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!

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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.

Information Overload

In the quest to improve business with the help of new, innovative ideas, man has often put the essentials of life on the sidelines. Sometimes what’s new effectively replaces the neglected, but leaves behind an impression of said change. Is it always wise to give in to change? Is it always wise to abandon something robust and strong for something untested, radical? There is no good answer to this question. It cannot be answered unless both the possible choices are examined closely.

What did the early man do for heat before discovering fire? Maybe his body simply produced more heat. Did it? But he wouldn’t care about what he did before there was fire. Fire fulfilled his need – or needs. What happened before fire held no importance. This makes sense too. Why care about something not at all efficient when you have something that fits the job.

Now think about this. If man hadn’t ever discovered fire, he wouldn’t have made it. Imagine a world with only wild, natural fires. Environmentalists of today might have favored that. Man wouldn’t be contributing to ‘Global Warming’. Its needless to write that after the discovery, the use of fire only grew exponentially as years passed. Its been modified is ways that we recognize it in entirely different places and forms – combustion in engines, gas on the stove, burning coal in a train. Nobody thinks about the repetitive contained explosions happening inside their car while driving. Everything has become abstract and hidden from sight.

Throughout time there have been several major changes, that have revolutionized life in even the minutest way. Spoons and forks, clothes, shoes, doors and locks, clocks. These are essentials for life today. Apart from these, there are things that exist solely for our aesthetics and pleasure. Paint on the walls, fabric on the cushions, curtains. We don’t exactly need them to live, but we feel an internal need to have these things. Then there are recreational things like instruments, books, religion, music, movies, and so many other things. Most of life is filled with these things alone. They constitute such a huge part of human existence, that people can even be defined by what the do for recreation.

Basically, since everything else in life like getting an education, having a job, getting married, having kids is normal for most people, the recreational things we do are much more wide in variety and differ from individual to individual. But in recent times, even these activities have become ore common than not among the crowds. The world is becoming a smaller place each day, especially thanks to the internet. People know about things that they wouldn’t normally know about otherwise.

Remember when in the 90’s, kids would turn on the computer just to play a game of pinball? Around the dot-com boom, businesses went online and millions were spent in expanding the reach of the internet. People looked at it like the early nomads looked at fire. Something they didn’t understand, but used anyway for their own benefit. In contrast though, this wasn’t something as simple as fire, and the bubble finally burst, causing huge recession. Clearly, it wasn’t very beneficial. It wasn’t something that could always serve in a time of need, like fire. People were fooled by the shiny new toy.

I guess it could be said that something that makes a huge impact on human life either successfully makes it much easier to live, or it goes down in flames, taking everything with it. We should be careful about what new thing we allow to change our lives.

Its true that the internet is the reason why you are reading this post of mine right now. Yes, the internet can be miraculously informative. But most people don’t use the internet for  gaining productive information. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have become so riveting to human-kind, that the average human spends hours on social media everyday. This is a change that is still taking place. We don’t know what its result will be.

But what we do know is that social media gives you a ton of nonconstructive information, that cannot be used to better humanity. Apparently, it does however help people start businesses that take advantage of the information you provide to produce services that you didn’t even know you needed. If anything, social media helps the few individuals take advantage of the many. All that information about the pages you like, the causes you support, the cuisine you eat, is being used to create businesses, which is one factor contributing to why there are so many start-ups these days.

We are allowing our thoughts to manifest into digital information through even a single click. We allow the internet to show us products, designs, and items that we were happy without anyway, but suddenly feel like we can’t live without them. We are allowing this change to happen. We are being targeted by those few behind the scenes of it all, without being aware of the fact that we are providing the information they need to make a profit off of us. We are being dumbfounded.

Is this a change humanity is willing to make?

The Quality Of Life

The world is a small place. The first time I really paid attention to such a statement was while watching Pirates of the Caribbean. You can imagine how small the world really is if a pirate says it. Yet, it has managed to get much smaller. For me, the size of the world depends on how much more there is for me to see in it, how many more friendly people I can meet. I wonder how other people think of the world.

We all talk about other people, try to imagine what their lives are like, and how they handle situations. Normally, this kind of information is not something you just know about anyone unless you’ve spent a good amount of time with them. Such people would be parents, siblings, grandparents, other family members. I wouldn’t go as far as including friends in this pool. We don’t really know our friends as well as we think we do – after all, we haven’t spent enough time with them. So really, except this small group of people, we just barely have an idea about how others lead their lives.

And that’s a good thing. It helps us maintain the minimum distance required to live in a functioning social environment. You can indulge yourself in another person’s life, involve yourself in their personal affairs. Of course, I wouldn’t invite such intrusiveness into my life. Yet, this is an age in which people find it harder than ever to keep to themselves. I myself have intentionally let out information about my life which I have later come to regret and felt uncomfortable with. I know some things about other people, which also makes me uncomfortable. I would have been much better off without knowing those details, no matter how insignificant they may be.

