How can I amuse you?

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Strange News From Another Star


And when we parted, I hurried home. Wary of my solitude like never before.
I woke up hung-over with the disco lights still flashing in my head. I had been on a pub hopping spree the previous night and it was a wild one. The hostel room was eerily quiet and empty as all the roommates had already left. Also the cranky old woman on the bunk bed beside had left. I checked my watch and it was almost noon. I got up from the bed, put on my floaters and lethargically headed towards the bathroom. I took a shower and freshened up, ready for the day. It was my last day in Budapest and I had kept it free. I had no schedule as such and had planned to explore this marvellous city one last time before I catch my flight back home. I grabbed my camera and my small backpack & went downstairs in the hostel cafeteria to see if they were still serving breakfast. To my disappointment they had wrapped up an hour ago. The coffee was still available though and so were the fruits. I poured myself a cup and picked up an apple while putting two apples in my backpack. They'd save me during my hunger pangs through the long day ahead. After finishing my coffee I ventured outside and damn it was still cold. It was sunny but cold. I took out my sweatshirt and put it on. I didn't have a winter jacket as the weather tricked me and I hadn't predicted this early onset of winter. The chilly breeze was pleasant but at times it cut through the meagre sweatshirt and made me shiver.

Strolling over across the street, towards Deák Ferenc tér, I reached the Lutheran Church. I stopped there for a moment to finish off the apple that I had picked up from the cafeteria and to think about where to go next. Since it was my final day here, I wanted to do some shopping. Gabon, the local tour guide with whom I had went on an orientation walk of the city, a day before, had told me about the Great Market Hall where I can pick up some of the finest Hungarian wine. I saved that place on Google Maps and then threw away the apple bud in the nearby dustbin. I just kept walking leisurely. Not towards the Market Hall as I was going to visit there in the evening. I kept walking ahead, wandering away with my camera, capturing everything interesting that I saw along the way. Trying my best to steal away these beautiful moments from time, in the form of pictures to lock them away in my nostalgia cupboard. Couldn’t get touristier than this.

I now reached the Danube River and could see the Buda Castle on the other side. Taking a left towards Széchenyi Chain Bridge, I saw a throng of tourists following their guide on a walking tour. Those vibrant and happy faces. I greeted the guide and after enquiring a little, I came to know that it was a free walking tour. She said I could join along if I wanted to. Since I had no concrete plans, I agreed to tag along with this horde and see where it goes from there. We all crossed the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and I clicked a picture those two giant and majestic toungless lions who greeted everyone right at the entrance of the bridge. The guide was telling a fascinating story about the sculptor who sculpted those lions and how he jumped off the bridge. I stood there motionless for a moment and gazed at those lions and the river gleaming in the sunny afternoon. It was all so graceful. I wanted to soak it all in. We kept moving and reached the other side of the river, which is known as Buda. There the group stopped for a refreshment break. I saw a small souvenir shop and entered it. There was a woman inside and she greeted me with a warm smile. I smiled back and pointing at the rack of postcards, I asked here "Good afternoon! How much for these postcards?"

She told me the price and then after choosing a few of those postcards I handed her cash. She said something in Hungarian returned me the change and smiled. I didn't understand it. I put the postcards in my bag and I replied "koszonom" and left the store.

Outside, the group had now again assembled for the further part of the journey and I was considering whether I should join them or just saunter on my own. The guide was waving her pink umbrella at me and signalling me to come over and join as they were planning to move ahead. I waved back hesitantly and crossed the road to join the group. We then went walked upwards towards Buda Castle. I tried some small talk with the guide. Although I suck at it and I'm terribly shy when it comes to initiating conversations. She asked me where I was from, how many days I had been here, where I'm headed next, yada yada yada. Her name was Christina and she was from Switzerland and had been in Hungary for the past two years or so. I also came to know that she worked as an assistant in some company and that this was her weekend hobby; to take tourists on free walking tours.

"You see, I love interacting with people. Also, tourists are always happy creatures and sometimes they tip me quite handsomely!” she laughed innocently.
"You'll enjoy it up there. The entire Pest region is visible from Buda Castle. It's a wonderful view"
I nodded in agreement.
"You'll get to click nice pictures from up there"
"Yes, I'm looking forward to it", I replied and smiled.

