bingeneering marvels

You can't take the sky from me.

Icing Icing baby! 

Someone at the office had their last day at work today. Two of my friends had their birthdays last week. Another friend of mine celebrated her “half-birthday” in the previous month. 

(No, she wasn’t peeking out of the tunnel for 6 months before getting the full birthday she deserved, it was the six month anniversary from her last birthday. I honestly had no clue such a thing existed until she told me. If you’re someone who celebrates their half birthday, just know that you might not have reached your half virginity losing day yet. And I’m sure if you’re reading this, conservative estimate, you’ve been living for 12 years, at least)

All the above events entailed a very important ceremony in the midst of all the people who mattered to the individual in focus. A ritual we have been following since time memorial, yes, memorial because obviously, our parents “never cut cakes” on their birthdays. We feel like it comes naturally to us, cutting cakes and making merry while doing it. Wrong. Very wrong. I write this post because I feel like this issue of getting exceedingly uncomfortable during cake cuttings needs to be addressed. 

If there was ever an awkward moment in you life when you felt exceedingly embarrassed to even exist, there have to be at least ten cake cuttings that take your top five spots. Let’s break it down and see why. 

The awkwardness starts at the moment someone enters the room with a box that could possibly contain a cake. The instant that image registers in your brain, your neural reflex is to correct the way the person is holding the cake, because all the cream is going to be sticking to the cardboard when you open it and you’ll hate the transporter for it. As soon as your brain registers cake, cream and sticking, it thinks about how much you actually care about the cake. It sends a signal to the mouth and instantly, in unison with yours, at least a dozen mouths thrust the deadliest question on the transporter,”What flavour is the cake?” 

Now the transporter regrets his decision to take responsibility for getting the cake, because he didn’t think this through. He knows it’s chocolate truffle, or say red velvet, or maybe shahi anjeer or Pan American Pan Masala Pancake cake (I don’t know man, people have weird tastes, and capitalism isn’t helping). He knows exactly what flavour it is, but he will tell you that he doesn’t know, so he can put the point across that he did not order the cake, he’s just responsible for getting the cake there. Once the box is placed at it’s occupants’ guillotine, almost all passing lines of sight are falling on it. 

Then comes the part, where someone who feels entitled enough over the person who is being celebrated, comes forward. This individual has a lot of responsibility now, almost like a second in command. They are now the emcee for this special gathering. This is the moment when the awkwardness levels for everyone else go up by 10x, and the celebrated person’s self worth has hit the roof. Once the cake is taken out of the box and is made ready to be wedged, half of the people are clearly disappointed with the flavour not being of their uncles’ mother in law’s neighbour’s 2 year old granddaughter’s liking. Anyway, they guess they can “make do” with a slice. Someone will inevitably come up to the cake, look at it as if they could make the cake talk if they tried hard enough, and ask, “Is this eggless, because I’m a vegetarian”. Sometimes the question is worse, “Is this cake Jain/vegan, because I like to pretend to be on a moral high ground in already awkward social situations.” What intrigues me is if there was ever milk obtained from underground cows, who would it offend more, Jains or vegans? 

Anyway, now everyone is utterly awkward, not knowing whether to creep the cake out with their hungry eyes and appreciate the beauty verbally, or just ignore its presence and look at the individual who’s going to be cutting it, with jealousy in one eye and impatience in the other. Eventually, 100% of the people present are forced to do one of the two aforementioned tasks. At this point, someone has to start saying something, maybe crack a shitty joke involving the special individual or the emcee, or say crack a shitty joke involving the special individual and the emcee. Because if that doesn’t happen, it seems like everyone is only there to eat cake and get the hell out. Which is the case, in fact. But who cares. 

