Saturday, 13 December 2014

That Time I Almost Drowned To Death...Almost.

  I'm the kind of person who makes a conscious effort to spread positive energy in the world. That is why I write posts titled stuff like, "Happiness among other lies". And along the same lines, I've been wanting to write about fear. And overcoming it to take the plunge. Then I saw this dew film by Mountain Dew. And I was finally inspired to write this.

   What better way to talk about rising above fear than by telling you what happened when I did jump? I drowned. Almost died. Almost. And here's my survival story.
  When I was eight years old, We lived in Singapore for about a year, and I went to school there. Our apartment building in Singapore had a huge swimming pool and naturally, I evolved to live like an amphibian. In other words, I was an eight year old mermaid.

  The pool became like a natural habitat. I had swim practice everyday, and I loved it. I was also a pretty arrogantly confident child, fastest flippers in the pool. I was always the kid in the deep end of the pool, splashing water on our coach. There's video proof of this, in our old home movie camcorders tapes. I even had a floating board with a cartoon shark on it. Not that I ever used the floating board, I was obviously a pro. And then as fate would have it, We moved back to India and my eyes burned up and shot up blood red in every single pool here. They put in too much chlorine in the water and none of the pools would work for me here. So of course, I promptly forgot all about swimming and traded in my shark floating board for tennis shoes and a racket.
  But then tennis didn't exactly draw me in the way the water did. And I still yearned to swim again. Years went by, and finally we found a pool that was perfect. Indoors, with lukewarm perfect water that would not burn my eyes. And I couldn't wait to dive straight in. The first time we visited the pool, The water lured me in. And its not like I wasn't a pro swimmer, So I jumped, didn't even take the stairs or the ladder at the edge of the pool. I nosedived straight into the water. Only, I hadn't considered Lamarck’s evolutionary theory about the use and disuse of organs. He was a smart French dude who believed that giraffes initially had short necks, and then eventually their necks grew longer because they had to stretch to reach the branches higher up on trees for food. Basically he believed that if you use a particular organ more, it will adapt to your usage and become stronger, the converse was also true according to his theory, i.e. if you didn't use a particular organ, it's disuse would cause it to deteriorate and eventually disappear. Too bad they only taught me this in high school. Because when I hit the water, I immediately started to drown. I was like Ariel with legs instead of her mermaid tail. And I don't care If Darwin disproved Lamarck's theory, because I'd just lost my mermaid tail, and Darwin couldn't explain that. It had been way too long since I was last in a pool and my muscles had forgotten how to swim. My legs did not kick, the water was pulling me in. And I started to gulp it down and choke. My brain had actually lost touch, and forgotten how to swim altogether even though my heart still remembered the joy that was the water. My limbs had failed me. And I was going under. I couldn't even do the dead man’s float. By this time I thought I was going to die. But I wasn't ready to give in just yet. I started screaming for help between taking lungfuls of air. But There was no one there, no life guard, Just a bunch of kids who were a little further away. I was beginning to hear and see flashes of my too short life. But Thankfully, these kids were older and on hearing me, knew to come rescue me. Those kids were heroes. Now I'll stop writing dramatic clichéd phrases that you've read one too many times. And then I didn't drown. I didn't die.
 But the real trouble came after that. I developed a phobia for diving. My parents enrolled me back in summer swimming classes at the same pool and I could even get over myself and get back into the water because that's how much I loved it but I could never dive in. I always walked down the steps or climbed the ladder. 
This picture is free. I got it from pexels.com and later customized it.

  Eventually the summer's swim class progressed and they moved on to diving. We had an amazing coach. The man was like a shark himself. You'd see him at one side of the pool, he'd go under and you couldn't even see him in the water. Two seconds later he'd be at the other end of the pool. He was swift and so much like a fish. I respected him. But he could never get me to take the plunge. I'd stand in line to dive in to the pool. But I'd let all the other kids go ahead of me. Because I couldn't jump. Death didn't make the same mistake twice. I got lucky the first time around. Would I again? I wasn't willing to bet my life on that.
This picture is free. I got it from pexels.com and later customized it.
   So I'd be standing there letting all the other kids go dive ahead of me. This went on for so long, that my dad decided to trick me and push me into the water. And that went on for almost the entire class. Every time I had to jump. I'd be standing there, telling them I'll jump when I was ready, and I'd never be. And they'd push me in. 
   The summer class had only two days left to draw to an end and I still hadn't overcome my fear of diving. And I knew then that if I didn't do it in those last two days, I'd never be able to. I was crunched for time. I was scared but I had to jump. I had to take the plunge. And quite literally too. The previous night, I steeled myself, told myself I'd do it. I'd take the plunge.
  The next morning I packed in some of my mom’s pictures of idols of gods, that she had collected from various temples along with my swimsuit. I needed all the magic and faith I could get. I had to survive. I had to take the plunge. It was now or never. And then that day, I jumped. I did. And I swam. And I didn't drown. And I didn't die. I was a survivor. And that was when I realized God was just a massive source of strength within yourself, a reserve that you can draw from, that had no idea even existed, when you couldn't count on yourself. Those last two days had to be my best memories at the pool, In the water. because ever since the fear hasn't returned. I've been quite fearless. I even went on to win some swim competitions at school. Even went river rafting in the Beas river in Manali, during my trip there.I had the best seat on our raft and fell off nearly twice. It was epic. And guess what I heard there? They told me, that that was the exact same stretch of river they'd shot the old Mountain Dew ads at.
I'm on one of  these rafts! This is us in 2011. I'm wearing a white helmet. and sitting on the far edge/nose of the raft.
My mom and I after river rafting. totally drenched.
This is the rock that we brought back as a ouvenir from river rafting.

Who would've known? Go over here to like the Mountain dew Facebook page

Have you ever had any near death experiences? How do you rise above the fear? What does it take to get you to take the plunge? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Book Review: God Is A Gamer by Ravi Subramnaian

  Disclaimer: I've tried my best to not spoil anything.  But, I'd still like to say, proceed with caution.

