America, Offbeat & Personal

The Pursuit of Happiness

Christopher Gardner: “…It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that?”

-The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

For so long I imagined that coming here, to America, away from home, away from my overprotective parents, away from the norm, the drudgery, the monotony of Mumbai, same old Somaiya, same old work, same old Mulund, same old Marine Drive, Bandra, Theobroma and Pop Tate’s, and the same old people… is exactly what I wanted. For so long, I thought: “Wait till you get into a good college. Wait till you get to study under excellent teachers, score well, and work on awesome things. Wait till you get a good job, good friends, and a good hangout place where the server knows your name and asks you every time if you want your usual. Then I will be happy. Only then. So my life kinda sucks right now, but that’s okay because when all these things happen, then I will be happy. Because I’ll have everything I ever wanted.”

Well, guess what. I stay in Manhattan. I go to Columbia. I come home at 1 in the night everyday, and can be later if I wish to. Because nobody tells me what to do. I have the option of eating whatever I am in the mood for- it’s New York! I have my own room. One big, beautiful library I can study in for however long I want. One best friend only 20 minutes away. World’s best brands to shop from- and two wonderful, extremely generous parents who tell me not to worry about the money, to go out and drink and stop worrying so much about homework.

This list of ‘I haves’ may seem pretentious. But it only goes to show that despite all these privileges, despite all the fantastic things around me, this fantastic school, this fantastic city, this seemingly fantastic life… it is just me. Away from home. Away from my loving, overprotective parents. Away from the familiar comfort of Mumbai- away from Marine Drive, Bandra, Theobroma and Pop Tate’s. Away from Somaiya, where I had friends. Away from my job, where everything was so easy. So far away from every thing I held dear and always took for granted.

Maybe this is a delayed reaction to homesickness. Or just a very long, sad rant.

I see all these ‘Happiness is…” posts on Facebook, and all I can think of is what unhappiness is. Unhappiness is the F you get after working your ass off on an assignment for ten hours. It’s watching the quiet French-American guy in your Complexity class taking notes, wishing you could talk to him. It’s telling your parents you can’t FaceTime right now, because there’s too much to do. It’s not being able to call up your friends in India, because there is no time. It’s fighting with them over and over, trying to convince them that you really don’t have the time to talk, because this assignment is due midnight, it HAS to be done. It’s hating on other students for putting up photos on Facebook of some club they went to last night- because they don’t have all that homework; they’re Chem or Mech students, of course life is easy for them. It’s moments in class when you don’t understand anything at all, and all you can think is “Dear God, I am paying five grand for this course.” It’s passing the Columbia Journalism building and wondering if CS is what you want to do. It’s moments in the library, when you’re tired because your code won’t work, and you look up from your laptop, look at all the faces around you- poring into a book, staring furiously at a laptop, chewing at the ends of their pens, scribbling notes… and you wonder if anyone else feels the way you do. Is everyone else just as fucked up?

Fans of tough love (or my fellow New Yorkers) might tell me to stop being a whiny bitch. To suck it up and work harder. Fail an assignment? Study. Don’t follow what the teacher says? Ask questions. Don’t have anyone to talk to? Go out and make friends. Well, guess what. I am trying. I am trying.

“The pursuit of happiness”. Pursuit. It’s always the pursuit. Because we keep hoping life will get better, that it’s okay to be sad now, because there will be happy moments later- all you have to do is wait. Wait to grow up, wait to get into a good college, wait to leave your house, wait to get a good job, wait to be thin, wait to meet someone, fall in love and get married, wait for your life to start, to be something like a movie. It never is. So don’t wait. Grab what fleeting little you have. And make the most of it.

There’s a line in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind: “…because you’re such a child, Scarlett. A child crying for the moon. What would a child do with the moon if it got it?”

What would you do if you had the moon? What would you do if you had the moon?

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India, Offbeat & Personal

Fuck This Shit, Bro.

I went to the screening of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello the other day. It was my first time watching an opera, and I was reminded of Richard Gere’s dialogue in Pretty Woman: “People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.” I was in tears in the final act when Othello accuses Desdemona of adultery, calls her a whore repeatedly, and finally smothers her to death. I walked out of NCPA, overwhelmed by the experience, happy to have been introduced to the world of opera (thanks Gayatree!), and snobbishly declared: “While others watch stuff like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya, we watch Verdi’s Otello!”

The next day I dragged my brother with me to watch Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya.

