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Sun, Sand, Stars and Dreams

The chronicles of a misfit Indian teen

Life gives you lemons. However lemonade is a whole new story.

I went on another unintentional week-long blog hiatus. Life is a totally jealous bitch. It is jealous of the time that you are content, and pushes problems down over to your path.

I was finally content with the place where I was in. All through my first year of college, I had way too many adjustment issues and adaptation issues, having landed in a totally new country for college even if the said country was your own one.
After the start of this second year, I was slowly starting to feel at peace. I still did miss my life back in the place I called home.
All right, it is not like I love it, but was getting to be happy with what went along.
However, certain people have disturbed the peace for me. I just hope I don’t relapse into my dark days of depression again. I thought I was over it.
I have never come across a situation where someone steals my team’s work after all the effort we put in and claims it as her own and takes credit for everything, and not even a mention of our names in the final project. Not even mentioning the fact that she tagged along when we were doing it. That she got the idea from one of my teammates. okay, she might have done some follow-up work, but he initial idea, approach and everything was ours.
That too from a new transfer student whom I thought was my friend. The new girl whom everyone but I ignored. Now, she is ignoring me. I didn’t except gratefulness, but I didn’t expect betrayal.
I don’t know what to do. I have stopped expecting people to be good. Now, it is like, everyone here is bad.
I had been so angry yesterday, I was nearly in tears. And I am supposed to be this person who never cries. (That technically is not true. I never cry in public. I only cry myself to sleep, or perhaps in private.)
I feel hurt. The people whom I thought were my friends have turned against me so badly. Not just the new student, two other people as well.
I was hurt and angry yesterday. But, the anger has been replaced by this icyness that I have no idea where it appeared. Some day will come. (I do watch House of Cards.)
P.S. I apologise for the spelling and/or grammatical errors in this post. There is bound to be many. I did not write this post with a rationally calm mind.
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YouTube: Teens Tell Their Story Project

In my 8th grade, there was a sudden phenomenon that hit the school. Everyone was trying to be the cool kid by talking about the aforementioned thing. However, like all unknown things cause people to panic, the school decided to ban it. 

Yes. YouTube. 

I’m sure that YouTube existed before that, but it spread to my part of the world around the time when I was 12 or 13. 

Most parents, and consequently the school, panicked because they thought that their children could have access to all kinds of explicit content on the free video sharing site. That included my parents. My dad did something to the computer which made YouTube inaccessible. 

However, due to all the hullabaloo, we kids were curious. We wanted to know what was so bad about it that we weren’t allowed to see. 

So, one day, during a basic computer hour in 8th grade, a group of us decided to open YouTube on our screens when the teacher wasn’t watching. We clicked on some random videos. But, being the novices that we were, we didn’t realise that the videos would actually have a soundtrack. (Yep. We were lame.) Simultaneously, the Titanic theme song, the theme to some random cartoon and some Arabic song blared out of our computers. Frantically, we tried pressing every button, but to no avail. 

The teacher found out and sent us to the principal’s office, who promptly gave us a good talking-to and made us write a letter saying that we will never use YouTube again, and sent us back to class. 
Fast-forward a few years. All of us are practically addicted to YouTube. That includes the said principal, teacher and parents. 

In my 12th grade, we were taught difficult concepts in chemistry using YouTube videos. My dad got addicted to listening to talks and 80s music on it. So much so that he loves the new offline feature because he can now play it in his car as well. 

My mum loves watching DIY videos on it. 
And me? Well, I started using YouTube for listening to music videos and then discovered vlogs and adorable dog videos. 

My favourite vloggers are superwoman and JacksGap. I do watch the occasional MentalFloss videos too. Apart from that, I watch book haul and book review videos, travel stories and a lot of comedy or commentaries about life in India. (AIB, East India Company, Being Indian, Enna Da Rascalas, Put Chutney are some of my favourites.)

That probably describes my likes in a nutshell. 😛
What about you all? What are your favourite YouTube channels/YouTubers?
P. S. This was written for the Week 3 of Teens Tell Their Story project conducted by Sherina and Caitlin

They have totally awesomesauce blogs! It will be great if you could check it out. 🙂
~SunSandStarsAndDreams

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,
Peace!

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

Happy birthday JKR!

An introverted 12-year old girl stared wide-eyed, as a young green-eyed wizard with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead waltzed into her life and changed it forever.

She was delighted to know that she was born on the day that the first book was published, he very same year too. She felt that she had some kind of magical connection to the world of magic, which later became a worldwide phenomenon.

