Digital Drainage

Ding! Ding!

I get a notification on my phone. I rush across the room to get it and excitedly unlock it.

‘Your friend Jill Walgast has just joined Instagram’.

‘KittyCuddles just started a live video. Watch it before it ends’.

Sigh.

I open Facebook to be bombarded by misogynistic memes posted by some uncle.

I then open Twitter, only to be barraged by political rants, fake news and media outrage.

I open Instagram to be swarmed by screenshots of twitter rants along with pizza memes, cats, beach photos and food all with vintage filters too!

Social media may be a powerful tool which has its redeeming benefits, yet most of the time it feels like getting to the good stuff involves wading through a cesspit of swampy digital drainage.

Two weeks ago, I uninstalled all social media apps on my phone, and now we don’t have TV at home either. I didn’t delete my accounts (I’ve tried that before) but if I need to access them, I go on my laptop. It has been absolutely blissful.

Right away, it has freed up so much of my time, especially my so-called ‘leisure time’ which started with having ‘a quick glace’ at my Instagram feed and ended up stretching to a few solid hours of mindless scrolling. And that’s the most dangerous thing about social media. The fact that it is seemingly so innocuous. I think to myself, ‘a couple of pictures and memes, how could it hurt?’ I end up filling my head with garbage and care about things that don’t matter or get outraged about small things because of the collective mob mindset.

Not having that distraction has lead me to creating more time for meditation and reading books. It has helped me direct my energies in other channels. I’m learning Android and getting things checked off my ‘Want To Try Some Day’ list. I have even started spending more time with my family. I used to be boarded up in my room a.ka. my personal cave. I didn’t like going out or talking to other humans (I will hisss at you if you attempt to start a conversation with me). Now I find myself going for long walks and even smiling at strangers! Shocking.

I’ve also noticed that I don’t get irritated as easily or react to things as I’ve done before. When I used to meditate, if someone makes even an inkling of a sound, I will rage and rain fury and wrath upon that poor person. Kind of defeats the whole purpose of meditation…

Now, I’m so zen I could probably meditate through a sandstorm in the middle of a Screamo concert. Actually probably not… Maybe a Coldplay concert..

 

 

 

 

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Merhaba Internetten Halki

Neden sen türkçe konuşmaya başladın?!
Gizli bir Türk sevgilin var mi?
Türkiye'ye taşincek misin?
...yoksa sen tamamen deli mi?

Yok annem! sakin ol! ben deli değilim.
Gerceklik? Benim çok fazla zamanim var...


So I have been learning Turkish for the past few months. 
And it all started when I came across this show called 'Al Yazmalim'(or The Girl with the Red Scarf). It was this romantic drama about two young people from the Turkish countryside. The show was alright plot wise, but somehow, I found myself getting hooked to it.
Eventually I got up to episode three I think, before 'Gaaspp, no more subtitles'. I was watching it on Youtube and could not find subtitles ANYWHERE after the third episode, which if you ask me, is probably the most evil thing that someone could do.
I mean if I had known that there were only subtitles until the third episode I wouldn't have started watching in the first place! Now how do I get to know what happened to Asiye and Ilyas? If they were torn apart by their family or did they finally get together?
After contemplating the situation, I came to the obvious conclusion that all that was left for me to do is to learn Turkish. So I went on Duolingo and have been hacking away at it for a few months now. 
I've also gotten hooked on other Turkish TV shows. My favorite by far is 'Kara Para Aşk'.It has suspense, romance, crime and drama.. the whole works. I've finished watching the entire series and I absolutely loved it. Ne harika bir dizi! Cok sevdim! And recently I've started watching 'Babacan Dir' which is lighter and more of a rom-com. 
Turkish culture is quite similar to Indian culture and its language similar to Indian languages yet their TV shows are about a billion times better.
As far as learning Turkish goes, I have progressed a lot, but my goal is to be able to watch and understand the show without subtitles.
I did that with the pakistani show 'Zindagi Gulzar hai' and was surprised to find that I understood Urdu.. 

