A Letter to Someone I Knew

Hey!

How’ve you been? There’s been a heavy silence between us, and I’ve been wondering what happened. Where did we go wrong?

We were good friends. True, we never shared our biggest secrets, or our darkest fears. But we knew each other well enough, and were inching towards what could have been a great friendship.

Do we really ‘drift apart’ as we call it? Or was it just a lack of understanding and patience on both sides? It started off small, but I knew that that it was the start. You’d ignore my calls, but when we came face-to-face, you said you’d been ‘busy’. Agreed, you may have been. But then, I’d make plans for us to catch up over a coffee, and of course, you agreed we’d meet at 4:30 at the cafe. I waited for you till 6. The coffee had gone cold. I called you again, but my calls went unanswered. I was panicking by now, because, in spite of trying to convince myself that you’d simply gotten busy, I thought you were in danger.

I dragged myself back to apartment, wondering where you could be, and if you were fine. I decided to skip dinner, and just before I dragged myself into my room, I decided to drop in and ask your roommate if she’d seen you around. I knocked, and the door was opened by you. You were with your new favourite, exciting, fun friends. I asked you where you’d been and why you hadn’t answered my calls, and the only reply was ‘I was busy’.

“I waited for you at the cafe, you know… For almost two hours”, I responded.

“Oh. Yeah. I had gone for a movie”, was the reply.

“You could have said something instead of making me wait”. My irritation was starting to show.

“Are you trying to control me? I don’t need you, ok. Stay away from me”, you said.

That hurt deeply. I was seething inside, and I stormed up to my apartment.

I wanted to scream and shout. I wanted to throw things, and I wanted to break them. I cried for a bit. I blamed myself.

After moping about like a loner for a few days, I started thinking deeply about what had happened. Was it really my fault?

I’ve always been an ambivert, meaning I can be perfectly happy all alone with a cuppa and a book, but I can equally be comfortable with the right crowd. Here, I have to be very frank with you, I did not like the crowd you were hanging out with. They were too materialistic, too sarcastic, with just the slightest sneer behind every playful insult.

As the days progressed, I made more friends, great friends, you know. If I was broke, they’d understand and give me company as I heated up a pack of noodles. If I was down, they’d break down the door with cake and doughnuts. They gifted me books, chocolates, love, and affection. And I gifted them back in equal measure.

I wasn’t ignoring your existence, all this time. I knew, like I knew the moment I saw your new friends, that they would get bored of you. I knew they were using you, and I tried my level best to warn you, time and again. You were too caught up in making memories, going crazy, partying all night, and deceiving yourself that you were living the fairytale college life.

The years sure flew by, didn’t they? We all graduated, and we all gathered to celebrate. I noticed your conspicuous absence, and I wondered where you were. I saw your friends, and they were still laughing and carrying on like nothing was amiss.

It was later, much later, that I came to know how you’d been cheated by those you held near. They had used you, made you spend money you didn’t have, on things you didn’t want, just so you could please them and earn that appreciative nod that you so badly craved. You were broke, desperate, lost and hated. Yes, I said hated. Because, while you were making your memories with shallow people, you hurt innocent people in the process, and that hurt them. It changed the way they saw you, and the way they saw the world. You lost the most precious thing you could possible lose: Love.

Today, fast-forward to 5 years later, I still have the old group of friends, and making more every day. Yes, there are people who I don’t really maintain friendships with, and there are those who don’t maintain friendship with me. From what I gather, you are a bit of a loner these days, having just a handful of people you could call friends. Being cheated by those you considered near and dear sure has taken a toll on you, I would say.

So, you ask what has brought me to speak now? Nothing at all. I just want you know that though we will never go back to being friends, I will be here. I understand what you’ve gone through, but that does not mean you must give up on the world. Please go back to being the bright, happy soul you were, before things went crazy. We were young and stupid, and we all tend to make mistakes. We can either live in the hurt of the past and pretend the world around us hasn’t moved forward, or we could take these situations and realise that, though there are a lot of bad people in this world, there are far more good ones. Open you heart and learn to accept the love that the world is trying to give you. Perhaps you will be hurt again, but now that you know you are strong enough to have moved forward once, you can do so all over again.

This is not an attempt to belittle you or take you down a notch. I just want you to know that, in spite of your mistakes, you are still a warm and gentle person, and I wish you all the love in this universe.

