Thirty-two issues, a year and a half, infinitely many memories, and here we are: the last article on Killer Queen before Riot goes on hiatus. In my previous article, I spoke about being “better”; and in a similar vein, I want to talk here about my growth as a writer and how I found my voice.
Originally, Killer Queen was going to be a column focusing on economic articles because that’s what I thought I’d be interested in writing; my first article for Riot Mag was about the economic situation in India due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But if you look at my more recent articles, they’re completely different. They’re broader, more personal, and more socio-political. This brings me to my one key takeaway as a writer: the significance of change.
You’re not going to be the same writer that you start as; you’re going to grow and learn from your mistakes. But you will eventually find your lane. To be completely honest, I am not a fan of my early articles, especially the ones where I talk about how my life was different as an only child (Issue 6) and complain about my school (Issue 8). Sure, those pieces were about things I wanted to talk about, but they weren’t relevant to anyone else.
My first article about economics was too disconnected from myself, and subsequent articles ended up being too connected to me. But as the issues went on, with the help of our head Brishti and my peers, I learned how to give an article purpose while also making it relevant to myself. Two examples of this are my pieces about sentimental obsessions (Issue 13) and hobbies (Issue 11). This is when I started giving my articles structure.
Sometimes I forget that although I write for myself, my work has to have some substance for people to gain something from. In Issue 15, for example, I wrote a really lengthy, overburdened article about what my personal relationships mean to me specifically. Since then, I have made it a point to write only when I have something concrete to write about; and I think it is important to realise that you’re not going to be able to become the best writer that you can be without failure and practice.
Now, most of the articles I enjoy writing fall under two categories - personal and socio-political. The pieces about my anxiety issues (Issue 12) and problems with validation (Issue 29) are two instances where I have managed to write about something personal, vulnerable, and true to myself. The two-parters on implementing targets and limitations in our lifestyles (Issues 24 & 27) and academic expectations in India (Issues 17 & 18), as well as a critique of the racism in the Jungle Book (Issue 30), are examples of my more serious political pieces. This is the style I have found works best for me as a writer, and when Killer Queen returns (yes, we will be back), it’s what I will be focusing on.
I hope I could give you a glimpse into how we’re all growing with practice as writers and how purpose is one of the most important building blocks of an article. Our style, voice, and audience can evolve and transform, and it’s important to not confine ourselves to a box.
Killer Queen has been something that I never could have perceived in my wildest imagination. I never thought I’d get this far as a writer, or even have a platform to do so. So, I cannot end this piece without stating how thankful I am to my friends. If I’m the Killer Queen, then For Better or for Verse would be my royal advisor and poet, Between the Notes would be my constant right hand, Magnify would be my royal artist and painter, Intricate Connections would be my royal scientist, Aléatoire would be my royal duchess, and Goodness Gracious would be my royal family. Only with all of these parties can we form the royal court (I adore metaphors). Give these columns a read; I'm sure you'd like them!
Riot Mag and Killer Queen are the best things that have happened to me, and I cannot thank my peers enough for all the help and support they have given me. I cannot stress how much I have grown and improved as a writer, and how every writer out there has the potential to do the same. I thank each and every one of you for reading my pieces, and I hope that Riot Mag will be back soon with a blast. But until then, I wish that this article and this column have been of some benefit to you. And with that the Riot season comes to an end, good night. :)
In the words of the band Queen, in their song Killer Queen,
“She's a Killer Queen
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
I don't know if I blew your mind, but I sure hope I could tingle it.
New Year, Same me
In fact, I had several ideas to write about for this issue, ranging from “Why cars suck” to “TV shows and mature audiences”. Then, I realised that there's a time and place for these articles, because traffic and the scarring effect of Euphoria are both problems that I have strong opinions upon, but those are for next year. For now, I want to talk about something more personal that I think a lot of you may benefit from hearing. For now, I think I have something more pressing to address, the end of a better year of my life.
Notice I said better and not best, because this year has been defined by that very word. 2022 was my “better” year.
If I wrote a poem about 2022, growth would be a major theme, and it would have a consistently comforting and personal tone. It’d have an atmosphere of change, motifs of “me vs myself”, and a rhyme scheme that involved multiple rhyming couplets. I am a different person from what I was a year ago, and that’s because I learnt from my mistakes and tried to do better for myself and the people around me. I let my hair grow out, unapologetically (ironic, since I got a haircut recently).
I think it is important to realise that it’s unrealistic for things to be “the best”. Going into the next year, I want to learn from this year and work towards being better. I don’t think it's possible to be an “all-round, brand new, completely redesigned person” at the start of a new year because no one can be perfect, but we can strive to be better.
Instead of focusing on making big resolutions and saying old cliches like “new year, new me”, it is more significant to be “New year, working-on-being-better-while-knowing-it's- impossible-to-get -there-immediately- without-making-mistakes” me. That’s what I did this year, and it benefited me greatly. That’s what will reward us as people - we cannot go from point A to point B immediately, there will be speed bumps and a journey on the way. The journey is the growth we should focus on.
This growth is seen more than ever in my writing. If you look at the 13 issues that I have written in this year, I think you can see my writing evolving. I have grown tremendously as a writer, moving away from writing things that aren’t relevant to readers to talking about topics where I had important ideas to bring out. I feel like my writing has acquired more structure and direction than ever. I believe Riot Mag has helped me drastically with this, and I want to thank all my fellow writers and editors from the bottom of my heart for helping me with this growth. Because when looking at issue 15’s “The Meaning of Love” to issue 30’s “Jungle Book and the Burden No One Asked For”, the two seem as different as night and day.
Why am I reflecting? Well, if you didn’t know, Riot Mag is going on a hiatus after Issue 32, and for a good while. We are losing almost all of our core teams as they prepare for college, and I’ll be working with my peers to figure out a new direction for the magazine. Remember those article ideas I mentioned at the beginning? Those are articles in the same direction in which my column has been moving in, and that is where I want to see Killer Queen go. More political and relevant articles to the world as a whole can potentially inform and benefit readers. I cannot wait to be back after the hiatus, but at the same time, I am also dreading it.
Before all that though, I’d like to look back and thank you, my readers, the people who read my articles this year, everyone who helped me grow this year, and who supported and loved me this year. I look forward to a “better” 2023 with every one of you. Not in comparison to 2022, of course, but simply better. I will see all of you next year, when I am a little bit taller, a little better writer, with a little longer hair. Everything will be great (as long as I don’t have “stop drinking soda” as a resolution). This year changed me for the better and the next one will continue on the same path, I hope. For the next year, let's not plan to change everything about ourselves, but instead, take the positives from 2022 and build on them. Because growth will happen naturally, we just need to give the hair some time.
I’ll see you all in three weeks when I will undoubtedly be crying my eyes out when Riot says “We’ll be back, better, after this short break”. And for the sake of callbacks, let’s bring back the memes shall we :)
Jungle Book and the Burden No One Asked For
Who thought that a nostalgic tale that so many Indians have watched and enjoyed has connotations demeaning to that very population? It seems obvious, in retrospect, when thinking about the context of when the source material was written and who wrote it. There were two original Jungle Books consisting of several short stories written by Rudyard Kipling, out of which all the stories about the character Mowgli were combined into one chronological novel. These later became the basis of all the infamous Disney movies that propagated harm underneath their coat of childish fun.
Rudyard Kipling was a Britisher born in Bombay at the height of colonisation of India. He wrote most of his stories for his sick daughter who died at the age of 6, presenting a seemingly innocent and harmless motivation for his writing. But the most jarring and shocking of his works was a poem written for America’s then-president Theodore Roosevelt, after the US won the Philippines from Spain, called White Man’s Burden, which acts as the basis for all the imperialist interpretations of his works.
White Man’s Burden is a horrifyingly racist poem that acts as a message to the American leader, that it is the job of the White Man to help civilise ‘inferior races’ no matter how much they resist. He called on the young ‘White Man’ to fight ‘the savage wars of peace’ to save the natives of places that they invaded and called them ‘half devil and half child.’ He mentioned that the White Man should ‘reap his old reward’ after he helps the native, presenting a blatant and highly problematic hierarchy.
In case it wasn’t clear already, Kipling was saying that it's the duty of young white men to go to other countries and colonise them, and even fight them if they resist because it is for the collective good, and the white men should take rewards for doing this in terms of resources. That sounds an awful lot like encouraging imperialist ideologies and advocating for the racist idea that all people of colour NEED white men to save them from themselves. White Man’s Burden was both justifying colonialism, and advising on it.
Coming back to Jungle Book with this new understanding of Kipling’s ideologies, the racist connotations are quite clear. I’ve seen several interpretations of the texts, each of which is more off-putting than the next. The most blatant of them is the portrayal of the monkeys or ‘Bandar-log’ in the stories.
Compared to Mowgli and the other animals and humans in the stories, the ‘Bandar-log’ are portrayed as people incapable of having laws, leaders, or a language; they are uncivilised by all means. They are termed ‘outcasts’ in the stories and described to be disorderly. Moreover, they are shown to be easily prone to manipulation and are characterised as ‘lesser species’ who try to imitate humans to learn how to do simple tasks. This is seen when they kidnapped Mowgli, who is shown to be vastly superior to them in terms of survival skills, and asked him for help. There are clear racist symbols here as we see Kipling connoting that the natives cannot get anywhere without the power and ‘refined skill’ of white men.
There are numerous similar instances in the two Jungle Book novels of underlying influences promoting imperialist ideologies. What’s interesting is that in Disney’s adaptation of the film, in an attempt to make it more appropriate for audiences, the story became even more racist. Here, Mowgli’s command over controlling fire is what makes him superior to the animals. The character of King Louie is introduced as the king of the ‘Bandar-log’, and he is a caricature of black people as we see him follow blatant stereotypes such as playing jazz music, without any further characterisation to make him unique.
What is jarring is how he’s shown to try to imitate the humans and make fire, and fails to do the same, showing how he can’t get anywhere without Mowgli and the humans. There is also the connotation that anyone who is not a white man is seen as the same primitive, primal creature regardless of whether they’re African or Indian. They are shown as inferior being portrayed as monkeys, considered to be a step below the evolved humans.
Although Disney’s subsequent iterations of the Jungle Book movies have gotten rid of most of these connotations, it is impossible to completely do without it when the source material is so blatantly advocating for imperialism. There are crystal-clear influences that Jungle Book has, with a blatant praise of colonialism that Rudyard Kipling propagates in his works as seen in White Man’s Burden. The influences are extremely dangerous and I do not think this should be the type of media that Indian children should be shown. Young minds should be exposed to literature and media that doesn’t have the presence of white men and their imperialist ideas that nobody asked for written all over it. I am still waiting for the day we see a British forest with feral creatures in desperate need of help.
Throughout different forms of media, to this day, we see this saviour complex through white men believing they need to help the rest of the world as they are more knowledgeable on, well, everything. Superhits like La La Land and Dune have influences of this and although they aren’t advocating for colonialism, the dangers of the white man's burden are still there, long after Kipling’s time. We are influenced by this complex every day by different forms of media and literature, even when we don’t realise it. We're just teaching white people that they’re doing a favour by taking away our freedom and inserting themselves into problems around the world. Well, that is literally what modern-day colonialism is, isn’t it?
Object Permanence is a Menace
Let’s go back to a couple of years ago: I was on a trip to New Zealand with my mother during Christmas, and we were on a tour bus with several other families. I had just watched the three Lord of The Rings movies and was completely head over heels for them. I couldn’t stop talking about the ‘one ring’. In our group, there was a really sweet uncle, and I noticed that he wore a necklace with the very ring on it. Fast forward to Christmas day, and I was sitting on the bus with my mother on the way to the next city on our trip and Uncle Murdock (that was not his name) walked down the bus towards us with something wrapped in newspaper. “Merry Christmas,” he said, and I opened up the wrapper to find none other than the chain with the ‘one ring’ inside.
