Up and Down.

Juggling is an art of controlling time and space in a mesmerising fashion.
Juggling is an art of controlling time and space in a mesmerising fashion.

This was taken at the Abu Dubai Ferrari World while watching a show in one of their carnival tents. In addition to juggling, this man had also exhibited commendable acrobatic ability and humour skills. A complete entertainer.
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Blurred Lines.

When all seems blurry, fret not. Let the lights guide you.

So I went on a desert safari ride a while ago. They had arranged a wonderfully delicious barbecue spread and some entertainment shows. This was one of them, an Arabian folk dance. It was quite a sight to see the man, rotating, swerving and jumping around with these lights attached to his clothing; each movement bringing a pop of dizzying colours. An image that had to be shot.
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Sometimes it’s just a barren, depleted you and your shadow.

So I’ve been roaming around with a DSLR for about a year now and decided it might be time to put up some of them in the blog.
This is from a series of pics taken while on a road trip in the UAE, en route to Fujairah. This tree, devoid of any leaves and all on its lonesome struck my eye and I just had to capture it. It survives, in spite of the 50C temperature. Food for thought?

2014, AD.

2008 and 2010. Two significant years in my life. The former was fueled by my interest in Science and laid the path for my education in the same. The latter was the year I completed my schooling and secured admission into one of India’s best engineering colleges. Life changing events, for sure.

But why am I talking about this now? This is a post to remember 2014, not one to revel in yesteryear nostalgia! So, what did happen this year?
— — —

Just like the beginning of all my other year-end posts (2011, 2012, 2013 for those interested), this one too started off with my Birthday. And quite wonderfully, unlike any other b’day that I’ve had while in college, this time things were different. My awesome friends gave me a surprise party, bought me pizza  and one baked a cake for me and which was really sweet (no pun intended!). It was the last semester for my college group of friends and it was a birthday to remember :D

And yes, that was followed by Saarang. This edition, the 4th for us, was more emotional than previous years, for the reason that it would be the last one with the whole gang. We didn’t participate in anything, we just absorbed the atmosphere (I still have one more Saarang to go, for which I am the head of Design on Jan 7th-11th 2014. Yes, that was publicity.)
All shows were attended, dances were done, laughs were had and hugs all around :)

Academically, the year was actually pretty decent, shockingly. 8th was extremely hectic but went by without being damaged. The highlight though, was the 9th semester. Why? One word: Placements.
And what an experience that was! All the pre-placement talks, all the nights spent reading math, mugging code that I don’t like or care about, enjoying word puzzles, soaking up data analytics and finance basics.. the stress was continuous and mounting. All we could and did hear, see and think throughout those 4 months were related to this. Quite mind-boggling when you think about it.

All that gave way to the great December, 2014. Placements began on the 1st and well, it was def one hell of a ride.
So many interviews, the panic, the very stupid lack of cell coverage, the eventual toughening up. so many lol moments (in hindsight!), the one lucky day, the one lucky interview, THAT one job and that re-leaf (had to be done, those who will understand, will understand).
And this was why the very first para was written on this post. 2014 is another hallmark year, the year of my first job :)

December did not end there though. On Christmas, 3 of my friends and I went to Mumbai and what a wonderful city it was! The food, the people, the places and the sheer size of the place, the perfect end to the year. I am looking forward to living and working there in 2015. :D

— — —
Personally too, th eyear was a lot more stable. The year saw very very good friendships mature and flaky ones flaking away. I am really glad for having the support and love of my family and friends :D

2015 will be a fresh start. The last year of my time here at IIT and the first at a new city. The future seems intimidating, frightening even. But as always, it is also always exciting.

Onwards we march and I wish everyone happiness and awesomeness. Here’s to our future :)

Happy New Year, folks! :)


There comes a time for everyone when we are not consumed by any life event. The boring, mundane plateaus bracketed by Himalayan highs and Mariana-esque lows which fills us with restless energy, not knowing where to focus our attention on. Most of us in the end, end up day-dreaming and introspecting. This is one such episode.

