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Spilling the Tea

By: Aparajita D B

About two weeks ago, I heard that May 21st is International Tea Day. Frankly, I find it astounding that as a novice tea connoisseur myself, I was unaware of its existence. Clearly, Tea is being overwhelmingly ignored. In a small attempt to rectify this blatant transgression, I did a little digging, and it turns out that Tea wasn’t actually trying to keep a low profile, and has agreed to an interview. Please enjoy.

INTERVIEWER: So, Tea, where have you been these last few… months? I don’t I caught you at the New Year’s party.

TEA: Oh, here and there. Sometimes life becomes far too mundane, and sightseeing always cheers me up.

INTERVIEWER: Didn’t your last “trip” end in mid-December?

TEA: Yes, and?

INTERVIEWER: …

TEA: …

INTERVIEWER: Right. How was your trip?

TEA: Absolutely marvellous, darling! You know, I thought I’d go back to my roots for this one, so I visited Darjeeling. Oh, it’s quite beautiful this time of year, you know. The visit would’ve been absolutely perfect if not for a few little details. 

INTERVIEWER: Oh? Do tell.

TEA: I ran into a, uh, mutual friend of ours, who took it upon themselves to inform me of some rather interesting “life hacks” that some people have come up with.

INTERVIEWER: Is that so?

TEA: Apparently, humans are of the opinion that putting teabags in your bathwater is an acceptable alternative to bathing salts.

INTERVIEWER: … don’t tell me you didn’t already know this.

TEA: I’m just saying, if you let the teabags soak in water, and you are also soaking in the water, does that mean you’re making yourself part of a giant teacup? Or worse, a giant’s teacup?

INTERVIEWER: Aaand we’re going to leave that horrifying thought right there-

TEA: Oh you thought that was bad? Some people put teabags in their shoes! Who do they think they are, Americans??

INTERVIEWER: I don’t think we should-

TEA: All those innocent teabags desecrated, and for what?? Have these barbarians never heard of perfume??

INTERVIEWER: Now, just a minute-

TEA: Seriously, the main reason I consented to this was so that people know that I most certainly do NOT APPROVE!

INTERVIEWER: …

TEA: …

INTERVIEWER: Are you feeling better?

TEA: Much, thank you.

INTERVIEWER: Alright, we’re going to gently move away from that topic. This question is a rather persistent one, so care to talk about your relationship with coffee? 

TEA: Of course. Coffee and I are wonderful friends, when we’re not too busy cranking each other. I was half-convinced that the tip they gave me was another prank, so imagine my shock when-

INTERVIEWER: Please let’s not talk about that anymore.

TEA: Oh, alright. You know, despite our reputations, I always feel like Coffe is the steadier of the two of us. 

INTERVIEWER: Really? I would have thought it was the other way around. 

TEA: I know, most people are shocked, but it’s true. When Coffee gets out of the house, you can always predict their behaviour to some extent. Loud, jovial. Mostly sticks to cafes. At their fanciest, they’re at Starbucks. Me? I’m all over the place! One day I’m at Buckingham Palace in my regalia having the time of my life, the next day you see me at a random street stall like a miscreant who forgot about haircare. 

INTERVIEWER: Well, that was certainly insightful. Any plans to disappear on the world again?

TEA: I’m afraid not. Coffee and I have to deal with a situation. Apparently, someone in one of the VIT messes had the genius idea of mixing Instant Coffee powder into a cup of Tea.

INTERVIEWER: Wait, what?!

TEA: Oh, look at the time! I must leave now.

INTERVIEWER: But- You can’t just- 

TEA: Talk to the handle!

INTERVIEWER: … What would you even call such a thing?

