Photos: Karangahake Gorge


A couple of weeks ago I went to Karangahake Gorge, two hours west of Auckland. These are some of my favorite images from the day.

The Gorge at midway point

It was a beautiful day, bright sunny skies and lush green mountains. However, after editing, I liked the photos best when they were monochrome.

Karangahake Gorge passing between two mountains
My favorite image from the day

I will upload most of the photos from that day in another post in the distant future.

Fiction: I am going to Hell


First time I woke up after the surgery, my vision was blurry. I could still hear raging fire around me, but I didn’t feel any heat. I didn’t think too much about it. 

The second time I woke up, I felt better. I looked around my bed to look for burned objects, but everything was spotless. My chest stitches where I had undergone a bypass surgery were tingling. I decided that I had imagined the heat from last time. 

The third time I woke up, I felt scratches on my back. My calves were screaming in agony. I could tell that they were bruised. I got out of bed worried I wouldn’t be able to walk. I walked fine. There were no bruises on my calves. But they hurt like someone very strong had grabbed onto them and didn’t let go.

I recalled my dream, one where I was being dragged into a burning fire. Nails biting into my back and powerful hands gripping my calves. I shook my head, dismissing the similarities as medically induced hallucinations. The alternative was too scary.

My doctor checked on me that day. He smiled to see me recovering well. I asked him if sensation of scratches and bruises after the surgery was a side effect. He assured me this was the morphine surging through my body. I didn’t believe him, I felt that something may have gone wrong in my surgery. They did something to me.

The day of my discharge as I walked past all of the families in the waiting room, I saw my reflection in the glass windows. I screamed and backed away.

I saw myself, bloodied & battered. My hair had been pulled out, my face had been partially burned and my chest had missing skin. I could see my chest muscles pulsing, every heartbeat sending shockwaves through me. After I couldn’t take it anymore, I looked beyond me.

There was the fiery pit from my nightmare, one that I was being dragged into. There were humanoid shapes moving in front of the pit stabbing the fire. Someone walked close to me, I could hear their footsteps. 

The figure had a full foot on me, leathery skin resembling burned rubber. It came next to me and leered at me…

I looked away from the glass instantly. I couldn’t take it anymore. My doctor stood in the place of that thing. He smiled back me, placing a hand on my shoulder reassuringly. But I could see the gleam in his eyes.

‘Mister, are you okay?’ he asked me.

I didn’t say anything. My mouth was dry and my knees had locked up.

‘Sir if there is an issue, I can assure you that you can always come back. We will have you back.’

It was then that I noticed that his eyes were red.


Macro Photography


Recently, I brought a bunch of mobile camera lenses. One of those lens was a macro lens, which allowed me to take photographs of objects 1-2 cm away from my phone. Here are some of the good ones results.

I also created an account on EyeEm, an social media/marketplace to sell some of my photos. Of course, these images are also edited as I have started taking photos in RAW format.

What to learn for?


In the last six months or possibly more, I have had nightmares with one recurring theme: exams. These nightmares have a similar narrative: I am about to give my exams when something goes wrong. It is my fault.

Some examples:

  • I haven’t studied enough.
  • I have failed even before I start my exams.
  • I arrive in an exam center in Mumbai for an exam supposed to take place in Auckland.
  • I am three hours late for a two hour long exam.

The nightmares end by jolting me awake in the morning. Minutes pass. I remember with relief that I don’t have to give exams anymore. I am not learning to give exams anymore. I wonder why I keep having these kinds of nightmares though.


I was always one of the smartest in my class. I would not hate giving exams, I would be prepared and focused. Motivated and ready to tackle my next challenge. They were the cause of some fond memories from my school & college days.

  • The last day at my third grade school when my dad and my best friends dad tallied our scores.
  • Solving of my older brother’s math problems with ease while he looked on.
  • Walking on the stage to get awards in my school 7th and 8th grade.
  • My undergraduate years where I explained electronics to my classmates.

Yes, all memories had an audience. Someone to recognize my brilliance. Also, these memories were of a period at which I was great at whatever I was doing. 

I was booksmart. Exams & learning was something I was always great at. Thinking back, it might have been the only thing I was good at, in that particular time period.

It might have been my whole identity.


Part of being a developer is constantly learning new programming languages and principles. I am currently trying to learn Android development.

Some days I am good. Most days, I struggle. I read stuff but my brain just doesn’t connect. The ease with which I used to learn things is gone, replaced by irritation & confusion.

I don’t not as intelligent as I used to be. My brain doesn’t have juice anymore.

I feel like I had the potential but it has wilted away.

I wonder how could this happen.

Is it age? Cause that is preposterous, I am only 25.

Or Am I just lazy?


I remember listening to a podcast in which a line was spoken. I am paraphrasing

‘I feel like I have to keep learning something new.’

Unknown Podcast

I don’t remember which podcast I heard it or how long ago. I just related to what was said.


One of few new things I discovered an affinity towards now is economics. I read a book a while ago on the American Electric Grid system. I read a book about handling finances and I also listen to Planet Money podcast. All of which have introduced me to an area that I have never given much thought to. 

I am learning new languages, both computer and spoken language. I am trying my hand on writing more, giving serious thought (so far) on a novella. I have even started learning techniques on photo editing.

I feel like I am doing more than enough. Everywhere.

Yet, without exams at the end of a term, I wonder what exactly am I learning for?

Bring Down Heaven trilogy by Sam Sykes


Note: This is in no way or form a book review. I am writing a high fantasy book series that I enjoyed.

Sam Sykes is an author who I follow on Twitter and have grown to appreciate his online humour. I kept seeing his book ‘City Stained Red’ on his feed and I ordered it from the library and subsequently read all three of the books in ‘Bring Down Heaven’ series: City Stained Red, The Mortal Tally & God’s Last Breath.

The books follow 5 adventurers/mercenaries and their stories: Lenk the default leader, Kataria a Shict ( species resembling elves ), Denous one with the past, Asper the priestess of Healing God, Dreadeleon a wizard and Gareth the Rhoga ( a lizard-humanoid species ). Apologies if I didn’t get their names right. In addition, the book introduces a ton of characters of which the most important of which are Mocca a man in white Lenk meets in the beginning.

I enjoy books which have multiple characters like these. It is an impressive feat to juggle so many different characters and to do them satisfactorily. This is a massive story, each book in the series spanning about 600 pages with the last book having a length of exactly 666 pages.

This book also deals heavily with the questions about faith, Gods who never answer and humanity’s need to have a being up in the sky. It also features heaps of exciting battles sequences and the city which despite being destroyed to the fullest always seem to have someone selling curry.

Pretty much everything I could ever like all together.

NOTE 2: Significant spoilers follow.

Each of the character has a different story.

  1. Gareath starts by being disgusted by humanity and his only tolerance is because of Lenk and others. Once the band disbands ( like the beetles ), Gareath has no checks on his anger.
    His story continues by raging against the city and ends with him realizing that he may have won the battle but there are just too many humans to actually defeat. Humans have created a system where every species has no choice but to follow their footsteps and eventually end up under their boot.
  2. Kataria already knew what Gareath knows. Her story revolves around where does she belong and what does she want. It is a pretty succinct description I would say.
    Also, she tries for two books to prevent shicts from starting a war with humans but she fails.
  3. Dreadealeon is a boy and his story deals with him fighting against everyone who thinks he is a boy. He uses his power haphazardly endangering and killing without any second thought. Only does when he have too much power right at the cusp of death he grows mature.
  4. Denous is someone who regrets his past, pretty much haunted by his actions. He wants to redeem himself but as the violence increases he is drawn back to his old habits and eventually makes the same action again hoping that just like last time, his actions will create enough chaos for his side to prevail. It doesn’t and the last thing he sees is his own past haunting him again.
    Until he is jerked back to haunt the living.
  5. Asper is someone who just doesn’t give up. Ever. Every time she fails, she picks herself up again. And again. And again. She does whatever she can, she hoodwinks and beguiles to save people because she actually believes in her life’s purpose as a priest.

The best story in this series is between Lenk and Mocca. Of course, at end of book 1 it is revealed that Mocca is a manifestation of the God-King Khoth-Kapira from Hell.

This is why the story is so interesting.

An atheist continuously converses with a entity prayed to by thousands of followers. A God-King/Demon & a mortal.

Throughout the series, individuals are seen to be praying to a God that never answers but they keep doing it anyway. Lenk, a sellsword, doesn’t pray to anyone.

He doesn’t pray even when he finds out that his blood contains blood of a long-dead God. Mocca/Koth-Kapira could talk to anyone but he chooses to engage with Lenk.

Their discussions revolve around Lenk’s inability to stop fighting. Lenk has been fighting for as long as he can remember & his only desire is to stop fighting in the start of the series. The series begins with him sneaking into the city to get paid and retire. And it is at the gates where he meets Mocca.

  1. Lenk lands in the middle of a gang-war.
  2. Then he inevitably started a civil war between two armies in the city.
  3. Then he was part of a ambush in outside the city.

As far as Lenk sees, fighting follows him everywhere. He can’t stop. Lenk desperately wants someone else to take control of his life.

Mocca convinces Lenk the only way Lenk & everyone in this world might stop fighting would be if someone Godly ( Mocca ) can guide them all.

Of course, none of this is really possible. Lenk didn’t start the gang-war, he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. It is revealed that the civil war would have started anyway, the armies were already skirmishing in the city. The ambush outside the city had nothing to do with him, he was again at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Lenk believes Mocca can stop everything. He was desperate for a life without any need to pick up the sword.

‘In their desperation, they turned to a man they don’t fully understand.’

Alfred, Dark Knight 2008

Mocca can stop the wars, the enmity among all species. Mocca can take control. By literally controlling everyone.

EVERY SINGLE SPECIES.

There is more to this story that I am not getting into for example, Mocca could have easily killed Lenk whenever he wanted.

My best guess is Mocca desperately wanted someone to understand him. Mocca was as desperate as Lenk to win someone’s support.

Looking back, it was obvious that the series would end right where it began: a conversation between Lenk and now the dying Mocca.


The end is pretty great. Everyone gets what they always wanted. It is not what they thought it might be but they get it anyway. They all go their separate ways.

As I was writing this post, I realized that the series have a precursor trilogy that I may read someday too.

Hamilton: Zuru Glow


Two months ago, I had my first solo driving trip. I had just acquired a new license and I wanted to celebrate. I drove to Hamilton for Balloons over Waikato’s Zuru Glow night . In hindsight, it is amusing that I drove to the same city I went three years ago when I had just moved to New Zealand.

I wanted to attend Balloons over Waikato ever since I first heard about it. As I was thinking of where to drive, I saw the event again in my feed. I wanted to see these massive balloons float over us ground, slowly becoming dots of light against the night sky.


The balloons never left the ground. They were inflated as the day turned to dusk. Bursts of fire bellowing & heating the air trapped underneath a seemingly thin layer of cloth made the balloons swell and look gorgeous.

There was a Darth Vader face mask Hot-air Balloon. I think it was their main attraction as they used Darth Vader’s voice to announce the beginning of the Zuru Glow Night show. There animal shaped balloons and simple balloons too. The brighter the color of the balloon, the better they looked in the night.

Fire from the balloons was enough to brighten the entire event ground. In addition, they installed pyro and as music blasted from the speakers, pyro bursts out fountains of fire in sync with the music. They closed the show with spectacular laser light show.  


Slow mo of the show that I captured

There were some really great things about the trip. I realized how tiring driving can be and it is totally not how it is depicted. I loved visiting an old style carnival. While driving back, I got to enjoy driving on straight roads with no traffic.

The best thing about the event, aside from obviously the Glow show was the public transport. No stay with me on this one.

Hamilton & the event organizers did a great job. There were free buses from different areas of the city to the event location. You can take the same bus back for free. The services kept running until all of the people had left the grounds. A bus every minute.

It also speaks volumes about the number of people attending that it took me about 3 podcast episodes ( ~ 1 hour ) to board a bus. I didn’t mind, it surely beat driving back.

Also, when I left, we would still see heaps of cars still stuck in traffic as we whooshed past them. The organizers ( city council? ) had cordoned off the flush medium of the road to be a bus lane for that day. Another good call.

Will I go again? Absolutely.

Short Story: Bliss


Inspired by: RadioLab episode Bliss. Just listen to the first ~10 mins of it and smile.

You can listen to the entire episode if you want, it is one of my favorties.

She didn’t want to look at her scores. She knew she was going to pass her exams. But she didn’t want to look at her scores and be… disappointed.

She has studied hard, everyone has always said she could score at the top of the class if she tried hard enough. She did try hard, every time. And every single time she came up short.

She should be happy with her scores, but she isn’t. Her friends are happier after scraping through the exams. But she was chasing a grade that she hasn’t achieved yet. And nothing below it would ever be sufficient.

She studied in the library to distract herself from everyone else looking at their scores. She had her phone turned off so that no one would message her. She would wait until the school is almost deserted to look at her scores.

She realized, she can’t try to explain it to her friends why her grades aren’t good enough. She doesn’t want to put up a happy face for others.

The day passed excruciatingly. She was restless, her legs fidgeting and her eyes darting to her turned off phone. She was almost there.

It was one hour before the decided time but she goes for it anyway. There are some students in the school but she walks past them in a hurry.

Scoreboard. Her name is alphabetically in the middle.

And…

‘WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!’ she shouts raising her hands in the air and jumps. She whoops some more, throws her bag off and turns her phone on.

‘WOOOOOO!!!!’ she screams again. She doesn’t realize but she is grinning ear to ear. Someone behind her claps.

She typed in her phone.

‘I GOT IT!!!!!’.

This time, all of her friends join in her excitement.

 


 

Locked out


I was standing outside my room, a pizza box in my hand as I tried to call my AirBnB host after midnight. No answer. I was locked out.


I was in Hamilton, it was my first solo trip after getting my license. ( I will post about my trip soon. ) The drive was great, the event in Hamilton was great as well.

That day, I had late lunch & I thought I would be able to skip dinner. After I reached my ( AirBnB ) home, just before midnight, I realized I was hungry. So I locked my room, kept the room key in my jacket and went to pick up a pizza that I just ordered.

I picked up the pizza, got back home and was about to open my door when I checked my jacket. I checked it again. Nothing.

I checked under my seat in my car. Nothing.

I went back to the pizza place. Nothing.

I texted my host to see if he had a spare key. No response.

I tried to see if my room’s windows can be opened from outside. Nope.

I was panicking at this point. I wasn’t hungry anymore. Realization hit me like a brick:

‘I am in a different city, I don’t know anybody and I can’t legally drive back home because my license has restrictions. I would have to sleep on couch. Hopefully no one else at the house makes a big deal out of it. ‘

There was nothing I could do.


When I partially finished my pizza, I realized I could do something.

I could pick the lock.

I knew I cannot cause any damage to the room or the lock. I can’t make noise either. There were other people in the house who were sleeping and it would make me feel even worse if I woke them up after midnight.

I sat in the lounge near the makeshift kitchen. I had access to some cutlery. I Googled
how to pick a lock and a site suggested using a butter knife.

There was a few knifes I could use. I had hope now. I abandoned my lackluster pizza and picked up the knives. The site said that try to insert the tip of the knife into the keyslot. Turn it just as you would turn the key.

First knife didn’t work. It was just to thick for the keyslot.

Second one went in the slot but I couldn’t turn it. I guess it wasn’t deep enough.

Third time’s the charm I guess. The lock clicked open and I was in my room.

I was euphoric. I didn’t have to spend my night crawled on an uncomfortable couch, cold and tired. I wasn’t tired anymore, I could have stayed up all night if I wanted just from the rush of successfully unlocking the door.

I did eventually sleep, after finishing my book ( Jurassic Park ) and my pizza. My solo trip was great. I had plenty of things to talk about but every time someone asked me about my trip, I began with how I was locked out.

Short Story: New Career


‘This worked at home’

I looked inside the hat puzzled, ignoring my audience of impatient 8 year olds. There was supposed to be a deck full of Queen of Hearts in there. But, it was empty. I cocked my head sideways, frowning. How did this not work? I had enchanted the hat with all of the right ingredients, I tested the spell once before the show.   

‘What is in your hat?’ the 9 year old birthday boy, Adam demanded to know. I snapped back into character and smiled. Yes, I was on stage and this wasn’t a time to be confused. I had to amaze my audience and so I would have to pull a finale from my ass.

Speaking of pulling something…

‘Well, I promised you a Queen didn’t I? But do you know what is better than a Queeeeennnn?’ I urged them to guess.

‘A King!’

‘A Mercedes Benz’

The kids kept shouting answers that were far beyond my ability to conjure. I had to stop them before they exhaust themselves too much. I mumbled a word under my breath and cast my spell.

‘A RABBIT!!’ I shouted as I pulled one out of the hat. The children exclaimed and started clapping. Luckily, they never realized that my spell hadn’t worked.


‘…, I don’t know what went wrong. I apologize for the mess up.’ I explained to the host of the party. Mac Andrews was a middle aged hedge fund broker who was on his 4th beer at his son’s 9th birthday party.

Yes, I was counting. The more they drank, less there would be left for me. I looked over Mac’s shoulder and I could see a whole table arrayed with beer bottles. Parents of other children were near the table like vultures using me as an excuse to get away from their children.

‘Adam loved your show. So did the other parents, they said you were amazing for a woman. After you finished, he said to me he wanted to be real magician like you.’ He took a long sip of his beer.

I smiled despite what he had said. I inspired someone to take up arcane arts?

‘So I am wondering where I can buy materials for the tricks you performed.’

‘Tricks?’ I asked, my attention snapping back at him.

‘Yeah tricks. Like how did you change color of that deck of cards? Or how was the bunny hidden in your hat?’

I glared at him.

‘I am happy to pay extra if needed.’ He quickly added.

I don’t want to remember what I did after that. I am sure Mac won’t remember anything from the night either.


I got out of the shower and dried myself. Looking at my reflection in the mirror, I asked myself if I have it in me to actually be a mage. It won’t be the first time I have changed careers. It won’t be the only time I changed something either. I snapped my fingers and my shoulder length hair changed its color from orange to blue.

I changed my hair frequently. I kept moving houses, without any forwarding addresses so that my ex boyfriends can’t find me. Now, as I am finally trying my best to stick to magic, I kept making mistakes.

I heard the floorboard squeaking.

No one has the key to my apartment. I quickly fasten the bathrobe around me and grabbed the burning candle currently permeating my bathroom with fragrance. I remind myself to not to set this apartment on fire.

As I walked out, I saw an old woman looking up at my library. It took me a long time to collect all of those books; although none of them in particular is really unique, but the combination of them all would be.

‘Last time someone broke into my apartment, I set them on fire.’ I threaten. I don’t know who the woman was, but I figured that fire threatens everyone. Yes, every ONE.

‘Catherine’, the woman spoke in a reverberating, almost like a cat purring, voice ‘Your library is amazing.’

‘Thank you?’ I replied confused. ‘However, checkouts will require you to get a library card.’

She laughed and turned around. My eyes went wild in recognition. She looked young, younger than me and I was barely 30.

She was also really dangerous. So I spoke a word for fire in a language long dead and my candle’s tiny spec of a flame raged into an inferno.

For a second.

I looked at her again. She smiled.

‘Well, this should’ve worked at home.


I attended a magic show recently and I realized that in a world where we constantly believe that magic is just trickery and slight of hand, a real mage could fit in perfectly.

I also know that a similar book series has been written, in fact it is one of my favorites: Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I also tried to imagine spell casting a lot like software development: full of mistakes and confusion. 🙂

Blade Runner 2049 ( 2018 )


Also, after watching the original Blade Runner and then consequently watching this one, I am only going to talk about Blade Runner 2049. Also, this is not a review.

I watched this movie partially when I was India but I couldn’t immerse myself in it. The second time I watched it, I was able to. I kept the lights off, kept the volume high as I sat on my couch immersing myself in this exploration about what it means to be human.

There is something stunning to watch a life unfold in slow deliberate steps, to watch a character walking through life and then at the end making life work for him.

Yes, I loved the character of K. A guy/replicant who is hated ( racism? ) for who he is, working to hunt his own kind. I watched this lonely guy, whose only real relationship is with another non-human AI, go through a severe life shattering existential crisis.

K went from being someone who was sure of WHO HE IS, to someone who fought against evidence of what he thought HE ACTUALLY IS and just when he was about to accept his fate, that identity is again taken from him.

Through the course of the movie, I watched the character slowly lose his entire life: his work is compromised, his ( AI? ) girlfriend dies in front of him and his sense of identity dies twice. At the end, he accepted he is and does what he thinks he should do.

And for me, that is a really great story. That is a really great character.

For me, that is a inherently human character.

I am sure I am not the only one who came to this conclusion while watching this movie. I think I needed two viewings to draw these inferences from the movie.

A while back, I posted something about watching a lot of video essays on YouTube. The linked essay is one of them and I particularly love this channel as it makes me see something that I haven’t seen before or realize WHY I like a movie so much.

Short Story: Baby Brother


‘You’ll tell mum?’ Samir asked crestfallen.

When he was 8, he broke the tele. He looked at me distraught and asked me the same thing.

Now, I can’t even look at him anymore. He has lost weight. My eyes trying to find my brother in the shell he has wasted into. I wondered why did he relapsed this time.

I looked out of the car window, the day was beautiful. The type of day I would be spending soaking the sun on a beach somewhere. But I was outside a rehab.

“I should tell her, she has been texting me since last night.” I finally mumbled. I should have been angry, but all I felt was tiredness.

When I saw him two years ago, we fought. He stormed off into the night but eventually he settled into our mum’s garage. From the corner of my eye, I could see him nodding his head. He was high.