     I've had model exam's going on this week, but the cover of "God Is A Gamer" by Ravi Subramanian was enticing enough, that I picked it up over my electronic devices text book, and managed to finish it in about two days. It only took me that long, because eventually, the electronic devices text book guilt tripped me back into doing a little bit of studying as well. But, I'll tell you this much. It was pretty hard to put this novel down once I got going.
Not even my electronic devices paper.
   The narration takes you to various parts of the world, through seemingly unrelated stories of seemingly unrelated characters. You witness a well orchestrated assassination of a US senator. The FBI launches an Investigation. A wealthy business man runs a successful BPO and novel gaming company in Mumbai, alongside his brooding right hand man, who seems to be having a mid life crisis. Someone pulls off a heist of 5 million dollars. There's office politics at a multinational bank. Then, there's the young couple that falls too fast and too hard in love. We even get a glimpse of the seedy underbelly of Indian national politics in this fictional roller coaster ride. You just keep reading, trying to connect the dots.  And eventually the connections happen and the characters begin to relate with each other and meet, and the story seems to start falling into place. Notice that I only said "seems". The plot always remains unpredictable on a certain level, much like the virtual world of currency, bitcoins, which also figures into the plot. This unpredictability may be because the author takes great care to make sure you never get too close to figuring out any of the characters. He lets you in on their emotions and frustrations, which reveals just the right bit. He steers clear of giving you complete character sketches. And he cleverly riddles the plot in a slew of business stats, corporate jargon, and monotone subjective descriptions. Initially, I wondered if it was the best idea to narrate the story, instead of letting the protagonists and characters talk, because I've always believed that the characters and the plot itself, comes alive when you let them talk, but then soon, I realized this was indeed the right call, the dry narrative is really a guise to hide the motives and the plot points. It's what makes it tick, and keep you turning the pages, on your toes, waiting for answers.
   "Is revenge a crime?", The cover asks you.
And that must be avenged.
     You wonder whose revenge it is. Who is responsible for all this? Does the brooding Sundeep have a darker side? Did Swami's self righteousness and anger turn him into an evil master mind? Is Tanya really just a conniving bitch? I found it really suspicious that just as the mysterious 'Altoids' responded to the FBI (failing to realize, it was the FBI) saying he/she was willing to get in touch to find out how to retrieve the missing alpha numeric in the bitcoin key, Tanya decided to log onto the Internet using Aditya's WiFi while waiting for Varun to take her to dinner. Very Subtle.  Even Aditya seems too clean with all his moral beliefs to be just another wealthy, intelligent business man. Does he have more sinister ulterior motives? We've been trained to suspect charming men in suits, and politicians. What's with the finance minister anyway?
NO ONE.

    Except maybe Varun, cause, who can resist the charming sweet energetic young guy on a mission to turn his dads gaming company the best in the world? Or is that the only mission he's on?
Let's be real. I'm Paranoid.
  All we're really sure about is that someone pulled the linchpin, and now the dominoes just won't stop falling. And one by one, they will all fall.
Whatever it is, one of them is getting served, and its cold.
   Another thing, about this book, that I really enjoyed, is that unlike most other thrillers, this isn't just yet another quest for justice. It's simple, reckless, revenge. Someone has to pay. And pawns may be sacrificed in the process; it's a deadly game they play. And you're kept guessing until the very last chapter, where Ravi Subramanian brilliantly builds a case, has you believe You know and have all the answers and then throws in one final plot twist to have you question everything you thought you figured out. 
Oh my. Did you see that coming?

   At the end of the day, if you look hard enough, you might be able to poke loopholes, and you can question the morality behind all of this, but it is a good book, a gripping thriller, which is exactly what it claims to be. This was my first Ravi Subramnaian novel, and I will be going out to get the others very soon. Will I recommend it to a friend? Yes. Definitely, Priced at ₹299 (available for cheaper on flipkart), it is probably one of the best Indian Page turners I've read in a while. 


This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!
Have you read "God Is A Gamer" by Ravi Subramanian? Do you agree with my review? What did you think of the book? do you like thrillers? Let me know in the comments below. 


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Books and I - Definitely the best love story

      This little place on the internet has become a church of sorts, what with all the confessing I do here. I told you about how I might just be stalking you, I even told you I was manipulative and evil. So in order to keep the tradition alive, I'm back with yet another confession, except of course, this is probably far less scandalous. I was that kid who hid a novel in her text book to read in class, (I got caught too. Plenty of times. Obviously, I'm not as sneaky as I'd like you to believe I am. Stealth mode, definitely not one of my strongest suits. But that's besides the point, I was that kid who spent the entire night, up, reading with the light from my phone, before I discovered eBooks. You know how, when you're in the tenth grade or the 12th grade in this country and your parents decide to pack up your TV and dump it in the attic, so that you could concentrate on your studies? Yeah, My parents bought one of those new big screen TV's that were all the rage back then, and refused to let me renew my library membership. Yeah, I was that kid. And that kid resurfaces whenever she gets the chance.
To compensate for the easy confession, I give you this. Very awkward photographic evidence of that kid. At 5 years old. In the natural habitat.
Notice how I look so distracted, Yes, that is just how happy I am. Extremely.
    Books are my home. My haven. My heaven. They were there for me when humanity was just too much to deal with. When I was in a happy place, When I was in a sad place. It didn't matter. Fiction was always there. Books were my addiction, When reality became too much and too dull to bear, I had a way out, Fiction. I lived the protagonists life, in a different world, in a different place, in a different dimension of time and space, I lived it out, and then that fixed me. The adrenaline, the adventure and just that rush that comes from reading, at a stretch, of escaping your own boring, dull, sometimes even depressing and dark life and knowing that you may never really face the kind of mystery, magic, and macabre that you just lived, but knowing, Knowing in your heart, that you did just live all that, and you lived  it to the fullest.  That is what books are to me, a drug.