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The Sting

By: Adya Bhalla

Arvind dreamt up swarms of bees. He continued to do so for months after he had been stung. He felt the fear and he felt the pain creeping up his calves as he sprinted through the tall crops. But not the burn of the sting itself. Never the burn. When he would open his eyes to the timid, mellow Sun at dawn, Arvind would anticipate pain. Fear would tiptoe behind most naturally. Until it halted, all of it did. The familiar buzzing under the Banyan tree died down. So did the mild humming through the wheat crops. Baba’s farm fell quiet. Eventually, Arvind came to know how silence also, in fact, stung. It breathed down your neck and smothered your protests to whimpers. And when apprehension droned inside your veins, silence buried its thorn under your skin, ever-present, forever making you itch and ache. At school, they’d tell him Albert Einstein once claimed that it won’t be possible to feed ourselves if bees are wiped off the face of the Earth. But the people waving torches in front of hives didn’t know of Einstein. They knew of hunger alone, and hunger only knew to grow, grow until it cracked your roof and the sky came crumbling down. Arvind often wondered about the verity of Einstein’s claims. But the lines on Baba’s forehead grew so dense, that there was little room left to wonder. Yet, every time Baba came back with another batch of those chemicals for the farm, Arvind would imagine himself painting another line on his forehead and Amma’s chapati shrinking further in size. And each time they’d set fire to another hive, the smoke would sting his eyes and run its razor-sharp teeth down his throat. Arvind would dream of a swarm of bees. Not chasing, but being chased now. He saw himself entangled in the tall crops with Baba’s lines etched on his forehead. He would sense the urgency of a large fire but not feel the burn of it. Never the burn. And when he would open his eyes to the blushing dawn, Arvind would anticipate pain. Fear would tiptoe behind most naturally.

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World Hypertension Day

By: Niranjana Naveen

Every year, May 17 is observed as World Hypertension Day across the globe to create better awareness and educate people about a medical condition that arises due to high blood pressure. What is blood pressure? Well, it is the force exerted by circulating blood against the walls of our arteries.
According to the NICE guidelines (2019), Hypertension is when the blood pressure reaches 140/90 mmHg in clinical reading or 135/85 mmHg in ambulatory or home reading.
But why does blood pressure shoot up? 95% of hypertension cases occur without any external triggers. However, secondary causes broadly include Renal disease (associated with the kidneys), obesity, pre-eclampsia and Endocrine conditions like hyperaldosteronism.
Based on the blood pressure readings and their consequential severity( heart attack, heart failure and sudden cardiac death in worst cases), it is essential to consult a medical professional regardless of the Diagnosed stage.
So how do medical professionals fix this? Initial treatment involves investigating and ruling out possible risk factors such as organ
failures and providing advice on improved lifestyle changes, including a better diet, proper exercise, reduced intake of salt and alcohol and additional potassium supplements. Treatment varies according to age group, gender and other factors.
An interesting point to note here is that African/ Caribbean descendants are more prone to developing this condition. However, the cause of racial disparities in elevated blood pressure and hypertension-related outcomes remains unclear.
Even with a staggeringly high casualty rate and substantial effects on patients, HBP is barely considered a medical threat or even remotely severe. Thus, we need a global commemoration day for better global awareness of preventing and curing this “silent killer”.

To know more about Hypertension: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension

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MOTHER’S DAY

By: Shatakshi Mohan

‘I’ll be alright,’ I said because I have pals, and yeah, I am fine. Do I get downhearted because it has been 12 days since I last embraced my mother? Yes. I miss how she hounded me, the look on her face that said no(because she isn’t a hug person). But it got me thinking; I miss the roti I ate at home, the comfort of my bed and restroom, but what is it that makes my separation from my mother unbearable? It’s as if my life, like breathing, depends on it.
And I realized it’s maternal love, not only my mother, that I miss, which led me to a different leitmotif. When my friends continuously urge me to eat food or wear a mask whenever I go out, I still experience the emotion of parenting. I have never been away from my mom for a long time, so the idea that I would miss her never crossed my mind. But these days have made me understand how much I take my mother for granted, and at the same time, I’ve discovered that maternal love is not confined to my mum but to everyone who provides us with it, and that’s what I miss.
Walking down a kilometre to get food and then standing in a line to eat it only to realize that it isn’t the food I got at home. It reminds me of when I sat at the table, howling like a dog, impatiently waiting for mom to bring me food and forgetting to say how delicious it was after eating to my heart’s content. I often forget to dry my clothes here after washing them as there is no nagging reminder. And then a friend of mine starts reminding me of these small minute stuff. Does that make me miss my mother a little lesser? No, but I feel the maternal love from a friend, which satiates my craving for that love.
Love has always had various aspects, but a mother’s love is the purest since they are inclined to protect and fight for what is theirs until their last breath. Our mother may not be enraged by things that damage them, but one scratch on us seems like all hell breaks loose.
Do you see how I am trying to conclude? Did I discover something that’ll carve my name in the papers for future generations to read? Maybe not, but today, we can honour maternal love, motherhood, and everyone who reminds us of our mother. Be it your mother, gay parents, the aunt you adore, the grandma who keeps annoying you, your best friend who acts like your mother or that roomie you didn’t like initially.
Let them know how much we appreciate everything they’ve done to make us feel the love we desire and require. Unconditional love. The love that pushes you forward rather than holding you back, the love that encourages you while also scolding you, and the love that pampers you while also calling you out on your wrongdoings. I am talking about the same feeling that wrenches your heart every time you video call home or hear them cry. Let’s take our first step in acknowledging their efforts.
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to the mother in us and the mothers we have found outside our homes. Happy Mother’s day to all those people that have shown us what unconditional love feels like

