The Trip

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I have been thinking about writing this one for quite some time now. Like I mentioned before, I am a bit lazy. Do not admonish me, it is an admirable quality…after all slow and steady wins the race yes?

Anyway, my parents believe in traveling in one’s own country first to discover its beauty and appreciate it. For your information, I live in India, a vast country with a very diverse culture. I am a nature person. I like nature. I appreciate the sunlight when it colors mountains with orange-yellow hues; I appreciate the light cool wind that rustles my hair; I appreciate the mighty waves crashing on the land. So when my parents informed me that we would cover some part of east India, I was thrilled.

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As our flight landed us at the Siliguri Airport, I noticed the expansive green areas. You see, I live in Rajasthan, the desert state of India. The low temperature and the constant drizzle was a refreshing change from the blistering heat and sparse vegetation in Jaipur. As we lounged in the hotel rooms we were to stay in for a day, my father suggested exploring the city on foot. One can see the dominance of traders from Rajasthan as every second shop belongs to them. The labor is inexpensive and overworked. Since we did not have much time, we walked back to the hotel in a few hours, but not before having an interesting dish. It was our beloved bhelpuri(a mixture of puffed rice flakes, tamarind sauce, coriander sauce, boiled potatoes, tomatoes, chilly and spices) with a dash of mustard oil. It was unexpectedly delicious. It is interesting to see how the culinary culture changes. The next day we were on our way to Gangtok, Sikkim, a tiny state that shares its boundary with China. The road to Gangtok was beautiful. Tall green trees stood proudly as thick vines draped all over them and made them seem one. On the other side of the road, the river Brahmaputra slithered along. The city, we discovered, was more of a quaint town. Thick trees dominated every part of it as exotic flowers grew on them and moss covered every wall. It was all so alluring and enchanting that I would just stare at the beauty the state was endowed with. Normally, in cities, I find myself surrounded by cacophony of blaring horns, shouting people, machines droning on; I see people jumping red lights, intentionally “forgetting” to wear seatbelts, people spitting on footpaths and roads, or even pissing there. but I was delighted to see that people in Gangtok were not only good looking, they were law abiding citizens who would be forever courteous to you, and would never ogle at a woman no matter how “provocatively” she was dressed. I must mention that in my city, every second road is strewn with garbage and it is a major disappointment. Imagine my relief and joy and surprise to see that the streets here were clean and that people would actually throw their rubbish in the bins provided.

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I Want!

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So it has been about three months since I wrote. I ashamedly admit that this is not what I meant when I told myself to be persistently regular. These vacations, I suspect, I felt too lazy to brainstorm and write because honestly, I was out of topics. Today I come back to the same old topic that some of you might think has gotten rotten. Romance!

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You might take me to be a hopeless romantic but I have a wild whacky streak. I will be an amazing character in an amazing book, mind you! Like people claim to dislike One Direction and call it lame, and then secretly listen to its songs and stalk the singers every moment, I read romantic novels like crazy although I firmly believe that one should take up books by Plato, Aristotle, Krishnamurthy because they enlighten you about the real world and how it works. Being the hypocrite that I am, I end up with romantic novels, be it by Jane Austen, Margaret Mitchell, Charlotte Bronte…or modern writers like Jessica Park, Sophie Kinsella, or Emma Chase. I realize that I take up these books just like an addict eats opiates. I know I mustn’t read these books, that my conscience would hurt, but I still read them, because I cannot stop. Smokers talk about a soothing feeling they get when they inhale bouts of smoke into their lungs. That is how relieved I feel when I see two people, meant for each other, coming together to live happily forever after. Like when Rhett Butler confesses his love for Scarlett O Hara, and when he is overjoyed to hear that Scarlett loves him too (although it was a farce on her side), when he buys her a very vulgar ring just because she wants one, or when he stays with her even though she marries someone else and accompanies her everywhere because it is not safe for her to go around alone; I feel my heart trotting in a beautiful land where every fantasy of mine comes true. There are innumerable moments when I find myself grinning like a simpleton when something funny happens in the book and then I look up to see my parents looking at me as if they question my sanity.