For the next 15 minutes or so, we kept treading upwards. And she kept on narrating the history behind each of the statues, sculptures & the type of architecture of the structures we encountered on the way. She was also entreating us not to record her while she was narrating. She joked, "I don't want to be famous on Youtube!"
After a while, we finally reached the castle. And she was right, it was indeed a splendid view from up there. The magnificent panoramic view left me mesmerised. I took out my camera and clicked a few pictures.

The tour went on for next hour or so. It ended after we reached Matthias Church. Some street musicians were playing traditional Hungarian music nearby and a tourist couple was dancing to its tunes. Christine gave her mini-farewell speech and people started offering her tips. I reached out in my backpack to get my wallet and took out some cash, about 4000 forints I guess and I gave it to her. She shook my hand and thanked me, wishing me the best for the rest of my journey.

Now I was feeling hungry. The morning apple had already evaporated and I needed to eat. It was almost 3pm now. The walk down was less tiring and reached back to those lions in no time. I had heard about this famous local dish called Lángos and wanted to taste it. I spotted an eatery which served it and went inside. The guy welcomed me.

"Hello Sir, what would you like to have?"
"Well, I want to try the Lángos. Would you recommend me the best in your opinion?"
"Awesome! Do you like cheese?"
"Who doesn't?"
"Well, then I'd suggest you go with this one", he said pointing to a random name on the menu card.
"Okay, whatever you think is the best!"

It was delicious! Imagine a deep fried pizza topped with lots and lots of cheese. After filling my belly and satiating my hunger, I decided to finally start with my intended shopping. I reached the Market City Hall. Skimming through that plethora of shops, I picked up the bottle of wine, a few boxes of chocolates and a t-shirt. That’s it. I was getting tired now and decided to walk back to the hostel. It was almost a kilometre from there. The light blue sky was now turning tangerine due to the setting sun and an uneasy feeling of restlessness was creeping upon me. The feeling you get just when you’re reading the last chapter of a book that have enjoyed reading so much or the last fifteen minutes of a wonderful movie.

I reached Deák Ferenc tér and I remember there was this quaint little bookshop right beside the hostel. I’ve always loved books and I’m guilty of even hoarding them. Anyway, I entered the bookshop and spent almost half an hour just looking through the various titles they had. Kafka, Nietzsche, Fitzgerald, Rilke, Proust, Flaubert and so on. I asked the lady who was dusting off the books to recommend me some Hungarian poetry. She handed me this book called ‘The Lost Rider’ which is an anthological collection of some of Hungary’s finest poets. I picked that up along with a collection of short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald called I’d Die For You and a collection of poems by Charles Bukowski titled The Pleasures of the Damned. There are ardent critics of Bukowski but I admire him for his raw and unabashed style.

Upon reaching the hostel I found that it was jostling with new tourists now. The lobby hallway was filled with people. Some were playing pool, a game of chess was underway between two friends, another group of pretty ladies just sat there in the bar, giggling and laughing away in merriment. I went up to my room and entered inside. There was one guy on the upper tier of the adjacent bunk-bed. He nodded and said hello and I nodded back in courtesy.

I put down my backpack near my bed and put my phone and camera for charging. I crashed in my bed and lay there staring at the ceiling. It had been a good day. I was thinking about how these past ten days had been magical. And this sudden realization dawned upon me that it’s all ending now. I had to get back to the same old routine in a couple of days. That’s the worst part about travelling or escaping away I guess. I think whenever you travel, you leave a part of you at the places that you visit and a piece of your soul with all the amazing people that you meet. You’re never the same person when you return. I was feeling depressed now and pitying myself for feeling this way. I had to get my mind off from this and so I started reading. As I was scrolling through my Kindle, I heard the front door unlock. A tall lady entered.

“Hello!” she greeted cheerfully. “Is this occupied?” she asked me pointing to the empty bed where the old woman had been this morning.

“Hi! It’s not occupied as of now. There was a woman here before but she left in the morning.”
“Okay, I’m taking this one then.” saying so she put her bags down on the bed and sat there.

I saw that she was holding a paperback in her hand. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. I hadn’t read the book but I had heard about the writer. I noticed she had a lovely face. Only to later realize how wonderfully charming as person she was!
I kept staring at the book in her hand and was momentarily lost in my thoughts.

