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The love-hate relationship

by:Aanchal

I remember the day when my brother took me along with him to an old temple dedicated to Lord
Hanuman. I had been reluctant to go at first because I thought the place would be as creepy as the
area where it existed. It was late in the evening and as we were nearing the temple, the place and
the people were already giving me creeps. Every now and then motorcycles and cars would trudge
past us and for some reason I could not be convinced that the place was safe. He parked his bike in
the parking lot and I accompanied him there, for I refused to be left alone at such a place. We
walked up the gentle slope to the main temple premises. It was crowded but not as crowded and to
my relief, most of them were children. I saw the five-faced idol of the deity and thought about how it
could be scary to look at it, sometimes in the dark, when everything is silent and empty. I was still
not quite much impressed by the place and I only thought of going back home. It was only after the
pooja that he showed me the real thing – A sky full of heavenly pink clouds, all filled up to where my
eyes could see. I could not help but stare, in bewilderment and awe. I wanted to be there forever,
not letting my eyes lose sight of what I had just seen. All my life, I had wanted to see sunsets, the
most beautiful ones, but provided the pollution and crowdedness of the city, the lack of time these
days, and the towering buildings that surrounded our house, the sunsets eluded me. They still
continue to. But for the moment, it made my day, my entire year full of harshness was melted into
this moment of immense serenity, of divinity, of peace. All I could think of, on our way home, was
how my brother happened to discover such places only to astonish me later. As to how he did so
much for the things that made me happy. He has never been the expressive one when it comes to
love and affection. We fight like we are the biggest foes of each other. I tell him sometimes that I
wish I were alone, I had no sibling at all. But then, I look up to times like these, times when he makes
me laugh when I’m crying after a long, rough fight, times when I reach for his shirt when I see dogs
coming towards me in the street, times when I rely on him to make the school bus wait when I’m
late in the morning, times when he does not let me lift heavy things, saying he is stronger than me,
times when I look at him with a babyface when it’s already 11:50 and I have a DA deadline, times
when he smiles softly but says nothing when I achieve something, times when he does not return my
“Bye” when he is headed to his office, and all those uncountable moments and memories which
can’t fit into words. I think about how we are just a year apart but he seems centuries wiser. I have
seen him at moments where he supported me to learn things I could not learn otherwise, I have
seen him take a stand for me in front of my parents. One more thing that comes to my mind when I
think of his un-expressive nature is how he never said a good word about me when I got ready for
an event but how he told me that I looked beautiful, the way I am, for the first time when I wore a
suit. I think of how the love-hate relationship continues to grow despite everything that falls in the
way and that I’m glad to have a brother like him, but hey! Don’t get carried away, we just had a fight
and I’m writing this with my left ear still ringing. XD

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social society

Disconnected in a connected world

by: Keerthana

“Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities. ”

In this day and age, technology is indispensable and even considered a basic necessity for business, social connectivity, and even education. It has made us “connected” to one another and has been integrated into our lives more than ever before. According to reports from Statistica, there are around 4.66 billion users that are actively using the Internet.

The 21st century has been termed the “Digital Era”. Technology has beneficially influenced every aspect of our lives. We are able to gain access to information from every corner of the world, chat and interact with friends and family from wherever we are, and even improve the lives of the disabled. With the current situation of the global pandemic, it has helped enhance the educational sector by enabling remote learning and has also supported online medical consultation.

However, as technology keeps on expanding there is an increased feeling of loneliness amongst users. Along with feeling alone, reports of anxiety and depression have surged. Social media applications like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp have made it possible for us to talk to people from different parts of the world. Half a billion users have joined social media in 2020 alone. 

So if we are able to connect with more people online, why is there an increase in the feeling of isolation over the years?

Psychologically what is happening is that people are becoming more dependent on virtual connections than real-life networks. Many find it easier to interact virtually than in real life. It leads to an endless cycle, where a person uses their phone because they feel lonely and then after using it they feel even worse. To make up for that, they start using their phones again. This ultimately leads to an increased amount of screen time, which over the years has increased to 11 hours per day. 

Social media exposure has contributed to loneliness. A report found that social media users were three times more likely to feel socially isolated than casual users. Social media conveys this idealized expectation of life and friends which only leads to more social comparisons. 

A professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University found that loneliness and social isolation are twice as dangerous as obesity. Loneliness adversely affects mental wellbeing as it leads to feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, reduced confidence, and motivation. A decrease in concentration and energy can be detrimental to work life. It may result in some people relying on alcohol and drugs for comfort. Prolonged loneliness can even alter brain functionality and bring about diseases like Alzheimer’s. 

Social connections are a primal human need. For that reason, we have to discuss ways to decrease the feeling of disconnection and promote “healthy connections”.  One could replace screen time with meeting friends or even going out with family. Physical activities like cycling, doing some yoga, or going for a walk can help improve your mood, energize and promote a better quality of sleep. Putting devices away, 30 minutes before you go to bed, can effectively help in preventing disruption in the circadian rhythm. It’ll boost melatonin levels which can help you to start your day better. 

We, humans, are hardwired to interact and connect with more people. On the way to forming “social connections” through technology, our “real” connection with friends, family, and ourselves get disconnected. Only by being aware of the detrimental impact that technology has, can we achieve a perfect balance of real and virtual connections. Only then can we get rid of this loneliness epidemic and be more humanely connected than ever before.

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The Thrilling Touchdown

by:Aasika

On the bustling dawn of June 24, 1982, the magnificent British airways flight 9 bearing 247 lives set off for its long journey piercing through several time zones from Heathrow, London to Auckland, New Zealand. Akin any other day, as the flight picked its customary route devoid of menace to Auckland, it was expected to perform halts at Bombay, Madras, Kuala Lumpur, Perth, Melbourne to unload and load passengers before finally arriving in Auckland.

Moments after the plane landed in Kuala Lumpur, the aircraft fuelers barged into the runway and emptied 100 tons of fuel into its tank and the weary flight crew was relieved by the consummate captain Eric Moody, the avid first officer Roger Greaves, and a new cabin crew before it took off again to resume to Auckland. The passengers were experiencing a smooth flight and relishing the cozy inflight services. After ensuring that the midnight sky is lucid and the weather conditions are pleasant, Eric showed himself out of the cockpit to spend a penny.

The captain’s run to the comfort room was intruded on when the first officer called him out. Sensing the seriousness in Roger’s tone, Eric strode towards the cockpit. On his way back, the first red flag arose. Eric espied patterns of fumes escaping the ventilation duct. Given that the crew members were permitted to smoke in the plane until the late 1980s, the captain initially disregarded the smoke. Seconds later, the intensity of the smoke made it challenging for the captain to ignore it like a cigar corollary. The pilot slid the cockpit door open, still perplexed from trying to discover the source of the smoke.

As Eric entered the cockpit, he was hustled out of his thoughts as he witnessed the concerned first officer’s fixated look on the windshield of the plane which was now being ambushed by flashes of light. The captain calmed the perturbed first officer by explaining that the flashes are a resultant of the “Elmo’s fire” phenomenon which is caused by the thunder clouds producing static electricity and dismisses the arisen second red flag as well. When the metal surface of an aircraft comes in contact with the static electricity created by the thunder clouds, Elmo’s fire phenomenon occurs.

The pilots then cautiously checked the radar in anticipation of spotting the thunder cloud liable for this but to their astonishment, no such cloud was found anywhere around the airplane’s vicinity. This added up to the captain’s perplexity as now he hasn’t the faintest notion of what causes the light flashes. After exchanging glances of bafflement and letting out sighs of exasperation, the duo took a beat to process whatever had happened till now but certainly, they were not mentally prepared to process the series of events that’s about to transpire in the next few minutes.

The plane was approaching Jakarta and it was 8:40 PM in Jakarta now, and the amount of smoke entering the cabin was swiftly increasing. This issue started to create fret and panic among the passengers. The temperature in the cabin began augmenting exponentially and the people in the plane started sweating profusely and experienced breathing discomforts. Furthermore, the passengers seated beside the window witnessed weird sparks in the wings. All of this happened in a span of two minutes only and put the cabin in complete chaos and the attendants attempted their best to comfort the passengers.

