3.45 PM

There are few people in the world untouched by the world and its vices. I sincerely believe some of us are not meant for the adult world. Few are too naïve, too innocent, too pure. People, who have not been affected by the bitterness of the world. Consider it your greatest luck if manage to cross paths with such even for the briefest time. The universe must like me too much to because I met two of them.

There were 3 of us. Teammates. Collegaues. It was a simple thing. Tea break at 3.45 sharp. The choice of beverage changed with name of the whatsapp group. Tea- time, Badam gang, Horlicks break.

But the time was constant. And the people. And the place. It were the most important 20 minutes of my day. One, that got me through entire days at times. 3.45 PM was reason enough to try and wake up the next day. In this world of boyfriends and friendzones, friendships unadulterated by feelings, pretense, and agendas are rare, and if you find them you hold on to them. We are a confused species who have been taught and grown to believe being “too nice” is not good. “Kindness only gets taken advantage of”. “Hustling” is the only way to survival. “Sensitive” is stupid. And yet we are confused when we cannot find good people and good experiences. Hurt at being played. Forever conning to avoid getting conned. I thank my stars for meeting people who are still unaware of the world and its ways. Those who know nothing of the “fear” of being taken advantage of. Those who know nothing else other than being genuine. People who do not belong in this adult world. That is why 3.45 PM was so important. At 3.45 PM there were no client calls, no uncertainties of the future, no deadlines. Juilee was going to Google. Firoz was opening the biggest consulting firm in Coimbatore. Archish was heading Facebook. At 3.45 PM everything was possible. At 3.45 PM the world was a better place. At 3.45 PM 3 friends laughed and a girl realized where she could always find her smile.

Hannah Montana to Miley Cyrus

I don’t know at what point do introverts realize they are introverts? Or that they are not like the vast majority. Is there an age? A moment? The big epiphany?

I don’t remember mine anyways. All I remember is ever since I my adult life I have understood I only have a certain amount of tolerance for interaction with people.

So. Flashback. The main protagonist of this story – a smart, intelligent, kind, pretty, FUNNY girl, was nothing like the party girl she is today. (Yes the girl is me. Funny really gave it away right? Okay No.) I was like any typical teenage girl growing up – conscious of my looks, super shy, zero interaction with these mystical creatures called boys. And school life was so motivating and helpful, that my insecurities did not blossom into full blown social anxiety at all!

In short at age 15 something, I was a high school student with deplorable social skills. Boys were those magical beings other girls called ‘friends’

Fortunately this deplorable social skills girl grew up on the right side of puberty (or maybe just being a girl helped) and I managed to cruise through ‘Hi’s without panic attacks in college.

Improved social skills. Less panic attacks. More than two male acquaintances. The introvert girl had made it!

Until I moved to the next phase of life. Moving away from home. Now when you’re an introvert you already have solitude goals in life. Add to that freedom. And I am not talking about freedom from parents, strictness-freedom. Freedom from recognition. New city. New life. No one knows you. No expectations. No judgements. More importantly no one to care about! Which is in short freedom to live.

Very quickly I realized how easy it was to lose yourself to music. (For some reason I feel very stupid writing this line.) Imagine the shyest person you know. Now imagine him\her dancing like they’ve been drinking for three days straight. Add to that the fact that I don’t actually drink. (Alcohol is only placebo. You do not need a drink to “lighten up” but no judgements)