What is this happiness? Can it be measured? Is it the outcome of an event? If so, can we rank these events in order of happiness?
I believe happiness is based on our interests. An event which makes me happy, invariably could make someone else sad. (Take the case of winners and losers of any sport. One event, two opposite reactions.) Happiness, and the level of happiness is dependent on me and not the event as such.
This is a simple way to rule out the case of Objective Happiness.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who said that he believed happiness was an objective entity. It brings up the question: Is it possible to assign the happiest moment in your life? I have talked to a few people about this and most were unable to tell their happiest moment (except Mr. Objective Happiness) but were able to tell me their saddest moment quickly. This was interesting. In theory, since both are opposites of each other, if we don’t remember one, we ought to not remember the other. Apparently, that is not the case. Sadness and negative emotions are much strongly remembered, which led me to think: Can we think of happiness as the relative absence of ‘sadness’?

The problem with that approach is that there is no standard against which we can compare our happiness level. It would be insanely tough for instance to compare the birth of your child to getting your dream job (for example). Even events such as having lunch or went to school, which are trivial of many of us, may be a huge happy event for those who do not have access to it.
Everyone has their own priorities in life and unless you live in an idealized society where everyone is stripped off their innate emotions and replaced with a set code, such objectivity is simply not possible.

But what is the need for objectivity in emotions? As mentioned above, objectivity would just remove all human-ness in us. Machines are objective. The problem is that as we head deeper into modernity, somehow, we want things to be more standardised; more predictable. We are scared of surprises. We want the pleasant ones but are willing to sacrifice them to get fewer unpleasant ones. We prefer a mundane life, even though we keep talking about our life being mundane. Genuine laughs, innocent smiles have been supplanted by courtesy smiles and smirks. Risk-free is the norm, risk-takers are looked down upon.
We settle, we stop reaching.

Happiness is what you want it to be, it has no definition, it’s a feel. And this feel has become depressingly artificial over time. I envisage a world where there is more unpredictability and tolerance for the unpredictable. There’s no use in holding back just bacuse something is risky. As they say in business, “Higher the risk, higher the return”.
Sure it could result in some hard times and disappointment, sure there might be huge backlash; but the moment you fight and succeed, the moment when you reap your reward, that is simply priceless.
That is Happiness.

– — –


2013, AD.

With another blink of an eye, the year comes to a close. And just like every other year you can’t help but wonder, “Man, this year just went faster than the last!”

As is tradition, just like 2011 and 2012, I was asked to write up the year-end post for 2013. And I sat and wondered, “What only did I do this year?!”
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Well, the year started off, just like all others, with my Birthday, which after a very long time was not during school/college days.  So instead of the usual b’day bumps, the day was spent at Mahabs. What better way to spend your birthday than to be at the beach? :D

Then came Saarang, the second highlight of January. Unlike last year, I didn’t go to too many fests this year. Not too sure why. Saarang was as it always was, fun with people you know and love. Highlights would be winning 2nd (again!) in the Treasure Hunt, the Sunburn EDM Night which was introduced last year and beginning of various conversation topics that would continue all through the year.

That gave way to a week of the sniffles. Why is that relevant? Because I passed out due to an epic allergic reaction to an antibiotic given. No, not a pretty way to end the most racy month of the year, but hey, it’s an experience! :D

Summer was spent at the ever-awesome, super cool Dubai. Back to the homeland, back home. 2 months there was filled with fun, food and well, work. The 6 week internship at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank was quite an eye-opener, quite a lot loved and learnt. And many friends as well. Which opened the way for me writing as a tech columnist for MindThis, an e-magazine.
And along the way, the gang stumbled into a love for psychology and the MBTI and ever since, we have not had any discussion without people’s personality types coming into the discussion. Which also brings into focus the very active WhatsApp groups that keep talking various topics, sometimes even plotting and scheming. Perfect summer! :D
2 weeks of winter was spent at Bahrain, which in comparison was very tame. Still, another new place added to the list, which is always a plus.