Six years down the lane, she believes that it was the best thing that could have ever happened to her.
This is a fangirl’s tribute to the woman who changed her life, through the books she had written.
Yes. I am talking about Harry Potter.
Harry Potter was the one book that helped me continue my romance with reading novels and responsible for making me read more.
But, most of all, it was the magical world where I could escape into. The one place I felt happy. I believed that the characters were my friends, that I was best friends with Hermione, the character I could identify the most with. I have the same bushy hair, obsession with books, and the need to do something good in the world. Twelve years old me was also a loner, studious, very concerned about school, and had a lot of insecurities.
I went on adventures with the Trio, cheered for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, cried when Sirius Black, Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin and Tonks died, and felt happy for the survivors, although that happiness was tinged with a bit of sorrow.
It was the one fandom, whose fan fictions were devoured voraciously by me, perhaps, to make up for the lack of more books. I started writing for the public, by writing fan fictions, when I was around 13.
Harry Potter taught me to believe in myself.
It taught me that it is okay to be different.
It taught me that bookworms rule the world.
It taught me that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one just remembers to turn on the lights.
It taught me that a person’s character can be judged not by how he treats his equals, but by how he treats his inferiors.
It taught me that there is a bit of light and dark in each and everyone of us, but it is the side that we choose to act on. That makes us who we are.
Before I die, I hope I could tell JKR how much of a role her books played in shaping my childhood.
Thank you, J. K. Rowling, for creating a magical childhood for an entire generation, and for the generations to come.
Happy birthday, Queen of our hearts, and the boy wizard who stole our hearts! 🙂
P.S. If any Indian fan is reading this post, here’s something you might like. 😛

Conversations with the veteran auto driver.

Disclaimer: None of the views or opinions in this post are mine.

The day before yesterday, my second eldest cousin sister on my maternal side of the family gave birth to a baby boy. As Indian social norms go, we, that is my mother and I went to see the mother and baby yesterday.

But, because our driver had gone incognito and I do not have my license yet, we asked an auto driver to take us to their place. The said auto driver was someone known to my mother’s family since a long time. Maybe even 30 years or more.

A Chennai auto driver is almost what a New York taxi driver is.

So, the conversation my mother had with him went like this,

Mum (M): It has been ages now. How is your family?

Auto driver (AD): They are all good. My children are well settled, and they look after me very well. I rarely go on trips now. Just a few regular customers.

M: Settled? What are they doing now?

AD: My eldest son is working at a small bank, he’s earning well. My second son, ah, he’s really done well in life. He has a job in an IT firm, he earns a lot. Both of my sons are married. The eldest has a son and a daughter and the second son’s wife is pregnant.

M: How about your daughter?

AD: Ah! She’s good too. She has a son now. She quit working after her son was born. I support her decision and I think it is great. I’m telling my daughter-in-law to do the same thing. My son is earning well, why does she need to work now?

Me: Maybe because she likes working? Or that she likes having a great career?

AD: No. See, she can start working once her kid starts going to school. It will be very difficult to take care of the kid and work as well. A woman’s priority has to be her kids. It will be difficult for the kids too, not having enough of their mother’s attention.

M: So, we have moved back here and honestly, I find it very difficult to adjust. It has been more than 20 years since I left this country.

AD: Indeed! You were living in Dubai, right?

M: Yes, for a little time. Then, in Riyadh, somewhere close by.

AD: Oh? This Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and all are near to Riyadh?

M: Yes. Somewhat near. But, they are different countries.

AD: I know why you find it hard to adjust here, then. My second son was working in Dubai for some time. He took my wife and me for a tour of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Very nice places they are. Even though it is hot, there are air-conditioners everywhere, very clean surroundings, friendly people, and everything available nearby.

M: Yes, yes. My niece, the one who gave birth to the baby boy yesterday, she lives in Singapore with her husband. That is a nice place too.

AD: Her husband has a job there? That is nice. He is from another religion, right?

M: Yes, he’s a Muslim.

AD: A Hindu girl married a Muslim boy? That’s scandalous! At least if it was a Christian, that’s way better than a Muslim. Now, what will they name this baby? Will he be a Muslim or a Hindu? It is a good thing that this girl’s sister got married before her. Because she wasn’t, no one would have wanted to marry her sister either.

I’m glad that my children don’t believe in all this love-pove nonsense.

Me: So, now that your children are well settled, how long will you work?

AD: As long as I can. I spent a lot on my children’s education and marriages. I don’t really have much for my wife and myself.

Me: Do you regret that?

