XXI: Humans Making Human Life Miserable.

social-media-addiction

What I’m going to write about in this blogpost is nothing new. Nothing that you don’t already know about. And I would be a hypocrite criticizing the social media, so let me make a few things clear before hand :

  1. I am insanely addicted to social media.
  2. I want to quit. (Almost sounding like quitting smoking. Well, if cigarettes are deadly for the lungs, social media must be deadly for the brain)
  3. I am not ignoring the fact that some good comes out it : Like we can keep in touch with our long lost friends, who are not lost anymore and don’t care much about our happy social media lives, knowledge about new things, which not everyone is interested in though. What we mostly end up reading is: You won’t believe how this monkey ate 100 bananas in 2 minutes, Girl posts a picture of her cute puppy and it must be the cutest puppy you have seen in your life!.), and not to miss, we are constantly updated about events near us, which we tick going to, and then never end up going to in most cases.
  4. Why I know all these things? Well, been there done that, cribbed about it, cried, questioned my life, sanity, existence, purpose of life and wasted hours of precious sleep.

Now, getting back to the point. I’m writing this post because I want to lay out my thoughts clear about this social media issue, since I’m trying to quit this deadly addiction, and yeah I know blogging is kind of the same thing too, but my blog is very dear to me, and doesn’t get me addicted, so that’s okay.

So here’s the thing : I think social media when it started was still for a good cause. Sharing photos with people you can’t meet every day, getting back in touch with old friends, and being all nostalgic, feeling special with there were 10 likes on your photo, and so many people wishing you on your birthday.. and on and on. But almost 10 years after the new buzzing craze about facebook and twitter and the like, the social media scene is very different. It’s not the same world of sharing and caring and connections anymore. The face of social media has changed completely, and how!

Facebook cares so much about us, that it tells everyone that its your birthday and you should wish your ‘so called’ friend a happy birthday to make their day special (yeah as if that would help), it tells you what the weather is going to be like – stay dry dude, it’s gonna rain! Enjoy the sun babe, the clouds are clearing in your city! , it wants you to share something – from what you’re listening to, watching, reading, eating, drinking, thinking, breathing, pooping – everything! It really cares about your safety and keeps asking you to change your privacy settings – aww! Facebook is so sweet. It cares for us so much and doesn’t even charge money for it! Facebook is such an angel. And so is every other social media – Twitter lets us contact celebrities, though it’s a little mean, because it restricts us, and tells us exactly how much of our mind we need to speak. Instagram lets us live our dreams of becoming a photographer, writer, traveller, book expert, food expert, cooking expert, and any expert. The real experts out of which are very few. And yes, laugh as much as you want, I’m a wannabe writer too. But I’ll get over it like my fellow ones when I turn 50 and realize I didn’t really make it as one.

And oh, not to forget snapchat! It lets you be a dog, fish, cat, snake, angel, monster, ghost – you name it and you have it! Such a dream come true application isn’t it? No need to buy make up anymore.. They have it all! You can tell your friends about every little thing that you’re doing..  I’m laughing at myself as I write this, because that’s me I’m talking about. Just another social media addict trying to quit.

But the question that comes to my mind now is that – What is the purpose of all this? Isn’t it more like a vicious circle of social pressure, where beauty standards are met by snapchat filters, awesomeness of life by the countries you travel to, standard of living by the 5 star hotel check-ins in your profile, and peace of mind by the background view of your morning cup of coffee? And this is not the only question that comes to my mind :