Yours lovingly,

An old friend.

Note: Isn’t it strange? A person becomes not someone ‘you’ve known’, but someone you ‘knew’. There are only two scenarios where this could happen: Either they are no longer alive, or they no longer exist in your life. What’s worse?

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Indian Pride. Yes.

Yes, I am Indian.

We are a bunch that famously fight among ourselves, and yet defend our lot tooth and nail against any ‘foreigner’ who dares to talk ill about us. We lash out against the devils who throw garbage on the streets before we proceed to urinate on compound walls. We scream out on social media platforms about empowerment of women right before we get drunk out of our senses and beat up our wives and children.

We worship cricket. It is a religion that is the very heartbeat of the nation. We wouldn’t hesitate to vandalise the house of a respectable and hard-working cricketer just because his poor form lost us one match.

I’ve travelled a bit. Not as much as I’d have loved it, of course, but I’ve visited enough countries and gotten into conversation with enough new friends to know that we Indians are renowned for:

  1. Bollywood-Gyrating, hip-shaking, shimmery, bright dancing actresses, crooning love songs, handsome heroes, out-of-the-world hero fight scenes, the glitz, the glamour, you name it.
  2. India-Pakistan rivalry – “I’m from India.”
    “Oh, you must despise those Pakistanis then!!”
    “Uh, NO I don’t!”
    “Are you sure you’re an Indian?”
    -_-
  3. Dragonizing food – “I’m from India”
    “You must love curry, then!”
    “What kind of curry?”
    “You know, CURRY curry!”
    “Oh. Yes, absolutely.”
    “And you must hate any food that’s not spicy!”
    “No, nothing like that. I love all types of food!”
    “So you eat chilli with everything!”
    “No, I just meant… Ok, never mind.”
  4. Learning – India churns out doctors, engineers, professors and lawyers at an alarming rate every year, and several make a beeline for foreign countries. Hard-working, simple, focused and clever, my lot are favourites in the world of technology and development.
  5. Cheapness – It shames me and yet it gives me a strange sort of pride to say this, but this is indeed one of the things my lot are known for. The words ‘sale’, ‘discount’ and ‘offer’ can spark such raw energy and joy in us, and haggling is pretty much a trait from birth rather than a developed sense. Starting with the hapless vegetable seller (“How much?” “Forty-nine rupees.” “Here’s fifty, give me a bunch of coriander leaves for the change.”)
  6. Money – This comes as a surprise to many, but many Indians are among the richest in the world. Well, that must be the case, seeing how my lot tend to shop in the thriftiest ways devised by mankind.

Tourists who wish to visit India are often confused and hesitant, yet eager and curious. On one side, the exotic charm of the vast and diverse country draws them to us, while terrifying stories of burglary, attacks and fights strike fear. But as a true-blue Indian, let me tell you this: Visit my country. Take the chance. Roam the countryside. Smile at strangers, and get that smile back, with a little extra thrown in. Travel by local buses (But try to avoid getting pickpocketed). Eat that spicy food. True, you will curse yourself, and your taste buds and your intestines will curse you too, but the experience is worth it.

It is not just a country. It has snow-clad mountain peaks, barren and stinging hot desert, lush tropical lagoons, mighty roaring seas, bustling loud cities, and quiet heavenly villages. It is joyous, bright, loud, and its crazy. The massive melting pot of cultures, languages, beliefs, hopes, prayers and dreams culminate in the greatest experience called India.

So says this proud Indian. 🙂

Facebook and its drama. Again.

I’ve said this time and again, heard it too. The modern day drug called Facebook has been the undoing of us all. A decade ago, none of us would have even dreamed of letting the whole world know when we felt happy eating a burger and felt scared watching a horror movie.

The levels of hypocrisy on Facebook is going through the roof as I speak. I’ve watched not one but way too many friends berate their fellow man for posting photographs of their honeymoon and the subsequent photos of babies. The same critique is forgotten within an hour when they decide that the world must see a half-eaten sandwich, bite mark and all.

Then again, there are the lovely folk who decide that what simply we must see are 20 different angles of their rat-resembling-dog chewing a moldy old slipper.

