Sunday, December 30, 2012

Loving a Strange Stranger: My entry for the Get Published contest

Please vote for my idea and help me get published, at: Indiblogger's Get Published Forum!

This idea is about the forming of a relationship between two recluses. The people in question are myself and a man who was a complete stranger when I first saw him. We soon figured out we were in the same college but had never seen each other before our final years as we’d both been in different classes and had kept ourselves to our small social circles. It was intriguing for me to gradually discover his personality through my exhaustive research, peeling away layer by layer. Though friends around me were dating and chasing bold, successful alpha males, I was fascinated by the archetype of the opposite. This is a story of how this ‘quiet’ kind of love began, and what happened next.

What Makes This Story ‘Real’:

In the vast majority of romantic movies and novels, guys do all the chasing and wooing and girls are just lucky if they have a choice in who to say yes to. But that doesn’t work in real life, and it is impractical for women to give up on a guy just because he lacks the courage to ask them out (yes, forget The Rules!). This story shows how a shy but determined girl took matters into her own hand.
Source: 4.bp

Our love began innocuously, on a day I least expected. I was in my final year of undergrad, it was a Monday, and I went to give the CAT exam (the first computer-based CAT) at my centre. Since this was Delhi’s December, a sweater was required. A day earlier, I had researched in the Sunday paper that my lucky color was red and I was duly unpreparedly wearing the only red sweater I had – an old rag my grandma had once knitted with great passion, and which was still the brightest, most eye-numbing shade of red. I would never have dreamt of wearing this in public had it not been for its lucky properties on the day of my exam. I was certain that I would not meet anyone of consequence since all my friends had given the exam over the weekend.

As I stood outside the exam centre, looking awfully tired and poorly dressed (and confidently not giving a damn too), along came a long-nosed, popular guy from my college wearing what resembled a traffic policeman’s fluorescent orange jacket. With him was an incredibly handsome stranger. The minute I saw Mr. Longnose, I shrank in fear and realised the grave sin I had committed by coming in my ragged state. It was to no avail – he saw me and whispered something to his handsome friend. The handsome guy didn’t move much, just stood straight and kept staring at me. Longnose kept darting his face between me and Handsome, quite clearly gossiping about me, my outfit, and perhaps everything nasty he knew about me.

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Love in The Time of My First Year Of College: My entry for the Get Published contest

Please vote for my idea and help me get published, at: Indiblogger's Get Published Forum!  

I'd like to write about a short (one-year), undefinable pseudo-relationship that I had with a boy right after entering college. I was confused about life, unsure of my career direction and unwilling to give into love so soon after joining college (but hopelessly infatuated!). The guy I was in love with was all too willing to be my 'best friend' (which I requested him to be until I was ready to be in a relationship) but it got messy when he insisted on calling it something more, and I couldn't. What added to my dilemma was the influence of the stars (!), my family being many, many miles away (and consequent homesickness), and my unhappiness with my college degree.

The year I was in love with him, and the years afterwards that I spent erasing memories, resulted in huge changes in my life and outlook. As my body and mind quibbled with the gamut of emotions flitting through my heart, I discovered that my 'strong' rational side could be broken down into smithereens. Past performance is never any guarantee of future results.

I still believe that no amount of books, movies or otherwise-gathered knowledge can teach you the lessons that a real-life relationship does. But I still want to narrate mine.

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Over-Population is the SINGLE largest problem plaguing our nation!!!

There...I've said it.

Source: Indian Online Pages, India Population 2011

<Breathes a HUGE sigh of relief>

I've been thinking this for many years now, but then I've controlled myself, assuming that there was something wrong in my thinking - that either I had incomplete information or I was basing my results on false assumptions or flawed reasoning. I used to think, there must be something to the "India will be a superpower because its biggest asset is its large population" hard sell being done by the media and the government.

But now, armed with a couple of degrees (which I pursued enthusiastically hoping that I'd be more enlightened) and some thoughtful observations, I can safely say that

a) College degrees (at least in India) don't do squat for learning about real-world problems
b) I am certain that if there was only problem the Indian government could tackle, or one issue that Satyamev Jayate needed to sell to the masses, or one charity that the world could support - it should be the Drive to Control India's Population.

I have never been more sure of anything else.

I'm too tired to attempt an explanation of my thought process at the moment. (Perhaps in an update later I'll add to this post). All I can say right now is that I've thought this through, and I'm certain that our NGOs need to massively focus on incentivising fewer babies (and, of course, more female children).
  • Maybe this could be achieved by paying out a few lakhs per year to poor households who have one female child instead of a horde of sickly, naked kids who beg outside temples and hawk items on the roadside.
  • Perhaps this could be done by setting up special, high quality, free boarding schools for the education of children whose parents have only child and are below the poverty line (e.g. daily wage labourers or rickshaw-pullers). In the evenings in these schools, the children could be taught skills that would help them get decent jobs right after high school - hopefully of their choice. In case not, at least they could be trained to be the more technically competent plumbers, electricians and construction labourers. Or the 'educated' kind of nannies you'd be willing to trust your kids to.
  • Have I said that the best part of this scheme would be bidding goodbye to child labour?
I don't know why the government ignores over-population as the single largest problem in our country. I don't see the point of spending crores on so-called 'development schemes' when ultimately you're still limiting the poor to the lifestyle of "labourers-without-education-and-hence-without-tools" and literally encouraging them to multiply as it is the only way they can earn money. Have you ever seen labourers digging the sides of India's roads in the heat, with a single pick-axe? Then you know what I'm talking about. They wear dirty, dusty rags around their heads (instead of any kind of construction helmet or sun-hat) and literally dig 'blow by blow' to any depth - instead of using drills. You can only imagine, how, after that kind of day's work, the only thing they'd want to do at home is drink and have as many children as possible so they can help out in the work/earning.

