Diwali and home

I’ve always carried the whole angst of me not belonging anywhere with a certain pride to it. Everyone I’ve met have been somewhat victimised by the way I’ve always introduced myself, stating ‘I belong nowhere’ with this enormous childish confidence (even though I sound like a complete lunatic doing that). And yet, despite the confidence, my voice seems to crack every single time I say it.

In the past 10 years I’ve lived across 7 different cities, each of them bringing with themselves a unique culture and immense diversity. I am an accumulation of all of these cultures and perhaps more, so much that my unique identity is almost nothing.

I’ve longed for home. God, I guess almost everyone who know me better seem highly aware of the fact. And this sense of alienation tends to be exponential on festive holidays. When people tend to light up their houses and sit on their front porch sipping tea with their loved ones, feeling all nice and comfortable and like they fucking belong there, in that place, at that time (those assholes)

But this year I shifted to a new location where I think I’m going to be for a while. (I guess) After much deliberation, I’ve finally found an apartment (that I’m kind of, sort of overspending on). And to everybody who’s been asking how my new place is, I simply say, with the same childish confidence, “It’s like a dream”.

Which it is, in so many ways. It has a verandah that opens up to the mountains, it’s got a locality full of lovely people. Our neighbours have the most adorable daughter who always tends to play with tummy everytime I pass their place.

And today me and roomie celebrate our first diwali here. We didn’t do much. We just lighted up the place a bit, made tea and sat in our verandah in the evening, letting the breeze do its nothing.

Maybe the people I saw indulge in their own festive celebrations back then probably didn’t do much either, but atleast now I tend to know what it feels like to be one of them.

Now I tend to know what it feels like, to have a home.

Happy Diwali everyone. Wherever you all are, in whichever corner of the world, I hope this festive season you tend to be at home.

Peace and love,

S 🙂

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Ice-creams

As clichéd as it may sound, but I feel in retrospect, if we really look back at all the moments in our life, if we lay them out and spread them flat like feathered patterns on an astonishingly long wallpaper and go through them, one by one, shifting back and forth like a Time traveler in a vestibule, I feel it’s never the moments that had a major impact on the rest of our lives that we remember the most, right?

In the last 8 years, I’ve lived in 4 different cities, came across 5 different languages, and have a bagful of experiences and memories from all of them. I’m 22 and I’ve ended up here, an almost graduate from an Engineering college whose ready to enter the corporate world to slug it out in the rat race just like everybody else, but now that I look back, I don’t remember in much vivid details any of those experiences that led me here in the first place. I don’t remember what it felt like when I gave my engineering entrance exams, I don’t remember in great details how I decided to join the college that I’m now a part of. It just happened. I don’t remember the intricacies or how I felt in those moments. Maybe it was joy, maybe relief with a tinge of sadness. But I’m only guessing here. I can’t relive the same moment even if I wanted to.

Even during my boarding schooldays, I can’t remember in all the clarity the moments that had probably meant the world to me during that time. I don’t remember what it felt like the first time I gave my board exams or the first time I had a major fight with my best friends and we didn’t talk for a month. A month of no interaction with my best friends in a boarding school, and I don’t remember what the reason for the fight was. Maybe it was a girl, I don’t know.

What I do remember, what I still smile at reminiscing every single time, is this one single instance that has etched so finely in my memory, that I couldn’t help but lay it on the table over and over, during bittersweet conversations over a cup of coffee. It was this night when I was in a boarding school in Dehradun and the mess was supposed to serve ice creams for dessert. Naturally, we longed for this meal the entire week. It was Thursdays, (I still remember that see?) and on this one particular night, during dinnertime in the mess, my three other musketeers and I (I know there were only three, but it’s my blog and I can do- okay I’ll shut up now ) had managed to create such a ruckus, laughing our hearts out over some stupid shit that we did the same day, being young and wild and free, that the mess coordinator refused to serve us ice creams for dessert.

I remember clearly the four of us being furious and agitated, storming back to our dormitories (which were right above the mess by the way), cussing and slandering the mess coordinator the entire time. I remember all of us drooling over the taste of the strawberry cup ice cream that couldn’t be ours, the one that got away, and the rest of dormitory assholes mocking us about the same, doing the pretend “WHATTAN ICE CREAM BRO!” *slurp slurp* the whole time. And I remember, at around 2 in the middle of the night, when the entire hostel lay asleep, one of us coming up with this bizzaro idea of breaking into the kitchen (that was just downstairs the boys dormitory) and stealing back what was rightfully ours in entitlement, the cups of ice-cream in the fridge, the ones that got away. And as the crazy fucks that we were, I remember all of us agreeing in unison, like a mob being incited by a union leader. And like a ‘Mission Impossible’ heist sequence, I remember all of us intricately designing the master plan to break into the mess kitchen to take back from the enemies what was ours in the first place, the cups of ice cream, the ones that got away. 

One of us would stand guard outside the warden’s room and would signal if there were much noise or if the other dorm assholes (yes that is what we used to call them) had come out of their rooms in the middle of the night to pee or have a drink from the water cooler. Another guy would stand guard just below the stairs so he could effectively communicate the signal from the first guy to the rest of us and the other two, one of them being me, would break into the kitchen and steal the leftover cups of ice cream, the ones that got away, from the gigantic fridge there.

The kitchen gate was a double door with a knob that was locked in the middle and one of the senior boys had told us that if you kick real hard at the exact center of the double door, it would slam open along with the knob. The only catch here was, it would make a fuckload of noise that could easily wake the rest of the hostel up, but that was a risk we were willing to take (because, you know, crazy) and hence there were the boys that stood guard.

