The eleventh hour

Long drives at night

Countless lights rolling by

Good music on the stereo

Singing along as miles pass.

The day’s last hours, fulfilled.

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Candlelight

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Kaput goes the light

Darkness befalls the night;

Fumbling in the dark

Then comes the spark.

A plan is hatched

The store door unlatched,

A push on the handle

To retrieve a candle.

Three times a scratch

To light the match,

A flicker of luminescence

From the object of obsolescence,

To fill up the room

In a shroud of gloom.

Tis but one night

For the past to reignite

In stories told and re-told

Until morning light behold.

 

Car culture

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Cars are necessary. That’s a fact. In places like ours, with poor public transport and infrastructure, most of us depend on them as a mode of transport. But to some of us, they mean so much more. Much more than A-B motors. Much more than a box on wheels. Much more than a mode of transport. We don’t care about the destination. It is the drive that we make count. It is the drive that’s the best part.

To us, cars are sentient beings. We talk about life in context of how they drive. We talk about a connect. A connect with the car’s ‘soul’. Now this might be nonsense to most people. But regard it in this way- cars elicit emotions in us that others don’t. Let me put this into perspective, by giving an example. A normal person, when there is a sweeping bend ahead, would slow down and go around it, and that’s job done. Second nature. But car people, they ignore everything else, rev-match into a lower gear, accelerate and steer into it, feeling and moving with the entire body of the car, noticing the grip, body roll, flex, etc. It is an elaborate act. It incites a feeling that the car is just an extension of one’s own body.

This is what brings car people together. It isn’t facts, stats and lap times. It is far deeper and more emotional than that. Our disagreements and arguments don’t stem from hatred or racism or intolerance or bigotry or anti-Semitism or what-not. They stem from the fact that, despite our differences, even within the realm of cars, we share the same fire in our hearts to make every drive worthwhile. To make every drive an experience. That is what car-culture is about.

“Reading? Writing? What are those?”

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It is 2017. Social media usage is at an all time high. Facebook recently recorded 1 billion people using their service. In such a connected world, reading and writing arguably aren’t being given the respect they rightfully deserve.

Every post on social media is simply a shared story or one of those awful memes- a culture I can’t begin to fathom how it caught on. People create these memes and share them with a decidedly poor caption riddled with innuendo, leaving aside the bad grammar and horrid language (‘2’ instead of ‘to’? Come on…).

Entertainment today is laughing at memes on Facebook for many. Where has reading and writing gone? Many of my friends say they’ve never read a book of their own volition ever in their 20 years of life. How?

I think culture simply thrusts forward less-than-ideal fads that youth generally scamp after. Life is fast paced for them. They laugh at a meme, share it, then forget it. Long passages, like this article, simply aren’t worth time and effort for them. Reading, imagination and introspection are lost in their eyes.

What a shame, because for us readers and writers, a day without introspection is a day lost to waste. A good book and a cuppa solves more problems than time does. An hour’s worth of reading gives us days of thoughts. A good book is a portal into a new world. A thought-provoking article or poem is a paradigm shifter.

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. But I argue that a thousand words have the power to paint what pictures cannot depict. And that’s what we do. We paint what cannot be photographed or turned into a meme.

Our writing can reach into the darkest depths of the abyss or the farthest star in the sky. Writing is boundless. Limitless. Inexhaustible. And reading it can take you places that pictures can’t show. And that is power.

We are the readers and writers, drawing past over future, casting light on the dark and dreary, pouring passion and devotion and not likes and shares.

We are the readers and writers. Forever.

 

Power. Grace. Wisdom. Wonder.

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I was young – too young to remember how old I was – when I first saw a spectacle so revolutionary and colourful that even after 15 years of countless shows and double the number of movies and books, it remains to be one of the few constants in an ever-shifting memory – Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman.

I was sifting through the repeats of numerous cartoons when my bored eyes spotted a red and golden top and a headband. I had to investigate that. Upon closer inspection, it was a woman, clad in red and blue, with a lasso in her hand, punching someone in the face. That was the age of Shaktiman, of Harry potter and Hardy Boys. The only famous superhero this poor girl had known was “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Its Superman.” Every important role featured a tall man with/without a moustache, going around saving the city, being worshipped, zipping through, catching females falling from rooftops for no apparent reason. Naturally, being a child, I was very curious as to why there was no one like me doing all the above. The real world was not devoid of tall females being authoritative (cue my teachers). My mom wasn’t falling from rooftops – she was busy working and making me do my homework. So if anyone could be a superhero, as the movies were so adamantly claiming, why was there no one like my mom or my teachers standing up against evil?

When I asked my mom all this, all she said was, “Because we can’t fly and tie up our hair at the same time” and “A girl couldn’t do all that.”

And yet here this woman was, doing things I was conditioned to think were impossible – standing up for justice and what she believes in. I watched her do so for 20 minutes straight, without faltering, stopping only to question anything and anyone, the opposite of what I was taught to do. “Don’t question your brother”, “Don’t question your dad” and yet strangely enough, questioning my mom wasn’t considered rude.

