I Lost My Identity to Be Part of This World

Progress. The word we often use in order to ignore the fact that our lives have changed so much. It is hard even for us to think about what was it like to live in a world free of smartphones, internet, and computers.

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Image by Nennie T

If you take a look at the advancements in the past two decades, it might look astounding. Lightning fast communication, connectivity between trade routes, simplification of complex processes with the help of the internet and so on. But, imagine the cost we had to pay for these advancements.

All our homes are now equipped with air conditioners, water purifiers, air purifiers, hand sanitizers, etc.

And, the number of newly opened restaurants is equal to the number of newly opened pharmacies and multi specialty hospitals. I am also noticing a sharp increase in the number of fertility clinics that are coming up everywhere.

Our body is made to ingest more amount of processed sugar than it had ever handled. This is similar to how we destroyed our ecosystem by dumping more carbon dioxide. First, we killed our surroundings. Now, we’re killing ourselves.

In the process of making the world a better place, we lost everything. We lost our ecosystem; We lost our lifestyle, and most of all, we lost our identities. We became consumers.

We no longer live life. We consume it. ― Vicki Robin

We study, work hard, and earn more to accomplish what? Just the status of an elite consumer. We want to belong to a better status to afford an expensive car, go on an expensive holiday, or wear an expensive suit. The underlying truth is, the more you earn, the more elite you become as a consumer and not as a human.

People in the past were content with what they had. They created everything with their bare hands. They grew their food, built their homes, and made money with whatever they had in surplus. But, as the industrial revolution kicked in, life of a person has became more mechanical.

He was no longer the creator he was. He worked from sunrise to sunset and headed back home thinking about nothing but his next day at work. His thought process has changed from “I can create what I want” to “I need to work to make a living” That was the beginning for what we are today.

The idea is we being consumers was positioned in such a subtle way that we often fail to realize that we are one.

At this point, it is hard for us to come out of what he had become. We have to bear the consequences of what was done by our previous generations. We will live, breath and depart from this world as consumers. But, it is never too late to realize what is going on around us and prepare ourselves for what’s ahead.

In the fast moving world, living a life as a human is the fanciest thing we could dream of. This reminds me of a quote that I had come across a few years back.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.  — Oscar Wilde

Also published on Medium.

Me vs. The green stick

I studied in an English medium school. But, like every other English medium school, we all spoke in Tamil. We spoke in Tamil, we swore in Tamil. But, the teachers, as per the rules, spoke in English. But, we stuck to speaking in Tamil.

The management had tried so hard to control the students and bring them the habit of speaking in English. They thought that the school atmosphere would look great if everyone spoke in English. They tried several methods, but nothing worked out.

Then, one of the teachers (or the headmaster himself?) came up with this idea. They took several small chunks of thin, cylindrical wood, about the size of a marker, and painted them green. The name of each class and the section was written on each stick.

The next day, during the prayer gathering, our principal addressed us saying the following:

“In the past couple of months, we’ve made several attempts to make all of you speak in English, but none of you did. So, we’ve come up with a new plan.”

There was a slight murmur among the students.

Our principal took a green stick from his pocket and continued speaking

“You see this green stick? We will give one such stick to the leader of every class. Every morning, when the leader of the class finds a person who talks in Tamil, he/she will give the stick to him. That person should find another guy who speaks in Tamil, and hand over the stick to him. The person who has the stick by the end of the day, which is during the time of the day’s final school bell, will be punished the next day.”

Now, everybody was scared. But, nobody uttered a word. We all waited for the principal to say what the punishment was.

“The punishment is, the student who has the stick by the end of the day, will have to stand in front of all the students during the prayer and apologize for speaking in Tamil. So one student from every single class will have to apologize before all of us.”

Everyone was shocked. The game was scary and the punishment was humiliation.

I stood in the middle of the crowd, in one arm distance, admiring how clever the plan was.

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The best way to discipline a human is to scare him. So, whoever has the green stick in the first place will be scared of humiliation and will look for another person to give it to. He will keenly observe every other student in the class and will give the stick even if someone uttered a word in Tamil.