Source: The Hindu
If only there were NGOs (or government schemes, dammit!) that encouraged them to have one child (and educate him/her) by providing them a good lifetime stipend for doing the same. Then the kid would grow up into the skilled labour of the next generation. Even if the child grows up to work as a construction labourer, he would have better industrial training (be it use of drills or helmets), leading to greater safety, better conditions of living and and productivity for our stuttering economy.

EDIT: Oh wow! In my search for images for this blog post, I came upon this site...check it out! ( I'm making a very politically incorrect statement here and I'm a modern-day Malthusian? Don't think so. I'm not wishing death or bird flu upon the poor. I'm looking for a method by which our government/NGOs could really support poor households into better lifestyles instead of continuing the tragic poverty-overpopulation cycle.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Shedding My "Blogging Self-Respect"

I began blogging in order to express myself freely, hoping for feedback and comments on whatever (and I seriously mean anything) I post. I never thought what I posted in my blog could be subject to self-censorship as it is in real life. (Unfortunately, I can't be freely expressive in my everyday life, as reputations last a lifetime and I don't want a random comment to be misinterpreted by an acquaintance as being "batty" or "weird"...) I hate restrictions and I hate having to be politically correct in real life, hence this blog began. Yet I've realised that within a few months of having started this blog, I've made a few followers (thank you if you're reading this!) and now I don't want to lose them by talking too radically... I've formed and changed my opinion on many things since I first started blogging, yet I don't want to let down those that might have expected a 'certain kind' of writing from me.
Strange dichotomous position I find myself in... kinda like an indie musician who's faced with the choice of remaining authentic or selling out i.e. making mainstream music for money and profits... ;)

Image credit
<Looooonnng, pensive think.>

I can't do this. I've decided I can't be unfaithful with the express purpose of setting up this blog. If you dislike what I blog about, you are free to unfollow me and stop reading further. (I'm tempted to write: "The followers be damned!" in the spirit of "The money be damned!", but don't want this to be misunderstood as arrogance. It's not. It means I don't want to live up to anyone's expectations, and that includes followers/readers.)

<Finally feel freeeeeee!>

So here goes, some not-so-interesting-to-anyone-other-than-myself issues I really feel like writing about (longer posts will follow later, when I'm free!):

1) Being a nerd in high school and how I think it was a difficult time, in many ways. Love this essay by Paul Graham, here. There's a good debate (and critique) of the same essay in the comments of this blog post here.
2) Discovering that the guy I had a crush on is a 90%-confirmed a**hole and the only thing he suffers from is a superiority complex and a bloated ego (despite looking like he was a misunderstood loner). Instead of my sympathy, he is far more well-deserving of my cold shoulder, if not outright contempt. Simultaneous heartbreak and heartburn (and anger and fury and wrath and...)...!!! (Better let my temper cool before I write about this one!)
3) I support LGBT rights (and I'm neither lesbian nor bisexual myself so please don't assume that's why). I've been dying to blog about the rights of LGBT people but couldn't come around to writing a post...And why I support them is simply because I've read enough and watched enough movies to realize that love and meaningful relationships are scarce and if people find what they're looking for with someone from the same sex (like they did in Brokeback Mountain, or The Kids Are All Right or Beginners) then it's unfair to keep them apart to conform to 'social expectations' (that really are a set of stupid rules that don't amount to anything in the long run in anyone's life). I know many people in India disagree, and the social stigma remains, but I've decided I'm on the side of the LGBT rights activists.
4) I hate the current crop of politicians in India. I think this country suffers from terrible leadership. Mamta Banerjee is clearly the biggest bane at the moment. Why Time gives prestigious coverage to belligerent ministers like Mamta and Narendra Modi instead of Nitish Kumar baffles me! I don't know what will save us. Looking forward to fleshing out my case on this point SOON!
5) I hate marriage. If I ever get married, it will be for money/security alone. It will be an auction where the highest bidder wins. It can't be for love. Only kids and rich people should believe in love. For me at least, it can't sustain a relationship. Case to be explained soon.
6) I want to write something on the strangeness of my life and the broadness of human experiences. Will care to explain later.
7) Something on my grandparents. Before you go running for the box of tissues...let me clarify that they're about as loving as Sleeping Beauty's Stepmom or the what Evil Queen was to Snow White. So no sympathies. This is going to be one complicated real-life story on family politics and how Old is NOT Gold. Sometimes old people are just cruel, as my grandparents have demonstrated.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Wanted: A Reality Show on "Social" Issues Like Rural Poverty

Photo credit: Google
Okay - so we have the IPL, we have Bigg Boss, and we have MTV Roadies which have all been huge successes on Indian television (unfortunately!).

Why can't some enterprising TV producer come up with a mix of the three and have rich "team-owners" be responsible for transforming ONE destitute village each into paragons of good rural infrastructure, great support systems and help the villagers achieve self-sufficient employment? I'm sure the impoverished members of any village would be glad to participate in this social experiment if it helps them get food in their stomachs. The TV producers would be well off as the competitive game format would compel viewers to watch and vote for their favourite transformation. The team-owners (well-known public figures, who can have team members who are not as famous but have good domain-specific knowledge) would get chance to do something good with their popularity, as well as earn the goodwill of the public. I also hope that viewers of this show would have interesting out-of-the-box suggestions to offer their favourite team-owner, hence harnessing the power of ideas from all over India.

But the best part, for me, would be finally seeing the 'reality' in a reality show. 200 million people in India are still starving, yet no TV channel acknowledges or beams any show around alleviating this problem.

Even if we have just 10 teams, we'll have 10 fewer hungry villages.