The thing that baffles my friends is how a person who absolutely loathes stepping out of the house for a movie or lunch is always ready to go to a pub. There’s something about growing up shy. You learn to tackle it. You get better at handling situations. You adult your way through it. But the shy kid always stays. That aversion to people never really goes away. Don’t get me wrong we introverts are like everybody else people. With real friends. We also do “fun” things. It is only when our social circle expands beyond the tolerable number of 3. New people. Small talk. What do I talk about next? That’s the difficult part. And it’s not like you can’t do it (I for one excel in small talk now no kidding) it just takes extra effort than extroverts. Avoiding a social situation is the lazier and easier way out! And that is when you understand the beauty of bars and drunk people. There is a strange kind of freedom being sober in a room full of drunk people. Everyone just assumes you’re drunk. Any kind of behavior is okay. “She’s acting like that because she’s high. He is so silent because he is just enjoying the music” These are the only places where it is socially acceptable to be silent. Or scream at the top of your lungs. Where you can have a conversation about Coldplay’s paradise. Or not have one at all. The only place where people are unusual. And weird. And interesting. Slightly more themselves. The only place where you finally feel like you belong.

Hannah Montana has realized Miley Cyrus is here to stay.

The Evils of Social Media

To those of you already on Twitter or know some friend on Twitter will understand the addiction that Twitter is. Twitter if it has to be described in one sentence is an unabridged direct feed of people around the world, talking to themselves. The fun thing about sites like Twitter, Youtube is unlike Facebook it gives you access to random thoughts of complete strangers in distant corners of the world.

One such lot of strangers I undoubtedly encountered was of course the Pakistanis. Now to say I am patriotic would be an understatement, because the number of times I have eaten a green GEMS before a blue one has happened, never! So, in short, the crazy fanatic types.

If you ever recall your childhood as an Indian/Pakistani the first thing you learn before you even learn your name is Pakistan/India is your rival. I remember crying uncontrollably as a child when my brother pointed out my favorite color green is a Pakistani color and by that logic I was a Pakistani. Or trying to push the walls of my house as a 5yr old so India has more space and the neighboring Pakistan less. (Yes I did that!) Or consoling friends when we got beaten up in a gully fights, “Chod na yaar woh log toh Pakistani hai”. So basically every evil guy out there. Pakistani.

So imagine my surprise when I saw hilariously witty tweets on everything ranging from politics, to love to cricket to religion by Pakistanis. Whoever thought Pakistanis were normal people? Whoever knew they could type in English? Where are the beards and bombs dammit?!

Another really cool accidental discovery I made was this hilarious young youtuber I now follow: ZaidaliT. To say that all of his videos are relatable is an understatement. Because they are so accurately on point you want to cry!

So am I saying Pakistanis are good? Do we let them win cricket matches now? Do we give them Kashmir? HAHA! But am I saying they support and bash their cricket teams as passionately as we do, slam their governments as vociferously as we do, indulge in Bollywood as religiously as we do, get hit by mom’s chappals as often as we do? Yes. Am I saying we are similar? Yes.

The intricacies of issues between two nations having a history of violence of 60 years are far more complicated than what naive amateurs like me can comprehend. But if there is one thing I have realized, assholes and intellectuals are on both sides. Sympathy for Peshawar attacks was on both sides. Outrage over bail to Lakhvi was on both sides. Logic is on both sides. Absurdity is on both sides

The question is not who is good or bad? Who is right or wrong? The question is, are we really different? Evil indeed, this social media. Poses questions we’re unprepared to answer. Makes us dream of the impossible

Does India deserve its innovators

I’m not saying engineering in India is a joke, but it got offers to be cast in a Himesh Reshamiya movie. Twice. Okay while this may be an exaggeration, there is no denying the fact there are some blatant flaws in India and its education system.

Recently Pranav Mistry, inventor of the SixthSense technology and currently Samsung’s Global Vice President of Research tweeted about being interviewed by Barkha Dutt, during prime minister Modi’s visit to USA. The sad part was Ms Dutt, who is one of the leading journalists in India not only failed to recognize Mr Mistry but also seemed to be blissfully unaware of who he was. Now as a daily survivor of the agonizingly irrelevant jargon, that NDTV passes off as news, that just hurt. I mean the least Ms Dutt can do after subjecting her viewers to the numerous pointless, imbecile news discussions is stay updated of one of the most significant names in technology.

