The medium of expression..

Today, we are surrounded by all the modern technology and amenities. Every aspect of life is touched by some form of technology or an intelligent machine. One of the most vital aspect in human life is communication. This is what separates us from other animals. That’s why we humans are called social animals. And we have developed all sorts of devices including telephone to mobile phones, internet to social media, news media to radio transmission to facilitate this communication.

We are all connected in this web of information and communication. There are hardly any places on earth, where any network range, be it cellular or satellite cannot be reached. The world has been brought together with this invisible links of radio waves. We can talk to anyone, anytime, anyplace on the planet within seconds. If we cannot talk, we can leave a message, send a video, update our status, tweet something, post on the wall, and so many other options are available.

Yet, amidst all this digital crowd, we seem to be lonely. It’s as if we are lost in the crowd. This is baffling because inspite of all the tech devices at our finger touch, still our network seems to be lost somewhere. And this network is from our mind, our heart. We seem to stay away from group. As if we have taken for granted that we can connect with our friends and loved ones, anytime due to all the advanced technology. Yet, we fail to do so.

I wonder how many of us really stay in touch with our good friends? I understand that due to busy work schedule and family responsibilities, its not always possible to stay in the loop. Infact, it is said that after marriage, the couple often lose contact with their oldtime friends. Only after a dozen of years pass by, kids grow up, the mid-life crisis of late 40’s hit us, and then some invitation for a school or college re-union comes up, that when we try to connect back to our friends.

Earlier, there was no Facebook. So, the friends only had a option to connect using either phone or home address, which also changed often. Now, there is no such barrier. Yet, I find that more than 95% of my friends on Facebook, who used to be my good school and college friends are just ‘Digital’ friends today. No one is in touch with each other, even though they are just a click away on the app. While, we might be living in the same city, yet it feels like we all residing on different planets. I feel like they have become something like a fixed deposit investment, which I can use(connect) only when the term is over, like only when there is some kind of re-union or alumni meet, whatsoever.

I have often believed that letters are like the mirror of human mind and expression. Because when we write an informal letter, we often put more in our emotions and expressions than we would on facebook, or whatsapp. Maybe, because we are concerned of our privacy. In older days, this form of letter writing prevailed due to this subtler form of expression. Now, even though it has been replaced by more faster and encrypted ways of communication ( after all, letters were like an open secret, with an end to end non-encrypted transmission) like emails, phone and video calls, but its hard to replace the train of thoughts and ideas which used to get expressed in letters. Thats why all the letter writing between eminent personalities like Gandhi, Tagore, Nehru, Lincoln, Franklin, Vivekananda, Marie Curie, Einstein and many more have been collected and cherished in the form of books and in museums. Because those letters reflect the personality of those great men and women.

Even love letters are considered like a sacred form of expression between the couples. I have always believed that apart from love letters, there is no other form of delicate and honest communication between lovers. Today, lovers use all form of mediums be it facebook, instagram, whatsapp, or even an email to profess their love. Video calls, or proposing directly is the standard norm yet human mind is elusive. Because the mind often misinterprets the direct communication face to face, or voice as well. Only eyes tell the truth.

This poem in hindi perfectly tells what eyes speak..

आँखे सब बोलती हैं
सारे राज़ खोलती हैं
आँखे आईना होती है मन का
आँखे बोलती है दिल की ज़ुबानी
कह देती है अनकहीं कई कहानी
इंसान कितना भी छुपा ले जज्बातो को
मन कितना भी बहला ले दिमाग़ को
चेहरा झूट बोल सकता है
मुश्कान झूठी हो सकती है
आँखे सब बोलती है
सारे राज़ खोलती है

Translation:
Eyes speak everything
they unravel all the secrets
they are the mirror of human mind
they speak from the heart
however man tries to hide his emotions
or mind tries to elude the brain
human face can be liar
or smile can also be liar
but eyes reveal everything
they unravel all the secrets...

