Honestly

I love metaphors.
Marshmallow cheeks, Rainbow veins, deep ocean eyes,
But honestly, I’m always out of words,
on seeing the most beautiful things and I prefer it anyway.

Most Friday nights I like the company of my tots,
Loud music and tequila shots;
But when I sit next to my grandma,
and with her old wrinkled skin
she reads her rosary
and recites the epics to me,
Honestly, there’s no place I’d rather be.

I’m not an Introvert, only disinterested maybe,
My preference for coffee over tea,
Or the way I hold my glass of wine,
reveals absolutely nothing about me.

And Honestly, daddy’s old oversized tees,
fit me better than Vero-Moda and Gucci.
Keep your judgments to yourself I plea,
if you find me in a kurta with a bindi.

And you’d never know, but I listen to ghazals when it rains,
And dance on 90’s Bollywood songs on rough days.
But when this world gets cynical, Slim Shady is my real bae.

I don’t understand your need to be my cypher,
As if I wear my soul on my body for you to decipher.
For long, I have been far too many people
And categorizing me is just not achievable.
I’m not a barcode you can use to scan my world,
I’m a Lioness, nothing like the cloned herd.

If you’re still searching for words, consider yourself a fool.
Because honestly, I’m beyond your labels of cool or old school.
I am a virago, to be put into a pigeonhole, I courteously overrule.

By Shriya Agarwal

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Growing Up

It is a journey of change, of a person’s transition from a child into an adult. However, despite having such definition, this term ‘Growing Up’, still seems rather ambiguous to me. It indeed begins when we are born. But when does it reach conclusion? What is the culmination of this arduous process? Where exactly on our timeline do we know that we are grown up? Many of you would quote to me the legal definition phrased by the world’s governments, ‘any person of 18 years of age or over is to be considered an adult’. But is that what you sincerely believe? Is just a passing of time enough to define the maturity of beings as complicated as humans? Does spending 18 years on this earth by default make you up to par on all fronts be it physical, emotional or spiritual?

Once upon a time, there lived a child. Let us call him James. He was a kindred and carefree spirit born under the sign of the Twins. By nature, he was inquisitive, insatiably curious about the happenings around him. The boy was a quick study, eager to learn, eager to please. His parents found great joy and pride in the growth of their little boy as he developed a happy personality, finding friends even in the unlikeliest of places. He had an effect on others that made them follow him and he in turn reveled in their companionship. However, as all human beings are, James too was not a simple person. He had multiple levels to his self; one that he showed to the public at large, another that was reserved for his close friends, another for his intimate family and yet a last one, entirely for himself. James excelled at all that was expected of him as he grew through his early years of childhood, be it academic or social or personal. This made society perceive him as an exceptionally mature individual, a child who was very wise for his age. However, as all things do, James perfect childhood too ran into
some turbulence as the boy descended into adolescence.

An important point to be noted here is that as varied were the levels to James’s personality, so was the development of each of them. We all know about the outermost public level. The innermost however, the one reserved solely for himself, was not so caught up with James’s ‘growth’. On the rare occasions that he found himself alone, he would interact with this facet of his personality. This person who came out only in times of solitude knew the actual truth of James’s being, the boy was only doing what was expected of him and there was truly nothing he did that was of his own will. He had only encountered one true love, a deep-seated passion for reading. Adolescence saw him through the awakening of new perspectives and new emotions. The previously happy and extroverted child grew into a quiet teenager, speaking when necessary, acting when needed. True, he still had his friends from childhood, he even made some new ones. He also still possessed that quality to inspire fellowship in those around him, even though his inner self knew it was only by treading the expectations of his society. As he approached the cusp of ‘adulthood’, his outer-self grew more independent while his inner self became more attached to his past, clinging tightly to the vestiges of his
childhood, the adulation of his parents, the company of his friends. Adolescence also saw him through the rigors of love and infatuation, the unbridled joy of finding a partner as well as the terrible anguish of a lost love. The day he turned 18 was a day of joyous celebration for the boy was now a man, an adult so to say. But James’s inner self knew the truth, ‘adulthood’ was just a word and he was still, just a child.

James knew that despite the broad spectra of emotions that had beseeched him in puberty, all his experiences as a teenager, he had yet to mature. He did not know yet, what it meant to be an adult, what it meant to be considered mature. He fell in love once more, but something was different this time. The feelings in him, the reactions of his body and mind seemed somewhat dulled around the edges, lacking the sharpness of his adolescent experience. The emotions were indeed strongly felt and the relationship was on a happy path but this too was not meant to be. Seeing his love smile for another man, laughing in the other man’s arms once again brought him pain. But this was not the anguish he had known before. It was a pain mingled with a happiness of seeing his love feeling happy and content, even if it was with another man. At that point in his life James knew, he had indeed grown a little, that he had taken a step closer to ‘adulthood’.