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The talkies

By: Tharun

Woken up by the sound of the alarm(aka an extremely busy mother), I got out of my bed and headed to the bathroom. I took my brush in one hand, paste in another, and thought to myself, “Here we go again, another day in the life”. I had been having an exceptionally bad week. Monday, I flunked my class test. Tuesday, I stepped in dogshit. Wednesday I got called a “flight risk” and Thursday, well everyone knows how Thursdays are. But wait, that made today Friday. And not just any Friday, it was the last Friday of the month. That’s when my family and I go to the movies!

Each month we take turns to pick the film for the night. Mom generally prefers mainstream flicks or Malayalam films if they’re screening them that week. My younger sister always picks a superhero film. My parents say that it’s her age for films like that. But I know for a fact that she does it just to annoy me. As for my dad, he doesn’t take part in this elaborate ritual. He’s just happy that for one night at least, there’ll be peace at home. This month it was my turn and boy oh boy was I prepared for it. There was a local film festival going on in my town that whole week. They were screening old classics such as Citizen Kane, The Sound of Music, Cinema Paradiso, and their likes. That day, they were scheduled to screen John Huston’s, Moby Dick.

This film is very special to me as I used to watch it with my grandfather. He recalled how mesmerized he was to see that huge whale leap onto the screen for the first time as a teen. Everyone in my family tells me that I’ve inherited this passion for cinema from him. I think so too. He used to tell me stories of how he used to collect the ticket stubs from Minerva Cinema and Gaiety Galaxy. Even after so many decades, my grandfather still had his tickets from when he went to watch Deewar. He used to claim that that flimsy pink piece of paper was his most valuable possession. I wish he was with me today to watch Moby Dick one last time.

It was almost time. I came back from college an hour ago and mom and dad just came back from the office. My sister’s been pestering me the whole day asking about the film which we were about to watch. I purposely wasn’t telling her. I didn’t need her to whine about how I chose an old black and white film to watch for tonight. All I told her was that we were going to watch a “children’s film”. Don’t blame me! She had it coming for picking all those superhero films. Besides, all my efforts of hiding it from her went to waste when my dad told her on our way to the festival. As expected, all hell broke loose. She refused to let my mom drive the car any further and insisted that we went back home. It took 15 minutes of rigorous consoling and bribing to finally get her to agree. We all decided that she’d pick the movie for the next three months. Now, under no circumstance would I agree to a deal like that but such was the situation. That’s the way it crumbles, cookie-wise.

Finally, we made it to the festival. We were running late. The screening was to begin at eight and it was already 7:50. We hadn’t even bought tickets yet because someone(dad, obviously) thought that we’d have ample time for such things after reaching. All the good seats were gone. Somehow we managed to grab the last few seats left in the front row. After a lot of muttering, name-calling, huffing, and puffing, we settled into our seats at 8:05. Thankfully they hadn’t started screening yet. Despite everything that had happened in the past hour, when the lights dimmed, the screen lit up and the credits started rolling, I thought to myself, “This is going to be the best day of my life.”

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The Active Mush

By: Siddhaarth

We all know how busy and hectic our lives have become and technology hasn’t helped us ease that mental stress. Speaking from experience, I can definitely say that my brain is slowly turning into a fried mush, garnished with bits of parsley because that’s how you make food look fancy (granted this isn’t food but I think we all understand the pain). So what if I give you a few minutes of relaxation through this piece of writing that helps you relax your mind and turns your brain into a solid active bunch of muscle. 

Before you start reading this, I would ask you to close your eyes (metaphorically) and imagine the scenes and sounds in your head.  