AD: Spending on my children? No. Absolutely not! I’m happy that at least they are able to lead a better life than me. Driving auto and all.

Me: Do you enjoy your work?

AD: No. Not really. But, this is all I know to do. I am a loner in the auto-driver circle, I don’t really like them, especially these young men who are so rude, vulgar and uncultured. I am really glad that my sons work in offices and drive cars instead of autos.

Me: Really?

AD: Yes. Both my sons bought their own cars in the past year. My daughter’s husband has a car too. They drive to their offices.

Mum: Can you drive a car?

AD: No. I don’t know to. Never got around to it. I am scared of driving a car. I don’t know why, but after all these years of driving an auto, a car scares me. *laughs*

P.S. This is a first attempt at some kind of an interview. Do excuse if any mistakes are found. I’m an amateur. I’ll definitely love suggestions or comments on how to make it better! 🙂

In memoriam.

Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam passed away yesterday. For those who do not know who he is, he was a former President of India, a scientist and a great man.
I believe that he was the greatest Indian President that my generation has ever seen. I considered him to be a kind of role model ever since I read his autobiography in my 6th grade, when I was in an aeronautical scientist phase.
Even after I grew out of that, I admired him for his courage, his genius, his simplicity. He was a true role model. When he was to take the oath as the President, his special invitees were a cobbler and a small restaurant owner. Here are some more incidents that show how kind and inspiring he was.
He passed away yesterday, doing what he loved best, teaching a couple of college students. I did feel a little sad, but what annoyed me was other people’s reactions. Namely, my classmates.
Yes, I know that my classmates at college are a shallow, ignorant lot. But, even I couldn’t believe the depths they could go to.
When the news broke saying that the former-President has died, instead of having the courtesy to offer sympathy, the first thing that my classmates ask for is a holiday. The class group on Whatsapp went crazy with nearly 200 messages asking whether today was going to be a holiday or not.

When will they realise that when a person dies, it is not courteous to be happy about getting a holiday? What if the person who died was a close friend or relative?
This behaviour has disgusted me beyond the limit. How can people be so insensitive or immature?

“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.” 

I dread the day when people like these become the father, the mother and the teacher. The world shall be doomed.

Dysfunctional? Nope. Not my family!

Three things inspired me to write about this issue. And those are:

  1. A family reunion at my father’s ancestral village.
  2. Watching quite a bit of South Indian films.
  3. A certain incident that happened today, which involved an alcoholic neighbour and his son.

This topic is a slightly touchy one, especially in the Indian context, where respect to one’s family is deeply embedded in our culture. It is something which hits a bit close to home for me. What I’m talking about are dysfunctional families.

Families are supposed to be the bed of support and encouragement. True. But, dysfunctional families exist in every part of the world, although I’m inclined to think that it is much more so in the Indian scenario.

This vacation for me, was one of learning, in all sense of the word. I had an amazing time in Dubai, visited some heritage spots in Saudi Arabia (That could probably comprise of a separate blog post in itself!) and went on a trip to my father’s ancestral village, for a reunion of sorts. This post has more to do with the last one. To do with family.

So all families have some skeletons hidden in their closets, and so does mine. But, this doesn’t concern that. This has something to do with a much deeper problem. The closer family. Parents and all.

Now, most Indians, if asked about dysfunctional families, will shrug and say that it is all due to globalisation and influence from other countries. They’ll say,”Dysfunctional? No! Not my family!”
This happens all the while, where the serious issues are just swept under the carpet, and pretended to be forgotten.

If you do belong to a typical Indian family, it is most likely that you have come across at least any one of these scenarios:

  1. Parents who can’t stand each other, and yet will not divorce because of the what-will-people-think syndrome which is very common in India.
  2. Divorced/separated parents. (This is pretty much a continuation of the first one)
  3. Abusive parents. This can be physical and/or sexual abuse or it can be emotional abuse. Constant taunting, comparison to others, etc.
  4. Parents with an addiction. This can be alcohol, cigarette or any other substance.
  5. Narcissistic/self-obsessed parents who breed neglected children.
  6. Extremely strict, restrictive or autocratic parents.

Okay. So it is the parents, what have the children to do with it, you may ask.

Let me narrate an incident that happened today.

