The Curious case of Chindians

It’s Sunday.

A day which starts rather late in the City of Joy; it’s a rest day after all.

Yet, I’m up early. 6 AM, the clock says. I’ve lived in the city for 8 years now, but today’s gonna be the first time I visit the city’s original Chinatown- Tiretti Bazaar.

The roads are empty and the air is fresh, quite unlike the scene you’ll observe just 4 hours later in the same place, as it transforms into just another vegetable market full of dusty bylanes and litter. But for now, it is peaceful.

As peaceful as the face of the first vendor we visit. He’s been here a long time now. He’s seen his people come and go. Some went to Tangra, fondly referred to as new Chinatown. Most took a bigger leap and went all the way to Canada, Australia and Singapore.

He persisted, though.

Just like his cuisine. The dumplings I taste there are nothing like any momo dish I’ve had before. The Chicken broth is again distinct in taste. The Red bean bun, an item I’m trying for the first time, is incredibly soft and subtle at the same time.dsc00020

The man is a native Chinese, and his ancestors belonged to the Hakka region of China. It is believed that they were brought along way back during the time of Warren Hastings, by a man called Tong  Achi, to work in a sugar mill. After fragmenting into different professions a few years later, most of them amalgamated into the local culture. A good number of them worked in the tanneries, which were huge back then and employed a lot of people.

Apparently, some of them even went ahead and established licensed opium dens, popularly called ‘Cheena Bazaar’.

A lot of them got married to Indian locals, leading to another distinctive class of people, who we today call Chindians, a portmanteau of their two ancestries.

A lot of them can also be found in Singapore and Malaysia, naturally as a result of the significant incoming of the two ethnic groups in these countries. It wouldn’t be a big surprise to hear a name with a very Chinese sounding first name and a typical South Indian surname.

Inspite of being a rather small group, Chindians have been excelling in many areas. Take for example, Nicol David whose name is almost synonymous with female squash after holding the World No.1 ranking for a record breaking 108 months.

Closer home, one of India’s biggest names in badminton, commonwealth gold medallist Jwala Gutta also belongs to this rare group. Drifting away from sports, Singapore’s Foreign Minister, Vivian Balakrishnan is another addition.

Despite having such big names amongst the group, Chindians haven’t really had the same amount of recognition  as other mixed race. They are a prime example of a small community which came together due to certain limitations. A good extension to this would be the case of Guyanese Chindians,  who came about just because the country had an oversupply of male Chinese workers( coolies) with no Chinese women to balance the scale. They married Indian women instead, adding to the Chindian population.

It’s fascinating how communities come together, and our species slowly evolves in the process as well. Chindians are just a small chip in a huge wooden block of such mixed race communities.

It would definitely not be a big surprise to have our descendants reading another such write up on an human-alien race in the near future.

  • Shivansh Mishra

Dag Nul

It was a typical spring morning in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. The monotonous routines of the residents began pretty early in this area. The early morning struggle to fetch water for their day-to-day use had become a staple for them over the years. The plumbing was inefficient in the major parts of this community and the only source of water for the residents were public taps which were generally rationed.

On this rather humdrum day, Thato was getting ready for school. He was a generally large kid for his age and spent most of his time indoors. He didn’t like going out and playing basketball with the other kids when he could very well be reading a nice book. He was a smart kid and studied in one of the best schools in Cape Town. His hard work had paid off as a scholarship and he was getting quality education at Pinelands High School. It was pretty far away from his house and his neighbours ridiculed him for going to a “White” school.

His father had already left for work at the factory and his mother was packing his lunch. She worked as a waitress at a nearby diner and hence her job needed her a little later in the day. Thato filled a bowl with cereal, poured some milk into it and let it soak for a while.

He was scrolling through his newsfeed while eating. “Day Zero is here”, the news articles said. “10 things YOU do that actually waste a lot of water. Number 7 will surprise you!”, the magazines said. “0 day is a government conspiracy… man #woke”, said Darren, his classmate. The posts had been the same since the official announcement was made, over a month ago.

