public.

Dear cigarettes,

You smell bad, you really do.  Even when I washed my hair, you still made me smell bad.  I look at my teeth, which were once so shiny and proud.  Now they glisten yellow like laminated old paper.  I see wrinkles emerging on my cherubic face from the puffing and sucking and huffing and blowing exercises I did with you.  I once appreciated your aging affects on my face; now I see my young beauty fading.

My heart hurts when I run just a little, it’s hard to breathe.  Why did you corrupt my lungs, blacken them like soot in a brand new chimney?  It will take years to heal the burns you’ve caused.  When I cough, it pains me to know that I’m perpetually sick because of you.  The thought that you encourage cancer to grow in my disgusts me, and ultimately is the breaking point between us.

You were fun for a while.  You went great with late night drinks and were the perfect companion for long car rides.  I could sit on the porch and sit with you all day and late into the night.  You gave me reasons to talk to people when we were alone outside of buildings, where you were rightfully sentenced to stay outdoors.

I loved you for so long, but you tricked me, deceived me really bad.  I thought you helped me through stress and strain, but now I see that you were at the root of the pain.  I must leave you now.  I am replacing you with the much more delightful companions of gum and green tea.  So long, you smoking sticks of hell!

A Neat Little Video!

November 30, 2011