This post was inspired by Wall Street Journal's six-part series, "Starving in India: The Forgotten Problem". Funny Gypsy is in no way connected to the authors of that article; was merely saddened and spurred into writing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

What Facebook Did To Earn My Hate

Here’s the story behind my annoyance and spite:
Image Credit

When I tried reactivating my profile (that I had deactivated for a week because of exams) I was asked to wait for 24 Frigging Hours!!! This, when the need to reactivate was urgent and squeezed into a tight schedule!

I could just kill the software engineer that introduced this feature – how dare a social networking site literally “punish” me for deactivating my profile?? I’m an adult, I can choose how to spend my time and if I need some time away from Facebook they should let me go freely and return at my own will.

This rule is ridiculous. It’s encroaching on my freedom and choices.I really desperately needed to wish a new friend an already-belated happy birthday and due to this got even more delayed. (Unfortunately I hadn’t yet got her email id or phone number.)

Seriously, what does Facebook think it is?? I’m just going to go through everyone’s profile, collect their email ids and store them in my good old-fashioned Gmail and EMAIL them from now on. No other site I know has a 24-hour waiting clause for reactivating…this is just so Big-Brother-is-Watching (And-Hates-You-For-Deactivating) kind of intrusion of privacy!

Facebook can go screw itself. Wait 24 YEARS for me to return you Bloodsucking Social Networking Scumbags!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why Do You Smoke? - My Dating Dealbreaker

(Ok, I have busy times ahead and had promised myself I wouldn't blog again until May-end, but am so upset with a recent piece of news I think I'll keep brooding on it endlessly unless I get it out of my system.)

I just discovered that My Crush (the one I've written about in earlier posts, The Pain of Having a Secret Crush and My Never-Ending Crush) is a SMOKER!!!

The horror, the pain, the torture of having this piece of information is too much for my delicate constitution. I've never, NEVER liked a guy who smoked. In fact, the minute I learned a guy smoked (which was always in the early stages of meeting him, as smokers usually do so publicly), I'd never think about him romantically in the remotest sense. Of course, I have many friends who smoke, and I'm not prejudiced in that fundamentalist kind of way. It's just that when it comes to relationships, I think too "healthily" (call it neurotic if you want) and the last thing I want is to find true love and then have the love of my life die of lung cancer 10 years from now. I suppose you can partly blame Lurlene McDaniel for this phobia...I read too many of her books at the tender age of 11-14 years (For the vast majority of you who may not know Lurlene McDaniel - she always writes incredibly romantic stories in which one person is affected with a terminal illness. Needless to say, the last few chapters are teary messes for the average female reader. However, I think she deserves a Nobel for encouraging romantic young ladies to become medical researchers albeit motivated by the good of their future love lives.)
Anyway, this guy SMOKES, and I'm discovering this after two years of having a crush on him. I think the delay in getting this vital piece of information was partly caused by him being such a horrid recluse that it's impossible to catch a glimpse of him for months at a time, despite us being in the same class. Most of what I know about him, is from his friend's wall posts on Facebook (Note: He's not even my friend on Facebook, his friend is!), and when I saw this tragic post by his friend encouraging him not to smoke, I was shell-shocked. (Well, the post was tragic in the literal sense too - one of those 'lame joke' viral images in which a dead body was being compared to a cigarette - and his friend had tagged him in it, saying "You should stop smoking.")
I'm heartbroken and yet wondering if this painful piece of information has arrived suddenly to show me the way out of this one-sided attraction. Maybe the time has come to say goodbye to this crush.
Or my rigid values.

(Awkward pause, thinks for a while.)

Naaaah...I can't date/marry/live with a smoker. Farewell My Crush! (Easier said than done.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Importance of Being Focused

Lately I've been wondering if I have a direction or aim in life or if I'm destined to be one of those aimless, drifting souls who wander from one job to another in search of elusive happiness and stability.
I'm so restless, SO restless, it drives me crazy. My pounding, impatient heart seems to always be beating for the next big kick - whether it is planning out what jobs to try out in the next few years (as I drop one after another every few months) or whether it is pacing in slow dread of the next job that drags beyond a year. Where is my persistence and focus? I wonder if I'm capable of it in any field.
I think of joining academics or the corporate sector or a government job and feel equally dissatisfied with each of them. To make things more complicated, I can't even rank them in terms of dissatisfaction or which I hate or prefer the most. What adds to the confusion is my refusal to stop there...I then wonder if perhaps I should think of entrepreneurship or working in a creative field (options in which, among other things, include becoming a writer or a movie director or scriptwriter...!)
If this thinking cannot be called mad, then what can?
I know I'm not stupid (at least not intellectually, though I suspect indecisiveness is a form of experiential stupidity) but I feel like my lack of focus may be my biggest drawback. This is a drawback that I fear will overshadow any amount of strength I may derive from having a high IQ or (if i'm lucky) glimpses of genius. This indecisiveness could cost me a fulfilling life...I'd hate to just drift along till I'm 60 and then realise I should have found my aptitude in time and focused on one field instead of wasting all those years...

I need to learn to focus and I need to learn what to focus on. I come. (But how many times have I said that already in the past seven years? I've never been able to consistently meditate regularly for more than 3 days in a row, 5 minutes at a time. I pity myself.)

What will save me?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Poor Man And His Sick Son [Time To Change!]

This incident happened a few days ago and the guilt is still fresh in my mind, hence I'm writing this post. Though I question what my blogging about this man will do to help him, I also believe that my staying mum will certainly not help him either. Hence, perhaps my act of writing about this, and someone's act of reading about this may just help, in some small way. Let's see...


