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The Stoic overflow

by: Prajjwal

Dinner table conversations at home are often unpleasant. It significantly revolves around how incompetent or inexperienced I am compared to other people of my age. I realized I wasn’t worthy enough to be a boy of my age.

Back in school, I was asked to man up whenever I went to seek help during distressing times. I learned that I should pretend to be fine when I am hurt, deep within.

One day I was shamed for not winning at a competition. I had to digest the fact that defeat was never an option in my life.

There are instances when I preferred to remain silent after listening to triggering statements or derogatory opinions. All credits to my conflict phobia.

Finally, I learned to tune myself with the norms and rules of society so that I could fit in and get some kind of validation for my existence, and this was when stoicism entered like a dreaded monster, extending its bloody hands to cover my mouth and cloud my emotions.

According to Greek philosophy, stoicism refers to the teachings or the ethics designed to lead a happy, virtuous, and wise life. It is regarded as a powerful tool for those in pursuit of perseverance, self-discipline, and master, or in simpler terms, it taught people to be free from any kind of passion, and unmoved by grief or joy. History’s great minds believed in stoicism and sought them out. 

Even though the core idea of stoicism is lucid and relevant, the modern version of it seems hyper-polluted. 

Society’s paradigm is quite a complex subject. As you grow up, you are expected to be the ideal man or woman who is capable of handling responsibilities without any flaws and mold into perfect shapes and sizes to please the people around us. And, this is where the misappropriation begins. You tend to suppress your agonies and hardships without any display of emotions, just so that you can avoid getting called ‘the fussy one’ and when you fail or break down, you silence yourself with phrases like Do not give up, Keep calm and move on when in reality, it just starts to snowball and multiply your miseries. 

The societal norms which define the dichotomy between genders have posed an unspeakable threat to the modern world. At places where patriarchy reigns, you can find a crisis of affection, especially in males. They have no female companionships except for the ones at their home, thereby tricking boys to signal their masculinity. They tend to follow the same rituals for generations unless cooped.

I too am emotionally sterile at times. I constantly worry about the visceral way I cringe when I talk on video calls. I waste my time significantly in “What others might think about me?”, unaware that this very notion has the potential to cripple my existence one day. No wonder, Gen-Z has mistaken the word depression for sadness, failing to realize the existence of a thin line between both. There are days when I feel that I missed a great number of opportunities to express myself, cry, voice out my opinions, vent out my feelings. Maybe I was just afraid of grief, which might make me look weak in front of other people.

It is exhausting to keep up to the expectations of people around us, especially at times when you are grappling with your internal self.  It is worthless to bottle up your emotions and choke yourself with unforeseen consequences. We as humans have the power to express our inner self, vent out our opinions. It has a cathartic effect.

Stoicism is brutal. It is capable of taking a toll on one’s mental health. You may opt for silence, but the echoes inside will remain and thrive, to haunt you forever. 

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A piece of peace

by: Netra

Everything around me was dull. The light glowed dim, at least to my eyes. The pale blue bed sheets, glass tubes and bottles, surrounded by freshly painted walls and no windows intensified the silence surrounding me. The air-conditioned room was unbearably cold. I was claustrophobic, but staying in the room was my choice. It wasn’t my fears that worried me at that moment, it was the expressionless man lying on the bed before me, draped in white hospital gowns, and an inhaler tube plastered into his mouth. It was the first time I’d ever seen my restless, talkative and constantly complaining dad lying still and unresponsive on a hospital bed. He was even more afraid of closed spaces than I was. I felt breathless or had headaches, but my father would puke and panic. I watched silently, internally picturing my dad freak,  jumping out of the bed to open windows and doors in his hospital gown. I smiled, tears welling up in my eyes. 

My father was brain dead. The doctors did say there was a 1% chance that he could survive if a miracle occurred. But thinking practically, I knew that was not possible(despite watching a million k-dramas where brain aneurysm patients somehow survived). A ruptured vessel had completely flooded his brain in blood. Nothing could be fixed. I’d already let my imaginations run wild when I’d heard “ blasted blood vessel”. There was no point crying over spilt blood.  

