Of Dumb Thoughts & Smartphones.


My iPhone developed the non-functional Sleep/Wake button bug last week (all Android users reading this post, yes, go ahead and congratulate yourselves on your wise choices), so I decided to take it to the Apple Service Center. Now, if I was in the US, this is probably what would have happened-

Me: Hi. My iPhone has a faulty Lock button, I need to get it replaced.
Service Center Guy: Alright. Lemme just check if it’s in warranty. Yup, yup, it is. Submit your old phone, please, and just sign this paper here. Here’s your replacement.
Me: Oh, thank you! *walk out staring at the gorgeous new phone, wondering what just happened, crazy, smug expression plastered all over face*.

But I am in India. Bharat. And this is what actually happened-

Me: Hi. My iPhone has a faulty Lock button, I need to get it replaced.
Service Center Aurat: Do you have the purchase invoice?
Me: Erm. No…? Can’t you just look up the Serial Number in Settings and check online?
SCA: Yeah, I can.. But that’s for my reference, no? (whatever that means)
…ten minutes pass…
SCA: Yes. Okay. It’s in warranty. You will have to submit your old phone. You’ll get your replacement on Monday.
Me: Whaa? That’s next week! Could you at least give me a loaner phone?
SCA: No, sorry. Why would we do that?
Me: Because it says so on the website?
SCA: Kya? Show me, please?
<Insert long, lengthy, in vain argument (think: The Newshour With Arnab Goswami) where I show her the loaner thing on Apple’s Support page, she says we don’t do that sorry, I go so what am I supposed to do without a phone, she says we are really very sorry, and I say but what will I do without a phone! blar blar blar… Long, lengthy, in vain argument ends with her basically saying, “Look. Do you want a replacement or not?”>

This was last Wednesday. I spent four glorious days without a phone. Yes. I was phone-less. And I realized, not once did I have the following thoughts in that period:

“Oh, do I have a Whatsapp message?”
“No. No messages.”
“Let’s check Facebook. Huh. No new notifications.”
“Ooh. SMS. Fuck. Two grand Vodafone bill. How, how?”
“He didn’t call.”
“Still hasn’t called.”
“Why won’t he call?”
“Why won’t this effing Tweet go?”
“Battery low. Damn it!”
“New pic on Instagram up for 6 hours now. No likes. Bah.”
“Fine, I’ll just text him.”
“Okay, what’s his Last Seen At?”
“Online and won’t reply. Bastard.”
“New mail! Flipkart.com- Explore the handpicked summer collection… Delete.”
“Die Flappy Bird! DIE!”
“Phone ringing! Okay. It’s just Mum.”

And these are the thoughts my Mum and Dad had during this period:

“Where is she?”
“Who is she with?”
“Why did she buy that stupid phone?!”
“Call her friend! Call right now!”
“Who, WHO is she with?”

So, you see, kids. Life without a phone is much better. Not for your parents, of course. But let’s leave that out. Moral of the story is: Look up from your fancy cell phones. Look at the people around you. Talk to them. We are more than the phones we carry and obsess over. Learn to live lif- ooooh, he texted! Gotta go, bye.

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It Was Mother’s Day. What Happened Next Will Amaze You.

Ashish Shakya

According to a recent scientific study about the human race, mothers are kinda sorta important in life. They spend their lives caring for the next generation, spurring them on to go forth and conquer and also get a haircut and what is that shirt you’re wearing and what you’re going to a party you must be doing drugs are you doing drugs tell me the truth I’m your mother I always know when you’re lying to me (Hah. No, you don’t) and oh god who will clear these plates DO I LOOK LIKE YOUR SERVANT OR WHAT OKAY DON’T ANSWER THAT YOU CHEEKY BAS… well, you get the idea.

On that joyous Mother’s Day note, I’d first like to say to all the mothers reading this – and I mean this in the nicest possible way – you’re insane. Why else would you sign up for what is essentially a…

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Masquer


He looks like a child when he sleeps. Eyes shut tight, his chest rising and falling slowly, the quiet in our room punctuated only with the soft sound of his breathing, the sheets twisted over his body haphazardly, right leg sticking out at an awkward angle.

I sit up and watch him. I watch him and I fight the urge to take his head in my lap and kiss his forehead. He has an unbelievably large head. Full of curly brown hair. The same head that was nestled in the crook of my neck only a few hours ago, kissing me, whispering my name over and over.

He’s eleven years older. He’s French. He’s a professor of French and Roman Philosophy at NYU. I mentally list the things I know about him. The things I like about him. Maybe love.

It looks like he is dreaming. Or maybe I hope he is dreaming. About me. About the past few days. About the je t’aime I was tracing on his back last night, half-hoping he wouldn’t notice, and half-hoping he would.