And I remember everything falling in the right place, me kicking open the double door and it, fortunately, not making a lot of noise; us tiptoeing in the kitchen towards the Goliath of a fridge that stood before us and opening it up to find, lo and behold, three completely seal packed cartons of cups of strawberry ice cream, the ones that got away . This moment is so beautifully forged in my memory. We were like explorers who had wandered under the ocean to search for a mermaid, and in the journey to our fortune had been struck upon the entire city of Atlantis. I stared at the cartons, then to my friend, who stared back at me and the two  us again stared back at the cartons of ice cream in front of us, sharing the same words in our mind that were left unsaid in that moment. And we looked back at each other and nodded in agreement. We picked up an entire carton of ice cream and agreed upon leaving the rest so as to dodge the doubt in the minds of the kitchen staff the next day that a burglary might’ve taken place. We then shut the kitchen door and tiptoed back to our rooms. I still get goosebumps reminiscing the same emotions we felt in that moment, emotions of excitement and relief and a sense of adventure. We felt like professional criminals at the end of an Oceans 11 heist who would now share the spoils among themselves.

The problem here, and I remember it as dauntingly as possible, was that the carton had 20 pieces of strawberry ice cream cups. We were 4 people. Each gets a share of 5 cups (yay to my JEE mathematics proficiency). It was around 2 in the middle of the night and the loot had to be consumed in the night itself (because, you know, ice cream). We cannot wake other dorm assholes up in the middle of the night to have ice creams (because, you know, stupid). And we dare not waste it or throw it away (because, you know, hostelites).

So we did what seemed the most logically comprehendible thing at that moment. We each grabbed a spoon and we indulged on an even greater mission, which was to have 5 cups of ice-cream in one go. And I remember, in the most excruciating of details, that after 3 cups, the loot seemed less of a victory spoil and more of a punishment. It was one of those moments where the atheist in me believed in something called the concept of ‘divine justice.’ I remember, and relive, the feeling each of us had when we finished the last cup which was an intoxicating mix of guilt, sore throat and brain-freeze. I remember the bunch of us snorting and coughing the entire time and going to bed raising those bleak promises of “never again” (how naive of us). So cloyed with ice creams had the bunch of us become in that moment, that I remember the next Thursday, when the same dessert was served, we ended up giving our share away to the dorm assholes *sigh*.

I remember all of this in such trivial details as if it were yesterday, and yet what I find to be the most bewildering of things is that, this was perhaps the most insignificant of moments, that would have had no impact whatsoever on the life I’ve led henceforth. I’m not a burglar (I guess), I haven’t even shoplifted thereafter, nor am I sick of ice creams anymore (although mint ice-creams do make me barf a bit but that is beside the point), and yet somehow this remains to be one of the most finely etched footprint in the relics of my mind. I stumble upon it ever so often. During conversations over a cup of tea, on lazy Sunday afternoons, on long drives and on insomniac nights. And yet, not one of these occasions could ever help me remember vividly the details of the moments I thought to be truly significant.

And this is what I learnt, that it’s never those large, significant moments that we truly remember. What we remember, what always stays with us, are those tiny details, those little moments of idiosyncrasies that only we know about- that friend whose laugh was like the yodel of a mountaineer, that girl whose eyes crinkled every time she smiled, the essence of hugging your loved one as it were the very last time and none of you would refuse to let go- this, all of this, remains, right? We set such high priorities for moments in our lives that we probably aren’t going to remember 10 years from now. And as important as these events are, as important as it is to score and good grades in your midterms or to get into a good MBA college, they are but stick doodles on the sand at a beach. So often are we enticed by the pot of gold at the end of rainbow that somehow we refuse to look at how beautiful the colours really are. So why not live in moments that make memories? Why not cherish the trivialities? The chai-time gupshup, the friend who rotates a flick of her hair on her finger, the laughing and remembering and the laughing and forgetting. That is the recipe, the good stuff memories are made up of.

I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I’ll look back 10-15 years and go “I once nailed a so and so exam and got such and such salary package”. What I’ll always remember and relive, over and over until I get goosebumps on my arms, is the time I and a bunch of hooligans who meant the world to me, broke into a kitchen in the middle of the night to find 4 or 5 insignificant cups of ice-cream, and ended up stealing a carton full of happiness.

Birds

Once upon a time, in the wide expanse of an everyday metropolitan city, lived a flock of sparrows. The Passer domesticus sparrow of house Passeridae, weighing an approximate of 24-40 grams and stretching at a length of 16 centimeters in measure, had a bright creamy-white belly and chestnut brown wings with a black and gray beak. They communicate via short and incessant chirping calls and feed strictly on a diet of grains, weed, insects and anything else they could lay their hands on. (Claws, I meant claws.) They resided in this highly populated Mediterranean city and developed a healthy fruitful relationship with it’s main inhabitants, the homo sapiens, which was majorly dependant upon the latter who laid down food and water by their balconies for the birds to feed on and the former who, well, chirped.

The flock  of sparrows of this city prided themselves on their ability to remain unified, disciplined and co-ordinated, especially during their everyday morning ritual of hovering above the city in search of food, water and also, well, recreation. At the break of dawn, the birds arranged themselves in a co-ordinated shape of an arrow, that diverged from the very front, each row then containing the amount of birds increasing in an arithmetic progression of 1-3-5-7 and so on and so forth towards the very end. They would then take off  and hover the wide open skies of the city, while constantly maintaining the same arrangement throughout the entirety of their flight.

The flight schedule was a strict, no-tolerance-whatsoever, routine that consisted of the flock taking off from base camp at sharp 0600 hours, hovering towards the Northern direction for a total of 1 hour, then finding a specific location for breakfast; breakfast mostly consisting of a nutritious diet of grains dispersed on the ground by morning joggers,the birds took into account the specific calorie count in order to maintain their BMI;  taking off again at 0715 hours, flying further North; stopping for rest and lunch at 1200 hours, this time the location being an amusement park in the middle of the city; feeding on a nutritious meal of worms under the ground, selectively choosing low calorie, dietary worms; taking off again at 1300 hours, this time the direction being South towards base camp of the flock; stopping at 1600 hours in a field for an evening snack of grass weeds  and worms (again, calorie count to be kept in mind as specified by the flock dietitian) while also storing the same for the little fledglings that rest at base camp; at 1630 hours they leave the field for base camp, flying towards the South, reaching base camp at 1900 hours sharp. All of this, while maintaining the constant arrow shaped co-ordinated arrangement the whole time.