A few days ago I went to college and attended two dull lectures as usual. Our Professor, who is also the Director of the institute, took a few extra minutes of our lunch break, as a result of which the class became restless. As soon as he was done and walked out the door, everyone jumped to their feet and stashed registers and pens in their bags to leave.

"Ek minute, rukooo!" (One minute, stop!) a hoarse voice lamentably implored from where our Director had been standing only minutes before. As we turned around to look at the blackboard, we saw a short, stout and dark middle-aged man in ragged clothes standing with his arms flailing, looking nervous. "Please, ek minute, please rukoo! Bahut zaroori baat karni hai!" (Please, one minute, please stop! Have something very important to say!) he continued, his voice trembling.

Now, we're a class of over 40 students. Some of us hesitantly went back to our seats to hear what this man had to say. However, some of my classmates took one look at the man and judged that what he was saying wasn't important enough to be considered (being in the same institute for 2 years, they could easily recognize who the powerful in our department were and hence deserved the respect of being heard.) Since this man was clearly not from our academic department and his clothes and manner of speaking suggested he wasn't important, they walked out the door as if he hadn't existed. The man watched their cold backs walking out the door and beseeched, "Please! Ek minute! Please!" but to no avail.

Once the footsteps of those that had walked out had faded, the man turned his eyes to those that were still seated. About twenty students remained. His eyes were red and damp. Not just damp, but watery and swollen, as if he'd been crying for many days. He looked at us, teary-eyed, folded his hands in supplication, and earnestly entreated,

"Please bachchon, meri madad karo...Mera beta bahut beemaar hai...Usko hamne hospital mein operation karaya 50,000 rupaiye ka par unhone galat ilaaj kiya, uska galat kaan ka ilaaj hua aur woh paralysed ho gaya. Uske kaan mein dalne ki cheez bhi kharaab ho gayi. Phir humne use doosre hospital mein operation karaya par wahaan uski ilaaj mein 1,50,000 ka kharcha hai. Par hum is operation ke liye paise nahin jod sakte. Humne Rotary Club se baat ki hai, unhone 1,00,000 diye hain, Humne aur colleges se bhi 25,000 rupaiye ki maang ki hai. Ab sirf aapka college rahta hai. Humne aapke Director se permission li hai, unhone kaha hai ki hum aaj ki class ke baad aap logon se maangne aa sakte hain. Please meri help kijiye. Mere bete ki jaan ka sawaal hai... Please aap jitna bhi de sakte hain, please!"

(Please, children, help me...My son is very sick...We paid 50,000 rupees for his operation in a hospital but they did it wrong, they did the wrong treatment of the wrong ear and he became paralysed. Even the device they gave to keep in his ear is not working. Then we went to get his operation done in another hospital but there the expense is 1,50,000 rupees. We cannot arrange for so much money for this operation. We have spoken to the Rotary Club, they have agreed to give 1,00,000 for this operation and students from other neighbouring colleges have agreed to give 25,000. Only your college is left. I have taken permission from your Director and he said that I could come speak to you after your class and ask you. Please help me. This is for my son's life, please donate anything you can, please!")

Something about the way he spoke made me realise that this was no fraud. He was genuinely distressed, extremely poor and clearly a very responsible father. I could only imagine how difficult it would be to be in his position; to not be able to afford your child's medical bills and to be faced with the prospect of your child going untreated as a result of your poverty. He deserved our sympathy and support.
Here comes the shocker in the story: The class's highest-scoring, frontbencher student asked to see any "documents" and the man showed him 2 laminated copies of letters from the Rotary Club saying that they were partially contributing to his son's operation bills. After reading these, Mr. Frontbencher decided not to contribute. As the poor man made his way around to collect money, one student contributed 500 rupees, another contributed 200 rupees, and 3 others (including myself) contributed 100 rupees each. That makes a total of 1000 rupees. The rest either politely declined as he approached them or ran out the door before he could approach him, thus showing him more cruel, cold backs.

He profusely thanked those of us that had contributed and walked out, head lowered and shoulders drooping into the empty hallway. It is difficult for a person who is not used to begging to have to beg. What I fail to understand is why didn't I contribute 500 rupees? And why didn't all 40 of us contribute at least 50 rupees each? Alas, us middle-class human beings, ensconced by all kinds of insurance schemes, don't understand how difficult unexpected medical bills can be when you're poor.
In fact, I too only understood the man's situation when the unnamed guilt that seeped into my heart refused to go away. Upon being forced into reflection, I accepted this guilty feeling stemmed from realizing how selfish and stupid I'd been and how vacuous we as postgraduate students were to refuse to help. Shame on our education, shame on our adulthood and shame on everything dynamic we 'youth' are supposed to stand for...

From the above incident, I hope I have drawn attention to the fact that sudden healthcare costs (e.g. major operations) are prohibitively expensive for the poorer sections of society.

It is Time to Change this situation and I wish to provide a helping hand to this cause (and to people like the poor man in the above incident) by constructing the following:

- A non-profit website should be set up where poor people ("Requesters") can explain their medical issues -with descriptions, pictures, etc - that require urgent funding. Visitors to the website who wish to donate ("Donors") can then make direct donations to foot their medical bills. (Hopefully even sponsors can make donations.)
- Any person who has a genuine medical problem (and his/her relatives who are making the request) should first be verified before their request is uploaded onto the website - and the contact details of the doctors and hospitals in question should also be disclosed so that frauds and scams are avoided.
- Donations can be of any value i.e. even rupees 50... and should be available to be made in all forms - i.e. Cash (the person's relatives could come collect it), Credit/Debit card, Cheque, etc.
- There should also be an option of lending money to the poor person (under condition that he pays it back within, say 1-3 years), without interest or with a very low rate of interest. This option should only be made available if the Requester is comfortable with paying back that amount. This option should also only be introduced if the money cannot be raised by donation means. This option is to encourage people who normally wouldn't donate more than 100 or 500 to consider loaning 5000 (with the surety that they'll be returned 5000 within a year, and will hence only make a loss of 500 on it in terms of foregone interest).
- Post-treatment details should also be uploaded onto the site, so that the donors have an incentive to take interest in a stranger's medical case (as they can understand what they're helping to pay for).

