The Rummager

She rummaged through the drawer, trying to find it. Shouldn’t something just stay where its kept? More often than she liked, things didn’t. The worst part was, she wouldn’t even know why! It required her to exercise intense focus so that she wouldn’t get distracted by everything else she came across in the drawer full of old things.

The longer she searched, the more she wanted to give up. Her mind kept revisiting memories that lay untouched for years together on contact with these objects. She had been in such situations before – they were time consuming, and often led to exhaustion. She didn’t need any more of that. So she simply decided to push away the many thoughts hatching in her head, comparable in quantity to drops falling on a downwind window on a rainy evening. The struggle was real, but not all battles could be won.

Suddenly she felt a familiar shape in the grip of her hand. It felt like a different lifetime now, since when she got it. It was a plain old key-chain she had used back in middle school. She remembered thinking how its elegance was a result of nothing more than its simplicity. As she lifted up the old piece of metal attached to a chain to examine it, she shifted her weight back so as to lean against the wall. She couldn’t fight anymore, and succumbed to the immense flood of emotion and thought filling her spirit.

She remembered how she locked the door while leaving and then walked through the snow to the bus stop every morning, the cold air that chipped at the exposed skin of her face. Her pink snow jacket, black gloves, wool cap and leather boots protected her from the frosty weather that she loved. She smiled at the memories, somewhat grateful for those experiences. It had been a decade and a half, and she could already sense the holes and gaps this stretch of time had introduced in her recollections. She wondered if it would get worse.

“Have you found it?” came a voice from the hallway, footsteps making way to her room.

“Not yet” she admitted. “Remember how cold it used to get in Connecticut?”

“Who wouldn’t! But you used to go play outside alone. No matter how cold it was, it never stopped you.”

She smiled at her brother, holding up the key-chain.

“Hmm, I wonder where mine went. Well I’ll just take yours if I can’t find it” he chuckled, starting to move further down the hall.

She gave him a short, narrow-eyed stare before he was out of sight and the smile made its way back onto her lips. She put the little piece of metal back where she found it and continued the search.

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Plateauing out of College

So, I’m fresh out of college, and I’m going to join a job soon. Actually, I’d already left college in December because this last semester was an internship, but it was part of the curriculum. At the time I left, I felt a sort of liberation one would feel after a lecture that lasted an extra ten minutes longer, eating into your lunch break. It felt great, and I was glad to leave the place.

I came back home to stay with my parents during the internship. My room, my house, my parents, everything felt great to have back in my life except a few difficulties adjusting here and there. Some difficulties are still around, and I haven’t gotten completely into the stay-with-parents bit yet, but I’m working towards it.

Usually, when a big change happens in my life, I subconsciously prepare myself for it, and as the time gets closer, I draw my attention towards how things are going to change. This way it doesn’t turn into a fiasco, and everything goes smoothly by. It happened that way when we shifted houses, when I finished school, etc.

To be honest, college wasn’t a smooth ride. There were good days and bad days. Good friends, and friends who’ve become strangers. That happens to everyone, doesn’t it. My longest getting-outta-here transition was for college. I’d say it lasted for more than a year, which meant that midway into my 3-1 (halfway through college life) I was preparing to leave.

Unusually, my process was halted by unforeseen circumstances. In the last one year of college, I’d gone out of my comfort zone and stopped caring what other people thought, leading me to meet so many individuals I wouldn’t have otherwise met. They’ve added tremendous value to my last year at campus, thereby prohibiting me from wanting to leave it. But soon everyone departed, and I came to the realization that without the people I knew, college could never be the same.

Most of them had already left a whole semester before me, and that one semester really did test my patience. I ended up concentrating more on getting out of there than on leaving everything behind with a balanced mindset. Since this year started, little by little, I’ve become more attached to the memories from good times. Most of all, I’m starting to look back at what were considered mediocre habits and ways of life as precious opportunities made use of absentmindedly.

Being able to skip classes and step out of the campus for lunch, taking walks that lasted hours into the night till in-time, strolling over to Amul for an ice-cream on a whim, gazing up at the stars shining like scarce tiny lights scattered across the night sky. These memories were made all the better with the company I had around me. That’s what I miss most about college life. The sky wasn’t the clearest, but in the city you can barely see stars at all. Sure you could just go to the neighborhood shop and buy an ice-cream, but that atmosphere, that sense of being a part of something greater cannot be replicated.

