Newsfeeds and the Bane of Moving  

 

We need to talk about the subliminal impact of the newsfeed on life. All social media talk either reduces to a rant about its real-world distancing mechanisms or elevates its fast-paced, fun culture, and I find that both these are wrung out patterns that miss something fascinating on another level: the newsfeed.

The newsfeed is not a dry, momentary account of things happening around you. They are visual cues generated over the period of your social media presence, filtered carefully to suit your inclinations, and disseminating just the information it thinks you need. In short, your newsfeed probably knows more about you and your investments than your family does. I no longer think of it as an algorithmic structure; to me, it is a person. This hyper-reality of content, plan and experience that fills your life in ways you don’t even realise. It is a living, breathing, adaptive entity that watches you as you watch people and things on it. What I’m about to talk about will make more sense once this becomes our vantage point. I’ve known this since I started Facebooking—it was one of the things I wanted to derive out of social media—a tailor-made catalog of people, events, perceptions and awareness. It started off as staying on top of all web-content—comedy, films, production houses and their work, fresh music, YouTube content—perhaps I was a content guy even before I realised it. It assorted itself into much more though. Soon, it became about plays, creative communities, work opportunities, organisations, visual cultures and mediums, blogs, city platforms, festivals, concerts—I think you get the drift. To think that my first internship was a random link on my newsfeed resulting out of a year of arranging and rearranging as per all the outreach I was taking on, is a bit of an epiphany sometimes. A considerable amount of experiences, I’m sure, arise out of these little events someone somewhere marks as “interested” or appears out of nowhere on the darn scrolling spree. And then you gradually meet your “tribe”, who become a part of you more than you can see (trust me), and life becomes, essentially, a give and take of your online and offline life, to the extent that you may not wish to separate the two, regarding the attempt as petty and linear.

This, I believe, is why social media can be hard to go off of. It makes life vibrant, and makes it look more vibrant than it is. And this is why priorities are important both while engaging with it, and in our relationship with it in the larger picture: it’s important to keep sight of why you’re here (every now and then, after a cat GIF marathon). And this brings me to—what happens to the newsfeed of an average, satisfactorily proactive, aware, user when they switch cities.

Your sense of consolidation is bound to twirl inside-out. Especially if, like me, you come from a city like Bangalore, and are now living in the middle of nowhere, medium FOMO levels, trying to make a sense of the difference in the cultural life back there and here, and having periodic pangs oscillating between missing the people or urban spaces you’d internalised and writing ridiculous poems about wanting to hug cities, in the process. The truth is, your newsfeed is far too used to who you were. It can’t make sense of transition. Not yet, at least. It’s taken too much of you to establish all those page likes, venue preferences, content subscriptions and creepy follows of people who are involved in work far too wonderful than you can digest. And it’s going to take that much more to bring up what’s relevant to you now from all those layers it’s buried under.

My hunch is, however, given my specific situation, complete restoration of balance and fulfilment are things I should just give up on, like, really. A newsfeed reformation is coming, but not for the better. It’s starting to show me everything I cannot hoard up in my sparkly treasure chest of vivid, city-specific escapades. Where I am has hip enough spaces and brilliant people to engage with, which is why the current phenomenon is something I’d never foreseen. There is so much happening already, that I’ll hopefully not have the time and mind-space to assign to things that do not occupy my current scope areas. It’s transition into diverse subjects that one must recognise and allow, I guess. When I feel unusually determined or awfully bubbled up,  the usual day trip, historical institution-organised outings, general exploration of Delhi’s rich culture, and a hopeful snail-paced revival of what means a lot to me, is something I’m training myself to be content with. Amidst all the cynical flak that social media gets, one thing about it is true: newsfeeds are fleeting clutter. It’s important to recognise that and have the quiet moments that reinstall your center. And while I try to practise the virtue of patience in all matters, I’m also going to breathe fresh, novel air and remind myself repeatedly that three years are both long and short enough at the same time.