The worst of all is, if other students decide to make one person the scapegoat, they will all speak in English throughout the day, making the poor guy plead guilty in front of the whole school.

You know what?!

The plan worked. Everyone started talking in English. I hated the idea. I somehow felt that the concept of apologizing for speaking in your mother tongue was a clear violation of my right to speech.

I didn’t force myself to speak in English. I walked around speaking in Tamil. You shouldn’t like a language because others force you to do so. You should like it yourself. I don’t want to pressurize myself. So, I spoke in Tamil.

I stood in front of the prayer several times and I was asked to Apologize. I apologized, but something inside me made me feel happy. I was happy about winning by speaking in my mother tongue. I was young and it was thrilling.

One of my English teachers told me, “you will never be able to learn English. You will be a failure.” I stood silent. I did not hate English. I liked it. In fact, I used to study several English novels when I was in school. I used to borrow more books from the school library than anybody else. The only thing I hated was the rule and I opposed it.

I felt that that was the right thing to do.

Even now, several schools force spoken English to their students. And, these days the punishment doesn’t just stop with apologizing. It goes beyond that. If you want the students to love English language and learn it. Ask them to read a good book. Encourage them to watch English movies. Don’t go with the usual “Read Hindu paper” dialogue. That is for later. Create an interest among students and they will learn and speak the language automatically.

And, at the same time. Don’t stress upon English too much and make them forget their mother tongue. Both are important. Make sure that they don’t compromise one for another.

Deciphering a girl’s profile on Tinder: Mission impossible

Tinder is slowly picking up pace in India. For those who don’t know what is Tinder, it is a popular online matchmaking/dating app that lets you find singles in your area. Based on your location, you will be shown pictures of single men/women in your area and if you like them you swipe right and if you don’t you swipe left. If they also like you, then you get to chat inside the app. You can then decide to go on a date, or if you find the person boring, you break it off and move on to swiping the next batch of singles.

Recently, I came across several articles about Tinder and I thought “Why not install the app and see what the hype is all about?”

So, a couple of months back, I installed the app. But, nothing happened until now.

But, that’s not what I am here to talk about. I am here to talk about this really confusing trend, where there are pictures of two girls in a Tinder profile.

A Tinder profile is meant for a single person.

But, sometimes when I swipe across , I see two girls in a selfie. I tap on the profile, and I see that all their pictures have those two girls in them. Sometimes even more.

I cannot understand the logic.

Does this mean I get to date both of them if I swipe right? Is that a package deal?

I don’t know!

This makes the decision-making process worse. I wouldn’t be writing if both the girls in the picture are good-looking. I would’ve swiped right and kept quiet. But, the catch is one of them will be good-looking and one of them won’t be good looking. I mean, why confuse the guy.

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source: kaboompics.com

 

For those who say “Don’t look at how she looks. Look at the beauty of her heart” and all those things, let me tell you something. In apps like Tinder, you don’t know anything about the girl other than her face and the name. So, how she looks matter.

And, a not so good looking girl posing with her pretty friend in all the photos doesn’t mean she is not beautiful inside. It means that she lacks the confidence to carry herself. Why do that? Why not put a picture of yourself and describe who you are. Most guys respect that.

The good looking girls? Why post a picture with your average looking friend and make it your profile picture on Tinder. You’re not just confusing the guy, but you’re also hurting the feelings of the girl when you get to go on dates and she’s not. How does she feel when she finds out that you are making her stand by your side to make yourself look prettier in the picture.

Sorry to be rude. But, this is how I find it.

Most guys never put up a profile picture on Tinder with his friend by the side of him. If they do and if the girl says yes, there will be a confusion about whom did she say yes for, and they will end up in a fight.

And pictures of actresses as their profile picture. This is a dating app for god’s sake. Why portray yourself as someone else? This applies to guys too. If you do not have the confidence to show your true self, please stop using services like this.

And some post pictures of Dogs and Cats. Man! This goes on and on. But, this is not the worst. I’ve read that several Japanese men use pictures of electric rice cookers on their online dating profiles. Weird!

My point?

For those who’re creating Tinder profiles, guys or girls, be confident about who you are. Post a picture of yourself and describe your true self. If a guy or girl doesn’t like you, someone else will. It’s just a matter of time.