I try not to get carried away by memories, it takes up too much time and energy to get back to my present life after it, but it gets to me sometimes. Good or bad, its all in the past, and I’m glad to say its not an experience I would switch for anything else. The largest fear I hold is that of forgetting something I’ve experienced that has had an impact on me. Irrespective, the impact still lives inside me, making me who I am.

I expect these feeling to grow stronger and creep up more often until I’m sick of them, or I find something that takes up more of my time than random thoughts. One must always look forward to what the future has in store!

To All Creators

There are thousands of people making videos on YouTube.

There are millions more who don’t. Some are too shy or nervous to speak their minds to a camera. Some just don’t want to do it. Some haven’t even thought about it.

But the truth is that it’s not easy being a YouTuber. I’m not just writing that down here for the sake of it. I tried building a channel. The first video I made, I had a good idea of what I was doing, and what exactly I wanted to say. It took a good 7-8 hours to complete the 3-min video. I uploaded it and added subtitles, so that people who couldn’t understand me could enjoy it as well. The video didn’t do bad, and I started to believe that I too could build a channel. I had never thought that something I had to say would get that much attention from the internet.

So I started to think. Think of ideas, ways to say what I might want to say, the different styles I could try in a video. Once in a while, something material enough would float through my mind, but I couldn’t build on it enough to see it possibly turning into an entire video. After a few days, I made and uploaded another video. Although I was satisfied with my editing and music selection, I felt the shots I’d shot weren’t good enough.

That’s when I started to doubt myself. After that, I just couldn’t get a good enough idea for a video. Boy, is it tough to think up something new every few days. When I’m sitting in my room, binge-watching YouTube, I really don’t think about how large an effort actually goes into making a video that the owner was satisfied with enough to put it up. It’s really difficult to make a video that you’re 100% happy with.

Oftentimes, so many people undermine the work that YouTubers do and the trouble they go through to give us – the rest of the world – entertainment for a few minutes. They leave terrible comments, degrading the owner (haters). I think it’s really cruel of people to do so. If you don’t like the content someone makes, you don’t need to let them know how dissatisfied you are with their work.

Nonetheless, so many YouTubers out there are still making videos. Actually, this could be extended to any form or art or entertainment. People still do what they do regardless of the haters. This must mean that the positive vibes they get from people exposed to their art still surpasses the negative. I suppose this means that humanity is not entirely doomed as of today.

If you are a creator, an artist, please continue doing what you do. The world would be a very dark place without you

The Road

Driving always made her feel better. It made her feel like she could be free, run away at her will. It was a liberating sensation, but she knew it was short-lived. That was a fact she chose not to dwell on. Why waste this precious time on something unfix-able? As she drove out of her neighborhood, she rolled down the windows, letting the fresh morning air wash over her. She remembered trying to wake up this early at first, and failing many times in doing so. She was glad she hadn’t given up – it was paying off. She maneuvered through the streets, through the sparse traffic, with no music to distract her. That was unusual. Ordinarily, she would turn the volume up enough to drown her thoughts. Today, she didn’t feel the need for it. She let herself think, knowing it was unhealthy to ignore things for so long. The main road was almost empty, and her car took a steady pace, taking her to her destination. She didn’t rush, and didn’t intend to either.

As she thought, she came to the conclusion that her life was much like this journey. The car was bound to it by gravity, and there was a single destination to reach. There were many paths leading to it, but this was the most widely used, trusted way to get there. Other cars went by, some faster, some slower. Everyone had their own destination, and no one else knew where one was headed. At different times of the day, different amounts of traffic dominated the street. She passed by them all the same, not knowing much about them, except being careful not to bump into them. Sometimes she found herself sharing the road with another driver for a length, until their paths separated, and they no longer traveled together.

She thought about how the road dictated her driving. She turned when it turned, slowed down at a speed breaker, drove more carefully on the slopes. And no matter how many times she drove on it, it would make her drive the same way that she did before. She had no control over the road, only over her car and how she drove it.
Just like she had no control over her life, only over herself and the way she lived.

After College

Today is 1st May. Its the day of the year that everyone at college both dreads and waits for. Its the day our semester exams start, which means its the end of another semester. Unlike the first semester of the year, this second one lasts only four months, followed by two months of vacation time.

