58/365

I’m a huge fan of tradition. It’s easy to confuse the meaning of tradition with superstition, custom, beliefs, and even religion, but for me, tradition connotes something entirely different. I think tradition is possibly more Western in it’s approach, which is possibly one of the reasons I bought into tradition really easily as an NRI kid.

Nowadays I don’t care too much about it. I love customs, celebrations and traditions all the same. But back then, and in my brain still, there exists a strange sort of compartmentalization.

A lot of traditions for me were self-evolved. In that, we practiced them at home every year, and they became habitual. The printing of new name labels for each book at the start of every academic session, the buying of new brown paper. Picking up new stationery – those specific Staedler pencils I love, and a new water bottle: one of 10, or 11 I’d own in the span of one year.

This continued. As did picking up new shoes, because my feet grew abnormally large for a 5th Grade kid.

All of these things I stick to even today. I still end up hunting around in my room in Bangalore for one piece of unused stationery to bring back to college every semester. It gives me a weird thrill.

My affection for tradition is exemplified perhaps by my stubbornness when it comes to writing with ink pens. In Dubai, we had this rule: You could only move to writing with a pen in Grade 5 if your handwriting was deemed to be neat enough. It was a rite of passage, for the Class Teacher to call out your name and announce to the entire class that you’d earned yourself the privilege. Carrying over in pencil to Grade 6 was something unheard of.

I had found my goal in Grade 5. All I wanted was that stamp of approval. The second part of this rule was that once you were told you could write with a pen, you went across the school to Lulu (this amazing Hypermarket) and bought an Inoxcrom Ink Pen after-school hours.

I must’ve spent hours admiring Inoxcrom pens, readying myself for when my name was called out. At some point I think I knew Inoxcrom’s sales catalogue and model numbers and prices across 5-6 stores in the UAE. The same was true of Schneider pens, the traditional second purchase.

So when my name was called out, I was naturally thrilled, and a 10 Dirhams dish-out began a love story I can only hope lasts the rest of my life. It’s a love story where the only dillemma has been: blue or black.

I cannot, will not, write with any other sort of pen in my academic notebooks. This is absurd because I’m a left-hander, so as such I write about 10% slower than most people. Therefore, I should be using techniques to speed me up, not pens that significantly slow you down.

Yet, I persist.

And my ink pens are peculiar. In school, I used a particular purple sheep pen that became my identity. I couldn’t write with anything else. So much so that I bought a replica pen on a second visit to that store, to replace in case I broke the nib or something. That pen served me till the end of my board exams.

In college, I write with Hero pens. One that’s been handed to me by my grandmother, which is really old, and another replica pen I found in a shop close to my house. I fill ink in them every morning and carry them to class – a small feeling of satisfaction, that I carry a little bit of my child-self to class every single day.

Today I messed up filling ink in my pen, resulting in an ink-spill for the ages. My right hand turned blue, and smelt of dye for an hour or so.

I’ve been involved in ink-fights, filled ink-cartridges with syringes, lost cartridges, and extended the life of cartridges by filling water in with the ink. I collected the ball-bearings of cartridges, and cartridges themselves, and traded these into the dustbin for absolutely nothing.

And I absolutely love it.

Gift me an ink pen, and we’re friends for life. Make fun of my ink pens, and you’re dead to me.

It’s a kick I can’t quite explain.

It’s tradition.

 

 

55/365

Our last conversation ended with a full stop,

A full stop,

And two blue ticks,

Status: Offline.

It’s been a week since that day, and ever since,

The one thing that’s been on my mind,

Is whether you still need me as much as I need you?

 

I think back to when I was being ragged and you were adjusting to your surroundings,

And the only thing that kept us sane was knowing that the other was alive,

Alive and ready on the end of a horrible internet connection,

To listen, laugh, and make us smile.

 

Over time, however, we seem to have drifted,

Though this never shows when we actually meet.

It’s been a week, and all I can think of,

Is whether you’re thinking of telling me about

A new song,

A new movie,

A thought,

An emotion.

 

Or whether this is what it’s come to,

Just two blue ticks,

And poof. You disappear.