Going away to college had started James on the path to independence and self-reliance.
The musings of his inner self had started to surface, to manifest them as his desires and
actions that he could truly call his own. The man that he was growing into was even more quiet than his teenage self. James was exploring his inner self for the first time uninhibited, and as all things do, this too came at a price, the price being the loss of his ‘companions’, the loss of his parents’ adulations. Not to say his parents didn’t love him anymore, for a parent always loves their offspring. But James knew that their relationship had changed and he was no longer their lovely little boy. And once more, James knew, he had grown a little more.

As the months passed by in college, he involved himself in his studies and pursuits of his own choosing. The demands on his time started reaching a crescendo, every waking moment being given to further his progress. Sleep became a luxury, food only a necessity to survive and true love and friendship a coveted dream just beyond his reach. A few months passed in this manner and his body and mind began to feel the consequences. The stress of living started catching up to him at times and would always leave him worse for the wear. Life for James had devolved into a never-ending rush, an existence of constant trials and challenges. The sweet memories of childhood had begun growing dull and the sharpness of adolescence too had lost its edge. Always having lived close to his parents as a child, always having the company of friends, he had never truly felt alone. And yet at this point in his life, it had been more than a year since he last saw his parents, since he last had their arms wrapped around him, over a year since he had last talked to his best friend. At this stage, James finally had an epiphany. He had finally realized that he had reached the culmination something; a journey that had begun long ago had finally ended. And James finally knew, that he had become an adult. He now understood what it meant to be mature. He now finally knew, the true essence of growing up.

By Tanmay Aggarwal

Breaking the silence

Hollywood – a world of fame, is often seen as an explicit and exposed dimension. Like the glitzy and skimpy fashion, there’s very little that’s not out there in the open to discuss or caught by the paparazzi’s cameras. A world where everyone has a mind and voice of their own and has a weight commensurate to their worth.

With most of us having bred these thoughts, the sexual misconduct allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein that came out last October and catalysed the #MeToo campaign came to many of us as a shock. Not as much for the fact that sexual harassment is still rampant in one of the most frank and progressive industries of the world, as for the fact that no one spoke about it for this long and that this movement only paced in 2017.

From famous TV artists like Kevin Spacey and Ed Westwick to 2017’s Golden Globe winner, James Franco, many unexpected names and encounters have come forth since the Weinstein fallout which is both disheartening and alarming. The victims include as many people outside the industry as within with Ashley Judd, Reese Witherspoon, and Lady Gaga being the prominent ones to speak of the ugly truth.

There are many interpretations from all that has transpired in the past few months, but the one I see in red, underlined, is the fact that even an industry that boasts to be one of the most liberal ones, set up in the most modern country, is grappling with pervasive sexual harassment. This shows that it’s not the progressiveness of the place or the country, but the individual mindset that makes all the difference and can change the game.

In my opinion, sexual predators are defined solely by their mentality, not by the situation or the environment. Whether you choose to respect another person’s being is solely dependent on your thinking. In the case of Hollywood, it is worsened by fame and misleading reputations that help offenders cover their misdoings. So the question really is “What is the solution to this age-old problem?”

Boycott and isolation.

Punishment post investigation is only intuitive, but what truly makes a difference is making the offender realize the wrong they did by shunning them. As friends, as supporters, as co-workers or just as humans, we should unitedly boycott and isolate anyone who has misbehaved sexually, as was done in the case of Harvey Weinstein. A joint opposition stand, like the elegant one headed by the women in Hollywood, goes a long way. Social media is a convenient tool that helps do this and has only brought force to the MeToo campaign. Hollywood did right this time around and other trades should learn from this.

The big takeaway is that fighting sexual harassment in any industry shouldn’t be only the victims’ concern or the women’s concern. It should be the entire industry’s concern and every member should join hands and speak out or help others speak out, adding fuel to a cleansing fire. The activism in the past few months is a testimony to this. Your words, your stand, and even your silence speaks volumes. To wrap up, I emphasize we all be silence breakers when the time comes, like those featured on Time magazine’s Person of the Year feature for 2017. And like I mentioned before, you can even do it in silence.