“What are you reading?” her voice broke my stupor.
“Oh there’s this collection of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. The book’s called Interpreter of Maladies”
“I’ve read that book. It’s a good book!”
“Yes. I just read a couple of stories and I enjoyed them.”
“So, where are you from?” she asked.
“India.”
“Oh, India! Awesome!”
“And you’re from?”
“I’m from Amsterdam. You’ve been to Amsterdam?”
“Nice! No, unfortunately I haven’t. It’s on my travel bucket list though. Right at the top of the list, I must say!”
“It’s an amazing place. You’ll definitely love it.”

We kept on talking for the next hour or so and I still remember everything we spoke about. I’m sort of a taciturn person and I speak only when I’m spoken too. But I must admit, I never had such an engaging conversation with someone who happens to be a total stranger. She asked me how long I’ve been here in Budapest, what do I do and where I’m headed next and general details about my overall trip and purpose of travel.

She told me she was a professional jazz singer and then we went on to discuss our musical tastes at length.
“Have you listened to jazz music?”
“No, unfortunately I haven’t explored that genre yet. I’m more of a rock n’ roll person you may say. Classic rock to be specific. Floyd, Beatles, Led Zep…”
“Oh, I used to listen to rock n’ roll when I was young. But then I discovered jazz and fell in love with it.”
“Could you recommend me some jazz musicians I could start with? Like something you’d suggest to a total newbie?”
“Well, let me think. Uhm… I really like Ella Fitzgerald. So you can listen to her, she’s really amazing! Apart from that you can also try Louis Armstrong. He’s a great too. Listen to their duets.”
“Let me note that down” I scribbled those names on my pocket mini dairy that I carry with me.

We talked and talked. She told me about her musical expedition to Nepal where she was teaching music to kids. She told me how she knows a few Hindi songs which those kids taught her back then.

“You know that song? Piya piya o piya piya?”
“Oh yes, I do!”

We excitedly hummed together a few verses and gradually the conversation moved from music to literature, discussing our favourite books. I told her about my ardent love for literature and writing in general. And how literature was the primary motivation behind this rather romantic trip of mine. And how most of my favourite writers are European.

“So you really do love literature and you want to write a book but you’re working as an analyst in a corporate firm? That doesn’t match eh?”
“Well, I’d have to blame capitalism for it I guess” I laughed.
“Also, my job helps me pay my bills and it also helped with this trip. So I guess, it’s not that bad after all. Writing or any other art from requires financial freedom. And my job’s providing me that currently.”
“I totally agree with you on that.”
“I have this belief that if you’re good at something, never do it for free and if you love doing something, never do it for money.” I added nervously and then immediately cringed at what I had said.
“Hahaha, interesting!”

Later I found out that she too was a fan of Hermann Hesse, who’s sort of like my favourite author. I showed her an old paperback copy I had of Hesse’s fairy tales and also the books that I had picked up at the bookshop earlier.

She had a delightful persona and I was now very much engrossed in the conversation. It was already 9pm. I absolutely hated doing it but told her I need to go now to have my dinner as I have an early morning flight and I need to sleep early so that I could wake up at three in the morning to catch my flight.

I took her leave and headed downstairs to the bar and she went back to her bed, working on her laptop about a certain project that she had to finish off that night.

Downstairs in the hostel bar a small band was jamming some songs and a group had assembled around to listen to them. The guy was playing the acoustic guitar quite brilliantly. I got myself a stool near the the bartender and asked for a glass of beer and some nachos. The band kept on playing while I sat there sipping my beer. I even had a few shots of Palinka, upon the bartender’s recommendation. I tipped her and then went outside to eat something.

It was freezing cold now. The temperatures dropped drastically at night. The puny sweatshirt wasn’t warming me anymore and the cold wind was making it too uncomfortable. I decided to just grab a couple of Doner kebabs from this nearby outlet and head straight to my room to sleep.
It was midnight now. The city was beautifully shining with night lights as I was walking back towards my hostel. I entered inside and told Jason at the reception to book me a cab for the airport, scheduled for 3am.

After heading back to my room I saw that the lights were turned off. I waded through the darkness towards my bed and put on my bedside lamp. After setting my alarm for 2:30, I dozed off.
The vibrating phone under my pillow woke me up and I checked my watch, it was about time. I had already packed away by stuff. I went to the bathroom and splashed ice cold water on my face to wake up those melatonins. I picked up my backpack and headed towards the door. I glanced at the lady and she was fast asleep. I wanted to say goodbye to her but it’d be really horrible to wake her up at such ungodly hour just to bid her farewell. I closed the door behind me and waited for the elevator.
In the hostel lobby, I sat alone waiting for my cab. Jason said it’ll be here in 15 minutes. I plugged in my earphones while John Denver’s Leavin’ on a Jet Plane started playing. Perfect. I had a flashback of my past three days in Budapest. The places that I saw and the wonderful people that I met, the conversations we had. This entire trip was a magnificent experience that will always be with me, till my last breath.