As awful as the title may be, the movie was umm… awful-er, but who cares as long as I get to stare at the pretty Alia Bhatt for two hours (it’s a fascination thing, not lesbianism). So a huge chunk of the movie involves Alia running around Delhi, making MMS videos and what not, all to buy the perfect “designer lehenga” for her wedding. Because “local lehengas” are boring. And towards the end, when her Dad asks why she stuck to the fifty grand local one instead of the 2.5 lacs imported one (#FirstWorldProblems), she says, “Mere liye local hi accha hai. Designer suit nahi karta.” Aww.

And this finally brings me to the point of this entire rambling: To all my friends packing their bags to go off for their Masters degree at fancy Amreekan universities, let us vow not to become pretentious assholes.

In my four years at college, I had the dubitable joy of meeting several obnoxious faux Amreekan Indians- some didn’t have any Hindi songs on their iPods, some never spoke Hindi, some didn’t eat street food, and some didn’t watch Bollywood movies. If you’re one of these, and if it’s a matter of personal preference, fine, no problem. But if you’re doing it purely out of disdain for all that’s Indian… *read with an accent* You got problems, bruh.

A friend of mine told me: “If you become a pretentious douchebag after moving to New York, I will not only troll you, I will unfriend you.” Right. Keeping that in mind, I came up with a few random rules to follow while in the States:
1. Thou shalt not get an accent and start rolling your r’s within six months.
2. Thou shalt not start using words like YOLO, swag, bro, motherfucker, fuck this shit, etc. incessantly (or at all).
3. Thou shalt not look at Bollywood fans condescendingly.
4. Thou shalt not cringe or go “God, so vulgar!” on hearing a fellow Indian say “Kya ch****a hai, yaar.” It’s the Hindi equivalent of “What a fucking moron.” and you say it all the time.
5. On returning to India, thou shalt not say anything that starts with: “This country is so…” (It’s your country. Don’t talk like an effing tourist.)
6. Thou shalt not Americanize your name into a cool, short something and introduce yourself with that.

If you have any more, feel free to add. And if you are in America right now, guilty of any of these, go listen to some Honey Singh immediately. Or call up your Mum. Whatever.

Because no matter where you go, America or the Bora Bora islands, you’ll always be Indian. With all your little quirks like talking loudly and loving a good hackneyed Bollywood movie and always, always preferring hot and spicy food and wildly colourful clothes. Remember: Local hi accha hai, designer suit nahi karta.

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Reblogged

Maria Sharapova and the Unknown God of Cricket

Surashree:

Agreed with every well put point. Everyone needs to chill the fuck out and not blow this out of proportion.

Originally posted on Puns and Roses:

Tennis Ace (and Russian Beauty) Maria Sharapova in a recent interview said that she had never heard of Sachin Tendulkar.The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2012 - Day Nine

Sachin Tendulkar is India’s Cricket God and a global Ambassador for the sport. He’s broken almost every batting record in the cricket books and his career record is safe with him for at least the next 25 years. He was recently invited to the Royal Box as a Special Guest at Wimbledon.

The flat admittance from the former Wimbledon Champion has caused some sort of uproar in India coz apparently not knowing who Sachin Tendulkar is amounts to disrespect and insult of a man who is not only worshiped in India, but also held in the highest regard in the c10518648_796261810404542_3821327645841886991_nricket-loving nations.

And then begin the comparisons… Sachin has 4.4m followers on Twitter. Sharapova has 1.1m… She even has 7 million less likes than Sachin on her Facebook page. 

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India, Television

An Open Letter To Mr. Arnab Goswami

Dear Mr. Goswami,

I know that this has been done to death, that you probably receive a few thousand letters such as these every week, but I still wanted my thoughts out there. This is about the Newshour Debate (Part 1, Part 2) over the state government sponsored trip to the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Brazil for six Goa MLAs that aired on 12th June, 2014. Now the purported reason behind this trip was that this was to be a “study tour”, that the MLAs would go and “study traffic management” in Brazil and put this knowledge to good use in Goa. I use double quotes over certain words because anyone with half a brain can tell that this reason is utter bullshit. We all know and agree with you that this is an enormous waste of the exchequer’s money, yes, and we all watched in utter glee as you ripped apart Mr. Benjamin Silva (an independent MLA) over national television for being a part of this “study tour”. However, I’d like to point out that your behavior on the show was completely out of line… you, (currently) the most well-known journalist in India, were arrogant, churlish, patronizing and more a nagging, taunting, hateful wife than an intelligent journalist overseeing a debate, trying to get the facts right from both the sides.