At 8:42 PM, the captain received an alert call from the first engineer officer who stated that the plane’s fourth engine was on fire and instructed to shut it down immediately. Only now did the captain fathom the predicament their flight is in. It was 8:43 PM and the captain received another warning call stating that their second engine had failed as well. Taken aback by the instantaneous turn of events, before he could even have a moment to loosen up and clear his head, he received a couple more warning calls stating that the airplane’s first and third engine had failed as well.

Several thousand feet above the ground, the flight was now levitating with no functioning engines, or, the flight was now gradually falling. The first officer quickly garnered the facts, did the math, and eventually concluded that the plane can fly for another 23 minutes and that it is capable of covering only 168 kilometers more and the pilots hoped to find an airport to land in that range. The Jakarta airport happened to be the closest.

The captain contacted the Jakarta airport immediately and explained the criticality of their situation. The air traffic controllers meticulously listened and also enlightened him that currently, they were hovering over the Java Island area which is comprised of a multitude of mountains, and insinuated that they fly at least 11,500 ft above sea level to prevent collisions and reach the airport. Haplessly, the current rate of descent which the plane is undergoing makes it improbable to fly the plane at the required altitude and make the cut.  

The pilots looked around in hopes to sight an acreage to safely land the plane and the Indian Ocean turns out to be their only option. The pilots geared up to perform the intentional water touchdown right after the captain performed one more futile attempt to restart their engines. Even though the captain’s landing announcement rendered momentary solace for the passengers, their apprehension returned when they saw the flight’s engines on fire through the windows.

Individual apprehension transformed into mass hysteria in the cabin and the passengers were having a hard time pulling themselves together. Families snuggled together, the parents protectively embraced their children, youngsters supportively held the arms of their paramours, the elderly faithfully chanted prayers and the others in utter despair started writing for their loved ones.

Just when the passengers were dwelling in the presumption that their circumstance couldn’t deteriorate any further, the cabin started depressurizing and the lights in the cabin started flickering. Next, the oxygen level in the cabin instantly dropped and commenced another commotion as the passengers jostled to grab themselves an oxygen mask. However, the depressurization formed in the cabin was so high that not even the masks could avail the asphyxiation experienced by the members in the plane.

Acknowledging the jeopardy caused by the depressurization, the captain performs a nosedive by motioning the plane perpendicularly down and descends to an altitude of 13,500 ft now. Only now did the oxygen level in the cabin normalize and the passengers in the plane were able to breathe properly. Around 8:56 PM, the captain made one last attempt to start the fourth engine and to his surprise, the fourth engine started and miraculously so did the other three engines.

The captain’s ecstasy at that moment was inexplicable. At the current low-end altitude at which the plane was flying, the mountains were still a peril. So, the captain deftly lifted the plane to a decent sea level to elude the mountains. Minutes after the lift, Elmo’s fire phenomenon recurred and the second engine failed again. Not desiring the other obnoxious series of events to repeat and before the other three engines could fail, he steered back the plane to a lower altitude of 12,000 ft. 

After tackling several other hindrances, the flight finally approached the Jakarta airport. The fact that Elmo’s fire obfuscated the windshield and the landing wheels weren’t functioning perfectly didn’t make their landing any easier but the pilot succeeded in making a not-so-smooth yet safe touchdown. Thrilled by the successful landing the crew members let out sighs of relief and giggles of happiness and the passengers safely exited the plane with no major injuries.

Later, the investigators came up with plausible theories to explain the weird behavior of the aircraft. The airplane happened to have flown right over the Mount Galuggung Volcano. The ashes from this Volcano had formed a cloud at that particular altitude in the atmosphere where the plane was flying. Since the ashes were dry, the layer was invisible on the radar and the pilots were ignorant of the existent threat. The ashes of this Volcano, when it encompassed the aircraft, was liable for all the factors from Elmo’s fire to the engine failures. 

This route to Auckland was shut down for a while after this incident. A couple of days later, after a Singapore airlines flight encountered the same issue while flying over java island, this route has been permanently banned and an alternative has been provided for the pilots to fly.

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change childhood Family feelings growing up Guide Happiness life Self social society

Confidence is key

by: Keerthana

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”

Self-confidence is unequivocally essential to living a fulfilled life. Self-confidence is about having faith in yourself and your ability to achieve what you envision. Confidence originates from the word ‘Fidere’ in Latin which means “to trust”. So, self-confidence amounts to trusting oneself. It broadly comprises attitude, body language, habitual behaviors, and response.