Instinctively, I took out that old paperback copy of Hesse’s fairy tales and started writing on its first page.

To N,
Here’s from one Hesse fan to another. May you shine on like a diamond with your music! 
~ Emil Sincliar

I ran back upstairs and entered the room. It was dark. I went over to my bed and turned on that bedside lamp once again. I took that book and kept that paperback right beside N’s bed. I hate parting with my books and I never like giving them away to anyone. But this time it felt different. I went back towards to door and had a one last look at the room.

The cab was waiting right outside the hostel gate. I handed over my room’s key card to Jason and thanked him, bidding him a final goodbye as he helped me with my heavy backpack. I entered inside and the driver asked, “Airport, sir?”

“Yes please.” I replied.

He started the car and I saw Jason in the rear-view mirror, waving me goodbye. I waved back at Jason. I leaned my head against the window and sat there gazing at those droplet shaped lights as my vision blurred away with John Denver soothingly singing in my ears;


All my bags are packed
I'm ready to go
I'm standin' here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin'
It's early morn
The taxi's waitin'
He's blowin' his horn
Already I'm so lonesome
I could die...

The streetlights went passing me by, one by one, like these past ten days had gone by. It had been nothing less than a fairy tale. Like a rainbow in the night sky. Like sonorous melodies from a guitar. Like some strange news from another star. 

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The Lizard

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”~ Albert Camus

I woke up with the sound of the alarm ringing loudly in my ears. It was already nine in the morning but the bedroom was still unusually dark. I got up from the bed and pushed aside the curtains to let in the morning sunlight. No luck. The sun was obscured behind the grey clouds and the sky outside was grim and melancholic, flaunting a rather dusky look today. Perhaps it'll rain. I gazed outside the window for a few moments and then went in the kitchen to prepare my morning cup of coffee. The wall lizard upon seeing me quickly ran towards the container racks and hid behind them. I flicked on the light switch but no use. The electricity was out. Maybe yesterday night's rain had a role to play in this. Grabbing the milk carton from the fridge I poured it in the cup and then added sugar and coffee powder to it. Stirring it with a spoon I took the cup in the bedroom and placed it on the small table, adjacent to my bed.

I needed the newspaper now. Or at least something to read. So, I went to check on the newspaper. Upon opening the main door, I found that neither the newspaper nor the milk carton was delivered today. I glanced on both sides, across the hallway of the building. Eerily quiet for this morning hour. Even Mrs. Periera's door was shut. I slammed the door shut and then went back to my coffee. On the way, I picked up my earphones which were attached to the music player. Clapton, Porcupine Tree, Simon and Garfunkel, The Smiths, Joy Division, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Opeth. Okay. Opeth. I put on the Damnation album and the beautiful tunes of In My Time of Need started to flow through my earbuds as I slid the music player in my pocket and headed towards my coffee. I took a sip from the cup. Too bitter. More sugar. Just when I was about to get the sugar I heard a knock on the main door. I removed my left earphone to confirm. There was a knock again. Who could it be as this hour, I wondered. Even though I hate doing it, I paused the music and strolled towards the main door to check who it was. I slid down the latch and opened the door.

"Hi John! How are you?"
"Oh hi! What brings you here so early in the morning."
"Nothing my friend. I was just getting bored and also the weather outside isn't suitable for going on a walk, So I thought why not go & meet John!"
"Come in, have a seat. Water, coffee?"
"Coffee will do for now. Black. No sugar."
"Okay", I said and then went inside to get him the black coffee.

"It's too dark in here John, why don't you put on the lights?"
"The electricity's out since morning" 
"Oh. Last night's rain might have blown out the fuse I guess"

I came back with his black coffee and handed him the cup.

"Thank you!", he took the cup and started sipping it right away.

"So, what brings you here at this hour?"
"As I told earlier John, I was just getting bored. And it's almost been a week since we met. So I thought I should catch up with you. What's up with you these days?"
"Nothing much. Just the usual.", saying so I picked up my cup and started drinking. The coffee had gone cold now.