 

This may sound overly clingy,

I swear,

That’s not what it’s meant to be,

But I’m tired of initiating conversation,

So I’ll just wait,

Wait a while,

And maybe someday soon you’ll see those two blue ticks,

And think of the time where

Status: Typing

Was our status

All the time

50/365

Sometimes I wonder about my brain,

And why, you make ask?

For that I have a simple response:

My heart feels conflict, angst, sadness,

And happiness, love, and joy,

But my brain?

My brain has to process all this emotion,

Within a few seconds,

And create responses in my system, that I don’t quite understand,

But which lead to more feelings,

More feelings,

More feelings.

 

I wonder whether my brain feels tired, at times,

What, with how emotional I am as a person, and

How easy it is to make me cry, and make me laugh.

I wonder if my brain ever feels exhausted,

That it’s had enough of these feelings,

That it’s time for them to be bottled up.

 

I think about this not because I am tired,

Rather because I think about closing off my tap of feelings,

Not showing them at all,

Slowly teach myself how to un-feel, and un-know,

And slip fast into a quiet life of merely being.

 

Being.

Being unaffected by disappointment,

Being unfazed by last-minute challenges,

Being over-enthusiastic about simple joys,

Just,

Being.

Feeling,

But not showing.

And never,

Never, asking for any help.

 

Ironically, however,

It is not my heart,

But my brain that makes me realize,

That showing these feelings is what makes me who I am,

The disappointment, the anguish,

The pain, the heartbreak,

The enthusiasm about small things.

Allows me to live, without conceding, within four grey-walled buildings.

 

Because hiding my feelings would mean losing to these surroundings,

And accepting a cruel fate

That no one here notices if you’re not talking the same,

Or thinking the same,

Or that you’ve started to go to class a little late

 

That you are not a part of anybody’s world,

And that you have to rely on yourself.

Because things have not been okay in the past few weeks,

But you’ll shrug it off nonetheless.

And never really deal with it,

But just crush it all inside.

 

And that crushes me.

 

Brain, are you tired of thinking about feelings?

Explain to me if you are.

Let’s talk about these difficult things,

And fight this feeling war.

 

 

 

49/365

I dislike not knowing things,

And believe mystery is the worst thing on the planet,

Because a lack of information to me,

Is stupendous and horrid, I can’t stand it.

There’s a part of me that always wants to be correct,

But I’m wrong often,

I’ll admit that.

So I sit here in my room,

Multiple tabs open on my browser,

A fear of not knowing means that I’m stuck,

Constantly clicking on links, and turning pages, and feeling a little prouder,

And often that means I don’t spend time with my friends, who are perhaps my best teachers,

Because there’s a ticking time-bomb in my brain, telling me about

That Wikipedia link that waits to be clicked on,

The Guardian tab that’s been open for a week,

The YouTube video I’ve missed out on,

And the entertainment, I turn to, for comic relief.

That’s a problem for me,

Because often I find,

That in a quest to learn about things out there,

I miss on small moments, and small things that happen in the moment.

My brain appears to care too much about information,

But has started to forget about details, people’s interests, people’s lives.

I don’t know how to correct this,

So I decided to write a poem,

In some abstract hope that maybe,

My brain would see this,

And hopefully that would show him.

 

 

48/365

Right now, I’m listening to my favourite music from 2012. It’s very distinct for me, because around the end of 8th Grade was when the whole electronic music craze hit me and my friends.

Till then we listened to a lot of rock, pop and a bunch of mainstream stuff that popped up on the radio. That changed when we all fell in love with electronic music. Every single one of the initial songs we heard had something funky about it, that got us swaying. Just made people happy – which was great.

And having been in a new school for barely over a year, it became something we instantly connected about. All of us went home and sat on YouTube hunting for that new track to share with everyone.  It was fabulous.

Over the years, the sort of music I listen to has changed, but I enjoy discovering new music, so I put Spotify on discover and shuffle, and let it do the trick. That way I’m constantly in tune with different genres. The thing about music, personally, for me, is that it makes you feel emotion. The beauty of different genres is the different response it creates in your brain.

The only downfall to this is that I’m not listening to the same music over and over again. Which means that I rarely get to relive the emotion I felt the first time I heard a bit of music.

Listening to this 9th Grade mix has done just that.

Within a couple of seconds, I was back in my room from a day at school, sitting on my beanbag, with my laptop and my headphones, on YouTube, and Facebook, with an XtremePapers tab open to do some quick revision.

