When I was fourteen, I had newly discovered that my heart was capable of doing multiple things apart from pumping blood and storing cholesterol — it was also capable of magically racing like a royal horse each time someone spoke to me. On one such adolescent night, as I lay next to my cousin, almost as if she could hear my racing heart — and I don’t blame her for the thumping was loud enough to march a parade on — she said to me, “just never let him know how crazy you are about him”.

Years passed, I grew, the someone kept changing, and yet, on some nights, as I lay awake, I feel I haven’t moved much from that adolescent night when that piece of advice was offered to me as some sort of sorority legacy. I forgot to ask my sister, but I never forget to ask myself — why shouldn’t I tell him?

And is it even possible not to?

When just hearing someone’s name lights your face with a smile so powerful that it could power a whole country, there is little chance of, well, hiding your admiration. How do I stop myself from subconsciously twirling my hair or biting my lip? How do I tame my wild pulse that beats so fast one would think it wishes to tear out of my flesh to meet someone in person? How do I revert my playlist back to existentialist songs when suddenly the world seems to have more meaning and colour?

Most importantly, do I really have to?

This small frame of mine is compact, like a suitcase. Alongside my anxiety, issues, fat, and countless musings, I carry with myself seamless love that I try to contain in a pouch, loosely tied with hasty knots. But every once in a while, a certain someone makes their way through and unties those knots with their slender fingers and piercing gaze. Before I know it, my admiration is set loose and it infects the world around me with brighter colours and invincibility. The background noises in my life — the honking, the barking of dogs, the clock ticking, the fan moving — are all replaced with… imaginary violins. Tears and giggles both seem ready at the back of my throat, waiting to pour at the slightest triggers.

Is it humanly possible to hide such craziness?

For most bit, I do not wish to. I want to be available at beck and call. I want to take my net and catch all the stars in the sky and place them on my tongue, hoping to offer him an entire universe when he finally kisses me. I want to tidy myself and be a better person, I want to sing in my broken, smitten voice, and I want to walk on oceans if that is what it takes to be with him.

How do I hide a love so great that I would steal and borrow love from everyone else too, just in case mine fell a little short of filling his wistful heart with joy?

Why do I hide a love so great?

I want to turn over, softly shake my sister, and ask her why. I forget that now I only sleep next to loose ends.


The Boy Who Lived

Warning: This post may be triggering. It speaks of suicide, death, and depression. Also, it may not make a lot of sense — this post neither has a point nor a conclusion. I have no message to give out. These are loose ends that, I hope, one day I will learn how to tie. Until then, this is in loving memory of the boy who lived.

Everything was different one year ago. When this is taken out of context, one would say that that is how years roll by; that things rarely stay the same. That time snatches and gives, that time flows and never halts. And yet… and yet…

Death changes us. Some label this change as trauma while others label it as disillusionment. The essence remains that it changes us — it shakes us. We lost you one year ago and although I had expected time to considerably slow down, it is startling how quickly we are back to this calendar date.

~ 10/08 ~

You impacted my life greatly; both when you were with us and when you weren’t. Your presence was tangible — it was impossible to miss you. You were everywhere. You were loved and celebrated. And then you were gone, just like that, and your absence became equally tangible — it was, and is, impossible not to miss you. You are everywhere. You are loved… and celebrated.

For me, life completely changed one year ago. The people around me changed; relationships and power dynamics changed. At points I found myself in places where I thought I could catch a glimpse, a faint glimpse, of how you may have felt — I went through depression, through intolerable days, overwhelming emotions, and all throughout, I thought of you. Had you felt the same way?

So many questions continue to remain unanswered for me. In one year I have seen the lines between right and wrong quickly blur. Grey has become the predominant colour, and emotion — morality being grey, the sky being grey, the emptiness being grey. You have had an unprecedented ideological impact on me; I view the world much, much different now. For the first time, the change that I have gone through as a person is visible; almost like I can reach into my insides and touch the growth.

We were never what they would call ‘close’ — for me, you were a mentor. I saw you as someone that inspired me. Your faith in me and my capabilities was astonishing. You were the sunshine and when you left, the light went out of our lives and there was darkness everywhere. It was impossible to believe that someone, who was so dearly loved, so dearly cherished, found nothing worth holding onto. It scared me, it continues to scare me. As I replay memories, I tightly try to hold onto whatever little I have of you — hoping to bottle it all up and cork it before all these memories become hazy moments that I struggle to recall.

