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The Vampire Diaries

Dear Diary,

Art is a form of magic that weaves itself into the lives of others. You can’t help but be affected by it. Everyone may not agree with your art, but it’s your expression and ought to be as untethered, as you see fit. The Vampire Diaries was one such outlet of expression, a story built by a circle of arms. It started out as a quintessential paranormal mystery, interspersed with dramatic elements. But what it built on, were the ideals of love, family and friendship. For this very reason, it stuck with me. For eight whole years. Albeit, the show had its ups and downs, it was so imbued with a sense of camaraderie. Bonnie’s innate selflessness, just as she dejectedly confides in Enzo, “I never get to have my chance.” is a stark portrayal of the lengths, one is willing to go when their loved ones are in jeopardy. And that sums up a major portion of the 8 seasons. Adversity always strikes Mystic Falls. A slew of characters are required to make ginormous sacrifices in order to save the day. But the point is that, they do. They are always “feeling epic”.

Despite the whole lot of bloodshed and heart-ripping-out scenes, it is the promise of a better day, that kept us glued to the show. It is the realization that, even if things are despicable, somebody would make amends. We need it in life, the knowledge that bonds are thicker than blood.

The amount of twists and turns in this show would leave you reeling. Kudos to Julie Plec, for bringing to life one of the most complicated plots and for delivering it in such a believable manner. The loopholes that play an integral role in this show, bring Vonnegut’s quote to mind, “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” You’d think that there was no way a certain character could be brought back to life. But, no! Think again.

Backed by a brilliant cast, an array of supernatural creatures and a stupendous soundtrack, what’s not to like? The series finale was the cherry on top, a delicate ending that glows with larger than life symbols. Many of the former characters make an appearance – Lexi, Aunt Jenna, Jeremy, Joe, Sheriff Forbes, Tyler, Vicki. They have come  full circle. Seeing the Salvatore brothers reunite, is absolutely blissful. Throughout the show, they function like the scales of justice. When one of them is taking turns in being notorious, the other tries to be noble.

The ending narration is a whiff of life, full of hope, “… Because peace exists. It lives in everything we hold dear. That is the promise of peace. That one day, after a long life, we find each other again. ” Beautiful, isn’t it? I believe this peace and love upholds the show.

*happy tears* TVD, you will be missed.

– Meera

 

GD #2 – PSA for Quit Smoking Campaign

– Meera

GD #1 – A Quote by Lansgton Hughes

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I’ve been meaning to use some of my Photoshop skills to work on designs of quotes, PSAs etc. This is very basic, but hopefully with time, I’m able to put together some better designs for my portfolio.

What do you think?

– Meera

Thoughts For The Long Run

Image courtesy - Pexels
Image courtesy – Pexels

14th February brings with it a mixture of sentiments. The singles are about to be bombarded with cutesy pictures and quotes on their social media. The couples are scrambling to concoct the “perfect” gesture for each other. And the in-betweeners are standing around, awkwardly, wondering if their efforts are misplaced. Amidst all the hullabaloo, sometimes, one can forget to catch a breath and remember that love is the biggest gift of all. It is not a competition and it is, definitely, not built on ostentation. However if you are all about the show, then go ahead, create something extravagant. But more often than not, your loved one would appreciate the thought that went into the simple yet meaningful date ideas such as these. In addition to that, some pointers that would strengthen your relationship are:

  • Pay attention to your partner – when they talk and even, when they’re unable to talk about what bothers them. Chances are that, you’ll learn a great deal more about them. Sometimes, you can ease out the knots in their mind by just being there. Even if their passions don’t interest you, listen and learn. They have made you a part of their life. Surely, what brings them joy, you ought to hold in high esteem?
  • Even love requires TRP – Without Trust, Respect and Patience, you are hurtling towards a bitter future. Be spirited enough to not have to keep tabs on your girlfriend or boyfriend. You can’t hold onto something that has to be rushed or forced. What’s more, respect their wishes. They shouldn’t have to fake a smile, because you thought you were cracking a joke.
  • Don’t snuff out their uniqueness – As much as generalizations make life easier, they aren’t handy in social circumstances. Don’t assume that your girlfriend would love a gown over a pair of shorts. If your brain missed the train to the 21st century, maybe you should pour over these tips to dating a modern woman. And girls, don’t be mistaken. Maybe your man wants to watch the latest RomCom, as opposed to the Action Thriller. Who knows? Well, you should.
  • Be their cheerleader – It takes a small affront to discourage someone and a lot of confidence to convince them. Don’t ever try to dissuade your loved one from experimenting or taking up new initiatives. A road less traveled by is already scary enough, without you adding to their fears. Let it be known, that wherever they end up, you will be right by their side.

With that being said, Valentine’s Day is an occasion of love. While all businesses are trying to wring the occasion dry with their bundle offers, don’t forget to call an old friend or visit your grandparents. They deserve to have a shower of love, too!

– Meera

The Misplaced Indian

Image courtesy - Sangha Mitra
Image courtesy – Sangha Mitra

The Indian spirit is like a motherboard. It cannot be whole without its multiple subparts and as a separate entity, drives forward the existence of every Indian soul. This spirit is for us to wield and imbibe as we see fit. Yet, we somehow manage to demarcate the “true” Indian by turning a blind eye to those whose Indianness is diluted by years of westernization and foreign upbringing. This essay looks at the misplaced Indian – one who wholeheartedly wants to be part of the community, but cannot because he/she is far removed from any physical connection to their motherland.

The misplaced Indian is either overlooked to some extent in discourses of Indianness or ignored completely in discourses of foreign communities. He/she belongs to a no man’s land, caught in between two communities and not really a part of either. Such an Indian is not detached from his native because of his own voluntary actions but because of ancestors who have moved to a foreign land. And so matter of factly, they begin to learn their Indian mannerisms alongside the resident country’s value systems. Regardless of how much they want to belong, they are not accepted as equal Indians. Hence, they get misplaced in the process of migration and their identity becomes a matter of questioning.

Some Indian Literatures emphasize on the perspectives of such misplaced Indians. Kenyan born Indian, M.G Vassanji says in his book, A Place Within, “It would take many lifetimes; it was said to me during my first visit, to see all of India. The desperation must have shown on my face to absorb and digest all I possibly could. I recall an anxiety as I traveled the length and breadth of the country, senses raw to every new experience, that even in the distraction of a blink I might miss something profoundly significant.” Other notable writers who convey the sentiments of the misplaced Indian are V.S Naipaul, Shyam Selvadurai and G.V Desani. Such Indians face the anxiety of belonging, as discussed by Meenakshi Mukherjee in her essay Anxiety of Indianness. They are generations away from understanding the essence of Indianness and spend a lifetime trying to grasp what they can of the Indian spirit.

– Meera

Author Interview – Revant [Selfienomics]

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Image courtesy – Bloomsbury India

Published by Bloomsbury India on 3rd November 2016, Selfienomics is a wonderful guide to imbuing your life with positivity and good health. First time writer, Revant, expertly employs humor and his vast knowledge of media & culture to deliver some life lessons. When  presented with the opportunity to interview him, I gladly agreed.

Hi Revant. Thank you for taking the time out to answer some questions in light of the release of your debut novel, Selfienomics.  Firstly, how did you decide you wanted to write a book pertaining to the self help genre?

I used to hate writing. In college, I always took classes which required the least amount of writing. I’m not a writer, I’m a thinker. It’s the thinker in me which forced me to write. I was frustrated at the way people spent their time and money and I had the self- confidence that I could contribute in changing it.

I wanted to reach out to a large number of people. As a 22 year-old, you have 4 options to reach out to a wide audience—create a high-quality social media page, make a movie, join politics, or write a book. Social media is too over-crowded so people don’t take you seriously. Movie and politics require a lot of experience and a team of people. Writing a book is the most convenient option—it requires no experience and can be done individually. All you need is a laptop (or a pen and paper). So I decided to write a self-help book aimed at improving the thought process of the youth.