Is it really that important?
Being confident in yourself makes others have a sense of trust in you. People that often lack this confidence follow or believe the ones that have greater self-belief. More often than not, having low self-confidence is unappealing in a social or work setting. According to a report, 40% of interviewers reject unconfident candidates from the first stage itself. Confidence plays a big role in furthering your career. It helps you to get rid of activities that aren’t needed to achieve the bigger picture. So, effectively it saves time and extra effort.

So, how do you know if you have low self-confidence?
If you often hesitate to pitch in your opinions or ideas in conversation, you might have poor self-confidence. People may quit on their goals before they have even started working on them because they lack the belief that they could accomplish it. It can even come in the form of feeling worthless or thinking poorly of yourself. If you always find yourself agreeing with others when you don’t truly feel that way, it may be a lack of self-confidence.

Then what causes this doubt?
Surprisingly, according to studies, some people are just born like that. They produce less of the ‘Serotonin’ hormone which adversely affects their behavior and personality traits. But, obviously, their confidence too can be improved.
People diagnosed with anxiety or other mental health issues mostly have a poor self-image. Being surrounded by negative friends or family members also affects self-confidence as it can damage the way people see themselves. Sometimes, people set unrealistic goals and they get upset that they haven’t been able to achieve them. This ultimately, makes them feel like they can’t achieve anything right.

What are the traits of a confident person?
They take the necessary risks to achieve their goals.
They are strong-headed and stand by what they believe.
They aren’t afraid to take help when needed.
They don’t give up trying too soon.
They don’t tolerate being disrespected and set standards for how they want to be treated.

Finally, let’s talk about how we can be more confident.
People around you influence your thoughts and feelings about yourself. Ensuring that you’re surrounded by more positive people can help change how you see yourself.
Studies have shown that exercising and meditation improve your confidence. It improves body image and even helps to recognize and accept yourself.
Catching yourself when you’re having negative or deprecating thoughts is important. This is because if you aren’t cautious, the thoughts just keep on accumulating. After catching these thoughts, the best practice would be to replace them with reassuring and positive statements. Over time it would help you to feel more confident.
Accepting failure is important. This would help you to set goals and not be too hard on yourself if you can’t achieve them. You would feel more confident in yourself and your ability by accepting that you might fail but you will come out stronger than before.
Acknowledging your past achievements are equally as important. It will remind you that you have made it quite far and you should keep pushing.
Talking to psychologists or counselors can help you strategize how to develop your confidence. By speaking to them, you would discover any issues that might have been holding you back.

Building self-confidence can be a tough process but not an impossible one. By giving yourself time and energy, you can improve your overall self-image. By understanding the importance and how to build self-confidence, you can improve the quality of your life and those around you.

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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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No monsters, only man

by:Harika

A few days ago, I was watching the Tokyo Olympics Swimming 100m finals and I was reminded of an incident that happened at our community’s swimming pool probably 5 or 6 years ago. What happened there transformed and shaped many of my opinions on humankind and I can never look at a swimming pool without being reminded of the mortifying sequence of events I had to witness that one dreadful day and I’m writing this because even to this day, I think of the boy who was there to swim just like me but became the victim of humankind’s nefariousness. 

And this is what took place on that one cathartic day.

As I see it, the swimming pool is an aggregation of not just water but a hundred thousand particles ready to conquer your throat and lungs, submerge you to make you their own: drifting, silent, dead. I stand in it, between the colliding currents that sway my knees, the blue grasping at my waist. A few meters away a man is wading through the thrumming liquid, his greying hair spots on his head, his bloated gut a ship’s hairy bow. Behind him a boy stands, his pale face twisted, black hair in wet, drooping spikes.

“Why did you throw your goggles and cap? What are you going to do now?” demands the man, turning to the boy.

The boy stays silent, or he mutters something unheard.

Either way, the man continues. “Listen to me. Your mother…”, and the man stops roaring with fury but I think what he wanted to continue saying was that ‘your mother is observing and listening, she is right over there: shut up, listen and behave. Your mother is watching, get yourself together and start swimming, with or without your gear.’ The breeze twists the other way or the water enters my ears, either way, I am too shocked by what just happened so I don’t hear what the man says.