I don't know if any NGOs are already working like this. If there are... I hope that they are successful and would raise awareness so they can also reach out to poor fathers like the man who had to come begging to my college on Monday.

This post is an entry in a contest, Time to Change! ("If you could change something around you, what would it be?"), organized by Stayfree.  For further details check out:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Why am I single when I would like to be in a relationship?

[Disclaimer: Though what I write on this blog, being titled "Funny Gypsy (in India!)" is clearly intended to be light-hearted, I am sometimes quite embarrassed by how trivial the 'issues' and 'personal problems' I am writing about sound to anyone who is following the news these days. I know there are a million things wrong in this world - war, extreme poverty, financial crisis, unemployment, terrorism, corruption, etc... I follow the news too, and I plan to be a fulltime activist someday. Hence, please don't get influenced by the frivolous content of this post and believe that this is all there is to life. Do something REAL with your life, something that makes a REAL difference to the world around you. At the same time, it is important to unwind and if this helps you relax or help you understand yourself better, that's well and good. This blog is just my temporary, lighthearted escapism and public brainstorming. Hope that for you too it is just temporary fun. God help you if you live like this 24/7. You'd be the shallowest person on earth...]

[Just had an epiphany: Wouldn't it be cool if all gossip magazines had a mandatory disclaimer similar to the one above before each of their articles? Would society improve?]

Lately I've been ruminating about my single-hood. To be honest, I'm always ruminating about my single-hood (and other important international issues), but lately I've been obsessing about it to a degree even my normal ruminating self would find deplorable. I'm not sure what triggered this momentum in "Reflections on Being Single", but I suspect it stems from being exposed to two main triggers:

1) Impending graduation (from my postgraduate college) reminding me how old I really am and how long ago it was when I had just turned 18 and thought,
"Wow! I'm an adult! Now I can do anything (and I won't get to go to a Juvenile Court for it)! I am legally entitled to blah, blah and blah. I can do this, this and this on my own now. I feel mature enough to make a boyfriend and am even eligible to marry him!" (Despite the strange optimism I felt on my 18th birthday, I have been unsuccessful at finding a boyfriend, much less marrying him.)

2) Reading Kate Bolick's popular cover article for The Atlantic, titled "All the Single Ladies". I honestly don't remember how I stumbled upon this, I believe I was searching for one of her articles on property that she had written for the Wall Street Journal, and instead the cover page image of The Atlantic flashing "What, Me Marry?" turned up on Google News .

Given that 20% of my brain at any given time is preoccupied with single-hood, hence the title caught my eye (and my imagination). I instinctively assumed this was an omen from the universe to help me learn to relish my situation. Boy, was that was one enormous error of judgement... I started reading the gargantuan piece thinking I was one of a niche crowd of happy single women and ended it with the dreadful feeling that I'm only a small cog in a social revolution that implies that most emancipated single women aren't really choosing their lack of marital status - rather they are left with no choice! What was even worse for insecure li'l me was that all the examples spoke of women who chose not to marry but (at least) had boyfriends! I have never, ever even been in a relationship, so even calling myself a cog is an overstatement! I have to be a nail, a nut or a bolt in this revolution. Probably a nut. Most definitely a nut.

Since then, my brain's resource allocation to "Worrying About Being Single" has been automatically doubled to 40%. (Note that worrying is one of those things that our brains does as a reflex reaction - hence my conscious, thinking side has little say in what my retarded, worrying side chooses to spend time worrying about). I know you must be thinking "Stop Whining Already!" I'm wary of stereotypes and I detest people who ape stereotypes. But I'm NOT aping the Spinster, Bimbo or Boyfriend-Seeking-Control-Freak.


Bimbo (mostly for PR and fame though)
Control Freak (Thank you Miranda!)


Unfortunately, I'm also not yet the Strong-Independent-Woman-Who-Is-Happy-On-Her-Own (how I wish I could be!).
Strong, Single, Independent, Happy Woman
Though I really value my achievements and career and believe that women are strong and equal to men, I still feel a hole in my soul. I am genuinely concerned as to why I'm not in a relationship and never have been. Why don't I have a partner who cares about me more than my friends and would like to share his life with me (and oh-so-romantically ask me to share my life with him)? I really don't know how things came to be that I've passed a quarter of my life but have never dated anyone.

The (research) question I pose to myself is thus,
"Why am I single when I would like to be in a relationship?"
After much brainstorming and mindlessly writing down whatever comes into my mind, my mind battled itself in the following (uncensored) conversation:

Pessimistic/Critical/Evil Me: You're unattractive. You're quite clearly just not good-looking enough. No wonder no guy wants to be with you.

Slightly optimistic/Realistic/Rational Me: What nonsense! I'm decent-looking...I'm not great-looking or drop-dead gorgeous but with a bit of dressing up I do belong to the 'average or above' category. Besides, guys have asked me remember that guy who peed in his pants in Grade 3? He asked me out in Grade 6.

Pessimistic/Critical/Evil Me: The one you danced with at the prom in Grade 7? (sniggers)

Slightly optimistic/Realistic/Rational Me: You don't have to bring that up! I felt sorry for him so I said yes to the dance...(Aside: He had a boner throughout the dance and it was the grossest, most disgusting dance experience in my teenage entire life.)...though I regret it now.