This year is different from the others. Its my last year in college, and boy am I glad its getting over! The last four years have been something of a roller-coaster ride. It wasn’t nearly what I imagined it would be going in. I was expecting to get to know and be friends with a large number of people, learning about the world, and hopefully finding a place I’d fit in. I was so excited to be starting a new chapter of my life.

At the end of these four years, I can say that college life is more than a bit overrated (at least in India). Here are some reasons why:

  1. You know how in movies there are these groups of people who keep to themselves, being together all the time, not interacting with the rest of the world because they don’t want to/aren’t comfortable doing it? That is the truest thing about college. There are more groups like that than you can count. I was surprised to see that so many people just stuck to the friends they already knew, maybe from school, or their neighborhood. I only thought things like that happen with people who go settle in a new country, and have a difficult time fitting in with the rest of the students. Its really sad that so many people miss out on learning about others just because they are too comfortable with the people they are with already – IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY. You don’t have to be my friend. You don’t even have to like me. But you do need to give me a chance at being your friend.
  2. I was going through a really tough time nearing the end of second year (mid-college-life crisis?). There was this one guy I liked who subjected me to emotional abuse, and I repeatedly went after him, regardless. I don’t know why I did, but eventually I understood that he wasn’t adding any value to my life, so I did my best to remove him from it. Unfortunately we shared many of the same friends – truthfully, I just tried befriending them because they were his friends in the first place. I wasn’t very open about what I had been through, and not many of my ‘friends’ knew that anything had happened at all. After the final fall-out, I noticed that fewer and fewer people talked to me, eventually avoiding me altogether leaving me with maybe a handful of people I could trust. This was when I figured out who my real friends were, and they are still with me to this day.
  3. I had really hoped to find this perfect sort of guy I’d made up in my head. I’ve had crushes throughout my entire college life, and had a few almost-relationships that I got out of before they got serious. Nothing clicked, and no one matched my expectations, especially the people I was seeing. So this is a lesson for all you young 17-year-olds joining college next year – Don’t go there with the hope of finding love. There are tons of movies drilling this kind of thought into our heads. Yes, it’s true that some people do find the love of their life at college. SOME PEOPLE. Not all. Its a very small chance for anybody. Try not to get your hopes up.
  4. When you think about experiencing life, what do you think? Getting to meet different people, talk to them, traveling to new places, checking out new environments, stuff like that? I don’t know about you, but that pretty much sums up experiencing life for me. Of course, you know, its college, and you stay on campus just like everyone else, and hang out with people till 6 in the morning, your parents aren’t around to tell you to go to sleep, or do anything for that matter. That is something that college has let me experience. The traveling to new places bit didn’t happen, except for one trip in second year, which didn’t really add up to anything. I did meet tons of new people, but surprisingly, they lacked individuality, and again, thought their group was bigger than themselves. It’s really sad. But through this, I did learn to find my own individuality, and figured out what made me me.

I’m sure there are tons of things I didn’t cover in this post. Also, there are so many positive experiences in college life, but these are some things that people don’t know/think about when they join college. I would love to help out someone who’s having a tough time with it, if I can. All the best!

The Potter

What is a child?
A young mind of curiosity
Tiny body keen on testing itself
Little hands and feet, exploring
Wide eyes that absorb everything

A child is but a piece of clay
Some large chunks, some small
Some tough and some supple
They come in all sorts of colors
Bright, dark and all in between

You were clay once
Perhaps you still are
You’ve been shaped by surrounding forces
And have come to take this form

Of all forces, I wonder
Which is most powerful?
There is but one popular answer
The potter that made you from soil and water

Though a potter in reality
Has complete control of the clay
These potters we speak of
Aren’t quite the same

The potter is but one of many
Who test their hands on the clay
Although this is the case
He makes most of the indentations

This potter must spend much time
Studying the clay before he starts
To change its shape or size
For this is a crucial part

All that follows will depend
On how well he knows the clay’s ends
Too much force or too less
Will certainly make a mess

But potters aren’t all so meticulous
And some don’t grasp the importance
And thus there are pieces
Of unappealing pottery

A potter must first fathom his challenge
Be ready to work on given clay
He cannot change it on his will
With what is given he must stay

Not knowing texture or soil
This task can be surprising
He gets just one chance that is all
To make the best pottery

He must set the wheel to soundly spin
And gently handle any sagging
That the spinning may cause to his piece
For if not attended, the shape will loosen

Rightly skill must be applied
To bring out the form desired
A little mistake here or there
Takes lots of time to be repaired

The potter can’t do everything alone
So he must call for help
And make sure the piece is well maintained
While they work on it’s structure

It’s a tedious task, is it not?
Even more so! since the clay doesn’t
Take it’s final shape so quick
It takes years for it to stick

It demands all the potter’s attention
And a day ignored is hell to pay
For the clay may take arbitrary shape
And cause trouble

This clay can be a handful too
Yet the potter must continue
To work with it though it may slack
Or not cooperate just because

Yet another point to know
Is that the potter himself
Though more stable than his subject
Is clay himself.

