An Ode to the Despondents

-Sirish Oruganti, 3rd Year, ECE, Anjali Bhavan, 1st Year, MCE

8:00 AM: Wake up to a blaring alarm. Unlock phone. *208 new notifications*; 203 messages on a group in which I hardly know 5 people by count, 4 asking me to invest in various Ponzi schemes, and one from my driver wishing me ‘God Morning’ instead of ‘Good Morning’, with an attached picture of Lord Krishna. Gosh. It isn’t even funny!

FOMO. Wannabe-ness. Insecurity. Overthinking. Egocentricity. What do all these terms have in common? Simple. They are ways in which the world usually classifies my feelings, my actions, and brushes them away.

Truth is, I’m trying to reach out. The conspicuous complainer, the one who sends a hundred messages in response to an unsuspecting ‘Hi’, the kid who just tries too hard… It’s all an effort to fill a deep wound in my heart. Something that’s been cut open and left to bleed freely so many times, it makes me wonder if the world would ever let it heal.

My childhood has been shaped by the homes I inhabited – different, swirling, changing ones. We used to move around pretty frequently, and I sometimes remember going to sleep in one bed and waking up in another. Coming from a frequent traveller and adventurer, home is something special, and I daresay, a mysterious element of my life. Because I have never really known what it means.

Have you seen a homeless urchin on the streets, scratching his foot mindlessly and folding up his worn-out rug? Ever felt bad for him?

I’m homeless too, believe it or not. My expensive clothes and lavish lifestyle would suggest otherwise, and yes, maybe that chap asleep at 2 AM outside the Metro Station evokes (and deserves) more pity than I do.

But, homes aren’t concrete structures! They’re a boy’s shampooed hair and sinewy arms, they’re a girl’s smiles and breath under your neck, they’re quiet fingers caressing your hair, telling you everything will be alright while you’re pretty sure it won’t.

And I earnestly long for one.

I tried buying one by giving up my dignity and emotional stability, thinking it would all magically fall into place – but apparently, one has to be so goddamn lucky to experience all those things. In trying to find a home, I’ve turned myself into a utility. I’ve put on so many masks that I’ve forgotten how my face actually looks like.

People came to me. For once, I felt secure. I felt like I had a home. And then, they left. Just like everyone else did, after their purpose was served. I rained like desolate moors and wintry landscapes on the people who did stay on, and drove them out of my life by my own deeds.  And I was left alone, misunderstood, used, and in my own misery.

A child weeps beneath that stoic facade. Would you care to look beyond the superficial? Would you offer a shoulder, a handkerchief, an ice-cream?

It’s true, the idiom ‘History repeats itself’. But my history, while repeating itself, is asphyxiating me slowly and painfully until today, when I have finally given up.

But even though I hate my life beyond limits at the moment, I still love myself enough to hold on tight, until the trying times pass. And so, with a despondent hand, I decide to write my feelings out, to get some form of a release.

So here’s to us – the ones with childhoods locked up in bedrooms, innocence stored away in sock drawers, and grief placed on bed stands. Here’s to us, living another day on this miserable planet where not one act is selfless. Here’s hoping that we’ll finally find people who would not ridicule our innocuous desire to belong. People who make us forget what FOMO means.

Here’s to us trying to compensate for it all by capturing those little moments of sunshine that life stingily throws at us.

Here’s to us all.

 

Love Thy Self

-Sneha Roy, 3rd year, COE

In a society that profits from self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.

We live in the media and information age where as soon as we wake from slumber we are surrounded (intentionally or not) by a plethora of advertisements, opinions on how we should be leading our lives and visual reminders of the so-called “ideal and desirable” standards of appearance.

Right from a hoard of fairness cream advertisements to women using the tiny spaces of newspaper matrimonial to describe themselves as ‘tall, thin and fair’ we are deep in the midst of propaganda that is not only physically but also mentally unhealthy. For those young people who believe that they fall short of the ideal (as the vast majority do), the outcome is low self esteem, biased perceptions and a tendency towards poor eating habits.

Over three quarters of the covers of women’s magazines both online and offline include at least one message about how to change one’s bodily appearance by a magic pill, a ridiculous 5 day 50 pounds weight loss strategy or cosmetic surgery. Men alike are victims. I recently came across an advertisement of toothpaste for men. It seemed funny and ridiculous because until then I had lived my life under the illusion that men and women had the same kind of teeth. Men are roasted for using women’s fairness creams in advertisements viewed by the national audience while popular actors vouch for a myriad of products that instantly make you desirable to the opposite sex.