I scanned my father meticulously, memorizing every inch of colour, texture and hair strands on his body. I needed to remember for almost another 70 years( my father would have been proud if I’d memorized so carefully, inorganic chemistry, for my college entrance exams). I placed my palms into my dads. It was cold but not as cold as a dead person’s. If I turned off the AC, would he become warmer, would life magically flow back into him?  Would he wake up?

The nurse had said his sense organs are still functional, so technically he can hear, feel and taste everything but not process it. So, I tried experimenting with his ears first(Yes, I am kind of crazy). My dad had an obsession with radio Indigo 91.9(If you’re a Bangalorean and haven’t vibed to this radio station, shame on you). He would go crazy every time Trevor Daniel’s falling came on the radio. So on a low volume, I played the song and placed the speakers beside his ears. I stared at his eyelids, toes, and fingers expecting at least a slight movement. No Response.

My heart hurt a little. 

Never mind, I told myself, my dad had always been a little deaf. Another ridiculous idea floated into my head.  I wanted to pinch him, if he could wake up, he would wake up then. It felt like committing a crime as I had to avoid the nurse’s eyes. I carefully dug my nails into my dad’s arms and pressed, deeper and deeper, but he didn’t react. I kept pinching, with each pinch, my heart hurt harder. I couldn’t swallow the fact that he wouldn’t wake up. 

 As I was busy secretly pinching my father’s arms, the neurosurgeon appeared.

“Hey, you are the daughter right. Where’s your mom?”

“ She’s waiting outside,” I told him. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only one person was allowed into the ICU at a time. I felt slightly fortunate, I didn’t have to watch my mom scream and cry in front of me(If there’s one thing that made me cry, it was watching my favourite people cry). But my luck didn’t last long. 

“Oh no, that’s ok,” he looked at the nurse. “Let her in too,” he ordered. 

5 minutes later, my mom appeared. It took 5 minutes because she had to wear the disposable cloak, disposable mask, disposable hat and disposable gloves before entering the ICU. All thanks to the virus crisis. 

My mom, with her red, tear-drenched eyes, walked straight towards my father.

“Wake up, look, your daughters here. Your stupid careless daughter. You don’t want her being careless for the rest of her life. Wake up, watch over her and yell at her till she learns!” (It was just like in the movies).

My heart hurt unbearably now and tears clouded my vision. I silently cried beside my mom, still pinching. I had a long life ahead of me and a lot of new people to meet, but my mom would be so alone. I could tell she was trying to think about anything but the future.  

My mom was being a little scary. The three nights my dad was in the hospital, my mom, who hates being touched, hugged me so tightly while trying to sleep, the fact that there’s a 5% chance that brain aneurysms are genetic seemed to bother her more than it did me, she kept checking on me every 5 minutes. 

Three nights, we let him survive high on medication, so his heart would keep pumping at least until my brother arrived from the US. The last thing any of us wanted was my brother to come home after almost a year to find his dad no more. I wasn’t allowed to tell my brother anything about my dad’s condition either, he was travelling alone, couldn’t risk giving him tragic information. 

At 3 a.m, an hour after my brother visited my dad in the hospital, we were told the medication wasn’t helpful anymore. His pulse dropped rapidly and his heartbeat one last time.

That was the second time in all my life I heard my brother cry. 

“None of you are to blame. He was just unfortunate. He was born with a weak vessel in his brain. Some things can’t be controlled.” The doctor had said. But there must be a reason. Our quest for reason is what makes us human, after all. 

Since there wasn’t any physical sign as the doctor had mentioned, “It is undetectable. It bursts when it bursts”, my mom and I began exploring other kinds of signs. The lockdown was a blessing in disguise so that we could spend more time with him in his last days, maybe we visited our native out of the blue last week because he wanted to meet our relatives one last time, maybe we never celebrated birthdays as the others do because someday someone was going to leave the world on one of our birthdays.

But there was one sign that bothered me the most. It was an incident that happened the day before my dad was taken to the hospital. 

I was filling out details for my college application and I picked up my dad’s phone to get an OTP, that instant his phone shut down and I’d jokingly commented, “ What is this? Get a new phone. This phone looks like it’s going to die any day, just like you.” My dad didn’t like spending on fancy devices. He would spend loads of money on healthy foods and buy himself tons of fancy t-shirts and sports shoes, occasionally get us what we ask for but never upgraded his gadgets unless it falls very behind in technology.