“You sure I need to go there? I would be okay, I won’t take anymore.” he uttered sullenly as he gazed upon the doors which would be his home for the next couple of months.

“You know you do. They can help you, I…” I choked up.

He got out of the car for what seemed like eternity, the silence hanging between us like a carcass. I watched him talk to the receptionist.

I sat in my car, hoping he wouldn’t come running out. I hoped this would be our last visit.

I receive another text.

‘Have you found him?’. Mum.

I never told mum how the tele broke.

‘He’s fine. He would be living with me for a while.’


I wrote this for Brilliant Flash Fiction’s Concealment prompt last year. It didn’t make the cut but after listening to ‘This American Life’s’ episode on Dopey I revisited it. I tried to modify to what the episode was about, how I felt while listening it.

Shades of Loneliness


The library is a magical place. From time to time, I find truly remarkable books. Recently, I read Jessie Greengrass’s An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It. I picked it as it was the only short stories collection I could find.

I am glad I did. This book made me felt… understood.

It didn’t offer any revelation about my nature or my circumstances. Neither did it try to offer any solution to the things it spoke about. It just … presented them.

I am hooked from the first page of the titular short story. I am bracing myself to confront an emotion that I have felt before and now, I am reading what I have felt.

The regret and the anger at one own’s actions. The character’s realization of the consequences at their own irreversible actions.

The sense of being lost in a world one shouldn’t feel lost in.

The daydreaming one does when their own reality is just okay.

The rationalization one makes when looking back at some of the choices one made.

There is more to the book that I can write here or talk about. Neither do I feel like I have the adequate comprehension to present it.

I knew from each story that the character was lonely in a way.

The stories in the book depicted a different shade of loneliness. I was able to relate to the characters because they are feeling something that I have felt before in my life.

I have felt their anger and regret.

I have felt lost.

I have daydreamt.

I have rationalized.


I wonder why this book of all of the things in my life made me want to open wordpress again. Late last year I realized that I didn’t have anything to write about anymore.

What do I do with a personal blog when there is nothing interesting in my personal life   personal life doesn’t offer anything to write about?

I guess I will write about books and movies that made me feel something, that keep me thinking long after they are finished. I will write about the YouTube channels that help me understand why I love certain movies more than others. Hopefully, I will write a short story or two too.

Anniversaries


Three years. Five years.

I have been living in Auckland for the last three years. I am not a guy to celebrate anniversaries but somehow this feels momentous to me

My blog is five years old now. Five. If my blog was a kid they would probably be in school now. I am proud of this too, even though I feel guilty of not being able to maintain it or sustain it with enough traffic over the years.

So yeah, this is the post. That’s it

Photo Post: Foggy Morning


Last weekend, I was walking through Ponsonby, Auckland to meet a group of hikers. This morning was special, it was particularly foggy. I could hardly see more than a few meters in front of me even though the sun had risen half hour ago.

I took this photo after sunrise around 8:30 am. Sunlight imbued the entire street with an orange glow.

orange-fog-sunlight-street
I think it is my best photo yet.

 

 

I am learning to drive… finally


People are always shocked when I tell them that I don’t know how to drive. It is almost unimaginable for people to live in Auckland and not drive everywhere. There are a lot of cars in this city. I have to explain it to them that I don’t need it right now as I work very close and in Mumbai, everyone relied on public transport.

I got my learner’s license about 8 months ago. I have been meaning to start learning to drive but I was in no hurry to do it. I don’t know why I finally took that seriously a month ago. Probably because I wanted to learn something new.

I don’t have a car. I can’t drive without supervision on a learner’s license and I can’t pass my license test without knowing how to drive. The NZ Transport Agency recommends a total of 120 hours of driving experience before going through a driving exam. This feels like a Catch 22.

I had to ask, like formally, my friends to teach me driving. This weekend, after three hours of cumulative practice in the parking lot, we took to the road.

It is tough to understand how big the car is and how far to the left it stretches ( we have the steering wheel on the right ). It is impossible to instinctively know how to reverse. I have to collect my thoughts, strategize before reversing. And I still got it wrong.

Luckily, I didn’t harm the car or anyone else. My friends were pretty supportive and allowed me to take my time. I might have another session with them in their car before buying my car for practice.

Who knows, I might actually enjoy this. Cause I really want to drive on the road with this song.

Conversation Starters: ‘How’s it going?’


I don’t like that question. I hate asking or being asked the question, “How’s it going?” It is a terrible conversation starter.

I get it, meeting and talking to new people is pretty hard. Talking with acquaintances is even harder. So, it wouldn’t be a surprise that it is pretty common conversation starter.  Almost everyone uses it. There are a couple of problems with that questions, as innocuous as it appears to be.

Firstly, it expects a tale. Not a story, but a tale like Lord of the Rings. It expects a tale worthy of your time and as well as the asker’s.  At least that is how I feel about it.

Every time I am asked that question, I scratch my head to find the most amazing thing that has happened in the last couple of weeks. And every story that comes to my mind seems to be quiver in front of that question. There is no easy answer ( more on that later ).

Secondly, it seems almost disinterested in normal mundane things. The Everyday cannot be answer to that question.

I like mundane, I love normality. I would love to go on an adventure as much as the next guy but I don’t do it as an escape. I would go because I wanna go ( whole other bag of worms ). I would go because after a while I would crave for the normal again.

Thirdly, no one knows how to answer that question. No one. Everyone says things like ‘It is going good’, ‘Average’, or sometimes when people feel a little gregarious ‘Not too bad and not too good’.

After that, everyone just stand there idly thinking of something to say. The very fact that this conversation starter doesn’t even start a conversation seems preposterous to be.

Alright, rant over.

What to do after this question is asked? Or is asked to you?

What is my blog about now?


I completely overlooked the fact that my blog is 4 years old. I should have made a big deal of it considering how quickly my passions oscillate. I am astonished that I haven’t let my blog die.

For the past 4 years, I kept writing without any theme in mind. I wrote about my life, some short stories and lately photo challenge posts. I enjoyed writing. I relished the feedback I received from friends in my real life and the ones I made through WordPress.

The 4 years weren’t smooth sailing,  there were times I thought about stopping. I would always come back though, usually with an urge to get my thoughts on paper.

In January, I took my blog seriously again. I had a few goals:

  1. Write every week.
  2. Generate the minimum traffic everyday.
  3. Comments, likes don’t matter even though they are always appreciated.

I knew that I would always have one viewer on my blog ( Hi Mummy! 🙂 ). But attracting people everyday to my blog was hard. Writing every week is also hard. So far, I have a few irregularities but mostly I have been successful. I won’t admit it was easy, there was a month long gap where I didn’t post anything. But I have to go on since the year’s not over.

For #2, I found two easy ways to get people on my blog: Community Pool and Photo Challenges from Daily Post. However, last week I found out that Daily Post will stop publishing new challenges and hosting pools.

Now, I have to figure out a way to keep my blog alive and post something at least weekly. I can do the latter. I do have enough ideas and content in my head to keep going. My life is exciting enough for me to do that.

I have no idea how to generate traffic. I ought to figure it out someday.

In the months since I started, I realized a few things. I don’t write for the benefit of others. My blog probably never was. It’s mine.

A glorified journal for me to log my important memories and experiences. It was for posting photos I am proud of, for posting short stories I enjoyed writing ( I haven’t done that in a while ).

So this is what this blog is about now: me. It is my attempt to keep something good in my life going. Welcome.

 

With English Language


This post has been long overdue. I first thought about writing it when I was sitting in a bar with some of my friends. Half of us are non-native English speakers. I asked them, ‘which language do you think in?’

I wish the answers they gave me were revealing. They weren’t, all of them thought about it and then shrugged ignorance. No one knew.

I remember reaching in Auckland two years ago. I remember my first conversations. I would pause before speaking because I would get my languages mixed up. Even though I am a competent multilingual, I couldn’t think of the words. I had to translate every sentence I was going to utter from Hindi to English.

I don’t remember the time when I stopped thinking in Hindi. I wish I did so that I could give a definite answer it took for me to leave my language behind. One day when I was biking home and I was thinking of which route to take when it hit me, my thoughts were articulated in English.


When I was studying for undergraduate degree or when I started working in India, I met new people. On the basis of languages, I could categorize two types: ones who would mostly speak in English and others would communicate in Hindi. I also learned that it didn’t matter as eventually everyone who could, would revert to Hindi.

It was natural, almost instinctual amongst us. Sentences would get a motley of words from both languages; idioms roughly translated and laughed at.

It didn’t matter if I couldn’t get my message across in English, I had the safety net of just doubling down to Hindi just like my peers.


In Auckland, there are numerous times when I have to re-frame my sentences because what I said was incoherent. It wasn’t particularly because of our lingo differences, I always found it difficult to form sentences on the go while speaking. Writing, on the other hand, came naturally.

There were also numerous times when I didn’t understand what other Kiwis are saying. Sometimes they would say ‘Cheers’ as thank you and other times they would exclaim ‘Sweet As!’ to express their approval. I still don’t get the second one.

I had to relearn the programming jargon so that I could use it when I am working, or explaining my code to someone.

I am not an accurate representation of every non-native speaker or everyone has the same issues. I don’t face the same issues all the time either. There have been occasions when I was perfect and then some bad days when I would stammer and lisp my way through a conversation. Probably has something to do with my level of confidence on that particular day.


I have a lot of free time in my hands these days. My friends with whom I would spend most of my weekends are gone, and I wonder what to do with them. Sometimes I think it would be a great thing to learn a new language. I ask myself, do I need to learn a new language?

Is it even useful anymore?

Then I go to an Asian supermarket and listen to people speak their language and realize: yeah it is. I really want to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations.


It was one of my first months in Auckland. I was returning home and I was sitting in the back of the bus. A group of three people were talking loudly near me and I could hear everything they said. They were talking about bacon.

‘You never have to use oil when making bacon because there is enough fat in the bacon’ one of them said. I made bacon for the first time a couple of days later.

I also looked over to the speaker and saw that he was also Indian, possibly a Kiwi national by his accent & fluency. One day, I thought.


Looking back on the different things I have done, people I have met, I know that the one day has long been crossed. English is no longer a second language, a means to illustrate my education ( India ) or a barrier ( New Zealand ).

 

Image Credits: Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Taking photos is fun now


I have always enjoyed taking photos and a while back seriously considered buying a DSLR or a mirrorless camera. The only problem with such a purchase is the camera isn’t as compact as I wanted it to be. I ended up buying the new OnePlus 5T. I am not going to review the phone, it is pretty fantastic and it gives me some features a normal phone camera doesn’t. The result:

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I have been taking heaps of photos in the last couple of days. Last Saturday, I purposely woke up at 6am in the morning, something I don’t do on a weekday, to try and take pictures of the sun rising over Auckland’s skyline. It was a really good day and now I am constantly spending a couple of seconds be fore taking any photo. The biggest surprise for me was when I was able to take a night sky photograph just outside my home in the middle of the city.

Fair to say that I will be taking part in heaps of photo challenges from now onwards and my instagram will be constantly updated. Hell I even started signing my photos because I wanted my name out there!

 

 

Photo Challenge: Prolific


Last Saturday, I woke up at 6am to try photograph the sunrise from Point Chevalier in Auckland. The sunrise was spectacular but this photo became my favorite. Hundreds, if not thousands of dewdrops.

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Prolific Dewdrops lighted by the morning sun

Photo Challenge: Smile


I had to point my camera at something or someone that puts a smile on our face. Well, Zoey does that. She usually finds me when I am coming, she runs towards me: her feet clapping on the sidewalk and stops a meter away so that I have to get close to her to pet her.

black cat surrounded by weeds

Musical Farewell


* Note: This post is more than a week late
* Also, all people in this post are mentioned by their initials

This was my fourth farewell in the last couple of weeks. I joked with P the other day, I am losing my friends. Some friends are leaving because they don’t have a visa and others like E because she wants to travel.

With every goodbye I utter, I expect myself to grow indifferent and apathetic and yet I haven’t. Every farewell is different but each bring about a emotion in me. This scares me. I realize that I am more attached to my friends that I thought I was.


‘I am going to miss you,’ I say as I hug E goodbye after the farewell, ‘it is unusual for me to be so comfortable around people. I am going to miss that.’

‘Of course, we are really cool people’ E jokes. Obviously, someone has to discharge the emotion in the room with humor.


Last Saturday was E’s farewell. I met her around my first hackathon and then we became friends as we started hosting a meetup along with P and A. Our group became larger as the weeks passed on by and I was glad for that. It didn’t change the group dynamics on the contrary it made hanging out even more fun. It was no surprise that Saturday night was amazing.

Somehow a stupid song ‘Ken Lee’ became the anthem of the night, sung repeatedly. The night became truly extraordinary after the clock struck 10pm, guitars and keyboards were brought out.

We demanded performances as if we had never heard songs before. The hits rolled out: Can’t Live without You by Mariah Carey, Winds of Change by Scorpio, Africa by Toto, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper, Better Half of Me by Dash Burlin and more. We sang without really being drunk, our mood imitating the ambiance one can find in a Karaoke bar. We were happy. We were laughing and we were singing.


We were sitting down. J mentioned a conversation between her and E about our group. The crux of it was that E has become sort of a mother for the group: she would bring food for meetups, she would organize and plans for all of us to get together: sometimes movie nights at her group.

‘It is true,’ I say, ‘E is sort of the planner/mom of the group. We will not have any plans or things to do in the next couple of weeks.’

Everyone laughs.


I remember my brain taking a snapshot of the room. My brain does that from time to time, ensuring that I would never forget something really important. It is as if time slows down and I observe everything in utmost clarity as I did on Saturday night.

E is playing her guitar, R is playing his keyboard, Ir is holding her phone to read the lyrics of the song as we all sing along in a massive out of tune chorus. I feel a grin on my face and at that time I kind of regret that P and A had left the party early. I also know that it would be a while before we would get together like this again. I also know that I will try to capture the essence of the party into this post and will ultimately fail.


There was a house cat at the party. He would be the center of attraction as soon as he walked in the room. As Enzo was being petted by multiple hands, P mentioned about humans being petted.

The joke was simple: will it be weird if we are walking down the road and random people stop us to give our heads a nice pat.

I might actually like that.


It was a great night. It was one of those times in which the sum of emotions is hard to describe. I was happy to be a part of the family that I had formed, sad because I knew that it might not go back to normal for a while, amazed because I didn’t know that my friends are so talented and… I don’t know what else. It is difficult to dissect my feelings about the night.

 

Photo Challenge: Rise/Set


This isn’t exactly sunrise, I think the time was 10am. But I think this fits Rise.

Also, I took this with my friends’ DSLR when we were walking Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

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The sun rising behind a hill on a clear day

Photo Challenge: Favorite Place


This is not my favorite, but it certainly is this black Labrador’s favorite place: standing on top of the garage. I have seen him/her so many evenings while coming home but the Lab’s too far away to catch the name or pet.

Black Labrador standing on top of a garage next to the sidewalk
Look at him!

Parting


I met Rohit two years ago after I started my Masters. Today, he leaves New Zealand as I wait for my visa to come through. Through the past week, I have been thinking about how today might play out. What will we say to each other? Will I feel guilty about things working out for me ( visa abiding ) and not working out for him?

I have been plagued with another question too. Will I even feel anything? After all, Rohit and I were never really close. We never spoke about our hobbies or our families. We didn’t talk nor did we ever bond in our struggles. We just hung out, cooking burgers and drinking beers. I would spend most of my university days in his house. Then in the last year, some of our mutual friends moved in with him and I would visit them on the weekends. We would play Call of Duty on his PlayStation, we would cook pasta or Thai or just get fish and chips because we lost track of time. It was always easy.

He, his roommates and I spent the day doing the things we have always done. We hung out. Played Call of Duty, made stupid jokes. Went to a park for dinner where we barbequed burgers.

After I hugged him goodbye and waited for my bus, I stood there thinking how normal the day was. If it was not his last day in the country, it might have been any other Sunday.

It was so easy to just walk into his place, just drop by on the weekend without an iota of plan. And now, there will not be another weekend for a while like that.

I wondered if this how adult friendships feel like.

 

Photo Challenge: I’d Rather Be


This photo was from a walk I did in Duder Regional Park.

I would rather be near the sea, and on a perfect day like this, the shore looks amazing.

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Duder Regional Park, Auckland New Zealand

Tongariro Alpine Crossing


A year ago, when I had just met a new hiking group, I heard about Tongariro Alpine Crossing. I met people who were going to attempt the crossing with the group and I wanted to join her. I love hiking/walking and it would have been a great opportunity. But I didn’t. For the last year, I have been looking for a chance to try the crossing. I would tell everyone whenever the topic came up. Finally, some of friends decided to do it.

This is not a road trip post and neither is this a hiking blog, so I am going to spare those details. I will tell you this: Tongariro Alpine Crossing was one of the toughest walks I have done. No one ever told me that it would be this hard.

When others mentioned above had completed their crossing, the weather was pretty bad. My trip had two things going for me.

One: When we got to our starting carpark, the weather was picture perfect: blue skies with one or two clouds.

Two: I was given a DSLR camera. My friend had an old one and he was more than happy to let me use it ( he used his GoPro ). The entire crossing, I had the DSLR hanging on my chest, bouncing off my tummy.

The walk was easy until a certain point, I guess one fourth of the way in. Then we started ascending: first on spiraling staircase with many false finishes and then on the slope of Mount Tongariro. The staircase path raised my hopes so many times as I could see plateaus where people were resting & I would think: almost there. But I would be wrong cause there would be another staircase, and then another and then another and then another. After a while I stopped hoping.

The steep uphill walk of Mount Tongariro was the toughest, I kept stopping every minute. I kept asking my friends whose idea was to do this walk and they would tell me it was mine.

The last 6km of Tongariro Alpine Crossing felt like 30km. We kept walking, heading downhill steadily stressing our knees. I didn’t take one picture during that part, I was too tired to care. The 20km Tongariro Alpine Crossing sure felt like 50km long at certain points.

Once we finished and I was on the shuttle back to our lodge, I took a deep breath. I had done it, I had finally crossed Tongariro. A year of anticipation, nine hours of leg punishing walk and some three hundred pictures.

There were some great, breath taking moments. Some pictures I took instantly became my favorite. I saw Mount Ngauruhoe ( Mount Doom from Lord Of The Rings franchise ), I could see snow-clad Mount Ruapehu. In the distance I could see Mount Taranaki ( The Snow Mountain as I call it, where I saw with snow for the first time last September ). I saw the famous Emerald Pools, I could see smoke billowing out of the hills.

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I don’t think I will do this walk again, but I know that if I will have the feeling with me. Every staircase will seem puny as compared to Devils Staircase. Every uphill will be simpler with respect to Mount Tongariro. As my friends were making the joke as we were getting back to Auckland, ‘We did Tongariro, we can do anything now.’

 

Midsummer Night’s Dream by Pop-Up Globe


Last week ( another long overdue post ), I had the pleasure of watching Pop-Up Globe‘s iteration of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Having never watched any Shakespeare’s plays, I was in for a treat.

Featuring an all male cast, the play revolves around the events of a marriage, couple of fairies and two couples. Because the play was being performed in Auckland, it had been modified so as to include Maori myths. Two parts of the play was in Maori. I didn’t get most of what was being said during the time but I understood the gist of what was happening by the expressions and gestures of the actors.

Being performed in Victorian/Shakespearean English, it was hard to understand at times. Our seats ( through luck ) were just beside the stage and the actors delivered their lines facing sideways from us. Not everything was lost though as the last part of the play featured the actors sitting just outside our booth and wisecracking.

Filled with enough present time cultural references, Midsummer Night’s Dream was hilarious. It made me hoot and cheer, made me laugh till my belly ache and clap along with the song at the end.

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As the show came to an end, I suddenly remembered my time back in my third year of Bachelors degree when I had performed in a play. I remembered the adrenaline rush just before we began, the pride from the laughs that we gathered from the audience, the cultural references that we had shoehorned in according to where we were performing.

I missed those days acutely as I left the theater. I clapped furiously as the play ended, standing up as I had an small clue regarding the effort in building that play. The rehearsals, the arguments, the pseudo-family born by the end.

I realized that I will always love theater because of my experience. I also realized that one day I might even jump to act on stage again. But for now, I am going to clap and hoot for every performance that I might see.

PS: If you are in Auckland this summer, definitely go for any of Pop-Up Globe’s plays. They were amazing.

PS: Post is not sponsored by anyone

 

Photo Challenge: Variations of Bridal Falls, Raglan


I was at Raglan last year when we visited Bridal Falls. I took photographs from various angles. Enjoy!

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Bridal Falls from the top ( Edited by Google Photos Assistant )

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PS: If anyone has any suggestions on adding watermarks or copyright to lots of images, let me know!

Photo Challenge: Silence, Duder Regional Park


I was out on a hike at Duder Regional Park, East Auckland. The place was great for oceanic/peninsular pictures. Here is one of them.

 

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Peninsular Path

I walked with 60 people who were behind me. This peninsula is one of the (a fortified site) in the region. As we sat for lunch, most people sat under the shades. I explored and found that the acoustics of the region creates a perfect barrier and I enjoyed some perfect silence even being five feet away from 60 hikers.

Birthday Blues


My birthday was in November. Yes, this post is extremely late.

When I was a child, I had the habit of counting the number of days to my birthday. I would literally start the day following my birthday and count the number of days till my next. I loved it. I received presents. Mom would cook lots of my favorite food. I would cut blow the candle and cut my cake as everyone started singing ‘Happy Birthday’.

As years went on, birthdays changed: it became the day of no consequence. I could literally sleep all day long and no one could say anything to me. I would not do any homework, would try to take a holiday so that I could avoid school. My excuse: it was my birthday.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is my dad. He would hardly celebrate his birthday. He would go to work and come back, always telling me that he can’t take a holiday because it was his birthday. I never understood that. He would say ‘Kya celebrate karna?’ ( What’s there to celebrate? ).

