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.
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.
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.
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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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.
A refreshing new angle.
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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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.
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.