The wait is now over, the weapon is unsheathed, and now our special person is awkward. They don’t know where to look, how much to smile without it being disgusting, or what to do with their other hand. Without extending the pain, they jump right in for the kill. This is when it hits the audience that they are expected to somehow appreciate the special’s knife wielding skills, either by awkwardly applauding their performance, or worse, by singing the half-birthday song for them. To add to the awkwardness, we now have the first slice of cake, and the big decision on the shoulders of the special. Of all these people, who do I feed the first slice to? It is at this moment when the special misses their parents, had they been here, this would have been easy. All this while, you are standing in the audience, wondering whether you’re important enough to make it to the list of people who the special is going to be feeding cake with their own hands. Your school’s prefectorial election, your engineering entrances, your college elections, your job interviews, everything flashes in your mind in a matter of seconds. The special has, meanwhile, started eating the cake himself after exhausting his list. 

Your dreams are shattered and now you’re smiling sheepishly, pretending that it didn’t even matter to you in the first place. Now everyone is advancing towards the cake but you have to maintain your stance and show that you don’t care. Two minutes pass and now everyone has almost finished their slice. Except you, you’ve not even budged. It hits you then that it’s too late now. If you go in for a slice now, everyone is going to think that it’s your second slice, and you look like the greedy pig. You try to weigh your options, being considered a greedy pig or getting a bite of that heavenly-looking shahi anjeer cake. 

Panic sets in when you realise that the cake is dwindling fast, and the greedy pigs have been dogeared. You let your pride win, but your gluttony is not weak either. It IS a part of you, after all. As lesser and lesser of the cake is left, it’s value multiplies in your mind. You rush towards it, but there are too many people in your way and you have to be polite. You almost instinctively extend your hand from two feet away, and you’re going to get that last slice. But sadly, the special stands right above the cake, “It WAS a great cake, emcee. Thanks a lot”. Special hands reach for it, and all you can do is switch your ‘that slice is mine’ hand to a ‘let’s clear this place up’ hand. 
At least this abomination is done with. But was the cake really that good? You’ll never know. 


DelhitoHyd; The rest of the journey.

But the wait wasn’t long. The bus reached the aircraft after a lot of stopping for moving traffic and a signal here and a signal there from the marshals. All the while, Mr.Suave kept talking to that someone, and it was troubling me. And I strained myself to look at whoever it was, but it was impossible, there were one too many people on that little bus. However, that struggle came to an end soon, and we were at the aircraft.

I was so eager to get on the airplane, that I was one of the first few people to get off the bus and onto the airstair. I noticed that the airstair had, painted on it,”Stairway to 35,000ft” and I just imagined, what if, they gave the paint job to a Led Zeppelin fan, and he got into the flow and went on to paint “Stairway to heaven” on it, that’d be hilarious. Another air hostess, also really pretty, also wore a lot of make-up and the same old fake smile, again greeting me like she’s really been waiting for me to alight on this plane and it’s been her life mission to serve me. Well, I smiled too, obviously. It’s really frustrating when people just take their own time and never budge or even wait a little to shove that case in the overhead baggage shelf to let others pass. Everyone is always in a hurry to do their own thing, like I said. But this part of waiting to get to your seat in a queue is not frustrating because you have to wait. It’s frustrating because it’s awkward. Once you’ve gotten yourself on the plane, you think to yourself, “Okay, you’ve reached the plane, this means you didn’t mess up. Just got to reach your seat, dump your hand baggage and chill. But no! You have to stand in my way and make me awkward. There’s someone right in front of you, stretching to put in their luggage in the overhead bin, you try and go around them in that tiny space,(god save that heavy human being) and in that time, they’re done scoring that point and will straighten themselves. At that point, it’s just a battle in your mind between jumping back onto the queue or falling in front, not considering dying for your cause. I wanted to yell at this person, I really did. You can say things to strangers that you would feel bad about saying to someone you know. Maybe it’s the lack of sense of obligation, maybe it’s just the extra satisfaction you get out of projecting yourself bigger than you actually are. I didn’t bother. To either think about it, or yell at that person. They sat in their seat, I hurried to mine, as more people filled the airplane from the door in the rear. I reached my seat, 15F and saw that another guy, who looked like he was about 25, and had come straight from a gymnasium in Haryana all with the sweatpants and metal bracelets, occupied 15E. Ah, heck. By this time, I had lost all hope. I just sat there, and strained my neck and widened my eyes to look for where the girl was entering from now. She got in from the front entrance, that meant her seat number was anywhere from 1-15. That was a 50% betterment of chances. I waited, watched and tried my best to cloud my line of sight. I would say I was quite successful at that. She crossed 4, 8, 11, and I just went yes, yes,yes, in my mind, obviously, and she looked up one last time at the seat numbers. I could read her perfectly shaped lips in slow motion as she read the number and violins played the deepest tragedy in my head. Seat number 13E.