Letting Go

Dimpled cheeks,

rosy lips,

curly hair,

very fair,

Like the nursery rhyme,

Innocence was carved on his face

 

A knight in shining armour,

A grizzly bear,

Thor’s hammer,

and Poseidon’s hair,

Thunder met lightning

                  As he lifted her in the air

 

He swept her off her feet,

   He placed her on a crag,

      high above the clouds,

         Where no one could find them,

      Not even the crows he avowed

 

As he held her hand,

He whispered, ‘don’t let go’,

But she took a step back,

And they both fell hard,

Into the abyss below

 

 

 

That Time Grandma Was Possessed

About one month back, I went to visit my grandmother’s native village along with my family. While we were there, we went to a cousin’s neighboring village. This visit rehashed a strange, creepy incident that occurred with my grandmother when she was a little girl. Both my dad and my grandma told me this story many times before, but this time it was almost surreal because we were all gathered around in the very house where it happened.

The story goes like this…

When my grandma was a little girl of about 6 or 7, she went to the neighboring village for a relative’s wedding. It was a small village and nearly everyone knew each other so it was normal to pay a visit to all the houses. So they (my grandma and her mom) happened to visit a family friend’s house.

As soon as she entered the house, her behavior changed. She became lively and she went around to all the family members in that house and addressed them by name calling them ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’ and ‘grandpa’. She had never been to that house before.

At first, people thought that someone must have told her all their names and she was just being an excited little girl. But gradually, they started to worry and the worry turned into full-blown panic as she began describing, in detail, certain events that happened in that family that she would have no way of knowing. She went around the house exclaiming ‘this is my bedroom!’ ‘this is the garden’ and ‘this is the well where we used to play!’.  She told one of the women, ‘I was there at your wedding, remember?’. She hadn’t even been born at the time of the wedding. Yet she described these events in first person, as though she was actually there. People tried to reason with her, including her mother; but her behavior was so strange, its like she was possessed.

Her sudden, strange and inexplicable behavior continued and nobody knew what to do. This was during the fifties in a village in India, so they went and fetched the village priest/shaman of sorts… basically a witch doctor. He hypnotized her and made her fall asleep. When she woke up, she couldn’t remember a thing. She was back to normal and had no memory of the things she said.

Interestingly, in that same house, a girl had drowned in the well and died. This happened exactly seven years ago. Although my grandmother never had that experience again, to this day, the family of the dead girl truly believe that their daughter had been reincarnated. As my grandmother.

I’m getting goosebumps as I type this. Creepy…

I have read about souls being reincarnated and being drawn to certain people or places from their previous births and I’m not alarmed by it. But this incident is unnerving because it happened within my own family and its just so graphic.

That being said, here is the view from the front yard of grandparents’ house: 🙂

So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen

No, I’m not actually going anywhere. But Its that time of year again! You know.. the end of the academic year. For me, the end of my B.Tech days. The end of four years of the drama that comes as part and parcel of being an engineering student in India.

Its also the time of tearful goodbyes, bear hugs(even that random guy in your class you spoke to once in your lifetime), farewell pictures with vintage-y filters and extra-long posts on Facebook detailing your nostalgia and proclaiming the everlasting bond you share with your friends.

Something along the lines of…

What an awsum 4 yrs of dosti, masti, freindship, love and hartbreakk! I can not forget all the crazy stuffs we been through and highs and lows shared with my bestieeeees < 3 < 3!! Yea guys, ve can never get this time back..gonna remember dis COLLEGE DAYS for rest of our lyf!! I’ll nvr forget this place… our sweet home… though many complaints LOL (bintuu)!!! 😉 we are finally ‘engineers’ LOL we did it guys!!!! Ve all gonna be friends 4 lyf.. mwwahhh. I am missing this alreadyy.. I will treasure dese special moments and just remember guyss.. no regrets! All of us will be busy with our lives and stress over jobs and and career and dose times we will look back at our college days and it will put a smile on our face.  :-)#farewelll #finalyear #missing scene’s#collegelyf #friendship #engineers #bestieees #BFFFFsss #letsrock and so on and so forth…

Now its all “yes lets totally be friends forever, we are definitely going to keep in touch(duh) because theres email and facebook and whatsapp and skype, definitely going to have an awesome reunion every year no matter how busy we are with  our lives and it will be awesome and at some point take a trip around the world and we are going to kill it at your wedding and you are totally going to be my future childrens’ godparent.”