After your death, I saw hundreds of people from all across the country coming forward and talking about you. I saw them grieve; the grief of your loss united people who knew you little and loved you a lot, alike. I saw you on national news, in court proceedings, and in heartbroken messages. The night I heard about your death, I wept and thought that this would be a silent grief I will learn to come to terms with alone. However, what followed was much beyond my grasp — it was out of control. People chanted your name, they protested, there was anger, and there was endless pain. The chants continue to haunt me to this day. They are loud as ever. The anger, the pain, and the small victories we won for you in the last one year are loud as ever.

I have met lots of people in my life, Sushant, and they have touched me. You, however, have impacted me in ways more than you could have comprehended. Your presence was a guiding force and your absence is a void that I have embraced. Your absence reminds me, every day, of the inadequacies in my existence. In your decision, I have found my strength and my weakness. In your choice, I have found questions and answers. You are a light that I keep in my heart — a light that I resort to when I see mine extinguishing.

So thank you, and sorry. I am sorry that there were words left unsaid. I am sorry that I decided to wait for your response on WhatsApp, one that never came. I am sorry that I did not rush to you and tell you that you are loved and everything but a failure. I am sorry that I never built the bridges that would give me the opportunity of doing so.

But thank you, thank you for being both, the reason I found myself devastated and the remedy that helped me embrace my brokenness. Thank you for teaching me about death, and in that manner, about life. Thank you for the laughter and the guidance. Thank you for being a memory that I have carefully folded and leafed in an old book that I like to pick out every now and then. Thank you… for being who you were.

The boy who lived.

One year has passed by, and I thought of you every day.

Half and Half 

It shall always play out this way – you will meet someone new and they will fill your heart with joy, with hope, with butterflies.

You will be given new books, new music, and new stories to savour. You will relish each, slowly, chewing till the taste fills your being.

You will stay up nights, thinking. You will spend days, longing. You will smile more. You will shine a little more. The birds will sing. Violins will play.

Change, however, is eternal, and thus the wheels of change will move yet again –things will start falling apart. You will try to put them in place; frantically. You will race against time, you will push and pull – all in vain.

The atheist in you will pray; the numbness inside you will weep; emotions you didn’t know you had will surface. You will curse the day it all began.

You will find closure, though – of course, you will. They all do. It will heal. You will let it go. One day you will wake up and the emptiness won’t be the first thing that you feel. It will begin to get better.

And then, one day, as it rains and you travel with the wind blowing in your hair, a familiar song will play on shuffle.

A familiar song – one that came to be half-forgotten. Half savoured. Half-sung. A song that will sing of a time long gone. A time that was only half yours.

Loving An Emotionally Unavailable Person

Disclaimer: It sucks

Visualise yourself on a beach. Breathe in; slowly, deeply. Feel the sunlight on your skin; warm, tingly. Feel the cool wind in your hair; damp, sweet. Feel the peace inside your soul; fulfilling, whole. At a distant, you see a wave. Violent and gorgeous, it makes its way towards the shore. It washes over your bare feet, enough to overwhelm you, and then fill you with longing. You want it to stay, but it withdraws. Before you know it, the wave is a part of the sea again –the only traces of it ever being there are your damp feet and the washed sand.

That is what it feels like to love an emotionally unavailable person.

They will wash over you and catch you unguarded with their charm and eccentric aloofness. You will want them to stay, very much, at that. Before you know it, however, they will withdraw and join the sea, leaving you alone, damp and dry.

Loving an emotionally unavailable person is brutal, painful, and devastating. You will keep running and chasing endlessly. You will go over the top and do everything in your capacity to win over them. You will go on and on, hoping, wishing, that one day they will stop, turn back, look at you, and give in.

Spoiler: They most probably won’t!

If you have ever loved an emotionally unavailable person, you would know. They will keep you on the string –close, but not too close, far, but never too far. Usually charming, and good lord mostly seductive, they will sweep you off your feet and steal your heart. You will spend nights trying to replay events in your head but you will never figure out what it was about them.

Guess what? It is their unavailability itself that draws you towards them.

You will also be either told early on, or you will notice for yourself, that this person is… broken. They are distant and sceptical. They want you, but they don’t. They will always maintain a safe distance –close enough for you to long for them, far enough for them to remain inside their shell.