In the midst of this internet circus, we have the silent stalkers, the birds of prey, quietly gliding through the newsfeed of people’s lives, barely more than a shadow, hardly a whisper in the wind. They are capable of unearthing the most embarrassing and painfully pathetic college status updates and images of those wild student nights. Yet, the stalkers are kinder by a larger margin. They will not like, share or comment on the aforementioned post, (probably to avoid giving you the potentially mortifying thought of someone being 2011-deep in your timeline.)

They will, however, cross your path one day, and their memories are so sharp and so finely honed, they will instantly drop a gentle but resounding bombshell of a reminder that your ‘FrNz r D LuVvV oF mAh LyF’-status-at-2 AM-on-December-12th-2010 was highly amusing, not to mention childish.

At the bottom of all this hullabaloo, we have the dreamers. Their heads and hearts are often floating on the clouds in what could possibly be a weed-induced stupor, and they have decided that what the world needs is more love. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m all for the love thing, the hug thing, the care thing. But when you are in the desperate waist-deep hunt into the newsfeed for that video of the bouncy hyper dog chasing balls out of a tennis training robot (because yes, that is a funny video, and you must show it to your friend, because, come on: Who hasn’t see that cutie, amirite?), you can’t help but get bogged down by the love posts. Now, these are no mere “Love makes the world go round” scenarios. No sirree! That would be WAY too unspecific!

‘A sister is the blessing that the good God Almighty showered upon you. Like and share if you love your sister.’ (Behind the scenes: “Hey, where’s my favourite sweater? OH MY GOD, IS THAT KETCHUP ON MY FAVOURITE SWEATER? YOU’RE DEAD MEAT! MOOOOM???”)

‘The brother is the first friend and the first protector in your life. Like and share if you agree.’ (Again, behind the scenes: *punch* *pinch* *drag by the hair* *scream* *smash* “THAT’S IT, I’M TELLING MOM!”)

‘Mother is the greatest gift, God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers in his likeness. Like, share and do the Macarena if you believe in Mother’s love!’ (Behind the scenes: “Sweetheart, would it be possible for you to wash that spoon, please?” “MOOOOOM, can you not irritate me?? Can you not comprehend that I’m busy here??”)

Even poor hapless God faces the onslaught of love, bad grammar and all. ‘God will save when the time is at the darkest. Like to show you like God (but of couse!), share if you love God, dance around a sacrificial offering in a feathered purple derby hat and ignore this post if you love Satan!’

Then, of course… We have the life-savers. Cancer, AIDS, poverty, starvation, lack of drinking water, clothing, shelter and every other form of suffering known to mankind have been solved with us liking, commenting and sharing posts, for which Facebook and other multinational companies have agreed to donate a dollar a share.

Also, there are the lovely specimen who decide that the world simply must see their child standing, see it walking, see it wobbling, falling, sitting, peeing, jiggling, learning, swimming, you name it. By all means, you are free to upload an album of your child’s achievements (Nobody cares, but we just want it condensed into one album so its just that much more bearable to scroll through). Individual albums for the walk, the wobble, the reading, and the swimming, they tend to sort of (Ok, they absolutely) bore the piss out of the rest of the world.

I am by no means stating that I have never been guilty of any of the above, far from it. I personally tend to go slightly overboard with the political and current affairs memes and posts, making myself just a tad bit more unbearable.

This being the 21st century, and me being smack in the midst of the Butthurt Ages, I convey my heartfelt apologies to any offences this post may have caused, and you, the one who feels that I was pointing my accusatory internet finger at you, please know that this post is purely a work of fiction, and it absolutely does not bear any resemblance to real persons living, dead or Facebooked.

Oh how Mr. Zuckerberg must be laughing his way to the bank!

Is Advertising Turning Pestilential?

First off, for the more definition-challenged ones among us: what exactly is advertising? According to a definition by the ever-reliable Wikipedia, advertising is a form of marketing communication that is used to encourage, persuade or manipulate the audience (the viewers, listener; sometimes a specific group) to take or continue to take some action.

In layman terms, advertising (supposedly) means grabbing the attention of the viewer. To achieve this purpose, there are several hundreds of advertising companies whose source of income is through the creation of advertisements that are attractive and catch the eye of the viewer and/or listener.

Which person living in India in the 90’s does not remember the enchanting strains of ‘Nirma’ washing powder and ‘Hamara Bajaj’? The advertising during those golden days were charming, easy for the audience to relate to, fun to watch, and most importantly: They knew their limit.

