Sun, Sand, Stars and Dreams

The chronicles of a misfit Indian teen



School, exams and other (in)significant things

So I thought of writing this today considering that the CBSE Class 12 exam results were out yesterday. Class 12 exams are the school leaving exams and altogether considered a big deal in India.

It is considered so much of a huge thing that relatives, Uncles and Aunties you never knew existed will dutifully phone you up on the result day to ask your exams and then pass some remark like, oh, XYZ got more. Even that uncle who usually ignores you on the street, the maid servant, and the flower seller lady, turn out to be terribly curious about it.

Honestly, it is a terrible time for the kids in question. Two years back, in 2014, when I was the one facing the same line of invasive questioning, it went to, ah, not bad marks, but you could have definitely scored better. I didn’t really care about it, because one, Indians are usually not prone to giving out praises easily, and two, I was on cloud nine. I had done really well, as far as I was concerned, scoring an overall percentage in the 90s.

All that happiness was literally sucked out of me, when my college application got stuck in a mound of Indian red tape, and only high-level recommendation could make it move any further. Especially considering I had planned on only writing the law entrance and getting into a law college (which again didn’t work out, as it was not fated for me) and had not given much thought in applying to Commerce/Business colleges.

That incident caused me a great deal of disillusionment, especially at that point where I realised that all those marks and merit had been for nothing.

And yet, Indian students practically live in fear of the dreaded Class 12 Board exams. That last one year of school is reduced to a haze of school, tuitions, extra coaching classes, classes for cracking various college entrance exams, and so on and so forth. The poor student is left with barely enough time to breathe, which eventually leads to a burnout. It is an extremely competitive rat race, because what is in line is not the student’s career prospects, rather a sort of status symbol for the parents.

I can still hear my aunt yelling at my cousin for not studying enough in his crucial school year, which thankfully ended now. This, considering that the poor kid woke up at 5am each day for tuitions before school, then school, and then tuitions again till 6pm, and also went for entrance exam coaching class during the weekends from 9am to 5pm.

I must confess I felt rather guilty about it, because his mother did all that so that he could get at least a percent more than I did. Because how much ever you ignore it, the Indian obsession with the what-will-others-think syndrome is very much there. The very same thing that makes parents push their children towards professions like engineering or medicine whether or not the children want to.

When I hear all these anecdotes, I cannot help but think back to my last year of school. It was one of the best years of my life. I had an amazing set of friends, I participated in a good many events and programmes, I went on day trips to many places across the city considering that it was also my last year there. I never went for any sort of tuitions or extra classes, nor did my school keep any. I went to school from 7am to 1pm, came home and relaxed. I watched a lot of movies, read a good many books, and so on. Honestly, I got around to actually studying for these exams when there was just about two weeks left. Yet, I passed, and scored as much as the one who forewent all of the above mentioned fun activities.

Maybe it was because I lived in the Middle East, away from all the pressures of India, although I did study in an Indian CBSE school and write the same exams as the ones in India.

But, I think it was more because of my parents. I may not get along well with my father, but I have much to be grateful for. They did not seem to bother much about me studying 24/7. They were more easy-going. They want me to succeed in my life, but they don’t believe that grades alone script a success story. And they do support me even now, after I decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in business, despite studying science in school. I know quite a number of friends, who pursued engineering because everyone else was, and they are miserable. I might be miserable in a way, but I do not regret not pursuing engineering.

But, what I wished to say in this post was this. You do you the best. Marks and grades do not really matter in the long run. Only passion and faith does. Good luck! 🙂


How I study for exams. 

Since it is the mid terms now, I was randomly going through the old posts on my blog. I came across one on procrastination. I realised that I’m still the same. 

I had two major exams today and this is what I did yesterday/today. 

I’ve another major exam in Marketing tomorrow, and I think this is what I’ll do today as well. Somehow I can’t help it. 
1. Read a paragraph from my textbook. 

