March 23, 2014

February : The Toughest Month Yet. Review

I thought February was my toughest month yet, but March is turning out to be tougher than anything. I am dealing with some personal issues and hence have lost the will to write. I have ideas, but I don't feel like writing. But then, the only way to keep writing is to somehow keep writing. So, let's try. 

February did turn out to be one of the toughest months of my life. But not the way I thought it would be. The self defeating chain of thoughts started somewhere in the middle of February and I haven't been able to come out of it yet. But, not going into those things, here's a review of how February went.
  • No Newspapers : This was really difficult. I have done this before and it's never easy to leave newspapers, especially at breakfast. Family didn't help either. They would put the newspaper right at the sofa table. Damn you family. At times, I would end up "mistakenly" looking at a few headlines here and there. But 99% I managed without it. Result : I didn't know mostly what was happening in the world and India, especially politics and I could care less. 90+% of news is just depressing. I felt good trading bad news it at the expense of sounding ignorant.  
  • No TV : This was difficult too. Again because I need something to watch during dinner, at the end of a hard day of work. And to make matters worse since I had no control, family would watch their stupid Saas-Bahu serials at that time. Damn you family. 
  • No Blogs : This turned out to be easy actually. No logging into Feedly. No checking blogs. Although I did make 2-3 exceptions for friends. I would always do that.
  • No Twitter : Easy Peasy.
  • No Instagram : Easier Than above.
  • No Pocket : Easy again. Although now I am struggling to come up to speed with so many articles to be read.
  • No Movies : I haven't watched a movie this year yet.
  • No TV series episodes : I did miss some of the series, but then it wasn't that difficult either.
  • No YouTube/Vimeo/Vine : I watched a few YouTube videos. Less than half a dozen I believe. They were inspiring and I learned a little too, so I won't apologize.
  • No Music : By far the hardest item in this list. Haven't attempted going without music before. This month made me realize how much I enjoy music. And it's not like I went without music completely. People nearby would listen to music and I won't stop them doing that. Sometimes I liked what they listened and sometimes I hated. But I wasn't allowed to do anything about it. The promise was to not let myself listen to music voluntarily. At least on 4 points I almost, almost picked up my ear phone. But I am fiercely proud I resisted listening to music for the whole month. Yeah! Although.... I did listen to a song composed by a friend. 5 times. Again no apologies for friends.
  • No Podcast (except if I create one of my own): Don't listen to too many podcasts so wasn't a problem. I did listen to half of an audiobook though. Technically not a podcast but a book. Alas, no podcast of own created this month as well. 
  • No Video Games : I am not a big fan of video games, so no problems here either.

Whatsapp is what I gave up trying to control, on day one itself. In fact I think February is when I used Whatsapp more than usual. For reasons totally unintended though, I am going without Whatsapp for the whole month this March. A part of me wants to go back, but the other part hates it right now. For almost 2 weeks of this Month I also went without phone (which was fun actually!). 

So, what was the use? What did I achieve doing all this?
  • Well I did keep promises, but it's disappointing no one really took that "broken promises" post seriously.
  • I slept more.
  • I did read more than January but again not as much as I would like. May be I setting my expectations too high on reading resolution.
  • Didn't write much. But wrote some pretty good articles I thought.

The experiment was overall a success I would say. I did prove to myself (and it was only about myself) that I can live without most of the things that people like me think they "can't live without". Willpower? You have more than you think you have.

Would I attempt this again? May be. No plans right now. 

March 12, 2014

List of 10 Reasons Why I Write in List Format

About 2 months ago, I wrote a post titled "Love will make you Bankrupt".  I usually don't write about "these" kinda stuffs, but I took a gamble. So when I finished it and hit published, I imagined 1000s and 1000s of followers to tell me how much they were moved by my writing. 

Alas, nothing like that happened. Less than a dozen read (I think) and even less -  half of them replied back. Most of the feedback was also not very encouraging. 2 friends equated it to a University exam answer. Someone said,  "your style of writing everything in the form of list sucks. In fact, you suck" . OK, may be those were not the exact words, I forget. 

Anyway, I thought probably they were right, I shouldn't be writing so many list-style articles. And so, I thought I would write non-list style for sometime. It's been 1 month since that thought. From that time I have published exactly 1 post. It was in list format. 