This was it. I decided in that moment, that I was going to be very vocal about what I wanted. I couldn’t let go of things and let people walk over me. I was going to be very firm about what I needed and wanted. All this went through my mind in a matter of five seconds, and people were still getting on board, when I saw that I 15D was also occupied by a lone travelling guy. 14D was the only seat even close to me that was empty, and I still prayed. I was still mentally praying when I saw it.

Remember that list I told you about, which we all make of people we would and would NOT like to have as co-passengers ? That list has Satan somewhere at the top in the ‘would not’ part, and above Satan, somewhere, are plane bombers. You know who comes above plane bombers ? This next co-passenger I saw approaching seat 14D. Snug in his throne, his mother’s arms, showing combinations of fingers to people, and nobody did shit. Babies. They top the list. The lesson I learned that day, is that if you think a ‘miss’ in your fortune cookie would be lovely, you’re wrong. What you will get, in fact, is a misfortune cookie. And good luck to you with that, person !

Now this great feeling was just sinking in, and I tried to keep my head down and smile without feeling or looking like a maniac. There was only one way to get through this flight now. To get myself to fall asleep, and wake up only when the plane reached Hyderabad. As the plane started moving, the air hostesses took their spot to explain the emergency procedures and rules. As usual, nobody paid any attention. Nobody wanted to seem like it was the first time they were travelling in an airplane. But I always pay attention to the whole affair. I like to, because 1) the poor people have actually prepared for their little performance, and 2) there’s a constant struggle inside me to actually catch a pinch of embarrassment in them as they do their routine, to see how new the person is to this job. This particular woman did not really seem to care. Three sentences into the usual stuff, (I don’t even remember what they always say, even after listening to them so many times) the voice said, “Seats 1,12 and 13 are XL seats with extra leg room and emergency exits” and continued with the bull. I might have slapped my head hard at that time with both my hands. I just tried to push myself to sleep, by shutting off all those sad sights. I had almost given up on this journey, and we hadn’t even taken off yet. Eyes closed, reclined in my seat which “had to be straight” for take off, I felt a soft thud on my seat, and a kid’s voice with a very hard British Accent, saying, “Owe mai gawsh, Mommy ! Look ! Ducks !” and I sat upright, eyes wide open in utter shock. I wanted now to pray for this plane to never take off. But I did not want to stay in Delhi for another second. I just thought I should be optimistic and try to make this journey bearable. I decided to look out the window, and saw a bunch of storks. It wasn’t even ducks. Or maybe it was cranes, or herons. Whatever they were, they weren’t ducks, and that pissed me off more than the kid’s accent. I thought I should turn around and actually tell the kid that those weren’t ducks. I didn’t know what they were, but they weren’t ducks for sure. And the mother wouldn’t correct him. I had to start taking control. But I decided against it, and just continued with taking out my book and reading it. As the plane was taking off, I noticed the air vents circulating the air in the airplane, and that all the passengers had almost fallen asleep, including myself. There was a surprising silence in the air, and that made me suspicious. No one would really know, if the air circulated in the airplane had been tampered with, to make everyone fall asleep, right ? But I was too sleepy to think, and just decided to sleep, with my cold and sore throat making my condition worse.