What is a person but clay himself
Molding those around him with his presence
And being molded in return
To become the shape that he is.

Setting up MeanJS from scratch on Linux Ubuntu 14.04.1

This is a walk-through on installing MeanJS on Ubuntu 14.04.1. t took me a long time to do it, so I’m just writing it all down here so as to speed it up for someone else who might want to do the same. Please feel free to comment, for corrections, suggestions or anything of the sort. Keep in mind that this is being written in Jan’15, and some methods of installation might change as newer versions are released.

So, to have MeanJS installed on your system, you need to do the following.
1. Have MongoDB installed
2. Have Python installed
3. Have Node.js installed
4. Have git installed
5. Have Ruby

Installing MongoDB:

Run the following in terminal:

sudo apt-key adv –keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 –recv 7F0CEB10

echo ‘deb http://downloads-distro.mongodb.org/repo/ubuntu-upstart dist 10gen’ | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mongodb.list

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install -y mongodb-org

This installs the latest release of MongoDB. Refer their home page for more details.

Testing MongoDB:

In the terminal, type mongod. This starts the database. In another terminal, type in mongo which establishes a connection with the database. This is the interface to interact with the database.

Python:

Ubuntu comes with python pre-installed, so theres nothing to worry about there. If you still want to install the latest version just to be sure(not required though) you can go ahead and check out this link.

Installing Node.js:

Okay, so the first thing you need to know is that you can’t install it by putting in sudo apt-get install node because this ‘node’ is a completely different package. Instead, this is what you need to do:

curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup | sudo bash –

sudo apt-get install nodejs

sudo apt-get install build-essential

More information on this process is available here. As far as I know, the Node Package Manager or npm is installed with node, so we don’t need to worry about that. npm is going to be a really important part of MeanJS

Checking your Node.js Installation:

You can check whether it was successfully installed by typing in the terminal nodejs -v. You can also check your npm by typing npm -v, this extension basically lets you know the version that you have installed.

Now an important thing to do here is link the command node with nodejs. To do this, type

ln /usr/bin/node /usr/bin/nodejs

The reason why we need to do this is that many packages that use NodeJS still use node instead of the newer nodejs command to run it.

You can also update npm (recommended) using:

sudo npm install npm -g

Installing git:

sudo apt-get install git

Installing MeanJS:

So, now that we have the groundwork set, we can go ahead and build MeanJS on it. At this point, its good to know that MEAN stands for MongoDB, Express, AngularJS and Node.js. We already have the first and last bits. AngularJS doesn’t need explicit installation, its already available like how you can use HTML and CSS on any computer. All you need is a text editor and browser. If you’re looking for a good editor, i suggest you install Sublime Text. Express comes with the MeanJS installation as a whole.

Getting MeanJS is not really an installation, but more like copying files, because thats basically what we are going to do: copy files fro a git repository:

git clone https://github.com/meanjs/mean.git meanjs

Doing this will add a new folder named ‘meanjs’ to whatever folder you are in when running this command in terminal. so now move into that folder:

cd meanjs

Theres a lot of stuff you still need before using this folder, hence do the following too:

sudo npm install

bower install

Another thing you need is ruby, so install that:

sudo apt-get install ruby-full

And that is pretty much it, I guess. now, to run this server, you need to give the command grunt in the terminal. This starts the default webpage at http://localhost:3000 you can go ahead and have a look at it.

Understanding MeanJS:

So, it took me even longer to figure out how to use MeanJS than it took to get the whole thing running. The file structure in the demo can be really overwhelming if you are new to web-dev. I spent hours searching for a good tutorial and finally found this on youtube:

MEAN Stack Intro: Build an end-to-end application

Its a great tutorial, really worth a watch if you are just starting out. I hope this articled helped you, if you have any suggestions or questions, please comment below, I would love to help you out. Happy deving!