In this era, anything that you do not keep inside your head is bound to spread. Nothing is private anymore. What you say, do, eat – anything that can be seen, heard or understood by others is no longer within the bounds of your control. Literally, anything you say can and will be used against you.

It has become so easy to stay in touch with someone else. So easy that you can do it while cozily snuggling under the warmth of your blanket. It shouldn’t be so convenient. Unless some minimum amount of effort is put into maintaining contact with a person, it shouldn’t be done. Any individual’s attention is something that needs to be valued. It can’t be earned by just sending a friend request or a few lazy messages. Yet, that is what this world has come to.

So many details that would otherwise stay unnoticed are overt, out in the open. In fact, they are emphasized. I’ve tried to limit the information I have put up on social media, but it doesn’t fail to make me feel insecure anyway. Does anyone else feel that way? Even if some people did (once upon a time), I bet they just killed their conscience and gave in to what is now considered the norm. Sometimes its disconcerting to see humanity lose its essence in this way. If the condition of our race continues to deter, we will end up becoming empty, manner-less shells, lacking chivalry, courtesy and respect. For what is the world without gentle, kind, loving people?

Every time something comes up and reminds us that the quality of our existence is taking a nosedive, Captain Jack Sparrow’s voice will ring in my ears, saying

“The world is still the same. There’s just less in it.”

Teenage Life

Why don’t they understand that I’m not seven years old anymore. That I need to be left alone sometimes. That I can make some decisions on my own. They don’t get that I can’t talk to them about everything that happens to me, because they get overly involved and annoy me over the littlest things. Why don’t they let me stay up to finish a book I really want to read – insisting on binding me to a bedtime. Why don’t they understand that I don’t have to stick to my textbooks 24*7 to get a decent grade in a test.

Why don’t they take the hint that my mood swings aren’t because I’m going into depression, or that I am not satisfied with the atmosphere they created for me. Why do they tell me that I’ve been acting strange for the past few weeks, even though I’d been as normal as I could have possibly been. Why do they try to enforce their thinking on me. Why do they get upset if I don’t pick up two calls in a row, ten minutes apart. Why do they tell me that I’m not going to make anything out of my life if I still watch cartoons. Why do they think that watching cartoons is all I do?

Why don’t they understand that I need a break once in a while. Why do they keep nagging me to go study. That I wake up early, even though I couldn’t sleep at all for three nights in a row. Why do they tell me I’m wasting my time on doing something – when that something is really the only thing in the world I want to do at that moment. Why don’t they let me love the things that I love.

Why do they get upset over me not wanting to watch a movie I hate with them, then say I don’t spend time with them anymore. Why don’t they think for a second that I don’t enjoy doing everything they do? That instead, they haven’t really tried doing something I loved with me. That I have my own interests – which they seem to think are a waste of time. Why do they harshly criticize my music choices, when I keep shut even though I could say the same about theirs.

Why don’t they understand that I don’t need to be treated like a baby anymore. That I have developed my own likes and dislikes, and not everything overlaps with their opinion.Why do they think I’m pushing them away, when I really just don’t have anything to say. Why don’t they see that some days I’m just no good to do anything. That I need to sit in a corner and think things over.

That I care about them more than they could imagine. That I can’t bear it when they so much as get a paper-cut. Why don’t they understand that sometimes I don’t want to talk to them when I’m angry because I might take my anger out on them. That I’d seen those movies with them before just to keep them company.

Why don’t they get that I share the most important parts of my life with them. That they are the only real support that I have. That all I really need is their happiness. Why don’t they perceive how much I truly value the effort and patience they put into making me the person I am. That I owe them everything I have. That I would be good for nothing without them. That I can’t always tell them how proud I feel to be their child.

That I love them more than anything.

My Playlist’s Evolution

I’ve loved listening to music since I was a child. Like many of you, I have maintained my own set of songs throughout the years, adding new ones, and deleting few that don’t agree with me anymore. I’ve had smooth and rough patches, through each of which I had music by my side, and I am thankful for that to all the artists, composers, producers for making it possible.

But sometimes, my playlist is quite against me. A couple years ago I realized that I had a lot of music that was sad and depressing. I had picked them up from my times of despair, and kept them with me even after progressing to a different phase altogether. After all, the music and instrumentation was brilliant, I couldn’t delete them. So I decided to separate my positive music from the negative, and to my surprise, the positive ones made up a much smaller percentage than I had anticipated, with music about strength, love, magic, imagination, hope. The larger part were songs about break-ups, anger, fear, mockery, confusion, disappointment and so on. I couldn’t understand why I had so much of it. Leaving that aside, I still listened to it when I was upbeat.