In the next one hour, Air Hostesses walked by, served food, water, helped babies, babies who cried, people messed with their overhead baggage, talked loudly to each other, and all this while, I was in hell. My buddy, Brit-brought up, had been constantly kicking my seat and humming something in a monotonous tune, something about ducks, maybe. Or was it about taking off, or about Indigo. I cannot seem to remember, but it was irritating as hell. I couldn’t bear it. It was time. I tried to picture what and how I would say to him. I pictured myself getting up and turning around to face him, with my seat in between. It wouldn’t have a proper impact. I decided against it. Then I thought maybe I should talk to his mother. No, that would seem too formal, and I’d seem like a villain who hates kids. I do hate disobedient kids, and I won’t deny that, but you can’t really blame me. They require another level of patience. After a lot of deliberation, I had set for a course. To not do anything and take it all in.

Then came another turning point in this shole of a flight. You might now think the thing became worse. Oh how fun it is to watch other people suffer. You might now think the journey became better maybe. Sorry, wrong guess, not even that. What happened was the journey came to an end, the Dawoods and the kids and the air hostesses all got into the same buses and returned never to be on the same plane again. Never had to think about Mr.Suave and Ms.Pretty again, never did see them again. Before alighting, I had this question as to why they ask people to keep the window panels open during take off and while landing. I could probably initiate a conversation with one of the air hostesses about this on the bus, or while getting of the plane. Then the thought of Quora crossed my mind, and I chose to walk away silently.

So here’s the thing about journeys:

You think a lot, you talk a lot less than you think you did, and the journey comes to an end more abruptly and you’re out of your Shawshank before you know it, much like this post.

Thank you for not giving up on this journey midway.


DelhitoHyd; PART 1

I write this post because

1. I just stayed in Delhi for 3 days, and my TDC is at it’s peak. My sense of balance will not be restored till I write a bit.

2. I had the worst flight of my life today and I NEED to rant.

With the last post, I feel like I’m making a trend here, explaining my blogging activities like you’re supervising me against posting. But I like this trend,(because who doesn’t like the trends they initiate) and I’m going to keep it up.

I had to travel from Delhi to Hyderabad today, a journey of a little more than 2 hours with Indigo Airlines, and more than a little turbulence in my head. If you ask why, there are two reasons again,

1. You know those days when you wake up with a throat as sore and dry as a sandy vag, and you try to treat it with your own saliva, and it feels like you’ve just eaten a boulder ? Today was that kind of a day for me.

2. Delhi. Where the guy driving the imported sports car and the guy who delivers milk to this guy with the sports car, both own an iPhone. Where you hear more foreign accents from Indians than the foreign tourists, and we all know that number is huge.

But this flight was the shithole, Delhi Shawshank, and Hyderabad my freedom. I had to go through it. No other option. So I just reached Delhi airport with a cabbie who tried to act very ignorant and took me by as long a path as he could, unaware that there exists something called Google Maps. But it was just the beginning of the hole for me. Getting through security formalities took a really long time, and that’s not a good thing in a shole. This was taking too much time for me to remain sane. Standing in the queue for the baggage check-in, I was thinking about how people are always in a hurry. They’re in a hurry wherever they are. They’re in a hurry to come, they’re in a hurry to leave, they’re in a hurry to do everything. I glanced at all the Airport officials at the numerous counters. There were three of them; one guy and two women, one of them extremely captivating in her beauty, or maybe it was just the make-up, I couldn’t really tell. I got to check-in at her counter. I had the chance to go to the guy, but I chose to let the poor 60 year old woman in her tank top and yoga pants behind me go before me and got the counter I wanted. Karma works in mysterious ways, yeah.

“Would seat number 15F work sir ?” she said with a warm smile.

Obviously that smile was fake. I think the first lesson in their training is always how to fake an authentic smile in all situations. I’m sure they ask people to jump out of the airplane with a broad smile and a warm “Welcome sir” or “welcome ma’am” and you’ll be so captivated by their smiles that you’ll jump off with a smile yourself.

“Sir ?”, she said in the same smile.

“Uh, yes ? Yes, yes”, I said, smiling broadly myself.

