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Sun, Sand, Stars and Dreams

The chronicles of a misfit Indian teen

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musings

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! 🙂

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Alive and kicking

Hello world!

*peeps out from under the rock she has been hiding under*

It is nearly mid-March, but I haven’t put up a proper post yet.
Why? You might wonder. It is not because I was bored of it. Far from it, I was frightened of boring you all to death.

It has become a routine now. I have some really bad things happening in life, I disappear off the blogosphere, and come back a few days later, while telling how bad things were.

A while later, something worse happens, and then I believe it is the end of the world.

This has turned into a well-worn old cassette/record.

I came back out to write this post, for the main reason that this time is different.

I am currently going through one of the worst phases in my life, as of now. My world has turned topsy-turvy. Things I never thought will happen to me, took place. My dad fell really sick, I got into deep trouble in college just because I had an independent individualistic streak in me. I don’t want to elaborate because I really don’t want to dwell on it.

It has come to a point where the things going on in my life seem a bit too much for me. A sort of only rainclouds, no sunshine phase.

Last time something of a slightly lesser intensity came to pass, I fell back into severe depression. Sort of like those dark days.

But, this time, I have stayed strong till now. There has been a feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, because this time, the issues weighing on my mind are far worse.

I can’t say it is back to normal now. But, this too shall pass. I am still continuing to stay strong, and continuing with life.

~SunSandStarsAndDreams

 

P.S. I apologise if this post did not make much sense. Also, for the countless spelling and grammatical errors.

2015.

As with everything else, 2015 comes to an end as well. It was an average year for me, not something I would love to look back on and cling on to.
Like every year, it had its own share of ups and downs.
At the start of the year, I had made a sort of bucket list of things to be accomplished. Not a lot of it was crossed out, however. So, those will be the ones on the list for 2016. Recycling. Not that bad an idea, eh?

This was my bucket list for 2015. A lot of memories were made and some unexpected disappointments too. So, here goes:

 

1. Read at least 50 books. – Done.
I managed to read exactly 50 books this year, accounting to a total of nearly 20,000 pages read, which averages to around 400 pages per book. Which I believe is a very good thing. I read quite a few nearly 1000 pages books too, like the entire Game of Thrones series (except book 5.2) and Shantaram. Another thing I am proud about is that I started reading quite a bit of literary fiction and loved them.

2. Write at least 30 blog posts. – Nope.
Unfortunately, blogging ended up taking a back seat this year, due to a lot of things.

3. Learn to drive a car and get a license. – Done.
Although I haven’t perfected the art of driving in the midst of heavy traffic, I managed learn to drive adequately and got my driver’s licence just two days back.

4. Go on a solo trip or a trip with friends somewhere. – Nope.
Had to happen, planned on it happening, but got postponed to 2016.

5. Go for more MUNs. – Done.
From attending my first ever college MUN in January 2015, I have attended quite a bit of those conferences in 2015 and plan on attending some more in 2016.

6. Write at least half of the novel that you were planning on writing.– Nope.
I had a massive writer’s block stretching for the major part of the year. My muse seemed throughly exhausted and I was pretty drained out, so that didn’t happen.

7. Learn Tamil. – Kind of.
I learned to speak some more, but it is still not perfect.

8. Do something productive after college. – Done.
Quite a lot of things actually. I interned with this awesome place and earned my first every pay check, went for some classes, met a lot of new people.

9. Learn to bake the perfect chocolate cake. – Not quite.
I did go for a baking class, but whether I actually learnt anything from there, is pretty doubtable.

10. Visit any other country, apart from India and Saudi Arabia. – Done.
Well, UAE is another country. Even though I have been there countless times. Some more foreign tours were planned this year, but never materialised, although I hope it will happen next year.

11. Volunteer somewhere. – Done.
Some time in August, I began volunteering with this NGO called Bhumi, where I teach English to underprivileged primary school children in orphanages. Although, it seemed like tiring and exhausting work, it was what gave me my much needed energy and happiness at the end of the work. The experience of actually doing something good, is really a pleasure.

12. Be happy.
The hardest one on the list. With one of the hardest answers.
2015 was a year with its equal shares of ups and downs, but the valleys were deeper than the hills. There were days and times in this year, when I felt that everything was lost, everything was just blank space. Really dark times and really lonely ones. Days when I was really afraid, although I seemed normal. Days I feared a relapse, days I thought I was actually relapsing, days when all I wanted to do was escape from it all.

But, for each of those days, there were a few, who stood by, who helped me up, my really good friends from school. But, when my best friends turned out to be battling demons of their own, hope seemed lost.
However, we survived. We are still strong, here to see what is hopefully a better year.
So, I have to say, what ever it was, 2015 was a successful lesson. Taught me a lot of things and showed me where my loyalties lie, and who remained and remains loyal to me.

The romance with a disappearing woman.

So, late yesterday night, I was doing what I do best during exams (finals this time). Yes, that;s right, procrastinate. It was a sort of a bad day, I was kind of down. A lot of stuff happened. My best friend is probably falling into a major clinical depression and she has no one around there to talk to. It was a pretty crappy day as a whole.
So, to cheer myself up, I got into my guilty pleasure. Watching/reading light, fluffy and happy romantic comedies. Yes, I can’t believe I admitted that out loud. I put up a facade of reading only serious books, and being a feminist. Of course I am still a feminist, but that doesn’t stop me from being a hopeless romantic on the inside.