So, screw non-list style posts. I hereby give you 10 reasons why I write list-style (I sense I have written the phrase "list style" too many times by now). :

# Writing lists is how I think : Problems. Solutions. Friends. Potential Enemies. Topics to write next.  Things to do. Toiletries to buy. I make a list of everything. 

# Lists make it easier to present points : Big, long, boring paragraphs make me fall asleep somewhere on the 5th line. Same thing written point wise, I am guaranteed to reach at least point 12th. Even when I write important emails, I cut short the paragraphs into bullets to make sure the other party gets the point. Thankfully that love letter I wrote few years ago wasn't in list format. No, wait. I need to recheck. Holy shit! 

# Lists make me look smart : I am pretty hopeful one day they will start a Nobel Prize (or an Academy Award/Golden Globes/Grammies/Dundies/Whatever) for smartness. That time I want to be the first contender for it. 
"Oh RavS, you are so smart. What's your secret?", they will ask.
Well... I write lists.

# Lists make me think. Hard. : Writing fluff in the form of paragraphs is easy. You put some of your shit on paper and then you pile over it till it looks and smells like bullshit. Writing lists makes it that much harder. We are at point 4 and I am already out of ideas. Why do I write lists. Ughh. 

# I like doing charity : Helping people makes me feel like Superman. By writing lists, I make myself succinct. When you read a list, you have an option to skip a point if you don't like it (for eg. this one). Ergo, I save your precious time. You only have less than 25000 days left on Earth. Guaranteed. You should probably thank me for saving a little part of your life. Say thanks once you complete reading this. 

# Education ruined me : Yeah 2 of my friends, you are correct. That "Love" post does seem like a University exam answer. Remember, when you provided additional data (even though immaterial) and presented them in bullet form you always got better marks? Well I was hoping to get better praises through that post.  

# Well this point is pointless : Just now I looked back at my first 10 posts hoping to prove that I have evolutioned from a paragraph style writer to a list-style writer. But 6 of those first 10 posts turned out to be list based. Some things don't change. See point #1.

# Writing lists is easy, in a way : I thought I would be able to complete this post in a jiffy. Well I was wrong. So I took a short loo break, and came back with another point (not this one dummy, see below). Imagine taking a loo break and coming back with a whole new paragraph. I can't do that .

# Writing lists is an art : I bet not everyone can write it. So, while I can write paragraph based articles (don't you get enough of them in Editorials?), I am glad I have mastered this form.

So, there you go. 10 reasons why I write lists (hoping you won't count). I agree not everything looks great as a list. So going forward, I will try to respect the presentation more often, and give a little variation in the writing. On the other hand you might also find me writing a lot more lists in the coming time. We will figure it out. Thanks!

March 02, 2014

Untitled : Part 13

[Previous Part]

"Saara, are you listening to me?"

I did not know if I had the right, but I was starting to get angry at her. I had been pleading her for last 3 minutes to divulge what she told the inspector. 3 minutes. That felt more like 3 decades to the fearful mind and heart. God, please God. Anything but Anna God. Just don't let it be Anna, God please.

But Saara was enjoying all that. She knew I was desperate to know. But instead of being merciful, she was busy gloating on her heroism - oh, how she handled the situation single handedly. 

But I didn't give a damn about all that. She was a hero to me from the moment I had laid eyes on her in the morning. A hero without the muscles on the biceps but a dogged determination in the eyes. A hero without the steel abs on the belly but the guts inside it. And a hero with the superpower of most charming smile in the world.

 "If you don't tell me, I am not walking with you anymore." I give up. I stopped walking.

"Suit yourself." She moved ahead. I waited for her to stop, but she didn't. She reached the end of the narrow lane and hastily took a left turn.

I kept looking at the end of the lane anticipating she would appear again. I waited there. Looking for her. Tick tock. Tick tock. 2 minutes passed but she didn't come.

Is she gone? She abandoned me? Just like that? No, no, no. NOOOO..... 

I ran like mad towards the road, shouting her name, "Saara, Saara...".


I didn't anticipate that happening as soon I reached the end of the lane. I lost control and slipped on the pavement. 

She started laughing hysterically. And then she wouldn't stop laughing. 

If there could be a time at all to be angry with her, it was probably right now. She wasn't telling what she told the inspector. She shunned me in the lane, and now she made me fall on the pavement ruining my clothes. But right now, she was her happiest self since the last 3 hours I had been with her. It melted my heart. I joined her in her laugh.