Remember the wave I told you about? The gorgeous, violent wave, that overwhelms and then withdraws? Makes better sense now, doesn’t it? Just like the wave, they will also come back in intervals –coming and going, but never leaving or staying.

It will feel like a game.

Loving an emotionally unavailable person will keep you frustrated –guessing, weighing, and constantly shuffling. You will introspect and look in the mirror. There will be days that you will need them but not have them. You will look at yourself and wonder if there is something wrong with you. Here you are, laying out your soul on a platter for somebody who doesn’t seem to melt. Surely, there must be something wrong with you.

Reassurance: It’s not you.

It’s them –trust them when they say that. They are hurt, broken, and reeling from a time that has scarred them for a long while, or perhaps just for now. In fact, perhaps they aren’t hurt at all –there is a good chance that they simply do not want to commit, no matter what the reason. That is the problem, right there; they do not want to commit.

You can bare your soul and put all your love on a platter and it would not matter one bit if the other person does not want it.

You will continue loving them nevertheless. They are mysterious and broken. Sometimes they will let down their guards and let you touch their insecurities and feel their vulnerability. Before you know it, they will withdraw again. This will drive you crazy and make you want to help them.

It will hurt you, seeing them in so much pain. You want to alleviate the pain –you want to fix them. You want to wrap your arms around their pain and cup their loneliness. You want to take care of them and fiercely protect them. You want to, of course, you do.

You will also hope that maybe, just maybe if you are able to fix them, they will love you back. This charming person will turn around melodramatically, look at you, and kiss you hard. They will thank you and remember you as somebody that fixed them and gave them a new life altogether. Perhaps you will go down as their saviour –an indelible mark that all future lovers of theirs will see, envy, and try to erase.

Caution: Your attempts may all be in vain.

Here is the deal with emotionally unavailable people –you can’t fix them. You want to, but you can’t. They need time to themselves, they need their comfort, and they need their space. They will violently protect themselves from any pain that may eventually befall them. If you have the potential to break into their walls, they will violently keep you out as well –silent treatment, narcissism, abandonment, you name it.

Remember: It’s not their fault either…

The most important thing that I have learnt about emotionally unavailable people is that you have to stop making everything about you. It really is not their fault if that is how they are –they have issues, and there are things you can’t fix. You have to live with that.

You also must stop hoping after a certain point. They will probably never reciprocate what you feel simply because they enjoy the chase. They do not wish to commit, but they long for the affection. They will keep crawling back to you for the endearment and vanish as soon as their tank is filled.

It sucks so much, of course, it does, but it is not their fault. You were drawn to them, remember? You picked this battle in the first place.

Warning: Somebody else may come along and replace you… easily.

You pursue them relentlessly because this chase makes you want to fight. You want to fight and win them over. When they pull away and withdraw themselves, you will think over and over again if it was something that you did, and before you know it, you are chasing them again.

You want to prove that you are the right one; that you can fix them, that you have the ‘X’ factor. You want to stand out from all the other people that they have loved and lost, of course, you do. You want to be the saviour, the rescuer, and so you will chase and pursue.

You will romanticise them before you realise it; they will become perfect inside your head. You will be greatly attracted to that aloofness, that detachment, and that despair. You want the drama, the love, the comfort. You want your investment to give you returns.

Here is something you should know, then –your investment will most probably never get returns. There is a high chance that someone else will come along and melt them and ‘fix’ their unavailability. They will suddenly commit and do all the things you thought they were incapable of doing. Before you know it, the sun has vanished from the beach –there is only a storm now.

Here you should do with some fresh perspective:

An important aspect of loving emotionally unavailable people that we easily miss –it is more about your need to be identified and validated than your love for them. Think about it; why else would you keep running towards somebody that mostly treats you as a vent?

They will keep coming back to feed off your low self-esteem. Their mixed signals will make you so desperate and hopelessly dependent on the hope that maybe they will decide to reciprocate one day. This will make letting go extremely hard. You will keep wishing that they will return to who they were or give you the affection they had once given you in a fit of vulnerability.

Here is the deal, however. That perfect version of them? It only exists in your head.

All you have to do is let go of your expectations and humanise them inside your head. Stop over thinking every little thing they say. Stop trying to find meanings that don’t exist. Stop trying to look for meanings at all.

Just because they are aloof and chose to let their guards around you for a while shouldn’t serve as an achievement for you –don’t live with the false hope that you are unique enough to win over this person. It isn’t that you are not unique; it is only that an emotionally unavailable person is the worst meter to gauge your uniqueness.

