“I’m awkward.”

I remember the first time I got myself an internet connection. Rather, my dad set up a dial up modem with le olde IBM machine powered by Windows 3.1. The year was 1999, Titanic had just swept the Oscars and I had cried bitter tears for the homesick Heidi on Cartoon Network. I was 6 years old.

As time went on, the internet and technology became my ‘thing’. From waiting for gif to load on 32kbps connection in the 90s, I’ve since gone on to spend countless nights scouring tech forums figuring out how to overclock my processor, jiggled around with Prime95 and CPU-Z (nearly fried my motherboard at one point  and wondered why I wasnt living in Brussels, Belgium because ‘ambient temperature there is just 18 deg so I wont need to buy a cooling unit to overclock my PC’). I found more message boards, this time for metal and anime. It was a magical world waiting to be discovered, more like minded people, more movie fans (who cares if the majority of the forum members are Japanese, Babelfish to the rescue!), Artemis Fowl followers because everyone in your current class is still reading and fawning over Harry Potter (then get told by one forum member to read the Bartimaeus trilogy instead and have your imagination blown into smithereens). I finally found a place where I can belong, where a keyboard player isnt mocked for not being a guitarist, or where I can drown in online karma and forget the fact that my real, physical presence isnt nearly as cool as my online one.

I give this long winded segue because I (and other people like me from the 90s) am the first generation in India to grow up with an internet connection. From dialup, to broadband and now a direct-to-home 3mbps fiber line off which I’m typing this post, I’ve grown with the internet. We have embraced it, got addicted, perhaps still not got the hang of the power that we have at our disposal. And it is starting to affect the way we interact.

The internet has since expanded and is more accessible. People dont have to go through the same learning curve while using it which I had to go through, and soon enough teenagers now have high-speed broadband connections and access to tumblrs and TFIOS fan fiction to boot. However, the dilemma I just highlighted about my real life being a monotonous drone, while my online persona being a fun-lively affair? Kids as young as 16-17 years old go through it now. And sadly dont make the right choice thereafter.

It isnt right to be awkward, it never should be. I dont know where to draw the line, but staring at your phone every few minutes instead of engaging with the people around you, and then defending yourself by saying you’re either ‘awkward’ or an introvert is clearly beyond it.  Being awkward isnt a badge of honour, although it is definitely being paraded like one.

Socializing and interacting with other people requires an effort. By the time you’re 25-26 years old, you are supposed to, nay, expected to know how to pick up on social cues, know what to say when and how to keep your mouth shut, gauge your table of friends and strike up at least a casual conversation. These are skills you pick up and start refining the moment you get out of school. Sadly, even when I was in school, the internet wasnt as big to lose yourself into as it is now.

We’re seeing a growing number of kids (I say kids, despite knowing I’m probably only a few years older) who are unwilling to participate in any form of social interaction. Everybody has a phone now, with 3G data connection with *at least* Whatsapp and Facebook installed. This is new-found AMAZING power. Instead of looking for a trunk calling telephone booth, anyone you want to talk to is just a click away. Yet, you dont interact. You avoid.

You arent being an introvert, you’re just plain lazy. Lazy because you have a massive world to delve into at your command. A world that wont talk back, that wont judge you and where you are king (or queen, put down your pitchforks, feminists). It is a bubble.

I, for one, lived in it. And it took me a LONG while to break out and learn how to talk to people. I’m still learning and have made a ton of mistakes along the way (or should I say my ‘what not to do when on a date’ list would give ThoughtCatalog a run for their money), but regardless. I learn everyday. Everyone does. Or at least they’re supposed to.

Being awkward is not cool. Push the envelope, everyone has some level of social anxiety, but they’re not a recluse because of it.

Fear.

This is one post that’s a bit edgy to write.

I rarely live in fear. I’ve had my moments of intense dread and self-doubt, but I know for a fact I’ll pull through, no matter what the circumstances are. Never have I ever run away from any situation, or fight. I generally always back myself up, knowing I’ll make the right call and take things head-on.

Having said that, I’m entering a completely different ballgame now. Something I’ve never dealt with before. And its a bit unsettling.