In the recent years, my birthdays changed. During my bachelor’s, my birthday would coincide with the hardest exam. My college mates would greet me quickly and go back to studying. I wanted to study just like them, my birthday wasn’t important enough.

Sometime during those years, I changed my Facebook’s privacy and permanently hid my birthday. I didn’t know why then, I know why now. I don’t want people who I have never spoken to in years, people who could hardly be called acquaintance message me on my birthday to wish me. I never liked Facebook’s insistent notifications reminding me of others’ birthdays. I always thought Facebook’s birthday calendar system was too robotic, devoid of any feelings or emotions.

I don’t remember what I did last year for my birthday. I was probably in bed because I was still sad over what had happened. This year, I went to work. I completed my hours, made a software release, not mentioning my birthday to my colleagues. I made the day as ordinary as possible.

I did that because it is an ordinary day. I was born 24 years ago on a November day was special. For me, it doesn’t make all the subsequent Novembers special anymore even though the young me thought otherwise.As I was walking home, I remembered my dad’s words: ‘Kya celebrate karna?’ ( Now what’s there to celebrate? ).

If I was a character in a show or book, I think I would call this change a character development.

 

Photo Challenge: Growth


I took this photo a long time ago as I was walking to work with my Huawei Y5 phone camera. Spring time meant a lot of flowers and this one was great, a perfect flower growth. Check out Daily Post for the prompt.

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Low Resolution Flowers

2017 in Review


I expect things to always get worse. I have always greeted new year’s with trepidation because I expect life to get harder. 2017 was a year where I always expected the other foot to fall. But now as I look back on the year, surprisingly it was relaxing.

Sure, now that I recall, first quarter of the year was stressful because my visa kept getting delayed. I also moved twice in a month. But also, I was finally able to get a job in my sector. After which it was pretty much smooth sailing for me.

I went home to India after a year and a half, gave my family a present surprise at 3 am. Met most the friends that mattered.

I also saw snow for the very first time and also discovered that I am scared of cliffs. That fear didn’t stop me from going on more adventurous bushwalks though.

Jumped off waterfalls and was mesmerized by Glowworms in Raglan which I could say was the highlight of the year. Jeez, even thinking about it makes me wanna go back and I will probably do that again someday.

Lastly, I got one of my essays published in a book. An actual paperback all thanks to Zee! I spoke in front of people and told them about my piece. I couldn’t have wanted a better first piece and it made me take my writing seriously again.

And now we are here, at the end of 2017, a year which could have been a whole lot worse but wasn’t. So this post is not about how scary the next year will be ( of course it will be scary ), I am trying to sound grateful to 2017.

I sincerely hope that your next year is great! Happy New Year everyone!

I host a meetup now


Well I co-host  the meetup but that’s perfectly fine.

I was just an attendee of the meetup till about 3 weeks ago. One time, the regular hosts couldn’t make it and they asked everyone if someone would like to host it, I said sure why not? I mean how hard can it be?

Next thing I know, I am part of their inner circle, attending their planning sessions and what not.

House of Code used to be called FreeCodeCamp Auckland. It is a technical meetup which was aimed at mostly beginners and newbies but the hosts decided to grow it. Now, they ( we? ) are planning on building this fully fledged web app ( Techincal Language: React app ) and I am one of them.

As to how hard can it be? Not so much. It involves lots of explaining and talking but I can do that when I have something to talk about. Plus, I am talking to people who have a similar interest which is always a nice icebreaker.

There is one thing that I noticed in the last few meetups where I was the host. Usually, at these events I have a partial knowledge of what is happening. I don’t know who is talking about what or who knows what.

As I hosted the meetup, I realized that I knew everything that was happening. Who is good at the language we are going to be using, who is enthusiastic and who is trying to steal our idea.

Of course, I may be wrong about them but usually this just makes the entire meetup really exciting. I always have something to do, someone to talk to, something to talk about.

Plus, all of the hosts are going for Star Wars: Last Jedi midnight show so I would say that I trust every one of them.

 

NaNoWriMo: Halfway Update


This is not my first NaNoWriMo. It is my third attempt, and the only time I succeeded in finishing my story was the very first year. I liked the story at the time, but if I read my words now I realize little in terms of a story. Last year I had no idea what to write so I wrote barely 2k words before I gave up.

This year I had a great idea, I loved the idea so much that I woke up from a dream, made a note of the idea and slept back again. The dream is vaguely fresh in my head.

I knew early on that I might not be able to keep up with the daily goal. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to finish my story this month. When I sit down and write the words do pour out but I hardly have time to write daily. I would rather read a book, which I wholeheartedly do.

According to the site, I am supposed to have 25k words down by today. I have about 6 to 7k words down yet. In fact, I am only through to the first three chapters of my supposed story.

There has been one good thing though: I know that if I have to keep writing, all I need is a half hour sprint. I was able to maintain a daily half hour sprint a month ago and I am sure I can do it again. I might just finish this story eventually so I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I don’t wanna travel the world


Living in New Zealand, I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of people from different countries. The biggest advantage of meeting people is that most of them are/were traveling the world. The disadvantage of meeting people is that most of them are/were travelers.


I remember a Belgian guy from the first group of travelers I had met. He started calling me ‘Mayo’ and the name has stuck since. He showed me his passport, it was full of immigration stamps from different countries. I was fascinated by his passport and since then my first question to any traveler is to see their passport.

Recently I met a woman who has been on all of the 6 continents and plans to set foot on Antarctica at the end of the year. We were on our way to Raglan with two others, both of them had traveled a bit.

Sitting in the car with them, we ( they ) spoke about their trips. The adventures they have been on and the different cultures they have seen. It was entertaining to listen to them recall their great moments and the highs of their years past. All of them were 6-7 years older than me.


Mumbai is big and everyone knows that. I have lived there all my life prior to moving to Auckland and even then I haven’t seen everything. There are areas I have never been to, suburbs I have no clue where they are located. I don’t even know all of the suburbs in my hometown.

Auckland is similar. It is not huge but most of the areas are unknown. I haven’t seen everything, I don’t know all of the beaches. I don’t know the best bars or the perfect restaurants, haven’t hiked all of the hills.


“Where do you wanna go?”

“Nowhere” I replied, “I don’t wanna travel”


The fact that I haven’t actually been everywhere in Auckland is half an answer. It is not crucial but it is the easiest one to say offhand.

It took me a long time to get adjusted to this place ( moving houses multiple times didn’t improve the situation either ). It took a long time to build something resembling a life here and I don’t see why I would wanna leave anything behind.

I like the stability. I like the familiarity that the city offers ( Auckland/Mumbai ), the sense of being home. Traveling in itself is not a significant reason for me to leave my life behind. I don’t wanna live my life off a backpack even though I like minimalism. I don’t wanna be on the road for months at a time even though I don’t mind weekend getaways. I don’t wanna be at the mercy of the strangers that I encounter even though I have read enough tales strangers’ kindness. I don’t wanna talk about the feeling of loneliness or knowing the fact that most of the people you will ever meet traveling, you might never see again.

In today’s age, when everyone travels the world in their gap year or being on the road is associated with maturity, making my point is hard.

It is easy to find something new and exciting when the city is new. It takes time to find something exciting amidst familiar settings. I just think the latter lasts longer.

Ramble On Book Launch


This last Sunday was Z.R.Southcombe’s “Ramble On” book launch and I was a part of it. I read an excerpt of my piece. I loved the entire event, it was simple and full of lovely people.

Before arriving at the venue, I had to decide what part of my piece I was going to read. I knew the essence of my piece but I wanted to reread it to find the one part where I start smiling because of the memories it brings back. I reread my piece and I smiled throughout.

I could read my pieces on my blog all the time ( but I don’t because I don’t think they are good ) but it is a completely different feeling to read my words from a book. I could see paragraphs which could have been better, or the locations described better and it wasn’t perfect but it did what it wanted it to do: make me smile. I loved my essay and I knew exactly what I was gonna read.

Ramble On” was launched in Auckland City Library. According to me, city libraries is the best building in Auckland filled with three floors of books. Zee had invited all of the contributors and other authors for the launch. She had arranged for free goodies, spot prizes ( I won ), face painting ( I didn’t wanna do it ), children’s activities. Library organizers had arranged for refreshments so that guests mingled before and after the event.

I didn’t know there were so many things that went into a book launch. I was shocked by the amount of preparations Zee had done for Ramble on and awed by her efforts. I met Zee for the first time after Twitter and email correspondence. Before I could thank her for letting me be a part of her book, she thanked me for contributing and she insisted that I helped her out.

I met other contributors too. There was one man who was a highlight in the entire event. He called everyone else a ‘Hobbit’. He was huge and broad so I felt like a hobbit in front of him too. He was one of those guys who you meet and you know he is a great guy. He was basically a real-life Hagrid. He invited me to lunch sometime and his wife later told me that he really meant it. He would love to host lunch.

The other thing was really significant about the day was that I was asked to sign copies of “Ramble On”. I looked at the people asking me to sign their copies confused because I didn’t expect it. I was getting my name published for the very first time so how would I know what to write on their copies. What does an author do when they sign copies?

I wanted to tell them that it is just an essay and it is not a big deal. They should probably get their copies signed from Zee because it is her book. They didn’t listen and I caved in. I signed at the end of my essay, hardly writing anything.

When Zee called me up to speak about my piece, I was scared and excited. I cracked a few jokes and everyone laughed. I was funny! I read while paraphrasing small excerpts from my piece where I described my first hike.

Everyone enjoyed it. They all told me that they could relate to the essay, especially the part where I said that I would rather walk in the lead because it was easier than talking to people. I guess most writers fit the stereotypes of being socially awkward.

There it was, my very first book launch. I narrated the entire thing to my friend and I was so excited, I am still excited. It was absolutely perfect.

Buy Ramble On here.

 

About Glowworms


This last weekend I was in Raglan, a small cute little town along the west coast of New Zealand. I did a lot of things that I have never done before. I jumped off waterfalls, walked in a forest in the dark ( and made new friends? ). It was a great weekend. I had the privilege of seeing glowworms.

Yes, it was a privilege.

We were canyoning along a stream, stream’s name I never bothered to ask. I knew I was gonna see glowworms as that is what we went for. The glowworms just blew my mind.

glowworm-cave
I couldn’t find a suitable image glowworm canyoning, so glowworms in a cave it is. Credits: http://wallpapersdsc.net

I have to just close my eyes to see them again. The river was dark, the sky a shadow of light and the trees silhouettes against the faint sky. The trees’ branches swayed and leaves made rustling sounds as the wind flowed. The sound of water splashing against the rocks. Just behind some of the shrubs and weeds I would see a shining dot. Just a dot, no different that a star on a clear night.

A star that was a few inches away from me.

With focus, I saw more glowworms. It isn’t exactly apparent to know if what I was seeing were glowworms or a reflection of our head beams but soon I could see the difference in the colors. I grinning from ear to ear at the beauty around me. I would frequently tell everyone to shut off their head beams so I could look at the glowworms. I slowed them as I kept stopping to checkout the glowworms.

Of course I didn’t really need to slow down and turn off my head beam. I could also shine a red light that allowed me to see glowworms but I didn’t know that. Our guide, Anne,  told us about glowworms and how they actually shine lights. It is a long story and you could read about it here.

The story is not beautiful and in fact it is carnivorous. Regardless, the glowworms’ beauty didn’t diminish in my eyes. We were at the last leg of our trip, it was pitch black now and we had shut off our head beams completely. There was no light, the moon was hiding behind clouds promising rain. We were the only 5 people in the stream. But we weren’t really alone. We were sitting down on the rocks in the stream. Our guide poured us some cinnamon tea which we shared, the beverage being the only source of warmth around us; it made me aware of how tired and cold I was. Our guide said that the last part was like a scene out of Avator.

Avator had a scene out of our world.

There were eels and there were snails in the stream. These snails secreted a glowing chemical so the water also glowed in patches. And the glowworms, oh the glowworms were surrounding us, in their hundreds, nay, in their thousands all around us.

They were in scattered without any apparent pattern but their randomness gave birth to multitudes of connections. In those last 5 minutes of story time in the stream, with the thousands of glowworms, not only was I not alone but I could see that I was not alone.

 

MY NAME IS IN A BOOK!


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Yes! My essay on hiking is published in a book. I can see my name in a list of contributors, can see my bio at the end of the book. My essay takes 4 pages among the last chapters.

daniel-bryan's-yes-chant

Nothing could have been better.

How Did I get here?

I follow Zee Southcombe on Twitter. A couple of months ago she asked me if I would like to be a contributor in her new book. Of course I had to say yes.

However, writing the piece wasn’t easy. I had no inspiration, no recent hikes’ memories to pull apart & prod to see how what hiking felt like. I had to go for a good hike to write this. I had a month to to write a 1000 page piece and an urgency to write it but no feelings behind it.

It had to be perfect, I kept telling myself. It had to be, because it would be the first time my name would be in a book. I have been published in a research journal and I have written ~250 posts on the web but this one is special. It had to be perfect.

On Anzac day, 25th April, I went for another hike. Rangitoto Island formed my association with Got To Get Out group and I took that night slowly going over the entire hike. What I liked, what I didn’t and which instances opened the memory banks in my head. My old hikes were fresh again and I finished the piece.

Following Months:

I know a few writers who proofread it and encouraged me. They were really happy about it and Zee loved it too!

Yes, there were grammar mistakes, lots of them ( Feel free to point them out in the comments ). But that doesn’t matter anymore cause my piece is in the book. I can say I am published now.

I received the book last night and I haven’t really gotten over my joy to read other pieces or even look at other contributors’ bios. Next Sunday, October 15th, the book’s launch takes place in Auckland city Library. I do plan on reading a small sample from my piece. Not a lot of people know that my piece got published. A few friends. My family doesn’t know either, I kept it from them as a surprise.

Lastly, thank you Zee for the opportunity. I am so excited about the launch!

Book Launch Event: https://goo.gl/95p9cy

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House Concert


There is a bar near my house, Flight 605. I go there occassionally because they have host music gigs on Sunday. I have watched ( & heard? ) great Folk music there. Every single artisit had something unique in their gigs, Barrow Brass Band had songs 20min long, Sophie Mashlan played great guitar, Phil Edwards Band had lyrics with which I could completely relate to. One of the artists was Fables.

Last weekend, she hosted a house gig along with three other bands/artists: Albi from Albi and the Wolves, The Goth and the Pixie and Victoria Vigensar. Since I have never been to a house gig like that before, I was really looking forward to it. That Friday night turned out to be one of the best nights I have had.

 

The show was in the lounge and was full of people. I noticed a couple of other things too. I could guess that only artists lived there. The lounge had canvasses and paints in one side while the stage area was surrounded by amplifiers and instrument cases. The walls were adorned by posters of previous gigs they had attended; so many posters that I wondered what would happen if they ever go out for more: will they tear down those posters or will start on a new room? I never asked them that. The lights were dimmed and stage was brightened by three or four lights of different colors which obscured the artists faces.

I met a few people as I got in. I had only heard Fables perform before so everyone was new. I guess I had the impression that the artists wouldn’t be mingling around because when the performances started I was amused by the fact that I was just speaking to the person.

Albi & the Wolves’ Albi was the first to perform. He was great, he set the mood for the night. He was funny when he wasn’t performing and would stop to laugh whenever someone cracked a joke. He told us about the marketing trick of 3 plugin or endorsements during his gig and kept reminding other artists to do the same cracking the audience up. I sang along to his songs ( I don’t remember the lyrics anymore, just the feeling ) tapped my foot at the beats that he set. He was so excited about his performance that a couple of times that he bounced on the stool and afterwards when I was talking to him he said I should come watch the band perform with another jump. Performing to him is such an innocent joy that I couldn’t stop myself from smiling at him, glad that I spoke with him.

The Goth and The Pixie were dressed as named. He was goth and she was the pixie. When I sat down to watch Albi I thought of them as just another person in the audience and it was only after I saw Pixie take out her violin to play along (more on this later) I realized that they were gonna have a gig. The guy, or the Goth I should say was full of one-liners which made their gig more entertaining. They even had a small spoken word poetry embedded inside one of their songs. She told us about her time in a different city and she was suggested that she could write a song about some people and she did. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

I knew some of Fables’ songs. She is active Facebook and because of her I came to know about the house show. It was one of the few times that Facebook proved to be useful. She is a different person when she sings as compared to when she talks, not drastically different but just enough to think that two are different people. Her songs are great and as I was writing this I found a few videos of her performances. But between her songs she talks about stuff, everyday stuff that it’s like a conversation between two friends.

Victoria was the first person that I met that night and she was the second person to perform. She doesn’t hold her punches back in her songs, singing about the big issues. I remember two of her songs distinctly well: one was about Syrian refugees and baby Alan, the other was regarding homeless people. There is such emotion in her voice that carries the message through to the heart. During one of her songs, Pixie from Goth and Pixie started playing her violin with them and it was just so beautiful to watch them all perform.

There is no easy way to conclude this piece. I don’t even think that title does the gig justice but I couldn’t think of a better one. I should have written this piece about a week ago but I was busy and out of writing practice. There is no point to this post right now other than to talk about the fantastic people I met and saw. Maybe introduce some of you to good music.

Maybe I shouldn’t have complained


I lodged my first (minor) complain yesterday evening & I feel conflicted about it.

I was on my bike as I was heading down Sandringham road. As far as I know, I didn’t do anything illegal or stupid. I had a bag high-visibility cover on, I was riding in the bus lane (I am allowed to, it was the BUS LANE and not the BUS ONLY lane), I didn’t need to turn on my bike lights cause it was only 5 pm. I was not riding in the middle and others had space to overtake me.

Suddenly, there was this big bus next to me, less than an arm’s width away (I think so). It would have sped up to overtake me if not for someone ahead on the bus stop signaling the driver to stop.

All of this happened in less than a second. I was scared but I didn’t panic and so I didn’t loose my balance. I am really proud of the fact that I kept my cool.

I rode on, glancing back continuously to see if the bus is still on my heels (wheels?). I got on to the next bus stop and stopped there, no longer scared but angry. I expect every car driver to be reckless and stupid around cyclist but not public bus drivers. I expect them to follow the rules, especially the one which mandates that a space of 1.5 m needs to be there between the car/bus and the cyclist when you pass them. As the bus came closer I took a photo of the bus license plate and left.

I should have confronted the driver. Tried to be polite about the fact that he almost ran me to the curb. I didn’t do that for some reason I can’t make out.

I contacted Auckland Transport on Twitter and sent them the photo of the bus and told them what happened and where. They gave me a case number of my complain.

Half hour after this, I calmed down and thought about what I did.

I wasn’t hurt so maybe I shouldn’t have complained?

I may have been wrong and I could have probably been riding in the BUS ONLY lane so it could have been my fault? Maybe the bus driver helped me out?

The bus driver was doing his job and I just complained against him. He must have a family and did I just cost him? He was just doing his job. How would I feel if someone at my work complained about me? Or my clients decided that they want another developer to work with them? I know I would be devastated.

What if I am just another whiny coward who got spooked by a bus and just recklessly complained about it like a millennial?

Even if I had every right to complain and he was the one who was wrong, why the hell do I feel so awful about it?

GovHack 2017: My First Hackathon


We had approximately 48 hours to use open data and create a hack (web app/ mobile app). This was never going to be easy considering:

  1. I don’t know data science
  2. I didn’t have a team when I registered

Luckily, I knew the language I was going to work on: Javascript. In addition, I sporadically dabble on FreeCodeCamp’s online coursework ( Javascript ). FreeCodeCamp’s meetup group in Auckland are people like me, ones who are code newbies working on the same coursework. I met them prior to the hackathon to talk about project ideas and we came up with a few. But the meetup group was huge (12+) so we split into two teams and they used their idea (youtube presentation).

By Friday evening I was in a team of 6 people. Three developers including me, and three non developers.

A: Choosing a Project

This was the hardest part. It took us 8 hours during the hackathon to decide. The biggest mistake that we did was we assumed that data would be available (more on that later). My team started talking about the issues we were dealing with: transport, immigration (due to the changes proposed), housing prices etc. One of us dropped a bombshell and said let’s make a game. Suddenly I didn’t care about dealing with problems: I wanted to make the game.

I always wanted to make games but I don’t know much about it. Plus, I don’t have a clearer picture of where I wanna go with the game development so I haven’t tried it yet.

Our idea was simple: You start the game about 15 years prior. You start buying houses and earn money and in 15 years time you should have certain amount of money to win. Brilliant (and typically the premise of every tycoon game) idea. We knew it worked. To implement it we needed open data of house prices in the city/country.

We don’t have to work on the data at all. We just had to use it as stepping points. All of us loved the idea and even before we found the idea we started working out the mechanics of the game.

Turns out Auckland has no housing data of any kind. Sure we could find data related to renting or number of people in the city but house prices? Nope. This is an important point because there is a house price bubble in the city: housing prices are going up.

On Saturday afternoon we dropped the idea. I wanted to make that game but without data it wouldn’t be eligible in the hackathon. We had another brainstorm and finally settled on looking at the employment statistics.

B: Our App

His idea was to look at how industries are distributed and how many people are depended on it. This way we can tell predict which economies are vulnerable to decline in that particular industry. We planned on using a heatmap to show all the districts with varying colors depending on the distribution.

We found the data fairly easily.  We needed three components: a heat map, piechart for further distribution and lastly a slider so that we can see all fifteen years. We used C3 charts and Here API for creating the heatmap and pie chart (FYI: use C3, they are super easy and look amazing). I worked mostly on the layout and the slider.