Solution: Let Go

Yes, there was a lot of effort that you put in. You spent hours and hours playing the ‘game’, drafting the perfect messages and hanging on to their words. Yes, you laughed at their jokes, pretended to agree with most things that they said, and had intense, emotional conversations. The effort was too much, of course, it was. Here is the reality, though –it was a one-sided effort. They fed off your attention and in all honesty, the reciprocation will perhaps never come. So let go because this person has a lot of baggage and you are not going to be the one to help unpack it.

Stop chasing and pursuing –it is all fun and games in the beginning, but it will become a negative cycle before you even know it. They will come back to you every time they need emotional support and before you know it, you will begin feeling drained. Stop giving and start saying ‘no’. Realise that by saying no you are not hurting them –you do not have to fix everyone and everything.

If there is somebody that constantly makes excuses and withdraws from you, leaving you hanging, alone, and upset, you need to stop feeling responsible for it. Everybody here is a grown up and they need to act like it –be kind, be human, and try and help, but do not, I repeat, DO NOT, become a mere channel, whether physical, emotional, or mental.

Here is the wonderful thing, though;

You can kick back with a good drink and some good food. An emotionally unavailable person is challenging to love, and it is wise to accept that more often than not, you are going to get your heart broken. So realise early on that it is not about you –you are goddamn awesome.

Channelize your affections elsewhere and work on self-love. Before you know it, the storm will pass, and the sun will tingle on your skin again.

Letting In

Letting go is widely spoken of –there are books, movies, speeches, music, and experiences (I have, like most others, touched upon it as well: Learn to Let Go). It is an important part of life and the relationships that we build with others. The process is painful, bittersweet, and at the end of the day, extremely liberating.

Lately, however, I have been thinking about how beautiful, bittersweet, and tumultuous, letting in can be.

Here you are, enclosed in your space, with walls that you have built with bricks made of your fears. You exist within the walls to guard yourself against the pain that eventual letting go brings –to avoid the letting go, we build a wall that keeps us from letting in. It is our own safe space that is set to our comforts, expectations, and intensity. It is a space that has no surprises –everything is, at least on the face of it, under control.

People, however, are like rays of the sun; they creep in through cracks before we know it. It doesn’t take much, either. All it often takes is a smile, a gesture, or some kindness. Before you know it, your wall is cracked, your fears are realised, and your life spins out of the false sense of control that you had instilled.

As far as I am concerned, I resist. I frantically run around, trying to place the bricks back into their places. I try mending those cracks by pushing people away or shutting myself further. I run, I scream, and just throw my arms up in frustration. It is, after all, quite frustrating –letting in is not easy.

It is also often inevitable, this letting in. Some people just make it through before you know it. You stop resisting after a point –you fall into routines. There are patterns, jokes, secrets, and unloading of baggage. Nights are painted with secrets and days brim of laughter.

When we let someone in, it reflects in our lives. We have new ideas and new thoughts. We are exposed to new versions and a new world. We pick up their words, their styles, their thoughts. We find new things to laugh about, new stories to ponder upon. There is new music, new movies, and new books. There are new places and fresh experiences. There is shyness, comfort, and gradual treading. There is fear, insecurity, and curiosity, all laced with a weird sense of happiness. There is the birth of something new –something that has not existed before. You discover a new part of yourself.

This doesn’t really have to be romantic either. This is simply what letting in feels like –it is a new day, each filled with adventure, new thoughts, and immense self-growth.

It is not easy to do, not at all. It is also, for most bit, inevitable that at some point this letting in will transform into letting go. Change, after all, will always be the course of nature. What is important, however, is to wake up each day with a smile to remind yourself that at this very moment, something amazing is happening to you. Remember that you are creating new memories, new stories, and for all you know, new relationships.

Sure, it might hurt later –when you hear those songs again, or those jokes, or references, or perhaps simply their name. There may be triggers, tears, and something inside you may break. There is a risk, there always is.

What should keep you going, nevertheless, is that all of this adds up to what life really is. Each experience, each letting in, and each letting go, eventually becomes a part of the big book called Life. When you are older and in a different phase, you are going to look back at these little moments and know that these are what made you who you are.

Whoever we let in, big or small, influential or not, romantic or platonic, they change us. They become a part of us. Wherever you go after that –whether together or apart –you will carry a piece of them with you. They will be a part of you and you, of them.