"Okay.", he leaned in closer "and what about the ghost?", he said in a low whisper.
I stopped sipping my coffee and just stared blankly at the cup.
"John, are you okay? I didn't mean to scare you."
"Yes. I'm fine."
"Thank god! So, did you get rid of him? The ghost?" 
"I haven't seen him in a while. It seems that he's probably gone now. I hope so."
"That's good. You don't need to be scared of things like ghosts or whatever. They can't do shit to us you know."
"Yeah.", I nodded hesitantly.

There was silence for few minutes and it was getting uncomfortably cold now since it had started raining heavily outside.

"I'll shut the window. The breeze is too cold.", I said and got up from my settee.
"Sure"

I went near the bedroom window and latched it shut.
"You need anything to eat? I have biscuits."
"Well, I'm a bit hungry too. Get me some."
"Sure"

I went inside the kitchen to get the biscuits. The lizard was peering intently at me from behind the container boxes. I picked up the box which contained the biscuits and the lizard panicked and ran over to the ceiling. It scared me a bit. Actually scared is not the right word. I felt nauseated. I put the packet of biscuits in my pocket and placed the container box back where it belonged. All this while the lizard was eyeing me. Its timid yet strong gaze made me feel sick. I had to get rid of this fucker. I couldn't stand this unwelcome guest anymore.

So, I took the broom and held it as a sword.

"John, did you find the biscuits?"
"Yes.", I shouted back.

I still had the broom in my hand and a drop of sweat trickled down over my nose and landed on my lower lip. Damp and salty. The kitchen was still cold as an ice room. I raised the broom and tried to scare the lizard away. It moved sideways. My aim now was to get it near the window so that I could successfully drive it out of the house and my life. I shoved the broom once again towards the lizard and this time it lightly shaved its tail. Plump. There was a sound and it fell down on the floor. My breath stopped at this and I was almost about to puke. I don't know who was scared more. Me or the lizard. Upon falling, the lizard haphazardly tried to find a place to hide. A place from where it could save itself from the broom and still be able to leer at me with its disgusting eyes.

"John, is everything okay?'
"Yes. I'm just washing the plate to put the biscuits in"
"Don't take much trouble John, it's fine if you just get the packet too. We'll eat the biscuits out of the packet."
"I'm almost done here", I replied in a shrilly voice.

Meanwhile, the lizard was on the floor looking at me and my broom. Oh the audacity of this creature. Trying to scare me in my home. Trying to make me uncomfortable in my home. I couldn't stand it anymore. I shooed at it one more time. This time I was more aggressive than before. But I had to be careful not to kill it. A dead lizard is far more terrible to look at than a live one. Fortunately, it ran towards the window this time and stopped near the edge of the window sill. Still reluctant to leave. Still staring at me. Enough. I raised the broom to hit it this time and the lizard knew it had to run for its life. And it vanished outside the kitchen window. Peace. At least for now.

"John?"
"Yes, coming with the biscuits", saying so I hurried back towards the bedroom with the packet of biscuits.

"Here's the biscu...", the words stopped in my throat. There was no one in the room. Terribly silent and cold. The empty coffee cups still lay there on the table. I just stood there with the packet of biscuits in my hand. Standstill. It was getting unbearably cold. Almost killing me. I had to put on the heater now.

I picked up both the coffee cups and shoved them in the wash-basin. I turned on the thermostat and dialed it way up. Sinking down in my bed I put my earphones back on. To Rid the Disease was playing. I lay there looking at the ceiling and pulled the blanket over my head for comfort. I had gotten rid of the lizard. At least for time being. And then sweet sleep came and devoured my troubled mind. Peace and harmony. The battle was over but the war is still on...

***

(It's been ages since I wrote a short story. Do let me know your views on this one and please share it, if you enjoyed reading it. Thank you! Until next time, adios!")