Pessimistic/Critical/Evil Me: Yeah, you had to avoid him like the plague after you realised he'd interpreted your consenting to dancing with him as dating.

Slightly optimistic/Realistic/Rational Me: Forget that. Besides, I don't think guys go only for beauty or attractiveness, they like a girl's personality. I've been asked out by many guys since then...

Pessimistic/Critical/Evil Me: Enlighten me, why exactly are you single then?

Slightly optimistic/Realistic/Rational Me: I never said yes...

Pessimistic/Critical/Evil Me: And why didn't you say yes?

Slightly optimistic/Realistic/Rational Me: The guys who ask me out are invariably the weirdest, creepiest and most unattractive (to me) of the bunch. In Grade 10, he was a bratty drug addict and completely disinterested in his studies. He didn't fit my idea of an ideal boyfriend. In college, the first guy who asked me out was a chain-smoker, and the second one was a spoilt-rich-kid sports addict. Neither cared much about their academics, the only difference between the two was that the former cleared his exams while the latter flunked most of them. Then there was the College Creep who maintained his record of asking out a girl a week and invariably receiving negative responses. He tried stalking me on Orkut, thank God I had the guts to reply, "Get lost" before it got any further. Then there was that Oddball from another stream who came to ask for my class notes. Though this one clearly cared about his studies, I didn't find him romantically appealing at all. I thought I should not hurt his feelings though and went for a coffee, which I clearly stated was only to be friends, but after that he started stalking too. I realised then that I had to be mean and told him stay away from me and avoided him, not even replying to his (unsolicited) birthday wishes. I don't want to talk about anymore of my 'encounters'. (Sigh.) Basically, it seems that the guys that ask me out are the ones I don't like. And the guys I do like never ask me out. In fact, most of the time they don't acknowledge my existence, or even if they do it's never anything more than as an acquaintance or a distant friendship.

Pessimistic/Critical/Evil Me: So you're stuck in No-Man's Land? You're not amazing enough to be with the guys you like but you consider yourself far above the level of the guys that like you?

Slightly optimistic/Realistic/Rational Me: No I wouldn't say I'm far above the guys that like me...I'm just very different from them. They might see me as something that I'm not, and I know just by looking at them that I won't get along with them. Similarly, I don't think the guys I like are out of my fact sometimes they appear very similar to me - in background, interests, style and communication. I seriously believe that if they take the first step we'd be able to discover how well we gel together. But I don't know how love works in this world. They never take that step in my case.

Pessimistic/Critical/Evil Me: Aren't you being a hypocrite? If you can judge a guy you don't like before dating him, don't you think the guy you like can judge you too? And thus the endless loop of broken hearts...

Slightly optimistic/Realistic/Rational Me: That's possible. But that also means that I'm the girl they don't like. And they pine away for a girl they like... (Panic sinks in) So I will never be able to date a guy I like! My resolve to wait for the Right Guy will erode, bit by bit, and I'll eventually say yes to a guy I don't like! (Hyperventilating.)

Pessimistic/Critical/Evil Me: I think you're being too pessimistic.

Slightly optimistic/Realistic/Rational Me: I think you're being too optimistic.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Choosing between Work and Recognition

 If you had a choice between...
1) Setting up and running an unknown NGO that saves 1000 extremely destitute people's lives, but not earning any recognition for it.
2) Becoming famous for working in 'poverty and development'...writing and publishing wildly successful books and with seminars attended by people in the tens of  thousands, being nominated for the Nobel many times - maybe even winning it once!

Which would you choose? The too-much-work without recognition? Or the too-much-recognition that appears not to be derived from any work that has made a major difference in someone's life?

Which life path beckons you?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Obituary to a Dear Stranger

An old classmate and the friend of a friend passed away yesterday. He died of natural causes (although the exact reason has not been ascertained). He was all of 22 years old.
When I heard the terrible news I instinctively felt sorrow and pain at the news of his death. He'd been a brilliant student, extremely quiet but friendly if you tried to talk to him. Unfortunately, being a shy one myself, I never got to talk to him more than once.
After feeling the grief and pain for more than two hours, in an effort to shake off the sadness, I asked myself why I felt so sad for the passing away of a boy who was no more than a complete stranger. Just because I was witness to his intelligence or presence in the classroom does not mean I knew him any more than the crowd of faces I see every day when I walk along the road. Then why did I get affected so deeply and personally?
It was then that a realization dawned upon me. I had been saddened because, though I didn't know him personally, I had never seen anything wrong or bad about him. I'd seen a "good" human being in him. Someone who was a genius in his subject, yet modest and shy. I hadn't seen him as greedy or jealous or conniving or competitive - and I can't say the same for many of my other classmates. Unlike them, he'd seemed like one of those genuinely nice guys who live in their own abstract worlds, along with a few of their close friends. He was an aspiring professor. A brilliant and true student. A genuine person.
Thus, something about his appearance, his attitude and ambitions, to me, suggested that he was very good. I frankly don't believe there are any good people in this world these days - everyone is ever-darker shades of grey. But he seemed more innocent than the others, one of the lightest shades if I may so say.
God bless his soul.
May he rest in peace. I know I will always remember him.

PS: Another insight I gained from brooding over his death was:
1) I should make the most of my short life on this planet. Not waste time, not a single minute! Every minute should go towards happiness - be it my future career and hobbies, my family, my friendships and relationships, or sharing gyaan (Hindi: wisdom) on my blog. But NOT on crying over spilt milk or worrying about silly things that are out of my control (e.g. true love).
2) I should smile at more people and befriend more people... else I guess the only friends I have will be the extroverts who want to talk to me (who are great people and I love their company, but I should I also be talking to the ones who are too shy to come talk to me!)