To think of it, maybe letting in isn’t so bad.

Violence Against Women: Public and Private Spaces

November 25 is the International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women. Did you know that over 848 women are harassed/ raped every day in India?

A total of 3,37,922 cases of crime against women were reported in 2014, 9.2% more than 2013. These are only reported cases. In a study conducted by International Centre for Research on Women, 65% of males believed women should tolerate violence to keep the family together.

In India, crimes against women include, but are not limited to, dowry deaths, honour killings, female infanticide/ foeticide, rape, and trafficking.

The problem with violence against women is not only that this violence is physical, but that this violence seeps into all areas of life. Because of the stigma that very much exists around divorced women, most women end up staying married for the “children” and the “family”.

This violence does not exist in a physical form alone: there is emotional and mental abuse as well. Women are often denied land rights, rights towards their children, and adequate sanitation facilities. There is an education gap as well. This violence is not limited to rural areas alone: Delhi reports thrice the amount of sexual crimes against women than the national average.

While it’s still common for violence inflicted by spouse/ family to be reported, violence inflicted by boyfriends et al goes unreported. Urban, modern relationships, tend to haunt women more than we realize. This abuse is sexual, moral, mental, financial, and emotional. It is not uncommon for young women to have partners that restrict their dressing style, communication, and whereabouts.

Do you that 41% of Indian women face violence before the age of 19? That is more than 4 women in 10.

Now let me introduce you to statistics that are the reality of most women in the country.

How do women eliminate/prevent chances of violence? Mostly by confining themselves to safe places & compromising access to public spaces. More than 82% women in India have apparently taken steps to protect themselves against harassment. Measures included avoiding parks and poorly lit areas, changing travel routes routinely, carrying weapons, and carrying protective devices (pepper spray etc), among others.

I’m not sure how many of you realize the implication of this: most women can’t access public spaces freely and fearlessly.

Threats to the safety of women are directly related to patriarchal mindsets that manifest itself on streets, at the workplace, and at homes.

This violence has been taken to the next level with unrestricted access to technology: cyber-bullying and harassment. It is very common for women to receive death threats/ rape threats/ verbal abuses online. Extremely common. I couldn’t find elaborate stats on cyber crimes against women because there exist humongous amounts of legal loopholes in the said area.

Nevertheless, in a private research conducted by Cyber Victims, 60 female respondents of 73 total had experienced bad incidents online. 85% received abusive, obscene, dirty messages from known/ unknown senders. 16.7% had received repeated emails from stalkers. 75% of the respondents had received sexually teasing remarks on their social networking profiles. 50% had cloned profiles on the internet.

The biggest problem with urban violence against women is the lack of safe spaces. Most young women don’t have anybody to confide in. Their cries are usually met with victim blaming/ slut shaming. If a young woman is raped by her own boyfriend, it is almost never seen as rape.

What should we do to eliminate violence against women? What should we do in order to provide greater security/ safe spaces?

The first and the foremost step is to begin standing up for each other and against each other, irrespective of class/ gender/ caste. A cry on violence against women can’t be met with “men are victims too”. Of course, they are, but how does that solve violence against women?

It is important to become vigilant. Please be human & look out for women around you. Help your friends break out of abusive relationships. As parents, for the love of God, create safe spaces. TALK to your children. Let them have the confidence that you are with them, no matter what. If you see a woman getting abused in the family, don’t look away.

Stand up, goddamnit. Stand up against emotional, mental, physical abuse. If you are aware of women that face violence, please intervene and help. This is not “ghar ka maamla“. No. If we don’t help, who will? When you are in public, please don’t overlook the man that jeers/ drools at you. Stare right back into his eyes until he looks away.

The solution is not to “ignore” and “get home safely”. The only solution is to fight and to fight together. IDEVAW should be an opportunity to realize, acknowledge, and take action. Help create safety nets and support systems.

Let’s come together and help in returning to women the public and private spaces that they have forfeited because of the fear that exists around them.

The Struggle Called College

This morning I woke up with a brand new realisation; college tends to mess us up in more ways than we actually realise.

So much had been said about college; there would be fun, and friends, and love, and tremendous self discovery. All movies, TV shows, older friends, and books had romanticised the idea of college and the life that it offers. But now that I have spent a reasonable amount of time doing college, I am surprised that nobody warned me about screwed up sleep cycles, food disorders, and emotional trauma.