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But whenever I read a book, I reach a stage of ecstasy because i imagine that I might have the same prospects as these heroines do in the books. Romantic novels make you throb with desire- not with lust, but desire for intimacy that two people share, the level of comfort that they can never achieve with anyone else, an invisible string that connects the two of them and makes them inseparable. It is not something that fades away in a matter of months; those characters are not people who would cheat on their partners just because it has been too long since they shared their bed with someone. A romantic novel makes you believe that he is your Yin and you are his Yang, complimenting each other and fitting perfectly even if they have opposite traits, completing each other to make a small universe in this vast one. This gives me a sense of comfort because I know I shall have someone who shall love me for me and not try to change me, but mold with me.797337586

Television Needs A Vision

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People say that watching television is a bad thing to do. They will put before you a list, listing the bad effects of watching television. I am aware of them. The researchers tell you that it is bad for your health. They might tell you that it makes your functioning slow and that it makes you dumb. But to be honest, I love watching television. It takes me to another world; a world of happiness, of innumerable possibilities. For me, it is a very pleasurable activity. I have recently switched to Indian television. I have been watching snippets of soap operas, mythological drama, even comedy shows. i was left horrified. And I kept asking myself if airing all of this was the right thing to do.

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Ever since I have had a sense of understanding of things that go around, I have watched TV. serials with my mother or my cousins. And all I have noticed is that Indian programmes cover one topic, the relationship in joint families. I particularly remember two serials of that time. One was all about a righteous daughter-in-law who is shown overcoming obstacles that stand in the way of her family’s happiness; and the other one was about two lovers who were never together and their love kept changing and they had many children out of marriage. The characteristic thing about them was that there were many plotting women who were devious and wanted the worst for everyone but themselves. Their characters were as hideous as they looked with their make up on. Each episode had lesser dialogues than the dramatic music in between, and the story went at a snail slow speed. If one program was popular, the other channels would follow and give way to a hundred more serials of the same type. The serials which I mentioned above went on for eight or seven years and there was planning and plotting right till the end. It became so ridiculous, watching the number of villainous women increasing one by one. Fourteen years later, I saw some change in Indian television when the SONY channel introduced a series of new ideas, one involving an estranged princess, one with two people who had grown out of the usual age of marriage, and one with a wife handling six childish men of the family. It was like a fresh air wafting through Indian television. But yesterday, I saw that nothing had changed. There lacks creativity. It is the same planning and plotting by devious women, trying to break their own happy family. In 2008, a serial started off involving two children victim of child marriage, and it goes on to show how the child daughter-in-law copes up with everything. The show was set in Rajasthan. The concept of filming each serial in Rajasthan thus emerged. And now, whichever channel one switches to, the same is found. And now, to get even more attention, there are people happy and getting away with rape or having extra marital affairs and people are still stuck on mothers-in-law or sisters-in-law planning to oust their daughters-in-law.

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I do not understand why the creative directors would not think of anything new. If nothing, they could at least copy the other shows. The cooking show that was copied was so dramatized, it became unbearable to watch. I think the TV industry must move on and rather than stretching one concept to unbearable levels, for many many years, they could end the idea before it stales. The dramatization must be curbed a nit too. No one needs loud music at every intense moment; a shot of expressive eyes could work as much magic. And the male dominance that is depicted in about every serial these days is gut wrenching. I hate the way a man is allowed to bully his wife into eating or accepting his extra-marital affair or his decisions which are stupid. The objectification and the cheap levels a comedy show went to, just to grasp at more TRPs is even more saddening. Creativity must be revived in the most affecting industry. So many young minds who sit with their mothers to accompany them during television watching are affected. So are these young mothers, or old mothers-in-law who when have nothing to do, are suspicious of motives behind their sisters-in-law or adopted daughters. The stale ideas are just poisoning the minds of roots of the family, because it is these women who keep a family together.

Chivalrous Men?

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It is funny how your concepts and beliefs clash with what the society expects of you, and you in turn expect the world to go two different ways. Recently, I was at crossroads, waiting for the traffic to move, when I saw a lady police officer directing the traffic and a fat male officer lounging in a chair nearby at the booth. I was outraged as I thought, “what a shameless guy, making a lady work on roads when he can do the work himself”. But at the same time I was reminded of how I keep talking about providing equality to both the genders.

When you see a woman walking somewhere lugging the luggage while her man walks ahead of her like he has no care in the world and every right in the world to walk like that, you feel nothing but outrage because you expect the man to carry the bags. It is of course a chivalrous act to do so. But when one talks of being as same as the opposite sex, is it right to expect men to be the gallant ones? Is it right to ask them to pay for your bills or repair your cars or carry your bags? The question causes serious dilemma in one’s mind because it clashes with their beliefs.

