What is the problem with the culture in India? My take is that we are too casual about everything. 70 years on from independence and we still don’t know how to treat half of our population decently. We still don’t care about where we throw our garbage. We still don’t care about mental health or equality. Rapes, murders, corruption, plastics in the water, sewage on the roads, garbage in the rivers, etc. have become so commonplace in daily news that we’re almost desensitised to these occurrences.
The case of the 27 year old veterinarian who was raped, tortured, murdered and burned by four men prompted me to write this article. Here are four members of the trucking community (which has a bad image as is), puncturing the tyre of this woman’s motorcycle and then kidnapping her on the pretext of fixing the tyre. Where is their decency? Where is the pride in their work? Where is the love for a fellow working class citizen who dedicated her life to the welfare of animals? If these “men” (I hesitate to call them as such) had cultivated a pride for their motherland, respect for their own mothers, reverence towards the founders of the nation, and love for the people they see, how much more could they have achieved in their lives? For a people who always think about practical matters such as education, saving money, investments, family planning, etc., it is ironic that such monstrosities continue to fly under the radar. Who is to blame? We all are. If we had taken more active roles in society, we could’ve helped these people be better. We could’ve prevented such heinous acts.
I think, to bring about a change, we as a people need to have one important thing – respect. Respect for fellow citizens and people of the world. Respect for animals and their rightful habitats. Respect for nature and natural resources. Most importantly, respect for the law. The Constitution is not just a big book meant to control the population; it seeks to propagate the core ideology of who we are as a nation and who we are as individuals. People need to understand that respecting the law is what makes them Indian and what makes a civilised society. Once we learn to respect the law, we will automatically become more respectful to every single facet of society and nature.
We need to be respectful, we need to teach respect and we need to earn respect. Good is just as powerful (if not more) than evil, and can spread just as fast. Take active roles in society. Teach people right and wrong in a way that they would care to listen. Strike up conversations with the stranger next to you when you take the bus. Write posts on social media. Every step counts. Every little act counts. To respect the law is to respect the foundations of civilisation. It is the basic criterion for decency.
On the 26th of November, we celebrated 70 years since the Constitution of India was drafted. I respect and admire our Constitution; it was drafted by the most brilliant, the most open, and the most inclusive of minds. It demands and commands respect. And it is our duty as citizens to do so, as clearly seen in the Preamble- we the people secure to all citizens. Not just the government or the police. All of us. We shall let the Constitution guide us to be righteous- enough so that we become fit to modify and update it to be with the times. Lacking this respect means we violate the very core of India’s identity. We are fit to be banished. We shall not befit the fundamental rights and protections offered to us. We are not Indians.
Many a times in the past, I have talked/written about how living abroad, away from family and familiarity, has been a point of difficulty personally. One has to deal with the culture shock, strange food, strange people and strange languages (among many other things) without relying on any immediate support. Quite daunting, I think you’d agree.
Now, a year later, I still have strong feelings of attachment to home (after all, home is where the heart is). But something in me has changed. Something in me has realised that, to make it in today’s world, I need to stand on my own two feet and really make good of what I’ve got. It was a slow realisation, mind, but it has brought me to the position where I have somewhat learnt to enjoy living alone, abroad.
While it sounds as if I have resigned to my fate, that is not the case. I still wish to build a life in my home city. But for now, I am here, in Stockholm. So let’s count the good things in this life.
Fabulous university. I love going to school for the first time in my life. The students and teachers are all from different backgrounds, countries and cultures, making every interaction filled with rich conversations.
Freedom. I can rest when I want to, I can run when I want to. There is nobody here questioning my actions. This is a two-sided coin- I am free yet I’m responsible for myself. Win-win, in my book.
Peace and quiet. Living here is expensive, but easy. It’s easy to make a routine and follow through with it without the annoyances and interruptions I’m used to. I love how the busy shopping and commercial centres of the city are interspersed with parks, green spaces and forests, like oases of calm in an otherwise heaving and bustling beehive.
The anticipation of vacations. I very much enjoy counting down the days to my next vacation- my next opportunity to go home. I book tickets well I advance and just lie in anxious anticipatory wait. The last few days till the trip, I’m practically giddy. Of course, it is sad to come back at the end, but this routine keeps me rooted to my culture and country like nothing else.