You introduced Mr. Benjamin Silva with a “BENJAMIN SILVA! PUT HIM FULL FRAME ON THE SCREEN, PLEASE!…”, your voice dripping with condescension. You then proceeded to tell him how lucky he was, and if it were really true about the trip and that you had to pinch yourself to believe it (at this point, you really pinched yourself… wow.) These are a few other lines spouted by you during the entire hour-long debate:

“By sitting and watching a game, what will you learn?”

“Why have you been chosen? What kind of an answer is that? Use common sense, Sir.”

“Benjamin Silva is not a politician. Benjamin Silva is a prodigy and a magician rolled into one! Because Mr. Silva will walk into a match and with his prodigious abilities, he will look around the stadium once and he will immediately understand what is required for us to build a world class stadium!”

“Mr. Silva is not a normal human being! He is an absolute prodigy in the world of politics!”

“Benjamin Silva… you played football? What level? Junior National level? … Mr. Silva, we should get everyone who is like you then, including people who played school-level football… maybe you’ll end up representing the country in the next World Cup.”

“Mr. Silva is not answering… every time I ask him a question, his earpiece mysteriously falls off.”

“I am not warning you… I am telling you that if you go on this trip, you will be the laughing stock of the entire country, Mr. Silva.”

“Mr. Patra… no, don’t make three points. I have not allowed you to make three points. You’re not at an election rally, don’t make a speech.”

“Mr. Silva, if you have any sense of shame, you will pay for your own ticket!”

Sir, we all knew the reason given by the government was stupid; sending those MLAs on that trip on taxpayers’ money was wrong. That being said, there really was no need to be rude to Silva. I am not siding with him, nor do I have any particular reason to do so. However, as a journalist on one of the top news channels of India, I think one should follow a certain etiquette and decorum. When you yell and shout and make clever jokes like that, people laugh, sure, they even love you for it, but they lose the point you’re trying to make. Your show is highly entertaining, don’t get me wrong. My Dad still hobbles upstairs every night at 9 and sits glued to the television set, watching you nail politicians, party spokespersons, bureaucrats. And he loves your blunt style, the way you scream yourself hoarse day after day after day, the sheaf of papers in your hand waved indignantly all the time. And that is why you are popular, I guess. Because you make the debate an enjoyable watch. Because it is more about incessantly taunting and cursing India’s politicians, demanding that they resign, saying they are shameless fools right to their faces- something all Indians wish they could do. But where is the debate in all this? Where are the facts? Where are the reasons? It is all lost in the inane and loud bickering you and your panelists resort to every single time, making the viewers think “What the f*** is going on?” and chuckle and shake their heads at the futility of the entire charade.

You’re losing your credibility, Mr. Goswami. Or perhaps, you lost it a long time ago. I am not sure which is true. People are watching the debate only for your daily histrionics. If we are going to continue with that, why call it a debate at all? If being against you on the debate as a panelist means being berated with innumerable accusations and unnecessary name-calling, why should one be a part at all? Everyone should get a chance to speak their view- however wrong- without being railroaded under your opinion before they can open their mouths. Only then can we call it a debate, right?

It is entirely too possible that you may never read this. It is even more possible that you already know exactly what I am talking about… which makes me hope that your show will be more than just that someday. Until then, I really don’t think Times Now should be parading their new found tag of  “India’s Best News Channel” using you as their foreman.

Sincerely,
A bored and tired viewer.

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Reblogged

The Great Indian Rat Race!

Surashree:


Words from a simple and happy IITian. We all could use this kind of positivity in the frenzied rat race that is every Indian’s life.

Originally posted on ANIKET'S BLOG:

In the summer of last year, I was done with my Btech degree and was enjoying holidays with my family in Aurangabad. As usual in the evening, I went to play badminton at Tapdiya hall (there were 2 big halls, one was badminton court and the other one was big auditorium). I parked the car and went to play inside. When I came out, I couldn’t get the car out because the entire parking area was full. There were cars in all directions and there was no way that I could get out (The great Indian Planning :D). I didn’t have anything to do and had to wait till that program is over. This forced me to attend the program which was going on in the auditorium. It was about IIT Preparation for 5th to 10th standard students.

One of the teacher was giving a lecture about how to study…

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Offbeat & Personal

Pride & Prejudice.


I’ve never had an opinion about hospitals. You know how some people are scared or just plain hate them because it’s associated with some painful memory? Well, I’ve never had any. My childhood was pretty normal, devoid of any major accidents, and the most serious injury involved a minor arm fracture that healed well in time before my exams (sadly). 