Here is the finished product presentation and you can try it out here.

The Weekend

I haven’t seen this much work done in such a short amount of time except in university when the assignment is due. Neither one of us were willing to settle for anything less than what we had envisioned.

My friend also wanted to come but didn’t because he didn’t know coding. What he didn’t know was coding was only 50% of the work and the easier bit. We had to make a video on our project and the skills required for that is rare. All of us occasionally gave feedback to one another, encouraged one another. I ate all the food because someone has to.

There is something amazing about working straight for 36 hours. Sure I was tired, I still am a little bit. But if I was doing everything alone in my time, I would probably take couple of weeks for this, if I didn’t give up on this in the middle by frustration.

I was lucky enough that my teammates were amazing, accommodating to the fact that I don’t know more than the basics about Javascript. I am looking forward to next year, when I get to do this again and maybe by that time we would have better open data available.

RIP Chester Bennington


 

Image Credits: Linkin Park Official Facebook

I didn’t know this would be a shock. After all, I hardly listen to Linkin Park anymore. I ‘outgrew’ their songs as I tell everyone. I have moved on to songs where the singers isn’t shouting or the guitar sounds don’t hurt my ears. Yet when I opened Facebook today, I saw a lot of my friends posting ‘RIP Chester’ and I was shook.

I started listening to their songs again, all of them. ‘Numb’, ‘In the End’, ‘Leave out all the Rest’, ‘Breaking the Habit’, ‘Castle of Glass’ and kept going discovering songs I haven’t listened anymore. Their new single ‘Talking to Myself’ was released just hours before his suicide ( I am not going to say demise. He committed suicide, there is no way I can soften it it up).

His voice sounds different now, I hear his voice with a new clarity now and I get a bigger shock now. How did I never see this coming?!


Linkin Park introduced me to Western rock music. I was in school and at home, we had cable channel which played songs on demand. My brother and I would wait to hear songs that were popular at the time. We enjoyed Backstreet Boys and Nelly Furtado because the lyrics were understandable, the music groovy. I was young, my command on English wasn’t that strong.

We heard ‘In the End’ the very first time. We loved it. My mom definitely didn’t cause she told us to change the channel. After a while she stopped telling us to change the channel when she realized that we loved the songs.

I could only articulate the chorus. It didn’t matter much to us, we were hooked. It was only a matter of time that we were glued to the channel and we heard more of Linkin Park’s songs. VH1 started running in India and we heard more of Linkin Park’s songs. They were really popular in India, anyone who heard any Western music knew them. They were many hardcore fans who had heard every song.

Navin and I were headbanging to ‘Faint’, watching their ‘Breaking the Habit’ video in cause of anime video, we loved ‘By Myself’ because the video was a montage of Dragon Ball Z and I felt really bad for the lead actress in their ‘Numb’ music video. I was too young to understand what their music was.


A couple of years later, when my brother was in College/High School he and his friends formed a band. They would sit in our house because it was 5 min away from their college  and listen to songs. At that point we were deep into rock music, we would listen to Metallica’s “One”, Foo Fighters “Pretender” and so much more. My brother had burned an entire CD full of rock music and he would turn it on all the time.

Linkin Park songs made their way into the CD even then. One of the friends was a hardcore fan. He spoke in length about the band members but I don’t recall him talking about their song’s meaning. I guess it was something that no one really spoke about but left it to interpretation. We should have. Around the time, they had released a new album which wasn’t all that popular but still good. One of their songs ‘Shadow of the Day’ was completely different from all of their previous songs.

Navin’s friend Rajesh commented on the song and I paraphrase: It sounds so peaceful, you can listen to it and fall asleep but when you listen to the lyrics you realize that it is the completely opposite of that. It has been 8 years or more since. The memories have suddenly been surfaced from their long sleep in my brain since I read about Chester’s suicide this morning.


I still have some of their songs. I am no longer oblivious to their meaning. When I listen to their songs, I am teleported to my old home sitting in front of the tele and watching their videos. I realize that even back in the 2000s, they sang about mental issues and yet were mainstream artists. I don’t think that happens anymore.

I have read people talking about Tupac, Chris Cornell, Alan Rickman, Prince, Micheal Jackson’s death but I never really UNDERSTOOD what they meant. I do now. It is not a good place. He sang about his issues and I never heard that.

I could quote their songs, I am listening to their songs now and I could use ALL of them to tell you what I feel like now. It isn’t fair that I riding nostalgia and guilt listening to their music, when Chester is no more with us. It isn’t fair I realized the meaning behind his lyrics and the strength of his voice ONLY after he killed himself.

How hard can it be? (New Plymouth-Paritutu Rock Edition)


(My weekend was not hard except this bit. Considering how much fun I had writing last week’s post, I wanted to continue this. I might write an entire post about my New Plymouth trip later)

‘Is it hard?’ someone in the van asked. A guy, let’s call him C had done it before with his partner L said ‘You need good upper body strength to do it. L did it!’

Well, if L was able to do it, I thought how hard can it be?

My fear of cliffs and shear drops was forgotten. See a while back, while walking along the coastal hills in Piha in West Auckland, I found that I am scared of heights. I can do it but I would rather not stand close to the edge and look down at the abrupt chasm. I can walk on any height as long as I don’t have to look down at a cliff.

Paritutu Rock is hardly 100 ms, located at the edge of New Plymouth over looking the ocean. Hikes take the stairs halfway and then reach the peak rock climbing. The climb isn’t vertical so you can use just your feet while getting to the top.

I went on all fours. And I made the mistake of looking down halfway through. I bit down a scream because I was at a cliff looking down at the embrace of harbor rocks. I swear they were arranged hands spread apart.

View Down, Credits: D

I knew coming down would be harder. For the residents of the city, the hike would/should be a weekly exercise. I saw a family descending with their 6 year old daughter while I was standing at the same edge with A. It was sobering moment, cause I was really tempted to go back down.

I was right about one thing: coming down was harder and scarier. If I slipped, I would tumble down on hard rocks all the way, if I don’t fall off a cliff. My left knee (I guess the ice skating issue) had to bother me while descending too. Great!

I took my time. I didn’t care that children were climbing a million times more gracefully than I was. I squatted to keep balance, used my hands for grips slowly covered ground (or rocks?). My eyes were wide open and I don’t think I was blinking them anymore. I told (pleaded?) others behind me, ‘Don’t rush me’.

The only solace descending was I could the carpark getting closer. I knew I wasn’t just going around in circles. I took more time than my group and they were waiting for me at the carpark.I reached the stairs but didn’t stop till I reached my group. K asked me ‘How’s it?’, my face must have shown my fears. I blew out some air while nodding and sat down, allowing my fear to take over.

‘How hard can it be?’ I thought and had a small laugh. I realized that my week could have been completely different, I could have been walking around snow clad Mt Taranaki. The cliff on Taranaki would have been so much scarier.

Of course, it was worth it. The view from the top of the rock was splendid-breathtaking-astonishing and my vocabulary can’t cover it. As I got the summit, to the left, I could see the New Plymouth arrayed systematically like legos. I could see Mt Taranaki in the distance beyond the city, staunch and inviting in its white attire. Clouds obscured the peak from time to time, testing the patience of the group’s photographers H and D. The view on the opposite side was even better.

New Plymouth, Credits: H

I was standing on the edge of the world. If I started sailing straight from there I might not encounter any land till Africa. Edge of the World with nothing but blue sky shading the ocean with a darker hue, the sky and ocean seemed to be going a long way and finally meeting at the horizons. I could hear seagulls, I could see the waves crashing on the shore.

Ocean, Credits: A

Now, if I do that again, I will not be afraid. I could do it when I was scared, I could do it again. In fact, I am looking forward to the next trip and I am hoping that someone invites me for the hike to Mt Taranaki soon.

After all, how hard can that be?

Weekend, Credits: D

How Hard can it be? (Ice Skating Edition)


If you are going to try something you have never tried before, a person is bound to tell you ‘How hard can it be?’. That person might think that they are encouraging. It is either that or they want to watch you fail so bad that they can send your fail video to FailArmy.  My advice to you: punch that person in the face.

How hard can it be? Extremely hard.

Now my advice backfires on me. I am usually the one who says ‘How hard can it be?’, mostly to encourage myself. Maybe I am overconfident too. Afterwards I regret it because my body hurts and if I could glare at myself, I would glare myself to smoldering bits.

Today, I decided that I wanted to go ice skating. I have never even roller skated so I should have been aware of my imminent regret. Instead, I thought how hard can it be. Plus, there was a free event for beginners and who isn’t ready for free stuff.

Boy, oh boy I was wrong.

Firstly, it feels different just standing in balancing with the entire sole of the feet and balancing on a metal skate. How was I standing? I wasn’t standing, my legs were dancing and my body’s momentum pulled me forwards. It was like I had new feet and I had skipped the tutorial on using them (I think I did that). My left ankle decided to shake disturbing my balance and I would flail my arms in the air trying to catch balance (it didn’t work). I would fall to the ground and then began the embarrassing process of standing up.

I fell four times throughout. First time I fell, I was trying to skate at the outer edge. A beginner behind me patiently waited as I tried to stand up again. Second time I fell was about half hour later, by then I was getting confident again because I wasn’t using the boundary for support.

‘I will never learn how to do this if I keep taking support of the wall’ were the exact words in my mind before I fell on my ass. I fell again a few minutes later and after the last time I was done.

Every time I fell, I told myself I can do it. The problem was I didn’t know what I was doing. After the last time, my legs were sore and I had no energy left in me to try again.I was miserable, cold and my ankles hurt. I slipped a lot of time and every time I did, I noticed a pain in my left knee. I think I was bending my knee along the wrong axis and at last I realized that if I kept doing this I might hurt myself.

And I wanna continue doing stupid things so I don’t wanna hurt myself. Nope!

Others around me kept giving me advice. ‘Bend your knees’, ‘right leg forward, angle it and then left leg forward’, ‘1-2-1-2-1’ and so on. I just couldn’t do it properly. I never went beyond the first 1-2 sequence because I would loose my balance there.

There is a positive side to this though. Firstly, and this should be obvious to the dumb, I wouldn’t have tried if I had thought this is going to be really hard. I would probably prepared myself a little if I had thought that way, but the technology isn’t advanced enough for me to Google skating simulation.

Next,  do you know the sensation you get after swimming? You are walking on land but still feel like you floating in the water. Nothing has ever come close to that feeling. Today after I was done and walked to my bus stop I felt like I was on ice again. I felt I was gonna slip and fall on my ass again. I loved that sensation.

Third, I thought back and realized how many things have I tried by thinking ‘How hard can it be?’ and I failed miserably. I am not ashamed of the fact that I failed, I find it funny though. I am going tramping next weekend I told my roommate, ‘how hard can it be’ today. Yay!

Lastly, I got an idea to write this post. I know ~4 people read this blog, one of whom is my mother (Hi Mom!!!) so yeah! I think I am back.

The Longing


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I was about 8 years old then and till date it is one of the best family photos. My dad is holding me up

When I was a kid, my father used to work in Kolhapur 8 hour train ride away. He used to come once every month and usually on a Friday as it was the day when he had off. Before my birthday, on 8th November we didn’t receive any phone call from him. I think I was worried as he would call everyday at a fixed time. My mom wasn’t worried and that should have given me the hint. Next day on my birthday my dad surprised me by coming home in the middle of the week. The memory is still blurry but I remember getting really happy and my dad’s belly laugh.

I am doing the same thing now.


My manager/company CEO Warren told me a month ago about the company Christmas break. Other than the 5 public holidays, the company doesn’t shell out a 3 week break like every other company. The first thing that came to my mind was I can go home now.

I acted on the impulse without thinking much and within two hours I had booked my flights. I rapidlyy fire messages to all my friends in India telling I am coming home. I was two seconds shy of posting it on Facebook as I realized that my parents would see it. My trip is a surprise for them, it is exactly as I have always pictured my first trip home would be.

I would ring the bell in the morning and my mom would gasp when I say hi. My dad would probably be eating his breakfast and ready for work. My brother would be too sleepy to bother but I know he would be really happy as well. My dog, Jimmy would be the one who is visibly the happiest.

I won’t be landing in the morning but I still expect a similar reaction. If anyone ever tells you a month is not long then introduce them to me.


More than a year ago, prior to me getting an admitted to AUT or getting a visa, I was having dinner with my dad and brother. We were talking about my future and how I was innocently saying that doing Masters’ would be easy or something like that. He was always reluctant with the idea and I always thought it was because of the money involved. He admitted his reason that night.

He said that he was worried that I will leave them and eventually forget about them. I blame Baghban movie for that kind of thinking. His statement was the equivalent of a sucker punch to my gut. Suffice to say that night was a very emotional night for us. My brother wasn’t much emotional though, he was laughing about it eventually.

I did my best over the last 15 months to not forget about them. His sentence would always be in my head.


“How long have you been here for?” a friend asked me.

“15 months”  I replied. I didn’t like rounding off the number or saying more than a year.

“That’s not very long”

“It feels longer”


I have never lived without my family. As a kid, my parents used to scare me that if I didn’t behave they would send me off to boarding school. I think every parent used that line to, sigh, get their children in line.

If I had I would have some experience with living with myself. I would have some taste of the freedom. I would have known how to cook better and how to deal with my finances better.

Today, I don’t have to answer to anyone about where I am going or when I will be back. I can come back at 6pm after work or I can come back at 2am after a party. I could eat whatever I want and I can even sleep hungry. I can keep a stack of clothes on my rooms’ chair instead of hanging them on hooks.

This freedom brings along with itself loneliness. Regardless of when I come home, my room will be quiet. There will not be my angry sulking dad or my chattering mom. There is no dog wagging his tail at the door for me.

I am by no means saying one life is better than the other. Neither am I saying I wanna go back forever. I could enjoy my life as much as I want here and at the same time miss the life that I had back in India.

I can be happy with my life in Auckland and still long for my life back.

For the next three weeks I intend to enjoy my home, my mom’s cooked food. I intend to enjoy meeting old friends and share a laugh or two. I missed them all.

Religions in education?


‘If I don’t pray before the cross I get punished’ my friend explained how his school in Delhi worked. He was in an Catholic school about 10 years ago.

The last time I stepped inside a school was when my mom was working in a school and I had to pick up the house keys. For now, I am no longer living in India but that can change.

The thing that astonished me the most was I never even thought about the way education system in India is so ingrained with religions. It was so normal for me that I never had this kind of conversation with anyone back in India.

My school in India started with morning (Hindu) prayer and national anthem, lectures and classes, closing (Hindu) prayer and then disburse. If you are one of the majority student in the school, this will seem completely normal to you as well.

It was normal to not talk about religions in school, common to not have an opinion in school. Nobody liked the prayers but we did it anyway because we were told to.

We never asked which religion’s prayer are we singing and why?

I never asked that question back in school, college and in university. It was normal to pray in my school. Singing the national anthem is not religious and patriotic so I never had any problem with it.

I think (I am not completely sure) I am Hindu. It makes sense for me back then and now today to pray a Hindu prayer. I can do a Christian prayer too and for me, both of them spell out the same message.

It wouldn’t make sense for a Christian or a Muslim child to pray an Hindu prayer. India is a dense multireligous jungle of a country and if I may paraphrase my friend’s description ‘India had every possible religion’.

Each religion will have its own prayers, traditions and customs. Each of the religious customs have always been seeped into the culture of the practitioners.

If the child of such a culture goes to study in a school of a completely different culture, the result of such a conflict would be severe.

For example, my friend. He is an atheist, for him praying is nonsensical. I can imagine him in a catholic school trying to resist praying sessions, Bible reading sessions and during Carols.

Reflecting back on my school days, I don’t remember having many Christian or Muslim classmates. Almost everyone was Hindu and a majority of us couldn’t be bothered praying unless exams were due.

No one, in my memory asked about why only Hindu prayers and none other. My friend’s school insisted on enforcing Christianity on its pupils.

For me and him, in our 20s, thinking back on it is pretty easy. He says that schools should NOT have any religious influence. He does have a point: teach physics and civil rights at school. Leave the religions at homes and temples, mosques and churches.

Democracy is not about enforcement of religion. It is certainly not what the Indian pledge says : “India is a secular country”

The question now is: What can be done? And more importantly, how many parents, grandparents think about religion when securing admissions?

Because I remember my school friends. We did not care about prayers. We may have cared if we had a choice on prayer.

I Probably Shouldn’t Complain


Life has been tough recently. I am stressed (  because of my visa delay) and really fed up with my incessant problems. I said to my mom the other day on the phone: ‘I never get anything done smoothly in my life!’

Yesterday I met a friend who is almost my elder sister by now. I expected myself to just whine about how miserable my life is and how all I have are problems. She started talking about her new job and I shut up. As she spoke, I was too scared to even breathe.


 

My friend started working in an hospital in South Auckland as an physiotherapist (I guess). Now, if you have lived in Auckland for a while then you will know that South Auckland is considered as the troubled neighborhood. Emphasis on considered as.

She told me that on her third day working there, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She became responsible for taking care of a two month old premature baby. The baby’s mom asked my friend to look after the baby while she went outside. My friend couldn’t stay longer than 30 minutes and told the mum the same.

My friend ended up holding the baby for more than 3 hours. The mother came back after 5 days. My friend did not know that the mother was troubled. The mother was not allowed to leave the hospital and neither was she supposed to leave the ward. There was a communication lapse in the hospital. My friend had to take care of a baby because of it, scared that now she will lose her job and at the same time she would have aided a mother abandon a child.


 

My friend has been working in the hospital for 3 weeks now. She loves children. On her honeymoon, when other couples are busy taking great photos and enjoying, she and her husband volunteered in a slum area in Philipines. They raised money using Facebook to help those children. As she spoke about her job, how she interacts with children and how much she loves them, I knew that she has found her calling in the hospital.

She spoke about meeting children of abuse in the hospital. How children who are supposed to be delighted to meet their parents were too anxious to be around them.

A abused child who hadn’t had a bath since November because of his hydrophobia recently had a bath.

Mothers who would abuse loudly in the hospital and spit at nurses and create a mess.

Fathers who would abandon their new born in the hospital because they did not want them.

She told me about her day as by the end of it, she was tired physically, mentally and emotionally.

“There are small surprises wrapped inside a mass of mess”

I was scared as I heard her speak. I had my hands on my mouth because I was appalled.


 

Back to the mother and the premature baby. The hospital authorities have seen these incidents before. They said ‘This is pretty normal here’.

THIS IS NOT NORMAL! IT CAN’T BE NORMAL!

They spoke with my friend, convinced her that none of this was her fault even though anyone in her place would really think that all of this was their fault.

When the mother came back, she took the child away without any fuss or any communication. She did not give any kind of explanation as to why she was missing for five days. I don’t know much about the social services in Auckland, I am not sure about what will the repercussions of the mum’s actions but my friends couldn’t do anything. They could only send their report on the incident to social services.


 

My problems were my own. My mistakes will only affect me directly. My friend’s work takes a toll on her and affects a lot of people. The families in the hospital, her own mental state, her colleagues and then the social services jobs.

As she finished her stories, I said I have the easiest job in the whole world. In terms of stress and the consequences, I still have it pretty easy. In all, I probably shouldn’t complain anymore.

 

Weekend Coffee Share: Abrupt Changes


We haven’t had coffee in a while. Mostly because I wouldn’t have much to talk about. Sorry about that. I have not had the chance to talk to you about your life either.

If we have met before, you would know that in my life things have a tendency to going wrong in a second. I never see them coming and when the bad things happen, they are overwhelming. Include all the worse possible feelings here.

This week things changed as well. However, they didn’t get worse (in the beginning). After working as an intern for 5 and half weeks, I got a job offer from the company I have been interning at.

I moved into a new house. I hated my previous house, primarily the head tenant and now the new house is perfect. It is everything I wanted and more.

If we are having coffee, I would tell you that in the scheme of things this is unreal. Good news never comes easy and it certainly doesn’t come in packages. I am ecstatic about it all but I am still having trouble with accepting it.

What if something else goes wrong? I can’t see what can go wrong now and it scares me.

Today things went wrong. I never saw it coming as my new house owner told me that she will need me to move out in 3 weeks time. I just moved in the house and now I have to look for something perfect again.

At this point, I am thinking why does this keep happening to me? I remember Murphy’s Law (Something that can happen, will happen) and I realize yeah things always can go wrong. I am also thinking that because the only commonality between these unforeseen changes is me: maybe there is something fundamentally wrong with me.

Maybe I cause the bad things to happen.

I am frustrated, angry and if we are having coffee, then at this instant I would probably throw the coffee cup at the wall.

In other unemotional news, this week while biking to work I fell over. In hindsight I am happy that I was not on the main street and there were no other cars there. Still I am pretty banged up and sore. Before you ask, it was my fault. I took a turn at a very high speed.

I had help from someone living nearby and I hoping to run into her again so that I can properly thank her. I have not met her again, even though I tried to.

And with that, my week is pretty much summed up. Now it is your turn, how are things going? Tell me everything.

You never know you are doing, you just do it


I was talking to my friend past Friday. I was trying to start a PS3 console and it wouldn’t start so I called him. While talking I mentioned that I am trying out ‘Batman: Arkham City’ game even though I have no clue what to do in it. It is at that moment he pretty much summed up my entire life.

‘You never know what you are doing, you just do it.’

I had a great laugh at that and true enough it is what I mostly do. I felt good to hear him say it.


 

I finally moved into a new house. I love it there and it more that what I was hoping for. There are so many empty shelves in my room and will probably remain empty. I like less stuff and clutter.