I can count many more, less significant things, but I presume one can get the gist from the above. All in all, I think this is an experience worth having. 2-4 years of my life away from home isn’t going to harm anyone.
I have recently realised that I am terrible at taking compliments. I feel like I always need to be modest about whatever I have done; while that is a good thing, too much of something is still bad. I noticed myself trying to come up with ways to say “No I’m not that good” or “No that’s not the case” every time someone so much as compliments my handwriting. It is kind of a double edged sword- while one is wont to crave some recognition and acknowledgement, one cannot elegantly accept it either; not without questioning one’s self esteem levels, at least.
Don’t get me wrong, this by no means indicates that I don’t like giving compliments, no. I love doing that. I like thanking people and complimenting them even for the smallest things, and not because I want them to like me. It just makes me happy seeing others be happy about something that they are or did. And I sincerely believe it to be an excellent tool for lifting someone’s mood. In today’s day and age, a lot of us are ill-prepared to deal with our lives. So why not just say some kind words to even a total stranger, knowing that they now have a small thing to be thankful for that day?
But ironically, while I do like to be complimented (like any other human), the momentary reactions are hardly coherent/controllable. I wondered why this was. Then it struck me that our society rarely participates in complimenting. They’re never fulfilled or happy with anything. Nothing is good enough for a positive remark. Try to make yourself look good, they’ll call you vain. Stop trying, they’ll call you a tramp. Write neatly, and they’ll say that’s why you get good scores. Get good scores, and they’ll ask why you didn’t get more. Get into a good school, and they’ll ask why you didn’t get a scholarship. Every step of the way, every little thing you try to be enthusiastic about, you’re beaten down. More. More. More.
I believe this is a social evil. I believe this is a factor in people being led astray- into corruption, adultery, thievery. And I believe that’s why a lot of us are never happy. Because we are not trained and conditioned to be so. I can count on one hand the number of people who have asked me to be happy the way I am. One hand. And I suspect this is the case with more than most. Let’s be the last ones in this chain. Let’s try to compliment people. When you compliment someone, chances are they do it to someone else. Like how it is when you insult someone. Tell someone they look good. Tell your friends that they have a lot to be proud of. Tell a stranger to have a nice day. Thank someone for opening the door.
Do that, and at the very least, you’ll be able to take a compliment next time.
Death. Pain. Loss. Fire. Bloodshed. Burning effigies and flags out in the streets. Cheering over the dead. Slogans and chants against fellow people. Cries for war and retaliation.
It is sad what dominates everyday life still, in the 21st century. It harks back to the days of primitive cave-dwelling species, fighting over territory, parading around the dead and generally engaging in hooliganism. Primitive instincts of rebellion, anarchy and unrestrained territorialism still showing from behind the seeming veil of evolution, civility, development and progress.
Evil exists in society, yes. But fighting meaningless fire with meaningless fire simply results in a bigger, more meaningless flame. Whether perpetrators of evil are powerful elements outside of society or snide agencies of government, where goes the heart’s yearning for peace and calm among us commoners? Is all this just a mere distraction from a boring routine? ‘Rooting’ for your team like it’s a game of football? Go watch football if you want a distraction. Do not play with fire when you cannot possibly handle the flames. Do not dive deep into uncharted waters citing a mere feeling of being challenged. Do not plunge the world into war. We have had more than enough of those.
Learn to have restraint. Or learn to channel your urges in a productive way. Rebel against meaningless terrorism. Represent against needless misjudgments. Rally against fruitless anger. For the common good. If collective anger of civilians was enough to push soldiers to the battlefront- to put innocent lives on the line, think of the power of collective goodwill. Do good by humanity and trash this sick understanding of nationalism and patriotism, rife among all classes of society.
Nations must engage in diplomacy, not war. Nations must work together against terrorism. Nations must see the common will for peace among their peoples. Those growing terrorism on their soil must open their eyes. Wider. Those pointing fingers must instead seek mutual betterment. Until and unless they do so, we may not call this civilisation or humanity. Humanity does not endorse anger and evil.
Becoming of evil shall not entail in the fight against it.
Have you ever had a period of time when you had nothing to do? No work, no studies, no hangouts, no vacations, nothing. It’s just you at home, waking up late, eating, meandering and going back to sleep. Such is the boredom that you sink into it further. Do you know this feeling? When everything is just so groggy and so slow, no spirits and no glow, that your only intention of getting out of bed is to get back on it and go back to sleep at some point later?