A person just like you is sitting cross-legged on what looks like a sandy beach at the side of a lake. The sand seems to be copiously moist yet smooth enough to feel like it were water. The sun was just rising up from the darkness of doom to lighten up the mood of the scene. It lightens up the sand, lake, mountains and the sky up above the world so high (there aren’t any diamonds up above). The sandy shores were christened by the beauty of the seven colors which elevate the appearance of the shores. 

The feet of this person are blessed by the cold and chilly water of the lake that has completely transformed its look due to the sun’s light christening its surface. The lake turned from a shade of gloomy blue to sunny bright orange. It is not too deep and is about knee height for an average height individual, hence why there are a few teenagers swimming around in the lake with some of their mothers shouting at them to come out, due to fear of them catching a cold. While some other people are bending down and drinking the sweetest and cleanest holy water that resides in this lake, others are busy fishing on their boats.

This amazingly beautiful lake has a gigantic set of snow-clad mountains in the background. The snow on these mountains is so white that it almost seems like God had personally painted them by hand, using the best quality of white paint. The snow was really thick and bright. The sun had again worked its magic by adding shades of orange to the white snow making them look like someone had spilt orange juice onto a white piece of paper. 

The sky up above the world so high(that was void of diamonds. I don’t hold a grudge against the nursery rhyme. I swear) was originally dark and miserable as doom hit during the night but as the sun rose up from the ashes like a phoenix, the sky shone in the color of orange like someone had pointed a bright orange light to the sky. It was so orange that it almost felt like it was the sky that caused the brightening of the surroundings. 

Lastly, if you are super curious to know who is the person that gets to experience this serene environment  (I mean even if you were not curious, you’ll still get the answer), it is you, the reader. I hope you feel more calm and composed now.

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Endangered adolescence

By: Vaishnavi

The implausible wishes of an adolescent,
Riding on Unicorns and cuddling dolphins,
While their peers, tantalising them,
Unaware of the fact that they too shall face the same fate.
.
When can I meet Santa, they questioned in glee,
For, they entrusted him to deliver their presents by midnight
Their smile melts your heart,
for all they wish is to ride a reindeer,
With well-shaped beautiful antlers and a red nose
.
This being just the beginning,
Their childish desires know no bounds.
For, in their whimsical world,
Even a mere toy seems to understand their gibberish.
.
Tiny objects seem more lifelike,
The sight of colours amuses them.
They yearn to dance on rainbows,
and enchant those around them.
.
A small present or a mere gesture,
be it a candy or a simple hug seems amusing,
They are simply bundles of joy.
So jejune and puerile,
Their imagination is truly fascinating,
Each day they have irrational wishes.
.
Their innocence needs to be preserved,
before they break free and come out of their shells,
As they grow more mature and leave behind their childishness,
They look back at this chapter of their life and wonder,
Was I really that doltish?
For, now all they dream about is their present goal.
“ I miss the old me”‘, they sigh!
Their innocence is now long gone.

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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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On Cheat Days, I Write.

by:Chitteshwari

I’ve realized I don’t romanticize life anymore.

It started with labeling things that I earlier classified as poetic now as cringe-y, but slowly and surely, it’s evolved into something much more concrete – a coping mechanism.

No, I don’t mean to say that I now perceive life to be as bland and lacklustre as the bowl of overnight oats that everyone on social media suddenly seems to be eating. It’s more like I’ve been seeing life as it is (if that’s even possible). I’ve slipped out of the gown of romanticizing as a snake would shed its skin; for me, it has been a healthy change – necessary, even. It’s the difference between a realist and a pessimist. The glasses through which I gaze at the world (and my days in it) are unfiltered, but that does not imply that the view through them is all shades of grey.

Life continues to present to me (almost) every day its keen sunrises and the specks of dust floating up to my bedroom air as if in a trance. Life continues to give me sudden bouts of uninhibited laughter on certain days, the smell of pizza from the oven on an occasional evening; the satisfaction of ordering something online that fits just right, and how on some nights, the music I listen to feels like it was composed just for that moonrise.

It’s almost as if sometimes, life is so beautiful that it doesn’t really need my help exaggerating its appearance, does it?

I agree that it’s probably impossible to completely un-romanticize everything. The need to find beauty is too deeply embedded within our souls, even if at times the only way to discover it is to invent it ourselves. 