Wonder Woman never stopped questioning. She didn’t stop when the person on the other side was bigger or taller. She brought them down to her level.

Every time I wanted that new loud truck toy, everyone around me would say, “You’re a girl. What’re you going to do with it?” This goddess was driving an armoured tank around the city like it was her birth right.

When I told my mom what I wanted to be when I grew up, she scoffed and said “But you’re a girl. It’s not feasible. It’s not possible.” Wonder Woman was always there doing the best she could, even when she knew she was outnumbered. All on her own. Unbiased and unafraid.

She stood her ground. She fought both her self-doubts and mine. She fought the fight this little girl wished she could. She wrapped my dreams and hopes around her waist and secured it for eternity. She trapped my questions in her headband and let it crack the skulls of those that laughed at her. She held hope in her sword and as it gleamed in the shining sun, so did my teeth as I imagined myself laughing at the question “You’re a girl. What can you even do?” before showing them that red and blue figure flying in the distance, smiling as she ties up her hair.

From that day since, Wonder Woman – my first powerful, elegant, beautiful, brave role model – has always had my back. “But Wonder Woman can” and “Do you know about Wonder Woman?” echoed all the answers I’d confidently toss at anyone whose questions would otherwise have left me embarrassed and incompetent.

The world needs Wonder Woman – a voice to represent all those unheard and all those heard and yet ignored. The world needs Wonder Woman because men and women all need to be told that justice, power, truth and pride are equal for all. They need a strong, graceful figure rising proudly among the ashes of a million questions whose only answer is that skip of a step and that twinkle in her eye as she stands side by side as an equal with those that now ask the question “Is she with you?”

As I wait for June 2, I wait for a new era of a more powerful Wonder Woman but no less inspiring; I wait for this 20 year old’s heart to light up with the pride that she so effortlessly seems to radiate; I wait for the boys and girls to finally see Wonder Woman in their moms who face everything the world throws at them with a smirk, in their sisters who now know they can grab what they want with a lasso, their friends who stand by them with pride and grace, their shields all the way up, who finally know they can be as strong as they want to be.

Wonder Woman is not only a comic book character- she is the embodiment of everything good in the world that a little girl saw 15 years ago, an image of red and blue she carried in her heart whenever she felt frustration and rage. If Wonder Woman could do it then so could she. If Wonder Woman wouldn’t compromise then so wouldn’t she. I saw myself in her as would and did a million others. Her unflinching courage and wisdom was a live lesson on what I had the potential to be. She wasn’t just eye candy. She wasn’t the helpless by-stander who’d wait for someone else to save them. She’d do the saving. She was a just warrior, a wise princess, a friend, a leader, an ideal, an inspiration.

I hope this movie,75 years in the making, finally makes Wonder Woman a common household name, with the grandeur and the larger than life image intact. I hope Gal Gadot makes everyone around me realise that a woman can be who she wants to be. She can be an ambassador of peace, a warrior, a friend, a menace, someone who has the power to stand for truth and justice even if she has to fight through demons to be heard. It was Lynda carter who gave me an ideal to strive through and it will be Gal Gadot who will cement it in everyone’s minds. The red has become darker, the gold brighter, which only means she has been waiting for a while to be heard and now that she has her stage, you had better turn up the volume and watch awe-struck as she crashes through the window and single-handedly does the impossible – make everyone love her. Oh, and also kick ass. That’s important too.

“Don’t kill if you can wound, don’t wound if you can subdue, don’t subdue if you can pacify and don’t raise your hand at all until you’ve first extended it.”

Trust.

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“You go out in the night?” they quizzed.

“Yes” she said.

Some looked at her with utter disgust while some looked at her with jealousy.

“Won’t your parents stop you?” they questioned her, several judgmental eyes staring at her accusingly.

“No they won’t” she said confidently.

“They won’t stop me from going out in the night.

They won’t stop me from having guy best friends.

They won’t stop me from taking pictures with my friends who may be guys or girls.

They won’t stop me from bringing home my Muslim friends. In fact, they cook them delicious rasam which my friends happen to love.   

They won’t stop me from pursuing my higher education just because I am a girl.

They won’t stop me from being me.

They won’t tell me to be silent; instead, they were the ones who encouraged me to always speak my mind. 

Most of all, they love me for who I am and not what the society wants me to be.

No, they won’t stop me, because they have something called trust in their daughter. 

After all, who will they trust if it is not their own flesh and blood?

And maybe, just maybe you should try having a little ounce of it in your kids too!”

She smiled at the stunned crowd before turning and walking away.
 

Numbers

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My name is a roll number

My knowledge is a grade

My intelligence is an IQ

My body is a BMI

Is my existence just a number?