Maybe the boy is now weeping silently, silver streams of tears bulging scars on his cheek, for the man erupts, waving his arms, “Why are you crying?”

The most entitled question: why are you crying? Why have you handed me a consequence, after I rammed the cause down your very throat?

The man inhales the wind, and in a sudden exhale it bursts out through his mouth. “Are you crying for sympathy? Pity? Let me tell you, boy,” and this he shouts, “the more you beg for the pity the less of it you have! Who will pity you?”

My shoulders shake. The boy, stunned, stands unmoving, his head bowed, his back bare. One day he will thank his wounds for being invisible.

“Retrieve your goggles. Retrieve your cap.” The man grabs the boy by his head. “I want you to succeed! What are you doing? Crying? I don’t want you to be a loser! Loser, do you hear?” The man’s booming voice bounces off the pool walls and pries into the boy’s ears, my ears, everyone’s ears, the ears of my cousin who spoke back to his father, my mother’s friend whose husband who would return home drunk at 3 am, all these generations and all these lives until the last hearing ear has been deafened. In his rage, the man spoke the language of humanity.

Then, the soft afterword. “This is for your own good,” the man finishes, calmed after an outburst. “Retrieve your gear, let’s swim.”

This is the thing with people: they vow on your life, praise Satan, talk about helping you get your life on track while all they do is ruin it, and then end with a smile, saying, “This is for your own good.” No, this isn’t for their own good. The boy is going to remember this incident for a really long time, probably even for his entire life, and even begin to detest swimming. For all I know, he could’ve been an Olympic swimmer if not for the man scaring him for life. And I think to myself, in a barbaric world where people are dreadfully cold, there’s no one who will do anything for ‘your own good’. That is when I came up with survival rules for the boy and for myself; rule number one, I think to myself and the boy, don’t believe him. Rule number two: hate him but don’t fear him. Rule number three: smile at him, smile and obey, smile and listen and nod, this is your life, you can change it but not now. These are the rules of the game.

While I watched the entire incident unfurl in front of me, I haven’t seen the man showing an ounce of love or empathy towards the boy instead all I could see was the man’s envy, anger, and hatred. 

Envy is a vice. Instead of focusing on your own goals, your goal becomes to throw other people’s goals off the rails, and at the end of the day, you gain nothing but a mischievous satisfaction that you have destroyed someone. 

It has been years since the occurrence of this incident but I can still recall the fear in the boy’s eyes. What was supposed to be a fun day at the pool changed my perception of the world entirely and a swimming pool, to me, was never again just an aggregation of water but a hundred thousand particles of human piss, saliva, snot, and tears, scoldings, quiet rivalries, and violent pledges, gushing into your gasping mouth and open throat. 

You swallow it and they make you their own.

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A Tale Of Two Nights

by:Tharun

14th August 1947

Loud noises of the Gypsy Jeeps were echoing in every alleyway. Alleyways stuffed with people as far as the eye could see. While most of them were rushing to listen to The Man in White speak, a few seemed to be making their way out of the crowd, almost as if they were looking for something precious that they had just lost. Pandemonium. This was the only possible way to describe the night, right in the middle of which was a young girl. Orphaned at birth, she had never known a life of certainty. While many had tried to foster her through the years, none of them ended well. Yet again, she was back on the streets. Although this wasn’t unusual for her, she could sense something very different this time.

She looked weary of her journey. She lost count of the days for which she had been on the road in search of a home. At one point when she thought that she’d found one, she was told that they could only take her brother in. A brother whose existence she didn’t even know about till that moment, but the loss of whom felt as if she had lost a part of herself. Many miles and several horrifying visuals later, she had finally reached where she was now. She didn’t really know if she could call this place home, but she was too tired to go any further. 

The people here looked no different from what she’d seen. What was different about them was that they seemed to have a strange sense of hope. The kind which could be easily mistaken for unrest. She heard someone yell that all their troubles had come to an end. She scoffed at them. Although still a child, she knew not to fall for this illusion; she could see with her own eyes that nothing had changed. Buildings were being swallowed by flames and people were being slaughtered for fictitious reasons. What was funny was that everyone knew this, yet their desperation for hope superseded their ability to sense the horrors of reality.