Their Supreme Commander sparrow led the flock from the very front and also maintained a very tight ship under his regime. A 17 bird year old sparrow, he was a stern, cold fellow who always spoke in a rhyming rhetoric such as “Unification of body, unification of mind; Or else you shall be left behind” or “In all winds and in all weather; birds of a feather, flock together;” In a recent interview, when questioned about the rather strict, authoritarian conditions he kept the flock in, he replied, “We, at the Passiridae family, consider every member to be tiny pieces of puzzles that fit in as a whole. This requires every part to be properly and adequately shaped and polished. A bad egg, literally in our case, could spoil the entire flock.”

Each bird, since the very beginning of his/her time in the regiment, had been specially trained to maintain this co-ordinated arrangement of flight. This required them to be collectively conscious of the velocity of all the other birds, to flap their wings at the same time all the other birds did, thus maintaining negligible acceleration and a constant flight velocity. This also required them to be aware of the ever dynamic turbulence of the wind that they had to face everyday during their flight and had to make a collective assessment of all the external forces they would face during the flight in their mind in order to maintain the constant arrangement of the entire flock.

Which basically meant if one single bird was out of place in his/her assessment, it would disrupt the entire flock. So throughout their entire lives the birds had to maintain the same physical and mental structure like everyone else. Which required them to maintain a constant BMI (Body-Mass Index) of 1.3 (which the ASAP (Authorized Sparrow Association of Passiridae) had standardized). They were also taught the same aviation courses in schools and were required to maintain a constant velocity of 46 km/hr (Also standardized by the ASAP). They had the same body structure, the same appearance and the same way of thinking. They were all the same.

All of them, except one.

Weighing at a whooping 30 grams and a mere 8 centimeters inside its egg, the sparrow doctor had predicted that the bird may not make it, but despite all odds and its tremendously high BMI, our sparrow survived and hatched beautifully and was thus named by Mama and Papa sparrow as ‘Hope’.

Although, since then the tiny, wholesome sparrow has had a tough time being a part of the regiment. It has always been difficult for Hope to maintain a BMI of 1.14. Even at the pinnacle of her growth, she was only 5 inches long while weighing roughly 45 pounds making her  BMI reach upto 2 in the overweight category. And while the other birds burnt the midnight oil at the bird gymnasium, our Hope loved to stroll around the base camp, laying down in the grass and watching the multitudes of stars and constellations in the nightsky above her. While the other birds fed on dietary regulations of grains as suggested by the dietitian, Hope ate to her heart’s content (and sometimes even more). While the other birds studied the same route of the Northern direction as specified in the syllabus at the bird school over and over, little Hope went beyond the constraints of the syllabus. She spent most of her time in the library, in the forbidden section, picking out  books about the Eastern and Western directions, while also studying accounts and travelogues of birds who’ve been to other cities.

Also, needless to say the flight schedules were a major (pardon my French) pain-in-the-tail. Hope could never keep up and was thus always kept at the very corner of the arrow. While the others flew around with ease and comfort, their wings flapping with the same co-ordiantion, up-down-up, up-down-up, monotonously, Hope, somehow, always managed to screw up the timing. While the others managed to maintain the constant velocity, the arrangement of the arrow completely intact, Hope struggled to carry her body around with the same speed as everyone else, always being left behind, accelerating and decelerating the whole time.

Anger was an underestimation of the emotion the Supreme Commander felt towards Hope. He was infuriated, maddened, dripping with rage at the very sight of her. “In 7 long sparrow years that I have served; I swear I have never seen a more rotten bird”, he once said to Hope.  And consequently, Hope was bullied, punished and given all the stored food load while returning to the base camp.

Social life was no cakewalk either. Teased and picked upon by the other birds for being overweight, Hope spent most of the time by herself, reading stories and travel diaries of other birds.

She dreamt of becoming a traveler bird herself, migrating all the time, flying off to distant, new skies, meeting new birds, who chirped in new languages, learning about their culture and the lifestyle of their species, and watch the world she hasn’t explored before enfold below her. She wondered if there lay more cities than the one she lived in. During the monotonous flight routines, she would envy the humans below her, free, unconstrained, without any regiment or Supreme Commander or co-ordination to be maintained, they could roam about wherever they wanted to. No boundaries, no restrictions. (Little did she knew though..anyways that’s a different story).

Days turned into weeks turned into months. Hope would wake up everyday at 0500 hours, take a bath, brush her wings and take off with the flock at 0600 hours. Then fly the daily routine, struggling to keep up with the flock throughout the whole flight and come back at 1900 hours back to base camp.

Everyday. All day. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over-

Until one Summer evening…

…as the flock was flying South to the base camp after Snacks, at roughly 1800 hours, everything was going as usual. The flock flew at a uniform speed of 46 km/hr in their precisely co-ordinated shape of an arrow in an increasing arithmetic progression of 1-3-5-7 and so on. The Supreme Commander led from the front hurling his regular phrases at the flock of “Northwards and Southwards we shall fly; In any other direction we shall die” and “If you are to serve as a proud sparrow; check your row and column and always maintain the arrow” and the new one “The shape of the arrow if you are unable to maintain; Hope, I swear, you are going to live in a world of pain.”

And all this while Hope, flew in the last row, at the very corner of the arrow strugging to maintain her pace with the others, flapping and piercing through the turbulent winds that lashed her back over and over and over…until she finally did something that noone in the history of the Passer domesticus specie had ever done before.

She shouted at the top of her lungs so loudly that everybody in rows ahead of her, including the Supreme Commander, could hear her, “No more shall I live like any other sparrow; Fuck you Supreme Commander, and fuck your arrow!” And saying this, she broke away from the flock.

She flew Westwards, as fast as her wings could carry her. All the while she could hear the distant shouting of the flock behind her, but she couldn’t make out what they were trying to say. She didn’t want to anyways. She could see the skies above her. Orange and soft, just the way she liked it. She could feel the summer breeze and for the first time in her life she did not feel the urgency to try and overcome it. Rather she let it lash her back a little, let it slow her down, let it ruffle her feathers and tingle her wings. No more constant velocity to maintain. No more arrow to co-ordinate. She could see the wide expanse of the metropolitan city passing by, it’s place now taken by a lush, green countryside. She could see the sun setting at a distance in the horizon. Softly, slowly. Never before had she looked at it directly in the eyes.

