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.

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

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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.

Weekend Coffee Share: Househunting again


If we are having coffee, I would tell you that coffee shares are surprisingly simple and difficult at the same time. How much am I supposed to share? Am I just supposed to gloss over stuff, or dive into my feelings as I do in many of my posts.

I would tell you that I hate my housemate. She is subletting the apartment to us and is no longer willing to adjust all the while binding us to her house rules. I don’t mind the rules as long as I get what I want, which I have to argue over. This past week, things boiled over and there was no conclusion other than it is worthless. Time to move again.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I never realized what my parents meant by ‘having a stable home’ till now. After everyone argued, me and my roommate started by taking out our frustration and then each shared stories. I shared the story of the best people I met here, who would call me to dinner every Thursday when I lived in my previous home. He told me his overnight stay in his friends family place, and how he now knows what family is.

I looked in a couple of places this week, one of which I loved but was too expensive. After messaging, the houseowner said that nothing can be done. However, as I visited that place, I cycled by Mission Bay and it was so worth it. Auckland sure does have a lot of coastal ways and that is something I love.

If we are having coffee, it is at this point I would let you speak. To hear some others said, check them out.

 

 

Fiction: Characters in Bookworld?


Credits: Buzzfeed Books, FB

 

(I saw this on Facebook and I had to write on this!)

John could see the train coming in the tunnel, the beacon becoming brighter. Newmarket train Station in Auckland was extremely crowded. Considering the station had every line passing through it, it meant it was as important as Britomart Transport Centre. However, John had this stinking feeling that he had been here before even though he had never.

He had seen the train on different stations before too, he could guess he had seen the train driver before. The station masters in their yellow high visibility jacket were standing at the yellow line of the platform to ensure that no one crosses it as the train was almost at the station, a few seconds away. The girl next to him was playing Candy Crush on her iPhone, and his feeling intensified. He had seen that girl before, he just couldn’t recall when. He frowned, trying to remember when had he seen a scene which was so similar, the train light shining down the tunnel, the girl and the people. The loudspeakers boomed saying “Train for Swanson is arriving on platform 1, please stand behind the yellow line”

The wind blew across the station and someone lose their purple scarf. That purple scarf, he thought as it kept flowing and slammed into his face. He knew now, all of this had happened before. He had been here on the station before, seen the Candy Crush playing girl before right here and that scarf had hit him in his face before. Everything had happened before, only it really hadn’t. How? Why?

The train whoozed past him, slowing down and stopped, the door right in front of him. People pressed the green button to open the doors. He just stood there, the purple scarf had tied itself to his neck now and there was someone in his periphery. Another girl, no not a girl this time but an old woman. He realised that the scarf belonged to the woman and he apologised. Untying the scarf he handed it to her and smiled, the old woman smiled back. This was new. He could recollect some of the things which had happened last time. But last time? It was his first time here on the station wasn’t it?

He was no longer sure. He was sure that the previously he entered the train. After that what happened he was not sure. He had an interview to get to but he was too lost in his thoughts. The Candy Crush girl stood near the now opened door, the old woman was making her way to the reserved seats. He knew he had got in the train the last time.

This time, he didn’t want to. So he didn’t and slowly the train doors closed with a beeping sound signalling closing doors. He had just wasted his ticket but he didn’t care. He had a strange feeling that this was bigger than any other job waiting for him.

He knew that his story was written differently. Now it has started fresh.

Weekend Coffee Share: Eventful to say the least


If we are having coffee, I would say that this week has been exciting and tiring at the same time. I did a lot of things this week and the main thing is I loved the past week, which climaxed with a beautiful trip down to Taupo Lake.

 

If we are having coffee I would tell you that my manager helped me by providing me with a lot of utensils and cutlery because I asked for a thing or two. Aside from the fact that she gives me enough freedom, which I realized after I tried working for someone else this week, I am really happy that I am working with her. What is even better was this week there was another Jazz Session by University of Auckland students. Who doesn’t love Jazz?!

 

Last night. Jazz session by #ua #musicschool. Amazing!! #jazz #auckland #orleans bad camera shot though! 😞

A photo posted by Mayur Wadhwani (@mayurdw) on Jun 21, 2016 at 5:32pm PDT

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Wednesday my university had a career fair, and I have not figured out if it was useful in making contacts or not. I volunteered as the Student Ambassador that day and while I made contacts in my university I can’t say the same thing for the companies. Was it worth it? YUP!