Oh but we forget, to be relevant you need to leave a remarkable engineering/banking career and write four crappy movie scripts. Not that I have anything against Chetan Bhagat or his writing personally. But what his books lack in infuriating me is made up by his choice of profession. The guy was in an IIT, an IIM, which means he was one of the most brilliant minds in the country and he gave up all that to write bad films? Not that every engineer has an obligation to stay dedicated to the profession. But what is ridiculous is the amount of relevance that is given to the man! A brilliant talented engineer/banker who left what he is good at to earn money by making us endure Sohail Khan’s acting (that film based on one night st a call center anyone?) is our idol instead of the scientist who travelled from Palampur to MIT? Congrats India!

But who cares right? We are getting easy admissions in engineering colleges right? We are getting degrees by studying from previous year papers right? We are taking mechanical, electrical streams but still getting menial jobs in IT right? We are getting money, right? But we’re getting money, right?!!

Why is it that the country which produces the highest numbers of engineers in the world has no proportional engineering miracles to its name? Why is it that we are satisfied doing irrelevant menial IT jobs unrelated to our fields? Why is it that we even refuse to question the ease with which we get our degrees? Why is it that we teach our children to be like the guy who graduated from IIT but forget the guy who went to NIRMA?

What bothers me most about media’s (and the general public’s) lack of awareness about Pranav Mistry is not the lack of recognition (and respect) for an Indian innovator who had managed to be original along with being eminent but the fact that people refuse to acknowledge the enormity of how a scientist didn’t let tags like IIT/NIT be associated with success (Mr Mistry choose computer science in NIRMA, which was more to his liking, over mining in IIT kharagpur, swaying from the popular trend of ‘getting into an IIT for the IITian tag’) Summarizing, in a country which gave the world zero, email, usb the IITian who wrote ‘2 states’ grabs headlines but the inventor of Google gear is unheard of! Does India deserve its innovators?

The right reasons to hate AAP

Not that I ever believed it, but boy did Mr Kejriwal break the ‘Change-is-here’ dream in style! Before we discuss the very predictable and short-lived tenure of the people’s CM, let us first rewind to 2009, days when naïve young people like me were overwhelmed by the idea and the response of the ‘Jan-Lokpal’ bill and dreamed starry-eyed about the ‘revolution-that-has-begun’.
The Anna movement which was also an extremely cleverly marketed façade, captured people’s attention overnight. But we could argue it’s dramatic overtures were a tad bit justified, because it is too hard to hold the attention of an average Indian without a pinch of melodrama. But inspite of its overt emo content, Jan-Lokpal was a sane, progressive idea. A cause that needed attention. A cause that mattered. I was probably the biggest admirer of the Anna movement not because of the promises and hopes it held, but because I was too impressed that a small group of activists had cleverly managed to get an ignorant, sentimental nation to pressurize the government to pay heed to an issue that mattered. The genetically inherent melodramatic nation that we are, swaying public opinion is a child’s play. And the fact that, here were these group of clever intellectuals who knew exactly how to exploit the sentimental ‘aam aadmi’ and channelize his emotions into forcing the nation to take notice of real issues, almost made political romantics like me swoon. It was almost like ‘The Renaissance’!
But the ridiculously impractical solutions that Mr Kejriwal proposed to problems in Delhi were absurd to the point of being offensive and made it clear that Arvind Kerjiwal and team were merely brilliant show-masters. People merely good at portraying an idea not conceiving it. People may hate AAP probably because Arvind Kejriwal failed to live upto his promises. But I hate AAP because for me it was an organization which made sense, a people’s party in true sense, an idea people were enthusiastic about. For the first time people felt like being part of a change. More importantly AAP was a party which made the reluctant, foreign-obsessed average Indian who shunned politics stop and consider the possibility of a change. AAP was a party which could have had it all! But Mr Kerjiwal’s theatrics and the shortlived chaos centered tenure in Delhi not only bluntly shattered people’s dreams but also took away the one thing that this country needed the most- Hope. I hate Mr Kejriwal not because of the promises he could not fulfill but because he proved those age-old cynics right ‘Iss country ka kuch nahi ho sakta!’
In a country with deteriorating political culture every minute and a society which has accepted it, hope was a rarity. But when Mr Kejriwal resigned as the chief minister of Delhi he finished that too. But what pains more is that Mr Kejriwal’s theatrics not only reduced the ‘aam aadmi’ and some of it’s genuinely good members to a laughing stock but it also made the inherently pessimistic general public more skeptical about expecting leadership out of a non-politician. So in short Mr Kejriwal reminded us that we nothing but a mere helpless voter bank and voting is simply choosing the lesser of the corrupt candidate!
So hate AAP not because it was a party that failed, hate it because it was a party that never tried in the first place. Hate it because it permanently undermined the credibility of honest, genuine politicians. Hate it because it reduced a political revolution into a mere fatuous media circus. More importantly hate it because it was a political organization that could have had it all… but instead chose to throw it away!