Never before had she wondered what journey lay ahead.

 

 

 

 

The colour blue..

Essay topic: India of my dreams

 

As a kid, I used to be deeply perplexed by this one lingering question in my mind, that later on in my life I could perhaps put into better words. The question went something like this- “What do you think if the colour blue, is the same to me as it is to you?” Now taken out of context, this question seems totally unrelated to the topic at hand here, much like perhaps all childhood queries, that remained, for the most part, still queries but let me assure you it bears as much significance to the topic at hand as ‘oxygen does for survival’ or ‘sunlight does for the flower to bloom’ or some other cliche that may fit here.

 

Yet again, I dig up the childhood inquisitive query again and pose this question in front of you- “What do you think if the colour blue, is the same to me as it is to you?” Is the definition of what I see blue, what I justify as blue in my mind, a slightly darker shade of a colour that signifies to me the sky (in it’s lighter shade), the river (in my scenery), the colour of loneliness and the colour of jeans, the same to you? Or is it perhaps, in your perspective, how yellow would seem to me? Because if that is the case, I think this would create a rather awkward situation for both of us. To walk around in pair of yellow jeans (Giorgio Armani would be turning in his grave right now), to imagine a yellow sky and to drink…No. No. Maybe we should not go there for now.

 

In the whole absurd discussion that took place above, there was a word ‘perspective’ that was lodged in somewhere, that is the one word that is going to bring us back on track from this rather distraught discussion. What does the word ‘perspective’ mean to you? Perhaps you may have a different perspective to the definition of ‘perspective’ from the one I have. In my opinion, the word perspective is a point of view of looking at something. It characterises all the different emotions you may be invigorated with when you look at different things. For eg., to you the perspective of looking at a dog would be one filled with adoration whereas for per say a friend of yours who has been bit by one in the past, his/her perspective of looking at a dog may be filled with horror and disgust.

 

Now what really would happen in the above context is that, even though you may seem to disagree with the perspective of your friend, even though you may feel perplexed by even the idea as to how someone as adorable and as harmless as a dog may seem horrific to someone, you still respect the point of view of your friend and would continue to remain friends with him. You have a ‘tolerance’ for his opinions and his comments and you let him have his say despite disagreeing with him. This makes us come across a new word, i.e., ‘tolerance’.

 

Now speaking in terms of India , recently when Shah Rukh Khan was asked the question ‘Is India a tolerant country?’, he went to disagree with it, stating India and Indians are ‘very intolerant’ and that this is something that we should change about ourselves. We showed him our capacity for tolerance by disagreeing with his opinions and perspective of things, hurling abuses at him and also commenting statements like “He should go back to Pakistan!” Now two things are discomforting in this scenario- a). Why should Shah Rukh Khan go ‘back’ to Pakistan? He was born and brought up in India. And b). When Shah Rukh said that we as a country are ‘intolerant’, the definition of the word means that we do not have respect for people’s views and opinions. Now when we hurl abuses at him for saying that, asserting the fact that, “He is wrong. We are tolerant.”, we are basically proving what he was trying to say in the first place.

 

When speaking about intolerance in the country right now, it becomes a mandatory obligation to speak about the recent JNU incident. To be on the same page here, the facts of the incident state that certain “anti-nationalist” comments were said in a crowd full of people by certain students of JNU, some of which uphold Afzal Guru as a ‘national hero’ and a ‘martyr’. They were charged on the grounds of sedition for this and convicted by the police. This, in turn, became an issue of political propaganda that generally all issues in India tend to become. What it did not become, what it should have become, is an issue of civil liberty and an issue of rights and freedom of expression and something that makes 69 years of independence futile. This poses yet another question in front of us ‘On what grounds could you really judge a person to be anti-national? Simply by his views and comments? Isn’t the court of law based on evidences and reaction to an action that has already taken place?’ and perhaps the greatest question of them all ‘Are we as a country tolerant for people’s views and opinions?’

 

Now I do not say I agree with whatever that was stated by the JNU students. To hail Afzal Guru, a terrorist who claimed the lives of innocents to be hailed as a ‘national hero’ is ridiculous and repelling to even think of. They are wrong and they are stupid, but they have every right to be wrong and stupid. This could be reasoned in this way, if you forbid expressing, you forbid thoughts. If you forbid thoughts, you forbid ideas. If you forbid ideas, you may tend to forbid the ridiculous ideas but in that process you end up forbidding the brilliant ones as well.

 

This is what being tolerant as a country gives us, the ability to respect ideas and opinions of different factions despite disagreeing with them. To respect ‘perspectives’ of one and all individuals and to live in mutual harmony. Because god knows, major amount of problems that have risen in the country have been the grounds of intolerance. Riots among religious groups, Hindu-Muslim angst, war with Pakistan, criminalising of Section 377 and stating homosexuality as a crime, all of these have their roots grounded in intolerance among the masses.

 

And this is such beautiful country that we live in that intolerance is a dark mark upon. We’re a country of stories and myths and mythologies and mountains and countless rivers. We’re a country of Gandhi, Buddha, Bhagat Singh and so many more. Do not  subject it to something so disdainful as intolerance. Do not take the one thing from us that all the countless martyrs had laid their lives for- our independence.

 

In the end, I dream of a country where people respect and uphold each other’s opinions. I dream of a country where all factions live in mutual harmony. I dream of a country where war is a myth. I dream of a country where people respect the fact that ‘what is blue to me’ may not be ‘what it is to them’.

 

And so I lay this adult query in front of you- “Can you respect the fact that for me what is blue, is not the same as what it is to you?”

Dolls

The tiny, little autonomous M5’UKR’6 was one of the many minibots made by AIGen Corporations in the year 2135.

Fully pre-customized, ‘MINiature roBOTS’ categorized under the production title of ‘The Help’, were intricately designed to serve as domestic recreational machines to individuals of age 4-12. Simply put, they were a rich kid’s play doll.

These bots picked sale by the year 2137 and were in the hands of any and every upper-middle class family kid that lived in Metropolis during that time. But despite showing peak sales for 2 whole years, these bots were officially shut from production by the year 2140 due to significant drop in sales that the production cost could not cover.