Sunday is when I moved to a new house. Afterwards, I went to play Holi in Radha-Krishna (ISKCON) temple in the outskirts of Auckland with a friend of mine and neither of us knew what was going to happen there. We just went and pretty much had one of the best parties without drinking. Surprise surprise.

The same night though, my way of living life turned on me. Later that night there was another party (I never say no, another way I live) and I went there as well. Like Holi, I didn’t know what to do here as well. I couldn’t have fun here.

I spent sometime being around with a bunch of guys that I know but not really friends with and eventually I withdrew. I didn’t talk much and eventually I was alone on a table with a pack of playing cards contemplating my choice of coming here.

I was the weird guy at the party who was trying to build a house of cards rather than talk to people and have a good time.

‘That is probably the worst thing I have ever done at a party’ I messaged another friend.


 

My irritating habit of being socially awkward has bothered me for as long as I can remember. I was never as weird as to build a house of cards though.

Last year I went to a girl’s 21st birthday and eventually I was sitting in the corner with a glass of water in my hand while everyone was chatting and having a good time. I just couldn’t do it, get up and maybe get into a conversation.

There is never any better way to explain what I feel at such situations because I actually don’t feel anything.


 

I know if I am invited then I will be going to any social function. I am always hoping that my experience will be better than the last time. Going is not just about missing out or not being able to say no.

I go because I want to go. It will be fun are my thoughts as I am deciding whether or not to go.

It is about being normal. It is about trying and trying again cause the only other option is to give up and let it all go.

I guess I do know what I am doing.

Daily Post: Slur (Fantasy Fiction)


(My plan was not to write stream of continued stories  but now with the help of daily prompt, I am going to try writing them. First story in the series: Glitter)

‘Firde!!!’ the Slurred Cat screamed.

‘Wait what did he scream? Did he say fire?’ Maddy asked.

Before One Eyed Solomon could reply, they heard the gush of fire. If you have never heard fire being sprayed like water from a water hose; it sounds exactly like water. No one can actually make a differentiation between the two unless they see the spray is either fire or water.

Maddy looked and found that from the base of the cave, a stream of fire was being poured out. Only…

‘Is it just me or that fire is too small?’

‘How can fire be small Maddy?’

Solomon looked as well. None of the two were in any immediate danger of being fired upon as they were on the opposite direction and quite far from the cave.

‘Yes you are write. It is almost like that fire is coming from a small mouth.’

‘Small jaw sir. It is a reptile.’

‘Shut up Maddy. Think about what we are going to do next?’

The spray of fire stopped abruptly as it had appeared. Screams from the burned victims could be heard now. The two men had their eyes glued to the entrance of the cave and they were waiting to see what would happen.

‘Is ith gone?’ Slurred Cat asked standing directly behind them.

‘I don’th know.’ Maddy said and immediately received a glower from Solomon.

They got their answer soon as the dragon came out of the cave. The dragon was green scaled and small almost the size of a human when crawling. It was definitely a infant still.

‘So the dragon inside gave birth to a small dragon. Are you sure you want the gold inside which is slick with dragon fluids?’ Maddy asked.

‘Shut up. You have not heard the story have you? Three dragons together captured the cave. They killed almost every man and woman inside.No dragon was birthed inside.’

The dragon was still outside the cave when an arrow was fired on it. The arrow hit the skull of dragon and bounced off as if it was a pebble. The dragon was looking towards the direction where the arrow was fired from.

Another arrow. The result was the same, it bounced off the scales as if a pebble. It did irritate the dragon though.

‘What are they doing?’

‘A mistake.’

Everyone who had bow and arrow was firing arrows now and little good it did to the dragon until one unfortunate shot hit the dragon on the eye. The dragon howled in agony and …. it’s scream was not terrifying.

The scream was a child’s inarticulate scream: full of agony. It breathed fire in all directions burning arrows and heating stones before bolting back in. There was a silence in the night as if time was scared to move. It had to broken by Maddy

‘Now what sir?’

‘These guys run. We wait for the dragon’s revenge. Maddy they are coming out soon.’

 


 

Thank you for reading

 

Daily Post: Hideout (Fantasy Fiction)


(Unintentional continuation of Glitter fiction piece I wrote yesterday)

‘What are we doing sir?’

‘We are waiting Maddy.’ One Eyed Solomon grumbled. No one knows why his name is One Eyed as he has both of his eyes.

‘We are hiding aren’t we sir?’ Maddy said.

‘No, we are waiting. We are looking for an opportunity to go in.’ Solomon explained to his long time friend and biggest critic. Wiseass.

‘Sir, the three dragons are inside. What do you expect to do with the said opportunity?’

‘Why Maddy, steal the gold!’ Solomon said with a glint of greed in his eyes.

‘The three dragons breathe fire sir!’

‘We breathe oxygen and they burn oxygen. We are somewhat alike than you think Maddy. Plus, I am going to steal the gold and not try to ask them not to breathe fire. ‘

‘Aye. I’m sure that is what the 20 soldiers outside the cave did. It clearly didn’t work out well for them. ‘

Solomon couldn’t say anything to that. He has seen the bodies with his own eyes, or the one eye he still had working. 20 or so soldiers’ bodies were burned beyond recognition and some bones had fused together. It was an estimate that they were just human bodies and no animals were mixed together with them. When those three dragons had ventured out unexpectedly, the soldiers were not ready.

No one will be ready for one dragon and those poor soldiers were facing three. Their last moments would be filled with smell of shit, piss and intense heat.

‘Yeah you are correct. I need gold Maddy. I can’t go back to being a fisherman. The dragons burned my boat, they boiled the lake water. Did you know that fishes were cooked in the lake because of the heat. Sure there are enough fishes for everyone now, but it will not last. I am collecting gold for the damage they have caused.’

‘The dragons will not see it that way.’

‘They will never know when I am in and out’

‘That is what she said’

Solomon looked at his friend and saw him trying to hold on to his maniacal laughter. Once Maddy started laughing, he laughed like a madman.Maddy succeeded for a second but looking at Solomon’s lips curl he burst into loud laughter. Solomon couldn’t stop himself and started laughing with his friend.

In their laughter, they gave away their hideout position to the other groups arrayed around the cave mouth. They never noticed the dragon’s head looming out of the cave either.

Daily Post: Glittter (Fantasy Fiction)


‘I wanna go out Dad!’

‘Out? Did you say OUT?’ Dad screamed back at his son.

‘Yes dad. I am bored here, there is nothing to do. We are living on heaps of gold which is really uncomfortable to sleep over. I have not seen the sun or the moon in over 3 years.’

‘What are you talking about? We have been here only for 3 months.’ Dad said and then looked elsewhere. He turned back to face his son ‘Anyway you know there are people waiting outside so that they can kill us.’

‘Humans are small. We can kill them.Killing most of them is how we got inside right?’

Dad looked thoughtful, contemplating his son’s logic as that is how he got the bed of gold. He arrived like summer’s heatwave, scorching the fields outside the mountain. He would have had a difficult time to kill everyone if he had come alone but he didn’t. He brought his family with him.

Humans might be able to withstand and rally together to fight one of his kind, but against three they would have to run like babies. He looked towards where his mate slept. She looked so peaceful sleeping there that he had urge to go to her. She wouldn’t like that though, after all between the two of them: she was more ferocious.

His son though, he was the perfect mixture between his reptilian methods and his mate’s hot anger. However, his temperament was marred by the lack of patience and for the last couple of days he kept bothering for different things to do.

‘Alright, what do you plan on doing once you go outside?’

‘Fly! I don’t even know if I can fly anymore. I think I am just too fat to fly now. I also want to scare the sheep. I want to set lands and trees on fire. I want to make new friends.’

‘You know right that your friends will the first one to try and kill you?’

‘Yes I know that.’

He waited for his son to say something more but clearly his son had nothing more to add. He looked carefully at his son then: the glitter of the gold lying all around them shined on his jaw. His son looked…sad.

He got up, and shook off the gold coins off his scales. He can always find another cave filled with gold. But first he needed to entertain his son around and that is what he was gonna do.

‘I am taking our son outside. Do you wanna come with us?’ He asked his mate and braced himself for her attack. She did not like being awakened from her somber.

‘You are an idiot. You will not be able to care for him so I will have to come along with you. ‘ his mate grumbled. She wouldn’t have liked if he went to her but for her son she would let go of her sleep and he would let go of his bed of gold.

The three dragons went outside that night, flying and kissing the moon. Then they set the night sky aflame.

Gone Too Soon


Friday night was not just a party for some of my friends. It was a night to honor a good friend of theirs who sadly passed away.

Early this week, I saw a friend’s post on facebook remembering his friend, Jérémy, a young university student. Jérémy had passed away tragically with cardiac arrest. I was in shock, cause Jérémy was young, very young for cardiac arrest, too young for dying.

I never knew Jérémy.

Jérémy’s funeral was on Thursday. Friday night, two of my friends invited me out. These two were from a different circle of friends from the one mentioned above. I didn’t know that they had been to Jérémy’s funeral. As I got into their car, they handed me a bottle of liquor, asking me to sip in the memory of their friend.

I sipped and said To Jérémy. There was a seconds’ silence where I was afraid that I had said something I shouldn’t have. Then the conversation resumed.

The entire night, regardless of how great the pub music was, a tight sadness gripped the two and rightly so. I tried to imagine what they must be feeling like and I hoped they were alright. I asked how are they holding up and they said they are okay. Everyone always says they are okay, even when they probably aren’t.

They told me tales about Jérémy. They were talking about how great Jeremy was with his studies, how he was the first one to always finish up all the assignments and the preparations for the exams. How he was meticulously preparing for the triathlon. One of them suddenly got overwhelmed when talking about Jérémy.

They both shared a small laugh on how Jérémy was always ready to go out with them on Friday night.

‘If I call Jérémy now, he would be like let’s go.’

Then we toasted the third time in his name.

I couldn’t bring myself to ask how they were feeling anymore. They were grieving so I let them do it the way they wanted to. I tried to stand in their shoes and think about losing any of my friend.

How the friend’s contact will turn to a meaningless number where no one would answer or even worse turn into a hurtful reminder. I thought about the difference between ‘Somebody I don’t talk to anymore’ and ‘Somebody I can’t talk to anymore’.

I didn’t know Jérémy. But from what everyone said about him, I would have enjoyed his company.

To Jérémy, Gone too soon.

Daily Post: Tremble (Science Fiction)


‘How is my baby?’ I ask the doctor. He looks like he is going to say something but then he stops. He looks away from me for a second while I wait for his face to show any sign of trouble. He is old, definitely more than 150 years old as his silicon skin has developed wrinkles. His hair is starting to gray and his irises are dissolving into his eye substrate.

He looks at me again and says ‘Lucy should be fine. Her operation was not without consequences but she made it through. As you may know, consciousness implantation is hardly done on 8 year old kids. The brain is just not strong enough to sustain the imaging.’

He pauses expecting more questions from me. I don’t want to ask questions, I want to stand up and shout at him to tell me how is my daughter. I couldn’t do that though, this man is trying to save my daughter. I grab on to the seat posts and squeeze to control my anger. I hope he does not notice my white knuckles.

‘She is still under medication, so we do not know how will she be when she wakes up. Her medication should wear off in the next two hours.’ he finishes.

I take a deep breath. Lucy is alive and sleeping for now. Nothing has happened to her, and when she wakes up she should be completely okay. A lot of people have done consciousness implantation, they always turn out okay.

I turned out okay and my implantation was 50 years ago! Surely the technology has advanced enough for Lucy to be completely fine. She should be able to live a long life, her new body should be able to take care of her mind.

No more trembling limbs or seizures.

I thank him and go out of his office to call my relatives and friends. Most of them went home during the implantation surgery, even though it was only 6 hours long. Those were the longest 6 hours of my life.

Now I have to wait another two.

I spend the entire time calling people and lastly I call up my parents to inform them. They had been living for nearly 200 years now and yet they still have trouble using holograms. They always know how to make me smile with their simplicity.

Two hours later, Lucy gingerly wakes up. The heart rate and other body signals were being displayed on the wall screen behind her, the sound of her heart beat smooth and healthy cause if it wasn’t then there would be alerts.

She looks at me and smiles. I smile back, hope surging through my heart. I pick up her hand to hold her and say I am here sweety everything is going to be just fine.

I am the first person to notice her hand tremble.


 

Thank you for reading!

 

Internship Monologues


PS: I got an internship recently, and this is how I feel everyday.


Angel-Devil-OnShoulders
Credits: The Mighty

What are you doing?

I am trying to understand this code.

You have to admit it is way beyond your comprehension.

No I got this.

You will screw up. They will know you are a fraud.

Shut up! You worked your ass off for this and damn it I am not going to let you quit now. Come on now, move!

Oh, this is gonna end well.


My mind is constantly working. When I am reading, my mind is concocting the next military fantasy novel, when I am coding my mind is trying to create ideas for the next big application. My mind does not deal with small issues.

Go Big or Go Home.

I sometimes hear my mind speak in a voice not very distant from my own, but it has a certain sense of arrogance that I can never manifest in mine. My mind wants perfection, it craves success and lastly, it wants that high of achievement.

I push myself to get it: constantly for almost everything. I have met people who say that it is tiring and they get burnout at the end of the day. I am lucky enough to not experience that so far. My mind is also smart enough to know when to stop trying.

Alas, it doesn’t know when to stop talking.


Oh shit! I screwed up.

No you did not, relax.

What have I done in my program: it completely crashes everything.

It is okay. Take a deep breath, you got this.

No I don’t. I should never have come here.

You are trying. That is all one can ever do, if it works or not is not in your hand.

Yeah I guess I can try.


It gets weird at times though. It is like I have the devil (he is not evil, mostly) and an angel sitting on my shoulders. One tells me to be the master of everything, to push above and beyond I have ever gone before. He tells me not to take shit from anyone ever, to keep chasing that perfection. It doesn’t give me the option of failure.

The other: it catches me when I fall, which is very often. It supports me, allows me to watch lots of dog videos when I am feeling down and slowly gets me back on track. It tells me it is okay to fail.


My internship has made the two voices extra loud. I am scared. Seriously scared about what will happen if I can’t do this.

You will not fail, you can’t.

I am struggling to understand how to code at the level of 4 year experienced coders. I have no idea how well I am doing.

It is okay, you are trying your best.

I am not afraid of asking for help, in fact that is what an internship is all about. Learning new things, working your way through challenges.Everyone is helpful at work, they never say no to helping out. They are also funny which is a bonus. I am just afraid of asking for too much help which can make them think I am not cut out for working at their level.

No you are!

I am afraid of being proved incapable. I am afraid of finishing my internship and realizing that maybe I wasn’t smart enough for all of this. I am afraid that my brain, which was once the my strongest asset, is no longer any asset.

If this does not work out then something else. You can manage things bro!

 

Daily Prompt: Craftmanship (War Fiction)


‘Metal forging is a craft, a skill that one in every 100 men have. Sure, anyone can heat up metal but how to mold it into a sword or an armor: that is a skill. When to cool a metal and how much to beat it, these things can be only done by instincts. You have the knack for this kind of craft. So promise me Pete that the only time you pick up a sword or a hammer is to deliver it. Battle is better off for others.’

Pete remembered that particular conversation with his grandpa. He could never forget it, he has trouble remembering his grandpa’s face at times but that conversation was easy to recall. It shaped his life.

He deeply breathed, trying to steady his speeding heartbeat. He was scared. He has never stepped out on a battlefield before and now the battle was outside. His brothers, the soldiers with whom he has grown up were getting slaughtered outside and he could hear women screaming. Houses were aflame, horses were running wild and the world sounded like it was about to end.

Maybe it was.

He looked at around his armory: he had a hammer, his favorite, a sword and some knives. Enough to fight with, enough to die with it. He knew a little about fighting but he was prepared: he threw his sword into the flame to heat it up. Nothing burned more than seared flesh and he was going to use the heat. His hammer had a long shaft which would be perfect for swinging and gave him reach. Knives would be perfect for arm to arm combat.

Let’s go.

He could hear some men standing outside his hut and swords clashing. He was not sure but he could hear someone cursing in his native tongue. There was a squeal and the swords stopped ringing. One final curse in his native tongue and someone fell down.

Pete ran outside his hands on the heated sword with his hammer on his back. In a second he had swung his sword and had cleanly decapitated a soldier. The heated metal had sealed the wound so no blood came pulsating out. Maybe it was the lack of blood that gave him an advantage as no one turned towards him until too late.

He cut off another soldier’s sword hand, sealing the wound. He turned his attention towards to the other soldiers standing around him: three more, four if you count the maimed soldier. He screamed a battle cry his friends had thought him a while ago, his voice eerily strong.

The soldiers were ready and were able to deflect his swings with ease. However, the sword’s heat threw them backward. He was bigger than all three of them, so he swung again this time putting his full weight on the swing. It worked as the soldier made the mistake of blocking the swing rather than deflecting it. Both the swords were thrust into the soldier’s chest and locking them together. Pete tried to pry loose his sword but to no avail. He had two more to kill for now but he couldn’t do it.

One soldier was at arm’s reach so he did just that, he grabbed the soldier’s neck and squeezed while he kicked the other. With only one soldier to focus on he grabbed his knife and thrust it in the soldier’s eye socket.

With one soldier and one maimed soldier left, he grabbed his hammer.

He could see another group of soldiers in the distance, they had noticed him as well. No matter, he will get to them soon enough. He swung his hammer low and blew the maimed soldier’s knee out. He kept the momentum of the swing and turned around to aim the hammer on the soldier’s head.

It was just like beating a metal into shape. Only this time blood came out.

More soldiers, none of them had any long range weapon. They would die soon. That day, the village was Pete’s forge. All the soldiers were infantry it was a while before any archers made contact with Pete. By the time they did, at least 50 were smashed and the hammer was glistening with blood.

An arrow through Pete’s heart put him down.

Daily Prompt: Recognize (Fiction)


“Do you know who this man is?” Counselor Michaels asked the witness. It was a very important question as it will either make or break the case. However, the witness couldn’t have been more unreliable.

Joe Monley was a two time convicted felon, one for B&E and the other for manslaughter. He has been clean for ten years now but there is always a shred of doubt when putting people like Joe on the stand.

Plus, a couple of days ago newspapers have discovered that Joe had an alcohol addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous was supposed to be well, anonymous. This revelation had put Joe’s testimony into jeopardy and Michaels would have removed him from the stand if he had any other witness.

No one else in the bar had seen the kidnapping of the waitress. No one in an entire bar.

The counselor waited for Monley to answer, his hands behind his back holding a pencil. He was tensed and was flexing the pencil. If Joe did not answer anytime soon then he would snap the pencil.

“Yes I do” Joe answered. Michaels eased off the pencil and continued on the prepared set of questions. Michaels plan was initially focus on the kidnapping but in light of recent events, he had to make some changes.

He had to provoke his client that day and he would never forgive himself. After Joe had answered all of the prepared questions perfectly, it was time for Michaels to take the rug from underneath the defense. He was sure that the defense would questions Joe’s testimony considering his Alcoholic Anonymous membership.

“How long have you been going to AA meetings Mr Monley?”

Joe’s head snapped into attention, his eyes narrowing. This was a low blow and even the defense was not completely prepared for this.

“Three years. I have been sober for the last two years”

“Then what were you doing in the bar?” Michaels asked.

After the papers leaked details of Joe’s AA membership, Michaels had asked Joe the same question and Joe stormed off. Now he could not storm off the courtyard.

“I was meeting somebody. I am sponsoring somebody and he had relapsed. I was there to take him home and take care of him.”

Michaels could have continued, but he stopped. He had already crossed a line with these questions but if he asked who Joe was sponsoring then it would be more…dirty.

He thanked the witness and the Judge concluding his line of questions.

Joe had done what was expected of him: recognize the kidnapper.

Daily Prompt: Scent (Poetry attempt)


What is smell but a trap?

Scented flower buds attract

Killing bees and insects

Unscented buds die hungry.

 


 

I have no idea why I tried this, but if you want to give feedback please feel free to do so. I would like to know what you think: even if you say this is crap! Thanks

Daily Prompt: Replacement (Science Fiction)


‘You are pregnant!’ the monitor displayed with tiny GIFs of babies crawling sprawled across the screen like confetti. The screen thought it was a celebration.

Tessa did not want to celebrate though. A baby meant work, lots of hard work and who does that these days. Amongst her sisters, only one had a baby and till this day she says that it were one of the most excruciating experiences of her life. The same sister also says that it was a memorable moment for her.

Why would anyone want to remember pain?! Everyone else, like normal people would rather skip the pain and enjoy the perks.

Tessa asked the screen ‘What do I do now?’

Moni, the AI which controlled her house responded gave her a few options. She decided that she would have to meet with a doctor once to discuss some options. She doesn’t want to be burdened by the pain.


 

‘I am pregnant’ she told her friends, Ali and Javier. They both looked at each other, trying to guess who the father is. It was common these days to have children with your friends as who would like to go outside and try to find a mate. It is a long and painful process.

Alcohol helps with the pain but it gives immense hangover. Technology has advanced and there are some great hangover remedies, but the stronger the remedies became people drank even more.

After about 30 seconds of staring at one another in silence, both of them raised their glasses and clicked them. They were not toasting to their ‘success’ but they wanted to get rid of the elephant in the room without actually talking about the elephant in the room.

Tessa did not want any part of this discussion so she stared around at the bar. The bar tried to emulate the feel of 1960s and it looked remarkably similar. There was some kind of RF signal in the air which made all the guests sway to the Jazz music being played the bar AI.

‘What do we do now?’ Javier asked.

She almost choked on her drink. She had only told them about the baby but she did not tell them that neither of them was the father. She told them now.

They sat silently again for a couple of seconds and both of them ordered lots of Tequila shots. Biologically, she shouldn’t drink. But she drank anyway cause Moni had already copied her embryo’s genetic makeup.