That flashback led me to reopen a couple of old chats with my classmates, a lot of whom I barely speak to these days. I was transported to a place where I typed out horribly, with pathetic punctuation, and extra exclamation marks. In an instant, I was taken back to these baby 9th Grade considerations: whether I’m playing my social circle right or not versus whether my parents think I’m studying hard enough.

And I had a lot of advice to give myself. I felt like I could have chilled out a bit more in 9th, because I started studying and reading a lot after 10th Grade came around. With boards in three consecutive years, and having to give multiple entrance exams, my life just became about the next set of tests, eventually.

Which was a little sad for a 9th Grader.

I regret nothing from how I used time back then, but maybe spending more time on creative pursuits would have been fun.

This train of thought lasted the whole of 15 minutes, after which I started to think about how chill the 9th Grade was, in comparison to what life became after that.It felt great.

9th Grade was beautiful.

47/365

My creative juices,

They seem to have stopped.

I appear to have contracted a case of

The dreaded writer’s block.

It leads to a rather sad admission,

That I didn’t do anything interesting today,

That my day passed by with a certain normalcy,

And all my thoughts were quite mundane.

I don’t appear to have anything fancy to admit,

Nor a story that’s quirky enough to share.

However, the one thing I attest to,

Is that tomorrow I shall have several stories,

Maybe even a pair.

So I’ll leave you with this,

A poem I seem to have written,

And bid you adieu,

Because with the curse of 47, I appear to be bitten.

46/365

So today’s blog is something a little unconventional for me. Instead of recounting random thoughts I’ve had over the course of 24 hours, I’m going to put forth an argument I’ve been thinking of for a very long time. Sadly, the theme, as with the rest of my life, is law school. For context purposes, this is all you have to know: I study at a Law School in India, and at one point of time was about to study at a law school in a foreign land. I’ve previously recounted, on this very blog, about what made me stay back in this country (in case you’re wondering: ) Without further ado, therefore, let’s get into the meat of things.

I’m quite disoriented by several things at the moment, and am slowly getting used to a relatively quieter period in my life. This has meant 8 hours of sleep for the last 3 days, and a lot of clarity in the amount I’m paying attention to what’s happening in classes.

A lot of what I dreamed about before I came to law school is learning the law. A bigger part, however, rested in the fact that I wished to understand why people follow the law the way they do, and what gives law the power it has. What makes men wilt before order, and strive for some insane, flawed conception of justice. What makes people submit to Governmental authorities, and repose faith in them to uphold ideals that people believe to be fair. It’s a huge part of why I wanted to go the UK, and not anywhere else.

I felt that studying there would give me some sense of purpose with respect to the ideologies and philosophies governing the principles of Law. And through that, a bigger ambition, was to develop a sense of identity for myself – in terms of principles I stand for in the Law, and principles I vehemently disagree with, even though they’re a part of the aw. While 18 years of living on planet Earth and undergoing different experiences has taught me a lot of that, it’s always been garbed by morality, or religion, and at times where I’ve pushed my parents a little harder, because, that’s just the way it is.

And those have all been answers I’ve never been satisfied with. I didn’t accept that 1+1 = 2, or that different languages could have different letters, till someone sat and explained some rationale behind it to me. They didn’t have to just explain to me, I needed to be convinced by it, else I saw no application in it whatsoever.

The system of teaching the Law abroad, from what I’ve heard, revolves around helping people find their identities with respect to the Law. Several individuals graduate out of Law school – take Neil Gorsuch, for example, identifying with a particular belief system or set of values they relate to.

I looked forward to that, and figured that somewhere along the way, someone would prod me to think long and hard about the sort of system I believe in.

It’s rather early for me to comment (I’m only coming to the end of second year), but, Law School hasn’t done that as yet. It’s only taught me about what the law is. No explanation of the why. No debates on contentious issues. Nothing to split us.

And today in class, when I was scrolling through a report about Gorsuch’s ideology, I eventually landed on a page about the late Antonin Scalia. Which led me to a bit about the role philosophy plays in American Court decisions. There’s a LOT of literature out there about this.

What struck me at that point, was that we don’t care about the philosophies of Judges as much in our country. I mean, everyone knows how to criticize decisions and positions of Law without reading about them. But not many delve into the consistent position of a particular Judge on a particular position.