  • Aren’t we playing puppets in the hands of people who run these applications? They ask you to tell where you’re travelling, you tell it. They ask you to share your photos from this afternoon, you share it. They ask you to wish someone a happy birthday, you do it!
  • The even bigger question to ask ourselves is – Aren’t we living under constant pressure to perform on the social media? We need approval from society about our standard of living, so we proudly boast about our pictures from our last vacation, our new job, our new relationship, our new expensive clothes..
  • Doesn’t that create pressure on the less fortunate people who are on the social media? These days everyone is on Facebook. Everyone is connected to everyone. Everyone sees everyone’s lives. But what really happens is that we see only one side of the coin. We might not even think about what that person goes through to live the happy life they present on social media.
  • In an online world where the richest and the poorest of people have social media profiles, the pressure builds up. A middle class person might not be able to afford the Euro trip, but when he sees his social media friends touring the world, the pressure in his mind builds up, he envies, questions his happiness, existence and peace of mind. In such a scenario, the whole concept of happiness changes.
  • This also allows people to openly criticize other people. The worst off in this case are celebrities who are slut-shamed and laughed at for posting anything and everything. The envy and pressure comes out in this form, where celebrities are trolled for no good reason. People think that it is okay to throw words at these celebrities – as if they are the judges of their lives. That is exactly why these celebrities want to keep their lives more private. As soon as they come out in the open, people grab the opportunity to spew ugly words on them.
  • The news that goes viral, does it really deserve to be news? Half of the times we are not even sure if it’s genuine news or just a catchy social media headline that has the power to ruin our day or night because that’s the first and last thing we do. Scrolling up and down, reading things that probably don’t even matter but have the power to damage our mood! For example , I once read the headline of an article which claimed that a son had murdered his mother and written something on the floor with her blood. My mind went numb for a minute, but when I actually read the whole article, there was no proof of the claim, only an assumption which was turned into a headline to catch attention! I mean, seriously.. These kind of things really can damage your day and brain.
  • And the final and the most basic question is – what social media makes us do, do we really want to do it? Or do we do all those things because we want to be socially accepted? Do we really want to go out on that Saturday night and be a part of the group check-in when we’d rather sleep in? Do we really have the money to afford the trip we’re planning? Are we really enjoying the food we’re eating after uploading the beautiful filtered picture? Are we really happy on that trek or we’re tired as hell and wished we’d never taken this up? Do we really care about all those issues that we support on social media? What do we really genuinely care about?

Ps. I mean no offense to anybody. This is a personal view from what I’m observed and discussed with people. If you are happy with your social media life, lucky you! If not, this should get you thinking like it gets me thinking, and together we can get over this lie that social media is, and strive for better and more fruitful human lives 🙂

 

 

Our Cups of Tea .

They say you’ll never come back.
That my words won’t find their way to you.
And yet, I send them out into the universe.
I ignite your soul with my thoughts
and bring back to life
the fading memories of my childhood under your wings.

They say you’re gone, but only I know..
How you haunt my cups of tea.
How you paint your smile into my eyes.
How you take me on a ride back home.
To you, and me, and our cups of tea.

I close my eyes;
breathe in the fragrance I know so dearly.
And there, for a moment,
we melt together into the secrets of invisiblity.

Italy – Part 3 – Verona

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“There is no world for me outside the walls of Verona, except purgatory, torture, and hell itself. So to be banished from Verona is like being banished from the world, and being banished from the world is death.”

– Shakespeare, Rome and Juliet, Act III, Scene III.

This is a quote engraved on one of the walls in Verona. And this is also the first significant thing I remember seeing, as I walked through the streets of Verona with a map and a suitcase in hand, trying to find the hostel I was booked at. The memories of this city are now fading with time, and I must write them down to preserve them better.

This was February 2015. I have already written the first two parts about Rome and Venice, but somehow completely missed out on Verona.. Maybe I was lazy to pen down all my feelings about Verona, or maybe I thought I shouldn’t ruin the feelings by penning them down, because really, Verona enchanted me and no blogpost can do justice to that enchantment. But let me still try, because I want my favourite city in Europe (till date) to be a part of my travel diaries.

Verona.. Oh Verona! (Shakespeare much!) .. The only reason why I ever wanted to visit Italy was Verona.. and though it sounds stupid to me today, it was because of the movie “Letters to Juliet” that I had watched years ago when I was naive. I do now understand that there is a major difference between movies and real life (actually I still sometimes unbelieve it and slip into dreamland). Of course I didn’t end up finding the love of my life in Verona, like the actress does, but well, I did fall in love with the city!

Verona was different from Rome and Venice. Quite different. The latter being majorly hyped and for that reason, loses its charm when compared to Verona. Though Venice too enchanted me, for the same reason that Verona did.. the “slipping back in time” vibe that it gives. There is something about Italy and its narrow streets, its houses, its architecture, its food, and its people!

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So.. On our 8th day in Italy, we reached Verona via train from Venice. Smooth journey. Bought a map at the train stations, figured out where the hostel was, and started walking towards it. By the time we reached the hostel, we had already seen half of Verona – It was that far! And why we didn’t take a taxi or bus? Because duh! Save money!

