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

 

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.

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: 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?

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!

GIMP Edited

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.

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.