On the writing front, mainly one short story was written and the response was generally in the positive. Read a lot more than last year and in all probability, 2014 will see the completion of the umpteen unfinished works in the Google Drive.

The two semesters went in contrasting fashions so I’d say a neutral end to an academic year, which is not as bad as it seems. The year was filled with a few treats to places more ‘exotic’ than the usual Ascendas and the now closed down Basera.
The 4th year was the beginning of the end of a long saga.  The odd semester was majorly filled with all the final years’ tensed about the all important placements. Everywhere, the discussion was how to tackle interviews, which company is better, what they want to do, what they don’t want to do, whether to wear the lucky yellow tie or that coat for a profession feel.
And I’m glad everyone finally did get a good job after all those sleepless nights. 2014 will see quite a few of my friends moving on towards their future. Bleddy they are going to WORK ! Seems too funny to be true. These guys, with all the eccentricities are going to be working men. Time, off it flies! And I’ll be doing all this next year.
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2014 will be a huge year. Just like 2009, a year to prepare for a transition. Many decisions to make, many more things to learn, many more people to get to know and perhaps a few to bid adieu to.
“So what only did I do this year?” Well, if not in quantity, it was a quality year. And that is quite enough for me.
2013 ends with the beat in the up and here’s to a kickass 2014.

Happy New Year, folks! :)

Black and Blue. – Short Story No.8

“Hey AJ, AJ! Look at that couple who just entered!”, Sam whispered gesturing towards the door of Westland Café. I turned back and my gaze fixated, just for a second, on the girl.

“What are you staring at?!”, Sam asked and looked over my shoulder. She knew. “Umm. So you really don’t want me to answer that right?”, I asked, wearing the most innocent smile I could conjure up. Sam looked at that girl, looked down and then straight at me and said “AJ, mine are so small no? Guys don’t like them small, right?”

You see, these are the times when a guy really has no idea what to respond. The obvious reply will, obviously not be liked.

“You are perfect the way you are Sam..”, I said in the most softest of voices possible. “Look at the bright side, you can come out of very tight spots much easily than her!”. Sam grinned. And that’s why she was awesome.

A waiter came with her chocolate milkshake and my strawberry cheesecake. We were seated at the corner table, one of the few spots at Westland that faced the blue sea; our favourite one as well.
Westland Café was almost like our second home. To an outsider, it may seem like another one of those humdrum shacks on the beach. But for us locals, it was nothing short of a veritable goldmine of the yummiest delicacies we could find in the city. And undoubtedly, the best filter coffee.

“So, what happened with Rani at the Gym? Staring and cursing whole day!”, I asked, slicing the cake. “Hey such a pain she is, AJ! You know what she did? She….”
I really don’t know what she said, I had already been lost, her voice forming the perfect music for the song in my head.“….. and then she told….erm… Hey HII, here!!”

I turned around and saw Nikhil approaching. A wide grin lit up Sam’s face, decorated on the sides with glowing red. A loud wave came crashing down at the beach nearby.

There may be very few things more frustrating than being there.
Imagine you’re hurtling towards this heavenly being, like an asteroid through space, but you’ve got the landing all wrong. And instead of touching down in a blaze of fiery glory, you’ve been caught in its orbit, encircling the heavenly body, gazing from afar, hoping for that final touchdown.

Such has been my life since the first time I met Samiksha, 2 years ago at this very café when the ever perky, very effervescent Sam had forgotten her purse and I offered to pay for her. I became her closest friend; revolving around her, protecting her from the vagaries of life. Westland was our second home; the sea, our own special hideout. And then came Nikhil.

“Sam!”, he said with his hearty smile while receiving one of Sam’s bear hugs. I get a hi-5 soon after. He seated himself between Sam and me, taking a bite of the cheesecake from my plate.