I live in a pretty affluent neighbourhood in India, where everyone around are people of a well-to-do background and considered decent. Every evening, a group of young boys in their pre-teens, assemble in the garden of the house next to mine, and play badminton. Today, as I was sitting in my balcony and reading, I noticed a middle-aged man was struggling to walk down the road because he was so drunk. The group of boys started teasing one of them by saying that his father was so drunk by 4 pm itself today. The rest of them laughed. From that, I realised that it was not a one day occurrence. When I mentioned it to my mother, she said, “Yes. That man is so irresponsibly alcoholic. He stumbles around drunk nearly everyday. They have asked that family to move out of that house because of him.”

Still say that the parents’ life doesn’t concern the children?

Another anecdote.

A is a close friend of mine. His mother found out that his father had an affair and after an immeasurable amount of arguments, separated. His father blamed him for splitting their family up, cut him off financially and disowned him. At that time, he was only in his 2nd year of college. After days of crashing out at friends’ places and borrowing a lot of money from people, he has slowly tried to get his life back on track. But, he still remains a cynic and has severe trust and self-confidence issues.

So, the second thing on the list. Films. I’ve been watching quite a lot of South Indian films because I did not have WiFi for the past couple of days that I spent in my father’s ancestral village. The hero/heroine in quite a few films belonged to a dysfunctional family. He/she did not speak with his/her parents or had other issues relating to family.
But, the films, they romanticised the notion. It made it sound like it was something cool. The characters were people who were cool people with a dark past/childhood. It made it sound like it was something mysterious, the deep sadness within them.

Unfortunately, the truth isn’t nearly as romantic. Parents arguing in front of their children have a severely negative impact on them. They have problems in trusting others, and often end up having failed relationships themselves. Also, when the ones that the children ought to trust are the ones who are the villains of the story, they are lonely. They believe that they don’t have anyone in the world. That it is then versus the world. They are often victims of depression, anxiety, alcoholism and often fall prey to suicidal thoughts.

But what made me write this post is the complete lack of support groups in India. Or just support in general. Most people do not even realise that there is something wrong with their family. Or even if they do, they do not know whom to turn to, or how to speak about it to others, for fear of being ridiculed or being an outcast in the society.

This is just to say that there is someone out there who understands, just don’t give up. Be strong.

~SunSandStarsAndDreams

P.S. I’ve been there and I know how it feels. So, if you do need someone to talk to, do feel free to drop a line at sunsandstarsanddreams@gmail.com.

The colossal misfit.

Have you ever felt that you were born in a wrong place, at the wrong time? Perhaps your destiny is bound by something unfathomable, but you have always felt that this wasn’t it?

Well, I have. I don’t really know how or why, but I have always felt like a misfit here. India is my home country, they say. India is where you were destined to live, they say.

But, how about the fact that India still doesn’t feel like the home it is supposed to be?

Back in my expat days, I was as happy as I could be with all the tensions of getting good grades and the pressure of getting into a good college would allow me to be. I was surrounded by a close cocoon of friends and webs of acquaintances. I always knew someone everywhere and I knew whom to turn to when I wanted help. I had a group of close friends with whom I could share nearly everything and just being around whom made me happy. Even though we used to insult each other constantly, it was all light-hearted humour. Even though we used to fight, it was all resolved within a few minutes. And when it mattered most, there was always someone who would stand up for you and support you through thick and thin.

Then, we graduated from high school and each went to a different place to study.

I was uprooted from the place I called home for nearly 14 years and thrust into alien surroundings, where I knew no one. I thought that because the people there are ethnically similar to me, they would all be like me and that I would fit in there like a jigsaw puzzle. But, boy, I’ve never been more wrong! My thought process, ideas and beliefs were totally different and I didn’t seem to have a common ground with any one of them. Things I said were taken to be offensive.

I thought that back in my hometown, I would have cousins, at the very least. But the year I returned, two of them left the place, one became a mother and automatically looked down on me like I was a baby not yet conscious enough to fully comprehend the world. The few people I trusted in India betrayed my trust.

I was a misfit everywhere, in all senses of the word.The happy person with a lot of friends was replaced by a brooding, moody stranger. I practically stopped talking to people. So much so that I believe that the fluency of my speech has actually reduced. I stopped writing, something which gave me an inexpressible amount of joy.

After an entire year of miserable life, I decided that this was not the life I envisioned for me. I need something more, something better. I have taken to reading a lot of books and some of them have given me ideas. I have taken up an online course on a subject that I am actually interested in. I started learning a new language. I have started writing again, slowly, if not a lot. I took some time out. I went on a vacation to a place that made me happy.

Slowly, but surely, I want to bring my life back on track. I want to pick up the pieces of my dream and stick them back together. I want to be the one I wanted to be, the one that I really hope to be. Someday.

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