#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.

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Identity Crisis


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

Now, I think they were right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it the same for everybody?

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

Guest Blogger: Manan Pandya Interview


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

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

 

1. Who are you?

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

2. Why do you write?

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

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

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

 

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

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


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

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

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

 

Daily Prompt: Exquisite Art (Fiction)


‘What is stolen?’ the curator exclaimed.

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

Now, someone had stolen it.


 

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

‘Okay priceless was better.’

‘That is what I said.’

‘Any offers to buy the painting recently?’

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

‘When did the construction complete?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘How big was the painting?’

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

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

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

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


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

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


 

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

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

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

‘He does?’

‘Yeah he does.’

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

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

‘But you should have told me sooner’

‘You did not let me!’

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

‘Don’t leave town.’


 

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

‘What?’

‘You are here about the painting right?’

‘How the hell you know about that?’

‘I live right outside the museum.’

‘And you are high all the time.’

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

‘What do you know about the painting?’

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

‘How big?’

‘About 20 X 1 m big’

‘You know where it is?’

‘I just have one condition.’


 

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

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

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

‘Yeah making it was very difficult’

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

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

‘You wanted it to be called The Garbage

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

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


 

Thank you for reading! Keep commenting on the posts.

Daily Prompt: Unseen Hero (Fiction)


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

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

According to him at least there is a new trouble.

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

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

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

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

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

No lone ranger in my city

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

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

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

Yet no one has seen his face.

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

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


 

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

Daily Prompt: Cling (Fiction)


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

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

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

Literally another day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Prompt: Shine


The light that shines brightest burns fastest

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

Definitely result in some firing.

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

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

9:55 am.

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

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

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

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

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

10 years of peace.

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

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

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

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

His breathing rate was rising, heart was beating faster.

Everything has ended.

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


 

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

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

 


 

Thank you for reading!

Daily Prompt: Infinite (Fiction)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘What hummingbird?’ his uncle asked bemused.

‘The one you told me about.’

‘I was not talking about any hummingbird.’

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

 

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. 🙂