Tomorrow, her doctor would already know what her baby would look like.


 

‘You want SurroMother?’ the doctor asked again for confirmation.

Tessa looked at the artificially generated face of her yet-to-be born son. He would look good when he grows up.

He just won’t grow up in her womb. No pain.

‘Yes’ she confirmed.


 

The night after her appointment with her doctor Tessa did not feel like staying at home. She went out again, this time not calling her friends and drank the bar dry. She met another guy and went with him. She just hoped there would not be another baby this time.

No pain.


I couldn’t place replacement anywhere in the post.

Daily Prompt: Oversight (Fiction)


Nothing bad can ever come here. Last night’s events were not oversight, but they were a result of complacency. How else can three vampires just waltz into Wolf town?

Wolf town is the holy land for all kinds of wolfs all over the world. Werewolves, direwolves, siberian wolves and so on. Sometimes even Huskies are welcome here because predators have hearts too. Huskies are nothing but little lost children of wolves were they not?

It was considered common knowledge that no wolf will ever have to fight for his or her life here in Wolf Town. They can yap and howl all night long with their mates and bros but not get killed. Vampires and ghouls respected this knowledge and wolves territories. They emulated Wolf town a couple of centuries ago and created their own towns.

The names of their towns were alluding as compared to the simple Wolf town. Vampires called their home Bloodhaven and ghouls just called it Brains. Zombies tried to sue ghouls over the town name but no court wanted to have a huge racial dispute on its hand.

Zombies could not settle this the old fashion way, after all attack on one town will lead to an overall attack on all homes. Eventually Zombies called their home “Grrr!” as it was easy for them to say it.

“Where will you go now mate?”

“Grrrr!”


 

The vampires were left on poles exposed to sunlight. They withered and squealed against the sunlight but eventually all of them died. Sunlight gave vampires the most excruciating deaths and after last night’s atrocity they deserved it. But the old wolves of the pack were wary of such a public execution.

“Let’s kill them quietly and then feast on them!”

“They have no blood inside them! Feast on old festered organs?!”

“Well we can always bury them and wait for them to turn to bones!”

“Bones?!” the Husky exclaimed.

Others saw their child and were ashamed. One by one they howled and the Husky joined their howls. The elders were proud of the Husky’s howl though.


The vampired walked towards Wolf town’s square and faced the decayed bodies of the three dead. Wolves all over the town had heard of the new fang in town but he kept waving a white flag as a sign of surrender.

He also had a couple of balls which distracted everyone: elder and young pups.

“You should stop throwing those balls.”

“Your kind is so easy to distract”

“But we don’t attack unless offended”

“True. I would like offer my kinds’ sincerest apologies.”

“The vampires almost killed three wolves and ate one pup”

“And you killed them. Vengeance is dish best served cold”

“Your kind is cold already, they need to lighten up”

The vampire looked down at the old wolf standing next to his hip for a few seconds before laughing aloud. He kept laughing as more wolf heads tilted seeing his strange reaction. He stopped eventually.

“I offer truce. These deaths were apt, and my kind could not have given them a better punishment. As for compensation, we are ready to offer heaps of tennis balls, bones and half of our prey for a month. Let your mouths feast on succulent human flesh so that you will not have to hunt.”

The elder wolf waited and thought about the offer hoping there was no oversight. But wolf are after all parents of Huskies, they trusted very easily.


 

Thank you so much for reading. Comment below to let me know what you thought about it.

#100DaysofCode challenge: These guys made my week!


I have enjoyed coding a lot since coming to Auckland. I had a lot of time in my hands, ample resources to learn and now I am always keen on coding. I just don’t know what to code: I don’t have any project in mind.

One day, reading an article on Design.blog I stumbled on CodeNewbies.org: a website which caters towards beginner coders. They have something which I instantly signed up for.

If you have followed my blog then you would know I have completed NaNoWriMo 2015. 30 days of daily writing needs serious commitment. CodeNewbies challenged beginners to code daily for 100 days.

I was signed on half hour later. Today I am on day 14th. Everyday I try to code an hour and so far I have missed two days. I have made my portfolio (which needs some actual projects) and a tribute page (both of them have terrible content) so far and there are heaps of projects in it. After coding, I have to log my progress and also tweet about it using the hashtag: #100DaysofCode.

Last week, on Wednesday I got a call from a company nearby to schedule an interview. It was an unexpected call and at that time I was almost through my list of companies in the country. My calls had turned up nothing concrete other than some advice but no leads on getting any jobs.

Then I got a call. He asked if I can join him for an interview next day and I said yes while jumping up and down.

I changed my coding practice and then I tweeted this:

 

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I slept that night without waiting for any reply. Granted, I was literally asking for the replies but the response I got made me smile ear to ear next morning. These are the replies:

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Lastly, thank you CodeNewbies, FreeCodeCamp and #100DaysofCode community.

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PS: I got selected for the internship from the interview and I start tomorrow.

Identity Crisis


A couple of months ago, I was debating in my university team on minimum wage. The opposite side debated that minimum wage should stay as it helps establish identity. I remember the moment clearly when the opposite side argued ‘a person’s identity is associated with what they do for a living’. I rebutted against their point saying that a person’s more than just their profession.

Now, I think they were right.

I was a student for a year. I worked as a content writer for six months before that and was a student back in undergraduate school. I worried as to my whereabouts and identity but never like these days. Now, I am not a student and neither am a employee.

I am a job seeker currently and job search is so damn hard!

I can read books, cook and watch TV shows as much as I want but at the end of the day they make me feel like shit. I can’t lie about that, I do feel disgusted on a day when I have literally done nothing. Such days are iterate frequently.

I have to coerce myself to do something each and every day. My motivation is limited and I am running out of it. Ted Talks, reading blogs and stories sometimes gets me off my ass but then something throws me back to my comfort zone of blissful ignorance.

I have made plans to get things done everyday: apply for X number of jobs, call up Y number of companies and so on. I write stuff down as a list for the next day and in the beginning I could do them all but now I can hardly cross half of them out.

The very fact that I have to push myself to do that disgusts me. The lack of a monetary incentive or a professional identity and responsibility makes it harder.

Is it the same for everybody?

Manan Pandya’s Guest Post: How Lonely are we?


Thank you so much Manan for agreeing to guest post on my blog. He wrote an awesome and insightful post about human conditioning and loneliness and here it is:


There comes a time in everyone’s life when we sit down, far away from the world and its people, lost in the thoughts of how truly connected are we to the society. In this moment of self reflection we are often haunted by the thoughts that we are distant from all the people that we supposedly know and are in dire need of companionship. The feeling of invariably being with someone is what is craved by our mind.

Yet in truth a high degree of loneliness is an inescapable part of being a sensitive and intelligent human.

It is highly unlikely that we find someone who is exactly on the same page of the soul as us. This is because every individual on earth is a product of different circumstances, lifestyle, beliefs and morals. We often wish of other people to understand us but are let down when they fail to fully comprehend us. The problem is sure to get worse the more thoughtful and perceptive we are. There will simply be less people like us around. It is believed that working together is the solution to many of the problems, that two heads are better than one. But the truth is every successful pursuit came from an idea of an individual.

When you embrace the fact that in the long journey of life you have to do the traveling and that the people around you are just like road signs meant to guide you but not walk for you, then you can begin harnessing your solace as strength. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that we were never meant to socialize. Prefer others company, but value yours more. We shouldn’t be frightened or discouraged by the lack of company. While we may not have in our immediate surroundings people like us, but others separated across space and time might exist. This realization helps us in connecting with them in a far better way than what we have experienced before.

Once we accept it we can get creative. You could find yourself in the words of a poem written by a poet decades ago or the lyrics of a singer who described your blues even before you were born. When you begin to enjoy your own company, you start having deepened conversations you have with yourself. This in true sense cultivates intimacy. You could write, create music, blogs knowing that someone somewhere is going to be on the same page of thought on that topic.

Knowing that inner voice inside your head is the most important thing that you could do. Use this to think clearly about what you want to achieve in life. Done perfectly this is really helpful in getting you back to focus on things that really matter. Conclusively ,it is extremely necessary for everyone spend that time everyday when you need to answer only to yourself.


Feel free to check out his interview here. I am open for more Guest bloggers and feel free to contact me on itsmayurremember@gmail.com!

 

Guest Blogger: Manan Pandya Interview


Recently, I got a reply from Manan after my Call for Guest Bloggers. He is from India and like me he is also a blogger! He asked me if I am willing to have guest bloggers and I was more than happy to do so.

So, without further delay, let’s hear from Manan!

 

1. Who are you?

I’m Manan, a student of computer science living in India. I’ve been a writer for school magazines for as long as I can remember. I’m also a professional sportsperson having played five different sports at state and national level.

2. Why do you write?

I write because I love it. I believe that through my writings I can connect with people and be that external stimulus they require to do what their heart wants.
 

3. What kind of stories/posts do you enjoy reading most? 

My reading genre varies largely but I do enjoy romantic and thriller novels more.

 

4. Tips for readers/Mayur on how to improve their writing?

Lastly, it would be hard for me to point out tips about improving your blog as I am unfamiliar with the audience. However I would say that the obvious – keep posting regularly.


His Guest Blog post will be published tomorrow night so do come back here to check it out.

Thank You Manan for the support. Feel free to check out his blog here.

PS: I am still open for more guest bloggers and I encourage more to come. If interested then contact me on: itsmayurremember@gmail.com

 

Daily Prompt: Exquisite Art (Fiction)


‘What is stolen?’ the curator exclaimed.

Security guard swallowed, remembering that it was her job to keep The Pandora safe in the museum. After all, it was the only painting in the world which can be spread 360 degree.

Now, someone had stolen it.


 

‘Hey bro!’ the street beggar called out to the passing police officer. The officer never changed his step and ignored the beggar completely.

The ones who are supposed to protect everyone sometimes have a different notion of everyone.

‘Alright, I could have told you about the painting.’ the beggar mumbled.


 

‘How much did this painting cost?’ the officer asked.

‘How much?!’ the curator exclaims. He always hated those who had no clue about art. He hated those more who tried to put a price tag over something so unique as The Pandora.

‘It was priceless! There was never any other painting like this. You ask me the price? It took Vincent Bonjo 15 years to make that painting. He ran out of money, he lost his house and eventually completed the painting while staying on the streets. Where else can anyone find a painting like this?’

‘It still would have been evaluated. Any estimate would do sir, we would like to know how much monetary value was actually stolen.’

‘3 years ago it could have bought a small state in this country. Three years ago? After a while we stopped estimating the price because we would need bigger numbers.’

‘Okay priceless was better.’

‘That is what I said.’

‘Any offers to buy the painting recently?’

‘No offers recently. The painting had been stored away as the wing was under construction for a while and it was going to be unveiled tomorrow.’

‘When did the construction complete?’

‘How would I know? I am in charge of the paintings and not the refurbishment.’

‘In charge of the painting? Clearly you were not good at your job.’

‘I am not in charge of the security. She was not good at his job. I fired her!’

‘Fired her? So the security in charge is not here? We would like to talk to her.’

The curator at this point called over his security for further information about the on duty guard. The officer exchanged some pleasantries before jumping to the topic of the guard.

There was something nagging him though, how could someone steal a huge 360 degree painting?

‘How big was the painting?’

‘I already told you the painting was the biggest deal!’

‘No you told me that the painting was one of the kind but you did not tell me the size of the painting.’

‘Oh the painting is about 20 m long and 1 m wide.’

‘That is not a large painting. It could have been easily stolen along with the construction equipment. I would like to know about the construction company.’


‘Hey bro!’ the beggar called out to the curator who was walking past. Even he did not look at the beggar, as if the space occupied by the beggar was non existent.

‘Shame! I could have told you about the painting.’ the beggar mumbles.


 

‘We don’t know anything about any painting.’ the suspect avows.

‘Then give us the name of every construction worker in the last couple of days.’ the officer counters.

‘Sure I already gave them. Your partner has them.’

‘He does?’

‘Yeah he does.’

‘Then why did you let me go all Hulk on you?’

‘I tried to tell you that your partner has them but you didn’t let me.’

‘But you should have told me sooner’

‘You did not let me!’

The officer looked around, clearly embarrassed about his mess up. He then slowly sulked away from the suspect as the suspect looked on. Just as the officer was about to leave the line of sight, he turned back at the suspect and says:

‘Don’t leave town.’


 

‘Hey fellows!’ the beggar greets some police officers. They ignore him too but he tries again. This time, one of the police officer answers.

‘What?’

‘You are here about the painting right?’

‘How the hell you know about that?’

‘I live right outside the museum.’

‘And you are high all the time.’

‘It is not my fault that petrol is so easily available’

‘What do you know about the painting?’

‘Just that the construction workers dropped something big on their way out.’

‘How big?’

‘About 20 X 1 m big’

‘You know where it is?’

‘I just have one condition.’


 

One week later after the case has been closed and the museum reopened. The guests were all patiently waiting for the opening of the new wing. They waited for the curtain to be opened so that they can be ushered into the wing and look at the The Pandora.

All except one person who was already standing inside the new wing, turning around to look at the 360 degree painting. The curator entered the wing and met the beggar.

‘It is beautiful isn’t it?’ the curator greets.

‘Yeah making it was very difficult’

‘I should thank you for that’ the curator paused and then added ‘You don’t look the same as you did back then’

‘Yeah, you know I ran out of colors at the end. I had to use some rotten tomatoes and other stuff I found in the garbage to finish this’

‘You wanted it to be called The Garbage

‘You wanted an exquisite name for an exquisite painting?’

Vincent Bonjo winked at the curator as their deal was now done. The painting was world famous, the curator had enough donations into this place and finally, the maker could see his masterpiece as a whole for the first time.


 

Thank you for reading! Keep commenting on the posts.

Daily Prompt: Unseen Hero (Fiction)


‘How could no one seen a thing?!’ Lieutenant Copper exploded.

The two sergeants in front of Copper had never heard their lieutenant speak like this. Copper was a nimble man, full of courtesy and diplomacy. No other man had stayed in charge for as long as Copper has and that is because of how he speaks. The masked surface was under attack now as there was a new kind of trouble on the streets.

According to him at least there is a new trouble.

‘Tell me what do the witnesses tell us?’ Copper asked again, regaining some of his cool demeanor back.

‘Sir, most of the victims or witnesses, as you put it, say that the train was under attack. There was a metal-tentacled man who killed off the driver and then screwed up the controls. They say they don’t know how the vigilante stopped the train but they are glad that he did.’ Sergent Jones iterated.

Copper nodded, his face focused on the statement. He wanted to find a flaw in the witness statement but there was none. Sargent Jones and Sargent Hunter have been over the witness statements a couple of times.

No one said anything out of the ordinary. No one had seen or heard anything to further their investigation about the vigilante. This troubled Copper, this vigilante’s face was one of the most sought after thing currently in the city.

Never mind the metal tentacled man, or his predecessor the green suited-air gliding man or any of the other menace lurking in the city. Copper’s concern was to stop the vigilannte first and then worry about the other menace.

No lone ranger in my city

The entire thing was bizarre enough until a couple of months ago a witness said they had seen this vigilante. The witness hadn’t seen the face properly but he was sure of one thing: this vigilante did not wear a mask.

No mask! The vigilante was saving the city for months now and yet no one had come forward with any information as to what this vigilante looked like? Was he a blonde? A Caucasian guy or an African-American guy?

The answers were out there, amongst the people he had saved but no one ever ventured any information about this vigilante. The train attack was the biggest break the police ever had with the vigilante.

Yet no one has seen his face.

‘Alright, go out again. I want you to canvas the area, find me someone who can tell me if this vigilante is a kid, an adult or a 70 year old veteran. Find me something until I call the Mayor and ask him a favor.’ Copper paused contemplating telling his sargents about the favor. He decided he could trust them both.

‘I would beg him to declare a reward on testimonials about this vigilante. He cannot be unseen after doing so many things.’


 

Thank you for reading, let me know what you think about it.

Daily Prompt: Cling (Fiction)


The smell clung to his self. He could never wash it out, no matter how many times he tried to wash his clothes. He tried to eradicate it out of his self by trying different techniques, by using the ways of his victims.

He traded perfumes from some of the best manufacturers of the world. They asked him just before their end what did he want. He told them. They laughed and then he joined their laughter.

After hearing him laugh, all the blood had drained from their face. They hurried to bring him perfumes, the costliest ones and the strongest ones. He used them and went out, leaving his victims to live another day.

Literally another day.

Cause he would come back the very next day, angry that the perfume did not work. They would beg more but he would not relent, not this time. You can always make one deal and when you break it, there is no going back. He never regretted doing his job.

In fact he loved his job. He got to travel all around the world. He could go to a country of peace, a country of war and a country barricaded against all of the world. He would sneak in, finish his mission and get out before anyone can notice what had happened.

They would notice after his work is done. That surprise on their faces would always amuse him and he would laugh. His laughter would be silent this time, for no one should hear him laugh.

Regardless of how much he loved his work, it was after all just his day job. The demands of the work impacted his physical appearance and it affected his odor. He cannot take it anymore, the bad odor oozing from his own self. He could smell the lifelessness from his victims radiating from him.

He hated that. Not only did he have to deal with other’s demise but also he had to carry their odor with him.

Once, he met a great tailor who bartered for a new dresscode. He agreed hopeful for the smell to cease. It did, for a day and then the fabric could no longer contain.

It was like a dam had broken and the smell just burst forth. He had killed one person by that smell alone. He went back to the tailor again and he finished his mission. It was the last barter he ever made.

Now, whenever the mission calls he gets up. He looks at his own image in the mirror. The face was barely recognizable anymore, his cheekbones looked ghastly. He tried to find his eyes but he couldn’t help but stare into the abyss.

The job had taken too much from him. Now, there was no way to stop.

He grabbed his cowl, put it on and grabbed his scythe. He had missions to complete.

Daily Prompt: Shine


The light that shines brightest burns fastest

Chanakya kept thinking of the line in his mind since morning. He was scared. He had played his hand and now his gamble might backfire on him.

Definitely result in some firing.

He had no choice but to put one foot after another. He had to pretend that everything’s normal, that his organization was not about to fall flat on its face.

So he made his breakfast, played his favorite Beethoven and sat in silence. Before he started eating, he picked a pinch of salt with his fingers and sprinkled it on his omelette. He looked up at the wall opposite his seat, at the clock.

9:55 am.

Only half an hour more. He sighed and started eating, the knife sliding smoothly cutting the omelet into pieces. He had about 35 minutes of freedom today before the police barges in, according to his estimation.

He was counting on it, the evidence he had dropped in the police station would be opened soon. Police will take 10-15 minutes to reach his evidence and a few more minutes for Judge’s arrest warrant to process.

10:30 am he would be walking out of his own home in cuffs.

He had no other choice. The only consolation for him was he won’t be the only one walking out of his home in cuffs. Chanakya had made sure that when he falls his competitors would also be falling down. The evidence would implicate Swami as well. This will make sure after the arrests, there would no rival families lunging for one another’s throats.

No turf wars. No war on the streets. Not until their sons grow up, which was still 10 years away.

10 years of peace.

Chanakya tried to squash the tiny shimmer of hope burning in his home. The Police had enough evidence to arrest him, he had given them evidence to arrest Swami. Why would his heart still think that the police spare him?

Because of the 10 million I dropped off at the inspector’s house.

It was hopeless though, the inspector’s reputation preceded him. Truthful and idealistic. He would use the money to implicate Chanakya even further.

He stopped eating, the last two pieces of the omelet looked unappetizing now. They looked dry. He was no longer hungry.

His breathing rate was rising, heart was beating faster.

Everything has ended.

He put his head down on the table and started crying.


 

An hour later he watched Police arrest Swami on the news. Not so ideal now inspector.

He is shining bright, but he won’t be burning out today.

 


 

Thank you for reading!

Daily Prompt: Infinite (Fiction)


‘Do you know that the hummingbird’s wings make the infinite sign while flapping? No? It is one of the lines from that movie where the guy aged in reverse. Wonderful movie, a little slow for my pace though.’

Adil nodded. He knew that movie ‘Curious Case of Benjamin Button’. He had seen it a couple of times with some of his friends. He looked up at the speaker, his uncle was walking him to some place he did not know where.

His uncle would probably buy him some chocolates which suited him just fine. His uncle was one of the best guys he knew, he secretly aspired to grow just like his uncle. He bought a blue checkered flannel shirt and black jeans which looked similar to the one his uncle was wearing.

His uncle loved flannel. He already knew that his uncle owned no T-shirt, all he had was flannel. Many of Adil’s friends said that flannel is worn by old men who had no sense of fashion, their opinion would be seriously challenged when they met his uncle.

Adil’s mother once told him a school story of his uncle. She said that even then his uncle knew how to flaunt a flannel shirt, way back then when everyone wore flannel shirts. She said all of her friends secretly adored his uncle.

The story was another reason why he wanted to rock those flannels too.

His uncle was still saying something but he was too busy fantasying about his future and the flannel shirts. He felt a hand on his hand and he looked up. His uncle had a frown on his face as he asked Adil what happened.

‘Nothing. Nothing I was just thinking, thinking about the hummingbird.’ he answered.

‘What hummingbird?’ his uncle asked bemused.

‘The one you told me about.’

‘I was not talking about any hummingbird.’

Now both of them were confused. Adil was wondering why was his uncle lying. He was also wondering about the chocolates.

‘It is okay.’ his uncle answered, shrugging off. Adil had a peculiarity of mentally wandering off. Nowadays, that peculiarity has been enhanced ever since the surgery. A huge trauma to the head can have effects, doctors had said. Adil was still conscious, talking and sometimes walking. Another difficulty for Adil was remembering relationships. Hence, Adil called his father sometimes his uncle.