I’ve posted my picture and wrote about my true self on Tinder. Any luck? No. But, will posting a picture Chris Hemsworth get me a date? Funny right?

Be yourself. And, if others didn’t respect that, don’t give a shit. Just move on. Life doesn’t end with someone swiping left on you. It’s got more to it.

The hot idlis that gave me the chills

It was a fine morning in Bangalore. I woke up and looked around. I had slept for more than six hours. People usually say that you won’t get proper sleep when you’re in a new place. But, my system is an exception. When the clock hits half past ten, I doze off. No matter what happens.

I was in Bangalore to visit my friend. It’s been a while since I visited Bangalore and I thought it would be a nice break from the usual routine.

I looked into the adjacent room and I saw my friend waking up slowly. After freshening up, we thought about the most important thing of the day. Breakfast.

“So, where can we have our breakfast? Any good places?” I asked.

“There is a small place by the corner of the street. The taste will be good. What say?”

“Let’s go”

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Sometimes the smallest of the shops will give you the best experience. So, I immediately nodded in agreement.

We left the house and reached the place within 5 minutes.

The shop was small. A bunch of young men were gobbling idlis and dosas. A lady in her late thirties gave the tokens and a man in his mid fifties stood by the counter and served the customers swiftly.
“What are you having ji?” asked my friend.
I said “Pongal” .
But, the guy in the counter said pongal got over, but he has kitchadi.
I nodded and within no time I held a plate of Rava kitchadi in my hands. I moved over to one of the corners of the place where they’ve kept the chutney and the sambar. I poured it onto the plate and moved away leaving way for a small queue of people who were waiting fill their plates with chutney and sambar.
I walked a few steps and started eating. A TV was mounted above the corner were the chutney and sambar was kept. Some telugu movie was playing. But, nobody cared. They were all busy with eating, thinking about their day ahead.
My friend ordered a plate of Poori and was waiting for it to be made.
While all this was happening, two girls walked into the hotel. They were in their early twenties. They wore trendy clothes, had coloured their hair, and wore funky shoes.
They walked to the counter and said “Anna two plate idli”
The guy said its in the cooker and he will take it out in a minute.
Before telling you what happened next, let me tell you how idlis are made.
An idli’s shape is biconcave and it is made up of rice batter.
When the batter is ready, it will be poured onto the idli stand which is nothing but a stack of small circular aluminium plates, each containing four to six convex cavities.
But, South Indians use a piece of cloth onto each plate before pouring the batter. Once the idli is steam cooked and is taken out of the cooker, the piece of cloth is lifted and the idlis come off along with the cloth.

 

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source: mantenaskitchen.blogspot.com

 

 

Later, water is sprinkled on the cloth and the idlis are taken out. Now, the idli stand is ready make the second batch of idlis. This is how idlis are made.
But, when the guy in the hotel took the idlis out of the cooker, I was shocked.
He used plastic sheets instead of using a cloth. Apparently his logic was, it would be easy for them to take out the idlis if they had used plastic sheets.And his logic worked fine. He easily took the idlis out of the plate.
I couldn’t imagine an idli getting cooked on top of a plastic sheet with temperatures inside the cooker reaching more than 160 Celsius. Imagine what it could do to the person who is eating it.
Plastic heated to such high temperatures can be carcinogenic. With number of cancer cases increasing year by year, I was shocked to see how even the breakfast that people have on a daily basis can have such a fatal impact to their help.
I wanted to scream at the owner for doing such a thing. But, I couldn’t. I was in a new place and I didn’t want to create any trouble. I told my friend about this and asked him not to have breakfast there.
I am not a responsible citizen. I feel guilty for not taking the effort to warn them. But, I also feel bad for no one else in the restaurant noticed this or questioned the same to the people at the hotel.

It is sad to see people always failing to notice such things without realizing how much damage it could make.

It’s not a mistake when no one is looking

Yesterday I was out to meet a friend and I was driving my way back home. The sun was slowly settled behind the endless layers of concrete. The asphalt gave out all the absorbed heat and the evening breeze was doing its fair share in bringing things back to normal.
I drove the bike over the Padi flyover and brought it to a halt near the Korattur signal where I have to take a right turn. The indicator was on, the gear was on neutral and I was struggling to breathe inside the helmet.