 

 

EDM Love

Music to the Ears Background 2Music. It’s what keeps us going. Long bus rides and lazy evenings are filled up with this soul-stirring stuff. For what we are, where we are and what we do, music has become a bare necessity (“Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities!”) in our daily grind. But what I think truly makes music such an amazing thing to behold, is its diversity. Tens of thousands of artists spewing out all manner of music- pop, rock, soul, country, etc. The depth of meaning and breadth of coverage of music has arguably made it the art of the choice in the modern world. A point furthered by the fact that the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Bob Marley. Good stuff.

My time listening to music involves mostly EDM (Electronic Dance Music) for the simple reason that to me, it is fulfilling and energizing. Take Avicii, for this case. He being a DJ, is in a position that allows him to find a voice that suits the music, instead of it being the other way around. Songs like Wake Me Up couldn’t have sounded better with anyone other than Aloe Blacc behind the mic, to talk about how we lose our way in life and would rather lie to rest till we’re ready to get back up. EDM isn’t like in other genres of music where the music itself is just a backdrop to the vocals- a supplement. Here, it is complementary. They both take equal portions of the limelight. The music itself is allowed to tell the story. From a calm melody to a thumping backdrop, it is a sheer wall of music. A wall that is a giant painting, opening the eyes of the listener to a story- a story painted with such colour and flourish that it is oftentimes overwhelming and tear-inducing.

Such is EDM for me, and so the majority of my playlist is Avicii and Major Lazer. Because they’re the ones who keep me going.

 

 

A Conundrum

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I sat down on my desk, with textbooks and notes spread all over, planning to study for the exams. Yet, my mind wandered unwillingly to focus on this arduous task. It is well-known that one’s mind tends to move rapidly move from one thought to another in a seemingly random pattern. On that day though all my thoughts were on the simple writing apparatus held in my hand. My thoughts revolving around the famous quote “The pen is mightier than a sword”. I started thinking deeply on why such a quote existed. If we take it literally, it is meaningless. It is physically impossible for a pen to be stronger than a sword. Therefore we can conclude that the quote is philosophical rather a logical. But that is not the conclusion I sought. The question “why?” still remained. So I began to ask myself, “In what way is a pen better?”. For a few hours, these thoughts distracted me. Hence, I started on the original task I had set for myself unable to find the elusive answer.

I was preparing the notes for a particular unit when my phone rang. I left my desk to answer it and came back soon. But on searching for where I had left off, I found that I had made a mistake. I stroked out the erroneous statement. But, I paused, the answer that eluded me before was right in front of my eyes. A pen is mightier than a sword because it has one ability that a sword cannot have. The power to create and change. A sword will always remain a tool of war, capable only of destruction. Not just a sword but any weapon for that matter only causes death and destruction. True, the words written by a pen may destroy a person, emotionally or professionally. At the same time, it is capable of bringing about a revolution. It is easier to destroy than to change. But change always has a cost. A cost paid mostly in blood.

In the end, an unanswered question remains. Which is the enabler? The sword that sheds blood or the pen that wrote the words of change.

THE ROOTED TREE

ws_Field_and_Tree_at_Sunset_1680x1050I am but a rooted tree
Allow me to enlighten thee
Because everyday, I see
Events I ought to contain
With a latch key

The one with the yellow dress
fit like a lantern
Singing with joy fearless
with no rhyme or pattern
Until the one in black
as empty as his emotions
Silent whips “crack”
with practiced motions
She sings some more
the pattern I now recognize
Spawled on the gnarled floor
I’m the only one mesmerized

The girl with the 2 wheeled chair
eagers towards the hidden leaf
Places it on her golden hair
“where are you, you little thief”
The other wobbles uphill
her stick and bucket in hand
I sense envy until
her milky eyes scan the sunshined land
The first hides herself but not the contraption
the second stumbles on it, laughts it off
I lay confused by a surprised action
holding each, into the sunset they head off

He lay at my feet
the coughing man
I’m silent, a good retreat
for the speechless coughing man
He brings his paint
begins his perpetual “masterpiece”
His sinewy fingers, the pinks stain
labours on, his perpetual “masterpiece”
I feel naked, shy and flushed
for years from that stare
“Not too slow now, not too rushed”
“got to have grace, strength and flair”

I am but a rooted tree
Allow me to enlighten thee
Because everyday, I see
Events I ought to contain
With a latch key

Because the yellow turned to red that day
The pattern drawn inside
The song, though, never at bay
Forever gone that yellow bride

I am but a rooted tree
Allow me to enlighten thee
Because everyday, I see
Events I ought to contain
With a latch key

Because the chair away she flung
The day she copped a knee
Far away the church bells rung
“Love, the only thing I see”

I am but a rooted tree
Allow me to enlighten thee
Because everyday, I see
Events I ought to contain
With a latch key

Because the cough finally ceased
At my feet the perpetual “masterpiece”
“For you, the only asset I bequeathe”
“My love, my perfect masterpiece”

I wish I could hug her
I wish I could congratulate em
I wish I could cry for him
I wish I could stand by em

I am but a rooted tree
All I can do is enlighten thee
About what everyday I see
Events I ought to contain
With a latch key

-akshra