This also occurred to me in Consti-I, while learning about Articles 12 and 13. Justice Bhagwati repeatedly referred to his own decisions, which at that time, I found hilarious. Not many people cared though.

Which begs the question: Does Indian jurisprudence, conceptually exist?

I haven’t read a lot around this, but what I’m disillusioned by is the fact that people can comment about a change in the position of the Law – in terms of how Articles of the Constitution are interpreted, but not many people comment about what prompts an attitudinal shift in the Court’s view.

For example: Do we know how many Judges in the Indian Supreme Court are utilitarianists?

Now, you may wonder why any of this is relevant at all.

The answer, for me, is simple. If, apart from the Law, the only other thing that helps us understand it, is different interpretations of the Law, it’s necessary for us to know why such an interpretation exists, and not only who has offered such an interpretation.

Because that will help us form our own opinions.

Because right now, I have the same opinion as all of my Professors. If, Professor X criticizes a decision, I validly accept what he is saying. Why? Because that’s what he expects in my answer sheet.

Is this asking for spoon-feeding? No, I do not believe so.

I believe this is asking for some guidance. Rather than telling me X is X because Y authority said X is X, please explain why X is suited, or not suited to Indian society.

I’d be mighty pleased then.

As always, what am I going to do about it?

For now, just read. Because that’s the only other source I have.

45/365

Valentine’s Day is a day of happiness, and for me, it’s come to signify a lot more than being a day about couples and other such related things.

I think all of this started a while back. My earliest memories are of my dad getting flowers for my mother. When dad moved, first to Bangalore, and then to Dubai, I never thought the tradition would continue. But technology and the ability to order flowers from anywhere means that on the 14th of February, dad was always present in spirit, with flowers and a note.

I’ve stopped overthinking things off-late, but my brain remembers a lot of small details.

One of these early Valentine’s Day memories is from when I was around 6 or 7. The Bear Factory had recently opened up in Dubai. I was allergic to fur as a young child – it used to aggravate, or cause a wheezing attack, so most fur toys were off-limits. Till this one Valentine’s Day, where my dad bought my mother a really big pink bear with a I ❤ you t-shirt.

To ensure I wasn’t left out, he bought me a stuffed dog. I named it Poochie. I don’t know why, or but the name stuck. For a few years, Poochie took on a life of his own. My paternal grandmother knit clothes for him, and I slept with him every single night. I even took him on my travels to India once.

Poochie symbolized Valentine’s Day for me, and retains a spot on my bed at home. Will not let go of that gift, thanks dad.

Coming to why I do not believe that Valentine’s Day is purely a day for couples.

It’s pretty simple. My relationship status all of my life has been: Single.

And therefore, instead of crudely criticizing or getting annoyed at displays of affection on Valentine’s Day, or voicing displeasure and sadness at being single, I treat myself to small things. Chocolates, maybe.

This is something I started only after I moved to college, but it was a thought I had in school.

I’m also a romantic at heart, so seeing displays of affection makes me happy, rather than jealous or sad. Would do displays of affection multiple times, even if it brought out no reciprocity. 🙂 It’s a good feeling to make other people happy.

The other great thing is that very few people are angry on Valentine’s Day. Which is beautiful in general. Because that means fewer people screaming about things irrationally, or fighting about petty things. It’s a lovely day to reconnect with old friends, or rekindle old flames. And there’s nothing weird about wishing your friends a Happy Valentine’s Day. Shows that you care about them a lot more.

Also, observation from today: All male professors I interacted with were wearing pink shirts.

Lastly, before I leave. I think everyone’s got something to love and be thankful for. Today’s just a good day for that. Reminds people about the good out there in the world – something we need a lot more of, considering recent events.

 

44/365

8 days since I last typed out a sentence on the internet, and my brain seems to have forgotten how to write a coherent sentence. On that note, I bid adieu to fulfilling my New Years’ Resolution of writing daily, but say hello to trying to write every day. And inject some more humour into my writing. And yes, that is the correct way to spell humour.

Today was the first day I had very little flowing through my brain in terms of deadlines, or work, or a checklist. My phone didn’t buzz once through the day, and I barely messaged anyone about work-related things. It felt extremely relieving, knowing that I didn’t have anything to do – so I could chill and take some down-time for myself, but at the same time, I was ridiculously confused.