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Between News and Propaganda





EmilSincliar opinion tweet
No thanks.
Recently I had the opportunity to read and educate myself a bit about the cult hype surrounding the Cobrapost sting operations. Now many of you might be knowing about it and many of you might be wondering which is this new breed of snake. For those who haven't heard about Cobrapost or anything related to it, it's a news/investigative portal that did a series of sting operations on various television, news and digital media platforms. The sting operations revealed how big media houses and digital companies are willing to sell religious/political propaganda and agenda through their channels and platforms for money. There were many big names involved in this scandal and the outrage on the internet regarding this was tremendous. Especially on Twitter and Reddit. The two least toxic social media platforms out there as of now. (Can't say that about Twitter anymore though)

Now the outrage was justified. News and media channels are ideally supposed to be unbiased and maintain their integrity. Ideally they're also supposed to just report facts as is without having their own political or opinionated stand on the things they're reporting. But since we live in a practical world and idealism is often considered as artistic and romantic concept. In my opinion, news media was never unbiased, right since primordial times. It was always a tool. A tool to reach out to maximum number of people with your ideas and viewpoints. Jim Morrison was apparently speaking the truth when he said that whoever controls the media, controls the mind.

Since ages, revolutionaries and governments have relied on media to propagate information and agenda to the masses. And I think that there's no such thing as a unbiased news or a neutral journalist. Every journalist has a point of view. A certain perception and opinion on things. And that's the way they often report the news. If look at this Cobrapost incident, it showed us one story. A story of how we can propagate whatever we want if we're willing to shell out shitload of money and fill their pockets. I remember a time when I used to watch news and read newspapers daily like my life depended on it. Back when I was a bit naive and how my teachers used to say that watching news helps us stay updated about the world and eventually makes us smart. Oh how I believed in that horseshit as a kid.

Now let me put it a bluntly, it's all a make believe world out there. Everything is advertising and marketing. There's no such thing as news. Every news is just another subtle advertisement for some person or a certain ideology. Right from that boisterous guy who shouts everyday on our television screens about how the nation wants to know about something or the other, to the self righteous lady who thinks that the secularism is in danger from right wing extremism and the minorities are neglected. From the guy who criticizes the government to the guy who criticizes the opposition, every journalist has a point of view. Every journalist has his own personal opinion. And that's how they news is produced. The only real news  I care about is the news that talks about weather and even that ain't accurate. Or those ridiculously tragic headlines which upon reading you can't help but chuckle. Like this one headline I remember about how a certain guy who accidentally shot himself to death in Punjab while trying to click a selfie holding a pistol. Apart from these funny bits, the news these days is plain depressing and sad. Like every day, you read about people being murdered, crimes being committed against women and whatnot. It's like we love to read tragic stuff. Like Mynard Keenan says in Vicarious,

"Cause I need to watch things die, from a distance
Vicariously I live while the whole world dies
You all need it too, don't lie"

Just another normal front-page of a newspaper

Now, every news channel out there has a political opinion of their own. Most of the news channels out there are trying to sell you their ideas and their point of view. I might sound like I just jacked off to Aldous Huxley or read a bit too much of Orwell but this is what I believe. Some of them are even blatant enough to put in right their in their channel name!

Anyway, I wasn't surprised at all with all this ruckus on social media regarding the Cobrapost sting. This was happening since aeons, it still happens now and will continue to happen. Majority of the people out there have a sub conscious belief system. Their own morals, ideologies and principles that they believe in firmly or maybe have an affinity towards. How they formed these beliefs is not the matter of concern here. The matter of concern is some people are willing to change their beliefs with time while some won't. These stubborn folks will go to the extent of changing the time rather than their beliefs and their principles. It's very difficult to change people's perception about things in general. People go on wars just to defend their ideologies and beliefs. Don't believe me? Well, just try convincing a vegetarian that butter chicken tastes better than paneer masala. Or need a bigger challenge? Try convincing a believer that their god doesn't exist.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk has announced that he's undertaking a new project to tackle the spread of fake news, naming it Pravda. Now I have no doubt about this genius' abilities and intellect but I think this probably won't work. The concept of Pravda  is that it would take into consideration the opinions of readers and users, regarding a certain news story and then let them rate the story on its authenticity. Therein lies the flaw of this concept. People only accept things that resonate with their pre-formed notions and beliefs. It's a natural human tendency. A guy with conservative political beliefs always thinks that liberals are idiots and vice-versa. So, if that said person reads a news story expressing different perception than his own, he tries to find faults in it and is skeptical about it. His natural tendency is to think that the news story is fake and that it should be reported. For one man's terrorist is often another man's revolutionary. It all depends of whose side of the story you're listening to. Whose side of the story interests you and keeps you engaged. And whose side of the story entertains and amuses you the most.