Suddenly, everything went silent. People stopped right where they were and the Jeeps turned their engines off. The only thing that the girl could hear was the faint voice echoing from the loudspeakers. Someone said that The Man in White had started speaking. Everyone was listening to him as though he were instructing a new way of life. Though she had never believed in hope, the fact that everyone else did, comforted her in a way. Reassured by this, she shut her eyes with a feeling that things would change for her this time, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. 

14th August 2021 

It’s dinner time and everyone is glued to the television. With a plate in their hand, they’re listening to the interview of The Man in Blue, Olympian Neeraj Chopra talking about his historic win. As the interview finishes, everyone is forced to get off their seats by a lady, who just seventy-four years ago was a scared little girl. 

The same girl who once feared for her life now runs a proud household. She has children, friends and family whom she can confidently call her own. Truth be told, not much has changed for her. It’s just that the years have given her the strength to keep a straight face while dealing with troubles. One of her sons succumbed to Covid while gasping for breath. She listens to her friends talk about the way they are subjected to mental and physical trauma at their homes. A few years after that night of 1947, someone once told her that the brother whom she was separated from was actually two people… or something like that, she can’t recollect exactly. Every day she helplessly witnesses her children quarrel with each other for the same reasons that she had seen seventy-four years back. The only difference is that now they pin it on her honour rather than the other person’s cowardice. 

She feels the hope which people once shared is now transformed into something different. It has now changed into arrogance. The arrogance that breaks off a friendship. The arrogance that threatens others to prove its supremacy over them. What hurts her the most is when one of her own children is labeled an outsider. As someone who toiled for years to build this family from the ground up, she feels she let down that little girl who for once came close to believing in the concept of hope. 

Everyone in the household is excited for tomorrow. It’s one of the only days where all of her kids spend time at home together. She personally has mixed feelings about the day. On one hand, it reminds her of the story of a little girl who grew into a beautiful person against all odds. On the other, it reminds her of hope. The same hope which is now synonymous with unrest. She fears for the lives of her own. She wonders if the Man In White lied to the people that night. 

There is one thing that she is certain about. People are not evil, they are simply misguided and afraid. In 1947, her house didn’t have a head. Now, there are far too many, with all of them tugging about the roof in a separate direction. She knows the cost at which her freedom came. The tears, the bloodshed, the unbridled sacrifice that she had to witness to even think of a probable future, let alone a prosperous one. She only hopes that people realise the struggles of those who gave her and many others the chance to have a place to call home, rather than glorifying them mindlessly. But then again, she never fully believed in hope.

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The Human in Humanity

by:Akhil

Selfless, sympathetic, humble, sincere, passionate, emotional, and courageous. 

These qualities represent what humanity is. 

Or, a better way to put it is that they portray how humanity should be.      

The other day, I watched a Ted Talk by a famous author, Chris Abani, on what he thought about humanity. Chris is an excellent author and novelist, often known for writing about his nation of Nigeria. He wrote about how the people of his country fought against a military-controlled government for their freedom. 

At the age of 16, Chris was thrown in jail for publishing his first novel, Masters of the Board, because the book’s plot was based on a coup that was carried out in Nigeria just before the book was written. He was imprisoned for six months on the notion that he was conspiring against the government. Two years after this, he was imprisoned again for a year for continuing to write novels about the government. Another two years after this, he was thrown in jail a third time for conducting anti-government plays in front of government offices. But this time, he was placed on death row. With the help of his friends, he bribed a few officials and got out of jail, immediately moving to the UK afterward.

In his speech, Chris tries to explain his views on humanity, the direct and indirect nature of its expression, and justifies his definition through a few stories of his own. He focuses on the point that the world may be where it is today because of big powerful gestures, but that is not what makes this planet a better place. Small, considerate everyday acts of compassion are what he believes make us human.

He goes on to explain a highly respected philosophy of his Nigerian culture called Ubuntu. A direct translation of the term Ubuntu would be humanity towards others, and this translation is precisely what the doctrine tries to portray. The mere acts of care and love towards others are what solidifies humanity and its strength.

