2Q17: I learned

I learned about magnitude. I learned that there are problems I need to solve alone, that no one else can solve for me even if they tried and there are problems which I can never solve alone, no matter how much I try. I learned that in order to solve the big problems, you need to solve the little ones first, especially the personal ones.

I learned what is important to me, what I want my life to be about. I want to fight climate change and save the environment because I have seen with my own eyes the true wonder of nature. You can travel the world and you can go trekking in all four corners of the globe but you can still not have understood what nature is capable of. You need to watch plants grow, you need to see how humans depend on them, you need to see the love between animals, something a lot of us lack. You need to live it, you need to be a part of it.

I learned that touring is different from experiencing. People visit several places, they sign up for all the guided tours and book all the cruises, but they come back the same as they were before they went. They come back exactly the same but with more material possessions. They go places and see wonders that humans created but they do not want to understand or interact with the humans who built them.

I learned about inter-dependency; how globalization veiled inter-dependency by offering us means through which we don’t have to know who created the things we use. I learned how this is dangerous.

I learned about loss and how we grieve it. I learned that animals grieve too. I learned that true strength lies in acceptance; that maturity can be measured by how fast we come to terms with events that shake us. I learned to emulate the Bhutanese; death is a part of life, and we have no reason to not joke about it as we do every other part of life.

I learned that a little humour goes a long way.

I learned that materialism is the key to misery. When you are able to sustain yourself and be happy living on the bare minimum, then you realize what sustainability actually is.

I learned that love can mean different things to different people and that’s okay. I learned how to build a fortress around my heart and why that’s not a bad thing.

I learned that there are different truths: the truth, the official truth and personal truth. The second is a half-truth, used by most governments to brainwash their population. The latter is the truth about your life experiences, your beliefs and your thoughts. Do we have the right to lie about our personal life if it does not impact other people? It is a question I am still contemplating the answer to but right now, I believe we do, but only if it does not affect anyone else’s life.

I learned that consistency is better than a few strong hits amidst several misses.

I learned to cherish the energy and enthusiasm that youth brings.

I learned the meaning of the word ‘home’: it’s much more than a place or a people and it can’t be identified purely from someone’s passport.

I learned how to write less but more; less words but with more meaning. I learned to appreciate the nuances.

I learned that the world is twisted; that it all boils down to power, not just money. So I learned to stray away from the mainstream.

I learned to discern lies, to question everything and when to speak out.

I learned most about the climate; or my lack of knowledge on the subject. I learned that we have crossed several tipping points that we shouldn’t have in our goal to stay below a 2 degree Celsius increase in temperature. I learned that it’s too late. But I also learned that being realistic is the best way to adapt and that sometimes, hope is the mask of fear.

In 2017, I learned to not plan out 2018 because life will come as it wishes anyway.


A Leash for my Sanity

If I could confront

my sanity with a look

and a leash to boot

I’d have my life pulled

from the pages of a book

which I have yet to write

from chapters that know

no boundaries and no sin

where the Devil is innocent

where the angels are drunk

where we revel in transgression.

I need a leash for my sanity

do you hear me

I need a leash

for a sanity

that was never mine.


Is it my turn now to play your game
to fill the gaps of incompetency
that you insist on flaunting
like an asset, the fact that you manage
to get your way and never get fired

Is it my turn now to fill the shoes
that would never fit you
but were kept for you
to be the sole that wears out later
while you remain polished leather

Is it my turn now to put up a facade
to claim teamwork where it was anything but,
to sacrifice my sleep for the sake of yours
while I’m crying in a downpour

Is it my turn now to step down
to turn my back on you
to never look back
to seek gratitude while there’s time
while you seek schadenfreude
Is it my turn now or is it yours?


via Daily Prompt: Hideout

I needed a prompt to let the floodgates out this time. I have a scar on my arm and I don’t know where it came from. I have discovered divinely immersive music after a long time. Tigran Hamasyan, Shai Maestro, Takuya Kuroda, Thelonius Monk and a little more Jazz make up my evening playlists. I have a very strong feeling that I need to be doing something else, i.e. not research, with my life. But I don’t know what and I’m unsure as to whether I even want to find out. Maybe I’m comfortable with the idea of a comfortable position as a scholar or researcher. But as was said in Dead Poets’ Society, isn’t poetry, romance, beauty and love what we live for? Do I need a noble pursuit to justify my existence or is that an overly exaggerated, capitalistic view? Do I owe it to my parents to keep pushing on in this field? I think I know the answer to the last question.

I need to know what constitutes satisfaction. Happiness, I am aware of. But true satisfaction, I have yet to experience. The mental kind, not the physical. Is it the practicalities of life clashing with the picture I’ve painted in my head of what life should be like? Is it just a childish pursuit of idealism that has left me in want of a state that I may never attain? Am I asking too many questions, throwing a fishing line into a polluted river and expecting the finest catch? Can I be trusted with finding my way in this world?