A car was there next to me, whirring and getting ready for the light to go green. I couldn’t see the driver, but I saw his right hand out of the driver’s window, with a cigarette hanging in between his fingers. The tobacco had completely burned. The time had come for the cigarette. I kept looking at what he was going do and he did the expected.

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He dropped the cigarette on the road, without killing the flame. The cigarette was on the asphalt, giving out smoke that was getting carried away by the swift wind. But, the cigarette was still lit.

I moved my bike a little forward, and I looked at the driver. He looked at me. I looked down at the cigarette and I looked at him. It made him uncomfortable. He didn’t know what to do. After much thinking, he took a bottle of water from inside the car, and poured some water onto the burning cigarette.

He closed the water bottle and looked at me. He gave an doubtful smile looking for an acknowledgement of some sort. Probably he was expecting “The responsible citizen” award for putting out the cigarette. I smiled back. The signal turned green and I took the right turn.

The incident might look small. But, it has lot more to it. If I wasn’t there, the guy would’ve dropped the cigarette and would’ve drove off. Putting it out wasn’t his first option. Only after I looked at him, he poured water.

So, we have the mentality that a mistake is not really one when nobody sees it. We’ve been brought up that way, so we take things for granted. Sometimes, a bigger crowd with a similar idea forces a straightforward person to do the same.

Several times I had seen bikers who used to halt at red signal even when there is no traffic police on the watch. During those times, the people behind them use to repeatedly honk, signalling them to jump the signal. In this case, a whole lot of people think that it is okay to jump the signal when the traffic police is not around.

You can say installing traffic cameras will help. According to me, making strict laws won’t solve the problem. Evolving into better people is the only way to build a better world.

An amateur love letter to the girl of my dreams

Okay!

If you’re the girl of my dreams, then I am writing this for you. Even if you’re not the girl of my dreams. Read it! No harm.

I am a beginner when it comes to writing a love letter. And, I blame our education system for it. When I was young, I was taught how to write leave letters, permission letters, apology letters (I guess that sums up my school life), etc. But, no one foresaw the difficulty every guy would face in his teens, or any time later in his life. If I had been given a proper training on how to write a love letter, you would’ve been reading a much better version by now.

I love you!

If you’re still reading this line, it means there are three possibilities:

1. You’re already married to me.
2. You’ve accepted my proposal.
3. You hate me, but you’re still considering the proposal (I know you always had a thing for me ;))

I not the macho-looking, serious-faced gentlemen who are usually cast as a second hero in most movies. I’m also not the hero type. I’m the comedian. The most remembered, least cared character in any movie. But, hey! I’m the hero of my life and I want you to be my heroine.

I’m funny. There is a general idea that funny men are irresponsible. Well, they’re smart and more responsible than what others think. If it were others, I wouldn’t be explaining this. But, its you.

See, the letter is taking a shape now.

I’d want to share so many things with you. A plate of hot bhaji on a rainy day, a bowl full of dindigul thalapakkati biriyani, and if you’re a vegetarian I’d share a plate of delicious paneer ka baap tikka. And, not just that. I’d want to hike with you, run a marathon with you (I know you will complete it, and I will be running for the free T-shirt)

To put it simply, I’d never let you go.

I guess my letter is a little too bland and nice. What else can you expect from a guy who has been friend-zoned all his life. Well, the romantic side of me is a little rusty. Needs a lot of work.

I’ve read somewhere that everybody shares the same destiny, and the journey is the one that makes all the difference. And, I want you to be the one who makes my journey worthwhile.

I’m ending my letter here as I know that the average current generation human wouldn’t read more than a few hundred words. I don’t want you to fall asleep and wake up thinking I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with such a boring person.

I love you! and I will, forever.

Should I put regards or thanks here?

Let me just write my name.