I wonder what it would be like if I could read his thoughts? What would it be like if we could all read each other’s thoughts? All our little emotions, hopes, fears, dreams laid bare for everyone to see. I feel so alone, I haven’t had sex in so long, I hope I get accepted into Juillard, I can’t make rent this month, I desperately need a hit, I wish my parents were proud of me, I wish I had worked harder, I really need a job, I really love her, but how do I say it, I don’t love him, how do I end it, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to live… Millions, billions of thoughts. And we could read each one of them. No lies. No masks.

I take one side of the blanket and tuck it beneath his unruly leg. That seems to wake him up. He opens his eyes, finds me looking right into them, and smiles. Bonjour, he says.

Were you dreaming about something? I ask.

Non. Get ready. I am going to be late for class.

The Great Indian Poli-trick.


A refreshing new angle.

Epiphany in the Cacophony

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It was an unhappy union from the start. They disagreed on everything. The budget, the expenditure, the policies, the goals. And yet, they stayed together for years, fighting to be the louder voice, the stronger presence, the one that commanded more respect.
Year after year, the walls of the parliament became more of a house than a home. They hurled abuses, slammed doors, threw chairs. Dysfunctional. They knew it too. But they stayed together. For the child, they said. They called her India.

India grew up watching her parents fight. The only child in a joint family, many members fought to have a say in how she should be brought up. Every five years, she would be forced to choose between them.
Everyone recognised the symptoms of election time. Flags and banners carrying the lotus and the palm would adorn every street in India. The sounds of passionate campaigning on…

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A hand at fiction.


I don’t know where this is coming from. It’s just something I started writing, and kept writing. Read on.

****

Definition. An architectural style is a named collection of architectural design decisions that (1) are applicable in a given development context, (2) constrain architectural design decisions that are specific to a particular system within that context, and (3) elicit beneficial qualities in each resulting system.

Wait… what? An architectural style. Named collection of architectural design decisions. Okay. Named collection. Design decisions. Okay. That are applicable in a given development context. Hmm. Applicable. Given development context. Fuck, this is so goddamn boring. Anyway. And constrain architectural …damn, this is a long word… decisions that are speci-

Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding 

The doorbell went off. Once. A five second pause. Then again. Incessantly. I wasn’t going to get it. I was studying, wasn’t I?

“Arvinda! Open the door! Have you gone deaf?” yelled Amma from inside the kitchen.

“I am STUDYING! I have my practicals in two days!”

“It must be Vineeta… Can’t even open the door. Useless.” muttered Amma, and rushed out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her orange cotton saree. ‘Yoos-less’ she muttered once more, as she opened the door, her frown quickly turning into a smile on seeing my precious elder sister.

“HULLO!” says Vineeta, bounding inside, grinning from ear to ear, flashing her inked middle finger, hugging mum like she’d been away for a month. She was always like this. Hyper. Too excited, too worked up over little things. Fine, you voted for the first time. So what? What’s there to hug and kiss about?

“See! Seee!” Vineeta’s showing her middle finger to Amma, a thick blue line at the top, some of it on her expensively-manicured yellow nail (Who puts yellow nail polish? Weirdo).

Sick. I pick up my phone, log into Facebook, just to avoid looking at the stupid scene before me. I scroll down my Timeline mindlessly, before, argh- her selfie with the same stupid finger. But, of course. ‘Did my bit! #GotInked’ she captioned it. I looked at her photo. Thick, curly, messy hair. Pink, flushed cheeks, high cheekbones. Perfect eyebrows. Fair. I guess she was pretty. Definitely pretty by Nayar family standards. Especially pretty by loser-engineering-student-brother standards. Add a high-paying job at Microsoft to all that prettiness and what you get is gushing, super-proud parents. Proud of her, by the way. And tired of me.

I was in my second year at Fr. Agnel. Struggling through Computer Engineering. I hated it. Hated the courses, the teachers, even the overachievers I never talked to in my class. There is only so much you can mug up. And there is only so much of ‘Look at your Akka!’ that you can take from your parents. She had been a topper in her college. A comps person, same as me. And I used to console myself thinking, ‘Eh. So she can mug up stuff real nice. Big deal. That doesn’t prove she’s smart.’ Until she went and got placed at Microsoft. Bitch.

“Where’s Dad? Hiya Arvinda! You didn’t vote, did you?” she taunts me, tousling my hair like I was a 6-year-old. No, I didn’t vote. I didn’t get into the whole Modi-Kejriwal-Rahul-Gandhi hype. I didn’t care. The BJP isn’t going to help me get through my vivas day-after-tomorrow. Neither is AAP, or the Congress.

“No, I didn’t. Now stop showing off so much” I tell her. She sticks her tongue out and gets her dumb iPhone out. She bought that with her own salary, my parents tell every relative who is willing (or unwilling, for that matter) to listen.

Bzzz. My sad nine-grand phone buzzes.

Whatsapp from Tanvi: Did you vote, loser? I just did!

 No I didn’t, bitch. Go study for the vivas. 

Fuck them. Let’s go get drunk. I am in a good mood! 

Coz you voted? Sheesh.  

Uhh. Yeah? 

I gotta study. Bye. 

Why so serious? 