 

P.S: I’m also going to slide in a little cute message to Bangalore, by the way: STOP. JUST STOP. RIGHT NOW. LIKE, SERIOUSLY. THANK YOU.

Bittersweet Survivals

Malice is a defense mechanism.
Like the bitterness that is caused of
too much sugar.
When the brewing pot of love
Brims, bubbles
The foam that erupts
Can’t be kept in anymore
Not unless you turn down the heat
Up your withdrawal game
Your tanks are now full of self-pity.
And the coffee barely keeps your anxieties
Away.
The dark circles under your eyes,
The breeziness of your manner,
Your aloof, tired existence
All farce
That shows your puzzlement

Proximity is a game of poker.
All bluff, no luck.
But your peaceless solitude
Is denial
It is life giving you lemons, you tasting them, and then showing caution
Before anything else crosses your tongue. It is
Music that is no longer yours alone, the silences
Breathe doubt
Sound like cynicism and
Defeat.
When you’re down to your knees and can’t hear an
I’ll be there for you, it’s your
Romanticism deafening your
Ears
It is shaky hugs and fleeting smiles, it is
Mentally finding clouds and cotton and rainbows and candy anatomically within people
But biting your lemony tongue in fear of
Breaking
Your tryst with ugly,
Suave ego.

You need these moments
To get you out of your fomos
To exit your fears
To brush your doubts aside before they
Gulp
You
Down.

The next time you can feel your veins leak,
Let them.
Be that holier than thou realisation of yourself
Because what the world needs is not more mental noise,
It needs warmth
And when you’re busy trying not to explode
Not to assume the goodness of humanity
Or evil
The next time you’re trying to not snap into arguments
To swim through silence, drag through drama

Remember that most recipes derive meaning from that one pinch of salt.

That your Being is to sulk into
The obstacles of Life:
together and alone.

Being with people is like
Synchronised swimmi-no, synchronised drowning
And all of us are amateurs
Thrown into the Olympic pools of emotion.

And above all, I want you to believe
That one day, you’ll get it right.
The walls of ice will melt
Dark chocolate will find its way into your taste
And the world will one day be one large inseparable group hug
And you’ll be the first to get invited.

A Love Letter to the Idea of Ashoka  

 

In a room full of baggage, luggage and clutter

A place I call ‘home’

2179 kms away

Bangalore, India

 

18 August 2016

 

Ashoka University

2179 kms away

A dot on the map amidst

Barren lands and maturing dreams

 

Dear Ashoka,

I’m a day away from flying to you. I sit here all heavy and jittery, not ready per se but oh, armed with bucket-loads of excitement, fully aware that this letter might reach you long after we’ve met, yet compelled to splurge words to you. How are you?

Back home, Ashoka, everyone has been wishing me ‘a good beginning’. But the truth is, only you and I know, we’ve already begun. Right from the time I first Googled you, and stalked your online presence, we’ve begun what’s not reversible.

I must’ve built you with the cement of my mind a million times over by now, probably to the point of tainting your independent, indifferent existence, and run you over with a bulldozer again, leaving behind a debris of biases, swept to a corner in the hope that it will not erode over our relationship. I’ve rummaged across circles, Ashoka, to pick every little story about you that I can find, and used them up to fill blanks and make you a giant saga. I’ve seen the sleep-deprived smiles on their faces, hunted for words to match my urge to learn, and observed the apprehensions sieve in and out of my peers. We’ve all walked that phase, finding finally a probable spot worthy of losing sleep over. Worthy of investing in. Worthy of waking up our hope to engage with the world, that the last fourteen years of schooling have somewhat made dizzy and tired. That long-drawn journey that I’m only reminded of with the smell of fresh brown cover and the noises of fest crowds in the distance. You’re not my first, Ashoka, you’re a third. First of which I was too unaware to consider and so I just went with the bumpy ride that opened my eyes to ideas of reality. The second was admittedly—a fling, yup, a dash of glamour and struggle for balance, one I’m still not sure how it turned out.

But I believe that all the farce was just so I could be groomed enough to receive you.