It was once a necessity for me to braid moments in time into unending metaphors and during this time, it was almost effortless for me to write – to spin the most random of observations or feelings into chaotically arranged stanzas of poetry. But it was just as important for me to discover this new world where sunsets are just sunsets, where pizzas are a fun treat that has to burn away during the next workout and every day is another chance to do better, to find myself, and to grow. To learn and unlearn, maybe that’s the circle of life.

This is not to say I am content being how I am, content with not ever writing unless I have a deadline. The reaction in motion is gentle but an active one nonetheless, to try again and again – not in an effort to romanticize life once more, but to venture and rediscover an activity that once brought me immense joy, and catharsis.

I want to write a beautiful line about the moment I had this epiphany, about how suddenly, the sound of footsteps in my living room pattered in perfect rhythm with the static noises in my head; or how all the pieces in the metaphorical puzzle of life felt more lubricated and suddenly fit into each other a little better, a little tighter; or how the breeze softly caressed my face as the tiniest of smiles blossomed on it.

But the truth is, the realization came quiet, unburdened, and easy – as if it hadn’t taken its own sweet time making itself known to me. It simply walked up to me with an obvious expression, as if to say, “I’ve been right here and you really hadn’t known all these days?”

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With roots in grat

by:Viraaj

Gratitude or Thankfulness, according to the dictionary, Gratitude is ‘the feeling of appreciation’, it is derived from the Latin word ‘Gratus’ while thankful has its roots in the Latin word ‘Grat’. 

That might be what these words are defined as, but I believe that gratitude is an immensely powerful force that helps us build stronger relations resulting in a greater connection with oneself and society at large.

I grew up seeing my mother thanking almost everyone who assisted us – the cab driver, the maid, the delivery boy, the vendors… everybody and yes, with a smile; and would insist I do the same. For long I could never understand why we have to thank someone whom we are paying to do the job, but I am a changed person now.

It all changed the day my grandfather gifted me a diary. I was elated as I love to write, but my happiness was short-lived when I read his note: ‘Log in your gratitude every day’. I was puzzled and the immediate thought was how can every day be a good day. I cannot win or get a good score every day! I immediately called him and posed my concern. I will never forget what he shared with me and am grateful for the talk we had on that day for my entire life.

He explained that being grateful shifts our focus from being half empty to half full – a lifestyle which imbibed ensures a healthy mind, body and soul to make us resilient and strong. He counted a few blessings – a body with no defect, relishing the food, a car to own, grandchildren, safe journey to work and back, a good night’s sleep… are just a few things that he was thankful to God on any given day and he stressed that he never forgets to thank God for the same every day. Then began my sojourn with gratitude.

Since my innate tendency was to see the glass ‘half-empty’, it took a lot of conscious effort to inculcate the attitude of gratitude. I needed little reminders periodically to get myself attuned to being grateful, but gradually gained a new sense of appreciation through honing the existing skills while adapting to the new ones. I realized that gratitude is just like a muscle – exercise it and it becomes strong, thus, easy to put to action. I realized that my focus automatically shifted to being optimistic and could feel determined with boosted energy levels.

Being grateful is contagious – it tends to percolate in every sphere of life and has a powerful impact on others as well. I have learnt to ‘ask, believe and receive’. I am no longer jealous of what others have or envy others achievements. Rather I appreciate everyone’s contribution and acknowledge it while simultaneously striving for what I intend to achieve in life. ‘Each one has their own rainbow.

It is rightly said that life is ten per cent of what happens to you and ninety per cent to how you react to it! Gratitude is magic, and everyone must start practising it right now to ensure the world is a better place to live in.

“There is a law of gratitude, and it is the natural principle that actions and reactions are always equal and in opposite directions. The grateful outreaching of your mind in thankful praise to supreme intelligence is a liberation or expenditure of force. It cannot fail to reach that to which it is addressed, and the reaction is an instantaneous movement toward you” – Wally Wattles. I am thankful to my grandfather who gave me a wall piece with the following inscription:

Be thankful when you don’t know something,

For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times,

During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,

Because they gave you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,

Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes,

They will teach you a valuable lesson.

Be thankful when you’ve made a difference,

Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for good things.

A life of rich fulfilment comes to those who are also thankful for your blessings. Every thought, every gesture is prayer in disguise. The soul is always bowing in gratitude. Be thankful, show gratitude as it can turn a negative to a positive. There is surely a way to be thankful for all the blessings.