He not only gave me a gift, but something that he loved without thinking twice, just so I would smile. I held onto the ring for months, never left it out of my sight, and always treasured it. But one day I lost it, and it was just gone. With that went a core memory of mine. If I didn't have the ring in my sight, I had no proof that it was ever there, to begin with, and I have felt horrible about it since.
This brings me to the concept of object permanence. It means understanding and realising that things still exist even when you don’t always see them. Think about something that means so much to you. The second you don’t have proof of it, it loses its credibility for some twisted reason that I cannot grasp. Understanding object permanence hasn’t come easy to me. For example, I ask people whether they are mad at me quite often because it’s something that I worry about and without any proof that they aren’t mad at me, I start feeling bad about it. Think about your friendship with them as the ring and how every time you don't have the ring in sight, you don’t know whether they’re mad at you or not. It’s a similar thing with not knowing if people love you or how much they love you.
More recently than ever, I have been working on a solution or a method with which I can better grasp the permanence of emotions. There are several things that I have tried to help me deal with this issue. For example, when my friends have been busy, I have been known to message them every day with pleasantries as a way to hold on to and believe the fact that they love me, and are not mad at me. But this method isn’t feasible because the person you are messaging has their own life, and would get quite overwhelmed with the number of messages they receive. It is pretty unfair to do this regularly as it almost makes people guilty for not talking to you.
What’s the most effective method then? How about taking a picture of the ring and keeping it with you when you can’t see the ring in its flesh? In a sense, that’s what I have been working on doing. I recently asked all my friends to add two songs to a playlist as a way to remind me of their love when I overthink it. Because really, even when the ring is lost, its memories don’t go away and you’re eventually going to find it in the drawer and realise it was never lost; you just didn’t realise it was there in spirit. I have asked my friends to do little things like record videos saying that they love me as a way for me to watch the video when I question it, which has helped and seems like an effective way because I do believe more than ever that the ring is with me even when I do not realise it.
If you’ve never understood what it was like to feel this way, I hope this article gave you an insight into what the permanence of objects entails and if you have faced this difficulty yourself, I’m reminding you that it’s possible to hold onto things sustainably when you cannot see them first hand. The ring isn’t going anywhere, so click a picture and look at it when you think it's gone, and remember that unlike objects, true emotions can never really get lost.
Whenever Halloween comes around, there is one genre of movie that everyone gravitates towards - horror. I never really understood the whole buzz around horror movies. And it’s not that I don’t feel horror; I am deathly afraid of snakes and will most definitely squeal when I see a cockroach in my bathroom. But, for some unapparent reason, I always find horror movies funny. Maybe I sound like a psychopath, but hear me out.
I have always considered most horror movie gimmicks to be “point and laugh at” funny rather than “jump out of your seat” scary. Oh, Annabelle 3 is the scariest movie ever? Well, then why do I cry from laughter and not from fear? When my friends and I watched Conjuring at a sleepover when we were 10, why did we burst out in hysterics?
How come we, as a society, have progressed to a point where we look at ghosts haunting a family or a man chainsawing someone's head off and consider it a laugh-out-loud moment?
The answer is a mystery. I, however, have several theories.
Laughter is an intense emotion, and horror movies are made to elicit intense emotions with their little jumpscares and whatnot. So, maybe laughing is a response to the stimulus, a reaction that comforts us when we are experiencing heightened emotions.
Maybe we laugh on the outside and find ways to mock horror movies and their cliches as a way to shield ourselves from the fear that we actually experience. “Okay, this is not possible in the real world, there is nothing to be afraid of.” In other words, we laugh to hide the fear. Don’t we all want to show each other that we have such courage that we not only don’t get afraid of horror movies but also find them funny? And once we start laughing at one instance, the adrenaline rush of laughing with our friends doesn’t let us stop.
But what happens when we watch them alone? Do we still laugh?
In all honesty, I have never watched a horror movie on my own. Maybe I am scared to learn that I can be afraid of them, or maybe I think they are stupid and unrealistic. Either way, I always have a reason not to watch them. I say “The characters make such bad choices”, “They’re all the same”, and “The plot is so convenient”, but maybe I don’t like what my reaction might be. Only when I know I won’t be afraid I watch them, and then I point and burst into laughter.
So, what’s the conclusion? Why do I find horror movies so hysterical? Is it a coping mechanism or reflex action? Would I not find them funny if I watched them alone? I think the answer in my case is simple. I laugh at horror movies with my friends as I feel comfortable pointing out the absurd decisions characters make. I laugh to prevent fear from leaking out of my skin. I laugh because I cannot control it. And I only watch horror movies when I know I will laugh.
Maybe I am afraid of being afraid. What about it?
Over the past couple of months, I have noticed increasingly that my friends stress themselves out during exam seasons - they stop listening to their body, stop taking care of themselves and get unhealthily engrossed in their work. I have experienced firsthand that it causes more harm than good.
The thing about living in a capitalist society is that if you aren’t a part of the privileged 1% of the country, the education system in India is one of the biggest risks to a student’s mental health. There are hundreds of thousands of students but only a limited number of seats in colleges. Naturally, this leads children to aim for the 95 percent and above grades because more often than not, that number needs to be exceedingly high for you to get into a college.
As we have all seen around us, this system has created a population of students whose instincts are to overwork and who spend most of their waking hours studying more than their bodies and minds can handle. The thought process is that more work means better grades means a better chance of going to college and having a better future. The thing is, life is mostly not going to be any different in the corporate world - the students who will later become employees will be subjected to the same amounts of pressure by their bosses and their deadlines. In my opinion, trying to get better at controlling overworking would be easier in school than in the corporate world where our entire income and livelihood are directly affected by what we do, which is why I think it is important to make an effort early on rather than when it’s too late.
We could start by identifying how long we study in a day and slowly start setting limits for ourselves. For example, we could decide that we cannot do work for an hour after school, so we have some time to rest. Or, we could decide to stop studying right before dinner and not do any work after. One thing to remember is that limits are set for a reason, to ensure you can do as much work as you can while also prioritising your mental health. And this makes it especially important for us to stick to the limits we set.
As we start working less, we tend to also become more efficient in the time we work.This won’t be immediately seen, but will help us in the long term. The important thing is the decrease in work should be gradual with conscious efforts to listen to our body. An important step is also to learn how to prioritise when we realise it is not rational to do all the work we have for our sake. Which work is more important? What subjects? Which chapters can I already know and do not require in-depth revision? Which assignments can I afford to ignore?
Sleep is important. Compromising the rest that your body may need is usually not a viable option, although it may seem like the best one to begin with. Without sleep, we lose our cognitive capabilities for the following day. Your body needs to rest after you move around, work, and play all day. The best way to ensure you don't overexert yourself is to try to start listening to your body. If it says that we need to lie down, drink water, stop working, and go to bed, it is a sign that we should do those things because we need to.
Overworking leads to massive burn out and in some cases where you refuse to listen to your body when it asks you for rest, it can cause long-term illnesses and disabilities. Believe me, I would know. Avoiding permanent health conditions is definitely better than getting 10% less in an exam. One is permanent and could very well be the end of the world as we know it, but most times the other isn’t. Of course, sometimes exams can very well be life-changing to people, but in most cases you can afford to work a little less. It can even benefit our performances in exams when we are more rested.
Even though it doesn’t seem like it in the short run, setting limits and listening to what our bodies have to say is the right choice to make for our own health and futures in the long run. It is difficult for a lot of people, but in the end, as long as we make even a little effort to work towards bettering it, we will be able to see the benefits. No progress happens in a day or a week. Slow and steady wins the race, and even a little effort can go a long way. The important thing to remember is to listen to your body; it knows what it's doing.
Your breathing body should receive your graduation letters and not your breathless corpse.
Deciding to do something, and then actually doing it the way I decided is something that seems pretty straightforward, but is something that I often struggle with. I have made so many study schedules for exams in my life, and never once have I been able to follow them the way I planned to. A major factor that limits me from adhering to the goals I set is procrastination. Procrastination is something that plagues not only me but also millions of other people in the world.
So what is the solution then? Stopping to set goals altogether is not the answer because these goals are important, helpful, and provide us with something to accomplish. When we have something to accomplish, our brains automatically strive to do that task. When we do that task, we get a rush of serotonin which makes us want to do the whole thing all over again. When we have our navigation ready, we know where we are going and we know we will get there when we need to. Setting goals is the best way to get work done.
Coming back to the reason we usually miss our goals, procrastinating. Imagine we decide to study 3 chapters of chemistry in a day and we know each chapter will take about twenty minutes to finish. Throughout the day we wander around the house aimlessly telling ourselves that there are 12 hours left of the day. 10 hours. 5………..4…………3………….2………. (wallowing into oblivion)
With 1 hour remaining we finally sit down and try to finish studying the three chapters we promised we’d do but we get sleepy before we can do the third. Now, this could have easily been avoided if we had just done it earlier in the day when we were free for several hours at a stretch. But instead, we thought since we have only an hour's worth of work, we might as well do it at the end of the day. This sort of procrastination is something I often find myself doing and causes a lot of stress to pile up over time.
Of course, you cannot simply stop procrastinating, but one thing you can do is set your goals in a way that prevents you from procrastinating too much.
One thing that I noticed with not only me but other people as well is that if we have an unproductive day or week, we plan out our next day with a lot of studies and tasks. These goals are often unrealistic and we usually just end up telling ourselves that we will do them to help us feel better. But, as mentioned before, this will end up inducing more stress instead of benefiting us.
Alternatively, I think we should break our goals of the day into smaller, bite-sized pieces; make them easier to digest and accomplish. This way, we would feel more rewarded as well as finish more things over a day, regardless of how small they are. For example, instead of saying study 3 chapters of chemistry in a day, we set our goal as doing one chapter of chemistry between 8 am and 11 am, the second chapter between 1 pm and 4 pm, and the third between 6 pm and 9 pm. This way, we are less likely to procrastinate and we would have a more accomplished feeling since we were able to do 3 different tasks successfully.
This method has helped me study for several exams and meet several deadlines without procrastinating too much. In fact, I don’t think this article would exist without it.
When we pace ourselves out even within a day, we give ourselves more room to be able to fruitfully complete the work we have. This method has seemed to work for me and I have started slowly implementing bite-sized tasks into my schedules rather than setting a goal of a huge plate of work in a single day with no discrete time slots assigned. I think we should allow ourselves to be flexible about the goals when mental and physical health comes in the way but not too flexible that we end up slacking off.
Setting goals is an effective method for getting work done and making them small and doable is beneficial to us as we can accomplish the same amount without a lot of stress and procrastination. This type of goal setting also ensures we keep up the highest quality of work that we can. Eating a chapati in 8 bites rather than 4 doesn’t change how many chapatis we have eaten. If anything, it helps us savour the chapati more and enjoy every little bit of its taste.
I will write this article.
I will write this article on time.
I will write this article on time and it will be amazing.
This article will not be something I hate when I look back at it a month later.
Some think that if you say something enough, you eventually start believing it and it has a high chance of actually happening. Our good old search engine, Google™, defines manifestation as “an event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something abstract or theoretical.” Well, thank you, Google, but I’m afraid the kids have a drastically different definition of the word. In the context I am referring to, manifestation is when we imagine that we will do a certain thing with the hopes of actually doing it. So, what I did in the 4 lines above is manifest that those statements will be true for me.
So, the question arises, does manifestation work?
Well, I think it does.
My mother always says that if I tell myself that I will do something, then I will actually end up doing it. “The first step to doing anything in life is telling yourself that you CAN!”, she says. And it has worked for me. Although I am not totally organised about deadlines and studies yet, I am slowly getting there, only because I believe I can. Manifestation is about convincing your subconscious that you can cross the finish line with such dedication that your subconscious starts believing you. It works extremely well because when you think you are capable of something, you feel more confident about doing it.