To be fair, though, there are beautiful messages being incorporated into several advertisements today. They all cause one to stop and think deeply, stop what we are doing, and contemplate our life and our choices.

With the expansive growth of technology today, we always stay connected to the world ‘on-the-go’. The whole world is at our fingertips, and at any given moment, there are millions logged on to the internet. It therefore comes as no surprise that advertisers have used the internet as a massive means of reaching out to the target audience.

These massive strides in development, however, leave one wondering: is the rise of digital advertising turning it into a pestilential botheration?

Avid readers are often seen visiting page after page and blog after blog, hunting down stories, news columns, lifestyle articles, e-books, opinion pieces etc. On a good number of such pages, one would find it unsurprising to find huge banners, pop-up links and flashing icons that are meant to capture audience attention.

Here is a quick look at some of the types of ads that have been internationally voted to be the most insufferable annoying:

  1. Pop-ups – Without a trace of doubt, the most irritating form of advertising would be the pop-up ads that attack you out of nowhere, often leaving you confused and wondering what just happened. Pop-up ads have been voted across the world as the most irritating.
  2. Email advertising spam – these often appear in your email inbox. The first few times, you open them up just out of curiosity. Quickly, you realize that the content is nothing but downright annoying and a waste of time, but the advertisements just don’t stop flowing in, with blaring messages of offers, promotions, discounts and sales. In almost all such cases, the reader of the mail is driven to such a high level of irritation that he gives up his subscription to the page altogether and decides that the page is not worth visiting.
  3. Floating ads – these are the infamous ones. We all know them, though we wish we didn’t. These ads are often present on news portals, where they just float, drift, jump, slide or pop in on the main page, obstructing a good part of the text that we were engrossed in. To make matters worse, they just refuse to disappear, and the viewer, with one wrong click, is catapulted into a world of chaos that ends only when the page is hastily and angrily closed.
  4. The noise-makers – the creator of the noise-making ad truly deserves a high-five. In the face.  These ads are the ones who sneakily start playing (often very annoying) audio. For those of us internet users who believe in the power of multiple open tabs: We’re doomed! Attempting to figure out where exactly the annoying lecture is coming from, one is forced to go through the 20-odd open tabs.
  5. The sporadic blinkers – These are guaranteed to cause severe eye damage, particularly in low light conditions.
  6. The stalkers – The particularly creepy ones, these cause one to uncomfortably squirm in their seat. These are banners of products on online shopping portals that follow you around on every other page you visit, sitting silently in a corner and watching your every move. Creepy.

All humor aside, one must be forced to accept that advertising today is not just about grabbing the potential consumer’s attention. It is about attacking their sensory organs, forcing the viewer to take note, stopping just short of holding up a placard saying “Hey look at me! I’m here screaming for your attention!”

While one is forced to admit that yes, a great deal of hard work is indeed being put into the planning, creation and execution of an advertisement, the fact that a multi-billion dollar industry relies on attacking its viewers and stampeding all over the amount of time a viewer gets to spend online leaves one wondering about the level of desperation that the advertising world has been catapulted into.

All right, so let’s say the ads pounce on us. That would still be acceptable, if these bombardments were actually worth the time, effort and finance that the makers spent on it. In what could be a vicious cycle, advertisements constantly focus on man’s eternal vanity and self-consciousness. Come on, you all know what I’m talking about. Are you dark? We have a product that makes you fair! Are you friendless? Use our product and be the life of the party! Men, don’t you want all the ladies to swoon and gush every time they set eyes on you? Use our product coupled with that smoldering smile and not only will you be transported into a tropical paradise, but babes in bikinis will be pouncing on you every step you take!

Crossing a wide array of ridiculous scenarios, such ads ensure that the viewer’s emotions range from annoying to disgusting to downright utmost contempt.

To cut a long story short: It is the viewer’s humble opinion that it is high time advertisers buck up, get their act right, and make a serious, heartfelt attempt to realize that a major part of the audience is getting real tired of their mind-numbing stereotypical advertisements that assail the senses and cause us to question the very fiber of our being.

The views expressed here are purely those of the author. Apologies are being extended in advance to any sentiments that may have been offended by the opinions expressed.:O

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