This isn’t an article on ‘How to get her/him to notice you’ but I am going to take the liberty to say that life does not turn around by buying a product off the shelf. (No brainer. Right?) What you should be doing in my opinion is investing in yourself and your hobbies, passions, skills and values. Buy a book, donate to charity or treat a friend with the money advertisers want you to spend on products that contribute to the multibillion dollar industry that thrives solely on insecurities. The ability to hold an interesting conversation is much more attractive than being three shades fairer or three kilos lighter.

We must also understand that real life is widely different from reel life. Not everyone can look like Hrithik Roshan on the cover of Vogue, and frankly, the real Hrithik Roshan doesn’t look like the one on the cover either thanks to good old Photoshop. More celebrities must inculcate body positive messages in the media that is so often telling us that we aren’t good enough. Richa Chaddha has openly discussed her struggle with Bulimia when expected to conform to Bollywood’s standard of beauty. Nandita Das has been an inspiring figure in the ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign slamming India’s obsession with fair skin. Let us take inspiration from these bold and beautiful women.

The next time you find yourself questioning if you are ‘pretty’ enough for society, tell yourself ‘NO’ because the word ‘pretty’ is unworthy of everything you should aspire to be. Be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing; never contain yourself with ‘pretty’.

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The Curious Case of a Jumpy Kid

-Anjali Bhavan, 1st Year, MCE

How does one respond when a ten-year-old jumpy kid expresses a desire to just get it over with and die?

This question plagued me and my mom recently, and we thought, and reflected. But my family being my family, we brushed it under an imaginary carpet, maintained a dignified silence, and sat down to watch Downton Abbey. And the topic wafted around us in the breeze until it died.

So I can’t tell you what my family thought, but I did ruminate on this disturbing question.

What could possibly drive a preteen, who is supposed to be downing fruit juice and fighting over pen quality, to contemplate suicide? Are our cities really that apathetic, our kids that vicious that anyone who isn’t good-looking (read: fair-complexioned), foul-mouthed and extroverted is simply abandoned and bullied?

If you live in Delhi and possess a dark complexion, be ready for a hard life; for at least one taunt will come by your way in life over your skin being the way it is. And if you’re a quiet, soft-spoken boy, my heart goes out to you. For indeed, in our skewed social norms, boys are expected to toughen up and never cry, be strong and masculine—and good-looking too!

Oh little quail, Delhi is no place for soft-spoken sweethearts like you. This place is evil and jostling, and it knows.

Why have we been brought up and influenced by the world in such a way that whenever people of different complexions appear before us, it’s the fairer person that grabs our attention? Why is Anushka Sharma more loved than Konkona Sen Sharma, despite the latter being a superlative actress?

I, at 17, and my parents in their forties, haven’t been able to make sense of this complex world. Imagine a ten-year-old trying to do that, and fail miserably.

Go back to when you were of that age, and think. Were you the cool kid? Got along with everyone? Did anyone throw water over you or hide your books, not out of fun but sheer malice?

If not, then think harder, and see that quiet child in the corner of the class, crying because someone just pulled their hair, or spilled their lunch. Did you laugh at that kid? Maybe tripped them while they were entering the class?

And if you answered no to my previous questions, then my heart goes out to you, because I too shudder to this day when I think of my move from a small, quiet town to big, bad Delhi, and the three years of agony I faced after that, far away from my parents, alone, and terrified.

I was ten.

So is that jumpy kid.

Thy Eyes

-Pratyush Thakur, 1st Year, COE

Thy eyes!

A wonder to behold, a sight that mesmerizes

A window to your heart,

Or an entrance to a universe so enchanting

But those eyes are what keep us apart.

There lies a whole wide sea.

Bridged by the never-ending glances and stares

Ah! The cruel irony

Two souls leaping out to embrace each other

But both shackled by their realities.

One looks at the other,

A shy glance at first. A tentative stare. An engaging invitation.

A game of tease you may call

But for him, that meant the world

He was already lost in her

And the eyes just enamoured him and kept him in love.

Thy eyes!

Wails the lover!

Why is it so hard to create a spark, thought he

Wading into a no man’s zone he felt

He glanced again at her, and found her looking at him already

He knew that very instant

That something singular was at work in this universe

And he sat contentedly, knowing

That the eyes had worked their magic

And the hearts would now work their own.

The ‘Curious Case’ of Uniforms

-Srishti Dahiya, 3rd Year, Civil Engineering

Have you ever been alone or lost, and felt a sigh of relief spotting a man in Olive-Green or Combats? Have you ever felt a tad bit more secure sitting in a cab whose driver is wearing a crisp Grey-Collared uniform? Well, I have. Uniforms and Uniform bearers have silently been manipulating our psyche, much to our oblivion.

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Institutions that mandate a uniform come across as not only disciplined, but also reliable and trustworthy. It brings out a sense of regularity and portrays all as one, as equals: concealing Economic, Social or any such Hierarchal differences.