Of course, whether you have a good day or not, do well in exams or not, or sleep well or not is not only dependent on manifestation, but I think it is an important first step that sends us along the right path; sometimes, the seemingly small amount of trust we put in ourselves makes us feel better about things. It’s us wanting to succeed so much that we could actually make it happen. An effective example of this is the unexplainable but beautiful phenomenon that I call my subconscious alarm clock. I can wake up at any time if I convince my brain to, regardless of when I go to sleep, and it always works with near perfection. This has given me quite the reputation at sleepovers. Similarly, I’m sure everyone would have something that if they convince themselves enough, they can get done.
How does manifestation work? It requires a neat little concept called optimism.
Having recently listened to Finneas’s album “Optimist”, I would say I’m kind of an expert on the topic, so I'd like to take a swing at it. Optimism is not forgetting about everything bad going on about you and just blindly telling yourself that everything will be okay; it’s acknowledging the problem you have before hoping that it will disappear from your life. To manifest doing well in Exams™, it's not enough to tell yourself that everything is okay and you know everything already; that borders on dangerous. It’s important to prepare for the worst but also, to always, always hope for the best. I think that if we keep our expectations in line with our efforts, it provides a solid ground for manifesting that we reach even higher.
So, how do we begin manifesting?
A great way to start manifesting and being more optimistic in our lives is doing the 11:11 manifestation. It’s like a birthday wish but two times a day, everyday for the year; you can blow your metaphorical candles out and make a wish at 11:11 during the morning and night. Taking a little time out of our days at 11:11 to manifest, be optimistic, affirm our feelings, and think about how the next day will be better than the last, it does a lot to energise us mentally and give us a boost of happiness. It’s a cliche, sure, but it works.
Another great way to start is by looking at an instagram account that I’m sure a lot of you have interacted with, @afffirmations. These Afffirmations™ (the posts this account puts out) are a way to acknowledge how we feel, and even an opportunity to find humour in it can be kind of therapeutic.
I am an Optimist
Acknowledging what’s wrong is an important first step in manifesting the problem going away. Here, we may not think positively a lot, so we can connect to this post in an ironic way and work towards being more positive. When you see others posting their affirmations, you realise you aren’t alone, because no one ever is alone; and it makes you feel better as well. It induces optimism as we believe more than ever that we can fight our problems together.
Optimism is something that we always strive to achieve as humans and is something that we will never stop working towards. There is always room to be more optimistic. There is always room to think more positively and manifest good things for ourselves. We should start telling ourselves that everything will be okay, because everything WILL be okay if we believe it hard enough and we act on those beliefs. As for you readers, I am manifesting that all of you have a great day! I think I am going to leave you with an affirmation of my own making :)
Queer Shipping and Stereotyping
Going on social media and seeing users shipping characters (and real people) on there is a daily phenomenon. People rooting for their favourite people to get together seems harmless, right? Think about all the ships we see online, especially queer ships. The Minecraft YouTubers, Dream and George, who are shipped universally by their fans, are a prime example of this phenomenon. At first glance it all seems innocent. Just people online bonding over their mutual interest in two personalities getting together. However, this all quickly turns extremely problematic for several reasons.
First and foremost, people like the aforementioned YouTubers may not be out as queer to the public, or queer at all. When people write pages and pages of fan-fiction about them with intimate details and obsess over their non-existent relationship, it completely invades their right to privacy. It is extremely harmful to assume that two personalities are queer when they have not stated that they are. Who they like romantically and sexually is only their business and the culture of shipping them could make them extremely uncomfortable.
Someone like Harry Styles is only expressing himself the way he likes to; wearing a dress or wearing a shirt, it shouldn’t matter. The problem doesn’t come with him but with those who speculate about his sexuality and queerness. No one, for example, has the right to obsess over his fictional relationship with his ex-bandmate Louis. Even if Harry was queer, again, it would be none of the internet’s collective business to write explicit fan-fiction about him and ship him with other people. He is a real person who is living a very real life and that’s about all there is to it. Moreover, fetishising relationships between men is an extremely prevalent issue nowadays and I think we all need to realise they aren’t here for anyone to sensationalise.
And for the record, Harry Styles wasn’t revolutionary in breaking gender roles, all he did was a wear a dress; there’s not much he actually put forward to help break gender roles and help the queer community. In fact, several people have worn a dress before him. Billy Porter, a Black actor, for example, wore a dress several times before him the same year itself, and he didn’t get nearly half the people praising him for breaking gender roles. This is a clear example of the selective activism that comes with obsessing over celebrities’ sexual orientations. Because when people aren’t homophobic, they are racist, aren’t they?
The way someone expresses themselves is also not reflective of their sexuality. You can wear a dress, wear makeup, wear jeans, wear shirts, or have any length of hair no matter who you are. Thinking someone is queer because something they are doing isn’t considered typically “masculine” is just fundamentally flawed. It’s just playing into sadly prevalent homophobic steryotypes. In reality, you can wear whatever you like and do what you like regardless of who you are. Someone who is queer and non-binary can express themselves the way they like and still be non-binary. There is really no fixed way to express your gender identity at all.
Coming back to shipping, I feel like it is important to stress that real people cannot queerbait. Only characters produced by them have the chance of doing so. Corporations like Disney, for example, tease at characters being queer and being in relationships. For example, there was a point where the entire internet were shipping Sam and Bucky in Falcon and the Winter Soldier just because producers thought it would make the show more popular by capturing the queer audience. This is also extremely problematic and wrong as queer characters deserve their place in media without having to be shallowly teased at.
Online, usually we see what is supposedly to be extreme support for the queer community with shipping characters and people and breaking gender roles. But the thing we need to realise is that it isn’t “cool” to be queer in real life. When we get off our phones, being queer comes with struggles, discrimination, and insults. Homophobia is a real problem even today, especially today. Queer people’s mental health is severely affected by the hate our society still shows them.
As a society, we should stop shipping two real life people who are not queer in queer relationships because, as mentioned, it has the potential to be really dangerous. We should try being mindful about how much actually the people we follow are doing for the queer community. Sensationalising and fetishising queer relationships is not something that helps the queer community. We should also try to be more mindful about the media we watch and not feel entitled to a real person's sexual orientation.
Because DreamNotFound and Larry will not make things any better for the queer community.
131, 477, 280 feet
131,477,280 feet of the world,
Yet six of an angel drags a smile out,
Out from the depths, seemingly infinite.
My grin glitters as he makes me laugh aloud.
How can one singular organism out of trillions
Be allowed to be make me jump in juvenile joy,
Avatar of an angel; no, the angel himself.
Eyes, smile, hair, face, energy, portrait of perfection.
His aura is enlightening, I can see, hear, smell, taste, feel it
A warm hug on a cold day and somehow, a cold on warm.
He is an enigma, and only I have the answers
Soft, sweet, he sews sugary happiness within me.
Presence like the soft fur of a kitten
Always purrs back, echos warmly
He electrifies every muscle within
Geographically or not, he is always beside me
Across the table, at the edge of my sight,
He laughs, I smile as we lock eyes
A one-way elevator, always lifts people up
I laugh as he cracks a joke he doesn’t know I can hear.
High-fives, advice, help when I need. Cold?
Puts a glove around my fingers without asking.
Radiates humour, conducts it throughout
Both my anchor and my life raft.
Positively perky, perfectly precious,
Eradicates mundanity without even trying,
I’ll never get enough of his grounding touch
No amount of muscle memory could be too much.
The Perfect Student Conundrum
As I talked about in my previous article, Mohan and Rahul are two school-going, sixteen-year old teenagers. Rahul is someone who spends every waking moment doing work. He does his best to study the maximum possible amount in a single day, practises tennis for tournaments, and plays piano in preparation for his exam. Mohan, on the other hand, gives himself free time and does his best to balance his work and leisure. He too plays the piano, but for fun and not because he is being forced to play it by his parents. During the day, along with studying, he does things he enjoys, like playing with his cat, reading novels, and hanging out with his friends.
Rahul is an overworker who scores 98% regularly, while compromising on having fun with his friends and doing the things he loves. He feels pressured to study and work all the time instead, by his parents and everyone around him. Mohan on the other hand, still scores a good 85% in his tests while also doing things he enjoys and he is generally happier than Rahul because he strikes a balance between work and having fun. In my previous article, I spoke about how Rahul is an unrealistic idea of a person created by society and how we should strive to be similar to Mohan rather than Rahul. However, I think it is important to acknowledge why this is not possible in most cases.
Rahul is an unrealistic idea, yes, but he is an idea created by an Indian capitalist society, an idea that has existed for a long time, and will continue to exist as well. It is an idea that forces millions of students to compete against each other in every possible way and only rewards those who turn out to be Rahuls. As someone with privilege, I failed to account for the fact that although being like Rahul isn’t ideal, it is sometimes necessary for an individual to adopt that kind of lifestyle to get into a good school, a good college, and find a good job. Because no one has asked who Mohan and Rahul are, what are their backgrounds? Where are they from?
For someone from even a marginally lower financial background than me, they spend every second of their life trying to prove themselves to others because they have to. Rahuls generally come from backgrounds where they cannot afford to spend time “living life”. There are a lot of parental and familial expectations that come for Rahuls that are almost impossible to avoid. Why? Because there are only a limited number of seats in a college, only a limited number of vacancies in a job, but an abundance of students who go to school. This forces students to idealise perfectionism if it means getting into a good college and job in the long run. And especially in India, this creates high expectations from their parents because they spent a chunk of their money on their child’s education and they need to know that it was worth it. This further forces students to constantly prove that they are worth it.
However with someone like a Mohan, they might generally come from financial backgrounds where they have the money to afford to go to an international school which could open avenues for them not accessible to Rahuls. They can afford to do the things they enjoy because the higher financial status generally reduces the pressure on them and they often hear phrases from their parents such as “Study what you are passionate about”, which is something that is almost impossible for a Rahul because they have to always study what is seen as attractive by colleges and the Indian society as a whole. Taking my example, as a student of an international school, I will apply to colleges outside of India, which are different from the system in India and give me more opportunities to do the things that I love, because I can afford to do that in my situation.
But what does that mean? Mental health is only for the rich? Well that’s not really true, it is for absolutely everyone in the world, but sometimes compromising on their mental health, compromising on doing the things they love to study hard and score well on exams is not a choice for Rahuls but a necessity. Whether we like it or not, in today’s world, colleges still look at your marks when taking you in. Marks open up avenues such as scholarships, honours programmes, and advanced classes who couldn’t have accessed them otherwise due to the large absence of equity.
Equity is said to exist when everyone in a community has equal opportunities and resources. However in our lives, in reality, equity is highly dependent on the financial status of an individual. If you have money, like Mohan, then it's extremely easy for you to access resources to get into an amazing school, college and job. This is much harder for Mohans, who have to work twice, thrice, even four times as hard to reach a position where they can get the same opportunities. They have no other choice most times.
One of my friends talked to me about Maslow's hierarchy of needs which is a psychological concept saying that the things people require are in a prioritised list.
The list works in a way that makes someone have to fulfil their basic needs before their psychological needs, and then self fulfilment needs. So, someone like Rahul will have to study hard every single day to achieve his long term basic needs of a lifestyle above poverty in India. Because especially in India, it is not enough to be okay, you have to be the best to succeed. Only after fulfilling his basic needs can Rahul afford to look up the list towards psychological needs, taking note of his mental state. Whereas, Mohan might already have his basic needs covered, enabling him to fulfil his psychological needs without much difficulty and also strive towards self actualisation.
I think if you take an example of engineers, due to the abundance of them in the market, unless you are a really good engineer it's really hard to find a job. Rahuls are willing to spill blood, sweat and tears to become the best engineer possible, because what’s the point of having a degree and working as a Swiggy driver? And who can blame them?
