Ooh that beautiful smoke in the air. Smoke that’s so potent that all the bling on people’s clothes look just like…. Nothing. They would mean something if you could actually see a meter in front of you but since you can’t, you wait for the next day when people post their FABULOUS Diwali pictures on Facebook and Instagram.
I used to go to school in a yellow-green DTC bus that roared and wheezed as if it was seconds away from a breakdown. And many a time it did. But what I remember most from that time was the unadulterated joy I would get from reading on the 45-minute journey. The light breeze, muted chatters, and (mostly) sleeping kids made for an interesting reading environment. I would either read my textbooks or if I felt fancy, a novel that I’d take with me. It didn’t matter what others thought or said. If my eyes were in my book, chances were, my other senses were oblivious to the world outside.
I recall reading somewhere as a kid that “The only thing constant is change”. I’m sure I was impressed with how fancy it sounded, its play of words and the juxtaposition therein. I am certain I noted it somewhere so that I can sneak it into any essay or debate I could, to get brownie points. And I’m confident I did write or quote it whenever I could. But like most, I never really paused to think of what it meant, until now.
Q: Did you hear that Chelsea doesn’t have a website?
A: They can’t string three “Ws” together.
Q: What does a fine wine and Liverpool have in common?
A: They both spend a lot of time in the cellar, cost too much and are only enjoyed on select occasions.
If these jokes went past your head like Engineering went past mine, then we’re in the same boat. Fret not if you can’t recall 10 footballers’ names if a gun was pointed to your head. If you too, like me, find football a S-pain in the ass, then Ronaldo-n’t worry, I am here to get you out of this Messi situation. I helped you survive Cricket World Cup season a couple of years ago and now I am back with my totally unneeded, entirely pointless brand of social assistance by using the opportunity of the World Cup to Russi(a)n and Putin as many puns and tasteless jokes as I possibly can.
Candid Wallflowers came into existence during one clammy summer evening, when the two writers, in midst of their gossip sessions, thought to share their infinitely wise observations of the people around them. With the utmost humility, of course. The very first article was an attempt at decoding the kind of people we are mostly surrounded with in college. You can read it here. With time, the old groupings have disbanded just as people keep shedding old habits and come into new ones.
The season of farewell is upon us. As we move into our last few weeks of college, the level of nostalgia and happiness is palpable. My Facebook and Instagram feed is already inundated with tons and tons of pictures. Pictures that are a lot more than just the few seconds it took to click them. All of them carry within them stories, laughs, tears, friendships and so much more. They are sacred, in some mysterious way. And we have the luxury today to document each and every one of these moments. But I can’t bring myself to share mine on social media. Come to think of it, I haven’t properly wrapped my head around the idea of what college and college life meant to me. Read More
There used to be a time when Holi meant you wore your rattiest clothes because who’s even going to care what colour and print your clothes are? Nothing survives the onslaught of permanent colours and water. Is it supposed to be a Chikankari kurta? More like a kurta with chicken curry splashed on it. And who even cares if there’s that extra stitch around the waist or near the shoulder to give your clothes the perfect shape? They’re going to stick to your body like a second skin anyway. You might as well wear that old night suit that you’re planning to convert into a pochha (aka desi name for a house cleaning rag).
But lately, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp statuses have ruined that for me too. Now as soon as I go on WhatsApp, I am flooded with pictures of my friends wearing the classiest clothes. It’s like they’re straight out of the video of “Do me a favour, let’s play Holi!” where they are the impeccably dressed backup dancers for Priyanka Chopra. Their clothes look as if they were gently caressed by a naughty breeze with a little splash of colour.
In between their fabulous Holi celebrations, people make sure to take pictures of these said fabulous Holi celebrations. After all, your Holi isn’t fabulous enough if you don’t have a hundred pictures to prove its fabulousness. Add a dose of carefully choreographed pictures and videos where they are just randomly throwing gulaal into the air and bathing in its disintegrated form. Why couldn’t they just ask someone to smash some colour onto their faces is beyond me. Who even plays Holi like that? Can you imagine me alone on the street and blowing gulaal into the air and dancing around in it? Let’s just agree that my neighbours would preferably stay away from me in the future.
And what is it with people going out to play with seemingly perfectly blow-dried hair? Aren’t we supposed to drown our hair in oil before Holi? You know, so our hair can look perfect once again the next day, saved from the devastating effects of irresponsibly sourced gulaal? Looking at Instagram it’s clear that I am the only champu in Delhi (a goofball), who is glazed with oil all over her body just so it’s easier to get rid of all that colour later. Forgive me if I don’t want to look like “Jaadu” the day after Holi.
What I feel the most sympathy for, is my 500 rupee, extra-power, extra volume pichkari or water gun that I bought a few years earlier and still worth its weight. Now, that’s something that deserves to be clicked from every angle. I can just imagine the caption that would go with those pictures, “A nozzle to bamboozle the crap out of anybody in a 50 m radius!” or “Is that sweat I see on your face? ‘Cuz there’s fear written All.Over.It!” But in a neighbourhood full of Instagram models, my dorky water gun is no longer a participant.
Reflecting upon the last few weeks of my epeolatry adventures, I’ve sensed a profoundly universal theme running through the books. Sadness. If asked to define sadness, most of us would spring to the definition of happiness so that we may create contrasts. Would that suffice though? Emphatically not. For in the books that I read, sadness itself was a continuum. In A Little Life, it was unflinching, dark, and encompassing. In The Casual Vacancy, it was an unpleasant presence. In The Bell Jar, it was a looming shadow, following Esther everywhere. In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, it was deeply entwined with hope. And in The Color Purple, it was slowly receding, giving way to a long-pending and deserving joy for Celie.
A lot of us who regularly use social media might be aware of the Facebook list of people in academia who have allegedly sexually harassed a student. It allows the said student to anonymously add the name of the academician to the list, and anyone can see the list. Here’s a link to an article on The Quint, talking about this – Facebook List Naming Profs as Sexual Harassers Sparks Fiery Debate.
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Aaron Hernandez was an American Football player in the NFL. He played for the Patriots. Signed on for millions of dollars, he was a rising star. Sadly, his career was brought to an abrupt halt when he was convicted of the murder of an acquaintance in 2013. He was sent to jail where, earlier this year, he committed suicide. He was 27. Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at Boston University, requested to study his brain, which was consented by his family. Her team discovered, in their estimation, “the most damage they had ever seen in an athlete so young”. His brain slices showed signs of stage 3 of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a degenerative disease brought upon by repeated injuries to the brain. Aaron’s brain damage brings to mind, the gruesome double homicide and suicide case of WWE wrestler, Chris Benoit. Benoit’s brain, too, showed a severe case of CTE and resembled that of an old patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.