Give me a break. I’ve heard it all.

Around two months later, you get a notification from facebook saying its your classmate’s birthday. Oh yea. them. Better go send out the customary ‘Happy Birthday [insert smiley emoji]’ message, only to get a reply going ‘wait.. who are you again?’.

I’m not saying we whitewash and sugarcoat everything but suddenly its like those teachers who literally tortured us? They weren’t all that bad…In fact lets all sing ‘To sir, with love’.

That time we got suspended for protesting over gross mistreatment by management ? That was great ‘character building’.

And those rats that were running around in the hostel mess? They were more like our pets really.

Even though I may not get all sentimental and sappy (I can’t say it was the best time of my life) I must say that overall, it has been a crucial time period for me. Crazy shit has done down. True. And in the process I have learned a lot about myself. I’m happy because its also a new beginning. Working as an intern, trying to figure out what I’m going to do with myself, also going to be moving out, and for the first time.. trying to be a legit adult. Will see how this goes.

So heres a hearty farewell to what has been an eventful chapter in my life. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen. Cheers.

 

That being said, here is a rendition of To Sir, With Love.

 

 

 

A Sparkling Diwali Sans Sparklers

Its Diwali season! Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights. And as long back as I can remember, whether it was in my grandparents house in India or in California, Diwali time always meant shopping, good food and lots of fireworks! Although I was never really sure what it signified (I was never told); there are so many varying myths and legends associated with the festival.

Sadly, Diwali has just taken on a completely different meaning nowadays. Rather, it has become sort of meaningless. Today, Diwali isn’t even about the lights and glowing diyas anymore. Its just people bursting loud and disrupting firecrackers, bombs and rockets and in general creating a lot of pollution and disturbance because its supposed to be ‘fun’.

Reasons Why You Should Not Burst Crackers this Diwali:

  1. Air pollution: Sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides in the air mix with water and you get acid rain. If you have ever seen the air just after Diwali, its like a gas chamber. It takes a really long time for these gases to go away.
  2. Noise pollution: Sometimes it gets so loud, your ears are literally become numb. It may lead to hearing deficiencies and probably deafness.
  3. Adverse health defects: These harmful acidic chemicals can lead to health defects such as respiratory problems. Kids, elderly people and pregnant women are affected the most.
  4. The garbage: It’s not like the streets of India are the cleanest places ever, but after Diwali it looks like a tornado hit the city. And who cleans up all that trash?
  5. Animals: On Diwali night, you won’t see a single bird in the sky. Dogs are really sensitive to the noise and get scared away as well. If not for the environment, at least think about the helpless animals.
  6. It contributes to global warming: Maybe not at a large scale, but all the greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere at once will affect the ozone layer!
  7. Worst of all: Small kids (as young as four) are making these firecrackers under hazardous conditions at minimum wages at a place called Sivakasi in Southern India in order to meet the demand for them during Diwali season. Many of these kids are held in bonded labor and don’t attend school. These children suffer from respiratory diseases, tuberculosis, malnutrition, bone injuries and a host of other maladies.

It was not until years later, when I discovered spirituality, that I came to understand that Diwali actually signifies the triumph of good over evil, of righteousness over treachery, of truth over falsehood, but most importantly it represents the triumph of light over darkness. If fact, it is said be celebrated on the darkest night of the darkest time period. I like to think the ‘light’ here is really the light in the innermost core of our hearts. The divine spark within all of us that shines even during the darkest of times. If you think about it, (minus all the rituals and religious dogmas associated with it) it is a really awesome and beautiful festival to be celebrated.