Just like eyes, the letters are the perfect medium to convey what the eyes tell. I am sure that however innovative ways of proposing or expressing love might happen, be it like proposing near the Niagara falls, or in front of Taj Mahal, the subtle expression and emotions which letters convey cannot be emulated.

But the sad aspect is today, letters communication have become rare like a good politician. The most obvious reason is there is no need to write letters, when we have more faster and simpler tools like emails, phone calls, text, video etc etc..I agree but still I feel this form of communication ( especially informal)has to be preserved. Because letters open a new door of mind which is more mature and understanding, which a messenger text or whatsapp message cannot.

I am ending this post for now. As we becoming more and more busy and occupied, the communication channels are getting closed day by day. Its like we are experiencing solitude amidst a crowd, and that can be one of the worst evolution of humans. Because we being social animals, and all these communication technologies were meant to increase human contact, but rather, what we are seeing is we are just communicating with the machines, and not humans. Instead of getting closer, we getting drifted apart from our friends and loved ones.

Soon a day will come, where a robot will take care of all our calls, messages, filter out the important and spam ones, send a reply on our behalf. I am sure this will happen some day because of the way AI and robotics is advancing…

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The 7 vices of Social Media..

The seven deadly sins in the world of social media and online tech.

Remedies for the 7 Deadly Sins of UX | Contentsquare
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Can we relate the above 7 sins to social media/tech world?

  • Gluttony – Amazon
  • Envy – Instagram
  • Wrath – Twitter
  • Lust – Tinder and porn sites
  • Pride- Apple
  • Sloth – Facebook, Netflix
  • Greed – Robinhood, Bitcoin and quick investing

-> Amazon resembles the vice – gluttony. Because its not Amazon to be blamed, but our never ending desire for over buying and over consumption. And it is our unquenchable desire for over buying which has made Jeff Bezos the richest man on the earth. That’s why to counter this vice, there is virtue by the legendary Warren Buffett which says

12 Best Warren Buffett Quotes on Investment, Life and Making Money | Funny  inspirational quotes, Warren buffett, Friendship quotes
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Interestingly, Jeff Bezos has smartly taken care of this as well. If we run out of money to buy things on Amazon, we can also sell things on Amazon!

-> Instagram resembles the vice – Envy. There cannot be any better tool than Instagram to inculcate this vice. It infact makes us not only envious of others, but also makes us feel our world is so banal and boring.

-> Twitter resembles Wrath. How many of us have suddenly become self-proclaimed pundits on every topic, and have blurted out our anger against politicians, or anyone on twitter? I have sure many of us already have. Even I used to do that on this medium, and so did Trump. Infact. Trump took it to another level where he used Twitter to bash his opponents, critics, or media ( like CNN or Times). Indeed, even a single tweet of 140 characters is enough to do the damage!

-> Lust is best represented by Tinder and other sites, including porn/dating sites. Because such apps are designed for short term dating or even one night stand only. They are not meant to find the soulmate or even a long term relationships. Even though, they might market their app to find the best soulmate or partner, but in reality, all it does best is the spread this vice of lust. And porn is something which only serves the lustful nature of human mind.

-> There comes Apple and along with it comes pride. Yes, there cannot be any product or tool which we are super pride of. Apple is the perfect design for letting pride go into our heads. The way they market their products, the charisma of Steve Jobs, the exorbitant price of all the Apple products makes it strikingly attractive. And that’s what fills the owner of this product with pride. Its as if there cannot be any better phone than Iphone. Its as if a college student cannot graduate if he/she does not have a Mac. Its as if we all want to imitate Steve Jobs and all his larger than life quotes. This is what Pride is as per Apple standards.

We're here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”  ~ Steve Jobs | Steve jobs quotes, Job quotes, Steve jobs best quotes
Rumours Suggest Apple may Bring Back the Retro Rainbow Logo in its future  Products - Appuals.com

By the way, Apple’s sports band is named ‘Pride’ which supports the LGBTQ+.