During your preparatory stage, what opinions did you find most useful and how were you able to imbibe them?

I didn’t tell any of my friends that I’m writing a book so nothing in particular. But I found the opinions of external people very useful.  I would extensively read the “comments” section of posts of popular social media pages like AIB, Logical Indian, Frustrated Indian. Through that I would understand the mood and opinion of the average urban Indian. I tried my best to refer to the things that Indians were talking about about to make the book relatable to them.

Image courtesy – Goodreads

In the intro to your book, you’ve said that the focus of the book is self-improvement. What books or TV shows or movies have helped you, in the past, to discover and be more in tune with yourself?

Letter- “Why I am an atheist” is a letter by Bhagat singh which sparked my interest to write Selfienomics.  

 Book- When I first decided to write a self-help book, I realized that I had never read a self-help book before. So I googled “best-self help books” and I read the 6-7 books which were common on every list. 7 Habits of Highly effective people helped me with my time-management tremendously.

Movies- Swades, Rang De Basanti, PK, Kal ho Na ho, It’s a wonderful life. I like the way Rajkumar Hirani combines humour with life-lessons. I feel that if Selfienomics was written by a director, it would be Rajkumar Hirani.

I like the fact that you have used humor, sarcasm and colloquial language to drive home the various points that you make throughout the book. In addition to which, your novel is structured uniquely. Were these just tools to cater to a younger audience or were you, merely, taking an unconventional approach?

Young people usually avoid reading self-help books as they find them boring and preachy. They instead read click-bait articles on ScoopWhoop and Buzzfeed (10 reasons why you must dream big…etc.) as their daily dose of inspiration.

I combined humour with philosophy to connect with the modern reader. To be honest though, when I was writing the book, I didn’t think of all this. Using hashtags, humour, sarcasm and internet memes came very naturally to me.  

I am sure that it is no easy task to publish a book. A lot of research, late nights and post-publishing procedures would have been involved. What do you think about the whole process?

I read somewhere, “Publishing a book is like delivering a child. Except that its takes even longer and it hurts more”.

Since no one in my friends circle or family is an author, I had to learn everything myself so it took a lot of initiative from my side. I first applied to publishers in the US who typically replied—“Where is the Yoga? No one in the US is interested to read a self-help book by an Indian unless its about yoga.” 

I rewrote my entire book for an Indian audience, and then I started my publishing journey again. Overall, its been a bit more than 2 years since I first decided to write a book. As a debut author, you have to be passionate, practical and patient to see your book getting published by a traditional publisher (unless you’re Sachin writing his autobiography).

Selfienomics does not disappoint. In fact, I absolutely loved it! Here’s a link to my review of the book. Follow Revant on his Goodreads page here, watch the trailer of Selfienomics here and surely, grab a copy of the book.

– Meera

The Problem with Choices – Buying a Smartphone in the 21st Century.

There comes a point in the life of a smartphone that it begins to stutter and blackout; it gets increasingly absorbed by a reverie and is unable to process orders. My Samsung Galaxy S3 was dawdling in such a phase. As much as I didn’t want to part with it, I knew that telegrams functioned faster than my poor S3. Something had to be done. Quick. Before it ate up all my data and burped in my face. So, my parents set out to explore options, throwing suggestions like Samsung Note and Sony Xperia at me. Now, I didn’t want to go for any pricey phone because let’s face it, I don’t have much of a use for it, except the occasional call and a few Instagram snaps. Moreover, I wanted a change, as I always do. I decided to set aside Samsung and look for other brands. That’s when Lenovo caught my eye. To be frank, I knew little about the brand but I’d had a Lenovo laptop for years and that never gave me any trouble.

After days of scouring the internet, I came up with a list. Little did I know I was volunteering for days worth of confusion and vexation. Every e-commerce website had something new to say about the phones. Reviews were all over the place. I had about 20 tabs open, analyzing the features and longevity of the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note, Lenovo Vibe S1, Samsung J5-6, Moto G4 Play, Redmi 3 etc. While some customers said that a particular phone had no heating/hanging issues, others complained about its lowlight camera. Some others left a three star rating with a simple, “Ok” adding to my bewilderment. What is an “Ok” supposed to mean? It is a mobile phone, for God’s sake, not a review for Popsicles! And there resumed my search for a reasonably good phone.