   The only thing that could possibly be better than books, was free books, and hence I naturally applied to be a part of the book review program on blogadda.com, a couple of weeks ago. And I guess they figured that I was that kid who pitched  up a small tent for herself and lived at the local library on summers, because they sent me an email saying I had been shortlisted!
So, Then I went ahead and did exactly this.
    In the email, they told me that I had been selected to review "God Is A Gamer" by Ravi Subramanian and that I would receive the book shortly. I'm pretty sure they instantly regretted sending me this email, because then I got anxious and proceeded to thoroughly stalk and spam them until my shipment finally arrived last Friday.

Then, Obviously, I did this. You get the idea.

 Did I mention?? IT'S A SIGNED COPY TOO!!!
I was grinning, A little creepily.


  So, In the next, post, Which I plan to put up later tonight or early tomorrow, You can read my review of "God Is A Gamer" by Ravi subramanian,because I finished it days ago, and have been dying to write this and put it up, what with all the exams at college. But the wait is over now!!!
click here to read my book review.

P.s: I'd like to thank blogadda for this and for putting up with my extreme level of anxious stalking.

Are you a reader? What is your one addiction? Were you able to relate to the thrill that comes with reading that I talked about? or are you that kid who always fell asleep when he touched a book, and secretly believes that the world has conspired against you and secretly sprayed every book with chloroform? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Diwali - Are Fireworks Really Evil? Or Are They Just Misunderstood?

     I have already confessed to being an evil manipulative genius, probably second to only Dr. Heinz doofenshmirtz. 
world domination and curse you perry the platypus
This guy. 
     If you know me at all, you know that I have already dutifully polluted the environment today with all my Diwali fireworks and am writing this post while taking a break from my exhausting evil life. So staying true to my character, I'm going to write this post about Diwali and fireworks because I know it's going to attract a lot of traffic to the blog, and then I'm going to try and brainwash convince you to burst crackers and fireworks, because I have literally decided to play devil's advocate. In this case, I will represent narakasura the evil henchmen who created fireworks in 7th century china. 
    One reason people give me for not bursting fireworks this Diwali, is because they think it's a waste of money, they claim that spending your money on fireworks is nothing short of actually visually seeing your money go up in flames and leave a pile of smouldering ash and smoke behind. If you are one of these people, I have nothing to say to you except, "but it looks so pretty, and burning your money never looked this good". Besides, think of all the people stuff you can accidentally set on fire. You know your friend who buys terrible clothes and tells you it looks better on, well today is your day, You can finally burn down her entire wardrobe and claim that when she said it looked better on, You thought she meant on fire
BURN.

    Another excuse I've been hearing, is that apparently, fireworks were never really the tradition of Diwali, that lighting diyas were the original tradition and fireworks were just the evil that originated in 7th century China that has been thrust upon us by evil manipulative business men henchmen. And here's my answer to that. So what if it's not our culture? We have begun to accept the idea of many western holidays, even valentine's day. 4th of july celebrations in the US involve pyrotechnic shows. Plenty of other countries have similar festivals of light or involve the usage of fireworks in various celebrations. Besides, fireworks and pyrotechnics are a hell lot more fun than lighting diyas! And Diwali is our Festival of Lights, so why not adapt? Loosen up. Celebrate. Especially since it has already become a tradition of sorts. You can't deny that you laughed and enjoyed the pyrotechnics as a kid, it's what made Diwali so special. It's why it was your favourite festival. so why take that joy away from your kids, the future generations? Why be a hypocrite? 
we're gonna let it burn!!
Cause we got the fire fire fire....
     Lastly, There are two very valid concerns that are pushing people to boycott fireworks altogether.
the first one is pollution. Let's begin with air pollution, shall we? We all know the major cause of air pollution in the world is vehicles and industries burning fossil fuels, Yet, we choose to ignore this and play environmentalist on one day, Diwali. and act all self righteous. Why don't we carpool with the colleagues we already can't stand to work with, during office hours, instead of taking our cars or bikes to work? Or ride our bicycles to work, Or walk (you get some cardio too. It's a win win. you don't even need to hit the gym). Or make use of the public transportation system. Also, quit smoking, because even that's air pollution. Did you know that the chlorofluorocarbons emitted by our AC's and refrigerators also do more harm to the environment. Get rid of those and then I will call you superman. Yes. Don't tell me you need your cars, because, the truth is, you don't. About a century ago, Cars didn't exist in India, and people still managed to live without them, you can too. Your car is really just a luxury, that you've grown accustomed to. Take up an ATP (alternative travel project) all through the year, and I promise you, you would have done far more for the world and the environment, than what you would achieve by going green on Diwali. Compensate. They say plant two trees for every tree you cut down. In much the same way, be environmentally conscious all through the year, enjoy diwali. 
    As for concerns regarding noise pollution, don't buy explosive fireworks, or the ones that make too much noise, cause diwali is the festival of lights not loud noises anyway.