That is the worst thing. If you have experienced it, you would agree on some level. If you haven’t had it, pray that it doesn’t; nothing can slow down your body and sap your intellect and slur your speech more than doldrums. It is the perfect word to describe this situation. You become a ship with no wind in its sails, no journey, no destination. Her crew languishing amidst an empty sea void of life, of the crisp breeze, of the ocean spray. Nary a cheer or a laugh. Just waiting for time to pass. Ironic, isn’t it? Spending time waiting for it to pass.
Even a day or two like this, for me, makes me feel like a small sliver of my soul drowned, taking away some energy and life with it. The sharpest of intellects and wits are smothered. If you, reader, are here right now, don’t wait for time to pass. It doesn’t. Whoever you are, whatever the situation, make some work for yourself. Feed your brain with more than just blood and oxygen. Get out. Meet people. Go for a run. Clean yourself up. Be thankful for the healthy body you have. Let it live up to its potential. Make a decision. Make it work. Put your oars out there and row.
Lest you be left in the cold and dark, till you can no longer stay afloat. Till you just sink.
As I become an adult, I tend to have many expectations of the world and of myself. It’s exciting for everyone when we turn 18 (or 21 or whatever) and we’re legally allowed to partayy. With booze, that is. I for one thought (being fairly introverted), once I’m older I’ll change. That I’d be more easy-going and chummy with others with no strings and no baggage. Essentially, that I would lose any insecurity I had and just go with the flow and have some fun. This was the impression I had when I first went abroad alone. Went to Germany, had some beers, went to bars, been there done that. But I came away disappointed, as I had made the following observations:
You don’t stop being an introvert. Despite the veil of confidence and security I masked my face with, there was a perennial realisation of that veil being only a veil. I couldn’t restrain myself from overthinking everything I said to everyone. I couldn’t help but conjure up pointless opinions others might have had about me, despite this being irrelevant, considering seeing the same people again is far-fetched, let alone them remembering me.
People are always judgy. Even the most down-to-earth, open-minded person will always pass judgement and have opinions on others. This is quite problematic for people like me, because, good or bad it may be, I seem to have a keen sense of what people are feeling. I may be wrong at times (especially if it involves non-personal conversations, aka texting), but it is mostly true that no matter how well-mannered you think you may be, a lot of times, you end up being silly in one way or another. Especially if you have on said veil.
I don’t see the point of alcohol. Yes, some types of it taste quite good and get really get you high, but the stronger ones people generally take at parties- well if you’re going to trade the memory of the fun you had for an entire morning of migraines and vomit, it is pretty pointless. Maybe because I’ve never been high before, but I don’t know why I would need alcohol to have fun. Which makes the transition into the next point quite nicely.
My idea of a rave is sitting at home, singing along to music and making funny noises as I drive a nice car on Forza Horizon 4, gawking at the gorgeous scenery. You could argue that a rave minus the people minus the alcohol minus the DJ minus the sweat isn’t a rave anymore, but I think I feel quite intoxicated by car noises and digital environments. Plus, the music they have on these games- well it’s bangin. So that’s plus music plus noise and plus intoxication. So a rave is what I (think) have. And there are more pluses. I don’t have to dress up, I can eat, I have a chair, and if I’m tired at any point I can simply go to bed. Imagine trying to leave an actual rave.
I thus had to come to the bitter conclusion that I’m not built for the life I imagined. But the silver lining is something I understood only by experience. I understood that while parties make me feel faint, I enjoy my own company enough that I can have my own rave- an introvert’s rave.
Life takes us on long journeys away from home and all familiarity. It drops us in the midst of a completely different society and culture and expects us to just cope. It’s never that easy, is it? To just leave behind your parents, your dog, your old friends, your home. Just to get a piece of paper with fancy lettering on it. Supposedly as proof of your education and knowledge.
2 years is how long I’m having to spend in this faraway land. “It’s beautiful” they said. “The people are very friendly” they said. What’s beauty if it’s only skin deep? I’ve travelled a lot before. And enjoyed it. But now that I’m here, I’ve realised that I enjoy travelling given that I’m going to be back at home at the end. But now? What do I have to look forward to at the end of the day? Home? This ain’t home.