If I was having coffee with you, I would tell you that I tried to get another job. I didn’t get it though, even though I knew exactly how I was doing. I do know how to tutor kids! Anyway, I am kind of glad that I didn’t. When that manager mailed me by telling me that I didn’t get the job, it almost ruined my trip. Almost. That very same night I had agreed on attending a friends’ 21st and I had fun. I met a recently married couple there and they were by far one of the most funniest couples I met. On the down side, I had to look for a gift for birthday girl. Damn shopping!

Lastly, if we do have coffee I would tell you I love New Zealand. It is so beautiful as soon as you get out of the city. Taupo Lake is as immense as the marina here, twice as cold but so much peaceful. We even found a ghost town there (Kinloch) as when we drove by we didn’t see on soul. We ate barbecue chicken, had excellent music and finished it off with chocolate. Best night ever! I am really happy that my friend invited me. The picture down is of the Orakei, we were lucky to be there just as the sky cleared up.

Now it is your turn! I know I spent too much of your time here but yeah sure go ahead. 🙂

Cycling: A Paradox


In the recent months, cycling in Auckland has become one of my favorite activities. At the same time, I have come to loath this activity too. I love cycling down-slope, even though my nerves fire up whenever I ride in such high speed, I am glad I bought a cycle. When I cycle up-slope, if I ever do, I curse my decision to buy a cycle in this sinuous city. I love the fact that I can ride really slowly around the places, the coastal areas and enjoy the view. But I hate it when some other cyclist overtakes me in their absolutely amazing cycle. I love the wind on my face as I cycle. I just hate it when I have to cycle against strong winds.

 

 


 

“He is still so short”

Everyone would talk about me “make him ride a cycle, that will give his growth an impetus.” I never was a fan of cycling, especially because learning to cycle meant falling down a lot and I didn’t want to get hurt. But whenever anyone would talk like that about me, I wanted to learn cycling. In my family, everyone is at least 6 feet tall. I was not tall at that time and I was slightly afraid that I wouldn’t be able to catch up to my cousins and siblings. So one fine day when one of my aunts said that line, I decided that I will learn cycling.

I learned cycling when I was in grade 9, and my learning curve did not include lots of falling. The few bruises and cuts I got were eclipsed by the joy of learning something I never thought I would do.

And to this day, I have not found any scientific correlation between cycling and getting taller. However, I don’t care anymore as I am taller than everyone in my family. Not really that tall in Auckland though, the people here are gigantic.

 

 


 

When I went to Hamilton, I was mesmerized by the green pastures that stretched for miles and miles. However we were driving at more than 100 kmph so there was hardly any time to actually absorb the views. I knew that if I was cycling or walking, I would have more time.

My first home in Pakuranga (East Auckland) had a great coastal cycleway. Almost every chance I got, I would be there cycling as slowly as I can, but not walking as I had a cycle, to soak in. The sounds of waves crashing into the rocks, the chirping seagulls(do seagulls chirp? I don’t know) and gushing wind. It was bliss.

Then when I would be heading to a friends’ place or the church I would again ride, this time fast as I was on the road. Every car that whooshed by me would be terrifying, especially on the bridge that I always had to cross. I never got used to that.

New house (West Auckland) and luckily I no longer have to cross any bridges. Only here, I saw other cyclist and damn they are fast. They would out pace me as if I am standing still and every single one who did made me want to go faster. It took me a while to grasp the truth: they are better cyclist on better cycles (their tyres offer less friction). I hate that and I want to go faster.

 


 

My first cycle was whatever leftover from my brother. He brought it and then after sometime hardly used it. We didn’t maintain it much I realize now. He had also custom painted it, if I could call it that. So when I started learning, I had to fix it up first and then ride around.

I rode it to my school, but for some reason I no longer remember, I stopped using it. We sold it off as scrap metal. Years later, we brought a scooter and at that time I was applying to many universities. Then, I wanted something for myself as well but I wanted a cycle again. Only for some reason, I never bought it. Money was not an issue, I had started earning and a cycle is cheaper than a scooter. With months passing, I got my visa and I left for Auckland never really buying a cycle. However I knew there are great pathways for cycling here.