I do not think being a student like Rahul is ideal, and I do not think anyone should have to overwork. Due to always having to prove themselves, in most cases, Rahuls have to study the most they can even if it means overworking themselves. Unless there is a major societal revolution sometime soon, Rahuls will continue to exist in our Indian capitalist civilization as long as institutions here laud people with higher marks and percentages and look down on those who take free time away from work. Rahul is a caricature, sure, but Rahul is a caricature that we as a society put on a pedestal and worship.
The Perfect Student
Rahul is a sixteen year old teenager.
Everyday, he wakes up at 5:15 in the morning. After making his bed, he immediately uses the washroom and brushes his teeth. He then picks his uniform out from the closet and goes for a bath. He comes out of the bathroom soaking wet, and dries himself up before he puts on his uniform. He goes to the dining table and wishes his family good morning as he eats breakfast with them. It is now only 6:00 in the morning, but Rahul’s bus leaves for school at 7:15. What does Rahul do with this time on his hands?
He spends half an hour doing maths sums. He does his trigonometry, dotting off the “i”s on his sine and cosine. He then spends the rest of the time practising the piano, getting ready for his piano exam. But he does not spend a second packing his bag. Why? Because it was packed and ready the previous night itself. At 7:15, Rahul puts on his bag and gets on his bus. During the entire bus ride, he has his History book open and he is glued to it. When he gets to school, he immediately gets to his class so as to not get late and reaches in time for attendance. During the entire school day he takes notes during lectures and does all the work that he is given.
He doesn’t mind missing lunch if it means he can finish his Biology work and he never talks to his friends so as to not get distracted. Throughout the day, he is focused on his studies. Rahul gets home after school, attends tennis class, practises for his tournament, and then spends his entire evening doing homework and studying. One hour of physics is followed by an hour of chemistry and then an hour of biology. He has a headache? He drinks coffee and gets right back to his work. After about 5 hours of homework and studies, it is dinner time and Rahul quickly eats before packing his bag and going to bed by 11:30 at night.
Rahul is a class topper; he gets a consistent 98% in all his exams. Rahul follows the same routine everyday. On non school days, he spends 10 of the 16 hours awake studying and doing homework. Rahul seems like the perfect student, but is he happy? Rahul wants to go out and play with his friends and wants to spend some time not studying and reading books or watching TV, but he feels pressured to do work all the time. Not only from people around him, but also from himself because he feels he needs to be perfect.
Enter Mohan, Rahul’s classmate.
Mohan wakes up at 6 in the morning, brushes his teeth, and uses the washroom. He stares at himself in the mirror and grins at himself. Today he was going to try to have fun like he tries every single day. He has a bath and he cleans himself up properly before putting on his uniform while humming the tune of his favourite song and going to the dining table to wish his parents good morning. He talks to them and eats breakfast; before he realises, it's 7 and he has only 15 minutes to pack his bag. He does it in no time and leaves to catch his bus.
During the bus ride, Mohan talks to his friends and laughs with them. He tells them stories about how he won a cricket match last evening and how he enjoys playing with his cats. He sometimes even reads novels as he finds comfort in them. Like Rahul, Mohan too plays the piano, but he does it because he enjoys it, and not because he is forced to write exams by his parents.
At school, Mohan does his best to pay attention in classes but also makes it a point to not overwork himself. He takes a minimal amount of notes because he gets distracted at times, but otherwise, he understands and makes a mental note of what is taught and is not afraid to ask his teacher doubts and queries. Mohan always takes breaks and never misses his meals. Mohan spends his evenings after school playing cricket with his friends, doing homework to the best of his ability and studying only the little that he learnt at school that day, or sometimes not studying at all. He ensures to prioritise his mental health over a deadline whenever he can.
Mohan consistently gets 85% in his exams. He is happy with how his life is. He may not have his notebooks filled to the brim with notes or study more hours in the day than he sleeps, but he gets work done. You don't have to be a “perfect” student to be a good student. Doing the work that you feel is enough and in between the underworking and overworking extremes is, although not always easy to identify, the best thing for you. Good studying doesn’t always mean studying for long amounts of time.
Sure, studying is important. Going to a good college, getting the best grades, all that sounds really appetising, but there should never be a tradeoff with your mental health. Because even though Mohan may not fill his books with notes, you can bet on the fact that he will tear out the empty pages on all his old notebooks and bind them into new ones for the next year, when he will get closer to filling it up.
There is no single definition of a good student; you’re a good student, as long as you look to be better with each day. You should always make it a point to take time away from your work when you can just have fun and do the things you love. But it is incredibly important to aim towards being a realistic student like Mohan and not an extremely idealistic student like Rahul. Because it is incredibly important to acknowledge that it is impossible to be even close to Rahul; no single human being can (or should try to) work for that amount because it is incredibly unhealthy.
Rahul is not a person, he is an unrealistic idea of a person who does not, and will never exist. Finding the middle ground between overworking and underworking is sometimes incredibly difficult, and while being Mohan too is something that is hard to achieve, I think we should all look to be like Mohan.
It is important for us to strive to be a person and not a caricature.
- Chaand and Aashaya
Previously published in Issue 1 of Filter Coffee Zine
Flowers in hand, pink, your smile is warm.
A lack of words, sentences I cannot form;
Move the hair out of your eyes;
After the rain, rainbows cover my skies.
Reach in, breathe in, hug, feeling wanted and loved;
Not a stress in the world, falling flowers from above.
You look like a daydream and sound like a song,
Time moves fast but these seconds are prolonged.
Breathe out, the moment is absolute
As if this is all that I’ve had to look forward to,
As if this is all I’ll have to look back at;
Your smile. I’ll always hold on to that.
Overwhelming emotions with no restraints,
This feeling has made people want to sing and write and paint.
Cats purr, the rain bows, the birds sing,
Did I mention you’re captivating and entrancing?
Light me up, put me in your sight,
Alive like a moonflower in the dead of my night;
Grow your vine, twist and wind, colour me
Bright in the dark, wild and free……
The Meaning Of Love
It’s a simple four letter word, but its meaning is so much more complex than the four letters can convey. Love is making tea for your mother when she asks for it. Love is associating soft toys to people and hugging them when you remember those people. Love is thinking of someone and smiling. Love is being afraid of losing your friends and family, because they mean so much to you. Love could be you making videos, edits, poems, and just writing things for your friends. Love is what you want love to be, as long as you’re comfortable with it. Love is insane, love is divine and has literally no boundaries, and that’s the beauty of it. This Valentine’s day, the day which I and millions of others associate with love, (when companies make billions of dollars off marketing), I thought I could talk about how amazingly flexible the concept of love is by creating my own full form to it!!!!
The ‘L’ in love, according to me, is one of the most important letters. In my head it stands for “loss”; the fear of losing someone you love, the fear of drifting apart. As someone who constantly thinks that everyone is mad at them, I think it’s important to say that the fear of someone hating you or not loving you is, according to me at least, significant of love itself. Of course it’s great if you can be secure in your relationships with people, but that’s not always possible for everyone, because everyone is a different person, and I think it is important to acknowledge that.
Along with the fear of loss, the L could also signify (This one’s a bit far fetched but hear me out) “lumbar support”, the support a chair provides to your back bone with you sit on it. The support can be compared to the support you get and give from friends and family everyday because you love them and they love you. Love is so flexible that even this support, this backbone to your life if you will, has no specific definition. Lumbar support could be when your mother helps you by being there for you and spending all her day taking care of you, or it could even be someone checking in on you and asking you how you are.
L could also stand for “loser” which your friends call you because both of you have a mutual understanding that it's the way you show each other affection and it makes you both feel extremely happy. The L could be “luminosity”, the way some people just make you feel bright and happy and cause you to give them glistening grins. The L could be anything you want it to be, because love is not the same for any two people, it changes in how it is felt and expressed (if you think about it, the L could even stand for “lucrativeness”, the way companies profit off of valentine’s day).
It could even stand for “language”, talking about how different people have different love languages. One of my favourite love languages is making playlists for the people I love and the joy when people do the same for you is absolutely indescribable. You know love is divine when all the love songs suddenly start to make so much sense. The feeling of having something that I share with only a few other people and that we all understand that that’s how we express our love is absolutely great. The language could be playful teasing as you both understand that it’s how you express your affection for each other.
In my head, the O is symbolic of “obsession” and attachment. The feeling of liking something or someone so much that you cannot get enough of them. You always want to be around them, talk to them, watch movies with them, play games with them, or just sit in absolute silence as the both of you listen to music and do school work. O could stand for “Older” the way I want to grow old with certain people and spend my entire life with them, always and forever.
At one point, there was a thought among my friends (and the entire internet apparently) of someone peeling oranges and feeding you, and I think that the O could stand for “oranges”
as an homage to that because it’s a really divine way to think about love according to me.
The O could stand for “open”, a quality several relationships require to work.penness is an important aspect of any friendship, because when you are able to communicate your feelings without assuming a lot, it really helps in building stronger bonds with people.
The O could be “one-of-a-kind”, the way everyone’s love for each other is unique, or it could even stand for the word “observant”, like when you observe that someone is feeling down and you check in on them, or even observe that someone got a haircut or had a change in appearance and you compliment them on it.
The O could signify the “obscurity” of love, and how no one can ever truly understand the scope of it and how it’s so weird to you but you can’t get enough of it. Or even how your parents help you clean your room and keep it in an “orderly” manner. How every single person you love has an “organised” location in your brain and how you wouldn’t trade their place for anything else ever.
I think V is one of the harder words to find a meaning for since it is not as popular as the other letters, but I also think that it is this very quality that makes the letter more unique and interesting. V could stand for “validation”: the idea of feeling wanted and cared about by someone you love. It could be a compliment someone gives you, or even an action such as your mother making your favourite meal when you are sick, in the hopes of you feeling happy because she is tired of seeing you being sad. It could also be your friends giving you their jacket to wear because you thought it was pretty.
V could also stand for “vulnerability”, which some people may feel in a relationship with another person. V could also stand for “voice'', the way some people change their voice and the way they speak with different people so they can easily understand each other, which is something I do involuntarily, sort of like a reflex action. Most importantly, in the age of the pandemic, V could mean “video calls” where I hang out with the people I love on a daily basis.
Getting “Vanilla” ice cream together and laughing and talking could be what this letter signifies, because ice cream is one of the purest forms of love. V could even mean “vacuum”, the thing that you feel when you don’t talk to a person you love for an extended amount of time or when someone in your life drifts apart from you.
The V could be “valuable”, because every single one of my relationships with friends and family is important to me, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. There are a few people who I started talking to online and I haven’t met yet and there is nothing more valuable than the thought of running up to them and giving them a hug.
The last letter of this complicated yet beautiful word is what I think signifies “easiness”. How it is easy to talk to the people you love about anything. How I can easily go down for lunch with my parents and talk about how we love our cat or even gossip about something together. How I can talk to my friends about absolutely anything easily and they help me out in teaching me things I didn’t know.
The E could also be “energy”, the amount of energy you give to a person because of the amount you love them. The energy could be something that you bounce off of each other and share with each other. It could also be compared to how we feel good when we do “exercise” and spend “energy” the same way I personally feel good when I put in energy when I interact with the people I love dearly.
It could also be the “effort” people put in to put a smile on your face like painting you frogs or building things for you in a game, and how the effort they put makes you grin like an idiot. For me, there are several people that I love the most that have to put little to no effort to make me feel on cloud nine. And if I were to just watch the people I love for the rest of time, it would be “enough”.
“Eternity” is what the E could stand for. As in, wanting to know each other and talk to each other for all of eternity or hugging someone and staying there in embrace for all of eternity. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but like how everyone says, it's the thought that counts. The E could mean “evergreen'', which could signify how you feel lush and fresh when you talk to someone you love, like a bright sunlight glistening on the dew filled leaves of a plant. The E can be “eagerness” of wanting more or even earning each other’s trust and respect.