-> Sloth which means laziness, and the best way to stay Lazy is to stay Active on Facebook. I find Facebook one of the best way to ruin our life with laziness. If we are bored, just scroll the facebook posts. The Facebook videos, and our friends posts are enough to divert our attention from whats most important to whats least important. Even Netflix, Amazon Prime and YT serve as mediums for procastination and thereby become lazy. But atleast we have the control over those OTT media service. But with Facebook, its the contrary. It has the control over the levers of our mind and our productivity.

-> Finally, Greed. Greed for money, for power, for fame has always been considered one of the worst sins. And in today’s world, this greed for money is best fuelled by the quick investing apps like Robinhood. Bitcoin have had a roller-coster ride in the last few years. Several ponzi schemes and other get rich faster apps are available, and never has it been so easy for someone without any knowledge of finance or markets to invest money. It seems like such kind of fast and quick return ‘Invest-ment’ is actually ‘In-Waste’ment.

And just like to counter gluttony, Warren Buffett comes here at our rescue to counter this vice – Greed through his wisdom. Having built his fortune on sound foundations laid down by principles and good economics, I agree that the best way to counter Greed is by following Warren Buffett’s wisdom.

Top Warren Buffett Quotes Inspiring Success - | Beyond Exclamation
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© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The Truman Show!

A short review on how ‘Trumanized’ the world has become

I recently watched ‘The Truman Show’ movie after a long time. Even though it has been more than 2 decades since this movie was released, but after seeing this movie, I can relate the world resembles much like ‘The Truman Show’ more than ever!

This movie was way ahead of its times! I am simply enamoured by the depth this movie has. This movie depicts the life of reality show which happens to portray reality in an abstract manner. Because, unlike the usual daily soaps or reality shows, this movie actually shows the real world itself. Because, I find not much difference between the world we live in today, and that of the world presented to Truman in his name show! Today, we are surrounded by hundreds of gadgets and devices on which our life is dependent on. Everything is tracked, and surveillance has become the oxygen of this world. Just like the intricate network of 5000 cameras captured every minute details of Truman, so does all the ‘Internet of Things’ does for us. The information we Google, the friends we make on Facebook, the messages we send on WhatsApp, the pictures we like on Instagram, the videos we watch on YouTube, the mail we send on Gmail, the apps we downloaded from AppStore, the online shopping we make on Amazon, the places we travel to on Google Maps, the restaurants we visit on Yelp, the jobs we apply for on LinkedIn, the hotels we stay in, the people we date on Dating Apps, the car we drive, the books we read, or the credit card we use for purchases…OMG, doesn’t it sound like ‘The Truman Show’?

And the worst part is that we have become used to all this. We have indirectly accepted all this by our own consent. As Christof rightly said in this movie,

We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented. It’s as simple as that.

Christof, the creator of ‘The Truman Show’

Today, we accept the world presented by news media, entertainment movies, TV shows, podcasts, talk shows, internet and social media as being the real one. It is like we have become a part of crowd psychology. The way of eating, shopping, dating, travelling all being inadvertently influenced and standardised. Monopoly is the real rule book these days. If all the information networks decided to make a villain out of some person, then there is no way the world can oppose it. That person is bound to get victimised. And ironically, all the media pride themselves on free speech, freedom and liberal values. In reality, it is their imposition of information and opinions on the world which thwarts the freedom of all the people. But unfortunately, we all have become like ‘Truman Burbank’. We simply don’t even know that we are stuck up in a world of ‘sea-haven island’ owned by tech billionaires, media moguls, oil barons and business conglomerates which have turned this world into a studio to make us accept the reality as they want us to see.