Uniforms and its bearers are etched in our brains so strongly that we instantly identify and relate a certain colour code or pattern to a specific profession. I remember once looking at a woman wearing a black and red pleated Saree, and thinking “She looks like an Air India Air-Hostess”. Relatable?

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Sometimes, it is so difficult to dissociate uniforms from certain professions. For instance, if a long haired, shabbily dressed man wearing floaters under formal pants said he belonged to NDA, one would have a tough time holding that laughter in!

A uniform speaks volumes about the organisation the bearer belongs to, and that is mainly why a lot of thought goes into designing it. Not just this, anyone wearing a uniform represents his/her organization, which brings along with it a lot of responsibility, that can be used positively or even exploited for the worse.

Would you also agree that uniforms tend to overshadow individuality? Maybe. For instance, your Room-Service buddy. In most cases you will forget his name or face, but the image of a Black Suit and Bow will remain engraved in your mind.

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In one aspect, our blind trust on uniform bearers also compromises with security. A man in a defence uniform will just be accepted as harmless and no-one would ever check on him. How serious a threat is that?!

Well, just like anything else in this universe, uniforms have their Pros and Cons. I can’t say if it is a positive or a negative incorporation, but most definitely it affects our mindset strongly, and very quietly! Agree?

Thank you Neena Aunty and Mihika Didi for such an interesting insight and all the valuable guidance! 

10 Realizations you should have at least once in your life…

-Avni Mehta, 2nd Year, BioTechnology

If you don’t, you’re something special. But hey, at least you get to lead an extraordinary life; which could be for the worse or the better!

It is always in moments of intense pain, jubilation, sadness or sheer boredom – the not so cut-and-dried situations, when we pause to analyse and form our own crooked opinions and perceptions about life.

It’s a misconception that this tendency is linked with the grey-haired stage of existence. On the contrary, it is from a very tender age that we start to form these notions. Shaped by experiences, media, the people around us and in some unfortunate cases, even tittle-tattle, they seep into our daily lives and become a part of our personality.

  1. If you enjoy your own company, you’ll never feel lonely.

1aThere will be times when you will feel suffocated around people; when you’ll just want to sit by yourself in a restaurant or travel in the metro. In such a situation, ironically, what most people do is absolutely nothing. There’s a stigma attached to moving about alone – ‘Will people think I am an outcast? Will they assume that I do not have friends or loved ones? Will I seem miserable?’ These inhibitions hold you back. So, you sit your way through a party or a get-together that could put you to sleep better than ambien. It depresses you. You feel like shouting from the top of a hill. You feel like running on the sands of a beach; the waters just grazing your feet. You wish to break free. Then, one fine day, you do and it’s nothing, nothing but peace – beautiful, satisfying and revitalizing peace.

  1. You’re just one out of billions of people.

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If you ever think you’re going through a tough time, think again. There are people who die of starvation and biting cold. If you ever think that you’re too smart or too pretty, read A Brief History of Time or watch a beauty pageant. If you think that you’re rolling in money, play poker with Richard Branson. The world doesn’t revolve around you. You are not all that matters. Try and see the bigger picture or just buy a telescope.

  1. Food will be your savior. Always!

3bIt could be 31 scoops of ice cream after a fight. It could also be a midnight pizza delivery as you attack Netflix, or the Granula bar that gets you going early in the morning. Food will always be there – literally no complaints and no demands. If you look back, a lot of your fondest memories will involve food – that chocolate you shared with the boy next door who turned out to be your best friend for life, the first meal you prepared for the family, and all that puking after seven shots of tequila at Jay’s party. (Wasn’t it vodka?..or maybe whisky? And…who was Jay again? )

Point made.

  1. Trust the people you’re made up of.

4Though it may sound all wrong but this is as erroneous as coq au vin is English. People will come and go. But there’s this invisible loom that’s weaving the most resilient bond between you and your parents. Your genes will never deceive you. This is probably one realization that dawns on us every time we’re led astray. Growing up or ‘life’ might drift you apart but it is wisest to acknowledge that the world is a much better place when you’re in line with your bloodline. The wonders that a parental scolding or pacification can do are unimaginable. A mother’s love and father’s care are more universal than Newton’s laws, barring a few other non-inertial frame of reference cases and unless you’re a total pain in the neck.

  1. There’s always a song, movie, book or painting that can explain your situation.

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Hanging out with friends is fun. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are fun too. But there’s a certain sense of refinement and serenity that culture provides. It’s something you can pursue independently. If you enjoy thrill, pick up a Clive Cussler or watch The Godfather. If you’re a hardcore romantic, there’s Erich Segal with his famous Love Story. If you enjoy drama, we’ve got Shakespeare and Renoir. Then, whether it’s a heart break, yellow submarine or a bomb attack, there’s always a song that somehow just fits the bill.