It was a small mercy that his son still knew him. It is a big mercy that his son was still alive. He will learn to cope with his son’s almost limitless mental wanderings.

‘Uncle?’ Adil looked up at his father, breaking his father’s heart ‘Where are we going?’

‘Going?’ his father was confused again. But he would play his son’s game again ‘We can go where you want to. The only thing stopping you is your brain and once it is open, the possibilities are infinite!’


 

Thank you for reading. This was fun to write and feel free to tell me what you liked and what you didn’t!

 

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I figured out time at the end of 2016


Or at least I think so. One of the good things in 2016.

I reached the realization a while ago but only recently while reading one of the Discover posts, I was able to put my thoughts into words. As soon as I hit ‘Post Comment’ I knew I had an explanation to my obsession to time (close second to death).

I measure time by the clarity of the memories I make.

If I am able to recall a memory then it has happened recently. I am sure I am not the only one. It might be the reason when reminiscing everyone say ‘It seems like yesterday’.

There are no memories created yesterday, only ones that exist are from far back in time.


 

Currently, after graduation I am a job seeker (not jobless: I have to remind myself that). I have surplus time in my hands, full 24 hours to be exact. I am surprised by my inability to sleep more than 8 hours these days. Ironically, I am certain that when I have work I will sleep more than my quota.

GIMP Edited
The two versions of the photos

The abundant time I have I try to spend it wisely: by learning new skills. I finally learned how to use GIMP (an Open Source Photoshop alternative). It is pretty good. I click photos from my mobile and sometimes I am surprised with the quality of images my phone produces. Another thing I am learning (or revising) is programming.

If I may explain time in programming terms then:

  1. You have a great day. Your brain auto-saves that memory inside a database (one of the grooves of your cerebrum)
  2. When you have a normal day, your brain deletes the memories to the recycle bin. You can restore some fragments of the day but not everything. It is similar to the cache your browser saves.
  3. When you sit and reminiscence, you recall the auto-saved memory and not the memories in the recycle bin.
  4. Most of the days go to the recycle bin; they are fraught with meaningless junk which holds no emotional value.
  5. When recalling memories, the cerebrum references the current mood with memories and recall the first ones matched.

The same thing happens with programming and database. The program I was wrote returned only the first matched data unless specifically told to return everything. I don’t know how to tell my brain to return all matched memories, it returns those ones which are matched first.


 

I heard a couple of people speaking about their year in review (not Facebook year in review). I am sure that most people will start writing their posts like me about their year. I don’t want to go back on my year, it had its ups and downs. I do recall two distinct things precisely.

Firstly, I can recall the feeling while writing my last year’s New Year’s post. I just knew that my 2016 was going to be harder. It was (or so my database tells me). I can’t compare it with any other year because when in my 23 years of life have I lived in a new country without the ones I can physically rely on.

Secondly, I can recall my 31st night. I had lied (sort of) to my boss and sneaked to a camp. I was amongst friends that night when the clock hit 00:00. I can’t recall the 31st the year before that or any other 31st before that except the ones when I was very small.

My mom would make a special kind of rice which had three or four colors: red from beetroot, yellow from turmeric & white. I don’t remember any more colors. I remember lots of chips and some bottles of soft drinks and my dad watching one of the thousand New Year specials. I don’t know what my brother did but I am sure he was there somewhere.

The memory is hazy. It was a long time ago.

My last year’s 31st is not hazy, like it was yesterday.


 

I don’t know what the new year will hold for me. I am afraid of saying it will get harder as I (stupidly) think that’s what happened with my 2016. I am aware I was privileged with what happened in my year, the global year can be called horrendous. No one wants to live this year again and we are all eager to brush off the year under the year as if it never happened. (There are so many meme’s of the sort).

What will 2017 hold for me? For us?

I can’t speak for others. I don’t want to say I want to make a memories, my wants have nothing to do with what gets saved in my database. Basically, I don’t know what I want from 2017.

I will just see what life throws at me and I will keep putting one foot in front of another. Somewhere I will create some moments which will forever seem like yesterday.

PS: Happy New Year Folks!

(Inspiration for the post: On Not Writing Christmas cards, In Praise of Nowstalgia: The Sadness in Happiness,  Slowing Down the Perception of Time )

 

Weekend Coffee Share: Graduation Week


If we are having coffee, I will talk all about my week. It was full, filled with different people of different background and different perspectives. It also was the week when I graduated with a Masters of Engineering.

The past weekend has been one of the best weekends so far. It was filled with great weather, a great conversation and two free music festivals. I was headbanging in one and dancing in another. Firstly, it is my first Christmas in a Christian country and the city is festive. Every house is adorned with lights and Xmas trees & I just love looking at the bright houses after dark. According to my friends I have to visit Richman street in the city (aptly named as it is an affluent area).


(Sorry for the shaky cam)I attended the annual Auckland Christmas in the Park. It was was cold & raining lightly but I was surprised to find a lot of people attending. The numbers increased as evening turned dark. The event had a host of native artists performing famous international tunes and a few Maori songs. I kind of love the native songs and I am slowly exploring the country’s artists. One of my favorite songs after I started discovering Kiwi artists has to be ‘This Life’ by Fly My Pretties. The song is in English but there is definitely a Kiwi vibe in the song.

The event was closed by a great fireworks display. Then I went on to checkout the fair in the park, which was closing down at the time but was still lit up. I think the lighting made for a great photoshoot.

 

 

Next day, I went to the North Shore specifically for a alternative rock music festival called ‘Devonstock’. The festival featured around 5 bands with varied genres and at least 2 of which were still in college. I was shocked at the music they were able to produce even if I found their stretched out guitar solos a bit annoying. Because of the event I got to know about some more up and coming NZ artists and found a new favorite song.

 


I graduated from University this week. Finally, after almost 10 months of struggles and hardwork, I did it. I have to thank a friend for convincing me to go. I loved the event fully and the next day, I got an award to recognize my work over the year. I am awaiting photos for the event but this is the award:

 

Graduation

 

 


Yesterday, I went with some new friends to Piha Beach. Two big things: the beach is black in color. The seawaves foam when crashing at the beach. The wet sand ripples when stepping on it, it is like walking on a stretched piece of cloth, with the area around the feet changing its texture because of the weight. It was my first road trip after a long time.


I heard one of the best jokes yesterday. I know a guy who works at Green Peace NZ. His team made a mocking video of NZ Prime Minister Bill English and at a party, my friends’ boss got a little drunk. He felt bad about the mocking video.

So he decided to text the Prime Minister to apologize for the video.

THE PRIME MINISTER TEXTS BACK!

“Its all good mate, all in good fun!”

I couldn’t stop laughing at that for minutes.


I finally went for a bike party. I have been increasingly involved with different biking groups in the city and yesterday was another one. It was disappointing. We met at a park, used a public BBQ for dinner and roam around. It was good but I couldn’t just stay at one place. They went about very slowly, talking and chilling while I couldn’t wait to just go somewhere.

Nonetheless, it is one thing I can tick off.


If everything I did was not enough, today there was a pre wedding celebration. I had two choices, sit awkwardly or dance awkwardly. I chose dancing awkwardly and it was a great decision.

I am just thinking of my week to come, I don’t know what will I do now.

I wish I had a dragon


To Anyone who says Disney movies are for kids,

You are wrong. They are not solely for kids. I have always enjoyed them, although I am one of the adults who love to watch great visuals on a screen. Disney or any animated movie for the matter have more than great visuals going for them, prominently great stories.

They touch on topics which are beyond the scope of comprehension of most kids. Recent movies touched on issues of racism and stereotype. Kids may not have heard of these terms. But we have, and maybe we need to reminded of the things we knew of when we were kids.

Kids don’t need movies which inspire them, we adults need inspiration and motivations. After all, it is pretty difficult to wake up and motivate yourself to get up from bed.  Getting up from bed is a relatively small problem in the grand scheme of things and there are more than one problems awaiting everyday. We need motivation, we need to be taught the important principles lest we forget them in the monotony.

The fact that most of the new animated movies target our childhood and sense of nostalgia is another factor into watching them.

Why else would Finding Dory would be a great hit, or why am I so patiently waiting for The Incredibles 2? I watched the originals when I was a kid and I loved the myriad colors on the screen. How could I understand the emotional depth these films touched.


 

If I watch a Disney movie, I take a trip to Sentiment City. They are so warm and fuzzy; packed with just the right amount of emotional ingredients like laughter, joy and innocence. Of course when I watch them I know they are going to have a happy ending.

Growing up to an adult makes you realize that they are just movies and they are marketed towards children. No child, no money and no profits. No child will love the movie if the main character dies. Disney movies usually have an protagonist which behaves like a dog, so if they kill their protagonist at the climax I will riot.


 

Recently I was watching Pete’s Dragon. I needed a ‘feel-good’ movie because of the day I was having. I knew the usual mind numbing apathetic shows I usually watch would not work. I have not watched the original movie but I trusted Disney to making a great movie.

The movie is stunning visually, with absolute jewels of child characters and a huge dragon which acts like a puppy with wings. I am a dog person and if there is anything more special than dogs it might be dogs with wings.

Or maybe a dragon because I grew up with stories of dragons.

In usual Disney movies, there is the start phase, intermediate stage and climax where everything falls into a new order. The start phase is usually marred by a tragedy and there is a lot of buried up pain in the middle. The climax makes the protagonist and in turn the viewers deal with the buried up pain. Most people would never want the middle phase.

There is also happiness in the middle phase. It is usually after the dog resembling character is introduced, when the protagonist realizes there is more the animated character than meets the eye. It is in the brilliant middle phase where the transition of the protagonist begins. There is a lot of laughter.

In this phase, the protagonist is happy but not as happy as he would eventually be. The movie is able to transmit that happiness from the protagonist’s face across to the viewers’ hearts.

So I watched Pete’s Dragon with a huge grin on my face as Pete and Elliot played around the jungle. Elliot was different than almost every dragon portrayed in the movies, he was kind and loyal. He changed colors when touched, he keeps his powers of destruction inside him and keeps away from people. How did they manage to have an animated character depict sorrow and longing is beyond me but Elliot clearly was sad when he looked at the North Star.

Pete belonged in the jungle with Elliot. He stayed away from people, lived well off on his own and was happy. He stayed true to his childish nature and his curiosity got the better of him at times. How could I forget the fact that Pete scared off a bear? That was funny.

Pete and Elliot had 6 great years together! They were content, wild and carefree. In stark contrast, who amongst us adults can say they had a good week?

Mostly I don’t even have good days, I have good moments with which I try to keep myself content. Moments I cherish. I drew parallels between the movie and my life as I watched.I am grateful for not having personal tragedy as Pete but then he has a Dragon! He could walk around carefree, not worried about what to wear, who to speak and what to say.

It did not matter to me that the adults in the movie seemed out of place. After all, I can willingly accept a kid trusting a dragon but I will probably never accept a full grown adult trusting a dragon. I expect the adult to try to tame the dragon. Exactly like the antagonist did.

I know WHO people are. I may be one of them.

As I watched the movie, I cringed in anticipation of the scene where Pete and Elliot get separated. I was not looking forward to see Elliot captured or any other emotional scene. My imagination raced ahead of me showing all the bad things that could happen to Pete and Elliot.

Thank goodness that the writers don’t have my imagination.

Thank goodness that Pete was still a kid in the movie. Someone who had no pride, someone who could laugh easy and was unencumbered. Thank goodness for the actor who played Pete cause he was able to be the perfect kid, an embodiment of everything childhood was supposed to be.

Innocence. Something I miss, the wide eyed perspective of the world.

It is kind of pointless to be talking about the things lost in a movie which tells you to be brave and move forward. A movie which embraces change in life. The message of the movie was not lost on me. I am not Pete though, I cannot accept change as easily as he did.

So I wish I had a dragon.

A year in AUT


A year ago, I was in Mumbai working 9 hours a day and secretly trying to get my visa sanctioned. I had kept my Masters’ plans secret from my colleagues. I would frequently call my brother whenever I needed some advice about my visa or about my job.

No one really tells you how hard it is to live away from your family. It is harder still to live without home-cooked food. It is hardest when there is no dog happily running around when I return home. I have weird priorities.

My friends from India do not share the same time with me. They are lagging behind 8 hours. If I need advice from my friends, I would get a reply from them 4 hours after my message. One of my friends moved to Germany now which lags behind 12 hours so basically I would wake up when she sleeps. I slowly stopped asking for advice and used my instincts. If I am confused, I toss a coin to decide.

I cannot summarize the last 9 university months in one sentence. In fact, I have been writing this post for the last 2 weeks and every draft I wrote was unsatisfactory. My drafts were mechanical, emotionless and not me. I had to sit and shovel the feelings out of my chest so my feelings can guide the words flow into this post. I should thank one of my university staff for that shovel.

I am competing for an award in my university. The final step to submit my award application is a personal essay to the university staff member. I have to write an essay about my feelings. It ought to be easy considering I have a personal blog right?

When I started in university, I was fresh off a content writing position in India. I was trying to transition back to engineering again. I saw my university’s monthly magazine and I said to my friend “I will submit an article in here”. I never submitted any article and forgot about it. In October I read the year’s final magazine again. I regretted never submitting any article.

I was also happy that I did not submit any article, I was no longer a content writer. My writings were academic focused and maybe no longer suited for magazines. My transition was complete.

Regarding my award application, all my essay drafts were sent back for revisions. She said my essays did not have feelings, they were similar to academic writings. She made me stop and think, think carefully about what my university months meant to me. Without her push, this post would have stayed in my drafts.

I did a lot of things in my university. I don’t want to list them, I want to relive them as I write the words here. I don’t know when I will resume my university for Ph.D. yet. At the moment, the nine months of university is what I have for certain.

I lived in two different houses while I studied. I loved both of the houses for different reasons. One house was near to sea face and my current house allows me to bike to my university. I made some great friends in my previous house, one of them recently sent me a postcard. The simple 3 lines on the postcard gave me immense happiness. I have to send her a postcard back soon.

I can’t talk about the AUT Debating Society enough. They took me along with them to my first roadtrip to Hamilton. I enjoyed the debating weekend getaway, the location and it took some time but I loved the people I met. On regular university days, every Tuesday I would be debating with them, making arguments and high-fiving my teammates. The funniest thing I have ever heard my teammate say during a debate was ‘Spiritual Porn’. The argument used will always be funny.

Recently, I volunteered for a medical technology event. It was not my first volunteering and it will not be my last. During the volunteering, I felt a surge of pride when people appreciated the exhibits. I should have clicked photos of kids reacting to the exhibits. The kids had a curiosity which made them keep exploring. The event was exhilarating and it gave me an excuse to cycle along the waterfront. I was as excited about these things as a 8 year old would be.

I got lost on so many days here. If I don’t have my phone then without maps I would also be geographically lost. I kept looking for a replacement home. I understand my immense involvement in a church now. They are a bunch of great people but with time I realized that I don’t really belong with them. I was trying too hard. Luckily, I found a good replacement home. A entire community of people who want to do good, and they accepted me into their homes with open arms. They called me ‘fam’, family for short. I can’t wait for their wedding in December.

It is not easy to live in a new country. It is easier to stay with other Indians because it is familiar and comfortable. I never fit in with them either. So I never waited for anyone. I wanted to watch a movie, I watched it. I wanted to eat a pizza, I ate it. I wanted to go to a party, I went. I never waited for anyone, I couldn’t possibly call my best friends from India here.

The year in Auckland, 9 months with AUT was a promiscuous mixture. Some days I went outside the house with ambition, some days I just closed my eyes and slept again. The 9 months are no less symbolic than childbirth for me. I feel independent, optimistic and ready for whatever comes my way and I have come a long way from where I started.

Diwali In Auckland


(PS: that is not my home, it is my neighbors’)

To me, Diwali is the festival of food, particularly sweets. Families all over would create  culinary masterpieces and the very air would be infused with myriad aromas. When Diwali is passes by my house would be filled with lots of food, boxes of sweets. The sweets are delicious. They are perfect eatery when I am wandering or standing near the refrigerator door.

I have many favorite sweets. Over Hindu calendar year, there are many festivals where sweets are obligatory. During Diwali, we would go to our cousin’s place to exchange sweets. The purpose of meeting people is to catch up, spend quality time. For me, that never mattered, I am not much of a people person. I enjoyed Diwali as long there was enough food.

I decided this Diwali would end with sweets. This was not nostalgia or delusion. I can’t eat food and be instantly transported back to home. I don’t need sweets to recall what home is like on Diwali.  The evening would be alive with firecrackers’ noise. Mum would startle hearing a burst of a cracker. My dog Jimmy would run around smelling food. He got quickly immune to the noise of crackers.

Dad would watch a Diwali celebration concert on TV. The concert would be terrible but he would keep switching channels. Navin, my brother, would play on his phone or roam the town with his mates. If he is out, he would come home half hour late at the minimum. He always did that making everyone fret over his ETA.

Eventually, everything would work out fine. The entire house would be lit with oil lamps and decorating LEDs on the windows, dry color floor artworks (rangoli) outside the house. The LEDs lights toggle their brightness. It would continue to dance and emulate the twinkling the stars for the rest of the night. The Pooja (prayer) at home would finish quickly while Navin or I would make sure that Jimmy doesn’t eat any of the sweets.

Funny how easy it is to recall mundane memories at times like this.

Auckland is different. There is no startling noise of crackers, no decorating LEDs. But I decided that tonight at least there has to be a meet and catch up. The main reason was food obviously. I made a plan, invited some friends to a nearby Indian restaurant. As I cycled there, I could see which houses have Indian families. It is easy to spot that one house in a lane with LEDs adorning the porch. The house which has oil lamps lit on the veranda. Someone started fireworks as well.

I was not the only Indian out eating today: meeting everyone and greeting them ‘Happy Diwali’ was familiar to the days in India. Over the entire year, no one would say hi to one another, and on Diwali, everyone would greet each other like we are some long lost cousins.

The food was amazing. The essence of Diwali for someone like me was achieved. It was with a bunch of people who I can count on. The familiarity made food more precious. I didn’t miss home today as I thought I would.

Fiction: At the races


Chris sat at the stall, waiting for Selena to show up. The race was about to start and she was nowhere to be seen, it was her idea to spend the Sunday on a racetrack. They arrived at the scene together but then she said she needed to use the loo. Now, half hour later, the horses were all lined up and it has to be only a couple of minutes before the whistle is blown and the race starts.

The excitement of the race was enough for Chris to forget about Selena, even if he didn’t want to. Selena had warned him that races are addictive and from the moment they are lined up, the adrenaline high he felt was indescribable. Chris could no longer disagree with it, he was skeptical about it at first. All around him he could see people cheering on, screaming for the race to start. Some were already a little tipsy, after all the bar was open for significant time. Now, the bets have all been made and the bookies are all waiting for the results to be out. Many people will leave the race with money enough to party all night long in London and others will go home, get drunk and curse their misfortune.

For Chris, caution and self control was the key. Before the excitement had surged, he had already made modest bets on horse number 7. Because of this, he wasn’t worried about losing a lot of money, neither was he anticipating good profits. The bets were more of ‘When in Rome, do it like the Romans do’ kind of an act. However, now he had to control his impulses to just go and make a few bets.

Where is Selena? he thought. His heart was pumping and he could feel sweat budding on his forehead. He used his napkin to wipe the sweat but there was nothing more he could do for his heart. Except drink more ale.

As he took a sip, the whistle was blown and Selena was nowhere to be seen.


 

Selena threw her knife at the copper’s chest and it him right in the middle. She didn’t stop to check whether or not he was dead, she just rolled over to be away from the other coppers’ line of fire. This was a disaster, she thought as she exhaled a mouthful of air.

Chris would not have ever guessed why she wanted to come for the races. Now, her elaborate plan had been shattered to pieces and all she could think of is his safety. What has happened to her?

A shot was fired and it hit the wooden panel to the left of her head. She whipped her head around to see more coppers coming in the tent, one of them with an automatic weapon.

Damn! she cursed her stupidity. The henchmen now know who she is and also would find out who she came here with. There is no going back to anonymity after what has happened here and they will keep hunting her. Screw it, she thought as she tore away the bulky dress and freed her legs for more agility. Underneath the dress she had an arsenal of weapons: knives, shooting stars and one revolver. The revolver was for desperate measures only as it had only 6 shots and she didn’t bring in a lot of bullets.

She glanced back from the hole in the panel and counted. 10, 11… 12 coppers she could see out there. This was not going to be easy but she has done this kind of thing before too. If all goes well, then she should be able to escape with a couple of broken ribs and maybe one gunshot wound. If all goes well..

No time to waste now, she thought as she grabbed a couple of throwing knives, removed her heels and held them both in different hands. The knives were the main weapons, heels were for close combat.

She brought mayhem to the tent as she threw her knife at the pole holding the structure and the canvas barred her opponents vision.


 

The chorus of men, women screaming as soon as the whistle blew was deafening. Chris was jolted and he added his voice to the crowd, swept along with the flow.

He could see the horses running fast and faster, already covered up a quarter of the track within seconds. His number 7 was not in the lead but he could hear someone screaming ‘Yes’ for the lead horse, number 9.

Chris had an growing urge to just hit the guy whose horse was in the lead. He turned around to see who it was and saw and elderly man with binoculars to his eyes. The elderly man had not noticed Chris yet but Chris noticed the man’s companion.

Clearly 30 years younger than him, the companion was someone Chris had seen a while ago. He remembered going to a party along with Selena and the girl was either the hostess of the party or another guest. He had never seen the elderly man before.