Image result for truman show studio from space
Image Credits

And this show did one marvelous thing. It predicted the future of the world. After its release in 1998 ( the same year when Google started), most of the today’s giant social media( FB, Insta, Twitter, YT, WhatsApp) and government surveillance program( PRISM), all happened in the last 22 years. Even the Iraq invasion was imposed by the Bush administration under the false pretext of Iraq having WMD. And you know, the world accepted it. Because we all were ‘Trumanized’. Had it not been the audacious whistleblowers like Ed Snowden, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, we would not even have realized about such clandestine programs. Had it not been Chris Wylie, then Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal would never have become known. All this has been beautifully depicted in the TV show “The Social Dilemma” in which Tristan Harris sheds light on the dark reality behind the glittering social media world. All these people refused to accept the world as it was presented to them. After all this is the basis of scientific mindset isn’t it? We owe our progress of the world to the curiosity, scientific mindset and the brave men and women who refused to be a part of this show, and who rather challenged the existing stereotype.

So, finally, as said in the movie by Christof, ‘If he was absolutely determined to discover the truth, there’s no way we could prevent him“. Similarly, we have the freedom to choose our own opinions, our ideas and our thoughts. We have the right to accept and reject what is bombarded at us by the world. There is no need for everything to be standardized or even labeled under some ideology. This world is diverse, and beautiful. Even we humans come in all forms of color, race, languages, tradition, culture and behavior. We don’t need to embrace what the media tells us always. We don’t need to eat a particular burger or a soft drink just because the marketing team desperately tries to convince us. We don’t need to buy a tech gadget just because the media tells its a cool thing! We don’t need to embrace the life of Page 3 models and actors, assuming it be charming. We can and must maintain the freedom to live as per our conscience. Ofcourse, it isn’t that easy to sail upstream. But as said, if we are absolutely determined to not become like Truman, then no technology, no media propaganda, or surveillance can stop us from living a free life. We can live a life which does not allow our opinions to be influenced by what trends in social media. Just like Truman stepped out of his studio exit, so can we exit all the hatred, wrong bias, narrow opinions from our mind.

The law of karma..

The word, ‘Karma’ means a person’s actions in this life, and even in the previous life. I am not quite a believer of the existence of the impact of previous life, even though there is a lot of literature which tries to explain it. But I being a pragmatist and realist, often limit myself to this life itself when it comes to karma. Actually, even though this word is used quite a lot in Hinduism and Buddhism, but recently it has been wide spread in the western countries as well. Many people from corporate world, media & music industry, writers try to use this word, and explain their point of view.

This law of karma is actually the equivalent to the English idiom ‘As you sow, so you reap’. And we all have read this in school. It even relates to the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In plain English, you should treat others the same way as you would like others to treat you. Simple, isnt it? But the question is do we really follow this?

The law of karma is very much universal. I mean no one can simply escape it. Because the evidence backing it is enormous. We all must have experienced this law even in small things, like when we hurt someone, we don’t realize it at that time. But we grasp it immediately when someone else hurts us in the same way. If we cheat in exams, we get caught and suffer the consequence. If we eat wrong food, we fall sick. If we spend too much money in shopping, or even bad vices like drinking, we soon run out of our savings. This law is very much practical.

Even if someone tries to run away from the effects of that karma, they simply cannot. We can see many famous examples in history, and day to day life as well. Some of the Nazis who had committed horrendous atrocities on innocent jews tried to run away from getting jailed or hanged to South America, but years later, many of them like Adolf Eichmann did get caught and were later hanged. Many serial killers, terrorists, rapists who commit horrible acts end up being killed or caught someday or the later. Osama Bin Laden, Pablo Escobar, Ted Bundy all got caught & killed. Even those who committed frauds like Jordan Belfort, Bernie Madoff, Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Ketan Parekh, Harshad Mehta all got either caught or exposed sooner or later. Karma circles and hits back!

But then I wonder why people still forget this, and act as if they will never get punished for their actions. This is something of a moral question, for which there is no easy answer. But I do think there are two reasons for this. Well, first is the uncertain time delay between action and result. Just like a mango tree does not give mangoes immediately after the sapling is planted, similarly it takes time for the action to fructify. It could be years, or even decades. Meanwhile, the person who committed those acts mistakenly gets convinced that his/her actions won’t hit back, or as if they are immune to it. This usually happens when power corrupts. Somehow, those people who are extremely rich, famous and powerful, start believing that they are above the law.