I spent my freshman year believing that I was perhaps the only one going through this. As time passed, I began to realise how common this really is. College is suicidal. It is a roller coaster ride that only goes up.

You enter a phase where you struggle hard to figure out who you are, but at the same time, externally you’re supposed to look composed and like you’ve got your shit together. You have to worry about grades, assignments, and attendance. You have to burn yourself in order to keep up with being a good student. You need to manage self care, your GPA, and your relationships.

I am surprised that nobody warned me that college is about you losing people; to death, to circumstances, and to other people. Why is that nobody spoke about the break downs, letting go, and lying awake at 4 AM staring into mental abysses. College is low key scary that way.

I have come to realise that it is a rite of passage where you don’t have the protection that school provided and the stability that future will entail. You are a fish trying to find its way in the sea. You are on your own, trying to mould what will mould you.

It is about staying alive and staying sane.

Don’t Give Up (Please)

At lunch time on August 10, I was treating a few friends. We ate our favourite dishes and chatted away happily; occasionally gossiping and majorly laughing. I had no idea, not even in my wildest imaginations, that at that very moment, some kilometres away, a friend of ours, one who we were discussing over noodles and dal makhani, was contemplating suicide.

Only if we had known.

His death was unfortunate, the news shocking, and the feeling unbelievable. He was the happiest, most joyful person we knew. Who knew that that grin was a facade and that those eyes were, in reality, battling depression.


It’s a horrible pit, depression. You often find yourself lying on your floor at three in the morning, with dry eyes and a heavy head. You cry for help, often in vain. You scream, shout, and then give up. Some cut themselves, some run-away, some fight it, and some… Some escape it.

I have been depressed too; I think everyone has. What sucks the most about depression is the insensitivity and nonchalance that the society harbours. “It will be all right.” “Don’t think too much about it.” “It’s no big deal.” “Why are you even depressed? There are children dying in Syria”.

It is horrifying, to say the least, how people deal with depressed people. They are ignored, often left to themselves. At times, it is assumed that they are strong enough to face their challenges. Other times, like with our friend, the depression is never noticed by anyone.

I really don’t know the point of this blog post. All I know is that I feel terrible and shaken. It is chilling that someone, who was loved so dearly, had moments where he felt so alone. Haven’t all of us failed him collectively? Haven’t all of us failed in telling him that he is loved, and cared for, and special, and amazing, and everything but a failure.

This is a plea to everyone out there –shut your phone and close your Facebook tabs. Go out and look people in the eyes. Hold their hands, hug them, and talk to them. Don’t fall for their emojis on WhatsApp and don’t buy their “I am fine”. Don’t opt the path that is convenient for you. Do the harder thing –tell people you love them. Tell them they matter and tell them they are awesome. Spend time with your loved ones and kiss them goodnight. Talk to each other and find out about each other. Ask people how their day was. Be there to wipe each other’s tears and be compassionate enough to understand their battles. Pain cannot be measured; no pain is greater than the other. A child being killed in Syria is as bad as someone breaking up a relationship that lasted three years. Pain is the only thing that unites us and it is important that we be there for each other.

For everyone out there who is having a hard time –you are amazing. You are unique and you are beautiful. You have a smile that is heart-warming and you are not a failure. You are loved and adored. You may not feel that way, but it’s true. Your parents love you so much albeit they may have a different way to show it. There is always light at the end of the tunnel; you just got to wait to see it. Keep going, because the world needs you. You’re here for a purpose. All obstacles are nothing but stepping stones. The Otherside awaits you –you have to wait for it too.

I know life becomes crappy and I know that often we feel that this is the end –but it’s not. The bad time passes too, no matter how bad it seems. I never thought I’ll get over a bad relationship, or lost friends, or failure, or losing loved ones, or disappointment. But you know what? I did. Everyone does. You will too.

Please keep going and don’t give up.

Reach out to each other and talk. We’re all in the same boat –all united by pain, fear, and hope.

I wish our friend knew this too.

Marks Don’t Matter

This piece of news is the first thing I read in the morning and I cannot stress enough on how much it disturbed me.


May 13, 2016; Hindustan Times


A girl studying in Class XI suicides because she fails a Chemistry Exam twice.