Your mind is a weird mass of misfiring neurons that keeps you awake and lets you maintain a stream of consciousness to make sense of your day. The people you meet, the dynamics of your social interactions, the deadlines you have to put up with. Everything is kept in check constantly while you make sure you dont need to think about how much pressure to apply on the door knob to get it open or if the soup is too hot to drink (although some errors do slip through and you scald your tongue). It makes you ‘you’. It is who you are.

Yet, you can never tell how much you truly remember, or whether you remember right. I’ve heard of a study conducted by Freakonomics, where subjects were easily tricked into having false memories. Memory, is where your mind starts to mess things up. Did you actually wear a blue tie to the staff meeting last week? Maybe you did. There’s even a picture of you with the blue tie at the staff meeting but you dont remember ever buying one. Maybe you made a mistake.

It is alarming the number of times your mind misremembers. But over the course of many years of practice, you start to tune the nonsense out of your system. You figure out how to pick and choose your memories, and through constant retelling of those stories, they last longer than most. Or do they?

Bias will always exist, you can never tell if you’re telling the whole truth, even when you’re the one narrating. Because your memory is based on your perspective, and perspectives change. Always. 20 years from now, your retelling of drunken fervor at the local bar on New Year’s Eve will be far less melodramatic and probably less interesting compared to the way you tell people about it at the moment. And there’s nothing you can do to change that.

Your memories, although are tied to you and you alone, are not written in stone. They change constantly, just like you do, because you are changing constantly as well. And there’s nothing you can do to stop that.

CGP Grey (a YouTuber I follow) makes a point where he, at current age, has nearly no memory of his childhood. He remembers stories of his folks telling him about how he behaved as a kid, and they have photos of him too. But he doesnt remember them on his own volition. They dont exist; he likes to believe that he remembers how he percieved the world as a kid, but he knows this is a lost cause because times have a changed a great deal since then. The only memories he has are those of other people telling him about it.

To quote a more relevant example, I completed watching Breaking Bad a few weeks ago. While whether I liked the show or not is another debate (and probably a different blog post altogether), one scene stayed with me. In season 4, when Walter confronts his son about his father, he arrives at the same conclusion that CGP Grey came across. In probably the only part of the entire series where he seems human and vulnerable, Walter admits he has no real memory of his father, apart from him lying in the hospital bed. He is told of the great things his father has done, how he behaved, and with all his heart, Walter wants to believe those are his memories of his father too. But he knows this isnt the case, the reality being far more disappointing and poignant.

I said I’ve never truly lived in fear, but I do now. It doesnt keep me up at night, but it is hidden in the inner recesses of my subconscious. You think you’re done, but one random instance from your day-to-day throws a wrench at it and you feel overwhelmed. For a while.

Its now been around two months since my dad passed away. I’ve dealt with everything the way I think I should, and I’ve had support along the way. I’d be lying if I said this is not hard, but I’ve gotten used to it. Even though I know for a fact this is my loss, and only I can get myself through it. My only fear now, is this.

I hope my thoughts and actions, my recollections of my dad are genuine. And not constructs that my mind would come up with based on how my personality changes with time. I know this is not possible. I dont fear change, because I know I’m still growing as a person and want to improve.

There’s nothing I can do to stop that, though a part of me wishes otherwise.

It is surprising yet surreal to think that all those who goes through loss have the exact same emotion. And that this feeling is normal, eventually I will forget any actual memories of my interactions with my dad. But for the moment, I’d like to think this isnt the case. With me anyway, for the moment.

There are many things I’d like to write about, since this is a whole barrage of thoughts that is new to me. But I choose not to.

Over 9000! (hours)

That’s a little over a year. Yes, I passed engineering maths *third attempt*

Went through all my past blog posts. I’ve cribbed, complained about being a vegetable, went back to college, failed, passed, took initiative, and now here we are. Its been a very eventful year.

Since I last wrote, I’ve had countless epiphanies. Though I find myself wary of moral epiphanies as I seem to have too many and rarely seem to draw anything fruitful from any of them.

Gig-wise, its never been better. Watched Animals as Leaders and Iced Earth in Bangalore in June 2013, watched about 3 obscure international acts, including wall-of-sound inducing Jaga Jazzist right at home, at the Blue Frog. Topped the year off with seeing Mike Portnoy in the flesh at Mood Indigo 2013. Writing about that it on my other blog led me to get a job at Score Magazine, where I started off the year interviewing Shaan (surprisingly, teenage self would’ve squealed with joy had he known about it). Half a dozen more articles too, at publications all over the place. This post comes fresh after seeing one of the best Indian bands live at Richardson Crudas, which already poised to be the best gig I’ve attended this year. And its just April.