As the days go by, I find myself relying more and more on the internet to connect with family and friends. To stay up to date on the news back at home. To dig out old photos off of the cloud. Just for those few moments of warmth and comfort. Something I haven’t yet found here; something that could never be replaced or substituted. My motor runs on the knowledge that I get to go home every 3 months on vacation.
Will I ever be absorbed into this foreign culture? Will I ever be a part of this new land? Possible. But I won’t let that happen. Because, at the end of two years, whether or not I learn enough to get a degree, I have already learned the value of my homeland. I have understood that my motherland is the only place where I will ever belong.
A little girl
Performing a solo in her world
Playing with made up instruments
That served as tiny testaments
Of the complexity that ran through her mind
She felt connected to the earth
Never to people from her birth
But to plants and tiny sentient beings
That took to her for the entirety of her living
She crossed paths with none
Some thought she was the special one
She felt that she was far
From making progress or even having a friendly spar
As time flew by it was dawned upon
That those with an ounce of closeness to her heart had gone
Faraway having their life taken away
And yet to this not a price she had paid
As time flew, by she felt stronger than ever before
Rid of all childhood sores
A little gasp once in a while
But she knew she’d be alright
As far as her life went
Not a shred of emotional torment
Nothing humane swept her away
Life slowly flowed through her
In the same gentle way a stream brings her waters
She lost her love and only friend
A tall magnificent tree that had heard her every grievance
Which had rustled its leaves with the wind in comfort
Dried her tears and known all her dreams she shared with none
Everyone only knew her as the transparent one
She knew she had to live for them all
She steeled herself for the falls
Her will to live only strengthened
As her lifespan needlessly lengthened
She burned with passion to make it happen
The pain had not danced around in vain
She looked back at the time she spoke to an empty world
Where she spoke only to the Goddess, her mother
Earth who’d always cared for her
Was now to let go of this mischievous nipper
Despite being denounced
Her bond no longer strong
The wind and rain continued to be a friend
Comforting her until she could fend
We all know at this point that life has its ups and downs. On some days you’re cheerful, on others you’re blue. Many great relationships end in bad break-ups. Sunny mornings don’t always mean warm evenings. Simple facts of life. After a certain age, we all (more or less) learn to deal with these things. Whether you’re simply a positive person or whether you down a few bottles on a bad day, we all have our ways to cope.
But then, out of the blue, life throws you a curveball. Let me provide a simple example. A beautiful day. You wake up after a refreshingly good sleep. After getting ready, you catch yourself in the mirror and do a double-take. “Great day to look good!” you think. Then, as you leave the building, a pigeon decides to (literally) crap on your day. Adding insult to injury, the neighbourhood kids you hate post a video of it on Instagram. Where did your smile go?
As one gets older, I have noticed that one has to deal with curveballs more often, because the busier your days get, the more there is to go terribly wrong. Often like dominoes going down. Travelling, for example. Obsessive ones usually plan out every single activity for the entire vacation, complete with directions, bus/train routes and tickets for those buses and trains. Then a train gets cancelled and you miss your connection. The plan for the next two days are thrown out of order. So do we just throw our hands up and call it quits? Or do we let our mood go sour and sullen? Is that what we’re taking a vacation for?
We all ought to be more adaptable and more patient. In most cases, things are more flexible than we think, and the solutions are simpler than we could, at that moment, even care to imagine. So the kids put your video on Instagram. So what? Just be in the moment and laugh! Sometimes, even if your emotions are forced, they tend to quickly avert your focus from the mishap. So you miss the train. Just divert your attention to the place where you’re at. It might be worth exploring. Curveballs are hard to deal with because we don’t know when we’re to be thrown one. So, don’t try to catch them or dodge them.
We’ve all been there. You find these amazing new people to hang out with and talk to. You make memories to cherish. You go places with them. Then, when it’s time to leave, the goodbyes sadden you. A week on, WhatsApp and Instagram are your saviours, helping you stay in touch, at least indirectly. Then the messages get fewer and further apart. The stories on Instagram are no longer relevant to you. They move on and leave you behind. The invitations home and the future plans all turn to dust blowing past your face as you desperately attempt to catch up. And so you just stop. Stop to catch your breath. Stop for a final wave goodbye. And you take a different path.