My dad laughed and hit my back,” What did you say? I look like I’m going to die any day huh?”

At that moment it felt like a joke. It was like telling a healthy 6-year-old, he was going to die of a heart attack soon(My dad was nutrition and diet-obsessed and quite healthy for his age).

I replayed this incident in my head countless times and each time felt more bitter than the previous. I knew deep down, this incident had nothing to do with my father’s sudden death but it still bothered me, the absence of signs had made me look at otherwise irrelevant things. My mom didn’t know about this conversation. I wanted to tell her, but I couldn’t. I was too scared. My mom was rational enough to know I was not the one to blame but talking about my dad and death might tear her apart.

It’s been quite a few months, I tried to write it down, tell strangers about it. I couldn’t tell my friends, I was afraid it would make them feel uncomfortable. When I run out of things to do or shows to watch, my thoughts drift to this little piece of peace I will never be able to get back unless I tell my mom. Significant or insignificant, I believed my mom deserved to know. Would telling my mom make me selfish, or would it be the right thing to do?

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Onam:A perspective

by: Joshua

I don’t really know how I’m gonna start this but let’s see how it goes?

I’m not a Malayali, so I was clearly shocked when I was tasked with writing a piece on Onam. I was asked to write about Onam from my perspective and thanks to my ‘mallu’ peeps I have some content.

Also, I’m guessing almost everyone knows why Onam is celebrated but just in case someone is unaware, I shall specify. Onam is a harvest festival usually taking place around August and September. It is celebrated for 10 days with various festivities and activities. 

All the knowledge I have about Onam is from my ‘mallu’ friends(all “amazing”). My best friend is a Malayali, so growing up I spent a fair amount of time at his place, chilling. I spent last Thiruvonam(last day of Onam) at his place and I was a bit surprised looking at the food(Obviously I’m gonna talk about the food). Essentially, I don’t really eat vegetarian food much and it being a festival day, well….there was only veg food, so I was a bit like umm…okay…

The meal is called Sadhya and is eaten over a banana leaf. I sat at the edge of the table, getting ready to eat when one by one the dishes were served and instantly filled the entirety of the leaf. The amount of variety was insane and really overwhelming at first. I don’t remember what the dishes were called but I have to say, they were DELICIOUS. I rarely say this for veg dishes but they were amazing and I was stuffed to the point where I couldn’t move(whew). 

In school, all our teachers would wear the traditional white and gold saree and we would have a huge pookalam(flower rangoli is my best description) in the lobby. The best part was even the teachers who weren’t from Kerala would join in and celebrate, showing their love for Onam.

Okay, so I took a break in between writing this piece since I was out of ideas but I think I might be onto something small.

Since I joined VIT I’ve met a lot of new people and made quite a few mallu friends. These people are so annoying yet so chill, especially this one character(inserts upside-down head emoji) but I’ll tell you about them some other day. So essentially they’ve introduced me to Malayalam media and I wasn’t really expecting it to be so good. From movies to songs and even a youtube channel. Coming to my point, so the aforementioned channel is named Karikku and they make hilariously funny videos in Malayalam(since I don’t understand a lot of it, I use subtitles) and they have like two videos based on Onam which feature short stories. They show how bachelors miss celebrating Thiruvonam with their families and try to make things work among themselves but don’t really succeed. It also involves various plot points which make it hilarious. Towards the end, they are shown united and together and how the spirit of oneness bonds them together. Just like it’s shown, Onam is a festival that is fun when celebrated with one another, with friends and family. My friends have opened my mind to new experiences and I thank them for that(if not for them I don’t know how I would’ve written this piece). Unfortunately this Onam I won’t be able to go have Sadhya(inserts crying emoji). I do not exaggerate when I tell you how tasty it is but it is yummmmmm. 