Thato finished his breakfast, kissed his mother bye and walked over to the bus stop. Pinelands’ school buses didn’t come all the way down to the Flats, so he had to use public transport. The bus took around 45 minutes to reach his school. The bus to Pinelands rarely had any people from Khayelitsha and the conversation and feel of the bus was more like the rest of Cape Town.

“How am I gonna wash ma’ dog man? There isn’t ‘nuff water for meself!”

The Day Zero ruling had shaken the entire city. Last year, when the threat of Day Zero was looming in, the government had upgraded the water security to level 6B after gradually increasing it in the years prior to that. Reports came out stating that 6B restrictions were sufficient and Day Zero can be pushed indefinitely. This was around the time when Cape Town came under the world’s media spotlight. Many researchers worked on ways to improve conditions, desalinate the seawater and “cure the drought”, but the rains never came. The reservoirs were almost dry and Cape Town was forced to go to level 7 restrictions.

The bus stopped a few meters away from Thato’s school. Public buses weren’t allowed to go through the school zone, so Thato had to walk the last stretch. Johnathan and Nancy were waiting for him right outside the entrance.

“Bro we’ve been out here for 50 years! Hurry up next time, would you?”

“Yeah! Johnny here has been telling me awful things about what will happen after tomorrow, I just can’t listen to anymore of his BS!”

“Oh please, a year later, when the war starts you’ll remember this day and realize I was right all along!”

Thato just grinned at them. His daily entertainment quota was filled by their non-stop bickering. The three friends walked into the main gate and shuffled through the crowd, into their classroom. Mrs. Moodley was already addressing the class when they arrived.

“…and so, the school will be closed tomorrow. Ah! I see the three of you decided to grace the class with your presence after all. Take your seats quickly, I’ll be giving out holiday assignments in a while.”

The school was abuzz with gossip about Day Zero, and so was the entire city. The majority of the population were about to face the biggest water shortage of their lives. It was the closest that they had ever been to a water apocalypse. Laws would change, and so would lawmakers. Priorities and requirements would also change.

Despite all of this, the lives of Thato and the other residents of Khayelitsha would be devoid of change. What the rest of the city was about to face has been their constant for many years. The water problem was evident for many years, but only when the rich started facing the problem did the world look at Cape Town. The situation could be compared to that of a rare disease brought into limelight when contacted by a member of the higher classes. Cape Town’s Day Zero was Khayelitsha’s Day Twelve Thousand Four Hundred and Nineteen.

Happy World Water Day.

– NSVR

Lanes of Nostalgia

Life was much easier,

If not a lot better

When we weren’t tangled so deeply,

In the vicious web

Of complications and justifications.

When Noddy and Oswald were enough,

To bring back the lost smiles

On our forlorn faces.

 

Unfortunately,

Time flew by too quickly

And childhood turned to adolescence

In the blink of an eye.

Nursery rhymes got replaced by EDM,

Teen romance became the new genre

Skidding past the old pop up books.

And quite snobbishly,

Social media took the limelight,

Dimming the thin line

Between strangers and friends.

 

As I look back,

Nostalgia strikes violently.

Oh! How I long for my childhood

To sweep me out of my nightmares

And grace me with a second chance,

To relish the gullible life

That got lost somewhere,

While chasing a lucrative career,

Which is no less than a mere illusion.

 

Even today,

Inside my confused head,

Rationality and fantasy alike

Witness an unsettling tension

While scrolling down the internet,

Cause Disney shows refuse to be jilted

And web series be the current rage.

Tacos and cocktails remain unmatched

By the chocosticks and bubble candies,

That still serve our generation

With an empyrean pleasure,

Proportional to the happiness’s measure.

 

Though I am told,

By the hypocritical society,

To adhere to the rules

Prescribed for my old self,

The inner voice smirks slowly

with a sly smile and a wily face.

Paying no heed,

And resuming its juvenility,

With an aura of sanguinity.

But there are times,

When my ephemeral maturity chides me

For my childish approaches

And impulsive actions.

Begging me to behave,

Asking me to act my age.

Although, it never really happens.