PPS: I'm going to go off on a slightly absurd philosophical tangent here so please discontinue reading if you don't want to hear me rambling:
I also realised that there are are hundreds of faces I see every day, be it on the streets, in restaurants and cafes or in marketplaces and metros and buses. A series of blurs. Some strike you for a few minutes, some stand out (for looking very different) but over a few hours are eventually forgotten. Out of these - a very few people, due to repeated contact such as being your classmates or office colleagues or neighbours or regular traveling partners or friends of friends earn your trust, friendship and loyalty over time. But how you meet them is almost random. I think luck and destiny plays a huge role in selecting the people you get to know and who you don't. So all that talk of 6 billion people out there for you isn't really true. In a single lifetime, you may not encounter more than a hundred thousand - many of them randomly chosen for you by some wheel of fortune.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Quotes That Inspire Me - 1

Inspiration can come from any and many. Anyone can write a short sentence or paragraph or story that can affect you profoundly and teach you something. However, though many things can be inspiring, it is those that affect what is weakest in us that we'd like to be able to refer to when we're feeling bad.
For example, if low self-confidence is your problem then quotes on procrastination wouldn't help at that particular point in time.
The following is a quote that I'd like to remember when I'm feeling nervous or unconfident:
Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.
-William Shakespeare
I hope I never forget this. I have a tendency to be worried and nervous and self-sabotaging. I hope remembering this helps me to trust in myself. :) 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Pain of Having a Secret Crush

Secret crush? It's painful, no doubt about it.
More so when he's an achingly handsome recluse with that rare deep, probing stare that lights up your inner-most, dormant fire. Describing him as reclusive is an understatement. He attends college, on average, once a month. And if I happen to bunk that day, I don't see him until the next month. Naturally, to circumvent this contingency, I attend all my classes. (Damn it! Why do I have a soft spot for Handsome Weirdos?!)
Double the torture if you've not told any of your close friends (and the few mutual acquaintances you've mildly confessed your 'slight' interest to immediately reacted with "Yuck! He's so weird! You have such bad taste! He's a lonely creep and he stinks!" after which you are forced to hurriedly retract your initial expression-of-interest with an "I was just asking, silly! Of course I'm not serious, hehe."). Ouch.
Triple the agony if you consider he's so 'different' that he doesn't smile or talk to girls (other than routine transactions like asking to borrow the computer they're on or what the teacher said while he was zoned out). He's said to have 0 female friends. Furthermore, the last 3 times I've tried smiling at him discreetly (these intermittent initiatives have been spaced out over the past year and a half to ensure he doesn't guess my real intentions) he paused in his steps and glared back at me like I was an adversary pointing an AK-47, then promptly looked away and walked on.
How many more signs can a stupid girl ask for?
I hate limerance and infatuation. Yet I've been stuck in this obsessive "relationship" for over two years now! Every time I think of love, I think of him...knowing fully well (from umpteen movies, books and dating advice) that this is nothing more than a stupid, pointless one-sided crush and could never develop into a proper, healthy relationship once the 'initial attraction' phase is over! Why can't my bloody brain just control the darn heart and tell it to concentrate on pumping blood and stop wasting its time?
Even from an evolutionary perspective, what is the point of this? I certainly don't want misogynist, reclusive, weird babies with him...nor do I think he'd make a good partner (though I'm introverted, his extreme reclusiveness is not compatible with my long-term vision of how my life should be). I also suspect he's not entirely heterosexual, yet a part of me wants to believe he just had a troubled childhood and I've met a real-life Lars (character from the movie Lars and the Real Girl). Haha...I've practically concocted a tragic past life for him so I can absolve him of all blame for his strangeness and save him with my love (I guess it'd be nice to be one of the rare female Knights in Shining Armor!)...
Meanwhile, his academic performance has been dreadful recently - it almost seems as if he's not interested in a job, friends or a normal 'successful' life! His CGPA has been steadily declining for the past two years and I think he's now close to the lowest percentile in the class with no extracurricular achievements (or even activities) to boast of. Even the rational part of me would agree that it hurts to see how he's wasting away his intelligence, time and opportunities (this college is one of the best in India)...yet instead of condemning him for his indolence my emotional heart would rather dream about improving him and his life! And that too without communicating with him even once! My in-depth secret research and analysis of his hobbies has yielded interesting gossip - he basically loves watching Eastern TV shows, movies and graphic novels and likes proclaiming himself as "lazy" and "laidback". I guess he has taken it too far...
He's definitely a weird nut.
But then...when you think about...I'm a much, much weirder nut for liking him, researching him, wondering about him, worrying about him and finally blogging about him...Horror!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Existential Crisis - Why Do I Blog?

Why do I blog? Why must this blog exist when there are millions already out there that are similarly rambling? Why must I anonymously post about myself online when the audience is satiated? Will I really be making a difference to someone's life? I don't think so...I barely have a readership (the thought consumes me so!)
If I continue along the same line of thinking, I could easily end up persuading myself to shut down this blog.
And subsequently, cease to try living...("Huh?" You wonder, "What did she just say?" Go it again...I meant every word.)
After all, by the same logic as above, why must I breathe or eat or sleep when there are millions out there similarly breathing, eating and sleeping? Why must I read, study, work or use the Internet when there are millions out there that can do the same...? With every additional minute I take up on earth, I'm using up the earth's resources and were I to refuse to do so they would be split among the remaining human beings, who are barely distinguishable from me. I do not possess extraordinary ability; my absence from earth would not be noticed and my work could easily be replicated by another person (provided they are given similar education, etc.). The natural question arises...should I even be living?
Alas this analogy between blogging and living has heated up my mind so potently that I now guard my blog like I would my life.
I blog, therefore I exist.
Hence, I must blog.