I don’t know what more I could add to this but considering I went from eating Sadhya to talking about a Malayali youtube channel and I am surprised I had things to talk about. Honestly, never have I struggled to write a piece like this but at the same time, I genuinely loved writing this. Lots of memories came running back to me while I was thinking about this, made me a bit happy 🙂

Happy Onam to everyone and especially to my Mallu Kuttis( the word means small)<3. Hope y’all have an amazing time!

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TELUGU NUTHANA SAMVATSARA SUBHAKANKSHALU

by: Rithika Palvayi

Hmmmm, if I’d have to choose between “3, 2, 1…..Happy New Year” and, “Ugadi Subhakankshalu”, I’d go with the latter, any day. Because apart from wearing our traditional outfits and clicking some of the best pictures, there’s much more than you’d expect there to be. You might be appalled by the revelation, but I’m guessing you won’t be if you kept reading. 

If you’re also thinking, “what the hell?”, you should take a trip to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (went by alphabetical order, no biasing) – the two profound Telugu states of India, during April, more or less. That’s when our New Year celebrations take place. The fun in waking up to the smell of the tamarind paste/juice stands unparalleled. The special delicacy we make that day is not only our favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner but also holds importance and much meaning in our lives. 

Bet you’re curious to know what’s so tasty about it. Let me walk you through.

I had to ask my Grandma for all the information. I definitely prefer her over Google and I’m intransigent about it. 

We start by grating off slices or chopping up fine pieces of jaggery which is the purest form of sweet. And it happens to represent happiness in our life. And we add much more jaggery than any other ingredient because we love to believe that no matter what, life would turn out well in the end. 

Then comes the unripe mango, also small pieces again. Preferably so, because it stands for the surprises thrown at us during this journey. I bet not many are fans of that surprise element, huh? 

Maybe they also have the greater good motive, we never know. 

Remember the tamarind I was flaunting about? Ah, yes. Woefully, being so tasty, tamarind happens to represent the feeling of disgust. That same feeling I happen to experience when I see pictures of couples on my Instagram. 

The real surprising element here is the neem flower. It depicts the sorrows. You might not know but it tastes bad. If you ever taste the ‘Ugadi pachadi’, do not bite on this flower. It’ll ruin everything, just like sadness does. Watch the movie Inside Out, you’ll know that sadness is the enemy. Did you also know that neem has antifungal properties? 

And then comes the Telugu people’s most favorite vegetable – chilies. I prefer chili powder to this, though. It’s here to show the anger. Be it pent up or that had been taken out on your soft toys. We add this in the least amounts of all because of obvious reasons.

This one ingredient makes its presence known. Yeah, it’s the salt. It represents fear. Maybe that’s why my mom adds extra salt into my glass when I have this because generally I’m a brave person, but you put on a horror movie, I’m scared more than a scaredy-cat.  

My mom also adds bananas for the sweetness. It only ‘engorgio’s the taste. Another choice could be sugarcane pieces too.   

You should also know that Ugadi means ‘Start of a new Yug’. This tradition of celebration was started by a great king, Gautamuiputra Shatakarni. Note that he put his mother’s name before his. On a side note: RESPECT WOMEN AS MUCH THEY DESERVE.

If you’d noticed, I womansplained six simple tastes to you all. They’re called ‘shadh ruchulu’ – literally meaning six tastes. Unlike most of our lives, this ‘pachadi’ has a balance of taste, which wishes the ones having it to also have proportionate amounts of right feelings and balanced life. 

Hope you visit the  Telugu states and have this beautiful and the tastiest traditional concoction which, I promise also is a cleanse to your body.

PS: Having too much on the same day might result in sitting in the bathroom the next day for a long time, so I’ll go charge my phone already. 

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Food Thoughts Uncategorised

Food Food Food

Author: Alekya Kowta

Hmm. Honestly I was spiraling because I didn’t know what to write about. Then, I had an epiphany. (More like one of my friends helped me figure out that I could write about this, but we don’t talk about that). Food. That’s what I will write about. So, when was the last time you went out to have food? Takeaway isn’t the same thing, mind you. Going to a place to eat with all that ambience? That’s heaven.  Also, what does food mean to you? Let me quote Anton Ego- “I don’t like food. I LOVE it. If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.” I for one, am not that picky though. Give me good food and I’m here for it. I have not had outside food for a long time now. So, I sit here and reminisce of all the times I had very good food. 