But even though they might tweak the social laws, but they cannot change the effect of nature’s law of karma. And this is best seen in the recent example of Donald Trump, who had vehemently denied the existence of coronavirus, and profusely refused to wear or endorse wearing masks in public places. But then after few months, he got the virus, and the faith in this law of karma or cosmic justice being done was revitalized. Even his defeat in 2020 election is a proof of his actions for years, for which he had assumed that he would never get suffered. But as we know, even he could not escape the law of karma.

But the second reason I wonder is the bizare uncertainity in nature’s justice. We often see good people getting suffered for no mistakes of their own, and bad people getting away from their outcomes. As mentioned before, the bad people do get suffered, someday or the other, and that cannot be denied. Just, that it takes a lot of time, sometimes. But I have no answer or even any reason for why good and innocent people get suffered. We see innocent girls and women getting raped, people suffering from racism or caste discrimination, Jews had to suffer from anti-semitism and in concentration camps, India and many countries had to suffer from British and other European brutal coloniazation, innocent people dying in civil wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, people getting repressed in dictatorial regimes like N.Korea, people dying from earthquakes, tsunami, forest fires, riots, floods, draughts, famines, and even innocent people dying due to cancer, and now, covid-19! I wonder what was the fault of these people?

Religious preachers point to their karma in previous life. But for a practical mind, it does not convince. After all, who has really seen if we really had a previous life? Were we humans or some other animal creature? And why would it take so much time, almost a new birth, just to suffer the consequences of previous life’s mistakes? Why not just make it suffer in that life itself? Why to drag it till next life? I mean these are weird questions, which might not have any relevant answers. Those who have, might not convince us. This is the similar to the classic clash between free-will vs deterministic life! Sometimes, I relate this to astrology, or numerology, which fraudulently claims about people’s future or even a particular number as a good sign! For those fake and corrupt astrologers, I wonder if they themselves know what their future is going to be? I am pretty sure, most of them would not have a damn idea!

I think the quest for answers for the above questions will remain for quite sometime. But the good thing is we humans have come a long way in understanding this world, and nature as well. Not long before, we were trepidated by events like tsunami, cyclones and earthquakes. Our ancestors blamed it on other humans for doing immoral acts and because of which nature had taught us a lesson. Even a pious man like Gandhi, had blamed the Bihar earthquake in 1934 as a ‘divine chastisement for the great sin’ people there had committed against the untouchables. Seeing this absurd belief in superstition, the Nobel Laureate in Literature, Ravindranath Tagore, could not resist himself in responding to Gandhi with a letter of reprimand against this absurd belief.

So, today, atleast we have come a long way with all the modern technology and advancement in sciences. We atleast do not blame floods or forest fires for the sins committed by few men and women. I wish sciences get advanced even further to throw some light on this karmic aspect of life, which involves questions asked before. Maybe, a better understanding of life, will enable us to get the wisdom to know why some people suffer more than others? Is it their karma, or fate, or something beyond our present human cognizance.

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Copyright © 2021 AbhikNotes – Powered by WordPress.com

Welcome 2021!

Never before has the world so eagerly awaited for a new year to commence!

Today, while writing this post on Dec 31st, 2020, I am contemplating all the events that have happened in 2020. And there is no denial of the fact that the world got changed in 2020. It looks like after Steve Job’s legendary launch of Iphone in 2007 which changed the world, Covid-19 became the next thing which turned our life upside down. And today, we all are eagerly awaiting for 2021 to usher in. We are sincerely praying that 2021 turns out to be a better year,which will restore peace, happiness and stability back in our life. I do hope the same!