Brought my first cycle here with money saved, and immediately did something stupid: tried to ride up-slope. Never have I ever been so tired. It took me a while to remember how cycle gears worked but I still never did try up-slope again. I always dragged my cycle to the summit and had a breathtaking panorama of the entire city now trough of the valley below.

Maybe there is a metaphor in there somewhere but I would just leave it as that.


 

With a couple of issues in my cycle recently, I vowed to ensure that my cycle is always properly maintained. I have put too much efforts in cycling to just drop it off now. I Google for every small thing, YouTube for tutorials on how to adjust the dérailleur. Maybe I am being excessive but I do love cycling. And sometimes I hate cycling. Maybe it is not a paradox but just me being lazy.

PS: Excuse my bad photographic skills

 

Street Art while cycling #nz #cycle #maori #streetart #auckland

A photo posted by Mayur Wadhwani (@mayurdw) on Jul 14, 2016 at 6:32pm PDT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction: What is Success?


(The following piece is inspired by a conversation I had with a couple of friends)

The restaurant is pretty busy. There is long queue of people who are waiting to dine in here but those who are having their dinners here do not want to vacate their tables even after they are done. The tiny restaurant is hardly 5 years old but is already more popular than most others along the Mount Eden Road stretch in Auckland. In one of the tables sat two families with children of the similar ages. The fathers are talking about the latest business deal they had closed while the mothers are chatting about the latest gossips. The kids are however busy with something else.

“Oo I caught a Charmandar!” Rick exclaimed.

“Wow” exclaims Jeremiah agog. Their fathers shake their heads at the early addiction signs of the game and resume their conversation. While Pokemon is a game based on a TV show from the time when the fathers were young, now they do not have the time to relive the young memories, the nostalgia. They are busy chasing one benchmark after another. Just like the owner of the restaurant who is trying every trick in the book to be a perfect gourmet.

“So you have a Charmandar, what do we do now?” asks Jeremiah more interested in the game than the conversation his parents are having. His mother looks towards him, thinking about how materialistic her son is becoming. She remembers her own childhood when she would be happy if she had just a Barbie or a teddy. But Jeremiah wants more so her husband works more hours. What is happening to her perfect life she wonders.

“I don’t know. But  I think I am going to battle the gym leader, beat him.” Rick explains. “If I am successful, then I will be in control of the gym for my team.”

Jeremiah picks up a word from the conversation his father is having, something about the youth not knowing what success is. Jeremiah shouts suddenly.

“Dad I know what success is!”

(image credits: Mind Protein)

Weekend Coffee Share: Week’s helper


I missed last weekend’s coffee share as I was doing something. I don’t remember what. The week started early, some 5 am when one of my friend called me to talk to me. Something was wrong I knew immediately and we Skyped so early in the morning. Something had came up and she was scared. I did what I do best: make the lamest jokes possible to alleviate her worries. I wish that was the only time it happened in the entire week but another friend also had some issues and messaged me. Did the same thing but I was only thinking: only last entire week I was in a bad place and now are some of my friends. What is happening?

If we do have coffee, I would break the news: my application for continuing my master’s is approved. I can now work on my Masters project which is exactly what I wanted to do. I am so happy and finally a little relaxed. I knew who all helped me, kept touch with me when I needed it. Thank you.

In other news, I love Pokemon Go. The weekend me and my friends walked around the harbour catching pokemon rather than go out to a pub to relax and kill them. I kept thinking: this has got to be the only time I enjoyed my phone more than my friends company. If we do have coffee and you have the game then we will probably stop talking and go catch them all. It is not just me who is addicted but the entire Auckland is catching only pokemon these days. Can’t really blame anyone for it is amazing.

One of the best things I now realize I did was encourage one of my friends to apply for his Masters. His grades were similar to mine and he had given up before applying.

I guess that is all for the week. It is your turn to speak up and say how was your week?

Weekend Coffee Share: New House


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I moved to a new house past Sunday. It’s not as luxurious as my previous house but then again I knew it was coming. I spent the week here, making friends with the roommates and slowly our bond seems to be getting stronger, unlike my previous roommates.

Also, while sipping coffee, I would complain about my cycle. Start of the week it had a puncture and now there is another problem with the rear gear derailleur. No wonder people give advises to buy a good cycle and not a cheap one. Well, I still have to get a quote on the derailleur problem.