The sole reason for this being, although a minibot could serve as an entertaining, recreational commodity to a kid, serving as a catching partner in Softball, as a music player reciting his/her favorite poems, lulling him/her off to sleep at night, etc., etc. it was, in the end, still a robot, incapable of showing human emotions that a child could reciprocate to. For eg., it could detect a child was either in pain or sadness when he cried, but could not distinguish between the two. And thus it could not tend to a child’s emotional needs, which in the case of toddlers, is rather undecipherable, even to a lot of human minds.

This would lead to toddlers crying incessantly when they were in emotional distress, and the minibots, unable to determine the cause of their wailing, would keep on feeding them their chew toys and nipples and patting them on their backs as the robots went about going hysterical, their systems overheating, due to the non-completion of a single task loop at their hands.

And despite almost all the units being either sold out or called back at the production facilities by end of the year 2140, the little M5’UKR’6 still gathered dust at the window pane of a lone toy shop in the town of Futurama, Metropolis. Kids of all ages visited the shop almost everyday, buying mini laser guns and hover-scooters, but nobody ever laid an eye upon the lonesome tiny robot that sat by the window pane in a corner, gathering rust.

And then one day, a tiny, little girl, with blue eyes and apple cheeks, wearing a pale-brown ragged leftover skirt, stood outside the window eyeing the little robot, beaming at the old, rusty toy, as her palms rested upon the glass of the window. After a while, she saw the price tag that lay beside the bot, then stared at her scarred, tiny feet that had no shoes on them and kept staring at them, dejected, broken, for what seemed like an eternity.

And our tiny, little ‘M5’UKR’6’ minibot, one the last few robots under the category of ‘The Help’, that were rejected solely on the basis of their utter lack of emotional capability, shed a drop of motor oil from his eye, when he saw the little girl, with apple cheeks and no shoes, leave the window pane. Her eyes still staring at the ground below her….

I smell a rat: Part 2

(Hello to all the three people reading this. If any of you may be a follower of my random fictional scribblings (seriously guys get a job), you might remember a story which was the predecessor to this, that came ages back. I promised to you to provide the further parts in the minimum amount of time. Well, here I am, in the nick of time as usual. In case you haven’t read the first part, or have forgotten about it, here’s a link to it I smell a rat: Part 1. And I promise to provide all the millions of my readers out there quicker follow ups, more blogs and electricity in every household. And honestly guys, if you’re still reading this, go get a job or get laid or something. Well go on. Stop reading. All the three of you. Stop!) 

Fictown had been bleeding.

It was evident. Perhaps the most evident reality even it’s own residents had accepted. The previously jovial town had gradually succumbed to the misery of it’s own creation.

There were some rather miserable, ungodly individuals of the society, the pioneers of it’s very destruction. Individuals that had indulged themselves into smuggling of toxic hallucinogens into the town. A severely harmful drug called ‘cliché’ had made it’s way through a few dealers in the ghettos. A rather popular, more harmful drug called ‘half baked character writing’ had it’s way of streaming through the town’s characters, making them perform the most unexpected, beside-their-tendency tasks which befuddled the readers…residents, I meant residents, around them. Then there’s the deadliest of them all, ’emotionally manipulative’ now flowing through several of the distracted characters. It’s effects allows a character to perform the most hideous of writing crimes- plagiarism, repetitive storytelling, unsatisfying climaxes, but would still allow the readers..residents. Residents. (I’ve got to stop doing that.) Still allow the residents to accept these crimes, thereby even making them passive victims of the drug

Fictown was dying. Fiction, it’s very own set of Constitution, was dying.

There were some anti-dotes, ‘literary criticism’ and ‘stop ripping other authors off’ to name a few, though none of them were welcomed by the characters who enjoyed dwelling in their misery and who rather take pleasure in these vices. Perhaps somebody needs to show them better. Perhaps somebody needs to clean up the city. But for now, our only hope is an idiosyncratic detective wearing a deerstalker cap who prefers to drink soy-sauce as a choice of appetizer.

The Mayor, Mr Mayor, wasn’t the cleanest of folks in Fictown either. He was accused of crimes like ‘A Generic name’ and ‘No backstory’, but that is beside the point. When Holmes and I reached his office, his secretary was initially a bit reluctant to let us in.

Until Holmes went…”That’s a really pretty necklace! Does your husband know you’ve been cheating? Your ring is a little looser to your finger then it used to be, revealing the portion not sun darkened. Your hair at the back of your neck are much more curved then the ones in front of it. Nautica pour homme, not much of a feminine scent I must say. Then there’s your neckline…”

Typical Holmes.

As we entered the office of the mayor, Mr. Mayor, so exasperated was the narcissistic detective that even before the mayor went “Who let you in?” or ” Are you accusing me?” or “I’ll have you written off!”, Sherlock went full, well, ‘Sherlock’ on him.

“Save the speech blondie! There are lives of hundreds of kids at stake here. I do not have time for casual greetings”, said the detective. “We know you eradicated the town of the rats during the time of the plague and the kids have disappeared in the same fashion. So you either get straight to the point about your connect with the two events or perhaps you’d like the ‘L.I.B.R.A.R.Y’  to know about the ‘Book fund’ tax fraud you’ve committing for the last three years.’

“How did you-”

“Oh do I have to do this every time? The L.I.B.R.A.R.Y releases a fund of 5000 @ (literary currency)  every year for the development of characters and plot sceneries. The mayor has a stipend of 300 @ a year. The recent development of sceneries and character welfare, evidently, in the town, look nowhere close to that. The ‘Jane Austen’ monument recently constructed, although looks and feels Alabaster, which was probably the budget for it, but Plaster of Paris? Are you even serious that would work? Then, well, there’s the necklace, an exquisitely placed 8 karat diamond, under soft, white gold. Excellent choice! But to spend that much on a secretary? Have you not read about Bill Clinton?  Perhaps you do not read reality! Oh well, do you want me to go on about your recent vacation in ‘Neverland’?”

Oh Sherlock! Don’t you just love his antics! Especially when you aren’t on the other side of the sword. ONLY when you’re not on the other side of the sword.