Sick of sister who just voted. Kinda sad coz I wish I had too. 

I told you! Didn’t I tell you to get off your ass and apply for a Voter’s card? I told you! Now be sad. 

Whatever. It’ll pass. Have to study. Later. 

Of course it’ll pass. Who has the time to think about elections? I have bigger problems.

And constrain architectural decisions that are specific to a particular system within that context. Decisions. Particular system within that context. Particular system. Context.

****

Happy!


Bzzz bzzz.

4:35 am.

Fumbling for phone.

Have it in hand now. Right. Open Mail. Struggle to read through groggy eyes.

“Congratulations… ”

…Whassat? Holy shit, I got in. Oh my god, oh my god. I got in! I got in!

That was one minute of my life yesterday. One minute spent entirely being absolutely, and purely happy. Research tells us that we spend 46 percent of our waking time dreaming about a different world, with different, better circumstances, and that this mind-wandering is a sign of unhappiness. Well, guess what. I’ve been spending about 109 percent of my time over the last four months dreaming of an acceptance letter from one of the 8 schools I applied to for their Masters programme. “Dreaming” is kinda an understatement. Pulling my hair out, checking my mail ten times a day, cyber-stalking edulix.com and thegradcafe.com, boring friends to death with my sad whining… yeah, that about covers it. But that one minute yesterday kinda made up for it. I am happy. Not thinking, “God, why didn’t I apply to more schools?”, or “How the f*** did he get into USC?!” or “I am pretty sure the stupid admissions committee is making paper planes out of my application.” Nope, nope, none of that. I am happy.

So the follow-up to that one minute looked something out of Pharrell Williams’ video Happy: (jump to 2:22, I am the guy with the mad afro)



So if you are where I was pre-4:35 am yesterday- an obsessive and neurotic pain in the neck for everyone around you, I am not going to tell you to be anything otherwise. Just know that when you finally, FINALLY get that acceptance letter, all that paranoia, all those “I hate XYZ college and I hate America!” moments disappear. All you’re left with is being happy.

(And more day-dreaming, of course.)

Legen-ehhh-not-so-much-dary. (Spoilers)

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Nine years. Nine seasons. Loads of extraordinary, funny, sweet moments. Even more of crappy ones. But we hung on. Right till the last episode. Right till 15 mins ago, when the series- instead of wrapping the end with a neatly-tied ribbon and handing it to us- stood up and shot itself in the face.

How I Met Your Mother was never about being cool. Or taking life too seriously. Let’s face it, it was always for the dreamers, for the idealist romantics who believed that in a population of 7 billion, there really truly is one person meant for them. That is why we rooted for Ted. Because he believed. Against all odds, against all heartbreaks, he believed. And we kinda adored that quality of his. And we really couldn’t dream of anyone being with him but the mother- once she finally showed up, that is. 

And she did show up. Finally. “Oh, the mother is revealed!” “But she isn’t as pretty as Robin!” Yep, we were all disappointed (at least I was), but slowly and steadily, the writers managed to make us like her, see how perfect she was for Ted- how perfectly dorky and adorable… how they both just fit. We forgot that Robin was supposed to be the one. So much so that when Robin says to Ted, “Maybe you’re the one I am supposed to be with!” in the second-last episode, we feel, “Umm. No. You’re with Barney now. Ted’s supposed to be with the bass player.”

See, that’s what HIMYM did for us. It made us believe in destiny. It made us believe that all the small and large events happening around us are connected in some marvelously convoluted way that we will never perceive or comprehend. That they’re all leading to one giant happy ending. That it all just works out in the end. Because it has to. It will.

So, guess what. The mother’s name is revealed to be Tracy McConnell (Why? Why reveal her name?!). Marshall is offered a judgeship once again a few years later. He has a 3rd baby with Lily (seriously, why was that useless subplot needed? Don’t they have enough kids already?). Barney and Robin get divorced (Remember the beautiful episode in which Barney asks Robin to marry her? Now think of that. And weep.) Oh, also, Barney has a child out of wedlock, and spouts some completely bullshit, cheesy lines to the baby girl, and miraculously becomes a good guy (The writers of Heyy Babyy should be looking to sue). Ted and Tracy wait for 5 years to get married (for reasons I am not really sure of). And then, a few years later, she dies. Tracy dies. The mother dies. Awesome.

At that point, this is what I was thinking: “Nooooo! They killed the mother???” And before I could close my open mouth, Ted’s daughter goes and says, “Dad. Just say it. You’re thinking of asking out Aunt Robin!” That is when I was the mental equivalent of a Bollywood/Hindi-soap-opera-esque ‘Nahiiii!

Terrible. Terribly disappointing. Disappointingly terrible. Can’t. Get. Over. It. 

When a show that has gone on for so long, and one which has received such popularity ends, it’s hard to let go. All those ‘I don’t know what to do with my life anymore’ memes seem bang on. But this? This was total and utter bullshit. 

Farewell, HIMYM. It was a great ride, but it wasn’t legendary.