Started writing music again and it felt pretty funny. Have an EP ready to show off to everyone, but I’m done with music thereafter.

Quit following football. Easily the best decision I’ve ever made, at least personally.

Became more social than ever before, which is uncharted waters considering I’m a stammering klutz. Identified a clique and stuck to it. Said a lot things that I shouldn’t have said, probably maligned many and hurt a few. Liked someone and did something about it. Confided in a person for the first time, though it still feels fucking weird to do so.

Suspended my Twitter account, though I dont know for how long I should keep it up.

This is easily the most aware I’ve ever been as a human being, and also the most afraid. Increasingly being brought to light that my folks are just as clueless as I am, but with an insurance policy and a pension backing them.

I wrote this as I felt it, there’s no cohesion or sense. Just a barrage of thoughts that I quickly typed out since I cant really do anything else at  5am.

4 weeks later.

Facebook has rolled out fresh UI changes to all users now. So as I sat through my profile, looking for more embarrassing holes to plug and ‘likes’ to hide, I found this little gem. Saved in the draft section of my notes, from 3rd of April, 2011.

I meant for it to go public, to tag all my friends and swim in the online karma. Since I couldnt care less about Facebook now, I decided to archive it and post it here instead.

2nd of April. 2011.

With that clean whack of the ball in the penultimate over, Dhoni made a billion hearts experience something which could not be explained, something which you and I thought we’d hear about from the folks of the 80’s. And yet it happened. India became world champions.

The feeling was surreal. People outside hugging each other, distributing sweets and free alcohol. Firecrackers lit the night. Huge roars outside, people waving flags and biker gangs actually looked friendly. As if all the problem of corruption, red tape, onion prices, Rebecca Black, Manchester United, all seemed to be meaningless. Today was a day of celebration.

We now belong to an elite class of people, a privilege once enjoyed only the older folk. We witnessed the team. Yes that team without Ravichandran Ashwin. With Sreesanth and his plethora of lucky charms. With Sehwag getting out on a duck, and Kohli carrying Sachin on his shoulders. With Malinga being pummeled by Dhoni. This, won us the world cup. Making a cynic and football fan stand up and applaud.

Liverpool scored that day, and Malinga struck. Manchester United came back from 2-0 down and Sachin was outfoxed by Malinga again. Chelsea scored through a Drogba header, and I held my breath as I switched channels to see if the wickets column remained intact. Thats what this game did to a football fan. It made me switch channels and pray. Pray that Malinga is not given another over. Pray that Kohli and Gambhir bat sensibly. Pray that Malinga’s wig falls off and he loses confidence. We didnt have a Ravindra Jadeja to blame for this one.

I switched channels. Cech pulls of a fantastic save. While on the other side, Kohli whacks a cleanly struck ball to the fielder. Patterns were seen. Awkward seat positions were used hoping that this one guy, sitting kilometers away from both matches, may help in improving the chances of both Blue teams.

Sachin couldnt make his 100th hundred. Sehwag couldnt demolish Malinga like he did with Umar “big fingers which cant clap” Gul. It didnt matter. Chelsea drew the game, and Team India ensured parallels will not be drawn the same way.

Sure, 1983 had more grace. It was a minnow playing against a giant. Away from home. Like Bucharest will be in a few days time against Barcelona at Nou Camp. Roger Binny, Kapil Dev, Jimmy Amarnat and Sunny Gavaskar. Each of them being legends were on the field. Defending 183 on a great batting wicket at the Lords, while India just heard of the team’s performance on the radio.

But this will remain a day we will never forget.

Abrupt ending. Which was the result of a power outage causing my internet to die. Note how Sir Ravindra Jadeja was the butt of all jokes then.

Naivety or not, my writing style took shape that year. Little has changed in that respect. Though I dont follow cricket now. I’m sure I will lose interest in football in 3-4 years too.

Anyway, there’s that. Exams beckon again in 3 weeks. I will be back in college for the first time in a year thereafter. Cannot wait.

2 months.

60 days since my last update.