 

Maybe,

Or most probably,

I am not ready yet

To land in the murky arena

Of lies and feuds,

Or I am just too afraid,

To give away my privileges

Of committing mistakes unreservedly

And thinking out loud,

Without getting judged.

 

Till then,

I will permit myself,

To behave as a kid

Without any reservations.

Till then,

I better let the six-year-old

Prevail in the mind

Of a preoccupied eighteen-year-old!

 

-Raka Sinha

Why the WWE continues to live on.

The year is 2008. It’s Royal Rumble time. As known to die-hard fans, the stakes are high here: the winner gets a shot at a world championship at the grandest wrestling event of the year, WrestleMania.
John Cena is the last guy to enter a crowded but perplexed ring of heavyweights. Perplexed as this is a guy who was out with injury and supposed to enter a wrestling ring 3 months later.
The crowd is loving it. The 9 year old me is loving it. Triple H, the last man apart from Cena, is shell-shocked.
And then the inevitable happens. Triple H is eliminated.
Cena wins the rumble.
I am elated.

Exactly 10 years have passed.
In between those 10 years, the WWE went through a lot of changes, as did my attitude towards the company and pro-wrestling in general. For starters, my worst fear about WWE came true. I couldn’t keep track of the amount of times I was told that it’s fake.
And then, the truth dawned with a Wikipedia article.
WWE is scripted, it said. All results and matches were determined beforehand.
I was shocked.
This meant that behind the hair-raising Cena victory at Royal Rumble, was a commonplace screenwriter was it for me . I was done with WWE.
Till last year.
Somehow, a random WWE related video on YouTube translated into me binge-watching content day by day.
Some might call it nostalgia, but I found that 10 years on, something still made people consume WWE content.
To be completely honest, the promos had deteriorated exponentially. The once machoistic foul-mouthed wrestlers had transformed into kids fighting over a candy stick.
The wrestling had improved considerably though.The superstar’s ability is now given much  more focus rather than his body shape. This goes against WWE Chairman Vince McMahon’s love for the so called ‘big’ guys. WWE’s paradigm of  female wrestlers had fortunately shifted from a sexist ‘Diva’ image to a more professional one.
The way the company treats it employees also underwent a radical shift. With earlier employees being highly susceptible to drug and steroid overdoses, the company’s new Wellness Policy has been a great addition . Apart from this, better writing from the screenwriters has resulted in some great storylines .
The company has now started targetting the masses, with it realising that children are great potential lifelong clients.
There is still a certain charm that I find in a WWE contest. The referees, the pinfalls, the submissions, the signature manouvres, the reversals.  The way the company has preserved and evolved this aspect is something that still draws the older crowd. This is inspite of them knowing that each event is scripted.

After so many years, it is perhaps this aspect which made me touch this product again.
The 9 year old Cena fan inside me still remains spellbound by WWE.
As for the doubters, I would quote the great Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson : “It doesn’t matter what you think”.

-Shivansh Mishra
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Train of Thought

I sit in my AI class
On a dull Tuesday noon
My mind is lost
in Byzantine thought
So I write this poem,
‘cuz why the heck not.

I notice this reddish stain
Under my teacher’s collar
You know what else is red?
My mind started to figure
The Nazi flag with the swastika
That reminds me of Hitler!

Stalin was Hitler’s coeval
He domineered Soviet Russia,
The home of icy vodka.
Vodka in any form
Will make your vision blurred
Might as well suit up and ask
For it to be shaken and not stirred.

007 is British
And so was Captain Russell
The ball that he caught
Was declared a six.
He was deported to Africa!
What unfortunate politics!

Politics in the real world
Is all about the moolah
If I had all that money
Instead of the crooks, they murky
I’d get something so very cool
Like a sweet-ass dune buggy.

Dubai has extensive dunes
And also no income tax
Just like booze in modern Pondi,
Where VITians go to relax.

Pondi is in Tamil Nadu
Famous for Dosa and sambar
Looks like we’ve reached the destination,
That stain was probably sambar.

– NSVR

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

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

The Switch

Her chest tightened,
Into so many knots,
Juiced out and hung to dry.