Karthik

This post is written as part of Write a love letter campaign by Chennai Bloggers Club

My next ebook “The Extra Men” is available for download

When you’re trying to become a writer, you write so many things. Random and whatever comes to your mind. Sometimes, you delete them off, and sometimes you feel the work is bad and leave it as it is and will start working on other stuff. I’ve done one such thing in 2014. 

It was a cold evening when I completed my novella. After writing the last line, I read it once again, and I thought the concept was too different and experimental. I was worried how about how much people will like it. I thought of deleting it. But, I didn’t. If I had, then I wouldn’t be writing this blog post that marks the release of my second book “The Extra Men”

A month back, nearly after a year since I’ve written the novella, I read it again. When I completed, I thought “This might work” I immediately sent it to a couple of friends of mine, and they really liked it. Then I thought “I was wrong. People like different stuff.”

The next couple of weeks is what led to the launch of this book. I’d like to thank my friends Bragadeesh, Mahesh, Sai Sriram, and Ambuja for being critics for my work. I owe a huge thanks to my friend and former colleague Ambuja who has put in a lot of efforts in editing the book. She was also the editor for my first book “Written with a Cursor”

And, I also thank Chennai Bloggers Club and its wonderful people for constantly encouraging my writing and believing that there is a writer in me. 

Without dragging it any longer, I am submitting my next novella “The Extra Men” in front of you. It’s a little short than a novel. But, I am sure that you will enjoy it. 

the extra men - cover

Synopsis of the book: 

On a drunken night, Ravi, Amar, Karan, and Jay rant about why they are single since birth and what’s wrong with them. When the discussion goes deeper, they realize that they are not the only ones who feel the same way. When they realize more than half of their town is filled with single guys and all the girls are either committed or married, they realize that something is happening on a bigger scale. When they set out to solve the mystery, they come to know there’s so much at stake than they had imagined.

Price: Rs. 67 ($0.99)
Formats: epub, mobi, and PDF
Note: Kindly unzip the file before importing it onto your device.

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If you wish to purchase the book in any other currency other than INR,

you purchase it from Amazon Kindle Store.

 

I hope you enjoy the book. And, don’t forget to send me feedback on how you liked the book. 

You’re continued support is what has made me a writer. I am looking for more of your support to become a better writer than who I am today. 

Single guy? Society thinks you have a serious problem!

Sometimes you see a beautiful girl in college, or your workplace and enquire about her, people would say “She’s is so stubborn. Several guys proposed to her and she rejected all of them. What a bold character!”

Let’s consider a similar situation where a guy a single. Do you know what the people around him would say? “He is almost 30, and you know what! He is still single.” Even if the guy says he rejected several proposals, people would probably laugh at him.

 The society has changed a lot and the people who suffer a lot are the single guys. Almost everybody these days gives a quizzical look when they see a single guy.

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I am personally facing this problem.

Several times I’ve been asked “Never? You got to be kidding me!”

And I say “I am not kidding. I’ve never been in a relationship.”

Then the reply would usually be “oh!”

Yes. I’ve been waiting to hear “Oh!” Great!

And, on top of that , during the past couple of months, my mom started telling “See everybody has a girlfriend and are doing love marriage. What about you? Why don’t you try something like that?”

I was shocked to hear this from my mom. Before ten years, the mindset of the society was not like this. My parents would’ve beaten the shit out of me if I had said I am in love with a girl. Now, things have totally changed. I didn’t know what made the society go easy on things that they’ve been opposing for so many years.

And, this is the case only with cities. The towns and villages are still against love marriages.

This posed me a question. Actually two questions. “How come the others coped up with the new trend so quickly?” “Or Have I been too slow to cope up with the current trend?”

I am too confused.

But, deep inside, I know one thing. I have never ever felt bad for being single, or for not being in a relationship. I lived my life without any regrets and I consider that as my greatest accomplishment.

The next time you hear a guy say he is single, show him some respect. Don’t pose him “Are you kidding me!” questions.

I grew up watching Tamil movies, and I feel happy about it!

When I lacked reading practice in my school days, everything I learnt was from movies. I am talking about Tamil movies. It is only during my college days I was exposed to the Hollywood and other streams of cinema.

So whatever I know, learnt, experienced and enjoyed till my late teens is through Tamil movies.