I'm not trying to say Diwali doesn't cause pollution at all, or justify it, but in comparison to the day to day harm we bring to the environment, Diwali is relatively innocent. But Moderation is the key to everything. We try to minimise our usage of fossil fuels, we don't entirely stop burning fossil fuels,  because that's not possible, that's irrational. but when it comes to fireworks, we are quick to radically boycott them altogether. This is not a practical solution. This brings me to the next reason that most people seem to cite.  Sivakasi, the "fireworks capital" of our country is constantly plagued by safety problems and child labour, and people seem to believe it's just best to annihilate the industry entirely, and they seem to believe that the best way to go about this is by boycotting fireworks and going for a green Diwali. Everybody wins.  Except that everybody doesn't win. Here's why,  According to google, 
Sivakasi, in  Tamil Naduin southern India, produces more than 90% of India's fireworks and India is the second largest producer of fireworks in the world, next to China.The fireworks industry in Sivakasi is worth between Rs 800-1000 crore. The market for fireworks is likely to grow at the rate of 10% per annum. There are nearly 450 fireworks factories giving direct employment to about 40,000 workers and about 1 lakh indirect such as paper tube making, wire cutting, box making in the countryside.
       If this industry were to completely shut down, It's significant contribution to the GDP of our country would go down, This in turn affects our economy. 1,40,000 people will be driven to unemployment, lose their livelihood, and their only chance of making even one square meal, a day. and we already have plenty of unemployment here. Most people tell me that the money I spend buying fireworks will not go to some poor worker who spends all year, exposing himself to the toxic stuff that go into making these fireworks, but to the fat greedy people who run these factories. That I am just enabling child labour, bonded labour and nailing the final coffin in the safety problems issue by buying these fireworks. But I have a slightly different vantage point. It is child labour, It is bonded labour, these children don't get education, they are subjected to some serious health hazards by working in these factories, and it is absolutely inexcusable, but boycotting fireworks will not result in stopping these factories from employing children, nor will they be forced to shut down. In fact, shutting them down altogether isn't the best idea either. Picture this. Say about 40% of indians opt for a green diwali and do not burst any firecrackers. We have already established that the fat greedy men who run the firecracker industry are evil. So to compensate their loss, this is what they will do. they will fire about half their workforce. Now say about half of the unskilled labourers who get fired are able to find new odd jobs.  The other half will starve to death. Then there are those lucky ones that don't get fired, they will get overworked and possibly paid even less. now they'd have to work in even worse conditions. and this outcome is really just wishful thinking, This isn't even the worst case scenario. Now if about 90% of indians were to boycott fireworks, this industry might be forced to shut down, because the exports from sivakasi is estimated to be less than 5%.  But if it were to shut down we ought to provide alternate employment opportunities for these unskilled labourers. Sivakasi is largely an industrial town, there aren't a lot of agricultural plots or irrigation facilities, and these indigenous people of the firework industry aren't trained to be farmers or to work in any other industry. This is all they know. 
  But as I mentioned earlier, the ill treatment, child labour, bonded labour and unsafe working conditions are inexcusable. So what is the most viable solution to this issue? Ensure safer working conditions. Do not employ children. That is the most viable solution. China, the world's biggest manufacturers (with an annual domestic and export market pegged at Rs 80,000 crore) of fireworks does not face the same problems as India. Some Indian Manufacturers visit Chinese firework factories, buy their technologies and machines, and pay for their technicians to come to India and hold master classes. Technicians in china, hold diplomas and degrees in fireworks engineering whereas sadly, in India, we don't even have a R&D center for fireworks. We already have laws and regulations in place to ensure safer working conditions, And India does not endorse ill treatment of employees or child labour or bonded labour. The problem is that this is India, and nobody seems to be following these regulations. And the only way to fix this, is to fix this, Clean up the corruption that allows situations like this to breed. I'd like to believe that this should be a piece of cake for the country that successfully accomplished a mars mission with the cheapest budget in the world. While we're at it, We might even be able to develop eco friendly green crackers? They already do exist, but they don't seem to be very popular.
India!! :D
P.S: It also seems to me that the price of fireworks have hiked up, and the quality has noticeably reduced too. About 5 out of 10 flower pots in my pack of flower pots exploded today.they're not the kind of fireworks that are supposed to explode. I need to know if you have been observing this too or if Karma is just a real bitch. 
Is Karma really out to get me?
P.P.S: I was inspired to write this because I got into an argument very passionate discussion (I promise, We didn't even bust a Caps Lock) about this with two well meaning sweet strangers on the internet who have recently become good friends of mine. They tried to save me, tried to convince me to go green, but the evil in me strung out. And here I am. They are probably going to be disappointed with this, But who cares. You guys are amazing. Thank you fab and Pika. You inspired me. 
P.P.S.S: I didn't proof read this because I'm so badass. 

What is your take on the fireworks dilemma? Did you go green? Or are you evil like me? Also let me know if your fireworks were as bad as mine. Cause if it that was really just karma, I'm going to be in for much worse, after I publish this. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Happy Diwali!! :D



Friday, 17 October 2014

This Post Is To Say That I'm Not Giving Up On Us

I have a confessions to make.
I shall call it the stalkinator

     I am a stalker. But I've found a perfectly good reason to justify my stalker behaviour. And the reason is love. Yes, let's blame everything on love. Because obviously love is to blame for Ebola and global warming as well. I love you people, my readers. And you just don't give up on that kind of love. That is why I'm stalking you now. Because, I love you.
Don't pretend like you don't do it.
    This is also why, I tirelessly urge you to follow me on blogger, follow me on bloglovin or subscribe to the email list, so that we may properly stalk each other, and so that you don't miss out on new posts. 
This picture is a pretty accurate representation of me trying to get people to subscribe to my blog
Minus the cuteness.
    Yet many of you have still managed to efficiently evade my relentless stalking claiming that email is so ten years ago and nobody uses it anymore anyway except at work and for school. And that's only because those stuck up institution heads just won't switch to social networking.  And because I know and understand that many of you are just as lazy as I am and don't want to sign up for bloglovin, I have decided to bring junkwire to you. By means of magic, among other things.  junkwire is now on the wonderland of social networking sites, Facebook! Here's a link to the new facebook page! Told you I was a stalker. 
You have to follow me
Now you have no excuse.
So Now go show some love and hit that like button, because I won't give up on us, until you all give in to my charming witty humour and incessant stalking.
NO. I won't.