2. Blog. 

3. Comment on other blogs. 

4. Visit Facebook, Instagram and every social networking site possible. 

5. Read something from my class notes. 

6. Read the novel which I got bored off and put aside. Haven’t read a nicer book. Loved it. 

7. Eat something. 

8. Watch some TV series. 

9. Study one line. 

10. Sleep. 

11. Message people asking whether they have studied. 

12. Spend time brushing my hair and trying out different hairstyles. 

13. Study one paragraph again. 

14. Reply to the messages sent out. 

15. Apply nail polish to all nails and groom them. 

16. Eat. 

17. Sleep. 

18. It’s the exam morning. 

19. Cram 10 chapters in one hour. 

20. Write the exam. 

On complicated people.

People. I just cannot understand them. It’s not that I’m an alien, but human beings are so complex.
I love people watching, though. Sitting in a warm, cozy cafe, nursing a cup of hot chocolate and just watching people go by.
Some of them might be in a hurry, others taking their own time.
I love imagining their lives and wondering what their stories might be.
However if there was something that I don’t get is this. The way how certain people are so complicated. Everything is a struggle with them, from liking them to getting along with them.
This topic came about when I was randomly talking with a friend.
In my world, if I like some people, I talk to them or be friendly towards them. If I don’t like them, I’ll just not talk to them. But if they do need any help from me, and I am in a position to help them, I will.
But, a lot of people in my class here, pretend to be friends or pretend to be nice towards you, just because they want something from you. After they do get whatever it is done, they just ignore you. And when you turn towards them for help, not so they just refuse, they pretend that you don’t exist.
I’ve had people here who stop talking to certain people just because they feel that talking to them is below their level. Or what will others think if they see them talking to ‘those’ people? Oh! The tragedy!

Honestly, through all my eighteen years of life, I’ve not been able to unravel and decipher the mystery of people. Hopefully, I might manage to do that later in life, when I’m older and wiser.
Till then,

P. S. If anyone of you have it figured out, do let me know in the comments box below!

Curly Hair Conundrums

I have curly hair. So, there! I said it!
I have black, shoulder-length, curly hair, which is frizzy. And by frizzy, I mean that it is a mass of hair that puffs up way above my head, adding a few inches to my extremely short self.
It looks like a bird’s nest, only if the bird made its nest out of black stuff, instead of brown twigs. At its current length (about shoulder-length) the edges frizz out and makes my head look like a triangle, or as Princess Mia (from the Princess Diaries) would say, like a triangle road warning sign.
Each single hair is not curly, in itself. It has more of a half-curled, half-wavy texture, which makes me wonder whether I should call my hair wavy or curly. But, when it groups up, it is a mound of curls.
It tangles in seconds and I can barely brush my hair without the brush getting caught in them. Also, bangs are an absolute no-no!

Since it tangles more when it is left open, my hair’s forever pulled back in a ponytail.

Many people, from the time I was back in the Middle East, used to exclaim things like, “Omg! How do you have such hair!” Or “Look how thick your hair is!” Point to be noted, it is NOT thick, the tangly, frizzy mess gives an illusion of thickness.

But, what bothered me was this. I was the only one I knew with hair like this. Apart from my mother, that is.
Every other person at school used to have this sleek, glowing straight/wavy hair and I was the only one with the tangled mess.
So, one fine day, in Year 11, during a routine haircut, I had a bright idea. I asked the salon guy to straighten it. Permanently. I thought it was going to be brilliant.
My mane would be less of a mane, and more of beautiful hair.

But, that was only till I got home. My mum was furious, because I had gone and ‘ruined’ my ‘beautiful’ hair. My poor dad, nearly had a heart attack, on seeing the sleeky straight haired stranger.
In fact, when I woke up the next day and had a good look at the mirror, I was shocked. I looked different, maybe even pretty.
My parents got over it, but my friends didn’t. They kept saying things like, now your hair looks limp! In fact, the bushy hair suited you.
Then, I was confused. I slowly started getting bored of the stick-straight hair. Especially when it grew longer and the roots turned curly and my bangs grew out curly.
I started missing my frizzy mass of hair.
On another impulse, I went and got it closely cropped. That felt like the best thing in the world.
Now, it has grown out again, to about shoulder-length.