Like all the other victims who had had their moral high-ground perished at the hands of the maniacal detective, the mayor had an expression that was somewhere between “How dare he talk to me like that?” and “I just shat my pants a little bit.” After a few minutes of awkward silence which the Mayor spent contemplating over his entire life in a flashback, Holmes spent helping himself with the Bourbon whisky kept at the mayor’s mini bar and I spent being thoroughly amused by the awkwardness of scenario, guilt, fear and shame dawned upon the Mayor.

“Yes, I admit. Something had to be done. And it had to be done quick. The city was dying of plague. Those stinking rodents were all over the town. He seemed like the only choice at that time. We were helpless.”

“He being?”, I asked.

“This man”, said the mayor. “He…uh.. He came over to the office once. Irish lad.  Wore a green hat with a feather attached to it and a long green cape that dusted the floor along with it wherever it went. Carried a pipe in his hand. Said he could drive the rats away with it . We laughed him off at first. Thought of it as some voodoo crap. But the man looked real darn serious about it.”

“Did he give you a name?”, I asked.

“They called him The Pied Piper. That’s all we know. Didn’t belong to the town. We thought “Well, what harm could it do?” and asked him to give it a shot anyways. He said the fee would be  500 @. We said it was bollocks. But he stood firm. Not a @ less. Said something like “If you’re good at something never do it for free” or some crap. Wonder where he learnt that from?”

“And you agreed?”

“Well what else could we do? Just the other day, and old couple couple who lived down the street complained a rat gnawed off their son ‘The Gingerbread man’. Characters were getting sick day by day. That egghead Humpty Dumpty sneezed so hard, the buffoon fell over the wall and cracked his focking skull open. So we agreed. Never really believed him anyway. Until the next day, the nasty little bugger comes all early in the morning, play his pipe as he went about the town and what do you know? Million of stinking squeakers come running out their bills all at once, following the man as if they had been-”

“Hypnotized!”, snapped Holmes.

“Yes, hypnotized. The piper took them with him some place out of the town and they followed him like a conductor in a marching band. And we’ve never heard from those rodents yet.”

“And he came for his reward to you and what do you do?”, said Holmes. “You refuse to keep your word.”

“Well the budget’s been tight.”

“Evidently” said Holmes as he stuck the tip of his umbrella over the Mayor’s belly.

“Evidently. He said “I’ll have my revenge!” “You’ll pay for this!” “Fictown will pay for this!” But we laughed him off. Sent him away. We underestimated him. And now our children! Oh dear god! Our children! Our very own children!”, said the Mayor as he broke into tears.

“Do you have any idea where the man might be now?’, I asked handing a handkerchief from my pocket to the mayor.

“No!”, he blew into the napkin. “No he doesn’t live in the town. We sent the King’s men to search the nearby locales. There is no sign of him.”

“Didn’t anybody notice him while he took the rats out of the town?”, I asked.

“No he was pretty discreet about it. Took the sewers. But the pipe’s open up in hundred’s of locations. There’s no way of finding where he could’ve exited.”

“Well I guess that’ll be it ” said Holmes as took a swig of the bourbon straight from the bottle.

“Are you going to go to the press with this? You seem new in town. Who are you people anyways?”, asked the Mayor.

“Oh please allow me to introduce us! My name is Sherlock Holmes and this here is my friend and colleague Dr. John Watson” Homes shook the Mayor’s hand, looked into his eyes and whispered. “And I’m your worst nightmare.”

He went out of the door, carrying the bottle of Bourbon with him.

“Not missing Baker Street are you now Doctor?”, he asked as I followed him out of the door.

“How do you propose we proceed further now?”

“Well the Mayor said the rats were taken out through the underground sewer pipes. We need to question somebody who has spent his entire life living in the pipes. Somebody who knows all it’s entrances and its exits at the back of his hand. Somebody who has had his hands dirty in the underworld below for he wanted to save somebody he loved dearly.”

“You do not propose we go and meet the Italian, do you?”

“Yes, dear Watson”, said Holmes. “We’re going to have a little chat with Mario.”

Movie recommendation: Frances Ha

  

“Tell me the story about us”, demands a bored and weary Frances, somehow feeling the statement might rejuvenate her faith in life and the times to come. 

“Again?”, asks an exasperated Sofia, but then with the grim seriousness of a storyteller, folds her hand and sits upright, just because she loved doing this every goddamn time, and says, “Okay Frances,

“We’re going to take over the  world some day…”

“Frances is childish”, “Frances is immature”, “Frances is a dreamer”, “Frances is a loudmouth”, “Frances needs to get her shit together”, “Frances is awkward”, “Frances needs to grow up”, “Frances is disoriented”, “Frances is directionless”, “Frances is ‘undateable'”

“I fell in love with Frances….”

First world misery looks best in black and white.

A weird decision by the director, Noah Baumbach, to depict a coming-of-age (well, not exactly), lively and heartening film based in the colourful city of New York (literally and metaphorically) in grim shades of Black and white. At times the B&W does give it a hint of cynicism, even in the most liveliest of situations, but on the plus side, what it really does is make you feel a sore heartache in even the most recurring and common miseries of  films and story-telling. The first-world problems.

When looked from a greater perspective, a perspective that all intellectuals would visualise the world around them in, all our first world problems seem so superficial. You’ve got trouble at your job, relationship is sore, grades don’t work out well, friendships have broken. All of these problems, are only but problems. They’re not  situations. “Oh you and your dad don’t get along? Such a serious issue. The starving kids of Africa might be devastated to hear that!”

But what if all your first world miseries bundle up to such an extent in front of you, that it may feel as if the whole universe is conspiring against you? And even though our problems are only but petty, pretentious whinings against bigger issues like world hunger or women empowerment, they too are, in the end, our own. And like everything else which is our own, we feel for it and would consider it as a priority. And this is something that relates to everybody around us,  which is what books like ‘Catcher in the rye’ show us, that our individual feelings of alienation, of misery, of loneliness, are some things that are universal.