What social networking site are  you a cheerleader of?!Facebook, Twitter, pinterest? Did you hear that orkut has pulled it's shutters? were you on orkut? Have you heard of orkut? What are your thoughts on social networking and stalking?? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Homicidal Cows And How my family survived an angry mob of Indian villagers

      I know this post sounds like something out of one of the gazillion final destination movies, but I'm not kidding. This actually happened. True story bro. This is what happens when cows jump over moons hedges in the middle of a highway. So if you're a cow and you're thinking about doing this, DON'T, because it's not funny and it isn't just suicidal, it's also homicidal. If you're someone who owns cows, please keep your cows in check. Cows with suicidal and homicidal tendencies aren't helping anyone. Unfortunately,  I don't have proof that this happened. I asked the members of my family involved in this particular incident for photographic evidence but they claimed that they were kinda busy getting away with their lives and hence weren't able to document the events of that day for the blog.  This was particularly disappointing because in my head I had already began photoshopping myself into these images. And my attempts to pilfer my uncle's car's insurance paperwork for you guys turned out futile cause he sold the car involved in this particular incident. But, You have my word. This happened.
It only happens in India.
You have my word
This is the face of truth

   Now, let's begin, shall we?
   A couple of years ago, somebody in the family had passed away. Phones were ringing incessantly, my family had to go to the funeral service. All the kids were busy. So were our mothers. We presumably had some exam going on. It was decided that all the men in the family would go, because it's not like they had anything to do. My dad, and my three uncles were happy enough to ditch work, and on they went. ROADTRIP.
     Somehow, Somebody thought it would be a good idea to let uncle no.2 who happened to be the fastest driver in the family to drive uncle no.1's car, a very gaudy black sedan, a Logan, on the National highway leading towards our hometown. Uncle no.1 swears that he wasn't dozing off in the front seat while uncle no.2 was driving. In fact he claims to have been shooting his brother, uncle no.1,  dirty looks every time he tried to cross the speed limit.
Basically, This.
But somehow, I'm convinced that all the passengers of the car probably dozed off, until.... Time slowed. and they rounded a blind turn just as said cow(s) jumped over a hedge that they were hiding behind (because uncle no.1 also claims that there were two cows) .Uncle no.2, who was driving, hit it. There was no stopping the car. Not at that last second, Not at that speed, and Certainly not on that highway, that last minute of time. They hit the cow, And this is exactly how they narrate the story...
 "Thank god no.2 was driving fast enough, we hit the cow with so much momentum, it went up like twenty feet in the air and then landed behind the car. Had he not been driving that fast, the cow would have landed with a hell lotta momentum on the car, instead of behind it, positively crushing all of us to death, because that cow weighed like tonnes". 
   Always looking on the bright side, my family. Also, So sympathetic, I know. But that didn't necessarily mean that they got to walk away with their lives intact. This was India, and cows, here, on this side of the planet, homicidal or not, are considered sacred.
Before my family  had the time to snap out of it, or get out of the car for that matter, An angry mob of villagers stormed out of nowhere. Yes, with their pitch forks, sticks, stones and various other arsenal in tow. Uncle no.2, claims that  some of them actually came from behind the bushes the cows were hiding behind...
This picture is a pretty accurate approximation of what followed.

How did they have time to get all those weapons, anyway?!
   There was no backing out, or reversing the car either. The angry mob had surrounded the car, and they began to hammer the car with their hands. My dad, being the smart and kind guy that he is, give that man a cookie, suggested that somebody call the blue cross, India's animal welfare society. Uncle no.4 quickly shot this idea down.
"The cow is dead, There's nothing the blue cross can do except maybe, arrest us. "
Something about this entire fiasco seemed very scammy. and suspicious. Like...
1) Why would the cow jump out of those bushes, on to the highway right into the path of a speeding car?!
odd.. very, very, odd.
2) How did they get all those weapons and get here so damn quick?!

    Unfortunately, they didn't have time to ask each other these questions. They had one goal. And that was to Survive. and the villagers were like..
give us money for killing our goddess cow and you can go.

And my family was like....
And that is how they got out of there.

They paid the angry mob of villagers in return for their freedom. And managed to survive. Other ways they could have survived here...
   Here comes the best part though, uncle no.1 who owned the Logan tried to claim road accident insurance on the car. And get this, The insurance company not only paid to fix the car, but also informed him that his was the fourth car they'd seen that month in a case of homicidal cows on the highway. This group had purposely pushed the poor old cow onto the road to scam car drivers into paying them. that's why they were out with their arsenal so fast. something about this did seem suspicious all along. It was all premeditated, it wasn't a case of homicidal cows at all. It was a case of cow homicide. it was murder. 

What is the freakiest accident you've been involved in?? What would you have done in if an angry mob surrounded you?? What is the most brutal case of animal cruelty you've witnessed?? ?Have you ever been conned in a completely unexpected way, at a seemingly unassuming place?? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Woes of a Delinquent Overachiever - Our Education System