Midway through “You’ve got mail”, I wondered about this. Nearly every single watchable rom-coms are Hollywood movies. Why doesn’t India have proper rom-coms or even a good sappy romance which does not a. end tragically or b. have unnecessary drama?

As a matter of fact, I haven’t watched or even heard of one good Indian teen movie. No, I don’t mean those movies set in a college with a hero and unwanted masala scenes.
3 Idiots was as good a college story as was possible in India. And yes, there are others like that.
But, personally, I haven’t watched any movie set in a high school.
Where are the Mean Girls?

On talking about this with a friend, she told me that it might be because high school romances are frowned upon in India.
That made me wonder then, leave alone high school romances, we barely have proper romances in Indian films.
Oh, I don’t count those masala movies with unwanted drama and fight scenes as a happy romance.

Apart from those romances which might have actually progressed well, but ended tragically with either one/both of the protagonist’s death, we don’t have any in Indian cinema as far as I know.
And not those movies where the guy is a creepy stalker, who follows the girl around and irritates her in every possible manner, and magically, she falls in ‘love’ with him. If that isn’t Stockholm Syndrome, I don’t know what is. This is what is fed to us Indians as ‘entertainment’ and then we talk about women’s safety issues in the country.

What I would like to see is a romantic movie, maybe just one, where the lead couple shares a healthy relationship, which does not involve a creepy stalker-like romance or one where the heroine is nothing but eye-candy who changes her whole persona and gives up everything just because she likes the hero. I would like to see an Indian romantic movie that any self-respecting lady or girl can watch without being bogged down by the patriarchal approach.
Call the Tamil movie OK Kanmani cheesy, but it did have a strong woman protagonist. One who isn’t afraid to follow her dreams, or take her own decisions. That in itself is a quantum leap for Indian cinema, heroines who can think for themselves.
I remember reading about this thing called a Bechdel test for movies. That says that in a movie, there ought to be at least one scene where two female characters, preferably named, talk about something other than a man. The sad part was that a bare minimum of Indian movies actually pass this test.
Is that really something to be proud of? I think not.
~SunSandStarsAndDreams

P.S. I have written this post based on my knowledge about South Indian cinema. Honestly, I have no clue about Bengali or Marathi cinema, which are supposedly known for their stories.

What do you all think about this issue? Do we need good romances in Indian cinema? Do you think that this is a problem only in Indian movies or is it equally true in World Cinema as well?

Flaws make you beautiful.

Why is it that the one thing nearly every human being craves for, whether consciously or otherwise, is acceptance? Acceptance from peers, society, family, so on and so forth.
Why are we so afraid to stand apart, for fear of being criticised?
Why are we, other than a select few, afraid to stand up for what we believe is right, or for who we really are?
Maybe it is just the way we are conditioned. To be no more than a clueless individual ourselves, and yet make fun of those who have it figured out, although maybe not in the conventional way, and make them doubt themselves.

I remember being a person that I wasn’t, only so that I will be accepted by my classmates, my relatives. I did not recognise myself at all.
That’s when I thought, fuck it all. I don’t care what others think of me. This is how I am going to be.
After I did that, I managed to get a lot of friends, back in high school. I had a minimum of 100 good friends that I could count upon and at least 500 acquaintances.
However, after college began, I went back to being needy and desperate. I was the new, awkward foreign-kid. I turned into a stranger in a desperate effort to get accepted. I did selfish things, rude things. Yet, I still felt foreign. Honestly, I felt a lot worser. That was not me, the kind who teased the kid with the learning disability and made her feel bad about herself. I was too afraid to speak out against those who did that too, under the fear of being labeled weird and not being accepted as one of them.
In the same time, I started missing having friends from back home, as I started acting distant towards them when they called, the rude act adopted for being accepted still in place.
A semester passed and I was still miserable. I fit in with a random group of classmates, but like a square peg in a round hole.
That was when I decided to drop the act and be myself again.
I knew that I was not perfect, but I was good enough.
I knew that even if I tried to act too cool, I will always be judged for something. If not for the messy, frizzy and curly hair, then for being curvy or for being too lazy to cake my face with makeup.
I know that I am not flawless, but I accept myself for who I really am. I know that although I might not be conventionally pretty, I know that I am a good person, I try to be intellectual. I decided to stand up for what I believed to be right. One day, I finally snapped at those people who made fun of the kid with a learning disability. I started volunteering to teach English to underprivileged kids on the weekends.
I may not be the most popular kid in college. I may not be the first choice for anything in college, whether it is a play or a contest or anything. I may not have a lot of friends in college.

But I do have friends from school. They may be living kilometres away, but they are still there and we are still close.
But, what ever happens, I will not give up my identity. This is who I am, and this is whom I shall always be. Ordinary, perhaps. Pretty, no. But, a dreamer, thinker, ambitious, smart and compassionate, yes.
For those who don’t wish to accept me the way I am, I am sorry but I have nothing to say except that I don’t care.

Sometime last night, as I lay thinking, I came up to a conclusion. To have others accept you, you must accept yourself first. The flaws are what make you beautiful.

Stay magical. Stay happy.
~SunSandStarsAndDreams

Do you agree with my opinion or not? Do feel free to share your thoughts on the subject in the comments box below.

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