 

Giant facebook groups, people will say, are not the ideal way to step into something. They look at us like we look at Tinder, Ashoka. With the cynicism in their eyes glinting at us, with me cowering back a little afraid that the harsh shine might be a mirror shining my fear, my scepticism, my insecurity and my helplessness back at me. After all, we’re an institution. But we’ve walked those phases too. Of belief in the face of doubt, of melodrama before our welcomes, of leaning at your walls before we know what to do, and of taking agency of our concerns before we know them to be true.

We’ve walked, that whole time, only partially visible to each other—the time when I knew exactly what to expect. Textbooks in the trash, running around prepping for events, writing and rewriting, evenings of poetry, staring at the sunset over Coke Studio, signing up for clubs hoping to not take myself too seriously, and burying humiliations and inadequacies over happy times and lungs that take full breaths. But I’ve been over this filmy reel enough to know that I don’t know, actually. I’m often left that way, Ashoka, when idealism descends to reality. When you’ve signed up for the whole meal, not just dessert. When a cherished dream manifests itself into everyday life. I don’t see those images any closer than they were, when I know I’ve to share you with about a thousand others, and put those shots together frame by frame.

I suspect if you’re as all in as I am, sometimes.

I imagine it must be hard for you too, though, this weird polyamory, with a three hundred starry-eyed kids with a three-hundred Ashokas packed into their little heads every year. It must be hard, standing tall against the famous Sonepat skies, chin up at the incessant romanticism of naïve hearts that have longed for a place they can belong. Hard, this lurking pressure to fulfil, when all their directions are slightly off your compass. Some looking for Shakespeare, some looking for a trip to DIFF, some with a top notch trekking plan, while all others climb is a table-top slamming away to delighted finger-snaps, and yet others wondering if you have Pokestops.

We’re already more eager than you can imagine, Ashoka. We have conversations with vulnerability. We’ve let go of the familiar, adjusted our postures to suit change. And we await what nostalgic 20-somethings claim will be “the adventure of a lifetime”. But deep down we know that all our mental exercises are no match for the real you, whatever that means. We know that what you’re going to be is far more overwhelming. And that we’re far less prepared for it than we think we are.

 

How many other relationships do you get into in full knowledge that it’s meant for the long haul? You’re going to see our homesickness, Ashoka, our guilt over parental effort, our drive and our struggle. You’re going to absorb it all. To top it off, you’ll give us all a designated space in your heart marked off by a room number.

I’m…already indebted to you for that.

I’ve come to realise that above all, it is the fear of losing you that haunts me. Losing the idea of you. Losing the why of us. But maybe that’s a good fear to have; it will weigh up our moments, and let us stumble. I know that we’ll figure our way out, crawl into each other’s lives perfectly. And I know that we’re counting on each other—you to deliver, and me to assimilate into and create your culture at the same time. So now that we’re here, let’s.

See you in exactly two days, till then—it’s a date!

Clingy, awkward and yours,

Nidhi

Undergraduate Batch of 2019

Of Ten Day Countdowns and Knowing What to Feel

Countdowns are weird-for the lack of a better word- especially if they’re associated with massive decisions, transition phases, farewells and an impending pressure to perform socially. And if your case is like mine, all of the above.

They’re weird, in the sense that, although you’re more aware of what you feel or what you want to feel, you question their legitimacy a little more than usual. (Writing about this whole feelings business and finding words to accurately represent it is already making me cringe a little bit). As if all the Bollywood diet is going to somehow show up in your response towards stimuli. Especially if you’re obscure, messy and adamant to dig deeper for hidden shit like I am, knowing what to feel becomes as tricky as tricky can get.

You’re always looking for something bigger to make of random things that occur in a life even devoid of the D-Day, so to speak. You mark your calendars out, resolve to meet everyone, (try to plan but fail), expect to feel gratitude and love deeper than usual, and expect reciprocation that you would’ve dealt with the lack of otherwise. In other words, you’re looking for emotion that lingers, a sense of lasting impression. And in the process of looking for something to feel, and knowing what to do about what you have right now, you feel a whole lot of other things.