Chris discloses that explaining humanity would be a challenging task. So, he chose to give short accounts of people he found remarkable and more human, thus defining human nature through these stories. 

He starts with his mother. 

Chris’s mother was English and moved to Nigeria in the ’50s after meeting his father. She was a strong, confident woman, known for being outward with her actions, and had five beautiful children with her husband. 

In 1968, his mother and his whole family were caught up in the middle of the Biafran war, the Nigerian Civil war. They moved from one refugee camp to another for one year, and Chris remarks that his mother never cried through the whole of it, even with all the hardships and troubles they faced.  

Then one day in the near future, they were finally on an airstrip in Lisbon, ready to leave this war behind. Another woman in the airstrip noticed his mother, her ragged clothes, and her five hungry-looking children. She came over and asked what had happened. His mother explained to the woman their terrible situation because of the war. This woman proceeded to immediately empty her suitcase and give Chris’s mother all of her clothes. She also handed out some toys of her children to Chris and his siblings. That is when Chris said he saw his mother cry for the first time. 

Years later, he asked his mother why she had cried then at the airport. She replied, “You can steel your heart against any kind of trouble or horror, but the simple act of kindness from a complete stranger will unstitch you.”

Another anecdote he shares is of a rite of passage for young men that his culture, the Igbo, had in Nigeria. Many of these rites of passage included killing little animals, and that made sense because of their agrarian community. When he was 13, it was time for him to kill a goat. He admits that he was a sensitive kid and didn’t want to kill a goat but had to. His friend Emmanuel, who was much older than him, came along with him that day. He recounts that Emmanuel was forced to serve as a boy soldier during the Biafran War, and having him there with him, made him feel better.

Chris explains that the voice of a goat is said to be very similar to a human and a goat’s eyes look like a baby’s eyes. So, when the time came to kill the goat, Chris couldn’t do it. His friend Emmanuel bent down, put his hand over the goat’s mouth, and covered the goat’s eyes so that Chris didn’t have to look into its eyes when he killed the goat. 

Chris explains that, to Emmanuel, killing a goat must have seemed like such a menial task yet, he found it in himself to try and protect Chris. Chris continued, saying that he started crying, and Emmanuel stood there in silence until he was done. Afterward, he said to him, “It will always be difficult, but if you cry like this every time, you will die of heartbreak. Just know that it is enough sometimes to know that it is difficult.”

His message of understanding that we can make the world a better and brighter place by showing love and care to anyone who needs it is one of my main takeaways from this Ted Talk. The last story I’d like to share about Chris is another anecdote he let loose during his speech. 

The Igbo, Chris’s cultural community, built their own gods. They would all come together as a community, and they would express a wish to their priest. And then the priest would find a ritual object, and the appropriate sacrifices would be made, and the shrine would be built for their god. If the god became unruly and began to ask for human sacrifice, the Igbos would destroy the god. They would knock down the god’s shrine, and they would stop saying the god’s name. This is how they showed their humanity, and so I’d like to end with a quote from Chris Abani himself,

Every day, all of us here, we’re building gods that have gone rampant, and it’s time we started knocking them down and forgetting their names. It doesn’t require a tremendous thing. All it requires is to recognize among us, every day – the few of us that can see – are surrounded by people like the ones I’ve told you. People with humanity.

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Of Gratitude and Affirmations

by:Prajjwal

Gratitude and affirmations. We all might have come across these two words several times, maybe on our socials, or whenever we surf “How to be successful in life” or something congenial to this. This article is basically a review/experience of how gratitude has transformed, not just my life but the greater good as well. It does sound philosophical or scholarly, to begin with. I, for one, found it worthless and stuff even before I could go on to discover it, only to realize its actual power at a later time, especially when I hit the rock bottom. Everyone does experience their ‘rock-bottom’ phases in their lives. You might be just stuck with some work, you might be in a dilemma on how to proceed further, unable to pull off the burden upon you while you are left with no other assistance to heal your mental wounds. And this is when gratitude can prove to be your knight in shining armor. Also, this is not some kind of a summary of Rhonda Byrne’s gratitude books. It’s just one of my little ‘secrets’, I’d like to share with you.