When we talk of a human’s physique, it is quite obvious that women have a slender frame, softer skin and a womb. They were, like every other female animal, built for birthing. But, a woman holds the same mind a man does. And the thoughts formulated go different ways just as a man’s do. They understand the difference between right and wrong, they decide to trust people, they are inquisitive, they are creative and they are strong and independent. But there always remains a need of feeling loved and cherished. There remains a yearning to be respected for who they are, and what their thoughts are just like men would like to be understood.

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So when people throw their hands in the air in exasperation blabbing on and on about how women cannot be feminists and still demand chivalry from men, they must understand and realize that although she demanded the right to vote and the right to earn as much as a man does in a society, there shall always remain a need in her to be loved and cherished and there shall always remain a need in him to love and cherish.

Men when you give your opinion on the shoes your girlfriend or wife is planning to buy, you must realize that if you think of that as your right, you should also consider it your duty to carry that box of gaudy pair of shoes you made her buy. You must not leave her at the station platform with the heavy bag which holds your clothes and certainly not at the vegetable market full of vegetables you are going to gulp down. You must be considerate enough to offer your help and insist on doing it because a woman makes many many sacrifices to make your life comfortable. You must pay for the date the first couple of times if you have asked her out because you want to be with her, not the opposite. And you certainly must step up and defend the honor of your wife or girlfriend or date when she is harassed even if she dragged you into the bar because that is what men are to do. They are supposed to love, cherish and protect BUT only when needed. And when I say that they need to do all the previously mentioned things, I do not expect you to interpret their meaning as handicap her by taking all the decisions by yourself or disregard her thoughts because a woman is supposed to sit quietly and adore her partner. Although the crappy romantic novels romanticize Neanderthalism it is nothing but portraying women and men in stereotyped roles which will do no good in the twenty first century.

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W-O-R-D-S…Words!

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Words are odd things. We sometimes curse them because we have to study them and study because of them; or thank them for being there because that is how we express ourselves to someone. Recently, I was writing a paper and sleep deprived as I was, I marveled at the power of words, and our comprehension of them.

There lies so much beauty in writing. The odd curves one makes into b, a, l and d could mean nothing to an illiterate. It could mean nothing but something scribbled on a wall or a paper. But for a person who can read, it not only makes the couple of curves into a word called bald, it also instills in him the picture of a man with no hair on his head. Imagine the world without words in it, where no one could ever comprehend a single word. Would you be able to tell you mother of who bullied you at school? Would you be able to tell your beloved of how much you love him/her? Would you ever be able to text, or post an update on the dress you are going to wear the next day?

The beauty of buildings is enticing because you are attracted to the careful way thousands of workers came together to take simple blocks of stones into huge attractive buildings. But once you are done with watching, all you can do is sigh and move on to watch the next piece of architecture. But a couple of words that form a sentence, and a couple of sentences which form the chapters of every novel are so engaging that as you read the words, a new world forms right in your head. You see the hero saving the world from going into oblivion, you see kings fighting with each other for lands, you see nymphs sitting on beautiful expanses singing the sweetest songs. And when you are done with the novel, you still think about it because the vast lands and its events sit in your head forever until you find something even more compelling in mere pages.

When I think of the world we have evolved from, I am filled with pity for the people. To live in a world where affection could be shown only by snuggling into someone, when along with that we can say “I love you” in their ears, is nothing but pitiful. It is these words that can compel people to take up arms and fight for their nation and the same words quell them to put the arms down and live a peaceful life. The world really is a better place with words and people with comprehension of these words.

The Necklace…And Some More

 

 

 

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Whenever I read The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant (if you have not read the story, here is the link- http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/Neck.shtml) , I am left with disappointment. He leaves us at the point where the reader craves for more, wants to know what Madame Loisel did. Here is something I conjured from my imagination.

Mme. Lionel’s eyes widened as Mme. Forrestier revealed the truth about the necklace. Her movements halted. Every thought she had in mind flew away. She stepped back, turned and fled away from Mme. Forrestier, who was left confused and pitying. She ran till she was near her house. Her steps were hasty, her fingers fiddling with the lock for a while till she entered her small house. She looked around as if she saw the room for the first time. As the realization of everything she had lost for nothing finally dawned upon her, she burst crying and crumpled right there on the floor.