 

A Broken Family, A Broken Dream

A tear drips onto a memory book
How I wish I could return to the past
It’s the good times I want to return to

There hangs a lonely sickening feeling
The world that I once loved, slips off my fingertips
Leaving behind a kingdom in ruin

The glitter faded to gray
The colors faded away
Until black and white remained

Back when mommy was always happy and funny
Her pretty black hair, usually tied up in a bun
Making pancakes every alternate day

Back when daddy let me help him plant flowers in our garden
Helping me every night with all the hard stuff out there
Reading stories in all sorts of crazy voices

Back when daddy still loved mommy
Back to when we leapt around the so-tall flowers
Eternally a time of love and joy

Now they are drifting away
Maybe I could have prevented all of this disaster
A miserable blank replacing the glowing smiles

Now, nobody is smiling
Nobody is happy
Because nobody can even fake it

There is no glue that could put them back together
I am still searching for that glue
To join all our cracked and shattered dreams

In the middle of the night, I sit and I write
The wind no longer makes me cold
The sun doesn’t make my skin warm

If only I could do something
To get mommy and daddy back together
To save my family, tangled in knots

By Rohitanshu Kar

Low spirit

My cheeks soak wet;
Emotions under heavy debt;
Words I met act like net;
Looking through a lunette, I bet;

Source of the pain is difficult to classify;
All my rage does is intensify;
My heartbeats they amplify;
Terrified by the reason I verify, testify;
What do they signify, why can’t I simplify?

Time made me its slave;
Living within this enclave;
Feeling buried beneath the grave;
Crying out for things I could’ve saved;

I try to remold,
I remain blindfold;
Can’t keep a stronghold;
Things stay uncontrolled, way beyond threshold;
Feelings lay untold, problems unsold.

 

-Hariom Hudiya

The Stranger With The Light

A world so deeply pained,
And all efforts went in vain.
Yes, the light had gone missing somewhere,
And you brought it back again.

I thought that I had changed,
Indeed, this thought was insane.
Now learned that that was me who led the change,
I left those thoughts to search new lanes.

I then resolved to follow,
the good words thy had sent,
In your face, I learnt lessons,
Till yesterday, I hadn’t.

You wiped the picture clear,
How my steps should I steer.
Like a blessing you had come,
A stranger, who is no more one.                                                                                  –

-Sakshi Ragini

Net Neutrality

In lieu of the recent events that have taken place and the fact that we fear the eventuality of it reminds us of the time when in 2015 the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India also known as TRAI published a 117 page paper named Consultation Paper on Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services posing a threat to ‘Net Neutrality’ and leading to widespread indignation throughout India. So what were these ‘Over-the-top services (OTT)’? Well, Over-the-top (OTT) services refer to the services ensured to the people by different companies without any involvement of multiple-system operator(MSO). So for example – a Skype video call is an Over-the-top (OTT) service and the telecom company (Airtel, Vodafone, Idea etcetera)  falls under the category of a multiple-system operator (MSO). So you don’t have to pay Airtel or Vodafone for the Skype call. The paper published by TRAI was to discuss conditions under which the OTT services or your Skype call could be charged. This transgressed the internet’s guiding principle which we commonly refer to as Net Neutrality.
Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is a concept that preserves our right to communicate freely online, protects free speech on the internet and most importantly it prevents the telecom operators from ostracizing a specific portion of the internet and disallowing users from visiting some specific sites.

The recent outbreak of parleys on Net neutrality was fuelled by the decision of Federal Communications Commission, the governing body for interstate communications in The United States of America, to approve Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to scrap the net neutrality protections. Now unless and until the vote gets reversed, the end of a net neutral internet in the States is inexorable.

So why is Net Neutrality so important?

Well, without the Net Neutrality rules, companies like Airtel and Vodafone would be totally free to exercise their control over which websites you are able to visit. These companies can make changes and ensure that the content which they don’t support is accessible to you at much slower speeds than normal or not accessible at all. They can hide views, speeches, videos and content of the political parties they don’t like and excessively promote the same of the political parties they do support and accentuate their chances of winning.These very telecom operators can easily charge extra money in exchange for providing access to certain specific websites such as Netflix, Facebook, Instagram.

Open Internet allows people to avoid and bypass the conventional media and raise their voice against the wrongdoings of politicians, bureaucrats, tax evaders etcetera. Don’t you think a restricted internet would put politicians, corrupt businessmen, tax evaders at ease?

What about the startups which rely heavily on the open internet for their businesses to grow? With all the extra money that would have to be paid to access services, do you think they would stand a chance in front of the big shots of the industry?

When you have a conversation on the phone, do you let your telecom operator decide what and whom you will be speaking and listening to respectively? So why let them decide what content you are able to access online.

All I’m saying is that for growth and healthy competition within the society, we need to have an unrestricted flow of ideas and content which demands an open internet in this modern world. Our forefathers made this constitution and provided us with the right to speech and expression, I think it should apply to the internet too.

By Nripendra Mishra

Soulless Race

Standing at the frontier,
Bombs are all I hear;
All I smell is fear;
Humanity seems to disappear.

Witnessing this dreadful wraith,
With my brother’s blood they, bathe;
His lifeless body I swathe,
Dead and down hung my faith.

In the race of becoming superpower,
Taking decisions like Eisenhower ;
Now comes the dismal hour,
World is on the verge of devour.

We need to change our mentality,
No war no brutality,
Can we kill this fatality?
Can we bring this to reality?

– Hariom Hudiya