I hope you could understand what love means to me with this, and how there is no one way to experience it. It comes in many forms as well, it could be romantic, platonic, love for family, a sibling dynamic, or a million other things. Love has no limits.
There is a particular verse in the Bible which describes love, I think it is an extremely beautiful way to look at the whole concept of it -
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails”
This Valentine’s day, I hope you don’t spend too much money helping companies profit and just get to do things you love with the people you love in the way you love to do it. I for one will show my cat how much I love her by making her a box to sleep in. I just want to end by saying how I might not know who you are, but I love you for reading what I wrote. It means to me as much as a round trip to the moon and back in an Elon Musk space ship would cost. That being, an insane amount which is impossible to think of but I insist is completely necessary. <3
Hoist it up
Mornings are generally quite gloomy parts of the week. You’re sleepy, you’re tired, you want to go back to sleep instead of doing your homework - you know, the whole idea of “morning blues”. But every single year, there are about 3 days where I look forward to (or should I say used to look forward to) the mornings:
1. Independence Day
2. Kannada Rajyotsava
3. Republic Day
Every single time one of these days used to come around, I would ask my parents “What time is the flag hoisting?” and every time I ask this they would tell me the same thing - “It starts at 9am, go with your grandfather.” And every single time, I would go without fail.
You see, my parents are not very social, whereas me? I am a social animal. Well, I take every chance I can to talk and hang out with people. And it so happens that these 3 days provide the most unique experiences to do so throughout the year. My grandfather and I are always present for them, and as my mother says, “We have the oldest and youngest in our house representing us.” I had never, ever bailed on a flag hoisting ceremony from when I was 6 to when I was 15.
Having homework due the next day because teachers decided that a holiday means homework (because students don’t deserve a break do they)? Ignore all that, you bet I will make it to the flag hoisting!
Woke up an hour too early and don’t know what to do until the flag hoisting starts? You bet I’ll be cycling around the clubhouse till it starts!
The first person to be there without fail every time? You bet your bottom rupees that it’s me!
Now, you must be thinking, what’s so great about these events? Why am I so obsessed with them? Well, there are several answers to these questions.
Republic Day, the day our Constitution came into effect, the day India became a newly formed republic, is by far my favourite of these three days. Think about it, there are exactly two holidays in January - one is Pongal. The only other holiday is the one for Republic Day and it sometimes marks the first holiday in the year that isn’t a weekend when Pongal occurs on a weekend (except when the world is cruel and Republic Day comes on a weekend too). This fact alone makes the Republic Day experience so much more amazing and enjoyable. What is the Republic Day experience? I’m glad you asked! (well, you didn’t technically ask, but I asked it for you)
Every time we had flag hoistings, almost all my friends would show up, often late, but still, they would always be there. It was a tradition for us to play tag around the park and clubhouse before and after the flag hoisting. Sometimes we would even play cricket, volleyball, and a little game called hunters and escapers (a glorified version of chor-police). I used to look forward to this every single year. Imagine running away from someone while patriotic songs blast through speakers. Well, it doesn’t sound that fun when I say it like that, but it is frankly more enjoyable than I would like to admit. I mean, who doesn’t like hanging out with their friends, especially when you get to eat food together, food that you did not pay for? Speaking of…
The reason most children show up
On Republic Day, we get free samosas and free tea and coffee at the club house. I think now you can better understand why I am so obsessed with this day. I’m sure that in other apartments and layouts as well, you would get some variation of these snacks and quite frankly, they are a staple of an event like this one. Going up to the manager distributing them for the 5th time saying “Bhaiya, mujhe ek aur chahiye” really never gets old. And for the record, when my friends and I compete to see who can eat the most samosas, I win all the time (what do you mean “you’re lying”? I’m not). Plus, Republic Day 2013 was the first time I had coffee, and when I tell you that it was love at first sight, I would not be lying. Isn’t it funny how I fell in love with coffee on Republic Day and how I am awake at 2:30 am because of coffee while writing an article about Republic Day?
This has happened more recently, in the past five years or so. After hearing patriotic songs year after year, I started really enjoying listening to them. It's not the patriotism in them, but a lot of the songs are just so good to listen to on their own (tell me you didn’t want to jam to Rang de Basanti or scream the lyrics of Ma tujhe salam; seriously, they are a cultural phenomenon). I had a whole period where I used to look up mashups of several patriotic songs and I even played DJ one year at the clubhouse where I chose the songs to play. I felt incredibly important until the very same day, about an hour later, when I ended up losing my phone by putting it in the security’s drawer at the reception and not finding it when I got back.
Talking to adults and impressing them with your incredible knowledge on the history of India, knowing the national anthem while not all your friends do because you sang it everyday after school for 9 years, and watching new children every year sing patriotic songs that they spent a month learning. It’s all just surreal. I even played Saare Jahaan Se Acha one year on the keyboard and after that I learnt to appreciate and applaud anyone who performed live these days, because it really takes a good amount of confidence and is just an incredible thing to do. I always felt extremely mature when I told my friends to focus on the performance whenever they would start talking over it in the background and that is something I still stand by today.
The day almost always ends with me longing for more fun and more food. Everyone usually leaves to go back home by 11 and I am almost always one of the last to leave. My grandfather always says “Okay, I'm going home, you come later okay?” because I used to always go around the clubhouse and look for people to talk to and memories to create, sometimes in vain, but sometimes it worked. Republic Day might just sound like another normal day to you, but it means so much to me because of all the amazing memories I have made through the years. It just sucks that we haven’t been able to have a flag hoisting the past couple years due to the pandemic. But that’s all right, I can listen to songs that are Indian masterpieces and have a just as good time at home with my family!
Before starting on this endeavour, I should clarify what I mean when I say obsession. To me, obsessions are usually positive things that I am attached to for various reasons. It could be an object, an experience, or even an action. I am curious as to what forms an obsession and what makes them sentimental to people and I attempt to explore it in this article.
There is nothing more serotonin-inducing than finding something you really love doing, and then, quite simply, doing it. Take for example my obsession with wearing shirts. Everytime I wear a shirt I feel more “myself” than ever, it makes me feel euphoric and all round amazing. And I wear shirts everyday, so I think it counts as an obsession. Along with shirts, the only form of shorts or pants I own are Jeans and they too form a part of my identity. For the days that I'm really excited, like birthdays or get-togethers or just a normal day when I feel like doing it, I wear ties too. Ties are by far my biggest obsession - I have more ties than the days in a week. That might not sound like a lot, but managing ten ties is quite the ordeal.
I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that not a single day went by last year when I didn’t wear a shirt and jeans, and that, I'm sure, does sound like a lot. Because it is. I wouldn’t be me without them, and wearing them forms a small part of my identity that I treasure with all my heart. We all have our own little obsessions that we hold close to our heart and the reasons for these obsessions vary from person to person and from obsession to obsession.
Other than clothes, I am obsessed with the concept of sentimentality and nostalgia in itself. I try finding and collecting random objects that relate to certain events in my life and give them a sentimental value because I want to look back at them later and smile about the amazing time I had. I also look forward to and imagine similar things happening in the future, and it forms a sort of excitement in me. I have everything from a pet rock that I named Rocky (don’t question it) to a tiny metal ball I found on the floor. You could say it is a form of association that acts as a way to relive past experiences, and anticipate future ones.
After talking to a couple of friends, I got a better grasp over what constitutes an obsession and why they are sentimental to people. For some people, their obsessions act as a form of escapism, a sort of redirection to something other than reality in itself. Reading books is something a lot of people absolutely love doing and I am trying to start doing as well. We, as humans, form emotional connections with characters and specific books and start being attached to them over time as we form bonds with the concept of reading by itself.
People’s obsessions can be something they really enjoy as well, something that they can have fun with no matter the time or situation. Some might enjoy watching sitcoms, edits and musicals while others might enjoy playing with their pets, sleepovers, wearing bracelets, collecting earrings, painting their nails, researching various flags, the subject of physics, an entire language, listening to their favourite songs and artists or even using an emoji excessively. (Heck the obsession can just simply be Timothee Chalamet as well).
Some things require low energy to do like researching flags, listening to music, playing with pets and watching sitcoms. Based on what I’ve heard from people, it is this very aspect of predictability and things requiring a low amount of effort while yielding exponential happiness that makes them comfort inducing to a person and hence sentimental. A profound idea I heard from one of my friends is that we don’t know ourselves completely. We don’t know the entirety of who we are and it is when we explore these obsessions and dig deeper into why we love them that we start figuring ourselves out more and more. I really love the idea of that, and I definitely agree with this theory.
Obsessions can be absolutely everything as long as they are healthy and don’t harm anyone. I think it’s important that we respect each other’s obsessions and the sentimental value they hold to us as individuals. Let it be a deep rooted love for physics or an entire language, sentimental obsessions are beautiful in every single way. And I for one will now wear a shirt and then look at myself in the mirror and think “Ah, which tie should I wear today?”. Oh, and this column is a sentimental obsession to me and I'm grateful to have this space to talk as a writer. That’s been my time, take care and good night!
I have a bone to pick with glass.
First of all, why is it called “glass”? That’s such a sophisticated sounding name for something as boring as glass. It sounds like someone made the technological advancement of the century when in reality this high-tech gadget has the amazing feature of completely shattering when dropped from the height of a foot. The only part of glass that I find mildly acceptable is mirrors, because hey, at least I get to look at something cool in them.
Someone should’ve told the Romans when they used molten liquid and started sculpting it into things such as window panes that they would eventually be used in high-tech gadgets like snow globes and then be called the most important human invention of all time. Don’t get me wrong, I love glass when it is used properly, I wouldn’t be able to see anything without it and my spectacles sure are a spectacle, but most of its uses aren’t even that practical, like a sky-scraper filled with glass panes from head to toe. Do you really want to burn the population of poor humans who walk near these pointlessly large buildings?
Whoever's idea it was to instil in my brain that breaking glass was bad luck, well congratulations! I’ve lived the past 16 years thinking about how everything was going to go wrong because of it. Mind you, it’s not only the bad luck I have a problem with. Every time I hold something or am in close contact with something made of glass, my mind immediately thinks about how it will shatter and I cower behind something to protect myself. Glass is harmful even when broken. No, wait, glass is harmful especially when it is broken (just like your fellow human right here). Yep, let that sink in. Shattered glass, which is already broken, can easily give you a cut that is centimetres deep.
Everyone talks about seeing the glass half full or seeing the glass half empty - try telling that to me. I see the glass about to fall down and shatter into a million pieces while the half empty liquid in it floods the room that I am in. Now, isn’t that poetic? While everyone either looks at things in either a positive or negative light, I decide to overthink the whole glass situation and make everything a billion times worse.
Gosh, I hate overthinking. One second I will be listening to music and reading a book and having a great time and then all of a sudden I’m staring at something intensely while gritting my teeth and thinking about how my friends don’t love me as much as I do them or thinking about how I will fail everything and not get into college. You could compare me gritting my teeth to shattering the glass as in both cases, when large amounts of pressure is applied, it causes breakage, and yes, I hurt both myself and the people around me when I am broken.
There are times where the absolute opposite happens and I get into a mania-like state where I am unnaturally cheerful about everything, but that's just temporary. You can compare it to how when you drop a sheet of glass from the top of a large building, it will free fall for several metres until it finally touches the ground and shatters. Just like that, I feel free and joyous for a volume of time until I annoyingly come crashing down once again.
Oh god, why does glass have to be so annoyingly perfect as a metaphor for me? This has gone from a rant about glass to an examination of my mental state. Glass is, well, glass. And as for me? I learn to collect the shattered pieces and melt it down so I can once again mould a sheet of glass for myself, this time sturdier and stronger, less prone to shattering. Technology evolves doesn’t it?