But at the same time, as Gurudev Ravishankar said in his talk today, that this pandemic showed the other side of life. We all crave for good, and happy times. We forget the difficulties and problems in life when everything is stable, and under our control. But this pandemic showed us how things can go out of human control rapidly. This year showed us how important and short life is. It made us realize the simple joys of life such as staying with family, having a stable job, and even going out for a walk. The world saw how difficult it is to live under lockdown. We all usually read or watch movies of the soldiers and freedom fighters who suffered enormous hardships in fighting against the enemy, be it against the Nazis in Europe, or against British rule in India. Only when we all underwent the hardships of living under lockdown, we came to value the importance of true freedom. Until the pandemic occurred, we all had taken the freedom imparted to us lightly, but now we atleast have got a glimpse of life without freedom. That is why, people have even started thinking about the cruelty to deprive poor animals of their freedom by keeping them in zoos and amusement parks for our entertainment!

Having suffered the dark side of life after pandemic, we have started realizing how few things we really need to live a good life. We understood that we can live without eating outside or even buying expensive clothes or gadgets. Because these fancy clothes, makeup or gadgets won’t save our life, but our good health, good food, calm mind and having loved ones staying together will save us. Due to this pandemic having engulfed the whole mother earth, never in history did it happen that we all (humans) became united. Until 2020, we had always biased each other, and made every attempt to separate each others by building either physical walls ( be it Berlin Wall or Trump’s wall), or virtual walls ( made of racism, casteism, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation bias etc). But 2020 made us realize that events like pandemic does not differentiate between us on any artificial grounds. So, in a way, we can also say that 2020 brought humanity together, atleast for fighting against pandemic!

Besides, in 2020, many of us saw how beautiful this earth is! This is because one of the sideeffects of pandemic turned out to be fresh air, with zero air pollution. For ex: This led to viewing of Himalayas from hundreds of miles in India, which was not seen due to high pollution in air for the last several decades. Hence, even though 2020 was a dreaded year for most of us, however this year turned out to be very special for nature observers and climate watchers, due to huge change in climate and nature pattern which had been severely altered for all these years due to human activity.

Himalayas visible from India as nature 'heals' during coronavirus shutdown  - National | Globalnews.ca
Ref

Similarly, due to no traffic and thereby zero sound pollution, it made wild animals curious to sneek in the cities to find out where did 7 billion people disappear? Here are some pictures which captured this once in a century nature’s phenomenon.

A civet cat has been spotted roaming on the streets of Kozhikode in the State of Kerala, India on 27 March, 2020.
Ref
A kangaroo hops through empty streets during the lockdown restrictions in Adelaide, Australia, April 19, 2020. South Australia Police/via REUTERS
Kangaroo running on the streets in Australia
A fox is seen in Downing Street, London, April 29, 2020.  
 REUTERS/Toby Melville
A fox seen walking on the streets in London https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/nature-reclaims-public-spaces-during-loc-idUSRTX7EJ1H

Hence, finally, as I complete this post, 2020 ended and 2021 has begun. Many of us are praying for 2021 to bring happiness and stability in life. Indeed, 2020 was a rough year, which will never be forgotten by my generation. Historians love to find patterns in historic events, and I being a history buff, consider 2020 to be a year which changed our way of living, just like the historic years of 1989 ( when Berlin Wall fell which marked the beginning of the end of communism), or 1945 ( when WW2 was won after the fall of Nazi and Imperial Japanese). As US President elect Joe Biden said in his victory speech, “This is a time to heal in America”. I feel this is a time to heal for the entire world. May 2021 give us enough room for us to heal, come together for humanity, collaborate for just causes, break the barriers of racism, gender bias etc, and work towards achieving global peace. I know this might sound grandiose, but atleast we can start taking one step ahead….

I am ending this post with this realization, that afterall, we did won(successfully survive) in 2020, and have entered a new year, with new hopes and new surprises as well……

Cuba and the Cameraman

How one American journalist visited Cuba for over 40 years, and showed the world the other side of Cuba.