Was it really worth it to end your life because of an exam that bears no consequences on your future? Was it really worth it to put your parents through unimaginable pain only because of an exam that will change nothing in your life? Was it even remotely, even for one second, worth it?

It wasn’t. It will never be.
This is a message to all students out there –IT DOESN’T MATTER.

As invaluable as education is, and as important a degree and a good life are, IT DOESN’T MATTER. There are things greater, and bigger, than the three hours you spend trying to score marks out of 100. What matters is how much you learnt. What matters is how much of a better person you became after a certain lecture. What matters is the amount of hard-work you put in.


Results only define you on a scale set as a standard by some members of the society. MARKS DO NOT DEFINE YOU.

You do not get good colleges or good jobs based ONLY on your academic performance. Please take this from someone who scored two perfect 100s in her board examinations –IT DID NOT MATTER.

This is also an earnest request to all teachers and parents everywhere in all corners of the world –TELL THE STUDENTS THAT IT DOES NOT MATTER. I am extremely grateful to my parents and my teachers who gave me the space to grow and learn through my failures and setbacks. This is the kind of atmosphere we need for all students everywhere. Students need to be told the truth –YOUR MARKS DO NOT MATTER AS MUCH AS YOU THINK THEY DO. They do hold a lot of importance, but for the love of God, you cannot end your life over an exam that will create a very little difference in the long run.

Please focus on learning and growing, and exams will become cakewalks. Please choose subjects according to your ABILITY and not the society. Science is not better than Humanities and Commerce is not a ‘second option’. Do what you love and excel in it. Make learning interactive and fun, and you will realise that marks DON’T MATTER.

My prayers are with this young student who could have grown up to become an invaluable member of the society. My condolences are with her parents who must be going through ineffable misery.
What only matters is your happiness… Marks do not matter.

Sikkim: tranquility and momos

“I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.”

-A.L. Tennyson

Sikkim is a landlocked state in the north-eastern part of India, sharing its borders with China, Bhutan, and Nepal. Surrounded by the Himalayas, Sikkim used to be an independent country, until it joined India in 1975.

I had vehemently opposed travelling to Sikkim at first. “You always take us to the mountains.” I cried to my parents incessantly. “They are beautiful and all, but they are all the same!”

But oh, how wrong was I! Sikkim was different. It was very, very, different.

Sikkim is not an easy place to reach.

The nearest railway station, as well as the nearest airport, is located near Siliguri in West Bengal. Sikkim is approximately a five-hour drive from Siliguri, that is five hours of picturesque views and breathtaking sceneries.
River Teesta crawled along with us, slowly and gracefully, leading the way to Sikkim. Vibrantly painted houses, heavily influenced by Buddhist architecture, with sloping roofs and narrow windows, lined the way. Mountains overlapped and separated. The clouds that we saw up above were soon next to us, and sooner still, below us.

It was almost like we were driving up to paradise, and paradise it was.

Probably the most exciting thing about visiting a new place is to try the local food there. For me, ‘Thukpa’ was one of the two highlights of my food expeditions in Sikkim.
Thukpa is a dish consisting of soupy-noodles. It originated in Tibet and is quite popular in Sikkim. All we had to do was have hot, piping Thukpa, on a cold day, in a small hotel we found midway our road trip, to understand why it was so popular there.

The other highlight was, of course, momos.

I remember the first lunch that I had in Sikkim.
We stopped at a restaurant on our way to Gangtok, and being the north-Indian I am, I ordered roti. “It would take an hour.” the waiter said. “One hour for a roti?!” I exclaimed. How could cooking a roti possibly take anything more than fifteen minutes tops? But that’s just how it was like for the next two weeks that I spent in the eastern part of India -no rotis. “What can we have right away, then?” I asked. “Noodles, rice, and momos,” he said simply.

And momos we had -lots of them.

We later asked the local driver, who was driving us around, about momos. “Do you often cook them at home?” my father asked. “Of course!” the driver replied. “We often have them for lunch. My wife and I prepare them all day, but by the time it is lunch-hour, all the momos are finished. The children can’t resist sneaking them out of the kitchen.”
One of the most distinctive features about Sikkim was the inclination of the locals towards education.