So you may now ask me what should we do? Should we all just stop watching the news altogether? Maybe. That does sound like a great solution but then it also takes you far away from the society and makes you feel like a neanderthal being. So now what?

I think the best way to tackle this is to just read the news like we read the terms and conditions and the privacy policies of the websites that we use. Don't let it affect your peace of mind. I know reading terms & conditions is necessary and that everyone needs to go through the privacy policy before accepting it but the fact is no one really cares. Not unless you see your naked picture from the phone gallery, flashing on a banner ad of Xvideos and you wonder how did it reach there.

However, jokes apart, the best way to form an opinion about something is to first understand all possible sides of a story and then choose the one that you think is the right one. The one that suits you or floats your boat. So, if you ask me about my opinion on Cobrapost sting, I accept that it's unethical and it harms the integrity of the entire news and media industry and the other companies involved in it. But then it's not necessary that everyone has the same opinion as mine. The problem is people get influenced way too easily by whatever they see and hear on the television or whatever they read in the newspapers and are quick to react to it.

Consider this, tomorrow you're going to run for presidency. And your viewpoint is that you want to legalize marijuana. Your opposition thinks that marijuana should not be legalized and has some fair counter arguments regarding this. Now, it's not necessary that everyone out there needs to accept your views. But what's absolutely crucial is that you have the freedom and the liberty to express your views no matter what they are. And that's what the news media needs to do. To protect this freedom of speech. Yeah, go on take that money and propagate whatever you want but please, please, please ensure that when it matters the most, you don't shy away or compromise on the freedom and integrity of what journalism actually stands for.

The power these news and media houses have is tremendous. It could build or destroy nations. And they just need to ensure that when it's needed the most, they step up their standards and sincerely be the voice of the people. Just like they did during our struggle for freedom against the British. Journalism back then had a mission. A mission to educate and encourage the masses about uniting against the tyrannical British rule and to fight for freedom. It was inculcating the ideas of patriotism and freedom in the minds of the Indian people. Whether it was Tilak's Kesari and Maratha or Dadabhai Naorozi's Rast Goftar, the news media formed the spine of our freedom struggle and inspired the people to rebel against the Britishers. Had the media then not propagated nationalism, democracy and equality in the minds of the masses then perhaps our freedom would have been delayed by decades or centuries, who knows!

Right from the Russian Revolution to Donald Trump being elected as the US president, media has always played a pivotal role and it'll continue to do so in the future. It's not for me to decide and debate whether news media should propagate certain things or not. Maybe all news is propaganda but what really matters is they propagate the right things when the need desperately arises.

Okay now, I should sign off here. Thank you for taking out your time to read this arduously long article. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below and share it you enjoyed it. Until next time, Adios!
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An Ode to a Deluded Generation



They're out there in the dark alleys,

of shady bars and posh restaurants

Dancing and drinking away on a Friday night

losing themselves to the loud music.

They're out there in their trendy sneakers, striving.

The shoes for which they sold a chunk of their soul,

just to show the world that they're arriving,

gradually moving towards their estranged goal.



***



He still remembers those days,

how they used to tell him those tales

"Strive and struggle son, for just this one time.

Later on, life is as blissful as that delicious glass of sweet lime!"

He still remembers those days,

when he burnt the midnight oil to write his own story,

for he believed them all, he believed those tales.

He believed that slow and steady wins the race,

Like a mouse turning the wheels of time,

running away to be in a better place,

to stay alive in the rat race.



***



They're out there sitting in fancy cafes,

sipping that cup of mocha latte

Their gaze is locked but the moments fly away,

as they tap those fingers in that ashtray.

They walk out through the door,

One more night with a known stranger,

lost in the wilderness, making love on the floor.

One more night of nothing but empty promises,

Like the desolate words,

flowing out through a miserable poet's verses.



***



How they all smile,

like broken mirrors on the wall.

How they all laugh, even when they fall.

Because they've learned to feel, but not to cry.

They've been taught to walk, but not to fly.



***



He goes home to his mother,

and lays his head on her lap

"Why am I not yet happy, mother? Why do I still suffer?", he asks

Gently the mother caresses his forehead,

"Go to sleep my son, it'll be alright.

Don't you worry my son, just take a nap"



***



The sun is setting now,

the roads are wet with tears

They've lived far too long in delusion

They were promised a palace

but thrown away to rot into a prison.