REVIEW] Netflix's captivating documentary, Cuba and the Cameraman
source

Recently I watched a documentary movie named ‘Cuba and the Cameraman’ filmed, written and co-produced by an American journalist Jon Alpert. The film can be watched on Netflix.

I really enjoyed watching the documentary. It shows both the positives and negatives of life in Cuba, and how Cuba transformed through its revolution in 1959 led by Fidel Castro till the death of Fidel Castro in 2016. The movie depicts the lives of common people in Cuba, especially the three farmer brothers, Cristobal, Angel and Gregario. Many people were filmed and asked questions about their life in Cuba. The people came from all spectrums of life. They included farmers like the three Borrego brothers, shopkeepers, factory workers, construction laborers, doctors, teachers and students.

Jon even went ahead to interview the most famous man in Cuba, which is none other than Fidel Castro himself. He shows how he managed to interview him multiple times, inspite of being an American. He was the only journalist who was allowed to accompany Fidel during his visit to New York for the United Nations speech which Fidel was scheduled to give. The movie shows the lighter and humorous side of Fidel, who enjoyed smoking famous Cuban cigars, and happily answered all the questions asked by Jon.

Cuba and the Cameramen
Jon interviewing Fidel

The most interesting part of the documentary is its informal interaction with the Cubans. Unlike other documentaries, which usually has some underlying message or theme for a particular cause, I find this movie to be purely an interaction of an American with the Cubans. It has no political intentions, neither does it try to relate the adversity of Cuba to socialism or advocating America’s capitalism. The movie shows Jon visiting the same people for almost 40 years. It starts from the mid 1970’s till 2016. During this time, Cuba underwent a number of transformations, including being a successful socialist country in mid 1970’s ( though heavily subsidized by Soviet Union) to a struggling economy in early 1990’s when Soviet Union fell apart and Cuba got severely affected, which led to mass shortage of goods. Then the movie shows again the revival of good times for Cuba in the late 2000’s and 2010’s decade, when Cuba started attracting tourists from all over the world to revitalize its economy.

The best part I liked in the movie is when Jon interacts with the Borrego brothers. I simply love the way those three brothers lived their life. They were simple, poor farmers, who toiled hard throughout the day, yet never complained of the troubles, or hardships they faced. They did not have any tractors, or electricity yet managed to carry on their work diligently. Things changed in Cuba to a large extent, but the life of these three brothers did not change much. They never complained even when things got worse in Cuba. They truely believed in the socialist idea, and hence volunteered for the country without any pay or perks. When Jon asked, “What’s the secret to your happiness, Cristobal?” He replied, “We’re always working and walking, exercising. That’s the secret to being healthy and strong”.When Jon met them, the brothers were very old. Yet Cristobal who was 80 years old could beat in an arm wrestle against Jon, who was 40 years old at that time!

Jon Alpert Talks 'Cuba and the Cameraman': "In terms of romantic heroism,  Fidel and his story are pretty astonishing!" | HuffPost

Jon Alpert with the Borrego brothers Huff Post

What I learnt from this documentary and Cubans, is that life is not easy at all. but also life is always changing. Good and bad times are a part of life. As taught to me in the Art of Living course, Opposite values are complementary to each other. Cubans saw some of the worst days in the 1990’s but today, we see they are a booming economy. Even though the economy busted or boomed, leaders like Fidel came and went, but what never changed for people like Borrego brothers is the happiness, or satisfaction about life. They never got depressed or even commit suicide, but they faced the adversity with a smile on their face. Afterall, this is what life is all about!

And finally, I appreciate Jon’s tireless efforts to travel to Cuba for over 40 years, and keep track of the people he met to understand about their life and their problems. I liked his generosity to give an electrolarynx to Cristobal who had lost his voice later. I wish I could make an impact on someone’s life. After all, life is all about caring for others, to build relationships, and this movie indeed has a touch of humanity, benevolence and simplicity.