And if I assume this is all an illusion, why does that have to make it less real? Can curiosity get any curioser (“and curioser!” Cried Alice)? Am I painting the person in the mirror with impermanent watercolors? Am I too enraptured by fleeting encounters that were never meant to be? Or is this all just an excuse for me to hole up in my hideout and bury my head in the sand when reality comes knocking at my door?

Hadronic Proportions

I had three thoughts in the pooper today. I intend to share them because they’re genius of hadronic proportions. You didn’t get that did you? See that was the first thought. How us physicists (not one yet, but give me 2 more years will you? Jeez.) have the potential for so many inside jokes but sadly there are no inside-joke-club-for-the-scientifically-inclined that I know of. Or maybe I just haven’t searched enough. Anyway, back to hadronic proportions. Next time you see a mother bragging about the genius of her five year old kid who finally managed to not poop like an atom bomb and aim inside the cistern, try this:

Potty-trained brat’s trainer (le Mom): My child is potty trained now. He’s only five and he doesn’t need a diaper! Tiffany’s still does, poor her. I guess not all children are as smart as my little Timmy here, isn’t that right Timmy? *kid blows spit bubble*

You: Oh yes, brilliant! All I ever did at five was memorise the periodic table. Timmy is going to be a class topper, I can see it already. Intelligence of hadronic proportions!

Le potty trainer: Oh my! Hadronic proportions? Oh you’re making me shy now.

You (coyly): Just stating facts here. I must be off now (excuse yourself and leave before she googles the term).

You see my dear non-science-y folk, hadrons are tiny. Like unimaginably, unbelievably tiny. Tinier than electrons. You’ve never seen one have you? That’s because you can’t. They’re not as pretty as the artist’s rendition of them as round golden balls I assume, but the point is that they’re beyond microscopic. And once you’ve executed the task above, we shall chuckle together. I’ll be waiting here with a glass of wine for you and we shall toast to all things “they” deem nerdy and to Bill Nye and the exploration of the deep sea and porcupines that eat pineapples and Nigella Lawson because I have a girl crush on her. On a side note, never refer to a small slap on the butt as a collision of hadronic proportions because that’s a lot of energy. Like in the order of tera electron volts. What’s a tera you ask? It’s a multiple of 10 like a million or billion but much, much larger. Larger than Warren Buffet’s bank account? Oh yes, larger than his multiplied by Zuckerberg’s. I’ll leave you to the math.

The second thought was about Behance. You know, that website where you can put up your portfolio? You didn’t know? Yea well neither did I until yesterday. How did the founders come up with that name? And why? It puzzled me. If my friend hadn’t mentioned what it was, I would have inferred from the name that it’s some sort of plastic surgeon’s website focused on breast enhancement. I mean, B + enhance kind of equals behance. No? Ok. Moving on then.

So le idiot (a.k.a my bae) got banned on Uber for no logical reason we can think of. A week later or so, he got banned on Ola Cabs too. Ola, for all you first-world folks out there, is the Indian version of Uber. I actually like it better. Except occasionally when their fares are higher than Uber’s which doesn’t happen often but when it does, I reluctantly part with my cash to feed another one of Big Brother’s multiple conglomerates. We went through all the possibilities a thousand times and still came up with nothing. Did he rape a driver? There’s as much chance of him raping someone as there is of the world blowing up tomorrow (which is why I’m dating him because he’s a good guy). Ok, that’s actually possible if Trump gets drunk and accidentally presses the big red button in the nuclear warfare department that says “Don’t push”. But let’s assume the chances are one in a gazillion. Also, we’ve never encountered a female Uber or Ola driver as yet and my bae is definitely 200% straight. Did he not pay for any of his rides? He didn’t have an outstanding balance on Uber and before he got banned on Ola, he’d taken an Ola pass for a month for which he paid 2000 Rs. They took off with 1800 after blocking him. Did he have a fist-fight/abuse any of the drivers? He’s the laziest guy I know. He’ll avoid any fight like the plague. Also, he couldn’t think of any instance when a driver was pissed at him. Now that leaves us with the question as to why the apps won’t tell you what you got banned for. Applying common sense here, isn’t it in everyone’s best interest to tell people what they got banned for so that they won’t repeat it again on another app? Did we call customer care? Duh.

Ola’s customer support had this statement to repeat a thousand times: “We’re sorry sir but you have violated our Terms and Conditions.”

“Yes we know, but which part?”

“Sorry sir, we cannot disclose that information. ”

“But why?”

“No sir, it’s against our company policy.”

“But WHYYY?”

*click. beep*.