  1. Ask for a rectangle. You’ll get a triangle. Ask for a triangle. Life will give you an octagon.

6bYou will not always get what you want. It isn’t Gap with apparels in every shade. It’s the uniform you have to wear to school or work every day. It is not one of those shops that do custom-made designing. This is a regular market shoe sale where you might not find your size or the color that matches your dress. Take it or leave it. Like it or detest it. This is it. This is life. Life is unexpected and you have to take it in a gulp. The girl you like will not always be into you. The job you want will not always be bagged by you. So, you can cry your eyes out or go into mourning. But it won’t change a thing and you mustn’t expect it to either.

  1. Take it once and they’ll be ready to tie a leash around your neck.

7In simple words, never let go of your self-esteem. Being a henpecked husband, obsequious employee or repressed housewife is the worst you can do for your life. It may seem right at the time but in the long run, all it is going to fetch you is being taken for granted. Why be under someone’s heel when you can be your own pair of sneakers? Always stand up for what is right. But then again, what is right does not imply you get swayed by your whims and fancies to an extent that you begin arguing that the sky is pink or trees are blue. Be rational. Be objective and most of all, be logical.

  1. Sleep can do wonders.

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Often we encounter problems that we aren’t able to find solutions for at that particular point of time. In such a situation, all you need is to metamorphose into a log. It clears all the unnecessary mental clutter and provides a new dimension towards the problem at hand. Some nights are linked with puffy eyes and a stuffy nose. Waking up, you realize that you probably left a few chopped onions around because apparently, what made you cry doesn’t seem like a good enough reason at all. Not just from the physical aspect but mental as well, there’s simply no better cure!

  1. Hospital visits are indirectly proportional to happiness.

9This is unless it’s a case of wanted pregnancy. Your hands don’t have to be manacled behind your back to portray restrain. For that, all you need to do is pick up a disease or illness. It handicaps you and stymies you from enjoying certain aspects of life. You can’t travel or move around much. You can’t enjoy food because you’re diabetic or obese. We all want a cast-iron stomach, but frankly, there’s a fat chance for that to happen. Sickness, my friend, is a real bummer.

  1. Few friends matter. Others are simply…

10There was a time when you needed extra hands to count your friends. Then, you grew up. Birthday parties went from being elaborate affairs to quality time spent with a few dear ones. You realized that you need to filter out your friend circle; the residue – all those people who weren’t worth your time and energy, who you didn’t get along with that well and were tagging along for years without any sound reason; the filtrate – those few people (depending on how impervious your filter is) that you just couldn’t do without

Britain is just not that into ‘EU’!

-Lakshay Gautam, 2nd Year, Engineering Physics

Britain today voted in favour of exiting the EU with a clear majority of 51%. Now most of us would be thinking, “How does it affect me?”. Well, from a student’s perspective, a lot is about to change.

First of all, the market saw a massive decrease in the value of the pound with the Indian Rupee closing in at 93 Rupees from an average of 100 Rupees (vs Pound) in just one day. This will make imports from the UK cheaper, but at the same time, denting the Make-in-India campaign with the exports speculated to take a dip. Also, immigration terms are about get a bit more stringent for Indian citizens applying for British citizenship through the EU. Ex:- Goan Portuguese population. The chunk of Goan population applying for Portuguese citizenship is expected to decrease as for most of them it is a means of free passage to the United Kingdom with the help of the free movement clause of the European Union treaty. Alternatively, studying at prestigious Universities in England and Scotland is about to get more expensive, with the British economy speculated to face economic turmoil in the next few years.

Unknown-1But the situation is not that bad for India as purported. UK was the foremost manufacturing industry in the early 1900’s. But as the time progressed, the sector faded out. At this point of time, the 10 major exports of UK have better substitutes, which won’t affect India much. Also, UK accounts for only 3.4% of exports from India, which shouldn’t alarm the industry immediately.

What will really hit the British will be the trade market woven around the London Stock Exchange. EU ensured a free flow of trade with the other member European countries. But now with the exit, the trade and finance sector will face pressure from foreign investors. They might look to transfer their bases from London to more lucrative destinations such as Hong-Kong, Dubai etc. This also points to a growing anti-immigrant mentality which pervades amongst the British population. Politicians such as Corbyn are gaining momentum, just like Donald Trump in the United States, who take advantage of the frustration and hatred amongst the British population to rise to power.

So, us Indians don’t need to worry from Brexit as of now, but need to keep a close watch on the story and how it unfolds. Although, for the British, testing times ahead. Cheerio!