And I had absolutely no clue what was making me smile so hard. As soon I said yes, I regretted my decision. 13 was my lucky number, and I almost said, “Actually, could you give me seat number 13F ?” But before I could say it to her, she had printed my boarding pass. “Well, whatever” I said in my mind and moved on.

Back in a queue, I was starting to feel weary about the idea of queues, and the many troubles it gave people. Someone pushes from behind you, the guy in front then gives you a murderous look, worse still, if it’s a woman, her husband will look at you like he’s going to knife you to death right in front of the airport police and they’re just going to watch, if you even looked straight at her again. You decide to take the safe road home, and stand still, resisting the push of the guy standing behind you. At this point, you realize that even you can give the “will knife your ill-mannered ass” look to the guy behind you. Sadly, he’s either just looking at his phone or out the glass wall at the planes like he’s never seen one before. He doesn’t care about who is looking at him with murderous rage in their eyes. Dead end there. I gave up and started scanning the other faces. A  few families with infants, a couple couples, a group of businessmen joking about something, a lone uptight businessman who reminded me of Dawood Ibrahim all with his intricately trimmed moustache and his shadily designed sunglasses that he was wearing indoors. But my eyes weren’t on him for long. I found a new, more pleasing resting place for my sight. A very pretty girl, who seemed to be in her mid 20s and was travelling with an elderly lady who seemed to be her mother. I couldn’t tell yet, but maybe she was the mother. The girl wore a very clean simplistic little blue dress and little pearls that were quite delightful to look at, to say the least.

Now the thing about seeing your co-passengers beforehand is, you make a mental list about who you do not want to be sharing seats with, and who you would consider extremely lucky to get to share a seat with. I guess it’s how we see the people in our life too. But staying on track, what I was really happy about, was that I could just look at the girl in full anticipation, waiting for her to turn, because I’d just seen her from behind yet. I didn’t have to worry about an angry husband or boyfriend to give me the look and me having to look away pretending as if I was just interested in what material her dress was made of. However, I just continued to look and pray. And she turned around, allowing me a look at her face. It was clearly her mother travelling with her, with the same hairline and face structure, anyone could tell. Now I really wished her seat number was 15E. But I knew that was next to impossible, since they almost never paired single guys with any female persons who haven’t booked tickets with them. I prayed, nevertheless. The queue moved slowly, and people were hurried along onto the bus. There was a part where I was standing on the bus, which was really crowded. I was standing near the front door, and there was this very suave looking guy, who looked like he was about 30, and extremely rich, who was standing near the back door. He looked so rich, that for a moment I thought he was just getting a lift to go to his private hangar, if not his private chopper ready to take off somewhere. It wasn’t like he was in a really posh suit, or I saw any really big brands on him. He wore a V-neck buttoned t-shirt and a pair of shorts with loafers, and these very fancy sunglasses which looked like the first model ever, made by DaVinci or someone. All that paired with the most businesslike, organized haircut, not even one strand was out of place. It really looked like a rich haircut. He was talking to someone, and the pretty girl’s mother was standing somewhere behind him. I thought he was talking to the pretty girl, and I really just hoped I would get a chance to talk to her. I really just had to wait and see.