In my college, filled with pretty airheads, I’m again the only one with curly hair.
I’ve endured comments about how much better I’d look if I just get it straightened or at least smoothen it, so that only sleek curls remain.
But, it doesn’t bother me anymore.
I know it is a pain. I know that I can’t get my hair to behave. It is not possible for me to try out all those pretty hairstyles not have bangs. Not those long bangs anyway.

But, I’ve learned to live with it.
No! That’s not right. I missed it when it wasn’t there.
I learned to love my hair.
I love its massiveness, where I believe that I could actually hide a book if I want to!
I love how it behaves like it has a mind of its own.
I love how it doesn’t care about what others think of it.
I love how strong it is.
I love my hair for what it is.

Have you had any hair-related experiences? Or have curly hair? I’d love to hear about it! Do share your stories in the comments box below!


True dreams, passion, do they exist in India?

IndiSpire EDITION #22
Born in India? Are you an Engineer or a doctor? True dreams, passion, do they exist? Are they being chased by this generation?

I remember the day I told my parents that I did not want to be either an engineer or a doctor. The resounding chaos and the shouting match that followed made it seem like I had committed a heinous crime and was sentenced to death.
All of this coming from a supposedly well-educated family.
I wanted to go for law. But, somehow, my parents were against that as well. Their argument being that I had taken science at school and so I had to be either an engineer or a doctor.
Finally, I managed to mellow them down and they agreed. But, getting into the prestigious NLUs weren’t fated for me. I missed my flight and couldn’t write the entrance.
Then again, they latched back in to the idea of me going for engineering.
I refused and finally managed to get into quite a good college for a bachelor’s in business.
Although there are still instances when my mum resents my choice of a major, it has quietened down a lot.
I got to choose my major by being firm and stubborn. Even if it was my second choice. Plus there is the fact that I can always opt for a three year law degree after my bachelor’s in business.
A lot of my friends did not even have the freedom for that.
There was this extremely talented classmate of mine who had wanted to go for fashion designing but is now stuck doing something like Electronics Engineering.
That is the reality of India. Or rather Indians.
It seems like everyone in India does what they actually wanted to do, only after getting an engineering degree. And after realising that the engineering field is not exactly a bed of roses or everyone’s cup if tea.

But, the good part is that at least a chunk of the young adults out there do go on to chase their dreams and pursue their passion, even if it is after studying engineering for four years only for the parent-pleasing aspect.
And also to avoid the drama about how you wasted your life and treaded the dark path only ’cause you didn’t go for either medicine or engineering. (Drama courtesy: Desi Aunties mainly)
It gets worse when you are a South Indian with extreme intellectuals in your family. So-and-so’s daughter is doing her doctorate in cardio-vascular shiz at Oxford. Why can’t you? Or some obscure Mani Uncle’s son (whom I have never met or even knew that they existed) is doing MS in Harvard. So, why can’t you?

Why can’t I? It is not that I am a simpleton. Or an yiddiiot.
It is just that I am not interested. I love something else. And I am interested in it. I’ll put my heart and soul into it. It’ll be with me day in and day out. I’ll breathe it, I’ll live it. It is my dream, my life, my ambition. And I’ll try to achieve it. Even if it is the last thing that I do.
But, unfortunately, it may not be valued by Indians ’cause it is not either engineering or medicine.

On why my father’s house is a magnet.

My father’s house is a magnet. A magnet for certain types of individuals. Oh, I’m not talking about my father’s ancestral house in the village. That’s a magnet for another group of individuals, not very pleasant.
But, I’m talking about the house my father has built in our adopted hometown city, in India.
It is a magnet for thieves.
Thieves? You may ask.
Yes, that’s right. Burglars, robbers, thieves or whatever you might call them.

So, this is what happened last Friday. We had just come back home from a vacation to Dubai, when we received a phone call from a relative in India, saying my father’s house was broken into and the current tenant’s (also a relative) scooter, TV and other things were stolen.

Okay, so a robbery. It isn’t anything new. Right?
No. This wasn’t the first the house was robbed. It wasn’t the second time either.
It was the third time in the past two years.

And the funny part is that although the house looks spacious and big, it is practically empty, because all our stuff is with us and the only occupant is an old, unmarried relative of my dad’s.
Well, there was an old, antique camera of ours’, which was stolen by the first thief, and then a collection of old and expensive bottles of French wine, which the second thief emptied. (And promptly left the empty glass bottles for us.)