My grandmother, my Awwa was hospitalized yesterday. That is where I am right now. Looking around this depressingly white, small, sad room. Smelling all the weird smells that come and go. Thinking what it must be like to be her. To be all of ninety years. To be fragile, and weak, and have your wrinkly skin barely hang off your bones. To wear the thin, light purple gown the hospital gave you, and not care that it does not even cover your chest or legs properly. To have nurses poke needles in you, and tell you it’s for your own good, while someone you love holds your hand and keeps theirs lightly over your forehead. To have swollen, black patches on your arm where those needles are poked. To have a catheter inside you, one that keeps falling off. To not care that the nurses leave the room curtains open every time they walk out, leaving you exposed to strangers. To be unreasonable, stubbornly so, about eating food. To not have anyone understand what you’re going through, nor be able to explain it. 

She needed a blood transfusion yesterday. What do you think was the first question my atya (father’s sister, my aunt) asked about this? “Whose blood are they giving her?” Irritated by the sheer stupidity of this, my Dad said, “A Muslim’s.” My aunt missed the sarcasm in his answer and proceeded to harangue Dad with her loud opinion of using a Muslim’s blood. “Summa kudu, Viju!” (Keep quiet, Viju!), said Awwa, out of nowhere, shocking us. Awwa, who had spent all her life hating Muslims, telling me and my brother never to marry one, grimacing every time I talked about any of my Muslim friends, and holding this prejudice proudly and unapologetically close to her heart… She told my aunt to shut up, implicitly saying that it did not matter to her.

We’re funny, all of us. We have so many names for each other. Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Jew, Israeli, Paki, backward, black, nigger, orthodox, liberal, slut, whore, nerd, loser, fat, stupid, ugly, skinny, bastard, asshole, a fucking moron. And yet, when we’re 90, writhing in pain on a hospital bed, hooked up to dead machines, waiting for our fucked up bodies to function properly, waiting for our mushed up brains to remember who these strangers around you are, waiting just to get through it all, foregoing all the prejudices we ever held, we turn into the names that were originally and always meant for us: Helpless. Weak. Human.

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Offbeat & Personal

Dude, Where’s MY Billion Dollars?


What will you do if you find a 50 paise coin on the road? Nothing, right? Alright. What about a 1 or 5 rupee coin? Or a 10 rupee note? How about a 100? Needless to say, most of us will grab the money and walk away, grinning foolishly. What do you think Bill Gates would do? Assuming it takes 3 seconds to bend down, pick up the money, and stand up straight again. Well, according to point no. 4 in this article, Bill Gates makes $114.67  per second. That’s 114.67*60=   Rs. 6880. In a second. And there are 86,400 seconds in a day. And, also, that article was almost a year old, so that number has to be adjusted for inflation. Also, I make a little more than 3 lacs p.a. So it takes Bill Gates almost 45 seconds to make how much I do IN A YEAR. YES. THAT’S HOW CRAZILY, INSANELY, AWESOMELY, DEPRESSINGLY, SELF-ESTEEM-SHATTERINGLY RICH BILL GATES IS.

So why am I harping on about Bill Gates on this lovely Saturday afternoon? That’s because I only just saw this video in which Neil deGrasse Tyson uses basic Math to explain exactly how rich Bill Gates is to all the muggles in the audience:

Billion. Buh-illion. With a B. 50 of those. With nine effing zeroes.

And this reminded me of my post (Look Ma, No IIT Background!) where I was harping on about another rich guy- Satya Nadella- also of the Microsoft fraternity, and about how his salary was a 100 crores; I basically brushed the little trivia off in a pretentious I-don’t-really-care-about-money-who-is-Satya-Nadella-really-come-on manner, and forgot all about it till I came across this funny/sad video.

So to sum up my babbling in two words: Fuck complacency. Fuck leading a small, tranquil life with the ones you love. Why should one person alone be allowed to be worth $50 billion dollars? Screw you, Mr. Gates. Where’s my money? Where’s yours? It’s out there. Somewhere. Going round and round in the world. So go out, work your ass off, and get those billion dollars. Easier said than done, yes, but you know what’s easier? Doing nothing about it. Anyhoo. I was never very good at pep talk or inspirational speeches. So all I can say is: Don’t be happy with what you have. Screw that. Work, work, work. You may not make a billion dollars, but hey, a billion-adjacent isn’t bad either, right? Definitely beats only dreaming about it. 

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