Her stomach started to ache, and she sat down on the pavement where I was lying. Her eyes had started to sparkle from the water droplets over her pupils. 

Then she looked at me, and smiled, "I am sorry. You didn't think I was going to abandon you, right?".

"In fact, I thought you did"

"You called me your friend in front of the inspector." She paused for a second. "Friends don't abandon each other".

I didn't exactly know what she inferred from that last line. Was she implying we were friends now?  Or was she thinking of her father abandoning her mother. Or was she actually being sarcastic about me abandoning Parag. 

"Yeah...", that's all I could mumble.

"OK. Com'n get up. Let me tell you what I said to the inspector". She stood up and extended her hand. 

It couldn't believe she was the same girl who was hesitating to shake hands with me just 40 minutes ago. The verbal fight with the inspector had really fired her up. 

I took her support and got up. Then I wiped the dust off from my clothes and we started to walk again.

"The inspector knew you didn't understand the local language. So he was saying all sorts of nasty things about you. I tried to intervene....". She started. 

"What kind of nasty things?". I quickly interrupted. 

"They were mean. I don't want to repeat them".

"No, but I want to know".

"It's not that important".

"But, I want to know".

"Do you want me to tell the whole thing or not?"

That shut me up.

"So.... as I was saying, I tried to intervene. But he wouldn't listen to me either. I don't know why society can't expect a guy and a girl to be just friends. Why do they always need a validation?", and she looked at me, probably for validation on what she just said.

Don't look at me, lady. I don't care about what the society thinks. But I sure don't want us to be 'just' friends, now that we were finally friends somehow. 

"Ahh, well... what can I say. That's how the society works, I guess."

"Who needs such a society then? We need our near and dear ones to live our life right, not the society. Families make society. A society can never make up for a family". She was definitely referring to her family right now. I really didn't know what to say.

"Anyways. Sorry. So, the inspector wouldn't buzz. Hence finally to shoo him away, I had to tell him that I am the wife of your elder brother. He wasn't well so he couldn't accompany us. But since you are here only for a days, he asked me to show you around the city. ", and then she pouted.

She delighted and disappointed me together yet again. Pheww... So I am not the Anna. My Anna is my  Anna, except that I don't have any Anna. I was the only child of my parents, just like her. 

But if she had to make someone her husband, why choose my non-existing elder brother. Why not me? What's wrong with me?

"What's wrong with you?"

"What?!", she said, clearly surprised

"No, I mean why did you lie to the inspector. I saw him checking your ID card. What if he now tries to enquire about you. He will find out the truth, and then they will unnecessarily harass you."

"That will never happen, that I am sure of", she smiled.

My concerns were valid, but she knew more about the efficiency of the local police. May be she was right. Police had a lot more to deal with other than finding out about ourselves. I didn't try to argue after that.

After walking for about 10 mins, we saw a shared auto coming from a distance. Saara signaled the auto to stop.The auto stopped near us and the driver signaled us to get inside. 

Saara got into the auto. "Come, we will get our bus from where the auto will drop us".  2 elderly ladies were already occupying the seat opposite to Saara.

I looked at the sky, it looked like it would start to rain at any moment.

"Rids, com'n". Saara called again. I got into the auto and occupied the seat next to Saara. The auto started to move down the scrappy road...

[To be continued]

March 01, 2014

Untitled : Part 12

[Previous Part]

I turned around and looked ahead. In front were 2 burly figures. Only one of them was enough to take me out. Their faces were not recognizable because of the light beam from a vehicle behind them.

I remembered Parag. If only he had been here, he would have been able to rescue us out. He was the bully. If Parag had been here I had at least thought to fight them. But I was no match to them alone.

Amazingly though I wasn't afraid about what was going to happen to me. I just wanted Saara to be safe. I didn't want anything to happen to her on my watch. A part of me wanted to scream, "RUN SAARA, RUN! DON'T LOOK BACK. DON'T LOOK BACK. JUST RUN. SAARAAAA...". But my vocal chords were paralyzed with fear.

As the men slowly walked towards us, I looked at Saara. She was calm. How can you be so calm? What's wrong with you, Saara? But that comforted me a little too. 

As they came closer, I saw a shade of greyish green on their uniform. They were from police. I felt a little better. 