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Copyright © 2016 Meera Nair. All rights reserved.

Finally I narrowed it down between the Samsung J5-6 and Lenovo Vibe K5 Note. Countless Youtube videos later, I was no closer to understanding which one would be more apt. You see, that’s the problem. Even though I was extremely extremely grateful for having the choices, I wanted to pull my hair out. Days passed, same routine – open multiple tabs, read reviews, get annoyed, close them all. Then, I took a chance and bough the Lenovo Vibe K5 Note from Flipkart, anxious as to whether I made the right choice or not. It was a change from Samsung and I was excited about that. The phone arrived soon after, looking all slick in its blue-white box. Although, headphones were not part of the deal, I was happy to see a transparent back cover included.

It’s been three months now. I am not facing any problems with over-heating or the phone freezing up. Then again I don’t game. I only use the phone for music, Instagram, Whatsapp and such other apps. The first month, charging took very little time – in the sense, within two hours or so, it would be at 90%. Now that I’ve downloaded more apps, it takes more time for charging. But I don’t mind that. The user interface is nice, not complicated. I am still using one of the themes that are inbuilt. Front (selfie) camera is good and takes decent pictures. The back camera is wonderful! I don’t know if its better than the Redmi Note 3, but it is definitely better than the Samsung phones that I have used.

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Copyright © 2016 Meera Nair. All rights reserved.

However, the photo gallery app in this phone is that of Google Photos. So when you take a picture it gets saved in Google Photos and you need to get familiarized between saving a photo on the device and saving it online, in order to work around with it. This phone has some new features like taking a long screenshot, taking a picture when the phone is in off mode etc. I haven’t experienced any lagging while opening apps. So far, I am entirely pleased with my decision to buy the Lenovo Vibe K5 Note. How the phone functions a year down the line is yet to be seen. I shall keep updating my views, as and when required. So if you’re looking forward to buying a phone within the 20k price range, don’t play a lot of games and only want a phone with a good camera, then you could look out for this one. Let me know what you think..

Hopefully, my Lenovo will fare a lot better than the S3 and not give me trouble anytime soon 🙂

– Meera

Whence we come, to it we shall return.

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Aapnu Amdavad

It is true. We create a thousand Horcruxes in a lifetime.

Bits of ourselves go to sleep in these Horcruxes, until we reach for them. Until we are ready to absorb them again. My trip to Ahmedabad was something of revisiting a Horcrux I had left there. Multiple Horcruxes, if you will. The strange and unsettling (even overwhelming) part of it is that I met all these lovely, homely people who seemed to remember versions of me I couldn’t bring to mind. And I wanted so much to be able to recall my time there. I wanted so much to be a part of that tight knit community again. I had moved on, changed indefinitely. But these people still hold onto age old antics of mine, like clouds clinging onto the hilltops.

The places that I’d once frequented were so unbelievably different that I couldn’t picture myself amidst them. But then a familiar board or a rundown building would appear to remind me of instances that were so integral to my childhood there. As I have been told countless times, the climate is stifling. Now, I don’t much prefer the heat. My favourite weather is anything but summer. And despite that, I found myself wanting to go back. To be the girl, who had left 15 years ago. To make a home of the place I’d been born in.

Going to Adalaj Ni Vav was like stepping into another world. Not only is the road leading to it so absolutely mesmerizing but the carvings in the step well are magical! The writer in me wished I had a notepad and pen, to sit and write of the wonders I beheld. Another highlight of the trip was reconnecting with family friends who are so genuinely welcoming. They spoke of times when my parents were young, of times when life’s simplicity offered the greatest joy. Sitting with them, immersed in all their smiles and recollections, I couldn’t have been more thankful to Ahmedabad.

