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.
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