After checking in at the hostel, we headed straight to where I had been dying to go ! Juliet’s house ! Even though its not Juliet’s house for real, it looks like something close to what it could have been. And so it has been converted into a monument for Juliet. Apparently, it also has links to the Capulet family. Well, I don’t know how true that is, but thats what they say ! Okay, now I had no idea that the Juliet’s house wasn’t just about Juliet’s balcony, but there was also a museum inside, which had paintings, antiques, and quotes from Romeo & Juliet on display. That was quite a treat for a history buff like me ! And coming to the main point – Yes, people do write their letters to Juliet, and there is a post box where you can put them in. There also a million notes stuck on the wall and of course love locks ! The ghost of Paris is everywhere in Europe ! I am pretty sure they can build an iron bridge with all the love locks hanging everywhere in Europe.

I wouldn’t say I was disappointed with Juliet’s house.. it did have quite a lot of tourists and wasn’t quite like that in the movie, but I was pretty satisfied with the experience – the credits for which go to the museum. I wondered if the letters were answered back though ? The answer to which I found later, when I met a Swedish girl at the hostel who had lived in Verona for quite sometime. She told me that there is indeed a group that writes back, and she herself had worked there. If I had a little more time in Verona, I would definitely have wanted to do it !

That evening, we treated ourselves to a lavish dinner (treat to ourselves for saving the taxi money) at a restaurant in front of the famous arena (which btw is the place where the beginning of Rockstar was shot). That evening, I tasted my favorite wine in the world for the first time – Prosecco – magical Italian white wine. That, and Lasagna. Life was at its best in that moment.

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The Arena where Rockstar (2011) was shot.

The sun in Verona was a breath of fresh air. The next day, we walked around the city and looked for things to do. We knew there was a castle somewhere on a hill, so we just ended up randomly walking towards it. We ended up walking up a hill with a forest full of ruins, and when we reached the top, the view was breathtaking. Verona from above looked gorgeous !

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Hey thats my back!

It was a chill two days in Verona. Went out for drinks with the Swedish girl and her local friends, walking around the city, contemplating by the river, and the like..

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At the end of it all, I was quite happy. I would have liked to stay longer in Verona, but I knew I would come back to this city someday. I had decided. I would come back to Venice and Verona, so I didn’t let disappointment set in, and said see you soon to one of my favourite cities !

Belgium!

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Belgium, a small country to the north of France. Every one who lives in Paris for a study abroad and wishes to travel Europe would 110% visit Belgium, for more than one reasons. The most important ones : Cheap trains/buses from Paris to Brussels. And one million (maybe I’m exaggerating) varieties of beers! Maybe not a million.. but thousand? For sure! Belgian beers are known world wide, and Belgians do love their beers, just like the French do their wine. If not anything else, I’ve definitely learnt a thing or two about wines and beers in Europe. You know, general knowledge that seems to be important when you’re studying abroad in Europe. So, let me not stray from the topic, and get straight back to talking about Belgium, and the two cities I’ve visited till now.. followed by some quick photographs.

It might sound insane, but I’ve taken a train from Paris to Brussels a couple of times already, but I’ve never been outside in the city of Brussels. I mean, yeah technically I have, the metro and a climbing place I recently went to.. But never really the town center. I know thats insane, but I’ll do that soon 😛

So, after getting down from the “izy” Thalys (read Thalys for cheap travels and for people who are lost between France and Belgium and wanting to call both of them their home), I’ve been to two cities till now : Gent and Leuven.
[Quick note, if you don’t know about izy thalys – its the affordable version of Thalys train, takes a little longer than the Thalys, but its a blessing for its extremely affordable!]

About the cities – I absolutely love how cute, tiny (compared to my home country in Europe) and pretty they are. I know these are such dreamy adjectives, but its true! I think Belgian cities have a very relaxed aura to them. For some reason, the air in Belgium is different from that in France. Definitely there are more bars than cafes – well, thats what I’ve noticed. Of course you find bars everywhere in Paris too, but somehow you find more bars than cafes if you walk around in Belgium. Not to forget your nose would be on alert all the time, because DUH! WAFFLES and FRIES! Let me not say French fries, as we know it. But Belgian fries- the original fries.. and ummm, my mouth is watering! THEY ARE DELICIOUS. You have to come and try them. But let me just mention on thing about them, and thats the major point of difference from French fries as we know them.. Belgian fries are not like the thin almost dead McDonalds fries, which are competing with a size zero girl.. Belgian fries are thick and and and and… DELICIOUS!!!!

