2019: Fifty-Six

If there’s one thing you need to gift yourself when you’re away from a place that you’re more comfortable calling home, it’s the opportunity to explore the place you reside in.

It’s rare that we give ourselves these opportunities as workaholic, University students. I speak for myself. So having people here who you have to show around is a fabulous way to do some getting around yourself.

Ahmedabad has history – as does every place, but it’s allowed it’s historical culture to survive and interact with the way the city has grown, which is worth admiring. And admire it we did.

In this light, cool video below:

2019: Fifty-Five

Today was a real day of reckoning. Everyone had something to prove. I needed to prove to my family that my mess food’s quality had deteriorated, my grandparents needed to be satisfied and enthralled with where I study, my parents wanted to chill, and my aunt wanted to impress my friends.

Safe to say, everyone succeeded. Barring me. They loved my mess food.

2019: Fifty-Four

This morning I had to skip out on activities because, of course, I chose to do my intra moot court competition at University and procrastinate on my memorial submission. As always, a nap I had planned to take ended up in me going to sleep and leaving citations to do the entire morning. Skipping on that sucked. Especially because they went to the Vintage Auto Museum and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Exhibition – two things that are so up my alley.

When I met them for lunch, they told me how much they missed having me there – and I knew then that I would have enjoyed both these exhibitions a ton.

But, I think we’re all very happy that we got to spend every moment in the day together. Lunch was fabulous, at ISKCON, and then we went to the Riverfront, shopping at Law Garden, and eating at Manekchowk. True family bonding experiences.

Missed my Uncle a lot today – especially when we pulled my grandmother’s leg and ate at Manekchowk.

2019: Fifty-Three

Everyone is here! Okay, not everyone. But everyone who had planned to visit Ahmedabad is here, which is fantastic news for us all, and me, especially.

Today I had the opportunity to lounge with my family and introduce them to the IIM-Ahmedabad campus. We’re a family of nerds (even the cool ones like my aunt, my grandfather, and myself) – so visiting educational campuses gives us a real sense of happiness. I think it definitely did for all of them who visited – because we got to see cool architecture, but also enjoy the vibe of being in a top institution in the country (or perceived top institution).

My highlight of today was seeing the happiness on my father’s face – because I had access to such a great institution, and seeing him purchase a hoodie which had the IIM-A varsity logo on it. It reminds me that I inherit several traits from my dad – a love for memorabilia, is one of them.

2019: Fifty-Two

I predicted correctly. I didn’t blog for an entire week. For a few reasons which I predicted earlier as well. So it’s time to catch up.

The anticipation that fills your body when people whose company you enjoy are about to arrive, is a feeling that is incomparable to much else. For me, the arrival of my friends, or my family, in a place where I reside, fills me with that feeling, right to the brim of my body’s capacity. It’s an anticipation that keeps me happy for a few days before their arrival, and keeps me awake enough to go pick them up from the airport at 3AM. It’s an anticipation that is mixed with a feeling of comfort, of home, and of voices that fill the atmosphere around me with conversation in the tongue I am most comfortable in.

It’s also an anticipation I never understood I would grow to love – for my complacency in enjoying their presence at my disposal: attending family gatherings only when it was convenient for me, visiting them and speaking to them only when I was in the mood to do so, basically, being a petulant teenager. I didn’t think I’d be in a position where I missed the company of my family – because I always had the opportunity to feel their presence at my whims and fancies.

I’ve grown to love the anticipation. From the first and second year, when I found it “inconvenient to my schedule at college”, but managed to find a way to spend time with them – to now, when I will drop everything for when they visit – as best as I can, a lot has changed.

I can’t wait.

2019: Fifty-One

Sometimes the environment that I reside in can get particularly toxic. It’s something I’ve been speaking to several juniors on campus about – and I’m not sure what we can do to improve on that. There’s several things that come to mind when you use the word “toxic”, but the specific problem I’d like to focus some part of this post on is the problem of comparison.

Competition is natural – it’s primal in human beings. We’ve always competed for resources, so applying that to daily life is not something I would take away from our species. It exists on the macro level – countries want to be the foremost, the best, and the micro level – with individuals wanting to be better than others. There’s a lot of positives to competition generally, insofar as it informs you – informing you about available opportunities and things available in the world, but also, informing you about the sort of stuff people find interesting. It arguably helps you become better yourself – and apply yourself to your maximum potential (assuming that this application is important), by giving you access and a comparative benchmark, because it asks you “if they’re doing it, why can’t I?”

But in an enclosed campus with grey walls that are like an echo chamber, I think more often than not, all of these positives become overwhelmingly negative. Instead of information about available opportunities, people look at competitors having achieved something more than them: a missed opportunity. People compare across batches, to look at what someone has done more than them, or better than them – instead of creating value systems they’re comfortable with for themselves, people adopt value systems they see in other individuals to gain positions of moral superiority. An enclosed space offers massive misconceptions of what “capital” is – in terms of social influence, and it appears that people grab at it really fast.

It begs the question about whether historically, institutions that do well are institutions that put too much pressure on the next generation merely because they achieve things.

It also begs the question: do achievements matter at all?

2019: Fifty

Damn, we went fifty days without missing posts. That’s a milestone worth celebrating.

How?

Here. John Oliver has made a THIRD video about Brexit. It’s an intriguing watch that gives you a lot to think about, the first question being: How is there enough problematic material for a THIRD video on the same YouTube channel?

2019: Forty-Nine

This week has a bunch of awesome things happening, but also has the potential to wind me down tremendously. I’m unsure which way it’ll go. I’m excited, but don’t want to burn out, especially because I’m still sort of recovering from an illness, and exams are coming up.