   Utopia, that is what I dream about, I'm a dreamer.and in the light of independence day and India on the verge of Modi-fixation, I figured this might be a good time to post something I wrote as a frustrated high schooler. Last year. Of course it required plenty of editing. And almost isn't what it started out as, But that's okay. 
   If there's anything this education system has taught me, it is the meaning of the refrain in Paul Lawrence Dunbar's,"sympathy"...,"I know what the caged bird feels". Of course the poem has to do with slavery and all that, and I'm not a slave and neither am I stupid, but how I understand it? it could be extrapolated by integration. its got to do with being limited, to be stopped by the ropes of institution and authority. Because in reality thats where the limits are drawn, most definitely, by a very certain someone.and whoever said the sky is 'the limit lied'. I would like to say that this person lied because the limit is beyond the sky, or rather that there's no limit at all, but if I said that I'd be lying, and I might be a lot of things, but a liar is not something that you'd find on my résumé, it's actually much shorter than that. Than the sky, that limit. There appear to be limits to what you can do, and achieve because it turns out you are not in complete control of everything in your life. and this scares me, because I'm a control freak. some of your life is actually controlled by governments and societies and systems and all that is around you  because even though you don't believe in politics or give a damn about the system, the system is affecting you. It believes in you. But it probably doesn't give a damn about you either. The truth is, I never liked that poem. Mostly because it felt way too real to me. And that was the hardest , scariest part, that I seemed to understand it and even relate to it on a certain level. I refuse rote learning. I refuse to be a nematode worm. There is nothing practical about a practical exam, and nobody cares what your project is really about. everybody is busy with bringing your confidence to sub zero levels. You are useless to the world. That's the simple truth they keep reiterating upon. and it is the truth,isn't it? fresh out of college, how many graduates really make it? How many of us even make it to college, really? Going through the education system was not pleasant. I was an enthusiastic enough three year old when I started school, but education clipped my wings and when I came out I felt like it was a miracle I had survived. 
Unfortunately, They would never let us leave.
 And I felt like the whole system was rigged against me. Rigged to blow up in my face. I began doubting myself, and a full year after finishing high school,and starting college, I still can't shake the insecurities. Am I really unworthy or is the system just seriously rigged against me?
I am sick of the corrupt politics here. And I yearn change. in the name of a "reservation system for the backward/scheduled castes and tribes", this country dismantles the entire idea of getting these people to fit back into the society, which was why this system was initially adopted. Don't believe me? thats fine. did you know that Gandhi, yes, the father of this nation, was against the reservation system? Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Ambedkar  had a massive brawl over this reservation system. Gandhi believed that this system would only serve to further isolate these so called backward communities. In his opinion, it wasn't going to help change anything for the better just cause you decide to be polite and decent and start referring to these communities as backward castes in parliamentary correct terms, instead of calling them Dalits or the untouchables. But, Dr. Ambedhkar argued Gandhi on this, he claimed that without economical and social support from the government, these classes would never be able to integrate themselves back into the rest of the society. They'd just get continually ill treated. And hence they settled it with a good old fashioned duel. Not. Just kidding. They compromised. This was called the Poona pact. Yes, I paid attention in history class y'all. And after long negotiations, I don't want to bore you with the details, it was agreed that the reservation system would indeed be adopted. But only for about 10 years. but this system is in fact still very much in order, 68 years after India's independence. Outstayed its welcome, hasn't it? 
This would come to mean that there would be a special reservation for members belonging to these so called backward castes everywhere, in the college admission process for government aided institutions , for government jobs, for seats in the parliament itself, you name it. Their community would give them a discounted ticket or even a free pass depending on how backward the community is considered to be, to an education, a job, a future. While the Rest of their forward caste peers would be robbed off the opportunities that they deserve. If you are a member of a forward caste and you'd like to become a doctor, you'd have to pay through your nose even if you scored 98%, there's even a pretty good chance you won't even get in through merit at all. But if you belong to a  backward caste or a scheduled caste or tribe, depending on how backward your community is considered to be, you might even get a full scholarship on med school, even if you only scored about 60% in your final high school exams. Your economic background is completely irrelevant to this.  Your peer who belongs to a so called backward community whose parents are also millionaires will have an edge over you. because he/she was born in a backward community or a scheduled tribe. If you still believe this reservation system is in fact necessary, why not change it and have the reservations for economically backward sectors of society instead? At least that way you would actually be helping a poor child who can't afford college education secure it. and people who don't need reservation due to their financial independence and liberty wouldn't be able to take advantages of the loophole in this system just because they were born in a particular community. we already have different ration cards that segregate citizens into those below poverty line and above poverty line, etc, so why not change the reservation system to be based on the economic status of a citizen instead. Because  isn't this community/caste based reservation system really just providing privileges by birth? how is it any better than the special privileges entitled to members of the clergy and nobility in france before the French Revolution. How is that secular? what makes it okay to call ourselves a secular state even while we still endorse this system? whatever happened to democracy and equal rights for all? 
This perfectly describes what I was feeling as I learnt all of this and asked myself all these important questions that the teacher couldn't answer.

To one up this reservation system, we have multiple boards of education here in India. We have the various state boards and we have the central board of secondary education and the ICSE board, and it is commonly agreed that all of these have varying standards, and levels of difficulty,  and yet most Indian colleges don't care what board you studied in or how much harder it was for you than the next person, they don't care about your story, your life, or your purpose, they don't care if you are a well rounded, multi faceted personality, they don't care about your co-curricular or extracurricular achievements, although most do have a small sports quota. They don't care if you come from an economically weak, forward caste household and can't afford to pay millions on an education. All they care about is your cut off marks. Marks, which a person who studied in a relatively easier to score, board of education might have got more easily. Universities here don't even offer part time work or scholarships that are not based on marks or community. everything about this system felt futile.outright stupid.

 I was going to have it blow up in my face. And it did. Blow up in my face. It actually made me cry. I don't cry very easily. You'd see me sweat and bleed before you'd see the tears. But I cried. I cried over how the system was rigged against me, Even before I faced my 12th boards. because I knew there was no getting away from this scot free. I knew I was going to get bruised and battered.  But I didn't stop. I couldn't stop. 
   