But, each time, those poor burglars break open three main doors (of which one is a large iron gate) and then the bedroom doors and hoping for something more worthwhile.

And each time, it is the same drama. The police come and investigate and end up with absolutely no clues.

Okay, it give it some kind of soft spot, the house is about 5 km from the main city and it isn’t so very crowded.
But, the question remains, will it ever be safe there?
And also now that we are about to go back to India in three days, I’m worried if I could ever live peacefully in that house. Probably not. That’s why I’ll probably end up staying at mother’s house in the middle of the bustling city.

Have you had any experiences with burglars? If so, do share your stories in the comments box below.

The story of a girl with a different (weird) name.

What is in a name, you may ask. My answer to that is, “Everything”.
My name is Gayatri, and it is pronounced as, Gaaa-ya-three. That in itself, condemned me to a life where nearly no one could pronounce my name right.

When I was born, my father held a consultation with my mother and his family on what to name me.
His family was of the opinion that I was to be named Karthiyayini after his mother (my paternal grandmother) since I was the eldest girl child in their family.
But, my father wanted to name me either Shalini (a name with the same first letter as my mum’s name) or Gayatri (a name with the same first letter as my dad’s name).
So, at the end, I was named Karthiyayini in the naming ceremony held in the temple, but, my name was given as Gayatri in all the official documents, including my passport.

And I’ve hated it since then.
From the time my maternal uncle made fun of it, saying it sounded like three cows. (Gaay = Cow in Hindi)
And the time in primary school, when my teacher couldn’t pronounce so Indian a name and called me Gay-tree. (#NRIProblems)
To the time in Year Seven, when my friends made fun of the shortened version of my name, Gayu, saying it sounded like ” Gay you.”

If there was anything I was insecure about, it was my name.
It always ended in someone teasing me about it and me crying at home, although I was too proud to cry in front of them and give them that satisfaction. (I still never cry in front of anyone, how much ever they hurt me. It’s always at night, in the darkness.)
Although my parents tried consoling me, by telling me that my name is beautiful, because it was the name of an Indian princess and also that of a mother goddess who protects the Universe. Also, the word in Sanskrit meant a ‘hymn’ or ‘prayer’ and one of the most powerful chants (prayers) in Hinduism is called the Gayatri Mantra.
Yet, none of this had any effect on me, scarred as I was, from all that intentional and unintentional teasing I’d garnered over my name.
But, now, I’ve learnt to live with it, even if I don’t like it excessively, I tolerate it.
Although, even now, if someone mispronounces it, I cut them off with a firm, “It is pronounced as GAAA- YA- THREE.”

P. S. Yes! I’m back! For now. Four of my five major exams are done, with the last one on April 11th. Once that’s done too, I’ll be done with school! Like totally.

Sherlock Season 3, for the uninitiated. a.k.a. Annoying Spoilers (The Fandom Chronicles, Part #1)

No! No! Before you avert your eyes and skip to the next post, because you haven’t watched the first episode of Sherlock Season 3, I assure you that this post contains no spoilers.
Mostly because I haven’t watched it myself.

So, it didn’t air in the place I live and I don’t think it’s there online yet. So I haven’t watched it. Also because I was caught up with exams and stuff for senior year and I thought of reducing time I spend watching TV and reading novels.
But, now I am forced to avoid all social media, and my phone as well, for fear of Sherlock spoilers.
In fact, I logged out of Facebook and didn’t log in for a record THREE days (and counting!)
Because if there is one thing that I hate the most (apart from Dentists and Chemistry, obviously), it is a spoiler!

If I thought all my spoiler-o-phobia will reach a fever pitch, only if I log into social media, I was sorely mistaken.
I was reading the newspaper as usual, when I came across an article about Sherlock. I loved finding news about my fandoms in the local newspaper.
I continued reading, thinking nothing much would be given away, since it was the local paper and it hadn’t aired here till now.
But, I reached the part where it went,”The plot revolves…..”
Eeeeeeeaaaaaaaccccchhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! SPOILERS!
I flung the paper as far as it could go.
I mean, couldn’t they have at least marked the article with a ‘spoiler alert’ or something.
Well, I guess it was my fault too, because I shouldn’t have read it, knowing it was bound to contain sensitive information.
Yet again, my insatiable curiously played the spoiler.