Moments of panic, for instance. I’ve had a couple of tear-jerking ones, all alone in a room, so far. These sudden obscure trigger-less dawnings of harsh criticism, nervousness, fear or just nothing. Far from the daily-soap cliff-hangers you’d imagine them to be. Before you know it, you’re just sitting there adding unnecessary weight to everything that’s happened so far. (It lasts for a few minutes until parts of your support system kick in, and you’re sharing memes again. More about that in a bit, promise.) Vicious circles of doubt are another. It’s always unsettling no matter what state you’re in. Whether or not you’re prepared, whether or not you feel inept, whether or not you are able to calculate impact—something feels out of place. Something feels ingenuine. The inability to articulate patterns is one more, as evident in this futile exercise that is now beginning to sound like I’m describing my entire life, but let’s just pretend otherwise for my own good please, thank you. A frustrating urge to escape, a shock about how months became days within the blink of an eye, a realisation that things probably aren’t going to transform much in areas you most want them to, the absurdity in writing this piece, as acknowledgement, an epiphany about things ingrained that you can never outgrow or cut off, and a ridiculous attempt to picture yourself in the moment you get off the cab into your new campus—are well, some other things that seem to come and go.

 

Throughout this murderous mosaic, however, there’s always one motive—especially having grown up in a city like Bangalore. With as little as ten precious chaotic days around, I think I’ve started to evaluate my relationship with this place. With the people. With the things I did right and the things I’ve massively messed up. To bring to focus something that had always been lurking around in the background, in the mist of Bangalore’s rains or the noise of Bangalore’s traffic for the majority of my life. I find myself trying to have the most of its food, suddenly spotting the slang of its crowd, and being more aware of the physical comfort and the ease of home and the freedom of being off guard it gives me.

I find myself, significantly evaluating the entirety of my social life in Bangalore, and whether or not I’ve done the whole “people thing right”, whatever that means, on lonely nights. The attention chase becomes graver now, faster. Morphing into a pressing urge to live upto the ideal self-image of this great, optimistic, sensitive, emotional, loving soul till the end, and little clue if I ‘really’ am. And I still try to flee from all of it. You see, I’m someone who tries to keep expectations minimal and I think half the conflict comes from an increased presence of the little nasty things. And how tiring it has been, and how tiring this is, nonetheless, this pothole of self pity and this scepticism of my positivity and process.

It is the want of a satisfying last impression, the one I do have some control over, unlike first impressions when I was a kid with weaker memory links, is what probably—which is to say, I don’t know for sure and I don’t expect that I ever will—haunts me the most. It all comes from an evaluation of the impact I have or have not made on people. A huge, daunting question mark about whether I have contributed to all the glory, whether I have made people I love feel worthy the way they have, me. Impact is a key word in my head right now, I think. Whether or not Bangalore will miss me is rather secondary, what I do want to know is that I’ve left my mark whilst my long stay here. If I’ve even had a space in another’s mind, a spot in another’s heart that has spelled my name even for a moment, I’d be happier making the one way airport trip about a week from now.

But what’s remarkable about this city for me, is how little time it allows you to dwell on yourself. The continuous stirring of creative spirits, people spirits, that little reply I finally get with a hundred cat videos to pull me out of the ditch, that small acknowledgment I receive as hugs and hearts, all those people I can have long-drawn conversations about everything under the sun with just like it’s any other day (“That’s probably a good sign, for all I know, of who I’ve carved myself to be—that nobody feels like the 18th is any different from the other days filled with my presence”, I tell myself this half-truth, to feel better), the cryptic “good riddance!” that I get just that once, the event invites and that out-of-this-world PVR multiplex that’s, like, five minutes away from home—and if nothing else, a million memories to jest yourself with.