And what goes best with them? A drink in a beautiful bar, with friendly waiters who happily speak English if you ask them to (unlike in France). Shit, I seem to compare France and Belgium a lot. But I’m stating facts. Belgian waiters > French waiters. Not just the waiters, but everyone there seems to have a decent level of English. Okay I’m not criticizing the French or anything, they have great qualities in their own way, but when it comes to being multilingual, the Belgians win! (I think I need to write a post about three years of my life in France too –  maybe then I could put down in writing my real views about the French culture.)

Well, since I was talking about bars, here is one I would recommend for sure. This one is in Leuven, a small student city, 45 minutes by train from Brussels. The bar is called “De Blauwe Schuit” and is not exactly in the center but very close to it. And, why is it amazing? They have a pet PEACOCK!!! Now thats something different. A bar/restaurant with a pet peacock on their terrace. It absolutely looks like a summer paradise!!! With all the greenery, and the peacock quite literally doing a free show! He is such a show off bird, really. He isn’t scared of so many people sitting around. In fact he knows that everybody loves looking at him, so he’ll show off his feathers happily!!!

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And here’s a photograph for you!

As far as architecture and scenic beauty is concerned, I don’t think I need to compare France and Belgium here.. Both are equally rich in scenic beauty, history, and architecture. But there’s something about Belgium.. something unique.. The few times I’ve visited, I always tried to understand what it was.. In fact, every time I visit a new city, I always try to notice difference from the ones I’ve been to. Almost all the European cities might seem to be rich in culture, history, architecture and scenic beauty, but there is something different about the cities of each country. Maybe I need to walk around Brussels to figure out what it really is.. the capital is of course a must visit. But from what I’ve felt till now, I think its the happy faces and the difference in the lifestyle that makes it different. There’s a relaxing feeling, a happier feeling, a feeling that I never got while walking around in Paris.

 

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Watermael-Boitsfort.

 

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Gent city center.

 

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Me and my friend Yoko who lives in Gent.

 

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On the train from Brussels to Gent.. Probably the most famous coffee shop in Brussels?

 

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When You Lose Someone – ‘Literally’..

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This morning when I sat to drink my coffee, I couldn’t control the tears. ‘Khaali pet chai coffee mat piya kar’, he would say. ‘Don’t drink tea or coffee on an empty stomach!’. 

I wonder if a person really goes away from your life after they cease to exist in form. When you lose someone close to you- literally, you realize that they never really cease to exist in your life.

I don’t know about others- but I’ve always dreamt a lot. My dreams have been too real, and once I wake up, it is too hard to come to terms with the real life. Because what I saw with my eyes closed is as real as what I see with open eyes. This morning it was a pain to wake up again to reality after what I saw in my dreams, and must have been even more painful to start studying for the exam coming up- so I chose to pour my heart out again before I get back to the real life.

This day, last month, was the last day that my dad lived on Earth. He passed away on 12th March, and since that day, I have neither gone to sleep peacefully, nor woken up peacefully. Who said he doesn’t exist anymore? I see him smiling as soon as I lie down in bed to sleep. I see him smiling, and laughing, and cracking his silly jokes over and over again. Some nights I have to shed all the tears that my eyes can shed, to be able to finally fall asleep with tired eyes. Then he comes in my dreams. Who said he doesn’t exist anymore? In my dreams, I see him in new settings, new places, and he creates more memories with me. Memories that are as real as the ones we lived together. But memories that become painful, as soon as I wake up. Because every morning, when I open my eyes, its like losing him all over again.

When you lose someone quite literally, you realize how different it is from losing a friend, or a lover after you break up or choose not to talk to them anymore. That person exists, but doesn’t bother your existence. You hate them for what they did, every bad word they said to you, but when you lose someone literally, you realize that whatever problems you had, they didn’t really matter more than the person itself. You realize how different it is to voluntarily go away from someone’s life, but when someone ceases to exist in form, you want to forgive everything they did and have them back. So I would say, Do it today! My dad always told me ‘Sab log ache hote hain‘ – that every person is a good person deep down. Only situations make them do what they do.. but deep down, deep deep down, they’re a good person. It is only now that I fully understand these words.

When you lose someone literally, you only lose them in form. Who shall take them away from your mind, heart and soul? Who shall erase their words ringing in your head? Everytime I drink coffee on an empty stomach, I hear him scolding me. Everytime I close my eyes, I see him laughing and hear him bragging that he had perfect teeth. Everytime I sleep, I see him. Its painful. Because these are dreams of separation. But people say it’ll get better with time.. Maybe it will reach a point where I live a second existence in dreams, and create happy memories with him again? Who knows what is a dream anyway? Maybe then this waking life would be a happy place to live again.