The girl was an anomaly in the crowd. While everyone else was screaming their lungs out over the horses, the girl sat mute and composed. She noticed his attention and he quickly looked away.

Looking at the girl made him realize that Selena was not here yet and she was still missing out on the race. It was her idea damn it!


 

4 dead and 8 more to go. As soon as the canvas had fallen down, Selena moved with the grace that would have made snakes piss. Within seconds she had slashed three coppers’ throats and had stabbed the fourth. However, the time spent on killing the four was enough for the other’s to come within sight of her. One of them opened fire and he felt a stab of pain in her left calf.

From experience, she knew what a gunshot wound felt like. This pain that she felt was nothing close to that pain meaning that the shooter had missed. Well, she will not miss. She turned in a circle and aimed, used her momentum and drove her knife at the copper’s head. She was moving before he dropped to the ground.

Two more in front of her and she had no knives in her hand anymore. She had heels nonetheless and it was time that men knew how much heels hurt. With her right hand she hit the copper’s gun away and her left hand uppercut the other with the heel. There was a spray of blood on her face but she didn’t stop. She brought in her left towards the head of the copper and the right towards the stomach. He dodged her left but her right lodged in his stomach. She left her heel in his stomach and moved on, leaving him to his slow agonizing death.

No more knives but she still had the gun and there were only 6 left. There were also some other guns lying around and now she picked them up. Halfway through with this, she was struggling to believe that there hardly any damage to her when the automatic opened fire.

Something like a truck hit her shoulder and she fell to the ground by the force. She lost the gun from her hand but it was still within reach. She could see she was surrounded and the automatic gunman was still active.

Well, it was a long shot anyway.


 

The race finished and Chris had never been this high. He had not won his bet but he still had an amazing experience. The elderly man was more excited as he had just won the bet.

The girl had finally moved and now was standing just above him. She whispered, ‘We always win’ just as she stabbed him in the back.


Inspiration: Peaky Blinders Season 2 Episode 6

End Panic


(PS: I use my blog less frequently than I used to. Now, it is more a therapeutic measure than a sharing platform. I write on the days when I am sad, today I am sad about a small thing that I couldn’t do anymore. A post is due about my events in AUT and I will get it all out. Finally, I do apologize for my recent depressing posts, I can’t help the words that stumble out. I can only say after writing, I feel better.)

It is almost the end of the semester. I finish my last submission, the biggest of them all on 4th of November, 4 days before my 23rd birthday. Now when I am so close to the finish line, I am experiencing what I call as ‘end panic’.

I remember the last six months of my college a year and a half ago in India. I realized that I have a bunch of things I have never done and I decided to try to cross them out. This included going for the college festival, which I refused to go every year, parties and having one last important post about my college, to list a few.

Some of the plans went well: having never been to the college festivals worked well in my favor as I had no expectations and I thoroughly enjoyed. My friends didn’t enjoy cause they compared the previous year’s festivals and were disappointed.

Other plans did not go so well, especially the parties or rather The party. I never spoke about it here cause it involved others from my class and I don’t want to take names. I changed after those events.

Now, I am in Auckland and I am less than 2 weeks away from completing my term. I have my own set of worries about what will I do after I complete my term; neither do I have a summer job nor do I have plans. The only thing I do have fixed is attending a wedding of someone who is like family to me now in December. If the uncertainty is not enough to generate panic then it is looming 4th November.

Now, unlike my college in India I have done a lot of things in AUT. I am surprised about it myself and considering how crazy I actually I am, I will do more things in the coming two weeks. But that doesn’t stop the urges to do more. There is a difference between the end panic of my college days and the end panic of my university days. It is the activities or events I am used to doing; they will be hard to say goodbye to and not the people. In college, it was the people who I cherished and now…

Here is the thing: every small thing that I thing I cannot do anymore disappoints me. Literally SMALL. It doesn’t cripple me but I do need a minute. And my bucket list, so to say, is not so very different from my bucket list in my final semester from my college. College fests, parties, farewell dinners, photographs and the whole nine yards.

Currently, aside from my thesis, it an award which I want to cross off the bucket list. I failed to participate for any awards in my college and I regret that. Now I am so close being awarded in university that I WANT it. There is no easy way to put it for now, only that getting the award will be more striving than previously thought.

With the end panic in full force barging on me, I have to set my impulsive decisions on test and make sure whatever I do, I do them for the correct reasons

Note: I can’t believe I have written 200 posts on my blog. 

Rejections


Imagine yourself on the penultimate step of the staircase. You are almost at a new level, representing a new world in itself. How you reached that spot is another story, worthy of its tale. However, if you don’t reach the final step, something which often happens in my life, it can be because of two cases.

One case: the last step gave away as soon as you put your weight on it, and you fall through the crack into a dark viscous pool of depression. You don’t have time to take a breath, in less than a second you are choking on something that feels like tar and struggling against a liquid that solidifies as time passes.

Second case: the final step is there, but it is beyond your reach. It has grown into a wall, and you have to climb it. You can’t do it alone, and you want someone to haul you up. Only there is no one to haul you up to the new level. You can see people up there, but no one can see you. Slowly your legs feel stuck, then your torso and eventually you have a stiff neck. It is the depression tar again, only, this time, it is creeping up slowly.

I would prefer the first case over the second one every single time. I would rather be a victim of circumstance than be rejected by people who can’t see me. I would rather have the power to save myself than to rely on others to it. While one case I can be free even by any firm ground, the second requires a huge recovery period filled with comfort food, lack of motivation and lots of stupid TV shows. Because rejection hurts, more so when no one can see you.

Why so….happy?


Recently, partly because of my newfound ‘Yes’ attitude and my friend’s insistence, I ended up at a meditation workshop arranged by people from Hare Krishna Temple, Auckland in University of Auckland.

The person conducting the workshop did a good job, outlining the various religious reasons as to why a certain meditation is performed. I know this as my parents have told me about it before. But I couldn’t focus much on what he said because I wanted to ask him:

Why are you smiling? How are you so happy?!


 

I have been going to a church here regularly for a while, now my weekly visits have reduced. The reason I decided to take a step back was because I felt like I don’t fit in there. I always felt it but I tried to swim against the current nonetheless. I go to church and I look around at people. I see happy faces, people with no sorrow.

It puzzles me, how could these people be happy?

Everyone has problems and everyone is going to be tensed about it. But then how could they look so relaxed!


 

After the meditation finished, I told my friend the same thing. I feel weird about a person look so at peace while I am in torturous turmoil. He has found solace in a deity beyond us. But as I look at the people in my church, at the meditation people, all I see are people who are trying to make a happy exterior. An exterior that I cannot relate to, cannot fathom & so I want to break to see what’s inside.

It is really hard to trust someone when I don’t feel as if they are not real. I can’t relate to people when I don’t see the scars. That in itself is scarier than all the pretentious happiness.

No offense intended to any religious practice

Who is this guy?


7 months. Without family, with only an hour long conversations with people who I utterly love. And now, this morning I realized I no longer can recognize myself.

Mumbai would be a place of comfort. Where I would say ‘no’ more than I draw breath. No to cooking, no to cleaning, no to socializing, you get the gist.

Why am I writing about it?

Because it is one of those days where there is too much to do. It is this day that I have to go for a job fair, have a date, try my hand at a coding competition and all of this on top of my usual university project and thesis writing. Others, my mom including say that I am chewing more than I can swallow.

I don’t agree with them. I just say ‘Yes’ more now.

Practically everyday I come home, I make sure that I cook my own dinner. I never did that when I was with family, I would always bring something from a restaurant. Now, I love cooking so much that whenever I try something new and it works, I tell mom with excitement. I make sure that my stuff is clean, at university and home.

However not everything is roses. In college, I would have to walk for five minutes before I would run into a friend. I remember a friend complaining to me I know a lot of people. Now, most of my days are spent bent in front of my laptop, learning codes or watching some important tutorial. Friends? I have already given up. I have spent so much of my time in a church where everyone seems friendly and I would rather stand outside than talk to anyone.

I always thought that making friends in a new country would be the easiest thing I would ever have to do and house chores would suck. In the last 7 min, I enjoy chores more than meeting a new face.

I have always ran on ‘Indian time’, a special scale in which it is practically normal to be half hour late. Now, after a colossal mistake, I am always early. I don’t even have an alarm in my phone anymore, I know I will be up exactly 8 hours from when I sleep.

There are not enough words to articulate the discord between me from 7 months ago and me a minute ago. One is full of naivety and other is practical. One is disorganized, other is organized to the minute. One feels lonely, other is lonely.

I never lived in denial back there, now on the end of bad days I sit in my bed watching a comfort show which does nothing more than numb and dumb my brain down. And I am aware of what I am doing. I know this though, regardless of the rejections, bad days and good minutes: I would never regret this life changing move.

So someday, I look at myself in the mirror and ask ‘Who is that guy?’

Fiction: Waiting for a Train


‘He will be here, his letter said so.’ Maduram said. Sindhu, the station master observed Maduram sceptically. Madhuram was old, looked frail, he should not be out on a cold night without any warm clothes. His threadbare kurti and lungi could scarcely provide warmth, his shawl looked older than Madhuram. Regardless Maduram was here waiting for an rich American traveler. Sindhu was afraid that this was a case of delirium, old people do have a tendency to go a little nuts.

Sindhu knew Madhuram, they have spoken before and he was also aware of why everyone in the village were so found of Madhuram. Sindhu, a born cynic and skeptic trusted Madhuram! Sindhu had been the station master for 15 long and hot years. He had seen travelers coming to the village to visit the iconic Kali Mandir, he had witnessed teary goodbyes from mothers to their sons as they left for Mumbai, the city of dreams. In 15 years multitude things changed, a few didn’t. The tea stall outside the station still made disgusting tea, it had more water than milk. The wages Sindhu received still hadn’t changed much, while the town grew his salary crawled. Lastly, Madhuram was always outside the station greeting customers as if a mother greets her sons. No wonder people who returned always asked for Madhuram.

Madhuram was older than 70, he looked 80 years old. His teeth have started to fall off and whenever he smiled now, Sindhu was terrified a little. But as Madhuram spoke, the apprehension vanished and a familiar sense of comfort replaced it. Over the years, Madhuram never stopped driving around his rickshaw. There were better rickshaws available in the market but Madhuram never sold his old vehicle. Sindhu never asked why, he still had his first bicycle.

It hurt Sindhu, for he was looking at someone who was as close as a friend, start slowly loose his mind. Sindhu knew nothing about Madhuram’s family and he couldn’t leave Madhuram alone on the station like this. So he just sat there and listened to Madhuram talk about his English friend. Other rickshaw drivers conned travelers but Sindhu opened his heart to them. Maduram had the heart & wealth of a saint. He would never con, he would never bicker with anyone. He has been like that, as far as Sindhu can tell, he would die with a heart that doesn’t belong in this world. The least Sindhu could do was to listen as one of the best people he knew prattle.

 


 

25 years ago, Maduram saw a firangi (foreigner) depart the train. Every rickshaw driver knew that this meant dollars. Luckily for him that day, he was the only rickshaw driver. Pankaj had gone off for lunch and so Maduram approached the firangi. Madhuram knew that the firangi was lost, frustrated and a little angry just by looking at him. Madhuram did something that he hardly ever did: he smiled and greeted the firangi. The tension evaporated from firangi’s stature and he said “Maandir?”

Firangi trying to speak hindi was hilarious incident for Madhuram.  He drove the firangi, who said his name was Peter, to the temple of Kali. One the way they both spoke, Madhuram slowly reminiscing his time in Mumbai. He had learned some English when he was in Mumbai, when he was young and stupid. So they spoke in broken languages of one another and somehow the two wrongs made right and a bond was born, stronger than anything Madhuram had ever known before. The entire day Madhuram drove Peter around, first to the temple, then to the river where all the village wives washed clothes and then to the old film set where Amitabh Bachan had shot his first movie. All of the places had no tourists, they were all places where Madhuram had spent his youth in; where he had decided that it was time he became something like Amitabh himself.

As night fell, Madhuram invited Peter to their home. Peter accepted and as they reached home, Peter was shocked and Madhuram abashed. The ‘home’ of Madhuram’s family was nothing more than a small shed where he lived with his wife and son. But Madhuram didn’t relent and treated Peter more like a brother than a guest. Peter was an Englishman visiting India as he wanted to experience what his ancestors did. Peter wanted to know what made his grandfather love this country so much. Peter also said that his experience so far had contradicted everything his grandfather had told him.

Madhuram however, was excited and apprehensive at the same time. He had met some firangi when he was a young man, living in Mumbai with wide eyed dreams of making it to the big screen just like Amitabh Bachan or Dharmender. He never could become great, and he was too straight for the crooked lifestyle. Everyone in the village kept asking him about the life in Mumbai and he narrated the story. However his story made more naive youngsters leave the village chasing the same dreams.

Peter enjoyed the tour around the places in the village. He was comfortable in the tiny abode of Madhuram’s. Madhuram’s wife Sita blushed whenever Madhuram complimented her food. His son, Dhanu kept looking at Peter as if he was alien, got a scolding from Madhuram as soon as he noticed. It was astonishing for Peter to see how such a family of three can live in a small house, but nevertheless the hospitality offered was better than the best hotel. The food was another paradise perfectly crafted in a small ceramic plate, which was different from the metal plates the family ate in. Sita didn’t speak at all, she couldn’t speak English. Dhanu knew English than Madhuram and Madhuram was proud.

‘I learnt English Bombay, I learn English Dhanu’ Madhuram proudly stated.

Peter laughed at the statement, a simple statement that had was medley of pride, joy and sorrow rolled in one. He was taken back by the emotions packed. The family was in itself complete regardless of the materialistic lacking. They kept asking Peter to stay in their house even before the dinner was done. Peter never said yes but they insisted and Dhanu ran outside to fetch a better mattress. Madhuram had not yet even taken fare from Peter.

 


 

Postal addresses were exchanged before Peter departed. Sita and Dhanu stayed back home while Madhuram drove Peter to the station. Madhuram refused Peter’s money.

‘Money from bhai?’ Madhuram asked refusing Peters’ insistence.

Peter never knew what bhai meant, but the word stayed with him. A month after Peter left, Dhanu came home gleefully. Turns out there was a letter in Madhuram’s name at the post office near the school. Madhuram couldn’t read the letter but Dhanu could. Somehow, Peter had tracked a person in London who could write in Hindi as well and there was a two paged letter, one in English and other in Hindi. Peter mentioned his family, his grandfather and his girlfriend. Madhuram didn’t know what girlfriend meant but Dhanu grinned embarrassingly.

The letter was signed off with ‘Bhai, Peter’.

Over the months that followed Dhanu kept coming home with similar letters and he kept sending more letters out of the country. Madhuram spent a days’ wages on the letters and eventually he didn’t need Dhanu to read the letters. 3 years passed this way but suddenly the letters stopped. Madhuram got worried as he knew that on 20th of every month a letter would arrive. It was 30th and still no letter. He went to the post office daily to check but still no letter. He sent more letters asking what had happened but no reply. Years passed and Dhanu went to the city for study. Sita got pregnant but she couldn’t survive childbirth and the girl was stillborn. While Dhanu tried to make his studies and a grieving father priorities, Madhuram sent him back to the city to complete his studies. Madhuram grew distant, and he sent another letter to a bhai across the globe. No reply.

He never invited anyone to his home anymore, he had no home other than a shed. He treated everyone the same way he treated Peter and showed them all the temples, the rivers and the film locations. Some were happy, most were annoyed. Most just thought he was cheating them for more fare. His son was gone, making money and name for himself, Madhuram was proud of him, but he hardly got time to visit his village anymore. Madhuram wrote another letter.

One day Dhanu came home unexpectedly and he had a letter with him.

 


 

Sindhu couldn’t believe it. Friends, one English and the other an ordinary rickshaw driver. They didn’t share a language, they didn’t share any cultural background but they shared bond stronger than any he had ever known. Sindhu’s father had mentioned Madhuram, he had said Madhuram is one of the very souls which could imbue loyalty from a thief. Sindhu however was never aware of the hardships Madhuram had suffered. It is one thing to hear about someone’s loss. It is even more devastating to listen to the person narrate his loss.

The train horned distantly and Sindhu looked away from Madhuram, conscious that tears might fall. He knew he would be at the station when the two friends reunited. He hoped he would be strong enough to witness it. Moreover he hoped that Peter actually shows up.

When the train finally stopped, Madhuram bolted upright, his moderately strong vision scanning the crowd in light of a few bulbs. Sindhu scanned the crowd as well, how hard can it be to spot one white among so many colors. He spotted an old white man soon enough and directed Madhuram towards him.

Peter looked worse than Madhuram, there was some problem with him. Sindhu almost flinched when he saw Peter, he resembled a leper. But Madhuram, he was overjoyed. Tears rushing from his eyes as waterfalls and ran to embrace his friend. It was out worldly to witness this, an ordinary old man hugging a diseased white man.

Sindhu, for the first time in years cried seeing them. The onlookers were damned, he knew he was changed forever. Madhuram tried to speak but his throat was rocked with sobs, his old body shivering. Peter, he never knew he could ever know peace like this ever again, especially when he knew he had only weeks to live.

 


 

The story was inspired by Pico Iyer’s personal essay I had read in ‘Burn This Book’. Short story plucked all the heartstrings.

Poem: Trying too Hard (NZ National Poetry Day 2016)


Inspired by a recent Meetup I just went to & today’s Daily Prompt challenge: Obvious. I decided to try poetry for the day.


 

Trying too hard you say,
Mockery spurns away.
Why is this such a bad thing?
Everyone wants to fit in.

It is easy for many to find their places,
others struggle to find spaces.
Trying too hard you say,
with disgust and others hearsay.

Stop with your pretentiousness,
Embrace the awkwardness.
Be kind in with your words,
they are sharper than swords.

Many grew in times,
when one had to earn their wines.
Nothing was a mouseclick distant,
Nothing was a publicity stunt.

Trying too hard you say,
Mockery spurns away.
Fitting in is what makes us,
can’t you what’s Obvious?


 

Other entries in Daily Post Challenge:

Privilege


In recent times, privilege has been branded as a word to describe to Whites. The use of the word is many a times justified, but I am not the judge of that. I am not perceptive enough to pick out subtle race differences, to spot the minorities. I am not writing a post about racism, nothing has warranted it. But now, I have  a taste of privilege.

 


 

Last night, after a hilarious evening with some friends I took the midnight bus home. I didn’t want to read a book. I sat with music reverberating in my ears and looked around. For the midnight bus, there were still a lot of people riding home. Auckland doesn’t sleep either. I saw faces mirroring mine: tired, sleepy and listening to music than talk to each other. The only sound was the roar of the engine (which was not much) and chatter of a couple. I raced my brain to draw some inspiration in the scene, to get inspired and write a fictional story from the dark passage home but I couldn’t. How could I?

 


 

We all are going somewhere. One station at a time #train #blacknwhite #auckland

A photo posted by Mayur Wadhwani (@mayurdw) on Feb 29, 2016 at 10:26pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

On my way to work in train, I was reading a collection of personal essays. I was mundane, another commuter more engrossed in his phone or his book than to observe people or talk to people. This changed until the person next to me took out a novel. Her interests and mine were different, I read novels for fun and she read because of curiosity, which was now focused on understanding New Zealand’s aboriginals Maoris. I could see her interests in tracing Maori philosophical & cultural roots

In my time in Auckland, Maoris look physically big, scary. It is difficult to comprehend their accent their sense of humor is eclectic, only to be understood by them. After I actually got to know a few of them, I can say now they are simple-minded and enthusiastic about everything. (Exclude a gregarious roommate I had in my previous home)

We spoke first about Maori culture, I already knew a little about their mythologies as I have read some novels. I don’t know everything about them after reading a couple of novels. On the other hand, she is trying to understand the customs, their drive. She said she could draw many parallels between her Buddhist practices and Maori practices. One peculiar custom we spoke of related to their ‘Mana'(or in how I could understand the term: respect) is when a person wronged and their Mana been damaged, the same person must restore their Mana by damaging the perpetrator’s Mana. From my sessions in my University’s debate society, I know there is a property law founded on the same principle.

However, we quickly moved on from books and spoke about the city life, which is lonely as compared to rural life, rife with communities and mutual care. She said that she is trying to help out in her own way to take care of the surroundings, to give back to the country she is staying in and trying to understand the wealth gap existing particularly in Auckland. She mentioned that she feels privileged to have enough food, shelter and livelihood.

 


 

If you ever ask any foreign national to describe India, or Mumbai specifically, they will say it is very poor. She said the same thing while reminiscing her last trip to Mumbai. She was torn at the sight of so many poor people living without basic amenities. I wanted to tell her that she was a magnet for all the beggars as she had dollars. The heartlessness of my own words shamed me. Our conversation had quickly moved on from Maori culture to the poverty prevalent in my home city, the intensity of our conversation didn’t. As for the homeless in Auckland, I could say I have seen worse. Became immunized to worse conditions.

Probably why I never complain about buses running late in the city, as I have traveled buses which were running with a joke of timetable in my hometown. Why I never complain about the traffic or for that matter the standard of living here as I know it is four times what I was used to. And I am still scrapping the end of the barrel here.

When we spoke, for me it was very easy to fire up, and be outraged by her pity to call India poor. After all we are improving. However, the truth is we have to fight for basic amenities in India. The biggest of which is, and forever will be, water supply. There is too much in rainy season, too little in summer. I tried to defend my country by quoting Rang De Basanti ‘No country is perfect’ but at the end, I knew she was right. The ceaseless struggle, my city which never sleeps, city I left behind. I moved to a place with better living, with hopes of making a better life.

I have no conclusions to draw from yesterday. Because we never reached a conclusion. Maybe there will never be a conclusion.