I dont have anything interesting to say anymore. I’m stuck in a rut. I can sugarcoat this post as much as I want, or write about something interest that could garner some praise and page views, but I dont want to. To hell with writing.

I never valued ‘dance’ as a credible form of art, probably because I’ve been playing musical instruments since the age of 3. I’ve come to realize that even writing falls in the same category. Or maybe I should rephrase it by saying ‘casual blogging’.

FFS you’re riddled with mediocrity and can only make pun jokes on Twitter. No one wants to read your blog filled with the exact same smut. Stop shoving it down people’s throats. Just because you have 4000 or 5000 odd followers doesnt make your opinion valid in any way.

Meanwhile, on the other side, I’ve been trying to drive traffic to my content on Soundcloud and YouTube. It was fun creating what I did (and I still am coming up with more music) but then I realized there is no point to it unless I tell more people about what I’ve done, . Publicize my uploads. Something I feel very uncomfortable about doing. After literally pushing an upload on Twitter for 4 whole days, the ‘play’ counter crossed 300 listens. And I felt mildly happy. For what now?

I did the exact same thing I ranted about 2 paragraphs ago, but with music. I ate, spoke and sang only Game of Thrones and Skyrim for an entire week (it took me 3 days to come up with the cover) while telling almost everyone I know to listen to it. “Tell me how it sounds” “Great!” “Thanks!” and that’s the end of that. Repeat with next individual. How is what I did any different with how people on Twitter plug their blogs?

I need to learn how to market content better. And be less spiteful.

More covers will be coming up. I better get the hang of this quickly.

“Be yourself”

Said some Shiv Khera-isque figure staring at me through the cover page of a popular magazine.

I found an article on cracked.com. Basically it is a list of a bunch of skills that anyone can learn and pull of being a fake genius in public.

Which is weird, since it exemplifies how shallow people really are, and are willing to be fooled into believing anything.

And people are sheep. They love popular opinion, they like to gossip, they dance to EDM.
You cant ‘not’ interact with most of them throughout the course of the day. They’re everywhere. And you have to go through the grind of filtering and weeding till you find out the select few who are tolerable enough to share your views with. (and tolerate you in the same regard)

So how do you go about this? Facebook Graph Search cant work in real life. At least not until augmented reality comes along.

You try to be yourself. The ‘best’ yourself you can think of, which further complicates things. Humanity is a lost cause, with no direction, and everyone trying to find out what their true purpose is.

And in that mess, you are daring to become the best persona of yourself. A persona which is riddled with flaws, misconceptions, and cant speak more than a couple of sentences without slurring, in the hope that out of this exercise, you find some people who believe you’re acceptable enough to form a clique with.

Now since that is scary enough, you decide to change. You start listening to different genres of music. Maybe David Guetta isnt that bad. You try out different hobbies. Surely collecting bottle caps from decade-old soda containers is a crowd-pleaser.

Maybe cracked.com will help.

“Yeah, lets recite upto 10 digits of pi, speed read and solve a Rubik’s cube at the same time. That will convince people I’m smart.”

Lets say you’ve figured it all out. And you are genuinely trying to be different.

How would you accommodate these changes into what you are as a person? You dont know yourself at all, and you’re having to project that into a world with the hope that it doesnt punch you right in the face and labels you as an unpleasant stereotype.

You have no control over the impression anyone has about you, no matter how much you change.

Yet, you find people standing out, creating things no one has ever heard of before. And being applauded. How do they do it? Has someone patented it and marketed it to the billions of people seeking interaction and acceptance yet?

“One bottle of originality. Actual size! Order now”

I guess I’ll just have to sort it out myself. The mumbling klutz that I am.

Happy New Year!

“How do you break into cliques?”

I dont know. I guess a better question would be why does it always seem like I’m never in any clique?

I’ve never been a part of the quintessential ‘friend-circle’, the kind people my age generally associate themselves with. Who watch movies together, hang out together. Possibly have orgies too.

I dont live in a bubble, I generally am very content with my own thoughts. Or so I think.

I keep having this craving for interaction with people though. A feeling I’ve never had before, but refuses to go away.

I cant talk to people for the life of me, unless I have a genuine reason to do so. Large crowds are never a problem, it’s the one-on-ones that fry my head. Small talk is totally out of the question. So before you know it, the opportunity is lost. And the next time you meet up with the same group of 4-5 people you had met earlier, you’re already an outcast. Ostracized.