Words That Mesmerise Me

I love words - I suppose all wannabe writers do. Following is a list of words that are especially uncommon (you can interpret this line as meaning "I just heard of them recently and would like to remember them for posterity!") Clearly, some of them are NOT beautiful.
(I hate to admit this but the irony of my word-collection habits is perhaps best summed up by my forgetfully writing 'posteriority' instead of 'posterity' above! Thank God the former doesn't exist, or even automated Spell-check couldn't have saved me!)
  1. Scuttle
  2. Maven
  3. Feckless
  4. Trenchant
  5. Twat (I learned this while watching Easy A.)
  6. Peroration
  7. Mojo (I'm kind of cheating while putting this in as I already knew the meaning when I heard it again recently...but I just love this word! Thank you Powerpuff Girls.)
  8. Hax (I learned this while stalking my crush. He uses it a lot while posting comments. Will ask him why if and when we ever talk.)
  9. Unctuous
  10. Hausfrau
  11. Blandishments
  12. Patsy
  13. Tong
  14. Akira Kurosawa (I didn't want to end on 13 so I just randomly wrote his I update this list I'll add more words!)

My First Movie Review: The Help

Since this is my first movie review, please don't expect too much out of me. I would just like to share my opinion of the movie (for more erudite criticism please read the weekly review columns in top international journals or visit So, here goes...
 The Help
This movie touched me in a way the best of movies haven't recently. I've enjoyed many well-made movies in the past month - be it the dramatization and music in Drive or growing maturer with Adam as he combated cancer with humour in 50/50. But The Help in a different league for me - one of the few movies where I feel like the main character IS me. Not only is Skeeter the same age (a very trivial similarity!), but she has the same weaknesses and the same ethics, values and dreams. Hell, she even approaches relationships and love the same way as me! (Though I admit I have a weakness for long-lasting hopeless crushes, when it comes to my views on love and commitment, I really do think that if it doesn't happen properly I'm better off being single forever! There's no space for marriage for the sake of it!)
Based on how this movie affected me, I especially recommend this movie to every young female (student or professional) who wants to live her life with a purpose - in particular the scene where Constantine speaks to a young, dowdy Skeeter on a bench struck a very strong chord with me.
Furthermore, the developments with her romantic interest (I would not like to reveal too much for fear of ruining the plot) were a good lesson in how differences arise in relationships and one sometimes has to make a choice between romance and your mission. (No prizes for guessing which side I am on...!)
At times, being surrounded by women chasing beauty and romance and seeing the media forever glamorising attractive women, I forget that women who have real goals and missions are more beautiful in the long run than those who are superficially attractive. Of course, being gorgeous is not wrong. What is wrong is to spend the majority of my time only working towards looking good. In fact, not only do I 'work' towards looking good - which technically isn't exactly a waste - but I do most-definitely waste copious amounts of time wishing I looked better! I believe it is important for me to remember that my worth lies elsewhere and irrespective of my appearance, I must achieve those goals. Insecurities be damned!

Movies I would Like to Watch This Year (in 2012)

Ahh...So 2012 looks promising in so many ways. One nice way to spend it would be to catch up on some movie-watching. So here is my list of movies that I have not yet seen (but am dying to get my hands on!):
Note: These are in order of desire.
  1. Hugo
  2. A Separation
  3. Dark Knight Returns
  4. Adventures of Tintin
  5. The Future

Do What You Love or Love What You Do?

Do what you love or love what you do?
Does this question puzzle ANYONE on this earth more than it irritates the hell out of me?! I mean I'd love to WRITE books but I can't, okay?
So I Must Choose Between Various Dreadful Corporate Back-office Jobs In The Hopes That Someday I Am Doing What I Love (Or At Least Have A Lot Of Money).
And Suffer And Endure Fears Of Recession And Layoffs.
Pray I Get Time Every Evening to Read A Bit. (But, seriously, how will I if I'm part of the rat-race?)
Fend Off Intrusive Relatives' Suggestions and Inquiries Into My "Stable-Government-Job" Plans. (Never, okay?! I don't want to live the rest of my days surrounded by dusty files and not making a bloody difference to anyone's life! Yuck.)
Endure Office Politics. (My biggest fear about wonder I want to become a writer! It's just a form of escapism...)

List to be updated soon...

Real Reason Why There Was Low Turnout at Anna's Mumbai (MMRDA) Meet

Many media commentators and politicians have overinterpreted "Why There Was Low Turnout at Anna's Mumbai (MMRDA) Meet". If those unqualified and biased persons are eligible to comment on the non-event then I think I certainly have the right to publish my opinion (not worth more than two cents to the serious reader, I assure you!). I may not be right, but at least I have the vantage point of being objective.
To put it simply - I think the low turnout was because people were afraid of a terrorist attack. There had been enough media rumours of the same to scare the public and very little to show in terms of prevention strategies - in fact the dominant perception was that "Team Anna is wholly responsible for the event". And though there was hollow talk of security being provided...all TV and newspaper clippings only showed tired policemen with BATONS (err - which era are we in?) standing around. There was NO X-ray machine, metal detector or entry-level manpost (for frisking) in sight.
(Correct me if I'm wrong, I didn't attend so I'm only basing my views on media reports.)
Had I been interested in going (I'm more of an Internet and coffeeshop activist...ahem...plain lazy) I would have feared for my life knowing Mumbai's history with terrorist attacks.
And I believe the rest of Mumbai's interested public thought along similar lines...

My Never-ending Crush

I've been dying to write about this (it's no simple coincidence that this is my second post!)

I've had a crush on a reclusive, giant hunk of a classmate for the past 2 years.

There, it's out of my system finally! :)

Details to follow soon... (Right now I'm working just on thought and blog organization as it's still my first few hours of starting this blog!)
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