And the thing is, we, like all individuals against the forces of nature, bend against it. We let go of our dreams and accept the grim reality of the situation. People term this phase as growing up. Becoming mature. But what about the people who refuse to let go of their dreams? People who refuse to accept the reality of the situation and are still those starry eyed dreamers who believe that somehow everything would work itself out in the end and that ‘This too shall pass…”

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Meet Frances (Greta Gerwig), the 27 year old girl (not so much of a grown up) who lives with her college ‘bestie’/ sistuh from another mistuh, Sofie (Mickey Sumner). What does she do for a living you ask? Well, Frances dances. Is she really good at that? Umm.. well she’s strictly average. I mean she does work as an apprentice here and there and would do random gigs thrown her way, like teaching kids and stuff, but I think that counts. Is it a good paying job? Yeah, right! She’s an artist in New York. What do you expect?   So does she plan to get married then? No sir whatsoever! Well what does she want to do then?

Frances, well, just wants to live in the moment. She believes in a good life. A life where dreams do come true. Where she’d probably move to Paris with Sofie and she’d be a professional dancer there. Where they’ll have lovers and a studio apartment and no kids and a friendship that would last for a lifetime.

Well, atleast that was the plan.

Why, what happened then?

Life happened, my friend.

You know, Sofie moved out and then Frances lost her job and then stayed with these guys Benjie (Michael Zegan) and Lev (Adam Driver) and then Sofie got married and then Frances moved out again and then she stayed with another friend and worked odd jobs. Oh, it’s a long story. You’d probably have to watch the film for that.

It’d be an wild understatement to say Greta Gerwig played the character well. She went inside the bloody skin of it. She was the right kind of awkward and the right kind of cute and the right kind of miserable and the righ- well, basically the right kind of everything.

Frances relates to every individual in the world who still believe in their artistic dreams and carry them around like a baggage. She’s you. She’s me. She’s all of us until life gets to us. Until we become the boring married couple with their occasional foreign trips. Or the guy with a day job. Or the girl who does paperwork  but wanted to become a writer instead.

But Frances, no, Frances, is different. She’ll speak her mind even if it that’d lead to a break up with her boyfriend. She’s that friend who’d shout out “Ahoy sexy!” in front of the whole crowd and run over and hug you. She believes in friendships and relationships that would last forever. She believes dreams that may someday come true. She dances freely. Listens intently. Cries silently. And loves truly.

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And when the chips are down, she’d even risk being the only 27 year old loudmouth with nothing relatable to say in a table full of hollow, civilized, married couples. Or would make an impulsive, disaster of a trip to Paris just for the sake of doing so.

And the world, sad to say, is a cruel, cruel place for somebody like Frances. There’s ‘fate’, who’s a bitch! Time, that changes. And people, who change with it. It’s like Ed Sheeran would say, “It’s too cold outside, for angels to fly…..”

Frances Ha is a nostalgic, meaningful tale about a character that we could relate to. That we could somehow acknowledge in ourselves. That was a part of us, but somehow who got lost on the way. Whatever happened to that guy? The guy who made the most randomest of rash decisions and would regret them later on. But if you ask him about it now, he wouldn’t trade the world for making them. Did he change? Or did he just grew up? If there was something you would take from this film, make it the impulsiveness and the madness about life and your dreams that you lost. Become, again, the starry eyed person who believes that the world around him would change, and that all of life’s miseries are just a phase. And like every other phase,  ‘this too shall pass…’ (Unless, ofcourse if the door is guarded by Gandalf. In that case, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!'(cheesy joke, I know. Had to do that, sorry 😛 ))

Throughout the entirety of the film, you do not realize the significance of it’s title, and when you do it comes with the  bittersweet realisation of the reality around you. Of accepting. Of moving on (in a way). It’s about making peace with the city you love that does not love you back. And in the end we just ‘accept the love we think we deserve…’

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The Prince who will defeat the Whitewalkers . . .

Brilliant, brilliant theory by a friend about the recent game of thrones episodes and the story that lies forward. (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!)

My take on 'The Great Indian Life'

The one thing that has undoubtedly taken the globe by storm is the world of Game of Thrones. Apart from the time when we close our media players when someone walks in on us while we’re watching the series (ahem!), we’ve all binge watched this one for hours! If you’ve not yet seen this work of art, make sure you do!

This post is not so much about my opinion on the series as it is about a theory I feel very strongly about; a theory that will change the way you look at everything. It’s a little long but definitely worth the time, so bear with me. Without further ado, here it goes . . .

By now, we’re all in general consensus that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark’s bastard illegitimate son, but is the son of his deceased sister Lyanna with the crown prince Rhaegar Targaryen. There…

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Of Physics and more

6a0120a765554d970b01676929a119970b-640wi My very recent read has been the renowned MIT physicist, Walter Lewin’s, biopic ‘For the Love of Physics’. An extremely fascinating and profound read  it depicts the physicist’s journey throughout the years, his love for physics and his inquisitiveness of a newborn that search for the various elements of Physics everywhere around him. The book is a silent reminder that even after everything that he has achieved, his primary aim had always been to do something that he had always loved and wanted to do, to teach Physics and science. And as the Greek saying goes ‘To teach is to learn something all over again’, he still learns physics from his surroundings and the elements around him.

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Walter finds beauty in Physics and the science around him. He still finds the most mundane things bizarre and his body of work is something that makes Physics what it was supposed to be in the first place. Fun. I think one session that might have stayed with all his students as well as some of the video recipients of his work would be his session teaching the Physics behind a simple pendulum. He took a giant ball, tied to the ceiling of the classroom to demonstrate a pendulum. As he pushed the ball and the pendulum bobbed about, he explained to his students the various parameters associated with it, the time taken for its single reciprocating motion, the angle on the both the sides, etc. Now, to demonstrate the independence of  mass attached to the pendulum to the time taken in it’s oscillation, the 50 year old physicist, the bizarro freak that he was, climbed on top of the ball in front of the whole classroom and asked one of his students to push as the pendulum bobbed about in it’s motion swinging the too-engrossed-to-be-embarrased old man with it while the students, the awe-stricken audience to the illusionist, stared in wonderment at something never in their wildest dream they had imagined a reputed MIT professor doing. A lesson they may remember for a life time, I guess.