Soon they'll breakout and gather in crowds

They will flock together to flood the town,

The light in their eyes will shine again

that lost spark in their hearts will be found.

and the whole world will watch in awe,

as these deluded souls burn everything to the ground.



***



Steinbeck had said, in the eyes of these people there is the failure;

and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath.

In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling

and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

One day he'll stand up and the world will be a stage,

He'll look at those rejuvenated faces in the crowd,

as his words written on a page will give rise to a revolution.

lead by a romantic and passionately deluded generation...



***
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We Don't Deserve Women


We are extremely sorry Asifa, we have despicably failed you.

As the horrific case of rape and brutal murder of 8 year old Asifa shook the nation, it seems like we still haven't learnt shit since the Nirbhaya incident. The situation is so miserable that if you read the newspaper there are incidents of rapes and sexual harassment against women, almost every other day. It's all so disgusting that it just breaks you down and makes one's blood friggin' curdle with anger. The worst thing is that politicians are trying to roast their political bread over this. Also, some are out there giving a religious twist to this whole thing. And it just goes on to show our stoic indifference towards an issue of such appalling nature. From being known as the land of snake-charmers to being known as the land of rapists, we have come a long way indeed!

Now, we've been plagued by this matter of violence and injustice against women since aeons. It's not a new thing. Right from the practice of Sati, it is quite evident how our society was biased against women. As Indians, we are always proudly talking about our culture and tradition. Of course we have an incredible culture but you got to admit that when it comes to empowering women and caring about their rights, we have always sort of shied away from that.

Why do crimes of such atrocious nature happen against women? You might wonder what goes on inside the minds of these demons under the garb of humans, who commit such horrible acts. And who's to blame for all of this?

You can blame our clumsy judicial system here but that's not the root cause of this issue. The question here is, why do rapes happen in the first place?

Now, I believe our so called 'culture and tradition' is at fault here. Yes. This may be an unpopular notion but just hear me out for once.

Growing up you might have heard the phrase, "Kya ladki ki tarah ro rha hai?", umpteen times.
Maybe as kids while you're crying because someone stole your candy, your elders might have tried to console you with it or perhaps after your break up, your friends might have thrown that phrase in your face to get you to stop whining. Now a generation that is taught that being vulnerable and weeping over it is an act of cowardice, we have just unknowingly imbibed a terribly wrong idea of masculinity in the minds of boys/men.

Right from the abolished practice of Sati to the practice of dowry. Be it the sickening cases of female foeticides or cases of rapes and murders of minors. We're just glorifying the idea that women are to be treated as the the inferior gender.
The other thing is our self-righteousness and a rather puritan notion about sex. For us, sex education is just two flowers intermingling with each other with some fuckall music in the background.

So if we think rationally and a bit logically, what we have got here is a generation whose flawed idea of masculinity is that you need to be strong and overpowering to justify your presence as the superior sex, the alpha male as we call it. A patriarchal nation that thinks women are just meant to get married and then look after the household and the children eventually. A conservative society that considers sex as a taboo and is also sexually repressed. And lastly, a lethargic judicial system when it comes to delivering timely justice. Now you don't need to be Nikola Tesla to deduce that it's a dangerous concoction.

Now as usual, we can all go about outraging over this on the internet and social media. We could go about participating in candle light marches and pray for the soul of unfortunate Asifa. But in my opinion, that won't solve shit. We'll eventually forget about it like we always do. The problem is deep rooted within our society and our mindset. It seems our perception of women is collaterally damaged beyond repair.

We need to god damn understand that it's not because of the way she dresses. It's not because she uses a mobile phone. It's not  because she drinks alcohol and parties. It's not because she's dented and painted. It's not because she wears jeans and make-up. It's also not because she interacts with men freely. And yes, it's not just another mistake committed by boys. It's NEVER a mistake.

I believe it's because we're prejudiced. It's because we'll pay dowry and slaughter fetuses in the womb just to satisfy the relentless machismo of our patriarchal and orthodox society. It's because we'll ask our daughters/sisters to dress appropriately rather than to teach our sons/brothers to behave appropriately. It's because we'll ask women not to venture outdoors at night instead of asking men not to harass women and teaching them the meaning of consent. It's because we'll go on teaching our women how to defend themselves rather than educating our men that women are not to be raped.

Believe it or not, we have fucked up big time here.  Maybe we need to start all over again. It's high time we alter our mindset towards women and learn to treat them with respect. Or perhaps we just don't deserve women.
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