I won’t hesitate to admit that I was jealous. Of course I was. Jealous of the way Sam looked at him, jealous of how she giggled at his jokes or stammered and acted like a complete nutjob when he complimented her. Oh, and the cherry on top of my cake of misery? It is hard to the hate the guy. The glitter in Sam’s eyes sparkles as she talked to Nik, perhaps similar to mine as I talked to her. She gave me a warm hug as I left for home.

Like a lone animal in Noah’s ark, I sometimes felt like a misfit, lost and alone. All I wanted to do was to take her in my arms and pour my heart out; I wanted to tell her that she is the most beautiful part of my world. She was enraptured by him; I by her.

This is the story of a day that will be etched in my memory for a long, long time.

Very early the next morning, my phone’s ringtone woke me up. ‘Sam xD’ – the screen read. Sam!“Do you know the time, Sam?”, I said groggily. “AJ..”, her voice, a half sob.I sat up. Venting session at this time?

“AJ.. I like Nik”, she said. “Hmm. Tell me something I don’t know. Why’re you crying?” “Why isn’t he proposing to me?”
For a fact, I knew he liked her a lot. He had told me himself. “Maybe he fears rejection.” I said, voicing my own thoughts.

“Why-why would I reject him?” “I don’t know, you can be intimidating sometimes.” I heard a faint chuckle. “Ass. We were standing near the shore for a long time after you left. It was… heavenly.” Sure it was.
“You love him a lot, yes?” “Yes.” “Isn’t the solution obvious then?”

There was silence for many seconds. Just her soft sweet breaths.

“I’m going to propose.”, she said. “I’m going to-propose! It will be heavenly. AJ! You are awesome!”

A thousand unsaid words volleyed by my mind. I could say them even now.
“Obviously! Go get him!”, I said instead. I shall never learn.

– — –
The shadows on my wall faded as the mobile screen dimmed out. What would I do without AJ? Pushing away the quilt, I got up and walked towards the mirror. A weary face stared back at me, straight hair streaking the sides of my pale, tear-stained cheeks with a background of light orange from the rising sun.

But what if he says no? Am I worth it? … Is he worth it? He likes me. Everyone likes him.

Go get him! AJ’s words echoed. Maybe I should… I will!

I had to make a plan. This had to be spectacular. It took me the better part of the morning to finalize what I needed to do.

I typed out a text message to Nik:

‘Heyy! Come to the Mariner’s Memorial at 4 tomo. Wear that red shirt I gave you. xoxo’

My thumb paused before touching the send icon. I looked up and saw bright daylight streaming through the curtains..

Go get him!
The message was delivered.

I reached Westland at around 3:30pm that afternoon. Inside, I saw AJ with his head low, staring at a mug of black coffee. I went up to him. “AJ! You look bad, what’s up?”

He looked up, dazed; as though I had rudely interrupted a dream. “Eh, just a hurting head. You think the music here is a bit too loud today?”

Apart from the fact that he abhors EDM, there wasn’t anything different about the music here. “No, music is just the same! What’s bothering you?” He got up. “Just a bad day I guess. A walk along the shore should cure it. I’ll be right back!” he said, paying for the coffee.

“AJ, I’ll come with you.”

He looked away and hesitated. “Umm no Sam, just me this time. And I’m guessing Nik will be here soon? Have fun, I’ll join y’all.” he said, turning away, through the door, and towards the shore. Wonder what happened to him!

Brushing away the thought, I took out a sticky note and scribbled on it. It’s a big day today!

– — — –
It’s not unusual to get a message from Sam at 6 in the morning. But a message like this is something that I wasn’t used to. Sure she can be spontaneous but this was out of the blue. And she didn’t even explain why either!

It was half past 3 and I started towards the Memorial, wearing the red shirt just as she had asked. The Memorial – a grand old tribute to the sailors who had given their lives for the Great Battle of 1809; it’s lawns were the envy of the country; it’s fountain shows the envy of the world.

It was a wonderful day; strong breeze with the salt high in the air. It was 4 and I looked around for Sam. She was late.