My parents are coming to town along with my aunt and my grandparents – which is a rather exciting time in our household. It means that all the readers of this blog will at the same place at the same time – which should certainly mean more content for this blog, and fewer views. It also gives me an opportunity to do something I’m really really looking forward to: seeing more of Ahmedabad.

My relationship with Ahmedabad is a strange one. I’ve visited it often, but only visited certain parts, as one does. Specifically, because all I’ve been to Ahmedabad for is food, a food festival, and two internships. So while I’ve gotten an idea of the vibe of the city, there’s several parts of it I’ve missed out on. Ahmedabad’s done a pretty good job of maintaining it’s cultural history and heritage, so while capitalizing family time, I’m most excited to see how much of the cultural history we’ll manage to explore.

The joy of spending time away from campus is also the joy of escaping campus food. Which, the less said about the better, especially considering I’ll get hungry writing this post otherwise.

Finally, seeing my dad. My dad and I are very tight in a sense I cannot explain to several people – especially those who see us out in public. As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to understand my father on more levels, and understand several things I didn’t as a child. A direct consequence of this has been changing my behaviour and my relationship with my family on the whole, but a more indirect consequence is how happy I am in general when they’re around. I haven’t seen my dad in eight months now, which is a rather long time. The last I met him was when I was in Dubai – and I was scheduled to go there till the entire passport fiasco played out. In my memory, this is the longest I’ve gone without seeing him – and strangely enough it’s happened in two consecutive years now, 2018, and 2019.

Last time I went to Kenya. This time they’re coming to Ahmedabad.

The only commonality apart from family time: Gujaratis.

2019: Forty-Eight

It’s getting tougher and tougher to ignore the calling of Greek Yoghurt every day.

This is the fascinating thing about my college mess. Rather, the fascinating thing about the people who sell additional commodities at the mess in my University.

For some context, the way that meals work in my mess is that you pay a fee at the start of the academic year which takes care of all your food needs (4 meals a day) for the entire year. The quality of said mess food is disputed. I used to be super enthusiastic about it, then stopped caring, then hated it as it became lacklustre, and now I’m back to treating it indifferently and celebrating the days where it is excellent.

This disputed status of mess food means that students search for supplements. And while the healthiest option is to stock up on breakfast in your room and fruits, the commoners who are unwilling to control their desires (such as myself) succumb to the mess and the MPS to cater to our desires, including Cup Noodles and Chips and Chocolate of different varieties.

But the craziest part about both these stores is how they manufacture demand by stocking up on a new product. Nobody shows desire for these products before they arrive, but once they come, they’re sold out, and never to be seen.

I call this the Epigamia Phenomenon.

If foreign readers are reading this, Epigamia is a brand of flavoured Greek yoghurt that is incredibly delicious and very addicting. Basically, the University procured this for sale at our mess last semester sometime. And it was sold out within a day. Like half a fridge of Greek yoghurt was consumed by us. I don’t think this was particularly because everyone wanted Greek yoghurt specifically. Rather, I think we just needed distraction from yellow dal. And it worked.

Since that day, we’ve had an entire fridge dedicated to Greek Yoghurt and allied products.

This is true of several other commodities at the mess too. An example is Nutties.

Those things sell quicker than dosas on Sunday mornings.

And it’s the randomest flavours that sell. Like honey-banana. Which tastes terrible. But sells. Because it’s better than mess food.

And they make more money off us!

I need to learn how to resist Epigamia. Tomorrow shall be the first of many Greek yoghurt free days.

 

2019: Forty-Six

This is possibly the longest I was away from writing this year, which was a weird feeling. When two days is the longest you go without publicly documenting your life and the weird observations that make up your day, you can really notice the changes the break in routine has on your life.

The answer is that surprisingly enough, it made a very small difference. Aside from the fact that I caught a bit of a flu and am under the weather, I don’t think avoiding writing affected me as much as it has in the past.

But this illness thing, boy do I hate it. It’s very odd to me that the way our body becomes stronger and more resistant to germs is by getting exposed to it in the first place (the way vaccines work, for example). And I’m particularly annoyed at the fact that I fall sick around the same time every single year.

One day I shall defeat you, weather-change. And when I do, I shall consume cool drinks like milkshake even in the cold temperatures. Just to celebrate.

2019: Forty-Five

So I was in the Scoring Room today and discovered that one of the juniors on campus who reads this blog felt very duped when I posted clickbait titles or something of the sort on twitter, or even marketed the fact that I had uploaded something new – but in reality, wrote only 10-15 words. I chuckled quite hard when I found out, for a variety of reasons. First, it felt good to know that I had become someone who had the ability to dupe people: albeit at a very small scale, and all the while being behind a computer. (As I typed this, I daydreamed a court scene where I was charged for fraud and the prosecutor attempted to use my previous sentence as evidence against me – so I’d like to make it unambiguously clear, this is humour.)

Second, I laughed because it was heartening to see that people stuck with this blog – from it’s very inception, I’ve seen that a few people read and talk to me about what I post. Considering that a majority of my viewership comes from my family, I don’t pay much attention to the stats for this blog. It’s just a thing I do. But to know someone is consistently reading is a delight: even though I might be duping them.

Third, it’s funny that people actually click on clickbait. It’s weird, but I’m wondering how people get attracted toward something that looks like a click-baity title. I’m a victim of the same process, and I find myself reading articles with catchy headings but with mediocre content. While I know that’s a skill, and several people do earn money for helping with marketing and clickbait, the science/psychoanalysis behind it amazes me. SSRN has a great collection of papers that are worth reading on this topic, so if you’re interested, you’ve got a starting point.

But to the junior and the people who I have duped by writing 10 words and making you click on a post to read 10 words. I shall write more, I promise. And if I dupe you in the future successfully, please accept a thousand apologies.