Am I the only one who does that? I don’t really know, but I’d guess not. I think not many people put enough effort to change their playlist often enough to match their mood. There may be very few who do it, and honestly, I’ve seen none. So when I was dissatisfied with this discovery about my music, I decided to change it, and filtered out everything that wasn’t constructive – which meant around 70% of what I had. It was really difficult to adjust to such a small list of songs at first, I felt claustrophobic in the limited space, but the result of stripping down my music was fantastic. I didn’t feel low as often as I used to, and when I did, I didn’t really have a reason for it. I was happier about the smaller things that mattered, and life in general. I felt more complete in myself than I did since I was twelve years old. It was a fantastic experience, and anything that got the better of me before, now had to put in a lot more effort.

Eventually, I also realized that I had a certain unique feeling associated with each song I had. I needed to change up my playlist again, because I couldn’t listen to the same set over and over. I had always done this often, maybe once in a couple months, so that I don’t listen to too much of the same thing. This one time though, I felt a different emotion attached to each piece I had, and I didn’t even have to play the song to feel it, just scrolling over the name did it for me. I was in awe of how deeply I had associated myself with all my music, and that I had never noticed it before. By the time I was done deciding what music I wanted to keep for daily play, I was emotionally worn out. I couldn’t bare any kind of emotional stimulus for the rest of the day. But later when I listened to what I had picked out, it was totally worth it – I was closer to detecting what kind of music was on the same wavelength as myself, it was amazing. It was amazing that choosing specific songs from the tons that I had could make such a great combination. I was elated, since music is such a huge part of my life, and even after spending so many years on it, it still had so much more to teach me.

For anyone out there who loves music, I recommend you try filtering your playlist with any variable, it doesn’t have to be the one I used. I’m sure all of us can discover new heights by doing so. Please share your thoughts, I would love to hear about your experiences as well.

And for those who need to be uplifted, here’s a set of songs that might help you out. I hope you enjoy them!

1. Rebel Beat – The Goo Goo Dolls, Magnetic
2. Counting Stars – OneRepublic, Native
3. Firestone (ft. Conrad Sewell) – KYGO
4. Strawberry Swing – Coldplay, Viva La Vida
5. If I Lose Myself – OneRepublic, Native
6. How I Became The Sea – Owl City, All Things Bright And Beautiful
7. A Sky Full Of Stars – Coldplay, Ghost Stories
8. Alligator Sky – Owl City, All Things Bright And Beautiful
9. You Get Wat You Give – New Radicals, Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too
10. Off The Wall – Michael Jackson, Off The Wall
11. Into Yesterday – Sugar Ray, Surf’s Up OST
12. I’m Yours – Jason Mraz, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.
13. The Fighter (ft. Ryan Tedder) – Gym Class Heroes, The Papercut Chronicles II
14. P.Y.T. – Michael Jackson, Thriller
15. Replay – Iyaz, Replay
16. Angel – Shaggy
17. Beautiful Soul – Jesse McCartney, Beautiful Soul

Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Childhood is a time of fantasy and magic. It’s something that can never be forgotten. So many events from the time are sometimes so hazy and unrealistic that you question their having happened altogether. Hyperactive minds and wild imaginations can make things seem just too good to be true – even though they really aren’t great at all. But as you grow older, looking back reveals so much more than was originally visible. Those were the good days, when I simply didn’t see any bad in the world. But at this age it just hits me in the face every other day, reminding me that life is not a fairy-tale. One of the few melodies I remember learning from my early years at school is Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

I remember learning the words just so the music teacher wouldn’t single me out. The rhythm, the tone was more important to me. I wasn’t brought up in a very musical environment, and I only actually started discovering music for myself when I was fourteen years old. Till then, random songs from Bollywood movies and a few great English tracks my dad played now and again were all I was limited to. So it was only reasonable that I be surprised even at the sight of a keyboard. It seemed so majestic, something not meant to be touched by untrained fingers like mine. I was scared to even go near it. I remember being fascinated by the meager set of notes she played on the keyboard to keep us in tone. But the words seemed very random at the time. A reindeer with a shiny red nose is the most interesting thing that could be seen if it existed! What’s more, it glows, so there really isn’t any difficulty in finding it. But why would other reindeer call him names? It just didn’t make sense. I could see no reason. A reindeer is a reindeer. How does a little difference in his nose matter? It’s not like he can’t move around like other reindeer for him to be excluded from playing games. Then why was he excluded? It was all ridiculously pointless. No wonder the words weren’t important. I didn’t try to make much out of the rest of the lines.