   In the end, I gave it my best shot. I studied in a school affiliated to the CBSE, a board considered to be relatively tougher than the state boards, I belonged to a forward community, I was a well rounded student who had absolutely nothing going for her. except for my wish to succeed. I wasn't even sure about what i wanted to do in college. I hadn't figured out things that far ahead. I was a just-a-little-above-average student who just knew that she was sick of being that person. All I'd figured out was that, I wanted to do something extraordinary, something that says I was here. Unfortunately, that wasn't exactly having much figured out. But before I gave this situation any more thought, the big exams came around, and I made an overall score of 86.4%. I am proud of that, but my cut off marks weren't even close to good enough in the system to get into any dream school. and nobody cared that I could play the keyboard or that I was on the organising committee for a lot of different events at school. I had been living a life of lies and false achievement...
 I wasn't going to get into any good schools without a little monetary aid from my parents. And that's what got me through the final push and shove. That's how I survived. And the education system does not help you in the slightest way to figure out what you'd like to with your life either. There's no career day at school, you have no first hand experience, or even information about off beat and not so regular career choices. There's no test drive. You just get on, gear up and hope to survive. And like many other Indian kids who have no idea what to do with their life, I picked engineering. Mostly because I was curious. I wanted to see what all the excitement was about. That's one of the reasons I picked engineering. The other was that I'd heard of plenty of people who'd studied it only to end up doing completely unrelated things in their life and even succeeding at it. I figured engineering would give me some time to realise what I really wanted to. And that's what I'm doing now. On surviving high school, I am surviving college, still waiting, wanting to do something extraordinary that says I was here. And the college system isn't proving to be very different in comparison to the school system. 
  Our education system is not teaching us moral values. It's not even career centered. I is syllabus oriented. It is all about learning a syllabus that we'll forget in the next few years. They say Education is what remains when you've forgotten everything you studied for the exams. because Education is about what you learn and what you discover, It is not about what you study. The previous governments have preferred to breed dull uneducated subjects that are content with election time freebies and rarely question its so called long term goals. All ideas borrowed, from the parliamentary form of  government of Britain, which has been slightly altered to ensure chaos by adding a multiparty system, it's all just been  inefficient. Inadequate. what our country requires is change, change and innovation. innovations are hardly ever welcomed and suggestion boxes, if they do still in fact exist,are never to be opened, because this is the real world. and I was tired, frustrated and angry, writing parts of this from a room 10 X 4, of a renowned coaching institute that's supposed to help you ace entrance tests to Indian colleges, a room fondly referred to by its proud students as the worlds biggest library which is in fact what the board in front of the room says. Not that its the worlds biggest, Just library. That was over a year ago. Initially, I didn't want to post this, and that is why, this has been a draft for over a year. Because I didn't want to crib and sound excessively negative. 
 But this has been bothering me for oh so long, that it had to come out. and I try my best to be an optimist about this and most other things, but unless we complain, talk, debate and discuss these things, They don't change, and here's hoping this does change, because it definitely needs to be MODIfied. Pun intended. Peace out.  And to keep things on a positive note, I am going to leave you with these two songs. Because music is positive.
How am I gonna be an optimist about this? I keep asking myself this everyday. And I keep struggling. and fighting because even though the system isn't making my life any easier, Its not completely to blame. I choose where my sweat and my blood will go, my hands, I'm accounted for. And some things are worth fighting for. 
P.s: I'm sorry that this wasn't exactly very funny. But I had to get my woes about the system out of my system.  get it? Never mind. That wasn't really funny either.

What do you think about our education system? What do you tell yourself everyday to stay positive? What do you think needs to change about the world? Did you like the music? what music inspires you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.Also, If you were able to relate to  his post, Please do share it.




Saturday, 28 June 2014

How I Managed To Turn My Life Into An Epic Mash up Episode Of Castle And Pretty Little Liars...

    A had said I knew too much. Way to be creepy. But if you don't know anything about "A" and you're completely clueless as to what I'm talking about, you're probably new here, and you haven't read the first two parts in this three part story. thankfully, for you, I'm putting the links for part 1 and part 2 along with this. you're welcome. Go read them and then come back. Here you are. You should know what I did Last summer and Flirting with 'A'.
  Now that you've been enlightened with my sly ways, You know I don't scare very easily.  So I retaliate with my best weapon. Sarcasm.
Me: "Yeah. So much more than when this whole thing started."
    As more time passes and I don't get a response, I get braver. I decide to try calling A. However, A is too careful and doesn't answer. Ergo, I borrow my mom's cell phone, and try calling A again. This time I do get a response.
"Foolish girl, just because its another number doesn't mean I won't know it's you." - A
Me: "You just gave yourself away. You perfectly know me. Slip up, huh? From the 'Listen sir or ma'am' thing you had going? Now stop fooling around, Like I said I'm getting bored. So just tell me who you are already."
Me: "Oh come on, It's getting lame."
"So, You are a girl. Men are never this persistent. Why don't you leave me alone and get a life. Curiosity killed the cat." -A.  
Me:"I'm waiting, and I'm not exactly growing any younger. can you just tell me who the hell you are? So I can get back to my boring life." 
     Most people would say A just tricked me into revealing my gender, then again most people wouldn't be texting a psychopath to begin with. It was time I started investigating this. It was true, I wasn't getting any younger, Nor any answers. So I figure, the best way to proceed, is to start ruling out suspects, and cross checking alibis. I decide to start with my friends. My first suspect being: Mad. Now that I think about this, I should've taken a page out of the Alison Dilaurentis handbook of amateur sleuthing and invited all my friends over for a sleepover and then drugged them. If I got a text when they were out, I could've ruled them out. simple but efficient. But being the naive high school graduate that I was, I decided to do it the old fashioned way. I called up the suspects and their alibi's and crosschecked them.
Me: "Where were you the night of the murder  last night?"
Me: "Ohh, You were in art class at exactly 2AM that night? Okay. Can anyone verify your whereabouts? Swarna? I'll be sure to check that. You better hope your story checks out."
Swarna : " yeah! she was with me the entire time! we don't even take our cell phones to art class dude. Yeah, I was watching her like a hawk. Trust me. It's not her. I can vouch for her. " 
Swarna: "By the way, I really hope you figure this out. Let me know if I can do anything 
else to help your investigation. You're like Holmes and I'm like your trusty, slightly more social, cooler sidekick Watson. Ooh or Starsky and Hutch, Turner and Hooch?"

Me: "You do remind me a little of hooch. Thanks for your help. You're my prime witness. and partner! You rock. peace out."
    
Hmm..something about that alibi seemed flimsy. 
Oh well...
      To my disappointment, most of my interrogations went a lot like the above example.  Meanwhile, I also analysed all the texts multiple times, and came to the conclusion that the evidence was inconclusive. And the data was insufficient to go on. My investigation had hit a dead end. I'd drawn a blank, and I was right back where I started, with crazy theories, wild speculation and zero proof. But that's how they solve homicides on TV. So I wasn't disheartened or deterred. Also, I did discover that A used a prepaid Airtel number from chennai, My own city, after a little bit of internet research on cell phone tracking. So, It wasn't a complete bust. Eventually, A decided to grace me with another text.
"Is this all jokes and games for you? Do you not see the seriousness at all?"-A
This is not a game to me AT ALL Mona
And, I'm like...