Deny them a Christmas!

So Christmas is around the corner, and though I’m too old to receive gifts from Santa I have some very cherished childhood memories, that mark this day. The most vivid memory that, I can recall is not waiting and anticipating those gifts from Santa, but me and my brother’s painstaking efforts to maintain our best behavior lest Santa skipped our house if we misbehaved. (Those must be some brilliant parents who came up with this idea of Santa!)

Anyway, so a few days back I just recalled a newspaper headline when a couple of teenage kids in the city were arrested for consuming alcohol and drugs at a party. Not that Pune hasn’t seen other rave party raids and arrests but the kids involved in this case were as shockingly young as 13 and 15. I mean, when did this happen? When did school-going CHILDREN, start drinking alcohol?! Last I remember, we refused to drink milk and our mother would give us a tight slap just to let us know how much of freedom of speech was allowed in the house.

Not that I suggest hitting kids is the solution, but I’m pretty sure there were more than a couple of child rights and laws our parents violated while we were growing up and we turned out alright. The most irritating thing about kids these days is, not only are they spoilt, over-pampered brats but they also have these huge egos with frustrating ideas of self-importance! For example, if you snatched a candy from a kid earlier, the most he’ll do is cry and threaten to run to mommy for help, at which point you would wisely return the candy. But if you try snatching a candy from a kid these days, not only will he cry and throw a tantrum and run to mommy for help, but also constantly sulk and whine about the extreme mistreatment meted out to him and how grossly unjust life has been with him!

What really makes my blood boil is how every stupid, wasted, bratty kid in the world will use crappy, lame-ass excuses like ‘You don’t know my story’, ‘I’m so depressed’, ‘Life’s been so hard’ to justify drugs, booze or any other addiction. There are children who are starved, raped, abused, beaten on a daily basis, but yes your life is hard because you aren’t cool enough…Awww.

Not that I have a thing against eternally drunk or stoned people. Because in all fairness, everybody has the right to waste their crappy lives as they see fit! What I have a problem with is, people who refuse to believe it is their fault. So, today probably, you are letting your 13 year old get away with drinking because he was too ‘depressed’, tomorrow he might think he can get away with murder because he was a little ‘cross’.

If I show up drunk late at night and claim ‘You don’t know my story’ my parents would probably take a moment to feel sorry for me. And then not having felt anything, would throw both me and my story out of the house! So you see, I don’t drink because I have a conscience, it’s rather because I have a consequence following it. Lack of consequences and not lack of conscience is what makes a bad person. My point being, I may not be the most virtuous of individuals, but I have been threatened, blackmailed and tricked enough times to know I have to behave like one. Just like I have been denied enough things by my parents to know I cannot get everything in life. So go ahead, deny your kids a comfortable life. Let them know life’s not always the way they want it to be. Maybe they’ll hate you but atleast we’ll have a better world!