Of course, there are those off days when a bullet goes through it and it immediately shatters, but recently it has been steadily getting sturdier as I slowly morph into a type of bulletproof glass. And who knows, maybe one day in the near future, I’ll leave the glass behind and evolve into an element that’s able to hold its own when the situation demands. Fingers crossed. Until then, I can look into mirrors and think about how not all glass is bad and how mirrors usually make me happy because it shows me something I find immensely cool.
Hobbies and Relatability
The concept of relatability fascinates me.
Taking a nap on a warm and sunny afternoon, reading a book as you fall asleep at night, jumping and dancing while you have upbeat music bursting into your ears through your headphones. Making paper airplanes, dancing in the rain, having a huge smile on your face after solving a difficult math problem. Heck, even running into what seems to be an open door only to have your face smashed directly into freshly cleaned glass (you can tell this has happened to me more than I would like to admit).
Literally, all forms of media try to relate and appeal to you in some shape or form. When I relate to a character in a movie or a TV show, I feel more drawn to the character and start caring about them in the narrative of the story that I’m watching. Relatability can even be a sort of universal language. It can bring together two people from completely different geographical backgrounds. Two people who speak different languages can watch a video of someone spilling the contents of their sandwich or burger from the other side as they bite into it and they will both be able to smile about it because they’ve done the same at some point in their lives.
Characters in media are made to be relatable so as to connect to the audience, and YouTubers and celebrities try their best to be “relatable” to try and win over the love of their audience. Granted, they can fail miserably at doing that by talking about first world problems which literally no one except them deals with. Like of course we would relate to the celebrities who said “OMG!!! I RELATE TO YOU I HATE THIS LOCKDOWN TOO!!! I CAN’T EVEN GO OUT OF MY HOUSE” while they down martinis in their mansions.
Even when the things mentioned in the media are less serious, messing up relatability could make the intended humor run extremely flat. Tell me, when was the last time you watched a Jordindian video and thought to yourself “Oh my god! That was so relatable, I do that all the time”, because of course, we all are THAT type of cook who does an entire dance routine while making food while music plays and we throw in the ingredients in the air aren’t we?
As you can see, I think relatability is an extremely interesting topic that brings people together but I also hate when it is forced and believe it could completely backfire when used incorrectly. Sometimes due to peer pressure, we are mentally forced to think that something is relatable when it really is not, which is extremely bad because it gives us false expectations in real life and paints a false picture of how the world works. No one should believe that not having a birthday party on a private island in the middle of a pandemic is the worst thing ever, or even find excuses for such actions. The “relatable celebrity'' is mostly a myth in our day and age, where they lead completely different lives as compared to their fans and frankly, when they try to be relatable to their audience, it causes much more harm than good.
I have always tried to be relatable in conversations with my friends because I always long for more attention and validation even when I do get a vast amount of it. I try to connect with them about our shared hobbies, but I too have sometimes made the mistake of trying to force it. But on the plus side, when I genuinely try to relate to people and things, it works out quite well, I have meaningful conversations about hobbies and things that I love and even manage to write half decent articles about them (I know, being rather humble aren’t I).
All of us have hobbies that we love immensely. It can range from playing badminton to reading books to listening to music to even wearing shirts (not my hobby I promise). Sometimes our hobbies will be the same as other people’s hobbies and sometimes they won’t, but when it genuinely does and, we have something that we can connect with on a personal scale together. It could be something we spend our time doing with each other, something we talk about for hours on end and something that can bring people closer than ever imagined. I think that is the best form of relatability. This can even be built with time - we can share our hobbies with each other if we are comfortable in doing so, and that can be so beautiful as we grow relationships with people and start “relating” to each other more and more. It just shouldn’t be forced.
Now looking at it, this entire article has been an exhaustive way of trying to relate to your (the reader’s) emotions. So hey, I have tried to be relatable to my audience while talking about relatability with my audience for a good 800 words, now that’s relatable. I just hope I don't run out of this room after writing this article and end up running into a sheet of glass headfirst. In case it wasn’t clear, I don't want my face to hit a glass at high speed again but knowing me, it’ll happen a good few more times in my lifetime. Relatable, am I right. :)
How are we in October already? It seemed like just yesterday when I took my maroon shirt and pasted three circles on it and NO ONE GOT THE REFERENCE (Understandably so; it was unlikely they would anyway, ‘The Office’ is apparently “overrated” or whatever). For context, here is how it looked -
Well, after the three hole punch version of Jim disaster, I decided to dress up as myself this year, because what's more scary than me at my essence? I will literally spontaneously combust with the amount of energy I have when I am the most myself. Why do I even want to dress up? You see, I want to wear something (as the kids say) cool and hip and swag for a day, an overly fancy outfit for this year in particular,, and to have fun and take pictures (to gain social clout!).
Halloween is a day that falls on the last day of the month of October. It is a day where children “trick or treat” which for all of you ‘living under a rock’ souls out there means that kids wear scary clothes and go door to door begging for chocolates. Yep, that’s literally the gist of it. This article, however, will not become more informative than that, because Halloween is supposed to be goofy and fun, and not boring and historical. I want to talk about why I like Halloween, and the tiny things that make it enjoyable to me as this magazine is basically my diary at this point, here I go.
Here are some favourite Halloween traditions:
The Outfits - Imagine this: it’s a week before the 31st, and you are running around thinking of costumes and characters to dress up as with your friends. My costume ideas have ranged from renting them (because you didn’t want to waste money buying them), spending 3 days cutting foam, gluing and spray painting to make a viking costume with my friends. Previously, it has even involved wearing an eyepatch and calling myself a pirate, using my friend’s old costumes, to even coming back from a MUN, being too lazy to change and calling myself James Bond (having not watched a single one of the films). And of course I dressed up as minecraft Steve that one year.
The Planning - The day before halloween is when stuff gets real. The place we live in is divided into two places, with the centre of the colony being the clubhouse. So every Halloween, we decide which side we would go first: would it be up (towards the main gate) or down (towards the dead end of the layout)? Judging by our previous years’ Halloween experiences, my friends and I decide which direction to go towards and judging the time people usually go out to trick or treat; we aim to leave half an hour earlier to ensure we can visit all the houses in layout (efficient begging) before others take all the good chocolates (Hershey’s supremacy). Diabolical, I know.
The fake reality we create for ourselves - When we are in our costumes, walking down the lanes, going door to door asking for candy, that’s when imagination takes over. Dialogues like “Move move move! The house 3 lanes ahead on the left is where the good loot is at, let's get a move on guys, keep your weapons out!” accompany us screaming and shouting with the several other groups of people around us, showing off the loot we got. Truly the real Ocean's 11 movie.
The People - Talking to everyone, carrying your bag filled with chocolates around, trying to recognise people through their costumes is just irreplaceable. As one of my good friends says, ‘the vibes are immaculate’. Late at night, holding fake weapons, feeling warm in costumes together, talking endlessly as we go door to door (like salesmen, but we ask for chocolates for free, instead of selling products).
The Interactions - I could write an entire book about the highs and lows of halloween to be honest, but that sounds very gimmicky, and I would rather pick out a few instances where my Halloween was exceptionally memorable. Imagine walking up to a house with all the lights off on Halloween, in full costume. Would you ring the bell, thinking they turned off the lights on purpose to make it scary? Or would you assume they are asleep and move to the next house? This question troubles us every year, when my friends and I trick or treat. There was this one time we decided to ring the bell and ask for chocolates and this family walked out of their house and were extremely confused as to why a group of kids in costume were at their door at 10pm in the night. What is the course of action then? What did we do? We said “We just came to say Happy Diwali” and smiled and walked away as the family told their child “See be like them, look how sweet they are”. We were so cunning and diabolical, and honestly, we were built different.
The Experience - Halloween is a time where you can walk up to someone's house and just ring their bell and ask them for chocolates and exchange pleasantries. What other day can you say “Hello! Good evening! Have a great day.” to over 100 people individually? It is a nightmare for introverts, but it brings me joy to smile at so many people and talk to them. It’s a time where people can be so nice that they say “I will go buy chocolates for you guys, sorry I forgot today, please come collect it tomorrow” and actually give it to us the next day. It’s also so much better when aunties never fail to tell you “Tomorrow is Kannada Rajyotsava, you better come for the flag hoisting ceremony”.
The candy class system - There is and has been and always will be a hierarchy in the halloween experiences. Of course, the lowest is “I don't know what halloween is, please leave.” to “I don't know what it is here take some biscuits and an apple” to “I don't know what Halloween is but here have some money you can all share ''. To the candy that is Eclairs and Mango Bites and Kismis which are the common chocolates. Then we have Coffee bite, Gold Eclairs, and Kopico (I have a bias towards coffee related chocolates). We then have the highest of the highest, chocolates for which people would fight each other for and even travel to different communities to get them. I am of course talking about the 5-stars, Dairy Milks, Zour Bombs, gummy bears, Milky Ways, Galaxys, snickers, jolly ranchers and finally the epitome of fancy chocolates HERSHEYS (not sponsored I promise). These chocolates were rare but always extremely valuable and you could often hear “Bro! That house has Hersheys” on the streets while you walk around looking for which houses to loot next. Who knew hierarchy would prevail during Halloween too, eh?
So, those are some of my anecdotes from my halloween experiences. I hope you could enjoy them vicariously and relate to some of them at least! This Halloween, no one is going to be begging for chocolates and instead I'm just going to have fun talking to my friends and watch ‘The Office’ with them so that next time they get the goddamn reference.
The Pain that is IB
So, it’s been a month. And I am, well… surviving!
IB is unlike most other boards. The courses are designed in such a way that learning is impactful as we are encouraged to discover our own opinions on topics and motivated to research a lot across all subjects. You aren’t always fed information directly and are taught how to study information and analyze it. It even has an amazing subject, Theory Of Knowledge, which aims to question everything you know to be factual. The vast amount of assignments along with several other tasks and material to study, means that the workload in IB is extremely high and you most definitely have at least three deadlines every single day. Three is an important number we like to use here.
I make great decisions in life, and it so happens that I picked this curriculum for my 11th and 12th education. It also so happens that I am naturally lazy and find it a burden to get work done on time. For example this article was supposed to be ready 3 days ago, yet here I am angering the poor editors (sorry), and also myself by writing this at 12:45 am.
I have nothing against the IB, I believe it is an amazing method of education. I would, however, like to have a word with the person who decided to strip me of my sleep by giving me so much work. And that person is (drumroll please) me! Surprise twist, right? The work is not the actual problem. It’s the approach I have to it.
Anxiety hits you hard when you’ve had 4 months of vacation and then BABAM - back to school in one of the hardest curriculums. It’s not rare for me to go to sleep thinking about how much work I have left to do and getting stressed and starting to regret ever choosing to go to an IB school.
Over the past month of IB, I have spent more time worrying about the work I have to do rather than actually doing said work. Which is simply brilliant. Who decided it was a good idea to overwhelm me with this workload. So much so that I end up saying “Oh no I have so much work!” for a good few hours everyday, which is time I could have spent actually doing the work.
I need to get a bit more organised as we finish with the first assessments of the year. They didn’t go as great as I would have liked, but I now know what to work on. Better planning will yield the best of my productive capacity and I am in the process of doing just that.
The IB is hard and all, but with proper division of workload and submission of work on time, I think I should be good. Just need to work on the different portfolios, the subjects themselves, the assignments for each subject, the submissions, reflections, CAS, TOK exhibition, and of course, college planning. So, that's fun, huh?
I love rambling about my workload. It is now 1:30 am actually, and news flash, I need to physically go to school tomorrow, so writing this article is not great for me to be doing. But who needs healthy sleep schedules when you could be writing an article for your best friend’s magazine, am I right? I mean it’s not like I get to sleep anymore anyways. I have developed, as the kids say these days, a caFfeIne aDdicTioN. (it's not as bad as it sounds don't worry)
There have been some amazing times in the past month, however. I have had a newfound love for English, which is just brilliant. I actually enjoy doing my work whenever I do it because I picked only the subjects I like and that I enjoy, so that makes it a bit easy. Moreover, the content can be genuinely interesting and enriching, making all the hard work worth it. But still, by all means, if the IB was a person, it would be a piece of work. I really need to learn to organise my workload, and make to-do lists everyday to get everything back on track, because those really work well for me.