However I love cycling around here. There is a direct separate cycling way to my university, an easy way to the church and both sides it is fun to cycle. Yeah it is also tiring but then again I am having fun. I would have more fun if my cycle stops breaking down so much.

I would tell you that I started working on my Master’s project even before my grades were out. This is especially risky as I didn’t know at that time what is going to happen with my degree anymore. Regardless, even though I worked for a couple of days, I was happy. Finally!

Speaking of grades: they are also out. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I clear them to qualify for my Master’s or not yet. As my grades are bordering between B and C, I don’t know what to infer. When I read the grades all I could do was laugh: even now I feel like Life’s playing with me.

If we do have coffee, I would tell you the highlight of the entire week has been the spoken word event that I attended and wrote about it. I would tell you that I’m desperately waiting for the next such event as I loved it. Considering the response that they got, I hope that they don’t charge it from the next time.

Lastly, I would turn the mike over to you and await to hear from you: how has your week been?

Maybe I should pay more attention


Racism. Something which I would hardly think of when I am dealing with people. So whenever people would ask me “Where are you from?” I would reply where am I from and just leave it at that. I hardly pay any heed to the subtle hints of racism because I do not have time for it. However after listening to at least 6 people speak about the same issue I realize that maybe I should be paying more attention.

After seeing an event on Facebook about a spoken word/poetry event, I decided to go for it. I like writing, I like poetry and I am a fan of spoken poetry. I knew the topic is not a simple one and from what I heard from the speakers I realized how unaware am I about the extent.

The bar couldn’t have been shadier. Honestly, they took underground groups too literally and they had more than 100 people gathered in such a small place. The next door rock band overpowered the speakers completely and I couldn’t make out more than a syllable or two in the first half of the event. However the next half, I sat up front and listened. I was so into it that I forgot to click photos, forgot almost everything and just absorbed.

I heard a girl try to explain and fail, try again and still get all messed up in explaining where she is from: Chinese or Kiwi. I heard a guy talk about what it was like being White after being born in a Maori family. Heard an open letter, not to White people, but to Koreans. Heard two poems from an Australian Maori girl.

Maybe I am missing some of the poems. Even more likely I am actually not doing justice to what I heard. Because I simply cannot; I am not perceptible enough of the surroundings, I don’t think along the lines as the speakers can think. Because their words moved, their experiences made me recall all the months and think: was that racism?

While I may not know which end of the spectrum I exist on, I am surely one of those ‘unawares’ the speakers spoke of. And from what I heard, I cannot help but applaud the speakers and their courage. And learn and absorb whatever I can, from their experiences, from their words and their strengths.

Fiction: Burying my companions secrets


I am killing some zombies on my PlayZ console. The console and the game are really ancient at this point and I have mastered the game by now. But it is still crazy. I want to buy some new game, maybe military FPS this time but my mom wouldn’t give me any money. What’s the point of earning so much money if no one enjoys it?!

To make it worse my damn WiFi is down. Some construction work at the end of the street and now no one has any network. It’s like living in the freaking apocalypse only without any zombies to kill. I get a call from Adam.

“Hey buddy what are you doing?” He asks loudly on the phone in his cocky English accent. I hate it when he calls me and talks like that. He knows it.

“What do you want?” I snap at him, angry about the interruption and accent.

“Haha” he jibes on the phone, perfectly aware that I hate his accent. No wonder we are best friends.

“Alright I’ll speak. If you are not free then it’s cool but if you are free then can you come over and help me bury a body?”

Damn! He did it again. I want to shout on the phone, throw my phone away in anger. But it won’t matter to him. I know him too well.

“Okay cool I’ll be there in 10.”

I never could say no to my friends. And zombies are getting kind of boring anyway.


 

We are outside Adam’s house, in the backyard with only moonlight to help guide us. It is drizzling and in five minutes my clothes are damp from sweat and rain. If our moms found out that we are outside instead of studying then she would kill us. She will never find out though.

When I arrived at his place we exchanged pleasantries and quickly got to work. I haven’t removed the cloth covering the body yet but I can see blood spreading around what I assume is the head.