The other day, I found myself humming this tune. And the memorized words found their way to my lips, so I sang. And it all made tremendous sense. I was taken aback by the utterly naked assembly of words that even though so simply put together, accurately described a challenging part of life.

I feel it’s necessary at this point to write a few things about myself. I’ve never had a stable group of friends until very recently. I didn’t care about it and wasn’t affected by being left alone. I don’t need anyone’s company to go to the bathroom, or have lunch, or go meet the teacher, or cross the road. I was a one-kid army. Many of the teachers who despised me for being different that way would describe me as a brat. But now I think they were just jealous of my independence (I wouldn’t pay attention to their boring classes that were of no interest to me). I was brought up in a very self-dependent environment and I am very thankful for that. Throughout my life, I’ve met so many people who can’t even sleep alone in their own rooms, because they have never done it before. I have been sleeping alone since I was about four years old. So many seek the shield that comes with being in a group, so that they don’t have to make their own stand in the world and can happily live their quiet crowd-led years they call a life. They love it so much that they have attempted to drag me into it innumerable times as well – and failed. I do not like to hide behind the face of a group of “friends”. I have never been comfortable letting someone else make my decisions. So, each time such a situation arose, I made it a point to take my stand, no matter what the consequence. And surely, the consequence was that I was left alone. And yes it felt unfair for a little amount of time, but I’d soon realize that I was better off this way. And this made them jealous too (which is the part I now personally like). Being constantly set apart from others failed to remain a mere consequence and became a habit. Thanks to that, I am my own person, and I am responsible for all the good and the bad that has happened to me. I have no one else to blame. I sleep easier at night. But I must admit that having my own way is getting difficult as I grow older. Sometimes it’s just not feasible. Other times my word just isn’t taken into account. That’s when it gets difficult for me. So let’s get back to what this piece is about. It’s about being different from other people, and how the world responds to it.

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw him, you would even say it glows

One striking characteristic sets him apart from all other reindeer. It’s not something attainable like strength or smarts; it’s something that is simply there, the color of his nose. And he can’t do anything to change it, nor can anybody else. It makes him stand out, which is why this whole carol is based on him in the first place.

All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

What a bunch of douches the other reindeer are. But isn’t this what the real world is like? The one that stands out is always the one targeted by the crowd, singled out as much as possible so that he is made to feel insecure and ashamed of his differentiating characteristic. It gets difficult to live with being different. Of course it does. Otherwise there would be no such thing as “the crowd” in the first place, because most people do not have the mental strength to deal with the consequence of standing out, they cave. It is this very reason that they don’t want anyone else to stand out either (for why should someone else do something that I cannot?) Hence the fight begins. Peer pressure versus what you think is right. Which one will you choose? Is it worth the pain? Irrespective of whether it’s worth it, you’re already being left out of all the “reindeer games”. And although the lyrics say “poor Rudolph”, don’t think even for a second that any of the other reindeer feel bad for him. Each reindeer is for himself, and doesn’t give a shit about Rudolph. It’s a reindeer eat reindeer world out there.

Then one foggy Christmas eve, Santa came to say – Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?

Why out of the blue, Santa? Why not rescue Rudolph from the violent realities of reindeer life before he had suffered? Here’s what really happened. Santa didn’t come to save Rudolph. Don’t believe me? Keep reading. This was a foggy evening. It’s widely known that road signs involving any kind of danger are made red. The reason for this is that red is the color that dissipates the least in translucent mediums due to its relatively longer wavelength, making it more visible to the eye than any other color. So Santa really just wanted to use Rudolph’s bright, glowing nose to more effectively navigate his way around. It had nothing at all to do with what Rudolph was going through. Yes, Santa is selfish too, as is anyone else in the world. Nobody’s going to come help you just because you need it. They are only going to help you because THEY need it. And this is one lesson learnt I the hard way.

Then all the reindeer loved him, shouted out his name with glee – Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history!

Ah now look how the come running back to him, those two-faced little duplicitous scums! Remember – hard times always reveal true friends. In this case, Rudolph has achieved the reindeer dream of guiding Santa’s sleigh, which has brought him this respect from reindeer that were making fun of him just yesterday. But they probably still are making fun of him behind his back, and he would never find out. How pathetic. But that’s how it really is! I myself have personally experienced this countless times. When you do something extraordinary, the ordinary fall to your feet, even if they had refused to acknowledge your existence prior to that moment. As a result, you do go down in history. People remember you as the one who made it, just like we remember Rudolph today. Of course, that unique quality of yours, your bright-red nose, will undoubtedly be carefully accommodated in the history books as well.

To all those who fight against the world everyday, don’t change. The world is real. So is the struggle to remain unblemished by it. Don’t change just to blend in. Stand out. Make history.