Okay let’s sum up my experience so far now. The gist of it is that IB is hard and it is a lot of work and my sleep has definitely been compromised. I need to start organising work better and get better at submitting things by their deadlines such that shit does not hit the roof (as my dearest mother likes to say). And I should probably tone down on that coffee. It is a very unsustainable lifestyle right now. IB has been a pain, but that is no one’s fault but mine. The curriculum doesn’t allow you to be lazy and I need to get accustomed with that as I have to eventually become “mature” and “independent” and “organised” or whatever. I definitely enjoy the IB though, nothing against it, like I said. I hate getting older. So with that I think I will end this article and go to bed so that when I see 3 of my editors in the car tomorrow, I will not be yelled at :).
Life as an Only Child
16 years on this rock floating around in space.
Gross, that sounds like a start to a generic poem. Let me try that again. In my 16 years of being alive, I have…
Nope, that sounds like I’m in an interview. If only I had a sibling to help me get started, am I right (a sibling that isn’t Devansh, that is)? Oh well, the gist of it is that I am an only child, which means I am quite close to my parents and I consider myself a relatively spoiled child as I receive all the attention from them.
Now, I don't want to talk about the good things that come with being an only child (there are several of those too). I want to describe, to the best of my abilities, how I feel as an only child, and certain thoughts and behaviours I project because I am one.
The song “(l)only child” by Salem Ilese perfectly sums up how I feel. When I first heard the song, it just immediately resonated with me. It explains the pros and cons of being an only child. Because of my love for this song, I am going to quote it here -
The chorus of the song, as the kids say these days, just hits different.
Oh, I'm not gonna blame being a lonely child,
On me being an only child,
But what is a lonely child,
Without the only?
These lyrics are the portrait of my life. This song is a masterpiece.
My favourite lines that I resonate with are -
Yeah, I can be useless,
Promise it's just a phase,
Guess I should give them space.
This line is so accurate. I really am quite lazy at times and I just sit on my bed and do nothing and I do my best to convince myself that it’s just a phase and that I’ll do work later. The second part about giving people space is something I really need to learn; as an only child, since I don’t have siblings to talk to, I look to friends for attention and happiness. I know, yes, this is extremely unhealthy and I should get happiness from myself, and not others, but it’s become a repetitive habit, especially during lockdowns with me sitting at home all day. In the past month I have learnt that I should most definitely stop pestering my friends and annoying them every few minutes and give them space, while finding things to do on my own, or talking to my parents and family instead.
The biggest downside of being an only child, is almost certainly the lack of company from a sibling. I don't know about others, but I sometimes long for a sibling so much so that I have developed sibling-like relationships with several friends of mine. Of course, we are closer to our parents and that’s a huge upside, but there are certain aspects of having a sibling that I long for at times. Like, whenever I see two siblings talking or even bickering, it puts a smile on my face and it just feels really wholesome to me. I don't think I would be a mature sibling, though, I would most definitely get into fights. But that does not mean I will stop thinking about how life would have been with a sibling.
Every single person with a sibling I know always calls me immensely lucky for not having one (except Snigdha and Kabir, they are very cool). I will never know if having a sibling will be fun or not, but what I do know is that I have always longed to have one. I also have thought about how my life would be different with one and I cannot seem to come up with a conclusive and comprehensive answer. Deriving happiness from doing things unrelated to my friends is something I want to learn to do. I need to learn to be happy with myself and the things I do, without looking at others in jealousy. I really just wanted to talk about my thoughts and life as an only child and how I hope to learn and grow in this article.
Well, as an Independence Day special, I could possibly talk about some of the much more pressing issues in India, but in the spirit of Independence Day (the fear of being thrown into jail), I decided “Hey, Indian songs? Some of them are hilarious. I should write about that!”. Let’s start with the song that defines Indian culture better than anything else ever can.
So the song “Pappu can’t dance, saala” is, of course, what I was talking about, clearly. This song defines everything that is right about India. Ah, yes, being muscular, popular, spectacular, and a bachelor - the defining traits of every single Indian citizen. This song is about Pappu, a person who is everything that makes one appealing to people, except for one thing: he cannot dance. Now, this song, however stupid the lyrics may be, is way too catchy and I love it so much. The best part is that the exact same lyrics are said both in Hindi and in English. “Pappu can’t dance, saala” being the chorus (of course the title of the song constitutes the main part of the chorus as with all modern music) and “Pappu nach nahi sakta” which, well, means the exact same thing. We couldn’t have ever got the meaning of the song without it.
Now onto the second song. Let’s talk about “Why This Kolaveri Di”, a song that played a humongous role in shaping my childhood and making me who I am today.
Calling this song anything less than a masterpiece is a mistake greater than calling veg biryani pulao (like for real, they are two different things). I will say, every single lyric in this song is nothing short of a work of art. Some notable ones though are, “White skin-u girl-u girl-u, Girl-u heart-u black-u, Eyes-u eyes-u meet-u meet-u, My future dark” and of course, “God-u, I'm dying now-u, She is happy how-u, This is song for soup boys-u, We don't have choice-u”. These lyrics are so absurd, but it just somehow makes it work. The song makes it a point to stress on the last syllable of every word, which of course gives it an authentic South Indian feel.
Okay, for a song that offended a lot of people, I find it immensely hilarious because we as South Indians know what North Indians think of us almost perfectly because of this one fabulous song. “Lungi Dance''. The song starts with the famously iconic lines “Mucho Ko Thoda Round Ghumake, Anna Ke Jaisa Chashma Lagake, Coconut Mei Lasi Milake, Aajao Sare Mood Banake.” Now, this is what I call a national treasure. Not only does this beauty have a million more amazing lines such as these but it is the very fact that it was considered a tribute to Rajanikanth and South Indians that just makes this song stand out from the rest. In all seriousness, I hate this song with a passion and I will be very annoyed if any of you play it.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have, of course, the parody of Lungi Dance by the amazing comedian SA Aravind. Now this, without all the sarcasm, is a genuinely good parody and a must watch. With the extremely repetitive “Lungi Dance” being replaced by “Chapati” and it being dedicated to everyone who dedicated Lungi Dance to us, I’m not joking when I call this song a masterpiece.
Let's get to recent trends, shall we? You must have heard of “Bachpan ka pyaar”. The song has been everywhere in the past few weeks after the artist Badsha collaborated with the young maker of this tune. Now this is the epitome of the type of songs being discussed here. It has everything, from a 5 year old singing a very pitchy melody which immediately gets stuck in your head, to Badsha’s signature catchy Hindi words that somehow have no meaning but sound absolutely amazing. This is what we should be celebrating in India.
Okay now before we end a few honorable mentions. There is, of course, “Hafte mein char shanivar hona chahiye” which is just mwah. Also, the song that compares you to a soda “Coca Cola Tu'' is, simply put, a really emotionally heavy song. Then we have “Apdi Pode”, of course who could forget the song people think South Indians spend their entire life listening to. “Jalebi Baby” Is another perfect example of this, it is just absolutely chef’s kiss. Also, any song by Vennu Mallesh is immediately a national treasure and if you disagree, you are wrong. Right - so those are some of the songs I feel are so stupid and fun that they actually work very well and the lack of logic and content to them is what makes them so great (the riverdale of music if you will). I hate them so much that I have started to love them. Please listen to these if you haven’t yet besties you will not regret it. <3
Expectations and being competitive - with yourself more than others.
From the time we come into existence, expectations enter our lives in some way, shape or form. We are expected to learn how to crawl, walk, and talk at early ages. We are expected to go to school every single day from the age of 4, expected to write exams every year to test our abilities, expected to become the greatest at everything we do, expected to be better than the rest, expected to get better marks than our peers, and work at better jobs. At almost every stage of our lives, we are expected to do certain things and these things change on the basis of people with different backgrounds and this change creates a whole load of competitiveness.
Me? I go to an international school in Bangalore, which means that everyone in my school is extremely well off. This also means that the family and friends of students in my school have sky-high expectations for us. Setting high expectations for someone has the ability to apply a lot of unnecessary pressure on them. What’s worse is having those expectations while comparing them to other students in their age group. There is a lot of unnecessary competition in our lives and that helps certain people, but can be a horrible thing for others.
Saying “how much did you get in your exams?” is extremely normalised nowadays. Everyone wants to know how much better they did compared to others and they derive happiness from it. Doesn’t that seem just a little bit wrong to you? Let’s take, for example, board exam results - supposedly one of the most momentous and important exams in a student’s life. What do we do when our results come out? We compare. Every single one of us compares our results with each other and with the expectations our parents had for us, and then feels bad about it. Inside, we may actually be happy with how we performed, but we feel like we are worse than everyone else and we failed our parents. Why? Because the expectations set for us and the competitiveness in today’s society forces us to think so.
You should never derive happiness or sadness based on how others thought you would perform or on the basis of how other people performed better than you in an exam. It is perfectly normal and understandable to feel this way because in our society, we are taught and made to do things just to be better than others and to do things that please our family and relatives. The question that matters is, are we happy with ourselves? Ignoring the competition and expectations of those who surround us, do we feel we did well enough?
I am now starting eleventh grade in my school and just before the year starts, during the summer vacation, we were all expected to do something or the other. Some people did passion projects, wrote research papers, heck, even started entire organisations like the very one you are reading this article on. The general understanding in an international school is that parents, counselors, and practically everyone is going to look at others and say “Look at them, they started this amazing organisation, they are practicing for the SAT. What are you doing? Stop being lazy and do something”. Is that comparison necessary though?
“Why? It’s going to help us get into college, isn’t it?” Well, yes, but also if you have no actual interest in what you are doing, there is absolutely no reason in doing it. We shouldn’t do things just to meet people's expectations and be better than others. We should do things because we love doing them and have a keen interest in them. I get that some factors like practicing for standardised testing are necessary in international schools, but then again, regarding things like passion projects, doing internships, and writing research papers shouldn’t be done because “oh, everyone else is doing it” or “my mom tells me to do it”.
Well, I am going to just about summarise everything and try to explain it better to end this here. When you receive your marks in an exam, do not judge yourself based on how well you did compared to other people around you. Everyone is a different person. If you truly believe that you are happy with how you did and you did the best you could have done, then no one's expectations of you should make you feel otherwise. You should look at yourself, not at other people. See how much you have improved, or where you have gone wrong in questions, and not how your classmate got 3 more marks than you.
If you want to start a project or do an internship, do it because you genuinely are interested in it and think you will enjoy it. Having expectations from your children or being competitive isn’t necessarily wrong, but it has become so normalised that the entire reason children do things nowadays is to meet parent’s expectations and be better than the rest. Being better than everyone around you is a respectable objective to have, yes, but you should not sacrifice what you actually want and what gives you happiness in the process. Compete with yourself before you do others, and if you really want expectations, set some realistic ones for yourself.
Why I Love the Dream SMP
One of my favourite pastimes is watching content from the Dream SMP and the people on it. The Dream SMP initially started out as the Dream Team SMP where the Minecraft YouTuber Dream and his friend George played the gamemode survival on a server just for fun. Now, the server has just over thirty members who play on it and stream their gameplay live for hundreds of thousands of interested viewers.
On every other SMP, people attempt to cross the obstacles that the game itself presents to them. On the Dream SMP, though, things are different. All the members are part of a story. The SMP contains lore arcs that revolve around characters the players make up. They take part in several wars and battles and make them extremely enjoyable to watch. For example, TommyInnit (you’ll find him annoying at first), one of the most well known Minecraft creators on the server, has taken part in several wars and is involved in a long standing rivalry with Dream (is a green blob).