I wasn’t sure what to do with this newfound time. Apart from reading, and maybe watching some episodes of a show, and maybe playing some FIFA. That exhausted my list.

That realization was a pretty tough one. I think what hit me today was that I came to law school and started living a ‘law school life’ so much, that I lost my ‘life’ outside of law school. In terms of how much you can divest and split yourself up from the place you live in and the profession you’re working toward.

I’ve blogged about the work/life balance I’m striving to work toward before, but, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I think a lot of it is also because a majority of my social circle today is in law school, and I interact with them on a daily basis. Which means I need to get a different circle that has no clue about the law and can keep me in touch with the real world.

In other news, today, my cousin (I think?) sent me an integration problem. The (I think?) needs no explanation apart from the fact that in a South Indian community, everyone is related to everyone. So this person and I are cousins on one side of the family (albeit distant), and on the other side, I think we’re in different generations. Which is odd.

Anyway, that defeats the purpose of this story.

I got the sum and erased my white board and got down to work. Used identities I remembered and all. And after about 20 minutes, I gave up big-time. I texted her a couple of sad-face emojis, which accurately depicted my emotions at the time.

I miss Math.

I loved my Sciences and Math. To think that I haven’t solved a sum in nearly 2 years is startling, because I couldn’t and can’t imagine my life and the logic I’ve learnt without the subject. My fondest memories from school (pertaining to studies) come from Math class.

I remember this time my dad scolded my in the 7th Grade the night before my final exam because I couldn’t solve fractions. I didn’t understand them at all, and they confused me to no end. I spent that night with both my parents trying to explain the difference between adding fractions and multiplying fractions, while I wailed at my stupidity. I haven’t forgotten how to do these operations since that day.

What sucks about having chosen the Law is that a lot of my past studies find no daily application. Two disclaimers to that statement: This does not mean they were useless, nor does it mean that I don’t like the Law any more. But, I do wish there was some way for me to take courses in Science and Math – Applied Math and Chemistry especially, while studying the Law.

In my brain, this started a whole conversation about the things I would love to study if I wasn’t restricted by time: Literature, History, Economics, Philosophy, for example. I figure the only other way to do this is to read a variety of books – instead of one particular genre.

So my 52 in 52 challenge is going to get a few tweaks now.

More tomorrow. Buzz me @tejasrao11 on twitter if you want to have a fun conversation!

And Happy Valentines’ Day, everyone. Lots of love to everyone.

Cute Valentines’ Day tales on the blog tomorrow. Do read.

36/365

Well I missed five days. I didn’t realize till my mother told me, which is somewhat of an indication of what my last five days have been. They’ve been ridiculously fast-paced, even though I haven’t had much to do. That sentence is pretty much an accurate description of what college life is like at times. It just happens.

Post the minor bump in the road that was my moot, I’ve been talking to a lot of people and figuring out a lot of things about myself. It’s been a rough few days, but it’s been days filled with realization.

What hit me the hardest is something I thought I should share with you. I figured out that compared to first year, when I mooted in second year, I became more closed off. I stopped talking to as many people, stopped telling people what I was doing – out of some irrational belief that it would come off as being repetitive and monotonous. That’s led to me being in a bit of a rut. People in college are busy, and at one point, I wasn’t sure if I started sounding really melancholic and very selfish – making everything about my moot. I’ve also started doubting who I can talk to on campus about these things.

I’ve questioned a lot of things over the last few days, and people who’ve brought me the most clarity have been my parents.

Which is something I’m very grateful for, but the realization that I got out of all this was that over the last six months, my work-life balance took a huge hit. I feel like I became so consumed in this cycle of work-work-work, that I didn’t care about trying to a live a life outside of my work, or getting to know people and the events in their life as much.

Strange enough, my friend in America is going through something similar. I chatted with him this morning at 5AM, and in a very strange way I felt like we were back in school again. But that conversation was pretty revealing, in that we both figured out that we don’t trust easy. Which means it’s easy for us to get sucked into things that prevent you from having to develop trust with a lot of people.

That’s something I need to break out of, because it’s a habit for me.

Ironically, it’s something I have to work toward.