Headshot then. Damn impressive on my friend’s part. But I will not tell him that, instead I need to beat some sense into his head. We buried a body last week, ten feet from where we are standing. The grave is closer to the tree and he joked about how the tree will get more minerals now. Asshole. I am trying to frame an argument to persuade him to be more cautious in his hobby but so far I have got nothing. So I just dig, both our shovels hitting the ground and prying the soil loose. Crunch, crunch. The sound of the shovels in sync. After another ten minutes we are done.

I stand up straight, my left hand holding the shovel while my right wipes the water from my forehead. I look over at Adam, he was looking at the body and I could see a smile on his face Then he looks over at me and I can see his eyes glittering. If anyone would look at him no one will be able to guess that he killed two people in two weeks. He was small, slightly round and stood with his legs pressed together. His milk white skin was beading with water but he didn’t mind. I have to try something.

“Headshot?” I ask.

“Hell yeah!” He can’t keep his excitement out of his voice. “Oh you should have seen me buddy, I was so good. I hid behind a …”

“You idiot! What if someone had seen you? What about witnesses?” My anger is going to pour out like a fountain now.

“No witnesses, and I learned how to find a good spot. You must know it by now too.” He stops and waits, but I don’t know what he is talking about.

“The new PlayZ! This time we kill zombies and humans. They can’t keep putting us against zombies all the time can they? In the series, there is zombies outside the city which is barricaded. We have to go outside in the day to kill zombies and in the night eliminate the opponents. However if we mess up and get caught game over!”

He says expecting a praise. I don’t give him one. I guess he is right. But that doesn’t change anything, and I just need to get it out of my mouth.

“Allison Martin, George Washington, Philip Mathews. Do you remember those names? They were all over the news recently, for the exact same thing. They killed and they were caught! The characters in the games and real life are different. People and cops think buddy. You can’t keep killing people in the same manner as you kill them in the game! They will catch you!”

I turn towards the body, ready to throw it in the grave. I hear him move a little, the sound of leaves rustling underneath his feet alert me. But not nearly as early enough.

“Not if there are no witnesses.”

I hear the click of the gun…….

 


 

NOTE: All characters are fictitious and any character name mentioned is purely coincidental. In response to Daily Prompt’s ‘Companion‘ and Clever Fiction’s ‘Choose your scenario: If your buddy asks your help to bury a body

Other responses:

 

Weekend Coffee Share: The week that wasn’t


I had everything planned. Give my exams, Monday and Tuesday. Finish up my presentation for Wednesday and then go for a Jazz session in a bar in Auckland CBD. I would have finished up with everything with a smile on my face.

 

If we were having coffee then I would have told you that it didn’t go that way. In fact, it might be the worst week I have had here. I gave my exams, tensed and when I was done instead of a smile on my face I had a frown. Then I realized that I have misread the event on Facebook and the jazz session is actually this Tuesday and not last. It would be here from which everything went downhill.

 

I would tell you over coffee that on Wednesday I was late for my presentation. My bus was late, which always reaches on time that didn’t. And I’m regret of my mistake of not taking the previous bus every second. My sir canceled my presentation. No matter how much I begged, pleaded nothing came from it. 10 minutes and I loose 20% grades. As much as I want to hate him, I can’t. I screwed up.

 

I would tell you that the crazy part of my mind was laughing over the futility of it all: work hard over entire semester and screw up in ten minutes. It was laughing, I was laughing as I found out how easy it was to screw up this big.

 

I’m mortified: if I don’t score B grade over the semester then I would not be able to complete my Master’s. I had to worry about my house first, now my degree. I wish this was all for my week.

 

Friday. I had secured a last assistant job at the university for next semester. My professor told me that due to being inundated with applicants, I would no longer be hired.

 

I tried to distract myself. I volunteered in the church I’m a part of since Easter but all I thought about was my screw up. Everyone was talking about exams and all I did was mull over my scores. Sadly the distraction that did work was killing random robots while playing Call of Duty. I didn’t try to ask myself why am I this way.

 

Speaking of the church, today every sentence uttered in the service, every scripture referred seemed directed at me. The Pastors spoke about worrying, tension, forgiveness. Everything that I could think in my mind was addressed in the service. As I left, one of the Pastors walked me out. He knew something was wrong and at the end he prayed for me. I still feel his presence on my back where he kept his hand.