Or do you? Why is it that we feel people don’t care about us when they stop talking to us? People always need a reason to talk to you. People have lives. People have other people. They can’t afford to stop and think about you everyday. The messages might get fewer and further apart, but that doesn’t mean the memories have faded away. People do care. People do remember. People change, yes, but who you are to them, that doesn’t change. So when you stop to catch your breath, remember, catching up isn’t what you’re supposed to do. You have your own path to follow. And somewhere in the future, closer than you think, paths are bound to intersect. And when they do, all the memories, all the emotions, they come rushing back. In that moment, you realise, love isn’t temporary.
People leave. But they leave not to leave you behind.
Can’t believe it. The Overflowing Barrel was started a year ago. While it hasn’t received particularly devoted attention from us (we’re busy with graduations and stuff), it has been there for us whenever we wanted to express our thoughts and emotions on something or other. And that is something, considering that the past year was a tumultuous one for many of us. We, as writers, are and should be grateful that we have a recognition of the importance of the art of writing, and that we have been blessed with enough skill to do it with fair ease. WordPress has been a great platform for us, and we are thankful to have made use of it.
We did not intend for this blog to become popular and we certainly didn’t publicise it much to even our friends here. Yet we remain satisfied with the readership it gets, despite the posts being few and far between. It still stands for us that this blog was simply a means to connect with our inner selves by means of writing, which is something we love and respect.
I hope that in this coming year, The Overflowing Barrel receives the attention it deserves from us. To all those who follow us and read our stuff, we thank you, and we hope you’ll stay with us.
For a democracy of 1.2 billion people, you’d think the people’s voice is loud. And it is. But how can common sense cut through the madness that is rife in the minds of the vast majority? Here is an 8 year old girl, kidnapped, sedated and raped over a week by different people, then mutilated and murdered. All in a temple, no less. The normal reaction to this would be one of horror and shock, possibly vengefulness. But what person in his/her right mind would involve religious or political aspects? What sane human being would stop a case from being registered? What level of moronic does one have to be to rally in support of the perpetrators? The voices are strong. The voices are loud. But these voices, the ones that cut through, don’t unanimously echo that of the young girl in agony. And that is very wrong. But when people in positions of power fail to recognise the magnitude of such an incident, that is beyond wrong. That is ignorance of one’s own people and one’s own country and all the values it stands for.
But there is hope. There is faith to be had in the millions of people who stand up to losers, punks, morons and scoundrels every single day; fighting for the good; fighting for a better tomorrow. And that number is sure to grow. You see, people can only take so much bullshit. And we’ve taken a lot. Now, we explode. Wrath, fire, fury. The people’s voices are slowly syncing. Soon, they will be one. One loud voice. The voice of 1.2 billion people. The voice of the nation, saying enough is enough. Do or die. Rot in hell, those who dare cross the line. For one may do anything but underestimate the power of the people.
The wheels of progress may turn slowly. The push uphill may be long and arduous and tiresome. But once they break over the crest, speed up they will. And once they speed up, they will crush anything that stands in their path. To smithereens. With a shattering crack. Devils watch out; the crest is nigh.
I hate going out with friends. I admit it outright. It’s okay if there is one or maybe two other people. Very specific people. But certain times are such that you’re hard pressed to excuse yourself out of a decidedly dull and pointless getting-together of ‘friends.’ Yes, ‘friends.’ Those people who, by social standards, are classified as such without thought or fair reason. At certain times, you’ve to lunch with these people. And lunching is the worst.
After dilly-dallying with the schedule, you finally get to the restaurant which will inevitably be a crowd-pleaser (read ‘bad choice’). Once sat, you notice that you are flanked by your least favourite people- so conversations are out of the question. The food arrives painfully late, and you start digging right in- stuffing your mouth so you don’t have to participate in the corny millennial talk. But then the rest of your food suddenly disappears. What happened to it? Oh yeah. Sharing. You’ve half a mind to tell these people to sod off and eat their own shite choice of food.
But all this is nothing compared to the small matter of settling the bill. It is commonplace for people to expect the host to pay when it’s a birthday party or the like. But a random meet-up? Shouldn’t one pay for what he ate and be done with it? No. They choose to find excuses as to why you should pay a certain amount because you had done that thing 4 months ago. And because you want the afternoon to end as soon as it can, you end up paying for the buggers. But does it end? Nooo. The turds then take pictures. Oh yes. A dozen pictures each, at least. Selfies with a graceless pout. Food pictures taken in an artsy way (so they think). Nightmarish.
Seriously people, have you ever come across the term ‘restaurant etiquette?’