Our meals comprised of all the delicacies I’d urge my mom to make often. To say nothing of the Thalis and Chaat outlets, would be to paint an incomplete portrait of the bustling city that is Ahmedabad. A city where folks have come to a mutual agreement to sort out their traffic troubles. A city where cliques of cows have as much a license to be on the road, as the rest of us. A city where the youth have taken to enjoying the night life their own way.

If there’s a place I’d want to call home, it is this. It is this.

– Meera

It is rainy where I stand.

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As with every argument, one either picks sides or choses to ignore it altogether. I’d rather pan out all my points for the sake of my own understanding, if not others. For the past few days, something has been irking me. And this something had a lot to do with a memorable phase in my life.

I graduated from Christ University.

If you must groan, do it elsewhere. I’m going to make my points regardless of the reception. I have read some rather ludicrous things and also rebuffs of very true facts.

  1. Yes, Christ University functions on a very strict dictum. I will agree that many of the offices set up for helping students aren’t the most amiable and could do with a few smiles everyday. As ridiculous as it sounds, it is also true that workshops, conferences and seminars are “compulsory” whether you have anything to do with the subject matter at all. But the number of times I’ve slipped into the cafeteria is proof enough that you can get away.  However, once you are inside the room where the event is taking place, all hell could break loose outside, but you are literally locked up in the room. If you have an emergency, forget about getting out earlier.
  2. Yes, they demand compliance to a dress code that leaves little room for self expression. I’ve always wondered why the women ought to follow the Indian ethnic wear whereas the men can roam about in western formals? Shouldn’t they be forced into wearing Dhotis or something? That makes the dress code questionable but not inflexible. I’ve donned leggings and have seen others stroll around in even track pants or shorter leggings. No one has asked to feel the fabric or lift our kurtis to check. I found that complaint to be most horrid and unbelievable, as in the three years I’ve studied there, I’ve heard of no one who has uttered the same. Then again, I don’t see why an absence of dupatta should be the cause of distracting anyone. It would be great to have a little more emphasis on what actually mattered rather than such absurd excuses.
  3. Yes, they enforce adherence to a disciplinary code. It is a tad bit annoying when you can’t sit in particular spaces. Although, that’s never stopped anyone from doing it. It is even more bothersome when you hug or hold hands with someone of the opposite sex and the guard blows the whistle at you. And yet, I’ve seen people throw caution to the wind and behave as if they were somewhere private. Every institution has got to have some structure. If you take out the discipline, you’d get yourself a mad house with a ceaseless hullabaloo.
  4. Yes, they’ve implemented the 85% attendance rule but it is not absolute. If you are absent because of either an illness or extra curricular activities, there is a foolproof mechanism to ensure that you get your attendance back. If your reason is something else, then its all on you. I absolutely hated the fact that the University was always functioning on days that were off (strikes, bandhs etc) I also hated the fact that the attendance penalty loomed over my head like a sword. But mustn’t we all take responsibility for our own actions? I have bunked several days regardless of the consequences, much to the annoyance of my friends. And, fortunately, I haven’t paid the fine once. It would be great if there were no conditions on attendance, but if you haven’t enrolled in a university to study, why enroll at all?
  5. The education isn’t the best. I can’t speak for other streams, but there have been classes where we’ve either read PDFs or Googled things we were supposed to be “taught”.  But then we’ve gained so much practical exposure, from professionals and internships that it sort of balances it out. We’ve had teachers who set aside the ways of the system to be our friend, our confidante. They’ve helped us more than we could have hoped.

Some of the university’s rules are preposterous and could be done away with. But it is what I chose. And I don’t regret it. It has pissed me off so much, but I am certain I will always cherish having been there. Much like any institution, it has a long journey of progress ahead of it. It does some things right and others wrong. I wouldn’t sully it, not because of the Christ tag, but because it has given me so much. I only hope that the future batches are witness to a much improved system. By all means, stand up for what you believe in. You should. But do yourself a favor and research before you sign up for something you can’t get accustomed to.

Meera

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