 

Plus, today they had a jazz choir. If we do have coffee, I would apologize for dropping such bombs on you. I would apologize as I wanted to talk but all I did was whine.

If we are having coffee: Some Reminders


If we are having coffee(or tea), I would tell you that something happened that made me want to take writing seriously again.

If we do have coffee, I would also tell you that this is my first #weekendcoffeeshare post. I always loved this idea, I tried it in real life too, however I failed to keep up with half of it. I don’t know if I will be able to do this for long either.

It has been rough couple of days. No actually, it has been a rough couple of months. There was no particular reason, there were many of them. So while studying and speaking to a dear friend of mine something unlocked.

I told her to grow up, I told her to have patience and learn how to deal with things happening because of the wishes she is taking. I told her to take care of her loved ones first before she breaks down. And the reason is not so noble: I told her that she can’t take care of her loved ones when she is the one who needs help.

I don’t remember where I read this. I must have because I picked it up, adopted it without breaking a sweat and now I realize that I have been doing this for so long it is who I am. So I opened up ‘Pocket’ to try find where I read it, it is my treasure of the posts I have loved ever since I started blogging.

I forgot what it was like to feel through reading words. I read one and then I read many. I read this post, one which beautifully described the experience of having a dog: it made me laugh and sad, it made me miss my dog.

Then this post, one where she spoke about her familiarity with funerals and death of David Bowie and I felt her pain.

I wept, I laughed, I ached and I smiled amidst tears. Then I wept even more when I read this post, something that I always do when I read this, one where a other speaks about her dying daughter, I never found out what happened afterwards, I don’t have the courage to. I laughed at this guy’s take on Indian culture, on this blogger’s collection of Cat quotes, this post about depression, this post about childhood & identity, on this absolutely beautiful tale about Guitar and music. No wonder I tried to pick up a guitar afterwards and I am still trying.

If we are having coffee, then I think I must have mentioned all of this before too. I don’t care, I cherish the reminders. I just know that in the space and time I forgot how or what blogging was. I struggled with closing this blog, tried and somehow still struggling.

I am looking for a new place, or found it, giving exams and so much more. I didn’t sleep two days in a row, studied and realized that I still have a long way to go in studies. This week reflected on mostly my studies.

If we were to have coffee(virtually again) I would love that. I know it is not the way #weekendcoffeeshare posts are written but this is my take on it.

Luck’s running out


Random person: “Wow that is awesome”

Me: “Yeah, I got lucky.”

That’s how I always described it. Lucky. Not hard work or dedication; I was just at the right place at the right time. Many would say that I jinxed it myself, I just knew it was coming sooner or later.

The previous housekeeper left and I took up housekeeping. I wanted to save money and the job was the only way. No rent, work against stay arrangement. I admit, I was not an excellent housekeeper but I tried.

Last week I got to know, a mere week before my semester exams, I need to vacate the house by the end of June. I like my house. It was not perfect when I moved in, it is not perfect still. I have seen better houses, been around in better localities in Auckland but I liked the people that lived here. Somehow it suited me to know people for a couple of days, make friends and then never speak to them ever again. In my own twisted way, it suited me to be aloof. I had privacy in a shared room, I joined communities and I bought a bicycle here. It seems like yesterday that I moved in here. I planned to finish my studies in this house. Aside from the monetary reasons, the best thing about the house was its quick access to the coast. So I cycled down the coast to experience it again. If I didn’t have monetary reasons to stay in this place, I would have still tried to live here.

 

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The pakuranga walkway, that is my bicycle

 

Now, I am worried, stressed and mildly freaking out. I know how difficult it was the last time I tried to look for houses in Auckland. Now I have to do it again along with getting my studies done and earning more money so that I can afford a house. When I got to know, I knew that my good fortune will not shine, however I also knew there wouldn’t be total darkness. That things are going to get tougher, and I may still make a lot of mistakes in the coming days. But I can’t just sit here and do nothing.

Now, when I am almost done with househunting (or room hunting), and the experience was not as bad as it was the last time. I knew what I wanted, the location I wanted and the cost. I knew my parameters, my limits. It was not as bad as it was the last time. Obviously, I didn’t expect something perfect, or a house with pets, what I am getting is perfect for the time being.

And even if things do get worse, I do have the feeling that I can figure it out. Eventually.