I remember walking into a small tea-shop, in the middle of nowhere, very far away from the main-town of Gangtok, and coming across a little boy, probably eleven or twelve-years-old, sitting on a chair, his legs popped-up on the table in front of him, effortlessly watching an English film on HBO. He gave me a warm and welcoming smile and signalled to the adults in the kitchen about the arrival of customers. This left me speechless, really. I could honestly not, even remotely, imagine a similar situation in Delhi. “Do you go to school?” I asked him later. “Yes.” he said. “What class are you in?” I asked. “Sixth,” he said, a little irritated. I was clearly disturbing his movie-time. Giving him a smile, I walked out, feeling proud for some reason.

On another day, as our taxi drove out of the parking of a tourist location, a young boy approached us for the parking fee. “Rs. 20/-” he said. My father, in a jolly mood, decided to grill him a little. Somewhere in the middle of the conversation, my father asked the boy if he went to school. “Yes, I am in class tenth.” the boy replied. “Why are you working here, then?” asked Papa. “I have holidays.” he replied simply.

Towards the end of our trip, we went to Zero Point, which is at the height of 15,500 ft. There we came across a young woman who was pursuing Masters in English and had set up a food-stall there, at such a height in such chill, to earn extra pocket-money for her studies. Probably for the same reason that I had felt proud a couple of days ago, my proud father had us have a picture clicked with her.

Lachung, a village in North Sikkim, at the height of 9,600 ft, serves as the base camp for people that wish to travel to Zero Point. A beautiful village with vibrantly painted houses, most of which serve as hotels, and the Lachung river, a tributary of River Teesta, running through its heart, Lachung left me spellbound. As we went out for a walk during the night, when the temperature was around -7º C, listening to the river flow, watching the stars, and feeling the cool wind, I felt intimidated, and yet, liberated. Intimidated because here I was, in the middle of nowhere, at the mercy of nature. And liberated because here I was, in the middle of nowhere, at the mercy of nature.

The next morning we left for Yumesamdong, popularly known as Zero Point. As we drove higher, and higher still, countless emotions ran through me. The roads were dilapidated, the mountains covered with fresh snow, and the tracks covered with ice. Despite the glaring danger, the mountains provided a unique calmness. “If you were human, you’d be femme fatale -a very, very, beautifully dangerous woman,” I whispered to the mountains.

There was one sight in particular, that left me speechless. Our driver stopped the car in the middle of the broken road to show us a beautiful sight of destruction. He pointed to the mountain that we were driving on, “When the earthquake hit Nepal last year, lots of destruction took place here. Rocks from this mountain flew right there -” he pointed towards the mountain on our right, the one right opposite to the one we were driving on, “and cut the trees there into halves.” He showed us the wood that lay at the foot of that mountain. That mountain was indeed injured terribly. In that one moment, I realised how unimportant and worthless human life was in the larger scheme of things; we were all at the mercy of the forces of nature. (4)

Zero Point, at the height of 15,000 ft, is just what its name is about -it is the point where India ends for civilians, the point where the road ends. Located very close to the Indo-China border, Zero Point is everything you could have ever imagined, and more. The sun shone brightly above half snow-covered mountains and frozen lakes. The chill was unbearable and the winds fast. There were stalls lined with alcohol, selling hot tea and noodles.

In that moment and at that place, everything around me was suddenly infinite.

There were two things that we came across in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, that were sheer brilliance.
The first was the way they handled the traffic.

All roads in Gangtok were lined with a walkway that was fenced with green iron frames. It regulated traffic excellently. There were traffic policemen at each crossing to ensure that the pedestrians could cross the road at ease. There was a rule in place to ensure that no car stopped on a busy road, and what was wonderful was that the citizens took this very seriously. The dedication of the citizens towards ensuring that this entire set-up worked efficiently was indeed, commendable.

The other wonderful thing was how the roads were lined with beautiful flowers. They were beautifully and strategically placed on the mountain-side of the road and were maintained regularly. “The wife of the Chief Minister is very fond of gardening,” our driver told us, “and it is from her gardens that these flowers are brought. Her love for greenery and flowers is one of the reasons why Gangtok looks beautiful. It’s a perfect revenue model as well -the money of the state remains within the state!”.
“These roadside flowers are a new feature here, though.” our driver told us. “The Prime Minister is visiting Sikkim for the first time. Maybe he should visit every six months -I am sure that would serve as great incentive to beautify the city.”


And this is just an additional family selfie with a red panda in the background (skew your eyes a little and zoom in -I swear its there), because you really cannot conclude an article on Sikkim without mentioning the super-cute and super-lazy red pandas.

Somewhere deep inside, we’re all red pandas.