  I decided it was time I showed off my savvy investigatory skills. So I texted A back telling him/her about how I'd spent the day. Nothing fancy, watched some TV, Called a bunch of people, scoured surfed the internet, googled cell phone tracking... Okay, I was gloating a little bit.
Me: "I know you're an airtel subscriber from chennai. I did a little research of my own."
"Well done. Good for you, Nancy drew."-A
EVERY. SINGLE.CASE. Best clearance rate ever.
   But eventually A did realize I was valuable. And by that evening I was affirmatively declared a partner. partner in crime or partner in crime solving? I wasn't so sure. It didn't even matter. I'd been texting this mysterious number back and forth for nearly 3 full days. and nights. It kept me awake at night and not because it scared me. Because it excited me, and my face lit up with joy and happiness whenever my phone dinged. Okay, clearly, There is something fundamentally wrong with me. And this entire situation because our odd little relationship had developed to the point where A had begun to ask me a lot of favors. 
"Since you won't stop texting me either way, how about you make yourself useful and help me out?"-A
Me: "Uhh, Sure…"
"Okay, Could you estimate a time of death for me?"-A
Me: "Oh, Thats pretty simple, Give me the liver temperature." 
   After a small glitch in conversions between celsius and fahrenheit resulted in the wrong time of death, A told me that the answer didn't seem right…"I was never very good at math", I admitted. Eventually, we'd identified the error and fixed it. I was calculating time of death for A, Now there was no turning back. Whatever illegal, possibly criminal activities A was involved in, I was already an accomplice. I was in way too deep to ask myself or A questions about the morality of our actions. It was like a vow binding us. For good or for evil. As partners in crime. Or crime solving. We were stuck with each other. So, I reasoned that it was only fair I got to know his/her name, at the very least.
"My name is Ryu"-A
"I googled Ryu. That's a video game character."
  Later that night, I had to solve an anagram for A. Tom Riddle anyone? This level of our dangerous text based cat mouse game involved a time limit too. I'd kept mad in the loop on the developments of the case, ever since I'd ruled her out as a suspect owing to her rock solid alibi. When I told her about the anagram and my lack of motivation to crack it. she'd listened with rapt attention and encouraged me to solve it. 
Mad: "Why not? You've already dug your grave by acting as A's personal forensic technician. why not dig yourself in a little deeper, nail your coffin and solve this anagram? Its not like you could actually make things any worse. Your life is like an episode of castle and honestly I'm a little jealous. I'll help you crack the anagram" 
Me: "I don't know mad, It's one thing to estimate time of death for A, another thing entirely to estimate time of death and crack an anagram."
But She managed to convince me, I was all Ryu had. So, We'd solved some cryptic clues and figured the anagram's answer was a place in the city. Then we figured it had to be a place that might invite a terror attack, because this was A we were dealing with and then we had narrowed it down to hotels in the city. Perhaps a minute before time ran out, We guessed the name and I texted A. A told me we had done our best and that we had better call it a day. I obliged.
  Obviously though, I couldn't sleep very well, and the insomnia lead me to get out of bed as early as 7AM . Out of sheer boredom, lack of sleep and impatience, I decided to try calling A one more time.
I dialed the number that I had now memorized and heard it ring. I didn't expect A to answer at all. Just as I was about to give up  and hang up, Someone did pick up.
A gruff male voice said "hello?"
Me:….
  I didn't recognize the voice. It didn't sound like anyone I knew and its sounded a lot like it might as well have been Ryu's voice. I was always so confident that it would be someone I knew very well. A friend of mine. It had never occurred to me that I really could have been texting "A"
"Hello??"
The same gruff male voice repeated. I was not imagining it. It was NOT a dream, This was actually happening.  This was actually happening to me. I was launched head first into panic mode. Full on. My Heart had stopped for a second when I'd heard his voice. For that one second. Now it was racing again. My Mind was struggling to keep up. What if I had to go to jail? Prison stripes really weren't my thing, neither were orange jumpsuits… I was freaking out..
 Then a woman's voice came on.
"Hello?", she repeated.
"H…He..Hell-o??", I managed to stutter.
"Hello, Madhu is asleep. This is her mom. Hold on, I'll wake her" the voice informed me. I was jolted back into the realm of reality. My head cleared. The male voice in the beginning had been her dad. My heart rate lulled, and slowed down to a normal pace.
"heyy.." said a drowsy sleep addled familiar voice. It was mad. All along. But by the time she came on the phone, I had managed to calm myself, at least relatively, Considering I'd just gone pretty close to suffering a Heart attack and dying at the young age of 16.
"I Knew it was you. I knew it was you all along.", I told her.


  "Sure, You did", she mocked. Then she silently cursed her parents for answering her phone. After that We'd discussed the details of how awesome this had been for both of us. Almost a real adventure.
 All those people that I'd called asking if they knew the number, had in fact known it was mad's new number, they had all been warned in advance, though.
  As for Swarna,
The allure of the dark side had gotten to her and She'd played me.
 But It had been like an early birthday present to me, those three days. My own mystery. solved. sort of…

     And that concludes the final part of my three parter Story. Cue drum roll!! Hope you enjoyed it, Also, You might've noticed the cool, cartoon versions of me and swarna in this post.  Credits for the cartoons go to my friend Nithya Ravindra. 
Did you like said cartoons? Did you like the story? Let me know. Leave a comment. Have you ever played a prank on your friends? Done something crazy? Whats the craziest mystery you have solved? sort of. What Tv show or movie does your life draw inspiration from? Let me know below! 


Like this post? Share it!