Her mind in chaos,
Running with no destination,
Screaming for help,
Anyone? Anywhere?

Her eyes seeing,
Her ears hearing,
Not the waves crashing on the shore,
But the shadows of unformed people,
Familiar but strange.

Her conscience screaming,
She could feel the vibration of its voice,
But couldn’t make out the words.

She ran around,
Looking for the switch.
The lights were too bright,
The noise was too loud.
Scraping the walls with her nails,
Desperate.

Then she found it.
The tightening,

The shadows,
The screaming,
All gone.

Her eyes seeing,
Her ears hearing,
The waves crashing on the shore,
She looked down and smiled,
As she crashed too.

By Sowmiyaa Senthilkumar

Hey, It’s me!

Dear Reader,

Haven’t you always wondered what it is like to be inside a writer’s head? To understand why they think what they think and how it all works? Maybe you’ve wondered how it is like inside anybody’s head, but ironically, I can only provide you a perspective of what it’s like inside my own head, and I shall do so.

Over the years there have been three things that have intrigued me. One, is how we become the person we are today. Every day we are influenced by the things around us, subconsciously building our perceptions and beliefs based on the things we experience. People talk about individuality, about being yourself and following your own beliefs, and I think of how they do not realize that everything we are is a reaction to everything around. It is not possible to make decisions not affected by anything. Maybe we will know what we truly are if we had been alone, unaffected by everything else but ourselves. However, then we would merely exist and not live.

Knowing this, I sometimes wonder about everything that made me who I am today, and why I behave the way I do. It is as if I am a clay model, and I can be moulded into anything. Sometimes I am moulded and remoulded, different around different people. To the outsider, I seem to be an average person- intelligent, maybe a bit nerdy, with a streak of humour and sarcasm. But what’s more cliché than to try to break stereotypes? I’d like to assume that I am not your average nerd.

I have a lot of choices on who I’d like to be. Like I said, I am different around different people, and it depends on my mood. Sometimes I am the introvert, but sometimes I want to be the life of a room. Sometimes I think being famous and funny and having loads of friends would be nice. Sometimes, I think being sarcastic, having a few good friends and laying low in a crowd of people would suit me better. The more I think about this, the more I am led to believe that completely figuring yourself out is not an easy task. It is a quest of self-discovery. It makes me shudder to think about how people do not actually know themselves.

I am essentially the introvert. I don’t like initiating conversations or having small talk. I take my time trusting people, because the one time I let my guard down and tried being an extrovert, I did not like it. I want to know that people want to talk to me, but I don’t want them to actually come and talk to me because it’s a little unnerving. But when people do approach me, I’m very open if I have material to talk about, like my views on life, or books and character analysis. In a group of people, I’m more of an observer. Trying to find connections, to find the reason behind every little action people take, to give back stories to every other person I see. Why did she say that? What was that flicker in his eyes? Why did he smile? What inspires people to be who they are? I believe there is a story to everything. And writing those stories is what I try to do. I try to be empathetic, to put myself in other people’s shoes and see from their eyes. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction in reading people. For a writer may be a world trapped in a person, but aren’t we all?

The other things that really make me wonder are, firstly, if yawns are contagious, in a class full of sleepy yawning students how does a teacher not yawn? And secondly, if dinosaurs are extinct creatures, how did we find out they roared? For all I know they could be up there in dino heaven, squeaking to each other about how assuming we are.

Now that you have a glimpse of how it is like inside my head, I hope you can relate to me. But if you think I’m entirely crazy, I’ll let you in on a secret. I think I’m entirely crazy too. 

Sincerely,

A Writer.

 

Uncertainty

I don’t know if my eyes will meet the dawn
Tomorrow morning, when the sun gleams.
I don’t know if life will be the same,
Whether tomorrow night, I’ll see more dreams.

I don’t know if my shoulders will feel light,
Or my smile less arduous.
I don’t know if I’ll do better tomorrow
And be more wise and virtuous.

But as I leave for tomorrow on this golden night,
Staring at the stars and wondering,
I just hope you have all my answers
And are with me, gladly coming.

-Ananya Bal