The Retards

So, there is this hilarious page on facebook I follow. Chances are if you are one of those eternally-bored-and-severely-addicted-to-internet individuals with a moderate understanding of sarcasm you already are a fan! Anyway, this page is particularly famous for its ultra offensive religious and sexist posts and of course the hilarious comments/battles that follow.

But before we get to the point let’s rewind a bit. So a few years back there was a much hyped incident in Palghar when a certain teenage girl chose to express her thoughts on the death of a recently passed politician. That is what is frustrating in our country. For every person who has an opinion there are ten more whose “sentiments” are hurt by it. I mean what can one random facebook post possibly do to offend a dead person let alone tarnish his legacy! Which doorstep did she run screaming at?!

Let us as a fun exercise just gauge the amount of damage the girl’s comments caused to a the reputation of a well-established party and it’s workers. That’s right – Zero! The party workers and leaders went to the same offices the next day, argued about the same things they do every other day and successfully managed to brush aside all issues that really matter to vehemently convince communities how they had been wronged and ill-treated…a normal, usual, productive day. Now let us consider the effect of the said controversy on the girl’s life. A swarm of 10-20 goons….err ‘traumatized and hurt’ people at her house in the middle of the night, an ruckus every middle-class family is so prepared to handle, and finally an arrest. Normal day?

Because that wasn’t enough shock that the poor family could handle, the next morning they were greeted by an entire horde of vultures/journalists, and every other person in the country had his own verdict about the issue. Let us for a moment argue that the girl was soon released from police custody and there was (fortunately) no harm to anyone and soon people forgot. But did anyone of us wonder what happened to both of them once the news channels moved on to more interesting headlines. The former least affected, let alone traumatized people, continued with their lives like always. But the latter, here’s my version of what might have happened to her. Not only did she have to bear the over-bearing guilt of putting her family through the unnecessary hassle, but also she must have been eternally scarred and forced to live in the perpetual fear of offending someone else next time she expresses an opinion. Not to mention the end of her normal social life online.

The above incident angers me, not because I think it is unjust and quite frankly extremely ridiculous, that in the world’s largest democracy a small sect of people and their “sentiments” dictate what I can and cannot say, but because no individual in this country should be made to go through the terror that the girl and her family experienced that night (Imagine one moment you are happily tweeting/commenting and the next moment there is mob of angry (and possibly dangerous) people at your doorstep!) But most of all it angers me because I was also one of those many silent onlookers in the country who could have spoken up, who could have said it was wrong, who could have supported her, who could have liked or shared the status, people who could have taken a stand and made a difference but didn’t. Like many others I conveniently ignored the issue convincing myself that there was nothing that I could have done.

And what blatantly made me realize the coward I had been was when I stumbled upon the brilliance that ‘The Sarcastic Retards’ page was. That most of the humor on this page is at the cost of outrightly dismissing and ridiculing any religious sentiment and widely stereotyping women, to the point of being offensive is an understatement! Because offensive is too ‘cute’ a word to describe it. It is downright blasphemous! What amazes me is how determined people are in vehemently persuading the page to care and address their sentiments and eventually in displaying their clearly missing common sense when all a person simply needs to do is unlike the page if he finds it offensive. But no! We are a nation of self-righteous, holier-than-thou hypocritical individuals who simply have to take personal offense regardless of whether they are being addressed or not. The page is clear in its motto Some facebook post offends you? There is a simple solution—don’t read it!

 And that is also precisely the reason why I (inspite of being a girl) along with thousands of others literally WORSHIP this page. Because it is everything that we wished we were – witty, intelligent, humorous, honest, and last of all fearless and unapologetic. Perhaps a petty facebook page is too silly an object to draw inspiration from, but to stick to your opinion, especially in this country of mad fanatic political parties and religious sects, being aware of the numerous threats and abuses you are doomed to endure, takes balls! So here’s an advice to all the precarious, oversensitive people who have their feelings hurt every second minute – Grow a pair!