Recently I have been working as an intern in an organisation that designs some fun science experiments for middle school kids to practically demonstrate the various theories of science that they have been learning throughout their curriculum. Working with them, seeing them fascinated by things as little as the science behind the regrowth of a starfish’s arm via cardboard and a few strings to their awe at something as simple as the floating of  ice in salt water reminded me why I had been studying to become an engineer in the first place.

It had always been physics. Straight from the time when we blew up the light bulb by supplying high amount of electricity to the time when we built a backyard dynamo based turbine to generate little electricity via recycling the tap water, it had always been Physics. The curiosity to discover something new, anything new, is what was and had always been the driving force behind all the time we’ve invested in this occupation in our lives. What we, perhaps, do not realise is maybe the curious child who used wonder why his old books smelled like a tinge of vanilla, is crushed somewhere under a large pile of the same books. A child who used to wonder why were sunrises were blue and sunsets orange now stares at the same sunset with a beer in his hand wondering of the scintillating worries of a secure future. All the pressure, all the agony kills the physicist inside an engineer subjecting him to become merely a commercial raw material to the industries. A currency printing press.

Whatever happened to the little kid who once, bewildered, asked his mom, ‘Why was the moon following him?’ I look at those kids in the workshop and their glittering, utterly fascinated, inquisitive eyes and realise what had been missing. The whole essence of  curiosity and wonderment of anything, and everything, around us

I smell a rat: Part 1

It was an unwelcoming, dull evening in Fictown when we read the news.

But then all the days had been the same since we had arrived.

As I sat by the windowsill on a recliner, a cup of tea steaming itself cold on top of today’s ‘The Daily Fiction‘, I noticed the grey thunder clouds making their way calmly, enveloping the whole town as the last of light that remained peeped through them as if trying to shovel up some space in a crowd full of people. I picked up the paper and began reading. The tagline below the name read We bring the fabricated world to you.

The headlines on the front page (right below a few graphics that read ‘ Mayor of Townsville to begin his Presidential campaign today Pg. 4’ and ‘Victor Krum declared as the Captain of new World XI Quidditch team Pg. 10’) read

’52 CHILDREN MYSTERIOUSLY DISAPPEARED , FBI BAFFLED’

I fixed the glasses to my face as I began to read the half page article below it.

29 August, 2014: On the eve of the day before yesterday, 27th of August, reportedly a total of 52 children were found missing from their premises all around Fictown. 52 children, which included 23 boys and 29 girls, ranging from ages 5 to 13 year old were found missing from their houses in the middle of the night. If reports are to be believed, all the children miraculously disappeared from their residencies at around 1:30 to 2:00 AM, all at the same time.

The children all belonged to the same neighbourhood of Sesame Street and were all picked at random, stating no further connection whatsoever. A missing report was filed by the parents of the respective children in the Early dawn of the day to the police and after 24 hours of no sign of appearance of any kid, they were all officially declared missing.

The severity of the crime had pressurized the FBI (Fictional Bureau of Investigation) to intervene who after a thorough investigation of the evidences on the location were under a dilemma and have thus refused to release an official statement regarding the matter, stating it as an ongoing investigation.

The Chief of Police, Dave Gordon, however,  commented on the matter to the press saying, “A total of 52 children, 23 of them boys and the rest girls have been officially declared missing from their homes in the middle of the night on the 27th. There have been no signs of them living or dead that have been found nor were any evidences discovered during the case. The FBI have decided to take matters in their own hands and the matter is now an ongoing investigation”.

The Mayor of the town, Mr. Mayor, stated in an official press conference to be “a matter of great emergency”. He also stated that all the necessary measurements would be taken place and that the FBI would investigate the matter thoroughly and would make sure the kids return safely to their homes. (Continued on Page 3) 

I put the paper back on the table and sipped the now lukewarm cup of tea that was on the table.

“Say have you heard the news?” I asked Holmes who had indulged himself into licking a tattered pair of sock. Perhaps previously gnawed by a rat.

He spat towards the edge of the table and wiped his lips with the sleeve of his overcoat. “Quite a warm welcome, I suppose. Have you gone sightseeing further into the town?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Well then I’d recommend Berty’s Soup Kitchen at the Diagon Alley, quite exquisite crowd I must say-”

“I don’t want to.”

“-Or the sewer by the bayside. A fine picaresque location.”

“Sounds tempting but I’d rather pass.”

“So I deduct you still haven’t been over Baker Street yet?”

I smirked. “And as always, your deduction skill are quite impeccable I must say Holmes. Perhaps-”

“Don’t patronize me.”

“-if you’d rather use them on more-”

“I must say I quite miss Miss Hudson”

“-important matters like this case at hand.”

“Do you care to bring the groceries? And when you’re at it could make sure to bring a goat’s horn from the nearby butcher.”

“Why do you…. I’d rather not ask. HOLMES! Does this case not intrigue you a certain bit?” I said as I placed the tea cup on the table and made my way towards the kitchen.

“If by intrigue you mean gather my attention for more than 7 minutes then yes, it most certainly does.” He threw the sock he held on Gladstone’s face as the bulldog stood up and blindly began to crawl around in a circle trying to get it off.

“Really? And what does the idiosyncratic detective deduct from the news?”

“Well, firstly, some children are missing-”

“Shit Sherlock!”

“The same way some rats went missing a few days back.” He stood from the chair and walked towards the old storage, he had (forcibly) made his own private laboratory.

“And you think they have something in common?”

“No, Watson. I think they have everything in common.”

“And how could you be so sure?”

“Because the rats didn’t disappear they were eradicated.” He started to fill a syringe with one of the chemicals that were set to boil.

“And who would do that?”

“Oh Christ Watson! Who do you would do the swiping if there is a plague in town?” He clinked the needle to test the flow.

“The Mayor.”

“Amen! Which means our next job at hand would be to-”

“Question the mayor.” I said and bit my lower lip. “So does that make it our first case then?”

“Jesus Watson! Hold your horses. You’re embarrassing me”, he said as he went towards Gladstone, grabbed him and stabbed the syringe in his chest.

He then laid him on the floor. The dog staggered a bit, whimpering about and fell on the floor. Dead.