One of the men came up to me. He was at least half a foot longer than me, even though I was a respectable 5 feet 10. I looked up to him. A dark face with black goggles, moustache covering the face from ear to ear and a big mole on the right cheek. His belly could easily be used as a punching bag. I was sure, he would come in one of my future nightmares now. 

He sized me up, while the other man stood behind. Then he looked at Saara, ogling her for a little more than my comfort level. I felt enraged.

"Excuse me sir.". I barked. He looked at me again. "Do you need anything?".

The inspector looked confused. Then he uttered something. Again, it was in Telugu. I didn't get a word. Damn it, why can't I get an English or Hindi speaking person today?

His puzzling looks were on my face now. I looked at the other inspector. He was busy making his tobacco. He looked a little fairer than the black demon in front of me, moustache also was a tad bit shorter and lighter. I felt he was a work in progress, and after a few years he would develop into his senior. The Pokemon analogy came in mind. Com'n Rids, this is not the time to think about Japanese anime. I shook my head. 

I looked at the black demon again. "Who you?", he roared. I think he knew only that much English, but it was enough to send tremors down my spine. 

"I... I.. My name is Ritender. I am from Lucknow. I studied here for coming. I mean, I mean, I came here for studies. She is my... friend. Saara."

Aha... My friend Saara! When exactly did we become friends?, my rational brain was at work. But it was not the right time to listen to it. I ignored it for the moment, hoping Saara would understand too.

"What doing here?", he demanded.  "Alone lane...", and then he restarted his native monologue, only this time his voice was getting louder with each word. I looked at his eyes, they were cherry red. Black demon. Black demon.

The inspector behind seemed unperturbed about what was going on. He was enjoying his tobacco and looking at his mobile like a zen monk. May be he was trying to figure out how to operate a touch device.

I did not get a single character of what the black demon was trying to narrate to me. But I was sure, it wasn't good. My brain needed something to kill time, while the long speech was going on. I started to think what is going to happen now. He would give me a few tight slaps without any reason. That's what I had seen in movies. Then he would kick me into their jeep and take me away. Parag, Saif and Pankaj would have to come bail me out. They would then tell Maa, Papa. I was screwed. 

May be they will take Saara too to the police station. No, not Saara. I won't let that happen. 

"Inspector garu... ", a soft but warm voice interrupted the inspector's torrent of words and my train of thoughts. Inspector stopped his speech and looked at Saara. I followed suit. 

Saara then started her own brand of native verbal onslaught. The verbal duel continued for a few minutes. I didn't understand what they were discussing, but I was obviously rooting for Saara to win this battle of words. Saara held her fort calmly, and the inspector too for a change kept his volume in check.

How expressive she was right now. That kangan going up and down her wrist every time she moved her hands. That nose ring wobbling every time she sneered. And those raised eyebrows were perfectly symmetrical around the black dot on her forehead. I looked at her nails, they were uncharacteristically small. It was a good day for the inspector. I thought I was in charge of protecting a sparrow. But here we were witness a little lioness in Saara.

That other inspector was still gazing at his mobile like it was a Philosopher's stone, completely ignorant of what was going around his surrounding. I felt like punching him in the face, but he was much stronger than me. Common sense prevailed.

In the end Saara said something and looked at me. I caught just one word of that sentence - "Anna". I knew what that meant. The inspector also looked at me. He came closer and then put his burly hand over my shoulder. Then he said another big line and finally, "Ok na?".

I knew he wanted me to agree. My head nodded automatically without me having to put any efforts.

The 2 men went back to their jeep parked at the start of the lane and sat in it. The junior started the jeep, while the senior took a last look at us. He made a sign with his fingers. I did not know what it meant, but I took it as a warning. After that, they moved away.

After they left, Saara looked at me, sighed and said, "Let's Go. We will take a shared auto from the next road". Then she started to move.

But , only one word circling my head right now - Anna. Anna. Anna.

Did she... Did Saara call me her elder br...?. The other alternative of going to the police station felt so much better now.

 "Saara", I called her. Saara stopped at distance.

"What did you tell the inspector?"

Saara smiled. I tried to decipher what that smile meant. "Let's Go, we are getting late".

I followed her meekly. My heart had started to pound again. This time for another reason.

"Please, Saara. Tell me what did you say to the inspector?".

[To be Continued]