Teens playing soccer, elders playing tennis, our Mr. Guitar strumming away for his buck. 4:20 and I get a message, ‘I am not coming. Let’s play a game. Find me ;)

Sam! What did she expect me to do? I walked around, looking for a note or a sign. Nothing.
20 mins passed by, I kept pacing up and down the lawn. It took me a while to realise something was amiss.
Each time I passed by Mr. Guitar, he would change his tune and after I pass by him, he’d change back to the old. So I went close to him, and listened. He winked and sang his new tune. It went like this:

“Ooh! Won’t you come?
Come, look beside, the crashing brine?
And see the neptune clutching,
our towering treble of shale?
Ooh won’t you, come…find me?”

A riddle? This, I had not expected. She knew I relished a brain teaser.
Crashing brine… Ok the sea. The neptune holding a treble of shale? Treble of shale. So there are 3 rocks?
Neptune? Not the planet, obviously. What else? Roman god? No, Greece! Sea… Poseidon! 3 rocks. Poseidon’s trident.

She wants me to go to Trident Rocks!

I got up, satisfied, gave Mr. Guitar a hug and some cash and bolted towards the Trident.

I reached the Trident, magnificent cliffs watching from behind as waves crashed onto this natural rock formation. I looked around. It took me a while but behind a giant sandcastle, written using pebbles and seaweed was “WESTLAND BB ^_^”.

And off I scooted to the place where I first met Sam, the Bulletin Board at Westland.

– — –
Back at Westland, I ordered a sandwich to go. Sam had gone home, she wasn’t around here anywhere. Wonder what she did about the proposal issue. The call early that morning had shaken me up considerably.

I walked towards the Bulletin Board; I had heard rumours that Metallica was visiting the city and if they were, Westland would surely have posted it up. I scanned the board, in vain. But I did stumble upon a post-it note which seemed interesting.

‘Tired? It’s almost over!
I’m at the house of the sailors’ guardian. Find me ;)

What seemed interesting was that, the handwriting was very, very familiar. I looked again. Sam!

The house of sailors’ guardian? The Lighthouse? She needs to work on her riddles, dear Sam! I made my way towards the Lighthouse.

A lone tomato-less club sandwich awaited in vain on a clean granite counter.

The Lighthouse was tall, red, iconic, and non-functional. Non-functional because after building it, the brilliant engineers realised that no ship could ever see its light.

It was deserted on the outside but the door was left ajar. Sturdy stone steps spiralled upwards, leading to the glass dome. I paced up and almost reached the huge stone doorway to the dome; I heard whispers. I crept up behind the door and strained to listen. A sudden, short shriek pierced the heavy air.

“It took me a year, I couldn’t wait. I-I, how was the game?”

“Sam! I never-Wow, you’re amazing!”

“Nik, this is not easy for me to say-I… Nik, would you…?”

“Oh gosh, a ring. Samiksha… Yes, damn get up you!”

I climbed down the stairs as they did what couples do after a proposal. All the way down.

– — –
A blustery breeze swept over the shore as I sat at the cliff-edge, gazing at the Trident being mauled by the savage waves of the sea. Mauled.

This can’t be happening. Not to me. She definitely would have seen how much I care for her.
Two seagulls, one with blue stripes, other black, stood at the edge, pecking and flapping wings at each other.

How could she not? I have been with her through thick and thin! How dare she do this to me?The Black manages to out-peck his adversary. Blue backs away as Black flies over and flaunts his scars to his mate. The Blue looks over at Black, squawking weakly.

I’d give anything … anything to be with her. Is there any point in all that time spent with her?Black nestles close to his mate, their heads resting on each other.

My thoughts were interrupted by the buzzing of my phone. ‘Sam xD’. A couple of seconds passed by before I picked up that call.

“AJ, AJ! I have so much to tell you!”, an exuberant voice relayed from the other side.

A huge sigh escapes me. “Sam! Tell me all about it!”

I guess in the end, it was all meant to be.
I got up to leave. Blue shrugged and flew away.

< — – — – — >
Sreedeep Sreekanth (@sreesquared)
Shweta Srinivasan (@GleeBee_)

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