I feel like people are completely forgetting the real meaning of Diwali  and are instead heading into a continuous downward spiral of destruction without any real values. There is no sense of responsibility or accountability for nature, our environment or even humanity any more. Just baseless religious dogma. Having to say this is pretty awful and just sad, especially as a young person.  😦

I haven’t taken part in any of it in the past four years that I was in India. I always sat inside or on the driveway, watching my family and friends bursting firecrackers, yet refusing to participate. Of course, I never told anyone off or openly voiced my opinions about it because let’s face it: nobody wants to be the party-pooper or rain on everyone’s parade (or in this case their sparklers and chakras and hydrogen bombs and 1000 walas and bijili rockets). But lately, I have realized that standing on the sidelines watching, isn’t really good enough. It is NOT the best I can do. So I want to spread the word around and let everyone know.

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”-Albert Einstein

Where In The World Am I From?

Whenever someone asks me where I’m from, my immediate response is Chennai! This noisy, humid, beautiful, dirty sweltering and diverse city with its sandy shores, idli sambhar stalls and insane bus drivers has been my home for more than seven years now. Whether I like it or not, this city has definitely grown on me. But of course, most ‘Chennaites’ react to this with raised eyebrows and an expression amounting to “Riiight… so where are you really from?”

They know you are not really from around these parts. They can smell it.

When I proceed to explain that I’m originally from Hyderabad, its all “Ohhh telenguu, like hyderabaaadi biryaaani?” or “ohh reddy garu, so your family are basically like factionists right?”.

Yes that’s right. All I eat is Hyderabadi biryani. Also my family basically goes around in white Sumos wielding hand grenades and terrorizing people (thanks a lot Tollywood). 🙂

Yet even this doesn’t seem to explain my contradicting ‘accent’. So when I explain that I grew up in the US of A then its suddenly “oh..nice.” when really they are thinking “Jeez an NRI(non resident indian); another stuck-up, bratty, clueless foreign return from one of those international schools. Another annoying snob who perpetually goes on about how Starbucks is superior to Coffee Day and complains about everything from the spicy food to the lack of air-conditioned bathrooms yet doesn’t know the difference between chai and chutney. Probably thinks she’s better than everyone else too.”

At which point, the next question is always “Which state in US?”

Well, California (for the most part), to which the reaction is like “ohh, the west coast! Hollywood! So you must go surfing like all the time and meet lots of hollywood stars”

Nope. Not really. I actually have never surfed before. Sorry.

…and Georgia: “I know! Like Hillbillies yaaa’ll (with drawn out Southern accent). Did you ever get mugged by those ‘black Americans’? Isn’t everyone like super racist there?”

No. Just no.

What I began to realize is that it doesn’t matter what I say; It doesn’t matter which corner of this planet I am from. My whole character and personality, my entire identity as an individual will be reduced to some preconceived stereotype. There is literally a stereotype about every single country/state/city in this Earth. No one really escapes from it:

Gujjus: money minded

Punjabi: loud, party and drink a lot

Bengalis: miserly, eat fish

Mallu: coconut oil and banana chips

Tamilian: Enna rascalaa?!

Sri Lankan: pirates

Chinese: kung-fu, noodles. Commies.

Russians: vodka. Also commies

Welsh: Sheep shaggers

English: stiff upper lip, lot of ‘football’

Irish: loud, drink a lot. gingers.

Swiss: banks and cows and chocolate.

Japanese: anime, eat anything that moves.

Australians: ride kangaroos and say things like ‘dunny’, ‘thong’, and ‘barbie’.

Canadians: boring.

Jamaicans: reggae music and weed

Iran: terrorists

etc.

There is no escape.

So.. where in the world am I from?

Well, does it really matter?

Did the universe conspire to define and limit me based on some external factors of the environment in which I was born and raised in? I don’t fit into any stereotypes and I like myself that way! Sure, I’m unique. I’m one of a kind. I got no labels or tags. Should we really be judging people and creating barriers based on some generalized bigoted notion of who they are? How about being a global citizen of this planet instead?

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

For the record, I love all my madrasis, mallus, telugus, kannadigas, gujjus, punjabis, bongs, marathis, chinkis, kiwis, aussies, brits, scotts, irish, desis, latinos canucks, frenchies, serbs, ruskies, Africans, hillbillies, yankees,  and everyone in between. ❤