Yes, the writers for the stories aren’t professional writers, but the stories are still so enjoyable due to the bonds these players have in real life. Most of these YouTubers have even met in real life and have filmed vlogs together, and it's clear that their friendship is extremely genuine. Their friendships and chemistry help put out amazing and hilarious content for viewers. The Minecraft community has grown extremely large in the past year and it’s safe to say that the Dream SMP was largely responsible for it.
I enjoy the content the people on the server put out immensely, so much so that it has become my source of comfort. Their content never fails to bring a smile to my face. Why wouldn’t you smile? It’s a group of friends messing around with each other, roleplaying amazing stories, and just generally having a great time. There's something in the content that these people release that makes it so much better than any show or movie. Nothing else in the world compares to it. Yes, the stories are fun (I mean, who doesn’t want to watch an animatronic pig duel all of humanity or a manipulative green smiley face go to prison?), but what makes it even more enjoyable is the relationships the people have.
It's really the bonds they have, their chemistry, and the fact that they are genuinely such great friends even in real life. Take, for example, TommyInnit’s new vlog channel, where he films vlogs with fellow Minecraft YouTubers and puts them out every week. These include big names such as Ranboo (the enderman), Tubbo (the bee boy), Jack Manifold (has a hotel I heard), Wilbur Soot (ghostbur is better), Philza (dadza is real), and GeorgeNotFound (omg regogy) along with TommyInnit who take part in outdoor activities such as going to water parks, trampoline parks and playing paintball. Even though it’s not exactly minecraft, these videos are still so fun to watch. They make all the content that they are in extremely hilarious (1000% funnier, if you will) and their charismatic personalities make me extremely happy every time I watch one of their videos.
I absolutely love the fact that these people are so young and are able to achieve such great things. It is truly inspiring. Tommy, Tubbo, and Ranboo are just 17 years old, and yet they have achieved so much already. Technoblade is 22 years old and Wilbur and George are 24. It just goes to show you don’t need to be a certain age to achieve success, you just need the determination to do it. Tommy is incredibly inspirational; even though he has gained an immense amount of fame at just age 17, he still is extremely humble and an all-round genuine person. Heck, he still goes to college, and is getting his own office. And that’s just one example - the same goes for everyone else on the Dream SMP.
The Dream SMP not only brought these amazing creators together, but also has helped them immensely in the process. Tommy, for example, had just about 100,000 subscribers when he joined the server, and now he has over 10 million. Imagine that. In less than a year, he has garnered so much attention from the community. One of my favourite ones of the group, Technoblade, has benefited from the server immensely as he also gained a few million subscribers from it.
It is extremely amazing and motivational to watch these amazing creators grow and become who they are today. The entire Minecraft Youtube (MCYT) community in general is extremely fun and supportive as well. Amongst the Dream SMP YouTubers, I would say I love Technoblade (definitely not a part of my column’s theme) and Tommy (just like me, annoying at first) the most and I watch their content the most. Keep in mind, these YouTubers do other things as well. Tommy not only streams on the Dream SMP, but he also posts extremely hilarious mod videos on his main channel with many of his friends.
I love this type of content so much because it is one of those things that will just lighten your day, just make you laugh, and feel better. It is really comforting watching these amazingly entertaining and charismatic creators play Minecraft on the Internet. And nothing else gives me more joy than laughing with them on days when I’m down. I hope you have enjoyed my amazing Tumblr-esque rant and have understood how much this content means to me. If you like Minecraft and don’t mind finding someone annoying at first but then absolutely enjoying them later, I strongly recommend watching every single one of the creators I mentioned.
.…….you’re my comfort streamer guys……….
How Effective is Modern Day Advertising?
Which are the most effective modern day advertisement techniques?
“There’s a new barista in town, introducing McCafe specialty coffees.” This is a quote taken from a McDonald’s billboard that was meant to advertise a new cafe that they were opening. The difference between the number of people who see such advertisements, and the number who actually follow up on the ads to either buy the product or visit their stores is massive. The effectiveness of advertisements also differs from method to method. A concrete explanation to these statements is almost impossible to provide accurately, but discerning which of these advertisement techniques is actually the most effective is certainly possible.
Companies advertise by using a variety of methods such as online video ads, physical billboards, pop ups on websites, calls to customers, and even logos on well-known sports teams’ jerseys. McDonald’s spent approximately 654.7 million U.S. dollars on advertising worldwide in 2020, and about half of that figure was spent on digital marketing methods such as ads on TV; this represents the largest percent they have ever spent on digital marketing in, well, ever. Like McDonald’s did last year, in today’s world, most big companies spend a lot of money on sponsoring blockbuster events, along with the newly popularized digital billboards.
Let’s use this same McDonald’s example again. Granted, they have some of the best marketing tactics out of all the companies in the world, but in some places, they don't get returns from the use of traditional physical billboards. Billboards fulfil the basic purpose of informing the public about a good or service in an effective way by displaying the information on a board and placing it where people pass through often, like a highway or a popular street. The only major downside to this is that most people are unable to read what they say while they zoom by in their cars. So in terms of effectiveness I would give them a strong 6/10.
Similarly, most people don't bother reading ads across the websites they are trying to browse through, or pay attention to any pop up ads that are tailored to them by the Google algorithm. Studies show that people find these types of ads an invasion of their privacy, which makes them less likely to be effective. They have an extremely low return on investment as companies pay good money to paste their ads on websites. What is return on investment? Well, when an individual or firm spends money on a particular incentive or product, the yields, or the profits the incentive or product provides in return is termed as return on investment. Right, so I would say that in terms of effectiveness of marketing, pop up ads and website ads in general are a 4/10.
Next, let’s look at social media ads, one of the more effective forms of marketing comparatively. Everyone must have seen advertisements on social media apps where companies and organisations advertise their products or services. These advertisements contain relatable, eye-catching songs and graphics that cater to the younger audience on social media, and are extremely successful forms of marketing as they help reach a wider audience for companies. Even though it disrupts user experience on applications, the creativity of these ads, and their ability to reach huge amounts of people using online means makes it extremely powerful for marketing. In our day and age, social media advertising is one of the most effective forms of reaching out to people, making it an 8/10.
Let’s now talk about other digital forms of advertisement such as digital billboards, and ads on TV and videos online. They are all moderately effective in terms of how they keep viewers engaged and how they attract consumers based on their target demographic. Digital billboards are more eye-catching compared to the traditional ones and they can easily be changed or edited with no additional costs. Television advertisements and sponsorships are made entertaining through the use of comedy and professional editing. These digital forms of advertisements are a 7/10 in terms of effectiveness.
Lastly, flyers, posters, door to door marketing, and forms of advertisements that involve providing a personal experience to consumers make customers feel special. However, things like going to people’s houses to market a product, or calling people on their personal numbers to do the same are making potential customers annoyed, as they find these practices disruptive to their lives.. So those forms are probably a 5/10 at maximum. However, sometimes, in places such as malls where the entire purpose is advertisement, advertising a product, with a hands on testing of it for consumers to use can be really effective. So, that’s a 6/10.
All in all, if an organisation or company is looking to advertise a product, their best bet would be to go for ads on social media or television ads. If they find that too expensive, their next best option would be to set up physical billboards or tiny stalls in malls or stores where people can have a hands-on experience with their product. The usage of calls or pop up ads on websites is not a very smart option, as the return of interest is very low and one is more likely to make a loss out of it. At the end of the day, however, there is no perfect form of advertisement. Some are just more effective than others.
Economic Analysis of the Pandemic in India
Everyone in India has been confronted by the impact of the second wave of this pandemic. It is quite important to now see what kind of economic impact the second wave might have in the short and long run. The pandemic has done enough harm, causing everything from the greatest economic contractions of all time (this somehow sounds like an amazing achievement, but believe me, it really isn’t) to the suffering and death of millions.
Before we delve further into the economic implications of the second wave, it is imperative to understand the concept of demand and how it affects the economy. Demand, in terms of a definition, refers to the willingness and ability of consumers to pay a certain price for a good or service. In simpler terms, in the current context, if consumers actively are looking for and purchasing goods and services, that means that the demand in a country is high.
However, in the case of an economic crisis, like the current pandemic, the consumers in a country do not demand products as much due to the fact that during tough times, money is better spent on needs rather than wants. That is, people would rather spend money on a necessary product, like a mask, rather than buy a new pair of headphones. Then, the collective demand in a country is said to decrease. This causes a contraction in GDP because consumer confidence is low, meaning the public doesn’t want to spend. The main reason for this is that the value of money fluctuates at the time of situations like this and consumers would much rather save than spend their money in a market with little to no certainty.
(survey results for people’s income and expenditure)
Right! Now let's use the results from a survey that I took (it was about the economic impact of the pandemic. The details of the survey are given below.) and the RBI’s annual report to answer the question, “What impact would it have had and will have on an already fragile Indian economy?”
When we look at people’s expenditure, we see some surprising results. As seen in the graph, the pandemic had a significant impact on most people’s expenditure. And what's interesting is that the majority of the people felt that they spent equally low in both the second and first wave while a good chunk also felt that their spendings was lesser in the second wave. That means people are demanding fewer goods in the second wave in comparison to the first, which to a clueless bystander would mean an even greater contraction in GDP than last year. They would be wrong.
The annual RBI report stated, “The recovery of the economy from COVID-19 will critically depend on the robust revival of private demand that may be led by the consumption in the short-run, but will require acceleration of investment to sustain the recovery”. In simpler terms, the demand for goods and services in the economy must increase for the economy to recover. The economy is a little bit more prepared for the virus this time around. Most researchers and economists are claiming that the impact will most likely not be as large as it was in the first wave. However, if demand continues to remain low for much longer, it could hurt the economy once again.
In the beginning of May, consumer confidence hit an all time low, but, like the RBI’s annual report stated, demand is likely to increase by July and the economy will continue to grow normally in the second fiscal quarter. The RBI report also forecasted that the economic impact will not persist further than the April-June quarter because the GDP growth has already garnered momentum from the start of the year. This growth momentum will help ensure that the economy does not contract like it did last time, but it will in fact grow exponentially. However, the growth will be less than it could have been if the second wave didn’t have such a great impact on demand. So, instead of about 26% growth, the economy will see only 18%, which may seem like a lot, but when compared to the magnitude of last year’s economic contraction, it isn’t enough to bring the GDP back to normal.
According to the survey, for 75.3% of people, income and expenditure are either improving or have returned to what it was earlier, owing in large part to the fact that the government has increased its expenditure and lowered interest rates, amongst other spending incentives. Additionally, after the second wave reaches its peak and the number of cases starts to dwindle as more people get vaccinated, it is likely that business and consumer confidence will increase, thus increasing demand in the economy. This, coupled with the likelihood of rising employment, will surely soften the impact of the second wave on the economy.
For reference, the financial year is -
Q1 - April to June
Q2 - July to September
Q3 - October to December
Q4 - January to March
FY21 - April 1st 2020 to March 31st 2021
As seen in the images, in the last two quarters of the year, the economy once again started to grow. And that is how the Indian economy is regaining its lost momentum. Think of it like a racecar starting; at first, it is slow, but as you press the accelerator it speeds up exponentially. In this same way, as the economy starts to recover, it will grow exponentially in one quarter before it reaches a relatively stable growth rate. That one quarter is most likely April to June. Economic growth of this kind is a result of the economic phenomenon that is a “V shaped recovery” as seen below.
In order to recover, every economy needs to have a “kickstart” period - a period in which it gains economic momentum, after which it reaches a relatively stable growth rate. The RBI report goes so far as to say that the economy will see an 18% growth rate this quarter, with a 7% growth rate for the rest of the year.
Metrics and data
This article uses data from a survey I took along with RBI’s annual report. For reference, here are the demographics and backgrounds for people who took the survey. The people were all mostly from middle class backgrounds.