Since they decided to continue to mingle with each other, while I couldnt figure out what to do next. This has happened in school, in college, even at work.

Twitter cant fix that. Nor can Facebook. Those people you see using these sites and meeting up regularly (yes, both) are not remarkably more social than you. They are talking to the same people IRL as they do online. And happen to spam your timeline while you’re feeling blue. Something I learnt only recently.

Ergo, nothing online can help you form a clique in real life. Everything online is just an illusion.

Or I’m doing it wrong.

And I should just stick to what I’m good at, and the rest would sort itself out on its own.

The more I try to be social (whatever that means), the more I feel at home with my thoughts.

Maybe I do live in a bubble.

And with that thought, happy new year!

The comfort of being idle.

So we meet again. . .

It’s 3am, while you frantically search for a receipt for a purchase made about 6 months ago.

Mundane, almost futile activity. Then again, its still better than sitting idle.

We dont live very harsh lives. By writing this, you have a working PC, an internet connection and a Twitter + Facebook account.

Compared to the rest of the country where a majority of people are still struggling to put a roof over their heads and afford two square meals, you’re already belonging to a privileged few by merely owning a computer. I’ve not even begun talking about the information superhighway.

Consider the things you could do with a computer AND the internet.

You could form a band and jam every week. Pick up programming. Fiddle around and get better at graphic design. Practice writing. Find more diverse genres of music. Learn a new language. Meet new people. Find the answers to every question you can think of, or better still, answers to questions that you cant even arrive at.

Instead, you’re starring at your Facebook page. Doing nothing.

Yes, nothing. Sharing links, “liking” photos, commenting on statuses. Looking for the ideal profile pic. Thinking about chatting up with a friend you havent spoken to since you passed out of school 5 years ago.

They arent activities, they’re illusions. And very well disguised ones at that.

The same goes for your Twitter feed. And Reddit’s front page. You’re not browsing the internet. You’re just being idle.

Since watching TV is too mainstream of an activity, you’ve decided to spend all your free time pouring into one of those bright rectangles that blink in order to peer into another person’s thoughts like a voyeur or publicly talk about how you think life is supposed to be.

Your life is a luxury by itself. You have the comfort of sitting idle. And you’re pretty well used to it. You could be writing a poem, or a song, or come up with a cool riff on the guitar.

Heck, you could’ve started searching for the damn receipt at an earlier date instead of having to be jolted by a stray cat amusing itself by pushing pots off ledges at 3am into doing something.

Being idle is a luxury. A luxury you dont want or need. It isnt useful. You’ll want to look back at this time remembering fun incidences and events.

And not want it to be convoluted and fuzzy because the mind generally phases out the parts where you do mundane, boring and repetitive tasks.

Like what?

 

Signed,

Your mind.

PS. I made you stay awake all night. Again. HAHAHA

One plate of passion please, to go. . .

“Follow your passion.”

You can do that?

Do they sell it at stores? Where can I find one for myself? Can you give me some of yours? Surely you can share some.

Most people go through their entire lives not doing what they love most. They grind through weeks of staring at blank screens, missing deadlines and losing out on appraisals just to make two ends meet. For they know not of any other way to live.

Finding your passion is a luxury. Not many can afford to do so. There is too much at stake.

Or it isnt. And we’re just scared. Of failure. And of not doing justice to what we love doing.

When do you tell yourself “this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life”? Is there a book you could read? Is there a particularly age you must cross for me to have such a thought? Or are you reading too much into it?

You’d definitely be happy. Be it the glee you get by clicking photos of a rare orchid or by nailing a riff you just thought of but couldnt get right all this while. Or maybe you’ll get bored soon, or the worry of not being able to pay your bills on time will exceed the time it takes for you to make a decent amount of money out of it. Lets face it, you cant freeload off your folks forever.

How long must you work before what you do becomes a ‘thing’ you can tell people about? Or should that not matter? “You’re doing this for yourself”? (no you’re not, no matter how much of a nihilist you claim to be, you arent one)

Maybe it isnt for me. Or maybe it isnt the right time. (no, it is not Maybelline)

Surely this will plague my mind for days to come. My train of thought is not equipped to handle so many questions at one go, so I’ll stop here.