Wannabe Philosopher Post ; I can write too

This post is about fear, and I write this because honestly, fear is what I feel presently. Fear is a very broad term, because it includes and induces a vast variety of emotions. While I write this, what I feel is the fear of being judged. Of being mocked. At “starting to write a blog so late ?” At “can you even write ?” At “Do you even know how this works ?” To all those questions I’d say, it’s never too late to learn. And I’m not writing this for anyone, but for myself. To trick my mind into believing that I can write too. Do not worry too much, I’m not going to write about failed college romances, because there’s probably a word limit for posts, and I’d rather recommend Chetan for those.
I’m a wannabe philosopher and counsellor (this post is not completely about me, relax), wanting to understand other peoples’ minds, and what other people would do in their weird and not-so-weird situations. We’ve all been through the “What will XYZ think ?” question at some or the other point in our lives. What we often tend to overlook is the fact that “it’s XYZ which matters and not what they will think”. This statement could be very deep, but what I’m trying to say here, I shall explain with a few examples. This is a very local example, of a girl wearing a short dress in a conservative Indian family. The girl wears the dress, giving priority to ‘What will “the cute guy” think?’ rather than ‘What will “the eve-teaser” think’. Here, the first question instils a lovely anticipation filled fear, while if the second is given preference, a criminal offence can be prevented, just as a precautionary measure, because of the fear. Now, she could also think about her own father,as to what would he think, but that would only come in her way of impressing the cute guy. Instead, here, her father thinks about protecting her from the eve-teaser and her mother doesn’t care about any cute guy, but only wonders ‘What will “society” think’ ?
So here all I’m trying to put across is the point that we shouldn’t be afraid of being judged. Instead, we should just try to prioritize the people who influence our lives and worry about how our decisions would affect us, and them. If you’re thinking about any external factors, and hesitating to take any steps because some unknown person will judge you, believe me, it wont change anything for that person, but it will, for you. I really don’t care for anyone saying that this post is useless. Nothing is useless, I learnt something by writing this, if it doesn’t appeal to the reader, it’s not a commendable one, not a useless post. And obviously, I respect you for giving my words your time, and reading through this, and pardon me for any errors, because I’m forever learning.

The Kite Runner : A Review. My first blog post, first book review, and first attempt at doing something useful on the Internet

According to “the Chaos Theory” something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world. This is equal to saying that the choices we make are similar to the path we choose to travel by, and there is no turning back, owing purely to the vast preciousness of time. And we come across many such choices in life, where taking one path means committing the most haunting mistakes, very misleading as a comfortable path, the other being paying for your previous mistakes, a chance to correct them. “The Kite Runner” is based purely upon these themes, and is about an Afghan who leaves his mother nation and comes to live in The United States of America. The story is from the protagonist, Amir’s perspective, and the choice he makes when his best friend, also his servant’s son, Hassan, who was like his brother, is at stake, and how his life revolves around it. He experiences extreme guilt based on those choices, and correcting the mistakes he has done requires extreme courage to accept the mistakes in the first place. The book is very entertaining in the beginning, considering the colorful way in which the author describes the beauty of Afghanistan culture and their towns and villages. The customs of the Kite flying festival are explained in a very heartful manner, and in a way in which the reader feels emotionally attached to Amir and Hassan, and their friendship, beautiful like the rising sun. Towards the turning point in the book, the mood becomes very different, filled with strong emotions, the sorrow of people who never thought they’d be separated, parting ways, along with Amir and his father, people who loved their country, being separated from it because of the Soviet Invasion. It is like a splash of emotions, neither very sudden, nor gradual. After that, the setting is completely different, the western part of the world, where Amir and his father have to blend in to survive, but change doesn’t come easy. Amir gets on with life, moving ahead, getting married, but then again, his past comes back to haunt him. All through this time, since the beginning, he gets a chance at various instances, to correct his mistakes by accepting them, but he chooses not to, eventually leading to him being filled with guilt and sorrow. In the end, one has to pay for their mistakes, and there is no way to get out of the guilt but to correct them, and so happens in the book. Overall, it is a feel-good book, which along the way makes the readers face harsh truths, along with the roller coaster of emotions, which range from the feeling of belonging and togetherness to pride and honour, and all the way to melancholy and guilt. Khaled Hosseini is one of the few authors who has written about the Afghan refugees, their lives in Afghanistan and America, and how the two are different. He also explores the scene of Taliban in Afghanistan, and the brutalities the people are still undergoing there. It was a bestseller, partly due to the fact that the book was based mostly in Afghanistan and written by an Afghan National, living in the United States of America, hence the theme is very close to the author’s heart. Khaled Hosseini was an Afghan by birth, but later shifted to France and then to America, gained U.S. citizenship, and became a medical practitioner and part-time writer. Presently, he is a full-time writer and his other magnificent works include “ A thousand splendid suns” and “ And the mountains echoed”.

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