Maybe not all stories have grand goodbyes and heaviness in the air that fills your lungs. Maybe some things in life are just half-truths. Maybe some farewells just tiptoe with you, and keep people just like they are, just where they’re ought to be, living their lives in joy and peace, sadness and dreams—and hopefully healthy enough to spare a thought or two, a minute or two, a conversation or two towards me once in a while, when they notice fairy lights in their neighbourhood that remind them of something I said to them once.

 

 

Poem and I: The Road Not Taken

I have always felt that one’s encounter with a piece of art- a song, a film, a play, a poem: anything- collides their separate lives together for a purpose that is only visible in retrospect, leaving both the person and the piece of art slightly but permanently changed. Obviously, the impact on the individual is much more profound than on the piece itself, and echoes in other areas of their lives.

One of the most discrete journeys that I’ve had has been with a poem. Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’, to be precise. I remember reading it in school and instantly falling in love with it. The imagery, the plot and an absurd pull towards the narrator, and the way it just spoke to me back then- there was something fresh about it.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could

It stayed with me as I grew into the post-tenth grade dilemma. That horribly overrated point with three crisply drawn paths portrayed as three independent circles on a venn diagram, as if choosing one is falling off a cliff never to resurface again. But even as the cocoons our schools are, they are powerful cocoons. Everything looks like it’s set in stone, the truth intact. Just like the interpretation of this poem we were nudged toward. The poem thus became a bold kick of confidence. That in life we must look for the paths that no one wants to take, and then make something of them. To not be afraid of walking alone. To chin up and take the chances you’ll be proud of later on. To know that the weight of your calls can fill your heart in the distant future. The poem was almost an ekla cholo re.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear

And so after much thinking and deliberation, despite a clear aptitude in the sciences (my aversion to that space didn’t matter to others) and having weighed out priorities of what I’m looking for, I decided to step into the then largely ignored world of Humanities. I took this poem with me. It hadn’t been my only point of argument; I remember sitting my father down and giving him a picture of what I want my life to be full of that had both baffled and convinced him. But the poem had largely backed my consideration, been a reassurance when the tomorrows of my ambition crippled my mind. Because of course, taking the unconventional route is better than following the crowd. The adventurous road is by default a more significant step to take while we’re here in the Universe, trying to create our own ripples. Hell, I even put up a picture in front of a strangely similar path in a forest area, with the poem’s hook written in bright blue. (Look, we all had our phases. Let’s just get over it now, shall we?)

I’ve had a lovely time so far, becoming increasingly fascinated by the human conditions it explores in tandem with the other streams, and also increasingly aware of how much I do not know and haven’t learned. I’ve gotten comfortable and experimental, and have grown more interdisciplinary along the way. It all seems a bit like a farce now.

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

I guess something began to seem off with the poem midway, despite how much I loved it. I realised that too many people had been buying into things only- I repeat, simply because they’re considered off-beat. Maybe I was borderline one of them too? It was starting to become some kind of crisis with the cool quotient, seeing stories of quitting jobs without an evaluation of satisfaction levels to join the bandwagon of those with glamorous lifestyles with little picture of what it takes to get there. But one must choose based on what one loves, not some flimsy ideas of the mainstream that are prone to be reversed any day, correct? Whether or not one can truly be independent in their examination of these and whether or not free will exists, is a story for another day. Assuming in the affirmative, the drifting off from the immaturity has made my ideas evolve.

I read an article months ago in defense of mediocrity. And then another later on, that explained how one must ask a question to the effect of “What pain do I want in my life?” instead of “What do I want?”

Sometimes I ask people, “How do you choose to suffer?” These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something…
And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?

I find this extremely important, yet understated. It is not to be mistaken for a lack of starry eyed spirit, or some brand of cynicism. I am far on the other side of the spectrum, my hugs will assure you that. However, I do feel like even in the freedom to romanticise any aspect of their existence- which I myself love to engage in- one must and will have to, beyond a point, bring down the dream to everyday life. To de-glamourise and enjoy it in that form. To understand the intricacies of where you’re headed. A time to exercise realism which is sometimes more gratifying.