Uber doesn’t have a customer care number in India. Ha. Becuase the third world doesn’t have an even-lower world to outsource their call centers to and also because we obviously don’t deserve one seeing as how much money they make off us, right?

I have a feeling it’s all a conspiracy. My third thought was a conspiracy theory on how all the ‘rival’ companies are all actually best buddies and their rivalry is all a facade they put on for the public while they loot them together. The heads of Ola and Uber are probably having chai by the roadside right now.

Ola dude: Here’s your chai.

Uber dude: You mean chai tea? Thanks.

Ola: No, I mean chai. Chai means tea in Hindi. Chai tea is redundant.

Uber: Oh no wonder I’ve never managed to order a chai coffee here! Does that exist?

Ola: No. *rolls eyes*

There. I hope I’ve taught all you non-Hindi-speaking folk about the redundancy in the Starbucks menu. Chai Tea Latte means tea tea latte. It’s stupid. And overpriced. You’re paying more than 100 times the price of something you get at every chai stall for like 8 Rs (that’s 0.13 USD). Yes, there was a decimal point after the zero. Zero point one three dollars. Amazing isn’t it? There was a local donut shop nearby that went out of business after Dunkin’ Donuts came to town. That place was cute and cozy and had the most melt-in-the-mouth chocolate cakes. But of course, where’s development if the American multinationals aren’t killing off your local businesses, right? I need to have lunch. I see an angry rant coming on which I won’t throw at you. For now. *evil laugh*

I’m pressurizing my bae to sue Uber and Ola. We plan to print out their terms and conditions, put on our reading glasses (to exude an air of intellect) and go through every line and between the lines with a highlighter and take notes. Strategy and flowcharts and graphs, the whole she-bang. And then, a lawyer. Which I don’t think we can afford. Ah. I think they know that. They’re onto us! Time to buy a private island and cut ourselves off from the world. Oh yea that’s right, we can’t afford that either.


Cookie Jar Philosophy

I’ve been job-hunting for the better part of the last hour and I feel like I’ve made no headway whatsoever. After a guilt trip induced by a bout of exuberant spending at the book fair (A brand new still-in-plastic-seal condition works of Kafka for 100Rs? Why the hell not?!), I’ve decided to make money instead of haughtily casting it away like largesse. But then again, that’s what we all say, isn’t it? So I’ve made a cookie jar to keep my spirits up. One cookie for each job applied to. Till now I’ve had just one, but that wasn’t because I applied for anything, I just wanted to test whether the cookies were fresh. Are they? You bet they are. I keep eyeing them every now and then but I’m practicing self-control. ‘CONSTANT VIGILANCE!’ as the fake Mad-Eye Moody would have said.

I bought 21 books at the book fair. I still haven’t finished the books from last year’s fair but it’s more the thrill of collecting that drives me (such consumerism, much wow). My new dream is to turn my hostel room balcony into a cafe where girls can come and chill around in their boxers because it’s not fair that guys get to chill at the roadside chai shops and stuff in their boxers but we can’t because for the sake of our own safety, it’s best we cover ourselves up. I dream of philosophical evenings spent drinking filter coffee brewed in the room while lazing around on that tiny 30 square feet platform in the sky, basking in the waning sunlight and discussing revolutionary politics in the backdrop of pink and orange sunsets and the flicker of distant streetlights. We might start a movement. For the sake of wage equality and the rights of hamsters; for food security and claustrophobic goldfishes; for global warming and stockings for amputated frogs. We must seize the day -and night- mostly night because we have classes and work during the day. Burning metaphorical midnight oil (because electricity) while metaphorically penning down (because MS Word) spurious ideas that make our eyes go wide, set our minds aflutter and our voices rise with passionate rage. We will print edgy bathrobes because t-shirts are too mainstream. We’ll sue oil exploration companies for stripping penguins of their homeland and build orphanages for polar bear babies. They who tell us our music’s not right and our morals too right, our socialism too idealistic and our weed too strong, we’ll make them cease and desist and then we’ll divide and conquer. We’ll make the rules and break them all. And then we’ll rebuild it all from the ashes.

I got a little carried away there. I think I found a decent part time job writing for a travel blog. I hope they take me. I hope they don’t mind my occasional attempts at overthrowing their management and practicing small scale coup d’etats.

 *fingers crossed*


Jaywalker flying, drifting
across lands, roads, rivers
sidestepping stepping stones
wading into the deep blue
Sinking better than standing
shouldering the weight of the world
responsibilities like quicksand
sucking, pulling, defeating
navigating life, running
through a tall hedge maze
with no end, no beginning
square circles, circle squares
an eternal quest to escape
loving at someone’s expense
love is resistance
or so they say
take a step back, take a breath
take a minute, take a pass
to understand, to comprehend
the situation, its gravitas.