Every now and then I see people posting about how they seem less attracted to Tamil movies after watching foreign movies.

It’s a natural feeling. I am not denying that. But, my point is, one shouldn’t forget the very thing that laid the foundation to appreciate good cinema.

One could get a PhD in mathematics from a reputed foreign university , but it is the local school maths teacher who would’ve laid the foundation for it.

If u look at Chennai film festival and say every foreign movie is awesome, think of this scenario. Every foreigner who see a Tamil movie in their film festival will also feel the same. This has happened so many times. And, the whole point of a film festival is to select the best of the lot and give it to the audience. So, every movie you see will obviously be good. (*cough* not every)

Every country’s cinema is a reflection of its nativity. Our cinema does the same. One might argue about songs, comedy, track, and commercial aspects. But, those elements have also become part of our lives.

If you really love cinema, watch it with an open mindset. If you’re going to a Tamil movie, enjoy it as a true native. If you’re watching a Hollywood, or Spanish film, admire it as a true movie lover. Don’t compare both. Instead, learn to appreciate your cinema as well as foreign cinema.

How practising photography turned me into a better writer.

I read somewhere that “Photography is the art of capturing a moment and making it live forever.” The same could be applied to a piece of writing.

When I wanted to write, and when I tried, I couldn’t write. I lacked the flow. I needed motivation. I needed something to inspire me to proceed further. That is when my mom got a book from one of our neighbors. The book was “Desandhri” by S.Ramakrishnan.

The book spoke about the travel experiences of the writer. One of the lines from the book said that world starts from outside your home. That made me realize what I lacked. It was experience.

I was looking for a way to make contact with the outside world and that is when I saw my friend’s photograph on my Facebook feed. He posted an album mentioning that he had taken it during a photo walk.

“What is a photo walk?” I thought. And, I didn’t waste any time. I immediately caught hold of him on chat and asked him what is a photo walk.

He said a bunch of photo enthusiasts will meetup somewhere; start clicking photos for a few hours and then discuss about it. The idea sounded interesting.

It was 2011 when I went for my first photowalk. I had a small digital camera with me and I started shooting whatever I saw. It was fun.

For the next two years, all I did was shoot pictures. I didn’t even write a single word. I got drawn into the world of photography and I completely forgot what I wanted to do in the beginning. Even though I read a lot of books in the meantime, I never really wrote a word.

Later, during the beginning of 2014, I started writing. It was a warm night, and I kept thinking about writing. One thing led to another, and I got an idea for a short story. I immediately got out of my bed, went near my computer, and started writing. And, for the first time, I got the flow. I found it surprising.

 But, later when I realized how it happened, it struck me that photography was the key to it.

Here are a few benefits I received as a result of practicing photography.

  1. Photography trained me to see things one would ignore usually.
  2. Travel doesn’t mean traveling to new countries. Traveling to the next street, or another part of the city also counts as travel. And the time spent there counts as experience. And, I got a lot of experience roaming around the streets of Chennai.
  3. Photography helped me in visualizing scenes while writing a story. Every street I’ve roamed came handy when I wrote a story.
  4. Photography made me interact with a lot of people. It helped me understand people better. Sometimes, even talking to a complete stranger can get you a new plot for a story or a character.
  5. It made my writing more vivid. (I believe so!)
  6. Photography enhanced my thought process. Every photograph I saw had a story and it kindled my imagination to think of a plot revolving it. I took it as a personal exercise and it helped me in a great way in taking a step towards my goal. (which is, writing novels.)
  7. Photography gave me great friends and mentors.

Since 2014, I published four short stories in a magazine; wrote and published my first book, a collection of short stories; and currently on my way into publishing my second book. All this wouldn’t have been possible without photography.

So, for those who wish to be aspiring writers, I would say practicing photography would be of great help. This doesn’t mean you should go to a shop, empty your wallet, and get a new DSLR. You can even shoot with a point-and-shoot, or a mobile camera. All that matters is the experience. Set foot outside and start clicking, and I am sure that you will have a great experience with your camera.

This is not a mandatory thing, or a rule. I found this useful, and I am sharing it with you.

Hope you guys had fun reading it.