“Matilda? Is that you? How are you home already? Oh dear what happened? Why are you crying? Did something happen to you in the market? Tell me love.” Loisel said as he sat down near her and tried to soothe her. It seemed that it was a day of realizations for Mme. Loisel because for the first time she realized how hard her husband had to work to fulfill her whims and fancies and then to suffer and pay for her faults. She started crying harder thinking of how she had never really reciprocated the love her husband had for her, only because she was too vain to think of everything she did not have.

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“Oh my love, I am grieving!” she said as she buried herself in his arms and sniffled.

“Grieving? What happened dear? Tell me. I will help you if I can. Tell me! What is that matter, love?”

“Oh nothing much dear. Did you know I love you? I love everything you have done for me. And I am terribly sorry for I have never appreciated everything around me. Please forgive me love! Please do!” as she sobbed and sobbed.

Loisel let out a relieved chuckle. “My love, I love you too. It was high time you said it to me, for I have waited for you to say it for too long. Come on. Stand up. I will help you set the table. Come love.”

It was as if what Mme. Forrestier had said had become irrelevant and the burden she had felt, of being wrongly married in a wrong house had lessened. Although she still believed that they deserved a better life, she decided that she was content and happy.

It had been many days since that eventful Sunday. Mme. Loisel smiled as she thought of the promise her husband had made the previous night. He had promised to accompany her to the nearby park for a small picnic. there was a slight bounce in her step as she went to open the door since someone had knocked. Her smile faltered as she saw Mme. Forrestier standing at her doorstep. Courtesy made her allow Mme. Forrestier to enter her house.

“Why are you here Jeanne?” Mme. Loisel said, wringing her wrists nervously. She thought of the cobweb that dominated one obscure corner, and the worn carpet and the barely there furniture. Mme. Forrestier’s step faltered, and she nervously smiled at Mme. Loisel. “Matilda I have come to apologize for everything that life has punished you with because of a necklace that meant nothing more than a flippant piece of jewelry. I cannot repay you the years that have gone wasted, I cannot repay with the necklace because it is now dear to me for it is something that you almost gifted me. But I have a lot of money. Since M. Forrestier died, I have been alone and I have not had a dear friend like you. I want to give you back everything you had to pay for the necklace, and I want my dear friend back. So, I have ordered seventy thousand pounds to be deposited into your husband’s account. I sincerely am sorry, but I am selfish. And I want my friend back.”

Mme. Loisel stood silent for a minute. “I am sorry for not being there for you, and for your loss. I will always be there for you.”

Alone? Really?

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Nothing that exists is simple. Everything, as simple as the roti you eat is made up of complex substances. So it is very obvious that a human brain is made of more complex substances, and performs even more complex actions. I am not sure about how thoughts come in one’s mind, or how they hold the capacity to drive us to the extent of taking our own lives, and I am very unsure of how we think of doing something but end up doing something entirely different.

Loneliness is a luxury no one can afford. It is unattainable. If you live in a large joint family, you can do nothing, but crave for a minute of being alone with yourself. And you don’t ever get it, because just as you sit in your room, a cousin of yours barges into your room to ask for a pen or use your bathroom. Just as she goes away, a toddler runs along in your room and messes your bed. When you make your bed mentally fuming, your mother comes in asking an irrelevant question. When you finally get rid of the din that has been happening around you, you start wondering why nobody has disturbed you yet because you don’t expect such silence around. So you get tired of waiting for others to barge into your room, and you shrug that craving of being alone and stride in someone else’s room and bother them just like they bothered you. And all of this goes on and on.

If you live in a family where no one can resist taking turns jabbing at you, and you are the same, you end up fighting with your family every second day. And then you storm into your room, telling yourself to never go out of it because no one wants you and you can only rest your soul in this confinement. But three days later, you get restless and start eavesdropping at what the rest of your family is talking about. You get tired of being in the confinement you have created for yourself and you trample your ego and smuggle yourself in their conversations and then have a good time and promise to be good to everyone the next time.

But if none of the above applies to you and you cherish your loneliness and you think you two get along, you are wrong. Because like I said, brain is a complex thing. You might have the illusion of being alone, but do you ever stop answering messages on your phone, or your mails? Do you ever stop thinking of what happened to you the previous morning or someday the previous year?

You are fooled into thinking that you are the solitary person, but you are really with either real people, or your intangible thoughts. And although your thoughts might make you feel like you are at peace for a while, you will realize that it eats you on the inside to be with someone and share your thoughts, or just be among people so that you don’t feel restless.