The adventure of going shopping.

So, the last weekend, I went grocery shopping with my mother.
It wasn’t something I liked to do, since my mother has a tendency to spend too long at boring places.
Yet, I decided I’ll accompany her, especially since my father was too busy, and my mother wanted to go to an Indian shop, which was quite a few kilometres away from my house.
Then came the first obstacle. My father’s usual driver was on leave, so the spare driver from my father’s office, who was new to the city was to drive the car.
He didn’t know where he was going, yet he kept on driving to God-knows where, and after an hour-long trip around the city and a disastrous attempt to ask the way, we called my dad who promptly replied that he had no idea where the shop even was.
Finally, we called up the usual driver, who was on leave, and he directed us to our desired location.

If I thought that the trials of the day were over, I was hopelessly mistaken.
On entering the shop, I noticed that it was fully packed with other Indians, also out for shopping on a weekend. I told my mum that I’ll wait near the counter while she finished her shopping.
But, my mum told me firmly, that I was going to help her out with the shopping, and I agreed quickly and kept walking right into the heart of the crowd, swallowing my crowd-o-phobia.
No! I did not do that just to please my mum. It was because I had spotted someone whom I’d wanted to avoid, my math teacher, especially after my lousy math marks in the last test.
We came across a fairly deserted aisle, which contained shampoos and soaps and other such things.
While my mum was browsing through the varieties of shampoos, and I was staring into space, I noticed someone appearing at the other end of the aisle.
It was the very person I wanted to avoid.
“I’ll be back in a few seconds”, I told my mum.
“Stay right here”, she said.
“We’ll go.”
“I still have lots of things more to take.”
“We’ll go to the next aisle and that we’ll come back to this aisle a few seconds later.”
My mum just stared at me curiously.
By then, my teacher was getting more closer, but she didn’t seem to have spotted me yet.
It was then, that I was struck with a bright idea, which on retrospection, now seems like a rather idiotic one.
I whipped out my dupatta (scarf) from around my neck and tied it around my head and over my face like a Muslim niqab (face veil). I presumed that, with it being the Middle East, I wouldn’t stand out much. I stood there, pretending to closely examine a bar of soap and hoped my teacher would walk safely past me.
That’s exactly what didn’t happen.
My teacher noticed my mother instead. They didn’t know each other, but I had underestimated the limits two Indian women of around the same age could go up to.
My teacher approached my mother and said,”Excuse me, but you look rather familiar. Have we met before?”
“No. I don’t think so.”, my mother paused, and then asked,”Are you by any chance from Tamil Nadu?”
“Yes. I am.”
“Did you live in Chennai?
“Oh no. I’ve never been to Chennai. But, I realised why you look familiar. You look a bit like a girl in my class.”
Damn! I’d forgotten how alike my mum and I looked.
I was almost a carbon copy of my mum, except that I had a chubbier, rounder face. And that my mum was far more pretty, with her high cheekbones and all.
“Are you a teacher?”, asked my mum.
“Yes. In the Indian school. What do you do?”
“I’m an economist. What subject do you teach?”
“Math. In the 12th grade.”
Holy fudge. This just wasn’t happening!
“Really? My daughter is in the 12th grade math class. I think you might know her. She was here now. Where did she-“, my mum trailed off, on account of spotting me.
“Anu! Why are you wear-”
I interrupted her, by saying, “Amma, allergy, you know right”, hoping she’ll take the hint.
But, she didn’t.
“Allergy? What allergy?”, she asked oblivious to my frantic eye-signalling.
At that exact time, the scarf unravelled and fell off my face, on account of me being a novice in the art of veil-wearing.
“Anu! Just as I thought. You look like your mother, you know.”, exclaimed my teacher.
And there ensued a rather lengthy discussion between my mother and teacher which ended with them exchanging phone numbers and inviting each other to their respective houses.
So, one more reason added to the rather lengthy list of why I dislike going shopping.

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