It amazes me that we have some distinct memories associated with the food we eat or something that we smell. Do you have something that you ate so long ago that tasted so good that you always longed for it but you could never find anything else that tasted the exact same way? Phew, long sentence. Anyway, for me, it’s this strawberry milkshake I used to have in Ikea. I swear to God, it tasted really good. The texture and the amount of sweetness to it was just perfect. Believe me when I say I didn’t find something even remotely close to it anywhere else. I used to get strawberry milkshakes every week back then, which explains why I’m fat I guess. Well, I have absolutely no idea why me and my family chose to go to Ikea almost every week, but okay. It was so fun. After a while, the milkshake was probably the only thing that dragged us there. I don’t really like strawberries though. So there’s that.

Another memory is how we spent every Saturday night together in the US with an amazing mango milkshake. My dad used to make mango milkshakes every Saturday. Now he’s just lazy and won’t do it. Anyone who knows me well would know I’m a sucker for mango shakes. Honestly, that is the best mango shake I ever had. I couldn’t get enough of it. There was this mall in Bangalore that kind of got so close to the way my og mango shake tasted, but it wasn’t quite there. 

Oh oh, that reminds me. In New York, we went to this Indian cafe, whose name I do not remember at all. But I know I ate dahi chaat there. I do not like curd that much. But that? It was heaven! The garnishing on the food was just so pretty. I remember it was during Christmas, everything was just so pretty and it was snowing and I remember kind of knocking off a plate by mistake? Yikes. I don’t really remember much about it though. I just know it was too good and I enjoyed every bit of it. Oh my god, how can I forget my dad’s fried rice?! Literally the best fried rice in the entire world, no cap. My mom’s best dishes would probably be her biryani, yes veg biryani and not pulao, and her baby corn gravy.

Throughout this lockdown, my mom’s been trying a lot of good stuff though. Like, we’ve tried multiple kinds of sandwiches – just sandwiches, but like making them in new, interesting/weird ways, I guess? I remember the first time I tasted a mushroom. It was in BBQ Nation. I went with my parents and we were enjoying all the starters – PANEER. I LOVE PANEER. Anyways, that was the first time I tried a mushroom, they were so… squishy in texture (thanks to my brain’s inability to think of a better term). But I love mushrooms. I think I’ve been missing out on eating them. Oh, this reminds me of the first time I ate scrambled eggs! It was in Pondicherry, in a place called Eat My Cake. The way it looked was so good. Very presentable. I loved how it tasted. Never ate scrambled eggs after that though. One of my friends spilled lemon soda all over it. So many memories, aahh. The place was too expensive for my liking. 

I don’t really remember what this place is called, but the dessert I ate there was the best! The one piece of brownie I had was just so chocolatey and I don’t really know how to explain this. It just was chocolate-draped and everything about it was chocolate and beautiful. I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate, please? Anyway, do you all remember the fun times when you could go to Tara Maa and eat naan with paneer (or chicken curry, whatever)? Do you know where you can get the best paneer tikka in Vellore? It’s in Black Box. That’s the only right answer.

Look, I could go on and on about my love for road side bandis and beautiful dosas – oh wait, if you are in Hyderabad and never went to Ram Bandi/ Lakshman Bandi, then I mean what are you even doing with your life? Please go there and you’ll taste the best dosa and idli ever. Anyway, like I said, I could go on and on about my profound love for sambar, mysore bajji, chocolates, cake, pani puri, vada pav, chaat etc., but I will not. However, I will end this with talking about how much I miss pizza. Pizza is literally the best thing ever made. And the last time I ate pizza from outside was 8 months ago. I- I miss it so much. It is most definitely the love of my life. I cannot imagine a pizza-less life. Yes, I think I’ll end my food rant on a dramatic note. Thank you. Man, I can’t wait to go outside and eat all my favourite stuff – cough cough pizza first.

I am so thankful that my mom has now finally allowed me to get food from outside. So my dear pizza, garlic breadsticks and cheese dip, here I come! 

Also, can we do hot takes? I f***ing hate noodles. Yuck. Bye.