There’s a TED talk called How to Make Hard Choices that puts this perspective of choices in place.  

We unwittingly assume that values like justice, beauty, kindness, are akin to scientific quantities, like length, mass and weight. So if what matters to us — a child’s delight, the love you have for your partner — can’t be represented by real numbers, then there’s no reason to believe that in choice, there are only three possibilities — that one alternative is better, worse or equal to the other.”

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I wrote my strangely exhausting Boards this year. They mess with you no matter how stress-resistant you are, in all their futility. And you emerge a much better grounded individual. Two more years of survival moulds you, and fortunately, helps you know what parts of yourself to keep and what to discard. Even what paradoxes are worth sheltering. My child-like naivety survives, but it does so with a new more composed, minimalist and effort-centred attitude. Evidently, my pride and insistence of self-importance survives as well, but with a meta sense of it, like in the poem itself.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Frost was nothing short of a smartass. No, seriously. At this point in life, the poem came back to me like a boomerang, but in the form of a commentary. And then everything was clear. In the foreground of larger, more pressing dilemmas with better sources this year, the poet intention was revealed to me. His technique is spot on, unparalleled. So good that the whole planet failed to understand his cryptic point. Instead of the mirror that it is, we all took it to be a pillow. In case you are unfamiliar:

Robert Frost wrote “The Road Not Taken” as a joke for a friend, the poet Edward Thomas. When they went walking together, Thomas was chronically indecisive about which road they ought to take and—in retrospect—often lamented that they should, in fact, have taken the other one. Soon after writing the poem in 1915, Frost griped to Thomas that he had read the poem to an audience of college students and that it had been “taken pretty seriously … despite doing my best to make it obvious by my manner that I was fooling. … Mea culpa.” However, Frost liked to quip, “I’m never more serious than when joking.” As his joke unfolds, Frost creates a multiplicity of meanings, never quite allowing one to supplant the other—even as “The Road Not Taken” describes how choice is inevitable.”  

Read article, here.

For Frost, this was almost a satire on how we love to pretend that our choices matter. That that one choice we’re going to make is somehow going to alter the rest of our lives beyond repair, when really there is no way to be certain of that. Notice how he clearly states they were equal roads in all aspects, just after his bias or desire for bias seems clear. Had Time been his slave, he’d have loved to come back and try the first, but he goes on to talk to his posterity with a sigh. So much for choosing the path that “has made all the difference”. The rhythm, apparently, is supposed to give this away. And you suddenly see that it’s a rationalisation. A lie, almost. A lie you hug in your bed at night mistaking it for hope.

I can almost feel Frost smirking, “Ha! What bullshit.”

It’s ridiculously disappointing at first. It feels uncomfortable, but liberating just after you let go. It’s like someone just told you you don’t matter in the big picture. It feels like hope has been slapped out of you a little, but then, you realise that if you don’t matter, none of your sorrows do either. You can run out on the streets naked tomorrow, and it wouldn’t matter. (JK please don’t.)

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

And of course, it’s poetry. We get a say in what it means for us, whether or not the poet’s intention had been the same. The poem is free to be the ninth grade analysis of it for you. We can all still choose to chase being different. We most definitely will, really. We can still choose to see the poem as the strength to make risky decisions. We will still choose to take pride in where we’ve come, and how it wouldn’t be what it is had we taken the other road.  

“Understanding hard choices in this way uncovers something about ourselves we didn’t know. Each of us has the power to create reasons.” 

We will continue to fit our perceptual bias on our hypothetical thinking. And that’s okay. This is the most remarkable feature of the poem for me, how it can encapsulate two strikingly different, mildly uncomfortable pictures of human nature and still tell us slyly, between the lines, that it’s okay. Our indecision. Our urge to satisfy our egos. Our failures. Our successes. It’s all okay.

And as for me, the poem and I have been on our own little road-not-taken for a while now.