There are a zillion things out there that go unappreciated or for which we are ungrateful. We all have succumbed to a mundane robotic routine of ours. How often do we realize the importance of people in our lives? How often do we feel lucky to have a roof above our head, pure air around us, the pettiest things we use daily? Be it our gadgets, accessories, or trivial stuff around us. How often do we thank our own existence? To start off with, I’d suggest you maintain a gratitude journal. You could savor your gratitude to all the things or people to whom you are grateful and appreciate their existence. Take a vow to recall moments of gratitude associated with the ordinary events, your personal attributes, things that pique your interests, in order to interweave a sustainable theme of gratitude in your lives.

Second off, practice affirmations. Gratitude and affirmations go hand in hand. Want a new car? Crave for a new outfit? Want to overcome your bad habits? Want to improve your grades? Affirm it! (Nothing to boast, but the secret to all my exam results lie here:)) And slowly you start manifesting what you affirm. You start to attract what you speak. This is the whole concept behind affirmations- the law of attraction. So make sure when you stand in front of a mirror the next time, to affirm good thoughts instead of holding an empty gun pointing at your head. Every syllable we speak manifests energy, towards or against us.

The science of gratitude is omnipresent. It is vast. It is relieving. It isn’t unrealistic wishful thinking. Luminaries such as Plato, Socrates, William Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein, Newton had discovered it way back and have delivered the same through their works. 

Change your perspectives, drink loads of water, exercise daily, think of grace, gifts and reap your rewards. You do feel a gush in feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin once you shift your thinking from negative to positive. Replace your feeds with gratitude pages, group your apps on your home screen with affirmative titles, consider yourself lucky if you see repeating numbers, download apps that help you practice gratitude, practice freelancing, start writing letters (it’s okay even if you don’t have to send them), and reinforce positivity back into your lives.

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Live in the moment

by:Abhinav

Have you ever thought of what will happen to all your dreams and goals when you die? All the places you wanted to go, all those trips you wanted to go on with your friends, and all the other things you wanted to do. Where will they all go? You will never know. Because you won’t be there to try and achieve them. It is really good that you have your future all planned with all the things you want to do. But you never know what life has in store for you. It can be good or bad. Living in the present sure has its pros and cons. One major advantage of living in the present is the fact that you don’t have to bother about what happens in the future. Not that you do not care about what happens in the future or that you don’t care about the repercussions of your present deeds. It just means that your mind is free of all the things that may or may not happen in the future.

This is especially very true for people like me who tend to think a LOT about things that may happen in the future and get shit scared about stuff that has a 0.001% chance of happening and do not look at the better outcomes which have a higher chance of happening. I tend to believe in the worst that can happen and keep my expectations low regarding any future event. This has sometimes clouded my judgment and thought process which has affected me very adversely when making decisions about stuff that matter at the moment. This can also bring out the frustration you feel about something that you think is going to happen in the future (say, a bad outcome in a test you gave) at the wrong time and on the wrong person.

This in no way helps anyone and is counterproductive. One solution to this is to stop thinking of things that may happen in the future. We can surely prepare and brace ourselves for things which we can control to some extent, like a VERY difficult test that is scheduled sometime in the near future, by planning ahead. But certain things like exam results or the fear that you may get infected in the global pandemic and damage your lungs to an extent that you may not be able to take part in the cardio heavy activities you always wanted to do. The 140.6-mile Ironman you always wanted to finish will remain a dream. The 1000Km bicycle ride you dreamt of going on in your 12th grade will remain a dream.

So what do you do? What can you do about the uncertain future? Nothing. You just have to live the moment. The 140.6-mile Ironman may not be possible in the current situations but what you can do is a 42.2K run. A 1000Km bicycle ride may not be possible with the fitness and equipment you have right now. Maybe try for a 100Km ride or even a 70k. Slowly reach the goal. But do not waste your time and energy dreaming about a shiny and happy future. The future is never happy. Life keeps surprising you and the surprises are not always pleasant. If you keep thinking about when to start, no time seems right to start.

What I want to say is, the future is not in your control. Sure, you can plan all you want but no one can say what is going to happen in the future. Who knew 2020 was going to be all at home and who knows what 2021 is going to be like? Act on your plans and live in the moment because you can never live the same moment twice. 

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is yesterday and the other is tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live.”

~ Dalai Lama