 

There has been a time for the dreamy loophole of misplaced romanticism, I do not regret it. But encounters, like I said, leave their own mark. There is a time for the nuanced approach. It is now. Not to discard the romanticism or the quest for meaning in my choices, nor to attempt to escape the ironies that accompany this piece- no, that would be like disowning human nature, but only to be more balanced and aware in it. Now is the time to look into the mirror, see through the traps of who we are, and smile. Just smile. And (maybe, maybe not) that has made all the difference.

Fatal Catapult

Some days I wonder why

Life is so unfair.

Why tragedy hits few,

So severely, while only

Nudging the others

Softly.

And on some others

When I hear that a distant

Relative rammed his bike into a truck

A funeral procession in

The house opposite mine with its cries

An acquaintance loses a parent,

I am forced to see that

Death is unfair too.

That Death narrows his eyes worse

Than Satan does, to

Pick and choose his next playmates—no,

Not the ones he lifts with Himself,

But the ones that remain behind and I—

I wonder if I live in some bubble.

Where the blood bounces off its soapy surface

Where the screams are muffled

By noiseproof lullaby walls

As I drift off to sleep

Blind to suffering.

When people in my third

Or fourth social circle

Friends of close friends, legends

I do not follow

Creatures I have only once made eye contact with

On to the other side

While I switch TV channels on my indifferent couch, and whine

Of my puny troubles,

That the maid hadn’t arrived, or the

Wi-fi was a pain,

Or I couldn’t find my pair of jeans, as if

All of it were happening not

In the same World that I inhabit

As if I were immune to

Hate-crime, as if I was

Vaccinated against power, as if

I possessed the Elixir

That could kill Death

And on days like these,

I wonder

If Death is simply taking its

Sweet time to pull back the catapult

As hard as it can

Aiming

To destroy, juicy

And well; waiting

For everything I love

To assume the right positions

Until it is time to

Let go.

 

Pop Culture Clones

I dislike how pop

Culture crawls its way into

Our lives, replacing

the diversity

Of our collective existence

With flimsy, uniform images

As our hairdos grow

Freakishly familiar, pairs of scissors

Clip the exact same patterns,

The needles drill

And pierce

A thousand holes into

Who we could be.

The posters on the wall

Whether we choose to text or call

Our menus, the funky nail paints

Bowties, ringtones and eyeliners

Patterns of speech, they fixate

In—like, the same places

The dots after words come

In exact numbers

As pop culture goes on to dictate which

Emoticon responds perfectly,

No more; no less.

Definitions

No longer derive meaning from

Vocabularies of our own

Slang is a mass-authority

If you do not subscribe,

You are still a machine.

An incompetent illiterate arse,

Incapable of rebellion, your

Individuality attacked from

All direction

What you really like

What you really read

Is immaterial as long as you

Stack your shelves with delicious McDonalds that

May or may not be stale

And you’ve lined your kit with wax strips

Of assumptions you need

As long as you

Do not explore, do not experiment, do not

Plunge into the thrill of the unknown to

Find you

Here’s an algorithm that will

Tell you what you love because

Nobody knows you better—

Of course you can choose, we’re beings

Of free-will, it draws out a

Well-filtered map of options

Green or blue?

It forgets to tell you

That the value beneath remains

Cryptically uncreative

We are dull clones of each other

I can hardly distinguish

But for the names, that make us two,

From a newsfeed full of clutter

One from the other,

Pictures of the same pose, repeated

With a rote hashtag yolo

The jokes, the memes

All painfully B&W

As if brainwashed by a voice,

As you slowly forget

That you could be someone else

More deeply you

That you are made to be vividly different from the

Rest as each snowflake against every other

As each colour in the rainbow

As each set of fingerprints etched on a palm

Against every other that has or will ever be

As each language in the throats of seven billion people

You can hardly even see

Through the blinds of conformity

The morphed reflections of similarity

Yelling so clearly that

This is who you are meant to be

That this is you in your element,

That a million hushed up

Now unknown possibilities squat

In some authentic corner of you

Hoping to see the sunlight

Hoping to outshine you

Hoping that they will,

With you be someday

Synonymous.